Friday, September 22, 2006

Amateur Art Appreciation Addendum

(Oh, my art feature is up. Take a look, then come back for some quick thoughts.)

How many artists are using teenager logic to show that their characters are mature thinking women?

Most of us will know the obvious answer to that question. Most artists seem to design costumes by the "less is more" style of fashion, where being able to show off skin indicates an autonomous thinking being (the logic being that with no one watching your clothing choices, you obviously don't live with your parents) to them. But I realized it was worse than that when answering this comment:
It was almost like the more she grew up, the more she [b]matured[/b], Arisia wanted to show more of herself rather than hide behind restrictions.

So, I answered him as I would a teenaged girl who thought that:
Except that's not a sign of Maturity, Zeb. That's something teenaged girls do to make themselves seem older. They wear less to make themselves look older. The artists have been doing this, drawing her with less to make her look older, using a young girl's logic, without adding any mature woman logic to balance out the costume.

Look, I'm not saying that a mature woman wouldn't dress revealingly. But a mature woman would dress appropriately for the work she does. That's a miniskirt she's wearing to fight evil.

And a mature woman would dress to emphasize certain personal characteristics, but not to the detriment of the rest of her body. That costume emphasizes the breasts, and makes the rest of her body into an afterthought. The combination of light-colored, front-loaded top and dark, short, tight miniskirt imply that she is not comfortable with her shape, particularly her hips and breast size. Again, teenaged girl characteristics. These are tricks to compensate for a small bust and large hips. I know these tricks because we tried them in High School (though, within the dress code standards). There was another set for girls who felt they were top-heavy, broad-shouldered with skinny hips. A whole list of ways to make your waist smaller. Teenaged girl tricks.

This is not a grown-up costume. This is something a teenager thinks is a grown-up costume. Honestly, if they were going by your train of thought, a bikini would have been a more suitable choice (though still eye-rollingly exploitive). Freedom of movement and complete comfort with body image.

Then it occured to me that comic book artists may be more like teenaged girls than teenaged boys sometimes, because Arisia's not the only superhero dressing up to YM Fashion tricks (only she's using three tricks where one would suffice).

And seriously, while I would've rolled my eyes at the excessive skin for a bikini, I wouldn't have put her costume on the complaint pile -- probably for the same reasons Starfire's costume never bothered me and the Amanda Connor Boob Window is my favorite Power Girl costume. Weird how less material can make more sense, when it's put in the proper places.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

So Polly did take a Time-Trip

On the Newsarama thread for EAglesham's interview, Geoff Johns showed up to clarify some things (this thread pointed it out):
Actually, the only one who remembers events like that is Power Girl.

Everyone on the JSA, from Earth 2, have vague recollections that there was a multiverse but that's it. DCU history is nearly identical to what it was.

Why is Power Girl the only one with real Earth 2 memories will be explained in Justice Society of America. I think some confusion has come from interpretation of interviews more than the comics themselves.

Hippolyta was a member of JSA, Matrix Supergirl did exist, Etc.

Assistance Required

I'm sure I've mentioned before that my favorite Volume III Green Lantern storyline was "Emerald Knights" where a time-traveling Kyle ended up bringing a past version of Hal home with him. I read it when I was a teenager (it's where I elarned to love Hal), so I had to buy the trade paperback after I got out on my own. I thought I had the entire crossover, but it seems I've missed at least one issue.



Sally tells me she found it on Scans_Daily.

I have all of the tie-ins from Green Lantern and Green Arrow. This scene does not occur in either book. If anyone recognizesd the above scene and can point me to the entire story, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I'd also appreciate any other tie-ins from that storyline that I may have missed.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eaglesham on JSA

Over at Newsarama, JSA artist Dave Eaglesham shoots his mouth off about the new characters. Here are some key points:

Click for SpoilersPower Girl
NRAMA: A couple other members who command respect are Power Girl and Mr. Terrific. How are you approaching them?

DE: Power Girl is an interesting draw because she has such a large chest, and that's something I don't usually do. I don't go for that kind of, you know, "T and A." But I think what really offsets that large chest is her muscularity, because she's really got big arms and such. I'm trying to soften her character up a little bit, but at the same time, she's taking on more responsibility in the JSA as a leader. So she needs more stature, she's got to stand up taller and be less punky.

Ma Hunkel
NRAMA: Oh yeah! How could we forget her?

DE: You know, people don't think of her, but I want to make her such a character that Geoff will want to use her a lot. Because I think she's really interesting. I'm doing a totally different take on her. Once again, I was hoping they would like it because I sort of sprung it on them. She greets Maxine at the headquarters and she's wearing a three-piece suit instead of an apron and all that stuff.

NRAMA: A suit?

DE: I want her to be more sophisticated. I'm drawing her very tall. She's a big woman. Six feet tall, broad shoulders. I want her dressed really nice, really sophisticated. She's very capable, and she could go out for adventures on her own anytime she wants. She knows how to use all the things in their facility, so she should dress like the respectable person she is.

NRAMA: So you said you sprung it on them. What did Geoff say when he saw her in a three-piece suit?

DE: He loved it. Now, she doesn't have the tornado symbol on her chest anymore, but that's fine, because Maxine's going to be taking over that.

Maxine Hunkel
NRAMA: Let's start with one of the brand new characters who was announced by Geoff in San Diego. Her name is Maxine Hunkel, the granddaughter of Ma Hunkel. She's really young, right?

DE: She's about 19 years old. But she's very bubbly and energetic. She's so positive and yet she's also isolated because of the way she talks and the way she is. People don't want to be around her.

NRAMA: She's almost too positive?

DE: She's almost too positive, and I think she experiences a lot of rejection because of that. When she's asked to join, it's a great moment in the story. I was so looking forward to drawing her. And you know, I never know what's going to happen when I take on a new character like that. I hope that the writer gives me enough cues as to where he wants me to go. And I drew it, and I sort of did a slightly different take from what Geoff indicated in the script. And I was like, "Oh, I don't know if he's going to like it." But he loved it the second he saw that first drawing. I put freckles on her face, and she's absolutely adorable. Everyone's going to love her. I'm sure of it.

Starman
NRAMA: At the Toronto Comic Book Expo, you told us that your favorite page you had drawn in Issue #1 was one where Starman is dancing through a building. You've said you can't reveal too much about this character, but if he's dancing, it sounds like he's a fun character.

DE: He is a fun character, and the funny thing is, I had no idea it was going to turn out that way. It's not in the script for him to dance or anything.

NRAMA: Really? It wasn't in the script?

DE: No. He just enters this building. It's almost like the character dictated to me what he was going to be, and I just sort of went with it. And I thought, he's going to be dancing. He's just so much fun. But he's a huge guy. The stars and the glowing eyes mean you don't really see his face. So you'd expect him to be very heroic and threatening, but he is quite the opposite.

And he's a close talker.

NRAMA: He's a what?

DE: A close talker. He stands about two inches from your face when he's talking to you.

NRAMA: Is that also something you came up with?

DE: Absolutely. And it becomes so funny, every scene I draw him in. You'll see when the first issue comes out. There's a few scenes where he's just really close to Mr. Terrific, and they're like ... not sure what to make of him.

NRAMA: That's another one that you don't have a face to play with.

DE: No. He's even more of a challenge because he's got a star field in his costume. You don't want to bring too much light on him, so he's more of a challenge. He will require posturing.

NRAMA: Bigger actions? Or not bigger really, but his actions will have to show his emotions and reactions instead of his face?

DE: Oh, for sure. It will be his posture, but at the same time, he doesn't react to things like other people, so it's a little different.

NRAMA: You said in Toronto that he's your favorite character you've drawn so far.

DE: Oh, I was surprised how much fun I'm having with him. Like I said with the dancing scene -- I didn't know that was going to happen. That to me is priceless in comics, when there's a certain unknown element that's undecided until you actually get in and work the material, and it pops up and surprises you. And suddenly you know: That's where I want to go with this guy. And it's great if everybody else likes it too! [laughs]

Less significant characters were also mentioned, if you'd like to take a look.

Required Reading

Over at Seeking Avalon.

Sensational Reactions

I'm not naming names, I'm not linking links. I saw it today, and I've seen it way too muc over the past year. I know that DC has pulled a lot of freaky stunts recently with your favorite characters, and some of you are on edge because of this. I have seen the "I am Queasy" lists on people's sites as reasoning for why they believe that obvious sensationalistic marketing ploys might be serious.

However, it is a necessity of the genre for superheroes to be in danger. There will be cliffhanger endings. There will be wicked writers dropping hints. There will be bloggers and message board posters speculating. There will be covers that show people in life-threatening situations, at the mercy of evil villains, and even with their names on gravestones. This has been going on for 60 years. It doesn't necessarily mean anything. More often than not, these are fake-outs. Half the time, the serious deaths are reversed anyway.

It's one thing to get upset and sad when your hero actually dies. It's another entirely to see a cover, or a solicit, or a cliffhanger ending and freak out as though they are.

If you can't take seeing "This Issue -- [Your Favorite Character] DIES!" on a cover four months in advance you are a wuss.

Find a new fandom, you aren't cut out for superhero comics.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Probably Won't Count

For Week 18 of 52, Douglas Wolk issued the following challenge:
Actually, here's a challenge for 52 Pickup's readers: design a card for a Rider-Waite-style tarot deck whose image is an unaltered panel, or fragment of a panel, from a DC comic.
I wasn't going to participate, since it's hard to find the right symbols in a panel that wasn't working for representing the tarot, but this was irresistable.

Normally, The Fool would include a cliff for him to walk off of, and a dog nipping at his heels. I went for charm over symbolism here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We're Back

The Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans has returned from hibernation. We've found a Fifth Host-blog and the submissions call is posted at One Hundred Little Dolls! The Deadline is Sept 25th for an October 2nd Carnival. Everything from August 24th forward will be eligible.

Email 100littledolls[at]sbcglobal.net or use the submission form to nominate or submit posts. All previos submissions will be forwarded to that address.

(If anyone else wants to volunteer to host, please email me)

Please post this everywhere appropriate.

Two Points About Slash

Indigoskynet just updated her Disclaimer, and I noticed she had a very sensible policy on slash (she offers this handy definition: "Slash, for those unfamiliar, is a type of fanfiction usually taking two same-sex characters not canonically homosexual and making them so") that deserved attention.

There are two points in particular that bear repeating.

Point One:
And the slash I have seen [because I had to have seen it to have developed my strong distaste for it] is mostly misogynist. There's very little involving getting the two boys together without slamming the girl[s] one [or both] of them was canonically involved with.

I've noticed this a lot. Hell, I've noticed it with favorite heterosexual couples. And this is not limited to fanfic communities (Hell, I've probably been guilty of it myself).

I've seen male characters trashed over it too (I think I've directed some insults at Roy Harper in the past), except they don't tend to get gendered insults and slut-shaming like female characters do. And when you go with slash, which tends to be male-male pairing, you have the danger of the only female character in the whole story being made unrecognizable because she interferes with the preferred male-male pair and needs to be taken out of the way.

It's entirely possible that this sort of mindset affects the writers, and explains some out of character behavior we've seen. Could Ben Raab be a Donna/Kyle fan? I'm pretty sure that Dave Gibbons preferred Kyle/Jennie.

Point Two (which cannot be said enough):
Writing/drawing slash does not make a slasher a homosexual rights activist. Wearing your rainbows, going to the rallies, lobbying the government is what makes an activist.
And judging by some of the yaoi and slash debates I've seen through When Fangirls Attack, writing slash doesn't necessarily make you the slightest bit sensitive to homosexual issues.

Matinee

When I was a teenager, I remember E! television. Much of it was the same crap we all know today, gossip and awards shows and general stupidity, but there was one really good show there. Mysteries and Scandals, hosted by AJ Benza. I was addicted to that show. I admit it, I like "True" Crime, documentaries and fiction. It's why I took the Criminology elective in High School. We got to watch a lot of those as course material. The first time I saw the Hollywoodland preview on a blog, I knew I'd have to see it as soon as possible. Shortly thereafter, I learned of an upcoming Black Dahlia film.

Today, I ventured forth from my comfortable Subterranean Cave (a lair deep beneath the storm shelters of Oklahoma City) to the movie theater for a double-feature. They were both playing in the same place, and spaced far enough for a lunch break.

I do not regret the expenditure of time and money, but I left the theater saddened. Not in the good, "I just watched well-done tragic story" way. No, this was the "I was feeling down during the previews" way.

You know why? Because each movie had five previews in front of it.

Not a single preview was for a movie with a female hero.

All the King's Men, Catch a Fire and The Last King of Scotland seem to be historically based, so yes, leeway is to be given there. I think out of the three of them there were two female characters, and both was The Girlfriend/Wife type.

Man of the Year is about a comedian who was successfully elected President after campaigning as a joke. Laura Linney seems to be the female lead, his wife (who didn't vote for him). No female campaign workers or politicians of enough note to be shown in the preview.

The Prestige looks pretty damned good. 19th Century Magicians. The female lead is a girlfriend.

A Good year is an uplifting story from the viewpoint of the man who finds an exotic foreign love interest as he discovers the true meaning of life.

The Departed (which aired in front of both movies) pissed me off because it's a modern era set undercover police drama with not only no female hero, but no female cops in the background! Not even in the Academy shots!!

And then we get to the last preview, which also aired in front of both movies. It was a post-apocalyptic story where every woman on the planet is infertile (They don't mention whether the men are shooting blanks or not) and have been for eighteen years now. It seems to be about trying to get a pregnant woman from the middle of the country to the coast in a world fraught with violence and danger and desperate people, so she can go someplace safe to have her kid. It looked promising, because they show Julianne Moore coming to get the male hero and enlist him into the cause. But she's not in any of the action/travel shots. The pregnant woman is simply there as a womb, a treasure to be moved from one spot to another. But hey, Moore could still be a hero, right? Well, the overview says One Man and dashes that hope. Oh, and the title is Children of Men.

Most of these are action movies. Not a one of them stars a woman. They just have women there as part of the plot.

And the two movies that I saw? Well, they are historical/true crime fiction so of course, the leads were male.

I liked both movies, they are good movies. I like watching movies with male leads.

Just not all the time.

Remember what I said before about maybe we'd be better off if the Wonder Woman movie wasn't made?

Well, fuck that. We need that movie, and we need it now. And we need it to make a bazillion bucks so that a bunch of knockoffs get made the next year.

Because this year, we got nothing. Movies like The Devil Wears Prada. Or action movies were male-led solo movies with love interests, or team movies with weak-ass token women who surrender leadership to the attractive male loner and misogynistic villainesses. My Super-Ex Girlfriend, a movie about a fucking supervillainess who was basically a romantic interest.

We had more than this in the 90s. We had a few kickass action heroines. Ellen Ripley, anyone? Sarah Connor? Hell, even those stock horror movie girls like Nieve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt were tough as nails and the story was centered on them. It should have grown from there. The cliches should have been smoothed out, the disrespectful parts should have been fixed. It should have gotten better. We should have more than we had then.

I shouldn't see ten previews without a single female lead. That's just not right.

(And Hollywoodland? Bring tissues.)