Alison “Dazzler” Blaire Fan Music Video

7 Oct

So I made this earlier this year, a tribute music video for Alison Blaire, aka Dazzler. Is that dedication or what?

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See Ya, True Believers!

16 Sep

Alright, let’s wrap this sucker up before I get torn away again.

Thanks to everyone’s enthusiastic support for the blog the past year. I developed the concept for this blog in April of 2010, after having half-finished my first comic book-related blog project, The Amazing Spider-Ads (about funny comic book ads), and being inspired by sites like The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings and Not Blog X, pointing a critical eye at the excesses of the 90′s mutant craze, but also with a self-deprecating eye as fans who liked this as youth.

At one point I wanted to do a one-a-day crappy Rob Liefeld post, but the concept had kinda been done, I wasn’t as encyclopedic with my Liefeld knowledge, and honestly I dunno if I could’ve put up with months of poring over crappy drawings. I wanted to do something I was closer to, something that I loved enough that I could feel perfectly secure tearing it apart. X-Cards was it.

Just two weeks before this site debuted in January, a bit of kismet gave me a personal boost. The launch of Spawn #200 set up an Image Comics reunion at Los Angeles’ Golden Apple Comics, with Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, and JIM LEE doing a signing (Stan Lee was apparently there in a private even earlier in the day). I had never met any of these guys before, having only ever attended two conventions before in my life, and somewhere in my childhood bedroom was a 5-page handwritten letter to Todd McFarlane that was far too gushing (I am not yet accomplished enough where uncovering it wouldn’t look totally pathetic).

I’m royally disappointed that I didn’t actually have any X-Cards at the time for Lee to sign; in full disclosure I never owned more than a handful of these cards, and I don’t know if I have them stored anywhere. They were rare and prohibitively expensive to a kid from the Philippines, both in the Philippines and as a recent US immigrant. Instead I had Lee sign one of several copies of the deluxe X-Men #1 I had found in a dollar bin in a Goodwill store. The first picture is myself and Lee, the second are of Liefeld, Lee, and McFarlane. 12-year-old-me would’ve had a heart attack.

I told him briefly about my blog project, and he seemed amused. He told me a bit about the process of drawing the cards. He said he drew them all in random order, more about whom he felt drawing at any given time. He also said that the first batches he drew only took something like half an hour but as fatigue and creative frustration crept in the cards started taking up to two hours each. He also said the original drawings were about the size of large postcards, about four times the size of the final products.

I wish I’d asked for a general idea which cards were done first, which ones he liked the best. I certainly have my theories. His A-List characters, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Professor X, Psylocke were tight, detailed renderings, whereas the more obscure characters, especially from Excalibur, like  Gatecrasher, were haphazard messes.

I continue to be fascinated by this era in comics, though I know a lot of this is a nostalgia bias. It’s just a part of comic history that both seemed inevitable and well-documented, but also frustrating in understanding how that perfect storm of egos and attitudes came together. It certainly changed the industry in ways still strongly felt today, for better or worse.

I actually haven’t spent too much time with present comics; I’m still fascinated with immersing myself in comic history, seeing what came before to understand how things came to be. There’s certainly so much of it there! But we’re at the end of this particular project; maybe I should see what’s out there now!

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XH1-XH5 – HOLOGRAMS

5 Sep

With the checklist card I feel like we’d already reached some form of closure so I figured I would just review all the holograms together.

WOLVERINE

As I mentioned in the Danger Room collage, I always loved Lee’s rendering of Wolverine outside the costume… it was just the perfect depiction of a man wrestling with his animal side, and he always just looked badass. And Wolvie was always getting in the nastiest of scraps which gave ample opportunity to see him in tattered rags (I’ll switch topics now lest this get too homoerotic).

The hologram effect for this card especially is disappointing because Lee’s drawing has a lot of depth, and adding the 3d effect for a 2D drawing will inevitably neuter the 3d effect. You can’t tell in that screenshot, but while the 3d effect IS there, it seems more like tiny slivers of art stacked on top of each other no deeper than a few millimeters between them. Wolverine’s hand and claws as rendered on the same plane which actually RUINS the illusion of depth the original 2D drawing establishes.

Meanwhile, the bio on this card is almost exactly the same as bio in his individual card, except the original card refers to his savagery as that of a “wild beast” where his hologram refers to a “jungle beast.” Wonder where the distinction comes from. At least the Danger Room card makes an effort to convey unique information.

CABLE

This is a terrible drawing of Cable, which is to say it looks the most like Liefeld’s rendering. Cable’s aforementioned bulging thighs are in full effect here, and his crouching pose looks absolutely ridiculous in both 2D and 3D versions. Also the color aberrations of the hologram mean that Cable’s trademark white hair looks purple.

Unlike the Wolverine card, Cable’s Hologram card bio is word-for-word the same as his individual card. Minus the X-Tra fact, of course.

GAMBIT

Finally we get an action shot of Gambit throwing his cards. It’s a pretty good, standard pose, too, and if you were into Gambit you could imagine that frontmost card was ejected from his crotch. The strong negative space in the background also gives the hologram a more pronounced 3d effect, even if Gambit and the throwing cards themselves all look like they’re on the same plane.

Gambit’s hologram bio rephrases the last line of the bio in his individual card… The original says “he uses his phenomenal power to protect people in need– both mutant and nonmutant!” while the hologram says “he uses his phenomenal power to protect man- and mutantkind alike!”

MAGNETO

This image of Magneto plays almost like a more action-packed version of his individual card. This might seem cool, but as I’d mentioned in my review of the first card, I vastly preferred the regal, almost defensive Magneto poses to the action pose. I’m also not crazy about having his eyes shrouded in darkness; as my favorite villain of all time, his greatness comes from his humanity and dignity; he does not need to have a darkened face to seem badass, and doing so almost reduces him down to the level of the forgettable psycho killers of the 90s.

Like Cable’s Hologram card, Magneto’s bio is an exact copy of the bio in his individual card.

X-MEN

I apologize for the different look of this scan compared to the others; ComicCovers.com is missing this final card, and I could only find a scan of the front online, so I had to scan my own card from inside its sealed bag. Really I should just open the seal and scan them each myself. If I wasn’t ready to close the books on this blog with this entry (which has already taken up much of my free time :) ), I might still go about doing this.

The card actually depicts the Blue Strike Force, despite the card name not making such a distinction. This makes sense since Lee’s art duties focused on said team, but it would’ve been a fitting end to see both strike forces together in one card. The comics certainly had no problem mingling teammates even after the separation was made, and the separation didn’t last long anyway. Too bad, cause the art in this card is pretty decent, except for the weird business of Beast‘s legs.


OVERALL

It’s hard not to be mesmerized by holograms as a kid; hell, it’s 20 years later and we’re still immaturely obsessed with the 3D gimmick. The fact that 3D actually hasn’t evolved much from these 20 year old cards makes the cards themselves hold up better than they deserve to. Hell, I still don’t know how they make holograms.

That said, I vastly prefer the holograms that look more like actual 3d models, laser scans of sculpted versions of the cards. They’ve done this before on other card sets (and the hologram comics), and it would’ve kicked ass to see someone sculpt Lee’s drawings.

Anyway, that does it for all the cards. Stick around for one more entry that wraps up the entire experience one last time, and then we can all finally move on!

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