Posts from June 2008

Jun 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: European Comics

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 3,739 views

comic page by Guido CrepaxI remember long ago constantly being told that European comics was a mature artform for adults, to be envied. There is material like that, and material of the very highest quality – but my god there’s a gigantic amount of beautifully drawn or painted drivel, and some of the reason for the ‘adult’ term is the soft porn, which is often very sexist. A few European greats will come up elsewhere in this series (I think I am doing children’s comics next, and I’ll save Pratt for adventure comics), but I want to mention a few who I really like.

Guido Crepax is an exceptional artist who specialises in porn, including adaptations of ‘classics’ such as Emmanuelle and The Story of O. The material is often tedious, but he’s as original a designer of page layouts as I’ve ever seen, and there is real power in his twitchy line. I wish there were more interesting material with his terrific art, but even so they are worth studying.


Jun 08

HOT CHOCOLATE – “So You Win Again”

FT + Popular99 comments • 6,004 views

#408, 2 July 1977

Errol Brown brought angst to the dancefloor as regularly as Michael Jackson ever would, but Hot Chocolate’s neuroses were way more effortful, dredged up from some inner coil of dissatisfaction. The rising riff on “So You Win Again” sounds – in the best possible way – leaden, an anchor chain around Brown’s hopes, forever pulling him down. “Here I am again – A LOSER.” It’s not the best Hot Chocolate track – that might be the dystopic “Mindless Boogie”, or the uncomfortably pitiful “It Started With A Kiss”, or “Everyone’s A Winner”, this track’s savage flipside – but what it shares with the band’s best work is the sense of a man wearing a shabby overcoat of disappointment, doomed to misery.

Europop 2008: Semi Final Results

FT7 comments • 146 views

And the final will be…

Switzerland v Italy

Congratulations to Matt and Pete, commiserations to Alyson and Greg, both of whom produced performances that lit up this tournament. Switzerland powered through their semi, whereas Italy beat France by a single vote. Which of them will triumph? The final tracks go up on Thursday, and on Wednesday we take a look back over the tournament with the Europop 2008 Muxtape.

Like Some Kind Of Large Building Designed For Communal Worship… but SONIC

FTPost a comment • 123 views

I went and saw My Bloody Valentine on Friday night, at the behest of Pitchfork. Here’s what I thought of it. (photos not mine). This is, I think, the first live review I’ve ever written for (non-FT) publication – it was fun to do, especially when I put on my adjective hat. Congratulations to whoever suggested “eviscerating” at the pre-gig drinks: I apologise profusely for not fitting somnambulent in, or hypnotic oscillations, or ethereal. It really wasn’t any of those things.

Jun 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Alan Moore

The Brown Wedge5 comments • 1,524 views

Another person who deserves his own entry in this series is Alan Moore, surely the most award-laden writer in the history of comics, and one of the most influential.

He first came to prominence in the early ’80s in Britain, with two great stories in Warrior. Marvelman (later renamed Miracleman) was a ’50s Brit Captain Marvel (the Shazam one) knock-off, but Alan recreated him brilliantly, with beautiful and sharp Garry Leach art (ha, namedropping: I ate with Garry a couple of weeks ago) – Garry was followed by various other artists. V For Vendetta was even better, a lone anarchist against a repressive future fascist British state, a clear comment on Thatcher’s Britain. David Lloyd provided bold art almost reminiscent of woodcuts. This is the earliest of Moore’s works to be adapted for the screen – one of these days we might see a good movie based on one of them, but I’m not holding my breath.


Jun 08

Europop 2008: The Semi Finals

FT/18 comments • 675 views

A place in the final awaits the winners of each match: Switzerland and Portugal previously drew, and France thumped Italy in their group match, but form counts for nothing now: ONLY THE WILL TO WIN (and a good track). Listen to the tracks, vote in the games, click below the cut for track info, managerial comment etc.

How to vote: just pick the track you prefer in each game. You’ll need to press vote separately on each poll. Polls open until Monday lunchtime.

Switzerland v Portugal: Which track do you prefer?

  • Switzerland: Yves Larock 68%
  • Portugal: Expander and Thinkfreak 32%

Total Voters: 25

Poll closes: 23 Jun 2008 @ 12:26

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France v Italy: Which track do you prefer?

  • Italy: Jovanotti 52%
  • France: Sofia Essaldi 48%

Total Voters: 27

Poll closes: 23 Jun 2008 @ 12:27

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Jun 08

THE JACKSONS – “Show You The Way To Go”

FT + Popular59 comments • 4,206 views

#407, 25th June 1977

A key player in Popular to come steps lightly onto the scene: Michael Jackson (with brothers) was already a star but his ball-of-energy performances on the Jackson Five’s hits had always just missed out on the UK #1. On “Show You The Way To Go” he’s a subtler presence, cajoling rather than exploding. His presence – still charismatic, still show-stealing – is a ripple of excitement in “Show You”‘s smooth groove. Or maybe that’s just hindsight?

Disco was good to Michael Jackson: it came along at just the right time for the child star to cut the glorious forcefulness and find a voice and style that could carry him along. Jackson realised that the unwavering beat of disco left room for doubt and hurt even while the dancing went on, and on “Show You The Way To Go” you can hear him developing that trademark agonised quaver, that pleading squeak which would take him higher than anyone. The other Jacksons are hardly lacking in suppleness, mind, and this would be a pleasure even if it didn’t point futurewards so tantalisingly.

The All New SI Units Of Work

FT15 comments • 837 views

As a follow up to one of my favourite threads on FT (with one of the best comments sections ever), we return to the all new SI Units with a conundrum. A discussion about difficult jobs threw up two separate examples. Namely when one wants to invoke the relative simplicity of a task it is usually compared to EITHER rocket science or brain surgery. As the BIPM of the all new SI Units, we need to know.

Now both of these throw up an interesting point about units of measurement. If both are considered to be about the hardest jobs one can do, every other job will be a fraction of them. So data entry might be ten milli-“rocket sciences”, driving a bus might be a centi-“brain surgery” and moderating an online message board could range from 0.001 to 2 of either of these units depending on contributers. Having your standard unit too large or two small can cause problems in comprehension when you are talking about large quantities.


Jun 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Raw & the Avant Garde

The Brown Wedge9 comments • 1,750 views
a Raw cover

Well, the old avant-garde anyway – I’m out of touch these days, so apologies for talking about yesterday’s pioneers. Raw was a comic magazine, published in a variety of formats, which specialised in the strange and experimental, striving towards comics with values more often applied to modern painting and literature. It wasn’t all successful by any means, but given the experimental nature, it hit the mark far more often than one could have ever expected. The mags (Penguin published some in book format) are well worth reading if you can find them, but I’ll just highlight a few people from that school.

Its biggest name was its editor, Art Spiegelman, who made a huge impact with his narrative of his father’s days in a Nazi concentration camp, interleaved with their current relationship, with all the characters depicted as animals. Maus was an international hit, garnering possibly the greatest praise a comic book ever had in the US, and its status was largely warranted. It’s an unflinchingly honest account, told with rigour and great skill. I have my doubts about the animal aspect, but it had its pluses as well as difficulties. It’s a very impressive achievement, and holds up pretty well stacked against something like Primo Levi’s autobiographical tale of similar experiences.


Jun 08

The Name Of The Game is… ILLGAZE!

FT3 comments • 158 views

Great article at from the Head of Localization on what sort of issues and workarounds people come up with in translating and localizing games for different audiences. Here he talks about things encountered in translating the Etrian Odyssey games. Hard limits on character names prove fantastic linguistic challenges from long and complex names in kanji over to good ole phonetic English!

“…. we had a hard limit of 8 characters for player skills, enemy skills, and enemy names, and a generous 10 for item and equipment names. The hard part is that 8 characters in Japanese can give you enemy names like 憤怒の眼光主, which romanizes as “Fundo No Gankou-Nushi” and translates as the even lengthier “Owner of the Malicious Glare.”

That’s a lot to pack into 8 English letters. So in this case, we jettisoned the word “Owner” as being the least meaningful word in the name, and were left with “Malicious Glare.” Casting about for some shorter synonyms for “malicious” gives us words like “evil” and “bad,” which are both short enough to fit. But Evilglare and Badglare have that slightly clumsy air that went hand-in-hand with the old NES days, and we try to produce localizations more natural than that, even with character limits as tough as these.

Read more of the article for weapons workarounds and maintaining historical authenticity! Sigh – I so wish this was my job…