Clark Kent quits newspaper job in latest Superman comic
Clark Kent turns in his press pass in the latest issue of the Superman comic book series.
October 25th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Clark Kent quits newspaper job in latest Superman comic

Add Superman to the list of reporters leaving the newspaper business behind.

In the comic book series' latest issue, which went on sale Wednesday, an outraged Clark Kent quits his job at The Daily Planet after his boss berates him.

"I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers - that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun," the superhero's alter ego says in a newsroom outburst. "But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can't be the only one who's sick of what passes for the news today."

In Wednesday's issue, Kent tells his editor he's been a journalist for barely five years.

But for decades, his job as a reporter at The Daily Planet has been a mainstay of Superman's story.

Word of the superhero's career move drew attention from media critics and others who've watched the newspaper industry's struggles.

"It seems very overly dramatic," said Erica Smith, a former newspaper employee who's tracked U.S. newspaper industry layoffs and buyouts on her Paper Cuts blog since 2007. "It doesn't seem to me to fit either the industry or the character."

FULL STORY

When fans go too far
Xiah Junsu (left) and Hero Jaejoong (right) are members of the K-Pop band JYJ, which has a saesang following.
October 19th, 2012
07:14 AM ET

When fans go too far

As an overly passionate, silly geek, when I like something, I don't just "like" it. I tend to get excited in a very specific way, going into full fan mode fairly quickly (see this drawing for a visual explanation).

Once I get rolling, I become a constant broadcaster, excitedly telling my friends about my newest obsession, while I wave my hands around in the air for emphasis.

This excitement is called "fangirling" (or fanboying, as the case may be), and it's fairly common behavior when it comes to the nerd world. In fact, it even extends beyond nerds: Stamp collectors, vintage record experts, and doll fanatics have their moments, too. We all light up when we get a chance to talk about the thing we love. When we share our enthusiasm, we welcome another person into our inner circle.

Sometimes, though, in the midst of marathoning yet another Asian drama with impossibly good-looking leading men, I'll catch myself wondering: Is my fandom escapism? And can it go too far?

All pleasures can lead to escapism, but where do they cross over into obsession? Are you obsessive if you spend each year crafting yet another insanely detailed Final Fantasy costume to wear to Dragon Con, or are you merely nurturing your creative pursuits? Is an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek history a good thing, or does the need to keep it up-to-date eventually edge out the necessities of life? FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom • Otaku
A peek into the Japanese franchise industry
"Persona 4 Arena" is a fighting game from Atlus that features many characters from the popular franchise.
October 9th, 2012
11:57 AM ET

A peek into the Japanese franchise industry

While titles like "Street Fighter" and "Mortal Kombat" may ring a bell if you ever spent any time in arcades as a kid, you may not have heard of "Persona." So why is Japan going totally nuts over it, with American otakus quickly following suit?

This August, "Persona 4 Arena," debuted on the U.S. market. The game features popular characters from a Japanese franchise of role-playing games that was founded by gaming company Atlus in 1996. Since its Japanese release on March 1st, the game has sold more than 128,000 units for PlayStation 3, making it the fasting selling fighting game of all time.

Persona's tremendous success as a franchise can be chalked up to a mix of well-defined characters and marketing savvy that the Japanese know how to execute with finesse.

If there's one thing most gamers excel at, it's devotion. Ever since I discovered the first "Final Fantasy," I have stood dutifully at the door of the local game store at the midnight launch, waiting to get my copy.

I fell stone cold in love with "Persona 3" first and worked backwards: The modern fantasy settings, great dialogue and character development have me hooked like a helpless fish.

The latest installment, "Persona 4 Arena," is a perfect example of the power of the Japanese franchise. By appealing to a hardcore Japanese fan base - and the American fans that carefully follow the same trends –and creating a game that features already beloved characters, Atlus is swinging for a home run. Square-Enix did the same in 2008 with "Dissidia Final Fantasy," which featured characters from every major Final Fantasy game and gave fans a chance to fight against one another. The game nailed a spot as the best selling PSP game of 2009 as a result.

However, the way franchises work in Japan is a bit different from the way they work in America. This is a key element to the reason games like "Persona 4 Arena" and "Theatrhythm Final Fantasy" have performed so well. FULL POST

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Filed under: Otaku
'He doesn't like endings,' but ultimately Whovians don't mind
The TARDIS just got a little emptier.
October 4th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

'He doesn't like endings,' but ultimately Whovians don't mind

Spoiler alert: You watched Saturday night's "Doctor Who" mid-season finale, right? If you missed it, or are intending, one day, to Netflix the series and DON'T want any inkling of what happened in the episode, stop reading now. We don't divulge information that hasn't been already well-publicized. But we know even the faintest of spoilers can get you riled up like a Dalek on the trail of a sonic screwdriver. Read at your own risk.

Amy and Rory couldn't travel with The Doctor forever. Not that fans suspected they could - the Doctor's past includes many companions. But now we have to wait until the special Christmas episode, possibly beyond that, to see the next stop on the epic TARDIS hitchhike.

In Saturday’s “Doctor Who” mid-season finale, “change” and “endings” were as thick as the fog that attends the sneaky, predatory weeping angels. For a show about an alien who travels through time saving Earth and thwarting evil across the universe, the message got a bit heavy-handed at times. It was almost as if executive producer Steven Moffat was trying to prepare himself, the Doctor and the audience for the inevitable.

Even Matt Smith (the eleventh man to play the Doctor) was emphasizing that theme in an interview before last month's New York City season premiere screening.

“The show is about change,” he said. “Like Steven likes to say, it can never be predictable, it can never be cozy – It’s got to feel like it’s sort of marking new territory, I think, every season.”

But why belabor the point? This is a television show that for nearly 50 years has established the fact that the characters on the show are always coming and going - including the titular main character, the Doctor (who?) Even relatively new fans (and certainly, American fans fit that bill) of the show have gleaned that time travel is a limited engagement.

That started in 1966, when the show’s original Doctor, William Hartnell, needed to retire due to health issues. The show's producers devised a clever plan to transition to a new actor, Patrick Troughton, in the main character role.

The alien nature of the Doctor provided the fix: As a species known as a Time Lord, the Doctor can regenerate instead of dying in the traditional sense. Once regenerated, the Doctor is essentially a new person: he retains memories from his previous life but has a fresh personality.

This prevents a classic Dick York/Dick Sargent quandary where a new actor is installed and no one is supposed to notice the change. Even better, when an actor takes over the Doctor’s role, they aren’t trying to mimic their predecessor’s performance, which allows them to put a unique spin on the character all while adhering to the show’s canon.

"Doctor Who" fans, or “Whovians,” are unique among television show fandoms in that each fan can point to a favorite version of the Doctor without also having overwhelming disdain for any particular actor in the role. A popular T-shirt cheekily states, “You never forget your first Doctor,” and it’s spot-on; a Whovian’s fan identity is typically established with the first incarnation of the Time Lord (or his companion) they fall in love with. FULL POST

The most popular, epic webcomic you've never heard of
Ed Tan photographed Vriska Serket (left) and Aradia Megido (right) cosplayers at Sakuracon 2012.
October 1st, 2012
01:10 PM ET

The most popular, epic webcomic you've never heard of

Editor's note: Lauren Orsini is a reporter for the Daily Dot, the hometown newspaper of the World Wide Web, the paper of record for what happens online. Follow her on Twitter @laureninspace. You can find more images of "Homestuck" cosplay on photographer Ed Tan's Flickr account.

In an age of computers, smartphones, and instant gratification, studies lead us to believe that our attention spans are the shortest they’ve ever been.

If that were completely true though, a 5,000 plus page webcomic shouldn’t be able to attract millions of fans, much less inspire them to raise a million dollars in under a week.

Homestuck,” cartoonist Andrew Hussie’s longest and latest project, is a video game inspired saga set in the Internet age. In the story, rife with Generation Y pop culture references, teenagers unite through an online game in order to save the world.

“I like Homestuck because it is one of the first pieces of media that genuinely appeals to me as a person who grew up in a very Internet based generation,” wrote Deanna Bennett, 20, in an email responding to my Tumblr request for "Homestuck" fanatics.

“Homestuck is meant to live online. It combines a lot of Internet humor that a lot of mainstream cartoons and comics are trying to desperately to tap but are failing and missing every damn time.”

Sounds like fun, right? But choosing to read it is a big commitment—in the form of hours and hours of free time. Fans compare its length to a that of a Greek epic. It has more than 100 main characters. And instead of comic panels, its gigantic pages are a mix of still and animated images, intimidating walls of text, Flash movies with original music, and even short video games.

“Homestuck is perhaps the first modern work to make full use of the Internet as not just a distribution tool but as a fully realized artistic medium,” wrote Clark Powell, 20. “Text, music, artwork, interactive, and animation are all combined in ways that have never been attempted before. On top of that, Homestuck is a piece of work whose very narrative is something of relevance to a new generation; it is, after all, a comic about the Internet, video games, and pop culture, if it can even be called a ‘comic.’”

Recently, the convoluted comic (and Hussie’s tendency to coin his own vocabulary for the script) prompted PBS’s Idea Channel to speculate that “Homestuck” just might be “the Ulysses of the Internet.” But as host Mike Rugnetta suggests, with great effort comes an incredible reward—the psychological theory of effort justification indicates that fans who stick it out will certainly grow attached. FULL POST

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