Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year-End Review: Fiction is the Future

When another driver abruptly pulled out in front of me on the way home today, my potential end flashed before my eyes. When I caught my breath I asked myself what would happen if I died one the way home today. The answer brought great relief and the realization that its simply not healthy to be me. I've heard that most people who reflect on their mortality get warm fuzzy feelings, a desire to see more family, do the things I never got to do with their lives, and in general resolve to live the rest of their days as if each one were the last. I got no such revelation. Instead, I got a little voice in the back of my head telling me that if I died it wouldn't matter that I'd spent so much money on books this week.

I spent a lot. In my short life I've only ever been overdrawn once (and it was a side-account that I hadn't been adding into) and that was because I'd spent too much money at the bookstore. I do this periodically. I can judge the years I've been out of Pennsylvania by the books on my shelves. I tend to buy in learning frenzies. My first stay in Mississippi from home put Sherlock Holmes, Marvel trade paperbacks, and self-help books on a little shelf. With San Antonio came King Arthur, Science, and Christianity. Philosophy and Folktales. Scattered science fiction, fantasy, various comic book series as I've gone crazy searching for back issues. The announcement that White Wolf was ending the World of Darkness setting had me buying second edition roleplaying games in bulk in Oklahoma. Most of my back issue boxes are from nearly all of San Antonio's comic book stories selling back issues for a dollar that one year. Most of the old and worn books I have come from when I got my car and sought out every used bookstore in that city. I like used bookstores, you can find cheap old copies of classics so you can read them and better understand the pop culture references. A couple shelves of metaphysics, new age, old age, and eastern religion from my spiritual crisis a couple years ago. My ex-boyfriend introduced me to Terry Pratchett and HP Lovecraft, well-read copies of their works are on the shelf above the self-help book that led me to end the relationship.

Most of my reading this year has been online, and actually driven by this blog. We started When Fangirls Attack in January, and that was when I made the Carnival of Feminists for the first time. This year saw the addition of real Feminist theory to my bookshelf (prior to this I'd just had women's spirituality and self-help there). This year I did more reading about Feminism and comic books that ever before, mainly because of that blog. Reading the theories and applying them to a medium and mythology I love made every lesson sink in much better than just reading it. I don't know if its possible to ever explain the impact of this.

Every once in a while this year I'd see a comment on how applying Feminism to comic books was a waste of time when so much was going on in the world right now, but really, it does make a personal difference and I believe examining trends in fiction makes a bigger difference than most people realize. I mean, how many people know who Mary Wollstonecraft is? How many people know who Mary Shelley is? Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, the first major feminist work ever published. More of my readers should know that one than the average comics blog audience, I'll admit. Now, her famous daughter Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Every reader of every comics blog should know that one. The former is groundbreaking in its niche and has worked into the culture through activism, but the second is a morality tale that can be referenced with a simple name. A single word that immediately calls to mind all of the lessons about man playing god that Shelley put into that work. Nearly every person in our society knows the story. Nearly every person knows and understands the moral. Feminism, however, still eludes much of the populace.

Now, I'm not saying I don't respect nonfiction work. Its still important and brilliant, but when its a matter of nonfiction versus fiction I truly believe that fiction has more potential for impact. For everyone who has ever read a work of nonfiction Feminist theory, you'll find three more who've read classic works of horror, science fiction or fantasy. Fiction makes an impact, it captures the imagination. The imagination is the most powerful part of a human mind. It would be one hell of a thing if one day one of us could come up with a work of fiction that summed up the moral of equality, and captured the imagination so well that its title seeped into the public conscience and summoned the principles of Feminism every time the work was mentioned nearly two hundred years later.

We already have the barest tip of the iceberg. We have Wonder Woman to conjure up images of feminine strength. We have Buffy as proof that a female action hero will work on television. We have children's books with female heroes that young girls read by the truckload but somehow, somehow, we're still fringe. Superman and Batman are still much better known than Wonder Woman. We've gone backwards since Buffy went off the air. Boys aren't reading the books starring girls, though girls read the books starring boys. And each of these works falls short of perfect and can be improved to be less standard, more feminist. Because everything that does make the mainstream that is full of old gender-standards just serves to reinforce those gender standards and something, something is keeping the groundbreaking fiction on the fringe.

So, we have blogs like Feminist SF, the Hathor Legacy, Girls Read Comics, and Heroine Content, that are niche blogs that concentrate on analyzing the crap, analyzing good works that could simply be better, and figuring out just why the good stuff is not catching on. We have niche communities like Feminist Film, Feminist Fandom, Feminist Fantasy,, and Whileaway for discussion about this. We have linkblogs like Jade Reporting and When Fangirls Attack that track the conversations. And then we have personal blogs like this one (and a number of others on the sidebar) that started out like a general pop culture blog and then turned into niche blogs just for the ongoing debate.

Why? Because someone out there will write it. They will write the Frankenstein of Feminism. They will write a work about gender equality that is so beautiful, so vivid, so perfect, so powerful that it bursts into the mainstream like Harry Potter and nothing can stop it. It won't be fringe anymore. It will be common knowledge. We'll have a word, a name, a title to say whenever we want to call to mind all the principles of feminism and the bad things that can happen if you try to shove people into strict gender roles that don't properly fit, never have properly fit, and never will properly fit.

Maybe that someone will have read one of our blogs.

That said, I'm not sure if Written World will remain a niche feminism-comics blog. It all depends on what I read and learn. I found myself immersed in politics this fall because I did political satire for Nanowrimo, but I've kept those thoughts to another blog. Its just a matter of time before I turn my attention fully back to comic books, of course, but in the meantime my sister signed up for Janowrimo and I promised I'd go through the mess with her.

In the meantime, I have plans for tonight, and if anything happens to me on the way to 2007 I'll take comfort in knowing that I've saddled my church-going mother with over fifty books on witchcraft, metaphysics, and divination.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Before this gets out of hand.

I've noticed a small amount of griping about the posts here and here. I've no doubt that this will turn into a large amount of griping, so I may as well wade in here and say I agree that there are people placing fan entitlement over feminist critique in our little community of the blogosphere.

I may be wrong that this will turn into a New Year's Flamewar. The last time I touched on this subject I didn't get the shitstorm response I was expecting. Of course, last time I didn't single anyone out, so here goes.

I've seen a Green Lantern fan complain that Jade's death was sexist because it was unfair to Alan on the Comic-Bloc forums.

On When Fangirls Attack, I've seen supposedly feminist articles complaining that bad haircuts are sexism against female character.

I've seen a flock of JLI lovers attach themselves to and seize on every opportunity to trash DC, which I simply find suspect. I know that there are very passionate feminists who also love JLI, I liked the series myself, but when I see constant personal attacks against Didio and Johns that keep bringing up the body count of Giffen's old Justice League but don't see the same people engaging in the more in-depth feminist debates, I'm a little suspicious.

And I know a comics blogger who comes up with endless justifications for her hatred of characters such as Donna Troy and Jade. She claims that they, at their very core and in their concept, are anti-feminist by nature and should die horribly to be replaced by better female characters. (And Cassie Sandsmark, but I haven't ranted about her on this blog yet.)

Look, this is superhero fandom. We're naturally obsessive, possessive, and only marginally sane at best. Fans who don't want anything bad to happen to their favorite characters have been latching onto pseudofeminist critiques since the Fridge List, and they aren't going to stop now. Its hard for any fan-rant not to look like "Bring Hal Jordan back or die" with that image in the reader's mind.

The best anyone can do is offer as well-thought out and reasonable an argument as possible, with plenty of social theory to back you up. It never hurts to go for the common sense argument.

Now, I do have to weigh in on the other controversal statement Dorian made in that paragraph. The Memorial Case Campaign. I don't see overt sexism on DC's part. I do see inherent sexism in the Bat-verse, and the setup of the characters. I am absolutely certain that piles of letters from fans about wanting a better portrayal of female characters is a good thing. Whether you feel its in character or not for her to get one, it lets them know that women care about what happens in the books.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Because everyone has to do it sometime.

And because I finally got around to playing with that camera Mama the Foul got me for my last birthday. I'm gonna try this Friday cat-blogging thing.

This is Knight. Feel free to caption.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dammit Healey!

I've been namechecked. (Sort of)
Sarcasm and Superheroics: Feminism in the Mainstream Comics Industry.
2006 has been declared the year of Women in Comics. Alison Bechdel's “Fun Home” was one of Time’s 10 Best Books, best-selling authors Jodi Picoult and Tamora Pierce were signed up to write for DC and Marvel, and DC announced a new "Minx" line for girls. However, 2006 was also a year of increased feminist activism in mainstream comics. New websites When Fangirls Attack and collected and encouraged feminist debate on issues of diversity and sexism in comics, and there seemed to be plenty to talk about. Moreover, the Occasional Superheroine confessional memoir recounted a disturbing tale of abuse and misogyny within the superhero industry that was reflected onto the pages of its comics. What has improved in the comics industry? What is yet to be done? What challenges are posed by the industry's peculiar institutional structure? How can women break into the comics mainstream? How can we critique it? And what comics *can* you buy for your kids?
Suggested by: Karen Elizabeth Healey
Still, awesome panel idea.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

My mother got me a few books, including one called Mastering the Art of Drawing. It has a few activities that should keep me busy for a few days.

I also have some Robert Heinlein novels to read, so don't be surprised to see some ranting in the near future.

Have a lovely holiday everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wonder Woman Artist Interview!

Drew Johnson talked to Newsarama about his upcoming Wonder Woman stint. He has a change of style in store for us:
I'm in a different place artistically than I was on my previous run with Greg. I feel like I have a better understanding of how to tell a story visually than I did back then---I learned a lot about that working from Keith Giffen's layouts on 52 recently.

In terms of drawing, I relied heavily on photo reference for just about every figure I drew during my last work on Wonder Woman - in fact Greg choreographed and posed for all of our fight scenes during our run. Since then, I've gotten away from photo reffing figures.

My wife Karen is an animator, and when we were first going out, she introduced me to a whole new set of artistic influences and more fluid, gestural ways of drawing the figure. I've been lucky enough to get to work on my pages at a desk in her studio sometimes over the last year and a half, and getting to watch her and other animators draw really inspired me to loosen up my figures--to make 'em look less posed. My art style, I hope, looks a bit more evolved since I last worked on Wonder Woman.
Also, this sketch spoils a supporting cast member, and the interview implies that the Dodsons will be back after this run is over. But I haven't heard any rumors about the writer to follow Piccoult yet.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

To My Older Sister,

During the winter holiday season, when the days get shorter and the nights get longer, and the primal fear of the sun never rising again reaches its height, I feel an irrational need to tell members of my family things that I've kept to myself all year long. Since today is the Winter Solstice, that irrational feeling is at its peak. So in the spirit of the season and for my own peace of mind, I have a special holiday message for you:

I want my copy of Soulwind back.

I know you still have it somewhere.

Season's Greetings,
-- Your Younger Sister.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

This is amusing.

On Tamora Pierce's post about writing female heroes, a livejournal user with the name gailsimone1 comments here. That journal has no public content, and no one friended to view any locked content.

This empty livejournal now has 38 people waiting for her to write in it.

I can't help but think of that interview where she said she didn't find herself all that fascinating.

My newest online obsession

This may be useful for those of you who'd like to catalogue your trade paperbacks online, or maybe look at people with similar collections.

They allow up to 200 books with a free account. I couldn't stop there, though. I have maybe a third of my own personal library on there, and I haven't even gotten to the shelf that is filled with trade paperbacks. It's a bit addictive.

I might put a widget on the sidebar later, when I'm done with my entire collection or I just get bored enough not to enter any more.

(Found through Composite)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

For Insight

Try Tamora Pierce's livejournal. Especially the part about people who ask her why she writes female character:
It really hurts when girls ask me this. Are they so beaten down by our culture's superior value on boys that they don't understand why someone would prefer to write for them, showcasing their strengths and possibilities? Do they find it so strange that someone would willingly showcase them? So brainwashed that they think there's something wrong with me that I prefer it, or that I prefer girl heroes, and not princesses, or princesses in disguise, or orphans in quest of families, or loner socialites, or rocker wanna-bes, or girl victims? (Not that I don't value the books in which girls begin as victims--I read them myself, and really like the way the characters learn what's going find strength and a way out. But I prefer a different approach, and when girls ask me why I'm doing it, I need to start asking, "Why aren't more people doing it? Aren't you worth as many heroes as the boys get?"

So far, this has been a bad winter for blogging.

However, I still have time to stop in and accept my Time Magazine Person of the Year Award, or rather, my tiny portion of it as a comics blogger.
The annual honor for 2006 went to each and every one of us, as Time cited the shift from institutions to individuals — citizens of the new digital democracy, as the magazine put it. The winners this year were anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.

I'd like to thank my parents, misogynistic fanboys, and Green Lantern's Butt. (Via)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Green Lantern Corps #7

The only reasonable reaction to this issue is a contented sigh and bouquet of roses for the creative team.

Oh, and letters to Tomasi demanding that Gleason design every costume in the franchise from this moment on.

I Can't Believe I Did This

That image was so hideous it put me off blogging for three days. (Well, I had other issues, but it certainly didn't help my enthusiasm).

The store didn't get most of the comics on Wednesday, so I had to go in today to get mine. While I was there, I did the unthinkable.

I crossed Green Lantern off my pull list.

Don't panic, I'm still me. I'm fine with getting Green Lantern Corps and Ion (loving them both so far), but I just can't muster any enthusiasm for the main book right now. I'd still be getting it if either the POW storyline had never happened, or the artist had the slightest idea about what looked good on a character.

See, it's not even so much the sexism with Arisia and Star Sapphire as it is the sheer ugliness of the two costumes. Add that ugliness to the fact that they make my favorite title something I can't carry in public without hiding the cover. Then add in the sexism of no male character having been drawn in a comparable monstrosity. It's totally soured me on the art.

The writing is annoying me because of the POW storyline, and also because John Stewart is completely absent. They keep promising, but he never actually shows up.

I might pick it up again when the Star Sapphire storyline is over, not sure though. I'm not sure I'd be willing to read a resurrection storyline with Katma Tui right now. Can you imagine what sort of costume that stupid artist would put her in?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Beyond the Pale

Soyo told me that the cover for Green Lantern #18 was out today.

Peter Tomasi, Green Lantern Editor
DC Comics
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Monday, December 11, 2006

This was too easy.

Actually, it is way too easy. I dare you all to make a nonsexual joke about it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Something to Smile About

Wonder Woman #6 Solicit from Newsarama:

Written by Jodi Picoult
Art by Drew Johnson & Ray Snyder
Cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson
Best-selling author Jodi Picoult (The 10th Circle, Sister’s Keeper) takes the writing reins, setting Wonder Woman on a collision course with her long-missing people, the Amazons!
Special Agent Diana Prince of the Department of Metahuman Affairs is assigned the impossible task of capturing Wonder Woman! How she can capture herself is just the start of Wonder Woman’s problems, as Diana Prince must relearn how to exist as a human woman and a deadly foe begins closing a net on the Amazon Warrior that will lead to a catastrophic outcome! With gorgeous art by Drew Johnson and Ray Snyder (52)!
On sale March 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

So the Amazons return, the secret identity stays, and most importantly Drew Johnson is back. I love what the Dodsons have been doing, but damned if I didn't miss this guy to death. He draws the most incredible women, and the most incredible Olympians!

I hope this means he'll get to modernize Hermes. I hope this means the gods are back.

I hope this means it ships on time.

I hope this means I won't pan the crap out of this book because of I hate the writing.

How can a meme so accurate make such a glaring mistake?

(Just a screencap because the image doesn't fit my blog. Here's the actual quiz.)

I'm not going to rant, I'm just going to display it and shake my head. I know no one meant anything by it, but I hate that I can't even do a quiz in this fandom without somehow running into that "girls don't read superheroes" attitude.

On a lighter note...

Those of you on livejournal may be interested in Karen's new mood theme, which showcases many wonderful different emotional states, as drawn by Greg Land.

Martin Nodell passed away.

From Blog@Newsarama:
Mark Evanier is reporting on his blog that comics legend Martin Nodell, creator of Green Lantern, passed away today at the age of 91.

That makes three in a very short period of time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You Can Never Have Enough Free Webspace

Oh, and as long as I'm posting -- I have been asssimilated. Everybody else has one and the layout is not obnoxious yet. Not sure what I'll do with it, except place links to my other sites and gauge my popularity.

Maybe I can do political cartoons with dreadful art or something like that.

White Tiger #2

Better than the first issue. I still hate the art, but the writing's much smoother.

Another villain displays sexism, but its seems like there's more of a point to it. It's setting up a personality, specifically a leadership style, and makes more sense.

Less Spanglish, too. Though isn't "puta" a bit profane for an all ages book? I could be wrong about the meaning, it's been a while since I lived in Texas.

Same sort of stuff slipped by editorial in the Gorgon storyline in Wonder Woman. Weird how TV and radio are getting more restricted, but comics are getting more slack right now.

(And the sad thing is that this isn't even the most trivial thing I've ever criticized. I'd say that the most trivial thing I've ever posted was the rant about Captain Comet's name, but I'm sure there's something more miniscule in my archives that I'm forgetting about.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let's Keep This Simple

In honor of this, my five hundredth post on this blog, I have prepared a very special treat for all of you.

Present behind the cut.

From the pages of Green Lantern #50,

in its very first appearance,

Kyle Rayner's butt.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Green Lantern: The Other Series #8

Lest you think I hated all of the Green Lantern books last week, I wanted to do an in-depth review Green Lantern Lite (mysteriously marketed as Ion for 8 issues now). Instead, I read the archives of the Invincible Super-Blog all night. You only get a short summary.

Surprisingly, despite some definite openings for feminist critique and a looming refrigeration unit on the horizon (you'll hear about it if it does indeed manifest, because I really like the threatened character), I was really happy with this issue. The story was cheerful, entertaining, and full of action that kept moving. I'm already very fond of Kyle. So yes, Ron Marz the only Lantern-writer not to piss me off last week.

I think it's mostly the art this time. There were two fill-in pencillers (Paco Diaz and Yvel Guichet, not sure who did which set of pages) which pleased me greatly. For various reasons I despise the regular artist and I shovel steaming mounds of criticism onto his work whenever possible.

I was pleasantly surprised by the art, and the writing was enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Almost Carnival Time!

Final Call for Eighth Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is up at Dance of the Puppets. Nominations/Submissions due December 7th.

From Greek Gods to Guy Gardner and G'nort

I was planning to post on the flaws of George Perez's Wonder Woman reboot, but instead I'm just going to touch on one flaw and how it relates to Green Lantern. Well, more specifically, Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage #1 which could have been called Green Lantern: Collateral Damage (Just like Ion is really only Green Lantern: Now With Less Angst!). In it, Howard Chaykin's Guy Gardner really reminded me of George Perez's Greek Pantheon.

With Perez, it was painful to read his Olympus and Hermes scenes because it seemed like he'd never read up on the gods. I got the distinct impression that he got a fact sheet and a few pages summarizing the notable stories and he went from there because while the structure and framework of the Pantheon was there, the life and the spirit was nowhere to be found.

I'm convinced that's what happened with Howard Chaykin and Beau Smith's Warrior run. Someone must have given Chaykin a list of plot elements and summaries, because the framework of Warrior is there but the spirit sure as hell isn't. I'm willing to accept the narrative condemnation of Guy because its first-person narrative from G'Nort's POV (I mean, since when is G'nort considered "perceptive"?) but even taking that into account doesn't improve on the overall mood of the book. I'm largely unimpressed with this comic and that is really saying something because I had very low expectations to begin with.

Also, that new Rannian Lantern puts the series out of continuity with GLC, which grates on my nerves because GLC has managed to keep with the spirit of Warrior even though it threw the trappings of the series to curb.

On the bright side, there was a G'nort butt-shot.

(Annoyingly, that was the only full tailview of G'nort and every other Lantern was turned to the side or the front every panel. Even the female character. The man knows nothing about Green Lantern. Butts, not breasts, dammit!)

Also on the bright side, I spent twenty minutes laughing at the first two pages in which we see "Dark G'nort." That was golden unintentional comedy, funnier than any other G'nort appearance I've ever seen. The scrunched up little face, the badass attitude, the known history, and the fact that this is Dark fucking G'nort combined to save the entire issue for me. I think he should stay this way, it is hilarious.

Those two pages aside, don't waste the six bucks. Buy a few Warrior back issues instead.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I know I've covered this before.

I just can't get over how "Fanboy" carries the expectation of extremely pretentious criticism, and "Fangirl" carries the expectation of starstruck gushing silliness.

I know what fangirls are like. They are exactly like fanboys when they get disappointed. I know what fanboys are like, just a goofy as fangirls when they get starstruck. Its just an inescapable connotation.

We need a gender-neutral word, dammit, and "Fan" is just a tad too dignified.

On Harsh Criticism

(Note: Please excuse the following really pretentious post. Using long words in a self-important tone is a defense mechanism common to the net-dwelling fannis comicus. It serves to discourage disagreement by maximizing the risk of humiliation and minimizing the gains of friendship. And a post explaining the fannish need to nitpick and complain would not be the same without using the proper "fanboy voice" in the writing.)

It may surprise recent readers to learn this, but I have been in a beautiful, blissful mood since November 30th. I had been running ragged for several months at that point. Spreading myself a little too thin had caused me, for the most part, to burn out on blogging. I was very close to just stopping abruptly and disappearing from fandom. I've done this once or twice before, it's not hard to pick up again. Instead, I signed up to do even more writing, and immersed myself up to the bridge of my nose in the venture.

It worked beautifully! Sure, it has probably affected my writing in the most negative way possible (I'm sure in a few weeks this annoying tendency to milk my writing for the highest possible wordcount to the detriment of theme, mood, grammatical accuracy, and actual communication, will fade away) Once the month was over, I suddenly found myself well-rested and brimming with ideas. I am attempting to write fiction. I am writing more on my blog. I am completely caught up with my blog-reading. I am smiling and laughing as I walk through the hallways at work. I am accepting of myself and unashamed of my origins. My heart is filled with good will for everyone I meet. I love comics, comics fandom, the blogosphere, and the internet again. I love everything, almost.

All of this good will seems to be stopping short at the feet of the people who work and slave to deliver quality entertainment to an ungrateful fandom. It seems that my sensibilities are set to hypersensitive. While I harbor no personal resentment towards the individual creators, the very small little details that grate on my exposed nerves, the ones which, prior to NaNoWriMo, I had tried so very hard to forgive and keep reading past, are suddenly to such an extent that I can not ignore them, even for the sake of a story which is ninety-five percent pure awesome. I must complain, in detail, and in harsh language, about these little problems.

In short, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, I am in full "Fanboy" mode, and have been rampaging accordingly since the month began. I'm sure when its over I will awaken from my fannish stupor, still hugging my three-quarter drunken bottle of liquid rage, dazed, confused, and completely unaware of what happened in the preceding posts. I will then collect my things, look back on the negativity contained on this blog with great embarrassment, take a shower and attempt to return to polite society. Most of fandom should understand, we are comic book fans after all and this is normal behavior. Most of you will give me a wide berth until you're certain I won't bite anymore. Everyone will politely ignore my previous comments, and new fans will have no clue as to my prior rampages with the exception of a slight blush whenever there is cause to praise the comics work of Tamora Pierce.

I very much doubt the creators themselves will remember or even care to remember my rantings. In comics, creators are a part of fandom, they get this from every quarter, I am just another nutbag fan, and I am hardly the harshest critic on the block. There is absolutely no point in pretending to be perfectly happy when perfect happiness is hardly my natural response, especially when feigning niceness might lead to stress, exhaustion, and the need to write another thirty-day novel to relax. Besides, having plopped down my three dollars to cover their royalties I am entitled to get whatever enjoyment is possible out of the comic book and as many of you know, ranting and raving on the internet is immensely enjoyable.

Complaining about comics is a joy in itself, and a form of socialization on the internet. It is one of three possible compensations for a disappointing read, the other two being mockery and potential increase in value. It allows a fan to show off their own verbal and analytical skills to the detriment of the creator, and even display a greater imagination by offering alternative stories. Complaining in a witty and entertaining manner, commonly referred to as "“snarking", is beneficial to the health and self-esteem of your common fan, and it serves to blow off the frustration that builds from watching a character that you grew up with take a direction that is deeply distressing for personal reasons.

Now, while most of my readers are members of the superhero fandom, and are already positive acquainted with the positive benefits of griping, there are still some people reading who find quite a bit of harm in these complaints. Most notably among this minority is She For Whom the Calender Trembles, Maker of the Tuna Casserole, Roaster of the Roast Beast, Scourge of the Parent-Teacher Association, Infamous for the "My Daughter Does Not Need to be in That Program" Altercation Which Resulted in the Transformation of Three Board Members from Flesh to Stone. Her full name has been known to cause spontaneous combustion in the faint of heart, so you may refer to her as "Mama" the Foul. To avoid being turned into a lovely statuette, offerings must be made on three seperate annual occasions, a pilgrimage must be undertaken each winter, regular verbal correspondence must occur and the request that I "be nicer to the other kids" must be periodically honored.

For the benefit of "Mama" the Foul, I will admit the obvious, that there is little point in throwing personal insults at a creator, criticizing the wrong creator, or criticizing a creator for the wrong things aside from venting pent-up frustrations. But, consider this -- in my normal job, I work in lower middle management. As a blogger, I can't get a writer like Geoff Johns fired (I don'’t think ANYONE could get Geoff Johns fired at this point, his name is etched in stone on the DC writing assignments list only the other titles he writes on change), but as the immediate supervisor of Poor Hapless Bystander I can certainly hurt his chances of surviving the next round of staff cuts if I'm not careful to explain precisely how he is responsible for the continuing daily sunrise in as glowing terms that equal or surpass the glowing terms his rival'’s supervisor uses when she explains how her subordinate is responsible for the continuing daily sunrise (performance reviews suck). This is hard to do when I sit down at my desk and obsess over the one fluorescent yellow thread in an otherwise perfect earth-tone tapestry.

I'’m not the only one who obsesses over the little things, thank heaven for fandom. I'm also not the only person out there in lower middle management who relaxes by obsessing over these things, and then complaining about them.

I am one of very few who gets told by her own mother she should feel guilty about it, and then writes an entire post explaining that she is not sorry, not wrong, but may have been just a tad bit oversensitive and that's okay but there's absolutely nothing personal. (Though if JSA sets me off this week, I may be moving on to personal insults -- in which case I'll need someone to distract Mama the Foul.)

Now, while complaining about everything is a guilty pleasure, it is still an enormous pleasure and a traditional comic book fan pastime. It is, in particular, a traditional superhero comics fan pastime.

So with Mama the Foul placated I was planning to, in the spirit of tradition, saturate this blog in the dubious pleasure of being completely unfair to some poor schmuck who was just trying to bring some joy into the collective heart of fandom and educate the comics blogging community about all of the numerous flaws in George Perez's Wonder Woman reboot. However, I'’ve rambled on long enough for one post, and there really isn'’t enough memory on Blogger to accommodate a detailed explanation of everything that was wrong with George Perez's reboot of Wonder Woman. Still, if tomorrow I find myself in a foul mood towards comic book creators again, this would be a safe rant to expect.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Three Days Left

I've been remiss in not announcing it here, but you sitll have three days left to post and submit. The Submission Deadline for the Eighth Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is December 7th, so you only have three days left to get those submissions in to Marionette. Announcemenmt and Guidelines here, send submissions to maricarnival [AT] blueyonder [DOT] co [DOT] uk or by using this submission form

Marionette's posting the carnival on December 10th on her blog!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

To the Writer of Green Lantern, Volume Four,

Today for the second time in a year, I reconsidered buying Green Lantern when I saw it in my pile. You must understand that, in addition to being reasonably fond of Kyle Rayner, I have been a huge Hal Jordan fan since I was a teenager. Since "Rebirth," I've been utterly obsessed with this franchise. I buy everything "Green Lantern" that DC puts out. I went through ten of the little mystery box figurines to find the Hal Jordan/Abin Sur statue. I bought every Green Lantern back issue in the Oklahoma City area, and then raided Tulsa. I read every issue that comes out and features a Green Lantern character. I feel more affection for the writers of the two spinoffs than I do for several blood relatives. I should not think twice about buying an issue of the main title. I should not even have to think about buying an issue of the main title. It should be automatic. Like breathing. I should be paying direct deposit to the comic book store, and I should be reading it in the car before I leave the parking lot in order to gain exposure to that sweet, sweet superhero space drama.

Before I get in exactly why, let's look at the character you're writing.

Hal Jordan. He has spent maybe five years (in continuity, maybe one?) as the Spectre. Prior to that, he spent maybe six years (no idea how much that is in continuity right now) as an insane cosmic crossover supervillain. During the 70s and the 80s, he was the Poster Boy for White Liberal Guilt. He has, since conception as a character, been utterly incapable of sustaining a meaningful relationship with a member of the opposite sex. His first serious girlfriend, the love of his life, had her brain taken over by aliens and he was forced to fight her. She is now married to someone else. Another major girlfriend was transported to an alien world along with her entire town because Hal visited there. He is a character who has been shown, in your own series, to believe that being married with children is an ideal existence for his best friend, but engages in an endless series of one night stands; the combination of which indicates emotional instability and denial as opposed to the healthy unfettered expression of sexuality displayed by, say, Queen Hippolyta. His parents are dead, he watched his father die in front of his eyes flying a jet -- the very career field Hal entered. His older brother and his older brother's family are dead. Since you've gotten your hands on him, the insanity became ten years of intense mind control (a convenient way to remove culpability while retaining an emotional illusion of responsibility), his mother's death occurred while she was angry at him, only six people in the Green Lantern Corps trust him, everyone on Earth thinks he is a criminal, and the Guardians are using him as a "how not to behave" example.

Somehow, this was not enough misery for you to play with, so you added the POW storyline.

I am certainly not saying that there is no place for such a situation in the entire franchise. I initially, and mistakenly, thought my gut reaction was an objection to all instances of grafting historical horrors into the background of a fictional character as a sign of disrespect for the subject matter. This simply isn't true. I watched Hogan's Heroes for years and laughed my ass off. Maus was fucking brilliant and threw mice into concentration camps. I've watched that movie with Owen Wilson in Bosnia repeatedly. I've roleplayed with this in the character backstory.

No, the problem isn't the idea itself. The problem is in the execution. After five issues this does not strike me as a well-crafted way to weave real-life political themes into the overall theme of a speculative fiction storyline, and use the outer limits of the imagination to comment on the reality of the human situation. It strikes me as a quick and easy way to tug at heartstrings of your audience and create sympathy for a character that should already have the audience's sympathy. It strikes me as a way to use current events as shorthand to the very real anxieties and concerns of the very real people reading the book. You're showing flashbacks and buddies suggesting they get therapy. You quoted John McCain and set it in the real war-torn region Chechnya instead of a fictional DC construct. You used this setting to introduce a damsel in distress and drive the higher plot. It's a way to skip the work of presenting an carefully plotted, well-crafted sympathetic tragedy, the fallout of the tragedy, and the internal and external conflict involved by playing on preset reactions to the trappings of a real-life situation that most of your readers are familiar with. This way, you can introduce the subject with a few flashbacks, quotes, and angsty narrative captions to milk the emotional resonance for all its worth as you complicate the hero's life.

It's basically a cheap shock tactic, the same problem most writers have when using rape. It's dramatic shorthand and not an explorable drama on its own. A throwaway theme. It's all about Angst.

Now let me tell you, as a former teenage Goth I know a thing or two about Angst. From years of experience brooding in the back of the classroom, wearing black, playing Vampire: The Masquerade and writing gawd-awful poetry I can attest that you do not need to flirt with Reality to achieve Angst. This infatuation with real life, realism and Reality that has infected you and your peers is worrying to say the least. I know Reality is attractive, but beneath that sly smile beats the heart of a predator. I would think that anyone who reads comics would know that the true nature of Reality is that of a ravenous beast which devours the creative and idealistic soul. I can't imagine what would entice you to bring such a creature into a comic book. Is it drugs? Do you need some?

As a matter of necessity, I would advise avoiding Reality at all costs. Reality is no good for you. Reality plies you with alcohol. Reality makes you pick up the check. Reality does not pay for gas or the hotel room. Reality does not call back the next morning. Reality is cruel. Reality is vindictive. Reality is jealous and clingy, but expects to be able to run around at all hours of the night with heaven-knows-who. I know, I've flirted with Reality myself (Reality's bisexual, by the way) and it was nothing but too much trouble for not even a quality heartbreak. Surely, there's a better way to achieve Angst than by associating yourself with Reality.

But I digress (all the time, now that I think about it, and no one seems to mind). My point is that there are ways of getting a reaction out of your reader, and they define the quality of your writing. I am not the only reader paying for cheap thrills, an emotional roller-coaster to ride every month. But there are cheap thrills to make a story engaging and fun, and there are cheap shocks to get a quick gut reaction from your audience. Cheap thrills pretend to be nothing other than that. Cheap shocks feign the sort of in-depth literary writing that garners praise for creating emotion reactions when they are actually just playing on emotional reactions that the majority of readers would have. Cheap thrills can be low or high quality writing, and they can be intensely imaginative. Cheap shocks are always low quality writing, and they betray a lack of imagination. The Green Lantern franchise, with a massively long history, and a massively large, weird cosmic background is fertile ground for the imagination. The test of a writer's skill is the same as in all speculative fiction, by how they draw the reader into temporarily believing an outrageous situation. The writer can focus on applying plausibility to the basic personality of the main character, and use that plausibility as anchor to a wonderful, imaginative and insightful story, or they can fake imagination and insight by throwing a few realistic elements on the surface, leading to a regularly mediocre, often infuriating, and sometimes offensive story.

A fan who will be re-reading back issues.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Green Lantern #15

Nothing here to break up my foul mood. Expect the creator bashing stick to remain readily available this month, because if I can't enjoy Green Lantern it's a bad sign for everything else I read.

Ivan Reis should not be allowed to design female costumes anymore. Granted, at least this one is pretty, but still disturbingly indecent and impractical, and completely impossible to wear as a convention costume. Someone needs to get that artist a date.

I liked parts of this issue, but I still hate Geoff Johns for that storyline that's popped up in issue #10, issue #14, and this one. You'll probably hear a lot more about it because its irritating the shit out of me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Let's Play a Game!

Time to see who's still hanging around after that month of downtime. We'll do an easy one. What's White Tiger saying?

Don't be shy, de-lurk and make a joke!

White Tiger #1

(ETA, Dec 3: Ouch! My mother just told me I should feel bad about this review. I probably shouldn't have read this one right after getting so angry at Green Lantern #14.)

I know, I know, I promised ninjas. Is this close enough?

There was a lot of buildup and hype to White Tiger, no small part of it was the anticipation of seeing what a female writer from outside the industry, who was known for writing books that appeal to young women, could do with a female hero. I was looking forward to the chance to either laud Tamora Pierce for an excellent job, or tear her writing to pieces for not living up to the high expectations.

I can't do either until she works with a new artist.

The artist used the hideous backbreaking posture that I dislike on principle, and there were a couple annoying cheesecakey breast shots in the first page, but there was really only one that made me loathe this guy's art, and it had nothing to do with which gender he drew. I really, really hate this guy's heads and faces. His foreheads are too large and features too small, and there is some unusual angle with his necks that makes things a bit strange. Character faces are pretty important for mood, expression and characterization and if they don't look right it makes it hard to like the character.

Anatomy isn't everything, its just what strikes me as most unlikeable about Phil Briones' work. I do like artists that have a less than perfect grasp of anatomy, but that's a matter of style. With some artists I can see through the superficial problems that a lot of people write them off for, and find something that makes me love, or at least tolerate them. It started with Howard Porter's JLA. Oh, we bought it for Grant but I constantly complained to my sister about the art, and even she rolled her eyes at his Wonder Woman depiction. Still he had his pluses, look in the background of the early issues of JLA that he drew. You can find little details like oreos in J'onn's quarters, or feathers after Zauriel flies off. There's even a flood scene that shows two fishermen catching a shark (the town was flooded with stolen oceanwater). Even aside from the little details that hardcore fans would notice, Howard Porter was just damned good at drawing action and motion. He could do those huge cosmic shots in outer space that Grant Morrison's writing needs and even if he could never get the characters perfect the rest of it was good enough to read it.

Patrick Gleason's people are blocky and doughy, but the flow in his work has been incredible. In GLC, every character is posed and every panel is angled to give the impression that the story is nothing but nonstop action even when everyone is just talking for most of the issue. And the faces in his closeups can be absolutely gorgeous. Gleason put more expression in a shot of Kyle's masked and lensed eyes narrowing at the sight of Fatality than Briones put in an entire page of Black Widow and White Tiger conversing in a bar. I might never like Patrick Gleason's human bodies (though his aliens are awesome and his original design for Isamot's girlfriend was beyond awesome) but his storytelling ability set him pretty high on my "favorite artists" list.

And of course, there's Frank Quitely, an artist you either adore or despise. A lot of people despise his characters their squat, wrinkly bodies, but he has done so much with posture and expression in All-Star Superman that I adore most everything he does.

The problem I have with Briones isn't exactly his big weakness so much as his lack of any strength to make up for that weakness. The backgrounds are mediocre. The action is by the numbers. There's nothing innovative in his storytelling. There's nothing in his layouts that draw the entire page together. It's generally unremarkable enough that all of what for other artists would be little mistakes are glaringly unforgiveable muckups in his hands.

During one of my regular person to person ranting episodes (when I let out all of the frustrations that never make it to these blog), a friend asked if my problem with him was a lack of direction because he is doing a book written by a novelist. She's unfamiliar with the comic book medium, so he probably didn't get the best direction he could have. No, that's not it. Anyone who's watched creative teams get jumbled knows that a skilled and talented artist can more than make up for a weak writer.

This is not to say that all of the issues I had with this issue should definitely be laid at the feet of the artist. I was impressed, early on, that Pierce and Liebe managed to avoid the biggest mistake a writer moving from prose to comics can make, which is wordy narration. She let the artist show the story and saved the captions for important issues. But there were a few minor irritations that set me off in this book, and the biggest one came six pages in.

It's a girl.

It's a girl!?!

I see absolutely no reason for the bad guy to call attention to his opponent's gender. I mean, this is the Marvel Universe, home of Black Cat, Black Widow, Elektra, Psylocke, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Echo, Spider-Woman, and numerous others. Is it really that surprising anymore when the black clad warrior with the glowing talisman who is kicking your ass turns out to be female?

I can see establishing a villain's personality as sexist, but I really don't see what that adds to the story in this case. Maybe my standards are just set too high because it's disappointing that fight scenes still get interrupted to point out the gender of the participants. It tore me out of the story for a few minutes. I much prefer a world where women kicking ass was accepted as natural and not something worth commenting but I suppose that's too much escapism for even comic books.

Of course, it's possible that I am completely overreacting and that I never would have noticed this if I wasn't already irritated to be reading something drawn by such a terrible artist. Good art covers a multitude of sins. There just wasn't any good art nearby to soothe my easily inflamed and oversensitive temper.

Aside from that were a few scenes that seemed a bit too long (but could have been saved by a better artist), and some character issues. Black Widow just seemed "off," not at all like herself. It took me until her name was said to realize it was Natasha, and in Marvel Comics she should be distinctive immediately. The Spanglish was cliche. I still don't feel comfortable enough calling White Tiger by her first name, so I think more could have been done to make the character personable, but this is just the first issue by a writer who's never written before. It could be turned around later.

On the whole, I would grade it as "Better than Judd Winick and Tom Raney."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting Back on the Blogging Horse

I'm a bit rusty at the blogging right now, so we'll start small -- with a long story about my chosen online handle, a statement on hyperbole and sarcasm, and some words from the eminently quotable and incredibly clever Mr. Chris Sims of the Invincible Super-Blog. I'm still in the National Novel Writing Month participant habit of padding my statements in order to up my wordcount, so please do excuse the clumsier parts of this first post when it comes to word choice and grammarical structure. Shortening your sentences after a straight month of trying to make everything as long as possible to make your wordcount takes some getting used to, but I am confident of my ability to shake unhealthy writing habits as I change writing venues.

Mr. Sims stumbled across this thread, which linked to one of his old posts, over on the Comic Book Resources Comics Should Be Good Forum. One of the commenter thought that Chris was too emphatic to be serious in his hatred of the Terry Long character, and that erroneous assumption required swift correction. He lacked both an account and the motivation to create one, so he asked me to post for him. I posted this (for the purposes of historical accuracy, the censored obscenity was "fucking"), linked Chris to it and explained that I used the old online handle that I had created when I was a teenager on the old site for Comic Book Resources. Chris reacted as you would expect:

I rolled my eyes privately, and kindly told him that the name had been chosen from the James Garner film that was on television at the time when I first created my Comic Book Resources account back in the 90s, and when I made a new account after a few years of being offline I'd felt nostalgic enough to use the old name again. Chris reacted to that in a way that made me thoughtful, to say the least:
I've always thought "Ragnell the Foul" was a little melodramatic and eye-roll-ey, but if that's the alternative, then I appreciate your honesty and candor.
Now, the reality of it is that I had chosen Ragnell the Foul after my Arthurian obsession which occurred in the last two years of High School and the first two years of my United State Air Force term of enlistment, and Patience during an afternoon that I whiled away with a marathon of a Western style television series, called Sugarfoot, that starred an actor named James Garner (who, coincidentally, is from Norman, Oklahoma, in this this very state and very close to the city in which I live). The Western style television series, called Sugarfoot, featured at least two female characters who had a name which was chosen specifically because it described the exact opposite personality the female lead displayed, Prudence for a very foolish woman and Patience for a temperamental person. At the time, everyone on the JLA board was obsessed with the wait for JLA #16, and that was the first board I posted on. So, it was born of sarcasm.

I chose Ragnell the Foul after reading a reference book on Arthurian Legend which listed the wife of Sir Gawain as "Ragnell the Foul." I liked the phrasing. I like the sound of it. I liked the character it referred to. And, most importantly, I liked the story it referred to, so I picked this one when I re-entered fandom after a brief hiatus of two or three years of patriotic and idealistic (it had to patriotic and idealistic as it was highly unprofitable) military service.

I liked the exaggerated title because I have always found overstatement to be comedic, and, because I had had enough of "Chill out, Pat, live by your name" online when I was a teenager, I found it to be a useful warning to anyone who might stumble across my posts.

All of this, of course, brings me back to the original problem of one Mr. Chris Sims, lately of the Invincible Super-Blog, which was an online reader taking a writer's overstatement for the purposes of comedy to be overstatement for the purposes of sarcasm. To which I can only offer my name, and my own example.

That is to say I might at some point say "I find the writing of Judd Winick in Green Lantern, Volume Three, Green Arrow and Outsiders to be so brain-meltingly simplistic and gut-wrenchingly horrible that I would rather gnaw my own arm off at the elbow than hand over payment for an issue of either series knowing that the money would lead to encouraging Judd Winick to keep writing comic books like he does in those titles."

Now, everybody reading is well aware that I would likely not gnaw my own arm off at the elbow for such a trivial purpose. But, most everyone who regularly reads this blog is well aware that I have valid reasons for disliking at least parts of the Green Lantern, Volume Three run of Judd Winick, and that I have detailed those reasons elsewhere on this blog.

See, overstatement for the purposes of comedic effect without sarcasm. As Terry Long the character is to Chris Sims, so Judd Winick the writer is to Ragnell the Foul.

Excellent! All of the references are hyperlinked. Everything is in first person. Everything is factual. Everything is about comics. I would say that I am ready to return to blogging now.

Wordcount: 916
(Damn, seventy and four words short of one thousand. I am going to have to add ninjas to the next post.)

Now I Am Officially Finished.

Ending NaNoWriMo Wordcount: 51257

I was not only able to break 50K, but I actually finished the story before the end of the month. YAY!

I hadn't expected to wrap it up that fast, and if I hadn't picked "Humor" as a genre, I wouldn't have been able to wrap it up that fast. As it turned out, I wrote a joke, read it, reread it, and realized that it was my ending. I'd had three plotlines to wrap up, and one ended with that joke and another had ended with a joke earlier in the chapter. For the one remaining plotline, all I had to do there was write chapter. It had to be inserted right before the last one because that joke ahd to be the end. It was the Last Word on the whole story.

This whole experience has been a blast, I want badly to do this next year. Hell, I'm tempted to go for the July one. Until then, I can probably content myself with editing what I have and working on some fiction writing for a little while.

I'm going to take a few days to rest before I start back on the regular blogging, though.

Thanks to everyone who dropped well-wishes over the month! I appreciate the encouragement!

My One Wordcount Post.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Don't expect things to go back to normal immediately. This does not mean I'm finished. Somewhere around 49K, the wildly different plotlines just then started to converge. I THOUGHT I had one wrapped up, but I missed a logical detail and had to throw a quick twist in. Aside from that, I have four other major plotlines to wrap together neatly before I'm truly finished. I just couldn't go to bed at 49914. I just couldn't.

I need a nap now. Anyone up for NaNoFiMo with me?

Monday, November 27, 2006


I'm back from Thanksgiving vacation and while I finished one very important writing assignment on the plane, I only managed to pound out 3K words for Nanowrimo in the whole 5 days. Which leaves me 4 days to pound out 20K words.

I have not checked my email for a week. I just finished rummaging through livejournal for WFA links, and my feedreader is next. I make no promises that anyonw will see the backlog for a few days. I also make no promises that I'll reach 50K words this year.

I just thought I'd check in and let people know I'm alive, almost well (got a little sick over vacation, probably climate change) and that Action Comics was absolutely wonderful this week.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seventh Carnival posted!

The Seventh Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is up at Racy Thoughts.

Details about the Eighth forthcoming.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I've always considered myself a prude.

I never got into superhero slash. I was always perfectly happy to avoid it. I was never particularly impressed when I did find it. I figured it wasn't for me (aside from making fun of the occasional suggestive panel) and I was just one of those people who didn't have an interest in reading slash fiction.

So, why was my immediate reaction to this post this question:
Is there there Cooper/Olbermann?
There may be a bad influence or two in my blogroll.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

February Solicits Time

Finally we get the Wonder Woman#5 promo. Now if we could just see the third issue.
Written by Allan Heinberg
Art and cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson

Concluding the 5-part story “Who is Wonder Woman?” The combined forces of Wonder Woman’s transformed rogues gallery declare all-out war on the amazing Amazon, compelling the all-new Wonder Woman to mend fences and join forces with her predecessor and with Wonder Girl if she’s going to survive to finally answer the question: “Who Is Wonder Woman?”
On sale February 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Here's the rest.

While I'm not fond of the current Green Lantern, it will be over and we'll get a surprise. I'm already surprised by how well I took the news of that month's guest star in Ion. This is when the new writer takes over The Flash. I'm not sure I trust even Darwyn Cooke with The Spirit still. The phrase "Omega Women" made me cringe. Captain Comet is still solicited as Captain Comet (Take that, Starlin!) and I like the Marilyn Monroe-style JSA cover.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Trying to get back into comics after nearly a month of being absolutely obsessed with real-world events. I've been reading comics and writing my NaNoWriMo for that.

Green Lantern #14 didn't help much. It depressed the hell out of me, reminding me of more than a few disillusioning things in the news lately. I was writing things making fun of current events to take my mind off of a lot of these things. I didn't warm this plotline in Green Lantern #10 and its still not for me.

Fortunately, I found my missing Daredevil issue, so maybe I can get into that instead.

Edit: The last page of Daredevil #86 -- Yeah, that cheered me up.

Friday, November 10, 2006


A few months ago I picked up Daredevil, but I had no time to read it. I put it aside for when I had a chance. Since then, I've forgotten to Daredevil a few months in a row because I hadn't read the last one. Last week, the clerk was telling me how much he liked it, and I realized that I had let it lapse. I picked up a couple issues, fully intending to read them after the one I'd already bought. It was the issue with Foggy on the cover, announcing the fake-out and I know I picked that one up.

Well, over a week has passed, my election obsession is subsiding, I'm behind on my NaNoWriMo and I feel the overwhelming urge to read Daredevil. So, naturally, I can't find the issue.

This sucks. I can't even pick up Green Lantern and start to read without thinking about how I'm in the mood to read Daredevil.

This is why I am two weeks behind in comics reading.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Read.

I'm a regular flurry of posting. I just wanted to point people towards Gordon's post about that voting meme. The one where you see pictures and then answer questions about the pictured person. He said a few things I didn't say myself because I didn't want to send any potential voters to that site.

I can't comment on his site, so I'll just say here he's totally right, and add my own thoughts about how that was set up the wrong way. Honestly, does knowing what Bill Frist looks like and what position he holds mean you have any idea what his views are? How does that make someone a better voter than a person who doesn't know the pictures but happens to have listened to and read transcripts of the guy's speeches, and knows his voting record?

A much better idea would be to give quotes about policies and match them up with names and jobs. But, hey, what do I know? I'm just someone who prefers to look at online newpapers over twenty-four hour cable news when finding out about the world.

Obligatory Election Day Annoyance

But first, here's one more contest I missed, thanks Michael!

Now, seeing as today is Election Day, and I've already picked my own candidates, bugged the shit out of the guys in my office to get to the polls, placed my bets and posted the Vegas odds, I'm certain I don't have to remind anyone who's a US citizen who's of age to vote before the polls close.

Because I've been glued to the election news and you are a freaking idiot if you sit this one out.

Don't worry about the lines, just bring weather appropriate gear and that graphic novel you've been meaning to read. Or, my LCS sold a couple reprints of old pulp novels, so I have the Shadow and I know some of you have Doc Savage!

Once again, no time-travel was performed in the making of this post. I just felt it was important enough to put above the NaNoWriMo Counter (because seriously, too many people forget to bring a book to situations like this and get soured on the whole experience), and will put it back to the year 2006 on Wednesday.

Making Democracy Interesting

(I swear, I'll think about comics again once the election's over!)

After looking for days (I'm not into online gambling normally), I thought I'd be disappointed since it was a mid-term, but the internet did not let me down. Yes, there are people gambling on the government this year! It took until tonight to find the odds, though. The professionals are putting their money on a Democratic Congress (Link goes to an online gambling site):
Washington, DC (Nov.6, 2006) – Political gamblers at, the world’s largest online sportsbook and casino, seem less confident in a Republican majority Senate. Today almost 63 per cent of the money is going to the Republican line compared to almost 88 per cent that headed there last week. Meanwhile, bettors haven’t really changed their view that Democrats will take a majority of the House seats with almost 73 per cent of the money bet on a Democrat victory, down marginally from 75 per cent last week

According to the latest odds at, the Democrats are -450 to win the House and +200 to gain control of the Senate. Republicans are +300 to retain control over the House and -280 to retain the Senate.

With Americans heading to the polls tomorrow (Tuesday) latest polls continue to show Democrats sure to pick up lots of seats – but will they get the magic 15 needed to gain control? Many of the tight races could fall to Republicans with their vaunted ‘get out the vote machine’, so there is plenty of uncertainty to present a worthy challenge for political gamblers.
Granted, Vegas oddsmakers favored Kerry two to one in 2004, so this doesn't lock anything. But, in case someone has time to put a little money down there it is. The link goes into detail on the most talked about Senate races.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thank you, DC!

In the March/April trade announcements:
Writers: William Moulton Marston, Robert Kanigher, Dennis O'Neil, George Pérez and Phil Jimenez
Artists: H.G. Peter, Ross Andru, George Pérez, Phil Jimenez and others
Cover artist: Alex Ross
Price: $19.99 US/$23.99 CAN
Page count: 192 pages

Now, more! Because you still have some serious catching up to do here to get near Superman or Batman.

(I said I'd post less, not stop completely, and this is important.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't Get Excited, You're Not Rid of Me Yet

Let's be realistic here. If I'm going to seriously do NaNoWriMo, writing for actual money, Blog@Newsarama, my regular job, and WFA, something has to give. I've been slacking off here anyway, so it's getting put on the back burner for a bit.

I'm not saying there won't be any November posts, but there's going to be considerably fewer than usual here. I don't think anyone here wants to hear me whine about having writer's block, or my writing sucking, or anything like that. That's what livejournal is for anyway.

I'll also be taking a break from my regular friday column on Blog@Newsarama, but I'll still be linkblogging there.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Turn Back Your Clocks, America (- Arizona)

Just after I posted that last post I noticed that Daylight Savings Time took effect on my computer.

That was pretty cool.

Yes, I am sending you somewhere else.

We're coming up on my religion's major holiday, and have posts died down because I'm seeing friends and family?

No, I'm trying to finish up a few things for work before November First. And I'm trying to rearrange my apartment so that my schedule doesn't drive the neighbor lady insane.

I overslept and missed an o-pportunity to get Geoff Johns to sign my Rebirth hardcover. (Damned right I got the hardcover!) I also owe Megha the Five Things meme. I will do that, I swear.

But today, instead of an original post here's a link to Double Articulation. He has a post up about Blog Names.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This is barely enough to warrant a Spoiler Warning

Well, I got Seven Soldiers and was planning to type out my insights. Then I read it, and realized it's going to need a digestion period. I'm still in a state of gibbering giddyness over the Granty-goodness contained within.

In the meantime, here's a panel that made me smile. Look at the face and hair just beneath Arthur's arm. Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing in ProtoCamelot?

I'm going to decide that I am, and that it totally makes up that issue of 52 I saw beach bunny fembots instead of lady mad scientists.

But the writer still has a strike against him for Lois Lane not getting to punch anyone in that All-Star Superman issue where she had powers for a day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This.

I had many motivations for starting a blog, just one of which was to build writing discipline so that I'll be able to sit down and write that novel/screenplay/comic book/play/book of gutwrenching poetry when I retire.

I've learned over the past year that, when motivated, I can sit down and pound out a few paragraphs. They will be somewhat coherent. From the response, it also seems that they can be entertaining.

I've also learned, without benefit of college classes, that I can construct an essay and get my point across to a reasonable number of the people reading it. Go me.

I haven't written much in the way of fiction, however.

And when I pictured myself retiring and settling down to a project, I came up with a few different kinds of project. Unsurprisingly, none of them were nonfiction.

This is the point in my life where I start to panic about that. In addition to my work duties (a few too many performance reviews are due very close to Thanksgiving where I work), and my online blogging addiction (I'm steady at two solo blogs, two group blogs, a linkblog, and a full themed BlogCarnival right now!), I convinced myself to pound out a comic book script. Because that is what all comic book fans who can't draw eventually do.

You can't see it.

I was five pages in when I decided to figuratively toss myself off the cliff.

I don't mean in-story, either.

I signed up for National Novel Writing Month.

If posting declines during November, you now know why.

(It's Karen's fault, she talked me into it!)
Can anyone tell me if Memphis services Oklahoma?

It's very likely, but there's always the hope that I'm wrong. And I could ask the clerk, but I'd rather have a chance to have my violent outburst before I'm in close proximity to a living target.

And don't worry about the cat. He can handle himself.

Holy Crap!

They did manage to get her origin down to one sentance.

Really, that's all a new reader needs to know about her.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Captioning Contest

(I've finally loaded my camera software. This is from May.)


I was doing a search and came upon this. Kalinara came upon this. Further searching found this and this.

Does anyone know why my stuff would appear on random Bravenet pages?

And what I can do to stop it?

Edit: Thanks guys, I reported them through Bravenet's abuse page. We'll see what happens.

Beefcake/Cheesecake Appreciation Week is still on!

And what would a Cheesecake Appreciation Week be without a link to the Fat Wonder Woman Blog?

I'm fond of the Marcelo Braga and the petite Mike Wieringo submissions.

I got a letter!

One of the three letters I sent to DC was about Wonder Woman, of course. I'd started out with a regular Wonder Woman letter, and ended up asking about stuff like toys, television specials and collections. I realized these were things that the monthly editor wouldn't have control over, so I adjusted and aimed for the top.

I addressed it to Paul Levitz himself.

His answer was in today's (well, yesterday's) mail. It was dated October 17th. That's really fast, since I only sent all three on the morning of the 13th.

He didn't say much specific, just that we'd get more trade paperbacks, and a Showcase edition next year. And to watch for other announcements in the spring.

Nothing on the other two, which were addressed to individual editors, but both were a little tounge-in-cheek. Okay, one was a lot tongue-in-cheek.

Still, the highest level I sent to gave me a personal answer. That's pretty cool.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Beefcake/Cheesecake Week Continues Unabated

Meet Mr. June (Rank unknown):

He's posing for charity:
More than 18,000 service men and women have been injured in the war, and more than 2,600 have given their lives for our freedom. Many of the wounded are young and face an entire lifetime of “healing” and coping with disabilities. Regardless of partisan or political views, our country recognizes the need to aid our service men and women who endure great sacrifice to protect our freedom.

You may have heard about it or seen it in the media, now you can order the 2007 America's Heroes Reconnaissance Marines Calendar for yourself and/or all your friends. 100% of the proceeds go to our wounded heroes and their families as directed by those who have been awarded the Purple Heart.

(Found via Racy Thoughts and A Distant Soil)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Beefcake/Cheesecake Week: Classic Content

Anyway, for the two of you reading this blog who haven't seen it, here is my Green Lantern Conspiracy Theory.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cake Appreciation Week Continues!

Dust devils cypress
Ripening fruit
Ascending quick
Into the author's bathroom

*Ahem* Sorry, wrong Cake. I meant Beefcake/Cheesecake Appreciation Week.

I just ranted about this artist, but it's unfair to read Guilty Pleasures and not share, so here it is. Aubrey, as drawn by Brett Booth.

(Click for a bigger picture, as usual)

We interrupt your regularly scheduled superhero-themed programming for an impromptu rant about a vampire book.

Okay, I picked up Anita Blake: Guilty Pleasures out of morbid curiosity.

I've heard a lot of nasty things about Laurel K. Hamilton, so I fully expected to be angry at her. I braced myself for it. (See, this is how you can tell I'm a superhero comics fan. I regularly pay for things which I know will piss me off.)

However, I wasn't quite prepared for this.

Five pages in, and the artist fucks up before the writer does.

I'm sorry, if the narration says "The button she's wearing doesn't bode well for the evening" you sure as hell had better make the button readable! Obviously, this is a difficult thing trying to translate a prose work to comic format -- but unlike most adaptations the writer is trying to use the medium and you are not helping.

And shouldn't the damned editor have made certain that translated properly when the pages were printed?

And how the fuck do you work in comics and not know that your 11x17 page is going to be considerably smaller when it's finally printed? How do you not compensate somehow?

Guilty Pleasures creative team, you are now officially on my shitlist. I have no fucking clue who you are, or what else you've done, but this panel just pisses me off.


That is all.

Just finished Birds of Prey #99

The lesbian subtext is strong in this one.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Just Because I Like It Doesn't Mean It's Good

Today I read something that looked like it could possibly have a good point, but the writer's objectivity had already been shot to hell in the previous posts on the blog. Couldn't even read it without thinking about the prior inconsistencies, but the start seemed promising. I ended up just skimming it.

The few words I did pick up had me looking for a point, and not just any point. I wanted a particular point that I hadn't been able to verbalize yet. I wasn't thinking so much of the post itself, but of the posts before it, and the inconsistancy seen in those critiques. It reminded me, and these are two things that won't seem related on the surface, of a point I'd seen elsewhere.

Bear with me, these are related. Days earlier on a different blog, I saw one hell of a point in the comments:
While your overall point is well taken - death and mutilation as a substitute for actual character development and storytelling re often a sign of bad or lazy writing, just like interpreting "action" to mean "fight scenes" is lazy - I see far more fans than creators obsessing over characters to the point of revering them more than real people. This preoccupation with "don't you dare do this and that to a character I like" tends to undercut the point of wanting to read better stories. If fans cared about real people - say, the real people working on the comics they read - more than fictional characters, there would be a better way of putting these entreaties.
(Emphasis mine)

I touched on this a little earlier when I got upset that so many found (and no, that writer has not yet answered me) a moratorium on female character death to be a good idea somehow.

I've stepped around this for too long, afraid I'd hurt my own arguments, my friends' arguments, or just plain too many people's feelings.

I've seen three forces at work over the past year, three forces that are always at work in any fan community. They are often at odds with each other, but right now it's getting ridiculous.

We all have an innate Fannishness when it comes to our favorite fictional constructs themselves. We see ourselves in them, see our mothers, our fathers, our significant others or just admirable traits we'd like to see ourselves, our families and our friends. As such, we can take the decisions made using these characters very personally.

Most of us have Creator Loyalty towards the writers and artists who handle our favorite characters the way we prefer. It makes us gloss over their mistakes, ignore even blatant problems in their work, and sometimes defend them to a ridiculous extent. Those of us with friends in the industry are especially vulnerable to this.

And lastly, everyone has some degree of Social Conscience. This where the actual analysis comes in, and we notice inequalities. The women only fulfill certain roles. This is where we notice that the nonwhite characters are being pushed to the background. Here's where we notice that all of the characters in samesex relationships are dying, or look to be dying very soon. It where we notice one writer has the same weakspot with all characters who have X in common. It's where we notice that our favorite characters that have X in common are all getting the short end of the same stick.

Fannishness and creator loyalty fuck up social conscience, beyond belief.

I know this, because I read just about every comics blog that touches social commentary in existence. (If you see someone blogging about race in comics or gender politics or sexuality that doesn't ever get linked at one of my blogs, please email me the post address.)

Over time, it becomes really obvious when the first two have overrun the third.

I guarantee I'm going to regret this post. Tomorrow, I will completely wish I hadn't written it. But Elayne's comment wasn't commented on in that thread. And it's not like this was a long comment thread.

It's an uncomfortable truth, because with out some fannishness and some loyalty, we're simply not fans. But how do we keep fannishness and creator loyalty from negatively influencing any social commentary on our favorite characters?

I really don't see a solution. At least, not one for a community. I can examine myself on a personal level and listen to what other fans are saying about my favorites. But I don't know about anyone else.

Plot Conveniently Removed

Yeah, like Beefcake/Cheesecake Appreciation Week was going to go by without a shot of Kyle Rayner in his short-shorts.

Queer Legion (QL) has more at Planetary Chance Machine.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Point

I wasn't going to do an entry for this Carnival, but things change.

Specifically, things changed because I read this. I saw the obvious strange assumption in the review and I replied, perhaps a bit snarkily. (I'm known to do that. Marionette and a few shocked people on livejournal can tell unflattering stories about when I snark before I think. My social training is from Italian-American family dinners, military service, my macho job, and online geekdom. Sharp, cruel statements reign supreme and gain respect.) I received a rather exasperated reply, which went off into a tangent. I'm not going to talk about the conversation over there, I'm just going to address the tangent.

Let's clip a couple segments of her response to talk about:
That being said, witchhunts based on art that shows big tits or hookers or (sometimes quite clumsy and stupid) scenes of rape does not really make a huge difference in terms of making change outside a small corner of the blogosphere. Only bridges built between the male & female sectors of comix fandom will get any sort of real change accomplished.
(Strange, that's what I thought I was trying do with a linkblog that connected with no commentary and linked to all sides of the issue -- of course, I'm getting ahead of myself here)
At the end of the day, the only thing justifying writing a blog is to express honestly how you feel
The first part is important, but the last part is where I disagree completely.

I write, and I read other blogs, to learn.

If you look at my early archives, you'll find a number of opinions and posts you wouldn't see now. the wording is different, the subject matter is different. I think much of it is funnier. I used to just do reviews, and point out things from time to time.

The point where that changed is the point where I found one of my posts linked in the Sixth Carnival of Feminists (hosted by Reappropriate). I'd been at Philobiblon by random wandering before, and commented. I think that may be how they found my little Wonder Woman post.

Now up until that point I was in the community I was used to, comics fandom. Bloggers were mostly message boarders who had gotten sick of the free for all on message boards they didn't moderate, and decided to stake their own claim in cyberspace. It was very familiar territory, full of people I was used to dealing with. I'm still very fond of this territory, but the political blogosphere was new and interesting.

And the "personal is political" and sociological blogs were even better.

I was so excited I volunteered immediately to host an edition of the Carnival. I was actually very disappointed to have to wait so many months, but I got busy in the meantime.

From Reappropriate and Philobiblon I followed every link that looked promising. I absorbed as much as I could like a sponge. Prior to this I had just been dipping my toes in the waters of Feminist blogging with some of my "feminine view of comics" type posts. I was always up for critical analysis. This section of the blogosphere was like getting a brand new toolbox for Christmas after you'd been using just a screwdriver and a hammer. I applied these tools to my own area of expertise, comic books, and found that they were just perfect for what I'd wanted to say.

My writing was clearer, and more precise, but somehow just never clear enough. At the same time, Kalinara and I had started When Fangirls Attack. Other people were writing about the exact same subject that stirred my creativity. Most of the earlier ones used the basic tools, but eventually we found ones who were using tools so complicated there wasn't even room in my toolbox for them yet.

Through this larger part of the blogosphere, I was able to share what I knew with the rest of my community, and I was able to reach out to the small areas where the two communities crossed. As I did that, I was able to expand my own horizons, and refine the rougher ideas.

This is still going on.

This is more than simply self-expression. This is an exchange of ideas. This is interaction. This is communication.

Most importantly, this is learning.

It may only change things in this small community, but it does change this community.

More importantly, it changes individuals, and individuals change worlds.

Perhaps that statement is too optimistic. Perhaps both statements are optimistic.

I can say one thing is true. It has changed this individual.

And that change may not mean anything to world, but it means the world to me.