Sunday, March 20, 2005

Only tangentially about comics

I'd written a lengthy Jonah Hex entry that meandered toward a point, but I deleted it for some reason. Maybe I'll reconstruct it in a more succinct form once more information is released about the new series. Now on to other things:

The New York Times Magazine (registration required, I think) has a great feature about the history of the Degrassi TV franchise and the international cult status of the current incarnation, Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Written by Ben Neihart, author of the wonderful novel Hey, Joe -- and I'm not saying that only because I was quoted on the jacket of the paperback -- the article notes the guest-starring role of Kevin Smith, who's been a longtime fan of the series. The filmmaker and sometimes comics writer marvels at the creative freedom enjoyed by show creator Linda Schuyler: ''How awesome would it be to have your own universe, where you're telling ongoing stories, and everything is within the confines of this piece of property?''

The piece also mentions the ubiquitous "alpha teen" cartoon characters created by Adrian Tomine for The N, the Viacom-owned cable network that airs Degrassi.
To give the channel a fresh, un-Manhattan look, its designers scouted teenagers' dressers and bedroom walls, finding inspiration in regional T-shirt logos and posters. They filmed empty schools and suburban houses in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and populated them with the Tomine cartoon kids who comment, sometimes in oblique near haiku, about the evening's programming, creating a sort of Degrassi halo effect. ''I like him,'' a cartoon girl says. ''Like a crush?'' her friend asks. ''As much as I like Degrassi!'' the first responds, almost sincerely.
In the Sunday Arts section, The Times looks at the obstacle cartoonist Brad Neely is encountering with screenings of Wizard People, Dear Reader, his "re-envisioning" of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone using a satirical soundtrack.

That obstacle comes in the form of Warner Bros., which has called theaters in New York and Boston to object to the screenings. Those theaters, in turn, have canceled the showings.

"To my knowledge, he has not approached us to ask permission," a studio spokeswoman told The Times.

Neely is upset that Warner Bros. contacted the theaters instead of him: "I give my e-mail address in the recording. And I'm in the phone book. If they ever sent me a cease and desist, I would have. I have no plans now of continuing any wizardly activity."