Mainstream finally believes fantasy fans
Joffrey Baratheon (played by Jack Gleeson) in HBO's "Game of Thrones."
March 30th, 2012
01:32 PM ET

Mainstream finally believes fantasy fans

When you think of a stereotypical fantasy fan, what image comes to mind for you? A white male, overweight, long hair (possibly braided)?

Is he running through a wooded area, battle axe in hand, participating in a live-action role playing game? Or maybe you see him sitting around a table, a can of Mountain Dew in one hand and a 20-sided die in the other, playing Dungeons & Dragons with a group of friends?

Twenty-five years ago you may not have been far off the mark, but fantasy fans no longer fit into exaggerated stereotypes so easily. Over the last decade, fantasy has moved past the outermost fringe of pop-culture. Today's fantasy fan isn't betrayed by their looks.

And after this weekend, you may be hard pressed to find someone who isn't a fan of some form of epic fantasy.

Season two of HBO’s epic fantasy drama "Game of Thrones," the television adaptation of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, debuts this Sunday. Watching along with the die-hard fans that helped make the book series popular will be a hoard of new, not-necessarily-nerdy fans. Poised to become a crossover hit before the first episode even aired, the show was buoyed by passionate fans of the books who evangelized this particular epic to non-believers for years.

That dedication is finally paying off. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom
Japanese live action adaptations are always awesome
"Rurouni Kenshin" will show in movie theaters in Japan at the end of August.
March 30th, 2012
11:57 AM ET

Japanese live action adaptations are always awesome

When it comes to classic stories in manga, it's almost a sure bet that you'll eventually see your favorite Japanese actors and actresses take to the screen to adapt them to live action.

That's why fans of the Shonen Jump martial arts manga "Rurouni Kenshin" are excited about an upcoming live action adaption of the series. It's slated to come out in October 2012 and stars up-and-coming actor Takeru Satoh, whose face you'll remember if you're up to speed on your J-dramas.

This adaption is hardly setting a trend, though - in Japan, if a manga becomes popular, it's likely to pop up in various other adaptations. It's not unusual to see anime, video games, light novels and even theatrical stage productions of popular franchises spawn after an audience proves they love a manga story.

One example is the popular science fiction manga "Gantz," which tells the story of two friends who die in a train accident and become involved in a cutting-edge game in the afterlife in which they are forced to hunt aliens. "Gantz" quickly became a bestseller and was published in English by Dark Horse in 2007. It has also seen adaptations of every type, the latest being two live action films starring popular Japanese actors Kazunari Ninomiya (also a member of boy band Arashi) and Ken'ichi Matsuyama (best known for his role as "L" in the live action adaption of "Death Note"). FULL POST

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Filed under: Otaku
What's up with manga? A comics fan's deep dive
"Bakuman" is written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata.
March 29th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

What's up with manga? A comics fan's deep dive

Editor's note: Christian Sager is the creator of "Think of the Children" and "Border Crossings." He has also written essays about the comics industry, punk subculture and national identity.

Why do readers of American comics often ignore Japanese manga? Vice-versa, what is so different about American comics that turns off manga readers? The stories in both styles are told in the same medium but for some reason their audiences rarely overlap.

As a reader of American comics I can offer one possible answer: If I wanted to try something new like manga, I would have no idea where to begin. The manga shelves at the book store are intimidatingly packed. How can I know I’m starting with the right manga for me?

My CNN Geek Out! colleague Colette Bennett is a manga expert. I asked her to compare and contrast these two different comics styles in order to find the starting points where curious readers could jump into something outside of their comfort zone.

In preparation for this discussion, I dived in headfirst and read more than 1,000 pages of manga to get a better sense for its stylistic differences. Then, Bennett and I discussed production, pacing, storytelling diversity, themes, regulation of sex and violence, and the economic struggles of both industries. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic Longbox • Otaku
Spider-Man makes an 'Ultimate' return to animation
A still from the upcoming "Ultimate Spider-Man" cartoon.
March 29th, 2012
12:28 PM ET

Spider-Man makes an 'Ultimate' return to animation

Editor's note: Erika D. Peterman is a Florida-based writer and editor, and the co-creator of the comics blog

He’s been Amazing, Spectacular and Unlimited, but the nerdiest hero in comics is going Ultimate for a return to cartoon form.

“Ultimate Spider-Man” premieres Sunday, April 1 (11 a.m. EST), leading Marvel’s new programming block on Disney XD. The lineup includes new animated shorts and the second season of “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” as well as a real-life look at the art and science of superheroes.

It’s not just a Marvel thing. In March, DC Nation launched its own programming block on Cartoon Network. Along with the “Young Justice” and “Green Lantern” cartoons, there are lighthearted short films done in a variety of animation styles, including claymation.

With “The Amazing Spider-Man” live-action film coming to theaters this summer, Peter Parker is having a big year on screens large and small.

“Ultimate Spider-Man” takes its name from the long-running comic book series by writer Brian Michael Bendis, who has written every issue since it debuted in 2000 and serves as the series’ consulting producer/writer. Peter Parker, voiced by Drake Bell, even sports a hairdo similar to the one created by original comic book artist Mark Bagley. The comic currently goes by the name “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man,” in which a new character named Miles Morales has taken up the mantle following Peter Parker’s controversial death last year.

The character has had several cartoon incarnations over the past four decades, most recently in “The Spectacular Spider-Man” animated series that ran from 2008 to 2009. As in this summer’s feature film, Parker is in high school, but “Ultimate Spider-Man” doesn’t dwell on his origin story or his adjustment to becoming a superhero. FULL POST

'Atomic Robo' for the win
Find pulp-inspired fun in "Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #1" from Red 5 Comics.
March 27th, 2012
02:58 PM ET

'Atomic Robo' for the win

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

A butt-kicking robot ventures all over the world, fighting evil scientists, dinosaurs and other robots in this week’s pick, Red 5 Comics' “Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #1.”

This new anthology presents several smaller self-contained stories and strips about the mechanical hero Atomic Robo. It's written by Brian Clevinger and featuring art from John Broglia, Ryan Colby, Yuko Ota, Chris Houghton, Joshua Ross and Scott Wegener.

The last story in "Real Science Adventures #1" is actually part of a larger story that is also in "Atomic Robo Volume 1 #3" but has themes from most of the other Atomic Robos books, like "Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War," "Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time," and "Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science."

I first heard of the book when Evil Hat Produtions announced plans for a table top RPG based on the comic. As a fan of their Dresden Files RPG, I went looking for “Atomic Robo” comic books to see what it was all about. I fell in love!

Also a huge fan of the books, Daniel Dean from Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, said, “I am not the kind of comic fan who sits around hoping and waiting for some TV or film adaptation of their favorite books, but I would tune into an ‘Atomic Robo’ series tomorrow.”

If you’re late to the “Atomic Robo” party, you don't really have to steep yourself in that much background, which is a great aspect about the comic books and hopefully, by extension, the franchise's other platforms. FULL POST

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