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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Unspoken Crisis That Kills Local Comic Shops

Folks, don’t forget that when you order comics from your local shop, the store actually PAY upfront to get the books, and have them delivered to the store for you. If you don’t show up to pick up your order, it’s the comics shop you love who gets in trouble…!


"With the hastag of #BoostYourLCS hitting the web to help comics shops everywhere, Pack Rat comics in Hilliard, Ohio pointed out something else that is hurting comics shops… and it’s not lack of new readers, variant covers, late shipping books or digital editions…

It’s subscribers who order comics then don’t pick them up.

As the sign points out, Pack Rat has $1,481.20 in comics that were not picked up from their pull service in the last 3 months. Not I’m not sure if that’s cover value or the amount they paid, but either way those books are tying up their ability to order more inventory and since they are being held for customers, they can’t be sold.

If you are a subscriber at your local comic shop and haven’t picked up your books in a while… either head down and get them or set them free so they can find a good home and retailers can then cycle that money back into buying more books. Maybe we need #PickUpYourBooks

It’s the comic book circle of life… don’t be Scar."


Source: Bleeding Cool
https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/01/10/unspoken-crisis-killing-local-comic-chops/



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Alterna Comics Launching New Comics Line in Newsprint!

Independent publisher Alterna Comics is launching a new line of comic books where its single issues will be printed in newsprint and retail for $1.99 or less per issue.

"When I fell in love with comics, it was an entire experience. The stories, the imagery, and the paper. There was almost nothing else like reading a comic book. It was a fragile thing, but durable at the same time," said Alterna Comics' publisher Peter Simeti. "Printed on newsprint with a thin, but glossy, cover, you could roll the comic - not that you'd necessarily want to - and they were lightweight and had a floppy feel. The smell and feel of the pages is something that no longer occurs on the new comic book day release wall, yet it's prevalent in back issue bins across the country. Our goal is to create a comic book that would 'feel' like it just came out of a shop from 30 years ago."

From the 1930s to the early 1990s, most all comic books were printed on newsprint-quality paper. Following advancements in comic book coloring in 1992 and 1993, Marvel, DC, Image and others segued to glossier paper in order for the more nuanced coloring to register. With that came higher prices due to the changing paperstock; something Alterna plans to take advantage of by using newsprint.

"While most companies seem to be trying to out do each other with premium paper stocks and escalating price tags, we're aiming to make comics affordable and bring back a practicality to single issues. We're not in the business of making collectibles first and comics second. These won't be variant covers or variant issues, just basic comic books. We're happy to leave the premium paper stocks to our graphic novel line, which we will still be producing. Right now, we're aiming to launch this line with a few issues priced from $1 to $1.99, in Spring/Summer 2017."

Source: Newsrama

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Why DVDs and Blu rays remain essential in the age of streaming


Even the best streaming experience can't compete with the benefits of physical media.

Vox.com

A dozen years ago, it was common for film fans to wake up on Christmas morning and find a trove of DVDs under the tree. DVDs, and later Blu-Rays, were the go-to gifts from people who love movies to people who love movies. But over the past decade, as disc sales have dropped and streaming video services have displaced physical media, it's an experience that's become far less common: Why purchase a single movie for someone when Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a growing number of other streaming services offer libraries with thousands of films and TV shows for a monthly price less than the cost of a single new movie on disc?

If you did find movies on disc under this tree this year, or if you picked up a few with holiday gift cards, count yourself lucky: Physical media remains superior to streaming in nearly every way as a technical experience. But even more than that, owning movies yourself helps build an emotional connection that's hard to replicate with streaming.

When it comes to picture and sound quality, even the best streaming lags behind physical media

Let's start with the most essential element of the home viewing experience: the picture and sound quality. Physical media, which isn't beholden to the vagaries of internet connections and underpowered home wifi networks, is clearly preferable in most circumstances — even when viewing the highest-quality streaming content on the newest televisions.

Right now, the gold standard in home video is what's known as 4K. That means that the picture is created using at least 8 million pixels — nearly the resolution of the best digital movie projectors. With a standard resolution of 3840x2160 (or the number of lines of pixels on each side of the screen), 4K offers a much denser, sharper image than the older HD standard of 1080p. (RTings.com offers a useful graphic showing the difference between the standards.) But simply put, 4K offers much more picture information than 1080p.

Netflix has been broadcasting some content in 4K since 2014, and Amazon now offers some 4K content too. In theory, these streaming services offer picture quality that is comparable to Ultra HD video discs, the latest in digital video disc technology, and substantially better than a traditional 1080p Blu-ray disc. But when the A/V enthusiasts at WhatHiFi.com compared the three formats earlier this year, they found that the 4K streaming experience was actually more in line with watching a traditional 1080p Blu-ray — and that Blu-rays had a clear advantage in terms of contrast and color. Ultra HD discs, meanwhile, looked far better than either.

Nor can streaming services handle the latest and greatest in surround sound technology — the gloriously rich and detailed seven-speaker sound produced by the Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio standards that have been around on conventional Blu-rays for years. With the right setup, these audio formats can make big action scenes incredibly dynamic: The engine noise in Mad Max: Fury Road becomes a guttural roar; the gunshots in Heat's bank robbery sequence almost seem to pierce your living room walls; the pod race in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace ricochets across the speakers as if your couch has been transformed into a desert canyon on Tatooine. Streaming services offer five-speaker sound at lower fidelity, but if you have a modern surround system at home, you're missing out on the full experience.

The problem for streaming is compression: The picture and sound information has to be processed in a way that allows it to be sent efficiently over the internet. And while compression has improved greatly over the years, it invariably means a loss of information along the way. Darker scenes tend to fare the worst, as sunsets that are supposed to gently fade from color to color turn into blocky digital stripes and rooms lit by firelight start to look chunky and pixelated, like web videos from 15 years ago. Discs, on the other hand, are right in the room with you, sent to your television on a high-quality cable, and thus don't suffer from the same issues.

Physical media offers added features and consistent access. Streaming doesn't.

There are other reasons to prefer physical media to streaming services beyond the technical aspects. Blu-rays and DVDs often come packed with extras, from commentary tracks to behind-the-scenes featurettes, that can help you understand the filmmakers and the filmmaking process.

Sure, some of these extras are just promotional material. But from time to time you discover something truly revealing: Full Tilt Boogie, a feature-length documentary about the making of From Dusk Till Dawn that for years came as part of the DVD package, remains one of the weirdest, rawest, and more fascinating looks at the making of a movie I've ever seen. Brad Bird's director's commentary on the deleted scenes of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol shows how focused the production was on nailing the movie's big action set pieces, almost to the point where the connecting material was an afterthought. The Criterion Collection edition of Michael Bay's The Rock is worth it simply for the incredibly profane reel of outtakes.

This sort of extra material helps you understand how the movies you love are made, and the personalities of the people who make them. You won't get any of this sort of filmmaking color from most streaming services.

FilmStruck, a recently launched streaming service geared toward cinephiles, goes a long way toward solving this problem, offering carefully curated programs designed to show off certain films and directors, as well as streaming access to the Criterion Collection, which for years has been the gold standard in collector's edition home video. The service, which is a partnership between Turner Classic Movies and Criterion, makes a good case as a value proposition. "If you buy three Criterion discs a year," Criterion president Peter Becker told IndieWire, "you've already paid for a year of FilmStruck, and a lot of our customers buy more than three discs a year."

But even a movie geek–friendly service like FilmStruck runs into another problem with streaming, which is a lack of permanence and availability. Before FilmStruck, Criterion had offered its streaming collection through Hulu. Then it moved, forcing Criterion fans with Hulu subscriptions to switch or go without. There's no guarantee that an upstart venture like FilmStruck will be around five years from now, and if it is, the titles it offers could easily have changed.

As Netflix subscribers have learned all too well in recent years, streaming services don't offer access to a set list of titles. Instead, they let subscribers pick from a rotating library, meaning you can never be entirely sure that your favorite film won't disappear. Instead, you're stuck with whatever the service decides to offer at the moment. That's not always a bad thing, but it's very different from owning a disc yourself.

Physical discs allow for a deeper connection to your media

More than anything else, though, it's ownership that makes physical media an improvement over streaming services. Ownership means that the unknowable programming gods who manage those services can't unexpectedly take away your favorite movie. Ownership means having a physical object that you can see, touch, hold, and display on your shelf. It means connecting with the thing itself, knowing that it is yours. And it means knowing that you can watch a movie whenever you want, as many times as you want, in the highest possible quality.

That sort of unlimited repeat viewing is an important part of connecting with a film. There's an odd kind of personal transformation that I find happens when I watch a favorite movie over and over again. I stop simply watching the movie and start feeling it, becoming tuned in to its rhythms and nuances, almost experiencing the film as a participant, knowing it from the inside. Eventually, it starts to come back to me in flashes and memories, and I start to see my own life on the film's terms, in its language and ideas. It becomes, in some small sense, a part of me.

This isn't impossible with streaming, of course. You can watch movies over and over and get to know them pretty well. But the unreliability of connections, the picture and sound hiccups, and the lingering uncertainty about whether it will be available — and if so, for how much longer — make it much more difficult to form this sort of lasting connection.

That's not to say that streaming services aren't useful and don't have some real advantages: In terms of price, selection size, and ease of use, they are hard to beat. The original programming alone can make some services worth the price of admission. Ultimately, though, the streaming experience is more like channel surfing: You choose to watch whatever's on, from a selection determined by someone else. With physical media that you own, you choose to watch what you want, from a selection determined by you, or at least people who know you well enough to give you movies as gifts.

Streaming may be cheaper and more convenient, but physical media offers the equivalent of a premium, personalized experience — and it's one that's worth preserving.


By Peter Suderman, VOX article:

Scientists About To Contact Aliens From Nearby Stars


Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) wants to send a message to nearby stars in the hope of contacting alien species, possibly starting with Proxima Centauri. - METI

"A collection of scientists and philosophers are planning to send messages into space in the hope that alien civilizations will find and hear them, and view the recent discovery of a planet around the nearest star to the Sun, Proxima b, as a good place to start.

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), as the group is called, is starting a discussion about what the messages should say, with the intention to begin sending in 2018. However, many others remain deeply opposed to sending a message at all, raising the question of who has the right to speak for Earth.

In 1974, the Arecibo radio telescope sent a message to the globular star cluster M13. In 1977, the famous Golden Record was sent on the Voyager spacecraft for any alien to find it. These were, however, almost entirely symbolic gestures. The chance of aliens noticing a short and narrowly focused signal, or a tiny craft in the vastness of space was very low. Our unintentional signals are far more likely to give us away.

METI is planning a far more systematic approach. They have started fundraising to buy time on a powerful transmitter, or to build their own, to send extended signals with as much power as we can muster. They will be holding two conferences in 2017 to discuss what the message should contain and where it should be sent.

There are considerable obstacles to the presence of advanced life on Proxima b, but as the closest possibly inhabited world to our own, this is one place METI is considering directing a signal, Mercury News has reported. In the unlikely event of an advanced civilization there, it is also one place close enough for us to hold a conversation, albeit one with eight-year breaks between asking a question and getting an answer. »

Source: IFL Science

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kodak's New Super8 Camera Is Coming This Spring! Test Footage Here

I just received this newsletter about Kodak's newest Super8 camera. It's just around the corner!!






"Engineers have been working, filmmakers have been testing and the camera is on its way. 

We have been so inspired by the passion and dedication of the filmmaking community around the return of Super 8. We wanted to share with you some of the first footage shot on the new camera.

It will be available for you to start telling your story Spring 2017. Watch Kodak’s CES coverage for more details.


Visit the new Super 8 YouTube Channel

Super 8 has inspired generations of filmmakers across all creative abilities to pick up a camera and capture everything from a family vacation to feature films and music videos. The creativity unleashed by Super 8 shooters the world over has inspired us to launch a new YouTube Channel devoted to Super 8 and curated by Kodak. Prepare for new adventures in filmmaking."


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Canadian Military Is Investigating a Mysterious Noise In the Arctic!


The Canadian Military Is Investigating a Mysterious Noise In the Arctic
November 2, 2016 // 01:20 PM EST

"In the tiny Arctic hamlet of Igloolik, Nunavut, hunters say a mysterious sound, seemingly coming from the bottom of the sea, is driving wildlife away.

According to the CBC, locals have different theories about its source, and have attributed this "ping" or "hum" to a mining company that has operated nearby, or even to sabotage by Greenpeace. Both entities denied having anything to do with the phenomenon that hunters allege has made an area once teeming with wildlife a bit more barren over the course of the summer.

Although the Arctic has been increasingly opening up to mining operations, tourism, and military exercises, this pinging sound remains unexplained. Without anywhere else to turn, and with no leads on what's causing it, the Office of the Premier of Nunavut called on the Department of National Defence (DND) to investigate in October.

"The Department of National Defence has been informed of the strange noises emanating in the Fury and Hecla Straights area, and the Canadian Armed Forces are taking the appropriate steps to actively investigate the situation," DND spokesperson Evan Koronewski wrote me in an email.

"We appreciate the information provided by the Government of Nunavut and will follow up with the Premier's Office once the investigation has concluded," he added.

Canada is apparently becoming the official Land of Extremely X-Files Shit, as this isn't the first mysterious noise that locals have called upon the government to investigate. Citizens of Windsor, Ontario have long been plagued by what's known as the "Windsor hum."

In 2014, a public summary of an as-yet unpublished government report on that strange hum stated that its origin could not be established, but that it might be the result of industrial operations in the area.

It's unclear whether DND's investigation into the Arctic "ping" will be any more fruitful, but until some answers can be found, there's going to be some pissed off hunters up in Igloolik."



Sources:

CBC:

Motherboard:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

SOLD! Original Solaris Magazine Cover (No. 102)

Acrylics on canvas, 48" X 60"
Last month I sold this artwork! A Solaris cover that is quite possibly my favorite magazine cover...!


I'm happy to say it's now part of the private collection of a hard core science fiction enthusiast.

The painting is probably now in better hands than those from the artist himself.
Very happy the artwork found
a new, loving home!


Solaris issue 102 highlights
Short science fiction stories by Daniel Sernine, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Joel Champetier and Jean-Louis Trudel.

Comic art by Mario Giguère.

Interview with science fiction author Francine Pelletier.

Monday, October 31, 2016

SOLD! Original Album Cover for Amorphis' Tales From The Thousand Lakes

Acrylics on canvas, 36" X 48"
The baby is gone!
Recently I parted with this album cover I painted in late 1992, a commissioned work by Nuclear Blast GmbH for Amorphis' Tales From The Thousand Lakes.

I've been carrying it around for nearly 24 years. Every now and then I received offers from fans to purchase the original painting, but always declined.

Until today.

Now the painting will be part of a private collection belonging to a long time heavy metal fan who's collecting classic album covers' original artwork. I'm very, very proud that my painting will be displayed next to Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Metallica and several other original art for heavy metal classics...! I feel a bit like an intruder among these famous artists, that have always been an inspiration to me. It definitely is a privilege for me to be part of that collection...!






New Metallica Track released: Atlas, Rise!

Yet another amazing Metallica track from their upcoming album Hardwired To Self-Destruct!
Here's Atlas, Rise!
Also: HARDWIREDMoth Into Flame and Dream No More music videos

New Metallica Track released: Atlas, Rise!

Yet another amazing Metallica track from their upcoming album Hardwired To Self-Destruct!

Here's Atlas, Rise!
Also: HARDWIRED video here!

Monday, October 24, 2016