Not so wholesome anymore, are ya Landon?
(taken in Virgin Megastore, London, November 2006)
You know, when I was a kid I always wished my lightsabre had a spring activated blade… but apparently it’s lame now.
(taken in the Superstore, Toronto, November 2007)
The annual Silver Snail costume gala/Hallowe’en geekout hit on Saturday and, just like last year, it was a good time had by
some most all. It was a busy Saturday all-around, with Aden and myself having more than plenty to do before we could get suited up in our regal wear and hit Toronto as only two barely-known comic-book characters could.
My costume is deceptively simple and deceptively complex. The idea for the Phantom Stranger came back in July when Aden and I were shopping around for a wedding dress (she found one, I didn’t, btw) and I saw this huge honkin’ gold medallion at Le Chateau (fancyness for “The House”) and said to Aden “that would be perfect for a Phantom Stranger costume”.
Due to wedding madness, I kinda put the whole costume thing out of mind for a while, with the vague notion of going as Robin, since George (manager of the Snail) thought this toy looked like me, and I thought it would be funny, but, well, yeah, finding tiny green underwear isn’t that easy…
So anyway, I did a mild hunt for Phantom Stranger wear but you know what, finding a (cheap) 70’s blue suit from the thrift stores isn’t easy, also not easy only more so is finding a blue hat, and even more than that finding a blue cape. Some of our time in Thunder Bay, which really was the only down time I’ve had this month, was spent thrift store shopping, where I found the cape medallions ($1), the suit jacket ($4), white turtleneck ($7), the pants ($7) and the gloves ($2). I didn’t buy the medallion when I should have and I visited about 2 dozen other places looking for a replacement, but eventually found a Le Chateau that still had the original (and best) and bought it there ($25). The hat came from Kensington Market for $10, and the coup des gras, the white hairspray which gave the Phantom Stranger phantom dandruff all night cost an outrageous $10 (white hairspray was incredibly hard to come by on Saturday for some reason, so if you need white stuff next year, buy it early). The cape was actually home made, since it had to be. Capes are incredibly hard to find, and so yeah, I spent some time with chalk, scissors, some bristol board (comic book backboards to be specific), thread and a needle and made myself a cape.
The end result, deceptively simple in look (as in, it’s not spandex) but complex to put together:
Of course, I didn’t sell it *completely* with white contact lenses, but I’d say pretty authentic all things considered.
Aden’s costume was the current Mary Marvel iteration from Countdown which she was pretty keen on for two reasons: simplicity and that Mary Marvel is one of the few brown (not black) haired women in comics.
Her costume came together easy as pie. A trip to American Apparel, a few dresses tried on and it was practically over before it started. We had to buy some yellow fabric, and using the lightning bolt cut out of an old, old, old Captain Marvel t-shirt of mine found in Thunder Bay as a stencil, Aden cut out and stitched it to the uniform. She bought herself a new pair of boots, which happened to aide the costume and add a pair of black gloves, voila, it’s complete.
It was a devilishly windy evening, with a biting crispness that chilled instantly any exposed skin. Aden dressed warmly in her new winter jacket, although her knees remained vulnerable. I was dressed in four layers (undershirt, turtleneck, wool suit jacket, cape) so I was having no problems save the white temporary hair powder blowing out. In fact, I heartily enjoyed having a cape flap in the wind. It’s a fantastic sensation, feeling that drag from behind, or having the cloak whip around you in embrace, or flap off to the side like a flag. It’s so fucking cool, I can’t even explain. If I could get away with it, I’d wear cape every day. Jeans, t-shirt, cape. Trousers, button-down, tie, cape. Swimming trunks, flip-flops, cape (this isn’t Sparta). Awesome. Capes need to come back in style and stay there. As it stands, my $4 jacket is now a part of my regular wardrobe, and the rest of it’s going into the costume tickle trunk.
It was, in fact, my flowing cape which brought Aden and I to the attention of the CITY TV reporter trying to get a Hallowe’en festivities puff piece on Saturday. They saw me walking along, cape flapping in the wind and chased us down. Aden directed them around the corner to the Snail party where there’d be even more costumes, and that’s where they interviewed me, having me flap my cloak in front of their camera. It was all very geeky and I’m sure I came off like any old comic con freakshow in my interview, but I can’t find it on-line so, I guess I’ll never know.
The party was a good time as always, plenty of free food and giveaways, lots of gawking at all the other costumes (my favourite was the Friend Record from Size Small and Babs and Liza) and some big-time prizes (3rd place: $100 gift certificate, 2nd place: $300 gift certificate, 1st place $500 gift certificate). I was certain my authentic-looking Phantom Stranger would be worth one of the three… strictly on authenticity and obscurity scales. Alas, no, the prizes went to a good Clockwork Orange costume (although, really?), a rather clunky Killing Joke Barbara Gordon and Joker (points for creativity, I guess), and, okay, I’ll admit, a killer Dr. Strange costume rightly won the big prize, however the fact that Toby won the Snail staff contest last year with a Dr. Strange costume (Kody won this year with his Thor costume) did rankle me a bit. Alas, no dice for this McCracken, so I went home with my cool cape and my grumbles.
Aden and I have already decided, I think, on our costumes for next year:
Power Girl and Iron Fist…a play off of this comic
only subbing the black dude for this chick, our own DC/Marvel crossover: Maybe she’ll modify the outfit to be an amalgam of Power Girl and Power Man’s… that’d be hilarious.
Maybe I do IF more like this if I’m feeling bashful…
…but I’d probably get more points if I did the full -on collar and tattoo business.
So, for my last trick-or-treat… here’s a sideways shot 20 second video of Springfield Villain Montgomery Burns threading the needle.
oh, and more costume photos on Flickr)
While I was cleaning up the basement I found this picture frame holder still sealed in its box. I asked Aden about it, about where she might want it hanged and she said to just pitch it. I laughed but saw she was serious and said “well, at the very least it can go on the yard sale pile”.
I popped open the box and unwrapped its contents and thought aloud “I wonder if this will fit comics”? The click of the lightbulb sent me scurrying to one of the sections of comics scattered throughout the basement and, lo and behold, they fit perfectly. I said to my wife “this would be perfect for beside the bed” where there’s not a lot of room between the bed and the closet door for a side table to hold my stack of unreads.
I grabbed the drill, grabbed some screws and rushed towards the bedroom and yes, it’s awesome. Capacity is about 80 books (20 per “shelf”) but it’s perfect and induces fits of self-satisfied giggles every time I see it. Aden calls this the “best reuse of something useless ever”, and I’m in full agreement. I half joked “where’d you get this? We should fill a wall with them”.
(pictured from top to bottom, most of the books acquired at Toronto Fan Expo this year: The Thing #1 - 10, Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty #1-4, Ms. Tree Quarterly #1-4, Atari Force #1-20… no pictured but also on the rack Green Arrow 1980’s mini-series #1-4, Phantom Stranger mini #1-4)
Married day 5 now, and all is still happy-go-snappy in this union of ours. Friday was spent gathering our senses and avoiding humidity. A nice relaxing day in general.
People keep asking if we’re taking a honeymoon or why we’re not taking one, and our stock answer to this point has been “San Diego was our preemptive honeymoon”, but I cam up with another answer the other day which is all things funny, sweet and cornball:
“If we take no honeymoon, then the honeymoon is never over”
Eat that potent potable, Trebeck!
Aden and I spent Saturday and Sunday working the Fan Expo at the Snail booth. Aden having to make sure the little one was okay each morning followed me in a few hours later but for me they were long, concrete-floor-pounding days that surprisingly went by rather quickly if not entirely painlessly. I’m definitely doing it again next year, and any other cons they’ll have me at. I think I enjoy being behind the booth more than roaming the floor. It’s like a little party back there, and somewhat serene being able to avoid and evade the flock on the floor. It also allows for some people watching and the observation is that con attendees, in general are pretty regular sorts, with a few highly unfortunate exceptions… the plastic surgery gone wrong leather lady, the +100 lbs Poison Ivy, the stink-trail guys, the hyper-obsessive Transformers fan, and the girls who put it all out there to get attention (and then complain about it).
The costumes, in general, were pretty blah, but I wish I had a camera for the guys dressed as #21 and #24 (the Monarch’s henchmen from The Venture Brothers) and the guy dressed as Deadpool. Solid jobs there. Also on costumes, I figured out what I’m going to be for Halloween this year: The Phantom Stranger. I need white gloves, a dark blue or black suit, a white turtleneck, a blue cape with a big collar, a blue hat, some eye shadow, (maybe) white contacts, and some bling (which I already know where to get).
I picked up loads of comics, most from the 1980’s which makes me happy. I seem to enjoy picking up sets rather than trades or bin diving for single issues. I like reading floppies the best and getting sets allows me to read complete stories while getting the floppy experience (ads and all). The best score, likely the complete run of Atari Force for $15.
The Snail has a lot of great old(er) comics, including a nice collection of old Action, Superman and Adventure comics which feature Bizarro that caught my eye. But for all the wild and strange covers from the 1950s, the absolute most awesome book I saw this weekend was Ghost Rider #16…
GHOST RIDER v. SHARK = AWESOME!
Working the con has given me a healthy chunk of change in trade, so I’m deciding what to do with it… I think, though, that I want that book…
As my wife (hehe, it’s weird but cool getting to say that) reminded me, we also got to take home the 7.0 CCB Graded Amazing Spider-Man #1 Saturday night which was really really neat, but also freakishly intense. We stored it in a laptop compartment of one of our bags so it was nice and snug and only took it out once to show Aden’s brother…when the wee one wanted to look at it I kinda flipped and blurted “DON’T TOUCH”… after which I apologized, letting him know that it was worth more money than I was. On the subway ride the next day all sorts of horrible variables ran through my brain of accidents and damages that could happen. Of course it made it back safely and I thought about joking with the bossman that something horrible happened to it along the way, but that kind of shit really isn’t very funny.
Another realization we had is our anniversary is going to fall on or around the Fan Expo every year, so we will, for many years to come, be associating our wedding with free comic store credit as well as agonizing feet and back pain. Hooray for unfortunate timing, heh. At the very least we could use our credit to buy each other stupidly expensive geek gifts…
San Diego Comic Con… or any comic convention for that matter, seems to no longer be of interest to me. As a lapsing “consumer of goods” I don’t really care so much about being “all up on th’ news” or “seeing it first” or “getting it first” or “exclusives” or “meeting (semi-)famous people and having them deface my property with ink”… it’s just not my bag. May have been at one point in time, but I guess priorities have shifted.
San Diego Comic Con is huge… like a foot-ball field sized convention center, packing in about 150,000 people over a 4(ish)-day span. It’s a lot of people in a goodly sized space clamoring for as much attention as they can get and/or give. People in some very respectable homemade costumes dance about the convention floor brushing right past people in some very respectable-but-ill-fitting costumes sidestepping people in some pretty nasty, pathetic or unwashed costumes. There’s regular people, nerds, geeks, trolls, ogres, hags, and a few unclassifiables.
The motley crew that make up the convention goer is comprised of primarily the fan, which is only fitting since conventions (this one, the largest in the world, included) started as merely fans gathering to discuss and share their experiences with comics and characters… then the creators, publishers, stakeholders, and other corporate entities got involved and took over the proceedings, and the whole thing is just a big promotional extravaganza. The fan, at San Diego, is actually more akin to “sheep”, herded in line after line to get to the trough. What’s in the trough is really dependent on the fan… could be an exclusive Hot Wheels Batman t-shirt or the limited edition Yu-Gi-Oh whatever or the Con Exclusive yadda blah blah or a poster signing by Kate Beckinsale or Ed Burns, or the chance to see exclusive footage from whatever new movie/tv show/video game company x is putting out, or it might be getting Neil Adams or Paul Dini to sign your comics… for most its a different feed or feed assortment, but shepherded in and out of lines nonetheless.
Once, I would have been swept up in amongst it all… 5 or 10 years ago, when my geektitude was at its peak I probably would have been chomping at the bit to see Kevin Smith speak live for four hours, or to see exclusive footage from the new Get Smart movie, or to go to the Lost panel or DC Countdown panel or Buffy panel and ask inane questions that I would stew over for minutes, only to realize that I missed the fact that someone had already asked the question or I would forget it just as I was being called. I would have been nervous around creators, my hands clammy and shaking, all Chris Farley like saying “Remember that time you wrote the Flash? That was awesome” and stuff.
Now, it’s kind of, well, not beneath me, because I do still have fannish tendencies, but the whole Convention vibe just seems grotesque in once sense (the whole commercial/marketing aspect) and pathetic, especially in terms of how much stock some people have placed this mass entertainment into their lives.
Aden and I checked out the convention schedule before we left, looking over the panel, looking at the artists and guests, and we decided we weren’t bringing anything to sign and we weren’t going to go to any of the panels. I had thought about the Lost panel, and also one on writing about comics, but decided, almost before arriving in San Diego, that neither were really of all that interest. You see, anything that will be worthy coming out of those panels will be easily accessible on-line in a matter of hours following it… there’s nothing you can learn in a panel that you won’t find out a day or two later with a few clicks of the mouse. Standing in line for 30 minutes to 2 or more hours, not really of interest when you’re in a city that has such beautiful weather and beaches and some interesting attractions as San Diego… why be inside wasting 4 hours of your day when you can waste 20 minutes another day catching up.
I mean, there is the experience of “being there” in a panel but that’s not worth much to me. There’s also the experience of “seeing it first”, when they show upcoming DVD movies like Superman Vs. Doomsday or the pilot episode of Fallen but that’s not really of concern to me either. I’m very much of the “I’ll see it eventually, if I really want to” mode at this stage.
What I did enjoy about the con was more peripheral. I skittered about the publisher’s booths saying hi and trying to make some contacts for Rack Raids in the hopes that we can get some broader publications involved and reviewed, bigger exposure to our growing readership other than the main spandex-clad stuff. While I had a horrible time speaking and I generally hate cold calling, I got into a good groove on Thursday which will hopefully yield positive results. I certainly have some following up to do.
On top of that, I met a few nice people on the way out to the con. Talented illustrators Michael Cho and Steve Manale who were cool people to board a plane with, then deplane with and then reboard another plane with.
The commercial booths, quite frankly, weren’t much different than what you get in Toronto (just more of them). Everybody’s selling the same stuff… everyone’s seem to have gotten the same discounted books from Marvel and are selling them at 50% off, everyone got all the toys I’ve already seen and all the books that are already out and it’s the sort of thing that impresses the con-goers who don’t spend as much time on the internet as I do and don’t have good comic book stores to go to.
I really think conventions are generally meant for smaller-town people who get wide-eyed at celebrity sightings and finding stuff they’ve never seen. If anything, perhaps, conventions aren’t really for me. I enjoy cons most when I’m with people I like. The past few years going to the cons with the old gang were great and being at SDCC with Aden was blissfully enjoyable.
I think maybe if I want to enjoy my cons in the future, I should start a sketchbook… something to give to the artists alley guys and get different artists to draw Space Ghost in their style… that might at least make for a much more rewarding take-away…
It seems to me though that this trip felt more business-like for me though, that I wasn’t there as a fan but as someone, well, not INSIDE the industry, but on the skirts thereof. I think I might be trading in my fanboy hat for a creator’s hat soon, that I won’t be looking at the writers and artists of comics as idols so much as fellow creators, and that even though we may not be equals that I’m putting it out there, contributing instead of just consuming. Eventually.
Ow. Ow. Ow.
That’s the sound I make when I type or use a mouse. After spending 18 hours click, click, clicking away on the mouse this weekend (boring workstuff I wont get into) my thumb and forefinger on my right hand are experiencing some technical difficulties. Okay, not really, but they are a little stiff… I’m going for a massage on Wednesday and I’m making sure that at least half of it is spent on my hands, wrists and forearms.
After much repetitive stress inducing (on not just my hands, but eyes too) I swung out to see the (quite surprisingly entertaining) Transformers movie. I found the quick-cut frantic editing a bit jarring on my weary eyes, but overall an entertaining film. What I found more intriguing though was the trailer for the unnamed JJ Abrams project (codename “Cloverfield”). Yep, a trailer for a film that doesn’t even have a name yet, and it was flipping brilliant as a teaser, and if that’s the style of the movie it’s certainly going to be interesting (think Blair Witch Project but with Godzilla instead of ghosts and the city instead of the woods).
update: official site-ish, plus Ethan Was Right and Ethan Was Wrong and a CHUD.com write-up
After the movie much discussion was had about our childhood (or teenaged) Transformers experiences. I’d never been much of a Transformers fan having never watched the cartoon, although I saw the movie once as a kid and again about six months back. I never had many Transformers toys, either. I was more of a He-Man and Star Wars junkie. Anyway, we were trying to figure out if the Decepticons in the film were mostly new (we all knew Megatron and Starscream, but weren’t familiar with the others… turns out most if not all were new versions of old names) and I recalled having a really cool transforming tank when I was cool. I knew it’s name started with a B or a D but I couldn’t remember him, and it wasn’t striking any recollections within the more hardcore Trans-fans I was with.
It was all Army green, die cast, and kick-ass.
When I got home I immediately went to the internets and checked out various Transformers sites but none of them had the one I was looking for. Rooms asked if maybe it wasn’t a Go-Bot, but I only recalled Go-Bots being rinky-dink tiny things. After 40 minutes of empty searching my pillow beckoned…
This morning, a note from Rooms popped up into my in box, and it looks like he was right: Destroyer
I loved that thing. Even after I lost its removable cannon and its treads and one of its feet…it still kicked ass. I was going to say that the larger-sized die-cast Super Go-Bots were way more awesome than Transformers, but after seeing the others (including Psycho whom I also had) I realized that they were pretty lame robots comparatively.
Aden and I walked into the comics shop on Wednesday and the manager, without saying anything at first, barely acknowledging us, grabs a copy of Previews off the shelf and then, flipping the pages, walks over to us and says to Aden, “How did you get them to make an action figure of your boyfriend?” and he holds up the full-page advertisement for the Robin 13″ Deluxe Collector Figure (vis:
At first I just thought, since Aden is a pretty big teen superhero fan, with Robin and/or Dick Grayson being her favourite, that George was just poking a bit of fun… but then I realized that he actually thought the action figure looks like me.
I dunno. Looks kind of like Peter Gallagher had relations with a Super-marionette and spawned a colour blind gymnast.
Anyone else see a resemblance?
Okay, this post on the latest comics flap is silly… utterly silly…
As one commenter states: “What exactly is the problem here? There are now FIVE covers for the Marvel Zombies HC. In each, beloved characters have been grossly and comically mutilated, in humorous homages to classic covers. Not just this one, but in each.”
Right, so a younger readers Marvel Comic gets parodied by a Marvel Zombies cover… shield your eyes children! The zombie apocalypse is upon you… Is ANYONE going to mistake Marvel Zombies for Mary Jane comic?
(Side Note: I think this is why the comics industry (or at the lowest level, comics shops) should instigate a ratings policy. To give retailers impetus to divide up their shop to sell to different age markets. Marvel has a ratings system on their books but until the rest of the publishers join in, comics are just going to be lumped onto the new release shelf for all to consume.)
I mean, there’s the new Elisha Cuthbert torture-pr0n movie coming out, and films like Saw causing quite a stir, and people, yes, people are kind of outraged, kind of disturbed, and kind of apathetic about them all at once. But will anyone ask for a full boycott of all the distributor’s films? Is someone not going to take their daughter to the Bratz movie because Lion’s Gate put out Hostel 2. Nope. Why? Because it’s dumb. Like movie distributors, there are plenty of different (okay, “different”) products that Marvel offers, certainly most of them are superheroes, but at the same time across age ranges, for which a ($30? $40) hardcover collection of Marvel Zombies is easily going to be identified as “not for kids” by any sensible retailer or parent.
If someone’s disturbed by the image, it’s what they’re bringing to it that bothers them and not the image itself. What I see? I see a zombie and a parody. While the Mary Jane cover is perhaps not the most recognizable cover it’s not an outrageous push to satirize it.
The stirring of the pot on this does appear simply for stirring-of-pot sake. The author himself enjoyed the Marvel Zombies series when it came out last year, and there’s been over 20 MZ Suydam zombie parody covers which he never had any issue with, so it’s obviously not the zombification of another’s art (in general) that’s bothering him… and since he never clearly states exactly what his problem is, I can only assume that it’s the fact that he loves the Mary Jane book and doesn’t want to see it tarnished, which is acceptable if only he copped to it instead of hiding under some “it’s demeaning to women” type rant.
(oh… he’s updated to clarify)
The smarmy responses like “Oh man, congratulations. You just won the fucknut sweepstakes.”, essentially stating “I don’t need to justify a thing to you” proves that he’s not out to have a discussion, but only out to have his opinion, however ludicrous.
Or to someone who stated: “You strike me as a guy who went looking for something to feign outrage over, and ingratiate yourself to the Gails and Leas.” and the reply is: I’m already friends with Lea Hernandez. And guess what? Gail and I shared a drink on Saturday night. (All I get out of that is a) self-congratulatory name-dropping, and b) a “look at our elitist circle of people who try and ’spot the outrage’ first… is there a prize at the end of the year for whomever is angriest or stirs up the most shit? Really.)
Seriously, some of these rampages are now hitting “cry wolf” status and I should really stop paying attention altogether. It actually wasn’t the cry that made me upset this time but the dismissive response to those that didn’t see the wolf. They were asking “where’s the wolf?”, but were being told “I saw a wolf, and you’re a fucktard if you didn’t. If me and [namedrop] say so, then it is so.” Still looks like a sheep to me.
Okay, I’m totally with the FG Rampage on this one, tentacle rape is a manga/anime convention that needs to stay a manga/anime convention… we don’t need that thoroughly disturbing aspect invading North American superhero comics, thank you very much.
SLG Publishing editor Jennifer De Guzman has an interesting take on the whole thing.
Interestingly enough, tentacle rape in Japanese illustration can be dated back to an 1820’s woodcut called The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (source: Wikipedia). Disturbo!
Under the weather
Completely unrelated to cephalopods, I’ve picked up a cold of some sort. Well, more of just a dry, light cough and some mild fatigue, but damn, with the nice weather hitting Toronto in full force, sick is the last thing I want to be. Not to mention the folks are coming round for a visit (or I’m heading out for a visit) soon… sigh. Well, could always be worse.
Lost had its 2 hr season finale last night, and, well, the dual of the 3rd season epics between Battlestar Galactica and Lost is over and Lost trumps it hands down. Both shows are off the air until January, but Battlestar I don’t really even care about whereas Lost just left me hanging in the best (and worst) possible way. I want more now, now, now, but I guess I can wait (I kind of have to). What a flippin’ trip though.
If you’re a sci-fi/genre fan and not watching this show, you honestly have no idea what you’re missing. It’s the king of setting up the pins and knocking them down only to reveal more pins behind them. It’s a constant guessing game as to what’s going to happen. If you’re a fan of the obvious, this isn’t your kind of show. Vagaries abound, better than any show before it, it knows how to pose three questions for every one it answers. It’s a 2000-piece Jigsaw puzzle where the picture is nothing but blue sky and all the cuts are the same… oh it’s endlessly frustrating, but you divest yourself into it, and the rewards of progression through each episode are well worth it.
It’s certainly not striving for sophisticated (as in politically charged or even remotely topical) entertainment, but the layers and layers of storytelling that are going on, the number of balls being juggled at once, the demands it asks of its audience, for a mainstream show, is incredible. I’m so impressed. Soon I’ll bust out season 1 and 2 again for a revisit, by the time I finish those, season 3 should be out on DVD and hopefully, when that’s finished, there’ll only be a few more weeks before season 4.
Thanks to w(”Turbo”)Noodle
No commentary necessary.
(Alternatively: T-1, Shark-0)
Superlady statues… are they cheesecake or offensive, or both. Powerful and attractive or pornography and ugly. Being a red-blooded male who likes to look at women (but LOVES women for their personality and character) I’m not likely the best person to answer these questions for everyone, but I shall try to look at these as objectively (and not as object-ly) as possible.
MILD - eh, really, nothing to get too worked up over, acceptable for most
MEDIUM - okay, you’ve got a point, they could have changed a few things
HOT - it’s just about tits and ass and bad art
HAWT - well, I like it.. sue me.
Catwoman vinyl statue: Unfortunately it seems that Selena forgot to zip herself up when she went out for a night on the prowl, and wearing that leather catsuit without anything on underneath, skin to leather, well, she’s going to fill up her boots with sweat, I’m sure. By the Japanese sculpting co. Kotobukiya (who has done such respectable designs in the past as featured on the inside back cover of Previews this month…NSFW)
Batgirl bust: the classic costume, classic Barbara Gordon, a powerful pose, and hot… reminds me of Aden (probably because she uses Batgirl as an avatar on occasion). Beautiful without being flaunty.
Big Barda bust: I’d much more appreciated her in her classic costume rather than the Kirby-thong Adam Hughes put her in (I was informed that this is what she wore in the Justice League Unlimited episode she appeared in). Quite obviously she’s posing as the escape artist’s assistant, judging by the hand positioning, but, I don’t actually recall Barda ever being Mr. Miracle’s apprentice, so it’s more inaccurate rather offensive that she’s holding his cape. That’s Oberon’s job.
Black Canary bust: scary. I normally find Black Canary pretty foxy… I mean bustier and fishnets with that 1/4-length coat, the sensitive but tough as nails character… and yeah…when she’s in her “canary cry” pose, you’re in for a world of hurt mate. But are we supposed to see this as insinuation? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Accurate but slightly bothersome.
MILD - eh, really, nothing to get too worked up over, acceptable for most
Supergirl vinyl: UHGLEE. Disturbingly so. It’s all disproportionate and tacky and, well, Supergirl is a teenager. Leave the dirty teen statues to the anime nerds. Gluh.
Wonder Woman vs. Superman statue: rock on, Wonder Woman looks very powerful and Clark seems to be on the defensive. She looks great and in control. Perfecto. From a purely practical standpoint though, I just wonder how she’s supposed to stay in the air like that.
Donna Troy bust: I was walking Aden through the various “Women of the DC Universe” busts yesterday, and when I told her that this is the one that most reminds me of her, and she was offended, because she LOATHES Donna Troy. But it’s true. Though Donna’s perhaps got way too much makeup on, the hair and the body just remind me of my special lady. Red spandex sweetie… :) I don’t know why Aden hates Donna so much. I’m a little fond of her because Phil Jimenez likes her so much, and Phil’s a cool guy.
Power Girl and Huntress Legacy statue: well, Huntress looks fierce and Power Girl looks… well, not so much like her usual tough-girl self. I’m bothered by the position she’s found herself in because it doesn’t seem like her at all.
Wonder Woman Lynda Carter statue: oy, they tried but failed to properly capture the likeness and Lynda is painted up something ugly. Not offensive, just bad.
Supergirl statue: ACH. Michael Turner… GROSS GROSS GROSS. Bad, bad art.
Catwoman bust: Actual conversation:
me- “Well, another cleavage intensive Catwoman statue. Why is she unzipping herself…”
her- “…or zipping herself up…”
me- “That’s unnecessary, really.”
her - “Yeah. What’s that in her other hand…It’s a diamond!”
me- “But wh… oh, she’s sticking the diamond into her cleavage…”
her- “…because she doesn’t have any pockets…”
me- “Clever girl.”
Harley Quinn bust: that girl’s going to bonk you on the head with a mallet, she will… totally Harley
Hawkgirl bust: you know, this is just ugly. The whole “innocent girl holding the mace behind her back” thing is out of character, and well, it’s ugly.
Poison Ivy bust: bust is right… there’s quite literally nothing holding her in. Seriously, what were these people thinking when they sculpted her. Yes, Poison Ivy is always portrayed as a temptress, but she’s also sensible enough to wear an outfit that will keep her boobs from spilling out if she bends over or… moves… at all.
Supergirl: this is…sexy. I’m trying to justify that this is the old Kara, the 1980s Supergirl, to get over my conflicted pervy feelings. Just shows, though, that it’s not always flesh that makes things attractive.
Zatanna bust: Actual conversation:
her- “nothing wrong with that”
me- “well, she is sticking her tongue out, that’s kind of suggestive”
her- “oh come on, she’s concentrating. I stick my tongue out when I concentrate all the time.”
me- “oh, like Michael Jordan.”
Wonder Woman bust: OH COME ON! Seriously? Why does it look like her bustier, which is supposed to be metallic armor, is painted on? And her metallic belt is shaped around her abs? And her boobs are contained only slightly better than the Poison Ivy statue. Sheesh. Demeaning.
Wonder Woman action statue: A powerful pose and she looks in complete control of the situation. But she’s way too busty, and again, her bustier-armor looks painted on.
Cover to Cover Wonder Woman: striking a powerful pose with her sword standing atop a skull.. decent.
Wonder Woman mini-statue: a little too super-model-esque. The original Brian Bolland cover this is from looked more powerful and strong, where as here she’s been legged out and softened to be more ladylike, which I don’t like.
Animated Zatanna statue: Okay, I get the stage outfit, I get the box, I get the cuffs and chains are all part of the magician thing, but still this bothers me slightly. I suppose seeing a real female magician being handcuffed and chained and locked in a box would bother me too, but if it’s what her male counterparts are doing as well, then surely she can too. Confused.
Note: I noticed that many of the “Women of the DC Universe” busts varied slightly (or greatly) from the original Adam Hughes illustrations, in some cases making the women either bustier or revealing more boobage that the design called for. Stupid sculptors.
Further to the statue
The MJ statue is still on my mind (and not for the obvious reasons). But I think what makes the statue such a heated issue is that - unlike many statues of women that are quite flagrantly demeaning or disturbingly sexualized (like the many manga/anime statues of little girls holding their skirts up) - this one tells a story. What that story is, however, is what you bring to it.
If you want to see that she’s being objectified and denigrated by wearing a pair of jeans with a fray in the bum and a thong, then you will see that. If you think she’s being subservient doing Peter’s laundry, then you will see that. If you think she’s a passive and unwilling participant in whatever the scene is, then you will see that.
I’ve stated previously what my view of this is, and there’s a few others scenarios that do come to mind. Some comments I’ve read about it (below: from 1 man and 3 women respectively) had this to say:
“she’s glancing over her shoulder, somewhat cheeky looking in the face. Maybe she’s planning a little late night role-playing session where she gets to be Spidey and Petey gets ‘rescued’”
“who does laundry in a bucket with a pose like that? Its a set up for ‘Spidey and the naughty laundress get wet’ IMO.”
“Granted, it’s a cheesy pin-up pose, and I too would like to think she’s being playful.”
“And I agree that’s totally what the set up is. Its a peek into Peter and MJs home life, and if they’re flirting shamelessly while doing laundry, power to ‘em.”
To say that MJ would never do or wear something like this is denying her any sort of sexuality. To believe them as fully fleshed out characters but then say that her and Peter don’t have some kind of fantasy life (”Go get ‘em Tiger”) would be naive. To argue that a statue representing this quite obviously private moment is tacky is valid, but to say that it’s porn is denying that sexuality exists, even for comic characters. Again, my point, as always, is just keep it out of the books… (radioactive sperm, sheesh). Comics are, at least DC and Marvel would like to have you believe, accessible, but when you have a lack of minorities (or tokenized ones), thinly characterized and objectified women, and all too often extreme violence or overly mature situations that kids shouldn’t be exposed to, then you’re not being very open to the bulk of the entertainment audience.
But if something with a production run of a few thousand (actually only 900 of these things are being made) and niche-priced as a $150 statue is targeted solely at older men (at that price point it isn’t going to the kids), then fine. I’m not buying it, but I don’t really care if someone else wants to, but it’s not what the industry is built on. I think there should be statues and models that are targeted at all different groups: sexy stuff for men and women, generic stuff for everyone, silly fun stuff appealing directly to kids….
It’s okay to target different markets, everything doesn’t have to be for everyone, but at the same time, don’t just target one market continually. Of course there isn’t a diverse range of target markets because of a perceived lack of interest from certain markets (and we know why there’s a lack of markets, because DC and Marvel have failed to attract or maintain those markets). Clean up the comics, make them (it doesn’t have to be all of them, but the bulk of the mainstream lines should be) accessible for all, and then there will be a lot less need for these types of uproars.
And realize that even if your female fan base is only 10% of the market, and supposing the superhero readership is only 200,000 fans that’s still 20,000 women out there that might like to see some beefcake. I’m telling you, you could easily sell 900 statues of Nightwing in mid-dress (or mid-undress). Or how about Captain America in a pair of Speedos and nothing else but his helmet and shield. I know one lady who would buy one of each, at least.
On the Mainstream and their problems
While most of the discussion as of late centers around gender issues (because the “When Fangirls Attack” crowd is the loudest and most organized group addressing them), thats only one part of the puzzle that comics is missing. Race, sexual orientation and younger readers are all under-represented or under-targeted by the industry who has, by and large, made the claim that there isn’t a market there, basically because they don’t want to try hard enough to reach it, or they don’t know how and they don’t want to learn. It’s pretty pathetic.
Back in the ’80’s, when I grew up, DC and Marvel comics were fairly accessible. Not to say that they didn’t tackle dramatic issues or mature themes, but they weren’t riddled with exploding guts or perky nipples either. As an 8 year-old I could pick up almost any comic with the DC bullet or the Marvel masthead and simply and easily escape. This isn’t to say the 80’s were perfect, but that kind of storytelling, where it allows young new readers to come in, easily, is where the mainstream needs to return to, by and large. The constant focus on company-wide crossovers, while healthy for maintaining your 100,000 core readers, only ostracizes the entire remainder of the possible audience. For an outsider to come in and try and approach a Crisis or Civil War, a whole lot of priming must happen, and most people would be easily dissuaded, not having or interested in investing the time to understand what’s so important about these events.
Of course, pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, minorities were often tokenized and women were thinly characterized (if not nearly as drastically objectified as they became in the 1990s) and that needs to change too. Whenever some strides are made to have a title centered around a black or female character, and it fails, the execs use that as an excuse to say “look, they don’t sell” without ever really examining WHY they didn’t sell (lack of support, doomed to failure from the beginning, bad writer, inappropriate artist, etc).
These days, DC and Marvel do things like: “lets make Captain America black”, or “maybe the new Blue Beetle can be Latino”, or “how about a female Punisher”, and “we have Scoobie-Doo comics for the kids” and then dusting their hands and saying, “there, all done, something for everyone.” Well, as appreciated as the gesture is, you still have to introduce characters who will connect with the audience, whatever age, race, gender, or age.
This is a nice write-up from former DC staffer Johanna Draper Carlson, much better thought out and in the most part reflects exactly my sentiments on the matter.
I’d be interested to see existing superhero comics change to be so girl-friendly that they’d have a majority female audience… but to get there, I think you’d have to remake so many levels of the current direct market (creators, superhero company executives, distributors, retailers) that the world would no longer resemble the one we know…
…I would really like to see what some of them thought about Go Girl!, the only comic I know of that’s unquestionably a superhero comic made by women for girls. But we’re not really talking about superheroes; we’re talking about DC and Marvel superheroes, because many of those requesting more girl-friendly superhero comics want them with the familiar characters they have a love/hate relationship with.
So true. But at the same time, I don’t know that the push is ostensibly “superhero comics for women” but making those comics less outright offensive. Has anyone seen if there’s a list from the Fangirl Rampage out there of what’s routinely offensive and also the conceits they’re willing to give their superhero comics?
And for Aden, and any of the other “dissenters” that get immediately ostracized for not sticking with the herd on every point, Johanna also isn’t one of the gang.
P.S.: I wrote this two days ago, and I’ve since reading many of Johanna’s blog entries like this one, I’ve made my peace with the MJ statue business (her masters in sociology studying fan behavior gives her some pretty good insight, as does her experience as a fan and industry insider). This is the last I’m going to address it unsolicited. Still willing to discuss it in my comments if someone wants to, but no more posts.
Also, had this thought the other day when thinking and typing about this issue so much: That’s not my only opinion, just my first.
Meaning, essentially, I’m not close minded. I don’t always make up my mind and hold fast to that opinion. Reading, discussing, debating, watching, thinking, understanding, examining things beyond just your first assessment means your initial conclusions aren’t your only conclusions. As big-brained humans (as Vonnegut would call us) we have the luxury of processing and storing a gluttony of information, and to hold fast on one opinion for eternity would be denying the influence of our communal existence. It’s why I don’t get religion, because so much of it asks that you hold fast to one belief while denying so much evidence or information outside of it. There are people that can juggle the exterior information and still have their faith, and more power to them, but sheeping your way through life is no existence at all.
One final quote
My worst fear is that what many male comics readers will take away from all this is the unfortunate idea that most fangirls will find their erotic desires to be demeaning regardless of context or circumstance. Given the astonishing number of truly risable images, characters and stories out there in the Direct Market, seizing upon a harmless bit of cheesecake like this only reinforces the notion that there’s no way to win against such complaints — that male sexuality is somehow offensive by definition — and that the only reasonable thing to do therefore is to ignore them altogether. And that truly would be a shame.
Have you seen the BINGO card? It’s a pretty clever piece of shut-them-up-quick anti-argument propaganda. Does it have merit, well yeah. Because when fanboy clash with fangirl, oft times fanboy argues with basic blunt statements, the old “put up or shut up” or “well that’s just the way it is”, which contribute nothing to the discussion. But are all of these fanboy statements valid to ignore? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s explore:
Just read manga like the rest of the girls.
Well that’s just dumb. Manga is more riddled with offensive material than mainstream superheroes are. The Japanese tendency to mix sex and violence is highly disturbing, and the abundance of subjugation and rape is probably 100:1 compared to American work. And the child-like appearance with adult body parts is just disturbing. Not saying this is all manga, but it’s more rife with that kind of stuff…
But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable!
If “What Not To Wear” taught me anything, it’s that flats are ugly. A little bit of heel is needed simply for appearance sake. Not stilettos though, that’s completely impractical. Sometimes though, aesthetics do need to win out in the fantasy world of superheroes.
No one wants realism in comics!
Not true. There’s a dividing line between reality and fantasy. For any story to work the fantasy has to have some grounding in reality, and in superhero comics, a large part of that is the visual realization of heroes and heroines with some anatomical correctness and realistic movement and quasi-plausible wardrobe, as well as naturalistic dialogue and some semblance of real personality.
If you don’t like it, shut up and write your own.
Erm, it’s not about what’s available, it’s about what’s prominent. Making your own comics isn’t going to change much (but it does help). Doesn’t mean you can’t still try and get the bigger companies to change their tune, though.
Sexism is a convention of the genre!
Not even worth examining. Whoever tries to argue this point is missing the point.
You’re only jealous because you don’t look like that.
We’re all jealous that we don’t look like that. We all have our insecurities, and for some the buff man and buxom woman play into that, for others it’s just a reminder of what you don’t have or what you don’t look like. But the point is more that the women are drawn as sex objects from a by many artists when it’s completely outside the scope of the story being told. It’s not a jealousy thing, it’s about the necessity of objectification…
But super-strong women don’t need bras!
I agree. Bras, unless they’re worn on the outside like Superman’s underwear, has no place inside spandex. I don’t want to see undewear lines on the Flash’s tights, nor bra lines under Batwoman’s. That said, nipples really don’t need to be represented under the spandex either.
But rape happens in real life too!
Exactly, but do we really need to have it perpetrated or insinuated within the pages of escapist material? The answer is: sometimes. But rape as character motivation is tired, and as “character building” is insulting. It can be a story point, yes, but in superhero comics, which *should* be intended for all ages, it’s really not appropriate.
Why are you complaining about comics when women in Muslim countries are oppressed?
The same reason you’re complaining that the continuity between 52 and Justice Society of America aren’t in synch instead of worrying about kids in Sudan. Women can care about comics too.
Are you calling me a misogynist!?
Are you one? Take a good look at yourself, and answer that on your own. If you think the question is even being asked of you, do you have an answer?
So you want comics full of ugly fat chicks?
Some women I’m sure do, but no, I think what is needed is respect of the female characters beyond sex objects and rape bait and character builders for the male characters. Women should look just as good kicking ass as men should, but naturally good, not “sexed-up” good.
But she’s from an alien culture with no nudity taboo!
If there are alien men around also sporting a mostly nude aesthetic, then great. But if it’s simply an excuse to draw a tarty woman with no characterization, then bleh.
But men are drawn unrealistically too!
See also: No one wants realism in comics!. Yes, the men are drawn as an ideal, just like the women, but they’re not put in pouty lipped, suggestive poses all the time. It’s an artistic and editorial decision to allow such conduct, and that’s what needs to change.
This is just fanboy entitlement… from women!
Damn skippy, only it’s not. It’s a matter of respecting the audience, not just women, but all readers. Fanboy complaining is usually about inane plot points and discrepancies in characterization: this is about treating, en masse, the readers and characters with a different level of respect and consideration.
My girlfriend never complains about this stuff.
Mine neither. My girlfriend will argue “but there’s the men for the ladies, too” on occasion, and she’s right, but also acknowledging that the men aren’t sexied up in the same way the women are… in other words, either sexy up the men or tone the women down…
If you don’t like them, don’t read them.
But they do like them, they’re just assaulted by imagery or characterization that tries so very hard to push them away. Imagine if you’re, say, a big fan of NASCAR, and suddenly they start making the pit crews wear thong underwear instead of coveralls. Doesn’t mean you hate NASCAR, just, really, what the hell? That’s inappropriate.
But girls often wear skirts. Why wouldn’t they go flying in them?
See But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable!… again, it’s aesthetics and I don’t have a problem with it. A sensible superheroine will have some trunks or shorts on underneath.
Men can’t help themselves! Why are you punishing us for our biology?
Not sure what angle this argument is coming from. If this is a rape arguement, it’s disgusting.
There aren’t many women working in mainstream comics because they’re just not good enough.
Well, considering how awful so many of the male writers and artists are, I’d call bullshit on that. Yes, there’s a sexist attitude towards women in hiring them for the big projects, but they really need to get their foot in the door the same way most other writers and artist do these days: by doing something else first. Whether it’s publishing their own comics (Jill Thompson) or writing a TV show (Johanna Stokes) or film or book that has comics crossover appeal (Laurell K. Hamilton or Jodi Picoult), or just proving your as big a continuity nerd as the boys (Gail Simone). You can’t just expect a free ride. Yes, the men and women in charge need to take greater strides at identifying the right talent (male, female, black, white, asian, latino, gay, straight) and putting them on the right books.
But male characters die too!
Uh huh. But male characters die for the sake of saving the world or in the heat of battle. They die as heroes for honor and valiance. Women tend to die to give a male character motivation or “depth”. There’s a heavy and unfortunate disparity there. I think the only male character to die for this purpose was Terry Long, Donna Troy’s husband.
In a sense, yes. But what’s being pushed for isn’t censorship, but decency and good taste in how characters are written and drawn.
But that costume suits her personality!
That can happen, sure. But sometimes it’s just flagrantly skin exposing for the sake of titillation. A little thought behind the practicality of some wardrobes is necessary. Bad character and wardrobe design, however, is not exclusive to female characters. Check out the bulk of what Rob Liefeld created. Even the legendary George Perez doesn’t really make very good costumes. I’d accept Phanom Lady over Jericho any day. In large part the problem is artists aren’t costume designers or fashionistas. Perhaps DC and Marvel should have a few trained designers on staff whose responsibility it is to design new wardrobes and hairstyles and whatnot for the characters…?
Women just don’t get comics.
That’s a blanket statement about a very large population, and is stupid to argue. Yes, there aren’t a lot of women who buy comics, and there aren’t a lot of women (by and large) who like comics, but when they female characters are objectified the way they are and when comics are so abjectly written and/or drawn for a post-pubescent male audience, it’s not really any great surprise they’re not interested. However, if superhero books didn’t focus their stories and art so much on male power fantasies (often to the denigration of women) then they would so immediately drive so many women away.
…I mean, because they’re just not interested.
Which isn’t wholly true and you know it. I’ve gotten many women (friends and girlfriends alike) into comic books, on many occasions even superhero books. They’re interested but obviously easily off-put.
Comics are never going to change. You’re wasting your time.
And with that attitude they never will. Imagine if all black people said “things are never going to change”… sure there’s some people who would like that, but we make fun of those people and their level of intelligence and their incestuous parentage.
I see why the BINGO card exists. Those, en masse, are some pretty dumb sentiments, and I too would get tired of having to reply to them over and over. However, not all of them are easily dismissed, and they can have a deeper argument behind them, provided there actually is a deeper argument behind them when they’re made.
Aden pointed this latest fangirl rampage out to me yesterday, with the statement of “what is all this furor over the Mary Jane statue? …I agree its tasteless, but I don’t know if its worth getting that worked up over.”
I have to agree.
You know, I’m all for making fun of the horribly disfigured “women” Michael Turner draws, because really, he’s a shit artist… and you know when they apparently sexify a teenaged superhero, well, yeah, that’s unnecessary and wrong (considering it was a Jim Lee drawing I’m just numb to his artwork as is, so I didn’t really think of it one way or another at first)… and then you have the inclusion of, well, traced pornstar images appearing inside the books (see: Greg Land)… and when “women in refrigerators” is deemed “character building” I understand why there is a fangirl rampage… and I really do approve of it.
Superhero comics are, historically, an all-ages medium. I grew up reading them, as did millions of others, but, somewhere along the way the audience outgrew the medium. Blame cable tv, video games, the internet and other recreations that have attracted the young’un’s attentions in the past 30 years. In that time, let’s call it the 1990’s shall we, the mainstream comic book makers (read: DC and Marvel, the big two superhero producers) were swayed by two outside trends: sex and violence, which a lot of smaller press publishers were having some success with. With this, and understanding that their audience had started to dwindle and that the bulk of readers were teenaged or 20-something hangers-on from the 70’s and 80’s, comics decided to “grow” with their audience. Some good did come out of it… Vertigo and some smaller press companies that cater to a non-superhero audience with smartly written and decidedly spandex-free stories still exist and are a haven from the spandex hype that’s perpetuated by the success of superhero movies like the Spider-Man and X-Men trilogies.
Back in the 90’s, though, the mainstream, geared towards teenaged boys, became littered with not so much sex, but rather “bad girl” T’n'A art, where the artists drew women in skimpy or skin-tight costumes posing and posturing rather than being in movement. It was pretty unseemly. What made it worse was the violent nature of the time, where movies were pushing the limits of violence, and everything was going “Extreme” and “Grim’n'Gritty”. It was not a good time to be a comics fan, and I’m sure the ugly, busy art with big breasts and big guns was off-putting to many a parent who wished to buy their child a comic or two. And mixing sex (not the physical aspect, but the illustrative “sexy”) with violence, subjugating women, in essence certainly isn’t the what most of us want out of our escapist entertainment.
Since the crash of the “Grim’n'Gritty” and “Bad Girl” era of comics (which also coincided with the “Speculator Boom/Bust”), the big two (DC/Marvel) haven’t yet fully recovered. They’ve made some strides at trying to capture a new audience, but they’re still obsessed with catering to the late-20’s to early-40’s fanboy demographic that they’ve been stringing along for all these years at the expense of building a new fanbase.
This leads us to my point, comics need to cater to more than just an existing fandom. I don’t like seeing women posturing unnaturally in my comics when they’re supposed to be punching someone in the face, and using a cheesecake illustration for the sake of a cover, especially when it has no relevance to the contents inside, isn’t really essential. I also don’t care for on-panel exploding guts and decapitated heads, voluminous blood splatter isn’t really acceptable for the spandex crowd, especially when there’s ostensibly no ratings system in place for readers or parents to evaluate an individual title by. And i don’t want to see superheroes girlfriends ballgagged and tied up and made to look like they’re enjoying it, or murdered for the sake of giving Green Lantern something to get all emo over.
But, I do realize that comics are fantasy. Superheroes are supposed to represent an ideal, in physicality, in attractiveness, in capability, and in character. There’s a reason there’s very few ugly men or women running around in comics (the same way that the big film stars are generally quite attractive), and that’s because it plays into the whole pastiche of reader fantasy. The bad ass vigilante or the noble neo-god, the meek reporter or the billionaire playboy, the superhero and their alter ego give the reader a gateway to a different, much larger, more diverse fantasy life.
Teenaged geeks are, generally, outsiders, unpopular with the cool kids, often with body issues or confidence issues. The fantasy of comics, the buff or buxom unattainable bodies are part of the attraction to it all. The power, quite obviously another part. And identifying with a character who represents both strength and attractiveness brings the reader well into that realm and, in some (many) cases, these fantasies can extend beyond just the printed page.
To find the tight, muscular, spandex-clad men and women of comicdom alluring isn’t altogether unseemly, in fact, unintentionally that’s what they’ve been for years, and moreover, it’s part of the attraction, part of the fantasy of comics. It’s only really since the 1990’s that the obviousness of this aspect has reached the production stage of the mainstream books, and it just hasn’t left since. I would like to see a return to a more willfully oblivious superhero world, where within the pages of comic books the superheroes and superheroines by and large are drawn from an unobjectified perspective and they move in a manner that isn’t reminiscent of a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.
But that doesn’t mean the fantasy can’t extend outside the page. Yes, there’s slash fiction and plenty of fan-created materials on-line to feed this, but “official” stuff is always going to be of a better quality and more attractive, if only because it’s legit. If DC or Marvel wants to print a cheesecake poster of an Adam Hughes-drawn Power Girl or Frank Cho-drawn Spider-Woman, then why not? If they want to make cheesecake bust of Batgirl or Vargas-esque statue of Mary Jane then hey, go for it (it’s when the Michael Turner and horribly anatomically incorrect artists are allowed to do it that I’m offended). Just keep it out of the comics that are intended for a general audience. Though a poster isn’t all that expensive, an alluring portrait on the wall of a teenaged boy’s room is still subject to the scrutiny of his parents. A $50 to $300 bust or statue with a production run of a few thousand are going to be snapped up by fanboys who can afford it, taken to their basements, and rarely to see the light of day beyond that (especially considering most comic book stores don’t order many statues unless requested by a patron, because they’re pricey inventory to hang onto if they don’t sell). If a cleavage-intensive, thong-wearing, ripped jeans Mary Jane bending over a wash basin is going to give a fanboy a few dozen nights of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Parker fantasies, I really don’t see a problem with it. Like I said, just keep it out of the pages. And it’s not like low-cut t-shirts, ripped jeans, and thong underwear don’t exist in everyday life (my girlfriend will tell you that she owns all three, and, from sheer observation, whenever a woman bends over or even sits down in jeans, the jeans move down exposing the underwear… I tease Aden about this often… and apart from moving to wearing, ugh, the “mommy jean” [I watch way too much "What Not To Wear"] that kind of thing isn’t going to stop). I’m not saying that the statue shouldn’t be offensive to some, and I’m not saying that it isn’t kinda tacky, but at the same time it’s cheesecake, and there’ll be 5000 (or so) lonely guys who will enjoy the hell out of it. I say let ‘em have it.
I’m personally much more disturbed by the proliferation of Anime statues and figures which have childlike-but-buxom anime women[?] in submissive [or worse] positions, especially considering how Anime and Manga is more in line with what the kids are actually reading and watching these days. This model is MJ washing Petey’s tights in a skimpy, yet, really, everyday outfit. It’s not like she’s in her underwear bowing down at the heels of Electro or anything. Looking at the statue my imagination conjures that Peter is there with her, having just shucked his costume, his (supermodel, remember) wife decides to wash them (and I know personally that spandex is handwash only) and put on a little show. The statue is a peek into Peter and MJ’s private life, don’t real couples do this kind of thing in the privacy of their own home? Some may think that’s distasteful, others will find it appealing. I’m not purchasing it, I don’t need it, but I’m not angered or even offended (This Supergirl statue is so much more offensive, primarily because it’s so absurdly unrealistic, and secondly because she’s a flippin’ teenager). In fact, I think it’s kind of nice, showing that yes, even married couples can still have sexy fun. They should do a similar statue with Sue Richards, mother of two, to show that a wife and mother can still be smoking hot.
You know, straight fanboys aren’t the only ones who have these kinds of fantasies. The delightful website Living Between Wednesdays has been Rating the Super-hunks, and more power to her (I think it’s great), and a few of the links incoming to Rack Raids are from gay fanboys, containing pictures of pinup men and comic book discussion, which I think is rad. There is a large contingent of female and gay comics readers who I’m sure would love some equal opportunity beefcake happening. A statue of a hunked out (bulging) Nightwing or an “all-hammock” posterbook of the super-men I’m sure would be appreciated by many a gayfan and fangirl.
To say there shouldn’t be cheesecake - or beefcake - as ancillary by-products would be ignoring the demand for it, and obviously there is demand, however niche. But as witnessed by the Commander Steel incident, there’s obviously some ingrained homophobia in the comics industry, which just like sexism, needs to be beaten out before equal-opportunity fan-service will happen.
None of this is to say that there aren’t problems with sexism (or racism or homophobia) in the comics industry, because it does abound. I just think that the battles that need to be fought should stick to the source material: the comics and the people who make them. The ancillary stuff is so niche (most statues only get a couple thousand made) that it’s not the stuff of consequence. Like an actress who goes from 7th Heaven to the cover of Maxim, you can easily watch the show and ignore the peripherals. It’s when her character start striking porn-star poses while having an argument with daddy that you need to get upset. I don’t think a statue or a poster should detract from a title or story or character, they’re fun fan-service that has their place (just a little equal opportunity would be nice).
(note: Fangirl Rampage is not meant in any way as a derogatory sentiment, in fact more rampaging fangirls would be a definite boon to the industry)
With Spider-Man 3 raking in $150million in the US and $375million total internationally over the weekend, you can bet there’s more Spider-Man in the works, especially when the studio execs say things like this:
Everybody has every intention of making a fourth, a fifth and a sixth and on and on…
Well, let me tell you, just because Spider-Man 3 cashed in something fierce doesn’t mean you’re going to reap the benefits the next time around. Imagine if Spidey 3 was actually a good movie, and people wanted to go see it again, and again, and again… think of the money to be made from quality. Instead when you have Sam Raimi saying:
…The very nature of that story demands that you either do it [as] two [parts], if you want to spend more time with Venom, which I didn’t think was fair to the audience, to the fans of Spider-Man… I thought about it, I really did. And I kept reading the fans’ e-mails that [producer] Avi [Arad] would send me—’They’d better not just introduce him to tease us!’ … I felt that the fans didn’t want that, from the thousands of e-mails that were sent me.”
Avi said, ‘You’re not giving me what I asked you.’ … He said, ‘They want Venom. Just give them Venom already!’ So I said ‘OK.’ But, obviously, through the very nature of it, he’s only going to be in half an act or one act [at the end of the film]. I’ll just make it as thorough and the best that I can [and] deliver Venom in the most complete way that I understand the fans might want him. That was my desire. I was led there
How stupid is Avi Arad, and Sony? Sam Raimi - their golden boy for this project, the guy who is up in the air about continuing on with the series, the figurehead, whom, if he leaves, will also see Maguire and Dunst pull out - was ready to prepare two films, and you had him condense to one?
And since when do studio execs listen to fans? Fans are stupid. If you tease them with Venom in the third movie, you draw them in big-time for the fourth! The audience may bitch about cliffhanger endings, but they love it… they love the tease. They don’t really want what they think they want… give them what they don’t know they want. *SIGH*
And now the rumour is
…that small piece of alien symbiote becomes CARNAGE. Yes Cletus Kasady is coming to the big screen, one of Spider-Man most horrifying and evil villains. Not only with Parker have to deal with the red lean mean killing machine, but Connors is set to become the long awaited LIZARD! these two villains have all been CONFIRMED for Spider-Man 4. There is talk of the Black Cat making her first appearance, but that’s all but official.
Carnage was, next to the Clone Saga, the worst thing that happened to Spider-Man in the 1990’s. Venom being one of the best. At the same time, there is the possibility that with Carnage, at least, they could do a good Venom movie, but with Carnage as sub. But still… I think the producers shot themselves in the foot with Spidey 3, and so they should return to a more character-focussed movie with Spider-Man 4.
Spider-Man 4 - perspective
With Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship at the end of 3 so troubled, four should begin with them in counseling, with a comedic bent as they try and avoid pointing out that Peter’s role as Spider-Man is causing a rift between them. A heated personal life is good comedic and dramatic fodder.
Enter the Black Cat. Yes, she’s perceived as a total riff off Catwoman (actually, the leather-clad cat-burgling vixen that we know Catwoman to be didn’t become that until Frank Miller did it in the 80’s) but she will serve a specific purpose here. She’s a black cat, and every time she crosses Spider-Man’s path, something goes wrong… either with him, or with MJ, or at school…
…Including one experiment in which Peter is helping his professor, Doc Connors with his regeneration experiment. As Marvel stories are wont to do, the experiment goes wrong in Peter’s hands, and Doc calls the experiment off. However Connors sees the fault and thinks he’s corrected it, ultimately experimenting on himself.
Doc Connors’ family life will have to be explored as the character will have to have relevance to someone more than just Peter when he turns into the Lizard and begins terrorizing the campus. The Doc Connors/Lizard situation should be more of a Jekyll and Hyde situation, which is both complimentary to Peter’s meek/mighty dual identity, and contrasting with logical/primal.
As Doc Connors transforms back and forth between himself and the Lizard, he loses himself… his normal self becoming more primal, his lizard self becoming more logical, if insane. As his twisted mentality progresses, he tries to perfect the solution so that he can be human with regenerative capabilities, but in order to do so, he must have more test subjects, and he begins kidnapping kids from the campus to experiment on. Spider-Man eventually discovers Doc’s secret as he battles more than one Lizard in a big fight sequence.
The meat of the story has to do with Peter having a slight obsession with Black Cat, going out on patrol for the purpose of finding her, at the sake of neglecting Mary Jane or Doc Connors/Lizard or Aunt May or the Bugle. Rooftop rendez-vous start to become more serious, and Peter’s devotion to his role-play as Spider-Man with the sexy, dangerous, thief for a girlfriend (the Black Cat sincerely reforming in the process) causes him to assess what’s actually important to him.
Eventually Peter tells Mary Jane about the affair (in a therapy session) and telling her the full story about the Black Cat in private. He recommits himself to her, and though hesitant, she does want to make it work.
Eventually Doc Connors/Lizard figures that Spider-Man, with his abilities, might be the cure he needs, and he and his Lizard minions set out to capture him. When he doesn’t make a date with her after his solemn swear that he’s going to be there, that the city can take care of itself for an evening, MJ sets out to find the Black Cat, only for her to reiterate that he’s broken it off with her, and that she hasn’t seen him for some time. Genuinely concerned, MJ and the Cat set out to find him, and it’s up to them to rescue him, and invariably for Peter to find the cure for Dr. Connors and the transformed students (brains over braun)
This film is a bit more straightforward, focusing more on Peter’s various relationships, and how he relates to them, and the climax has to do with Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship in jeopardy rather then either of them being in physical harm.
This go-around for Spider-Man should be lighter fare, although more dire in the personal life, not so much in the physical life. Though relationship drama is the focus, it’s a stronger Spider-Man movie for keeping the focus on Peter, but allowing MJ to be the stronger character.
The Black Cat should be attractive, yes, extremely so, but also very, very personable, and people should want Spider-Man to be with her, but they should also want Peter to be with MJ… the audience should be equally torn between two lovers, and in the end understand that Spider-Man is the fantasy and Peter is the man, just as Doc Connors must be transformed back from the Lizard to the man he was.
Spider-Man 5, if #4 doesn’t completely lose the audience’s faith or entertainment, should take up the storyline of Kraven’s Last Hunt, where the super-powered big-game hunter Kraven stalks Spider-Man and Peter in a Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse game that affects both of his lives. As he’s got a terminal disease, Kraven’s purpose is to have the ultimate game be his downfall, to die in the hunt. The effect this has on Peter physically and emotionally is huge, and inevitably, Kraven succeeds leaving Peter to contemplate his role as “hero”, reflecting upon the deaths of the man who killed Uncle Ben, Norman and Harry Osborne, Otto Octavius, and Eddie Brock… all of who died (apparently) as a result of fighting with him.
It’s in Spider-Man 6 that the city without Spider-man, is under siege by super-villains, the Shocker, Electro, Mysterio, Scorpion etc, and ultimately, this is where Carnage is introduced to draws him back into the game. The contrast between #5 and #6 is Kraven brings the terror to Peter, forcing him to give up. Carnage, on the other had, is just something Peter feels responsible for, and once he’s back in the game he has to start taking down all the super-criminals, Gauntlet-style in the process of trying to figure out the mystery of Carnage.
As I said in my review I thought from the trailer I had the film figured out… Yeah, obviously from the stink-fest it was, the story for Spider-Man 3 was a lot better in my head. Here’s how thought it should play out:
Remember J. Jonah Jameson’s son from the second movie? The astronaut? The one that was going to marry Mary Jane? Yeah, him. Well, he brought back a space rock that carried the symbiont on it, and, much like Spider-Man’s origin where Peter got bit by the radioactive spider, Peter could have been taking pictures of the rock for the Bugle when a scuffle between him and Jameson’s son ensued and the alien affixes itself to him. MJ’s publicly humiliated when the media notes the scuffle.
Escaped felon Flint Marko, on the run from the cops, stumbles upon an experiment where his DNA gets mixed up with irradiated sand. Now an incredibly powerful being, Flint starts menacing New York City, on a crime wave for which Spidey becomes increasingly frustrated as he realizes how helpless he seems to be against Marko’s powers. The media is on Spider-Man’s case about how ineffectual he’s been.
Meanwhile, Eddie Brock is the hot new photographer at the Daily Bugle, and similar to Spidey’s frustration with the Sandman, Peter is just as frustrated when Eddie keeps scooping him and currying J.J. Jameson’s favor in the process.
School and Peter’s love life both start to fall apart, as Peter is distracted by his Bugle troubles and his Spidey troubles, and differently distracted by his gorgeous new lab partner (and Brock’s girlfriend) Gwen Stacy, whom he spends a lot of non-Spidey time with, making MJ very jealous (not to mention they have nerd chemistry, which Peter and MJ don’t). All the while, Peter gets edgier, shorter in temper, and although he wants to propose, he’s driving MJ away.
With all the chaos in his life, Peter forgot about Harry, who has now adopted the Green Goblin helm and started targeting him personally. It’s while fighting Harry as the Green Goblin and himself in plainclothes that the symbiont forms the black suit around him and as puzzled as he is, he can feel the power that the suit gives him. He beats Harry down, but Harry escapes badly defeated, swearing his revenge.
Peter, pondering his seemingly new power, and a newfound confidence and attitude, arrogantly proposes to Mary Jane. She turns him down, stating they have problems they need to work out, and that Peter’s going through something he’s not addressing. He takes on Sandman again, seemingly killing him, and his photos win out over Brock. Having already humiliated Eddie, he takes Gwen out on date, and Eddie is furious. As they’re about to wrap up their date, Harry strikes again, snatching Gwen. Spider-man goes after them, and in the process he accidentally kills Gwen while trying to save her from falling from a bridge (just like in the comics).
Eddie, distraught, swears revenge. Peter, meanwhile, realizes how bad his life has turned and seeks solace in MJ. Together they get the suit off of him. Brock having tailed Peter to confront him about Gwen discovers Peter’s secret and the symbiont costume, where they form a dangerous union.
Peter’s life is much darker, but things start back on the right track, with Spider-Man back in his old costume, doing good deeds, and a reconciliation with MJ beginning.
But, Venom begins to terrorize Peter, first by attacking the Bugle (where Peter is helpless to do anything without exposing himself), and then Aunt May, though that draws MJ and Peter closer together where the engagement does happen. But then Mary Jane is attacked, and in the final stage Harry. Peter deduces the outcome and comes to Harry’s aide, where the final showdown begins. All the while Peter is never sure if the man he’s saving is going to turn against him or not. In the end Harry sacrifices himself for Peter, and Venom is destroyed.
Peter’s world isn’t as bright as it used to be but the sun comes up and Peter and MJ have a wedding to look forward to. A waft of sand blows across the sun.
The key points:
- The Sandman is just a reoccurring criminal foil for the first act, thinly motivated by greed in comic book fashion. There really isn’t any need to establish a personal connection or make him in any way sympathetic or outright dangerous (leave that to Venom and the Goblin)
- Peter’s world falls apart and it’s the alien that takes advantage of it. While Peter’s anger won’t allow him to remove the costume, Mary Jane’s love can.
- Eddie Brock is much more an established part of Peter’s life, and even his social circle to an extent. Rather than having the Sandman be the new adversary, Eddie gets to be the anti-Peter (and eventually, the anti-Spider-Man)
- Harry’s story picks up where it left off in part 2 and follows through with the “like-father-like-son” aspect and Harry’s dementia
- MJ’s role is as Peter’s girlfriend, and a complication to his life but also his savior in a sense. She doesn’t need to be anything other than that in the film.
- Gwen can play a similar role as she did in the comics but as an effective character point for both Peter and Eddie Brock.
- The beats are: Act 1 - Peter’s multiple lives gets complicated; Act 2 - Peter thinks he finds the answer, but only falls further; Act 3 - Peter redeems himself by facing, essentially, his darker half.
- The focus of the entire movie is Peter/Spider-Man…
Saw the coolest Mr. Potato Head ever(!!!) at the Silver Snail yesterday.
It’s utterly ridiculous that our friggin’ Parliament is tying itself up with whether Shane Doan uttered an anti-Francophone slur (over a year ago) or not, and whether or not Doan has an acceptable character to represent our country in the World Championships. Re-flippin-diculous.
Doan himself is a bit baffled by it all.
“I never said anything so I don’t understand why it keeps getting a life of its own.”
Our politicians give themselves raises and then debate bullshit such as this… I want my money back.
The Playoffs..as they stand
More hockey talk below the cut…
I don’t know that that’s entirely true, but I do have an unusual capacity for leaving things hanging, starting things up and never following through to completion, and in general, leaving things unsatisfied. What spawned this thought is the fact that I never completed my four-part tribute to “‘Manos’: The Hands of Fate”
I did get parts one, two and three (although in a server move the photos have gone missing… but I shall repost them at some point), but part four never made it to air.
That reminds me, I haven’t watched “Manos” in a while… I wonder if that youtube link still works… hrm.. nope.
But I did find that someone, apparently, made a stage production out of the Hands of Fate. Awesome! (If anyone was looking for a birthday present for me… ahem…)
How much do I like Manos? So much I made a role-playing game character out of him (and Torgo too!). I’ve made a half doze RPG characters in my few months of gaming, and of all of them, he’s my second favourite (my first is the one based off my old City of Heroes character, Downpour).
The reason I started thinking about Manos this morning was because I put on my new(ish) cargo pants and realized I hate cargo pants. They fit just fine, but the pockets make my legs look like Torgo’s, and that’s just not cool. And really, who needs 7 to 10 pockets on a pair of pants anyway? Who, I ask of you?
Joany, can I just say how flippin awesome your Ramblin’ Rosemary shampoo is. The tingly sensation it produces around my hairline induces fits of giggles, and the sweet sinus-clearing scent of peppermint is the best way to shock yourself awake in the morning. It’s awesome. Better than “Manos” awesome.
(Joan is the creator of the Faery’s Tub bath products, and they’ve yet to let me down… order some now!)
Huh… I had a nosebleed this morning. I don’t usually get nosebleeds… in fact, this was the first non-trauma-induced (often from clearing out the excessive nosehairs) nosebleed I’ve had, just an honest to gosh, out of control nosebleed. Weird.
they made it
Vancouver Canucks v. Anaheim Ducks
Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight
Aden and I have tickets to the Queen musical “We Will Rock You” tonight, going for a sexy dinner beforehand at the Senator(?). I’m wearing my new leather soled boots (they’re so awesome, and yes, I’m such a girl) and I’m happy. I like to have a splurgy night out once in a while.
Hail to the king baby
The campaign of the Aquamen to replace the Supermen on my desk at work is nearing completion. All that remains of the Supermen is Supergrover, 1950’s Superman Robot, and Beppo the Super-monkey (along with a tin Superman lunchbox).
What’s nice about Aquaman is he seems to come in many different flavours, which is more than can be said about ol’ Clark Kent (sorry cuz’). My co-worker has the hawts for Aquaman… she’s got a thing for blonde men with big muscles.
“ooooh, look at the muscles”
“Oh, he’s so cuuuute”
“wow, look at those legs”
“I should get some of these for (her son), but really, for me”
“I wish I were a witch and I could make him real…”
(in a related story, this episode of the Rack explains my non-comic book reading coworker’s reaction perfectly, derived from the flap over Citizen Steel’s package)
Now, if these were in front of her on her desk, everyone would know why… I’m not really sure what my excuse is, other than I’d love an orange scaly tunic.
The only affirmation you will ever need…
“You look… very powerful.
You look like a winner.
You look very important, dynamic, and very unstoppable, and…
you look very powerful.”
SXSW Grindhouse trailer contest winner… from Halifax
Hobo With A Shotgun