Muslims in America, Italians in Russia

In catching up on some NY Times arts coverage this weekend I found two Bizarro-Twins-appropriate articles I thought I’d merge into one…

Chronologically first, Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli has a new album of baroque operatic arias called St. Petersburg.  Not a city we associate with baroque opera, but as Bartoli’s latest musicological excavation effort points out, as was the case all over Europe, the Russian court was home to several Italian composers patronized by emperors and empresses, alongside other artists from across Europe.  The pieces they composed basically followed Italianate opera conventions, though they were occasionally performed in Russian, but all 11 tracks on the CD are world premiere recordings so it’s certainly a rare set of materials.

 

Bartoli herself went to the Mariinsky Theater archives to peruse these scores, which were sort of hidden especially during Soviet times to suppress the history of Russia looking to Western Europe, a binary that’s relevant to this day.  I’d certainly like to know a bit more about those archival adventures!  (NYT article)

The other story I wanted to share was a conversation between three Muslim-American artists on how being Muslim, and depicting Muslim characters, influences their work.  The trio included Ayad Akhtar, creator of the Pulitzer-winning play Disgraced, currently on Broadway, Sundance award winning filmmaker Musa Syeed, and of special interest to us, writer G. Willow Wilson, creator of Marvel’s best-selling Ms. Marvel comic, of which the first trade paperback came out earlier this month!  It’s an interesting conversation in its own right, and Wilson talks to how the themes of assimilation and representation pop up in Kamala Khan’s own hero’s journey. (NYT article)

Ms. Marvel by Adrian Alphona, Copyright Marvel Comics

Ms. Marvel by Adrian Alphona, Copyright Marvel Comics

Apparently the new Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City whose own comic debuted in February of this year, is now Marvel’s top-selling female character, and that’s with competition from titles like Black Widow, Storm, She-Hulk, Elektra, and even her inspiration, Captain Marvel!  Not bad kid, not bad…

Seasons and Months Ahead

Met Opera 2014-15 Season Teaser

Met Opera 2014-15 Season Teaser

The Metropolitan Opera announced today that they will announce their 2014-2015 season tonight, so that’s exciting, I always love looking ahead to the next season, so eager and impatient…

I don’t know what it is about the west coast, but two California opera companies already announced their 2014/2015 seasons earlier this year:  LA Opera has a Figaro theme, including the West coast premiere of Corigiliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, as well as a revival of Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas which LA Opera co-commissioned.  They’re also giving the quite new Dog Days by David T. Little as part of their “Off Grand” series, of more unusual works presented outside their main  opera house, so good for that widely praised new work.

As for new opera, San Francisco Opera is premiering a new work by Italian composer Marco Tutino, but I’m also excited by their Handel and Floyd offerings…

The new, Chicano, Ghost Rider from Marvel Art by Felipe Smith

The new Ghost Rider from Marvel
Art by Felipe Smith

Its occurred to me recently that opera companies’ season announcements are kinda like comic publishers’ release of monthly previews, both of which I look forward to immensely…  And these days, with both Marvel and DC taking on a more “season” style publication scheme, there are always lots of exciting new titles coming out.

For example, I think I found my next comic book crush in the new, Chicano, Ghost Rider coming from Marvel.  The character design concept art by Felipe Smith, at right, has me interested in Ghost Rider for like, the first time…  Even if we don’t get to look at his pretty face when he’s all Ghosted up…

Also, along with the new Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel and new titles for their top female heroes, I’m excited about this diversifying push out of Marvel…

Superheroes on PBS

I almost forgot about this myself, but PBS aired Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a 3 part documentary on the history of American comic book Superheroes, this week and now all episodes are online for a limited time only!

Here’s a panel on the documentary from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con if you wanna pre-game post-emptively:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RysrFfUAQc&w=350&h=300]

I saw the first installment of the series and enjoyed it, especially to see interviews with some of the original creators in the field who have since passed, like Joe Simon, Carmine InfantinoJerry Robinson, and even some archival footage of Jack Kirby.

PBS' Superheroes book

PBS’ Superheroes companion book

The documentary series has an accompanying book too, reviewed favorably for its inclusionary history over at DC Women Kicking Ass here.

Now There’s an Idea!

I’ve learned that if an idea’s good enough, you remember. And if it’s not good enough to remember, you didn’t need it anyway. The good ideas keep nudging you, reminding you they’re there, until they find a way out into the world. (source)

Ron Marz, in his CBR column on the comic book writer’s life, talking about…  ideas.  As someone who’s main comic output is still in the form of ideas, I thought it might be helpful  : P

Marz talks chiefly about a storytelling concept that he conceived of years ago and was finally able to put to use on an unrelated project, namely a minute of story time per page on Top Cow‘s speedster character, Velocity.  The nice thing is that after reading Marz‘s post, you can read the full issue in question, with art by the very distinctive Kenneth Rocafort, for free on CBR!  Good synergy, guys!

Velocity #1 from Top Cow

Velocity #1 from Top Cow

Retro Wonder Woman

DC Comics’ premiere heroine recently received a rocking retro reinvention in their DC Nation series of shorts.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHZKIVS3h2g&w=350&h=300]

Created by cartoonist, animator, and illustrator Robert Valley, these shorts have brought Wonder Woman some much-need media exposure at a time when higher-ups in DC Entertainment cite her “tricky” background as an impediment to her own TV show or movie.  Sue, the blogger on DC Women Kicking Ass, has used these shorts as proof to the contrary, and Comics Alliance called them the cartoon equivalent to a summer jam.

The shorts so far are now officially available in full on YouTube, starting with the one above.  Here are Part 2 & Part 3.  I have to admit I found the last installment pretty sexy, what with Wonder Woman saving dude-in-distress Steve Trevor on a surfboard, full 70s style.

Runaway Fashions

Hey all, sorry for the long absence; I’m easily overwhelmed with school work, and now part-time work too!  So yes, I have a job in an archive…  of clothing!  I’m not the most fashionable guy, so not sure how I got hired, but I’m learning lots of fashion terminology, so very fun times…

Runaways Cover

Runaways Cover by Alphona & Strain

I’ve also lately picked up where I left off with Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona‘s Runaways, the 2003 debuting Marvel comic series about a group of LA teens who discover their parents are a group of supervillains.  I love it and I love Alphona‘s art, especially his sharp fashion sense…

That fashion sense is so sharp in fact, that I was not at all surprised to see he had a fashion tag on his (kinda out of date) blog.  Further evidence of his stylishness:

Alphona's Fashion Illustrations

Alphona‘s Toronto Fashion Week 2012 Illustrations

These illustrations from Toronto’s 2012 Fashion Week.  Snazzy.

Where’s the Runaways crew now?  Alphona had been away from comics for a while, but he’s been making a welcome comeback back at Marvel.  Brian K. Vaughan also had a prolonged comics absence but came back in a big way with the much praised Saga from Image Comics and his similarly adored pay-what-you-wish online comic, The Private Eye, with art by Marcos Martin.  Christina Strain, a near constant throughout Runaways’ run as their colorist, debuted her own comic, The Fox Sister, 2 years ago, so you can catch up with that too…

46th meeting June 3 at 7pm

Tomorrow’s NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium on the late Silver Age cartoonist Carmine Infantino should be a good introduction for those like me who need to catch up on some of those 1960s comics…

New York Comics &Picture-story Symposium

The forty-sixth meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Monday, June 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public. Live Streamed here. Facilitator: Nick Sousanis.

Scheduled Presentation: Carmine Infantino: a VisuaLecture by Arlen Schumer.  This presentation will be Live Streamed click here for connection.
In this retrospective/eulogy for legendary comic book artist Carmine Infantino (1925-2013), comic book historian Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) presents an overview of the artist’s work, spotlighting Infantino’s definitive versions of DC Comics’ superheroes The Flash, Adam Strange and Batman.

INFANTINO invite 72dpi

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