A Dose of Whatever

The Amalgamated Ramblings and Compiled Sartorial Observations of whatever happens to peak Andrés Markwart's interest. Lets do it.
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God Speed good sir…

In an effort to stick to brevity…

This year’s host Seth MacFarlane was hit or miss, depending on whether you like his frat boy humor or not. He started off great, “And the quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh begins!”…that’s genuinely funny haha. But more often than not the jokes felt more suited to a Comedy Central Roast than an awards ceremony recognizing the best in motion picture/cinema. On a whole though, aided by their so called celebration of musicals, and a very underwhelming (lame) tip of their hat to 50 years of James Bond, these Oscars (shortened from The Academy Awards…must have been cut for time) were enough of a change from those of the recent past, but more so simply a attempted scramble to possibly make inroads with younger viewers…

On a higher note however, Adele was perfection once again, singing “Skyfall” from the Bond film of the same name.

And following in the same foot steps, the acceptance speeches by Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence respectively were worth tuning into. Profound, emotional, funny, and oozing sincerity. A really lovely moment.

So much for brevity eh…

There was no clear break away winner this year….though Life of Pi did win 4 awards, including Best Director Ang Lee. I would try to use that as a reason for my score, but lets be honest, it doesn’t really play a factor haha. Nonetheless though 15/24 or 63% is definitely an improvement from previous years, and with my track record, I’ll take it.

Out of the more notable awards, I failed to predict Jennifer Lawrence, Christoph Waltz and Ang Lee winning for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Director respectively.

I figured the Academy would continue to hold off on giving Lawrence an Oscar due to her age, and apparent future longevity in the industry, and would rather award it to an older actress.

With Christoph Waltz, and the whole Supporting Actor category in general, I was picking a winner at random due to strong performances across the board.

And I didn’t expect Ang Lee to win at all, more so due to being somewhat still upset that Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Best Director haha, and also thoroughly enjoying Lincoln.

All in all, whether they sucked or excelled, I would have watched this years Oscars either way. There were some terrific films nominated this year, and many more that weren’t, so do try to make an effort and check them out…especially the animated and live action shorts and documentaries :)

63% is an improvement, and I look towards next year!

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
  • Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
  • Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
  • Denzel Washington - Flight

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuella Riva - Amour
  • Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts - The Impossible

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Arkin - Argo
  • Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams - The Master
  • Sally Field - Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables
  • Helen Hunt - The Sessions
  • Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook

Animated Feature Film

  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • ParaNorman
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Wreck-It-Ralph


  • Seamus McGarvey - Anna Karenina
  • Robert Richardson - Django Unchained
  • Claudio Miranda - Life of Pi
  • Janusz Kaminski - Lincoln
  • Roger Deakins - Skyfall

Costume Design

  • Jacqueline Durran - Anna Karenina
  • Paco Delgado - Les Misérables
  • Joanna Johnston - Lincoln
  • Eiko Ishioka - Mirror Mirror
  • Colleen Atwood - Snow White and the Huntsman


  • Michael Haneke - Amour
  • Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Ang Lee - Life of Pi
  • Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
  • David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook

Documentary Feature

  • 5 Broken Cameras
  • The Gatekeepers
  • How to Survive a Plague
  • The Invisible War
  • Searching for Sugar Man

Documentary Short Subject

  • Inocente
  • Kings Point
  • Mondays at Racine
  • Open Heart
  • Redemption

Film Editing

  • William Goldenberg - Argo
  • Tim Squyres - Life of Pi
  • Michael Kahn - Lincoln
  • Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg - Zero Dark Thirty

Foreign Language Film

  • Amour (Austria)
  • Kon-tiki (Norway)
  • No (Chile)
  • A Royal Affair (Denmark)
  • War Witch (Canada)


  • Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel - Hitchcock
  • Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell - Les Misérables

Music (Original Score)

  • Dario Marianelli - Anna Karenina
  • Alexandre Desplat - Argo
  • Mychael Danna - Life of Pi
  • John Williams - Lincoln
  • Thomas Newman - Skyfall

Music (Original Song)

  • "Before My Time" - Chasing Ice
  • "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" - Ted
  • "Pi’s Lullaby" - Life of Pi
  • "Skyfall - Skyfall
  • "Suddenly" - Les Misérables

Production Design

  • Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration) - Anna Karenina
  • Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration) - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration) - Les Misérables
  • David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) - Life of Pi
  • Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration) - Lincoln

Short Film (Animated)

  • Adam And Dog
  • Fresh Guacamole
  • Head Over Heels
  • Maggie Simpson In ‘The Longest Daycare’
  • Paperman

Short Film (Live Action)

  • Asad
  • Buzkashi Boys
  • Curfew
  • Death Of A Shadow (Dood Van Een Schaduw)
  • Henry

Sound Editing

  • Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van Der Ryn - Argo
  • Wylie Stateman - Django Unchained
  • Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton - Life of Pi
  • Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers - Skyfall
  • Paul N.J. Ottosson - Zero Dark Thirty

Sound Mixing

  • John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia - Argo
  • Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes - Les Misérables
  • Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin - Life of Pi
  • Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins - Lincoln
  • Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson - Skyfall

Visual Effects

  • Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White - Life of Pi
  • Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick - Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill - Prometheus
  • Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson - Snow White And The Huntsman

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • Chris Terrio - Argo
  • Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • David Magee - Life Of Pi
  • Tony Kushner - Lincoln
  • David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • Michael Haneke - Amour
  • Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
  • John Gatins - Flight
  • Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom
  • Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty


“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society,…

The 2011 Stanley Cup Riot Recap: The Day Anarchy punched Athleticism square in the Jaw

A series that should have been a celebration of the best in a sport, no matter the out come, was capped off not by congratulations and pride in a heart felt effort, but rather by a night of violence, fear, anger, and disappointment.

While Boston’s victory is etched onto Lord Stanley’s Cup, it is humanity’s particular decent into chaos and lawlessness that night, that reverberates still today.

One year later, these are but a sampling of the images and memories engraved upon this particular, embedded photographer…

The 2011 Stanley Cup Riot Recap: The Day Anarchy punched Athleticism square in the Jaw

A series that should have been a celebration of the best in a sport, no matter the out come, was capped off not by congratulations and pride in a heart felt effort, but rather by a night of violence, fear, anger, and disappointment.

While Boston’s victory is etched onto Lord Stanley’s Cup, it is humanity’s particular decent into chaos and lawlessness that night, that reverberates still today.

One year later, these are but a sampling of the images and memories engraved upon this particular, embedded photographer…

The 2011 Stanley Cup Riot Recap: The Day Anarchy punched Athleticism square in the Jaw

A series that should have been a celebration of the best in a sport, no matter the out come, was capped off not by congratulations and pride in a heart felt effort, but rather by a night of violence, fear, anger, and disappointment.

While Boston’s victory is etched onto Lord Stanley’s Cup, it is humanity’s particular decent into chaos and lawlessness that night, that reverberates still today.

One year later, these are but a sampling of the images and memories engraved upon this particular, embedded photographer…

Having taken time off to recover from the nerdgasm that was this film, and after an incalculable number of failed attempts to summon wording eloquent or worthy enough to begin reviewing this movie, I will simply commence by stating that "The Avengers" (2012) is the summation of everything I could have ever wanted this film to be, and more!…and for my two cents, is the greatest comic book film adaptation ever made. This is not a motion picture that relies simply on a marvel of special effects or dramatically engrossing and emotionally compromising set pieces…of which, I might add, there are many to behold…but rather, and if I may paraphrase words from the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr. it relies simply on the content of character.

Via 2008’s "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk", "Iron Man 2" (2010), and 2011’s "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" we were introduced to characters whose controlled chaos assembled in one singular film might have seemed an impossibility. Each of the lead up films were divergent in tone and genre; sailing upon plot lines that seem to hail from universes far apart. But it is within that maelstrom of possible incoherence that writer/director Josh Whedon chooses to anchor his ship.

Whedon, who has always been defined as either the “unknown” or “much beloved” brilliant mastermind and fan boy standard bearer behind past works such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003), “Angel” (1999-2004), “Firefly” (2002), the far under appreciated follow up film “Serenity” (2005), and his much revered 24 issue run on the “Astonishing X-Men” series for Marvel Comics, tackles “The Avengers” by doing exactly what we have all waited so long for a comic book film director to do. With this ode to joy, he unapologetically embraces the apparent absurdity of the source material without insulting it; which is a huge part of what makes this film so successful. Time and time again we have been force fed watered down or “more realistic” interpretations of comic book characters and mythos long held dear by fans young and old. Whether it be replacing blue and yellow costumes with tight leather jumpsuits or visually turning Catwoman into a lady of the night, this sodomizing of beloved source material has gone on for far too long.

Luckily, aided by the 5 prequel films, “The Avengers” digs its roots deep within the comic book lore instead of nonchalantly tossing it aside…so much so, that when the massive Helicarrier rises out of the ocean and disappears into the sky, or when a certain Norse god of Thunder lands on top of the Quinjet, it carriers just as much gravitas as our belief of water being wet.

Although being immersed within a wondrous bevy of settings and character designs, traditional costumes and detailed back stories, it is the very human emotional qualities at play to which we are most drawn. The intertwined friction rout out of the color wheel of personalities that make up the team not only bring to the surface some of the best twin fisted, punch and punchline combinations seen in recent memory, but also lead us along a tightrope walk of our own emotional spectrum. Through the immaculately written script of Whedon and Zak Penn, that is nothing short of an experiment into social chemistry, these facets of human emotion and reaction are further accentuated by the top notch performances brought by every single actor in this feature. Though each actor deserves special mention for their particular excellence, I will simply focus on the two characters that I believe most needed to be portrayed correctly for this film to succeed: primarily The Incredible Hulk and in a close second, Loki.

Mark Ruffalo, who as the fourth major actor to step into the shoes of Dr. Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, drew a certain level of ire from fans and even casual film connoisseurs upon his casting. However, he proves every single hater soundly wrong, and delivers a performance as both the world weary Dr. Banner and the Hulk that is nothing short of extraordinary. Contrary to past incarnations, Ruffalo quite literally plays both parts, providing motion capture for a Hulk that is far more than simple CGI, and gives us a monster that when engulfed by rage is finally actually quite frightening. And yet, due to the aforementioned exceptional writing, and a stand out portrayal, even within all that savagery, little hints of meek humanity…and even humor…can be found. Ruffalo IS The Incredible Hulk that we have all been waiting to see!

Switching gears, but along a similar tether, we have the gilt laden and masterfully evil grinning Loki; Asgardian demigod and brother of Thor. Though threatened by the Hitchcockian MacGuffin comparable Tesseract and an army of forgettable alien invaders, Tom Hiddleston’s dashingly wicked Loki needed to stand out and give us an enemy worth fearing. This time around, we do not have the simple tempestuous, trouble making misfit from round one, but rather a tragic Shakespearean hero of sorts, that is ready to bring extra terrestrial hell and high water more than once to a human race that to him is merely an amusing anecdote, and who’s eventual comeuppance brings about nerdgastic satisfaction.

On the negative side, this film is undoubtedly quite long, and at certain points even loses some momentum, but who really cares haha.

The cinematography is chalked full of splash pages come to life. The CGI is top notch. The 3D, though converted in post, is surprisingly well done and serves its purpose to bring depth to scenes that really benefit from it. The performance are gripping and well directed, and more than once will leave you heart pounding or teary eyed. The script is smarty written with devilish Whedonesque wit, easily appealing to all demographics, and even leaving you turning inwards to cross examine yourself.

Quite simply, “The Avengers” is extravaganza personified. This is what a summer blockbuster should be. This is what a comic book film adaptation should be. Whether a fanboy or simply a regular ol movie viewer, you must see this film. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes do not disappoint! I proudly, profoundly, and most earnestly give this movie an A :)

Oh! and make sure you stick around for the credits; definitely worth checking out, especially if your a fan of the source material :)

~ Quick interview conducted at Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012 ~

All right so first off, since we’re here at the Artist Alley at Fan Expo Vancouver, and considering that you have worked on a number of Marvel and DC characters over the years, is there any character your inclined to draw if given a choice?

Mike Choi: Honestly, in a vacuum I’d say X23, just cause it’s easy and I’ve drawn her so many times. But if it’s in terms of a comic book, it really depends on the script. Any character would be awesome if the script is really great, and luckily, it just so happens that the scripts that we had for X23 when I was working on it were really awesome, which leaves a good impression, and therefore makes for a good default. Characters I’ve never drawn before or very rarely, would obviously be harder to draw. Like, if you said Aquaman, I don’t know who Aquaman “is”, in the sense of…well, I can draw someone that looks like Aquaman…

But the details and subtleties of his character wouldn’t be there…

Mike Choi: Right, exactly. For example, when I drew a Batman cover, I just kept drawing Wolverine in a Batman outfit…if that makes sense. You can always argue that there really isn’t too much a difference…muscular guys in costumes, their wearing masks, etc…but in reality there is a lot of attitude behind the characters, which adds to how their conveyed in a sketch.

Switching gears, the comic book industry as a whole has changed greatly in the last couple decades, and especially in the latter. When we grew up, you would go to your local comic book or collectibles shop and trade cards, buy comics, and delve down into all kinds of geekdom, etc, but now its very mainstream, and a huge part of pop culture. Considering that, where would you ideally like to see the industry go in the next ten years? But then more realistically, where do you think it’s headed?

Mike Choi: Honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t really grow up reading comic books, and only got into it kinda late…maybe about 15 years ago. Which I know its still a long time ago, but I mean that in terms of how some people grew up reading comics, and I didn’t. So I can’t really speak to how the industry was way back then, but for the present and future, least for me, I’d like seeing comics become less of a disposable form of entertainment, which is already kind of slowly happening right now. Me and my friends, who are in the comic book industry but at the same time might not identify themselves as mainstream comic book people…for example, Eric Canete, who is a good friend of mine, Sean Murphy, Dave Johnson, etc…we all have these conversations, and out of all those guys, I’m probably the most likely to say, “Ya! I’ll draw wolverine for a buck! Hell Ya!” But more seriously, we all like to see comics not be the default entertainment that you read when taking a crap haha. I don’t like the idea of, “Ya…it took me an entire deuce to read that issue.” I don’t think that’s giving comic books the respect they deserve. Especially considering the amount of work and time that is put into making a really good one.

You would like to see comics be considered more a respected form and amalgamation of literature and art…

Mike Choi: Right. Absolutely. So I’d like to see comic books get more respect in that regard, but at the same time, I would kinda like to see the bar be raised and a higher standard be set for what makes it to print…which is something I really think you see especially in the independent field. And don’t get me wrong now, there is definitely a standard of excellence in comic books, and you have to be good at your job, and hopefully love it as well, to be able to come up with a comic that you expect other people to read.

Its no secret though, that I think that a TV show that may pass as a C graded show, would possibly be a B movie, and an A in comics. And I don’t mean to say that TV is better than movies, and movies are better than comics, but rather that what people expect from a singular entity tends to not be the “Holy Crap…that shit was awesome!” type of story, and more so what you would read while taking a shit haha. I’d really like comic books to have a higher level of respect from all sides. Again, to be clear, I’m not saying that comics aren’t being created by people that love the field, love the stories and characters etc…

Think it’s a building mentality, that has to come from both ends? Readers, publishers, artists, etc…

Mike Choi: Absolutely. I’m not saying that its acceptable in the industry to shit out a comic book or just phone it in, its just that in terms of what people are looking for as a finished product on both sides…its very different. In creating the book, writing is one side of it and although I’m not saying that the acceptable standards are lower or worse than those placed on pencillers etc, I think that while TV and movies depend so heavily on writing, with comics, thats not completely the case. Not just about scripting. I don’t think the current run of the mill comic book audience is really into the details of creating a comic book anymore. Don’t think they really care about the art so much as it’s just an acceptable part of the finished product, nor do I think its about the writing. Some people will argue that comics are a writer driven market, but I don’t think so. I don’t think that comic book fans care about scripting or dialogue, anymore than they do that art. Which is to say they still do care about both factors, but in general care more simply about the general plot. Scripting, dialogue and art…all fall secondary to plot. And although probably a little unfair for me to say, I still do believe that the majority of mainstream comic fans right now are pretty much only concerned with who lives, who dies, who joins what team, etc…

…what you can basically just find in the Wikipedia entry for the team or storyline or character…

Mike Choi: Haha, exactly. Their just concerned about the over arcing plot, or the Wikipedia aspect of it, as you said…and then, maybe, as a secondary after thought, they’ll appreciate the art if it really stands out, or scripting, etc. This is obviously generalized, and even within all this your going to find some really great books, that have a surprisingly good emotional beat or what not…basically like a comic book version of any 20 minutes from “The Wire” haha.

[Unfortunately] the majority of people will say, “What happened? What happened in this issue? Nothing!” And although absolutely not true, its terrible to hear…a terrible thing to say, because its an over generalized view of the comic, where your being über specific in looking for only those particular plot twists, and forgetting about the rest. So that’s what I think is going on, and why I would like to see comics get a bit more respect and appreciation. Whether this comes via digital comics, or whatever, I don’t care haha.

Do you think having comic book movies helps this in any way? Earlier…there had been talk about how movies are forcing comics and their stories to become more realistic…more relatable etc…

Mike Choi: No no, I don’t think the movies are really doing that at all. I don’t think people equate Chris Helmsworth as the Thor in the comic books. They look at Helmsworth and think, “That’s fuckin’ Thor, man!”…while watching the movie that is, but then don’t read the comic book. On the other hand, it does work the other way. People that read the comics…

People that read the comic get drawn into the movie…

Mike Choi: Right. But I don’t think it works that first way…honestly don’t.

Ok, so if that branch of the business doesn’t work, where your hoping to get more readers from those folks that simply just watch the movies…if that doesn’t work, do you think Digital Comics as an introductory format does?

Mike Choi: Yes! That, I do think will be successful, because ultimately the artistic medium is the same. I think people that read and appreciate the art and stories within that digital format will be interested in the paper printed copy or form of comics. Whether they switch and buy is yet to be seen, but at least they’ll be interested in the comic book. I don’t think it generally works with movies and TV, aside from some exceptions like The Walking Dead, where there is a singular story and you can “catch up” on the show and dig deeper into the world and characters by reading the comic book. Doesn’t work for large properties like Iron Man or Green Lantern though because firstly, there is simply way too much to follow up on, and secondly, because the films are based on a level of spectacle which cannot be duplicated in a comic book. Too many factors make up those moments in film like sound, moving pictures, etc…

…that same impact cant be felt in even the best of splash pages or what not?…

Mike Choi: Yes and No. I do think that a splash page can be impressive, but it’s a different emotional stimulus entirely…a different type of spectacle.

Talking about film adaptations, that’s why plot is again a key factor. People watch Game of Thrones and go, “Holy Shit I love that show!”, and then want to read the book. People watch The Walking Dead and again go, “Holy Shit I love that show!”, and then read the comic book. But that doesn’t work with films like Iron Man (2008) and Green Lantern (2011) or other big properties, especially because of the aforementioned spectacle, but also because, if you then want to read the comic book, where do you start?

Ok, so with “The Avengers” coming out fairly soon, and with a ton of great reviews already out, anything your specifically looking forward to seeing in that film? Anything related or taken from the comic books?

Mike Choi: I’m honestly a huge fan of Josh Whedon, and Firefly is one of my favorite shows. And although keeping in mind what I said earlier about film adaptations and them relating to comics, I loved the Iron Man movie, and actually also loved the Green Lantern movie…

Oh ya me too

Mike Choi: your just say ya….

No no, haha…I’m serious a huge Green Lantern fan…that’s MY superhero…

Mike Choi: Honestly, when he said the oath for the first time…

…I know! I remember seeing the Youtube clip of when that kid asked Reynolds to say the oath at Comic-Con…I melted a little bit haha…

Mike Choi: Ya ya! I was just gonna say that I choked up a little when he said that! That was great. But ya again, I do draw that line…create that separation between the two.

…the movie is the movie, and the comic is the comic…

Mike Choi: Absolutely. Sure it’s the same character, but honestly, they don’t have to be. And at the end of the day, I don’t think that Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner Brothers want them necessarily to be either. I’m not looking for Christian Bale when I read Scott Snyder’s Batman, nor should you. And I don’t think DC/WB are trying to go for that anyway. In fact, if they did, it would be a hindrance to both mediums. For example, and this is just theoretical, as I haven’t seen the movie yet, but if they’re trying to shoehorn the comic Hawkeye to fit the movie Hawkeye, that’s actually terrible! Bad move. I’m a huge fan of Jeremy Renner though, so either way I can’t wait to see him in The Avengers in that regard, and honestly, that trailer looks fuckin’ awesome! “Guys, I’m bringing the party to you.”…and then out from behind the building, all shit breaks loose haha. Summarized, I’m a huge movie fan, and will definitely watching the movie.

Perfect! Well, thanks for your time.

Mike Choi: Cool, no problem man :)

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~ Quick interview conducted at Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012 ~

The way video games are “viewed” has changed so much in the last number of years, becoming such big parts of pop culture now and media, and being generally a “cool” thing in our society now a days, how do u feel the industry is doing right now? In a sense, maybe a bit of over kill? Any things to be improved upon or anything that maybe deserves to be looked at again?

imageShaun Hatton: I think the industry seems like its reached a saturation point for how many games can come out in one given year, and I think we’re seeing that with a lot of studios closing down because their not making the money that they need to continue on going, and you have games that are reasonably great games that are not doing terribly well in terms of sales. Unfortunately the way it goes in the world is that you need to sell so you can make your next game. We’re seeing a lot of medium studios closing because of that…because they either don’t have the marketing budget to push their games out there or their owned by bigger studios that feels that these guys didn’t pull their weight…the games not making enough money…and so they close them down. Which is unfortunate. So I think right now we’re at a point where the industry is getting kind of polarized where you’ve got really big studios doing really big games and small studios doing really small games, and the middle ground is kinda disappearing. And also the middle ground is where you get a lot of those middle of the road games anyway…that aren’t super amazing or super bad…games that are good enough, but don’t get the push they need.

If you could have your way, and change something to fix that, to give smaller studios or studios that produce those aforementioned “medium” games, a better chance of survival, and considering that those games are generally decent to begin with, what would you focus on? Marketing? Or is there a different avenue that is being overlooked?

Shaun Hatton: You know, that’s a really good question, and I think that the marketing has a lot to do with it unfortunately, but I also think that possibly whatever is going on in each individual studio, which I obviously cant speak to because I don’t know…there are so many different work environments out there. But what I would like ideally, and this will never happen, would be for everyone to just be happy with the games their working on, and I think if people who made the games generally enjoyed the games that they made, we would see better games in general. But I know that unfortunately there are a lot of people who are just working in games, because they want to work in games and they get put on projects that they don’t really have any passion for…and its just a job. So you definitely see that when people have to phone it in haha.

Any games your playing right now? And anything you’re looking forward to in the remainder of the year?

Shaun Hatton: There is this game on iOS that’s really cool, its Awesome Calender, and you can put all your appointments in it. You can go forward each week, or go back, and see what you did last year…it’s incredibly life like. Apart from that, I’m really enjoying the PS Vita, and just the various launch games for that. I think Unit 13 is a really cool game, but I haven’t really made it too far in that, as I don’t really have too much time to play the Vita. Tend to spend most of my time playing iOS stuff. I really like the Vita though, and think it’s a good piece of hardware, and cant wait for more cool things to come out…like Mortal Kombat! But actually, I haven’t really been playing too much console stuff these days.

imageDo you think that’s a trend now, that because everyone tends to have a smart phone, they spend most of their allotted gaming time on their phones?

Shaun Hatton: Nah nah, I think people are pretty set in their ways for the most part. I still like console games, just time isn’t always readily available…and when I sit in front of my TV, I tend to think that I just want to watch a show or a movie or something haha.

PC’s; For a few years, there was a bit of lull period, where aside from WOW, there really wasn’t much coming out for the PC that was big or innovative or what have you. Right now there is “Star Wars: The Old Republic” that just came out a short while back, and a few other games…but do you think that the PC is still a worth while contender in the gaming market? Or is it dragging behind?

Shaun Hatton: I think the PC is the true home of where hardcore gamers live…when you think of hardcore gamers being the guys playing the first person shooters and really difficult games. I definitely don’t think PC gaming is going away though, especially because Steam is such a fantastic platform. And what that did, if anything, is it resurrected PC gaming…because now you don’t have to go to the store and go buy a DVD or CD ROM package. You just download it, and it’s so simple. And it’s really cool; it’s almost like bringing a console like experience to the PC.

The one thing I personally do not like about the PC is that I associate the PC with work. For example, my PC is at my desk and I have a desk chair, and really its not the most comfortable place to play a game. That said, if a game is good enough, it doesn’t matter…I’ll make the effort. I mean, the toilet is not the most comfortable place to play a game, but I’ve played a lot of Tetris haha.

Haha, there you go, exactly. Totally agree. Well, that’s about it man. I appreciate the interview.

Shaun Hatton: Well thank you so much :)

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IN QUOTATIONS - Interviewees & Moi - Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012

~ Quick interview conducted at Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012 ~

Having been such a big part of fan favorites like “Beast Wars” and “Reboot”, how do you feel having those shows still be so fondly remembered and well received by fans young and old?

Garry Chalk: Well I think it’s a wonderful thing that the shows have stood the test of time, over what has almost been 20 years…well, over 20 years for Transformers itself, and maybe 15-16 years or so for myself, but I’m very happy that it has lasted this long. I’m always so surprised that every time I come to a fan venue or convention, like this first Fan Expo in Vancouver, I’m going, “Wow!”…this is so amazing that so many people are still wired up on it, and I’m just happy that they are.

The shows were both stand outs in their day, not only for the revolutionary quality of the CGI, but also because of the very strong and gripping stories that drew people. Do you think there is a new step that is needed for shows to be successful in today’s market? Is it a case of having great visuals, or good writing?

Garry Chalk: Good writing will always out. When you have good writing combined with good characters, and you have good animation that’s a plus. I’ve seen crappy animation but with good stories, such as the classical example of “South Park”. If you look at the show, it’s the most primitive and basic, rudimentary animation but the stories and the characters are hilarious! And because of that it carries very well. So you don’t really need spectacular animation. It definitely helps, but if you have a good story and good characters, their sustainable, and they will last forever and ever and ever. That’s one thing that drew me to “Beast Wars” for sure. And along with “Reboot”, had so many references in it, and so many levels of fun stuff…excellent stuff to work with.

That’s about it…short and sweet…

Garry Chalk: Well hey, that’s always good haha.

Wonder as one last favor, if you could do the Optimus Prime voice for me?

Garry Chalk: Sure…“Autobots, transform and roll out!”

Thanks again Garry, really appreciate it.

Garry Chalk: My pleasure :)

I grew up on this guy and his portrayal of Optimus Primal on “Beast Wars”, so this a really special treat. Nothing better than meeting your childhood hero :)

~ Quick interview conducted at Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012 ~

With “Reboot” still having such a large following, years after it went off the air, how does it make you feel to know that the show is still so well received and fondly remembered from fans young and old, after so much time?

Gavin Blair: Oh it blows me away every time. Whenever I do a convention, there is always so much love for the show…and we’re talking everything from 8 year olds to 50 year olds and so on, and it blows me away. Like just today, I’ve had no end of people coming up to me and saying, “I’m an animator because of Reboot” Or “I’m in animation because of Reboot”…or “design” or “computers because of Reboot”. It blows me away. I love it.

You never would have thought when you were working on the project years ago eh?

Gavin Blair: No! Exactly, who would have thought haha.

So there has been talk about bringing back Reboot or of something being in the works over the last few years. Any updates on that?

Gavin Blair: Yes, the company that owned the rights to the show, which is Rainmaker, they’ve been saying for like 8 years now that their going to do a movie, and although there is no sign of it yet, in this business you never say never.

Fan favorite shows and concepts always tend to come back eventually…

Gavin Blair: Exactly. I’m looking at a Batmobile from 1963, and 50 years later or whatever we have one of the biggest movie franchises in history.

Off of a campy topical show of the time…

Gavin Blair: Exactly, who would have thought, and even then, there was a 40 year gap in between, so you can never say never in this business. You never know what’s going to come around again.

“Reboot” was revolutionary for its time…same with “Beast Wars”. In fact, some overlapping voice actors in both.

Gavin Blair: Indeed, yes haha.

Considering that, what do you think is the next big step in animation? Lots of shows out now are CGI, notably “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, which has been very successful, and now even WB is trying it out with “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” as well.  What do you think is the next big step in the horizon?

Gavin Blair: Oh goodness me. Well we never thought at the time that we were doing “Reboot” that it would be what it was, or lead to what it led to…to all the other shows we did and so on. You never know what might lead to what, and you always think that technology is not going to get much better now, but then it does, and it just keeps going and keeps improving, so who really knows where its going to go next.

You just need to have a good idea. The other thing about “Reboot” was that we might not have looked as good as some other shows, but I think our storytelling was excellent. You can tell a great story in any medium, as long as it’s a great story. And it will do well. If your characters are good, and your story is good, it doesn’t matter how you do it.

Well thank you, I appreciate it…

Gavin Blair: Oh no problem, thank you.

~ Quick interview conducted at Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012 ~

Taking into account your long and storied career in this industry…an industry, that in the last number of years have changed so much, especially with its current and dynamic influence in movies, and in general being a such a huge part of pop culture…where would you like to see the comic book industry be in 5 years?

Len Wein: Well, I’d just like to see it continue to be successful. When I came into this business 40 odd years or so ago, they were predicting doom and gloom any day now…there wasn’t going to be a comic book business in 5 years…it was all going to be gone…we were all going to be moving on to something else…and yet almost a half century later, they’re wrong! We’re thriving better than we ever have! So I’d just like to see it continue to thrive, in whatever format is required to make that happen.

With a lot of artist also doing creator owned projects on the side of their mainstream work, would you like to see more exposure for those artists and their work? Or have it continue simply as it is now, where they can maintain the same level of control they have over their projects?

Len Wein: I think that if you create your own project and you sell it yourself, you have complete control over it, and no one can tell you how or what to do…whatever size it  grows to. If someone can make a huge success like Brian Michael Bendis did with the few independent projects he started, well…[quite simply] if more people can have that success too, the better!

Switching gears lastly, aside from Wolverine for the obvious reasons, if you could work on or have an influence on any character right now, in their current incarnation, who would it be and why?

Len Wein: Batman…always Batman. Batman is always the first character that comes to mind.

Any reason why?

Len Wein: I just love him. The first character I remember reading…one of the first stories I wrote…just love the character. I don’t care what incarnation. He’s always just that guy that I wish I could be if my parents were killed and I ended up rich haha.

Well there we go…nice and quick…short and sweet…thank you for the interview.

Len Wein: My pleasure :)

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~Quick interview conducted at Fan Expo Vancouver April 21st 2012~

With the way the industry has changed in the last 10 years, becoming a huge and mainstream part of pop culture, and even now with movies based on comics being released regularly, where would you like the see the comic industry go from this point on? More creator owned projects being highlighted or simply a continuation the more mainstream comics holding spot light?

Stuart Immonen: I think that right now there is a healthy balance between creator owned projects and genre based. Depending on the individual you talk to, there is always going to be a desire to have one or more be more in balance, but [either way] there is always going to be a place for the ongoing series. I would [however] like to see more people do the kind of thing that we do: work for Marvel, DC, or Dark Horse, or Image and at the same time be promoting their own material. I mean, we’ve been very fortune to have books published by Boom Studios and Top Shelf in the last couple of years and all it really takes is effort.

Its very difficult when your working 5 or 6 days on an ongoing series, and at the same time really want to do that creator owned book [but] only having one day left in the week; it can take a while. In the case of Moving Pictures we serialized it online for 2 and a half years before we were able to publish it. But after that 2 and a half years we got our own book, which its very satisfying.

Considering you’ve worked on just a storied list of characters from both DC and Marvel, most recently the Avengers and co., and even having worked on the famous and long running Asterix series, which is huge overseas, if you had a pick of any general mainstream superhero to work on, who would you pick and why?

Stuart Immonen: Wow, well I’m going to avoid answering the question directly, because this is really a typical question I get asked quite a lot at conventions, and my answer is almost always that I don’t really think about it in those terms. As much as I have a history of being a fan of comics just like anybody else, it’s my job now and so I have to treat it professionally. Which means that if I’m assigned to work on the Avengers, then that’s what I’m paying attention to, and I don’t want to shoe horn into something else or reserve part of my brain for the chance to work on Spiderman or Batman or…

You want to give it 100% right there and then…

Stuart Immonen: Ya, exactly…so as much as I’ve done stuff solo in the past, I love to work collaboratively. For me it’s all about working with the team and trying to make the book the best it can be at any given moment. Whatever is on my plate at the moment is the thing I really want to be doing.

Well perfect. Thank you for your time.

Stuart Immonen: No, thank you! I’ll look for this now :)

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