I think it’s time to talk a bit about comics again, it’s been a while. As I said before is Hiveworks a treasure trove for great comics and I’d like to introduce you to these two relatively new titles.
I’m not entirely sure why I chose the spooky theme for this though. Maybe it’s because I recently finished reading The Sandman; maybe it’s because I’m already contemplating a Halloween-vacation to Ireland again; maybe it’s because I’ve drafted a sequel to Winter Moon and am thinking about expanding it further; maybe it’s because both comics are seemingly at a tipping point for the narration into something quite interesting; maybe it’s just because I want to write about them.
Take your pick and enjoy the read. 😉
This comic literally starts with something that goes bump in the night, so it was kind of also the inspiration for the title. Black Grass tells the story of Reverent Abel Ruby (front) who besides being a preacher is also a medium (according to the description is he also clairvoyant, but that hasn’t appeared yet) and therefore able to interact with ghosts. One ghost in particular – Blue Valentine (back) gets him into a rather sticky situation involving hellish bureaucracy…
What drew me to this comic was pretty much the whole idea of a preacher-medium and I’m certain that DarkFairy’s Coelestin is entirely to blame for this – and I made sure to tell her about it when I discovered the comic (back in May last year apparently o.O) – even if he so far only had to deal with celestial poultry. 😀
Anyway, with close to a 100 pages it’s easy to catch up with this one – and hard to write about it without giving too much away, especially as the narration is quite fluid and fast. The characters are great and lovely and definitely not what you’d expect at first glance, especially Rejean seems to have a few more tricks up their sleeves that I’m quite looking forward to see…
I also really like the art style, the play with colours (especially when including the neon ones) and the way the different characters (humans, ghosts, demons) are designed. It balances well between light hearted humour and serious topics (death, duh) and I’m really curious where the story will lead.
Headless Bliss by Chloé C in turn has a more adult air about it. It deals with nightmares, demons, cannibalism, but most of all: stories; or rather: What happens to the stories a writer abandons?
The Comic tells the story of Sinaj an incomplete story, created by a human, that tries to find meaning in her existence. On her way she encounters demon princess Annùn and the two of them become quite unusual friends. When Annùn’s mother Diov throws a human, that carries around the head of its twin (see picture), into the celebratory battle for her daughter things start going from bad to worse…
With a combination of an intriguing and intentionally „ugly“ (read not clean cut, but wobbly, weird and horrific) drawing style (befitting the genre) and interesting story telling, world building and characters this comic makes for a great read, even if some scenes are quite gruesome and disturbing (especially the tale of the Twins). It’s definitely not for for the faint hearted…
The story telling aspect itself is well interwoven in between the struggles of and between the characters and underlined with fascinating usage of movement without using panels and different kinds of narrative styles. One of the background stories is even told as another characters‘ weird dreams and as someone who also has veeery strange dreams that is something I can definitely relate to.
Interesting thing to know: It’s becoming more and more clear that this story has a larger connection to Chloé’s other work Go Get a Roomie, not just its creator. 😉
I hoped you enjoyed this little look into two great webcomics. 🙂
Have you read them?
Do you know others with similar themes?
Let me know in the comments below!
I know at least a couple of other comics with a similar theme, but on the one hand do I prefer focusing on two at a time with these things and on the the other hand do I think that they would work well enough on their own too.
So stay tuned for future updates.
Contrary to what I told you last week do you get a different post than you might have expected, I just needed to get this out of my system after watching the new Ghostbusters movie yesterday evening – there will be Spoilers.
But before we start into the movie review let’s take a look at the Ghostbusters in my past: When I grew up I loved the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series (never quite got into Extreme Ghostbusters though) and I don’t know how many times I watched the re-runs of the original Ghostbusters movie(s). It was quirky, it was fun and it had really cool characters – and lots of ghosts.
So you can probably imagine my scepticism when I heard they wanted to reboot it with a gender-swapped cast. At first I thought it would be just a fan-cast or a joke but when the first Trailers were released it felt more like it was actually going to happen, though it still left me sceptic about it and worried they’d turn it into a fully-fledged gag reel instead of a proper movie.
But what is it about?
Physics Professor Erin Gilbert tries her hardest to get a permanent job at the university she works at, but a book (Ghosts from our Past) she wrote with her high school friend Abby Yates about their scientific theories about ghosts comes round and bites her in the butt when the curator of a supposedly haunted museum turns to her for help.
Furious to find out the book is being sold without her permission she confronts Abby, who is by now working with engineer Jillian Holtzmann on realising their theories. When Erin mentions the curator the three of them (reluctantly in Erin’s case) run off to investigate, but what they find is more than they had ever wished for when they come face to face with a real ghost – and its slime/ectoplasm.
Thanks to the witness account and help of Patty Tolan they soon discover that this and other sightings were not just a coincidence and the aptly called „Ghostbusters“, who everyone things are frauds, have to save New York from a hoard of ghosts, when overlooked hotel staff member Rowan decides to break the barrier between this world and the ghost realm.
The watching experience
Originally I wanted to watch this with Schmusi and Anna but as it was only available in 3D they had to opt out and I went to see it on my own. When I entered the cinema I was surprised to find so many people from all kinds of different age groups already sitting there (Okay, the schools have summer holidays, it was cinema day and the movie was thediscount feature film, but it was still more than I expected). As it turned out most of them were just casually watching as I barely heard any reactions to cameos and inside jokes.
Anyway, as soon as the first ghost was shown and the theme tune started playing I was hooked and I think I had the silliest of grins on my face throughout the whole movie. While the story wasn’t the most innovative one and not all the jokes worked (the soup one did get a bit boring the third time around, but the final iteration was still fun), was it still full of the charm I had loved about the original. This combined with pretty cool visual effects and a great usage of 3D made for a really enjoyable time. The ghost hoard was amazing and the jump scare of the first ghost really got me. And even if the fight scenes felt a bit over the top (like in pretty much every super hero movie) – and lacked the explanation of how they could destroy the ghosts with the proton containment laser when previously they could only contain it – they were still really amazing and fun to watch. It was also interesting to see that they used more than the actual screen for the effects when slime and Patty’s necklace went across the border of the movies‘ frame.
There were a few scenes were I wasn’t sure what to think about them at first but they turned out great. One of them was the haunted Metal concert and, as a Metalhead myself, I feared they would go for the stereotypes of drunk, satanic Metalheads, but they didn’t. They showed us like we are: A chill bunch of people wishing each other a good time and enjoying the music we love. The only thing weird about it was the singers reaction, but I guess it was better than admitting that there was a freaking ghost in the concert hall. 😀
The other scene was were Rowan possessed Abby. I had seen it in the previews and already considered it weird, but seeing how Rowan interacted later on it wasn’t that strange any more.
And now for the best part of the watching experience: The glorious cameos – even if for a long time it sounded like none of the original cast members wanted to participate in this.
Whether it was Bill Murray’s (Peter Venkman) sceptical Debunker, Dan Aykroyd’s (Raymond „Ray“ Stantz) cabbie with a remark to the ghosts around him just being „minor level five apparitions“ and that „he ain’t afraid of no ghost„, Ernie Hudson’s (Winston Zeddemore) funeral home owner – and involuntary provider of Ecto 1 – or Annie Potts (JanineMelnitz) as hotel clerk and Sigourney Weaver (Dana Barrett) as Holtzmann’s mentor. And of course Slimer and the Stay Puft Marschmallow Man. I think I made a funny noise at every last one of them. Though it is unfortunate that Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler) couldn’t participate – though having one of the (more relaxed) ghosts look like him would have been a pretty neat tribute, but the bust was cool too – and Rick Moranis (Louis Tully) declined too so. The other thing I was kind of waiting for was the „crossing of the streams“ that saved the day in the original, but wasn’t necessary here. Though somehow it felt as if none of the people around me reacted in the slightest to any of the cameos, which I found pretty weird.
What I didn’t get either was that they also left the cinema as soon as the credits started. By now it’s more common than not that outtakes, additional scenes or other things are shown in them and this movie did not disappoint in that respect either. It had a dance off between Rowan-possessed Kevin and the police force, three or four more scenes, including one leading to a possible sequel with another reference to the original and a karaoke version of the theme song, with videos of tons of Ghostbuster fans singing along (I was very close to singing along in the cinema as well…). And at the very end a personal greeting/thank you by the leading ladies. 😉
Movies like this stand and fall with their actors and with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones they provided a cast with both comedic talent/timing and the ability to portray more serious elements – even if there weren’t that many.
The Ghostbuster-girls are quirky, smart and different, flawed even, but in my book that’s a good thing. We learn a little about the back stories of Abby and Erin, that they were bullied and excluded because of what they liked. We see how rudely Patty is treated in her MTA booth and can imagine peoples reaction to Holtzmann’s creepy genius. Some of it was over the top, but it still felt natural for the character to be like that, eccentric and cartoonish, if you will. It just fit the theme. They weren’t just the super smart ghost hunting physicists, no, they complained about soup-content, acted awkwardly around other people, were boisterous and flirty and all in all just really enthusiastic about what they did and that made them just so much more human.
I was a bit annoyed at Erin’s fawning over Kevin, but it was still adorable in a way – and true to the origin if you see this has homage to Venkman’s flirtations. Speaking of Kevin, well, he was far more useless than Janine ever was. Janine was awesome, Janine had snark, he was just the perfect mixture of incompetency and (male) arrogance combined with a pretty face – the sandwich discussion at the end did not improve his role to me. I really don’t understand why/how the girls can put up with him… I would have kicked him out on the first day, though I probably wouldn’t even have hired him… What I found funny was the comment about him being a possible „Superhero“ and I couldn’t stop myself from comparing one of his fight scenes to what I’ve seen of Thor. Probably only funny for me, was the fact that – at least in the German version – they keep referring to him as their „Empfangsdame“ (literally: reception lady; otherwise: receptionist).
If you know the original characters you start comparing the new ones to them at some point, but even if all of the scientists have something from Egon, that is pretty much where that comparison ends. You have little things that remind you of them, like I mentioned before, but you can’t say: Erin is the new Egon, Abby is Ray, Patty is Winston, because that would leave Holtzmann for Venkman and that wouldn’t work, she’s too eccentric and committed. Neither would it work to put her in Egon’s shoes and Erin in Venkman’s. Likewise would the comparison with Abby and Patty only go as far as their compassion (and background in Patty’s case). I do believe this is the most difficult thing about a reboot like this: Seeing the new guys as their own characters and not as knock-offs of the originals. And I think they did a pretty good job at that. They don’t feel like Ghostbusters 2.0, they are the Ghostbusters, even if they are the new guys in town. 😉
The bad guy, Rowan, was in his essence quite lame, but he posed an interesting alternative to the heroines journey. He complained about being bullied and misunderstood and therefore wanting to bring about the 4th cataclysm, but as Abby points out herself: They went through the same things (and became kick-ass Ghostbusters). But instead of pulling through like the girls, he became a deranged and strange man, that isolated himself even more from society. I didn’t feel any kind of pity for him or otherwise thought his motives to be anything more than a sorry excuse to wreak havoc. Interestingly did he make a much more interesting ghost than human, suddenly he dared to do things – even if that meant toying with an assembled police force while possessing an Empfangsdame.
After all those I’m still not entirely sure what to make of the Mayor, his assistant and the Homeland Security guys – or what they were good for. The only thing I know is that the latter felt useless, the assistant annoyed me incredibly and the Mayor seemed quite stupid. It showed well how politics are willing (and capable) to cover stuff up and declare it fake, but you could have done that with less frustrating characters.
Interesting though was the comment that
„someone let the cat out of the bag before and the people forgot“
Was this just another nod to the originals or a big hint that they have really happened and people just forgot? Would this mean that the cameos weren’t that, but that these people were the original Ghostbusters (and why did they not acknowledge their successors)? Was this the reason the media was so fast on calling them „Ghostbusters“? Questions upon questions…
Even if non of these musing are correct, it certainly fits into the nowadays mentality that things are forgotten as soon as no media stations report about any more.
Short and brief: I loved it. More please. 😀
There certainly are things it could improve on, e.g. a more fluid story telling (it dragged on a bit during the middle), less caricatures in the characters and less bland and annoying side characters, but all in all was it an enjoyable watch from start to the final greeting. I’d really like to see more of the modernized franchise, we certainly have the technology for it now. Though I’m not entirely sure a new version of the Zuul story line would sit well with the fans, even if it’d be interesting to see how they’d pull it off. I’m no longer sceptic, I’m hooked and curious how and if this’ll continue. 😀
Stuff I’d like to add
This movie – and especially its actors – received a lot of backlash for daring to reboot such a classic with a gender-swapped cast and that mostly before the movie even started to film. I honestly don’t understand such sentiments, but I don’t understand a lot of stuff happening in different Fandoms, because I would never even think of doing such a thing… I’m of the opinion everyone should figure out things for themselves and not complain about something they haven’t even seen yet.
I said I was sceptical about the whole project, but that didn’t keep me from watching and, as I told you above, enjoying it; the grin I mentioned still returning whenever I think about it. That’s why I really don’t understand how people can say this movie ruined their childhood, I most certainly believe it enhanced mine. They took something I loved as a kid and turned it into something just as incredible. It’s simply brilliant. 😀