Nova Girls: Kissing Canvas

Nova girls kissing canvas at4w

March 24, 2014
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A photo comic that makes you embarrassed for everyone involved... except for maybe the "writer."

(Open on Linkara sitting on his Futon)

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to "Atop the Fourth Wall", where bad comics burn. So here's something I kept thinking we were going to run into on this show, but haven't until now: photo comics.

(Cut to an example of what he's talking about: "The Last Game Cartridge Hero")

Linkara (v/o): As the name implies, instead of having drawn or painted artwork to tell a story, it's done in photographs. I remember when I was a little kid and I got the Fox Kids Club magazine in the mail. They had "Power Rangers" and "Masked Rider" comics every once in a while that were photo comics.

(Cut to footage of Alpha's Magical Christmas)

Linkara (v/o): In fact, my first exposure to that Alpha's Magical Christmas thing I did a crossover with Lupa for, photo stills from that repurposed for a dumb little Power Rangers comic.

Linkara: And in case you're wondering, the children being at the command center got even less explanation in the photo comic than it did in Alpha's Magical Christmas.

(Cut back to shots of the Fox Kids Club magazine)

Linkara (v/o): I hesitate to call a photo comic lazy because honestly it's just taking another art form, photography, and using it for sequential art, which is already supposed to just represent people in a story. And hell, plenty of artists use models to try to create a more realistic-looking person in their own artwork.

(Cut to a photo-realistic painting of various D.C. superheroes posing proudly)

Linkara (v/o): Alex Ross comes to mind instantly with his beautiful photo-realistic paintings for stuff like Marvel's or "Kingdom Come".

(Cut to a comic of the Fantastic Four by Greg Land)

Linkara (v/o): On the other side of that spectrum, you have tracer extraordinaire Greg Land, who just like boxes the same damn photographs over and over and over, so a single woman on one page can have four different hairstyles because he's tracing over four different people. Oh, Greg Land, your day will come on this show. But let's get back to photo comics again.

(Cut to a montage of Italian comics, such as "Lancio Story" and "Sukia")

Linkara (v/o): In particular, the term apparently used for photo comics or photo novels is "fumetti", an Italian term meaning "puffs of smoke", referring to the dialog balloons. Although, for the Italians, fumetti are just comics, much like how "manga" is a Japanese word for "comics", the word is used in America specifically to refer to photo-based sequential art. And as I said, it's not necessarily lazy. Hell, lots of web comics use the idea to great effect, either for personally photographed stuff or something like "Darths and Droids", which rethinks all of Star Wars as a Dungeons and Dragons-style role-playing game, often making more sense than the actual movies.

Linkara: But like all different forms of comics, there are good ones, bad ones... and then just plain weird ones. So let's dig into (holds up the comic of discussion...) "Nova Girls: Kissing Canvas" and... (with uncertainty) try to wrap our heads around this.

(The title sequence is shown, after which we cut to the title card for this comic, while The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love" plays in the background; cut to the cover for the Nova Girls comic)

Linkara (v/o): The problem with any original photo comic featuring actual people is, how do you make the photos look good without appearing staged or stilted? Stuff that's an adaptation from a movie is easy enough; the single frame of a movie is already blocked in a way that makes it look natural. And then there's this cover. See, it's bad enough that all these women look very staged in the posing for this cover, but they couldn't even get them all centered. I've seen this kind of cover done dozens of times.

(Cut to a cover for a comic called "Brute Force vs. Heavy Metal")

Linkara (v/o): Hell, we've had it on the show once or twice, like "Brute Force #4"; two groups charging at each other.

(Cut back to the Nova Girls comic)

Linkara (v/o): It doesn't make any actual sense from a narrative perspective, but it's not supposed to, it's just supposed to look cool. But this comic has everything shifted slightly to the right, so there's this big empty space on the left. They might've been shifted down a bit, too, since one of the women on the right is barely on the page and looks like she's got a piece of paper stuck to the back of her arm. And said woman isn't even looking at her opponents; she's looking more towards the camera, as if they took the photo at the wrong time, like they were still setting up. Oh, and of course, there's the lack of a background, instead having kind of white, kind of pink, kind of orange fog and lots of black dots everywhere, like the paintbrush was dripping on its way someplace else.

Linkara: Now, given this comic's relative obscurity, most if not all of you are probably asking the same question: who are the Nova Girls? (chuckles) And if anyone out there has the answer, please tell me, because I found jack diddly about who they are.

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