Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Road to Civil War: Marvel Renaissance - International premiere hosted by Mark Millar.

I don't think I've ever been to a film premiere before. This was the first international screening of an excellent French documentary on one of my favourite topics, Marvel comics. I am something of a comics history buff and this film focuses on a particularly dramatic period in the Marvel comics story.

Philippe Guedj and Philippe Roure, the creative writer/director duo have told an exciting story on the screen. They grew up reading French translations of Marvel comics and as adults they decided to tell the story of the financial crisis that nearly destroyed the entire American comics industry in the late 1990's.

Many people assume that French comics were all Asterix and Moebius but there was a big Marvel comics market in the 1980s. I remember buying French copies of Serval (Wolverine) when I was a kid on holiday. I remember seeing more Marvel titles available in French newsagents than you could ever buy in a normal British newsagent. I'm not too surprised that these guys have made this film. The film was actually shown on Canal+, the French TV station who make Spiral and The Revenants. Canal+ is a top quality outfit.

So, we have a good quality French film and luckily we have a great story. Nowadays, everyone knows Marvel. Spiderman is an intellectual property that we can all easily believe to be worth a billion dollars. Deadpool has just made a lot of money at the box office. The Avengers are world famous. It is easy to believe that this was all predestined but it nearly didn't happen due to some intricate financial manoeuvres. Marvel were really close to the brink 20 years ago and they were saved by a few slightly maverick creative decisions and some suits who actually understood the comics.

The comic creator talking heads are fun and the financial dealing comes across like Wall Street. Greed was good back then. In some ways the Wall Street philosophy was actually present in the direct sales comics market where speculators would buy multiple copies of unexciting comic books believing that they would gain value and make them rich. It was a bubble and it burst. 

This film, about an interesting period in comic book history where everything could have been lost, deserves a wider audience. Comic book fans in America and the wider world deserve a chance to see this documentary and hear this story. I understand that the team are looking into ways to do this. This would make a perfect Kickstarter DVD project. 

Mark Millar is clearly supportive of these guys and with him onside a Kickstarter could do very well indeed. I understand (from the Q+A session after the film) that they have some longer interview footage that would be ideal for DVD extras. I am sure that some friendly comic creators could be called upon to provide extra rewards for enthusiastic Kickstarter backers. Having enjoyed tonights events they could even offer bespoke screenings at venues in other countries as part of the reward scheme. 

A great film and a great evening! Track down the film if you can.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

why I like audiobooks

I love books.  I love reading.  I love fiction and comics and biography and economics.  I own thousands of books and I have read thousands of books but sometimes life is very busy and i don't get enough time to read.

I also like listening to the radio but I often can't be bothered with specific shows.  Podcasts are great too although production values vary.  As a child I used to love talking books like Winnie the Pooh or Just William or Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.  Modern technology and audible has let me confirm a lot of these things.

Audiobooks are an answer.  More importantly downloading MP3s of audiobooks via audible onto whatever electronic device I have available.  I can listen to audiobooks on my way to work in the train or in the evening in the bath (and sometimes at night when I'm falling asleep as long as my girlfriend does't complain too much).  I can also listen to an audiobook as I do housework or cooking.  It's great.

I've just listened to the most recent Chris Brookmyre book as an audiobook and I loved it.  It's possible to have a fully immersive experience in a convenient way.  I've also listened to books on economics and medicine.

Give it a shot.