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November 21, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-21

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 7A

1,001 webcomics

Pointed 'Hedgehog'

it's 12:01 a.m. on a Monday
morning, and once again I
find myself hunched over
my laptop furiously refresh-
ing my web
My favorite
"Minor Acts
of Heroism,"
is due to
update at any
minute, and LAUREN
last week's CASERTA
has left me in
six straight days of excruciating
As I wait anxiously for the
next single-page installment to
appear, I silently hope the rig-
ors of my author's day job won't
interfere with what looks to be
a strong, original storyline that
could easily unfold within a year
or two. Though some webcom-
ics shun continuity in favor of
weekly spontaneity, many artist
take a more linear approach to
their work, choosing to write
and illustrate their own multi-
volume fictional tales, which are
drawn and released page-by-
page on a daily or weekly basis.
These definitely aren't your
dad's Marvel Comics mass-
productions: Webcomics rarely
generate much revenue, and
their creators are usually free-
lance designers and market-
ing artists who have lovingly
poured time and effort into
these beloved pet projects as
personal creative outlets. The
results are often stunning and
always entertaining - if you
haven't laughed and cried after
reading Der-Shing Helmer's
"The Meek," then you're either
a rock or Keanu Reeves.
As an avid reader and listener
I rejoice in the idea that the art
of the illustrated story could
translate well into digital form.
The recent surge in the duality

do thou
week a
only a t
tive the
I wa
on ther
Sarah I
pages t
"The PI
and Th
g a trage
day. So
back? D
fluke th
of tech:
slow ar
r T
s wit
It wa
one oft
book ch
I, like m
with Sc
at least
she told
them, t
nasty h
his wiv
with we
stave of
, by thre,
larly go
off. By e

sands of readers return never-endingstory. After keep-
fter week expecting ing up the act for 1,001 nights,
iny fraction of a narra- the sultan finally realized the
y've been following for error of his rather irrational habit
s or years? and admitted that the long wait
s faced with this question for the story's conclusion had in
night webcomic giant fact opened his eyes to Schehe-
Ellerton posted the final razade's beauty and intelligence.
o her piece de resistance, This element of constant
hoenix Requiem." I had suspense keeps webcomic fans
d back every Monday coming back for more, even if
ursday for nearlythree- our weekly wait is only out of
half years to watch her artistic necessity. Each update
ge supernatural drama- is a new cliffhanger, even if it
ce-mystery unfold. Every lacks a staggering revelation
update seemed like or a key plot element. Even the
dy; every three-page final page of a chapter isn't
felt like a second birth- satisfying, since the next one
what had kept me coming is bound to open up another
aid this magnetism lie in a action-filled arc that sparks a
at arose when the speed new world of questions.
nology collided with a The element of constant curi-
tistic process? osity would be lost if an artist
decided to post an entire story
in one go. By forcing us to slow
date or off down and enjoy the story, web-
comic artists allow us an element
:h your head. of intimacy that would be lost
if we were simply permitted to
gorge ourselves all at once on
their intricate illustrations and
tsn't until I revisited carefully crafted narratives. We
my favorite childhood have time to study their char-
raracters that I realized acters. We pause and appreci-
nany fans, was actually ate their styles. We catch the
ucked in by a storytelling nuances in their pages, each of
I almost 1,000 years in the which takes upwards of 15 hours
. If you aren't familiar to finish each week.
heherazade, then you are For those of you who haven't
familiar with the stories started reading webcomics,
- 1,001 nights' worth of there's still time to catch up
o be exact. - even if you're not a fan of fic-
are this: You've justbeen tion. The witty mathematical
d to a sultan who has a humor of "xkcd" will satisfy any
abit of beheading each of engineer or computer program-
es the morning after he mer, and "Hark! A Vagrant"
s them. You have a stag- hilariously satirizes historical
memory and a special way figures so obscure that even the
ords. What better way to best history professors couldn't
ff your own demise than name them all. But find a web-
atening to leave a particu- comic that catches your eye.
od story unfinished? Give yourself some little nugget
herazade's bargain paid of happiness to look forward to
ensuring her entrancing every week.
were only halfway done And never pass up an oppor-

French flick
explores spiky
Daily Arts Writer
Paloma is a troubled 11-year-old
girl. Intelligent, bored and ulti-
mately lonely, she decides to kill
herself on her
12th birthday. *
First though,
she feels she The
must film the
world around Hedgehog
her to prove its At the
banality to oth- Michigan
ers. So Paloma
(Garance Le NeoClassics
"London mon amour") hides in
corners and points her lens at her
unimportant and uninteresting
family. Below her lives the jani-
tor, Renee (Josiane Balasko, "Cli-
ente"), who is satisfied to settle
within the mold of the cranky,
overlooked worker so she may
live a private existence. These two
lives combine to create a film that
is simple but deeply satisfying.
"Hedgehog" focuses on the
small, slow movements of every-
day life. Paloma must remove her
glasses to put her eye against her
camera, acknowledging the irony
that she must remove what allows
her to see, to see. The glasses
become tangled in her blonde
mess of hair and she struggles in
real time pulling them out. In one
scene, she and Renee thought-
fully let dark chocolate sit on
their tongues, melting slowly. The
audience is left watching these
moments organically unfold, and
while it's occasionally boring, it's
also oddly relatable.
Paloma's camera creates a
strange world for her to inhabit.

"And then - BAM! You kick it up another notch."

She fears being caught in "a fish
bowl," so she pushes a wedge
between herself and others
with the lens. It's funny though
because in this separation she
becomes likea goldfish in a pitch-
er of water, watching the world
through a layer of glass. In one
scene she films her sister while
looking through a glass of water -
it's an example of how the camera
becomes a method of self-destruc-
tion in the hands of Paloma. The
true moments of intimacy are the
moments when she decides to set
down the camera and touch the
world around her.
Outside of Paloma, there exists
the true strength of the film, the
relationship between Renee and
the Japanese occupant in her
apartment complex, Kakuro Ozu
(Togo Igawa, "A Matter of Size").
Ozu is the sort of man who under-
stands the importance of looking
people in the eyes when you thank
them, and his kindness is the force
that allows the moving combina-
tions in "Hedgehog" to form.
Quiet, refined and educated,
Ozu gives this French film a
distinctly Japanese spirit. He
believes objects can be more than
one thing. Renee may be a lot like
a hedgehog, prickly on the outside
but soft underneath - but this
doesn't mean she must sacrifice
her elegance seeking a life of pri-

vate enlightenment. One can be
both an introvert and an extro-
vert. It is this message that the
audience desperately hopes Palo-
ma will receive before she ends
her life. People can choose when
to hide in a ball of spines and
when to explore - they aren't des-
tined to be trapped in a fishbowl.
In a way, "Hedgehog" is a sort
of twist on "Catcher in the Rye."
At times Paloma can be unbear-
ably dramatic. She is young
and obviously overreacts to the
pointlessness of life around her.
Thankfully, her story is gracefully
complemented by the fulfilling
romance of Renee and Ozu. He is
reaching out for Rende asking for
love, but she is hesitant to grasp
it. They are like teenagers caught
in their first romance, uncomfort-
able holding hands and unsure of
how to proceed.
"Hedgehog" is like Ozu in his
relationship with Renee. It wants
us to take hold of the world, to
not be afraid to leave ourselves.
It's a film for anyone who has
ever been too shy to ask for a first
date; for anyone who has sat at a
party trapped in his or her own
thoughts, surrounded by the
noise of pointless conversations,
desperately wanting (even if they
don't know it) to make some sort
of connection with others - to
touch something.

and qraTit y of-ebcomi s s-- sunrroe et uss txttait ityto experience agood
reassured me that while story- was forced by his own burning (online) story.
telling's methods may be chang- curiosity to hold off from collect-
ing, the talent rallying behind it ing her head until the next night's Caserta is surfing Arabian sites
is stronger than ever. But why is tale had wrapped everything on those Arabian nights. To join,
this method so effective? Why up - and she ensured hers was a e-mail caserta@umich.edu.
Entering the Wu-Tang chamber

I I nI55


Save 10-50%

ject ma
but hea
swear v
too ea
the filt
find on
my for
and th
with rat
dent, I
for the
wear d
no. ''
in the
a per

ANDREW ECKHOUS After a few weeks of skepti-
Daily Arts Writer cal friends staring blankly when
I told them I couldn't hang out
en I was a precocious because I was watching "Ana-
'-old suburbanite, it made conda," I was ready to give up.
t sense that I listened to The '90s were just as corny as I
a rap bangers. Granted, I remembered, and it was disheart-
understand a lot of the sub- ening. But as I prepared to put my
atter N.W.A. rapped about, Sammy Sosa jersey and LA Gears
aring the furious flurries of back in the closet, something
words and braggadocio was rescued me from the depths of
ito keep me captivated. despair: the Wu-Tang Clan.
wing up in the age of Emerging from the "slums of
r, Limewire and Kazaa, Shaolin" (Wu-Tang code for Stat-
ire to themes that war- en Island), the Wu-Tang Clan has
the buzzkill known as a sadly become better known for its
tal Advisory Sticker" was idiosyncrasies than its music. Yes,
sy. My group of grade- this is the group with an unyield-
cronies would take turns ing kung-fu movie fetish (they
ing show-and-tell with named themselves after a 1981
hiest rap songs we could martial arts movie), and a produc-
the Internet, ooh-ing and er who directs his own, but with-
g at every verbal jab Lud- out the in-your-face rap that's
or Jay-Z offered up. But capable of smoking you down and
ay into rap music didn't stealing your wallet simultane-
le with the Golden Age of ously, these guys would be novel-
and Biggie, but rather the ties, not legends.
id-wearing reign of Nelly With an electric, eccentric,
e forgettable St. Lunatics. eclectic brand of East Coast rap,
standably, my love affair Wu Tang's jack-of-all-trades lyri-
ip went on hiatus. cists and relentless energy were
an integral part of the '90s rap
renaissance. Three cousins - the
RZA, the GZA and Ol' Dirty Bas-
tard - formed the group in 1992
t n n ta and called on six other Wu-Tang
n t nuthm ta warriors to join them: Method
fuck wit. Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah,
fu~k Wit.U-God, Masta Killa and Inspee-
tah Deck. Though it barely resem-
bledthe West Coastgangstarap of
like every college stu- Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre - which
eventually got nostalgic was popular in the early '90s - it
1990s. What started as an quickly gained a following. The
inal party theme ("Let's unpolished sound, martial arts
denim and play 'Mambo movie samples and eerie, mini-
"), reignited my interest malist beats shouldn't have been
culture of my early years, a hit, but the likeable charisma
od known for steroid- and guileless enthusiasm made
d home runs, evolution (of Wu Tang's debut a classic hip-hop
on) and smelling like teen album.
Soon, I found myself in a Fast-forward to 2011, and Wu-
dream of '90s memories Tang is a household name. Some-
with frustratingly dated how, between the Dave Chappelle
n Powers" quotables and skits, Urban Outfitters shirts and
ked Ladies songs. Wu-Tang Clan video games, I had

only heard the group in passing,
but the first time I consciously
decided to play Enter the Wu-
Tang: 36 Chambers, I was blown
away. Even listening in a hope-
lessly bourgeois atmosphere like
my dorm room could not stop the
music from infiltrating my very
being. I'm no kung-fu warrior,
and I'm pretty sure my yellow belt
in Tae Kwon Do doesn't qualify
me either. But Ol' Dirty Bastard's
"I might be drunk" sing-songy
rapping, Ghostface Killah's Tony
Stark swag and the RZA's impec-
cable producing worked for me.
They were authentic but not abra-
sive, funny butuncompromisingly
professional and without even a
hint of pretension. They didn't
care who listened to them, as long
as someone did.
The Wu-Tang Clan changed
the game. The group invented the
"Wu-Tang brand," spawned mul-
tiple solo stars and broke a number
of "Killa Bees." Its lyrical range
is still unparalleled - stretching
from Raekwon's mafioso style to
ODB's absurdity, and everything
in between. In the time it took for
36 Chambers to play, my 11-year
old infatuation with rap returned
and brought with it an embarrass-
ment of'90s rap riches. I may be a
little more interested in the word-
play than the curse words this
time around, but I will always be
grateful to the Wu-Tang masters
for allowing a grasshopper like
myself to study in the temple of
'90s rap. R.I.P. ODB.

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