If Whedon is doing Buffy Season 8 as a limited comic book series - how is he going to have the time, energy and creativity to work on Runaways?
He's already doing Astonishing X-Men, isn't he still? That makes three books on his plate, not counting any possible involvement he might have in the Firefly comic series. And Buffy is his baby; one of them at any rate.
And wasn't there also a Slayer in the Future? Didn't have some kind of control or involvement in that too?
I'd already decided I wasn't going to follow Runaways when Joss took over. My days of 'Joss is God!' are long over. Even though I don't blame him for Angel's early cancellation. That's all on the WB/ CW and it's need to teen drama and pregnancies and soap opera kitsch.
But with so much drawing his attention away, how's he supposed to focus on something as beloved as his baby? Any guesses?
Friday, December 8, 2006
If Whedon is doing Buffy Season 8 as a limited comic book series - how is he going to have the time, energy and creativity to work on Runaways?
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Wonder Woman: Princess in Paradise
I jump in with both feet to talk about what a brilliant idea this is. The artwork is stunning. The premise is remarkable. And along with Ares, I find myself wondering what Hephestus would look like kind of bishie.
My favourite WW so far has been Greg Rucka's depiction of the strong, sometimes not pc but always independent and thoughtful ambassador from Themyscira. I loved the whole aspect and theme of Athena's Champion and Diana become Grey-Eyed Diana. But I'd love to see how she got to be that strong. I'd love to see the civilization that raised a woman of that caliber. I'd love to know about her childhood adventures and how she tempered her stubbornness, curiosity and what it's like to live and breathe in a world where the Gods are only an invocation away. The proposed Manga would do that.
Diana looks feisty and young and curious. And while perhaps such an early meeting with Steve Trevor confuses things in terms of George Perez's 'Bright Eyed Innocent in Man's World', it makes me think much better of Diana the myth. Because Diana hunting demons gives her a very good reason to connect to man's world and the plight of man's world more than her fellow Amazon sisters. They're the ones who're insular due to being protected and sheltered in thought, word and deed from anything different from what they've known. Diana thinks in broader terms. And I think it'd be lovely to find out what inspired her to look at the world that way.
There's also the prospect of fun in Hermes representing himself as a mischievous child. It seems perfect. Diana was the only child among her people. How much would she have longed for a playmate? And what trouble would she and Hermes have gotten themselves into and would that explain why she's as close to one of her male patrons as her female ones; and he to her.
I recently came across 'The Babysitter's Club' graphic novel. That's right, a graphic novel to appeal to girls. In a pink candy-striped dustjacket and all I could think about is that it seemed a pretty cool way to appeal to a new generation. I never much cared for the TBC. I may have only read one book, if I read any at all. But I would follow a graphic novel representation, because of the style, if nothing else. If this had been out when I was a kid, it'd have been a doorway to an unexpected world. One which I originally thought of as boring, too girly and formulaic; just based on the book title, colors and occasionally the summaries. The artwork, as I flipped through the book, helped me realize some of the appeal I'd missed as a young girl.
DC of course will do whatever it is DC decides works best for their finances. But the world is changing, and fast. Manga doesn't look to be a fad that'll die out as much as it's become a new part of popular culture and conscienceness. I have to wonder how many girls who aren't originally attracted to comics, or who want to venture into Manga (or comics) and wouldn't know where to start would appreciate a familiar icon. In one swoop you've got magical girl genre, and superhero genre and something that appeals to the 'pink double x's'.
It's times like this I wish America had a concept of Do-jinsh.
Quick Add: I realize that what appeals to me about this is something that other people might get out of WonderGirl. But I never knew much about Cassie until I read the Rucka run. And so she interests me more as Zeus' daughter and Ares' sister than as a part of the Wonder Woman legacy.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
I used to be fairly certain the love that dare not speak its name was same sex loving; homosexuality. However the more I follow comic blogs and comic news articles, the more I see guys, because it's almost always guys, talking about how they've seen it all before and how they wish the writer and or artist would turn their considerable attentions to something not super hero related. While they say this, there's a list of other superhero comics that get mentioned and matched, detail for detail against the current offering, proving that once upon a time this was something worth memorizing or at least being able to quick research and lay hands on. But the talk down continues.
Movies, tv, and books are doing cross genre, genre evolution and even genre revolution; they're expanding to new audiences while appealing to the old (even when their publicity machines suck at honoring where they come from: BattleStar Galatica). But in comics so many people I stumble across seem to be convinced that Superhero Comics Are Dead. They'll buy Action Comics and Civil War, Aqua Man and All Star Superman etc... But they sound so grey about it all. It's routine. They're going through four color motions and reading for the sense of community, but they're not really expecting anything.
An acquaintance suggested that maybe they're ashamed they still love it. Which made me think that they think they've outgrown it somehow. To which I say 'Bzuh?!' because how can you outgrow something you love? If you liked Mysteries growing up, then you graduated from Encyclopedia Brown to Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew and from there to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple or Poriot, or maybe to current contemporaries like Sue Grafton or whomever else. I can understand outgrowing the type of mystery novel, or the language in the mystery novel, but not the love of mysteries themselves.
I think the same goes for those who love Romance or Spy Novels. Isn't it easy to imagine some small one moving on from Spy Kids to Le Carre? Wouldn't it fit to see someone with a love of horses move from My Little Pony stories to 'The Horse Whisperer' or maybe to watch them grow and combine Hardy Boys and little boy horse stories into a love of Dick Francis?
Why then is it hard to imagine that someone who loves Superhero Comics might outgrow the smash ups and mash ups, (or maybe not - see Invincible Super-Blog) and want more out of the genre they love so much? Is all the talking down coming about because these lovers of the craft don't know how to ask for more? Do they not believe in more? Are Astro City and Invincible flukes? Should those writers not be encouraged? Should the industry not be told how much they're enjoyed? And how much they mean to someone wanting to soak in Superhero comics at the level of entertainment and satisfaction that they demand from everything else now as adults?
Because I'm confused.
Though I admit it's not a total confusion. Because I also read in these varied articles about how depressed the fans(fanboys) have gotten at consistently flawed heroes. At heroic mistakes and heroic misapprehension and their distaste at how dysfunction has become a norm for humanizing heroes instead of those heroes being exemplars of what humanity should strive for. I know personally that I always bristled alongside Batman whenever someone in panel told him he was only human, in order to excuse some loss he was feeling or some mistake or misread clue. I agreed with the gravel voice growl that that wasn't good enough. I could both see that Batman felt the loss and that he wouldn't let it wear him down or make him give up and that he didn't accept it as final. That's superheroic to me. That's stuff that kept me alive during a pretty shitty childhood. So I can understand if the concept of these beloved icons as perpetually flawed makes them small in a way they weren't meant to be - being our modern mythology; our gods of urban olympus.
But to give up? To look at new arrivals to that pantheon and not try as readers to find something to say to the authors so that they'll know that we love their ideas we just want our heroes back? Doesn't it seem to weaken the very memories that are the source of the complaints? Or is that just me?
I mean, I know I'm a weird little freak who calls herself a happy priestess at the temple of the Bat. So, y'know, it's entirely possible I'm not empathizing on the right level as regular human beings without that brand of crazy. And yet, does it take that kind of crazy to not give up hope and to strive to get what I want written for me?
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Manga, Yaoi, Wha?
I like Superhero comics. And I like certain themed and independent comics. Teenagers From Mars remains a favourite book. My experience with Manga is limited. Generally it's seemed like one half of a series, the best part of which for me has been the anime. And yes, I'm aware that the Manga and the Anime while being in the same universe, with the same character histories, with the same names, aren't likely to follow the same plots or sometimes even have the same tone. But that's one of the mysteries (things I haven't or will never get ) I've just come to accept.
But I've been struggling understand something for about a week now and trying to write down my thoughts about it. It starts with porn. I find porn boring and uncomfortable and yet YAOI makes great porn. Yaoi makes not boring, not discomforting porn. Comics and sex = yay! And no, I won't be going into the why of that on this journal. It's just enough to say it works for me.
Yaoi is more than porn, though. And it doesn't seem to be an easy thing to skim or dabble into. It doesn't feel like enough for me to know that it's a Japanese word and what that word means and what that wordrepresents as to the sensibility behind the art. There are politics going on. Women's politics, identification politics, worries about the extreme right and possible censorship; the list goes on. Not only that but there seems to be this crack in the world of publishing where a fiscally sound niche is being formed. Yaoi, Manga, OEL and more, there's some kind of revolution going on and through it all I need to be schooled. The questions is where do I go? Where do I start?
One part of the debate seems to be about Yaoi specifically and it being things written by women for women. But that's not supposed to make me think of Slash, even though it does. There seems to be a lot ofvehement definition and differentiation against Slash. The best I've read so far declared that that true 'Slash' readers of Manga would be Aimai or those who like the hints. Not those whoactually like to see it out there, clearly written and drawn.
And Slash also tends to lead to fandoms(usually Media) and fanfic and fan action. Which is a different community than people who read and write comics with a Japanese art style. And then Yaoi breaks into Boys' Love, which is different from Bara even though the protagonists are both male and both going to end up in bed. And all of that is different from Dōjinshi which is the equivalent of fanfiction and doesn't seem to apply to original made works?
And then like any drawn work, there are artists to discover and writers. But there's also apparently direction styles within the art, in terms of presentation and that's new and confusing.
But while I'm muddling through that, there's a whole other set of confusion concerning young fangirls and over-sauration and too much exposure and 'Won't someone think of the children!' - which seems to point out the possibility of shifts away from interacting with art that can get you of and labeling it straight up porn; that is art (something erotic) created just to get you off. Or at least that's my clumsy self definition.
Because while Shōnen means made for boys, Shōnen-ai is gay romance made for women by women? And even if it's not explicit, that Manga is mingled in with Yaoi in certain chain bookstores? Which boggles me, maybe because I just don't know the titles, because I haven't seen much of anything looking like Yaoi in my local Barnes & Noble which has a huge section. And somehow my library system has managed to tell the difference, because it has a huge manga selection and I don't see anything like Shōnen-ai or Yaoi there either. Is Fruit Basket porny and gender challenging and hot and I just don't know?
And how is that in Japan these books are written by women for women, when the bunch of people I see borrowing manga or reading manga at the bookstores (the places that are supposed to have yaoi) are boys. I realize there are many different type of manga, just like there are many different type of American / English First / Non Superhero + Superhero Traditional comics. And that Yaoi is writtenspecifically for women. But with all the concern I see buzzing around, are these young boys, gay boys? Is Yaoi comfort for young closeted teens? Are people afraid that no matter the title those young boys will be perceived as gay? What's going on? Is there any where to get information where it's not already assumed a person knows what's going on? I can look up the names of things, Mecha, Mahō Shōjo, but that doesn't tell me anything.
And it's not even enough to keep up with the various blogs and bloggers who keep talking about how Manga is perceived as a girl thing. And that some female bloggers get pissed off when people see them buying comics and just seem to expect them to like Manga and know titles and know what's going on.
I've seen boys browsing, borrowing and buying, but I've seen girls too. They get very excited and want to grab up at least three or four volumes and chitter about whether or not the bookstore really has a broad selection. They like to look at their parents like their parents are so old and just don't get anything and no they don't want any other type of book kbaithnx. There's only been one occasion I've noticed a boy reading in the aisle and not get up and suddenly disappear when I showed up browsing the graphic novel section (and why isn't it labeled Manga and given it's own section? Or if they'll all be lumped - Sequential Art?) and that was a group of brothers and sisters and I think their best friends where the girls were trying to get the boys into Manga and at least one of the boys kept complaining that he doesn't want to read about two boys kissing all the time. I realize now I'd have been wrong and ignorant if I'd intruded and said I doubted they'd sell those type of books in Barnes & Noble. And besides, by staying quiet I got to watch one boy surprise another by actually knowing one series and agreeing with a girl that it was really good and the fight sequences were awesome. It was a bit of a shock to me to see his friend go "Dude? You like guys?!" And for the other to go. "Shut up! It's a good book." And them to just go on their way. I still don't quite know what I saw; tolerance, acceptance, plain friendship, broadening comic horizons?
Between stuff like that and the back and forth blogging responses, I feel old and out of tune. What am I missing? Was there a revolution? Where are these readers coming from? Who is this audience? And I'm not talking about the romance loving 13-17 yr olds because if it wasn't romance comics it'd be young adult romance novels. But how did this thing get so big? How come there are English Language Manga Writers for English First Releases? How does that happen? How come Harlequin has two Manga lines? What exactly are they publishing? What's the difference between what they put out and what young girls are reading? Why is there alarm at what the young girls are reading? Why the concern?? Where is the concern? Where is it coming from? I know I'm not the only one surprised and curious, so why is asking questions suddenly a bad thing? And doesn't every fannish community have it's indiscreet and idiotic, so why the fear of 'They're spoiling it all'?
Can anyone direct me to Manga 101?
Monday, November 6, 2006
It's this place of mystery. I hear so much talk about it being a boy's club. My own personal experience was that it was some sort of male Shangri-La that girls didn't even know about. I certainly didn't. I was lost without a place to go and find my comic heroes when I moved to America. I kept looking at Bookstores and Bookstores kept failing me.
Now, however, there's 'Online'. But...
If there's somewhere that has it cheaper - should I still buy / support a 'comic book store'? Online or not? Granted, I'm on disability and I don't have disposable income. That stuff that's not for food, shelter and clothing is severely limited. Heck, my mother still buys me clothing (and all things I dislike). That's just my situation right now.
And yet I find myself wondering if just going for the best deal for me, even if it only saves me a dollar, is somehow me missing some aspect of community.
Most of the people I've spoken to online go somewhere local. So then it seems more like community and keeping the money flowing as much as it is about purchasing something they like and having a place to talk. But remove that element and what's left? Does it really make a difference?
Thursday, November 2, 2006
I didn't like Stormwatch and I didn't like Planatary. Transmetropolitan doesn't interest me. I suppose I'll try it eventually. The one conclusion I can draw from reading so much Ellis lately is that when he's hot, he's very very hot and when he's not - it's horrible. At least to me.
Planetary seemed pretentious. There were good ideas, and some beautiful art. But it bored me. Just blah blah blah blah blah. Blah? Blah. Blahblablah. Charlie Brown. Blah Wah Wah Wah. The dialogue was the worst part, which is unfortunate in something that relies on dilaogue to tell its story.
Wow did Planatary make a bad impression. I can't even think of it now except in small flashes of 'What the fuck?!'
Global Frequency on the other hand, is as someone mentioned, very much in keeping with the ideas and ideals behind Stormwatch and Planetary. But it's good. I cared. Big Sky in the TPB wa a rather abrupt switch in art style. I find myself wondering if it was some sort of filler - except the TPB reads like a collection of short stories all set in the same universe. But aside from a little flutter with Big Sky - I loved it. It's something I could consider buying; not before Astro City, Invincible or Runaways Vol 2. But if I had the extra money and it was right there. I'd grab it. That's how much I enjoyed it.
I didn't feel talked down to. I have to wonder how it is Ellis manages to write stories were people are just living their lives and we the readers hover somewhere over their shoulder - and then manages to write stories where it's obvious I'm reading a comic book because comic book logic and science are messing up anything remotely looking like a character or emotional beat.
As a writer, I'm curious about how that happens. Does he just get more comfortable with one set of stories? Is he a better short story writer? Does he fumble with long arcs - trying to make them too spectacular and ending up not making them much of anything at all? Obviously the answer is to read more and see. Except the thought of reading more and falling across the less than stellar bits isn't at all happy making. I'm going to stick to looking up more Global Frequency and see if it was only a one off thing or not.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
I tried to explain my displeasure in Civil War to a friend today. I absolutely bombed. To me a conversation is someone stating their opinion and then a counter-opinion and going back and forth until both sides until understand each other, even if they don't agree. But I was everything but eloquent.
She's not a comics fan, and in fact looking at too many pictures in a row can send her to sleep. But the topic came up and we were having dinner and it's something she knows I'm interested in and I'd been having a rough day, so why not talk about one of my passions. It seemed like a good idea until I actually tried to do it.
First I tried analogies. It's partly how I communicate with the world and it's partly because she doesn't know what's happened and I didn't know how to include all the information that comes with the pictures in a comic, without me having to retell the whole story. But she got lost with the analogies and kept pressuring me to just tell her what happened and what I didn't like. So I tried again. But this time she said it sounded like my dislike for the plot was the issue and she couldn't figure out what about the story itself was bothering me. And as I do dislike the plot, I tried to find another way to go at it. So I tried a third time, trying to avoid all the little hotspots that make me want to go 'arrrgh!'.
And when I'd tried that third time, or maybe it was a fourth time, she said stuff like. "So Congress got scared and did something stupid that people don't like? Well duh, that happens." Followed by. "So Peter Parker was never one of their ideological equals and now they're suspicious of him? Well duh. It's a civil war, right? If he shows he's not down with them of course they're going to be suspicious." And then she said things like. "They're using unsavory tactics and they aren't really concerned about information? Guantanomo Bay anyone?" The only thing that made any impact on her was the government's side using villains. She found that just plain stupid.
I tried to explain that I found the story thin, that there was so much meat to it that just wasn't being used. But all the while I kept getting more and more irritated. Because my feelings before talking to her were that if Marvel was going to use a Metaphor, then it should be a Metaphor. And they shouldn't be trying to bend current situations into the Superhero world in some kind of morality play. And yet - she's right. And I absolutely loathe that. I still think the writing sucks, and the story has no depth, and the rush to get it out is ruining avenues of exploration. I still think that Tom Foss or Prok over in Blogger have some wonderful ideas for how things could have played out (Barring Prok's new theory that it's all about Wanda's mucked up mindfuck). But my friend was right.
The government does do stupid things. Ours does and theirs does. My own irritation that this is nothing more than a broader termed Mutant Registration Act is proof that they have tried stupid stuff before. And who says the government learns from its mistakes? Congress does use fear and paranoia to push through acts that limit the personal freedoms of its citizens. It's been done. We in America live there. And while what happened at the school doesn't seem to be enough of a big deal for such a huge public outcry. What happened in real life with the Towers shares one simple similarity in that the people in power should have been expecting it - there were signs. There could have been accommodations made.
Ironman and Captain America becoming so embroiled in fear and paranoia and mutual feelings of betrayal? It happens. Soldiers for a cause coming to the realization that they've been lied to and friends around them are dying for an unweighted cause? Search theinternet and you'll find the blogs.
I wanted to say to her that the Marvelverse isn't supposed to be like that. That the Superheroes should know better. That the real thing to come out of this should be a more formalized training system for young heroes; no more throwing the kids in the deep end and seeing how they swim. But I couldn't. Because what I wanted to say was that 'I don't want to see that in that world! I want things to make sense because it's fictional. Fictional chaos is part of a plan and a plot. There should be logic and reason to it when I take a step back.'
I do not believe that Marvel is purposely mimicking the irrationality of a fear state and loss of virtue of individuals as they obsess with their own self righteousness to the destruction of all else. I don't believe this has all been planned. I don't see the signs and cues that reassure me that Comic God is in his Heaven and all will turn out, if not right, at least fruitful - meaningful. I do not believe that Goliath's death was a meaningless death for the sake of a meaningless death. Because I can't believe they meant to make me feel this angry and this filled with the need to smack a bitch and talk to them about iconic images, black history in America and volatile emotions. And that I think is the biggest failure of all; that prickle in the mind that makes it all too real, too unscripted, too irrational and too far away from comic reality. I've lost trust.
A reader isn't supposed to lose trust in a story like this even if the characters themselves no longer know up from down. There are our heroes!
I've just spent several happy hours reading 'Invincible' (Ultimate Collection Vol 1) by Robert Kirkman and Corky Walker.
I now have another group of writers, artists and heroes to put beside Astro City in the category of 'Brilliant, Wonderful, Beautiful Story.' It's different story telling but with the same theme of using the Super Hero elements as backdrop for a classic tale; old fashion mythological sagas. I love this stuff!
A young hero with a legend for a father who then discovers his own powers and begins to search for and settle into his place in this world, only to discover that it's all wrong.
How much better than that does it get?! Not too much better. And with these writers striking the right tones between Husband and Wife and Father and Son and Mother and Son. And friends. And the complications of highschool with rumors and girls and crushes and betrayal and that teacher you always knew had it in for you and wished all his students dead.
People keep saying I should try Ultimate Spiderman, because it hones Peter Parker's journey and brings into the modern world and I keep putting it low on my list of priorities because Spiderman's more iconic to me once he's learned his lessons.
But this is a whole new universe, with a whole new character for me to follow and love and root for. It might not have moved me in the same way as 'Confession' and 'Tarnished'. But I enjoyed it in a way I hadn't been able to enjoy Storm Front or 'Planetary'. It was just; adventure, adventure, adventure with subtle plot - bang! - emotional moment, adventure, adventure, adventure -bang!-.
And the Global Guardians made me laugh out loud. Midnight City and Green Ghost and WW (who was absolutely perfect in every way!). And the tiny peek into the Not!Starship Enterprise.
I'd forgotten the fun of being a geek and getting inside references. But I got them here and squeed liked a fangirl seeing someone take off their clothes.
It was the perfect pick-me-up for an emotionally wonky day. And it's yet another 30something dollars I'm going to have to dishout in order to own it.
Astro City leaves me rocked. Invincible leaves me elated.
Now I can understand some of my bitterness with Marvel's Civil War and DC's most recent Crisis. 'Runaways' makes Marvel not seem a hopeless cause in terms of telling stories I like and feel inspired to spend money on. But so far all DC's given me that's reached my awareness is ASBAR.
I love superhero comics. Yes, independent comics have their awesome place and 'Teenagers from Mars' will remain one of my favourites forever. But I love my bigger than life, bright color wearing heroes. And I love that this story exists along side Kurt Busiek's universe and writing to give me the little girl squee and baited breath and stomach clenching excitement.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I don't know that much about Stephanie/Spoiler/Robin IV. I don't even have general Wikipedia knowledge. I have a hazy idea that her father was the first Spoiler and he was a criminal and it shamed her and she wanted to fight crime. And as far as I know she dated Tim. But the biggest bit of hazy general knowledge is that she was Robin and she died and that there's no memorial for her in the Batcave.
Now I've spoken to a couple of people about this and I thought that was it as far as 'my say' on the issue. Since I'm really not following the issue. But everywhere I look on my feeds or my journal's flist - there it is. "Oh for shame DC. Oh how chauvinistic. Oh how unthinking. Oh how...."
And I find myself in the predicament of not quite agreeing with them. It's possible that because I never followed Stephenie's run that I don't have the emotional investment necessary to see this as so wrong. But when I first heard there'd been another Robin who died I did think it odd that the plaque under Jason's Robin costume didn't have another line or an accompaniment about 'Two Good Soldiers' or something.
But then I found out how she died. And then the more people spoke about it and that little interlude I mentioned previously, where someone spelt out what happened to me, the more I think that not having a memorial case makes sense. If you can hold on to how you may personally feel about this and follow my line of logic, I'd appreciate this. I don't often write to speak to anyone, but this seems too emotionally charged for me to write as if no one's reading.
When Jason died, it was a failure for both Bruce and Batman, both aspects of the man who guards Gotham. He'd lost a son and a crime fighting companion. He'd gotten parenting and guiding all wrong and Jason had run off headlong into danger. He'd lost Jason with Jason thinking he didn't care and that Jason wasn't important, not as himself and not as Robin. And then on top of all that, he'd lost Jason to the Joker as part of something his enemy knew would demoralize him and hurt him.
How could he not have tried to make up for that kind of failure and unintentional neglect with an apology and the apology is the memorial case. It's for a good soldier. It's for the praise that Jason never felt he got in life. It's acknowledgment of Jason's contributions as Robin even if it comes too late for Jason to ever see it. (The 'revival' due to HUSH and Crisis not withstanding)
Jason's memorial is distinctly personal and is a warning and reminder for how both Bruce as himself and as Batman should treat the people in his life who are part of his world. It's a hard lesson learned. It's yet another loss of family when he'd sworn that nothing like that should or would ever happen again. Therefore it takes away from Jason's death and the lessons Batman learned from it, to have an identical case there with another uniform and another plaque. Those cases aren't reverse trophies. It's not like in the Toon!verse where the display cases with the costumes is a monument to Bruce's past. And it seems unfair to me to cheapen one memorial by making it less than unique.
This isn't to say that I don't think that those who die while fighting crime in Gotham (while in costume) shouldn't be remembered somehow. If members of the GCPD fall they have a space in a police memorial. But does anyone really want to have Batman admitting that losses like this are inevitable and then there'll be space cleared in the sanctum of the cave in the expectation of many fallen? Because I don't think the Batcave should have a wall like that. I think it'd take away from what the cave is supposed to be; from its mission and purpose.
I'm told that Batman used Stephanie to manipulate Tim, that he didn't want her fighting crime and from the scans I've seen ,she didn't die as Robin, she died as Spoiler. She died separate from Batman. She wasn't of him. It doesn't make her any less heroic for daring to face Gotham behind a mask and trying to do good. But it does make her death different. And given that she was Tim's girlfriend and she was used to get Tim to put back in the red, green and yellow, the emotional urgency of the situation would seem to go to Tim. Because from what I've gathered Bruce doesn't believe he did anything wrong. Stephanie's death was tragic but it did not come about because of his own inability to act, because of neglect or because of mistaken rejection. Stephanie's death didn't rock him the way Jason's did or the way Tim's would or Dick's.
So wouldn't he need to be prodded? And wouldn't that prodding make sense coming from Tim? If Tim had his own memorial to represent what this life means; the consequences and sacrifices; wouldn't that make more sense? Ragnell suggested a shelf in Tim's room in the cave, with her mask and hood. I think a single burning candle would also work. And who knows about some sort of combination, maybe with a picture of her; a way of Tim remembering his dead.
And from that and maybe Tim's need to remind himself of what happens when he's not there to be a Robin - a balance to Bruce's darkly pragmatic side - it makes sense to me that Bruce could then see Jason's memorial failed. And that he needs to think differently and think twice before he begins to manipulate someone else. Respect for Batman doesn't guarantee anything, because he doesn't have control over what other people do.
My suggestion was that there should be some sort of algorithm in the cave's computer systems that notes when he's paying particular attention to a certain person, researching them in a certain way. That program could tag or alert him in the middle of researching to make sure he's really thought through the emotional resonance of whatever it is he's about to do. And that could be a [ Spoiler Alert ]. Bruce didn't pay attention to how much his approval and working with him meant to her for her own sake. He missed the subtleties. According to what I've been told he saw her as a way to get to Tim and then he fired her and left her out in the cold. He did to her what Jason only thought was going to be done to him. From a different angle, Batman failed to remember that emotions drive motivations drive actions and that Stephanie's actions within Gotham (and perhaps the fact that she'd been working solo before and wouldn't stop just because he fired her) were the dangerous sort that could lead to death.
Some of the posts I've seen recently also talk about the fact that Stephanie isn't even mentioned. And I do believe that to be wrong. But I can understand how it can be tricky to bring up. Because in what context do you bring her up if you're trying to make her death separate from Jason's? Especially when from a certain angle it's also intricately related. Does it fall under the dangers of the job? Does it fall under not knowing when you're not suited for the work? Does it fall under not being careful? Does it fall under 'Beware the Mob'? Or does it fall under 'Batman's a prick and he will use you so don't even bother signing up you'll only get fired anyway? I'm fairly certain, all asshattery in Batman's semi-recent characterization aside, that Batman the Asshat is not what DC is going for. Or rather I sincerely hope that's not what they're going for.
And if Batman's not an asshat, I don't think it's fundamentally sexist that they're not cheapening a storyline (personal impact for Batman) that grew in depth as the years progressed. Jason's death started off as a cheap gimmick almost and then it became the newest goad in Batman's quest to root out and eliminate crime, wrong and evil.
If Stephanie's death is going to be played as a goad to humanize the Bat, it could be a tricky thing for the writers to figure out exactly how that will come to be. And until then a certain measure of denial and quiet in the face of everything else going on might not mean anything more than there hasn't been a storyline and or a writer who's thought up a way of handling it.
Now is this actually what's going on with DC or is it all really a case of white, male, privilege where they don't get how important Stephanie was to several fans - I have no idea. But I think that calling for a replica of Jason's memorial case is the wrong way to go about drawing attention to what her place is in Batman's ultimate story arc.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Kurt Busiek and Greg Rucka have spoiled me. I have to add Greg because of how much I adore his arc with Wonder Woman. But now after reading the Astro City Trades, I've found myself reading Stormwatch. It's the Warren Ellis TPB. And I like Warren Ellis. I remember liking Warren Ellis. But so far it's all fallen flat.
It's felt like more and more of 'You with your alien fire power and ability to sexify women till they spill secrets blah blah blah' mixed with 'And now you shal PAY!'. It's not boring exactly. I do want to find out what happens. But it's flat. Even remembering how much I liked Jenny Sparks when I read The Authority a few weeks ago, I can't find myself liking her now. And it's not because her personality has changed much it's just because she's surrounded by flat. Wait no there has been one scene so far where she was kicking someone's ass that I've enjoyed. But that was mostly action and not dialogue. The dialogue really seems to suck somehow.
Do I need recommendations now? Have I reached some weird ass 'plateau' of comic reading? Or found my niche or something? All I can think about is how I should care. How I'm the sort of person who says 'Shoot them in the knee caps then ask your questions'. And it's the sort of book that seems to be going that way. And yet I keep thinking of weakened and or flat soda. Something's missing somehow.
Is it the art? Because while it doesn't repulse me, it doesn't seem exactly inspired either. And I can admit that the art of Astro City had to grow on me some. But the story was compelling and the poses were iconic and pretty soon I found things to love and enjoy as I read. I wasn't skimming over the blurbs of color trying to find the next line to get me to the end quicker. And that's how I'm feeling now.
Discerning palate. That's the phrase that keeps running through my mind. I know I've been avoiding Ultimate X-men because it began to bore me and any other X-title makes me want to run screaming the other way. So I've been looking elsewhere and .... I'm not even making any sense except that I want more. There has to be more than Busiek and Rucka and Bill Willingham of Fables. There are others out there who can show and tell ?
Monday, October 23, 2006
Do ya like threesomes? Do ya like writing? Do ya like fic exhanges with little red fuzzy hats? Do ya like holiday jingles? Do ya like figgy pudding? Do ya like magi burning incense?
You should at least check out the fandoms allowed. They've got DCverse as an option. Think Diana, Dinah and Barb should go on aventures? Have you suddenly got the urge to see Dick Grayson in the middle of a Koriand'r / Kara sandwhich?
Someone might just write it for you!
Someone else out there might want something kinky with Oreos involving Jonn Jonzz, Booster and Blue Beetle. Or better yet, JL/JLU Jonn Jonzz singing at Christmas on the Kent Farm with Clark/Kal-El and some yet to be picked third!
And now's your chance to write for them!
Ok, I'm done now.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
In a marketing move created to finally satiate the underground fanboy/stay-at-home mom demographic, Marvel Comics will debut their newest superhero on the CBS soap opera "Guiding Light."
News of the impending apocalypse to follow.
Marvel has also created a comic featuring characters of the soap interacting with superheros like Wolverine and Spider-Man. Perhaps, Spidey and Wolverine will find out they are actually amnesiac evil twins switched at birth!
The eight page comic will be included in upcoming issues of Marvel comic books like "The Amazing Spider-Girl," while the heroic episode of "Guiding Light" airs November 1.
Marvel and Procter & Gamble (which produces "Guiding Light") are joining their superpowers in hopes that soap fans will pick up a comic book and that Marvel addicts will tune in to the daytime series.
If they don't, then we can pretend it was all just a dream
[ Additional articles found here and here.]
I see this and my response is 'Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot!' There's so much WTF I'm not sure where to begin. I grew up on soaps. I started watching them with a relative when I was much younger and was upset at first that they were on screen instead of cartoons (this is what happens in houses with only one tv - some of us hone our 'huffiness'). I glared at those shows thinking everything was so implausible and impossible and stupid and that I could then and could learn further how to write better stories. Then I found myself caring about the characters and their arcs and to this day I still check in just to see what's going on with characters (people) I grew up with. Soap operas were one of the first things I consciously watched to learn how to tell a good story.
And I say there's no proof out there, outside of Runaways, that Marvel knows how to tell the kind of story that will fill soap opera fans with satisfaction. Emotional follow through is the bread and butter of soap operas. It's the reason that viewers will follow one character through romance after romance, diabolical scheme and nefarious plot. If there's a payoff at the end - a win or a loss, a growing and/or defining moment - then they'll follow. They're not in it for the improbable situations. Those situations only set up the emotional stuff. How can it not be obvious that the thing that draws soap opera fans to their stories are elements that Marvel (and DC) have failed to bring into their regular storylines; consistent emotional follow through.
Did no one at Guiding Light take aside the studio exec from Proctor and Gamble and try to explain to them just what Marvel would have to do to ever make soap fans who don't already like and follow comics, spend money on them? Or did someone try but they just weren't heeded? Because it's not difficult to think that someone said 'Oh, those women will buy anything that promises them some romance, as long as we stick in characters they already like....'
But even if they don't think that, even if I'm being unfair, it feels very much as if no one's paying attention to what women want in comics. It feels like 'someone' heard that women want comics and 'someone' thought there was a demographic that wasn't being mined. But no one bothered to find out what would make their premise work.
There are comics I don't like / can't follow/ or sometimes downright hate. A lot of the time they're the impossible team ups, the clashes of hero vs hero, the explosions, betrayals and whipping out of bigger tech or resurging power. And yet I'm currently adoring Astro City which has all those things happening, because all those situations are driven by the story, by something with emotional satisfaction - or rather the emotional satisfaction I like. I don't really know if other comic readers get the same kind of 'exhale and feel' from seeing Captain America whale on the Hulk, that I got when watching Steeljack deal with The Conquistador. Maybe what I'm talking about needs another set of words. But that thing, whatever it's called has a lot to do with getting those particular women to follow and be loyal to a character, a couple, and a show.
Now I can understand that this can be a difficult concept to accept if you (generic you) isn't thinking of things in that way. I've had personal experience myself with being in rpg situations with wild and fantastically improbably setups and coming to grief. I was going for a certain emotional follow through and thinking that the whacky or cliche situations that were offered up were just vehicles to set up the emotional pitfalls and pratfalls for my character. And then I learned and realized that for quite a few of the other players, the cracky moments in and of themselves were their kind of fun. They weren't looking for anything else. Those players and I were wanting to play in the same playground but we were doing it very differently.
Soap Operas and Super Hero Comics may look like the same playground on the surface. But the players are going at the game very differently. Yes, soap opera fans are primarily women. But soap operas have been catering to them for years, growing with them and becoming wiser to what they want and they know the trick to all those implausible storylines. Soap fans have watched Mob stories, immigration stories, alien visitation stories, evil twins, long lost loves returned from the dead, shipwreck fantasies, medical dramas, rape survivor triumphs and alcoholic declines. And they've followed all these things over years. So yes, sure, there's the potential that they could think of super hero comics as just another way to tell stories they like. But they've watched the diverse twists all following one common emotional theme. I could be wrong. But I think that Marvel can't begin to court this demographic if they start off by insulting their intelligence.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I've been ill. It's going into week two now and I'm still slowly recovering. Which means I haven't been out and about to read/collect comics and TPBs to read. So it's been mostly me lying down on a couch or in my bed reading novels or staring non-sensically at flashing colors on the tv screen.
My loathing for how Nickelodeon conducts the airings of Avatar: The Last Airbender continues. My confusion at finally getting my hands on an Amalgam (DC/Marvel twined universed) comic is only slowly fading - I read it while I was sick and I was sorely disappointed at the lack of any sense. I mean, it's a comic a visual medium. Why tell when the whole dymanic is supposed to be one of show? If someone blows a cloudy puff of air at something and in the next panel the object they blew at is frozen then -DUH-, freeze breath. You don't have to tell me. Save the space for actual story.
I guess the point was they didn't have an actual story, just a whole bunch of 'OMG SO KEWL' concepts.
I remain disappointed.
I look forward to feeling better and hopefully collecting some books that no doubt have been waiting for me, on Monday. I want more Astro City. Astro City makes it all better. [ TARNISHED ANGEL = YAKBM ] Of course I have no idea when, how, I could ever write my own comic. So hopefully that inspiraction from them will pass as I get stronger and less filled with viral ick.
*Yet Another Kurt Busiek Masterpiece
Friday, October 6, 2006
I just read Kurt Busiek's Astro City: Confession. It's the second TPB. I'll talk about the first later. Right now I just need to say "Why does Marvel suck so hard? Why? Why? Won't someone please think of the
Confession is beautiful. A beautiful story. A beautiful reality. A beautiful slice into life and problems and what happens when the people turn against their heroes and the possible causes behind such a turn. It's told through the eyes of a teenage boy. It's awe inspiring. It makes me want to weep. It puts up a backdrop that's just... I'm going to over use beautiful again because that's what it was.
Selflessness. Sacrifice. The desire to do good. The need to protect. Beautiful. Just...beautiful.
How can Marvel think Civil War in any shape or form comes close to that kind of beauty? I know there are people who like Civil War. They can like it. I'm not planning on become the Supreme Overlord and taking it away from them. Well, I'm not planning on taking it away from them. But still - How can they know something like 'Confession' exists and then get it all so wrong?
How can they lose the beauty of the debate, of the struggle and conflict and rising tension against inner pride and feelings of wanting to retaliate against the seeming ungrateful. How? How can 'Confession' slip in race issues with a single sentence, while Civil War uses a big page spread of a dead black man, bound and chained?
I need to own these books. I'm currently borrowing them. But I need to own them by the end of the year. I need to own them so much, I'm half hugging the ones I've got here with me. I need to own them so much; I like them so much; that I'd consider swallowing my agoraphobia just to meet Kurt Busiek; just to see him talk at a panel; just to wait in line for an autograph. (I own one autographed piece of property. And a friend had to shove me in line to get that. It was enough for me to own the cd.)
I... I have no words. I'm so touched and moved. I know part of it is that Confession deals with 'A Dark Avenger' and I have a serious soft spot for those types. But wow. Just... wow.
Astro City touched me in book one with it's first story about the Samaritan. It made me look at Superman in a whole new way. It made me appreciate 'Big Blue' in a way I never thought I could - It made me appreciate him on his own, vs him played against someone I liked better.
All I want to do is go 'Omg. Omg. omg. Squee. Omg'. But that wouldn't tell you anything. And this book, this series deserves me being able to tell other people something. I'm so goddamn moved! I'm touched. I'm awed. I'm overwhelmed. I want to wave the books in the faces of people who say 'girls don't read comic books - they don't like the fighting / whatever' and tell them how much I loved this book and this series. I want them to read it. I want to discuss it with them; even if all I can say is 'omg, so beautiful'. I want to say that I like my superhero icons like that. I want to say that I want them respected like that; men and women. I want to say that I like my superhero stories to say something about the human condition as beautifully and wonderfully and well crafted like that. I want to talk about how glad I am I didn't kill myself in my teens, because then I'd have never read this. And wow.
Kurt Busiek is my new hero. I'm awed. Awed!
Everyone talks about Neil Gaiman but I never felt this way when I read Sandman. I liked it. I liked the incorporation of other DC characters. It intrigued me. But I never felt like this. It was removed for me. It was a story that appealed to my academic interests in geekdom and fandom and mostly of mythology; especially Greco-Roman pantheons.
But Astro City? Busiek? I think I'd read anything he does or ever did now. I'm awed. I need to look up his pencilers and colorists and everyone connected to see what else they have done. Because if they were involved in this, there has to be something special about them too.
I want to cry and I want to laugh and I want to shout and I'm pimping the series hard to my roommate who doesn't even like graphic novels because pictures aren't her thing. I... I don't know what to say. I'm babbling and overjoyed and overwhelmed and moved; like looking at your first cathedral during early morning mass when the light hits the windows and the buttresses and a couple of dedicated old women are singing for the mass in reedy thin voices filled with noithing but praise and determination. I feel side swiped the same way I did when I looked down into the tiny little life in my arms and my little brother blinked at me and I knew I was going to love and protect him for the rest of my life because he was my blood.
I didn't think art did that anymore.
I'm really happy to find it still does.
ETA: It's come to my attention that the mention of suicide in my babbling post might seem cavalier. It isn't. I've struggled with chronic depression for most of my life. Not most of my adult life, but most of my entire life. This journal is specifically set up away from day to day talk about other things I'm dealing with. If I slip in a sentence casually about something like that or about abuse or domestic violence etc it's not because I don't take them seriously.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Has anyone seen Sue Storm lately? No I mean has anyone looked at Sue Storm lately? When she's visible? Does no one love this woman? An adoring husband, devoted fans, loyal friends and warm son and you all let her go out of the house dressed like that? This is love?
Was it because you didn't know what to say? It can be difficult talking to any woman about how she looks and whether or not it's good. But if you really cared, you'd suck it up, people. This woman saves lives. The least you could do is be honest with her. But maybe a few of you might point her here, because I will be talking directly to her.
Sue? Before we even begin I just want to say I commend you on being in such fine physical shape despite all the mishaps, adventures, rescues and disaster recovery you've been though; not to mention the birth of your son. Good maternity clothes are such a trial to find, aren't they? Months of feeling like no matter what you do, there's no way you could ever be invisible. Lots of women felt that way - feel that way. Ask your mother when you get a chance, I'll bet she has some stories.
But I have a question. Did it start there? Did the realization that you were no longer the sweet girl, the blushing bride happen as you watched your body change? It's normal. And there is not enough information out there on how to reclaim yourself after pregnancy. I'm putting at least some of the blame on what happened to you on that.
Because House of Land? Seriously, IW? On a woman of mature years and a now more rounded figure? House of Land is for breastless, too rich, teenage girls trying to look like they think a sexy and sexual woman should look. You passed that milestone in growth ages ago. Why did you go back?
Skin tight clothes that show camel-toe and your nipples? Unstable molecular cloth was never meant for that purpose. And quite frankly it makes even a noble shade of blue look cheap when it's been stretched thin enough across your body to look like wet vinyl. If that's what Reed Richards needs in the bedroom, dear, the general public shouldn't know about it.
You're a strong woman. You're the glue that holds that team together, the backbone. Mr. Fantastic has a wonderful mind, but bystanders all over can tell he's the type to forget to buy bread and milk. You're a wife and mother and a senior member of your team. And none of those things mean you're no longer a desirable woman. I know House of Land does the hard sell, but you've dealt with supervillains. How could you not see through the smoke screen? How could you not notice how impossible it is to wear a sturdy bra and underwear that doesn't ride up when wearing his designs? Can you even wear any underthings at all?
I'd like to recommend a couple designers for you, along with a couple of make-up and hair stylists. House of Land may seem like an all service enterprise but have you paid attention to the service?. A mature, super hero woman on the go picks a look that works for her, checks to see it has a few simple but elegant variations and moves on. Land's stylists seem to attack you at every opportunity, changing your hairstyle constantly within a single day. It doesn't really seem as if it's about you at all and more about their chance to use you as a doll to try out come-back styles that were best left in the 80's land of big hair, and stiff mousse. Your hair is in more need of a spa day than you are.
A simple hairstyle, something that doesn't threaten to have hair blow in your eyes at a critical moment would be best. Something that's also not teased big around your face. You're a lucky woman who can go with a sleek look - enjoy it. Sleek hair also looks good with a mature outfit, where extremely teased hair can seem a little pornographic even when it's not paired with a paint on by numbers uniform.
Drew Johnson Salons do marvelous things with hair, from intricate braiding to sleek, simple power cuts for women. They also get the concept of discretion when it comes to eye-make up. You won't leave their salon with your eyes looking cat-like, playboy ready and smokey. He also has a distinct line of formal wear that isn't afraid to admit that women such as yourself spend as much time in the gym as men. But he's better for those special occasions.
For every day wear, I'd suggest the Darwyn Cook or CSNY (Cameron Stewart NY) lines. Both men know how to be cutting edge and well tailored. You'll never look more city chic than in Stewart's comfortable and fashionable jumpsuits. If you give him a bolt of your trade mark fabric, I think he'd do wonders in a tailored special order.
We're all pulling for you Sue. You can make a fashion turn around and show yourself as the sensual, subtle, intelligent woman you are.
[Anyone with a line on small boutique wonderkin, or lines and designers that just haven't gotten enough press, feel free to write in and perhaps send a few examples or a portfolio. The more options we can give the marvelous men and women we'll be informing, the better. Fashion today is about options. And the best option is the one that leaves the casting couch behind.]
Boutique - An independent or lesser known comic where the characters are reasonably dressed for their jobs.
Designer - An artist. (or talented inker?)
Line - An artist's body of work and sense of drawing style
Hairstyle & Makeup - Artists who give (in particular) good and reasonable faces to the women (and men) in their books.
Salon - Similar to 'boutique'. The chance for an artist to take over for a character.
House of: A branded name artist ala Jim Lee, Greg Land, Frank Miller, Michael Turner, etc (also associated with the combination of a particular writer and or a particular imprint or comics company)
Monday, September 25, 2006
I've been distracted of late, replying in my personal journal about issues of race and the fact that fans of color will not have white fans for breakfast, if they write fanfiction and get something wrong with a character of color. Maybe comic book fans of color do eat them some white meat, all raw and ripped to shreds. But fanfiction fans of color, or as my roommate has named us 'The FoCing Cabal' aren't bestial.
Moving from this back to a column idea that some folks have been pimping at me, I innocently start looking up various comic book artists, and googled phrases like 'realistic body shape in comic books'. Because I realized that I know a lot of DC artists, but not a whole lot of Marvel artists and I wanted to do something with an even playing feel.
Then I came across this in Comicbook Resources Forums
03-25-2005, 08:48 PM
For me the best looking and most realistic women[sic] in comics are by Greg Land. Yet Cho also draws some fine women and I love his art overall too. His dinosaurs, monkeys, and other creatures are also wonderfully illustrated. His women do often look at bit too much alike at times though. Part of this may be an obession with Linda Carter.
The best looking and most realistic women? Really? Based on what? The women in 'ButtSluts IV' ? The women in 'Bukkake & Bondage'?
Th recent WIZARD book about how to draw characters has had scans make it onto the internet. And it has drawn (puns are so cool) all sorts of furor. Dedicated Sidekick has a post up about how Poser6 thought he was crazy when he tried to mimic the poses generally done for women.
My first impulse in all this is to tell the artists to go rent some 70's porn. There'll be big women, little women, tall, short, big breasts, smaller breasts, small stomachs, a few flat stomachs, the really sexy little rounding that comes from a woman who's given birth; a cornucopia of shapes. If there's one thing the porn of the 70's had was silicone free, pubic hair wearing, flesh actually jiggling women.
How have we reached a place in society when Barbie doll looks are considered realistic by men? I know I've been paying attention to female self-esteem and teenage girl self-esteem. I know I've seen the various articles and reports about men who bodybuild too much because they have body dysmorphia. I know this unrealistic pinnacle on beauty on both sides is a false impression, put up on a pedestal by advertisers who want to convince the public that they're imperfect and flawed and this product will make it all better; eat this, wear that, smell like this, cover that, whiten this, darken that, exercise, jazzercise, weight train, rubber band train, highlight, lowlight, shave, wax, peel, microderm abrasions, anti-wrinkle, brush your teeth in an elevator, inject here, tan, don't tan, spray on tan, just one little tuck, cut, fold, clamp...
But didn't we used to be able to see the difference between plastic impossibility and real life good health? Didn't we? Has it all really been a steady slide down since the 80's? Has the illusion become the norm?; The only thing reflected in art and the mirrors we look at and the eyes we look out of when we view and judge other people?
Is the epitome of beauty, long straight hair, a thin roman nose, high cheekbones and light eyes with long dark eyelashes and a sleepy sultry look like there's always time for bedplay? Is this what the word woman conjures up now? Is the epitome of handsome, 2% body fat, tight corded muscle, and boyishness?
Has this all become standard because only one side is fighting against it? Women? And the men see it, and are unhappy and maybe angry that the wife or girlfriend or daughter they think is beautiful isn't according to popular culture but they don't say anything because.... Because of what? Why don't they say anything? Why do women only hear it when they start complaining, but not in a chant happening side by side when they go to confront some marketing campaign or beauty product?
And on a random but slightly related note - Is the quest for a woman with bigger breasts compensation for how small and thin they've become? Is the male hindbrain eagerly looking for a woman who looks like she could breast feed his seed, despite the fact that every other part of her body says 'I'm malnourished and will possibly die soon' ? Is it connected to the need to have something relatively soft against them when thin women have pelvic bones that can be felt grinding down through flesh in a painful manner?
In the next five years are women going to have to be going 'But baby, you don't need pec implants' ? / 'Your delts are fine the way they are, you don't need silicon in there!'
Realistic. It's like the word doesn't mean what it's supposed to mean anymore. And if it doesn't, then super-realistic, super-physique, super-heroic will just get more and more ridiculous, won't it? Skinnier and more scantily clad females. Bulging and more distorted and disfigured looking males.
That's a sad future. I don't want that future.
Although, it does give a clue as to why we see women's nipples but never the shape, size and length of any super-hero's package. Just what would a super-hero package look like? And how would you determine who was bigger? Does the Hulk beat Captain America ? Thor beats Spiderman? Or is Peter Parker hiding some unique aspect of radioactive spider bites? If Wolverine and Cyclops really pulled it out to measure - who would win? And if that was really a factor in comics, as things get more and more outrageous, how soon would it be before compared to all the muscles any hero had, they all ended up seeming - small?
Friday, September 22, 2006
1) The Holocaust
2) Concentration Camps for: Gays, Gypsies, Poles
3) Japanese Camps in the US
4) The Shit List thrived arrests of members of the Black Panthers
6) Wolverine's Adamantium Skeleton
7) The Mutant Registration Act
If the characters in Marvelverse haven't yet figured out that minority + list + numbers = great, stinking, suspicious, potentially explosive, pile of shit - that's their problem. I studied my history. If the smart ones can't tell the not so smart ones why it's a bad idea without making an 'event' out of it...
Yes, I know, writers and artists and high muckymucks thought this was a good idea. Well, sometimes people have brainfarts. You don't pay them for the chance to take a big whiff.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
To any and all of you out there who've read this journal/blog and were impressed or thought I was insightful - I just want to let you know I'm gonna fall flat on my face maybe three or four times sometime soon. It's the law of averages. Don't be too disappointed. Also don't make too much fun. ;p
Highlander over at The Miserable Annals responded to my thoughts about the argument between male fans of comics and female fans. He's been given food for thought. I replied to him, twice, but his blog's moderated and I didn't save the first response. Not knowing when I'll see my responses (because RL happens) I'm also putting my second reply and the main thrust I remember of the first, here.
Firstly, he had this to say:
It seems more than a little ridiculous, I have to imagine. In fact, it may well seem so ridiculous as to be offensive....
And I told him he got it. With those statements acknowledging that there is a conflict, he got it. And I challenged him since he's about to become a father (to three girls), to look at the new Supergirl and imagine his youngest dressed up as Supergirl and defending it because Supergirl is a hero. 'And you like comics Dad'. Would he look at her and think he didn't want some grubby fanboy thinking that all there was to his beautiful, talented, brilliant daughter, was the skin she showed? (There was more - I believe I mentioned a male character in his entry being dressed like he should lick boots and like it - but I've forgotten the rest. When the comment shows I'll edit and add)
But there was another aspect of his entry. And it took me a while to figure out what bothered me about it and if I wanted to respond to it. I decided it's not a knee jerk reaction.
And it doesn't matter how nuanced their dialogue may be, or how many kids we see them pull out of how many burning buildings at great risk to their own life and limb, because no matter how courageous or competent or valorous or noble they are, the fact remains, they are dressed in costumes specifically designed to give any man seeing them a gigantic woody, and most women have nothing but (perhaps merited) contempt for any woman who specifically dresses simply to provoke that kind of reaction in men.
I can't speak for most women. But I think the 'contempt' you mentioned goes right back to my thoughts on 'the cat fight'. You seem to be speaking of the characters being torn down unconsciously because of the way they look. I'm speaking of a history of explotative physical appearance. It's not that she's trying to make men horny so she's a ho and we don't like her. I know many women who're all about sex worker rights and the fact that some women do feel empowered by being strippers or porn stars. Their rights should be respected. It's hypocritical to say a woman's body is her own when it comes to abortion but then say a woman who chooses to be a sex worker is automatically ignorant of the politics or has been culturally brainwashed about her sense of self worth and needs to be regulated into doing something better.
There is a matter of choice here that real women have and I know that I tend to hope they make that choice from an informed station. That they're not going along because this is how they've been told women are sexy. And mostly I hope that they're not making that choice because it's the best way to get money, despite how they feel about themselves, their bodies and the job, because they haven't had opportunities to train for anything else.
I've never seen in character/ in canon references to why the heroines dress the way they do. No, I saw one. In Supergirl where Stargirl commented on the bare midrift they both shared and wondered if Supergirl was going for 'distracting the enemy'. And then they went on to mention that it wasn't dangerous for Kara because as a Girl of Steel it'd take kryptonite to really hurt her.
But Huntress was shot. Baraba did lose use of her legs and Black Canary was once so badly beaten she lost her cry. How in the face of those circumstances can Helena and Dinah continue to wear flaunting clothing? What's going on in their heads?
You said that men just go 'The artist was smoking crack' when they see a hero wearing something that doesn't match up to his personality or his job. Fangirls do think the same thing. The problem is that the artists are always smoking crack.
If our (female) heroes are drawn like that it's because it's appealing to men, and no thought is given to whether these particular strong women would really expose themselves in that manner. That's doing them grave injustice as characters.
Your original post about Catfights mentioned that the female roles seem to be generally subordinate to the male roles. My complaint is that the female roles seem to be subboridnate to the artists. It doesn't matter if Barbara Gordon, who was shot and paralyzed, would arguably have something to say about the safety of her agents, especially if they were injured before. So it would be logical for her to insist and / or discuss with them, them wearing clothing that protects them. The artists want to see skin, so they show skin. Dinah and Helena and all the rest never got to make a choice.
And given the history of the world it just makes the analogy of 'Man = puppet master, Woman = puppets' all the more distressing in an industry that's allegedly saying 'But wait, is a bird? A plane? No it's Supergirl! She'll save the day!'
(And yup I did catch my typos in this repost)
ETA: I've realized one of my comments to Highlander, re: his daughters was kind of creepy. And as soon as blogger stops being broken, I'll appologise.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
This blog isn't just about women in comics, it's about characters of color in comics too. I've just been too busy whacking off my inner femmnist (She's had a lot to say). But for now Read This: "Honey, the new canon is built on a steaming pile of racist, misogynist shite."
It's, to paraphrase my roommate's own link post, about how fan Te ran away to the whitest of white fandoms - Batmanverse, only to find see it recently invaded by the same "Spork in the Eye*" cliches as everywhere else.
*Spork-in-the-eye, trademarked to my roommate.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
In my entry "Beyond The Catfight Fantasy" I brought up my concern that fanboys (generic catch all term) may read feminist stances against over-sexualized female characters in comics, as a catfight. They might very well see our objections as us trying to bring down the 'prettier than us' fictional characters.
The Pretties vs The Uglies. That primary school scandal raises it's ugly heads. Even if you weren't a part of it, even if weren't paying attention to which side you were on; the boys were paying attention. And they didn't just see it on the playground, it's everywhere. Women tearing down other women who're more successful than they are, or younger, or more beautiful. Sometimes those women don't even realize what they're doing when the claws come out.
But if it's made such a huge impression, if it's become coded behavior, how do we uncode it so that the fanboys running and working in the industry listen to our actual points and not just see the whole thing as noise. I don't agree with James Meeley's points about needing to have patience and not shouting. But I do wonder now if his response was what it was because he was also reading 'catfight' into what we feel is righteous anger at misrepresentation and exploitation.
So now what do we do? How do we win the pre-fight? How do we shift perception, if this is the perception, away from a sterotyped understanding and towards our real points? How do we set up dialogue? What language do we use?
The fanboys point out over and over again that male characters are over muscled, and unrealistic and they don't object. Is it machismo? And if so, do they think we're whining? Are they really saying they aren't inimidated by heroic figures so why are we? If their stance is - we're men, we know we're not heroes, we don't expect to see heroes just like us - is that why they can't understand that we do expect to see heroines who remind us of our mothers, sisters, teachers and other important female figures?
I don't think fanboys are that blind to inspiration. They like Batman's unwavering goals. They like Superman's epic heroism - as in his essential goodness. And those characteristics are displayed within figures who are larger than life, thus muscles and broad shoulders and tiny hips and intensely low body fat. But the men are still men. They're still men fanboys can relate to and understand and feel represented by. If they had superpowers and worked out that hard and had the time, money, energy - they too would do right for the world and try to juggle a private life or social life or any life at all. (Reverse that if they're a villian loving fanboy with private plans for world conquest)
I might not be able to think of a single individual in my life who I see in Mystique. But I do know I admire her survival instinct and her pure mettle. They're attributes I can recognize in myself and women I admire. I admire Helena's pluckiness and grit. She'll go to the dark place, she'll deal with the scum to protect the greater good. That's something I can admire. But Huntress stops being a woman I can recognize when, without super powers, she flaunts her body's weak and vulnerable spots even though she's been previously injured. That's not me if I had the super dedication and worked out hard and had the time, money and energy.
What language do I need to communicate that more clearly than I just did? I know I'm not in competition with a two dimensional representation of a heroic female. I know that it's a fantasy. But it's a fantasy set in a real world analog. Real world dangers apply. People can die or become critically injured. People can be tortured. Science has a level of similarity as well from medical to fissionable. Gravity apparently works the same if they're on planet earth. So what are the right words to use to show the difference in wanting that potential role model and icon to show due concern for her personal safety and self image without it seeming like I'm comparing myself to some norex wearing 'beauty queen' and wanting the bitch to go down?
Monday, September 18, 2006
I've been thinking a lot about genderwitching. A comment here led me to a conversation elsewhere where the Harry Potter Universe characters were genderswitched. And following that conversation led me to create a discussion on a different community about what happens when all the players of that fandom, which we love but currently don't enjoy, are switched around.
The initial reactions were that people didn't think the books would have been published at all if it were a man who suddenly had the power to make people want him, even against their own will. And yes, this is an Anita Blake / LKH community I'm referring to. But then in Seeking Avalong,
I've mentioned before that when I was younger I thought of Scott as 'the girl', that I'd found him boring. (Do note the past tense) If I switch genders now however:
Two psychics toying with a non psychic? Does it read that way now? Or does it read more of that Jack Grey was a distant, removed man and Scarlett went towards the warmth? But that points out more about Scott's situation that the point I'm currently worrying at so I'll leave that to a Scott essay #2.
I've seen people try to show the difference in uniforms with their own artwork examples (
I think I need to look at this in two ways. In the first I can simply turn gender around and then the powerful, non overtly sexualized characters would suddenly be women, and the passive, rape or sexual assault in their pasts, eye candy would suddenly all be men. Supergirl would become Superboy, in red-short shorts, and blue gloves, a cape-collar contraption, boots and nothing else. It'd be an outfit Clara Kent's father made for young Kryptonian Karl.
Wow, put that way I can't help but think Mark Kent is setting Karl up to know his place as eye-candy and meat in a world where women know the score and women are the heroes and it doesn't matter how much power Karl really has or could grow into. Being a hero in this world, vs being a heroine has a lot to do with appearance and Clara will help Karl settle in and introduce him to people, regular humans and heroes, who could help him understand Earth; as soon as Clara's finished sitting in a room with Brenda, observing how Karl stumbles around by himself trying to live up to a legacy.
But I need more than one example, right? So how about Wonder Woman as Wonder Man. He'd have the red star on a golden circlet. He'd have the cuffs and boots and blue star spangled short-shorts and a red shirt with gold armor. He'd want to help the Matriarchy, having come from an island where men could look after themselves and regularly walk around covered head to foot. He'd have a mission where he'd be trying to show this new world that all humans are equal and he'd end up having to continually prove himself and his views on balance to a group of....judgemental women?
Huh, there must be something wrong with how I'm turning the tables in this straight switch. Let me try one more time. Third time's the charm, right? Now, who to pick?
She-Hulk! With the Greg Horn covers. She-Hulk would just be Hulk. And the covers of his books would show him bending over the bathtub washing it, while dripping wet and in thin sports shorts, while looking over his shoulder and smiling to the camera? No wait. Hulk doesn't seem the best example. Let's not count Gene Walters Jameson.
Huntress (someone else come up with more Marvel characters). Huntress would be Hunter. He'd have been shot in the chest and stomach once in the past but still be wearing absolutely nothing protective on that area of his body. He'd have suffered from a brutal rape in his past, but feel empowered in his short-shorts, and gloves, and mask even though he rides a motorcycle and should probably be covered more in case of accident. He'd want very much to be part of Batwoman's team. But end up under Oracle instead and working with Black Canary, having fought for the right to weild his brand of justice. And he'd be known to need watching for uncharacteristic aggressiveness and be constantly be talked off of potentially killing criminals?
Ok, I give up. I can't do three in this category. Hunter just sounds like he needs serious therapy.
It looks like I can't manage a straight genderswitch properly. Maybe someone else will have a better go at it. But let me try the second way of dealing with things. If I switch around just the costumes, the artist styles, poses and the storylines given. Batman still lost his parents when he was eight. He still traveled the world to find the best ways of making himself capable of halting such crimes. And he still ended up taking the Bat as his emblem and hunting down criminals in the dark nights of Gotham. He'd still want to be a figure the public, especially its criminal element, is supposed to be scared of.
But would Batman suddenly look like a bondage sub boy? Shirtless, in tight shorts and a yellow belt and a hood and cape and our ability to tell when the weather's cold in Gotham by the peak or lack of peak in his nipples? If I add in the poses of arched back, hips thrust out, and one hand somewhere on the chest, does Batman suddenly look like he's for sale? Those powerful and iconic scenes of the cape billowing as he crouches on some gothic outcropping, peering out over his city would suddenly become Batman pressed up against a dirty building, cape falling silkily to his feet, his fingers looking like he's almost playing with his nipples in a kind of trance as he looks.... up into the sky somewhere while the city lights twinkle beneath him and his yellow utility belt hugs low on his hips, showing hipbone and making people wonder why he doesn't end up buck naked in the middle of a fight.
Ok, that's a wrong picture too. Let me try two other characters again, three tries for each point of view. Let's take Greg Land drawing.... Johnny Storm?
The Fantastic Four all wear full length jumpsuits, so there's no short-shorts for Johnny. But how tightly drawn would his suit be? Would we be able to count his abs and notice the weather situation in NYC as well due to his nipples? Would Johnny end up having scenes where fire licked along the length of his body, as he began to transform, with his hair alight and his eyes alight, and his body with a firey aura, while he arched in the throws of transformation, with one hand somewhere near his thighs and crotch and his body half twisted to show his ass in all round detail and the obvious cleft, given the skin tight blue uniform, and his mouth opened in the ecstasy of the transformation? Agony? His mouth just open and lips lush because he's alive?
Wait no. I must be reaching. I have to be reaching. I need another character. Logan. Our dear Wolverine. Forget any variation on the yellow suit. Let's just put Logan in tight fitting, well weathered jeans and a cowboy hat. That's pretty close to what he gets to wear nowadays anyway, right? So nothing much would change.
Except. How about that cigar? If posing, artists and storylines are to change, then suddenly Logan's fellatio-ing a cigar. And despite his origins, his story revolves around being back up for the heavy hitters. Sure there are interesting things to explore with him. But for the rule to stay true, that doesn't matter. What matters is that he has a couple moments of panel time and he's a shoulder for someone to lean on, an ear for someone to talk to....
Wait no. Even I can't do that to Logan. The fellatio-ing makes me want to stop reading my own damn artcle. And Logan's Bruce Wayne with claws to me. I've already gutted Batman in this. Let's move on. Alright? Alright.
Reboot for example three. Dick Grayson? Uhm no. He's got his own set of sexualized issues.
Captain America? Can anyone imagine Captain America holding a smaller shield, and wearing a full length body suit that for some reason has one bare arm and one bare leg? Would the Cap' look decisive at all? Like a leader? On the covers of his issues, or on crossovers, the shield would be leaning on him as he stood, hands unclenched, seen in profile so his package seems much bigger. Would we believe in the classic heroes following someone like that? Would we have ever gotten a storyline about his sidekick's return to life? Or would there be lots of guest stars in his comic, doing active things while he stood around looking patriotic and picture pretty?
On the plus side for those slashers among us, Captain America drawn by Greg Land, along side Bucky would be just rife with subtext, wouldn't it?
I've decided that someone better at this than I might make a better point. I keep getting sidetracked trying to imagine the characters so different. I keep wondering about Power Man, and where the see through hole might go and how lost he would be and if it'd be possible to write that without emasculating him. Or wondering about Spiderman in Spider-shorts.
But given we've been hearing enough about him. I've had a thought on T'Challa.
T'Challa as a girl would be dressed in a black loincloth, flat soled shoes and let's say a t-shaped halter with mask. After her wedding to Storm, God of Weather, one of the most prominent mutants of all time, and now accepted by the deity that lends it's name to T'Challa, they'd go to Latveria on their honeymoon. Somehow in the middle of meeting the regent of the land, Lady Doom, Doom and T'Challa would get into a fight.
Storm, worried about his wife would interfere, only to have T'Challa ask her husband not to. She wants to handle this on her own. Just because they're married doesn't mean that Storm can just rush in and be over protective, even when things look dire. She's a hero too and leader of her people. T'Challa likes being able to stand on her own two feet even till the end.
T'Challa would defeat Doom and then on the trip to their next honeymoon stop, Storm would lean over to kiss his wife tenderly on the lips, only to see her still angry with him. A kiss can't solve everything. Storm had had no faith in her as a fighter. It can't happen again.
Storm retorts with a simple. "Hey, how do you know a kiss never solved everything. Have you tried kissing Doom?". There's laughter.
Why does it seem like in that scenario we, feminists and common sense, self accepting women, still can't win?
[ETA: Link to Remix17]
So a group of conservatives are sexually harassing a young feminist blogger; making rude comments about her breasts and claiming she's some sort of kiss-ass, suck-up slut. All this based on a picture where she's standing next to Bill Clinton and has straight posture. The two main women involved are picking on and trying to pull down another woman and using sex to do it. They're encouraging men to make crude statements and to objectify this young lady; ; she's a whore, she's trading on her looks, no man'd ever be interested in her brains.
The hubbub got me thinking about the cat-fights in comics and whether or not they make sense. Not that cat-fights ever make any general sense. But are they internally consistent in a realistic way? Do do these heroic women ever turn to the man involved and go 'What are you doing'? No. A lot of the times they look at the other woman and go 'You Hussy!' and out come the claws. There's seldom a pause to think a deeper game might be playing.
Now, aside from the fact that men seem to like being fought over, what else does the cat-fight bring to the story? Really, what does it bring outside of wish fulfillment? Why should two powerful women fight over a man? Is he a pawn? Is he a prize?
- Emma vs Jean over Scott; In Ring One.
- Rogue vs A Cast of Women over Remy: In Ring Two
- Talia and Selina Over Batman: In Ring Three
I'm sure there are people who can think of more. Or perhaps the reverse, for example, Reed Richards vs Namor over Sue Storm. Sue's an object there and the men are fighting like neanderthals determined to disseminate their seed. But that's not quite the point I'm making.
In an industry that's so heavily dominated by men, what does it say when they have strong female characters ripping apart friends or even respected enemies, not over principles, but over a man? What does it say when one woman is jealous of another's looks and not her physical prowness and ability to do the job? Why isn't there an acceptance of talent and capability? Why is another woman on the scene a threat instead of a professional challenge?
Do the males in the industry think that our objections, to what we see as the unnecessary oversexualization of these female characters, really stem from some sort of jealousy? Are they so used to the concept of the cat-fight and its fantasy basis they can't hear the true objections?
Because I for one don't want large breasts, mine are bigger than I'd like actually. And while I wouldn't mind a couple extra inches in height, I don't want my feet to get any bigger. I would however appreciate an ass. I don't have one. It's a mystery - a painful mystery. But I wouldn't want to have to arch my back and push that butt out in some weird exotic pose in order to keep it. And I wouldn't want to wear a bathing suit when I headed into battle (Thank God in Reg Rucka's run, WW actually changed to varied battle dress when confronting Foes).
What I want is a woman I can want to emulate; one who can kick butt, save lives, take names and smile because she's done a good job. Isn't that the same thing the men who read want to feel about the male characters they like? Why is that so hard to believe, accept and understand?
Sunday, September 17, 2006
This whole recent mess with James Meeley and the surrounding back talk about feminism had me thinking about my journal title and the fact that I'm probably the only person who knows what I'm talking about when I say 'Seeking Avalon'.
I moved from comics to mythology and the first myths I hit were Arthurian Legend. I hit them hard. I hit them repeatedly. I went to sleep with them under my pillow. It was an instant-hard-all consuming first love.
As I got older, however, I saw that the more developed the plots got in the various re-tellings, the more sidelined or evil interpreted the female characters became. Maybe my introduction to the myths were through my mother's college lit books. It's possible. I had a very young mother and I was a voracious reader. But I can still remember this sinking feeling in my gut; this thing mixed with confusion and the beginnings of anger that suddenly the Ladies of the Lake (and other Ladies of Power) weren't as important in the new stories I was finding. That in fact it was all about Arthur to such a degree that female protagonists were mixed, blended, reformed, vilified and all manner of things. Morgause and Morgan Le Fay are the best examples of two characters who were blended together into one; one substituted for the other; and then that new creation was made into the one who bore the evil son.
When I dipped into comics occasionally, trying desperately to catch up with what had happened, I started seeing some of the same things; Jean Grey was Dark Phoenix; Mary Jane was the clueless, ever loving, but slightly air headed model girlfriend; Captain Marvel was a guy instead of a woman in Avengers; And I didn't recognize Storm.
I'm not saying that there should be a comic retelling of the chars, ala M.Z. Bradley's 'Mists of Avalon'. Though as an AU that would certainly be interesting, as would a gender switch of major characters in most of the comics I love to read. I just want to get back to Avalon where it was ok for those female characters to be dynamic and powerful, beautiful and wonderful all over again, without having to be killed off immediately or otherwise tweaked.
Friday, September 15, 2006
I returned "Inheritance' by Devin Grayson on Thursday. I'd borrowed it from the library after coming across a blog or two that discussed it. The snippets seemed interesting. I kept hearing about Devin's start in fanfiction and how far she'd come and how much this novel seemed to read like fanfiction with all of it's subtext-almost-text.
I couldn't finish reading the book. I enjoyed Gotham Knights. I enjoyed 'Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu'. I'm fairly certain that any hand Devin had in the graphic novels of No Man's Land I'm likely to enjoy. But the only people I could get into in 'Inheritance' were the original characters.
Ow. Just, OW!!
I'm not an Aquaman fan, I basically know him from the cartoons: Superman in the 90's and JL / JLU in the 00's. But the person in the book I was reading didn't seem like either of the Aquamen I knew. And Green Arrow! Maybe Kevin Smith spoiled me on who he was supposed to be and how I was supposed to see him.
But Ollie was... Ollie was empty headed, glib. He wasn't the man I'd seen in the arc where he comes back to life and deals with his mistakes and his anger and bitterness and owns his maturity. I could understand the way the book's Roy treated him. Because I'd have hated a mofo like Ollie too, if he was as he was presented in the book. It was more than carefree and footloose and I kept wondering how come Batman didn't snap his neck.
Dick was.... the gayest thing I've ever seen! It was like in that universe if you looked up the word 'Twink', there'd be a picture of Dick Grayson's ass, followed by a picture of his side profile. The whole eagerness to please older men/need for affection/open walking wound/open mouth.... Dick was like if Greg Land drew men the way he traces women. It was perverse and scary in ways that have a lot to do with the depths of my Batman love and likely not a whole lot to do with anything else.
The original characters on the other hand felt like people. And Harvey Bullock seemed real as well. Whereas Jim Gordan felt like a shadow of himself and a fearful shadow at that.
I'm currently having difficulties reading Dennis O'Neil's novelization of Knightfall. But the problem there has more to do with me finding inside of Bane's head to be extremely boring and monochromatic and the fact that I don't like someone else getting inside of Batman's head for me. I very much like bringing my 'own' Batman to a Batman novel. The dissonance between the two makes for difficult reading and as much as I'd like a novelization approach to the tale I might have to just hunt down the graphic novels and trades.
But Devin Grayson and Inheritance was something painful. And I'm keenly disappointed. Because I'd hoped people who talked about it were exaggerating and that there was built up and context to those snippets they showed. But there wasn't. It was one long love letter to Dick's neediness, Batman's cryptic nature, Ollie as 'The Blonde Bombshell in Green' and Arthur as some kind of Atlantean English Nobleman with thought patterns mere humans could never understand.
Painful and sad.