Daily Archives: 03/11/2012

Picking over the wreckage at Game…

As previously noted on the blog, things have not been going brilliantly at UK video games retailer Game.

And now they’ve gotten worse.  Eek!

A ‘Spring Cleaning’ promotion slashing prices across the board is widely being interpreted as a ‘fire sale’ tactic to drive up much-needed profits before the chain heads into administration – a fate which could befall the retailer by the end of the week.

As to what would happen then,  a buy-out by US giant GameStop has been mooted, but gossip has it that they are looking at  Game’s locations in Spain and Portugal.  And they’ve recently reduced their tentative presence in the UK anyway – perhaps as a precursor to swooping down on the troubled nationwide chain and getting a larger foothold in the £2.52 billion games market in the United Kingdom?

My own take on this is that it will be sad to see the back of Game were it to go the way of other retailers like Virgin, Music Zone and Fopp – it’s fun to just go into a high street store which is dedicated to the stuff that you love, to go to midnight launches for blockbuster titles and to score somehow overlooked bargains in the pre-owned section.

To do my bit for their takings, I had a wander into town to Sheffield’s city centre branch and picked up a game I’ve been meaning to buy for ages…

A mysterious bag, possibly filled with delight and wonder...

But what could it be?  A barely played copy of that Black Eyed Peas Kinect tie-in (hell to the no)?  A “Call of Duty” game that I’m going to try to persevere with (I’m through with that series, I think)?  Nope, none of those…

Huzzah! It's "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow"!

I’ve been waiting to check out this game for ages but could never find a copy, so this opportunity wasn’t to be passed up.  Why, if you’re familiar with the series, this is almost fodder for another post in my “A Season of Vamps” series.  And, if memory serves, I ended up paying less for the game than the reduced sticker price shown above, so even at this point my transaction isn’t helping out as much as it could have done.  Sorry, Game.

I’m not sure that I want to keep gaming in a future where all titles end up being downloadable to console – but it appears that this is the direction that the industry wants to go in, if  only to end the scourge of cheapskates like me buying second-hand games.  Why, I’m clearly worse than Hitler.

 

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Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, 1938 – 2012 – a lifetime of imagination

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Comics are treated differently in Europe.

For example, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting France, Holland and Belgium in the last few years and was heartened to see that graphic novels were not hidden in corners or racked off in obscure corners of the major book-selling chains – they’re out there in regular view, for perusal by The Normals, should they wish to partake of a spot of sequential art.

Belgium, particularly, gets Comics in a way that calls out to lovers of the form – witness the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels.  I’ve been there and it’s a glorious place – something to visit if you ever get the opportunity.  The exhibits are brilliant and thought-provoking and the shop will A) bankrupt you and B) make you want to learn the languages they’re printed in.  Of course, you can always just get lost in the pictures…

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All of which preamble is a ham-fisted way of delaying the sad news that Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud has died.   

You might be unfamiliar with his work but his influence, as is usually the case with such creative giants, far outweighs his celebrity outside the comics world.  His work on the revisionist western title ‘Blueberry’ gained much acclaim with audiences outside his native France, as did his trippy, science-fiction collaboration with hatstand visionary film director Alexander Jodorowsky on the multi-volume series, “The Incal”.

“The Incal”, and I’ll be careful here, has been noted as bearing distinct similarities to Luc Besson’s glorious sci-fi pic, “The Fifth Element”, to the extent of writs being exchanged and court cases being brought. Besson’s side won the day but, well, make up your own mind…

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One of his major achievements was to introduce the idea of comics as an adult art form to a larger western audience, particularly with the anthology magazine “Metal Hurlant” (NSFW images at link).  It’s fair to say that titles like “Metal Hurlant” or it’s English language translation “Heavy Metal” changed a small town geek’s conception of what comics could be, the subject matter they could deal with and the presence of adult imagery and ideas in what is still seen as a medium for comics.

I won’t claim for a second to be any kind of expert on Giraud’s work but I know that I appreciate the influence that his work had on both comics and imaginative, speculative storytelling as a whole.

If you’re interested in knowing more, there’s an interesting documentary on Moebius here at YouTube..

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