Bunch of Ice Productions

Official Release: “Et tu, Hecate?”

Posted by on November 11, 2010

Owen Craig and Curtis Westman are proud to officially announce the release of their first published comic book, “Et tu, Hecate?,” a 5-paged backup story to Kill Shakespeare‘s first trade paperback, collecting issues #1 through #6.

With art by immensely talented Toronto-based artist J. Bone, “Et tu, Hecate?” takes place in Rome circa 44 B.C.E., and puts the Kill Shakespeare twist on William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Kill Shakespeare is a comic book written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col with art by Andy Belanger and covers by Kagan McLeod, which is touted as “[a]n epic adventure that pits Shakespeare’s greatest heroes against his most frightening villains.”

Kill Shakespeare Vol. 1 can be found at any comic book retailer, released as of 10 November, 2010.

» Filed Under Comics, News | 12 Comments

Curtis Westman

Americanization is Shit

Posted by on November 8, 2010

Let’s talk “travesty” for a second.

A lot of people are aware of my selfish views on the Americanization of foreign films, my unfaltering derision towards the finished products and my pretty senseless determination never to see them. Such was my feeling for Let Me In, despite the fact that it garnered great reviews and basically proved me wrong in every possible way, making me look like an incredible jackass. Well, whatever, I’m still not going to see it, and at this point it’s less about scruples and more of a war of attrition than anything else, because my scruples are way off in the distance next to a cactus somewhere with my accuracy and predictive reasoning.

So, let’s forget about Let Me In and talk about something else. Akira. Yes, that Akira. The anime that non-anime fans are allowed to watch under the pretense that it’s “art and shit.” The anime that brought adult-directed Japanese animation into the western eye and inspired countless awful convention costumes, posters and that fake unlicensed Zippo lighter I bought when I was 17.

In short, it was a pretty big deal.

When things from other countries (and especially in other languages) are big deals, though, it’s like American film studios salivate and wag their tongues and generally act like frat boys who’ve discovered that beer pong is a stellar way to get girls drunk. “If only we didn’t have to read this movie, though, then my transition into a puddle of pseudo-sentient gelatin would be complete!” they might say, trying desperately to scratch their balls with a stein duct-taped to each hand.

And they remake it, of course. But American audiences would never be able to understand how a Swedish character lives, breathes and acts — after all, that’s around the world. It barely exists. Instead, the remade film is Americanized, a catch-all term allegorizing the melting pot that turns a rich cultural tapestry into industrial slag.

Of course, you might argue, there are good Americanized films. The Magnificent Seven, Twelve Monkeys, et al. But those films did something different from their originals, and thus are value-added products. They’re derivative works in the least critical sense. They actually derive something new from the film they adapt.

Anyone can make a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho and sap all the life out of it, but they’re deluding themselves if they think it’s art. Anyone can pretend that New Mexico is more exciting and easier to identify with than snowy Sweden, but they’ve obviously never tried corn salsa.

So yes, in my opinion, Americanization is shit. I’ll never see Let Me In and I’ll never see the abominable planned remake of Akira regardless of whether or not absurd rumours about Zac Efron’s involvement are true.

Because, and you can take this prediction to the bank because I have a going success rate of about 0%, the movie is going to be shit regardless of whether or not it has Zac Efron attached.

P.S. Also shit: the fact that I used a “z” in “Americanization.” Bet you thought I didn’t notice.

» Filed Under Film, Rant | Leave a Comment

Curtis Westman

The Art of Branded Storytelling on Applied Arts

Posted by on October 27, 2010

A great article on Applied Arts Magazine, marrying advertising, culture and comic books. Written by a copywriter at Grip Ltd., Ian Mackenzie (also, coincidentally, the founding editor emeritus of Big Orange Slide). A brief excerpt appears below.

The Art of Branded Storytelling

by Ian Mackenzie, 27 October, 2010
Illustration by Joel Holtby

Here’s a question: Why aren’t comics more popular among advertising creatives? Many of us read them. Love them. Want to marry them. But there’s an equal or greater number of us who don’t think of comics at all. Or if we do, associate them with a lunatic fringe of male power fantasy nerds.

That’s a shame. Comics are packed with great insights for how ad folks might do what we do better: How to tell stories quickly and powerfully, for example. Or how to make your art and copy sing – even in the absence of audio.

More at: http://www.appliedartsmag.com/blog/?p=3069

» Filed Under Advertising, Comics | 2 Comments

Owen Craig

More MONDO reviews

Posted by on October 24, 2010

Darkwing Duck #5

Ian Brill (w), James Silvani (a), Andrew Dalhouse (c), Boom Studios.

I was a little concerned that after the initial story this title would lose some of its lustre, well I’m happy to report that that’s not the case. Not even slightly. This book is still funny, charming and all-out-awesome. I’m enjoying the alternate-reality Darkwings and the references to the Ducktales characters are fun. Brill and Silvani continue to make this one of my favourite books to read every month.

DC Universe Legacies #6
Len Wein (w), Various (a), DC Comics.

This book is such a treat for DC fans. Seriously, it’s pure nostalgia, hearkening back to past stories, tones and art styles. Len Wein has put together a really cool device for reliving DCU memories and the rotating art team is doing a fantastic job. I especially enjoyed the backup story this time out. That was hilarious! My only complaint here is that it seemed a little much to devote a whole issue to Crisis aftermath. Whole issue to that? There’s so much more to tell! I want more! I guess it’s kind of a compliment, too.

Morning Glories #3
Nick Spencer (w), Joe Eisma (a), Alex Sollazzo (c), Image Comics.

The first scene in this issue was stunning. Spencer and Eisma completely rocked it, giving it a twisted, V For Vendetta feel. Seriously, why is this school so creepy that it’s reminding me of V For Vendetta? Creepy! This issue feels more like set-up than the previous two, taking the time to show off more parts of Morning Glories Academy, such as the dungeon (?) and the infirmary. It’s…unsettling. This book kicks ass and you should buy it.

You can check out all of MONDOcomics’ reviews here: http://mondomagazine.net/2010/mondocomics-77-october-20-2010/

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Curtis Westman

A Moment of Self-Reflection

Posted by on October 24, 2010

In honour of the fact that it’s Sunday and I’m at work, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on all the things I’ve written for Big Orange Slide, the blog of Grip Limited, the wildly creative ad agency where I work. I also wanted to draw attention to the fact that they allow anyone who works there to write articles, regardless of whether or not they’re employed as a writer.

So, from the desk of a proofreader, I’m thankful.

Liquor Control Brand of Ontario

7 October, 2010

If you want a bottle of a particular brand of gin, you can search the LCBO website and it will tell you if they carry it, the price, what stores have bottles in stock, and how many bottles they have on hand. The layout and interface are simple and easy-to-use, which is absolutely fantastic when you’ve just shot-gunned a six pack of cheap beer and you can barely find your mouse cursor.

The enemy in the ad

August 4, 2010

Short of ritual suicide, there really is nothing we can do to pay penance. As tempting as hemlock might be, the best we can do is learn from our mistakes and ensure they never happen again. We’ll continue in this way until, inevitably, we will learn everything there is to know about everything, and then we’ll simply disappear into a cloud of particulate matter that nobody really feels comfortable inhaling.

Grip interviews: Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col

July 26, 2010

Conor: Well, one of the first challenges is that comics are a niche product. There are set places where comic fans gather. That’s great when you want to reach the converted. But for a comic like Kill Shakespeare, which we want to push past the tights-and-capes set (though we love that genre too), it’s tricky to know where to fish.

Messing with the message

June 29, 2010

But that’s not what happened. It started out that way, of course, but somewhere in a march down University Avenue, the crowd shattered, split, and spilled like the contents of a broken bottle from the boundaries of the police escort. The instigators were a mob dressed entirely in black, their faces covered so as to make identification impossible, their cause a murky ideological melting pot. From that moment onwards, the protest, from the perspective of the people with real political motives, was an utter failure.

Like selling salt to a french fry

June 7, 2010

The health industry accuses the salt industry of using these marketing techniques to obfuscate information and to keep the salt status quo. In my eyes, they’re both guilty of doing this – a better solution for the American government would be to moderate the amount of sodium-rich foods served to Americans in general, but they would never consider such a drastic solution.

“Who’s the best pilot you ever saw?”

April 26, 2010

In 1963, Gordon Cooper’s Mercury spacecraft lost power to its automatic control system after more than 30 hours in free-fall. In response, he calmly drew an artificial horizon on the window in magic marker and manually piloted the pod through re-entry, landing in splashdown only 6 kilometres from his intended target. He was a hero. These days, I would bet that most of us don’t even know the astronauts’ names.

Rebranding Canada

March 11, 2010

“O Canada” was great 20 years ago. But this is the 21st Century. It’s time to follow the trends, license some popular music and leverage it against your brand. There’s a young Canadian musician just starting his career, and I think he’d be perfect. His name is Stephen Harper. He has a day job, of course, but that’s alright because I hear he can take time off whenever he feels like it.

Drifting toward predictable results

March 2, 2010

Our intuition tells us that over a large enough sampling, each of the smaller communities would show the same tracks as most popular, or there would at least be a noticeable correlation among the highest rated songs. Instead, they found wildly differing results—that a track rated #1 in one community could be rated #40 in another—and they were lost as to why such an anomaly had formed.

So, there you have it. It’s been a crazy 8 months. I strongly urge you, while you’re at Big Orange Slide, to read some other posts. If you’re interested in advertising or design, you’re bound to find something of worth from some of the company’s talented writers.

P.S. If you consider this a form of masturbation, you’re probably right. Don’t tell the pope.

» Filed Under Advertising | Leave a Comment

Curtis Westman

A Stragedy

Posted by on October 21, 2010

Some days I wonder if the entranceway into Hell is guarded by Ben Mulroney, and others I just take it for granted.

Last night, I was watching the Toronto Mayoral Debate while supping on nightshade and razor-blades. Around the time I explosively started spewing blood and bile from the majority of my orifices, all I could think was that, well, at least dinner was good.

It’s hard watching grown men reduced to the level of animals, especially when they’re not already sitting in Parliament, but Ford and Smitherman seem to come pretty close to emulating our federal leaders. Kudos to them, I suppose, for the ability to act like babies without even yet being elected.

Between Ford’s giggling and Smitherman’s fuming, though, Pantalone made a remark about the idea behind the way we vote itself. He said that the face that at this point, the election has descended into “strategic voting” was a tragedy. And he’s right.

In a perfect election, nobody would have to vote strategically. I should be able to vote for the candidate that I like because I like them, because I like what they stand for, because I enjoyed their sex tape or really, by whatever other criteria I see fit. But this isn’t a perfect election, and these are certainly not perfect candidates, and Ford’s sex tape was especially disappointing.

We have three candidates representing a wide range of the political spectrum, with a wide range of ideas about how best to govern the city. None of them will ever be able to represent how we feel without making us think we’re somehow settling on certain issues, like when one goes to a restaurant and doesn’t have the gumption to ask for a substitution, so one ends up eating sand because, yes, it’s the worst restaurant on the planet.

So we vote for the person who least offends us. Or, at least, the person who least offends us that has a chance of winning. But that’s not our fault. One of the candidates will always be the worst in our eyes, no matter who we are, and we will do whatever it takes not to let that candidate win. It’s the fault of our electorate, frankly.

Yes, the error lies in the very way we vote. If we adopted a better system, like, say, a preferential voting system, this would be all but eliminated.

People are dumb, and I should know, I’m people. But one thing we do know is who we hate and who we like. Obviously, the third frontrunner would lie in between. It’s no more difficult than deciding whether to take the subway to work or to drive…a railroad spike through the supple bones in your hands.

Of course you won’t take the subway.

And in a preferential voting system, the candidate that seems most rational, the one that barely gets mentioned in a negative way because people are indifferent to them — you know, the one that’s least likely to fuck everybody’s shit up — yeah, they’d probably do pretty well.

But don’t listen to me, I actually watched the debate. I clearly have no idea what’s good for me.

» Filed Under Misc, Television | 2 Comments

Owen Craig

MONDOcomics reviews!

Posted by on October 15, 2010

Here’s the reviews I wrote for the comics I bought this week:

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne
Grant Morrison (w), Ryan Sook, Pere Perez (p), Mick Gray, Pere Perez (i), Jose Villarrubia (c), DC Comics.

This was a phenomenal book. Seriously, it was a complete joy for me as a Batman fan. In fact, I would probably say it’s the best of this miniseries so far. First of all, it’s Batman in the middle of the age of the classic noire, and that’s just cool. Secondly, it’s drawn (primarily) by Ryan Sook, who does incredible artwork. And when Perez takes over, he also does a fantastic job. So fantastic, in fact, that if I weren’t looking at it carefully I might not even notice a difference. Third, and most importantly, Bruce Wayne is entangled in the mystery of his parents’ death. And it’s not lame! Morrison chooses to weave Bruce in and around the time of the death rather than actually having him investigate it full-on and it works really well. I know that this is more of a gush than a review, so just take that as a sign of my enthusiasm for this book. Love it. This is Morrison’s Batman at its best.

Justice League: Generation Lost #11
Judd Winick (w), Aaron Lopresti (p), Matt Ryan (i), Hi-Fi (c), DC Comics.

I’m sorta running out of things to say about this series… so… the usual? “A lot of fun.” “Great to see the old JLI gang back together.” “The Metal Men were awesome.” Wait… that last one was specific to this issue. My only complaint was how we only got a brief glimpse of the Metal Men’s hallucinations. They looked cool and I wanted to see more.

Knight and Squire
Paul Cornell (w), Jimmy Broxton (a), Guy Major (c), DC Comics.

There’s a lot that’s done right here. Cornell writes this book with a lot of charm, wit and a real sense of fun that Broxton builds on with some fantastic artwork. In fact, the only real problem here is that there’s SO much fun that it feels like little room is left for story. The story feels buried under a whole pile of new (and awesome) characters. Still, this is the first issue of a six issue mini, and I have faith that next issue will knock it out of the park. Don’t let it sound for a second, though, like I didn’t enjoy the Hell out of this. It’s awesome and you should pick it up.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger
Roger Langridge (w), Chris Samnee (a), Matt Wilson (c), Marvel Comics.

There’s no doubt about it, if you’re going to read any Thor comic it should be this one. It reads like the awesomest romantic comedy in the world. With Thor in it. Okay… I probably just drove away some readership with that line. Let’s put it this way, if you only like comics with blood and guts and swearing and guns then this isn’t the comic for you. If you like comics with character-building, charm and amazing artwork then you should be buying this. (It’s also a great give-to-your-girlfriend comic, by the way. My fiancée loves it.)

The Unwritten
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Vertigo Comics.

This is one of those epilogue-type issues I’m always so fond of. The kind where characters (and readers) say goodbye to the last storyline and pieces are moved into place for what is yet to come. This is done with both the heroes and the villains, both extremely successfully. Carey continues to weave an engaging story where the reader has to work to keep up. That may sound daunting or even exhausting, but it ultimately leads to a satisfying and invigorating reading experience. Carey also works fantastically well with Gross here, giving him plenty of opportunity to show off his considerable skills. Sequences with Tommy’s… shall we say trip?… and in the villains’ lair look every bit as impressive as they need to. There are moments where the issue was a little unclear, but it’s not worth nitpicking. This is still one of the best books on the stands.

You can check out all of our reviews here.

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Curtis Westman

The Axe Effect

Posted by on October 15, 2010

I’m a fourteen-year-old boy. I’m complex and quiet, and often, nobody knows what I’m thinking. I spend most of the day sitting alone in my room with my quill pen at the ready, expounding endlessly on the ontological paradoxes that form my generation’s philosophical milieu. I’ve written three academic papers that focus, in essence, on revolutionizing Parmenides’ classical interpretation of the nature of self and the existential disasters awaiting me in university, each published in well-respected journals. I’m a bit of a prodigy, and I hope to have the bulk of my life’s work completed by my twenty-fifth birthday, just like my hero, the influential Romantic poet John Keats.

Just kidding, I don’t care about any of that shit. I just want girls.

That’s why Axe advertisements speak to me. I’ve learned a lot from those ads. Over the years, I’ve grown up watching them and, you know, they’re really funny, when you think hard about it.

At first I didn’t really get the idea. In fact, the first time I saw an Axe commercial, I hated it. There’s a bit of a mystique to those ads, some hidden patterns and double-entendres that you can only really understand after seeing them a few times. But then, perhaps, you’re watching Keys to the VIP, a commercial break interrupts and, after one of your buddies makes a blonde joke, the nuances strike you just right and everything just falls into place. Ohhh, that one’s about sex!


And they’re so varied, too. Every new commercial ensures that the writers will one day have their place among the most prolific canonical humourists. For example, one Axe advertisement might be about attracting girls in a supermarket, but another one might be about attracting girls in a mall and still another might be about girls you’ve already attracted and how to keep them from discovering the cogs and circuitry hidden in your brain that make you a robotic duplicate of every other teenaged male in North America.

And the product line! Body wash, shampoo and body spray — all of them smell alike. It really makes covering up that I haven’t showered in five days easy. Some mornings, I roll out of bed and into a vat of all three mixed together, and you know what? On those days, even my female teachers look at me differently.

That’s why, when Axe released this year’s campaign called “The Fixers,” I was really on board. That tagline, “Scrub away the skank with Snake Peel [body wash]” has to be the cleverest thing I’ve ever read. It’s so true, too. At least, I think it is. I’m only fourteen, and casual sex, drinking heavily, and a lifetime of bitter shame and regret are a few years away. Anyway, my point is…uh…Axe rules!

Huh? What? Mutual respect and admiration? No, what’s that?

» Filed Under Advertising | Leave a Comment

Owen Craig

More Darwyn Cooke? Hell yeah!

Posted by on October 14, 2010

I just got back from Paradise Comics, and in addition to my regular monthly books I also got this…

I can’t wait to read this. In fact, I’m going to do it right now.

» Filed Under Comics | Leave a Comment

Curtis Westman

Shock Advertising? Shlock Advertising!

Posted by on October 13, 2010

Studies have shown that out of a hundred people, who when driving on a highway in the middle of the afternoon and in their peripheral vision vaguely spot what might be the desiccated corpse of some unfortunate roadkill, ninety-nine of them will look right at it just to confirm their suspicions and thoroughly disgust themselves. That last person out of a hundred will actually stop, get out of the car and stare at it until they puke.

Human beings are hard-wired to seek out shocking and unnatural images, stories or ideas, perhaps out of some sick fascination with our own morbid end, or perhaps just because it comforts us to know that something out there exists that is more screwed up than we are. Why, then, would anyone doubt that we ever think to use that natural gag reflex as a selling point?

These days, there’s a bit of a proliferation of advertisements (usually from abroad, where regulations are more lax) intended to shock or appall to the point where a wallet will just spring open of its own volition. The latest is an ad out of France making light of 9/11.

It’s not the first time the tragedy has been used to make a point, either. Are these ads clever? Absolutely. Are they disturbing and tasteless? Undoubtedly. So why risk a public shaming in the international community by producing them?

Do you really have to ask? This is an ad from France, and people are talking about it in the U.S., in Canada, and beyond. There’s a little community newspaper serving a sleepy hamlet on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and they’ve just picked up a wire story about it.

It’s not a new trend, either. The very first shock ad was produced in 1903, publicizing a then-rollicking night club called the “Dark Moon.” They played all the hits your great-grandparents’ parents hated, including the infamous Strauss sonata in E-flat major, which in those days was often called the key signature of the damned. The ad featured a lithograph print of a comely dancing woman whose hosiery had fallen below her knees and the copy, “Anything can happen at the Dark Moon!” People were outraged. (I’m still pretty steamed.) But the next month the Dark Moon had a line-up around the block.

Infamy works. It causes dialogue. Some people consider it lazy, and some consider it infuriating that a banned ad can be so widespread while an ad that follows social convention is more limited.

One thing is clear, though, whether a child somewhere is burning ants with a magnifying glass for profit, or an agency is desperately hoping to garner some international press, it’s pretty clear that nice guys (and nice ads) quite often finish behind the jerks.

» Filed Under Advertising | Leave a Comment

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