Tributes pour in for comics artist Jean 'Moebius' Giraud
Jean "Moebius" Giraud, in Paris in 2010.
March 12th, 2012
04:31 PM ET

Tributes pour in for comics artist Jean 'Moebius' Giraud

Just one week after the loss of "Star Wars'" conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie and Golden Age comic book artist Sheldon Moldoff, fans were in mourning yet again when the publisher Dargaud announced the death of Jean Giraud, sometimes known by the pseudonym Moebius, had died over the weekend at the age of 73.

Giraud got his start drawing "bandes dessinées" (French comic strips and comic books) in the 1950s. He gained fame in the comics world with his illustrations of the Western character, Blueberry.

In 1975, now working under the name Moebius, he and three collaborators began work on the comics magazine "Heavy Metal," which became so popular that it became a feature film in 1981.

Moebius' dreamlike landscapes caught the attention – not just of the U.S. comic book world – but of Hollywood. His conceptual art informed the looks of the science fiction films "Alien," "Tron," and "The Fifth Element."
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'Journey' and the rewards of contemplative gaming
A scene from "Journey."
March 9th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

'Journey' and the rewards of contemplative gaming

When it comes to the words "video games," most people think about a fast-paced, action-oriented setting, possibly with lots of shooting and maybe even some splashes of blood for good measure. But gamers don't only crave that type of experience - in fact, both gamers and critics alike give rave reviews to titles that cultivate intellectual and even spiritual gaming leanings.

March 13 marks the official launch of the fourth game from indie studio thatgamecompany, known for their interesting and beautiful titles that defy conventional standards. Called "Journey," this "interactive parable to experience a person's life passage," as it is described on the official website, places the player in the role of a silent robed figure standing alone in a sea of glimmering sand dunes.

In the distance, a great mountain is silhouetted against the sky with a glow of light at the peak. Your destination is to reach that place, and learn what it may contain. The metaphor is clear: This is our life journey, and we will walk it to pursue whatever may lie at its end.

Unlike most current games, "Journey" is a very pared down, simplistic experience. In fact, the game only contains one word of text: The opening title. Beyond that, there is no dialogue, only the sound of your character's feet slicing through the sand as it presses forward. From start to finish, everything about this mysterious and beautiful experience is entirely open to interpretation, and the overall feeling of playing is one of serenity and peace. FULL POST

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The animal celebs of Japan: Maru, Otousan, Shironeko and more
Shironeko has his own calendar.
March 9th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

The animal celebs of Japan: Maru, Otousan, Shironeko and more

America is no stranger to cute animal culture. Memes featuring lolcats have been popular since 2006, Cute Overload spearheaded the cute animal blog movement in a huge way years back, and a cleverly shaved Pomeranian named Boo has more than 3 million fans on Facebook.

Clearly, people really enjoy animals, and the way they have been idolized as a part of Internet culture comes across loud and clear. Simply put, an animal brings a smile to the face of most, and it's hard to wear a frown when you're watching a baby lemur happily hold up his arms for a massage.

Leave it to Japan to take something like cute animal culture and put a new spin on it. And the animal celebrities of Japan are quite distinctive.

Shironeko and his cat family are not new to the Internet (English websites have called him "basket cat" because of his propensity for sleeping in baskets), but they are something of a phenomenon. With 540 YouTube videos, a blog and even a Twitter account, it's apparent that Shironeko and his family members have major presence when it comes to Japanese fans.

Each day, a new video is uploaded of one or several of the cats, although Shiro is featured predominantly. The most popular videos in the series show the cats sitting calmly as their owner stacks fruit on them, dresses them in empty ramen bowls and more. It's kind of like the Japanese version of Stuff on My Cat, but more bizarre. FULL POST

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Women! Embrace your inner geek
Welli Dai
March 8th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Women! Embrace your inner geek

Editor's note: Weili Dai is co-founder of Marvell Technology Group, a leading global technology company that makes chips for smartphones, Google TV, cloud services and other connected consumer devices. She is the only female co-founder of a global semiconductor company in the world.

Technology is one of the key drivers of female economic empowerment, but the fields that women choose to participate in are still decidedly gendered.

In science, technology, engineering and mathematics, men far outnumber women in the classroom and the boardroom. In the United States, less than 20% of engineering and computer science majors are women.

It is pure mythology that women cannot perform as well as men in science, engineering and mathematics. In my experience, the opposite is true: Women are often more adept and patient at untangling complex problems, multitasking, seeing the possibilities in new solutions and winning team support for collaborative action.

To rectify this imbalance, I believe we must give young girls access to tools and devices that will implant an early desire to learn about technology. In the long term, toys, games and devices that challenge girls academically will help them contribute to the scientific ecosystem.

I believe it is in the world's interest to develop environments that fully engage women and leverage their natural talents.

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What happens when artists run the show
Art from the cover of "Spawn" #1 from 1992.
March 8th, 2012
01:21 PM ET

What happens when artists run the show

When Kyle Puttkammer opened his comic book shop 21 years ago, he didn't know he was witnessing an event that would change the industry forever.

“Back in 1991, there was a wave of interest in superstar artists," said Puttkammer of  Galactic Quest Comics, Games & Toys, which has two stores in Georgia. "All of these artists were generating a following."

Six of these superstars – Marvel Comics illustrators Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, and Jim Valentino – left Marvel to create Image Comics. Their attempt to get full creative control sent shockwaves through the industry. (Whilce Portacio and writer Chris Claremont, of "Uncanny X-Men" fame also left Marvel at that time, but eventually withdrew from the Image Comics project.)

How important was Image in the 1990s?  The company made a "huge difference in our business," Puttkammer said.

(To be sure, Puttkammer noted that Dark Horse Comics allowed creative control six years prior to Image Comics' launch, but Dark Horse mostly concentrated on established franchises, with a few exceptions like Mike Mignola's "Hellboy.")

“Image was the first to say, we’re artists, we want to put our best foot forward when it comes to presentation," Puttkammer noted. "It might cost a little bit more but the paper quality’s gonna be better. It’s gonna be glossy, heavier stock."

The company was an overnight sales success.

"In the past, having that 'i' on a book guaranteed a strong seller," said Puttkammer. "A lot of Image Comics would get on the cover of Wizard magazine (which carried a price guide for investment comics). Retailers wouldn’t order enough. The price would go up in value. If you can take $2.00 and turn it into $20.00 within a year, that’s a no-brainer." FULL POST

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