Marvel Comics

The famous comic company, Marvel Comics, began to come together in 1932 when its creator Martin Goodman, started a magazine publishing business that would later become Marvel. However the first comic, titled Marvel Comics #1, wasn’t published until 1939 under the name Timely Publications. In this comic, the android superhero the Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner were featured. This initial publication was a great success. These beginnings have led to many changes, and recently the Walt Disney Company purchased the group (Marvel Comics Timeline).

Image

But over the years one thing hasn’t changed, my love of X-Men. I originally became interested when I watched the first movie with my friends. Previously I had never been very interested in comics and all I knew of superheroes was that they were sometimes associated with my favorite roller coasters when I went to amusement parks. The reason I was able to see the X-Men movies was because they were originally successful as comic characters, which led to their movie adaptation. Their story has also been adapted for video games and TV. Originally, their proposed name was “The Mutants” but Goodman shot the name down because he thought readers wouldn’t know what a mutant was. These “x” men possess special powers due to their possession of an “x” gene which other humans lack, thus giving them their mutant abilities. However, the deeper meaning associated with these characters spoke to me. They deal with separation and discrimination and they are constantly treated as second-class citizens. Yet they continue to fit for the good of all humanity against other mutants whom do not have as high moral standards as themselves. They are able to come together and create a sense of community. Through all of these struggles, they are able to prove that mutants can be heroes. They also deal with other social issues, such as anti-Semitism. For example, Magneto, one of the mutants’ main foes and a Holocaust survivor, sees the situation of mutants as similar to those of Jews in Nazi Germany and often mentions his time in a concentration camp or states “never again”. These characters are a prime example of why Marvel has been able to remain successful over the years.

Works Cited

“Marvel Comics Timeline.” The Comics Chronicles: A Resource for Comics Research. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.comichron.com/comicstimeline/marveltimeline.html&gt;.

Images (in order of appearance)

http://www.typingmonkeys.com/wolverine_026.html

Advertisements

The Piano vs Pride and Prejudice

Image

After viewing The Piano and Pride and Prejudice, I was able to see the stark contrast in the production of both films. In The Piano, there is often a lack of the verbal element whereas Pride and Prejudice features more narration and doesn’t have a lot of music. This is because in The Piano, the main character is a mute and therefore doesn’t speak so it makes sense that the film wouldn’t have a lot of talking in the first place. To make up for the lack of this verbal element, The Piano incorporates much more visual symbolism. For example, the fact that Ada doesn’t speak symbolizes her own lack of say in her own life as her own marriage was arranged for her regardless of her own feelings. This symbolism can also be seen in the piano itself, as it is the remainder of Ada’s life and is a reminder of what she left behind before she moved to New Zealand in order to live with her husband to be. This symbolism is important because it compensates for the lack of verbiage in the film and helps to create understanding for the audience.

Image

On the other hand, Pride and Prejudice is more simply shot, and doesn’t have a lot of movement. Most movement can be attributed to the characters need to move between different houses, usually by horse or carriage. However, upon arriving at a house, the characters generally remain relatively still as they sit on chairs and talk to each other. It is through the characters’ conversation that the story is communicated rather than through visual symbolism.

Another difference between the two films can be seen in how the characters communicate. Ada uses facial expressions to communicate rather than words since she is mute. This fact is exemplified by the first image. However, in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy communicate their feelings using words, and through this the audience gains an understanding of their relationship, as illustrated by the second picture. This difference in communication styles also highlights the difference between the two because in The Piano, Ada’s facial expressions compensate for her speechlessness, whereas in Pride and Prejudice, the audience needs words in order to understand what is happening inside the characters’ heads. 

The similarity between the two films can be seen in the subject they focus on: marriage. While the main characters face different complications within the institution of marriage, this similar subject still unites the two movies. Also, both are set in a time much simpler than our own, featuring different customs and values. While the films have distinct visual differences, they have comparable points as well and should be respected for their artistic choices. 

image 1: http://www.moviespad.com/celebrity/images/33515/harvey-keitel-kiss/

image 2:http://novelreaction.com/2010/07/pride-and-prejudice/

The Dragon

      Image

      When we think of the Dragon, a foreboding and threatening beast usually comes to mind. However, in Chinese culture, the dragon is a creature whose existence dates back 6,000 years and who represents happiness, immortality, and fertility. The first Chinese sign for dragon appeared during the Yin and Shang dynasties, which was around the 16th to the 11th century BC. It was believed that this sacred being could ward off evil spirits (Chinese Dragon). The dragon can be viewed as the essence of life since it “bestows its power in the form of the seasons, bringing water from rain, warmth from the sunshine, wind from the seas and soil from the earth.” Thus one can view the dragon as the Chinese version of Mother Nature in this sense (Dragon Articles). The dragon is believed to be emblematic of the Chinese race as well since the Chinese call themselves “Long De Chuan Ren” which translates to “descendants of the dragon” (Chinese Dragon). As one can see, the dragon represents much more than what we traditionally associate it with.

            Not only does the Dragon have various meanings, there are also several types of dragons: the fire dragon, the earth dragon, the metal dragon, and the water dragon. The fire dragon is extroverted and competitive. This means he “tends to push too hard and expects a lot from everyone”. His ambition also makes him short tempered. Another, the earth dragon, is quieter and more reflective. This means his objectives are less hurried another more thought out. Also, “he is not given to outbursts of temper, but at the same time demands respect”. In contrast, the metal dragon is the strongest willed. Thus he gives little thought to others opinions. It is claimed “[his] ruthlessness can result in a rapid rise to a position of authority, but often at the cost of destroying important relationships.” Therefore, he succeeds because he doesn’t believe failure is an option. Lastly, the water dragon is “less selfish and opinionated” than the other dragons. He is less ambitious and thus can accept defeat gracefully. While these qualities help him to be a good negotiator, he also has a tendency to be overly optimistic (Chinese Dragon). The dragon is a very important symbol throughout Chinese culture, and it is important to understand this ancient creature’s various meanings and representations.

 

Works Cited

“Chinese Dragon.” BeijingService.com. Web. 07 Mar. 2012.<http://www.beijingservice.com/beijinghighlights/chinesedragon.htm&gt;.

“Dragon Articles.” CDOT.org. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <http://www.cdot.org/history/dragon_articles.htm&gt;.

Picture

http://technode.com/2011/12/16/start-a-business-in-china-why-and-why-not/stock-illustration-3602590-chinese-dragon/

The Mirror

Last Thursday, when our class traveled to the Newseum, I got to learn more about the role of freedom of speech and press in our country as well as in other countries through the Newseum’s numerous displays of historic events.  The various photos and exhibits embodied significant events and provided a unique perspective on how these events have shaped our world.

One of these photos can be seen above. Taken on inauguration day, January 20th, 2009, the image is commonly captioned ” This photo holds a lot of historical significance; not only was this the inauguration of a president, it was the inauguration of America’s first black president. This is an unprecedented event in our nation’s history and this photo captures an intimate look at the president before he accepted all the responsibilities that coincide with being president. We can see the weight of the responsibility on his shoulders based on his expression. He faces the pressure to be the hope and change that he promised during his campaign.

This photo is able to convey Obama’s expression because of how it is structured. The fact that the photographer chose to take the picture of Obama looking in the mirror instead of just Obama’s expression without the mirror changes the message. With the mirror, the reflection allows us to see Obama’s vulnerability. By providing this unique perspective the photographer is utilizing an effective point of view. The mirror is an effective tool for framing Obama’s face. It is also an effective backdrop for revealing Obama’s expression. Since it is a reflective surface it adds both visual richness and interest to the image. In the photo, Obama is off to the side and a bit out of focus, which draws attention to his reflection as the viewer searches to understand the subject. Since Obama is the only person in the image, it is clear to the viewer that they should be focusing on him. The wall adds color to the image and allows the gold frame of the mirror to stand out against it. Overall, this image creatively captures a significant moment in our nation’s history.

Unconditional Surrender

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I decided to choose one of my favorite iconic photographs, V-J Day in Times Square. Originally taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in Life Magazine, this infamous photograph features a sailor is kissing a nurse in Times Square on August 14, 1945. This was the day that President Truman announced the US’ official victory over Japan in WWII. The above scene occurred in a spontaneous celebration that took place in Times Square. Since the photograph was taken impulsively, the photographer was unable to get the names of the two people featured in the photograph and since their faces are not discernable, their identities were difficult to discern. However, throughout the years, many have claimed the identity of the sailor and nurse. Even though their faces are hidden, this photo gave a face to the moment when WWII became history.

The picture signifies different things for different people, but to me the picture evokes feelings of hope, love, and a belief in a better tomorrow. First of all, hope and love get lumped together because the picture signifies the hope to many have that true love exists and that it will find us. These two random people found each other, and America continued to be entranced by their story as for the years following its publication, many attempted to identify the nurse and the sailor to find out their stories. It also symbolizes America’s belief in a better future; this photo shows that despite all the horrible atrocities that occurred during WWII, life will go on, and we will once again have the chance to make the world a better place.

The structure of the image itself also helped it to become iconic. A sense of mystery is created by the fact that their faces are obscured. Since one cannot identify the subject, it is possible the subject could be anyone, which makes it relatable to a wide variety of people. The contrast of her white dress against his dark uniform is visually appealing. Since this photo was also taken in black and white this helps make the photo timeless and classic. The framing of the buildings around the subjects creates a focus solely on them. Overall, this photo is timeless and the mystery behind it continues to intrigue viewers.

image source: Eisenstaedt, Alfred. V-J Day in Times Square. 1945. Lifetime Magazine. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Window into the Night

This picture was taken while my friends and I were waiting to be seated at the Cheesecake Factory down in Friendship Heights. We were lounging around on some couches when I looked up and caught sight of some interesting architecture. The ceiling of the building was composed of pipes that connected to form smaller hexagons within a larger hexagon. In the background, the viewer can also see a network of circles and squares. One of my friends is an engineering major which led us to talk about the architecture for a few minutes, after which I decided to take a picture of it since it was so intriguing.

I took this picture while I was lying down because this was to most effective vantage point as it allowed me to capture the architecture from below. The way that the lines were constructed drew my eyes. I believe that they had this effect because the lines came together in a sort of harmony that was visually pleasing. The multiple hexagons create repetition, which draws in attention and adds to the sense of harmony. This same effect was repeated with the circles and the multitude of small squares also uses repetition. Symmetry was created in this picture by the presence of the hexagons. This symmetry also creates simplicity, as the shape is familiar to viewers. As it was dark out, the night sky served as a nice, natural backdrop as it worked to create a good contrast since the sky makes the tan piping stand out. This established an appropriate environment. In the end, I decided to crop the picture so that the main focus was not in the center. I wanted to create an unequal space between the main hexagon and the rest of the image in order to please the viewer aesthetically. One of the sides had also suffered from slight overexposure, which I eventually decided to crop out in order to minimize its presence because it was not visually appealing in this circumstance. However, some overexposure is still evident in this image, and its complete removal would benefit this image.