Thursday, 5 January 2017

♥♫ "Sculpture" by DíSA http://ift.tt/1SrdoXs

♥♫ "Time Will Wait" by Submotion Orchestra http://ift.tt/1OAofeP
Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Star Wars Christmas is a new family tradition. After Christmas dinner, my family packs up and heads to the theatre -- three generations experiencing Star Wars again and for the first time, together. This year, it was Rogue One. I was indeed satisfied with this film, but that does not mean it was without its flaws. Not the least of which was the fact that the new movies seem to understand that women can save the galaxy too, but they tend to stop at one, unless someone points it out. Even then, the subsequent marketing and merchandising fails.

And yet here am I tweaking Rogue One for my own personal headcanon, and the first thing I do, you'll notice, is excise poor Jyn. I do want to see more women in film and more people of colour, but I want good story behind it, and frankly, in this case, I think Jyn was superfluous. This could and should have been Cassian Andor's movie. But, as much as I love Diego Luna in the role, here's where I kick him out too (I'm so sorry).


Rogue One Redux

Posted by Wendy B
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
"I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra." 

- Carrie Fisher, 1956-2016

 


Farewell, Princess

Posted by Wendy B
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
It’s no secret that I’m a big X-Men fan. I’m not talking about whatever rebooted/rehashed/resurrected business Marvel has going on right now. I’m talking about those 16 years of X-Men spear-headed by Chris Claremont. I credit late ’80s, early ’90s comics with shaping my young life, so one might say I’m a bit biased when it comes to reviewing a book chronicling his influential run. And there’s going to be more than a little bit of fan flail when I get a chance to talk to someone who is as big a fan of Claremont’s X-Men as I am.


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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

♥♫ "Black Hole Sun" by Ramin Djawadi http://ift.tt/2ewmrsB
Friday, 7 October 2016
Massively multiplayer online (MMO) games are great fun. I like to think of them as an opportunity to chat with my online friends while doing productive things like killing dragons. But as with all things, there are downsides to this type of video game, too. The companies that develop them thrive on keeping you entertained and addicted, and they do so with fun things, but also with tedious things. You have to work hard and pour in your leisure hours to achieve greatness in game, whether that be in reaching higher levels, crafting for cash, or obtaining epic loot. As a responsible, hardworking adult, that leisure time is precious and limited. It’s rare to find the time to dedicate to the various endeavours of gaming while balancing family life, work, and other responsibilities. When I became a parent, I refused to sacrifice my gaming habits for the needs of my kids. Instead, I learned to work around them. And more importantly, now that they are older, they’ve learned to work for me.

Read more at Women Write About Comics
One night about eight months ago, Joamette Gil had an epiphany. Her skills as a writer, cartoonist, and illustrator, her Afro-Cuban roots, her interdisciplinary degree in social justice and psychology, and perhaps more than a little magic came together to form the idea that would become Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology. Initially, the “witch” part was missing from the equation until the moment Gil sent out the call for submissions. The pieces were set in motion, and the result is taking shape.

Read more at Women Write About Comics
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Thursday, 6 October 2016

Gone are the days of parents rolling their eyes in exasperation as little Suzie begs for the latest issue of Spider-Man, carefully placed near the candy bars at the grocery store check-out. Archie Comics might still appear in that coveted spot above the latest issue of The Enquirer, but long gone is the variety of comics that used to be available on the local newsstand. Comic stores remain an option for kids seeking their comic fix, but such niche stores aren’t always readily available and, in some cases, aren’t always welcoming to younger audiences. There is a prevailing notion in mainstream society these days that comics are just for kids (although the trend of superhero movies leans towards more adult themes), yet, we don’t see comics readily available for that market, unless you look to school book fairs or libraries. There, Scholastic largely holds down the market, promoting literacy in all its forms to children of every age, but there are still many other comics for young audiences that are trying to get their foot in the door. How do we get more comic books (back) into all of those little hands?

Read more at Women Write About Comics
Saturday, 13 August 2016

Eight years ago, the author/illustrator team of Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá set aside Milton Hatoum’s Dois irmãos, but not because the Brazilian author’s story of twin brothers Yaqub and Omar was not good. Quite the opposite. Moon and Bá found themselves immersed in the settings–the Amazon rain forest and the cities of São Paulo and Manaus–despite being native Brazilians who still live and work in the country now. The layers of narrative, the back and forth flow through time, the narrator’s stream of consciousness, and the tragedy of a family unraveling around the twins’ struggles was all so seductive, but to even consider adapting all of this into a graphic novel was too much for the author/illustrator team.

Read more at Women Write About Comics
Thursday, 11 August 2016
Thoughts on Suicide Squad. I have them. I wish I didn't. I wish I'd had more to drink at the restaurant where I'd gathered with my Ladies Comic Book Night posse to eat drink and be merry prior to invading the movie theatre. But I didn't. And so, instead of appreciating this movie as the fun romp it was intended to be, I continue to discuss where it failed. Where comic book movies in general fail.


Not shown: Slipknot in his red shirt
There are the obvious technical problems, which were to be expected from the moment we started hearing about elements of the film being re-edited and re-shot in response to internet reaction to trailers and rumours and "leaked" footage. Or, as Felix Biederman describes it at The Concourse:
"I suspect the disjointed nature of this movie owes to the fact that it is two separate stories director David Ayer is doing a very half-assed job of trying to present as one. The first is a romance between the Joker and Harley Quinn. This element seems like the result of Jared Leto wanting to make a music video about how badass the Joker is, and Warner Brothers deciding they should build a movie around it using another film they were already shooting, a divorce and morality tale surrounding Will Smith, who must fight powerful monsters with his friends."
I'm so tired of hearing about movies getting this kind of treatment that ultimately results in a disjointed mess hitting our screens. Hate on Josh Trank all you want for his rant about the Fantastic Four he wanted to make versus the movie we got, but that's yet another example of people who don't know sticking their fingers in the soup to tell us what we ought to know and what we should want, without actually understanding any of it. And with more and more superhero comics being plundered by ignorant executives who are only interested in money, things are not going to get better. Not that I expect to see everything from the comics translated to the big screen exactly as they are. That's crazy talk. But I do expect bringing the essence of those characters and stories to be the priority instead of seeing how much shit can be crammed in to sell merchandise and bust box office records.

I'm naïve. Idealistic. I know. Truth is, dressed in my Harley corset and pigtails, I just wanted to see my Harley Quinn up there on the big screen. That's not quite what I got. Not that Margot Robbie was a bad Harley. I loved her. She did a fun job with what she had to work with. But what she had to work with was severely lacking. To be fair, the comics haven't been doing so great a job of dealing with Harley either lately. Her life since her introduction has had many ups and downs. While her sales figures indicate that she's very, very up, I still have ... concerns. Namely, the fact that the Harley that continues to be pushed in our faces is the objectified tits and ass first ditzy version. I have no issue with Harley being sexy or playing dumb. I do have issue when it's the writer and artist's constant go to weapon for a character whose arsenal holds far more than that. Sometimes in the Suicide Squad comics, we get to see the impish Harley, the devious planner, the violent psychopath, the fun-loving friend, and yes, the sexy ditz. It's clear in these pages that she uses any and all of these weapons to control the situation as she sees fit. Because ultimately, she is a brilliant psychiatrist who can analyze her opponents on that level--and can analyze herself and her own issues as well.

But the movie only gives us a limited, two-dimensional focus, all framed within a Joker story. Frankly, I could have done with far less Joker. Establish her origins in terms of how he affected her, sure, but there was no need to bind her to him right up to the finale. The film had a responsibility to show that her relationship with the Joker is an extremely unhealthy one, but it didn't do a good enough job. I understand that the leaked footage of Joker hitting Dr. Quinzel resulted in backlash--which I can agree with--but I am not a big fan of what we got instead in terms of the doctor patient relationship where we see a Dr. Quinzel that has already succumbed to the Joker's charms for no discernible reason, instead of one that showed no transition at all.
Suicide Squad Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth (2012)
Batman: Mad Love (1994)
But Joker's abuse of Harley has always gone far deeper than physical violence. I like that the film also gave us a Joker that at least regretted not having her around because he needed her (for what?*), but that is dangerous ground for a society that romanticizes unhealthy relationships (50 Shades of Gray), promotes rape fantasies to young (female) audiences (Court of Thorn and Roses), and believes that The Hunger Games had a happy ending just because Katniss got married. This kind of harmful thinking needs to be rooted out, not perpetuated.

What the movie is missing is a Harley -- a Dr. Harleen Quinzel who clearly recognizes that she is in a bad relationship, even as she keeps pining for her abuser. I thought I was going to get that moment on the stairs where she asks Deadshot if he's ever been in love. It was the perfect opportunity to give us this--
Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1 (2013)
--even as she continues with her plans to return to her Puddin's waiting arms.

There's a reason why Harley is a popular and divisive character--even before this movie. Many reasons. She is extremely relatable in many ways--particularly relating to her status as an abuse victim. Some might hate her as the victim who keeps going back, because it's very difficult for some to empathize with such a situation--or because it's very ease to hate oneself for doing the very same thing.
Gotham City Sirens Vol.1: Union (2009)
Some might love her because she's the victim who can and finally does fight back.
Harley Quinn #25 (2016)
Harley's story is inextricably linked to the Joker but she doesn't need to be defined by it as she is in the Suicide Squad movie. I know. It's been done before in Birds of Prey:

You can have a Harley that is sexy/uses sex, is a brilliant and powerful crime lord in her own right, and is unpredictable and not to be underestimated--unless she tricks you into doing so because she uses her brain as much as her gymnastic brawl to kick serious ass--even if she does still harbour that unhealthy obsession with the Joker.

Speaking of the Joker. I really need Jared Leto to sit the fuck down. He is not allowed in the Joker Club. Please revoke his membership.

Okay okay. Aside from the alleged craziness that happened during filming, Leto's Joker showed potential, but that was overshadowed by what appeared to be a too obvious need to eclipse Heath Ledger. I got glimpses of Brian Azzarello's Joker that I really liked. “I’m not crazy anymore, just mad,” says that Joker as he reclaims his territory from rival gangs. Azzarello's Joker is still a psychopath, but he is, perhaps, a more mature one. A more subdued one. Perhaps not the kind of Joker a mainstream audience can understand though because Hollywood thinks movie audiences -- particularly summer movie audiences -- are stupid. *But it's a Joker that would have brought something new and interesting, not just to the character, but to the relationship between him and Harley that they seemed to be trying to convey in Suicide Squad. In Joker, Harley never speaks, but her importance to the Joker is clear, going well beyond ditzy play thing and victim. She is a partner that understands; the only person to whom he can reveal weakness.
Joker (2008)
It's still a sick, twisted relationship, but one with, ironically, more balance. Perhaps this is what the film was trying to give us, what with the alleged deleted scenes lying on the cutting room floor. And perhaps we will still see that relationship, now that Hollywood knows they have a winner with Harley Quinn.

My next beef is with Amanda Waller. I don't know the character that well from the comics, but I know well enough of her to know that her reputation as a badass is well deserved. She's had some questionable live action appearances with tragically wasteful results in the recent past, but there was never any doubt that the indomitable Viola Davis could give us The Wall that will stare down and eat The Bat for breakfast.
As with Margot Robbie and Will Smith, Viola Davis owned her character but was ultimately bound by the stupidity of the script. Consider this simple logic: Waller demanded the creation of a squad of deadly convicts to counter a potential evil meta-human--the next Superman. Then, through her own negligence and arrogance, she facilitates the creation of that very threat. I don't expect Waller to be perfect. I expect her arrogance to cause problems. I expect her contingency plans for her contingency plans to sometimes not work out, forcing her to improvise. What I do not expect, is utter incompetence that involves leaving a deadly artifact on her apartment shelf, trusting in loooove to keep the powerful immortal witch in check. Waller's entire concept of entrusting Enchantress' obedience to Rick Flagg's romance with June Moon would not have impressed Professor Annalise Keating one bit. And then she had to practically beg Bruce Wayne to cover her ass? P L E A S E.

Plus, that weird romance really left Flagg with nothing useful to do except threaten to push a kill switch (that the bad guys could have stolen at any time), which is unfortunate, since the original Flagg competently ran field ops with the team for a long time in the original comics. The ideal solution would have been to dump the Flagg/Moon/Enchantress threesome and let The Wall loose. Because not only is she a badass behind the scenes controlling the situation from a command centre, she can handle herself just fine in the field, too.
Justice League
And finally, Enchantress. What a waste. But since apocalyptic showdowns are the new black for comic book movies, we had to have that big bad Waller feared and subsequently created. Only, that's not what a squad of low level meta-humans (some of whom aren't actually meta-humans) can handle. What's Deadshot's going to do against people who can deflect bullets? How will Boomerang's jocularity save the world? I don't like the Joker's over-presence, but had the movie stayed focused on that, then using a team of psycho-criminals to go after psycho-criminals would have made sense. Instead, they faced the end of the world and Enchantress' had to be dialed back in order for this rag tag team to beat her.
After these major complaints, there are the minor ones involving the poorly used Katana, the suddenly friendship is magic! squad bonding, everything about Slipknot, and the obvious attempt to make Boomerang into a subpar Deadpool-like comic relief, complete with stuffed unicorn. As with so many comic book movies these days, there probably was a good movie (or two) left on the cutting room floor, but we shouldn't have to put our hopes on director's cuts to see them.

I also grow tired of the battle between DC and Marvel that causes much of this issue and feeds into their gross marketing campaigns that pit fans against each other, even as the Big 2 pit their own characters against each other in pointless combat. While I did enjoy Captain America: Civil War, It definitely wasn't the Bucky and Cap adventure it was meant to be because the exec types had to stick their two million cents in there in response to Batman v Superman (which wasn't actually about Batman versus Superman).

Simply put, I love comics. I want to share my comics so that everyone loves comics too. I don't give a shit if you prefer DC while I prefer Marvel. I just want to see my faves treated with the respect they deserve by people who aren't necessarily fans of the characters or even comics (though some appreciation for the source material would be nice), but at least can understand what those characters and stories mean to old fans and what they can mean to new ones.
Still, I remain cautiously optimistic for the future. I can't wait for the long overdue Wonder Woman movie, I love what Jason Momoa's Aquaman potentially represents, and Black Panther killed it in Civil War, paving the way for his solo film to give us even more awesome. And through these new films and shows, diversity is slowly becoming reality, though there's still a ways to go to help the ignorant understand why representation matters.

Anyway, despite all its flaws, Suicide Squad was still a fun movie. I'm aware that my deeper criticisms obviously stem from the fact that I know too much about the source material and therefore expected too much (even though I tried to keep my expectations low, as is the standard practice for comic book movies now). It's a Hollywood summer blockbuster that I shouldn't be picking apart because it's meant to be mindless fun. But I guess that's half the problem--the fact that some people still see comics as low brow trashy reads filled with flashy costumes and ridiculous abilities and boobs. Oh there definitely is that, but there's also so much more in these modern myths.
I'd love it if someone could stick all the ignorant execs who keep trying to tell us what we want in a little tiny room and throw away the key. Then we'll get the comic book movies that we deserve. And you know what? Those movies will probably make just as much money, without the critical mess.
Sunday, 7 August 2016

It's been about 18 years since first I set foot on the sparkling streets of San Diego to attend Comic-Con. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then. The first time, I attended on business as part of my work with Fan Expo Canada. This time, I attended as press along with several other members of the Women Write About Comics team. The trip also signified the first time in a long time that I'd been on a real destination vacation, and one on my own, without the family. This meant I could go wild with my girlfriends, and by that I mean heading to Target to shop clearance racks and cast judgmental eyes upon jugged milk and aisles of alcohol and sugary things, wrestling with air mattresses (I lost) and ordering fancy on brand drinks at the Cheesecake Factory. That's right folks, we were all kinds of crazy!

But back to the convention itself. One of the things that impressed me the most was the way the massive event is embraced by the community. The local businesses are going to profit off of us no matter what, but I appreciated that they didn't make us feel like that was our only purpose. When we walked into our hotel, we were greeted by a bat signal shining on the floor and staff dressed in superhero t-shirts (and warm cookies ... love the Double Tree Hilton). Nerd culture is more mainstream now, but there is still that level of ignorance and even disdain that we have to deal with from outsiders. We weren't made to feel like a tolerated inconvenience of weirdness. Instead, even those who don't quite get our ways showed a level of endearment and appreciation that made us feel so welcome.

My trio went our separate ways after grabbing the precious press passes that made this entire trip possible. I headed to the Stone Brewing to try their latest w00tstout at Hop-Con 4.0. Aisha Tyler seemed to be the only famous face present of the promised guest list that was to include Wil and Anne Wheaton, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor. Not that I was really interested in celebrity sightings, nor could I hear Tyler over the constant roar of airplanes overhead. I’m also not really a beer drinker, but the food, company, and music by Megaran and Bitforce were great. I also caught a Pikachu and several other rare Pokemon, so all in all, a great start to SDCC for me. 

Thursday was the busiest day for all of us. I started my day with some vampirism at the Robert E. Heinlein Blood Drive. In retrospect, I maybe should not have scheduled blood donation on my busiest day at the convention, but I am very proud of my body for surviving almost the entire day before almost passing out. Many thanks to my roomies, Megan and Kate, and artist Johnnie Christmas for the save and support. 

I got to do some normal convention stuff in between my schedules interviews and meet-ups. Namely, I attended a few panels, which I have never done at any of the major conventions I attend. Either I'm working and am just too busy, or I just haven't made a point of caring. This time, prior to the event, I spent an hour going through the program to find panels of interest. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts meant I missed several ones that interested me, including a few covering library conventions and Free Comic Book Day, something I plan to bring to my local library), but I did get to attend the Adapting Octavia Butler's Kindred panel, featuring writer, Dr. Damian Duffy, who explained the process that has gone into bringing this incredible author's work to a new format and a new audience. 

After that, I got started on my interviews, the first of which was with David Mack, a creator whose work I have admired for a long time. The opportunity to sit with him and pick his brain about his writing and artistic process was fascinating, especially after having recently read the third volume of his Kabuki collection. 

Thereafter, I met with Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, authors and illustrators of Two Brothers. I jumped at the chance to interview them because their Daytripper had been such an incredible and memorable read for me. Two Brothers is no less powerful and the brothers provided wonderful insight about how this adaptation came to be. A highlight of our interview was having Margaret Atwood interrupt us (how rude!) to introduce a fellow Brazilian to the brothers. I managed to make eye contact and smile with Ms. Atwood as we stood awkwardly across from each other while the three gentlemen conversed. Later I arranged for my fellow editor to interview Ms. Atwood, so that was pretty sweet. 

Another panel after that, this time featuring comic journalists including my very own WWAC Editor-in-Chief, Megan Purdy, speaking on New Comics Journalism. Not a particularly well organized panel, thanks to an ill-prepared moderator, but the panelists held their own well enough. 

SDCC after hours is all about the parties, but first we needed food so we hit the Gaslamp district with our new found posse of fellow industry peeps. We decided to skip our plans to attend the Scholastic party and attend the Comic Book Legal Defense event instead. Turns out the Scholastic party was full of wild librarians and had impressive lootbags. Alas, our loss. 

Day two involved the realization that industry acquaintances I'd made over the years were probably at this event too, which resulted in several meet ups and more interview opportunities. I had a great chat with an old friend and his new business colleagues about the state of the kids comics market and where we need to go from here. Working with my local school board, I'm thrilled to see comics not just on the library shelves, but being introduced into the curriculum, but gone are the days when kids could easily pick up a comic at the convenience store. There's also the misconception surrounding what a graphic novel is, versus comic books. 

Thanks to arrangements with Nickolodeon, I got to sneak past security at the Hard Rock Hotel where Entertainment Weekly was hosting all of their events to speak with Marge Dean, co-president of Women in Animation and general manager of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. After our interview, we traded comic book recommendations, then, with my work done I was off to enjoy the rest of the convention. In retrospect, I should have borrowed one of my daughter's Chromebooks and made better use of the press room to actually write up all my interviews on site, but mostly, we just used the interview to giggle and be silly. We're such professionals.

Saturday was my first official free day and I started it with a leisurely trip to the mall to hang out with my friends from Fan Expo. We shopped, I caught more Pokemon, we sipped Nordstrom ice teas, and discussed ideas for the Toronto show. Then I wandered over to the convention to meet Megan so that we could leisurely stroll the outdoor sights. This proved dire for my poor vampiric friend, who suffered a sunburn that later required a quest for aloe, but mostly, the day was enjoyable, ending in drinking geeky drinks and cooking our own dinner at the Strip Club, and attending the Black Comix panel where Ron Wimberly ordered the deconstruction of racism (you had to be there). 


Finally, I ended the convention with more actual convention stuffs. I learned that when friends find out you are attending SDCC, they require exclusives, which is an entire process. I was worried about line ups, which would have been an issue on Wednesday and Thursday, but surprisingly, and despite the impossible to move crowd on Sunday, the exclusive lines were small or non-existent and the items that my friends wanted were still in stock. The FedEx process was a whole other business. I refuse to stand in line, so we ended up hunting for a FedEx store off site. 

By Monday morning, the Double Tree Hilton was back to its secret identity of a mild mannered hotel (they also took away the waffle maker *sad face*) and we were ready to go home--but already making plans to return.

SDCC2016 Adventures

Posted by Wendy B
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Saturday, 6 August 2016

♥♫ "Animals" by Lion-S http://ift.tt/2b3K9yo

♥♫: Animals by Lion-S

Posted by Wendy B

♥♫ "Wait For Love" by Strand of Oaks http://ift.tt/2aCeqjd

♥♫ "Centuries" by Emika http://ift.tt/2aCexev
Thursday, 4 August 2016

♥♫ "Gun In My Hand" by Dorothy http://ift.tt/1mreybO
Tuesday, 2 August 2016


The statistics don’t lie, though some will try to deny the reality: The percentage of women in animation programs is approximately 60 to 70 per cent, yet women make up only 20 per cent of the professional creative roles.

This is how Marge Dean, co-president of Women in Animation and general manager of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, introduced the “Cartoon Creatives: Women Power in Animation” panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Accompanied by Lauren Faust (creator, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Brooke Keesling (director of animation talent development at Disney TV Animation), Lauren Montgomery (co-executive producer, Voltron: Legendary Defender), Stevie Wermers-Skelton (co-director, the Frozen Holiday Special), Gina Shay (producer, the Trolls), Katie Krentz (senior director of development at Cartoon Network, Steven Universe), Daron Nefcy (creator/executive producer, Star vs. the Forces of Evil), and moderator Leslie Combemale (Animation Scoop), the panelists discussed their experiences as well as the goals of their association, which include evening out the playing field by 2025.

Read more at WWAC.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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