Ultimate Nullifier

The Ultimate Nullifier was presented to Galactus, consumer of worlds. Fearing that existence as we know it would be anulled, Galactus left earth to be eaten another day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Comic Convention: Day 2

Sorry for the delay, took me a while to get all the materials ready.

The most interesting event on the second day has to be the masquerade. Unfortunately for us they screwed up big time this year and we didn't get to watch it. From what I've heard they were suppose to give out tickets for the masquerade at a certain time. But for some reason they started giving them out hours before the scheduled time, leaving the crowd in a state of confusion and chaos.

What we did instead is simply walk around the masquerade area and take pictures of those with the courage to dress up as their favorite character.



Lets start with something refreshing!


No wonder people said this guy can use up to 90% of his brain.




Logan: Why Jean? Why do you have to be so heavy!


Trust me, I had to risk my life to take this picture. It eats children for fun!


"These ninjas and samurais are no match against me!"


I'm more curious about what the guy behind is staring at


A hardcore Earthbound and Ness fan

Now thats the definition of HARDCORE




I am your master! Now serve me bi**hes!











and last but not least




Never in the history of mankind have we seen 3 human beings so dangerous teaming up!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Comic Convention: Day 1

Today (as in fri sept 1st) is the first day of the anual fan expo (which involves anime, comics, sci fi, horror, and games)

After waiting in line for about an hour we finally got in. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to look around as I have to take off to see the much anticipated Video Game music concert.

The first 10-15 mins of was sort of like an intro to the concert as they played music from old school games like Duck hunt, Ghouls and Ghost, Pong, etc.... they spend roughly 1-2 mins per game.

They then moved on to longer segments featuring music from more recent games. This includes metal gear solid, god of war, kingdom hearts, halo (and a few other ones which slip my mind). And of course other classic songs are included as well such as sonic, warcraft, castlevania, mario, and zelda.

Throughout the whole show, they showed clips of the respective game on the big screen to give the audience an idea of what the game is like (if they haven't played it already). However I feel they didn't do a really good job putting the video together. A lot of the clips they used are the most recent carnation of the games. For example, when they are playing music from warcarft, all you see on the screen are clips from world of warcraft, showing no respect for the older versions which started it all. They actually have the guts to not show a single clip featuring the original nes super mario bros (its all from snes and later). Then again, the video is not the main feature of the show so i can deal with that.

Personally I really enjoyed those classic game songs. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the more recent ones. They don't seem to understand that some music works great with an intense action scene but doesn't cut it when its on its own (eg. metal gear solid). Or some song sounds almost identical to the ones from the actual game as if they've forgotten that a good amount of game music these days are done by orchestra in the first place....

They did give us a pleasent surprise by inviting a really special guest to the show. I'm sure some of you have seen video clips online of this dude playing mario music on his piano while blindfolded. Well, he was there and he proved that he is indeed a beast by playing main themes from various final fantasy, tetris, and mario.
Throughout the night there was a guy in the audience who kept requesting earthworm jim. The orchestra doesn't know that song so he is out of luck....or is he? The host joked that the piano dude probably knows it and guess what, this guy played a sick earthworm jim song on the piano.

Before the show started I jokingly predicted that Halo will be featured as the "main event" and stated that we should walk out immediately if that was the case.
We were the first people to leave the building....

Day 2 should be more interesting (will feature pictures). Bring on the costumes, nerds, and fan girls!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The man who slaughters demons while wearing only his underwear

In case you have no clue as to what I'm talking about, this is about the new psp game: Ultimate Ghouls and Ghost.

After 15 years, Arthur has once again entered the demons village (a rough translation of makaimura) to save the princess. But what exactly did he do during these past 15 years? Find out for yourself (note that the video is in japanese)


I do own the game. However I don't believe a review is necessary for this game. The basic concept of this game is almost identical to the previous ones. Meaning its extremely hard and frustrating. If one day I manage to beat this game without cheating, then I'll write something about it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

anime review (finally?): Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu

Finally! Rickstar has come back to the Nullifier!

Yes, I have not forgotten about this place, but it does not change the fact that I've abandon my duties for over 5 months . I apologize for that.

Note that the following review contains spoilers for this specific anime.


What we got here today is a recent anime that was (and still is) a hit amongst anime viewers. It captured the heart of manys with its characters and unique story line.


The story revolves around the SOS brigade, consisting of 5 highschool students each with unique capabilites and past, going through numerous and sometime stragne events. It ranges from playing baseball to fighting aliens. Of course there is a twist to it, otherwise it wouldn't be that popular.

Although this anime is named after the heroine, Suzumiya Haruhi. The actual main character is in fact a normal high school student (male) named Kyon. The entire show is seen from his perspective.

Of the 5 members, Kyon is....well, lets just say the most normal one. He often acts as the common sense of the group and prevent the group from going out of control. What makes him so interesting is that as the ep goes on, he often narrates (in his mind) the situation, in a down to earth yet not so positive manner. For example, when other characters says they want to go look for UFO and aliens, he'll think "what in gods name is she doing. Theres no way such thing exist, just give it up." In a sense it makes fun of the typical comedy anime characters and story.

Suzumiya Haruhi on the other hand is outrageous, unresonable, dangerous, etc....
She sees the world as something boring and is constantly in search for something fun and entertaining. However, her idea of fun is not something a normal human being can handle. Stuff like a murder at an isolated island, aliens, espers, time travellers, etc.... are what she considers fun. The main problem is that it was hinted (and somewhat proven) that she could be the creator of their world and can alter reality according to her desire. If she really wants someone to be able to shoot laser beam out of their eyes, it could happen. However, she is unaware of this ability and thus not able to create/alter everything she wishes for.

The remaining 3 members are basically the result of Haruhi's wishes. Before she form the SOS brigade, she stated that she wanted to meet and hang out with aliens, time traveller, and esper.

Asahina Mikuru is a cute and sexy (according to the show) looking girl who happens to be a time traveller who came back in time to observe Haruhi. She is the mascot of the brigade and is often forced (by Haruhi) to put on various costume for various reasons. Other then that, she is fairly useless.

Nagato Yuki is a alien made human(oid) to observe Haruhi. She is a quiet person who usually just sits at a corner and read novels. However she is usually the one who saves kyon or the group from trouble. In terms of ability, if Haruhi is rated as god level, then Yuki will be Jesus level. She has the ability to change the "info" of our world and alter her surroundings at will. Think Neo from Matrix and you'll understand.

Koizumi Itsuki is also here to observe Haruhi. And as you can guess, he is the esper Haruhi desires. He is the one who provides most of the info regarding Haruhi as his ability is related to her. His esper ability is mainly for combat and can only be used at a certain time and place. Judging from a few eps, I'd assume that he is the bishounen (good looking dude) of the group.


Overall this is a very interesting anime as it steps away from your typical comedy and looks at all these sci fi/fantasy events and characters from a different point of view. The quality of the animation and attention to details is amazing as well. Parodys of other anime are often found as well.

The character design (appearance wise) isn't something impressive and earth shattering. It has a strong anime feel to it but works pretty well along with the comedy.

After the first few eps you'll notice that the eps are not shown in chronological order. Ep 1 is in fact ep11, ep 10 is actually 4, ep 6 is 9, etc....though confusing at times, it actually generates a sense of curiosity. Ep 1-6 reveals most of the background story of characters and later eps focus on them going through various events as a group, which often touches on certain events from the not yet shown earlier eps.

I would give it 4.5 Rickstars out of 5. A breath of fresh air in the field of comedy with a unique presentation. The only downfall is some story and events are somewhat predictable (meaning it has been done before)

Highly recommended

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sequential Narrative and Information Design Solutions : part one

(alternative title: the Grand Comics Unified Theory of Awesomeness)

Over the next few weeks I'll be putting up a research essay I made earlier this year for my Design class. I thought it might be neat putting this up on U.N. since it allows images and links, which makes for an interesting read versus a stuffy old essay paper.

Theres alot of ground to cover so lets get right down to the nitty-gritty. Part One deals with the Thesis, introduction to terms and the first arguement.


...............................................................................................................................................................

The
legitimacy of comic books has in recent years been a topic of much heated debate. This has been further compounded given the mass media attention and growth in the variety of content and talent in the field. This essay does not attempt to defend or stake the claim of the medium as being Art, to say nothing of comics as being simply worthy of academic study. Instead the intent of the following pages is to examine the similar solutions that are found both in the medium of comics and the discipline of graphic design.

By examining the core problem inherent in both comics and graphic design, and then by citing analogous solutions offered by Edward R. Tufte’s, Envisioning Information and Scott McCloud’s, Understanding Comics, the argument ‘ Comics and Graphic Design Utilize the same solutions’ will be proven true. An analysis of Tufte’s solutions will draw direct comparison to McCloud’s comics theory, specifically, ‘Small Multiples’ and Blood in the Gutter, ‘Layering and Separation’ and Show and tell and finally, ‘Micro/Macro Readings’ and the complete comics package. These principals will be demonstrated to be evident in the case study of Alan Moore’s, Watchmen, with accompanying examples provided by Jeff Smith’s, Bone and Paul Pope‘s Escapo.

Definitions


It would first prove useful to establish the terms that will
be used throughout the paper. The concern here is to define what comics and graphic/information design is, so that the common links between them can be found.
Comics
Scott McCloud spends much of the 215 page work, Understanding Comics defining the medium. The extensive examination breaks down comics into its various parts, which will then be discussed in the following pages. For the purposes of defining ‘what is comics’ McCloud provides this description:
comics - juxtaposed pictoral and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce and aesthetic response in the viewer ( pg 9, McCloud )


It should be noted that McCloud includes the written word, or language as image as well - branding type as a kind of ‘icon’ (pg 161. McCloud). McCloud neatly summarizes the above exp
lanation for comics as ‘Sequential Art’.

Graphic Design/Information Design


Graphic or Information Design is described as visual communication, choosing and making marks on a plain to communicate a message. The marks may be letterforms (typography) or of other media such as illustration or photography.

The two definitions suggest that both disciplines involve communication through the use of word and image - it is this shared link that ties both graphic design and comics together. If it can be said that the essential end goals are the same - then the problems that they face in reaching the objective should be the same as well.

Problem

According to Tufte, there is ultimately only one problem that the graphic designer must face, ‘escaping flatland’ (Tufte pg 12):

Escaping this flatland is the essential task of envisioning information - for all the interesting worlds, (physical, biological, imaginary, human) that we seek to understand are inevitably and happily multivariate in nature. N
ot flatlands. (Tufte pg 12)

Tufte refers to the single plain that a designer faces either working on the page or screen. The problem in other words, is how to display information on a surface - whilst being clear, efficient, but
more over than that to connect with the viewer and relate to the complexities of life. Articulating this information is the responsibility of the graphic designer.

The same problem exists for those who wish to create comics. The writer and artist (sometimes the same person) must also work towards escaping the flatland of the printed page. The comics creator attempts to construct all the components that compose form our lives, just as Tufte suggests, ‘physical, biological, imaginary, human’ to which we might add power and fantasy, emotion, architecture as well as anything else that can be placed into comics. Interestingly enough, comics creator Paul Pope describes the medium as being a design c
ontainer, in which a multitude of things can be placed. (Pope pg 14)

Broadly speaking, to bestow a piece of design or a work in comics with a sense of life and humanity requires adding a greater sense of dimension then the singular flatland of the page. The goal is to add a sense of depth and form to the page, not through illustrating proper perspective, but by utilising the tools that are unique to design and comics offered by Tufte and McCloud, which the following will further discuss, starting with Small Multiples (T
ufte) or Blood in the Gutter (McCloud).

Small Multiples or Blood in the Gutter


If the problem that both Graphic/Information De
sign and Comics share is that of, ‘how to display dimension and time to flatland’, then one of the possible solutions suggested in the early chapters of Tufte’s, Envisioning Information, ‘Small Multiples’, is a useful starting point for discussion. ‘Small Multiples’, can be favourably compared to McClouds chapter ‘Blood in the Gutter’ in, Understanding Comics.

This is an example of what Tufte describes as, ‘Small Multiples’, he goes on to describe the
concept as a large body of possibilities (Tufte 68). Repetition and consistency are key in relating one image to the next, a necessity to orient the viewer. This repetition also serves to exaggerate the small differences from panel to panel, muting the constant forms and highlighting the variations. These differences are often small, incremental changes. The example not only is the kana character demonstrated in progressive steps, but also shown from an alternate view point - the above showing the character’s creation (an example of how the characters should look) but also another perspective to indicate the required pressure necessary to execute the letterform. A collection of options that when strung together show progress - ‘small multiples’.

Similarly, McCloud in chapter 3 of, Understanding Comics discusses what is at the heart of comics, panel construction or rather the space between, ‘Blood in the Gutter’.

McCloud offers six variations on how to parse out panel to panel transitions. Movement to Movement(1) and Action to Action(2) most immediately resemble Tufte’s kanna example. The following transition categories closely resembles Tufte’s, ’small multiples’ : subject to subject, scene to scene, aspect to aspect and the non-sequitur offer a variety of perspectives and options on the same information (or specifically in the case of comics, narrative) which in turn generate a greater understanding of the larger work. This will be explored further in the final section, the culmination of all of these principals entitled , ’Micro/Macro Readings’.


In chapter 8 of Alan Moore’s, Watchmen, entitled ‘Old Ghosts’ the same panel layout is used to establish a sense of rhythm, or to situate the reader. Much of the comic utilizes a nine panel grid, ‘Old
Ghosts’ adheres to this format with the exception of the above selected sequence, instead adopting a six panel grid that accompanies a large ‘wide-screen’ panel at the bottom of the page.




This format continues for seven consecutive pages, each time, the above, cramped panels contain the confined claustrophobic life of
tired city dwellers, and more appropriately, the restricted living situation of prison inmates. Each of the larger panels describe the events of the two ’larger than life’ heroes, and the fantastic air craft which will soon assist in liberating one of their imprisoned comrades. ‘Small Multiples’, are at work by first acclimatizing the reader to the mundane squalor of life in the grim, futuristic New York, and then accenting or interrupting this rhythm with the grand super-heroics of the larger panel. According to McCloud’s panel to panel transitions, this sequence would fit under category four, ‘Scene-to-Scene’:

Deductive reasoning is often required in reading comics such as in these scene-to-scene transitions, which transport us across significant distances of time and space. (McCloud 71)

The use of time and space is a required component if design and comics are to escape flatland - small multiples or the six categories of panel to panel transitions is just one of the ways in which the solutions resemble each other for comics and graphic design.

......................................................................................................................................................................

OK! Well thats it for this post, stay tuned in the following weeks for part two:
‘Layering and Separation’ and 'Show and Tell'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cosplay hits the World/Universal Stage


I find the Miss Universe pageant strangely compelling.

On one hand, its devastatingly redundant, with toothsome smiles, pre-packaged questions, poor choreography and annoying hosts.

Then again, theres alot of attractive women, so the two almost cancel each other out. Almost.

If you watched this years show, you may have taken notice of Miss Japan's national costume. Typically, this is an oppurtunity for the delagates to get up in something representative of thier country - which usually results in floatilla-like affairs.

(i tried to find a suitable picture to demonstrate what I'm talking about but looks like good ol' google is letting me down)

Which is why Japan's ninjasamuraibikinithingamajigger stands out so much:






Less about how much crap you could stick on a dress and more about having a cool design and approach. Plus - she has a kitana.

I suspect Capcom created her costume and we'll soon be seeing a game featuring her slicing demon delagates next year.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

WE HAVE NOT BEEN NULLIFIED

Hey everybody, after several months of non-posting, we're back.

Despite the various responsibilities and distractions I've had, the Nullifier hasn't been far from my thoughts. There are a handfull of in-progress articles and reviews that have been started over the past months, and in the coming weeks we'll be making an effort to get back to regular content.