Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘lists’

Four “New Classic” Graphic Novels

Posted by Fred on June 24, 2008

For its 1000th issue, Entertainment Weekly published several lists of “New Classics,” defined as works created since 1983. The full collection is online as the EW 1000.  EW has always treated comics with respect (Time Warner has a vested interest in the success of the form, of course), and the list of 100 New Classic books includes four graphic novels:

7. Maus, Art Spiegelman

The story of The Holocaust and the experiences of one family that survived it.  Spiegelman famously used animal heads on human bodies to portray the players: Jews are mice, Germans are cats, Poles are pigs, Americans are dogs, Frenchmen are frogs, and Swedes are reindeer.  Spiegelman was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Maus in 1992.

13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Without Watchmen, there probably would be no such thing as a graphic novel.  Moore and Gibbons’ masterwork, originally published as twelve single issues in 1986-1987, is set in an alternate 1985, in which costumed heroes are real and the Doomsday Clock is set at five minutes to midnight. Some familiarity with superhero archetypes is helpful for a full appreciation of the story, which nominally tells the tale of heroes without superpowers (with one glaringly notable exception), dealing with human failings, neuroses and ethical dilemmas.  A film version of Watchmen, directed by Zack Snyder, is due to be released in March 2009.  It will probably suck.

37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

Drawing inevitable comparisons to Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s simple black-and-white panels are a heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  The two volumes depict the author’s experiences from age six to fourteen, a time which saw the overthrow of the Shah, the rise of the Islamic Revolution and war with Iraq.  Persepolis was recently released as an animated film, written and directed by Satrapi, with voices in the original by Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux and Simon Abkarian.  In the US, the film was dubbed into English, and included Sean Penn, Iggy Pop and Gena Rowlands (in addition to Deneuve and Mastroianni).

46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman

With all due respect to Watchmen, I personally prefer Sandman.  Neil Gaiman’s 75-issue series, published by DC imprint Vertigo from 1989-1996, focuses on Morpheus, King of Dreams, and (to a lesser extent) his siblings that make up The Endless.  Gaiman summarizes the plot as “The Lord of Dreams learns one must change or die and then makes his decision.”  The best part of Sandman (in addition to Dave McKean’s great covers) was the wide-ranging exploration of mythology the series made possible, which Gaiman would return to in prose novels like American Gods.  Sandman is available in ten individual trade paperback editions, or the four-volume Absolute Sandman series, the final volume of which is to be released this November.  Although there has long been talk of a Sandman film, the closest we’re likely to get is a version of Death: The High Cost of Living, a 1993 three-issue miniseries focusing on Morpheus’ older sister, to be written and directed by Gaiman with Guillermo del Toro as executive producer.

There are other great graphic novels, of course (Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan and Planetary are personal favorites), but that’s a good list.


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100 Greatest Movie Posters of All Time

Posted by Fred on June 19, 2008

Via Kottke, one site’s opinion of the 100 greatest movie posters of all time (The Sin of Nora Moran, an obscure 1933 film featuring Zita Johann, better known for her role in the Boris Karloff version of The Mummy, is #1).  These sorts of posts/articles, of course, exist primarily to stir up controversy, but I’d have to agree with Jason that the entries on the poster list are questionable.

Here’s what TC Candler says the criteria are:

A great movie poster is a hard thing to find. Most posters are cut and paste jobs that don’t sell the movie very well at all. A great poster should intrigue, shock, inspire & excite. It should be aesthetically beautiful or original. Above all, it should be so memorable that a single glance will be instantly recognizable.

But is it the movie that makes the image memorable, or the image itself? Most of the iconic movie posters are for movies that are themselves memorable (Alien, Full Metal Jacket, Jaws) – would the images be iconic had the films been forgettable?  Although Hollywood likes to think it is a world unto itself, in the end a movie poster is an advertising vehicle, so the “best” movie poster may instead be the one that best accomplishes its mission.  Thus the teaser poster, become more important of late in service of the summer blockbuster, intended to build the buzz that feeds the blockbuster beast.  Based on that criterion, no single posters have been better at building buzz than these:

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Top 100 PC Tech Innovations of All Time

Posted by Fred on December 4, 2007

Maximum PC has a list of the Top 100 PC Tech Innovations of All Time.  Diggbait to be sure, but these things do inspire debate.  Here’s their top 10:

10. DirectX
9.  Doom
8.  IBM 5150
7.  Hayes Smartmodem
6.  Quake
5.  Windows XP
4.  NCSA Mosaic
3.  Intel Pentium II
2.  3dfx Voodoo 1
1.  USB

Needless to say, the list is driven by the inherent bias of the source – if you’re not a hard-core gamer, you’re unlikely to put the Voodoo, Doom or Quake in the top 10.   Maybe not even DirectX.  I’d say that in terms of impact on today’s PC user, DSL (#88) and the cable modem (#23) have had far more impact.  So too has the 3.5 inch hard drive (#64), MP3 file format (#11) and WiFi (#13).  And what about the home broadband router, which has encouraged many people to have two, three or more computers in the house, all easily sharing a single broadband connection?  Remember the bad old days when you either paid extra to your ISP for a networking package or used Internet Connection Sharing?

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