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FASHION ONLINE INSIDE THE BLACK LODGE TATTOO CATHERINE GRENFELL OPENS

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SPLICED MAGAZINE / ED'S NOTE / CALM SEAS NEVER MADE FOR SKILLED SAILORS

ISSUE 02

Calm seas never made for skilled sailors This has been a rough fucking issue [ You can say that again, CD]. There, I said it. And me being me I even got a tattoo to commemorate it, with the words “Calm Seas Never Made For Skilled Sailors”. I try and tell myself this when people are arguing about the cover (which looks amazing by the way, even though it took us way longer than it should have to decide on it!), people aren’t getting back to you about content and other deadlines are getting in the way of me finishing my own writing. I have no doubt that some of it has to do with end of year blues and stress. Tempers are running high for everyone as we all just want to finish up the year and go on holiday, but there’s still work to be done, and so we take it out on those around us. Just like last month where Chris wrote our Last Word last, this month I’m writing the Ed’s Note last. Chris was laying out the magazine right up till the wire with Tim editing the cover up until the day before. After reading this issue I’m pretty sure you’ll have to admit that it came together amazingly well.

LETTERS

We'd love to hear from you, so if you have any comments, ideas or criticisms drop us a mail at ed@splicedmagazine.com and we'll feature them in forthcoming issues of Spliced. Who knows, the best letter might even win a prize. Nudge, nudge. Wink wink, say no more, say no more.

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I hate telling people I work well under pressure, it sounds like I’m trying to say to them, “Give me more work, I love it, I thrive on it!” This is not in fact true. I don’t want you to give me more to do, I want to tick off the things on my list without the burden of adding to it, with the ultimate goal of getting everything done so I can go and play games. Nevertheless it seems that all of us are in fact very good at working under pressure. In the final week leading up to the deadline myself, Chris and Tim were in almost constant communication via Google Chat, Skype and Whatsapp. I knew that if I was sitting working late into the night, they were as well, and while I might be exhausted by the end of it, I

know I’m not alone and I have an amazing team that helps bring this together for what is now the second issue of the best magazine in the world. Because I say so. Much like our inaugural issue, we’ve gone out and made sure that out 100% original content is interesting and relevant to our readers. This month we celebrate local talent in music, fashion and game development; bring on board the amazing Catherine Grenfall as our guest Blackbeard; look at some of our favourite superheroes through the ages and mourn the passing of a great leader. In fact, this issue is actually bigger than last issue, and I didn’t think that was possible. As usual we also have loads of great competitions, so make sure you enter and you could win things that I’d really rather keep for myself but which I’ve been told I actually have to give away. Including a lightsabre. Yes, really. 

Pippa Tshabalala { Editor }


SPLICED MAGAZINE /

ISSUE 02

CONTENTS

COVER PHOTOGRAPHER

Tim Hulme www.timhulme.com

Pop culture & lifestyle

MODEL

Ana Trujić from heads models www.headsmodels.co.za/

CREDITS

HAIR AND MAKEUP

Sam Scarborough CATWOMAN OUTFIT

Wae West www.facebook.com/waewestcouture LOCATION

Randlords JHB

Splice (verb)  

splice [pronounced: splahys], spliced, splic·ing, splic·es to join or unite.

EDITOR Pippa | Tshabalala pippa@splicedmagazine.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Chris | Savides chris@splicedmagazine.com SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER Tim | Hulme tim@splicedmagazine.com WRITERS Amanda | Stone Grant | Hinds Isaac | Kosmides Marco | Cocomello Ray | Whitcher Dane | Remendes Caitlin | Geng Miklós | Szecsei Ivo | Visic Catherine | Grenfall Tauriq | Moosa Sarah | Browne CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Natalie | Propa Kevin | Momberg ADVERTISING info@splicedmagazine.com WEBSITE www.splicedmagazine.com SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook.com/splicedmagazine Twitter @SplicedMag © 2013/2014 Spliced Magazine All rights reserved. No article or picture in this magazine may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form whatsoever without the express written consent of the publisher. Opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or the editors. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the sole property of their respective owners.

We're saving the trees by going digital, you're welcome.

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{ Regulars } 6

Ed's Note

176

Last Word

{ Opinion } 12

Why the face?

64

Drawing Conclusions

108 While we’re on the subject of… 158

Grant’s got game

{ Cover Feature } 62

CATWOMAN AND THE GREAT OWL HEIST What happens when Catwoman is asked to break into the headquarters of an ancient organisation?

{ Tech } 14

MINI REVIEWS / Gadgets, glorious gadgets!

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REVIEW / Nintendo 2DS

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REVIEW / Fujifilm XF1

{ Lifestyle } 24

Night of a 1,000 Drawings

28

Skullboy

32

Freeny’s Anatomy


SPLICED MAGAZINE /

ISSUE 02

CONTENTS

62 36

Blackbeard’s Chest

40

Music / F-Stop

41

Music / Pearl Jam

42

Oh One One

48

The Black Lodge

52

A Love Story

{ Comics } 86

FEATURE / Super Collector / Smallville Comics

90

FEATURE / 75 years of Superman

98

Objects of Desire

{ Stuff } 110

FEATURE / The Evolution of Batman

118

FEATURE /The science of the Lightsabre

{ Movies }

{ Gaming } 160

FEATURE / Gaming stretches

162

Mini Reviews

164

REVIEW / Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

168

REVIEW / Call of Duty: Ghosts

172

REVIEW / Battlefield 4

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FEATURE / The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

132

FEATURE / Home for the Holidays

136

BAD MOVIE NIGHT / The 25th Reich

{ Competitions }

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REVIEW / The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Oh One One voucher giveaway

142

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REVIEW / Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Batman: Arkham Origins collector’s edition giveaway

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REVIEW / The Hunger Games

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Smallville Comics Superman hamper

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REVIEW / The World’s End

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The Dark Carnival Lightsabre giveaway

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Illustration by Natalie Propa. Go to www.flickr.com/photos/ladypropa/ for more.

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ISSUE 02

SPLICED

CHAPTER

01 being

Technology

14 MINI REVIEWS / Gadgets, Glorious Gadgets! 18 REVIEW / Nintendo 2DS 20 Review / Fujifilm XF1

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SPLICED LIFE /

ISSUE 02

COLUMN

01/04 Why the face?

Technology: everybody’s favourite scapegoat…

by Amanda Stone Freelance Multi-media Tech Journalist and Content Producer. Blogger and owner at www.PrettyMassive. com. Appreciates Tim Burton f ilms, gangster rap, and badly stuffed animals.

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ISSUE 02

COLUMN

I remember having to prepare a formal speech for my matric oral grade. We could speak about whatever we wanted to, on condition we presented a well constructed, convicting argument – all in three life changing minutes! In my speech, I enthusiastically labeled the media as being the primary cause of low self-esteem in teenagers - pointing out all of its obvious “evils”. (Quick disclaimer: I was sixteen at the time!) The argument was a popular, simple one that I’d heard many times before. What is more, loads of older and smarter people believed this, so it was clearly fact! Duh! Yes… Once upon a time I wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. My ignorant (but well intentioned) opinions back then have been brought to mind recently by similar opinions with which I’ve been confronted. I’m referring most specifically to the idea that “Technology is causing society as we know and love it to disintegrate, and is single-handedly breaking down the moral fabric of relationships” blah blah fish-paste. Yeah. That argument. Let’s go there. Bless the folk adhering to this interesting train of thought; they mean no harm, I’m sure, and I respect them for having an opinion to begin with. But it seems, to me at least, that technology has fast become the new “root of all evil”, a.k.a. convenient scapegoat for our poor decisions and lazy nature, and I include myself in this delightful collective!

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Like Spiderman once said: (and there’s no arguing what Spiderman said), “with great power comes great responsibility”. [Well technically that was Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, and it actually predates Spiderman, but let’s not quibble, Ed] Technology doesn’t make people rude and antisocial (unless it’s a broken kids toy stuck on repeat, in which case there are no guarantees). It may lend itself to abuse by people resulting in negative outcomes, but that it doesn’t deem technology “bad” by essence of its very nature.

In fact, let’s play devils advocate for a moment. On a personal level, I’ve found that while living abroad, technology and social media (Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp etc) only helped to bridge the gap between myself and my family and friends while I was away. This is because these social networks allow one to surreptitiously witness daily on goings in the lives of friends and family that would never make it into irregular catch up conversations. Obviously witnessing life via Facebook is no excuse not to keep in touch via Skype or phone calls - but it does arguably allow for a far more meaningful connection once in conversation with somebody! Instead of doing the catch-up dance (fact-check style), you are able to spend time asking about how people are really doing, instead. Remember, even carrots can be bad for you if they are all you eat (your skin turns orange when this happens – it’s a real thing – I checked). It is easy to label technology as evil because certain people may act irresponsibly with it. True. But keep in mind that it’s often difficult to place responsibility on the people we love when an unsuspecting, inanimate object can effectively disguise the real issue. This puts poor technology in a pretty vulnerable position. A position that perhaps, it hasn’t actually earned. I’m just saying… 

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SPLICED TECH /

MINI REVIEWS / GADGETS, GLORIOUS GADGETS

ISSUE 02

Gadgets, Glorious Gadgets Stuff we had lying around. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. by Amanda Stone

Samsung Galaxy Gear Samsung’s new smart watch, the Galaxy Gear, dons a rather stylish solid metal construction and a rubber strap in one of a variety of colours. It features a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED 320 x 320 screen, which is also bright enough to read in direct sunlight. On the strap is a 1.9-megapixel camera that takes fairly decent pictures. The watch also allows users to take calls, send texts and perform other tasks from your wrist without touching your phone – provided your phone is within reach. It is designed to pair with the Galaxy Note 3 and while it can be used solo, a fair amount of its features become redundant. Samsung has also promised extending connectivity beyond this to other devices in its range, including the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2. Available from: Samsung stores Price: R4599

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MINI REVIEWS / GADGETS, GLORIOUS GADGETS

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Now more powerful than ever, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is officially hot property. While it is slimmer and lighter than the previous Galaxy note, it still features a longer lasting, 3200 mAh battery. It also sports an impressive 13 megapixel rear-facing camera with smart stabilization and a 5,7inch full HD screen. A bouquet of fun new features includes new S pen capabilities and a rather nifty multitasking multi-window feature. The new look leather-like back cover is also seriously sexy. And it’s available in black, white and pink. Available from: Samsung stores Price: R8999

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MINI REVIEWS / GADGETS, GLORIOUS GADGETS

ISSUE 02

Apple ipod Touch 5th Gen At 6mm thin and super light, the Apple iPod touch 5th gen slips easily into your pocket or bag for fuss-free listening on the go. It has a 5 megapixel iSight camera, for snapping stunning shots while out and about, and also allows for HD video recording. Other features include Wi-Fi, access to the App Store, iMessage, Facebook integration, and FaceTime. This nifty gadget is available in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB models, and comes in a variety of bright colours. Available from: iStores nationwide Price: From R2999

Canon Legria Mini Camcorder This one’s for all the social media junkies out there. The Legria Mini is a compact, palm sized digital camcorder. It allows users to film high quality vlogs, thanks to the built in stand and wide angel lens and 12.8 MP camera. Users can upload their vlogs directly to YouTube and other online platforms compliments of Wi-Fi connectivity. It also has an adjustable viewing screen, which means users are able to see what they are shooting without having to be behind the lens. Other features include a built-in stereo mic and time-lapse recording options. Available from: Orms Pro Photo in CT & Cats digital in Gauteng Price: R3699

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ISSUE 02

MINI REVIEWS / GADGETS, GLORIOUS GADGETS

Nokia 1520 Nokia’s first large screen smart phone, the Lumia 1520, features a generous 6-inch display with a 1920x1080 resolution. As a function of its size, it allows for an extra row of app tiles to be displayed on the windows OS home screen (as opposed to the smaller Nokia smartphone models). It sports a ridiculously impressive 20MP PureView rear facing camera, 2Gb of RAM, a 720p HD screen made with Gorilla Glass 3, and a quad core Snapdragon processor plus expandable storage capacity of up to 64GB. Nokia's also bumped up the microphone count to four on this not so little gadget, supporting stereo audio capture. But perhaps best of all… Its battery charges wirelessly via a charging pad. Available from: COMING SOON Price: TBC

GoPro Hero 3+ GoPro’s most advanced camera ever, the GoPro 3+ offers a host of new features as well as improved image quality, battery life, and a 20% smaller and lighter body than its predecessor. It can capture 12 megapixel stills at up to 30 frames per second, making it ideal for fast action sequences. Different video mode settings allow for smooth slow motion playback. The little camera also sports a four times faster Wi-Fi connection than the previous model, and improved audio with advanced wind-noise reduction technology and shoots in up to 4K. Users can also control the camera using the GoPro app, as they would with a remote, and then upload photos and videos directly to various online platforms. Available from: www.actiongear.co.za Price: R5999

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ISSUE 02

REVIEW / NINTENDO 2DS

by Amanda Stone

NINTENDO 2DS Seems that this Christmas Nintendo have turned up the heat in the console wars department – by releasing a console so simple, it might just be genius. RRP / R1,499   ONLINE / www.nintendo.co.za

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he new Nintendo 2DS has gone forwards by going backwards. Counter intuitive? Perhaps. Effective? Definitely. For starters, the 2DS has adopted a slate like shape, a strictly 2D viewing experience, and no longer folds up into a pocket compatible form. The super lightweight hand-held gaming device also now features a 4GB SD card – giving gamers even more room (2GB exactly) for games than before. It also sports Wi-Fi connectivity and a touch screen for fuss free input, and comes with a charger.

Not only are players able to play online with their friends and other avid gamers, but they’re also able to put their 2DS on Sleep Mode when stepping away from the console. This allows for data exchange between players within the game - without the player even being present. Along with the regular touch screen controls, the 2DS now also features motion sensors, gyro sensors and augmented reality capabilities. But arguably best of all? The 2DS is backwards compatible, allowing users to still play all their favorite 3DS

The 2DS still allows for players to swap game data with other players using the StreetPass function. And SpotPass keeps players up to date with all the latest game content, videos and news!

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SPLICED TECH /

ISSUE 02

REVIEW / NINTENDO 2DS

TECH SPECS

Even though it has a 2D screen, the 2DS is still able to take 3D pictures to display on a 3D-capable device.

• Wi-Fi connectivity • Stereo speakers • Expandable storage capacity of up to 4 GB with the SD card slot • 0.3MP rear facing and 0.3MP front facing camera • Touch screen • Backwards compatible

games (as well as most DS games available) on this basic console. So there’s no need to sacrifice any beloved gaming collection. Big points here Nintendo! Big points! And in case you weren’t yet sold, eShop access is available on the 2DS as well. Unfortunately, however, the new 2DS doesn’t have a power saving mode (sniffs). And it does feel slightly more plastic-y than we are used to. Having a permanently exposed screen can be problematic at times. BUT, for this price? We really aren’t about to complain! 

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VERDICT

In a nutshell, the new Nintendo 2DS is a revised, more budget-friendly version of the 3DS. It’s an excellent buy for those who want a basic handheld console but don’t need any of the frills, or for those who want something simple, robust and affordable for the kids.

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SPLICED TECH /

ISSUE 02

REVIEW / XXX

by Pippa Tshabalala

FUJIFILM XF1 CAMERA Should a camera be about looks or functionality, and can you have both? RRP / R4,999   ONLINE / www.fujifilm.co.za/products/digital_cameras/x/fujifilm_xf1/

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he Fujifilm XF1 falls somewhere in the realm of awesome design mixed with solid photo quality and performance, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything other than a point-and-shoot camera. Design wise the XF1 is covered in synthetic leather, which adds a rather unique look to the body and sets it apart from other similarly classed cameras. The rest of the body is aluminium, which means it’s both light and fairly strong (although we wouldn’t recommend throwing it around!). It shoots in both JPEG and RAW, and has both manual and semimanual shooting modes. The picture quality is pretty good as this sports a

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12-megapixel 2/3-inch EXR CMOS image sensor, which is larger than you would find in a typical camera of this class. It means you have some additional flexibility when it comes to using the ISO settings above ISO 200. If you make use of the f1.8 aperture however, you can shoot with less light without immediately needing a higher ISO, and the XF1 will surprisingly give you quite good low light results. The colours are bright and vivid with this camera although they can tend towards oversaturation at times, but if you’re prepared to play around with the settings or in post to get it right then this might not be an issue.


SPLICED TECH /

ISSUE 02

REVIEW / XXX

TECH SPECS • 12 Megapixel • Internal memory of approximately 25MB / SD memory card • Records still images (JPEG/RAW) and HD video (H.264) with stereo sound • Fujinon 4x optical zoom lens • 3inch LCD monitor • Self-timer • NP-50A Li-ion battery (included)

It took somewhere in the region of 6 adults (none of us luddites in any way) to figure out how to turn this camera on. Seriously. It even became something of a challenge to see if anyone could figure it out.

In order to actually turn the XF1 on, you have to twist and then pull the lens out from the front of the camera, and it will automatically switch on.

The video quality is HD and although you won’t be shooting feature films on this baby, it’s good if you’re just using it for small video clips. The audio is clear and loud if you’re in a low noise environment but obviously this is a built in microphone, so if you’re filming in a noisy space you’re likely to get a fair amount of interference. The XF1 shoots pretty quickly, less than a second with very little lag. If you’re shooting in RAW that will be bumped up slightly but overall the performance is impressive enough. 

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VERDICT

The Fujifilm X-F1 is a good looking retro camera, although don’t think you’ll stand a chance against a professional photographer with it. It’s a social, happy snap point-andshoot camera with good picture quality. Although it’s supposed to be an innovative feature that adds to the retro appeal, we really didn’t like the method of powering the camera up which involves twisting and pulling out the lens physically. Available in tan, black or red.

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Illustration by Natalie Propa. Go to www.flickr.com/photos/ladypropa/ for more.

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ISSUE 02

SPLICED

CHAPTER

02 being

Lifestyle

24

40

Night of 1000 Drawings

Music / F-Stop & Pearl Jam

28

42

Skullboy

Oh One One

32

48

Freeny’s Anatomy

The Black Lodge

36

52

Blackbeard’s Chest

A Love Story

02/06 23


SPLICED LIFE /

EXHIBITION / NIGHT OF A 1,000 DRAWINGS

ISSUE 02

Night of a

1,000 Drawings E

ach year we wait in anticipation for the Night of 1,000 Drawings, the innercity upliftment concept that does what very few others have managed to do – get 1,000’s of people to take action in the name of charity. How? By doodling. Doodling! The brief is easy: anyone can draw anything, with anything, on anything A5 sized and send it in. Unsurprisingly, since the first exhibit in 2006, the event has gone global with events in Amsterdam, Dubai, and early next year - Bloemfontein. The recent Joburg edition received over 3000 submissions from daytime doodlers spanning Soweto to Munich. The result: a paper jungle of illustrated delights. The beauty of it - each is given

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Photography by Tim Hulme

credence. A five year olds scrawl hangs cheerfully next to that of a seasoned pro, and the one is often as enchanting as the other. Similarly, the pricing is standard 100ZAR for a scribble. And that’s the beauty of it; each is given its moment regardless of skill level or resultant social standing. Each is a joyful moment put on paper. But be warned, for all the well-meaning ideology, the event itself can get feral, with people tussling ruthlessly for their personal favourites. Groomed hipsters unashamedly elbow each other wielding numbered stickers for the inevitable crème of the creative crop. That’s where the ubuntu ends, albeit momentarily or until someone else gets there first.


SPLICED LIFE /

EXHIBITION / NIGHT OF A 1,000 DRAWINGS

ISSUE 02

We caught up with the originator

Felix Frankenberger. You’re now based in Munich – is 1,000 Drawings your main area of focus?

I wish! 1,000 Drawings is my passion, my hobby. I am a CRM consultant by day…. Are you an artist yourself?

At heart. Huge interest in art… I doodle a bit for myself… Of all the events since the first in 2006, have there been any standout moments for you?

Too many! The first one will always be the most special as we had no expectations and just did it out of desperation. Never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate that we would be accepted by the public the way we were. The energy was just amazing. All events till now have had special and unique aspects to them. Just working with people and getting them together is just wonderful. The works are often anonymous – is there a reason for this?

No. Mostly people forget to put on their contact details. Often they add details in a separate letter or sticker which gets lost…

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SPLICED LIFE /

EXHIBITION / NIGHT OF A 1,000 DRAWINGS

There were some big names in the art world rumoured to have been hidden amongst the stacks – care to share who volunteered their artistry in the name of charity?

Pat Mautloa, Anthea Moys (Standard Bank Young Artist 2013)… The event showcases some of the best talent in professional local illustration & photography – is there anywhere people can look up their favourites from the events?

We have created a database of all the contact details we received from the artists that have contributed. There were a multitude of doodle sessions happening across the city over the last few months – are they organised by yourselves or by individuals just wanting to get involved?

Predominately by ourselves, however, more and more people and organisations invite us for doodles or ask to host one on our behalf. This year we even had doodles in Spain and Munich to support our Joburg event. How can people get involved for the upcoming Cape Town & Bloemfontein events?

Doodle, Doodle, Doodle… If someone wants to get more involved e.g. sponsorship, donations in kind volunteering they should contact us and we will facilitate (info@1,000drawings.co.za)

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How have the international events fared comparatively?

Amsterdam, Belgium, Cape Town have all taken a very unique flair to their own events, which I personally love. Amsterdam is quickly beginning to become big and popular, with people all over the world flying in to be part of it. Are you looking to spread the love further afield?

We are always dependent on volunteers that are prepared to take on this responsibility. They need to have the same vision and required skills and contacts to host this event (as we don’t have a budget). It is not in my control, but yes, the vision is to have this event in as many cities around the world as possible and just help the charities that desperately need funds to operate.

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SPLICED LIFE /

EXHIBITION / NIGHT OF A 1,000 DRAWINGS

ISSUE 02

Do you receive any external funding for the project?

We had a few smaller donations, but still looking for a larger sponsor to jump on board. Who’s it all for?

Paballo, our main charity, continues to feed and support homeless people living in the innercity every week. Entirely run and funded by volunteers and donors, they need all the help they can get. These volunteers will be working at the Night of a 1,000 Drawings. http://www.paballo.org.za Mmabana: Mmabana began when one of Paballo’s success stories - Nosiku Kalonga returned to her home of Choma in Zambia and decided to create an organisation that would do for the children of Choma, what Paballo had done for her in Johannesburg. Now in its fourth year, the Mmabana Community Outreach Programme is supported by the Mmabana Foundation based in Johannesburg. http://www.mmabana.org/ Intuthuko Embroideries is a community engagement project in Etwatwa, a rural township near Springs. 40 previously unemployed women have learnt to embroider a variety of products, the most popular of which are their colourful bags. At first their

"Never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate that we would be accepted by the public the way we were." sales meant they were able to suddenly afford basic 'luxuries' like some lipstick and a new dress. Today most of them are the sole breadwinners in their families. This includes single mothers with paraplegic children and people living with HIV/AIDS. The women's main income is from the stall they run at the Rosebank fleamarket, which has now closed down without warning for the rest of the year due to renovations at the mall. This means that 40 extended township families are now effectively without an income they have come to rely on, as they live in an underdeveloped area where job opportunities are scarce. Intuthuko is run by Arts Interaction (artists/facilitators/ project managers Celia De Villiers

and Hester Viles). The project facilitators' salary is paid by the waste management company Enviroserv. Very supportive over the years, a few years ago they "reshuffled their funding priorities", resulting in huge budget cuts that have certainly led to the current crisis. Intuthuko do not have a website, as the women do not understand why they need one (they own a laptop with internet access, but that is mainly used by their admin group members). Its democratic nature is also the challenge with making the project sustainable in the long run. You can see some of their work on Flickr. www.flickr. com/photos/africanthreads/ sets/72157610425154636/ with/3644046295/ Outreach foundation in Hillbrow – www.outreachfoundation.co.za 

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ISSUE 02

CREATIVE PROFILE / SKULLBOY

by Isaac Kosmides

Skullboy is the kind of artist you want to have a beer with. His work is dirty, unpretentious, and above all, unwaveringly honest. A graphic designer by day in the balmy subtropics of KZN, by night his alter-ego is found creating high-contrast works designed to brazenly peek beneath the skirts of our most human conditions. Last year he managed to get 100’s of anonymous participants to share the details of their first times. He then illustrated their intimacies in large format and exhibited in Durban. Isaac Kosmides asks him how he did it; and what’s next…

You often post pages from your sketchbook, is that were it all starts for you? My process really starts with a handful of ideas bubbling at the back of my head. Due to time constraints during my day, I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like in my sketchbooks so I’ll carry an idea around for a few days and develop it in my head before I actually get a chance to put it down. Initially you were decidedly protective over your identity, is Skullboy the Superman to your Clark Kent? These days, it’s no epic secret who the identity of ‘Skullboy’ is. I still use the alias mostly out of habit and also for the simple fact that ‘Skullboy’ gets to say and do things that my 9-5 self can’t. I get to blame all the dirty words and drunk nights on ‘Skullboy’.

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CREATIVE PROFILE / SKULLBOY

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Where does the pseudonym come from? I’ve always had sketchbooks as a kid but graffiti was what gave me a real direction and interest in what I’m doing now, so obviously as soon as you pick up a spraycan you have to adopt some bizarre alterego. A few years and a few aliases later, ‘Skullboy’ is the one that stuck. So I’ve been working as ‘Skullboy’ since about 2006/7 and regret choosing that name every day. Your work often dances along the border between pessimistically dark and idealistically vulnerable (take for example the collaboration with Lesley Tuchten on ‘Tar Heart’). That’s what I think makes you so intriguing as an artist. Would you say your work’s an accurate portrayal of your view of the world? Yeah of course – I constantly use my work to analyse my own beliefs and opinions. I think it all stems from an interest in the human race. I’m still trying to get my head around how we as people (myself included) are so incredible and dynamic but yet have this unwavering ability to completely fuck things up. Humans really are a terrible species. We’re all fucked, we’re always going to be fucked, we’re just sitting around waiting to see how we can invent new ways of fucking things up.

Your 2012 exhibition, You & Me (A Series Of First Times) is one of those ‘I wish I thought of it first’ concepts and essentially a collaboration with 100’s of anonymous participants. Tell us about the experience, and how it all came together. That project came together after a few drunken conversations with friends about ‘our first times’. It was an eye-opener and a real treat to be let into people’s most intimate milestones. From there, I basically took research from anonymous participants at a few local bars and gathered stories of their sexual debuts. From those, I created 100 artworks based on the research. It was a long, hard and emotionally taxing project but it was fuckin’ worth it. It certainly didn’t bring me the art world recognition I thought it would but it certainly helped me understand people a lot better.

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CREATIVE PROFILE / SKULLBOY

You also published a book of the project – where can people get hold of it? They can get hold of a copy from me at R300 each excl postage. Just contact ssSkullboy@gmail. com - signed and numbered 1 of 350. Shameless self promotion over! In ‘A Sum of Parts’ you started working in textiles and embroidery. You’ve also shown skateboards, T-shirts, street art – do you have a preferred medium/platform? Usually I’m happy as a clam using pencil and a sizey sheet of Fabriano but I think the diversity in medium is what keeps things fun and interesting. If art’s not fun then what’s the fucking point? Do you get attached to your work and do you have any standout favourites? Obviously there’s a very strong emotional connection with what I do but what my years doing street art and graffiti have taught me is not to be too precious about my work. There’s definitely a few favourites, but all for different reasons. On your blog you alluded to a recent trip to Hong Kong. What happened while you were there? I went across to Hong Kong to visit some friends and check out the vibe. It was an awesome trip but I don’t think it was particularly ‘cultural’. Just skating, tagging, drinking and getting up to mischief with my mates. I was lucky enough to do a few murals and a live painting event with the awesome people at Above Second Gallery. Yeah, it was a fun trip, man. What’s next? Busy working on the 2nd issue of Art Wurld with Russell Grant and then the branding for the Durban Night festival. Not particularly ‘arty’ shit but still fun. Yeah: Work, work and work.

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CREATIVE PROFILE / SKULLBOY

ISSUE 02

As an artist and graphic designer, where do you draw the boundary (if any) between the two? Designers like to think that we’re ‘artists’ but the fact is that we’re a visual service provider. Art is pointless and completely self-indulgent whereas design has a very specific function with very specific outcomes in mind. Obviously I’d love to flitter my days away in an art studio somewhere but there’s bills to pay and I genuinely love what I’m doing. I work at an awesome agency called Modern Museum in Durban which keeps me very happy and very busy. My art spills over into my design and vice versa – it’s all the same motion, you know. It’s like with a Bengal tiger: those same jaws that kill and maim are also used to pick up cubs without leaving a scratch. So during the day, I do my work and it’s fun and it’s got some sort of purpose in the world, but at night, I’m fuckin’ tearing out throats, man. You’re based in KZN. How do you feel it fares creatively with Joburg or Cape Town? We’ve got the talent but we’ll never (ever) have the infrastructure. I’m slowly learning this. I love Durban and it’s an awesome place to live but if you want any form of ‘alternative’ career, you’re fucked homie. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Late nights, sexual misadventures, friends making the most of their youth, dying. Where can people see more of what you do? www.Skullboy.co.za 

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CREATIVE PROFILE / JASON FREENY

The anatomy of fun

Freeny's Anatomy Jason Freeny has an obsession with anatomy, or to be more specific, the anatomy of toys. He hand sculpts the internal organs and bones of your favourite toys creating amazing artworks to delight you and gross out unwanted visitors. SPLICED MAGAZINE: You started off your career by doing erotic pin-up illustrations for the likes of Heavy Metal, Juxtapoz magazine and Penthouse to mention just a few. Do you miss those days of hand painting beautiful girls? JASON FREENY: Sometimes, but there's nothing really stopping me from doing it again. Art happens when you want to get an idea out of your head and into physical real life. After you explore certain subjects over and over you want to move on to new things and I have. It’s only a matter of time until I again move onto new discoveries... SM: After your pin up era you worked for a year as a toy designer. I think most of our younger

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versions of ourselves would think that a dream job, what was it like? JF: There were certain fun parts, like brainstorming time where the sky was the limit on ideas. Throwing anything on the table to see where it would pan out, after that it was sticking your heels in the mud and working like any other job. SM: What was the spark that gave you the idea to do your now famous anatomy sculptures and art? JF: I was using balloon animals in some of my personal illustrations, treating them as living creatures. I thought it would be really interesting to see what the skeleton of a creature made with balloon shapes would look like...


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CREATIVE PROFILE / JASON FREENY

Sackboy

Super Mario

Mickey Mouse

LEGO man

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SM: You have a great understanding of anatomy and the internal organs, was it something you actively set out to learn? JF: No artist knows everything about everything. Being resourceful in research becomes part of the process when creating. I’ve always been a big fan of finding out how things work on the insides, anatomy included. All of my knowledge of anatomy comes from research, no schooling involved. SM: Your anatomy is extremely detailed and perfectly sculpted in your pieces. What’s the hardest part about doing anatomy for pieces such as Super Mario or the Balloon animal? JF: Being patient and not rushing... My hands want to just keep sculpting but the clay I use only allows me to do a small portion of sculpting before it needs time to harden. I've taught myself to step away when needed.

Hello Kitty

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CREATIVE PROFILE / JASON FREENY

Nemo

Barbie

SM: Can you walk us briefly through your design process? From how you get the concept to the stunning piece of art we end up seeing. JF: It starts with a well-built toy purchased from a store. I like interesting shapes that will result in interesting skeletal systems. First the toy is roughly cut open in the manner I want it to display its innards. The hollow of the toy is filled with either clay or expanding foam depending on its size. The opening I've cut is then cleaned and smoothed with sandpaper. I start with a chosen piece of anatomy, usually the rib cage or skull creating the basic form of the part. The clay I use allows me about 40 minutes to sculpt before it becomes difficult to work with because of hardening. Once I get the section I am sculpting into the shape I want the piece is set aside to harden until the next day. This is repeated over and over, day after day until all the parts are finished, usually taking about 4-6 weeks. The piece is then

sanded smooth and painted through a combination of airbrushing and hand painting. SM: Is there an anatomical sculpture you’ve been dying to work on but was too daunting to think about or start? A massive robot T-Rex with lasers would be epic! JF: I would love to do some life sized toys, giant 5 foot pieces but I need someone to commission such a colossal piece first... SM: What’s next for you? JF:Expanding into my own characters and more abstract original pieces. 

You can find more of Jason’s work here: www.moistproduction.com or follow him on Facebook, facebook.com/pages/Jason-Freeny or Twitter https://twitter.com/freeny

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BLACKBEARD'S CHEST / A COLLECTION OF RANDOM TREASURES

ISSUE 02

Blackbeard’s Chest by Catherine Grenfell

A collection of random treasures. Photo by Roy Wrench

Catherine loves living life in the fast lane. She’s passionate about everything she turns her hand to – whether it’s transforming her passion for music into a successful radio career, doing adventure sports or helping those less fortunate. Catherine has extended her love of music to DJ’ing and plays a wide variety of genres from Rock, Deep House, Electro House as well as Commercial. She has just recently launched her new CD along with Poppy Ntshongwana and Tom Novy called Music in You. Twitter: https://twitter.com/CathGrenfell

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What's that you say? That's not Blackbeard!? Well, yes and no. Allow us to shed some light. This is much like Christopher Nolan's Batman films, where Batman was a symbol, an idea, capable of passing the cowl to anybody worthy of it. The same is true for Blackbeard's Chest. Blackbeard is an idea, not one man/woman. Anybody can be the Blackbeard, and this issue we have a particularly cool and interesting (and beardless) Blackbeard. Some of you may know her from her work on 5FM on The Fresh Drive. Adorned with beautiful tattoos and a voice that is instantly recognisable, Catherine Grenfell reveals her picks of random treasures.


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Music / Blackbeard's pick

Arcade Fire Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Arcade Fire are a six piece band that have won two BRITs, two Grammys, and have released three records over the last ten years. Their breakthrough album Funeral (2004) was nominated for a Grammy for Alternative Album of The Year and the album was chosen by Rolling Stone as the #1 album of the ‘00s. Arcade Fire’s platinum-selling sophomore album Neon Bible (2007) debuted at #2 in the UK and USA. Q named Neon Bible album of the year in 2007, and it was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammys.

2010’s double platinum album The Suburbs, debuted at #1 in seven countries. Arcade Fire were named Band of the Year on the cover of Q Magazine in 2010. In February 2011 they won Album of The Year at the Grammy Awards for The Suburbs, before going on to win Best International Group and Best International Album at the 2011 BRIT Awards. 2012 also saw The Suburbs pick up an additional Grammy for Best Recording Package. Arcade Fire’s highly anticipated fourth album Reflektor has just been released. Title track ‘Reflektor’ features guest vocals from David Bowie. Check out http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=_fFAKrIntzY and try and spot all the guest appearances.

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BLACKBEARD'S CHEST / A COLLECTION OF RANDOM TREASURES

Accessories

Skulls

from Sirkel Jewellery

Skulls appear in every style of clothing, accessories, and jewellery; they feature prominently in print graphics, modern tattoo art, pirate and vampire films, tv shows and video games.

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kulls have rich cultural histories and symbolic meanings that provide them with other sources of deathly allure.

Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and the Aztecs used the skull as a symbol of the cycle of death and rebirth. They are prominent in the Mexican holiday known as Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead” as well as Halloween. During the Elizabethan Period in Europe, rings fashioned with a “Death’s Head Skull,” became a symbol of one’s membership in the societal underworld. Hindu goddess Kali has a Garland of skulls around her neck which symbolizes infinite knowledge and wisdom. And then along came Alexander McQueen. The fashion designer created a line of silk skull scarves and the rest is history. A local jewellery designer that loves skulls is Jan from Sirkel Jewellery. Every piece of jewellery is handmade using age-old techniques. He once read that people in the Victorian times wore skull jewellery mostly in memory of those who have passed, but more than that they wore skulls as a reminder of the transience and fragility of life and to live every day wholeheartedly because you never know when it might be your last. Contact www.sirkeljewellery.co.za Likewise the ladies at Soho Buddha have a hand-made jewellery line where elegance meets spiritualism with an edge. Contact Shani +27 82 455 80 88 / shanirvn@gmail.com / www.sohobuddha.com

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Exhibition

Plastic Oceans: Cape Town Brandon Boyd, lead singer of Incubus and his solo project, Sons of the Sea, is the author of two books combining his artwork and creative writing: White Fluffy Clouds (2003), and From the Murks of the Sultry Abyss (2007).

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useArt will be hosting The Plastic Oceans Exhibition, which focuses on the grave problem of plastic pollution. It will feature art by Brandon Boyd (he created a series of artworks to raise awareness about the islands of plastic floating about in the world's seas), footage by IMAX legend Greg MacGillivray and an official opening by the man who is planning to stand up paddle across the Atlantic Ocean, Mr Chris Bertish. The art will be on display 13-15 December at The Grand CafĂŠ and Beach, Granger Bay, V&A Waterfront and the exhibition is free!

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ISSUE 02

MUSIC / FSPOT

MUSIC by Sarah Browne

Fspot / Locust This guy (and his band, when he’s live) is pretty exciting. Not too fussed with sounding too much like anyone else, or going to the other extreme and producing discordant noise, Federico Fernandez of Fspot has come out with a brave and compelling album that challenges the expectations of the average local music supporter. Some parts took a couple of listens to get into, but once you’re in there, it hangs around in your brain for a while and you realise that you’ve been serenading your colleagues under your breathe for half an hour (not based on a true story at all, nope, no way). The lyrics are nothing to write home about, but the music is highly accomplished and his voice is really quite beautiful. This is the kind of band that reminds you to support your local talent and moan at music venues about their shoddy sound quality. 

BEST TRACKS Jozi / Catchy as all hell and rather impressive musically, this is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head and refuses to budge for days. Words + Words + Words = Noise / The title could be better, but the slightly dirty rhythm and seamless

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musicality of this track makes you want to shake what your non-genderdiscriminatory-parentalunit gave you . Skipping Turns / You really get to hear FF’s stunningly sensitive vocal range and heart come through in this one.

www.the-fspot.com


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MUSIC / PEARL JAM

Pearl Jam / Lightning Bolt So, Pearl Jam released a new album and it’s awesome. Yes. That happened. A band that formed 23 years ago - waving an ambivalent, checkered flag for grunge - have managed to pull together 12 fantastic songs into a beautifully constructed album. I hope you feel bad about yourselves, NIN and Soundgarden. Starting with a big ol’ burst of energy with the first couple of tracks, it takes you on a bit of an emotional journey of pathos-fuelled guitar and essence o’ Eddie Vedder before nudging your adrenal glands awake again. There are perfectly timed ups to every down; the lyrics are bloody marvellous; and although the music is not the stuff of a technical audiophile’s wet dream, every sound in this album just works like they’ve breathed it through their instruments. Is it genius? No. Is it a classic-in-the-making? Quite possibly. Is it worth a listen or 73? Absofracking-lutely. 

www.pearljam.com

BEST TRACKS Mind Your Manners / It’s the first single for a reason. Great big handfuls of harmonious mayhem with a bit of melodic reprieve. Sirens / All the feels! It’s the kind of thing a romantic sap (even

one hidden in a blackhearted stoic) would cock their head to the side and sigh to. Yellow Moon / Probably the most reminiscent of old school PJ, but with a splash of experience and sobriety to round it off.

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ISSUE 02

FASHION / THE OhOneOne

by Pippa Tshabalala

Photographer / Tim Hulme Hair & Makeup / Natasha Cartens, using Mac Cosmetics Model / Bianca Koyabe All outfits by / www.ohoneone.co.za

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Of course we know that online is where it’s at – why else would we be playing in this space? It’s not just us who have had this epiphany however. There’s a new online store in town, headed up by Roxy Burger and Sarah Mitchell, and we foresee great things in store! (Geddit?)


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PT: Tell us about the concept for the store. What is OhOneOne?

Bianca wears Statement Metallic Mini Dress / R750

Sarah and I have been friends for a really long time and our love of fashion has evolved throughout the years. Sarah began styling me about 3 years ago and we always strive to push the boundaries and be different and daring. We literally just had a simple conversation one random day and decided that the next step in our journey would be to start a fashion business! And voila, OhOneOne was born.

PT: I'm guessing the name has to do with Joburg's area code or am I completely off the mark? You're spot on, OhOneOne is definitely based on the Jozi area code. We wanted a cool name that had some reference to the city that we both love. We just decided to put a little edge into the spelling of the name so we had room to play with the brand's corporate identity. You would've seen that in our artwork and brand copy.

PT: Describe OhOneOne in 3 keywords? Edgy. Fashion-forward (the hyphen makes it one word!) Fresh PT: You guys both have a love for fashion, but you're involved in different industries - tell us about the people behind OhOneOne who are Roxy and Sarah? Roxy is an MTV VJ on MTV South Africa as well as a Brand Strategist with a love for fashion and brand. Sarah is a stylist slash personal shopper with a background in marketing. She is also a qualified make-up artist having attended one of the most prestigious make-up schools in London.

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FASHION / THE OhOneOne

Bianca wears Crochet Mini Shorts / R295, Flocked Eagle Graphic T-shirt / R275, and Statement Embellished Bomber / R790.

Having Sarah based in London helps to keep the brand on the cusp of fashion and trend. But the essence of what drives the business is our absolute love and passion for fashion (yes that rhymes!) PT: Why the decision to go online as opposed to a physical store? We truly believe that eCommerce is the future for retail in South Africa. It is steadily growing and with consumers becoming more educated about the online world it is fast becoming the space to play in. It also ensures that we can keep our costings low and our overheads at a minimum. This helps us provide an affordable service for our target market who love fashion as much as we do. PT: Do you only ship within South Africa or do you ship internationally as well? Currently we only ship within SA but our next step would definitely be to reach the SADC region and service surrounding neighbours. But yes, at a later stage we aim to dominate! PT: How do you source your clothing/designers? We import from overseas and visit a variety of fashion capitals around the world. For example, one being South Korea, who are known for their edgy and bold fashion. We love how they, as a nation, take risks and this is exactly the kind of product we are looking for. Eastern fashion influences Western fashion - just think about the city of Tokyo!

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FASHION / THE OhOneOne

ISSUE 02

Bianca wears Metallic Short Suit / R599 and Layered Needle Necklace / R350.

PT: What are the plans for the store - where would you like to see it go? In the long-run, we strive to manufacture our own brand at some stage and will most definitely be collaborating with South African designers. We would love to launch new careers with up-andcomers who have fresh and bold ideas about fashion. We also will definitely be branching out into men's fashion wear - watch out boys, we're coming! Again, we want to reach the SADC region soon as we know there are so many women who would love what we have to offer.

PT: Personal favourite item of clothing currently on sale? Sarah loves the Chevron Short Suit since it's completely, completely unique. Matching top and bottoms were very popular in London this summer season and with SA summer here, it's the perfect addition to your wardrobe! It would be impossible to NOT make a statement in this OhOneOne piece! [Me too! I’m in love with this outfit!, Ed] Roxy loves the Statement Metallic Dress and wore it to the Glamour Women of the Year Awards not too long ago. It also looks amazing on Bianca in the Spliced Mag feature - you can see how this would turn heads!

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FASHION / THE OhOneOne

Bianca wears Chevron Short Suit / R620

WIN!

Oh One One is giving one lucky reader a R350 voucher to their store! All you have to do is follow both Oh One One @_OhOneOne_ and Spliced Magazine @SplicedMag on Twitter, and tweet us with the #OhOneOneComp telling us why you love Oh One One! Competition closes 9 January 2014. Open to SA residents only.

PT: I see more and more local celebs are wearing your clothes who would you absolutely love to dress? Locally, Queen B, she who reigns supreme... Bonang Matheba! We admire her sense of style and the risks that she's willing to take - plus we have to admire her work ethic and what she stands for. Internationally, Roxy would DIE (literally have a heart attack) if Gwen Stefani rocked an OhOneOne outfit! Sarah would have a fit if Marion Coutillard wore one of our pieces - especially if it were to a fashion week of some description! Imagine! Make sure you head on over to www.ohoneone.co.za and check out this hot, new online store!

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“2”, “PlayStation”, “PLAYSTATION”, “ ”, “PS3” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “SONY” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. “make.believe” is a trademark of the same company. Gran Turismo® 6 ©2013 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Developed by Polyphony Digital Inc. “Polyphony Digital logo”, “Gran Turismo” and “GT” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Manufacturers, cars, names, brands and associated imagery featured in this game in some cases include trademarks and/or copyrighted materials of their respective owners. Any depiction or recreation of real world locations, entities, businesses, or organisations is not intended to be or imply any sponsorship or endorsement of this game by such party or parties. All rights reserved.

GRAN-TuRISmo.com PG

RELEASING 06.12.13


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TATTOOS / THE BLACK LODGE'S SEAN PERRINS

Photography by Tim Hulme

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TATTOOS / THE BLACK LODGE'S SEAN PERRINS

w e i

with Sean

P

ins

Inte rv

r er

The Black Lodge Sean Perrins is one of those tattooers who has been in the industry for a relatively short time and yet has already managed to secure a great reputation. He recently opened his own shop, The Black Lodge in Linden, Johannesburg and we sat down with him to find out what makes him tick.

by Pippa Tshabalala

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TATTOOS / THE BLACK LODGE'S SEAN PERRINS

How long have you been in the tattoo industry? It's about 5 years since I picked a machine up, 3.5 since I assumed a qualified position. Do you have a favourite style? I guess I've always loved realism, colour or greyscale, but these days I like the fact that tattooing is becoming broader, and more varied, especially when taking the European movements within the art form into consideration. I think I'm still trying to find something of my own in there too. I suspect that in another 5 years or so I might have hopefully defined my own style. Where do you find inspiration? All over, and nowhere. I follow the works of loads of tattooists, illustrators, painters, sculptors - in every kind of style I can find. Of course sometimes inspiration is hard to come by - and then I tend to rely on the moment. I'm a huge believer in spontaneity and fluidity. Is there anything you absolutely hate tattooing? Dolphins? Stars? A particular part of the body? I hate what I call stock tattoos, the bird silhouettes, the Pinterest feathers, 90's sticker book tribal butterflies. You can have anything. Almost anything at all. Why pick a generic stamp?

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Conversely to that - your ultimate tattoo? What tattoo would you love to have the opportunity to do? If I ever got to do the ultimate tattoo I guess I'd have to put the machine down after that. But I'd like to do Tim Curry as the Devil in Legend, or maybe Samuel Jackson as a gun-toting Jesus. It's the little things that make me happy. The client/artist relationship is an incredibly important one. Tell us about your clients? Have you ever refused to tattoo someone? I've been exceptionally fortunate to cultivate fantastic clients and I've only ever fired two for bad behaviour. I refuse to tattoo a lot of things these days - all those things I hate tattooing, I no longer do. It doesn't feel fair to put my resentment under someone's skin. The tattoo process, and my process, is definitively personal. I need to be able to connect with my work, and I need a certain amount of trust and liberty to really get the best out of it. The longer I do this, the easier it seems to be to get to that space with someone who is often a relative stranger. You've been a part of a couple of other studios in the past, but The Black Lodge is your latest venture. What sets it apart from other tattoo studios? For me all studios are different. Especially since we've seen the move away from the dubious places


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TATTOOS / THE BLACK LODGE'S SEAN PERRINS

of old. We're doing our best to take a path filled with integrity - As Within, So Without. We want to take those things that move beneath the surface, and make them flesh, whether they're serious, flippant, or decorative. Being sometimes brutally honest with our clients both about their choices, and our capabilities, feels better than just taking the work on for the money. We love what we do, and we're (light-heartedly) serious about what we do, and our space is all about the art - it's not a funky clothing store we're running here. There will be a little blood, there will be a little pain, and through these we hope to channel something magical. We're not trying to be 'for everyone'. We're just trying to be ourselves. Hopefully this space, and this path, is one that will leave you with something that makes you a little more yourself as well. If you had to choose between a giant dolphin on your back, and a star on your chest which would it be - you have to pick one! Heh. You guys are all about the stars and dolphins. Some subconscious tattoo cravings going on over there? I'll take the giant dolphin. Shooting fucking laser beams out of its eyes as it gets torn apart fin from fin by a penny farthing riding Cthulu. Eating candy floss.

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Who would you love to be tattooed by? There's a list. Xoil, Wendtner, Samohin, Torres, Hooper. I really can just go on all day there. Have you ever made a mistake and not said anything? This is a trick question right? My old college teacher used to say something like - the art is not in having no mistakes, but in how you absorb them into your work, and make them art. This is all done by hand, there is no perfect tattoo, just the aspiration thereof. Lastly, some words of wisdom for people wanting to get tattooed? Don't be fooled? There is no "best artist in all the land". First off, it depends what you want to get. Choose your artist not only by portfolio, but by style. Pay well for it, because you get to keep it forever, and who the hell wants a bargain tattoo anyway? Choose a clean studio - don't get tattooed in someone's lounge, least of all your own. And find someone you can trust. I personally choose a good artist, give them a vague idea, and let them run with it however they want. Why? Because they're gonna love the fuck out of doing what they want, and it's gonna show. 

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FASHION / A LOVE STORY

LO E STORY

JIMI NEVER DIED, GOD JUST WANTED TO LEARN

GUITAR Photography & Art direction by / Tim Hulme Photographers assistant / Dean Paul Pratt Make-up artist / Maria de Vos Styling / Natalie Rutka Starring / Sibu Vanqa & Chantelle Pretorius

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Chantelle wears Dress / Forever New Head band / Accessorize At Edgars Other jewellery / Topshop

Suppliers Mr Price / www.mrp.com Top Shop / www.topshop.com Edgars / www.edgars.co.za Stuttafords / www.stuttafords.co.za Dirty Oil Boots Forever New / facebook.com/ForeverNewSouthAfrica Nine West / www.ninewest.com Steve Madden / www.stevemadden.com

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Chantelle wears

Sibu wears

Head band / Mr Price Jumpsuit / Topshop Necklaces / Edgars Bracelets / Edgars

Sunglasses / Mr Price Shirt / Topshop Jeans / Mr Price Boots / Dirty Oil

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Chantelle wears Jersey / Stylists's own

Sibu wears Pants / Topshop Shirt / Carducci at Stuttafords Shoes / Steve Madden

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Sibu wears Cravat / Topshop Jacket / Carducci at Stuttafords Shirt / Mr Price

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FASHION / A LOVE STORY

LO E SONG

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Chantelle wears Body chain / Mr Price Fur / Mr Price

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Sibu wears Jacket / Carducci at Stuttafords Shirt / Mr Price Cravat / Topshop Fur / Stylist's own

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Chantelle wears Hat and top / Stylist's own Leggings / Mr Price Shoes / Topshop

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FASHION / A LOVE STORY

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africa.ign.com

ignafrica @IGNAfrica


Illustration by Natalie Propa. Go to www.flickr.com/photos/ladypropa/ for more.

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SPLICED

CHAPTER

03 being

Comics

68 COVER SHOOT / Catwoman and the great Owl heist 86 FEATURE / Super Collector / Smallville Comics 90 FEATURE / 75 years of Superman 98 Objects of Desire

03/06


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COLUMN

02/04 Drawing conclusions

Soaring like a Hawk(eye) by Ray Whitcher Over and above being a total comic geek, Ray also writes and draws his own comic, lectures in Multimedia Design and breaks bones whilst playing squash.

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Once upon a time there was a little film called The Avengers and it starred a team of beloved and well-known Superheroes, whose mission pretty much construed smashing things whilst being superheroic. This film also had a poster, with its manly male stars posing mightily, gazing broodily or being angry and its solo female protagonist facing the other way and showing us her boobs and butt and the same time (quite a talent Black Widow has there). The Internet (being the sentient thing that it is) blazed with an almighty rage that Joss Whedon, champion of well-written and generally pretty awesome female characters, allowed for such a stereotypical exponent of a typical male's view of female comic characters (that being a walking set of breasts and booty). That rage lasted a good few hours until the Internet became distracted with humorous pictures of kittens and it moved on, with the exception of one artist named Kevin Bolk. In a stroke of glorious satire, Bolk created a gem of a reactionary poster In an instance of glorious subversion, Bolk gave us the mightily objectified Avengers and a Black Widow staring rather curiously at Hawkeye's sumptuous derriere. This echoed a rather curiously growing sentiment on Tumblr, the cornucopia of all things sarcastic and pop-culture related in a post by user Gingerhaze: "how to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing". Hawkeye had made it into the sights (terrible pun... bad Ray) of the Internet and hilarity was soon to follow.

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Thus the Hawkeye Initiative was born, a repository of comical (another bad pun... seriously?) takes on Hawkeye wearing his female contemporaries' costumes, or simply objectified versions of his own costume. I was so inspired by the rather fantastic message of this group that I made the decision

to do something that would inadvertently result in a rather interesting revolution, some severe discomfort and quite a lot of groping - I cosplayed as Hawkeye: Initiative at rAge 2013. The intention of causing awareness through offence and starting debate was always there, but something far bigger and rather upsetting happened: I realised for the first time what it's like to be a female cosplayer. I walked into the Dome dressed in a tiny crop top (with requisite undermanboob), even tinier hotpants that I'd borrowed from a female friend, suspenders, purple stockings and boots and armed with a blonde wig, bow and an overwhelming sense of confidence. Within 5 minutes I'd been cat-called, wolf-whistled, sworn at, photographed and fondled (from behind) in a display of wanton disregard for personal space. Heck, I threw dignity out the door when I put the costume on, and I WANTED that reaction, but to actually experience it? It sucked. I very quickly made a poster that read: "Caw-Caw: Equal Opportunity Objectification!" and was soon the subject of even more fondling and photography (ironically often with the so-called 'booth-babes'). Then I took the wig off and pointedly walked around. Initially I was degraded because people mistook my girlish frame for an actual woman's body (a scantily-clad one at that), but then the hate started when people realised that I was, in fact, a sock-in-hotshorts-toting guy. So I asked them this

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"The intention of causing awareness through offence and starting debate was always there, but something far bigger and rather upsetting happened: I realised for the first time what it's like to be a female cosplayer."

in my life, I got a genuine glimpse into what it must feel like to be a female cosplayer. It was awful. It was humiliating and frankly, pretty stressful.

simple question: "Why is it that you come to rAge, EXPECTING women to dress like this, but when a guy does it, it's the most disgusting thing you've ever witnessed?" The expectation of women in society is already ridiculous and fraught with archaic and outdated ideas of what a typical 'female' should be. Now imagine the added pressure of dressing up as one of your favourite characters and being brave enough to wear that costume all day at a convention filled with cloying, assumptive and salacious men, intent on exploiting the typical ethical boundaries that usually exist in public. As an average guy with a way beyond average lack of shame it takes a lot to humiliate me – chalk it up to stubbornness, stupidity or a grand mixture of both. This changes pretty quickly when you can literally feel dozens of pairs of eyes on your back, feel the thoughts behind them - the initial appraisal, the glance at the inadvertently unshaven butt cheeks and then the absolute disgust that follows, it's a special kinda low. There were things said and done that were just not cool... Some things were flattering: "That lady [me] has such nice legs!" Some were tacitly humorous (getting a R10 note stuck down my top) and others were just upsetting (between the name-calling and obscene amounts of groping, spanking and touching, you can get an idea). And for the first time

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Have you ever truly felt ashamed of your perceived gender identity? I did. The reputation of the average male was made mud to me in a matter of minutes. It's no wonder that male con-goers are regarded as blight and filth, because that's what you look like from an outsider's perspective. It's also pretty funny how quickly the paradigm shifted when I sported my "Equal Opportunity Objectification" sign. That's when I got smiles, I got understanding, I even got cheers or sympathy for my cause. My one man in woman's clothing campaign became real. And suddenly the shame and hurt was abandoned in favour of empowerment. I still got leered at, still heard awful comments, but that didn't matter, because people saw my message and understood it for what it was. The so-called 'booth-babes' were especially keen to grab me for photos, to prove a point, to have a laugh, whatever their reasons. It's interesting that I was approached for almost double the amount of photos that were taken of me dressed as Deadpool. The most interesting thing though, was that I received genuine, heartfelt apologies from some of the people. This is a paraphrase of a message that I received on Facebook a few days after rAge: "Dude I just want to apologize, when I saw you on Sunday I had the same reaction most of the a**holes had, I feel like a total ass now that I know why you were dressed like that, again majorly sorry for my reaction." That day, Hawkeye used his booty for great good. Now, if you want a good laugh, please visit the fantastically funny Hawkeye Initiative blog: http://thehawkeyeinitiative.com/ 


WIN THIS AWESOME

ARKHAM ORIGINS COLLECTORS EDITION FOR PS3! E-mail ed@splicedmagazine.com and name one of the items in the collector's edition to stand a chance of winning. Don't forget to inlcude your details and make the subject line ' Arkham Origins' or else it doesn't count. Competition closes 9 January 2014. Open to SA residents only.

COLLECTOR’S EDITION INCLUDES: • Exclusive Arkham Origins highly detailed premium statue featuring Batman & The Joker • 80-page, full-color hardcover artbook • Assassin’s Intel Dossier, including files on the eight assassins, as well as Black Mask’s contract • 1st Appearance Batman Skin DLC

• Deathstroke Challenge Pack DLC – Usable throughout all the Arkham Origins Challenge maps and also includes two bonus challenge maps and two bonus Deathstroke Skins • Exclusive 3D Metal Pack • The PS3 edition will also include the Knightfall pack as an exclusive piece of content


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AND THE GREAT

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PHOTOGRAPHER / Tim Hulme ART DIRECTOR / Tim Hulme MODEL / Ana Trujic' from heads models MAKEUP ARTIST / Sam Scarborough COSTUME / Wae West LOCATION / Randlords JHB

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2 HOURS EARLIER...

It's not every day that the Batman asks you to break into the headquarters of the most powerful and ancient organisation in Gotham, the court of owls!

Careless Bats let one of his Bat drones fall into the wrong hands. Leave it to a master burglar to retrieve it before they can decrypt his true identity.

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Of course I couldn't resist the challenge.

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...and you know what they say. While the Bat's away the Cat will play.

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1 MINUTE, 25 SECONDS LATER...

Well that was easy...

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...and those are creepy.

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Well well, what do we have here?

urs. Pfft, amate

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Seriously? This was way too easy... or I'm that good.

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Don't say I never did anything for you Bruce. Hope you get the package.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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DIAMONDS IN THE SKY

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SPLICED COMICS /

FEATURE / SUPER COLLECTOR

by Pippa Tshabalala

SUPER

COLLECTOR

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It’s been said that the Superman symbol is the second most recognisable symbol in the world (after the Christian cross), and in this, the 75th year of Superman, we’ve discovered someone whose obsession with the Man of Steel exceeds even our Creative Director’s [Challenge accepted!, CD]. Meet Joe Do Carmo – owner of Smallville Comics in Alberton, and Superman aficionado extraordinaire. SPLICED MAGAZINE: What is behind your fascination with Superman? What does the character mean to you? JOE: Superman, along with Zorro and the Lone Ranger were the first ''super hero'' characters I ever saw on TV back when I was around five years old or so. Superman just stood out as always doing the right thing ie: helping others/looking after others etc. I was always impressed how he could rule the world with a blink of an eye but chose not to. He wanted to be one of us, and all of us wanted to be him. SM: What is the most expensive piece in your collection and did you consider not buying it at any stage? JOE: The most expensive piece in my collection that I bought was a Supergirl #1 CGC (signed and re-marked by the late Michael Turner) which cost around R11,500 at the time. This was about two weeks before I got married. I wasn't going to buy it at the time but my wife insisted I do (she's a keeper!).

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SM: How many pieces make up your collection? What happens when you run out of space to house it?

Below: Not only does Joe collect anything and everything Superman related, he even has Superman tattoos.

JOE: Currently I have around 120 statues (85% of them related to Superman), 80 or so figures, 5 original comic art pieces, 20 or so signed CGCs signed by anyone from Jerry Siegal, Michael Turner, Jim Lee, Laura Vandervoort, Helen Slater, Dean Cain... pretty much anyone who has been related to Superman comics/movies. I am a bit worried about running out of space but we are planning to convert the garage into a showroom next year. SM: What's your favourite piece - can you even narrow it down to one? JOE: My favourite piece is a tough one. Probably Action Comics #1 CGC signed by Jerry Siegal (creator), also Superman #75 CGC also signed by Siegal. Maybe even Superman's Cape or the Man of Steel poster signed by Henry Cavill. It’s tough, like having two kids and trying to choose your favourite. SM:What would be your holy grail - the item you would love to own? JOE: Action Comics #1 (1938) SM: Lastly, can we have one? A small one, any one?! JOE: [Laughs] NO! 

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WIN THIS SUPERMAN HAMPER! Spliced and Smallville Comics are giving away the ultimate Superman hamper! FIND 3 SUPERMAN LOGOS HIDDEN THROUGHOUT THE MAGAZINE and email the page numbers they’re on, along with your name to ed@splicedmagazine.com with the subject line 75 years of Superman.

HINT: PAGES 90 TO 98 DON’T COUNT! Competition closes 9 January 2014. Open to SA residents only.


FEATURE / COMICS / FLYING HIGH / 75 YEARS OF SUPERMAN All images Š DC Comics and their respective artists.

Flying high

S

uperman's greatest power isn't being 'faster than a speeding locomotive', or 'able to leap tall buildings in a single bound', but rather to withstand the test of time to become one of the most endearing and well-known pop culture icons of all time. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn't recognise the paradigmatic Superman Shield, because he's become so ensconced within our culture that even people with no interest in comics or superheroes can still tell you who that logo belongs to. To call Superman ubiquitous would be an understatement - we live in an era that has always known him. Think about it - Superman first appeared in 1938, 75 years ago. That means that our Grandparents, Parents, friends and even the children of our generation have been exposed to Big Blue in one form or another, be it in comic, animation, video game, television, radio, musical theatre or cinematic form. So now we pay homage to a man constantly confused with birds and aeroplanes as we look back on ten of the greatest moments of this comic great’s history, from his original appearance through to his death and beyond.

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75 Years of Superman

By Ray Whitcher

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FEATURE / COMICS / FLYING HIGH / 75 YEARS OF SUPERMAN

Arguably one of the most recognised pieces of comic art and definitely the most sought after of comcs, is Action Comics #1. Superman's first appearance depicts Big Blue lifting a green car with terrified onlookers running away in head-clutching fear.

The Beginning / "Action Comics #1" Arguably one of the most important pieces of Pop culture of our generation, this was where it all started. Written by Jerry Siegel and pencilled by Joe Shuster, Action Comics #1 introduced the world not only to the concept of the superhero, but also to Superman himself. The world was suddenly exposed to a character that could perform astounding feats of strength and speed and they couldn't get enough of him. Interestingly, Superman originally couldn't fly, but rather leap extremely high. His strength and speed were originally attributed to the fact the Earth's gravity was far less than Krypton's. This book is so valuable, in fact, that actor Nicholas Cage recently sold his copy for $2.16 million. Yes, you read that correctly. It's believed that there are only 100 of these comics left in existence, and only a handful of those are still in good condition.

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The Golden Age / All Shiny and New As the age of the superhero dawned, a new era in storytelling began. Comics' natural pictographic narratives found an immediate appeal with the general public because of their content and subject matter. The Golden Age saw the rise of Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman from DC and Captain America, Captain Marvel and others from Marvel. Most importantly, the JSA (Justice Society of America) title introduced the idea of a 'Super Team'. The era also coincided with the height of World War II, with many stories often adopting war themes in order to inspire the citizens and offer an escape. The Golden Age delved more into Superman's

origins, introducing planet Krypton and its destruction, granting Superman the power of flight and heat vision. Readers also saw the rather complicated relationship between Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane. The relationship was a pretty unique feature, as most superheroes tended to be pretty blasĂŠ, with female characters usually serving as damsels in distress rather than fully-realised characters. Superman #58 (vol. 1) gave a pretty unique and interesting insight into the nature of the characters, especially because we find out that Lois REALLY doesn't like Clark.


FEATURE / COMICS / FLYING HIGH / 75 YEARS OF SUPERMAN All images Š DC Comics and their respective artists.

SUPER TIMELINE

Silver Age Superman / A Strange Time As with everything that gains popularity quickly, the appeal of a popular trope starts to wane and eventually requires either a refresh or trashing of that item. Comics were no exception to this and several characters that were previously popular started to fade into obscurity because of irrelevance or just plain lack of interest. Superman seemed to be the one exception to this though, mainly because he boasted a pedigree and fan base that most other superheroes simply couldn't compete with. Then along came the Comics Code Authority. The late 1950's saw the meteoric rise in the popularity of television and, inevitably, political correctness. The CCA's mission was to ensure that children were protected against violence and sexual themes portrayed within comic books. This saw a massive change in content for most heroes, most significantly Batman, but Superman rapidly adopted a Sci-Fi feel because of the everincreasing popularity of B-movie aliens, nuclear incidents and such. He also developed an ant head because of exposure to Red Kryptonite (in Action Comics #296). Go figure. Oh, and Superman's identity got revealed by a dragon burning off his clothing. Twice. It was a great time.

1938 / First appearance of Superman in Action Comics # 1. 1940 / Superman first meets Lois Land and villain Lex Luthor 1941-1943 / The Fleischer Bros. Create the first animated Superman series 1940-1951 / The massively popular radio serial The Adventures of Superman begins, introducing kryptonite in the Superman universe. 1942 / During WW2, Superman's shield became larger and more elegant.

Fighting a Legend / The Bronze Age The 1960's had ended, predicating a time of revolution, civil unrest and fear. The United States had just embarked on a war with Vietnam, John F. Kennedy was assassinated and a man had been to the moon and back. Films and literature were starting to see a shift in narrative that saw far more serious and hard-edged tones, leaving the wholesome CCA-regulated superheroes feeling rather dull. Marvel however and specifically Stan Lee were making rapid waves in the comic world with the introduction of The X-Men, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, comics featuring poignant, strong and relatable characters that reflected true social issues and concerns. DC needed to make rapid adjustments to its stable of characters to keep up with the paradigm shift, having suffered drastically from overtly kitsch themes and unintentionally camped up heroes brought about by the CCA's mollycoddling. A truly memorable (if somewhat silly) feature of this time was Superman's iconic fight against the legendary boxer, Muhammed Ali in 1978's Superman vs. Muhammed Ali. (Spoiler Alert / Ali wins, then helps Superman to defeat an alien incursion. True story.) Suddenly far more powerful villains like Darkseid were also introduced into the Super-verse to pose a genuine threat to Superman. By 1985, DC completely rebooted Superman, casting out much of his original origins and character traits in favour of a new, more flawed hero.

LEFT: Superman #164 (vol. 1) featured a showdown between Lex Luthor and Superman on a planet with a Red Sun, stripping Superman of his powers and allowing the two to fight each other on even ground. Superman won.

1945 / Superboy first appears in Detective Comics (Batman's label), which followed the adventures of Superman as a child. 1948 / Kirk Alyn stars as the first Live-Action Superman in a series of short-films by Columbia pictures. 1949 / Kryptonite first appears in comic form. 1951 / Superman could now travel faster than the speed of light, as well as becoming strong enough to change the orbits of planets.

Superman and Batman / The Binary Duo

The Modern Age / Back to Basics

By this point, readers were also made well-aware of Superman and Batman's friendship, which had spanned since the 1940's. It had always been one of mutual respect, but wariness. Frank Miller's seminal title The Dark Knight Returns pitched a rather unique and alternative series of questions in Batman's 'retirement years': What would happen if Superman chose sides? What if he became a governmental tool, answering to a boss? In what is one of my personal favourite moments of the DC universe, we witness the answers to these questions first-hand - Superman has essentially become an ultra-weapon, tasked by the President to eradicate any potential threats without prejudice or pretension. When Batman rears his gristly head and starts to cause trouble, none other than Superman himself is sent to stop the disillusioned vigilante, only to meet his match in a battle of sheer will and stubbornness.

By the early 2000's DC decided to start restoring some of Superman's earlier facets and familiars, including resurrecting Supergirl (who'd been killed off in the previous decade by the AntiMonitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths saga) as well as General Zod (one of the three Kryptonians executed by Superman). Superman and Batman's relationship was also further expanded upon the release of Superman/Batman in 2003, showing the contradictory but highly effective methods of the two DC stalwarts. Superman's origins were also once again altered, seeing his youth spent as a friend to Lex Luthor (a concept explored in the terrible television melodrama Smallville) as well as the death of his adoptive father Jonathan Kent at the hands of the villain Brainiac. Superman would soon face some truly horrific events that would forever change both the hero and DC's Universe again (they do that a lot, don't they?).

1952 - 1958 / The televised version of Adventures of Superman debuts. 1955 / The Shield now incorporated it's characteristic blocky S and serifs. 1958 / Living computer villain Brainiac, as well as the bottle city of Kandor make their debut. Bizarro, Superman's parallel dimension opposite, makes his first appearance in Superboy. 1959 / The inaugural appearance of Supergirl. 1960 / Introduction of "The Fortress of Solitude", as well as Perry White (editor of the Daily Planet newspaper) and Jimmy Olsen. Superman now gets his powers from Earth's yellow sun. 1961 / The S-shield was made slightly smaller, but became more consistent.

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FEATURE / COMICS / FLYING HIGH / 75 YEARS OF SUPERMAN 1966 / The Broadway Musical: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! is a financial flop. 1971 / All Kryptonite on earth is stripped of its power in the "Kryptonite / Nevermore!" saga and Superman's powers are decreased to compensate. 1973 - 1986 / Hanna Barbara's animated series Super-Friends debuts, featuring hour-long episodes of teamups with various DC characters. 1978 / The S-Shield grew much larger during the Bronze Age. Superman fights and loses to Muhammad Ali, who subsequently helps the hero to fend off an alien invasion. The first Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeve debuts. 1980 / Superman II opens in cinemas, casting General Zod as the main antagonist. 1983 / Taking on a comedic tack, Superman III opens in cinemas. 1984 / A Supergirl spinoff, starring Helen Slater, is launched. 1985 / A major retcon of the DC universe sees the death of Supergirl and significant changes to superman during the "Infinite Crisis" saga. 1986 / Introduction of The Man of Steel. 1987 / Superman IV debuts in cinema and is slated by critics 1987 / Superman's Infinite Crisis suit (sewn by Martha Kent) made its debut. 1988 - 1992 / Airing of the Superboy television series. 1991 / Clark Kent reveals his true identity as Superman to Lois Lane. 1993 / Superman is killed at the hands of Doomsday. A series of replacement supermen appear during "The Reign of Supermen� including Cyrborg Superman, Metropolis Kid, Eradicator and Steel. 1993 / Following Superman's death and return, he now wears an all-black, capeless suit with a metal S-Shield. 1993 -1997 / The Adventures of Lois and Clark debuts on television

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"It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then... he shoots fire from the skies, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him." - Batman

What's So Funny 'Bout Truth, Justice and the American Way? (Action Comics, Vol. 1 #775) In a statement of utter subjectivity, this is undoubtedly one of Superman's greatest story arcs, forcing him to make some of the toughest choices in his history and introducing an utterly unforgettable villain into the mix. By this point, complaints were being made about how omnipotent Superman was and how he always seemed to use his abilities mawkishly, his dogged determination to follow his moral code allowing several villains to return, in spite of the severity of their crimes. Then along came Manchester Black, a lofty but pragmatic idealist and massive fan of Superman. Black also happened to be the most powerful telepath that Superman had ever met. At first, Black seeks to prove his worth to his hero by working with his rag-tag team The Elite to battle villains, very quickly winning over the support of the everyday people because of their no-holds barred approach. Things get sinister when The Elite then begin to kill their enemies, transgressing Superman's ethics and eventually resulting in a climactic turning point for Big Blue. He is placed in an untenable position when Black starts threatening to destroy everything Superman loves, even faking Lois Lane's death. When Superman eventually snaps, he becomes a terrifying effigy of rage and destruction, only for us to discover that it was all a ruse to get in close and eventually defeat Black. This is a MUST read.

The Dark Age / When the Hero Fell It's kinda odd how comics regress through the ages as they go, isn't it? The Dark Age was so named though because of the general gritty reinvention of comics and the introduction of the Graphic Novel through DC's Vertigo label. Hard-hitting, cerebral books like The Sandman and V for Vendetta started permeating the market, as well as truly great Batman titles, including Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. This was a time of thickly swathed inks, complex, expletive-laden dialogue and some of the most defining moments of comic history. Firstly, Superman reneged his vow to never kill and executes three Kryptonian war criminals (Superman #22 , vol. 2) after which he forces himself into exile, disappearing for several issues thereafter. Arguably the most memorable of all would be the death of Superman. Nobody thought it would be possible, or that DC would dare killing off their number one character; but in a colossal battle against the monster Doomsday, Superman dies from the trauma of the wounds caused to him. We saw a vulnerable and no-longer god-like side to the character, a massive leap in narrative content.

The Blackest Night Outside of Superman's various adventures, a new threat was rapidly ensconcing the Green Lantern Corp in the form of Nekron, Lord of Death - a "Black Lantern" (the power rings are based on the full colour spectrum, each based on an emotion - red is rage, orange is greed, green is will, etc.). Desperate to gain a vantage point, Nekron explored parallel dimensions to find dead versions of superheroes and resurrect them using the power of the Black Lantern Rings and enlist them in his undead forces. Two such corpses were Kal-El and Lois Lane from Earth-Two, who immediately set upon their dimensional equivalents. Undead Superman, an equal in all regards (but with zombie goodness added) proved to be a truly formidable enemy for his living nemesis, only being beaten by Superman eventually managing to remove the Black Power Ring.


FEATURE / COMICS / FLYING HIGH / 75 YEARS OF SUPERMAN

All images Š DC Comics and their respective artists.

1996 / Lois Lane and Clark Kent get married. 1996 - 2000 / The acclaimed Superman animated series is launched and lauded by critics. 1997 / Superman Red and Blue appear and containment suits are developed to maintain the heroes' human forms. 2001 - 2011 / Melodrama Smallville airs on television. 2002 / The S-Shield drops its iconic yellow background in favour of a plain black version during the Imperiex war. 2003 - 2004 / Mark Waid's Birthright saga, saw yet another retcon of Superman's origins. 2005 - 2006 / A sequel to Crisis, Infinite Crisis, undoes all the changes made by Birthright.

Flashpoint / The Speed Force, Exploding Heads and 'Subject 1'

The day the world mourned a Superhero. The death of Superman made worldwide news, the first time a major leading character had been killed in a comic.

You know how DC has this habit of reinventing themselves? They totally did it again... This change, though, more than any other affected the very notion of comics and superheroes. A pre-cursor to the launch of the famed New 52, Flashpoint took every idea that you ever had about the DC universe and blew it up in gloriously-rendered explosions. The story follows The Flash in his sudden discovery that he no longer has his superpowers and is in a war-ravaged landscape that sees London as a flooded pile of ruins and millions of people dead. Fragmented memories convince him that he's not just imagining things, that he was/is a superhero in spite of his friends' and colleagues' questioning of his strange behaviour. Behind the scenes, Cyborg is trying to organise a group of rebel heroes (including a drunken, gun-toting killer Batman) to face off against the tyrannical and warring factions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman. As the story escalates, we witness the appearance of Subject 1, an emaciated and mentally unstable Superman, far more powerful than the version that the Flash remembers. It's eventually revealed that everything was a plot by the Flash's enemy Professor Zoom, who altered the Flash's past and subsequently changed several events in the future (it's complicated and LOTS of characters die, okay?). Things do get fixed, but certain convenient changes portended the altering of DC's character roster's origins.

2004 / Yellow returns to the S-Shield during the 'Vanishing' incident.

New 52 / A New Superman For a New Reader Enter the year 2011 and the rollout of DC's genredefying (in good AND bad ways) New 52 titles. Thankfully not totally reinventing origin stories on the most-part, the re-launched books gave us a new, more mature universe of superheroes. Some of the books suffered from being too 'edgy', lacking in substance and compensating with smut; while others delivered some remarkable new stories for the well-loved characters. Action Comics gave us a younger Superman, still learning to control his powers and a newcomer to the city of Metropolis. In an homage to that very first comic that appeared in June 1938, Superman wasn't yet able to fly, but did have his bulletproof skin, heat vision, speed and strength. The titular Superman, on the other hand, gave us a Superman that already had 5 years of experience and a redesign of the original blue and red spandex that removed the external red undies in favour of a mandarin-collared body-suit that could appear and reappear at will (saving a fortune on button-up shirts). The biggest change though was that Lois was never a romantic interest, rather we saw the unexpected relationship with Wonder Woman develop.

Superman Unchained Finally, tied in with launch of the Man of Steel film, Superfans were delivered the rather excellent Superman Unchained comic, written by new-generation superstar Scott Snyder (of Batman fame) and illustrated by the DC Editor himself, Jim Lee. Filled with smart dialogue and an endearing, relatable Superman, we follow the hero as he steps in to protect the citizens of earth from a series of mysterious Satellite crashes. Clark Kent is finally treated with equal importance to Superman, with a gravity and tact that hasn't been seen in quite some time. What wowed me with the first issues though, as I'm sure it did with everyone that picked up the first title, was the glorious, and massive poster that's incorporated as a page in the book. Lee's talent truly shines here, because this work is compelling and breathe-taking in its artistic mastery. If you want to start reading Superman, or return to a longlost friend, this is the title to pick up.

2006 / The "Secret Origin" retelling saw Superman don a more classic version of his costume. Superman Returns is launched in cinemas, but fares poorly. 2008 / The bottle city of Kandor is resized on earth, freeing 100000 Kryptonians. The city is eventually grown into its own planet and orbits the sun as New Krypton. 2009 - 2010 / Geoff Johns' "Secret Origins" are intended to be the definitive tale of Superman's beginnings. 2011 / The New 52 costume features a mandarin collar, raised shield and solid blue pants. Superman has never married Lois Lane and was orphaned by the death of his adoptive parents, the Kents. 2012 / Superman, having never being romantically involved with Lois Lane, pursues a romance with Wonder Woman. 2013 / Superman Unchained becomes one of the greatestselling comics of all time. The Man of Steel is released in cinemas, to much acclaim.

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FEATURE / COMICS / FLYING HIGH / 75 YEARS OF SUPERMAN All images © DC Comics and their respective artists.

"Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, he's unsure of himself, he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race." - Kill Bill, vol. 2

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The Man of Steel has been interpreted by many great artists over his 75 years. Alex Ross is one of them. His run on Kingdom Come will forever be comic art legend.

Up up, and away

I

n closing, no mere feature could ever truly do justice to a character that invented an entire genre. Love him or hate him, Superman is arguably one of the most recognisable characters of all time, his values archetypal and evergreen, his stoicism neverwavering. And so, we pay tribute to a true great. This modern-day Heracles has borne a legend transcendent of his own legacy, pioneering a trail for so many others to follow. Comics, as we know them now, owe everything to the Man of Steel, yet he has aged gracefully (even in his

mullet phase) and inspired generation after generation of child to careen off of furniture, walls, cars and everything inbetween and break bones in glorious tear-filled revelry. Heck, I may just be recounting my own childhood here, but to Superman (hypothetically, of course), thank you for starting my love of comics, for taking the money that I would've spent on sugar-laden drinks and allowing me an escape to a world where anything was possible; a world that would eventually allow me to write an article about you. It's all very meta, but here's to another glorious 75 years! 

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Objects of desire As always, we are consumed with desire for the things that adorn our walls and shelves. This month we showcase awesome memorabilia from TV, movies and comic books.

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ECTO1 Who you gonna call! Yes, it’s cheesy, but you can’t think of The Ghostbusters without thinking of the theme song. This replica of the Ghostbusters’ trusty Cadillac is crafted in beautiful detail and although it will set you back a rather substantial sum, it’s sure to have pride of place on your Ghostbusters tribute shelf. Because you know… everyone has one. FIND IT AT: Cosmic Comics www.cosmiccomics.co.za RRP: R1,999

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KOTOBUKIYA ARTFX+ CATWOMAN Catwoman is the second female character to join the New 52 ARTFX+ line up. The workmanship on this model is of a high quality and it’s relatively affordable. The suit is beautifully crafted and glossy and she comes with two pairs of goggles (one of which make her look a bit buggy). A great addition to the New 52 collection. FIND IT AT: Cosmic Comics www.cosmiccomics.co.za RRP: R699

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POP! NINJA TURTLES – MICHELANGELO AND RAFAEL Everyone loves the Ninja Turtles. If you’re don’t we don’t want to be friends with you any more. These Pop! Vinyl Figurines might be of the more cutesy variety, but they’re still pretty darn cool. Pictured here are our personal favourites (aren’t they everyone’s?), Michelangelo and Rafael, but Donatello and Leonardo are also available, as well as Splinter and arch-nemesis Shredder. FIND IT AT: Cosmic Comics www.cosmiccomics.co.za RRP: R199 each

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KOTOBUKIYA WAR MACHINE Outfitted in a far more serious black and grey suit than his red and yellow Iron Man counterpart, War Machine is the latest offering from Kotobukiya. War Machine stands about 39cm high excluding the height of the base and hovers above a weird looking destroyed pipe. An awesome, fearsome looking addition to your collection. FIND IT AT: Cosmic Comics www.cosmiccomics.co.za RRP: R1,899

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Cosmic

Comics

Since 2003

for awesome stuff that's out of this world! Monday - Friday 09:00 - 17:00 Saturday 09:00 - 16:00 Sunday 09:00 - 14:00

For more info find us on:

Cosmic Comics, South Africa

www.cosmiccomics.co.za TEL 011 782 0819  e-mail coolstuff@absamail.co.za Mount Dev 225 Beyers Naude Drive Northcliff, 2194 Johannesburg, Gauteng


Illustration by Natalie Propa. Go to www.flickr.com/photos/ladypropa/ for more.

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03/04 While we're on the subject of...

Resolutions

by Isaac Kosmides Isaac is a writer, illustrator and designer. He also has a dayjob. He is a Sagittarius, occassionally makes it to yoga on time and will probably make you breakfast if you ask him nicely.

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So… It’s the time of year when people earnestly renew their gym contracts with every intention of living a life more akin to Mother Teresa with a Gupta paygrade and an 8-pack. Voila! A whole new sparklier, shiner, healthier, happier you. Until February.

Stop being such a pussy.

The predictability of it gets tiresome, so the leaves turn again, with a disgruntled huff and the more resolute standpoint of ‘I will change nothing!’

For every spark of genius, there are a thousand more waiting to rip it apart. Be bold. The worst that can happen is that you’ll:

The problem with that is - nothing changes.

Fuck it up entirely.

The whole point of resolutions is to re-evaluate your choices. Take a step back from your own selfcreated utopia for a second and ask yourself that most disconcerting of questions - am I happy? The (probable) answer: Yeah. Mostly…

And you’re gonna. Embrace it. Make mistakes. Big ones. Then figure out why and fix them. If you don’t know how, learn. If you don’t think you can handle it:

But I could be better.

Thing is, once you’ve started your something, you’ll realize something else, and the whole reason people do somethings at all – is to be reminded that they’re still capable of surprising themselves.

The only people that don’t need to make resolutions are those that live in a perpetual state of bliss. They have climbed every mountain and wake each morning with a singing bluebird on their shoulder. To those people (both of them) I say good luck with that. For the rest of us who haven’t quite gotten there yet, here are some suggestions: Start Something. Anything. Switch off the TV. Go outside. See what that does for your sense of wonderment. The world out there is large, and filled with amazing people doing astounding things. The only way any of them have managed it is by standing up and starting something. Anything.

03

Everyone has that thing. That thing they’ll do someday. Write a book. Have an exhibition. Stage the musical rendition of their sexual history. Create a super-villain themed wardrobe for their cats. Travel the world. Pick one and do it. We as humans are designed to strive for more. Everyone has that ache, that yearning to do more, to be more, to create something. Some do; they create cities. Others, castles in the sky. Each has started exactly where you are now; with a whim. The only difference is – they were nuts (or bored) enough to act on it.

Give yourself the opportunity to astound yourself.

Engage with the time/space continuum. Life is long (until it’s done. But who know when that’ll be, so it’s not a valid excuse.) A lot happens in a week. There’s always more time. And the busier you are, the more time there is. The adage "if you want something done, ask a busy person" is true. The trick is: Be selfish. Living with any kind of intention is like dieting. If you deny yourself your levities, the whole thing loses its flavour and you’ll just end up eating the entire cheesecake. Exercise your right to choose. Pick what you watch, who occupies your time, what you put into your body. And make each of them de.li.cious. If you’re sharing your time with people - want to be there. If you’d rather stay home to knit, then knit. Fill your time with experiences that fill feed you, and by doing so it enriches the flavour of everything you do; and as if by osmosis, everyone around you. So go. Do stuff. Be brilliant. 'Til next year. Then you can make all new mistakes. But that’s next year. 

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Batman is the ultimate depiction of the conflicted superhero. He battles evil, but equally he is constantly at war with himself. He has no real superpowers, only a sense of justice that sets him apart from many of the other citizens of Gotham City. He is a vigilante who acts mercifully, delivering criminals to justice but not exacting any of his own. Batman began as a comic book character, but over the years he has made his way into many other media as well, from television, to film and video games. This month we take a look at some of his highs and lows. A hero. A vigilante. A Dark Knight.

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batman comics Batman first appeared as a character in Detective Comics in 1939 and became so popular that a self-titled series was published in 1940. The character was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and is set in the fictional Gotham City, which is overrun with criminal gangs and corruption. Batman’s true identity is that of billionaire Bruce Wayne, who uses his wealth and access to advanced technology in order to fight crime and rid Gotham of its criminal element. Set in opposition to Batman are a number of crazy villains, all with their own agendas, the most prominent being his arch-nemesis the Joker. 112


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THE GOLDEN AGE C.1938 – C.1950 CHARACTERISTICS: In 1940 Batman #1 was published and introduced not only Batman, but also characters such as Catwoman and Joker. The primary writer of this early rendition of Batman was Bill Finger, and the primary artist was Bob Kane, both the creators of the Batman character. Towards the end of the Golden Age, a tone of silliness had crept into the comics, and their popularity began to fade. PROMINENT VILLAINS: Joker, Mad Hatter, Killer Moth, Catwoman, The Riddler, Penguin, Harvey Dent/Two-Face SIDEKICKS: Robin, Ace the Bat Hound

THE SILVER AGE 1956 – C.1970 CHARACTERISTICS: In an attempt to revive the franchise, Julius Schwartz was given control over the series, and removed the sillier aspects that had slowly worked their way into the comic. He gave it a new look that premiered in Detective Comics #327, and introduced elements of science fiction into the series. In the 1960s the television series Batman was very popular and the comics were greatly influenced by this, but it was a very camp, tongue-incheek approach to the characters. PROMINENT VILLAINS: Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy SIDEKICKS: Batgirl

1970S CHARACTERISTICS: In 1971, an attempt was made to reinfuse the series with some of the darker tones it had begun with in the 1940s. Comic historian Les Daniels argued that writer Dennis O’Neil’s Batman was “a vengeful obsessive compulsive”. Len Wein became the writer in January 1979 and introduced Lucius Fox,. PROMINENT VILLAINS: Rha’s al Ghul, SIDEKICKS: Lucius Fox

1980S

2006-2009

CHARACTERISTICS: The introduction of Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli’s series The Dark Knight Returns (later collected into a single volume) and then Batman: Year One gained huge following for its representation of the evolution of Batman as a character. A Death in the Family also received a great deal of exposure during this time.

CHARACTERISTICS: Grant Morrison took over the Batman narrative and the story arc saw the introduction of the evil organization the Black Glove, who are attempting to destroy Batman and all he stands for. After thwarting the Black Glove, Batman moved into the Final Crisis series, where it appears as if he is killed by Darkseid, when in fact he is transported to the past and stranded. Following this Batman went on a hiatus which saw Dick Grayson take on the role of Batman in Bruce Wayne’s absence, and in a new series called Batman and Robin, Grayson is Batman and Bruce’s son Damian Wayne plays Robin.

PROMINENT VILLAINS: Black Mask

1990S CHARACTERISTICS: Greatly influenced by Tim Burton’s Batman film, the 1990s introduced a darker tone to the comics. In Knightfall, Batman’s back is broken by Bane, and Jean-Paul Valley takes on the role of Batman. The 90s were largely dominated by the crossover No Man’s Land, which sees Gotham ravaged by an earthquake and ordered to evacuate. SIDEKICKS: Jean-Paul Valley (kind of)

2000-2003 CHARACTERISTICS: Ed Brubaker became the writer of the series and continued with the gritty crime drama feel the series had developed and included more of villains such as the Penguin as well as new villains Zeiss and Deadshot. PROMINENT VILLAINS: Zeiss, Deadshot

2003-2006 CHARACTERISTICS: Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Jim Lee began work on a year long storyline called Hush. A murder mystery that delved into different parts of Batman’s history, it called into question the events surrounding the death of Jason Todd (Robin).

PROMINENT VILLAINS: Darkseid, Black Glove (organization) SIDEKICKS: Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson

2010S CHARACTERISTICS: Bruce Wayne returned and starred in two new titles, Batman Incorporated and Batman: The Dark Knight. In June 2011 it was announced that all series in the DC Universe would either be cancelled and relaunched.

THE NEW 52 CHARACTERISTICS: The New 52 Batman #1 was launched in September 2011, written by Scott Synder. Bruce Wayne is about five years younger than in previous versions of the comics, and all characters that have served as Robin with the exception of Stephanie Brown, have been accounted for. Dick Grayson returns to his role as Nightwing, and Bruce Wayne is once again Batman.

PROMINENT VILLAINS: Hush, Red Hood

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batman games Although Batman has appeared in numerous video games over the years, from side-scrolling beat ‘em ups, to educational games and LEGO Batman, the most critically acclaimed and successful versions have been the more recent releases by Rocksteady and then Warner Bros. which were more in line with the Christopher Nolan films in terms of their dark theme and content. We could spend pages just listing the various Batman games throughout the years, but instead we’re going to focus on just these three. Because we can.

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BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM (2009)

BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (2011)

BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS (2013)

DEVELOPER: Rocksteady Studios PUBLISHER: Eidos Interactive/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment VILLAINS: Joker, Harley Quinn, Bane, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Victor Zsasz, The Riddler

DEVELOPER: Rocksteady Studios PUBLISHER: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment VILLAINS: Joker, The Riddler, Victor Zsasz, Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Hugo Strange, Two-Face, Penguin, Talia al Ghul, Mr Freeze, Calendar Man, Solomon Grundy, Clayface, Ra’s al Ghul, Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Hush, Azrael, Black Mask, Killer Croc

DEVELOPER: Warner Bros Games Montreal PUBLISHER: Eidos Interactive/Warner Bros Interactive VILLAINS: Black Mask, Joker, Bane, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Copperhead, Firefly, Electrocutioner, Killer Croc, Shiva, Penguin, Mad Hatter, Anarky, Enigma.

SYNOPSIS: Batman Arkham Asylum is a third person action adventure game that follows Batman as he makes his way through Arkham Asylum, a secure facility for the criminally insane in Gotham City. He was escorting the captured Joker to the asylum which is currently housing not just the usual inmates, but also members of Joker’s gang who have been relocated because of a fire at Blackgate Prison. Joker’s plan is revealed when he escapes after luring Batman into the asylum. Commissioner Gordon has been kidnapped by Joker, and Batman pursues him through the asylum in an attempt to rescue him. While he is there he is exposed to the Scarecrow’s (he is one of the inmates) toxin and hallucinates, triggering one of the most disturbing video game sequences I’ve ever played. Joker has been developing a more powerful version of the Venom drug that makes Bane strong, called Titan, and has been dispensing it to inmates, but it’s unstable and causes unexpected and dangerous effects. REMEMBERED FOR: Arkham Asylum was a dark and gritty game that embodied the Batman character on multiple levels. You couldn’t kill enemies as this is not Batman’s modus operandi, and it became increasingly important that as a player you must play AS Batman, silently and stealthily. The Joker was characterized by an amazing voice performance by Star Wars actor Mark Hamill.

SYNOPSIS: Arkham City is set a year after Arkham Asylum. Gotham’s most notorious slums have been converted into an immense prison enclosure known as Arkham City, and its inmates are monitored by psychiatrist Huge Strange and a private military firm called TYGER Security. The Joker is suffering from a potentially fatal disease brought on by his consumption of the drug Titan in the previous game. Bruce Wayne declares his opposition to the Arkham City project, and TYGER mercenaries arrest him and imprison him in Arkham City. Hugo Strange discloses Wayne’s secret identity just before releasing him into Arkham City amongst the prisoners and subsequently commences “Protocol 10”. Alfred airdrops Bruce’s equipment to him and he suits up as Batman. He must now not only track down the Joker, but find out the truth behind Protocol 10, as well as who is the true mastermind behind this plan. Mark Hamill returned to reprise his role as Joker in City, delivering yet another amazing performance as the unstable, evil mastermind.

SYNOPSIS: Arkham Origins, much like Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, is an origins story, and is set five years before the events of Arkham Asylum. Batman is in the second year of his crimefighting career, but has yet to become the hero celebrated by Gotham, and as such is still perceived as a vigilante, and hunted by the police. On Christmas Eve a bounty is placed on his head by Black Mask, and while evading some of the most skilled assassins in the land, he must also deal with the fact that other villains have taken advantage of the chaos to launch their own mysterious plots. Although there is much subterfuge going on, it soon turns out that once again the primary villain is in fact Joker, and a chase across the city ensues as all the while Batman is still being stalked by various assassins. REMEMBERED FOR: A change in developer. Roger Craig Smith also replaces Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman, and Troy Baker replaces Mark Hamill as the Joker.

REMEMBERED FOR: Arkham City was a vast open world game, which you could explore in whatever manner you chose. There were a number of side missions, and through the addition of DLC you could play as Catwoman in a limited number of missions. Although the gameplay and visuals were slicker than Asylum, the story was not as engaging, but it still did very well upon release.

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batman film Although Batman appeared in a few film serials in the 1940’s and then later in the 1960’s, it was only after the popularity of the character began to wane that Warner Bros. decided to produce a series of big feature films starring Batman. The films themselves have evolved substantially over the years, becoming increasingly dark and gritty.

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BATMAN (1989) DIRECTOR: Tim Burton BATMAN PLAYED BY: Michael Keaton VILLAIN: The Joker (Jack Nicholson) AWARDS: Oscar for Best Art Direction REMEMBERED FOR: 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Bros over the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman, however ultimately the film did very well, being nominated for a number of Golden Globe’s and BAFTA’s in addition to winning an Oscar for Best Art Direction. It was the first film to earn $100 million within its first ten days of release.

BATMAN RETURNS (1992) DIRECTOR: Tim Burton BATMAN PLAYED BY: Michael Keaton VILLAINS: Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer); Penguin (Danny DeVito) REMEMBERED FOR: Being better than the first movie, but it didn’t do as well at the Box Office. Michelle Pfeiffer looked awesome in that catsuit!

BATMAN FOREVER (1995) DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher BATMAN PLAYED BY: Val Kilmer ROBIN PLAYED BY: Chris O’Donnell PRIMARY VILLAINS: The Riddler (Jim Carrey); Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) REMEMBERED FOR: The introduction of Robin and his silly outfit. It seems there was a lot of spandex and speculation about homoerotic tendencies.

BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher BATMAN PLAYED BY: George Clooney ROBIN PLAYED BY: Chris O’Donnell BATGIRL PLAYED BY: Alicia Silverstone VILLAINS: Mr Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger); Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman); Bane (Robert Swenson)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan VILLAINS: Bane (Tom Hardy); Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway); Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard)

REMEMBERED FOR: It shouldn’t be. Batman and Robin was one of the worst Batman movies made to date. It was so bad that the sequel was cancelled and the franchise rebooted. It also introduces Barbara Wilson/Batgirl.

BATMAN BEGINS (2005) DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan BATMAN PLAYED BY: Christian Bale VILLAINS: Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson); The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) REMEMBERED FOR: The beginning of Christopher Nolan’s rebooted Batman trilogy, Batman Begins received rave reviews and restored a great deal of faith in the Batman franchise. Introduced Batman’s infamous Tumbler vehicle.

THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

REMEMBERED FOR: This was the last of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, as well as Christian Bale’s last reprisal as the Caped Crusader.

MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL (TBC) DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder BATMAN PLAYED BY: Ben Affleck MORE INFO: Not much information is known about the appearance of Batman in the sequel to the Man of Steel Superman movie. The characters exist within the same DC universe so although they are associated with different cities (Metropolis/Gotham) it’s not the first time they’ve appeared together, having done so in comic books prior to this. Director Zack Snyder has stated that although the film will draw inspiration from the iconic The Dark Knight Returns, it will not be based on the graphic novel. There has been a huge amount of controversy over the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, particularly after his dismal portrayal of Daredevil in the 2003 movie of the same name. After his name was revealed for the Man of Steel sequel, he has derisively been referred to as “Batfleck”.

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan BATMAN PLAYED BY: Christian Bale VILLAINS: Joker (Heath Ledger); TwoFace (Aaron Eckhart) AWARDS: Oscar for Best Sound Editing / Best Supporting Actor (posthumous) to Heath Ledger REMEMBERED FOR: Heath Ledger’s amazing portrayal of The Joker, and the last film he made before his death. Probably one of the most disturbing portrayals of The Joker character and very in line with the mentally unstable character from the comic books.

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Pure energy blade

LIGHTSABERS / An elegant weapon for a more civilized age

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dmit it, if you’re even just someone vaguely familiar with the premise of Star Wars, we've all wanted to wield a lightsaber. It's a weapon of elegance and pageantry from a bygone era, but with the added awesome of being able to burn through plated mega-armour, deflect lasers and make sounds that totally invented Dubstep decades before it inexplicably became popular. I will happily assume that we all had (or still have) glorious afternoons of whacking each other with cardboard tubing, PVC piping, or anything even remotely lightsaberish whilst shouting out the "Wuoooong-Wong-KSSSSSSSH!" sounds that the glorious devices made. Then you'd inevitably hit your opponent's fingers or face, crying would ensue and the make-shift swords then became improvised projectiles. To break this glorious reverie, let's get into the mechanics behind these iconic paradigms of SciFi weaponry.

SABER SCIENCE The 'blade' of a lightsaber uses arc-wave technology by focussing light through a pair of naturally occurring crystals that also generate the characteristic colours of each individual blade (the Jedi are more partial to blue and green, whilst the Sith rely on red, but there's a spectrum of colours from gold to black). According to Star Wars lore, each weapon follows a general structure, which is then customised by its specific user. Each weapon is hand-made, so no two are ever alike. The blade is made of pure energy and hence has no mass, but the lightsaber itself uses gyroscopic effects via the electromagnetically generated 'arc-wave' (the reason why the blades adopt a triangular shape when being swung isn't just to look cool, but also to provide a sense of balance while the energy fluctuates). Lightsabers are notoriously difficult to wield because of this effect and require extensive training, otherwise there'd be a lot of limbless Jedi wandering around.

1 DIATIUM POWER CELL Energy from a 'Diatium power cell'

emitted as a light blade.

is converted into plasma by the 2 PRIMARY CRYSTAL (hand-

Both the power and length of the

hewn into a rough diamond

blade are controlled by a series

shape) and then emitted through

of 7 DIALS AND ENERGY

the second 3 FOCUSSING

MODULATORS (Blade length

CRYSTAL and 4 CRYSTAL

adjust and blade power adjust),

ACTIVATORS.

but you won't often see a blade longer than a metre, which is then

The condensed plasma is then sent cycled back to the hilt by the blade through a series of 5 CYCLING

containment field into a negatively

FIELD ENERGISERS (or

charged fissure in

gyroscopes) and finally into

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e a r i n f d n o r g u a i r n D The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug by Dane Remendes

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Dragon treasure In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf the Grey briefly mentions Smaug during a conversation with Bilbo early in the film. “If you’re referring to the incident with the dragon, I was barely involved!”

W

hen J.R.R. Tolkien first put pen to paper to bring his imagination to literary life with The Hobbit, there’s no way he could’ve fully understood the range of influence his tale about a sneaky halfling on a reluctant quest to help a dwarven king reclaim his lost throne would have on not just the realm of fantasy fiction, but on the world in general. Upon release on the 21st of September 1937, Tolkien’s first foray into Middleearth garnered overwhelming critical acclaim. Intended as a children’s book, it captured far more than just the attentions of juvenile minds, proving utterly captivating to adults and younglings alike and sparking a fantasy revolution that can still be felt to this day in modern works. Soon after all this, the book’s publisher – encouraged by its critical and commercial success – commissioned another set of

works from Tolkien. These collective works would eventually come to be known as The Lord of the Rings. And we all know how that went. Its influence was and continues to be staggering. Since then, both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been adapted for stage and screen, transformed into video games, board games and all manner of merchandise that over the years has been eagerly lapped up by devoted fans of the lore Tolkien so lovingly crafted. Of all its many interpretations and adaptations, most renowned of them all has been its transition to film, powered by Peter Jackson’s masterful (and careful) direction. Last year, Jackson proved that the magic didn’t end with his Lord of the Rings trilogy, releasing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to widespread delight and acclaim. Now it’s time for part two of this second trilogy. It’s called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. And here be dragons.

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Bilbo Baggins PLAYED BY: MARTIN FREEMAN Bilbo exhibits all the typical traits of a hobbit, in that he’d rather stay home and enjoy some cheese and tea than venture off into the dangerous world beyond the rolling green hills of the Shire. That all changes when thirteen dwarves and a wizard turn his world inside-out. Bilbo’s wit, tenacity and courage prove a surprise to everybody. Including himself.

For those who haven’t seen the first film, firstly, perhaps it’s time to rethink your life strategy, and secondly, here’s a brief breakdown of the tale told by The Hobbit. Set 60 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, it follows Bilbo Baggins, an unadventurous hobbit who’s swept up in an uncharacteristically adventurous expedition to help a small company of thirteen dwarves (led by Thorin Oakenshield, and accompanied by the wizard Gandalf the Grey) on their quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, and with it, the lost dwarven kingdom of Erebor. The trouble is, the Lonely Mountain is presently occupied by the great dragon Smaug and his monstrous pile of pillaged treasure. And Smaug’s not exactly into sharing, nor is he about to leave peacefully. And so Bilbo reluctantly signs on as the group’s lone halfling, using his natural inclination for stealthy shenanigans to be fittingly appointed the title of company burglar. What follows

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The Dwarves

Bofur Thorin Oakenshield PLAYED BY: RICHARD ARMITAGE Leader of the heroic band of adventurers at the heart of this tale, Thorin is honourable, but stubborn. Also known as the King Under the Mountain, Thorin witnessed the destruction of his homeland when Smaug attacked Erebor, forcing his dwarven brethren into exile. Naturally, he wants his home back, and revenge on the dragon that took it from him.

PLAYED BY: JAMES NESBITT Bofur’s natural tendency to speak without thinking often causes all manner of trouble. He loves music and signing, and is endearingly optimistic. His brother is Bombur, and Bifur is his cousin. The trio joined Thorin to seek their fortune.

Bombur

PLAYED BY: STEPHEN HUNTER The dwarven company’s primary cook, Bombur is brother to Bofur and cousin to Bifur. His massive appetite is fitting of his enormous stature, and those two traits often result in plenty of awkward and hilarious situations.

Bifur Dragon treasure In South Africa (birthplace of both J.R.R. Tolkien and Spliced magazine), many will remember that The Hobbit was a staple in school syllabi, a required artistic set work that quite literally made The Hobbit a part of growing up.

Smaug PLAYED BY: BENEDICT CUMBERPATCH Sometimes called Smaug the Golden or Smaug the Magnificent, he is the last great dragon of Middle-earth. Smaug laid waste to the town of Dale and captured Erebor, claiming all of its treasure as his own in the process. The Desolation of Smaug marks the first time in this trilogy that we get to fully see the fabled dragon.

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PLAYED BY: WILLIAM KIRCHER Bofur’s and Bombur’s cousin, Bifur is in no way related to Thorin (unlike many of the other dwarves) and is not of noble lineage. His ancestors were instead miners and smithies, which means he has simpler tastes. He also happens to have the rusted remains of an orc axe buried in his forehead, an outrageous injury that has left him capable of communicating only via grunts and gestures.

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The Dwarves

Fíli

PLAYED BY: DEAN O’GORMAN Fíli and his brother Kíli are among the youngest of Thorin’s dwarves. Both were raised by Thorin, their uncle, and as such they’re both skilled fighters with a strong sense of honour. Fíli has never seen the dwarven city of Erebor, and his youth means he’s not entirely prepared for the dangers he’ll face.

Kíli

PLAYED BY: AIDAN TURNER Fíli’s younger brother Kíli is carefree almost to the point of recklessness. Thankfully, his expertise as an archer often proves more than enough to get him out of a bind. Both Fíli and Kíli are eager to prove their worth to the group.

Balin

PLAYED BY: KEN STOTT Balin is of noble descent, and is one of the group’s oldest members. He is wise and gentle, despite being forced to live a life embittered by war and the endless fight for survival. Balin is one of Thorin’s most trusted advisors, yet he can’t help but feel a flicker of doubt as to the wisdom behind their quest.

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Gandalf the Grey PLAYED BY: SIR IAN MCKELLEN A powerful wizard (and a hero that needs no introduction to fans of Tolkien’s works), Gandalf accompanies Bilbo and the dwarves for much of their quest. When whispers arise that an ancient evil may be returning to Middle-earth, he is forced to part with his dear companions and venture elsewhere to discover the true nature of a terrible darkness that threatens to engulf the world.

Radagast the Brown PLAYED BY: SYLVESTER MCCOY Radagast is friend and fellow wizard to Gandalf the Grey. He serves as a protector of Middle-earth’s ancient forests. Incredibly eccentric, Radagast feels more of an affinity with animals and the forests than it seems he does with other people. As such, he senses the growing darkness in Middle-earth that overshadows the quest to destroy Smaug.

FEATURE / MOVIES / THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG


is a grand journey that sees our eager heroes faced with all manner of fantastical encounters: warg-riding orcs, wispy elves, men who happen to be part-time bears, giant spiders, angry goblin armies, majestic giant eagles and halfwit trolls eager to turn the group into a hearty supper. The Desolation of Smaug reunites us with Bilbo and co. as they continue the march eastward. They’ll meet a variety of new friends and foes (and a few that will be pleasantly familiar to fans of Jackson’s films) along the way. The wood-elves and spiders of Mirkwood. Beorn the shapeshifter. The inhabitants of Lake-town, who prove wary of Thorin Oakenshield and his desire to reclaim Erebor. Our lithe friend Legolas the elf, son of Thanduil, the Elvenking. And most importantly, we meet the titular dragon Smaug for the first time.

Beorn PLAYED BY: MIKAEL PERSBRANDT A mountain of a man, Beorn is the last of his kind. Part of an ancient race of skin-changers, he has the ability to assume the form of a powerful black bear. Aside from his beloved animal friends, Beorn is not fond of visitors, and has no love for dwarves in particular. Regardless, Gandalf knows that the party must seek out Beorn’s help to continue their quest.

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Tauriel PLAYED BY: EVANGELINE LILLY A deadly silvan elf, Tauriel is captain of the Woodland Guard. Though she has lived many hundreds of years, she is one of the youngest elves in Middle-earth. Tauriel is an excellent warrior, agile and deadly. Her duty is to follow the will of King Thranduil without hesitation – but Tauriel cannot overcome the need to do what she feels is right.

Given that this is a franchise that’s so uniquely, potently significant, the various newcomers to Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s work are noticeably thrilled to be part of a project that is destined to resonate for countless years to come. Perhaps the role we’re most intrigued by is that of Smaug, who is instilled with frightening life by Benedict Cumberpatch’s brilliantly talented (and probably weirdly handsome) vocal chords. Cumberpatch doubly enforces his talent by voicing the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. The cast is massive, with other notable new roles including Lee Pace as Thranduil, Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman of Lake-town, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, a silvan elf of Mirkwood, Stephen Fry as the master of Lake-town, and Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn the skin-changer.

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Dragon treasure As much as we wish 3D would die (again), we feel obliged to let you know that The Desolation of Smaug, like the previous film, was shot in 3D at 48 frames-per-second. Expect more of them HFR magicks, is what we’re saying.

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Dragon treasure Each of the three films in the Hobbit trilogy has an estimated budget of around $150 million, compared to the $94 million budget for each film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Dwarves

Dwalin

PLAYED BY: GRAHAM MCTAVISH Dwalin is a powerful, renowned warrior and is the staunchest supporter of Thorin’s plans. He speaks plainly and openly harbours distrust towards non-dwarves, elves in particular. A proud, brave dwarf, Dwalin will only give his respect to those who earn it.

Nori

Bard the Bowman PLAYED BY: LUKE EVANS Though at first he appears to be no more than a regular inhabitant of Lake-town, Bard’s remarkable proficiency with a bow leads Bilbo and the others to wonder if there’s more to Bard than appearances suggest. Bard helps protect Laketown’s people from the tyranny and greed of the town’s master, and offers shelter and food to our heroes when they have need. When Bard discovers Thorin’s desire to reclaim Erebor, he makes his feelings known: that Thorin’s selfish quest could put all of Lake-town at risk.cannot overcome the need to do what she feels is right.

PLAYED BY: JED BROPHY The group’s most secretive member, Nori is said to often be on the wrong side of dwarven law. He joined Thorin’s quest when it came time to hastily evade capture. Nobody knows quite what Nori is up to at any given time, not even his brothers Dori and Ori, yet he remains fiercely loyal to them.

Ori

PLAYED BY: ADAM BROWN A talented artist, Ori is younger brother to both Dori and Nori. He’s often found drawing or writing in his journal, and it is he who quietly documents the company’s journey throughout. Despite often submitting to the will of Dori, Ori sometimes surprises the group with his tenacity and bravery.

Dori

PLAYED BY: MARK HADLOW The eldest brother to Ori and Nori, Dori is the company’s strongest dwarf. He’s a natural pessimist, always expecting the worst, but he’ll still happily fight to whatever bitter end he assumes is on the way. Dori often looks out for Ori, making sure he hasn’t gotten himself killed.

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If you’ve seen the first movie (or The Lord of the Rings), you’ve already got a good idea of what to expect from the look and feel of The Desolation of Smaug. Expect to visit a generous helping of beautiful and terrifying new fantasy environs, many shot on location in the aweinspiring landscape of New Zealand, with the entire film aesthetically empowered by the excellent visual effects and digital artistry of Weta Workshop. Stunning detail is applied to each and every aspect of these films, from makeup and wardrobe to lighting and sound, vividly bringing Tolkien’s written works to life with all the meticulous attention that such a spectacularly timeless and enormously influential artistic work deserves. We also love that, judging by the various production diaries that Jackson and crew have steadily released leading up to launch, everyone involved in its creation has ludicrous amounts of fun putting it together, despite the clear pressures in assembling a production of this pedigree. And as if we weren’t already tense with anticipation, their relentless enthusiasm drives our excitement levels ever upwards. We’re already counting the days until There and Back Again. 

Dragon treasure The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have never been out of print.

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The Dwarves

Legolas PLAYED BY: ORLANDO BLOOM Like his father Thranduil, Legolas is a high elf – and yet he’s more likely to be found patrolling the forests with the lowly silvan elves than enjoying the trappings of elven nobility. Despite his loyalty to his people and his father, Legolas feels that the outside world is threatened by an unseen danger, and he knows that he must decide where his allegiance ultimately lies.

Óin

PLAYED BY: JOHN CALLEN Óin and his brother Glóin are distant cousins of Thorin. Óin joins Thorin out of a sense of loyalty to his dwarven kin, and his skills as a healer make him an invaluable companion. He’s a brave dwarf with an inquisitive mind.

Glóin

PLAYED BY: PETER HAMBLETON Glóin is the most opinionated of all the dwarves, completely unafraid to let his thoughts be heard on any matter at hand. As such, he’s got no qualms with challenging authority, and tends to have a very short temper. Nevertheless, he’s a courageous and unflinchingly loyal friend. The dwindling number of female dwarves means that Glóin is one of the only dwarves in the group with a wife, and it’s said she has a spectacularly beautiful beard. Glóin also happens to be the father of Gimli from The Lord of the Rings.

Dragon treasure English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran wrote the endcredits song I See Fire for the film. Sheeran watched the film, wrote the song and recorded most of it, all in the space of a single day. Listen to it here.

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by Isaac Kosmides Illustrations by Kevin Momberg

Aah the silly season. We wait all year for it to arrive, with the promise of free time and sunkissed revelries. Instead, we have to survive the frenetic Christmas shopping, endless family obligations, feasts of Roman proportions, the compounded exhaustion of having made it through the year at all, and finally, the almost-willingness to have one's stomach pumped on New Year’s with selfinduced alcoholic psychosis as a result of it. To celebrate the season, and the dysfunctions of it - here are Spliced’s favourite movies created about this, the silliest of seasons.

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Robert Downey Jnr / Home for the holidays

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS Holly Hunter is not having a good year. She’s just been fired, her daughter is determined to lose her virginity and she’s left her coat at the airport. Luckily, she has the love of her family to cushion the blow. Or smother her with it. The directorial debut of Jodie Foster, featuring a stellar ensemble comedic cast (Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes and Robert Downey Jnr) this is arguably the best family Thanksgiving movie ever. It’s subtle, it’s silly, it’s immensely human and for anyone who has ever looked at the family they can’t help but adore and thought ‘who are these people?’ – it’s entirely relatable.

THE FAMILY STONE

THE ICE STORM

Sarah Jessica Parker is a horrible person. In fact, everyone in this movie is a horrible person. But if you can’t be at your worst with the people that know you best, then how can you possibly ever feel at home? The Family Stone is the story of a boy bringing home his painfully uptight bride-tobe to meet his dysfunctional family over Christmas, and the sometimes excruciating process of ingratiating someone into such a pack of wolves. Especially when they don’t approve of the choice. As with any family, the viciousness is fuelled by good intentions. As with any life, the choices we think we need to make aren’t always the best ones for us. (Un)Fortunately, it’s the people that know us best that’ll make sure we know it.

Nothing says ‘festive’ like shoplifting, multi-generational sexual experimentation and Richard Nixon. Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm is the narrative of two interlinking families over Thanksgiving break in 1973. The movie is stylish, beautiful and unnervingly sad as it follows the lives of two generations of Connecticut suburbanites in varying states of personal upheaval, each privately trying to find their way. The adapted screenplay (of Rick Moody’s novel) won at Cannes, though the film was a flop at the boxoffice. Nonetheless it maintains a rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is a critics darling. All for good reason. The interwoven storylines of each character are delicately constructed, and superbly brought to life by an ensemble cast including Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Elijah Wood, Kevin Kline and Tobey Maguire (in one of the 3 truly great movies he’s made. We won’t talk about Spider-man.)

Sigourney Weaver / The Ice Storm

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2 DAYS IN NEW YORK

Chris Rock / 2 Days in New York

Marion (Julie Delpy) and Mingus (Chris Rock) are in love, and living in New York with their children from respective previous relationships. Then her uberParisian artist father and developmental psychologist/once-nymphomaniac sister come to visit from France on the eve of Marion’s photographic exhibition, with her sister’s inappropriate exboyfriend in tow. For once, Chris Rock becomes the straight guy to the French revolution that erupts within the brownstone walk-up. Written, directed and edited by Delpy, the script races along with the almost-absurd rambling word-heavy format with which she’s become synonymous (think Before Sunrise). 2 Days in New York is one of the few cases where the sequel is better than the predecessor 2 Days in Paris; which tells the story of the relationship of Marion with the father of her son in a relationship you can’t be surprised didn’t make it to the sequel. Still worth a watch though as the French family are just that entertaining.

LOVE ACTUALLY The guilty pleasure. You saw it. You loved it. And you probably shed a little tear when Emma Thompson found out that the painstakingly wrapped necklace wasn’t for her. Even Kiera Knightly was less unbearable in this fluffy Christmas fare (probably because her role is more visual than vocal, and she’s not butchering another classic novel). It’s formulaic, it’s unabashedly cheesy and it’s everything the other selftitled holiday flieks (New Years Eve, Valentine’s Day) wished they were, but aren’t – delightful.

Kris Marshall / Love Actually

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Paul Rudd / 200 Cigarettes

200 CIGARETTES

PIECES OF APRIL

ME AND YOU

Courtney Love (and a myriad of others) party like it’s 1981. Monica (underrated 80’s staple Martha Plimpton) is having a New Year’s party. That is, if anyone will arrive except her Scottish ex. En route are a rabble of hapless losers clad in shoulderpads and crimped hair; looking to get drunk, get laid and get the year over with to start anew. With a kickass ensemble cast of now-familiar faces (Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck, Paul Rudd, Dave Chapelle – all in top form), the best thing about the movie is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. At all.

For anyone with a parent who expects them to fail. April (pre-cult Katie Holmes) has invited her estranged family for Thanksgiving dinner. Her disdainful mother (Patricia Clarkson, nominated for an Academy Award for the role) is battling breast cancer; albeit with much mirth. The film runs across paralleled storylines; April tries desperately to cook a Thanksgiving dinner with a broken oven, whilst the rest of her family road-trip to get to her expecting the dinner to be a fiasco.

In order to avoid going on a school ski-trip (and his overbearing mother), 14 year old Lorenzo decides to hide out for the week in the apartment buildings basement storage unit, preferring to keep company with his ant farm than any form of humanity. In crashes his denounced half-sister who’s going cold-turkey. The movie is a slice-of-life comingof-age and a murkily sweet story of a brother and sister getting to know each other. Directed by Bernado Bertolucci, it doesn’t share the elegance or levity of Stealing Beauty; but there’s a vulnerability in the two stories of people on the cusp of maturing that’s entrancing as a theme. 

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B by Sarah

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The 25

th

Holy Time-Travelling-Spider-Robot-Nazis!

T

he reason we like a good bad movie on occasion is because taking everything (including ourselves) so seriously all the time is tiring and boring and makes us tiring and boring people if we do it for too long. The beauty of the kind of bad movie we actually enjoy watching is that it knows it’s bad and that a bunch of us brave movie viewers don’t have quite the discerning taste that we claim to have on Facebook or a first date. The best kind of bad movie is one that looked at its budget and had an honest conversation with itself about just how good it could realistically be, considering the no-name brand actors and first year film-studies crew it could afford. This selfawareness is why movies like The 25th Reich work. First of all, it’s worth noting that this movie is set in Australia and is about time-travelling Nazis but there are no Aussie or German accents. We have the gruff, I-was-born-in-a-bar-and-whisky-was-myamniotic-fluid voice, the gringe-worthy essentialised Italian-American accent, the white-bread American moustachioso type and a couple others of a similar ilk; but, not a single non-Yank voice can be heard. Why this is actually a good thing is because there are few things worse than bad accents in films. Unless you’re a Bond villain, or you’re purposefully entering the parody space, just don’t do the accents. The 25th Reich isn’t concerned with getting things right or wrong so much as leaving any thoughts of accuracy so far behind that ridiculousness is all that’s left. There’s a radio transmitter that’s actually - gasp - “a time machine!” (picture extreme close-up of flared nostrils and fearfully twitching moustache here).

There are also hilariously CG-ed “marsupial lions”, gigantic bug things, classically shaped UFOs, mysterious plinths of mystery, flying swastikas and then there’s the pièce de résistance: giant, spider-robot Nazi rapist villains. The most surprising aspect of this film is the obscenely obvious sexual and gender humour. Not that the humour is there, but the fact that it may be there because they’re actually trying to make some sort of social commentary through these lewd and entirely politically incorrect oneliners, in a positive and thoughtful way. Weirder still – it may have actually succeeded. The topic of homosexuality in the military is not really something you often see in C-Grade adventure/ sci-fi/alt history/fantasy/horror/war movies. The cast and crew are about as famous as your gran after her retirement home’s talent show, but I suspect that one or two of them may actually have a modicum of skill. I was not so surprised to see that the director, Stephen Amis is Australian. It’s all about throwing another celluloid shrimp on the silver-screened barbie. That being said, there are a couple of other (read: better) Australasian titles you might want to check out that sneak out of the bad movie zone and onto the passably-produced platform. The Loved Ones is a surprisingly excellent backwater Australia horror about a creepy father-daughter duo. The twist is genuinely unexpected and the acting is pretty darn superb. Black Sheep is a New Zealander movie about zombie sheep and somehow manages to be a good watch. Australasia – carry on freaking us out with your flat-voweled selves. 

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ISSUE 02

The Hobbit:

The Desolation of Smaug "I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG! My armour is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears! The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!" GENRE Fantasy Adventure  DIRECTOR Peter Jackson CAST Martin Freeman / Ian McKellen / Richard Armitage / Evangeline Lilly / Orlando Bloom RUN TIME 161 minutes  RELEASE DATE  USA: 13 December 2013 / Local: 13 December 2013

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ISSUE 02

by Ray Whitcher

In this,

the second of three films, we pick up on the adventures of our plucky, diminutive heroes after having just crossed the Misty Mountains. Thorin, Bilbo and company must now seek out assistance from a powerful figure before entering the Mirkwood Forest as they continue their journey to Lonely Mountain without the assistance of Gandalf. Prophesised 'burglar' Bilbo must then seek out the secret door and access the hoard of the mighty dragon Smaug in order to fulfil his obligations to the Dwarves.

Watch the trailer

The Hobbit actually made its cinematic debut in 1977, with an animated adaptation of the book. (It was awful though)

This is a pretty solid premise, with everything in place to provide an entertaining romp in a style that's become characteristic of Jackson's directing and story-telling capabilities and it's one of the things the DOS does extremely well, with glorious set-pieces spinning, dizzying sequences of action that often had me cheering, much to the behest of my fellow reviewers. Once we look past the action romps however, some problems begin to rapidly manifest themselves in the narrative structure of the film. At almost two hours and forty five minutes in length, you need to have some pretty decent character work and dialogue in between the epic chases and battles so archetypal of the LOTR films, and this, unfortunately, is where the film is sorely lacking. To say the film drags would be a little bit of an understatement - there are parts that are so unnecessarily elongated with extensive establishing shots and pointless dialogue that everything starts to blend into a haze of gorgeous visuals and not much else. I'm one of the people that firmly believe that

this, the shortest of Tolkein's novels, could easily have been adapted into two films, because it starts to become increasingly clear that the production team was adding in as many time-fillers as possible. An example of this would be the extremely fun, but rather needlesslylong chase sequence about midway through the film that sees the Dwarves (and Hobbit) floating down rapids in inexplicably buoyant barrels as a mob of Orcs chase them. It's great to watch initially, with a beautifully co-ordinated series of attacks from the floating Dwarves, an elegantly prancing Legolas and butt-kicking swordplay from Tauriel. However, this very quickly starts to become highly reminiscent of the Goblin mine chase from the previous film and it suffers the same fate of starting out amazingly and then rapidly descending into ever-increasingly implausible feats of luck as the embarrelled Dwarves start careening through the air, smashing swathes of Orcs and then magically landing in the water again.

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The characters also felt weak and vapid, with Bilbo being the only one that really showed any kind of growth and strength. In fact, there is an inexplicable and completely crow-barred romance that is so forced and unrealistic that I honestly rolled my eyes when it happened, hoping it was just a case of badly-written flirting. Alas, this then becomes a driving plot narrative that has nothing to do with the original story and once again puts the one female protagonist of the film into the position of 'awesome action warrior until man needs saving and thus I must renege everything that was great about myself to become a doting, simpering healer.' This made me sigh. A lot.

ISSUE 02

" Without giving too much away, Gandalf makes a terrible discovery after having to abandon the group to confirm his fears."

On the positive side are the main narrative points following Gandalf and Bilbo. Without giving too much away, Gandalf makes a terrible discovery after having to abandon the group to confirm his fears. The dialogue and menace of the scene is incredible and for once, watching the film in 3D actually made it that much better, because you could truly experience the weight and consequence of this sequence.

Above: There were 170, 000 punchedaluminium, gold-plated coins scattered throughout the set of Smaug's lair.

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The character of Tauriel (right) is an original creation written for the film. Jackson and Co. wanted to bring red headed bad ass feminine energy into the film. "We believe it's completely within the spirit of Tolkien." said Phillipa Boyens (Screenwriter).

Then of course, comes Bilbo's encounter with the titular Smaug. Benedict Cumberpatch seemed an odd choice to play the evil dragon, but any aspersions I had were immediately dismissed the minute he began to speak. Smaug was glorious, he was evil, but Cumberpatch's added lilt and pompousness made the beast so much more incredible to watch than I'd hoped for. The animation is sublime, and I was mesmerised as I watched the individual muscles of Smaug's face tense and pull, giving a dragon the ability to sneer in the most condescending way I have ever seen. In fact, with the exception of Freeman's Bilbo and McKellen's Gandalf, Smaug (via Cumberpatch) was the best-acted character in the entire film. WETA took 25 years to develop the texture of Smaug's skin

I left the screening of The Desolation of Smaug slightly confused, very entertained but also a little

disappointed - the potential of the characters was lost in a miasma of unneeded dialogue and very strange decisions on their roles, as well as the boredom-inducing filler scenes. Visually, the film is striking (as always), with Jackson's direction giving layered and glorious scene-play in the beautiful world of Middle Earth. No matter my criticism, I would still definitely recommend giving it a watch. Do it for Smaug if nothing else. 

7

VERDICT

An entertaining adventure that can be a little overburdened by elongated narratives, The Desolation of Smaug is still very much worth a watch, even if just to see Smaug himself.

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REVIEW / MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

Mandela:

Long Walk To Freedom The epic, inspiring account of South Africa’s most beloved leader makes its way to the silver screen. GENRE Drama  DIRECTOR Justin Chadwick CAST Idris Elba / Naomie Harris / Tony Kgorge / Riaad Moosa / Terry Pheto / Jamie Bartlett RUN TIME 139 minutes  RELEASE DATE  USA: 29 November / Local: 28 November

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ISSUE 02

by Pippa Tshabalala

Mandela:

Long Walk to Freedom is the story of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, based on his autobiography of the same name. Watch the trailer

Members of the Mandela family attended the red carpet premiere in Johannesburg, South Africa including his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela, played by Naomie Harris in the movie.

Directed by English director Justin Chadwick and starring British actor Idris Elba as Mandela, the film focuses on Mandela’s story primarily from just before his first marriage to Evelyn Mase (Terry Pheto), through his involvement in the African National Congress (ANC), his second marriage to Winnie Madikizela (Naomie Harris), imprisonment on Robben Island and subsequent release and inauguration as President. It’s a lot to cram into just over two hours of film, and at times certain events that were pivotal moments in South Africa’s history are glossed over and lost in the deluge of emotion and information that is imparted in one sitting. That said, it’s nevertheless an emotional and powerful journey, and makes South Africa’s turbulent history accessible to an entirely new generation of people. We see Mandela’s struggle to maintain ties to his traditional roots, and his journey from peaceful protestor to state declared terrorist as an antiApartheid activist. We see Nelson Mandela grow from young adult, to reluctant leader, to powerful activist, and ultimately into his role as the father of the new

democratic South Africa, beloved by people of all races and inspirational to nations the world over. Mandela was portrayed admirably by Idris Elba (Luther, Thor, Prometheus) who managed to deliver an almost perfect rendition of Madiba’s recognisable voice and accent. He perfected every nuance of the man South Africans know and love, and delivered a moving performance that highlights the leader’s strengths and heroism, while at the same time not shying away from his very human flaws. Madiba was a beacon of hope for the struggle against Apartheid but he was also a man, and this makes him fallible and entirely relatable. It also tells the story of the passionate love affair between Mandela and his second wife Winnie Madikizela, which was renowned for its turbulence. Winnie’s own struggle is particularly moving, and we gain some insight into why she became such a controversial political figure in the South African landscape both during Apartheid and following the collapse of the regime. We see the different paths embraced by Madikizela and her husband. The effect this had on their marriage, combined

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with the long years of separation while he was imprisoned meant that their approach to politics became understandably divided, and we feel Winnie’s pain and follow her own personal struggle along with Madiba’s.

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NELSON MANDELA 18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

Long Walk to Freedom while emotional and relatively accurate in its portrayal of the events that defined Mandela’s life is not perfect however. Certain major political figures make no more than a cursory appearance, and there are specific events that are glossed over in an attempt at brevity that could have been addressed in a more detailed and accurate manner. It makes them no less powerful, but taking a moment to allow the gravity of the Soweto riots to sink in for example, wouldn’t have gone astray.

Makeup at times also broke the suspension of disbelief, particularly in scenes on Robben Island where we got a sense of time passing and Mandela aging. Elba’s skin looked too smooth at points, as if he was wearing a mask, and this marred the production value of what was otherwise an excellent film. For all its faults, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is still a powerful and well executed portrayal of the life of South Africa’s most beloved political leader. It will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart in equal measures, and in light of his recent death I have no doubt it will inspire movie goers the world over with its portrayal of the life of one of the world’s most influential leaders. 

Idris Elba almost didn’t make it to the premiere of the movie in South Africa after he was hospitalised following an asthma attack the day before the red carpet event.

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VERDICT

As South Africa mourns his passing, Nelson Mandela’s story is immortalised for a new generation. Long Walk to Freedom has its faults but it captures the spirit of a beloved world figure.


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INTERVIEW / JUSTIN CHADWICK

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Interview

Our film obsessed Creative director, Chris Savides caught up with Long Walk to Freedom Director, Justin Chadwick while the cast was in South Africa for the worldwide premiere. CS: Hi Justin, it's great to meet you. Before we start I just have to say that I came close to crying a few times watching the film at the premiere last night. JC: Yeah it’s emotional, especially dealing with those people in the audience last night. That was quite something. CS: You watched it obviously with all the members of the family.

Justin Chadwick’s most notable films to date have been The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and Kenyan film The First Grader (2010).

JC: I have to say that was quite moving. You could feel the emotion in the room, it was slightly surreal. Obviously I’m from Manchester so I’m not from the country, so I was very keen when I came and got involved in the project that I would use the fact that I was from outside to come and listen and observe and to come with no imposition of my own. Just to listen. I was very fortunate that because the history is so present and so recent that a lot of the men and the women who were involved in the story are still alive today and I was able to spend time with them and spend time with their families and that gave a personal insight and actually unlocked a way of making film. So a lot of the stuff that’s in the film comes from me being able to spend time with the Mandela family.

CS: It���s very detailed and it feels very authentic, as if you put a camera inside their actual lives JC: Well that was the intention, to drop the camera in amongst it, and let the audience feel in amongst it. In terms of what I was trying to do with the creative team, it’s a period movie, it’s not going to stand up against the Hollywood blockbusters with the car chases. It was a case of trying to drop the action into that world that felt real and emotional, and certainly the emotion that I felt last night from the men and women that lived the struggle, was palpable. CS: Were you tempted to make it into a trilogy or a two part movie? JC: Well you could make the most wonderful documentary, but I think there are so many people that are very much alive and remember so much and can give you such personal insight I think that was the key to making it as a film. As much as it’s a story about Apartheid, it’s also a story about loss, forgiveness. About the cost to the man and his family. Seeing him as a man and as a father and that was something that really shocked me. I thought that the Mandela Foundation, protecting the legacy of Mandela, would be very restrictive about what you could and couldn’t divulge, but no, the archive was completely open, there was nothing

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hidden. They actively encouraged me to study this world and to show all sides and that was very liberating. At no point did anybody say that they wanted anything covered up. And we did show all these characters and the flaws and it makes them human. These men and women are able to come out of all that and find forgiveness. He came out in his early seventies and you see images of Mandela and that spirit… he had that energy. In my memory I hadn’t quite realised how turbulent that time was. How he managed to turn that around and the transition was relatively peaceful and it didn’t descend into a bloodbath – it’s an example to the world. I’m constantly in awe of the South African people.

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"He came out in his early seventies and you see images of Mandela and that spirit… he had that energy. In my memory I hadn’t quite realised how turbulent that time was. How he managed to turn that around and the transition was relatively peaceful and it didn’t descend into a bloodbath..."

CS: Was it a full South African crew? JC: Yes, last night watching the credits – all those brilliant people and the level of passion and workmanship that went into it – South Africa has got a great wealth of talent here.

CS: Did you find yourself getting emotional on set?

JC: I didn’t want the money to be wasted so I wanted to make sure that we were using it carefully so that it was all up on screen, so no it was very well planned and the script was very tight. This film can’t deal with all parts – many wonderful stories and events that we didn’t explore, but no the script was tight as we didn’t want to waste that money. It was a South African financed movie so we definitely didn’t want to waste anything.

JC: Every day. I think all the crew did, and the cast.

CS: If it goes to DVD would you have an extended edition?

CS: Where there any challenges you found during filming?

JC: No the cut you saw, that cut was the director’s cut.

JC: No, considering I was an outsider, I was welcomed everywhere I went. I used to wake up excited to show up. It’s so wonderful to be back, I love the country I think it’s beautiful, I think the people are extraordinary and the fact that this history is here is incredible, it’s incredible it’s so close.

CS: Have you received any negative criticism about the film?

CS: The Sharpeville and 1976 sequence was difficult to watch at times JC: Those scenes were tough to shoot. It was so brutal.

CS: Would you want to do another film in South Africa? JC: I’d love to. It’s necessary, definitely. There’s great talent here and great stories here. Just the country itself, how beautiful is this country? There’s a wealth of talent here and I hope that more and more people come here to invest in storytelling because we desperately need it, not just one point of view. CS: Favourite location?

CS: Did you have to cut a lot of footage out or did you have quite a strict script?

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JC: Well you can’t deal with everything, and I hope the film feels true to the men and women it’s depicting and inspires others to go out and make films about the characters we don’t depict. This is a particular take and I hope it’s honest and true. It celebrates a character but ultimately shows him as a flawed human being like the rest of us.

JC: I loved Johannesburg! There’s a pulsing energy there that’s just intoxicating and vibrant and energetic and exciting and you feel the history there, but there’s also a modernity to the place and community spirit that is so strong. I can see why Winnie has never left, I can see why she still lives there. As a place and a people, Soweto is so inspiring. I’m glad to be back, I wish I could stay longer. CS: Thank you somuch for your time Justin, and enjoy the rest of your stay in South Africa. JC: Thank you! 


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REVIEW / THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire May the odds are be ever never in your favour. GENRE Action/Sci-Fi   DIRECTOR Francis Lawrence CAST Jennifer Lawrence / Josh Hutcherson / Woody Harrelson / Jeffrey Wright / Jena Malone / Liam Hemsworth RUN TIME 146min minutes  RELEASE DATE  USA: 22 November / Local: 22 November

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ISSUE 02

by Isaac Kosmides

Katniss

Everdeen is back to battle for her life in the second round of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Watch the trailer

During filming for the film, Jennifer Lawrence got an ear infection from all the time spent in the water. Being the badass that she is, she never got it checked out by a doctor (for 3 weeks), and during the filming of the spinning cornucopia scene the immense water pressure from the hurricane water punctured her eardrum.

The second instalment provides a more strategic insight into the blood sport, with President Snow and the powers of Panem changing the rules for the 75th Anniversary in a thinly-veiled attempt at quelling the looming civilian uprising by pitting previous victors against each other in the hopes that Katniss, the reluctant beacon of hope amongst the districts, would be killed. It’s aptly entitled the Quarter Quell Games. This is announced mostly to the surprise of the other victors who had been promised a sheltered life of luxury and freedom after having survived the games in previous years. The escalation of the storyline makes this sequel more compelling in that it takes a larger view on the politics behind the games instead of simply re-hashing the same plot. The formula is evident, but the premise is enthralling enough to sustain it. The discontented districts are edging dangerously close to revolution. As a result, the Capitol now desperately scramble to plug the cracks beginning to show in their tyrannical bravado. As Katniss and Peeta take their introductory pre-game

lap, the imminent uprising becomes evident with an increasingly defiant backlash by the citizens of the districts, unwittingly spearheaded by the antisocial Katniss. Seeing as all the participants of the 74th games (including the games master) died in the previous bout, this brings a slew of new heavy-weights, all of which have proven their mettle in being able to fight to the death. Amongst them, Nuts and Volts; the genius duo who in their respective years won through strategic (if mentally unhinged) cunning and the manipulation of science and traps to defeat their opponents. Johanna (Jena Malone) the axe-wielding femme fatale whose allegiances couldn’t be trusted any more than her emotional instability. Mags, a benevolent 80 year old mute and her charge Finnick (Sam Claflin), the charming showboat and Katniss’ unintended ally who managed to win his year at the age of 14. Here, the real muscle comes in with the casting; in a multi-award winning supporting cast led by the ever-impressive Philip Seymour Hoffman as the games master hired to ensure the odds are ever in the Capitol’s favour. This is also where my major disappointment in the movie is based. The new tributes are outlined as the most cunning and ruthless the games have to offer, likewise they are played by some of the most versatile talent that celluloid has to offer - yet they’re sidelined by the CGI and the incessant stoicism of Katniss. I was hoping to see more of the individual

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strengths of each gladiator in play, but the deaths are quick and seemingly irrelevant in comparison to the grandeur of the new arena. The arena itself is created to be the most vicious of the contenders, working solely at the whims of its master (Hoffman) at the instruction of his master, President Snow, who’s seemingly hellbent on demolishing the tributes entirely. Each power player here has agendas of their own, made a little too clear from the start, which robs a little of the mystery from all the back-stabbing at play, though I did doubt these at times with the ferocity of the challenges. The CGI is impressive, even more so considering the technology behind it, with a specialist IMAX team shooting the expansive Hawaiian jungle locations

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" The escalation of the storyline makes this sequel more compelling in that it takes a larger view on the politics behind the games instead of simply re-hashing the same plot." while the technobrains under FX supervisor Janek Sirrs (Avengers, Iron Man 2) fill in the challenges, the Cornucopia and Panem with photorealistic detail. As with a lot of adventure movies with the focus on CG, the plot is sometimes overshadowed by the graphics, with more attention paid to the execution than the plausibility - but we’re not here


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REVIEW / THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

A total of 48 minutes of the film, including the entirety of the Arena sequences, were shot with IMAX cameras.

to argue about physics. That said, the ooh-aah factor is there in abundance. As with the first, the attention to visual detail is integral, from the futuristic fashion to the gaudy Romanesque opulence of the Capitol. The twists are fairly obvious, as are the allegiances and resultant doublestandards. Yet, even topping over 2hrs of viewing time – the movie is gripping. You’re there for the ride, adrenalin pumped and bloodthirsty every step of the way. It’s well paced, starting at a predators stalk as all the pieces are laid out, but by the time the actual games begin its hard not to hold your breath. Catching Fire is clearly a set-up for the final instalment(s), and the abruptness with which the credits fall is almost

offensive having just been through so much to get there without the satisfaction of resolution. For that you’ll have to wait even longer. In the spirit of franchising, the final book has been split into two parts, releasing in November 2014 and 2015, which is infuriating as I can’t wait for more… 

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VERDICT

Katniss and Peeta return to fight for their lives as targets of the ruthless powers of Panem in a thinly-veiled attempt at quelling a revolution in the adrenalin-fuelled second instalment of the Hunger Games franchise.

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REVIEW / THE WORLD’S END

Simon Pegg’s character, Gary King, was partly inspired by what Pegg refers to as his ‘goth phase’, linking the two biographically, despite Gary being of a notably different temperament to Pegg’s prior characters.

The World’s End How far would you go for a pint?... GENRE Comedy/Sci-Fi  DIRECTOR Edgar Wright CAST Simon Pegg / Nick Frost / Martin Freeman / Paddy Considine / Eddie Marsan RUN TIME 109 minutes  RELEASE DATE  USA: 23 August 2013 / Local: TBA

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REVIEW / THE WORLD’S END

by Caitlin Geng

The gang

is back together for The World’s End; the third instalment of the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, following the massive cult successes of Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007) in true blood and ice-cream style. Watch the trailer

The film was partly inspired by a script Edgar Wright began in his teens called Crawl, following an actual pub crawl involving 15 pubs, although Wright says he didn’t make it past the seventh. After seeing Greg Mottola’s Superbad in 2007, Wright’s idea was reignited, and the idea of a night out as an adventurous quest began to take shape.

The ‘running gags’, or more superficial links, that have been threaded right through from Shaun are there; the ‘fence jumping’ gag, and of course, the third flavour of Cornetto (mint, in case you wondered) makes an appearance. While these little successfully sentimental nods are crowd pleasers, the film also fits comfortably into the more substantial continuing themes that director/writer Edgar Wright and actor/co-writer Simon Pegg set in motion all those years ago. Themes that centre on the difficulty of letting go of perpetual adolescence, of growing up, of friendship, and the dangers and joys involved are all as present and deeply rooted in The World’s End, as in their previous films. Similarly to Shaun and Hot Fuzz, the premise revolves around the friendship between the characters played by Pegg and Frost, and their unwitting transformation into unlikely heroes pitted against a sinister horde. You might say it sounds repetitive, and question whether three films with essentially the same themes and even stories might not be a bit boring. If so, just remember the wise words of Ed

(Frost) in Shaun of the Dead: “I’ll stop doin em’ when you stop laughing”. The story begins with a prologue set in 1990 (beautifully filmed on 16mm), which introduces the five lads (Gary/ Pegg and his friends) in their glory years, and is voiced-over by Pegg’s character Gary King. A little hint, pay attention to this intro, as ‘Gary’ not only reminisces on their first failed adolescent attempt at the ‘Golden Mile’ pub crawl in their then hometown, but also provides a tidy little itinerary for where the film will take you. “Pint six put Oman out of commission”, and, in pub nine; ‘The Beehive’, “it was us against the world”. These give a taste of what lies in wait.

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" The real triumph, as in Wright and Pegg’s previous efforts, is that the central story, which is always focused on the characters and their personal journeys, as well as the pure Britishness of it all, is never to be outdone by the sci-fi elements..." It soon becomes clear that Gary (Pegg) is a slightly tragic character, with a fatal case of nostalgia for his teenage years, when his ‘fuck the world’ attitude made him cool, and his lack of ambition seemed mightily impressive and edgy to his mates, but in his adult years is pretty sad. Roughly 20 years have passed when we encounter Gary again, who, in an effort to relive his glory days, forms an almost obsessive plan to complete the Golden Mile pub crawl, consisting of 12 pubs in his former hometown, with his childhood friends in tow. The only problem is, while Gary has been living in the past, the other four of the ‘Five Musketeers’ have all moved on, grown up, gotten married, and have ‘proper’ jobs. It takes some convincing, but Gary “gets the band back together”, and once more they (with much less enthusiasm than Gary) embark on the quest to conquer The Golden Mile, with the end goal of reaching pub number 12;

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The World’s End. Of course, it couldn’t be that easy, and it all kicks off when the gang discovers that their once hometown has been quietly invaded by robots (who aren’t robots) from outer space. The robots (who aren’t robots) make their intentions known; they’re offering not a take-over but a ‘merger’, and in a lovely bit of social commentary, the issues of ‘Starbucking’ small towns are raised, not all that subtly, but rather sneakily by Wright and the team. At the risk of over-doing it on the spoilers (sweetie), not much more will be said about that. The real triumph, as in Wright and Pegg’s previous efforts, is that the central story, which is always focused on the characters and their personal journeys, as well as the pure Britishness of it all, is never to be outdone by the sci-fi elements, the stylish fight scenes, and the insanity. The sci-fi itself is reminiscent of classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Village of the

The extremely slick ‘Beehive’ fight scene was choreographed by Brad Allan, who famously worked and trained with Jackie Chan for many years. Gary’s (Pegg) style of fighting in this scene is a nod to Chan’s Drunken Master movies, in which the fighter manages to kick ass and take names all without letting go of his drink, while displaying greater fighting prowess as he gets steadily more drunk.


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REVIEW / THE WORLD’S END

Damned, and Day of the Triffids; all those wonderfully creepy silent invasion films. This does not eclipse the development of the characters, and does not affect their original goal; a pub crawl which will take them to The World’s End. It just throws a different obstacle in their way. Add to this the surprisingly complex humour that this film has to offer; the running gags that are more like sophisticated arcs, which ensure that not even one line is ‘wasted’, tying the comedy together in a way which you don’t often see outside of Wright and Pegg’s distinctive brand of comedy, and this film is a masterpiece. 

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VERDICT

A brilliantly constructed film, encompassing fluffy warm feelings with all out sci-fi buttkicking, wrapped up in comedy so tight and perfectly timed it definitely deserves a special place on your shelf. Performances from the entire cast are fantastic; especially, of course, Pegg and Frost. Highly recommend buying the blu-ray when it’s available, and giving it a home next to the other two ‘Cornetto’ films.

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Illustration by Natalie Propa. Go to www.flickr.com/photos/ladypropa/ for more.

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Games

160 FEATURE / Gaming stretches 162 REVIEWS / Mini Reviews 164 REVIEW / Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag 168 REVIEW / Call of Duty: Ghosts 172 REVIEW / Battlefield 4

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COLUMN

04/04 Grant's got game

A whole new open world by Grant Hinds Grant has been the video games and tech contributor on South Af rican TV shows Top Billing, Expresso and Tech Report.

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COLUMN

Hey, welcome to 2013, the year of the Open World. That’s right, we’ve seen a slew of great and successful open world titles hit our shelves, not only this year, but for this generation. More powerful consoles meant we could play games like Far Cry, the Batman Arkham series, Saints Row, Crackdown, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed and GTAV. It’s been a fun ride, one with critically acclaimed games as bumper stickers. This might be a problem. But before you throw your pitchforks into the air, hear me out. Open world titles might soon be experiencing the same wall that First Person Shooters have hit. We’ve polished the tried-and-trusted formula of ‘runcorridor-run-shoot-corridor-run-shoot’ so much so that every major release in this genre seems to be a carbon copy of some other iteration in the same pool. Review scores of these titles are starting to wane (ever so slightly, but wane nonetheless) due to lack of ingenuity and repetition. The novelty has, for the most part, worn off. The same can be said about open world games. Some games benefit from an open world experience, a sense of exploration. Red Dead Redemption would not have been the same without experiencing the sprawling landscape of the Wild West. Or take the sense of majesty, of sheer heroism that Skyrim offers as you clamber up a mountain face to slay a dragon. The openness of the world is a character in the game, it’s an essential part of its lifeblood. But here’s where it gets dangerous: Developers can be all like, “Hey, kids be buying that, we need to make all our games open world.” It’s an inane paint-by-numbers method that corporations follow in order to ruin everything we love. If people are buying GTA V, we need to make all our titles open world. If people are buying Call of Duty, everything must have army camo adorning it. As if these are the defining characteristics of their spirit and success.

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just the final step in that evolution. It will come to a point where most gameplay will just consist of walking from point A to point B and players will love it. We can see that players have grown accustomed to exploring grand landscapes and collecting a hundred little trinkets along the way. That’s the evolution of gaming right there.” That quote right there, sucks. And it’s already happening. The Crew is possibly the most distinctly unnecessary open world title coming to next gen machines. Racing titles in particular, do not need to be open world, time-wasting-level-traversing-untilI-get-to-a-traffic-light sort of games. Sometimes a guy just wants to race a track. Formula 1 drivers don’t do open world racing, so why must we? It’s similar to making FIFA open world. Who would want that? Sometimes a shooter needs to just be a well told story in corridors with a few challenging puzzles, simply a level-by-level plantation fighting off zombies. Sometimes it’s just got to be open world. But not everything needs to follow suit. Soon games like Halo are going to be open world. And God forbid we get an open world Call of Duty. Actually, that does sound pretty cool.

To nail the point home, NDPs head analyst Marshel Cohen said in a report released earlier this year, “The only reason people play games is to become immersed in new environments. Open world is

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FEATURE / GAMING STRETCHES

Gaming stretches

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You have finally arrived - hours of intense battles and mind-bending puzzles culminating in the level 50 warrior-mage calling you out, once and for all. You breathe in, gathering in your immense store of mana and brutish bravado. You are ready for battle. Fight!

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Chun Li’s fist flexion stretch– one arm straight out in front of you with fingers pointing down and curl into light fist. Repeat on opposite side.

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he combo moves and wickedly cast spells flick from your fingers and you are going to finish this; now. Arrrrrrgh! Spasm. Cramp. We are losing power, Captain (Scotty is that you?). White light. Blue screen. Crumpled on the living room floor, your hand twitches and gradually comes to a painful rest. Don’t you hate it when reality intrudes on your immersion into other worlds? Unfortunately this, very real, body needs some taking care of beyond the world of beating the crap out of your arch nemesis. An elite gamathlete needs to hone his craft with appropriate preparation. The manual below passed down from master to student will see you through. They say it dates from antiquity… possibly before Commodore 64.

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GTA thumb gun stretch- pointing the hand in the shape of a gun, letting the thumb pull right back (you can use the other hand to help stretch it back). Also useful if you lose your gun and place the hand under your hoodie.


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FEATURE / GAMING STRETCHES

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Spell caster stance stretch – both hands held out in front of you, spreading the fingers as wide as possible and stretch out for 30 seconds. (Necromancers, mages and conjurers all lay claim to this superb spell casting stretch, its origins are not known).

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Assassin’s leap of faith – no tall buildings for this one unless you have completed the ten year apprenticeship of the Assassin Order. Stand with feet hip distance apart. Arms lifted out to sides, about 100 degrees. Stretch them gently backwards with shoulders relaxed (away from your ears). While holding the stretch go up onto your toes and lower to your heels ten times. Assassins hardly ever had blood clots, whereas gamers definitely are more at risk especially over those long bouts of LAN gaming.

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Ryu’s Hadouken wrist extension – one arm straight out in front of you with fingers pointing up towards the ceiling, grab your fingertips with the opposite hand and pull back gentling holding for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

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The Chocobo shake – arms loosely at side and gently shake out the wrist, elbows and shoulders for 30 seconds (the funky chicken was said to have stolen this from the Chocobo homeworld; that pillow fight goes on to this day).

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This tome of stretches is no replacement for a consultation with a member of your local physiotherapy magi council. Repetitive strain injuries can draw on your power leaving you defenseless in the face of an enemy onslaught. There was a spate of overzealous gamers hitting imaginary objects with their Wii remotes giving themselves rotator cuff injuries in their shoulders. No hero ever made it to their final confrontation without a friendly apothecary or physio-magi. These select stretches can be done gently as needed but are recommended at least once in a gaming session. A good rest from gaming should be about 5 minutes every hour; a gentle walk, wrestling matches with your brother or getting some hydration for those tired muscles will do. Do some stretches. Keep moving. Your character will appreciate it. You did save right? Well come on lets reload, load up on a physio power up token and kick the crap out of that boss. Like a boss. 

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MINI REVIEWS

PLATFORMS PC GENRE Survival horror DEVELOPER The Chinese Room AGE RATING 18

PLATFORMS GENRE DEVELOPER AGE RATING

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is perhaps the most successfully frightening game I’ve ever played. Its pseudo sequel, subtitled A Machine for Pigs, substitutes much of the overwhelming, in-your-face horror of its forebear for something more cerebrally disturbing, more psychologically nauseating. There’s a greater emphasis on narrative, which is to be expected considering development honours were handed to Dear Esther developers The Chinese Room. Outstanding writing is its greatest asset, weaving a horrifying tale that by the end will have you torn between wanting to applaud or vomit. That’s not to say that it’s not traditionally unnerving as well, although far less so than its predecessor. While certain aspects of the original (like the inventory system) have been dropped, it retains its immersive physics-powered gameplay that sees you physically moving your mouse to swing doors open and closed, and to move objects. That feeling of helplessness that so strongly pervades the first game is present here too. With no way to combat the horrors you face as you descend into the titular machine, your only choice is to run and scream and swear and sweat until eventually you begin to despise yourself for loving this game’s hateful existence as much as you do.  by Dane Remendes

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is awesome! Yes, really. You want to know why? It’s filled with two of my favourite things – LEGO and a fantastic cast of villains and heroes that makes for a game that might just be the best one in the franchise. It’s filled with the trademark LEGO sense of humour, a massive cast, and a really fun and engaging storyline. In fact I think this might be the best storyline I’ve played in the LEGO series because it’s coherent and well put together. You’ll switch characters half way through levels, but it never feels as if there are two parts of an incomplete story happening simultaneously – it’s well handled and feels relatively seamless. The puzzles are perhaps not as challenging as they could be, and this indicates the targeting of the younger gamers, but they’re still fun to play through. The main campaign is somewhere in the region of ten hours, but in between missions you have the freedom to explore a large open world map of Manhattan, and collect bricks and extra characters to your heart’s content. I’ve never been a fan of flying in games and LEGO doesn’t change this opinion much as the flight system is a bit confusing, but I loved the rest of the game so much I was willing to overlook this.  by Pippa Tshabalala

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PC / 360 / PS3 PS4 / Xbox One WiiU / PSVita / DS / 3DS Action-adventure TT Games PG

PLATFORMS 3DS GENRE Role-playing game DEVELOPER Game Freak AGE RATING All

Pokemon X/Y Whether you’re a Pokénoob or a Poképhile, this game is just ridiculous amounts of fun. It may have taken six generations to get here, but finally the focus has shifted to where it should be. Pokémon now actually excel from being treated well; the grindfactor has been significantly reduced thanks to XP Share (all non-engaged Pokémon in your party get 50% of the engaged Pokémon’s XP); over and above your starting Pokémon, you get to choose a first gen starting Pokémon (Squirtle, Balbasaur and Charmander); and the range of catchables makes this the game you’ve always wanted it to be and because that bothersome grindage is gone, you can casual-game this one to your heart’s content. If you take your job as a worldclass Pokémon trainer a little more seriously however, there are still several ways to make the game slightly more dynamic: the addition of an extra type (Fairy) and a new total of 718 Pokémon means that your knowledge of statistical strength matching has to be pretty superb (or, you know, you can just have bulbapedia.bulbagarden. net open). There are additions like mini-games to train your Pokémon out of battle; and mega-evolve is a nifty new tool that allows you to temporarily evolve your Pokémon in battle.  by Sarah Browne

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MINI REVIEWS

PLATFORMS iOS/Android GENRE Tactical Sports DEVELOPER Fuzzy Logic AGE RATING All

PLATFORMS GENRE DEVELOPER AGE RATING

Soccer Moves

Need For Speed: Rivals

The Wolf Among Us - Part 1 "Faith"

Need For Speed Rivals is an open world arcade racer that follows much the same kind of dynamic as Hot Pursuit, complete with blazingly fast exotic cars and high speed police chases. In Rivals you take on the role of either the Racer or the Cop, and the purpose is either to escape or conversely catch as many Racers as you’re able. Depending on the side you choose, a variety of different gadgets and abilities are available to you, such as shockwaves, roadblocks, EMPs and so on. The open world is similar to many of the other Need For Speed games, with shortcuts that aren’t shown on the map, speed traps and unlockable cars, and the game takes place in the fictional Redview County. Need For Speed Rivals sticks to the formula here when it comes to career progression – work your way up from the bottom to become the most wanted Racer in the county, but in Rivals there’s the alternate Cop career which adds an extra dimension to what could otherwise have become a rather stale game. Rivals harkens back to the fun and enjoyment of the original Most Wanted game and particularly when playing co-op with friends it offers an enthralling experience that will keep you coming back for more, it’s an enjoyable experience particularly when playing with friends.  by Pippa Tshabalala

Telltale Games is rapidly becoming synonymous with thoughtprovoking, high quality narrativedriven games, and this newest addition to their stable looks set to impress. Based on the acclaimed DC Vertigo Graphic Novel series Fables, The Wolf Among Us places the player in a gritty, modern day fairytale society that's rife with poverty, fear and more than a little anger. You take the helm of Bigby Wolf, Sheriff of "The Woodlands" (the slum-like urban habitat of the displaced fairytale creatures) as he seeks out a path of redemption and reformation after his earlier days as the legendary Big Bad Wolf. Like Telltale's previous title The Walking Dead, every choice made in the game has a real-time consequence, from little things like the way a character reacts towards Bigby, all the way through to major changes in the game's overarching narrative. The choice system is also pretty merciless, often forcing you to make a choice in seconds, so you need to be fast on your feet. At a mere 2 hours play time, it is a little short, but it certainly makes waiting for the next chapter that much more appealing. This game is a gem that cannot be missed!  by Ray Whitcher

Fuzzy Logic is a South African based development team behind the awesome new iOS and Android game Soccer Moves. Interestingly Soccer Moves blends a puzzle element with the idea of a more tactical plan when trying to score a goal. You get a limited number of players on the field at a time, the idea is to plan your passes and movement beforehand. Each of your players have a box indicating a "Safe Zone". If a defender gets inside he will steal the ball and you will lose the level. You have a limited number of moves per level, which makes it tricky to plan out your strategy. The game starts off pretty easy, but it does get extremely challenging. After a while you will be limited to two players on the field and those players will only be allowed to move once and pass once, which means strategy is everything! After every level you will be awarded some gold which can be used to buy new costumes for your players, or some added in game benefits such as a the ability to shoot past any goalkeeper. Here is where the micro transactions start. It is possible to play the game without these, but buying them all at the start would really help.  by Marco Cocomello

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PC / Xbox 360 / PS3 PS4 / Xbox One Racing Ghost Games PG

PLATFORMS PC, Mac, Xbox, PS3. GENRE Noir, Point and Click Adventure DEVELOPER Telltale Games AGE RATING 18

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REVIEW / ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG

by Miklós Szecsei

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PLATFORMS PC / PS3 / PS4 Wii U / Xbox 360 / Xbox One GENRE Action Adventure MULTIPLAYER 8 Players DEVELOPER Ubisoft Montreal PUBLISHER Ubisoft AGE RATING 18 WEBSITE www.assassinscreed.ubi.com

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag The series evolution we expected last time is finally here

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Even the characterisation of protagonist Edward Kenway seems to echo a growing ambivalence towards the series’ main plots: he’s a pirate and as such isn’t one to become bogged down by greater causes that don’t involve plunder and rum. His brash, heedless character is a welcomed tonal shift from previous protagonists. Additionally, Ubisoft Montreal’s decision to have the modern day portions play out in first-person with “you” as the main character in an Abstergo (read Templar) Entertainment research department is very clever. That also allows them to treat the modern day portions with a bit of social commentary on the gaming industry. As is to be expected, the modern day portions of Black Flag become suitably bonkers towards the end, but there’s almost a self-aware tone this time around and there’s definitely a preoccupation with conveying the story of Edward and his fellow pirates. To that end, the game benefits hugely. From the moment the game If you have an Android or iOS tablet, be sure to pick up was unveiled in March this a copy of the free Black Flag Companion App. It’ll give year, all the way to the days you a second screen that provides a ton of connected leading up to its release, Ubisoft features and displays the world map (in real-time) made a big deal about the open while playing. Internet connection required. world of Black Flag. While there’s no denying that it is the most open gaming world in an Assassin’s Creed to date, it isn’t as open as, say, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You’re still going to encounter loading screens especially as you sail

his time last year I was crying very (very) manly tears brought on by the bitter disappointment of Assassin’s Creed III. As such, I was somewhat reticent when it came to expressing any sort of interest in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Secretly, however, I was hoping the game would restore my faith in Ubisoft’s seminal franchise. It has most certainly done just that. Much of the narrative baggage from the previous five Assassin’s Creed games has been excised, which results in a gaming experience free from the constraints of having to drive forward a bloated, over-arching plot. The basic Assassin’s Creed tropes are still there however: there are Templars and there are Assassins, and both sides continue this secret, global power struggle. It’s all very dogmatic and, I would argue, is becoming less and less important as the series continues.

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into the larger ports and towns like Kingston and Nassau. Furthermore, islands are not completely open for exploration (like Assassin’s Creed III’s Frontier was). This sounds like a negative, but I hardly found myself longing to explore the distant hills that were cut off by invisible barriers. This is largely thanks to the very open nature of the ocean. There’s a glut of side activities in Black Flag, with the Templar Hunts providing fairly meaty distractions complete with mini stories told over a series of brief missions. They’re a little hit or miss, but they’re still definitely worth your attention.

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rom the moment you take the helm of The Jackdaw (Edward’s commandeered ship) it becomes abundantly clear where the majority of development time was spent. The naval portions of Black Flag are a terrific amount of fun and one could quite easily spend dozens of hours sailing the Caribbean seas and getting lost in the extensive network of side activities the game has on offer. Every pirating fantasy you’ve had playing through your mind since you were a child is here in Black Flag. There are sunken galleons to explore, treasure to dig up, Mayan ruins to unlock, animals to hunt, British and Spanish forts to conquer and an endless supply of merchant ships and enemy vessels to attack and plunder. This all plays out on an ocean that is azure-coloured and beautiful the one moment, and dark and stormy the next. This is undoubtedly the most atmospheric Assassin’s Creed in the franchise’s history. Excellent sound and the terrific original score play a big role in capturing the feel of the pirate fantasy, but for me the most outstanding atmospheric element was the sea shanties sung by your crew.

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hile the naval elements of the game are a shining achievement, Black Flag all too readily slips back into bad habits when it comes to the on-land story missions set in larger towns. Far too many missions have you tailing targets and eavesdropping on inconsequential conversations. Quite often the on-land missions are, to be frank, dull and utterly overshadowed by the naval missions. Furthermore, while the controls have been tightened up since Assassin’s Creed III, they are still nowhere as precise as the original control schemes found in Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed II. I also, sadly, encountered the occasional ship bug that forced me to quit and reload in order to progress. Minor annoyances aside, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a very good game. There is enough content here to keep one busy for weeks, and if you’re a gamer who tends to favour completionist approaches, then you’ll likely be kept busy for the entire December holidays. As a long-time fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise I can thoroughly recommend Black Flag – it is, after all, my favourite one in the series. 

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VERDICT

It’s a clean slate for the Assassin’s Creed series and a much-needed jolt to rectify the lackadaisical tone of previous entries. One of the best Assassin’s Creeds to date.

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REVIEW / CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS

by Marco Cocomello

ISSUE 02

PLATFORMS PS3 / PS4 / Xbox 360 / Xbox One / PC / WiiU GENRE First Person Shooter MULTIPLAYER 18 players DEVELOPER Infinity Ward PUBLISHER Activision AGE RATING 18 WEBSITE callofduty.com/ghosts

Call of Duty: Ghosts This is not the Call of Duty you’re looking for

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very Call of Duty has a recipe that it follows, a little bit of cliché voice acting, huge blockbuster explosions, and a hint of new features – a check list of sorts. Call of Duty: Ghosts is no different, and even though in June this year we were promised something amazing, a next generation of Call of Duty, this promise falls flat. Ghosts is set in the not too distant future, after a devastating turn of events the USA falls to its knees, and from the ashes rises the remainder of its Special Forces to fight back against the Federation, the reason all this chaos is taking place. The game's story is strong and entertaining, the main characters on the other hand lack depth. They all come across as your all American soldiers with nothing better to do than try to act more macho and louder than the rest. It is extremely frustrating that in today's age we still put up with these dead,

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Extinction is the most ambitious mode in the game which breathes fresh air it into this predictable franchise. With up to four player cooperative mode, you fight off crazy looking Aliens. It's a mini campaign where aliens are the new zombies, but they are smarter, more agile, and unpredictable.

uninteresting characters, with no depth and reason to care for them. The antagonist, and leader of the Federation Gabriel Rorke does a slightly better job portraying a scarred veteran, with a terrible past, but it still felt like I was just playing the game for the awesome set pieces, and not for the story. Ghosts introduces new mechanics in its single player: Riley is that dog that they decided the franchise needed, and he comes with some cool features, like controlling him through grass and stealth killing an enemy. Even though he makes a ridiculously loud noise doing it, it is fun while it lasts. The new features are extremely restricted, and I hated the fact that they would have a really cool moment when you can use Riley or a remote sniper, and 5 minutes later you will be bombarded with a "you cannot use this now" message. It felt that even the new features were all scripted and restricted to a certain mission, causing inconsistency during gameplay and it would have been nice if they could make these features last longer at least.


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hosts does what it does well, when it wants to. The normal point and shoot segments are what we have come to expect now with the franchise, and they are just so. Hiding behind cover, clearing the path ahead by shooting enemies, or timing a cooked grenade is fun. An enemy can also be targeted and Riley can take him out, but not all the time, and if you don't hear his annoying bark then you know he isn't present in the mission and that "feature" is not available. There are some amazing blockbuster moments during the story campaign, and Ghosts does a great job with creating different mission variations and set pieces that keep you in the action. From flying a helicopter (not on rails) to its underwater missions, even rappelling down a skyscraper, it's all well thought out and what we have also come to expect from a COD game, it keeps you in the game and keeps you hanging on till the next mission. Speaking of which, there are many missions but extremely short, resulting in a brief campaign, although slated as the longest one in the franchise.

Create a soldier is a good new mechanic. Just like the class system this allows you to create up to ten soldiers with 6 loadouts. New weapons, attachments, perks and equipment make it worthwhile to experiment with all your soldiers and create endless combinations. This mechanic also caters for all different play styles and does a good job at keeping things organized.

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he single player is fun and short, but after collecting all the Rorke files I was glad it was over, There were nightmarish moments where I thought I was going to stab myself for putting up with its terrible characters and over-the-top clichĂŠ voice acting, but it kept me on the edge with its great mission variations, and action packed scenes. They might have all been part of the recipe that is a COD game, but it's what we expect and as good as it's going to get. There are blockbuster single player moments that end quickly. Extinction is great, multiplayer is nothing new. The emphasis on the dog falls flat. It's another Call of Duty that plays it safe, and fails to impress on more than one front.  

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VERDICT

Ghosts is entertaining but nothing revolutionary, the hype will die down and we will want a new one next year, which will inevitably happen. My biggest disappointment was that this is not the nextgen Call of Duty that we were promised, and you might say I never played this on a nextgen console, but it's the same game, with the same modes and story.

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REVIEW / BATTLEFIELD 4

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PLATFORMS 360 / PC / PS3 / PS4 / XBO GENRE FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER MULTIPLAYER 64 players DEVELOPER EA DICE PUBLISHER ELECTRONIC ARTS AGE RATING 18 WEBSITE www.battlefield.com

by Dane Remendes

Battlefield 4 Guns, explosions and war, with some neat new tricks thrown in for good measure

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immediately presented the most dynamic, most explosive, most alive multiplayer battleground ever created. And it was spectacular. Now, just two years later, Battlefield 4 hopes to spark that same captivating feeling with all of its shiny new-ness and a range of iterative improvements, as well as a number of eye-catching enhancements like the much-marketed evolving maps offered up by Levolution. At first glance, the series’ fourth numbered entry comes dangerously close to looking like nothing more than an expansion to its predecessor – but there’s enough fresh content here to ensure that it feels like a necessary upgrade. Before we delve into the juiciness of the expanded multiplayer suite, there’s the obligatory single-player campaign that needs to be dealt with first. Simply put, it’s entirely unnecessary for BF4’s solo mode to exist at all. Graciously, it delivers a more worthwhile The increased focus on narrative experience than BF3’s naval combat has had some hollow campaign did, but that’s not welcome side-effects. really saying much. It’s a me-too Players can now draw their affair that does its best to keep up sidearm while swimming with the competition, but it’s just so that they’re not totally not enough to circumvent the fact helpless when out for a swim. that I’ve had enough of the sort of You’re also now able to dive heavily scripted modern military below the surface to quickly FPS crap that’s on offer here. hide from enemies.

here’s nothing else out there that’s quite like Battlefield. Since its World War II-themed inception with Battlefield 1942, the series has repeatedly dominated its particular subset of the multiplayer FPS genre with each successive release. Many have attempted to mimic its trademark style (with varying degrees of success; Star Wars: Battlefront immediately springs to mind as one of the better ones), but there is only one Battlefield, and it’s always stood proudly as the go-to game for those looking for large-scale multiplayer devastation. When Battlefield 3 was released in 2011, the six-year wait between it and Battlefield 2 was entirely justified the moment players stepped onto one of its many sprawling, chaotically beautiful battlefields and realised that they’d just entered something special. It

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n fairness, there are times when it manages to present some truly impressive moments, but they’re fleeting and often obscured by the fact that they’re surrounded by mindless shooting galleries. Somewhere beneath it all there’s a storyline that may have been worth paying some attention to, but it’s been butchered to accommodate overwhelming amounts of scripted tedium. If you’re not tired of this type of solo campaign you may find enjoyment in it, but otherwise don’t even bother. Thankfully, Battlefield has never needed a single-player component to grab attention. Multiplayer is always where the real fun is to be had – and BF4 is no different. As I said before, there’s nothing else out there that can match the scale of its concentrated intensity. It’s class-based mayhem for up to 64 simultaneous players, all battling for supremacy using an impressive array of vehicles, weapons, assorted gadgets and the careless application of high-powered explosives. Greater emphasis has clearly been placed on waterborne combat in BF4’s multiplayer design, and the addition of heavily armed boats to be used on wide-open watery battle zones makes for a nice change of scenery.

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Commander Mode returns from Battlefield 2, allowing select players to direct teammates from an aerial viewpoint. In between telling squads where they should focus their efforts, as commander you’re able to call in support powers that’ll aid your team, like deadly gunships that circle the map, and scans that reveal enemy troops on the minimap. If you’re in the mood, it’s a fun alternative to battling it out on the ground.

Environmental destruction has been a Battlefield staple since Bad Company, but it’s never been so extensively catastrophic as it is here. Levolution is a very welcome addition, ensuring that levels gradually evolve throughout the course of each ferocious skirmish. Some of these evolutionary elements are more instantly impactful: the much-touted skyscraper that can be toppled on Siege of Shanghai, for example, or the rising waters of Flood Zone that quickly change the nature of the map. Others are brilliantly atmospheric environmental effects, like the vicious storm that ravages Paracel Storm and turns its calm waters violent. Maps are destructible on a more intimate scale too. Tank shells cover the ground in craters, and maps often feature small buildings that get torn to pieces by incessant warfare, eventually crashing to the ground and killing anyone unfortunate enough to be inside when it does.


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ven without the fancy Levolution shenanigans, the maps themselves are brilliantly designed. For the most part, at least. I’m looking at you Operation Locker. You and your bastard chokepoints. The maps cater to a wide range of mayhem-filled encounters, from tighter infantryonly maps to the 64-player monstrosities that have become synonymous with the series. There’s still a strong focus on teamwork, with teams divided into squads that can be incredibly effective. The best squads are capable of swinging entire matches when its members work as one cohesive unit. Of the new game modes on offer, Obliteration stands out as being the most enjoyable. In it, one bomb spawns between the two teams, who must fight for control of it in order to use it to destroy key enemy objectives. The lone bomb means that skirmishes are intensely concentrated around a single point, and ensures that the fight is kept fluidly mobile. Naturally, the game looks absolutely

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incredible, it’s Frostbite 3-powered environments full of visual detail. It never gets old that by the end of each match, the map you’re playing on looks nothing like it did at the start. Special mention must be made of the audio, which is once again wonderfully immersive. It has to be said, however, that on PC the game is plagued by glitches at launch, with disappearing audio, constant crashing and the usual array of Battlelog teething issues being the most prominent. DICE is obviously working to rapidly eradicate the problems, but they’re impossible to ignore. Still, Battlefield 4’s technical faults aren’t enough to stop me from playing it. It’s just too damn good at what it does. 

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VERDICT

It’s everything you want from Battlefield, with some neat new tricks thrown in for good measure. Fans of the series will still love it. Haters will still hate it.

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THE LAST WORD / REJECTING PERFECTION

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Rejecting perfection We are flawed, fallible creatures. What we create, therefore, will also be flawed. But in the cracks of our creations lie the materials to improve: we utilise and build upon our past mistakes. This is how progress is made. by Tauriq Moosa

That’s why it should be a constant annoyance when someone’s response to a creative work – film, TV show, book, game – is: “It’s not perfect”. Of course not: nothing is. We should expect imperfection since nothing is perfect. But, more than this, we should be wary and avoid claiming perfection. First, we know perfection is impossible. No matter how much you love anything, it’s not perfect: it will always have flaws. Even your greatest idol has a digestive system (which is why you should avoid having idols completely); even Breaking Bad had its haters. The point is, from a purely objective and descriptive standard this claim is wrong. Thus, we should reject perfection claims because it’s factually incorrect. Second, we should avoid perfection as a standard since it disallows for improvement. Why improve on what’s already perfect? By defending something as perfect, we hinder the creative process. We claim that anything else will, by definition, be less. If we know that anything made will always be worse, what’s the point of investing, as both audience and consumer? This latter worries me most. We have a remarkable capacity to deny fallibility in favour of faultlessness. After all, no one likes observing failure in ourselves or in what we love. But denial no more gets rid of fallibility than

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a blanket gets rid of nails: it’s merely covered and we’d feel the truth regardless. Yet, this shouldn’t prevent us from loving. Loving is not incompatible with recognising fallibility. Think of human relationships: What destroys them isn’t healthy honesty, but blanketed denial of the situation. Similarly, just because your favourite book, film, game is “imperfect” should no more lead to denying your love than realising it was created by a woman or Egyptian. Further, how stale would our creative enterprises be were we to achieve “perfection”! The whole creative enterprise itself depends on our imperfection, our grappling with our bizarre existence that finds itself caught between the webs of aspiration and the mandibles of reality. We create for many reasons, but for many, it is the opportunity to convey how the world seems to us; to touch upon an aspect of the world that we love, hate, scrutinise. Sure: Not many are seeking answers to the “human condition” in Mario’s digesting mushrooms, but it’s a work of human creation worth celebrating. Remember: Someone decided this piece of creation needed an audience: whether for financial or artistic reasons (and the two are hardly ever completely absent); we are allowed to engage with it as representing a new entity in the world. And, whatever else we think, we can begin by recognising that because it’s human-made, it is not perfect. Perfection must be done away with. Thus, next time someone says “Well, it’s not perfect…” say “Good. We don’t want it to be.” 


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Spliced issue 02 2013/2014