Monday, September 29, 2008

More Than Skin Colour (A Vixen & Others Redux)

There's a conversation happening over on livejournal about the difference between light skinned privilege (and problems) and white privilege and most important of all, the fact that white people Do. Not. Get. To. Decide. Who is POC enough. White people do not get to police the POC community for authenticity. See the links for more. Note - those posters will ban AND mock idiots, read all first before commenting.

The conversation sparked something in my own head which I feel the need to make clear. The problem with Vixen was never that she was being made into a light skinned character of colour. The problem was never that darker skinned fans of the character and fans of DC in general had a problem with (as was said several times by some ignorant and unknowledgeable people) the artist being Brazilian and putting up his interpretation of a Woman of Colour. The problem was that Vixen was created a dark skinned sister and suddenly she was no longer. And in the real world, when a dark skinned woman suddenly turns lighter skinned, it's usually because she's using toxic products to BLEACH HER OWN BODY. And the reason she's using said products has to do with racism and colonialism and the idea that the ideal beauty is white or as close to white as possible. THAT is the problem behind Vixen's lighter skin tones, and Misty Knight's.

You see it hit me that the comicverse/comic blogsphere is an interesting and perhaps perfect place to see how much outsiders think they know about the POC community. And how often they get things wrong or they get wrapped up in old arguments that were created in the first place to cause strife and separation and a denial of foundation and a solid base.

It is more than a rant or an academic treatise on the fundamentals of beauty when POC bloggers talk about hair texture and style and the color of the skin of a character. It's about a history that we as POC can never, ever, forget; it's in our bones and our blood and our grandmother's tears over our skin when we stood in the sun too long playing like innocent children. It's in the fears of our mothers that our fair cheeks would attract some wayward lecherous man who would never be held accountable because as pale skinned as we, the innocent child might be, we were still OTHER enough to be a mere animal and the victims of a predator. It's in the sighs over a baby boy being beautiful but dark which makes it, to this day, unlikely he could live to see twenty one, or forty.

When is hair more than hair? Skin more than skin? When it's dark skin and dark hair, sometimes kinked and sometimes not. When are eyes more than eyes? When they're slanted, with different folds. When eyes and hair and skin are all a line that represents inclusion or exclusion. When there's intergenerational trauma. When what you look like involves history as recent as your grandparents that no one wants to talk about because of the bad things that happened that can never. ever. be rectified.

Each bit of melanin in our skin is a word in a history that often only other POC hear screaming. That is what is up on the page with POC characters. To deny Vixen her dark skin and her flatter and larger nose; to deny a character his locced hair, or natural fro, is to try and erase an ocean of history... because those who made the decisions and sign off on the prints are still cocooned in the sense of power their ancestors had when they raped a land; India, Africa, Australia, Vietnam, Laos, Japan and more. It's a violation of the memory of the past, the weight of the present and the promise of the future.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Mincing MINX

If you've read my Twitter then you saw me laughing at the collapse of MINX. I also admitted that my laughing might mean I'm headed for hell in a svelte sports car hand-basket with velvet cushions and nubile massage servants. Truthfully I think at some point you seriously just have to laugh or you end up paying a lot of money to repair all the walls in your home that are covered in head dents.

I didn't like MINX. And it's not just PLAIN JANES I didn't like, I didn't like the line up. It didn't interest me. It didn't interest me on my own or as something to give to the young girls in my life; quite a few who are young girls of colour who've enjoyed every manga or anime suggestion I've ever given to them.

Ragnell at Just Past The Horizon (Newsarama Blog) mentions the same concept in her Friday coloumn. MINX was doomed to fail despite all the talk it got because it was set up TO fail. Forget a bookstore, it's like DC didn't take the time to walk into a local library and study where the girls went. And they certainly weren't bright enough to ask a librarian.

I've watched for the past three or so years (and a bit over) young girls pouring over the manga sections of my local libraries. Magical Girl stories are new to them; new and exciting and wonderful. It took me a long time to realize the very obvious fact that they and I are a generation apart and thus they've never heard of some of the books I read or shows I watched around their age. Manga is there and in their faces with adventure stories.

The librarians can hardly keep up. And yet... MINX is dead.

Chicks in Chainmail, Xena, Buffy, the concept of frigging Nancy Drew - Poof - over the heads of DC and a lot of other players who like to give lip service to the concept of equality and diversity but who really are old and set in their ways; rusty gates closed shut on the concept that Trix are for kids, silly rabbit comics and adventure is for whiteboys.

I can remember there were a series of adventure anthologies when I was growing up that were all about GIRLS OWN ADVENTURES in order to match and meet the concept of the genre of BOYS OWN ADVENTURES. At the time I thought the title and promotion was silly but I ate up stories of girls caught up in accidental tourist spy games and living as part of a WW2 French Resistance; girls who were detectives and hunted down wrong doers...

I must have been 10-11. AND GIRLS WHO DID THINGS was like candy.

Mercedes Lackey's Valdamar Series? They had strong female characters doing things; Elspeth and Talia. They had a Queen who chose her country over her private life and who battled to balance being a mother alongside being a ruler. Susan Cooper had girls caught up in fantastic universes who became part of the everlasting struggle between the powers of dark and the powers of light.

And the thing is, there's a very strong and popular trend in books right now that shows what happened to those girls who read those things when they grew up. It's called URBAN FANTASY / PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

This is not the place to debate the seeming interchangeability of those two genre titles. We can bitch about that later. But the point is, Girls/Women caught up in fantastic adventures, trying to balance life against the supernatural, or magic; caught up in spy plots and underground societies and fighting for the cause of good against evil - IT'S BEEN ONE OF THE STRONGEST GROWING MARKETS IN A DECADE!

So really DC, where did you think those women came from? Did you think they just sprung up whole out of the ground like Dragon Teeth Warriors and only in their twenties did they suddenly decide they wanted a bit of magic and adventure and excitement in their reading?

And for those who are still having the hangup with PARANORMAL ROMANCE and would like to use it to say those aren't adventure stories - Have you read any of them? Because I'm telling you plainly the reason UF has become interchangeable with PR as a term is because of the same stereotypes that lead to MINX's failure. The publishing industry saw women eating up these stories and concluded they were buying them for the 'romance' because women buy romance books therefore if a woman is buying a book, it MUST have to do with romance.

For the record? There's romance in comics. Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Would the bloody Phoenix Saga mean as much without the romance between the two? What would happen to all the plots that have to do with Wolverine's part as the odd man out and potential interloper? Nate Grey and Madelyene Pryor? Susan Storm and Reed Richards? Susan Storm and Namor? Misty Knight and her Kungfu Boy Danny? Ring any bells? The whole BND sucks scandal in Spiderman revolves around what? Mary Jane Watson and her romance and marriage to one Peter Parker.

Ollie "can't keep it in his pants" Queen and Dinah Lance, The Black Canary.

I just had to throw that one last one out there by itself but the list goes on. Barbara Gordon and Dick Greyson. Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen. Does the boys club of comics actually think they don't have romance in their works? And if women buy romance and thus any books women buy MUST be romance - then why aren't women buying their comics...

Unless of course the answer is that women are and if women are buying and women obviously aren't always women but grow up to be women from being girls and little girls then....

Why aren't you following the logic, DC? It's a trail of solid breadcrumbs. Wait, don't tell me you never heard of Hansel and Gretel? It had a kickass girl in it too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Marvel Doesn't Care About Gay People

Just Like George W. Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

I have been quiet recently because I'm trying to get control of my blood pressure. It's been doing somewhat scary things and my doctors and I need to figure out if it's additional stress, my body just being in a state of disrepair or if something else is going on chemically.

Right now I'm feeling like it's a serious combination of factors. Because WHAT THE FUCK, MARVEL?!!!!.

Guggenheim said a lot of people who aren't reading Spider-Man or refuse to read Spider-Man are judging it based on misunderstandings. "Part of the problem with the controversy behind One More Day is the understanding of what was retconned overstates the extent of what was done," he said. "Everything that happened in the last twenty plus years of comic book history happened! The only difference is that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson weren't married. They still dated. They still lived together. They still love each other. They just weren't married. Judging from the letters and death threats we received, I think some people were confused. It all still happened."

"Here's my attitude, if anyone is upset about the marriage going away, then they must all be pro gay marriage," he continued. Because if you're pro gay marriage, you understand the distinction between a marriage and a civil union -- that a civil union is not equal to a marriage. We downgraded Mary Jane and Peter to a civil union. If that bothers you, then you're pro gay marriage."

For the record you know I have this shit screencapped.

I think I now understand why Marvel's Civil War resulted in a fascist Tony Stark, a dead Captain America, a mob brutalized Tigra and Misty Knight getting skin lightening. Marvel's become the FOX NEWS of Comics; pro Republican, Pro American Family Association, pro - White Privilege, anti-gays, anti-blacks and obviously anti-women.


That whole last paragraph, what the fuck is that? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! I'd almost think they were trying to say something positive about marriage vs civil unions except that 'IF IT BOTHERS YOU, THEN'....

No. No I refuse to attempt to not hate these people. It's not going to happen.





More outrage via LurkerWithout and Kirk of Box In The Box.

PS: Marvel? You really need to teach your people some PR so to spin your bullshit better, because YOUR ASS IS SHOWING AND YOU NEED TO WIPE!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Click here to read all about how GENIUS is one of the top two who won Top Cow's Pilot Season 2008.

My fav quote from the whole thing:

“I blew my voice squealing like a happy pig for a half hour and came up with at least five victory dances,”
- Afua Richardson

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Alive, Just Quiet

I found my 50 Things I Love About Superhero Comics from last year.

In other news - there's an image of Iron Man lifting Captain America from the waist? They're at some sort of parade. Apparently I didn't save the image on this computer or save the link I found it at. Can't find it, or even a hint that I ever commented anywhere about it.

Does anyone know it? Have it? Can point me to it?

A friend of mine doesn't believe it exists, she thinks that Cap holding an unconscious (or dead) Iron Man is the 'OMGtheirloveissohomoerotic'-est image ever. And it really isn't. There's also one I think I saw on scans daily involving IM and a Cap Shrine?

Friday, September 5, 2008

White People Can't Understand Police Corruption

This post is about Genius and my fear it won't get enough votes to get made into a proper series. Right now I'm seriously considering cobbling together something in photoshop and photocopying it at my local library and putting some flyers up and hope people see it. All the kids in my old neighbourhood were big on Myspace and this is a storyline they can understand. It's a storyline I understand.

'Cause like I said in my title; White People Can't Understand Police Corruption.

This thread and this one here on a different livejournal community show people going - "But the author hasn't shown these cops as bad. There's just rampant killing of the police! The police are the good guys! There's not even any racial slurs!!!! WTF??!! They just gunned down officers for no reason!!"

No reason?


"Yeah" Someone else says, '"It's not like this is North Korea or China or something."

So apparently it's only understandable that the police can be fundamentally corrupt; can think of human beings as disposable, if said police are part of a communist government. And it's only understandable automatically that the police are blinded by their own prejudices when said police are Gestapo and the people oppressed are Jews (not even homosexuals and Roma because most people don't know or don't care about that if they pay attention to the Holocaust at all).

GENIUS is a a storyline about a tactical/military genius in the form of a 17 year old girl from South Central LA who plain as hell knows who the enemy is and is organizing her people against said enemy.

Just because you don't see a cop say n*gger doesn't mean they haven't done anything wrong. It's just privilege sure as hell showing because whites can afford to think of the police as their friends and the system as being for them- or at least they could if they weren't involved in protesting the war and getting beat the crap down in St. Paul for the RNC. And even that's not the same, the police there need to come up with some kind of excuse (however flimsy) to buss those asses. To bust a black ass?

1 - Driving while black.

2 - Driving in a 'too expensive car' while black (expensive being relative to the officer in question and his, sometimes her, perception).

3 - Walking while black.

4 - Standing on a street corner with age peers, while black (from ages 13 and up).

5 - Being black and requesting rights and equality.

6 - Being black and a sex worker.

7 - Being black and female and dressed up for clubbing.

8 - Being black and running away from gunshots.

9 -

  • "The subject was a black male."

  • "We believe the perpertrator was a black male."

  • "She said she was held at gunpoint and her car and children were taken from her by a black male."

  • "Be on the lookout for a black male, between twenty and forty years of age...."

  • "But this was just another incidence of black on black crime."

  • "An all time rise in black on black crime."

  • "The main police suspect in the case is a black male."

Just because this is the United States of America doesn't mean there's not a whole lot of similarity between here and now in the present and what happened in South Africa before the end of Aparthied. Just because we no longer have to go in through back doors and sit in the back of the bus and we get to apply for jobs alongside whites doesn't mean anything more than how much things all got shifted to the shadows instead of being bold in sin and sunlight.

Now to quote some stupidity from people who refuse to see that the cops have been in a war with blacks (specifically from the ghetto) for a long, long, time.

Are they oppressed by the police like the Nazis conquering Europe? Are they oppressed by the police like the British squeesing the lively hood out of the colonials and imprisoning those that speak against them?

I don't live in wonderland, but can you tell me the way to Exaggerationville?


Oppression? HAHAHAHAHA. Ever heard of North Korea? China? Burma or take your pick of shitty African countries, Russia, the Middle East and the list goes on. These people oppress themselves, try living in a place like the list and tell us about opression. Her tragic flaw is that she hasn't signed up with the police and is working on taking out the drug dealers and pimps and thugs that make her neighorhood a horrible place.

This is just about misdirected anger.

People only hear about bad cops on tv and the media but the majority of them are good men and women who do their jobs, put their lives on the line and people shit on them.


Stupid people aside, I don't think I'd back a comic that showed graphic depictions of law officers being killed. Especially when the comic doesn't make the motive of the main character clear. It's just one big, long "Fuck da police" sequence.

If it had been set up differently, like the cops she was after were all part of a corrupt, underground unit controlled by an evil DA who was targeting the young men of the neighborhood to help keep the drug trade going or something like that, then it would be a good story. Right now it's just, "I am the only black person to ever understand military tactics! Tremble in fear!"

Special Note: Clearly no one's ever told Gwynethfar that Hannibal was black. And she's also convinced the only white villains are mustache twirlers.



1. LOL @ "women in poor communities are allowed to do Women's Work, and therefore men would totally take orders from them".

Sure, the woman might handle all the money, do all of the cooking, and might be the only person in the house with a real job, but if you ask the husband who the Head of Household was, especially if said husband is a gang member with access to all the fun tools that implies, you'd get a very different answer.

2. In which case the mother or alpha woman being the head of household is even more unremarkable if we're trying to assess whether gang members raised in these surroundings would take orders from a 17-year-old girl

Special Note: Cause we all _know_ that shit could only happen to a half white made up character portrayed as real life Margeret Seltzer's Appropriating Memoirs


Over and over and OVER again the black community says - "We do not live in the same world!", We do not. live. in the same world!"

Whoopi Goldberg: " No, no, I, I want you to. But what I need you to understand is the frustration that goes along when you say we live in the same world. It isn’t balanced. And we would like it to be. But you have to understand, you have to listen to the fact that we’re telling you, there are issues, there are huge problems that still affect us. And you’ve got to know this if you want to know us."

And some whites have pointed this out as well. "Black and whites live in two different worlds." They say. "It is different!" they say.

GENIUS seems poised to be yet another voice declaiming this. It's not even out yet, but whites? Still not listening.

ETA: One can vote for GENIUS here on myspace; look for the inset poll. Or here on TopCow's front page, again look for the inset poll at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Love Letter

Dear Christopher Nolan,

You don't know me and I don't know you. However, this documentary captures you discussing Batman's true super ability, the only super power he really has; as self discipline.

I love you, Christopher Nolan. In that whole "Yes!" fannish way that doesn't involve stalking but does involve happily giving you money.

Also Benjamin R. Karney PhD - I like you a lot too.

PS: The Merlin; that documentary captures a lot of why my favourite phrase in the world is: What Would Batman Do?

IM Clients

For the foreseeable near future, I will not be available via Instant Messaging. Despite my very opinionated personality - I'm an introvert and lately the combination of conversation here and conversation there has been too much. I'd rather preserve the conversations about writing, fiction, anime, creative enteprises, racial equality, comics etc, than become overwhelmed by a million and one casual hi's and what's up, and randomness.

I'm not suggesting folks email me either. But I am far more likely to respond to email - eventually.

Commenting of course, here and other other journals, should stay as usual. And I may user Twitter more -SeekingWillow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Watching The Story In Your Head / BYOS

I've recently been engaged in conversation about Watching The Story In Your Head and When You Can't Watch Your Story Anymore. A recent comment by Heavy Armour made me realize that while I'd engaged in wrestling with and discussing television and movies, I hadn't applied any of that careful pinpointing to comics; that is I hadn't broken down why I continue to read some things and why I ran fleeing from others and I haven't put the question to anyone reading me here.

The whole conversation started around the realization for me that I could not deny the accusations of poor story telling, reliance on stereotypes and tropes and possibly cheap methods of getting viewers to connect with the protagonist in Memoirs of a Geisha. I struggled for a while trying to define the difference between "Watching The Story In Your Head" and privilege. Both involve not seeing what's happening to some extent.

What I realized as it was pointed out to me is that "Watching The Story In Your Head", even though it can happen simultaneously to viewing is often a response to things gone wrong and if someone points out the things that went wrong, I will have my alternate version but I won't deny they saw what they saw or that I see it too when they point the finger.

It took a while though, because it seemed so dangerous to be creating an alternate story on the fly - that is until I realized that such a creation/viewing/interpretation in itself was efense mechanism against the wrong. I'd have stopped enjoying what I was viewing if I couldn't change it. In some cases I'd even have walked away in disgust, story unfinished.

The flipside, "When You Can't Watch Your Story Anymore" was revealed as I thought about it and wrote about it, to be almost a two stage process. First there's the story, then there's the story I'm watching, this usually kicks in as things happen on screen/in the plotline that I disagree with, don't like or am offended by. Then there's the point in which I can no longer make a mental shift in order to enjoy what I'm viewing - there's just too much to change. I might as well make a clean break of it and find something fresh and original to wrap my mind around or write something my own damn self.

When I put these thoughts to comics now, it seems clear to me that comic readers do this ALL THE TIME. Readers follow their version of the canon; their version of a character's history; their version of a character's backstory. They make up reasons for certain actions by characters they love. They try to work around varied writers and artists who have different interpretations of said characters than what they themselves particularly love. Comic book readers are SKILLED at following 'their story'.

It makes me wonder if comic book executives don't take advantage of that fact to some extent. They're aware, especially in these days where they were fans themselves. The figure they may lose some, but eventually they'll get them back because something will hook into the story those fans like to see. But that immediately makes me think of Joe Quesada and BND. Hear me out, take a deep breath and hear me out *smile*, I know some of you are tired of this particular topic.

Joey Q has his story, the one he likes the best for Spiderman. And he's gained a position in order to make his story THE TRUE STORY. Except that in doing so, many many fans believe he's forgotten an intrinsict part of comic book reading which essentially is BRING YOUR OWN STORY. The readers who're upset with him? The fans darting his face in bars and basements? He just invalidated their stories in a media that's generally all about BRING YOUR OWN STORY. It's made the arguments "But there's nothing in the stories of BND that needed MJ gone" take on a new meaning for me. MJ could just as easily not be in panel for those who don't like her there, but be a presence that's on tour with a musical, or doing an indie movie shooting on location somewhere and contacting Peter primarily through email and phone. New incarnations of old enemies could still have happened etc...

In the end, Joey Q's personal need to have Aunt May around forever, because she's apprently such an intrinsict part of his Spiderman story, meant that everyone who isn't him (and isn't reliant on him for a paycheck) is now going "But what the fuck??!"

Which is kind of where I am when it comes to Characters of Colour now and the Big Two. It's been one thing to bring my own story when it comes to said characters, it's another to try to do so when the characters no longer look like they belong in my story. And comics being a visual art media, makes it impossible for me move on from that. It's one thing to view a show or a comic or a movie that has no characters of colour in it. That's a different gripe about say, The Devil Wears Prada existing in an NYC with no black people, no non American cab drivers, no Asian folk, no models of color, etc. But all comic artists have to do is draw the already existing characters - the battle for more is on another front.

Women who read comics? They can't bring their own story to the panels if they're forced to include moments for the heroines to pick their thongs out of their asses, or add more doublesided tape to their corset/bathing suits. And if they never get to see the characters being forces to be recconed with, then they can't Bring Their Own Super Hero Fantasy.

I realize I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before. But it is new for me to realize that while I stumbled in understanding this when it came to live-action; it was all unconscious and absorbed and understood when it came to comics. How many times have I heard. "That's not my superheroX" followed by. "So I guess I have to wait for a better writer before I pick it up again.". How many times had I said it? Done it? And all the while I was fully aware of why.

I'm going to end with random (created) examples of such while my brain 'reintegrates'.

- That's not my Supergirl.

- He'd better be writing my Hal Jordon.

- Please, like that's Gotham?

- For the love of Peter, Paul, Mary & Joseph why can't anyone ever write an X-men book without writing a love story/triangle? I want action not a soap opera!!

- I don't know what's so hard about writing Wonder Woman. I've got her story clear in my head.

- Ex Machina, now there's a superhero story.

- Cosmic Marvel. I'm telling you! Lose Yourself In The Space Opera!!!

- If I wrote Civil War...

- If I were writing Final Crisis...

- The only person I'm following is X, his is the only story making any damn sense!

- In my story, Tigra cuts a bitch! WTH? What's wrong with Bendis???!

- TDK movie, finally someone told an actual BATMAN story on film.

PS: It might go without saying, but I'm not going to risk it, that I've realized my favourite stories in sequential art are the ones where the writer and artist are the ones doing all the work. I don't have to bring anything (not even store bought potato salad or humus). All I have to do is read, enjoy and be curious as to what happens next. So it leads me back to Shadowgirls and Claymore and HACK/SLASH etc...

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Money + Conventions = Nuh Uh!

It's not just sexual harassment / general harassment policies CON's need to have. It's an awareness of how to cater to attendees as more than walking wallets! In this case the customer being crapped on was one with disabilities.

Customer Service? What's That?

Firerose's experience at DragonCon, caused by their recommended wheelchair company; ScootAround.Com. She does state that the Con's disability staff members were helpful but none of that helped the fact she got cheated out of money and ended up in so much pain she had to pay money to leave early and go home.

I'm curious about the set-up wherein a CON recommends a service as important as wheelchair service but a) doesn't have a backup to ensure people who paid money will enjoy themselves no matter what and b) didn't block rent a batch of wheelchairs themselves so said company would be dealing with an organization/business instead of having individual con goers who need assistance in the first place, stressed out, in pain, cheated and insulted.

Does Dragon Con intend for me to walk away from FireRose's account believing that THEY think disabled con goers should fend for themselves and they are under no moral or ethical imperative to insure a pleasant and as frictionless venue for ALL paying con goers regardless of ability?

Seriously the fact that she ended up using a hotel chair, however briefly, and that said chair was a wreck only serves to let me know exactly how much Dragon Con's Organization didn't really give a damn about disabled patrons. Because this is the venue they chose as well.

Anti-women, pro-harassment and now anti-disability. Yeah, I'm really going to any convention soon. Not!

Question: Any notes on how one contacts the BBB on someone's behalf? Personally I think DragonCon should register the complaint against ScooterFucks as one business about another. But I've yet to be impressed with convention organizers.