Saturday, February 24, 2007

James Howlett: Punk Ass B*tch

I loved Wolverine. Maybe not as much as I love Batman, but he's always been a close second. As close as second could be when I'm a loyal servant of the Dark Prince of Gotham. *sigh*

Growing up as I did, with a past I rarely talk about, but which involves physical, emotional and other abuse, endless confrontations between adults, people purposefully driving their cars into cliff-side walls and other such craziness, there was always going to be something appealing to me about the heroic figures who took it on the chin and kept pressing on.

"Wounds heal. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever."

Maybe I didn't think that in so many words. But I believed it. And believing it, I could believe in Wolverine. He lived in the now.

"Now lasts forever. The future is not promised. And the past cannot be changed."

Wolverine found a way to be who he was, without a past, without memories and without all the little things that a whole bunch of psychologists believe make a human being human. He was instinct, trained and honed for a purpose. He made himself more than a weapon for his own sake in dealing with his environment. He made the best of his circumstances. He lived.

I adored him.

The first time I realized how much I liked him and why I liked him 'SNIKT' became something to get excited about. I can take or leave 'Bub'. He can quit smoking if he likes. And the cowboy hat? Depending on the artist it can be kind of dumb. But that sound said that the time for civilized conversation was over. A line had been crossed. Rules had been broken. Somebody was going to pay.

I had a hero. His name was Logan. His codename was Wolverine.

As a little girl in a very turbulent world, I could read Wolverine and feel protected. Not just by his character. But by the knowledge that a character existed who turned his past into fuel to protect his present. Just like Batman, only with a lot more violence and some government conspiracy and brain-washing.

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Only I Will Remain. I. Logan. Wolverine.

Not. James, The Effing Pansy Howlett.

There is no WTF loud enough, effusive enough to describe my need to physically tear open someone's chest for coming up with this idea.

Wolverine creating his past, out of memories, real and imagined, meant he created himself. James Howlett, the pussy, was created and lost his memories not because some force beyond imagination tried to break him, but because someone was hurting his Mommy.

Suddenly he wasn't a hero anymore. He was just another little kid with a hard life. It shot Wolverine down to being ordinary so fast, my head is still spinning. My 'hero' was laid low by everyday stuff. Normal BS. The sort of stuff that I fought through day after day and week after week.

Where was the inspiration in that?

Wolverine scared of himself and what he was capable of, disgusted me. Where was the edge? Where was the acceptance that actions have consequences but some actions need to be taken and some people were meant to take them?

Wolverine not in touch with his instincts and emotions, repulsed me. It was one thing for him not to express what he was feeling, but I'd never doubt that he felt it. It was simply a matter of control. But to have his origins stem from bullying? Adultery? A mother held captive? For those ordinary fears to have become the emotions he'd repressed as necessary for survival? This was a hero?

To have him not know himself as strong enough to survive no matter what, from the very start? It shattered the pillar, broke the pedestal and just made me wonder who hated him so much they had to do this to his character.

A definitive past?


Why was it necessary?

Who was Wolverine to these people that they thought he needed a definitive past? How could they not see he'd gone beyond that. Above that. That his past wasn't who he was anymore. Who he was would always be grounded in the present and the problem he currently faced; determining whether or not he had the skills or the strength for it.

All the various 'past lives' had ever been were experiences that exposed silvers and varied sides to his personality. Couldn't they see that? Didn't they know that? Were they blind? Stupid? Knocked in the head?

What the hell was wrong with: Self Made Man, Wounded Samurai, Frontier Ethics ?

Why wasn't that good enough for them?

I still don't know. What I do know is that ever since I found it about it, I haven't been able to look at him anymore. I don't read him, I don't follow him. Hell, for a while I latched onto Victor Creed, because he was still left without excuses and explanations.

I miss Wolverine. I miss my hero.

Batman's a love I have from afar. After all, I don't live in Gotham. But my Wolverine love was visceral, because I know what it's like to live in my head, to not trust, to not share and to wonder if something inside me was going to come out at any second and ruin it all.

Dear Logan. They finally broke you. RIP.

Open ID

I've no idea how many people actually read this thing. But if you don't have an LJ account. I'm suggesting OPENID. And I'm turning Anonymous Posting off.

Cause WTF?

First I get spam comment about - I can't even remember what. Except it was strange and creepy and wrong. And now I've got someone telling me Therapists Are Bad. Lesbians Aren't Feminine. And something about clones without brains in their cranial cavities.

What the Fuck?

No seriously. W.T.F?

Confessions of a Comic Art Virgin

I know what I like when I see it. Problem is, I'm not always certain who I like.

Take Batman/Deathblow for instance. Lee Bermejo's got credits where-ever I look; wikipedia, my library's listings, general websites. But then I cross reference with another library system and up pops Timothy Bradstreet.

Who the hell is Timothy Bradstreet?

So I look. Cause I want to know who it is, that makes me want to suck cock, whenever I see the detailed backgrounds of Deathblow. As a lesbian, this is most important. Because really, get that dangly thing out of my face. Still, I love the artwork. Gotham breathed for me in a way that it doesn't often do. Gotham breathed for me the way The Lord of the Rings is all about Middle Earth; the way Peter Jackson was quite right to use New Zealand and managed to make those sweeping vistas absolutely breathtaking.

There was my Gotham, her lines, her scars, the twinkle in her eye. But who the hell is Timothy Bradstreet?

His website tells me nothing directly. I see samples of his work, and the themes all seem like he could be the reason I want to lick the page, strip naked and howl at the moon over Gotham in 'Deathblow: After the Fire'. But there's nothing definite.

There's a mention of Hellrazer, however. And I remember that I had a similar reaction to London while reading a Hellrazer book. But I can't remember too clearly what book, or even when I read the damn thing in order to narrow stuff down.

Then I find mention of 'Shoot'. The issue of Hellblazer that was scrapped because of the Columbine Tragedy. I used to have it downloaded onto my computer. I'll know if I still have it when I switch some HD's around and jiggle a few things in a few days when I'm feeling better and can fully toy with and tweak my 'to be new system'.

But I liked 'Shoot'. I liked the artwork. And the story for that matter. High school is hell. High school is a drill camp of the insane, filled with roaming gangs who fling words around like knives and where the slightest drop of blood, real or emotional calls in all manner of voracious sharks.

The scenes of the high school hallway captured that to me. The bleakness that adults never seem to see.

But that's not quite enough for me to figure out if he's the reason I liked the book so much.

So I'm back to looking at Lee Bermejo again. And I stumble across this page. Splash art, they call it. And the shit's for sale.

So there are pages with Lee's name on it, showing Gotham in stark clean lines. And then there's Tim's page showing a style I find familiar. And I'm not even going to get into how much I appreciate the colourist right now.

But I have to say, being a fangirl is a lot of hard work. Because I'm still not sure how DeathBlow breaks up at the end of the day.

Though maybe it's a good thing. Maybe I was just hoping it was only one man's contribution. Cause I know for a fact, that there's no way I'm kissing three cocks. So I can just continue to admire from afar.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

So You Want Her To Read Comics ?

I was reading Comics Worth Reading and saw the mention of the meme of 'Comics Your Girlfriend Might Like' or 'Comics To Get Your Girlfriend To Like Comics' and I found myself snorting at the complaint against the mention of Fables. Fables is a damn good comic.

But then I read further and discovered that Fables is part of a list, in fact the same list that gets trotted out like some prize mare who needs her teeth examined before stud - over and over and over again.

To those of you making those lists - Why do you want your girlfriends or sisters or mothers to read comics? Is it because you want to share an art form? Share a good story? Commiserate on childhoods spent reading Dick Tracy and The Phantom while Dad read the sports pages?

Or do you want to somehow validate your hobby by getting that woman in your life hooked on it too? Are you pimping because you think they'd enjoy it? Or is it all a lot of loud noise because it'd be cool to have a woman in your life who's been spoon-fed all the opinions you have?

What? You don't want her to have your opinions? You're recommending things a girl would like? That's what you say?

Well I call Bullshit. Cause the list that goes around has nothing to do with trying to appeal to a certain kind of girl. Instead it looks like a dime bag of romance crack that men hope will get women so hooked they'll happily fork over three bucks a pop for the superhero books their boyfriends/brothers themselves like. It's a starter kit instead of an introductory guide.

And it's BULLSHIT.

I live with a girl who doesn't like comics. She doesn't like pictures. She's oriented towards words. So as far as she's concerned she graduated from picture books years ago, why should she look back.

She has, however, read books because I was excited about them. We're roommates. We like to share positive experiences with each other. And when I share, I appeal to what would interest her. It's either the plot or the story-telling or a compelling look at gender or sexuality or fairy tales. In other words I share by intriguing her on points she's already interested in. I don't mention who the artist or colourist is and I sure as heck don't pimp something that needs a lot of back history to understand. Or at least I try not to. When I slip up, she lets me know very loudly that it's too complicated for her.

But in mentioning the list and talking with her about what does get her interested in picking up a book filled with pictures, I discovered that there's a whole bunch of books that either I introduced her to or she found on her own that aren't being mentioned in these so called expert lists.

So here's a quick proto-column beginning on a couple of books that might get the non-comic readers in your life (male and female) piqued and interested in the art-form. Because remember, it's all about what they already like and not about what you want to push on them.

Comic Strips
Why aren't they ever recommended? A single comic strip is art, story and punchline in a very small package. Plus it's familiar. It's the Funnies. And quite a few of them have books out.

There's Calvin and Hobbes. The Boondocks. Dykes to Watch Out For. The Far Side (not a personal favourite but it's art and a point, usually funny). My roommate has pointed out that The Far Side is also one shots, which makes the commitment level very low. You can read a book of one shots, or enjoy a monthly or daily calender without feeling there's a history you need to be catching up on.

Web comics have the same advantage as newspaper comic strips, but with an added twist. If they're current then they only come out once or twice a week. That can get someone into the habit of waiting for a new strip and dealing with, maybe even enjoying, the anticipation. Wait two days and then there's something on a topic he or she might like. It's a baby step. What better way could there be to getting someone to understand why you, the comic reader, happily wait a week or a month or longer (depending on delays) for 22 pages to come out.

And Web Comics are Legion (he he X-men joke). There's a comic out there for everyone. From John & John's quiet raunchiness to Ozy and Millie's eccentric but imaginative exploration of their world. There's something that'll pique interest. And there are so many different ways to keep current. Feeds on Firefox. Darkgate.Net's Comic Slurper. where you can get news and email updates sent to you to remind you to check in.

It's not just boys kissing, girls wanting romance, gang war and big fight scenes. If the person in your life doesn't understand running around in brightly colored spandex trying to save the world, maybe they would understand trying to survive high school. Or college. Maybe they could understand a girl growing up to be just like her mother. Maybe the person in your life likes dark genius anti-heroes or mystery series or really diggs Harry Potter (while not minding a little fan service and blushing 10 yr olds). Or maybe they like Buffy-style supernatural antics.

There's Manga or Manhwa for any and everyone!

And if you're the artsy type who wants that special person to fall in love with art styles, the diversity in the simple and clean black and white lines will at least get them thinking about what they like to see and what they don't.

Books or Trade Paperbacks
The big ticket. The familiar. The Holy Grail. Or not.

Before you go picking up Ultimate Spiderman and shoving it in someone's arms, confident that there are so many trades out already that they won't feel stuck waiting for story - think about if they'll like it.

I can't stress this enough. At this stage of the game, it isn't about introductions anymore. It's about fostering a love. Which means you liking it isn't the problem or the point.

The ones you want to like comics? Their liking the subject is important. And maybe they have to build up to Super Hero Comics. Or maybe they just don't like Super Heroes. But no one's ever suggested anything other than Super Hero comics to them or that more than Super Hero comics exist. So they decided they don't like comics and there's a whole world out there that you could show them.

Comics are an art form! It comes in many flavours. Use that to your advantage.

For example:
1) Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Maybe an epic quest isn't the scenario that would appeal to them. Does the particular woman in your life like fairytales? She does? Then why not give her a modern and interesting take on the land of those fables. Without automatically directing her towards Fables. Fables is a quest, no matter how you slice it. It's epic. And as such it requires a huge investment of time.

Someone who's just starting out in comics isn't going to want to commit the next how many ever months to first catching up on the story and then waiting for new issues to come out. Castle Waiting doesn't have that problem, because it's mostly self-contained. You can want a sequel, but the story is done.

2) Y: The Last Man
How can you not suggest this? It's a book where all the men but one is dead. Men. Are. Dead. It's easy. It's a gimme. If that doesn't intrigue them enough to peruse, then I don't know what will. Now, some of them may complain about the fact that while all the men are dead, the focal point character is the last man. But it's an environment showing women persevering and keeping the world running. If all they've seen and heard of comics is back breaking breasts and impossible positions, pouty lips and no real power - this might be a good introduction. Ordinary Guy. Ordinary Women. Extraordinary Circumstances. True Character.

3) Runaways - Brian K Vaughan.
If she liked his writing in Y: The Last Man, she'll like this. But more-over, that non Superhero comics person in your life? They'll also like Runaways. Because it's about a group of kids and what they might do in bizarre circumstances. It's full of disbelief and wonder and frustration.

And it's new. You don't have to go into Runaways knowing much of anything. It's isolated enough that someone can pick it up as an entry into the Marvelverse. The rest of the Marvelverse characters are as far off and foreign to the kids in Runaways as they are to the person you're trying to get to read the book.

There's no spandex. No radioactive spiders. No arch-villains with plans for super robots to help them take over the world.


If this little essay feels like a teaser. I can be bribed into making it regular. Especially if people submit their choices for 'Comics A Girl Might Like' to me. (Strips, WebComics, Books, TPB's) I could review them and add them to the proper category.

Though I wonder.... GirlWonder.Org? Do I have a column? Or y'know, people could just subscribe to this blog with the tag 'so you want her to read comics?' and get an rss feed whenever I do something new. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Monday, February 19, 2007

An Open Letter: Dear DC, About Supergirl

Dear DC, even if you think you see Supergirl's 'real teenagerness' every-time you look at the television? You're wrong. Supergirl isn't One Tree Hill, from Krypton.

I haven't been online a lot recently. First computer problems (some of which is still pending) and then something that was either a cold or the flu (that I'm still recovering from). But it left me a lot of time to watch television, since I couldn't focus enough to read. It left me watching daytime television with daytime commercials. And it was there I saw up close andpersonal the root ( imo) of what's wrong with the character of Supergirl in current continuity.

We, the group of readers who complain about what she's become in these modern times, aren't wrong to say she's not a real teenager.

The Supergirl that emerged from Superman/Batman is a Bratz Girl, likely a Bratz Girl with Pupz and Phonez and Carz. She's also a My Scene Barbie Girl. She's big lips, crop shirts and lots of hair. She's the concept of advertising and consumerism.

She's what a group of (most likely male) advertisers want teenage girls between 13-19 to be. Their creation has to look a certain way, dress a certain way, eat certain things and want certain things in order to add to the flow of money.

Their creation has nothing to do with actual teenage girls. It's a reflection of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and the Olsen Twins and what they wear and think and promote in movies and music videos. It's artificially, pre-meditatively created popular culture. It's what Pink sung about in Stupid Girls

Looking at Supergirl from this marketing point of view, it was easy for me to see her as a true shell. And it was startling for me to realize that she'd actually have more character depth if she was really the wish-fulfilment of a group of men who would be boys; the mistaken conception of the perfect teenage girl from a group of males who still wished they'd bagged the cheerleader in high-school.

And that's pretty damn sad.

As things stand, however, Supergirl is Generic Mass Communication Advertising Teenager with superpowers. She's made to sell. Innocence in need of guidance (via commercials and their products) wrapped up in hootchie skirts and wearing too much lipstick. The Whore/Madonna Complex at its best.

And because this creation, (as Supergirl and as her inspirations) has been selling, it's no wonder those of us who complain about her don't get heard.

But this creation is not Supergirl. Supergirl is independence. Supergirl is old school, original grrl power. Supergirl sets her own trends. Supergirl is self-determination. She chose the shield, she chose her path, she chose her battles.

Supergirl was American's Sweetheart in the past. She managed to be America's (and the World's) Sweetheart in the animated Justice League Unlimited. And it wasn't as if she did everything she was told in that show. She made mistakes and learned from them. She struck out on her own. And she juggled the responsibility of the S shield and the expectations that came with it. She was a girl growing up.

As much as I personally dislike Smallville. That show is still about becoming. There's action and adventure to promote growth along-side the sub-plots of hormonal teenagers mooning over each other. It wouldn't be a bad idea to look to it as some sort of model.

Because where has Supergirl's growth been? Given that you've dressed her up as a 'Stupid Girl', we've had 'Stupid Girl' plots. The barely legal look has gotten us story-lines of her being involved with a much older guy, and getting in over her head in a number of 'battles', starting with Lex Luthor and ending most recently with Cassandra - Once Batgirl - Now Assassin. Her whole set up is one of lush incompetence, occasionally mixed with a high pain and damage threshold.

Dressed as The Dynamic Cheerleader, she's become Zorl-El's daughter and weapon and the possible path of Kal-El's destruction, Boomarang's Young Thing on the Side and Power Boy's girlfriend.

That's Ultimate Hidden Weapon, Ultimate Sex Toy and Ultimate Folly. There's no room for Ultimate Power Fantasy. And we as readers know you know what that looks like, because you keep Gail Simone on Birds of Prey and you let Greg Rucka really explore Wonder Woman's purpose during his run on that title. Not to mention I've heard good things about ManHunter.

So what gives?

Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?
Oh where, oh where could they be?

Why is there a fear to show her as a realteenage girl? Why is there a lack, an absence, yea no impetus to grab the chance to explore Krypton and her memories there and how the traditions and life there compares to earth?

Why have Berganza plea with women to read Supergirl but not give women stories they want to read? That's like asking chefs to buy a magazine that has no recipies in it, or articles on food.

Women who read comic books aren't the women that advertisers can try to mold. They've already come to terms, most of them, with their weight, their skin color, their breast size and their glorious intelligence. They remember and know what a real teenager is like. They remember and know about social awkwardness and crushes and negotiating friendship with other girls and parents and school work and dreams and ambitions. Quite a few of them know about trying to acclimate to one culture when they've grown up in another. Some of them know about rebellion for rebellion's sake vs rebellion as a cry for help. Heck, some of them are mothers.

Is there any possibility of you creators going out to interview real teenage girls? Or of you talking to your own daughters? Of you possibly watching Degrassi sometime?

Because there's only so far anything can go when it's based on an empty shell. And in case you hadn't noticed, commercials don't last very long; 30 seconds and then in about 4 months, they make a new one.

PS: Just in case you have no idea what a real girl might look like while she was fighting the forces of evil.

Suggestion 1

Suggestion 2

Suggestion 3

Suggestion 4

Or y'know, you could always check out Marvel's Runaways.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Where I Am / What I'm Doing


Dealing with computer problems. Computer problems and more computer problems. Right now I'm actually at the library. At home I've managed to gain access to the net using a live cd of Ubuntu. But I'm having problems accessing my data since one of my drives disappeared. I want to save all the data I can.

Gee wiz Windows. Someone turns on their computer, you refuse to load, and then you lose their hard drive. And now you're upgrading to VISTA and not letting them use their iPods. No love for yo!

In slightly less (cut my hair, rub ashes on my body, dress in sack cloth) down news - I've lucked upon 'Kiss Me, Kill Me (Vol 1)' which so far seems to be the sweetest little crossdressing gender-bending, queer aware (if not friendly) Manga I've every come across. Though I admit to being a Manga newbie n00b.

In even less depressing move. I now own Astro City: Life in the City, Family Values and yes! Confession. I started re-reading LiTC and will hop on Confession pretty skippitdy, I love it so much.

I also got Astro City: Samaritan Special.

I still don't know how I feel about it yet. It seems simple but I keep having complex half-thoughts about duty, honor, life mixed with self determination and then there's 'reality' and 'the rights of reality' thrown in. On the surface I could say that it's Mxy gone dark and taller vs Superman. But it's not. It's Samaritan, whom I like. Who is very different than Batman's Uke.

Maybe when there's not a 'OMFG no!' happening every day or every other day, I'll be able to have greater thoughts about it.

I do admit to being struck by the fact that Samaritan's foe claims to want to learn and know everything and yet still holds on to his childhood view of women, power and expectations for the use of that power. It makes me wonder if that's his real weakness. He's stagnated and stunted in some ways and eternity might not be enough to get him to grow out of it.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

WW: The Movie / Thoughts

So Joss Wheadon is no longer part of the WW movie. Some people are happy with that - they didn't think that Wonder Woman's mythology was something Joss would handle very well. Other people are saddened because now it means a longer wait, or because they think everything Joss touches is gold.

I don't know that I believe any modern movie making machinery could get WW's mythology right. Everything today is branding. WonderWoman believes in equal rights for all, the natural power of women, integrity, truth and justice.

She's for good stuff.

I'll be honest, I think the only reason that Batman Begins did so well is because Batman's dark. The Superman Returns movie was weak to me. Part of it is that I'm a Batman fangirl, but the other part of it is that it didn't capture me. A good comics movie should capture people who aren't fans. It should capture people who only know the surface mythology.

WonderWoman is fairly complex and in all truth if Joss couldn't figure something out and if the WB wasn't liking where Joss was going with something and couldn't give him inspirational direction then I don't know and I don't think I want to know, what they want to do with WW.

Making dolls is easier. Promoting eagle crested corsets and bustiers is easy. Having every little girl want to wear a strapless bathing suit and twirl a rope around is easy. Making a movie that has an actual heroic message - one that's positive from the start ? Has anyone seen that recently?