THEY DO EXIST! A mint-condition Autodesk Animator appears in the wild… and I wish I could buy it.
I don't know how many people had this software during their childhood, but for me, the 3.5 diskette with the copied version of Autodesk Animator 89 is the most epic piece of software I had. I mostly used it to make booger-worms crawling out of the noses and into the ears of the out-of-the-box photo images that came with the software. I don't imagine my friends and I were the only ones out there with this instinct.
According to THIS ARTICLE by Breton Slivka Home Movies, Science Court, and Dr Katz were made with this software. I am still looking for someone with knowledge of what software was used to make some of the animation in things like Lucasarts Adventure Games (Sam and Max; Full Throttle)… It is likely some deep addition of the SCUMM Engine, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was programming being excercised closely related to Autodesk, with at least some roots pointing toward code scribbled by Jim Kent, but this is only a theory based on a few scattered articles by hobbyists that cared to do deeper research than myself.
The programmer responsible for Autodesk Animator is Jim Kent. Seems like for Jim, my fave piece of software ever is just a goof… the guy wrote GigAssembler, allowing the Human Genome Project to assemble and publish the first human genome sequence. Has this guy written a book?!
Because of the annoying dosbox emulation, and bonkers flc file type, I choose not to use the software often, but as it is now open source, I'm known to fire it up on a rare occasion.
I now use what is often called a "Spiritual Successor" to Autodesk Animator (that wordage again comes from the excellent resource, AnimatorPro.ORG), Aseprite. I can't say enough about just the joy I get out of using this software. It gives a feeling that interacting with coloring books gave me at 7.
The funny thing is that while nobody was trying to use Autodesk Animator to create pixel art (because pixel art was not "a thing" until the emergence of eBoy if I recall correctly). It was simply that as resolutions increased, the aestheticization of visual constraints created a postmodern genre, the map before the model.
For some collectors, the name of the game are those items that straddle the line of legend and truth, myth and material. You can find almost any game in pristine condition, if, at any time it was sold in the marketplace. However, it is only the unfinished and unreleased games, the ludic mysteries that may or may not even exist, that excite some of you maniacs out there! Here are some picks for most intriguing legendary titles that may very well be no more than fairy tales.
Avenger's Endgame is just finishing the week proceeding opening weekend where it broke the record for biggest box office opening weekend of all time with an estimated 350 million in ticket sales domestically (Time.com). One of the most famous Avengers appearing in this film is The Incredible Hulk, a character with a very interesting history, and sort of the microcosmic originator of the multimodal franchise entity.
For as much as Spider-Man has been milking an entire multiverse of selves as of late, it was The Hulk that should be seen as the first character that had an entire mythology built around different modalities, or, incarnations.
While The Hulk's first issue dropped in 1962, and his personality changed based on changes of writer, artist, and theme… by the 1970s, and moreso in the 80s, such changes were met with postmodern revision bringing us the multilayered Hulk we know today. Let's take a look back at some of Hulk's most personality disrupting episodes.
1972 - Banner's Big Brain (The Incredible Hulk Issue 156) - The Hulk, with Bruce Banner's brain, goes up against himself in this mind bending issue from the early 70s. Herb Trimpe's cover art really pops. While this Banner Hulk mix-em-up isn't as deep and complex as later Hulk personality conundrums, this comic is definitely a must buy.
1986 - The Banner-Hulk Separation (The Incredible Hulk Issue 315) During several comics Banner and Hulk become seperate entities. This is the crescendo of the John Byrne run, and sees Hulk, once seperated, take on a more beastly appearance. These issues set the stage for another transformation soon to follow.
1987 - Gray Hulk's Arrival (The Incredible Hulk 331) - Ushering in the Peter David with Todd McFarlane era, this issue introduces a very postmodern Hulk, complete reconception of what being The Hulk means. While McFarlane is indeed the penciller on this book's interior, it won't be until The Incredible Hulk issue 340 where we get an iconic Wolverine appearance that McFarlane will do the cover honors. The green Hulk is turned gray quickly thanks to a Doc Samson nutrient bath, and Peter David will use much of the early portion of his run fleshing this character out, eventually evolving the character into a sharply dressed gray Hulk that goes by the name Joe Fixit by The Incredible Hulk 347. Joe Fixit even becomes a member of a truly all-star Fantastic Four iteration (see Fantastic Four 348).
1991 - Enter The Professor (The Incredible Hulk 377) - The 90s Hulk appeareth! The creation of "The Professor" Hulk was the most analytical look at the inner psyche of Banner and his gamma-radiated personalities. Thanks to Doc Samson he was able to reemerge as a studly version of his greenest self, and the smartest version up to that date. File this fella under Hulk most likely to wear bunny slippers!
1992 - All Hail The Maestro - (Future Imperfect 1-2) - The future is a dark place for everyone but The Hulk. The Maestro is The Hulk at the end of the universe. A universe where all of the super heroes have been slaughtered by the strongest one there is! Originally appearing in his own mini-series, this champion continues to pop up, now reigning over the Contest of Champions series.
2016 - What's Up Doc Green? (Hulk 4-16) This entire Omega Hulk story arc looks back over a rich Hulk history, but in terms of personality, this is a very interesting take. A virus known as "Extremis" strikes The Hulk, but not Banner. This transforms The Hulk (Not Banner, mind you) into the smartest, and slightly hipster/eccentric character in the Marvel Universe. This Hulk was a surprising ending to generations of Hulk stories from my view. Duggan (who revived Deadpool multiple times) really shines through the amazing art of Mark Bagley that makes this a real treat for those who love Duggan's storytelling and were introduced to comics via The Amazing Spider-Man series which, in the 90s, is defined by Bagley. The only bad thing to say about The Omega Hulk series is that it ended far too soon. It was a lead in to Secret Wars which turned the Marvel Comics Universe on its head.
Facsimiles are just a fancy way of referring to "exact copies," and they can be a really fun way to actively engage with literary history, comic book valuation strategy, and game collecting.
Even though a facsimile edition refers to something that by definition is not an "original" item, such an item can be worthy of investment if it is clear to you, the buyer, that it is indeed a facsimile you are investing in.
Certainly being misled by a very well made facsimile edition in the guise of a first edition/original release is a threat we all face, especially when ordering from online merchants, but there are plenty of solid reasons a collector might seek out facsimile editions on purpose.
All facsimiles are not created equal, of this fact we should all be aware. That said, I've outlined key reasons a smart collector might seek out specific facsimile editions below.
All facsimiles are not simply reprints of old published works, in the case of such facsimile editions as Jung's Red Book and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises Original Manuscript readers can see the true interaction between the author, the written word, and the page. When a facsimile "edition" is a facsimile of something that is "one of a kind," there is a better chance that this asset has long term value. If the print run is limited… all the better.
Often a first edition of a book a collector is dying to include in their library is simply out of the collector's price range. Maybe the collector once owned this book, but cost prohibits ever owning it again. Take Pratchett's Colour of Magic. This entryway into the immortal Discworld series will run you 5 figures for a signed first edition, but the facsimile edition, with an equally authentic signature from the author will only run you about 1k or less!
Take something like a facsimile of Fantastic Four Issue #1 released just last year, at 200 dollars already significantly higher in value (possibly inflated) than the majority of 2018 comic releases, but certainly more attainable than the 15 grand original on the lower side of very fine.
Sometimes a collector owns a cherished, and still valuable first edition that has seen much better days. In this case some collectors opt to purchase or create facsimiles of the original book jackets. This is a smart move for a seller of collectables, because in some cases you can successfully mark an edition up ethically… as long as you are open about the fact that the cover is a facsimile. Take this edition of Steinbeck's Cup of Gold with a facsimile jacket.
These can be especially lucrative buys in the world of gaming. In some cases an anniversary edition can be far more limited than even the original edition. For instance there were only 1,000 units available of a glow-in-the-dark blue Megaman 2 NES cartridge reissue… wheras there are closer to 1.5 million original Megaman 2 cartridges that were sold upon release. In this scenario, long term, you very well may be making the smarter buy with the facsimile edition than paying the 3000% higher price tag affixed to a mint condition original Megaman 2 release.
Sometimes you can have both a facsimile and an original edition at the same time. This is especially prevelant in today's comic book landscape that often offers limited editions with "homages" to early, classic comic book covers. These are often hit or miss, but if you can track down earlier examples of this practice you might be more likely to have a reasonable item for your comic book portfolio. This is especially true of satirical uses of facsimile-like homage, such as Deadpool Vol 1 Issue #11 (A reimagining of the Amazing Fantasy 15 cover) and Howard the Duck issue 19 (Another jab at Spidey, Amazing #50).
So there you have it! Sure, if someone is selling you a first edition and a "facsimile" shows up in the mail… you have every right to be pissed, and I'm definitely interested in doing a deeper study as to how many items (a percentage) in the secondary market are counterfeit. This will definitely be fodder for a later blog post. But, for now, I hope I've convinced you that there are certainly times when a facsimile can be worth a little investment, even if it's more for love than money.
The goal of this blog is to build upon some specific graduate work I began during my time at CUNY Graduate Center where I received a Digital Humanities MALS degree. Concurrently with the composition of my thesis (which was essentially trying to find a more pedagogically sound approach to introducing technical "tools" to "humanists" through praxis), I had done some coursework that I often come back to wherin I used comic book value data as a data visualization topic.
I was in a course led by Lev Manovich on Big Data where we spent the majority of class time learning the R Language. I submitted a paper called "VISUALIZING COMICS" where I displayed comic book value data in visually novel ways, integrating actual comic book cover fascimiles into the data output. I used a specific selection of R Language libraries, many of them already demonstrated by Manovich with a data set of Time magazine covers, but several discovered on my own… Especially memorable was integrating what I learned from a PDF copy of the ggplot2 book I came upon during my studies.
I created the project's dataset by accruing 1992 comic value data (this is right before the legendary comic book BOOM and BUST of the 90's!) and current day data (2013) but focused only on the best selling comics of a specific set of years. The idea was that I could try and visualize SOMETHING based on culturally relevant artifact value. It was pretty half-baked, primarily because it was a single semester course deliverable. In fact, I never finished the gruelling amount of data input necessary to include the '92 data in any meaningful way. Also, My dataset was relatively small, and Manovich was more interested in digital Mondrian simulacra than having what were mostly Humanities PHDs bite down on data science 101.
That said, I feel like the conversations in art technique history and light cultural studies helped the "medicine go down," so to speak, in giving a very solid primer for working with R. And while I've done very little with R since graduate school, lately I've been messing with some deep learning scripts written in Python (NumPy, pytorch); It has me thinking back to my work with trying to algorithmically manipulate comic book values and the process of compiling datasets, now more clearly than ever a valuable endeavour.
And as the GANs push my graphics card to it's limit, I'm starting to realize as we move toward this era of general artificial intelligence, the historical record of datasets may be a very valuable piece of digital real estate. Perhaps they already are.
My hope is to use this space for amalgamating two specific trains of thought: The cultural inquiry into of some of the cultural items on display (close readings, narrative explorations, sociological critiques, etc) as well as the latest in AI driven statistical/deep-learning analysis of the secondary market itself.