Comics

Larry Hagman Rides the Batmobile to Work: Rob Salkowitz's "Comic-Con" Pt3

There's jazz coming in from who-knows-where as I finally put Rob's Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture down. It floods in by the windows, it fills the room. These really are the best of times.

There's jazz coming in from who-knows-where as I finally put Rob's Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture down. It floods in by the windows, it fills the room. These really are the best of times.

I've had to sherpa my own way through Rob's book, and I don't mind saying that it was no hardship, and that I enjoyed every minute of it. If anything, Rob has found a unique voice among business writers. He writes passionately not about the lurking enormity of search as Ken Auletta did in Googled nor does he write about the human revolution of connecting via the internet, as David Kirkpatrick did in The Facebook Effect. Instead, what Rob finds is a deep honestness in the very things were thought of as throwaway culture. Comics, Rob reminds us all, is the very foundry of not only popculture, but of twenty-first century business.

One of the tracts that stand out on this reread of Rob's Comic Con goes around transmedia. Just as an aside, transmedia is the core of the book, and it is new and fertile field of analysis for Rob, and a new conceptual lens. It inhabits every crevasse of this book, fills every recess. Rob's nothing if not diligent, dogged even in trace out those many contours of this new phenomenon that is transmedia. But this time round, among all those careful teasings-out of the concept and its real-world execution, one tract does stand out.

Our heroes for the book, Rob and his wife Eunice, have made it through Hotelaween and have helped friends setup their stand on Wednesday's Preview. Now it's Thursday's Liftoff, and the day is wearing on. Our heroes are in a danger they haven't realized yet--they've not eaten the entire day. Will they survive? In this episode, they join the panel for the TV show Wilfred. And it's Rob's keen eye that observes the invisible effect of transmedia.

In a nutshell, transmedia is the idea that Intellectual Properties will find a meaningful, viable place across all media. That Batman won't simply be a comicbook superhero but will appear in videogames and in TV shows and in movies. And here's the kicker. That the Batman appearing across those media, will operate in accord with the genre conventions of those media. That the videogame Batman will be every bit the equal of Assassins Creed or Call of Duty. That the TV show Batman will high-level TV the equal of Lost or Glee.

But while framing his experience of the Wilfred panel, Rob makes what I've be now come to accept as a classic Rob observation--that transmedia also has a doppler effect, that it also means the superhero genre, and the comicbook genre codes have entered into the unconscious of the popular imagination. That without transmedia, mainstream audiences wouldn't be ready for shows like Wilfred or like Family Guy.

So when you think back to Dallas the next time you do think back to Dallas and you wonder for the umpteenth time who shot JR, wonder something else instead. Wonder if JR faked his own shooting, and if he drove off the set that day in the Batmobile. Transmedia, Rob reminds us, reaches far beyond the patently ridiculous gesturing of the postmodern kind, and gives us a workable format for the future of popculture. And once you realize that, you'll realize that the true gift in Rob's book is how very hard it becomes for you to decide, whether you're a business reader reading a popculture book, or a comics fan reading a business book.

Rob's Comic Con and the Business of Pop Culture is available on Amazon as of today.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image