Fans and Entitlement

Hate to say it, dear Wanderers, but the topic of entitled fans has come up again around these Towers after viewing some fandom reactions that have happened since the last issue. Yes, that is a very short time period, but this is internet fandom we’re talking about, things change on an hourly basis if said fandom is active enough. Now, at the moment, we’re trying not to judge and point fingers, even if some of us here think that pointing fingers is really needed for this particular one. We’re not here to do that and even if we were, it’s not our place. Fandom Wanderers is, above all, just somewhere to look at the various aspects of fandom and media that has fandoms surrounding them.

Right, so here’s the thing. Say your fandom has been around for a long while now, and it’s been years since the original show aired. Getting said show on DVD is hard, getting it uncut is even harder, and if it’s an anime? Getting it as true to the original Japanese can be downright impossible for older shows. Then, fantastic news! Some company has gotten the rights and they are going to release all the episodes again, uncut, for fans to enjoy. In a situation like this, Wanderers, I am going to say something I never thought I would say in an article for this ‘zine: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Or, to put it another way, show some respect and say thank you.

Yes, there may be a section of the fandom out there who likes the edited version of the show, but this does not give them the right to moan because a company has decided it’s time that the show was seen the way it was originally intended to be. And yes, this does also include keeping the original names when dealing with anime that was localised for a non-Japanese audience. I know we often speak about this, but looking at some fandoms, it does bear repeating. Apart from credit for intelligence, the production companies technically do not owe you anything.

And before anyone cries ratings matter, I want to just point out one little thing – how many terrible shows with horrible ratings are still on television? Quite a lot, yeah? For many, it just comes down to what the network themselves like. Or what… executives thing that the people want and the idea has become so produced that we end up thinking that’s what we want, but that’s an argument for another time. Now believe me, I never thought I’d be arguing in favour of the companies that look to happily empty our wallets with DVD box sets or tie-in merchandise, but some of these reactions have just got to… Well, they’re actually kind of hilarious to read, but still, that doesn’t make them nice.

Entitlement is a thing that seems to pop up when a fandom has gotten too comfortable. Well, sometimes, there hasn’t been an exact study on it, and it would likely be a hard thing to examine should someone ever get the idea to do said study. The thing is though, it’s not really good to get so entitled as a fan. That feeling of of ‘deserving’ what you want just because you’re a fan… Okay, maybe that’s not the best way to explain it, but being smart people, you likely understand what is meant. I hope you do, anyway. It’s not that we’re judging people, but it’s that we want to encourage the use of good manners. That’s not a horrible thing, is it?

In the end, if we have to come to a conclusion, it comes down to manners again. Hoping for a particular outcome is cool, really, that’s fine. It’s just a hope and as long as no one gets their hopes up too much, no one will be too let down. But demanding something be a certain way because that’s what you want, and you happen to be a dedicated fan?

Not cool.

Z McAspurren (wonders if she will be more articulate in other articles)

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The Ragamuffin Speaks: Let’s Do Away with Cosplay’s Two Friends

Cosplay. Cosplay is awesome. Over my last eight years or so of attending UK conventions I’ve seen cosplay grow from a fairly obscure hobby enjoyed by a few dedicated fans to a huge phenomenon that has become an integral part of the con scene. It’s enjoyed by a wide range of people, from children to teenagers and adults, it’s enjoyed by men and women and people who identify on various other parts of the gender spectrum. Gay, straight, trans, asexual…the wonderful thing about the cosplay community is its diversity.

However, increasingly, when I see cosplay talked about or reported on online, the word comes accompanied by two, quite frankly, unwelcome friends. The words “hot” and “girls.” It is increasingly rare to find cosplay talked about outside the concept of “hot cosplay girls.” This needs to stop. Cosplay is not gendered. Cosplay is not about sex.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with girls cosplaying or that cosplay can’t be sexy, of course. What I object to is the increasing view that the only valid form of cosplay is when it’s done by girls and is “hot.” And by “hot” I mean in service of the male gaze. There’s an unspoken implication that any cosplay that is not “hot cosplay girls” is necessarily lesser.

Recently someone linked to the work of a photographer friend of mine with, yes, those words again, “Check out these hot cosplay girls!” That cheapens the work of an extremely talented photographer and devalues the cosplay of some extremely talented cosplayers whose work doesn’t fit into the “hot” and/or “girl” category. If your only interest in the art of cosplay is that it allows you to look at “hot girls” might I point you to a whole internet full of pornography that is specifically designed to cater to your needs? There, at least, you can ogle to your hearts content without objectifying people who are simply expressing their passionate love for certain characters, cheapening the art of the photographers and dismissing the talent of those who do not fit your criteria for “hotness.” (Of course, you’ll still have to deal with knowing that you’re exploiting the desperation of other human beings for your own kicks, but that’s a debate far outside the remit of this article).

Simply put – I have had enough of this term. Can we please remove it from our vocabulary when discussing cosplay? No more, “hot cosplay girls.” No more framing of cosplay as being about sexuality and being specific to one gender. No more framing of cosplay as being something done by females for the gratification of men. That is not what cosplay is, and I am tired of seeing it presented that way.

I’m tired of seeing extremely talented cosplayers who have poured hours of hard work and dedication into their costumes overlooked in favour of those cosplayers who have some flesh on display. And let me make it clear, I am not laying the blame at the feet of those cosplayers who do show some skin, because I am equally tired of seeing extremely talented cosplayers being reduced to nothing more than tits and arse by male fanboys just because they have some skin showing as part of their costumes.

I am tired of seeing those cosplayers who wear skimpier outfits receive abuse online when they choose to wear a costume that shows less skin because their so-called fans believe they exist purely to service their masturbatory fantasies.

I am tired of seeing my friends online called sluts and whores purely because they are female and in costume. Men – cosplay is not about you, it is not about gaining your attention, it is not about satisfying your needs, it is not being done in service of your fantasies. Grow up.

Stop treating female cosplayers this way. Not because they’re all someone’s sister or daughter or mother or wife…but because they’re people, and no person deserves to be reduced to their body parts or seen as a thing that exists to amuse someone else. Not only that, but stop dismissing male cosplayers. Male cosplayers are a vital part of the cosplay community and are, on the whole, just as talented, dedicated and creative as female cosplayers. Celebrate cosplay, please…without the emphasis on sexuality and gender. Cosplay is inclusive, but the way men discuss cosplay online is, quite frankly, not only exclusive but abhorrent. The image of cosplay online is pervasively female, young, white and sexualised. This is not representative of the actual cosplay community, and it has to stop.

So, please, let’s consign the phrase “hot cosplay girls” to history, and celebrate cosplay as a whole, no matter the cosplayer’s sexuality, gender, race or level of ability.

Ian D. Sharman

Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Fandom Wanderers.

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Some Tips for Cosplaying

It’s coming up for that time of year again, people. Yes, that’s right, it’s just about time for pretty much all the conventions to happen, and even if you can’t get to any of the big ones, there’s a likely chance that a percentage of you have got a convention or to on your up-coming event list. Now, we’ve looked at tips to do with conventions directly more than twice before, and while they are worth a re-read, because that information is always handy, we’re not going to regurgitate the same information at you yet again. While for some things, we do have a policy of repeat it ’till you’re sick of hearing it, because it’s a sure way of making sure people listen, it’s not needed here. You’re all very smart people, we know that you’ll have gotten the convention thing down, or if it’s your first time, you’ll be looking for any helpful advice.

No, this time round, we thought we’d look at tips for cosplayers. Because, frankly, from personal experience? Any help is greatly appreciated. And again, these are just meant to be tips we’ve gathered from being involved in the scene or speaking to others in it, they are not rules, nor do we plan to force anyone to follow them. But if you find them helpful, that’s great!

  • Plan out your cosplay in advance – This is not to say that genius cannot be pulled off at the last minute, there are some people out there who really do have that skill. But for the rest of us mere mortals, we need a little bit of time to really prepare what we’re going to be cosplaying as, particularly if the costume requires props of some kind. And speaking of

  • Read the con’s rules for weapons and props in cosplay – Do this BEFORE you plan your cosplay, because it can be very annoying to have this awesome costume all ready, and then find out that the props you need do not adhere to the rules that the convention have set up. These rules are generally for the safety of everyone at the con, so it’s best to keep in line with them.

  • Make sure everything fits correctly – I know, I know, this is a glaring obvious one that I really shouldn’t have to say, but you’d be surprised. Doing a trial run at least a week before the convention helps to make time for any last minute adjustments that need to be done to the costume to make it absolutely perfect for you. This goes double for shoes, by the way. You are going to be on your feet nearly all day, make sure the shoes you are wearing are comfortable enough for you to do that!

  • If you can, bring along a patch-up kit – Sod’s Law dictates that if something can go wrong, it most likely will go wrong. Bearing this in mind, it’s probably best keep things on hand that can help to keep your cosplay in the best of condition. A small sewing kit, glue, sellotape, anything you might need to make a quick fix if you have to. There was a picture floating around Tumblr of someone who went to a convention as ‘Captain Patch-Up’, and their costume was simply just anything that would be needed to quickly fix a costume. This person is fantastic, and anyone who does anything similar is equally fantastic.

  • No judging other people’s appearance – Everyone is at a different level of cosplay, and the person who is just starting out deserves as much respect as the person who is an experienced hand at all of this. It goes without saying that this also counts for people of different sizes and aesthetics, but considering the amount of bad cosplay blogs out there that pick on people for not fitting a conventional interpretation of attractive… Don’t be that person, Wanderers. If someone has worked up the courage to come in a costume, please do your best to respect their courage.

  • Consider weather and heat – Seriously! If it looks like it’s going to rain, bring a rain coat. If it looks like it’s going to be a really warm day, make sure you stay as hydrated as possible, and do your best to ensure that you don’t overheat. Seriously, keeping cool in convention halls is really important, and we don’t want anyone getting ill because they haven’t given proper consideration to the weather conditions.

  • COSPLAY DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT – Yes, I really did need to capslock that at you, sorry people. I know I’ve mentioned this in the convention tips before, but it bears repeating. Even if the costume could be considered ‘skimpy’ (which I don’t really like as a word, personally) that gives no-one the right to be rude, and touch or approach the cosplayer in a way that is not comfortable with them. Even if you want to just give someone a hug, make sure that it is okay with them first. People all have different needs, and we need to – as a group – come together and make sure everyone is comfortable in the cosplay environment. Then it just seems to be easier for everyone to have fun together. Which is what you want, really.

Z McAspurren (enjoys cosplaying, wants others to enjoy it too)

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Fandom As a Port in a Storm

Life, Wanderers, can have its ups and downs. Sometimes, the downs just seem to keep coming, building up until the whole world is just a series of crashing, thunderous things you have to deal with. And when that happens, it’s always nice to have a backup world to escape into. Ladies, gentlemen, and those of non-binary genders, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am talking, as ever, about fandom. Really, I should stop trying to be mysterious and impressive at the start of these articles, we all know where I’m going with this.

Anyway, so, fandom can be a great thing to escape into when ‘real life’ is getting too much. You might be swamped with work, angry with friends and under tons of pressure at home, but for the minutes between the opening credits of your favourite show and the credits at the end of the episode (or the end of four episodes later… or the end of the series…), you can enjoy a universe where you don’t have to do a darn thing, and nobody expects anything of you. The same is true of reading a book (although you do have to turn pages) or however else you want to enjoy a fandom. The exception, possibly, is games, because you do have to do a darn thing, but at least there aren’t any devastating consequences if you don’t do the thing right. Plus, you might like the kind of game where you can vent all that stress on enemies (take that, Bowser!) and that’s great too.

Where was I before I got off-topic? Ah, yes. Fandom, or at least the canon part of your fandom, demands very little of you, and it’s a familiar place to relax. Even if it puts you in mind, briefly, of the fanfiction you really ought to update, you can shrug that off. You’re doing research. Obviously. At any rate, the key point I’m trying to make here is that the canon of your favourite fandom can be soothing and comforting when everything else is stressful.

Of course, the title of this article is a reference to the saying ‘any port in a storm’, and it does refer to, perhaps, a slightly non-ideal place to shelter and rest. As anyone who’s watched an episode of Supernatural that begins with the familiar notes of ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ knows, your fandom’s canon can often be heartbreaking or otherwise unsettling. My personal comfort-fandom of choice in recent months has been a well-known podcast which is usually fairly safe in its returning everything to (relatively) normal, at the end of episodes. I need that in my life, sometimes. Last episode, however, everything was not OK and the whole episode was unsettling. I loved it, but I didn’t feel as relaxed as I usually would, afterwards.

Fortunately, when this happens, you can turn to another fandom. Or read some fanfic. There’s always some fluffy fanfic to be found somewhere. It may not be the perfect respite, but as a short break from the storms of the word… fandom’s not a bad place to dock for a bit.

Eleanor Musgrove (is a stressed little bunny right now)


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Pure Imagination

Hello there, Wanderers, and welcome once again to an instalment of your now incredibly familiar GUST articles. For those of you who might be new to Fandom Wanderers, a brief summary. In GUST articles, we look at media that is traditionally considered to be primarily for a younger audience, and see the merits in it for an older audience as well. Now, there is one writer that seems to have seeped into many people’s collective childhoods, and I think it’s only fair we take a look at another one of his works. This time, by author Roald Dahl, we’ll be looking at the infamous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Yes, infamous really is the word to describe this book, probably being the most well known of all Dahl’s stories for children. It’s been adapted twice for the screen; and most recently for the stage in London’s West End where, by all reports, it is delighting audiences much in the same way it’s compatriot Matilda continues to do. The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is as follows: we follow our young lead, Charlie Bucket, who is very poor indeed. So poor, in fact, that his family cannot afford proper meals. To make matters worse, Charlie and his family live within breathing distance of the marvellous chocolate factory belonging to confectionery genius, Willy Wonka.

No one has been allowed into the factory in years, but then it is announced that Wonka will allow the holders of five lucky golden tickets – to be found in only five of the hundreds upon hundreds of products he produces – into the factory. There is a mad scramble to get the tickets, and the first four are found by children of varying levels of unpleasantness. The last ticket, found the day before the tour, is Charlie’s. The tour is sure to be something wonderful, indeed.

It’s a sort of Cinderella story, in a way, I suppose it could be said. The idea of the rags getting a chance at the riches, even if only for the shortest period of time. Charlie Bucket is a paragon of virtue. He is the most angelic of children, and we cannot help but feel sympathy for his sorry lot in life. Not that Charlie seems to mind all that much, he’s relatively content, and does his best to keep himself that way.

And no, I’m really not joking when I say he’s angelic. Honestly, this boy never does anything wrong – he even tries to share the one bar of chocolate he gets every year with his whole family, because he thinks it’s only fair to do so. The other children may be varied in their unpleasantness, but personally? It’s that unpleasantness that makes them slightly more memorable than our lead. Not that Charlie isn’t memorable but …. yeah…

Best character in the book is Willy Wonka. He’s an eccentric genius who has isolated himself for many years. Well, isolated in the sense that he dropped out of public view. He’s a schemer, and he always has plans. The whole ‘golden ticket’ promotion is a plan in and of itself, but probably not for the obvious reason one would think of boosting sales – though he’s probably a bit pleased with that side effect. He is fantastic though.

The films themselves… well, you either like them, or you don’t. That’s pretty much as simple as it can be said. Gene Wilder’s Wonka is more mysterious, while Johnny Depp’s really plays up the eccentricities of the character. Of course, the first movie was also part musical, and gave us some fantastic numbers, particularly Pure Imagination, which is the eleven o’clock number in the musical, and judging by the soundtrack is is absolutely beautiful.

Overall, the book is a lovely little story, with Dahl’s usual likes and dislikes showing through. Like many of his work for children, while it is overall innocent, upon re-reading as an adult you will discover some elements that do seem a bit darker to an older eye. That being said, it is very much worth a re-read.

Z McAspurren (still likes Matilda best :P)

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Does This Look Like a Kids’ Story?: Alice

­Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my personal favourite tales from when I was a wee young thing until now, and I don’t see that changing really at any point in my life. However, I am a little on the fence when it comes to re-tellings, or expansions, to the Wonderland ‘mythos’ as it were, as it can sometimes feel like the name Wonderland has been thrown in to ensure a quick sale. What we are looking at, today, however, does not do that. I’ve briefly mentioned this before when we looked at Disney’s animated adaptation of the novel, but here is a proper review on the 2009 SyFy (random side note; personally, will never get used to that spelling) mini-series, Alice.

First thing to note is that Alice is not a re-telling of the original tales, it is a continuation. The events of this mini-series, about 3 hours in length, take place roughly 150 years after the events of the original novel. Okay, so it’s actually more like 144 years, if we want to be exact, but the round number has a nicer sound to the ears. Wonderland has changed a lot in that time period, and while there is still an element of nonsense to the world, it’s also become a darker place. The citizens of Wonderland are kept complacent and happy, fed on emotions harvested from Oysters – people from the ‘real’ world – by the Queen of Hearts and the Happy Hearts Casino. You are either part of this world of instant gratification, or you don’t exist.

Alice Hamilton is a 20-something who lives with her mother, and whose boyfriend was stolen away by a man who lead her through a mirror to Wonderland. Marked as an Oyster, the only way she has a chance of finding her boyfriend, and making it home safely is with the help of the Hatter, who runs an emotion tea shop.

Yes, that is the briefest summary that can be given of the mini-series, without really falling prey to too many spoilers. Alice is genuinely brilliantly done, and the world building is subtle enough for the viewer to understand what Wonderland is like, without really spelling it all out to them. The writer of this mini-series knew the source material well, and references and homages to the original Alice in Wonderland are clear throughout the mini-series, including the Jabberwock design being the exact same as the Tenniel illustration of the creature.

The casting is wonderful, with Kathy Bates playing a particularly petualant but still menacing Queen of Hearts, who feels so secure in her power but knows that everything is delicately resting on the continued production of Oyster Emotions. The real star, personally, is Andrew-Lee Potts as the Hatter. He’s suave and cool, but also a bit of a dork, and frankly kind of adorable. His motivations for doing what he does as mixed and while we don;t find out his full back-story in the series proper, there are heavy hints. Alice herself, of course, is wonderful. A very confident young woman, who finds her issues being pressed by her time in Wonderland, forcing her not only to confront them, but also to deal with them, regardless of whether she actually wants to or not.

The design of this Wonderland is also very memorable, being more of a built-up mess of a city than anything you would actually mentally align with the place name. Oh, there is a place of wonder that is visited during the course of the 3 hours, but it is in ruins, destroyed by a war, now only a shadow of it’s former glory.  It’s really on seeing this place that Alice realises she needs to do something to help, but there is more of a kicker when she is given visual evidence as to how they actually get the emotions they feast on.

Overall, this really is not the Alice in Wonderland you’d be expecting. However, that is to the mini-series’ credit. It pays tribute to the original, keeping in line with what was set up in those stories, while building on it. It creates a whole new Wonderland for people to view, and enjoy, and it stands up to repeated viewings, always catching some new little thing that you hadn’t before. Definitely worth viewing, if you get the chance of getting it on DVD.

Z McAspurren (Seriously, favourite interpretation of Alice in Wonderland ever)

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Issue Forty-Eight: A Note from the Editors

Hello, Wanderers!

We hope you enjoy our new issue – we’ve got reviews of Hark! A VagrantBill and Ted’s Excellent Adventureand our GUST this fortnight, which is Bambi.

Meanwhile, on the editorial side, we ponder whether any fandom should have an upper age limit, we consider fandom as a less pricey alternative to magical kingdoms, and we’ve got some FW Tips on clearing out your fandom possessions. The Ragamuffin Speaks is also here as usual with a few thoughts about how fandom has a pull over us.

Our next issue will be with you on the 24th of May, so don’t miss that – and you can get in touch with us in the meantime through any of the channels on our Contact page.

Until next time!

Fandom Wanderers

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Be Excellent to Each Other: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

In general with sci-fi, it is often the case that each piece of media will have it’s own set of strict rules that must be followed; particularly when it comes to the case of time travel. Now, there are many, many versions of the time travel rules, and some are more common than others. But we’re not here to talk about the rules of time travel – even though I’m sure that would be a very interesting conversation to have with you, Wanderers. We’re here to discuss a piece of media that has time travel as part of its plot. The thing is though, unlike most stuff with time travel involved, this thing… really isn’t all that serious. In fact, it’s not serious at all. It’s a comedy, and it’s light-hearted, and it’s one of my personal favourite movies of all time. You can make comments on my movie tastes later. Today, we’re going to be looking at Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure!

This movie is, quite rightly, a cult classic. It’s about these two loveable idiots, Bill S. Preston Esq, and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan, who together are Wyld Stallyns, a band who will be totally awesome. As soon as they get Eddie Van Halen. And make a triumphant video. Oh, and learn to … actually play their instruments. Yeah, they’re kind of slack-offs, and it shows mostly in the fact that they are failing history. Unless they manage to ace the final oral report, they will flunk out of school, Ted will be sent to a military academy in Alaska, and the band will never get anywhere. It’s horrible for these two friends, but that’s the way things go, right?

Actually, no. You see, if Wyld Stallyns never happen, a utopian future in which the people of Earth have overcome war, famine and poverty will never come to be. The music of the band – and the philosophies within the band and their music – help to unite the world. Without it, things will fall to ruin. So, it’s up to Rufus – played by the late George Carlin – to travel back in time and help the two Great Ones pass their history report. He gives them a time travelling phone booth – that sounds familiar – and the two go back through history, collecting historical figures to come and help them with their report. It’s an insane plot, it makes no sense really when you think about it, but it is completely excellent to a most outstanding level.

Everything centers around Bill and Ted, brothers in all but blood. Let me tell you something, Wanderers, these two are some of the nicest fictional male characters I have ever encountered in any genre. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they’re immature and that shows in their choices of insults, but never have you met two people who care more about each other, and more about just being decent people. They take everything in their stride, and have a most resplendent vocabulary – actually, more so than you would think for characters that are otherwise portrayed as slackers. (Though if history is the only thing they’re failing, they can’t be all that bad.) These two greet their adventures through time with jovial smiles, being friendly to whoever they meet, and making friends with the oddest of historical figures – Genghis Khan being one of them.

It’s also notable for being one of the only buddy movies I can think of in which there is no argument between the friends that drives them apart. Bill and Ted are two individuals who share the same mindset, and the same way of thinking, and because of that, nothing can really drive a wedge between them. They are completely on the same wavelength and it’s really touching to see. The movie brings some fun times in its romp through time, and there are a lot of fun moments in the backgrounds of scenes that can be caught on a second or third watch through.

Now, Excellent Adventure is actually only the first entry in the franchise, and I’m sure I’ll get to the others at some point, but it’s the one that really makes it clear; the reason why Wyld Stallyns change the world isn’t through some great deed, or extreme influence. They change the world by being honestly decent people. And that, dear Wanderers, is a marvellous thing to see.

I mean, if you’re going to use any fictional characters as a basis for your own moral behaviour, you wouldn’t do all that badly if you picked the Great Ones. Just sayin’.

I’d give this movie a four and a half out of five – it is quite cheesy, but there is a lot of heart to it.

Z McAspurren (Party on, dudes!)

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Twitterpated: Bambi

You know, sometimes it’s hard to write a GUST article, especially when you realise that we keep coming back to that one big company ruled over by a giant talking mouse. It’s not that we can’t find things from other companies; far from it. It’s just that we’ll be wandering along, doing what we do, and we’ll rediscover a movie from our childhoods that we loved, and re-watch it, and realise just how accessible it is for a wider audience. That’s exactly what happened with this issue’s entry. Said to be a personal favourite of Walt Disney himself, we’re looking at the 1942 classic, Bambi.

Fun fact number one; this is based off a novel by writer Felix Salten; Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschicte aus dem Walde, which is translated as Bambi: Life in the Woods. From my own personal experience of reading the novel, I will say that is it darker than the movie, not glossing over any of the more unpleasant parts of nature, but is still a very good read. However, we’re not here to talk about the novel, no, we’re here to discuss the movie. Now, Bambi is pretty much a typical Coming-of-Age story, following titular character Bambi from his birth to adulthood with his life in the forests of… Well, according to research, apparently Maine, but no one is 100% sure on that. The turning point in Bambi’s life comes in the form of the trauma of losing his mother to Man. From this moment on, Bambi is no longer a child, and learns that nothing last forever. It’s a very solemn moment… that is immediately undercut by cheerful music in the very next scene.

Okay, so everyone has made that joke. It still counts as a relevant observation because you never really remember just how jarring the change is until you rewatch the movie. Seriously, go find it and watch. I mean, it doesn’t detract from how good the movie is overall, but still… Rather extreme Mood Whiplash. But, like I said, it really doesn’t detract from how good the movie is, and you still get rather suckered into the story. Plus, the tone does turn dark again not that long after the crazily happy peppy song.

Okay, so what else can we say about this movie? Well, for the art work being just over 70 years old, it still holds up impressively well. During my rewatch, I did find myself having to rewind to actually hear what had been said, because I’d spent most of that scene just marvelling at the art work – the matte painting backgrounds are especially beautiful, and I can’t even begin to fathom how much work would have been put into just one, not least a full movie of them. All creative, all detailed, and all true to life, while still retaining enough of an animation style to fit with the character designs.

Speaking of which; there are reasons fawn Bambi is basically Disney’s signature character for cute, and it is not undeserved. Fun fact number two: in order to properly animate the movement of the deer, it was arranged for the animators on the film to spend time with two fawns, studying their movements. Disney really cared about this stuff; he always wanted to put out the best product that he could and when it comes to a movie like Bambi, I think most will agree that he definitely managed to do that. All thoughts on the mid-quel aside – though I do like that they got Patrick Stewart to voice the Great Prince – Bambi is simply one of those animated movies that can be held up to show how these are just as much pieces of art as anything you would see hanging in a gallery.

That means that, yes, Bambi is really worth the time it takes to go and rewatch it. It’s not all that long – just over an hour, really – but it is worth every single minute, if only because the animation and the art work is so very beautifully done. It’s really just a happy bonus that the story itself is very solid, and able to stand up as a classic tale so many years later. Definitely one that grown up’s should go back and try again.

Z McAspurren (Seriously though, where’s all the Faline merch at?)

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Hark! A Vagrant

There are a lot of different types of comics out there in the world, and I think it’s great that there is such a variety to chose from. I know most people stick to the main big two companies, but that’s alright really. A lot of great writers and artists work for them, and those same people go on to publish their own, independent works that are really work checking out. There’s also web-comics, which are I suppose still relatively new when considering the bigger picture, and the variety available there is also immense and amazing. People, what I’m basically trying to say here is that even if you think you don’t like comics, it’s probably just because you haven’t found the right type for you. Today, I’m going to talk about a web-comic that I really like. Well, technically, it’s more a series of web-comic strips. We’re going to have a very brief look at Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton.

So what are these comic strips about then? Oh, everything and anything, though history is always a recurring topics. But there’s also other features like fond mocking of old book covers, a look at comic book characters in a realistic sense – Beaton’s Lois Lane seems to be forever fed up with Superman interrupting her when she’s trying to get her job done – realistic teen detectives, and I really could go on here. What got me into the strip were the history comics. As you might have gathered from the Horrible Histories review way back when – weren’t we young then – I like history. Oh yeah, sure, it’s filled with wars, and blood, and horrible things. But it’s helped to shape the world, and continues to do so, and also there’s really awesome people who need a hell of a lot more recognition than they get.

Like Horrible Histories, Beaton looks at history with a comedic eye, using more modern day ideals and popular culture to reflect the, frankly, absurdity of some of the events that have helped to shape the world. Oh, except the one about Henry II and Thomas Becket – while there is a punchline, that one is still fairly sombre.

But it’s not just history that comes under Beaton’s comedic gaze. A popular recurring strip is the Strong Female Characters; women who don’t need no man, but can fall for a man-child. Who hate the idea of chivalry, and how dare another women like something traditionally feminine like baking – but at the same time, they just can’t resist those cookies. Yes, like you’ve guessed, it’s a spoofing of the common tropes that are used to portray a Strong Female Character in the media, and it comes across fondly, if perhaps a little tired at the over-use of these tropes.

The realistic teen detectives are also a personal favourite, two slacker boys who have somehow been picked as these amazing teen detectives, who really cannot be bothered with any of it, and spend most of their time just messing around and not doing the job they’ve been hired for. They were later joined by a reporter girl, who is just as foul mouthed as the boys, but actually seemed to be far more enthusiastic about doing her job.

Needless to say, the contents of a single strip can vary from post to post, and it’s always fun looking through the archives on the website, giggling along with the punch-lines and enjoying Beaton’s distinct art-style. Her most popular comic is the Oh, Mr Darcy comic, which must have many spin-offs but the original is still hilarious each time it is read. For those of you who like collected editions, I am pleased to be able to tell you that there is a collected edition. The book – titled Hark! A Vagrant – was published in September 2011, and can still be found via Amazon and most decent book stores, though you may have to order it in. If you like what you see on the site, it’s well worth ordering.

So yes, the world of comics is incredibly varied and, as Hark! A Vagrant shows, one comic itself can have so many variations on its own. It’s really an incredible thing, when you think on it.

Z McAspurren (I love the fat pony)

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