Crispian Jago presents the history of science as a subway map (cool visualization).

The comic strip The Oatmeal tackles the irony of mobile app pricing. Or, in the worlds of “Weird Al” Yankovic: “I hate to waste a buck ninety-nine.”

A 19th-century terraforming experiment: Ascension Island’s artificial ecosystem, instigated by Charles Darwin.

Author Seanan McGuire explains why movies’ financial success matters to fans: Since Scott Pilgrim failed at the box office, similar movies aren’t going to be funded for quite a while. I’ve actually been meaning to write up something similar, but haven’t gotten around to it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun, funny mash-up of movie, comic book and video game sensibilities. The story combines a romantic comedy with a fighting video game, and the film just runs full-tilt with the idea.

Every new relationship comes with baggage. In this case, the baggage happens to be Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes, who all want to fight Scott Pilgrim if he’s going to date her. Fights are staged like video games, with “X vs Y” captions, physics-defying moves and special powers, and defeated opponents transforming into coins. Caption boxes provide extra information. Flashbacks are illustrated in comic-strip form.

Its biggest flaw, IMO, is that it tries so hard to fit all the battles into one movie that it forgets to slow down and show us that Scott and Ramona actually like each other (most of the time). There’s no real sense of time, and it feels like the whole thing could happen in a week. So when the supporting cast starts asking Scott whether being with Ramona is really worth all the effort, it’s a good question, one that makes the ultimate ending a bit less satisfying than the one in the original graphic novels.

The original comics tell the story over six volumes, which take place over roughly a year. Obviously side characters are developed a lot more. More importantly for the lead story, Ramona is developed a lot more, and you get to see the two of them dealing with an actual relationship, rather than simply “You’re hot, wanna go out?” “Oh, okay.” You get much more of a sense that the fights mean something. The later volumes also focus heavily on people growing up and growing apart, something which there really isn’t time for in the movie. [Update: They also make it clear that Scott isn’t as great as he thinks he is. He does have the potential to become the next evil ex, after all.]

The movie is great fun. If you liked it, I absolutely recommend picking up the graphic novels. If you liked the idea, but not the execution, or if you can’t stand Michael Cera (I know that’s a consideration for some people, and I had my doubts when I heard that he’d been cast in the role), I recommend picking up the first volume or two to give it a try.

Some recent linkblogging. (Thank you, StumbleUpon)



Scott Pilgrim

Na'vi StatueWhenever I walked into the convention center at this year’s Comic-Con International, I felt completely overwhelmed for about fifteen minutes. After that, I relaxed and just sort of went with the flow. It never seemed to fail, even when I left to grab lunch, or to catch an event in a nearby hotel. The first fifteen minutes back? Crazy. After that? Normal. (Katie, on the other hand, felt completely at home with the crowds everywhere but the main floor and just outside the main lobby doors. Not sure whether the latter was more a reaction to the wait for the train, or the rampant smoking.)

RecognizerNeither of us had anything early or popular that we were trying to catch on Friday, so we slept in — which I’m sure really helped after the exhausting first day. Katie went for the design panels, with talks by TV costume designers and TV & movie production designers, while I roamed the middle of the floor where all the comics publishers had their booths.

Bryan Lee O'Malley Taking a PictureI stumbled onto the tail end of a Brian Lee O’Malley signing with only about five people in line, and still had Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour with me. Then I made it to the Studio Foglio booth just before Phil and Kaja Foglio left for an event, so I was able to get them to sign the new Girl Genius books that I picked up.

Exploring Downtown

On the shuttle ride to the convention center, I’d noticed a building with comic-book themed window art all over its first-floor windows. I wanted to get back to it for a closer look at some point during the con. I also wanted to drop off the new and newly-signed books so that I wouldn’t be carrying them around the rest of the day, so I figured I’d try to find the building while walking back to the hotel.

R2D2 Window Art Scott Pilgrim Window Art

Ghostbusters and EctomobileI also found some more window art at the Gaslamp Garage across the street from the Old Spaghetti Factory (one Flash and one Wolverine), a souvenir store flanked with Green Lantern and Sinestro, and, eventually, the building with all the drawings: Batman, R2D2, Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers, The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, etc.

Disney PrincessesStrangely enough, the con had even spilled into the historic Davis House: Alienware had set up a demonstration tent for their gaming systems on the lawn.

At some point during this trip, I stopped in at the Chuck Jones Gallery on 5th Street. In addition to Looney Tunes–inspired art, they also had quite a bit of superhero and Disney-inspired art on display, including several Alex Ross pieces. I’m not sure what their usual exhibits are, but it’s worth stopping by if you’re in the area.

Art Afternoon

Cortana and Soldier (Halo)Originally I’d planned to return for the Francis Manapul/Whilce Portacio art demonstration, but as I wandered downtown it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it back in time. So I stopped hurrying, grabbed lunch, and when I reached the convention, checked the schedule to see what I might do instead. I settled on the Comics Arts Conference panel on action heroines, specifically: where are they? It was an interesting lineup of female fans, scholars, actresses…and JMS, who was there because he’s just started writing Wonder Woman. (He and Cindy Morgan both left early for other commitments.)

Classic DC TV HeroesFrom there I visited the art show. The wide range of both skill and subject really struck me this time for some reason. Also, there were a few pieces I recognized from Westercon. From there, I decided at the last minute to catch the second day of DC Nation. I’m glad I did: Geoff Johns announced a second Flash series to launch next year (though considering I watched him announce both a Kid Flash series and a Wally West co-feature, neither of which actually went into production, I’m not letting myself get too excited).

DC Nation - JMS, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern

Meanwhile, Katie had spent the afternoon first watching an artist’s presentation on drawing animal anatomy, then waiting through Teen Wolf (yes, they’re remaking Teen Wolf…as a TV series) for Falling Skies with Moon Bloodgood and Noah Wyle.


Stuff!We left the convention center a bit earlier than the day before, hoping to avoid the closing crush, and met up with my parents (who were also attending the convention) for dinner at Sevilla, a tapas restaurant on 4th. Great food, but very dim and very noisy. It’s the one with the suit of plate armor in front of it. It was on the way to dinner that I lost my badge briefly; fortunately it hadn’t fallen too far back, and was still there when I looked.

Afterward, Katie and I returned to the convention center to make use of the wifi for some internet catch-up. We were aiming for the tables and chairs in Sails, but they had been put away for the night, so we settled in on a bench in the Ballroom 20 lobby. The Batman: Under the Red Hood premiere had already started, so the area was mostly empty.

It’s always strange to see the convention center when it isn’t crowded, especially after a full day of Comic-Con. It was quiet, the windows were dark, and most of all there was space. A few small groups were scattered around the lobby like we were. Stragglers wandered through, including three guys singing “Masquerade” from Phantom of the Opera. And over near the corner was a group of twenty or so people in costumes dancing the Macarena. Katie looked up from the computer and wondered if there was a world record for that.

If not, there should be!

This was Friday, July 23, 2010.
Next up: Saturday! Leverage, Harry Potter, No Ordinary Family and more.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.