Tag Archives: comics
Evening all. I guess should post this before my Wifi connector is underwater with all the flooding.
So over the last few days I’ve seen a lot of blogs, comics and crap like that on the subject of fake geek girls. Most of it has been about the dismissal and ridicule of people who think this is a problem so I’ll assume I missed the first part of the argument.
Just to be clear. Yes, these people are idiots. Girls calling themselves geeks without any heavy geeky inclination is not a problem and reeks of the whole “no girls allowed in our clubhouse!” mentality from emotionally immature boys.
The thing is though, I’ve seen plenty of what I would label as fake geek guys too. Guys that say stuff like “oh I’m such a geek because that’s what my t-shirt says and I played a game on my computer that one time.” And when I look at this “problem” without the gender line cutting through the middle of it, I can sort of understand people being a bit iffy about it.
Being a vocal geek isn’t exactly an appreciated personality trait in the eyes of the general populous. Saying what we think or expressing our interests usually results in a bit of mind ridicule. Nothing serious but ridicule none the less so choosing to be a proud geek means that you’re choosing to take that mockery on the chin. For someone to say that they’re part of this group is to claim that they’re putting up with that mockery as well. Claiming a shared hardship, no matter how trivial when it doesn’t affect you can make people pretty angry.
I suppose it’s sort of similar to how I get all pissy with people who offhandedly say they’re dyslexic when they aren’t. It’s not a big deal but it’s enough to be annoying.
And that’s my 2 cents on the matter. What do you think?
See you next week!
Afternoon all. How’s everyone doing this fine Monday?
Alright folks. Discussion Time did well enough last time to convince me to try it a few more times. So this week, we head over to the dark side and ask who is the best female villain.
Same rules as last time. Any geeky media, Computer games, comic books, cartoons, sci-fi and fantasy TV, movies and books.
For me, it’s a tossup between Kai Winn from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Azula from avatar: The Last Airbender. Kai Winn was constantly spitting malice and denial which made her infuriating. Azula is possibly the best example I’ve seen of an archetypal villain that still has a strong character development arch.
Alright, best female villain. GO!
See you next week!
The Marvel and DC comic book universes provide something that most other pop culture properties don’t. They have been in production continuously since the 1930s. Arguably, this is one storyline that stretches back as far as 75 years. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have contributed to these stories. And, those contributions have impacted the characters. This is a pretty unique state of affairs that offers some interesting possibilities and challenges.
Two of the challenges that are forever linked are these: How do you avoid getting bogged down in decades of continuity, and how do you ensure that new readers aren’t scared off by all the story that has gone before. Marvel’s solution has been to maintain one solid line, with occasional, individual, in continuity retcons and reboots. For instance, when Peter Parker made a deal with the devil to erase his marriage from history. Or, when The Scarlet Witch used her power to erase most mutants from existence. These tend to be quick bumps in the road that are easily explained. Other changes that don’t go over as well, say Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn hooking up and having babies, are ignored or retconned away.
DC, on the other hand, has a tendency to change EVERYTHING. Let me try to explain this using The Flash, since he’s an important piece in a lot of these changes. In the Golden Age (30s and 40s), The Flash was a guy named Jay Garrick. He wore a little metal helmet and solved crimes and stuff. They stopped publishing his book in the early 50s. In the mid-50s, they started fresh with a brand new Flash – Barry Allen. This one read comic books about Jay Garrick that partly inspired him. It turns out, though, that Jay and the rest of the 40s superheroes actually exist on a parallel Earth! Jay and Barry can cross over from one Earth to the other and hang out. This eventually led to a whole multiverse of Earths. There was an Earth devoted entirely to Captain Marvel and his family. There’s another one where the heroes are evil, and Lex Luthor is the only good guy.
Through the 60s and 70s, Barry and his sidekick Kid Flash (AKA Wally West) had many adventures. Barry married Wally’s aunt, who later died, and then was sent back in time as an infant, and, well, yeah. Complicated. In an effort to simplify all the bizarre continuity weirdness that had gone on, DC had a Crisis On Infinite Earths. This lead to Barry sacrificing himself and all the Earths collapsing into one. Barry stayed dead, for the most part, and Wally became The Flash. This lasted for a good twenty years or so, until Wally left this reality and was replaced by Barry’s grandson from the future, Bart. But, the audience didn’t like Bart much, so he was killed off and Wally returned. Except now he had two super-powered kids to raise. Then Bart and Barry came back to life, and once again I’m cross-eyed.
The New 52 reboot happened last year in another effort to clear some of this stuff up. So, now Barry’s the Flash again and there’s another Earth where Jay is the Flash. So far so good. Bart also exists, and may or may not still be Barry’s grandson from the future, but there’s no sign of poor old Wally.
Okay, so did you follow that? Pretty messy stuff. And, it’s all in an effort to keep things easy to follow. And, so long as you get one issue at a time, or follow a book from one month to the next, you should be fine. The thing is, so much in comics these days is about the collected editions. Trade paperbacks and hardcovers. If you buy a Flash collection from ten years ago, it’s going to be a completely different character in a completely different world than the one that appears in the monthlies. If you get one from ten years before that, you’ll have a whole new set of rules.
The long and short of what I’m trying to get at here is that in their efforts to make their universe less bogged down in continuity, they have managed to make it confusing. From decade to decade, it’s hard to tell what stories from the past actually count and what don’t.
Graham Becksted didn’t mention the San Diego Comic Con once. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 68th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
So, in case you hadn’t noticed, homosexuality has been the latest big news item in mainstream comics. Both Marvel and DC had some big announcements in the last couple of weeks regarding two B-list (at best) characters. The companies touted their announcements as big events, and game changers, and earth quaking, and senses shattering. By and large though, these have made a fairly minor impact on me and, I suspect, most of the comic buying public.
Marvel got out of the gate first, both in these announcements and in the whole gay superhero race. Northstar, who was confirmed gay in 1992 but whose sexuality had been hinted at for years, is getting married to his boyfriend in an upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really change anything. Maybe it’s just me, but gay people getting married shouldn’t be a big deal. I don’t understand why anyone would be against it, and as such I find it hard to drum up any more interest in a gay marriage than I would for a straight one. I mean, maybe if he were marrying Spider-Man, or something. Then, I’d have to get the issue just to see how they pull it off. But, he’s just marrying his regular, average joe boyfriend.
The other thing about the story is that it’s happening in a sort of second-tier X-Men title. All of the main X-Men stories are happening in Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine And The X-Men. Astonishing hasn’t been an important book since Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis were on it. The creative team is Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins neither of whom is exactly a big draw. Despite all of that, it will probably sell well with people wanting to get a copy in the hopes that the value sky rockets and they can resell it for big bucks. I doubt, though, that in a year or two anyone will care that a second-rate, Canadian X-Man is married to another guy.
On to the DC side of this story. In the whole New 52 relaunch some characters were wiped out of existence due to continuity issues. One of them was the out and proud Obsidian. He was deleted because his father, Alan Scott, is now too young to have had him. And too gay. That’s right, the original Green Lantern is now playing for the other team. A character so important that he hasn’t had a solo ongoing series since the 1940s. He’s barely even connected to the rest of the Green Lantern mythos. And, he’s going to be appearing in a comic book that takes place on a different Earth than the rest of the New 52. He seems like he’ll have about as much impact on the rest of the DCU as Northstar does on the Marvel U.
All I’m asking is that if there’s going to be a push to address hot button issues, have it happen in titles and to characters that people are going to notice. Make Wonder Woman a lesbian or Wolverine a muslim, and then there will be something worth talking about. When the character you’re showcasing these ideas with can just be swept under the rug after the hoopla’s died down, you’re doing a disservice to the character and to the issue.
Graham Becksted’s too tired to think of a quippy intro line to this paragraph. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 66th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Spent this week finishing up editing on Geek Trip Maps, if you’re coming to Toronto, Canada and wanna find your fix for comics and games, it’s a pretty damn good start if I do say so myself.
In a previous column I discussed what I felt were short comings of some of the options being bandied about as the future of the comic book medium. Motion comics, web comics, etc., all had their flaws. I think, though, that Marvel has settled on something truly unique and revolutionary. It’s not perfect, but it brings something new to the table that adds to the experience without feeling overly gimmicky.
Marvel has branded this new feature AR, or Augmented Reality and it functions kind of like DVD bonus features. The first issue to offer it is Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 (a.k.a. AvX 1) which is a smart place to do it, as it’s the heavily hyped crossover of two of the biggest franchises is comics and film. The first small downside to AR is that, as far as I’m aware, you need a decent next-gen device to use it. Android or Apple, you’ll need to download the Marvel AR app. You’ll also need 3G or a wifi connection. Got all that? Okay, now you just need to turn the app on and point your camera at the cover of the comic.
Just like that, a trailer for the issue starts up. Including that one, I counted 8 instances where you could use the AR. One was an intro to the story from Axel Alonso. Another was Brian Michael Bendis discussing his favorite scene. There are others that are a bit more nerdy, like a power chart for the X-Man Hope and a breakdown of the faculty of The Jean Grey School that Wolverine started. It’s pretty unobtrusive to the actual issue, just a little AR icon in the corner of a panel. I read through the issue once, and then went back through and checked out the AR content.
First off, the good. It definitely gives you more bang for your book. Now that some comics have hit $4.99, this gives you a bit more justification for paying that price. Instead of reading the issue in 20 minutes or less and then storing it, you can go back and appreciate the art and some of the work that went into the issue. It also gives you a chance to get to know some of the behind the scenes people in a way that you wouldn’t normally be able to. It’s an extension of Stan Lee’s bullpen bulletins where he would make the writers and artists a bit more accessible.
Secondly, the bad. The creators who we get to meet don’t really sound comfortable or at ease. They might benefit from having someone else to banter with, as opposed to droningly addressing the reader. Also, anytime one of the AR things was text based it was almost impossible to decipher. At least, that’s the way it felt on my iPhone. Text was so grainy that it was hard to make it out, but it might benefit from having a narrator read it outloud. I know they’re probably trying to save people some bandwidth, but what’s the use of having a mini-bio of Hope if you can’t read it?
Finally, the issue also included a free download of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 a sort of prologue to the main series written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen. As far as digital comics go, it really impressed me. I think it helped that it was made specifically for the digital format, whereas most of the other digital comics I’ve read were meant for paper and then got crammed onto a little screen. There was a feeling of motion, but stuff never really moved in any way so as to make it feel like a crappy cartoon.
All in all, I was very impressed. With a few tweaks, it could be a great addition the medium.
Graham Becksted spends so much time on his phone it’s starting to feel like an omni-tool. If only it could do Cryo Blast. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 59th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
So a friend recently posted a comic he made in Disney Create, a flash based comic maker thing you can mess around with online.
I grew up on this type of crap. Disney had been releasing paint or print studio software for a bunch of their big movies over the years.
So after seeing there was something like that online, with characters from Toy Story, Avengers, and some weird ‘manga’ thing, I couldn’t help myself.
The following is the results of the past 2 hours, on Disney Create
So what are you waiting for. Head on out and start making your own creations… or abominations…
Apologies to Graham this week but I’m going to be stepping on his toes a bit and talking about the world of comics. Specifically the best known comic character out there, Superman.
Recently I watched the full animated series of Superman and although it was enjoyable, it really did drive home the fact that the man of steel is a pretty empty character. My favourite moment in the series wasn’t a fight scene or some big twist. It was a single line of Clark Kent’s, said as the narrator. (Referring to a crime he’s unearthed) “I could have flown to the police station but I’ll admit there was some ego involved. I wanted this one to be Clark Kent’s, not Superman’s.”
For this one (and pretty much only) moment, he was a character. He wasn’t perfect, he had wants and desires of his own. Unfortunately, this was the only time we got to see any semblance of a personality.
The longer I watched the series, the more I realised that when you get right down to it, superman doesn’t really have a story to tell. Think about it, he’s already the most powerful so he doesn’t really have much to achieve or aspire to and he’s the panicle of good so the only way his character could develop would be negatively, which would defeat the object of Superman.
That’s not to say that some amazing stories haven’t been written about the character. All-Star Superman was an amazing bit of writing, although as it was an alternate timeline sort of thing, I’m not sure if it helps or hinders this argument. I certainly don’t think a serialised series is the right format for Superman.
As I said in my post about character writing, superman is a singular concept in the world of fiction and is compelling because of it. I didn’t realise at the time of saying it but I think I hit the nail on the head. He’s not a character, he’s a concept. He’s the idealised version of a super hero, the most powerful, most trust worthy. Unfortunately a concept doesn’t drive a story. A concept can define a story but it can’t move it forward, only a character can do that.
So yes, I think Superman would be a lot better suited to being a recurring character so he could live up to his own hype.
What do you think?
This weekend I did something I hadn’t done in a really long time. I went to a comic book store I had never been to before. In fact, I went to one I hadn’t been to before and one I hadn’t been to in a really long time. I ended up finding five more issues for my never ending quest to get the complete run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (30 down, 40ish to go.) Accompanying me on this journey was my beautiful and frighteningly patient girlfriend. While we browsed we discussed what makes a good comic book store. What follows is a list of indeterminate length of what we discovered.
1.) Firstly, we should all be aware of the fact that comic books are a dwindling market. In the past, the top selling books sold in the millions. Now, the best of the best hit about one hundred thousand. In a good week. It makes me sad. Comic shops, though, haven’t done much (in general) to help attract new readers.
2.) Store windows and doors are usually covered up by posters so you can’t get a good look inside. This, I’m told, is a deterrent for girls/women in particular. That gender seems to want to be able to know what’s going on on the other side of a door before they open it. Crazy, right?
3.) Women are a fairly large insufficiently tapped market when it comes to comics, and superhero comics in general. Who am I kidding? With sales at 100,000 per comic or less, EVERYONE is an untapped market. Making stores more inviting for women is the bare minimum that should be done.
4.) If you’ve managed to convince some poor schmo into your store, try to make it easy to navigate. I know comic shops have a ton of stock, but if it’s so cramped that you have to rub up against people if you want to get past them there’s a problem. Spread stuff out. If you need to go to your backroom to get something, so be it. It’s better to have a limited stock on display than to have your stock so tightly packed that your customers can’t actually look through it.
4 B.) That was a distinct problem at one of the stores we went to. The single issue comics they had were so crammed together that it was impossible to look through them. I don’t care if you’re selling it for 10 dollars or 50 cents, I’m not going to buy it if I have to damage it just to get it out.
5.) In the other store we went to, they had tons of trade paperbacks (collections of single issues.) These are great starting points for new readers, but if all you can see is the spine it’s hard to grab anyone’s attention. In fact, it can be pretty overwhelming. Why not have a special rack of starting point comics. For instance, if someone just saw the Spider-Man movie and wants more of that put Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1 on display. Or if the new Avengers movie comes out, put Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon (the writer/director of said Avengers) out. Things like that, I think, would help newbies get hooked.
Anyhoo, that’s about all I can think of at the moment. I mean, I guess you could hire some female staff or encourage the big two to put out more diverse books too. Or you could just follow the Silver Snail’s lead who already do almost all of the above mentioned things. Or you could just wait until all of the stores close and everything is sold digitally. That’s just my two cents. Or however much 600 words cost… 2 cents? Less? Oh.
Graham Becksted walked a lot this weekend. He even developed a bit of a wheeze. He has since gotten over it. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.