Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Bookmark and Share
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tim Burton's 1989 adaptation of Batman introduced the notion of the superhero as metaphor for both the celebrity and the tortured artist.

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky.
And as I wonder where you are,
I’m so lonesome I could cry.
—Hank Williams (1923-1953), “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”

There are millions who know his name
Everybody loves him.
Why is it that he feels so alone?
Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise crazy
Just be glad it’s him, not you.
If you had Tom Cruise’s troubles
You might be Tom Cruise crazy, too.
You’d flash your big white shiny smile
And buy expensive shoes
But you’d be the only man on Earth who couldn’t enjoy Tom Cruise.
—Jonathan Coulton (1970-present), “Tom Cruise Crazy”

Growing up in oppressive suburban America, Tim Burton felt trapped. And in a place filled with nothing but white picket fences protecting white houses filled with white families, what creative individual wouldn’t? It’s no wonder, then, that the acclaimed auteur of such films as Big Fish and Ed Wood found himself struggling with depression, fighting to escape from the box suburbia attempted to trap him in.

It’s a theme inherent in most of his work; in his retelling of Planet of the Apes, the astronaut Leo Davidson finds himself in a backwards society, trapped by those who would make him a slave as he attempts to return to his homeworld. The recent Alice in Wonderland subverts gender expectations of your usual Burton film—and for the period in which it takes place—as young Alice Kingsley rejects British customs and instead decides to make her own way in the world, taking what most people of the time would consider a man’s job.

Bookmark and Share
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Surely not? Surely not Batman on Broadway?! What's next... Batman on Ice?

I’ve been in a bit of a funk ever since I heard about the planned Broadway adaptation of Batman. Some things just shouldn’t go from the page to the stage and Batman’s one of them. Now, yes, I can imagine a child enjoying the Bam! Pow! Action of the Dark Knight live and in the flesh, but there’s just something wrong, nay, unholy about a Batman stage show.

First off, it reminds me of when I saw Bugs Bunny in Space on stage as a child. An enjoyable outing, but do we really want Batman reduced to the level of the legendary, albeit hardcore cartoony character Bugs Bunny? What’s next: Batman on Ice? Actually, that would be kinda cool. I might prefer that to a stage version of Batman. There’s just something wrong with Batman flying around stage like Peter Pan with Jungian shadow issues. Especially if there’s no music.

Bookmark and Share
Monday, May 3, 2010
Wrapping up his coverage of the recent Pittsburgh Comic Convention, Andy Smith discovers something that puts the gathering into a different perspective.

It’s the third day of the Pittsburgh Comicon, and I feel like I’ve experienced it all.

I’ve scoured through back issues and held Amazing Fantasy #15 until the dealer started to appear nervous. I’ve high-fived every Star Wars character I’ve seen, including the lazy ones who simply donned a robe for Jedi Knighthood. I’ve had conversations with medium legends like Roy Thomas and Joe Sinnott. Most importantly, I capitalized on the booth giving away free energy drinks.

But as I walk by one particular booth, promoting Mark Mariano’s comicbook Happyloo and music act The Omatics, I notice a scene that puts the convention in a different perspective.

Bookmark and Share
Monday, May 3, 2010
Along with its fast-paced and noir-influenced story, this lost classic of gekiga offers insights into a transformational artist and his feverish process.

Black Blizzard presents a fascinating reading experience. A “thriller-manga” from 1956, and an early example of the gekiga style of Japanese comic, Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s Blizzard is also inexorably connected to his 2009 memoir, A Drifting Life. It’s hard to read one without rushing to consult the other.

An epic autobiographical comic, Drifting Life examines not only Tatsumi’s life and development as an artist, but also Japanese post-war society and the growth and development of the manga industry. In several sections, he describes his thinking and ambitions leading up to the creation of Blizzard, as well as the exhausting, exhilarating 20-day marathon creative session that produced the comic.

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Apr 29, 2010

It’s the second day of the Pittsburgh Comicon, and I’m stuck behind two Mandalorians in line for a slice of pizza.

I rarely take note of costumed fans at conventions. But as I see the two intergalactic bounty hunters ahead of me and an impatient Lobo behind me, I begin to ask the obvious question.

What’s with the costumes?

Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2014 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.