Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Final thoughts on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz



Anne Hathaway and I finished the book last week, so here are a dozen more observations with some SPOILERS if you haven't read it yet:

  • Hathaway's voice for the Scarecrow made see why Movie Dorothy said she'd miss him most of all, but some of Hathaway's other choices are really odd. One of the two, main Emerald City guards sounded like Sylvester the cat and the other talked in a monotone that I imagine was meant to sound military, but was more robotic. She also gave some other characters strange accents that didn't have a lot to do with their personalities or other character traits. She does some excellent voices too; it just seemed like she was running out of good ones by the end.
  • The Wizard's voice is especially off-putting. He has a Southern drawl that - combined with Hathaway's feminine voice - makes him sound like Dallas Royce on Suburgatory.
  • Still, in all other respects, Hathaway's a wonderful reader and I highly recommend her reading of the story.
  • The flying monkeys are handled a lot differently than the movie and are even more cool. I didn't think that was possible since they were always my favorite part of the film.
  • Related: the way the Wicked Witch of the West captures Dorothy is so much more awesome in the book. Yes, the monkeys come into play, but as a last resort after a few less-successful attempts in which Dorothy's companions prove how badass they really are.
  • I don't accept the Wizard's assertion that he's actually a good man, but just not a very good wizard. He's used deception to enslave his subjects, force them to build the Emerald City, and then serve him in fear. He never repents of this or comes clean to anyone who doesn't figure it out on her own. Nor does he allow those people to tell anyone else. He's a class-A jerk; just like in the movie.
  • The Wizard's gifts vary a little from the film and what he gives the lion is especially entertaining. Instead of a medal, he pours liquid into a bowl and tells the lion it's courage. Baum never explicitly refers to it this way, but that makes the substance "liquid courage," which is pretty awesome. Almost redeems the Wizard for me.
  • The book continues for a few chapters after the Wizard accidentally abandons Dorothy in Oz. The main quartet of characters (quintet, if you count Toto) travel South to visit Glenda the Good and see if she can get Dorothy home. It's an episodic part of the book as they have random adventures along the way, but a couple of characters' stories get tied up, so it's worthwhile. And as with all the adventures in the book, they're fun and interesting.
  • Glenda isn't the same witch who met Dorothy in Munchkinland at the beginning. This is vital, because it fixes one of my biggest complaints about the movie: that Glenda knew the magic slippers could take Dorothy home the whole time and kept it from her. In the film, Glenda just appears occasionally to move the plot along without any believable motivation. In the book, she tells Dorothy how to get home as soon as she meets her. She's much more Good.
  • My biggest problem with the film version though is that it's all a dream. That isn't the case in the novel. Oz is a real place with real borders; it's just surrounded by impassable desert, so no one knows where it is or can get to it without flying (which was much more difficult to do when Baum wrote the story).
  • That leaves open a lot of possibilities for future stories, which of course Baum used. I'm definitely going to keep going, but I haven't decided yet whether that's via book, audiobook, or comics adaptations. I'm getting the Eric Shanower/Skottie Young comics either way, so I'll probably start there and then decide later whether or not to read the original text.
  • The first of those comics should show up any day now.
(Image via Freaking News)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kill All Monsters!: Extended Cut



Outside of Robot 6 stuff, my most productive writing time this week has been working on some extra material for Kill All Monsters. We're adding a couple of pages and some bits of dialog that'll explain the world (and why the Kill Team is in Paris) a little more quickly than we did in the original webcomic pages. You'll start seeing the new stuff in Issue #2, coming to Artist Alley Comics as quickly as we can get it produced and inserted into what we already have.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Is Merida Brave or not?



SPOILERS BELOW

I finally got around to seeing Brave last week and I have mixed feelings about it. My expectations were high, but not unreasonably so, I don't think. Cars 2 notwithstanding, Pixar has an excellent track record and I loved how they marketed it as a female empowerment story without giving away much of the actual plot at all. That left a lot of room for surprises and I was hoping that Brave would do for girl power what The Incredibles did for superheroes and Ratatouille did for foodies.

There is a lot of girl power in the movie, but before I saw Brave I heard grumbling that it wasn't empowering enough. That it maybe made its female characters look good by making all the male characters look super dumb. I decided to lower my expectations for the movie's contribution to gender equality and just try to watch it as a movie about a girl who didn't want to follow the path her parents had set out for her. Everyone can relate to that on some level, so I hoped that I could enjoy it just for its message around that. Unfortunately, I was disappointed there too.

Brave has a lot of great pieces to play with. At the center of the film is the relationship between Merida and her mom, Elinor. Merida's dad goes along with whatever the Queen says, but it's really Elinor who has plans for Merida to be a traditional princess and follow the proper path towards marrying a noble son. Merida of course bucks against that and comes up with a way to change her fate (she hopes). Her plan involves some supernatural elements that I won't reveal, but look really cool. In fact, the whole movie looks really cool, but that's no surprise to Pixar fans by now.



There's a great story in there somewhere about having the courage (hence the title) to change your destiny. It's just that Brave never finds that story. There's magic, but there are no rules to the magic, so things just happen and don't make a lot of sense. Surely it's not spoiling anything to say that Merida and her mom eventually resolve their conflict, but it's impossible to pin down exactly when they do that. The whole story feels hasty and haphazard.

Since the central story is about Merida and Elinor's relationship, I paid the most attention to that and how the conflict is resolved, but I couldn't figure out where it happens. There's a cute montage showing them getting along after some tense interaction, but no moment where either gets any insight to the other's way of thinking. They have to work together to solve a particular problem and somewhere indefinable along the way, they decide to compromise. One gives a little, which leads the other to give a little, and by the end of the film, they've found their middle ground. It's enough to keep the story moving, but the message is no deeper than a call for compromise. I wanted dramatic revelations where mother and daughter finally understand each other. That never happens.

The title doesn't really work either. Merida gives a speech at the end about having the bravery to change your fate, but that's not actually what happens in the film. She's led to major decisions either by her own stubbornness or supernatural forces. Bravery implies courage in the face of fear, but there's never a moment in which Merida actually seems afraid of her future. She's angry about her mother's plans and refuses to go through with them, but she never resigns herself to that future long enough to let it frighten her. The only thing she ever seems afraid of (destiny-wise) is compromising with her mom. She does learn to do that, so that's brave, but it's the opposite of what her monologue claims. Is she brave because she compromised or because she changed her destiny? The movie shows us that its the former while claiming its the latter. Brave has a lot of cool stuff to work with - and you can enjoy it for those separate things - it just never puts everything together in a way that makes sense.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Superheroes are not Comics

My Twitter pal R. M. Rhodes wrote a lengthy post for Gutter Brawl on what he calls “The Scarlet Genre.” He’s talking about superhero comics and asked if I wouldn’t mind commenting on his thoughts.

Though he doesn’t directly explain it in the article, it’s obvious that Rhodes picked the title of his piece in reference to the scarlet letter that kept prejudiced people from interacting with Hester Prynne. His assertion is that the comics medium has become confused by mass audiences with the superhero genre and - like Prynne's embroidered mark - it keeps people who don’t like superheroes from interacting with all comics, regardless of genre.

Rhodes talks about how comics creators, publishers, and vendors need to market comics differently to correct that misperception and let the mass audience know that they have other choices. That’s all good and I agree with him to a certain point. Comics marketing is traditionally poor when it comes to reaching people who don’t already read and love comics. We can do better.

I disagree with him on a couple of things though. First, with the idea that mass audiences are turned off by comics because they think that all comics are about superheroes. The crazy successes of movies like The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises show that mass audiences do, in fact, love superheroes. That adoring audience almost never translates into new readers of superhero comics, but that doesn't mean that there's a problem with the genre. As Tom Spurgeon points out, comics people love to analyze this stuff and figure out What's Wrong With Us, but it's really as simple as "a lot of people like superhero movies and not as many like superhero comics." I talk to superhero fans all the time who love these characters every bit as much as I do (often more than I do), but simply prefer to watch them in movies or on TV. They're just not into comics.

The reverse is also true. There are a lot of eager comics readers who don't care at all about superheroes. I don't have numbers, but non-superhero publishers like IDW, Image, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, First Second, Archaia, and BOOM! seem to be doing very well with comics across a wide range of genres.

In fact, what I said about movie fans not becoming comics fans seems to be a problem limited exclusively to the superhero genre. The success of The Walking Dead alone proves that there's a huge audience willing to check out the comics that inspired their favorite TV shows and movies. Comics retailer Mike Sterling has written about how comics movies do in fact drive interest in the comics they're based on (especially if they're written by Alan Moore, but there was also huge demand for Sin City and Hellboy comics when those movies came out).

Where non-superhero comics have the advantage (specifically, non-corporate-owned superhero comics) is that it's much easier to find the story that directly inspired the film or TV show. Every time a new Marvel movie comes out, we see a gazillion lists posted (all different from each other) about which comics to buy if you want to read more about the character. Corporate superhero comics are fun for people willing to invest some time in them, but they're impenetrable to casual readers. That's a much more significant cause for disinterest than simply not liking superheroes.

My point is that superheroes don't equal comics. I agree with Rhodes that it's often the first genre that comes to mind in most people's minds, but it's a perception that's a) easily changed with some quick pop culture references and b) is changing more and more every day. In fact, I suspect that the perception problem isn't one that mass audiences have as much as a certain segment of comics fans does. I keep reading articles in which superhero comics are referred to as "mainstream," but I wonder if that's true anymore. I'd love for someone who isn't me to run the numbers and compare sales of all corporate-owned superhero comics (and graphic novels) to sales of everything else across all distribution outlets. I bet we'd be surprised at the results.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seven thoughts from the first half of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz



Anne Hathaway is still reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to me and we're about halfway done. More notes on the first half:

  • My memory of the movie is that the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion all have significant moments late in the story that show that they already have brains, heart, and courage. In the book, that happens almost as soon as you meet them and several times.
  • I'm not sure which I like better. I appreciate the drama of doing it later in the story, but it really is cool to see the Scarecrow figure things out before everyone else and to see the Lion being brave while claiming that he's not.
  • Unfortunately, the Woodsman's heart is limited to his crying over hurt animals, but okay.
  • I understand the special effects limitations of the film, but I'm sorry that they didn't include the Mouse Queen and her subjects. They make the poppy field scene a whole lot more fun and memorable.
  • I also dig how the Wizard calls each member of the group separately and appears as something different each time. 
  • Overall, I'm loving the book a lot more than the movie so far. 
  • It's really making me want to read the Eric Shanower/Skottie Young adaptation.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quote of the Day | The Writer at the Bar



By way of explaining what I've been doing today instead of blogging:
Michael Moorcock once commented that the man hanging around in the bar at night telling people he's a writer is not a writer, because if he were a writer he'd be at home writing.
--Warren Ellis.

I'm at home writing; finishing the Neal McDonough story. Have a great weekend, everyone!

(Image via Polished)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dracula series coming to Starz



A mixed blessing about being on the press list for San Diego was all the press releases I got leading up to the show and during it. While it made my inbox unmanageable for a few days, there were some cool things too like an announcement from Starz about the new show they're developing, Vlad Dracula.

J. Michael Straczynski is working on the series with producers Roy Lee (The Ring, The Woman in Black) and Rob Tapert (Xena, Spartacus). According to the press release, "The project is a unique spin on the classic tale, blending the historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia with the fictional Dracula. Vlad Dracula traces his evolution from a revered ruler to the world's most feared vampire, and his slow downfall as he struggles desperately to hang on to his humanity, his wife and his kingdom."

Anyone else up for that besides me?

Wonder Woman hates cephalopods. (Thanks, Ben Caldwell!)



I mentioned yesterday that Ben Caldwell gave me a really cool birthday gift at Comic-Con. This is it: Wonder Woman chopping the hell out of a cephalopod. Thanks again, Ben! It's almost as awesome as you are.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle now for sale



Remember that Tarzan documentary I mentioned earlier in the year? It's called Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle and tells the story of the shooting of the first Tarzan movie in the Louisiana swamps near Morgan City. Not only that, but filmmaker Al Bohl restored the classic, silent film and debuted it in Morgan City along with his documentary.

Well, both films are now available on a 2-disc DVD package directly from Bohl. I just ordered mine.


Disc One: 
Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle (Documentary - 1 hour 14 minutes)
Special Features:
  • Featurette: A Conversation with George T. McWhorter
  • Featurette: Atchafalaya Heritage
  • A collection of Tarzan yells from fans
  • The Audubon Zoo


Disc Two
Tarzan of the Apes (Silent Motion Picture - 1 hour)
This film has been re-edited for continuity. A new musical score by Kermit Poling has been added.

So, Mike, how was Comic-Con?

It was really awesome! We (Diane, David, and I) went with some friends of ours and stayed the whole week at a beach house near Mission Bay, about 20 minutes northeast of the convention center, so it was a few days of relaxing on the beach in southern California followed by a few days of insane convention chaos. Jolting, but totally fun.

Saturday

We flew in on Saturday and explored the area around our place, which was full of excellent restaurants and of course, the beach.



It was David's first time seeing the Pacific Ocean and my first time actually getting wet in it. I forget if Diane had been there before or not, but I don't think so. We took our first dip that night after getting some excellent Greek food at Arslan's Gyros. It's a great restaurant with a lot of atmosphere and an extremely friendly and helpful staff.


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Part 1 (Thank you, Anne Hathaway)



Been catching up today after being offline for most of last week. San Diego was awesome and I'll try to get a report up tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'm finally reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Or rather, Anne Hathaway is reading it to me. I'm enjoying it a lot, especially the difference between L. Frank Baum's version and the classic movie. For instance, I really like the small contingent of Munchkins at the site of the East Witch's death and how before Dorothy completely leaves Munchkinland, she stops off for a party at a remote farm. It feels more like Frodo sneaking out of the Shire than the huge production number from the film.

Also, Hathaway is awesome at the voices and her Scarecrow is especially funny and pleasant. I'm not too far in, but I'm looking forward to the rest now that I'm back in town and can listen in my car again.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Naked guys...sort of seem to be okay with cephalopods

While Michael's in San Diego for the Big Show, it's Cephalopod Week at the Adventureblog!



This was sent in by a reader. I don't know what's going on here, but it's Kaluta, so I'm not questioning it. It's awesome.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

Friday, July 06, 2012

Gone conventioning!



I'm leaving town early tomorrow for San Diego. It's part family vacation, part working gig for Comic Book Resources, but it'll keep me from doing any real blogging all next week.

Instead, we'll have a week of Cephalopod Hating and I'll update Twitter and Facebook as I can.

Hope you have a great week. If you're going to be at Comic-Con, let me know and let's meet up!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Legend from the Volcano Depths hates cephalopods



Especially ones that shoot laser beams from their tentacles. [Pulp Covers]

Rest in Peace, Andy



"The Manhunt" is pretty much the perfect Andy Griffith Show episode. It opens with a wonderful scene between Andy and Opie and quickly turns into a showcase for the best comedy team in the history of laughing. Andy wasn't just a great straight man to Don Knotts' amazing talent, he was a formidable comedian on his own. I miss you, Sheriff.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Defending The Patriot



I didn't get to last week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment about patriotic pop culture ("What movie, TV show, comic book, etc. makes you want to stand up and salute Old Glory? "), but if I had, I would've written about The Patriot. Today seems like a good day to catch up.

It's not cool to like The Patriot, especially these days after the Fall of Mel Gibson, but even back in the day it had a bad reputation as the American Braveheart. That's not fair.

I understand re-assessing Mel Gibson movies in light of his off-screen activities; I'm not going to say that people shouldn't do that. My problem is with faulting The Patriot for having a superficially similar theme to Braveheart. That's a shallow reason not to like a movie, especially when it has so much going for it.



I'm not going to defend Gibson's personal actions or statements, but there's no denying that the man can act and he brings it in The Patriot. I never related to Braveheart (I'm more of a Rob Roy man), but The Patriot goes into some themes that resonate with me in a powerful way. It's not just about revolution and fighting for what you believe in, it's about protecting your family and the sacrifices you have to make to do that.

Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin is deeply conflicted. He hates how England is treating the Colonies, but isn't willing to put his family in danger to support a revolt. As someone who never had to sacrifice anything for my privileges as a US citizen, I can relate to that. I can't think of anything that would make me sacrifice my family's security. What's amazing about Martin's experience is how it flips that protectiveness around and turns it into a reason to stay away from his family and join the revolution. Gibson struggles with his decisions in a powerful, relateable way, so by the time he's fully invested in the war, so am I. The Patriot helps me relate to grand themes like oppression and freedom by connecting them to something as simple and primal as love of family. It's a pretty obvious trick - and I can see why some are resistant to being manipulated that way - but even though I'm not easily roused by patriotic themes,it works on me.

The rest of the cast is as good as Gibson. Playing Martin's oldest son was the breakout role for Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You was the only thing anyone had seen him in up to then) and Jason Isaacs grabbed more attention than ever by being the most deliciously evil villain since Alan Rickman in Die Hard. The kids are all good (Skye McCole Bartusiak has an especially memorable moment as Martin's youngest daughter) and Joely Richardson is an inspiring heroine who holds the family together while Martin protects them in the war. Think I'm going to go watch it again right now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Pull List | Rethinking single-issue comics

Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1
I recently started buying single issues of comics again. Not because I feel like I'm hurting the industry by trade-waiting (I don't), but because it's more fun that way. A lot of writers and publishers are making obvious efforts to create a more rewarding experience out of buying single-issues.

The trouble is that I've just started adding series to my pull list willy-nilly without giving a lot of thought to what I'm doing. That's where this post comes in. I'm going to start assessing what I'm buying every week and make some choices. I need some limits, not only for budget reasons, but also to protect my time.

I've decided that a pull list of 20 series is pretty reasonable. That works out to about five, individual issues a week: a little over an hour of reading time and between $15 and $20. It doesn't include graphic novels and series that read better in collected form (BPRD, for instance). I'll have to assess those separately.

Saga #4
Last week, the single issues I bought were (in alphabetical order):

All-Star Western
Atomic Robo
Aquaman
Courtney Crumrin
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE 
Saga
The Spider

Of those seven, I know that I want four on my final list of 20.

I've been a fan of Atomic Robo since it started and though I also want the collections on my shelf where they're easy to get to, it's a comic that's really made to be read as single issues. I resisted buying both versions, but it always hurts me when I pass up the monthly version on the shelves. That tells me something.

Courtney Crumrin is another series I'm going to want to keep buying. I love Ted Naifeh's work in general and it's great to be able to read about his terrifying, but so-cool, little witch girl on a regular schedule. Plus, the individual issues feel like complete units, even though they're parts of a larger story.

Courtney Crumrin #3
I just decided last week to check out Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staple's Saga instead of waiting for the collection. I'm glad I did, because it reminded me how much I enjoyed getting a new installment of a BKV comic every month. This one is a space opera with fantasy and horror elements and there's a huge feeling that absolutely anything can happen from month to month. It's a brand new universe that needs exploring.

Finally, David Liss and Colton Worley's The Spider is a fantastic pulp-superhero series that I don't want to wait for.

The other three series are all on the bubble for various reasons. I really liked Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE when Jeff Lemire was writing it, and loved Matt Kindt's first issue for what it was. The problem is that Kindt changed some things in a way that jolted me a little. It's a speed bump I expect to be able to get over, but it shook my confidence some.

The Spider #2
I'm also generally enjoying Aquaman (I'm behind on it, but catching up), but I'm not fully sold on it yet. I'm tired of the constant reminder that Aquaman's a pop-culture joke and the series' defensiveness about that. There was also a fill-in issue in which Mera is sexually harassed in an unbelievable, ridiculous way just so she can show how tough she is by beating the guy up. In other words, the comic feels desperate; like it has to cheat in order to make its heroes seem cool. On the other hand, Aquaman's teamed up with a jungle girl, so that's pretty great.

I'm almost positive I'm done with All-Star Western. It keeps retelling the same story in different ways and after ten issues, I'm looking for something new. As I keep adding series to my 20 every week, I expect All-Star Western to fall off the list pretty quickly.

Here's how I rank these seven:

  1. Atomic Robo
  2. Saga
  3. Courtney Crumrin
  4. The Spider
  5. Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE
  6. Aquaman
  7. All-Star Western

Monday, July 02, 2012

Better living through The Hunger Games



I finally finished Mockingjay last week, wrapping up the Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven’t read the series yet, it’s as good as they say.

I have a couple of observations. First, it’s sad that some of the conversation around the series has gone off into Team Gale and Team Peeta territory. I’m tempted to also call it ridiculous, but honestly, I understand the temptation. Katniss spends a lot of time trying to untangle her feelings about these two guys and there’s no harm in hoping she’ll pick one over the other. In fact, I identified with Peeta early on and rooted for him.

But the books are about so much more than romance and it’s a crime to choose Team Favorite-Boy when the series is so obviously asking you to be on Team Katniss. Which lad she picks isn’t about who can make her eternally happy – an emotional state that’s never held up as a legitimate option in the first place – but about how Katniss sees herself. Gale knows her better than anyone else and she trusts him completely, but he’s so angry (justifiably so) at the state of the world. Choosing him represents taking comfort in the way she already sees the world.

Her other option is Peeta, a boy she doesn’t know except that he was once very kind to her. Peeta’s response to the world isn’t to rail against it, but to find peace within himself. Choosing him represents a huge leap into a scary and unfamiliar, but ultimately healthier world view. Yet another reason I wanted her to choose him. The better reason actually. I won’t give away what choice she makes (or even if she chooses either of them), but I will say that what she does felt entirely right for her when I read it. The series is nothing if not honest to its characters.



The books do have some issues though. Mockingjay has some exciting set pieces, but it also drags in several places. My biggest problem with the series though applies to all three books, even the consistently thrilling Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The trouble is that Katniss is kind of stupid.

By which I mean that it takes her a long time to figure out things that were pretty obvious to me, especially when it comes to trusting people who are trying to help her. And though it’s a problem because I’m yelling at the book, Suzanne Collins turns it into strength in a couple of ways. First, it’s entirely within Katniss’ character not to trust people. It's not really stupidity at all, but a strong survival instinct. She has no real reason to trust anyone except for Gale and her sister. I had to keep reminding myself of that, but my forgetting it doesn’t make it less true or less important an aspect of who she is and how she thinks.

Second, Collins kept fooling me too. She kept building my confidence (“Oh, that person’s totally on Katniss’ side. Why can’t she see that?”) and then breaking it down by throwing in something completely unexpected (“That person’s trying to kill Katniss? Where did that come from?”). Though I felt like I was mentally ahead of Katniss about 90% of the time, I was probably only right about what was going on about 50%. It’s that uncertainty that makes the series so captivating. I love not knowing what’s about to happen.



I’m a slow reader, so while I was working my way through Catching Fire (before I gave up and bought it on Audible to listen to in the car), a friend of mine read the entire series through about three or four times. I didn’t question her about it, but I wondered to myself what the attraction was. As I was reading, the series felt so much like it was about what was going to happen. Can Katniss change her world? Can she ever find peace? If so, how? With Gale? With Peeta? With neither? Once I reached the end, I expected to be done. Why would I want to re-read it when I already have my answers and can no longer enjoy being surprised?

But it was about two-thirds of the way through Mockingjay that I started feeling the desire to re-read the whole series again. Not for the mysteries, but just for the comfort of being in Katniss’ head in this fantastical, but completely real world that Collins created. It’s not a comforting world, but there are moments of comfort within it that – in contrast to the rest of what’s going on – brought me tangible serenity. It’s not that I’m learning by Katniss’ example (“If she can find a moment of comfort in her world, then I should be able to find some in mine.”); it’s that Collins is able to make me feel Katniss’ despair about the world, and then make me feel peace within that despair. That’s masterful. It creates a feeling and an experience that readers can take with them into their own lives. And who wouldn’t want to re-experience that a few times?

There’s a lot going on in the Hunger Games trilogy: commentary about war, about reality TV, about our attitudes towards those less fortunate than we are. Those are all important things for readers to think about and struggle with. But what the series is about to me is finding peace in the midst of suffering. Discovering joy within hopelessness. That’s something that everyone can use.

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