Is It Possible To Make A “Director’s Cut” Of A Webcomic?

2017 Artwork Webcomic directors cut article

Whilst editing part of a webcomic update from a mini series that will appear here in mid-May, I ended up thinking about whether you can have a “Director’s Cut” of a webcomic in the same way that you can have in a film.

Basically, the last two panels of this comic update originally contained about 20% more dialogue than they did when I’d finished editing. Some of this dialogue was removed for pacing reasons, some of it seemed slightly out of character and one joke accidentally gave away a plot twist. Yet, there was a version of that comic update that contained more dialogue than the finished update did.

Since most webcomics are made by just one or two people, there’s no large studio to interfere with the webcomic before it is published. So, the people making the webcomic are often free to choose what to include and what not to include (and, yes, it’s possible to have “deleted scenes” in a webcomic).

As such, most webcomics already are a ‘director’s cut’ in the strictest sense of the word, since the people making them have the final say on what’s included in the comic.

But, it could be argued that there’s often a lot of material that is left out of webcomics – lines of dialogue trimmed for pacing/plot reasons, unused comic strip ideas, alternate artwork etc… So, it’s certainly possible to have an extended version of a webcomic, but not a traditional “director’s cut”.

Still, the closest thing to a “director’s cut” that can probably be done in a webcomic is when an artist and/or writer revisits some of their old webcomic updates and remakes them in something closer to their modern style. Still, this is more of a “remake” than a “director’s cut”, even if it can involve changes to a webcomic update’s dialogue and art.

Plus, one thing that often prevents webcomics from having “director’s cut” versions is the very format of a webcomic itself. Whilst many webcomics (mine included) are divided up into several segments, traditional webcomics are often continuous things.

But, if there’s one word that can be associated with making a webcomic, then it’s “fast”. Webcomics are often expected to be published in regular instalments and this often means that the creators have to work on them continuously and/or make a large number of comics in advance.

This often means that webcomic makers often don’t have the time to revisit old comic updates in the way that a film-maker might be able to revisit one of their films in order to make a “director’s cut”.

In a way, the only way that a webcomic maker could possibly make a director’s cut is if they went back and removed comic updates that were mostly made to fill the schedule or to bulk up an otherwise short comic. I mean, there are at least two webcomic mini series of mine which would have probably been better with fewer comics (eg: “Damania Resolute” would have been better if it was half as long and “Damania Retrofuturistic” could probably be improved by removing 2-4 comics).

But, for the most part, it’s pretty much impossible to make a “director’s cut” of a webcomic because, most of the time, this is what a webcomic already is.

——–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Advertisements

Review: “Army Of Darkness: Director’s Cut” (Film)

2017 Artwork Army Of Darkness review sketch

I first saw “Army Of Darkness” when I was about fourteen or fifteen. If I remember rightly, I bought an old ex-rental VHS of it (which had a gigantic case, does anyone else remember when rental videos used to have these?). This was some time after I’d seen the first “Evil Dead” film, but possibly sometime before I’d seen the second one.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember exactly what I thought of “Army Of Darkness” back then – but the comedy probably went completely over my head, since I probably expected it to be a gory horror movie like it’s predecessors.

A few years later, I learnt that virtually all of the classic 1990s FPS games made by 3D Realms referenced the movie in some way or another (in fact, the box art for “Duke Nukem 3D” is a blatant rip-off of the poster from this movie – so is the title image for this review). So, naturally, it went on my “to watch” list… for many years.

Last year, I found a cheap second-hand DVD of the Director’s Cut on Amazon (the 2002 UK edition, that also includes the original US version of the film) and – well- I just had to rewatch it!

“Army Of Darkness” is a horror/comedy movie from 1993. After a brief re-cap of the events of the second “Evil Dead” movie, Ash is thrown through a mystic portal back to medieval England (or, a version of Medieval England that looks a lot like an American desert). Captured by some nearby knights, he finds himself in the middle of a conflict between King Arthur and King Henry.

Sentenced to death, Ash is thrown into a pit to be consumed by one of the many zombies that are plaguing the land. Ash being Ash, the zombie soon ends up being chainsaw fodder. Amazed by his prowess in battle, King Arthur and his magician agree to help Ash get back to the present day. Of course, this involves finding the Necronomicon……

As I hinted earlier, this film is actually a dark comedy movie rather than a horror movie.

Although the film does contain some truly brilliant moments of dark humour, a fair amount of the humour is of the slapstick variety. Even though some of this is genuinely funny (such as when Ash is slapped by skeletal hands), it does get a little bit repetitive and predictable after a while. Still, some of the English accents in this film are literally “so bad that they’re good” and I should know, I’m English!

It may be because I’m more used to TV shows than movies these days, but the storytelling wasn’t as great as I remembered. The plot seemed to jump along too quickly in some parts, there are a few small plot holes and the characterisation is wildly inconsistent….

But, this is missing the point of what “Army Of Darkness” is supposed to be about! It’s a movie that’s meant to be fun! It’s a cheesy old American horror comic brought to life and infused with the sarcasm of the 1990s. It’s Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court“! It’s part of a great tradition of medium-budget American comedy horror films from the 1980s and 90s.

It’s a film where zombies are chainsawed mercilessly, where skeletons explode, where medieval knights duke it out with the undead, where the main character is a cartoon character in human form etc… It’s a horror comedy classic.

As well as lots of hilarious skeletons and cheesy zombies, the best thing about this film is the dialogue. There are so many great lines in this film that I’ve heard quoted a million times before in “Duke Nukem 3D” and “Blood” and, well, it’s interesting to see where they all came from. But, even if you’ve never played these games, then you’ll probably find at least a few brilliantly quotable lines here.

Like with the ex-rental VHS I saw when I was a teenager, the “Director’s Cut” keeps the hilariously cynical and pessimistic original ending to the film. This was removed from the original US version of the film and replaced with something that is ten times more badass, but slightly less funny. Having seen both endings, I’m really not sure which one I prefer.

Although I couldn’t spot every difference between the director’s cut and the version I saw on video when I was a teenager, the director’s cut is apparently 15 minutes longer than the original theatrical version. From what I’ve read online, one scene that was originally cut in the theatrical version was a totally bloodless zombie decapitation in the “zombie pit” scene.

Apparently, they had to cut this because the MPAA would have given the film a NC-17 rating if it stayed in. To call this censorship “bizarre” would be an understatement, given that far more violent films were passed by US censors at the time. Then again, it may be an example of the MPAA’s apparent ultra-harsh treatment of any film not by the “big five” film studios. Even the UK censors gave this film a “15” certificate in 1993, back when they were ridiculously strict.

Amusingly, the film was originally planned to have a “PG-13” certificate in the states. Although this is perhaps prescient of today’s cynical trend for watered-down sequels/remakes, the only real difference between this movie and the previous “Evil Dead” films is the relative lack of blood and the extra humour. The visual style of a lot of the film is still wonderfully gothic in the way that only films from the 1990s seemed to be able to be.

As for the special effects, they’re surprisingly good for a medium-budget film from 1992/3. There are epic battles, lots of stop-motion animated skeletons, dramatic explosions, cartoonishly distorted body parts etc… Although some of the effects may look a little bit old-fashioned by modern standards, I imagine that they would have been ten times more epic back in the 1990s.

All in all, this film is a classic. Yes, some of the slapstick humour gets slightly repetitive and the characterisation is a bit random, but this isn’t meant to be a “serious” film. It’s a film about time travel and zombies in the middle ages. It’s from a time when Hollywood actually made films that were meant to be fun!

A time before identikit superhero movies, “updated” remakes, CGI tech demo movies, generic dialogue-light action movies and endless reboots.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four and a half.

Review: “Stargate (Director’s Cut)” (Film)

2014 Artwork Stargate movie review sketch

Although I have vague memories of watching this film on TV when I was a kid, I didn’t really discover anything “Stargate”-related until earlier this year when I started watching “Stargate SG-1” and, more recently “Stargate: Atlantis” too.

From what I remembered, I knew that the original “Stargate” movie from 1994 was quite spectacular and was set in somewhere resembling ancient Egypt, but that was about it.

So, a while back, when I saw that 2nd hand DVDs of the original movie were surprisingly cheap, I had to get a copy of it and it turned out that the only version I could find on DVD was the “Director’s Cut”. Yes, I still watch films on DVD – and that’s only because my VHS player doesn’t work any more. I may be in my twenties, but I’m probably a lot older at heart LOL!

Since it’s been over a decade since I saw the original movie, I can’t compare the two versions – so I will be looking at this film on it’s own merits. Plus, although I’ll be comparing it to the TV shows it inspired a bit later in this review, I’ll also try to look at the film on it’s own in this context too. I’ll also try to avoid SPOILERS, but there might be a few in this review.

“Stargate” is a sci-fi/adventure movie from 1994, which begins with a mysterious spaceship landing on earth in 8,000 BC. Many years later, in the 1920s, an archaeological expedition in Egypt (led by a man called Dr. Langford and his young daughter Catherine) turns up a mysterious giant ring-shaped device near a pyramid.

We flash forward to 1990s America, where an Egyptologist called Dr. Daniel Jackson (played by James Spader) is delivering a lecture about his theories regarding the age of various pyramids. His theories prove unpopular and most of the academics present walk out of the hall in disgust.

As Dr. Jackson leaves the lecture theatre, he is confronted by several military officers and a much older Catherine Langford, who ask for his help in translating some hieroglyphics.

It quickly turns out that the hieroglyphics are related to the mysterious device that Catherine’s father discovered in the 1920s and, once Dr. Jackson has been able to decode the symbols on it, the device whirls into action and generates a portal to another planet. After some deliberation, the military finally decides to send Dr. Jackson and a reconnaissance team, led by Colonel Jack O’ Neil (played by Kurt Russell) through the portal, where they discover a planet which looks exactly like ancient Egypt……

One of the first things I will say about this film is that it was a lot more “serious” than I expected. If you’re used to the slightly more irreverent and humourous tone of the TV shows that it inspired, then you might be surprised by this. But, basically, it’s just an ordinary mega-budget action/adventure drama film which takes itself reasonably seriously.

Another cool thing about “Stargate” is that when the main characters arrive on the planet and meet the people who live there, no-one understands each other for about half of the film. As you would expect on a planet that is similar to Ancient Egpyt, the people there don’t speak English.

This sounds like a really small detail, but it adds an extra layer of realism to the film and it really gives you the sense that the main characters are on a world that they know nothing about. Plus, it’s a refreshing contrast from “Stargate SG-1”, where everyone across the entire galaxy somehow speaks perfect English.

The special effects in “Stargate” are fairly good for 1994 too. Yes, the pre-CGI model effects look slightly dated twenty years later, but they still work very well. And, to be honest, the really impressive thing about the film is the story and the settings rather than the effects.

All of the set designs in this film are extremely good too and there are vast city scenes, sweeping deserts, ancient pyramids and pharonic spacecraft aplenty here. Although the special effects might not have aged so well, all of the sets still look absolutely brilliant.

The acting in this film is fairly good too and you get a good sense of who the characters are fairly quickly. Daniel Jackson is the cute nerdy scientist that we all know and love and, if you’ve seen Michael Shanks’ version of Daniel Jackson in “Stargate SG-1”, then you pretty much know what to expect.

However, Jack O’Neil is very different in the film to how Richard Dean Anderson portrays him in the TV show. Kurt Russell plays the character completely “straight” and he’s a serious, no-nonsense military “action hero” with a depressing past and more than a little bit of a death wish.

The only minor criticism I have of the film is the pacing. Maybe it’s because this is the director’s cut of the film or maybe it’s because I’m much more used to TV shows than to movies, but this film moved at a slightly slower pace than I expected it to. Still, in a way, it’s kind of a refreshing change from the perfunctory, ultra-fast pace of most modern mega-budget “blockbuster” movies.

All in all, this is an extremely good film that is worth checking out if you like sci-fi and/or ancient Egypt. Yes, the effects look a little bit dated, but it’s still an atmospheric and compelling film that stands the test of time.

Although I prefer the TV show that this film inspired, that show would never have been possible if it wasn’t for this film. Although, as I mentioned earlier, if you’re a fan of “Stargate SG-1” and you’ve never seen this film before, then expect quite a few changes.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would get four and a half.