Archives for posts with tag: Japan

Super Mothra Twins

Here’s a quick piece I did, paying tribute to two of Japan’s greatest cultural exports from the worlds of Godzilla and Nintendo by depicting the Mothra twins from the 1964 film Godzilla vs Mothra as the Mario brothers Mario and Luigi. I haven’t seen the new Godzilla movie, but I’ve been playing a lot of Mario Kart 8.

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My wife alerted me to this bit of news earlier this morning and I haven’t seen it reported at all in the English-language press, so allow me to share this with you. The message above was allegedly received by a merchant on the incredibly popular Chinese on-line market place Tabo Bao. The message demands that the seller remove all manga that depict homosexual acts or the homosexual lifestyle from their Tao Bao shop. The demand is in accordance with a policy aimed at producing “a more harmonious society”- the go-to justification for anything in the public policy of the Chinese Community Party. While censorship is nothing new for China, the motivation to restrict information is usually political, personal, or related to promoting a favored business (personal relationship business or Chinese firm over foreign firm). Bootleg films and comics are widely available in China. You don’t have to look too hard. Like in most places, the rise of the internet in China has repeatedly threatened and changed the status quo. Like QQ, Baidu, Tudou, Renren, and Douban, Tao Bao has become an incredible force in the on-line consciousness of China, but unlike those sites, it is still very much rooted in the material world. With this policy and its enforcement, the capability of any resistance movement to use the on-line marketplace to distribute unpopular literature is challenged and a precedent is set for all communities using sites like Tao Bao to engage in less than sanctioned economic activity or rather perfectly sanctioned economic activity in which the content of a book compels the government to intervene its sale and distribution.

In somewhat related news, my wife got me a pretty sweet Batwoman statue for the holidays.

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While WXL is officially a comic book blog, it’s been a while since I addressed an comics-related issue. I’ve been rereading the Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps, starting with Rebirth. I’ve just finished The Sinestro Corps War and will probably stop after the other Lantern Corps are introduced, but before Blackest Night goes into full swing. It’s hard to read this material without considering the impact that Geoff Johns has had on the Green Lantern and the DC multiverse in general. When Johns and his various and very talented partners-in-crime brought Hal Jordan back as a Green Lantern, he had been possessed by both Parallax and the Spectre, spent a bit of time with the Phantom Stranger, and played a role in bringing about the destruction of both the Green Lantern Corps and his hometown Coast City. In the books leading up to Blackest Night, the GL creative team resolved the matter of Parallax’s infection of Hal somewhat, enabled Hal to shed the Spectre, returned the ring to Hal’s finger, reestablished the Corps and established additional colors, and brought Coast City back from its ashes.

Please don’t take this article too seriously.

Coast City is traditionally depicted as a California city- sometimes it feels like San Diego and sometimes like San Francisco. Its creation fills a void left by Gotham City and Metropolis’s similarities to New York City and Chicago, Star(ling) City’s similarity to Seattle, and the Gem Cities’ similarities to the Twin Cities. In the Silver Age, Coast City embodied much of the essence of California as understood by the American imagination- a little more laid back than the East Coast, but on the edge of the future, cowboys living better through chemistry. More than Metropolis, Coast City was the city of tomorrow. As the 20th century progressed, California dreaming changed its tone and the American imagination adapted, crafting a new vision of what California meant. This new vision reacted to the rise of new subcultures that became closely associated with California- the Beats, hippies, the Manson family, pornographers, Black Panthers, Scientologists, Silicon Valley, People’s Church, Church of Satan, the out gay community, United Fruit Workers, and other strong personalities that informed both California and US identity. Coast City still somewhat resembled San Diego minus the Hispanic population, but it hardly resembled San Francisco by the time it was destroyed in the 1990s. I see Coast City more like Detroit, incredibly optimistic in the Silver Age and ruined largely by outside factors. Detroit came to mind initially because it’s the hometown of Geoff Johns.

Let’s look at what destroyed Coast City and what destroyed Detroit. Once the Oa of automobiles, Detroit’s contribution to US culture and its international reputation has largely been overshadowed by its economic decline. Can you imagine the American experience without Motown or MC5, much less without the automobile? The economy of Coast City when it is first introduced centers around Ferris Aircraft, which isn’t the automobile industry, but both employ machinists, mechanics, and engineers, if you know what I mean. These two industrial cities are destroyed from within and without.

The destruction of Coast City is generally attributed to three individuals:

Mongul loves yellow

Mongul

Is it just me or are there some underlying racial issues with this character? He is a yellow-skinned villain bent on world(s) domination through dynastic rule. His name is one letter away from Mongol, shorthand for Mongoloid (if you subscribe to the antiquated theory of three distinct races (Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid)) which refers to people with ancestry from Asia. He’s built much more like a Mongolian than a Japanese person and his name is likely inspired by the notoriety of the Mongol Empire. In the late 20th century, the failing communist nation of Mongolia posed little threat to Detroit. Japan and its robust automotive industry, however, posed a significant one and that idea continues to find a captive audience. Manufacturing in Asia has only grown as a go-to scapegoat for a decline in US manufacturing. The nations of Japan and Korea developed economically, achieved legitimacy, and consolidated regional influence largely on the backs of their automotive industries. Their rise came at the cost of Detroit.

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Cyborg Superman

As his name implies, Hank Henshaw is a half-human half-robot version of the Man of Steel. In a dangerous partnership with Mongul, Cyborg Superman transforms Coast City literally into an Engine City. Coast City is replaced by an exponentially more industrialized version of itself to serve the ambitions of the foreign power Mongul. Much like Detroit’s woes, there is an undeniable John Henry overtone to the terraforming of Coast City. It’s man vs machine and machine wins.

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Hal Jordan

The legacy of Coast City’s destruction is best characterized by its effect on Hal Jordan. Left so distraught by his hometown’s demise, Hal Jordan allows himself to fall victim to Parallax or what FDR might call “fear itself.” The decline of Detroit has certainly taken a toll on the will power of the people of the city and perhaps in some of their darker moments, people have embraced fear over optimism.

When Geoff Johns brings Hal Jordan back to the Green Lantern mantel, he also brings Coast City back into existence. By doing so, I believe Geoff Johns is communicating a hope for his hometown to persevere through difficult times and eventually revitalize itself. In one of this last moves as Green Lantern kingpin, Johns introduced the character of Simon Baz in his native Detroit, providing a much less nuanced role for his hometown than any parallels that could be brought between Coast City and Detroit.

I like when creators represent, whether it’s Johns placing Simon Baz in Detroit or Robert Kirkman setting the Walking Dead in Georgia. Comics can capture physical and spiritual geography in ways unique to the medium such as Strange Attractors, Deogratias, and Palestine. Of course, the Marvel Universe approaches real-life geography in a way distinctly its own.

In conclusion, I would welcome Aquaman to Atlanta. He’s gonna love the fountains at Centennial Park.

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Jeffrey Bützer is a living musical treasure. For years, he’s been crafting sounds that transform the environment around them. He employs a wide arsenal of instruments and has played with some really talented folks. I first met Jeff back in the twentieth century when we were both working at an extremely corrupt discount movie theater that has since closed. I had the pleasure of playing with him once. I don’t remember much of what we played, but I do remember he espousing an ambition to play more swamp rock. Since then, his music has only gotten more sophisticated. You should check out his music, join the cool kids for a celebration of the release of his new album “Collapsible” at the Goat Farm, and enjoy our interview with the maestro himself.

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INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY BÜTZER

WXL: You have a new record coming out on June 29th. You must be very excited. What’s the newest thing about your new album?

JEFFREY BÜTZER:
Yes, I do and yes, I am. The most noticible difference is the addition of vocals on 90% of it by the very talented Cassi Costoulas (who has joined our band) and Lionel Fondelville (from France). He wrote most of the lyrics as well. Other than that I would say  the biggest difference is the direction I am trying to take as a composer. Moving
away from the clunkier, Oom-PA, Tom Wait-ish approach I kind of took with my first record, (and spilling into the following one). I am listening and drawing influence from more dream-pop, French folk and French-pop on my newer tunes.

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WXL: You are celebrating your album’s release with a performance at the Goat Farm, one of Atlanta’s most unique venues and a good fit for your music. What is your favorite venue in Atlanta?

JEFFREY BÜTZER: For rock shows I always love the EARL. But The Goat Farm is probably my all around favorite place in Atl right now. They are so supportive of artist. It is exactly what the City needed.

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WXL: Your music appeals to an international audience and you draw from the traditions of many different cultures to create your unique sound. Are there any places in the world that you dream of playing? Is there any exotic instrument that you’re dying to get your hands on?

JEFFREY BÜTZER: I would love to play in Spain, Italy, and Japan. We’ve been fortunate to get to play over seas a few times, but never in any of those destinations. There aren’t really too many instruments on my “want” list right now. I would love a Celeste if anyone has one lying around.

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WXL: If you were a superhero in the DC Universe, which villain from that universe do you think would make the most appropriate nemesis for you?

JEFFREY BÜTZER:  Oh boy, I don’t know my DC universe too well. Most likely whatever
villain can destroy what little time I have to myself these days. OR, I think everyone would like to fight Bizarro, right?

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WXL: One of the most sincere compliments I could give your music is that its intelligence is apparent by how readily it brings to mind thoughts of death and romance. In addition to your extraordinary musical talents, you have some expertise in film.  What are your favorite cinematic death scenes and cinematic romance scenes? Also can you recommend films that you believe combine the two concepts in poignant ways?

JEFFREY BÜTZER: First off, thank you for the compliment. That is tough? There are so many great death scenes. I like Belle De Jour, Dead Man, A Zed and Two Noughts. I love the sugguestion at the end of one of my favorite recent films, A Serious Man. Romantic scenes, the first one that pops in my head is the phone call scene in Before Sunrise, to me that is one of the purist romances on film. As far as recommendations for films that combine both…that is hard. I think Peter Greenaway in his own detached way deals with both in an interesting way. For lighter fare, the recent French romantic- comedy Delicasy is pretty good!

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