20 Years of Protoculture

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This article was first published in Protoculture Addicts #94 (Nov.-Dec. 2007): 21-27. It was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the magazine. For this version, I have added a few details and corrections, and I have omitted some illustrations (but added some new ones), as well as removed the sidebars (Uh?! for episodes 1-6, Top Uh?!, Where are they now) and the articles’ index that were part of the original article.

It might be hard to believe, but this magazine has been in publication for twenty years. I, myself, am amazed by this fact. Twenty years already? It didn’t feel that long. But, yeah, I’ve spent nearly half my life working on Protoculture Addicts, and I don’t regret a single moment of it. Like any anniversary, it makes me nostalgic (well, the fact that I am listening to soundtracks from Macross, Mospeada and Robotech while writing this certainly add to this feeling). It makes me think of the good ol’ years, of friends that I have not seen in a long time. But there’s no time for melancholy— anniversaries need to be celebrated! In the past, when I wanted to do a special issue, I usually added more colour. 

Unfortunately, I cannot do that now since we are already full-colour and we are still not big enough to add goodies like a free DVD. However, I quickly realized that the best way to celebrate the magazine was to tell you its story. I am sure that, once you know a little more about where it’s coming from, you’ll better appreciate the magazine. After all, it started like an episode of Comic Party or Doujin Work—a crazy idea in the mind of a bunch of idle college kids. So please, gather around, be quiet (gee, I feel like Uncle Carl when he was telling one of his anecdotes), and listen to this very special anime story… 

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Bonne et heureuse année 2019

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En ce dernier jour du cycle solaire, je souhaite à tous que la nouvelle année vous soit meilleure et favorable en tous points. Que Janus veille sur votre passage vers cette 2772 ème année ab urbe condita (ou l’an MMXIX CE du calendrier grégorien, ou l’an Heisei 30 [平成30年]). Puissiez-vous vivre longtemps et prospérer…

On this last day of the solar cycle, I wish everyone a better and favourable new year in all respects. May Janus watch over your passage towards this 2772 nd year ab urbe condita (or the year MMXIX CE of the Gregorian calendar, or the year Heisei 30 [平 成 30 年]). May you live long and prosper …

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The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker

CompleteCartoonsNewYorker-covI acquired this phenomenally huge book in a sale earlier this fall and I paid only fifteen dollars for it. I have always liked the single-panel cartoons (often referred to as “gag cartoon”, in the likes of what you find in the series “For Dummies”, or in Herman or Bizarro, and, of course, in newspapers’ editorial cartoons) and the most iconic of those could be found in the magazine The New Yorker. So I was quite pleased with this acquisition. However, it is the type of nightstand book that you savour slowly and it took me a couple of months to go through its 655 pages and over 2,000 cartoons (about two weeks of actual reading). Unfortunately the used copy I purchased did not include the two CDs with all 68,647 cartoons ever published in the magazine (if so it would have taken me much more time to read!).

A New Yorker cartoon is usually made of one drawing (but sometimes of the sequence of two or three), plus a funny caption. Most of the time all the humour is in the caption… Here are some examples:

 

The cartoons are organized into the eight decades during which the magazine was published (from its founding in 1925 until the publication of the book in 2004) and each period is introduced by an essay by one of the magazine’s most distinguished writers: 1925-34 (introduction by Roger Angell), 1935-44 (Nancy Franklin), 1945-54 (Lillian Ross), 1955-64 (John Updike), 1965-74 (Calvin Trillin), 1975-84 (Ian Frazier), 1985-94 (Mark Singer) and 1995-2004 (Rebecca Mead). The book starts with an Editor’s Note by Robert Mankoff and a Forword by David Remnick, and concludes with an index of Artists.

In addition, for each era, you find a brief overview of a predominant theme (the depression, drinking, nudity, television, cars, the space program, slipper dogs, business culture, the internet and politics) as well as a brief profile (including a mini-portfolio) for a key cartoonist (Peter Arno, George Price, James Thurber, Charles Adams, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, George Booth, Jack Ziegler [about whom I’ve already talked], Roz Chast, and Bruce Eric Kaplan).

In a way, this book chronicles the history of the magazine, but also the history of the American society. Therefore, it is much more than just a funny reading as it provides great insights and understanding of the socio-politics of each era.

For me, the cartoons were funny most of the time (not LOL, but a chuckle or quiet giggle), but I also often didn’t get it (particularly the older ones — I guess culture change with time or the context was lost to us as sometimes you needed to be there to understand). However, I enjoyed reading this book immensely. If you have a chance, it is worth the time and therefore highly recommended. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblio MtlGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

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RBG

RBG-covI just watched this CNN documentary about the life of judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is really a historical crash course about the other side of the fight for civil rights: the legal aspect of the women’s lib movement in which RBG played an essential role. The film is composed of extracts of hearing and court proceedings as well as interviews with RBG, friends, family and some legal or political experts. We first learn how she became a lawyer in 1959 (Harvard and then Columbia) but couldn’t find employment because she was a woman. She taught law at Rutgers. Within the ACLU she co-founded in 1972 the Women’s Rights Project which oversaw hundreds of gender discrimination cases, RBG personally arguing six of them before the Supreme Court (winning five). It is incredible how such a small and frail woman could be so dedicated and determined to fight gender discrimination in any way necessary in order to slowly build up precedents and find justice.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter nominated her as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.. In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court where she played an iconic role. With the retirement of Justice O’Connor in 2006, she became the only woman on the court, until the nomination of Justice Sotomayor in 2009. First considered a moderate, she shifted toward the Left to preserve the balance as the court became more conservative. She is known for her dissenting opinion. She could be the last line of defence against the civil rights roll back by the Trump administration. Strangely, the appeal of her work and personality — through an Internet meme named Notorious R.B.G., which was comparing her to rapper Notorious B.I.G. — has given her great pop culture fame.

This is a great documentary that is fun to watch, but also very informative. I’ve learned a lot about American history. It is also a nice introduction to another movie about RBG’s life, this time a fictionalized account of her early days, titled On the Basis of Sex and which was just released this Christmas. RBG was well received as it earned a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.6 on IMDb. Therefore, it is highly recommended. I recorded it when it aired on CNN in September, but it is now available on Dvd (from Amazon or your local library) and can also be streamed on iTunes or Amazon Primestars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ Amazon PrimeGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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A place to call home S06

APlaceToCallHome-s06-covI just finished watching the sixth and final season of this Australian soap. It tells the story of the Blighs, a rich family of land owners from Inverness (New South Wales) whose life change forever after the chance encounter with a nurse on a cruise ship. Each member of the family will know love, grief and betrayal multiple times as they ride the wave of modernity emerging from the post-WW2 era (the Fifties). Some of them will have to come to term with the horrors of the war and they will all discover — and fight for, sometimes against their own prejudices — a large spectrum of human rights: gay rights, minority rights (Italians, Jews, Aboriginals) and women’s rights… It’s some sort of Australian’s Downton Abbey.

I am not a big fan of soaps (I watched them only with my wife) but this one is well written, endearing, it knows how to stir emotions and makes you reflects on our own society. It was very well received by the critics with a score of 100% (audience score of 85%) on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.3 on IMDb. I enjoyed it a lot myself, so I’d say it’s worth watching if you have the time (it has 67 episodes) and can find it (it plays on BBC Canada sometimes and the first five seasons are available on Dvd). stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoogleIMdBOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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