Matthew Furda's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

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Tales of Derring-do, Bad- and Good-Luck Tales

March 9th, 2011 by Matt · Uncategorized

As a kid, I grew up watching “DuckTales” on television–as I suspect many others in the class did.  Reading through selected stories from “Carl Barks’ Greatest DuckTales Stories” thus only deepened my appreciation for the series.  The introduction aptly pointed out that the animated series tended to adapt Barks’ original narratives with a slightly more explicit moral bent, undoubtedly because the series was aimed at children.  In that sense, what struck me the most about the comics (aside from the conspicuous absence of Scrooge’s Scottish accent) was the satirical tone that many of the stories employed, particularly in their respective resolutions.  The original comics make stabs at the follies of both capitalism and communism, and Barks likewise tempers his humorous portrayal of Scrooge’s absurd fixation on wealth with a hint of criticism.

As it were, I chanced upon this article about two weeks ago, and it just astounded me even more to see the influence that Barks’ comics have had on other media, from Japanese manga to modern American cinema. Moreover, it’s incredible to think that Barks–a man with no science background to speak of–was able to stumble upon scientific discoveries by pure coincidence. (The article is somewhat disingenuously-titled, since Scrooge plays more of a prominent role in these situations than Donald, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.)

Also, as an aside, I feel obligated to share some music from the absolutely wonderful DuckTales video game, released on the NES in 1989. Despite the limitations of the system, Scrooge’s personality comes shining through in all of its crotchety glory thanks to the masterful spritework of late 80’s Capcom. “The Moon” is perhaps the game’s most “iconic” piece of music, and with good reason–it’s awesome.

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The Power of Paper

February 28th, 2011 by Matt · Uncategorized

Last night in my Miyazaki ExCo, I had the pleasure of watching “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” (風の谷のナウシカ) for the millionth time… or something close to that, anyway.

With every viewing of a Ghibli film, I discover some new detail that I had not noticed before, or I come to the film armed with new knowledge that deepens my appreciation for the work as a whole.  Since we had just been discussing Lotte Reiniger’s “Prince Achmed,” her fascinating manipulation of paper cuttings to great expressive effect was fresh in my mind.  I was thus struck when I realized that the enormous isopods (known as Ohmu/王蟲) were likewise animated by sliding pieces of paper.

An angry Ohmu hot in pursuit of Nausicaä, flying on her glider

In the context of an animated film in which all other movements are hand-drawn, one might suppose that the Ohmu’s somewhat jerky motions would seem incongruous–and, to an extent, they do.  I would, however, argue that their anomalous method of movement visually reemphasizes the ideological divide that exists between the humans and the insects–the wild and fear-inducing “other.”  Moreover, given the segmented structure of these arthropods, I would also contest that sacrificing smoothness of animation adds a sense of realism to the way in which the audience views these fantastic creatures.

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February 21st, 2011 by Matt · Uncategorized

(“Welcome to Matt’s blog”)

The Joker welcomes you with open arms and a smile on his face

It’s 11:11 a.m. as I type this!  (That fact holds little significance for me, but I thought it a nice coincidence that might be worth pointing out.)

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