You're Doing a PhD in What?

PhD Student in Adelaide studying the digital publishing of comic books. A blog for all the cool things I stumble upon on this journey
Artist Sean Murphy (American Vampire, The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus) and Essential Sequential have started a Kickstarter to help fund the production of the very cool looking anthology ‘Cafe Racer’. ‘Cafe Racer’ will be the end result of Murphy’s artist apprenticeship program. In 2014 Murphy will be hosting six up and coming artists for two weeks who will each produce five pages for the anthology and learn storytelling, the business of comics, and comic art from Murphy over the two weeks. The program is an experiment by Murphy and as a researcher interested in comic book creators I think it is a fascinating one. 

The more I read about Murphy’s apprenticeship program (they need a catchy name like Romita’s Raiders quick smart, Murphy’s Misfits/Marauders anyone?) the more I wish I lived in America as I think it would be an amazing academic opportunity. As it is the first program Murphy is running I think it would be a great opportunity for a research project that looks at the role and history of apprenticeships and mentoring in the comic book industry, as well as an opportunity to look at identity in the comic book industry particularly with the next generation of creators. The project would be a longitudinal study that covers not only the two week program but tracks the progress of the six artists after completing the apprenticeship and look at the impact they think the apprenticeship has had on their career and decision making.

The project would begin by talking to Murphy about why he is running the apprenticeship program. It would focus on Murphy’s own experiences in the comic book industry, the idea behind the apprenticeship program, why he feels it is necessary to prepare the next generation in this way, and what the expected outcomes of the program are, for both the artists involved and Murphy himself.

After focusing on Murphy the project would then look at the selection process (which in reality has already passed). Murphy has sole choice over who will be involved in the program. By focusing on Murphy’s selection process the project would examine the idea’s of creativity, professional standards, critique and ‘good work’ in the comic book industry. It would look at why Murphy chose each participant for the program. 

Once the applicants had been chosen the project would then focus on them. Interviews would be conducted with the artists to establish their background, their artist narrative up to this point. The conversation would then shift to the apprenticeship and why they chose to do it, what they hope to get out of it, why they want a career in comics, what they think such a career would be like, and their plans for the future. It may also be interesting to look at applicants who were on the cusp of being selected and talk to them in a similar manner and find out what they plan to do now. This may create a useful point of comparison later on.

The researcher would then embed themselves in Murphy’s program for the two weeks of the apprenticeship. The research would be able to observe the content of the apprenticeship and talk to the participants and Murphy about the program as it is happening. At the end of the two weeks the researcher would interview everyone involved. This interview would give the participants and Murphy an opportunity to reflect on the experience while also readdressing the questions of what the participants are planning to do in the future (both in the short and long term) and how the apprenticeship program has prepared them for it.

The project would then revisit the artists and Murphy in six months, a year or even at both times. The interviews would again allow the participants, including Murphy, to reflect on the apprenticeship program and experience and how it has impacted their careers/decision making at this stage. It would look at what they have been doing in that time and the progress they have made towards their career goals and future plans. It would again ask them what their plans are for the future and look at any difficulties or successes they have experienced post-apprenticeship. These interviews would track the participants development as professional artists and track Murphy’s development as a mentor. If the project did look at some of those applicants who were not successful then they could similarly be interviewed at this stage to see how their progression compares to Murphy’s apprentices.

Anyway these are just my musings as a wannabe academic and the TLDR version is this is an interesting program that Sean Murphy is running and it could provide fruitful grounds for academic inquiry into comic book professionals, comic book work, and the industry.

Artist Sean Murphy (American Vampire, The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus) and Essential Sequential have started a Kickstarter to help fund the production of the very cool looking anthology ‘Cafe Racer’. ‘Cafe Racer’ will be the end result of Murphy’s artist apprenticeship program. In 2014 Murphy will be hosting six up and coming artists for two weeks who will each produce five pages for the anthology and learn storytelling, the business of comics, and comic art from Murphy over the two weeks. The program is an experiment by Murphy and as a researcher interested in comic book creators I think it is a fascinating one.

The more I read about Murphy’s apprenticeship program (they need a catchy name like Romita’s Raiders quick smart, Murphy’s Misfits/Marauders anyone?) the more I wish I lived in America as I think it would be an amazing academic opportunity. As it is the first program Murphy is running I think it would be a great opportunity for a research project that looks at the role and history of apprenticeships and mentoring in the comic book industry, as well as an opportunity to look at identity in the comic book industry particularly with the next generation of creators. The project would be a longitudinal study that covers not only the two week program but tracks the progress of the six artists after completing the apprenticeship and look at the impact they think the apprenticeship has had on their career and decision making.

The project would begin by talking to Murphy about why he is running the apprenticeship program. It would focus on Murphy’s own experiences in the comic book industry, the idea behind the apprenticeship program, why he feels it is necessary to prepare the next generation in this way, and what the expected outcomes of the program are, for both the artists involved and Murphy himself.

After focusing on Murphy the project would then look at the selection process (which in reality has already passed). Murphy has sole choice over who will be involved in the program. By focusing on Murphy’s selection process the project would examine the idea’s of creativity, professional standards, critique and ‘good work’ in the comic book industry. It would look at why Murphy chose each participant for the program.

Once the applicants had been chosen the project would then focus on them. Interviews would be conducted with the artists to establish their background, their artist narrative up to this point. The conversation would then shift to the apprenticeship and why they chose to do it, what they hope to get out of it, why they want a career in comics, what they think such a career would be like, and their plans for the future. It may also be interesting to look at applicants who were on the cusp of being selected and talk to them in a similar manner and find out what they plan to do now. This may create a useful point of comparison later on.

The researcher would then embed themselves in Murphy’s program for the two weeks of the apprenticeship. The research would be able to observe the content of the apprenticeship and talk to the participants and Murphy about the program as it is happening. At the end of the two weeks the researcher would interview everyone involved. This interview would give the participants and Murphy an opportunity to reflect on the experience while also readdressing the questions of what the participants are planning to do in the future (both in the short and long term) and how the apprenticeship program has prepared them for it.

The project would then revisit the artists and Murphy in six months, a year or even at both times. The interviews would again allow the participants, including Murphy, to reflect on the apprenticeship program and experience and how it has impacted their careers/decision making at this stage. It would look at what they have been doing in that time and the progress they have made towards their career goals and future plans. It would again ask them what their plans are for the future and look at any difficulties or successes they have experienced post-apprenticeship. These interviews would track the participants development as professional artists and track Murphy’s development as a mentor. If the project did look at some of those applicants who were not successful then they could similarly be interviewed at this stage to see how their progression compares to Murphy’s apprentices.

Anyway these are just my musings as a wannabe academic and the TLDR version is this is an interesting program that Sean Murphy is running and it could provide fruitful grounds for academic inquiry into comic book professionals, comic book work, and the industry.

Wow…just wow. After rumors that Marvel was shopping around over 60 hours of TV in a package deal a deal has now been announced between Marvel and Netflix. As part of the deal four live-action 13-episode shows will be developed which then lead to a special miniseries. The series, set in Hell’s Kitchen, are “Daredevil,” followed by “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage” then the miniseries “The Defenders”. 

The first series, “Daredevil”, will debut in 2015 and the deal is part of a larger content package that was signed between Disney and Netflix. It is interesting that the shows went to Netflix instead of ABC given that ABC already has “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”. I do wonder whether, and I hate using these designations, the series will have more scope to breakout of the family friendly tone and go a bit darker and a bit grimier, which may not have fit with ABC’s style. I do wonder what it means for the possibility of a crossover between “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and the new series. Four powered heroes suddenly cropping up in Hell’s Kitchen, then forming a team, would surely catch the attention of the new global spy agency in charge of powered individuals. I also wonder what it means for the possibility of feature films based on those characters. Daredevil has already had the film treatment, but not under Marvel’s watch while Luke Cage and Iron Fist, as their team-up Heroes For Hire, is a movie fans have been asking for ever since Iron Man started the Marvel Age of Cinema. I expect whoever signs on to lead these shows will be signing multi-appearance contracts that cover the TV shows and any possible films. Either way with the recent TV announcements coming out of DC and Warner superheroes are well and truly taking their battle from the big screen to the small screen and we as the fans are going to benefit from seeing a variety of different heroes given the live-action treatment.

Source: Variety

So Microsoft’s latest ad for Internet Explorer 11 has nothing to do with Internet Explorer and everything to do with anime girls fighting robots as if they were Sailor Moon with an arm cannon. Doing a little digging it is not surprising that this ad was produced for Microsoft Singapore and was released at Anime Festival Asia 2013. It is some serious target marketing and a hell of a lot more entertaining than someone going over a list of features and discussing how much IE 11 is ready for the future etc etc. At least this brings a little fun to the browser wars, although they would have got bonus points for making her fight robot Firefoxes and flying Chrome symbols.

Ever since Gareth Evans The Raid came out I never knew how much my life needed dudes punching things really quickly. Thankfully Evans is back to fill that void with The Raid 2: Berandal. In all seriousness the The Raid was a brilliant and relentless action movie that pummeled you into submission with fight scene after fight scene. The sequel promises not to let up with over an hour of action crammed in to some semblance of a story that puts our hero Rama into a relatively confined space that he needs to punch and kick his way out of. Can’t wait…also poor wall.

I don’t know about you but I am super pumped for the LEGO Movie. I really liked the first trailer and this new one has me even more excited. What I’m most excited about is the fact that they have been able to leverage LEGO’s extensive range of IP collaborations to include characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and the Ninja Turtles in the film. All the scenes with Batman in the trailer were hilarious. I don’t even really care what the story is, the film has a great cast (Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Cobie Smulders), cool characters and LEGO. I’m sold. 

Finally the X-Men Days of Future Past trailer has been released to the public after being shown at San Diego Comic-Con. It looks ridiculously epic and intense. The trailer really played up the seriousness of the film and the dire situation mutants face in the future. The trailer also shows how it deviates from the comic book with Wolverine given the role of time-traveling consciousness. I didn’t realise Wolverine would have such a big part, but I’m glad to see that he will because more Wolverine is always a good idea (at least in the comics).

Really though I’m just happy you got to see Bishop. He looked bad-ass and very true to the character. About all it was missing was some Sentinel action. After the sour taste X-Men 3 left in the mouth and the success of First Class, Days of Future Past is looking like a good bridge between the X-Men films. Too bad it doesn’t come out till May 23rd 2014.

Finally we get to see a bit more of the arena in Hunger Games: Catching Fire through the final trailer before the films November 22nd release. More importantly it does it in a way that does not give away anything too major yet highlights that this arena is far different and far more dangerous than the one in the first Hunger Games. Also crazy baboons!!

I feel like a lot of people are forgetting what a trailer should be. It should show enough to get you excited and interested in the film, give you an indication of what may happen in the film yet not give away major plot points and scenes. Overall I think the Catching Fire trailers have done a good job of building excitement for the film without giving a lot away. May the odds be ever in your favor on November 22nd. 

The salesman at Standard and Strange was a ridiculously helpful guy who also managed to convince me to buy a pair of Rising Sun jeans as well. I wasn’t looking for a new pair of jeans as I already have a few pairs but he just went on about how well made they are, how good the cut is and said I should try a pair on.

I grabbed the Superior- Raw jeans and even though I would have liked to have gone a size up they fit really well. Loose on the thighs, not tight around the crotch and some give in the waistband. The length is also perfect, just a quick cuff and they were ready to go. Overall just a classic loose, straight cut pair of jeans.

Despite the fit what really sold me were the little touches on the Superior. The duck band lining of the waistband (even though it is a bit stiff) is really cool, the stamp on the inside pocket and the finish on the back pockets are all just really nice finishes that make the jeans stand out a little. I also have to admit that there is a little bit of that feeling that pretty much no one in Australia stocks Rising Sun so for a little while at least I will be one of the few people here who have them. 

On my trip to America I ended up in California which is filled with really cool US made clothes. Specifically I was in the San Francisco area and on the recommendation of a friend was told to head to Temescal Alley in Oakland to visit a shop called Standard and Strange. At this stage I hadn’t spent a lot of money on the trip and was glad I hadn’t because I decided to splurge at Standard and Strange.

The first thing that took my eye was this really cool Rising Sun shirt. Most of the shirts I have purchased recently have been blue or grey and most of the shirts I’ve seen around that I like have been blue or grey. So to find something different that I liked was a bonus.

The shirt is 100% cotton and it has a good weight to it. Its not so heavy that it is a stiff shirt but you definitely know you are wearing it. Probably because Rising Sun are based in Los Angeles, which has warm weather similar to Australia, they may not have wanted to do a super-heavy shirt because it would just be unnecessary. Either way it is a really cool shirt, and I think the combination of the black with white and red works really well because it is a fairly classic color combination. Checking out the rest of the Rising Sun range I definitely think it is their best shirt and I’m glad I found it.

I’ve been looking for a new wallet for quite a while now but nothing has really excited me. This is despite the fact that my current wallet is getting to quite the thrashed state (it wasn’t leather so wear and tear isn’t good). The main problem was finding a wallet that isn’t too big yet has enough card spaces. After searching the internet for some time I finally came across The Ashdown Workshop and their pretty amazing looking handmade leather wallets.

The Ashdown Workshop are a UK-based company that hand make every piece on their site and at no stage do they use any machinery in the process. This attention to detail and old-school techniques is really impressive but more importantly the premium bi-fold wallet has 6 card spaces plus money space without being a huge, bulky piece. The almond is also a really nice dark color that should show off the eventual wear in the leather quite nicely. With quality and design this good Ashdown Workshop are probably going to be a company to lookout for in the future. And luckily I’ll still have some money to actually put into the wallet.