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There are a couple of good options this week. I pretty much have to see Kingsman: The Golden Circle because the first one was such a hoot. And I am a big fan of the franchise, so I will probably also check out The LEGO Ninjago Movie, having laughed my way through their Batman endeavor. But there is a wonderful animation I absolutely have to mention: Loving Vincent. This may be the first animated feature film about an artist done in that artists own painting style, and it looks amazing.

Stan Lee is one of the instructors at the Smithsonian class The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture, along with several others. The basic course takes 6 weeks and is free, but if you want a verified certificate that will cost $50; if you pass the class, besides the certificate itself you will get digital artwork created by comic book artist Dennis Calero (X-Factor, X-Men Noir). It was created just for this course, and is digitally signed by Stan Lee and Michael Uslan. This is the 4th time they are holding the course, and the first class took place/was posted this week, on the 17th. Since it is an online course, you can take it at any time, but it is fun having the forums to interact with your classmates and instructors as each week’s materials are posted. EdX is a massively open online educational system with some very interesting classes started by a collaboration between MIT and Harvard that quickly expanded to some of the best schools on the planet.

The series Rin-Ne is about Sakura, a girl who accidentally crossed into the spirit world as a young child, and ever since she sees all the ghosts around her. It is about Rinne Rokudo, who is one quarter Shinigami, a group of Japanese supernatural creatures occupying the same spiritual niche as the Grim Reaper. Some of them help lost spirits pass on to be reincarnated, while others try to lure people to their deaths. And the show is mostly about all the trouble those two get into any time they are hanging out together. The show started last season, and Crunchyroll is currently simulcasting episode 18, with new episodes airing each Wednesday at 3AM EDT. It is based on the Manga of the same name written and drawn by Rumiko Takahashi, the hardest working, richest and most famous female Mangaka in Japan. Pretty much everything she has ever done has sold millions of copies and been turned into iconic Anime classics. One last detail; the closing theme for the series is the song TOKINOWA by Passepied, one of my favorite art-rock bands from Japan.

Yep, Sony finally released it today, and it looks amazing, as befits a movie with the name The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I can’t wait for the new episode for the franchise, I like the reboot of the films a lot (although I still like the original trilogy, which had its own set of good points). I love all things Marvel, and still wish my mom hadn’t thrown out my comic book collection in the 70’s. It would be worth a fortune now, including as it did the first hundred or so episodes of Spider Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Thor, Avengers, and more, all of them bought new starting at issue #1.

Looking back, I realize I never collected Iron Man, Captain America, or Doctor Strange because I didn’t care for the artwork, but the same style of artwork was OK for Spider Man and a few others, because I related to the character so well. I guess you could say I loved styles like those Jim Steranko created over those like Steve Ditko made, as a general rule, and if you compare those two artists styles you can extrapolate the rest of my preferences easily enough. But the STORIES from all those universes were riveting, both for their sci-fi wonderfulness and their depth of character development with the accompanying interpersonal relationships. To this day, I want more excellent graphics with killer story lines and dramatic emotional development, and I suspect that combination is why the Marvel Movie universe has been such a delight for me. Yes, I will be in the theater for this one. Hopefully in I-MAX 3D for probably two showings in a row.

How an animator approaches the creation of and object/effect relationship can be really interesting. The examples I am including here are from recent postings by SIGGRAPH, an organization that has been at the heart of computer graphics since long before most people knew there was such a thing. And yes, many of them are professionals, including all three of the artists in this group.