DC Comics – Assignment 8

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Originally called “National Allied Publications,” what we now know today as DC Comics was founded at the end of 1934, with Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson at the head of operations.  Wheeler-Nicholson’s time was short-lived, however.  Monetary troubles forced him to bring in Harry Donenfeld as a partner.  The issues continued to persist and as Wheeler-Nicholson got the boot, Donenfeld’s accountant, Jack S. Liebowitz, was brought in.  Their branch “Detective Comics,” where the name DC Comics comes from, bought what was left of ‘National Allied Publications” and continued to produce comics.  

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Donenfeld and Liebowitz had originally been involved in the pulp magazine business during the 1920s.  Yet during this era, the government had become more strict and the racy scenes featured in these pulp magazines were deemed unacceptable.  As the film from class, Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics, explains, the government was after Donenfeld for his pulp magazines.  Him and Liebowitz instead turned to comic books to make money.  In 1937, Detective Comics #1 hit stands (Moshier).  In it, featured material by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Moshier).  As Secret Origin explained, these are the two men responsible for creating Superman.

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The inspiration of Superman himself came from a dark place.  “In 1932, just a year before Superman’s first adventure was tentatively drawn on a sketchpad, Jerry Siegel’s father, Mitchell, a poor Jewish immigrant, died during an armed raid at his second-hand clothing store,” (Wigmore).  This fact had been kept under wraps until recent times, but, as the film explains, the idea of a man being so strong and completely bullet proof was comforting to Siegel.  Superman was the father that he had lost so tragically.

This character inspired by loss and tragedy had so much to bring Siegel, Shuster, and the world of comic books.  Superman had become an icon for all of society, inspiring radio and TV shows and movies.  Everyone knew who Superman was.  The next superhero to see as much success was Batman.  Soon after that, superheros inundated the comic book market.  Even still, DC Comics has still managed to survive and thrive all this time.  They constantly changed and altered their comics to stay up to date with the times and keep people reading.  As we learned in class, although the comic book industry is on the wane today, they are still make about $4.5 million per year.

As for my favorite superhero, I would have to chose Wonder Woman.  She has always been independent and sassy, even when women were preferred to be less involved in the world.  She’s strong, beautiful, and powerful.  Even as a child I really liked her.  I have a Christmas ornament from my childhood that is Wonder Woman with her lasso.  My favorite thing about her back then, however, was her costume!  To this day, I would love to have a Wonder Woman suit.  Overall, though, Wonder Woman is everything I would want to be, all while saving the world.

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Works Cited:

Carter, Mac, dir. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics. DC Entertainment, 2010. Film.

Moshier, Christopher. “DC Comics Chronology: The Platinum Age.” ComicBookBin. 24 Feb 2008: n. page. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.comicbookbin.com/dcchronologyplatinumage_001.html&gt;.

Wigmore, Barry. “Superman creator ‘dreamed up comic hero after his father died in armed raid when he was a bo’y.” Daily Mail Online [London] 26 Aug 2008, n. pag. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1049411/Superman-creator-dreamed-comic-hero-father-died-armed-raid-boy.html&gt;.

Images (In order of appearance):

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Pride and Prejudice and The Piano

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Pride and Prejudice and The Piano both bring their audience back to a simpler time, to a world much different from ours today.  Both films, appearing to be set sometime in the 1800s, are much concerned with the idea of marriage.  The way marriage is handled in each film, however, is very different. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is encouraged to marry into the upper class, but is essentially free to choose who she pleases (whether it upsets her mother or not).  On the other hand, in The Piano, Ada McGrath has an arranged marriage with a man in New Zealand and is sent there with her daughter to live with him, despite her objections.  While one protagonist is free to choose as she pleases, the other must oblige to her family’s, and her new husband’s, wishes.

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The two films are also oriented to different artistic elements.  The makers of Pride and Prejudice put their focus most of their attention on the verbal element.  In this film, nothing is left to the imagination; every scene and feeling is explained through speech, be it conversations between the actors on screen or voice-over.  The set design and costumes worn are usually simple, the camera typically focused straight at the actors.  Emotions are explicitly shared by the actors, as well, leaving only a few things to be interpreted by the audience.  The emotions that are withheld are used to keep the film’s plot moving, and add the necessary mystery to the film.  The main example of this is with Mr. Darcy.  While he acts in a condescending and spiteful manner to Elizabeth, he does continue to show up in her life.  Later in the film, it is learned that he is, in fact, in love with Elizabeth.  This unexpected (and verbal) reveal of emotion creates drama and leads the plot in a new direction.  This verbal focus is not shared by The Piano, however.

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Jane Campion, director of The Piano, chose to give her film a more visually symbolic meaning.  The protagonist, Ada, is mute.  To communicate she must use hand signs or write messages on her pad of paper.  Her emotions can only be told through her facial expressions and the manner of her signs.  The actress does a wonderful job at conveying the emotions without having to say a word.  Her facial expressions are so incredibly powerful.  Such acting doesn’t need words; the audience knows exactly how Ada feels by reading her face.  Unlike Pride and Prejudice, emotions are more implicit in this movie.  Most of the actors, with the exception of Ada’s daughter, keep their emotions to themselves.  The audience must, instead, rely on their actions or facial expressions to interpret how the actors are feeling.  The camera shots are often artistic or complex, like the shot of Ada’s husband watching her and Baines through the cracks in Baines’ walls and floor.  With all these visual elements, it’s clear to see that what The Piano lacks in verbiage, it more than makes up for in visual symbolism.

Overall, both films were interesting and I enjoyed them both equally.  I found that Pride and Prejudice was a bit more comical, even, in some parts, and that The Piano was dark and romantic.  Although they differ in their visual or verbal orientation, they are both full of symbolism.  The directors of both films did a wonderful job of drawing the audience in, be it through dialogue or imagery.  Overall, Pride and Prejudice and The Piano are two films that are great in their own distinct ways.

Images can be found at:

(In order of appearance)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112130/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107822/

Chinese Dragons – Assignment 6

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          When one thinks of a dragon, this often conjures up the image of the Chinese Dragon.  Although many cultures have come to use the dragon as a negative and frightening symbol, the Chinese have always looked at the dragon in a more positive light.  The image of the dragon is not a recent addition to Chinese culture.  In fact, “It has been at least 6,000 years since the dragon came into being,” (“ChinaCulture.org”).  That goes back to about 4,000 BC.  “In 1987 a grave of the Yangshao Culture…was unearthed in Ziyang, Henan Provice, where a dragon made of mussel shells was found beside the male dead,” (“ChinaCulture.org”).  The dragon was, and still is, worshipped so much in China because the Chinese believe the dragon holds magical powers.  “It can change the length of its body as it wishes, it can either fly or swim and it can even bring rainfalls. People in ancient China often offered sacrifices to [the] Dragon for favorable weather and good harvest,” (“ChinaCulture.org”).  Although all of the dragon’s powers made it an important symbol to the Chinese, “The Imperial Chinese Dragon is one of the most revered in Chinese mythology because it carried with it the promise of rain,” (“ChineseDragon.org.uk”).  Although all dragons were associated with rain, there are four specific types of dragons, each with their own purpose.

          These four types  of dragons were the Celestial Dragon, the Spiritual Dragon, the Earth Dragon, and the Underworld Dragon (“ChineseDragon.org.uk”). “The heavenly or celestial dragon (tian-long) was the celestial guardian who protected the heavens, supporting the mansions of the gods and shielded them from decay…The spiritual dragons (shen-long) were the weather makers…Dragons that ruled the rivers, springs and lakes were called Earth dragons (di-long)…Believed to live in caves deep in the earth the (fu-can-long) or treasure dragon [underworld dragon] had charge of all the precious jewels and metals buried in the earth,” (Painter).  Unlike the demonic dragons portrayed in Western cultures, the dragon was believed to help and protect by the Chinese people.  For that reason and as seen in the Textile Museum’s exhibit, the dragon was and still is the most important symbol in Chinese culture.

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Works Cited

Painter, John P. “Dragons of China.” Nine Dragon Baguazhang. 1999: n. page. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.ninedragonbaguazhang.com/dragons.htm>.

“Chinese Dragon Worship.” ChineseDragon.org.uk. 2003: n. page. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.chinesedragon.org.uk/the_imperial_chinese_dragon_legend_or_reality.htm>.

“Origin of Chinese Dragon.” ChinaCulture.org. 2003: n. page. Web. 4 Mar. 2012. <http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_aboutchina/2003-09/24/content_22934.htm>.

Picture 1

http://chinese-new-year-cards.blogspot.com/2011/12/chinese-dragon-greeting-cards.html

Picture 2

http://www.agapetile.com/products/product_info.php?products_id=7532&osCsid=rojntqpj3s8tp6gvi7169cqcc1

Newseum Experience – Post 5

          This photograph was part of the exhibit of photos that had won the Pulitzer Prize over the years.  I remember seeing this photo in my history text book in high school and it has stuck with me ever since.  Seeing it again, I was reminded of the feelings I felt upon first seeing this photo: anger, disgust, and sadness.  To think that people could be so cruel to each other, to the point of holding a man in place so they could gore him with a flag pole, is so completely unthinkable to me.  It’s one thing to say a hateful comment, but it’s so much worse to actually see those words acted upon.

The photographer of this picture, Stanley Forman, was in the right place, at the right time.  It was captured in Boston, Massachusetts in 1976.  The people in this photograph were at a rally against bullying, according to the capture featured at the Newseum.  At that time, most people believed that racism continued to be a mainly Southern issue, that it had seemingly disappeared from the northern states.  This picture, however, proved that racism was still alive in the North.  It was so alive that people were willing to seriously injure other people because of the color of their skin.

The idea that racism was still very much present wasn’t the real thing that caught my attention.  The fact that the American flag was being used to carry out such a disturbing action was the thing that really got to me.  Stanley Forman named this photograph “The Soiling of Old Glory,” and for a very good reason.  Being a nation built on the thought of equality and freedom, it’s disgusting to think that the ultimate symbol of our nation was used to brutally attack the man in this photo.  Between the American flag being used as a weapon in a hate crime, the people whose faces show disgust, yet seem to be standing stationary in the background, and the black and white coloring, this photograph captures many forms of contrast.  The emotion captured in this image and the feelings it evokes will never become outdated.  This is the kind of photograph that stays with you forever.

Post 4: Propaganda

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Instead of focusing people like a typical, run-of-the-mill anti-smoking piece, I chose to show viewers that smoking can, in fact, kill dogs, cats, and other animals in the house.  Our pets can get lung cancer, just like we can.  It’s interesting to me that people are much more sensitive to animals, as well.  This is another reason why I chose this picture to use.

The dog himself looks sad, due to the smoke in his face.  A sad-looking dog has the power to pull on the heartstrings of any person.  I also wanted to make some of the more important words stand out.  I chose the words “kill” and “dead.”  These two words go together and they’re really strong words.  I feel that the red really emphasizes their intensity and drives the point home.

*I do not own the background image. It can be found at: http://www.sonomapets.com/?p=800

Alfred Eisenstaedt, VJ Day, The Kiss

     This photo shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945 is among my favorite photographs of all times.  It was shot in Times Square on “Victory over Japan Day,” the day World War II ended.  That day was of such significance to everyone alive at the time.  A war that had claimed so many lives was finally over and everyone in the United States was overjoyed, despite the destruction overseas.
     I love everything this photograph stands for.  The man, a sailor, and the woman, a nurse, did not know each other prior to this intimate moment caught on film.  This picture embodies pure spontaneity.  These two individuals were living in the moment, caught up in the joy of a horrible war coming to an end.  It is romantic, unexpected, and purely natural.  It stands for passion and living life in the moment.  Eisenstaedt was certainly in the right place at the right time.
     Printing the picture in black and white was a very good choice, as well.  There’s so much going on in the picture; there is so much to look at.  A colored version of this photograph would have too much going on.  Black and white is much simpler and is perfect for this photo.  Even though there’s so much going on, the two kissing figures stand out so much.  Overall, I just love this photograph and everything it stands for.

Group Project – Ad

My group’s take on an ad for Carvel Ice Cream Cakes featuring yours, truly!  Who wants all that mess when you can just buy a Carvel Cake instead?

**The Carvel logo was used for purely education purposes only!

Homework 1

I took this picture while waiting for the train the other night.  There were some red line issues going on and they couldn’t have happened at a worse time.  My friend and I were coming home from the Washington Capitals game.  They played my home team, the Boston Bruins.  Sadly, my Bruins lost.  My bad luck continued after when we boarded a train, only to be asked to get off the train at Farragut North.  We waited 25 minutes for the next train!

What prompted me to take the picture was the lighting.  It was hitting the walls of the tunnel in an interesting way.  The pattern from the tunnel wall was also visually interesting.  I also liked how the light didn’t touch the man in this photo, keeping his identity a secret.  It could be any one of us waiting for that train.  Just be glad it wasn’t you!