Friday, 16 September 2016

World's biggest zine!

On July 21st  2016, Zine Library Day, in a public workshop at Auckland Central City library, we created one of the world’s biggest zines.

Our zine, titled Zine doggo yeet crocco yeet nice crocco dile dun deet look nice on feet has a page size of 1240 x 845mm (slightly larger than A0), and has 8 pages, excluding covers. It is a collection of mostly art, with some poetry and prose, made by the general public as well as feature artists Chippy and Holly Paynter.

In preparation for the event we researched other large zines and found two main competitors: one created at the MCA in Australia in June this year, and one at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, USA in 2012.

Both of these zines were fold-out, and when folded, are smaller than ours.

The MCA zine is an A6 concertina, and though it has many pages, its page size is much smaller than our A0+, therefore we win.

The Carnegie Library Zine has 6 separate sections that collective fold out to 6’ x 8’, but folded up it is approximately 13” x 13”.

So yet again it folds down smaller than ours and therefore we are the champions.

But seriously, it’s the biggest zine in the world, or at least in the top 3 depending on how you look at it. Thanks to everyone who came along and helped us make it happen!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Disney's Pete's Dragon - movie review

I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent 60 percent of this film trying not to cry into my 3D glasses lenses. It's so sad and it's so sweet! Disney are the kings of pulling at the heart strings. They don't hold back with their orphans (Pete played by Oakes Fegley); their talented actors (Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban); their thoughtful music score (note however, that it is not a musical!); their lost dog picture book allegories (꒰๑•̥﹏•̥๑꒱); or their lost dragons!

Elliot the dragon is an especially quality piece of CGI from Weta Digital, and he was clearly perfectly thought out to appeal to kids. I'd certainly buy a stuffed Elliot, and I wouldn't be surprised if I saw him in Disneyland stores on my next visit! Think...enormous, green, fluffy dog, with all the cute doggy mannerisms.

I'm a little too young to remember the original Pete's Dragon (1977) with any clarity, so this charming remake was entirely new to me, and likely will be to most children. Although elements of the animated dragon remain (clumsiness, traditional neck spines, a vivid green shade), new Elliot is the perfect cuddly protector. I haven't seen so many small children so quietly enthralled in a long time.

More than anything, this film evoked nostalgia and memories in me! Every moment of lush New Zealand greenery was a reminder of my own childhood, which consisted on occasion of playing for hours on end, nearly completely alone, in the New Zealand bush.  Although my young dragon years were spent trespassing in private bushland behind Blackpool Beach on Waiheke Island, the lush foliage of the filming locations, particularly the Rotorua Redwoods Forest, will feel familiar to many bushwhacking kids and adults.

As a child it certainly seemed as if a taniwha could rise at any moment from the underground streams that ran through the bush, and in Disney's Pete's Dragon, this thrill finally becomes real!

Disney's Pete's Dragon opens in New Zealand cinemas on Thursday 15 September, 2016.

Our thanks to Disney for providing tickets to an advanced screening for our reviewer.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

I need a (Super) hero!

So I was at the gym earlier this week, and the song Holding out for a hero by Bonnie Tyler came on my workout playlist. As I puffed along, I suddenly thought YES! my next blog post has found me! My previous graphic novel posts (Graphic novels for Grown Ups: Terry Moore and Graphic novels for Grown ups: Part 2) have been for the most part not very superhero focused. Sure, Powers by Brian Michael Bendis is about cops solving crimes that involve capes, but the focus of the series is more of a crime noir one than that of your traditional superhero book.

But I'm pretty broad in my comic book reading tastes, and love me some superheroes as much as the next fangirl or fanboy. In fact, in the early 90s, it was those cool Fleer Ultra Marvel collectable cards that got me back into comic reading in the first place. My younger brother brought some home from school, and before I knew it, the collector in me took over, and the Card Crazy stores were my favourite place to hang (anyone else remember them?). Those Marvel cards were intriguing, I loved the art, and was fascinated by the characters, and so I got hooked. I'd also always had a soft spot for Batman, so DC was my friend too. There's no DC vs Marvel favouritism here, I love 'em equally, along with Image, Dark Horse and way too many other publishers to name.

This is an exciting time to be a fangirl or boy, with the plethora of movies and TV shows based on all our favourites (and can I tell you HOW MUCH I geeked out about Tyler Hoechlin from Teen Wolf being cast as Superman in Supergirl...YES YES YES...ahem, sorry, sidetracked there). So here are a few of my favourite heroes.

First up is a bit of a newcomer, but I gotta tell you, I adore her! In Ms Marvel, G. Willow Wilson introduces us to Kamala Khan, who takes on the Marvel mantle (as in Captain Marvel) in a spectacular fashion. Kamala is the first Muslim character to headline her own book, which in itself is a wonderful thing. But she is also such a fangirl (she even writes fanfic I would totally read), which makes her in book cameos from characters such as Wolverine, Loki, Carol Danvers and so many others such a joy. This is such a well written book, watching Kamala juggling her new role as a superhero with her role within her family and community and finding her place in both makes for a superb read. I couldn't read this series fast enough, and I can't wait for what's up next for Kamala. (And can I please have my Kamala Pop! figure now Funko, thank you very much).

Talking about Wolverine, he's up next on my list. He has always been the highlight of the X-men books for me. In fact, don't tell anyone, but our youngest son MAY have the middle name Logan for this very reason. He's gruff, slightly antisocial, but is often the best mentor around (just ask Jubilee, Kitty Pryde or even Ms Marvel). For many years, the origin of Wolverine was unknown, even to himself. A mutant with a healing factor, he was a subject of the Weapon X Programme, where Adamantium was fused to his bones turning him into a super soldier.  Wolverine: Weapon X by Barry Windsor-Smith tells this tale, and is considered to be one the best of them all.

And how could I miss Wonder Woman! Oh how I wanted to be Lynda Carter when I was younger, with those cool bracelets and that lasso. I love that Diana more than holds her own in the Justice League (where would those boys be without her!), and yes, I am hanging out for her stand alone movie which can't come soon enough. We have loads of great Wonder Woman titles in our collection, but I'm going to share Wonder Woman: Warkiller mostly because it is written by the brilliant Gail Simone, but also because it features a team up with another favourite of mine, Black Canary.

Next up is Daredevil. I'm proud to say I had read several Daredevil titles before the Netflix series came out, mostly because one of my favourite artists David Mack did some of the art for them (he also did the covers for the Alias books, featuring Jessica Jones). If you are a fan of the Daredevil of Hell's Kitchen, you really want to check out Daredevil: End of days by the sublime Brian M Bendis. This series features the death of Matt Murdock, and has Ben Urich hunting down the meaning of his mysterious last words. A number of Matt's former foes and lovers feature in this compelling story.

And I have to finish with Batman, because I do have a bit of a soft spot for Mr Wayne. It wasn't really the movies (ALL the movies), because none of them really quite get it right for me. I think it may be because he is a self made hero, he isn't from another world, he didn't get bitten by anything radioactive, he just worked at making himself a hero. Sure, a dark broody vigilante orphaned one, but a hero nonetheless. I also think he has such a great gallery of villains to play off against. There are so many fab Batman comic series, but I'm going with Batman: The long Halloween as one of my all time favs. I love the stunning art by Tim Sale, and Jeph Loeb has crafted a must read series about a new serial killer in Gotham called Holiday, who is killing to a monthly schedule. This is a classic Batman, the detective at work title.

So who are your favourites? and do you have a whole new appreciation for the character Aquaman after seeing that latest Justice League trailer?
Jason Mamoa, you are 100% rocking it dude ;)

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Disney's The BFG - movie review

I was always going to love The BFG. Roald Dahl has forever been a fixture in my life, and what’s more, I snagged a free ticket – the greatest of many perks in library work! However, I was honestly surprised at how much I loved it, nay, respected it.

Firstly, whatever kind of new-fangled expensive CGI techniques they used, I am on board completely. I generally have a fairly low cringe tolerance for anything even facing in the direction of the uncanny valley, but I am very happy to say they the film was never even close to such territory. The BFG’s enormous mug is actually very realistic, alternating between crinkly and charming and touchingly solemn. At first I was furious to discover that my primary school teacher was NOT cast in this role, but I’ve since eased up. Peter, you would have been marvellous – but Mark Rylance does a wonderful job.

The landscapes are colourful, fantastic, stunning enough to rival your favourite avant-garde/surrealist directors. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciated the use of colour, and the palette is very of the moment in its techni-coloured shades of nebula/galaxy. In true Dahl fashion, there are plenty of silly gags (read: farts) to allow for chuckles across the age spectrum, and also some sage life lessons – i.e., bullies sadly exist (Jemaine Clement is brilliant as the main antagonist, the Fleshlumpeater), families are often neither neat or nuclear, and happiness invariably occurs alongside a dose of sadness. Of course in the end, kindness prevails – but if you’re into having your heartstrings tugged *gently* then it’s pretty much a winner in that respect.

If I had any complaints, I suppose it would be that there was nothing really scary about the film, which, to dedicated Dahl fans, may seem an aberration – especially as (in my opinion anyway) the trailer seemed to promise some chills. And you know, it’s about a little girl being kidnapped by a giant man and taken away to a land where other giants – GIANT giants considering that The BFG is really a runt of a giant – eat little children. But, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, giving up on the more sinister side of Dahl’s oeuvre and making way for his sentimental elements, then I believe you will enjoy it. What it lacks in wickedness, it more than makes up for in lovely visuals, charm, silliness and warmth.

The BFG opens in New Zealand cinemas on Thursday 7 July, 2016.

Our thanks to Disney for providing the movie passes to our reviewer.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Popcultural Picturebooks: Spotlight on Elys Dolan

Image by Elys Dolan

One of the best things about becoming a parent was the wonder of sharing all things magical, geeky and pop cultural with our two mini-geeks. I'm not sure who was more enraptured about their first viewing of Star Wars: A new hope, but I suspect it may have been their Dad and I. We have since gone on to share the geek loving wherever we can, with Dr Who, Star Wars and Minecraft themed Christmas trees, themed birthday parties (we have a Harry Potter one coming up in the few months) and visits to Armageddon all on the agenda.

We are equally as big on reading to our mini-geeks, and I'm fairly proud of the fact that I can use the threat of one less bedtime story to get them to behave at the end of the day, they NEVER want to lose a story. So when we find our two great loves intersecting, life is extra good!

One of the VERY BEST authors who successfully does this, is the fantastic Elys Dolan. Her picture books are a marvel, with big glossy pages full of super fun art, hilarious dialogue and sneaky humour. There are always lots of hidden in jokes to be found. Her books are rather like Pixar movies, kids love them, but there is a little something there for the grown ups to get a sneaky laugh from too. There are references to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters, and her latest offering even has a bit of a throw back to those fun action movies of the 90s. What more could a geek parent and mini-geeks ask for really? Here are some of her book highlights which you can borrow from our collection.

Weasels was the first Elys Dolan book we had the good fortune to come across. I initially borrowed it because I noticed that one of the subject headings on the library catalogue was Megalomania: Children's picture books, and that is just not something you see every day!
In this book, the author asks what is it weasels do all day? and would you believe it is PLOT WORLD DOMINATION. They have created a machine to enable them to take over the world, but just as countdown commences, disaster strikes. The boys loved seeing the plotting weasels and working out just what happened to the machine, Mummy loved all the coffee and health and safety in jokes.

When I found Nuts in Space on the shelf at the library I was so excited. The weasels lady had done another book AND it referenced both Star Trek and Star Wars, it really can't get much better than that. (And no, I am not one of those purists that thinks there can only be one great Star thingy, I love them equally, so there ;) ) In Nuts in space, a rather furry Trekkie type crew have found the celebrated Lost Nuts of Legend and are on a mission to return to their home planet. Unfortunately, a hungry crew member has eaten the map, so they have to make a few stops on the way to ask for directions. The highlight for the mini-geeks and I had to be the Death Banana, which was a super fun spin on the Death Star.

The mystery of the haunted farm introduced the boys to the joys of Ghostbusters, or rather the Three Pigs Ghost-hunters, who are on the job at Farmer Greg's place with their Phantom Finder 5000, the latest in Scare-o-Meter equipment. Something is amiss down on the farm, with zombie ducks at the pond, and an array of other supernatural creatures taking over the barn (Frankenhorse and The Mighty Donkula anyone?) We didn't expect that twist in the ending, which made the book even more fun. There is nothing like a good twist!

My Mr 6 was very proud that our libraries ordered Steven seagull: action hero after he put in a suggested purchase for it. Steven Seagull is a retired cop (I hear there are rumours he was kicked from the force for being too much of a renegade) who is asked to come back and help save the beach. Some perpetrator has been stealing the sand and leaving massive holes everywhere. A gull's gotta do what a gull's gotta do, and Steven takes on the case and checks out the usual suspects. Does he manage to save the day? I'll leave that for you to find out, I'm off now to look up old Steven Seagal movies ;)