Archives for the month of: June, 2013

Eat your weiner

One of the most efficient devices employed to distinguish a character from the setting in which that character has been placed is to have that character encounter something commonplace in the setting, but alien to that character. Examples of this abound, particularly in television and film- two mediums that lend themselves too easily to intellectual laziness. When exploring the idea of time travel, this trope is particularly over-used- think Encino Man, Dark Shadows, Captain America, etc. Seeing someone from the past or future encounter the present fills the contemporary audience with some flimsy pride- “I’m so much informed about physics than Captain America because I know who Stephen Hawking is!” when a much better assessment might be who understands the work of Einstein or Feynman better. I suppose we should forgive our story-tellers for relying too frequently on this crutch as it continues to serve effectively in creating an atmosphere and pleasing the herd. In cases of time-travel, the joke is overused, but not particularly offensive. Its humor somewhat simple and too familiar, but capable of accomplishing its objective because of that simplicity and familiarity.

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In addition to time travel, this device is often used to show how alien aliens are, how robotic robots are, how foreign foreigners are- to identify the outsider. In these cases, the joke can feel a bit more like bullying and certainly more ethnocentric. The relationship between comic books and cliché is important- it gives pop art its substance. In both plot and art, the comic book works from the necessity to establish identifiable types and, like other mediums of artistic expression, the comic book works best when it uses those types against themselves. Recently in the New 52, DC Comics employed this trick- not once, not twice, but thrice! (possibly more, I don’t read every DC title)

1. In Justice League International, the British hero Godiva introduces her Chinese teammate August General in Irons to the exotic food that every 20th Century American child aspired to be: hot dogs. Following the tradition of this trope, August General  in Iron is baffled by the strange item and Godiva feels like an ambassador of holy truth. This one’s pretty dumb because Chinese people love themselves some sausage. Sausage has been a part of the Chinese diet for a long time and while hot dogs were introduced more recently, they’ve been in China for more than a century and have infiltrated Chinese daily life (usually eaten on stakes rather than in buns) to such an extent that surely August General in Iron had many opportunities to eat a hot dog before joining the JLI. (pictured at top of article)

2. In Superboy, Cassie and Kon-El find themselves on a mysterious island shaped like a question mark. Like any teenager would in this situation, Cassie makes her first priority skinny-dipping and her second finding food. Superboy understands neither bathing nor eating because he’s an alien clone only months out of his test tube. Like Godiva, Wonder Girl becomes a somewhat sexualized ambassador of truth- tada! Boobs and bananas! (pictured in the middle of the article)

3. The first time in the New 52 that DC Comics employs this trick is in its flagship title Justice League, a title which must be mandatory reading for all the creators working in the DC universe as its effects are felt by the most titles. Because of both the book’s central role and its popularity, we can assume that the creative teams behind Justice League International and Superboy witnessed the most eloquent of this cliché’s employmeny in the new 52 when a young girl introduces Wonder Woman to ice cream. (pictured below)

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I don’t think this joke is too offensive and I certainly don’t think it’s very creative, but employed with certain consideration, the joke can be very offensive and perhaps even creative. When the joke is posited between classes and especially classes weighted by race or caste, this cheap amusement can be especially damaging- “Look at the peasant who can’t figure out which fork to use!” or more bitingly “Look at the peasant who can’t read, can’t operate a computer, can’t afford the same level of health care or education, etc.”

One variation on this theme is the immigrant humbled by the awesomeness of the United States. One example of this in the New 52 can be found in Teen Titans when the hyper-gay hyper-immigrant hyper-Latin-American hero-type Bunker first encounters Red Robin in the land of the free and home of the brave.

bunkerashillbilly

When the Other is amazed, the Hegemon is what?

No matter, the cat likes to eat both the country mouse and the city mouse.

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If you happen to be in Dalian, Liaoning province, China this weekend, I strongly recommend you check out the Dusk Festival. A lot of great Chinese bands will be playing. Some of my favorites are Duck Fight Goose and my dear friends Doc Talk Shock. Below is a review I did for Doc Talk Shock’s latest record Lights of Detour for Focus on Dalian magazine, a bilingual (English & Chinese) journal serving the Dalian community. While you’re reading the review a year after it was published and several reviews have been published since, I say with confidence that my review was the first published review of the record. The review is pretty glowing and you should be skeptical because of my personal relationship with the band and the fact that I wrote the lyrics for several songs on the record- but if you can look past those red flags and give the record a listen, you’ll see it’s worthy of my praise and worthy of yr. ears. Of the surprising things to come from the review is that Brad Seippel, a gentlemen from Mobile, Alabama collaborated with on a few tracks and shared billing with one of his projects Thruoutingenue many times, was living in Beijing when the article was published and it brought us back into contact briefly. I’ve had the good fortune of befriending some really talented and creative people- I’m not bragging, I’m counting my blessings. For those of you who found yourselves outside of the circle of cool, here’s yr. chance to catch up. In honor of the reprint, I whipped up a panda portrait of this international rock phenomenon. If yr. interested in more great Chinese bands, I strongly recommend Wang Wen 惘闻, the Sound and the Fury , Porcupine, Rebuilding the Rights of the Statue (RETROS), Zi Ran Juan,New Pants, Hang on the Box, ma2, Gemini Trip, and the Bear Minorities (Yu Dong and Jiang Hao from DTS making dreams melt with sound). Before I left Dalian, I made a film with Jiang Hao, Yu Dong, and an Irish DJ named Peter Donelan that exhibited our music and the ideology of a discourse-generating experiment we developed together called ‘Wonder-Were-Wolf,” the title both a nod to Wonder Woman and our monthly meetings where we turned in werewolves over heaping piles of meat and flowing rivers of drink. One last Chinese gem: My favorite Chinese song-and-dance man from my favorite province (Sichuan, of course) MC石头 (MC Stone) – if you get a chance to see him and his crew (which resembles a Chinese casting for an early John Waters film) perform live, you MUST go.

The review is posted below the pic.doctalkshockischineserockShortly after I arrived in Chengdu in 2007, an enthusiastic musician from Northeast China contacted me on the internet to say, and I’m paraphrasing quite recklessly here, “Welcome to our China. You are a musical genius.”  Few things have ever endeared me to someone like praise and we quickly began exchanging music, thoughts on music, and general pleasantries with each other. In 2010, Jiang Hao and I finally met in person. This fateful meeting occurred on my birthday and Doc Talk Shock’s first EP proved to be a birthday gift that continues to bring me ‘confusion and joy.’ While it lacked the cosmic intimacy of Bear Minorities (Jiang Hao’s previous project with fellow member of DTS Yu Dong), I could hear something really special in their new band.

Employing the powers of persuasion that have won Doc Talk Shock so many fans, Jiang Hao convinced me that my life would be incomplete without an extended detour through the city he calls home, Dalian. Once moving here, I found Jiang Hao and Yu Dong not only to be talented musicians, but also gracious neighbors. In both Doc Talk Shock and life, the songwriting duo compliment each other much like Thurston Moore (Jiang Hao) and Lee Ranaldo (Yu Dong) of Sonic Youth. In turn, these two have found a talented rhythm section that compliments them well. In addition to keeping time, bassist Evgeny ‘The Man of Steel’ Kozachinskiy and drummer Sean Rollins provide Doc Talk Shock with a certain exoticism, representing their native Russia and United States respectively. On stage or off, these four gentlemen bring a semblance of rock n roll sincerity to everything they do.

Their first EP and live shows brought Doc Talk Shock to the attention of iconic Beijing record label Modern Sky. The label offered to release their first full-length album and sent Yang Haisong of PK14 to Dalian to produce the record. Recorded in only eight days, Lights of Detour maintains the velocity of a live performance while offering pockets of headphone gold.

“Sweet Swear” begins the album with fidgeting guitar notes, reminiscent a carefree child playing with a blade of glass, that are soon joined by equally aimless, but effect-laden guitar and drums that putter out the rhythm of a slow-motion trampoline. This introduction evokes the space jazz of Tortoise and Euphone, but soon finds itself trumped by the glorious spirit of rock. This first outburst of rock triumph and its subsequent retreat back to heady instrumentation sets the tone for Lights of Detour, following a formula of climaxes and collapses sprinkled with pleasantly surprising deviations from what the ear expects to come next. “The Futurist” stands out as an obvious single- catchy, dreamy, youthful. “Paint the Volcano,” the album’s fourth track and my personal favorite, goes in several directions at once, culminating in the kind of rock triumph that lifts your heart towards the sun.

On several of the tracks on Lights of Detour, Kozachinskiy and Rollins tackle sophisticated time signatures with both cool nonchalance and raw fury.  Because the record flows so seamlessly, it’s easy to overlook the shifts in time signatures. The record illuminates how much Jiang Hao and Yu Dong have matured as songwriters since the first EP. In Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll, Jonathan Campbell explains one of the major dilemmas in assessing Chinese rock music, the difference between what is ‘good’ and what is ‘good for China,’ and I deem Doc Talk Shock’s Lights of Detour to be great, not only by the standards of Chinese rock, but by the standards of both international and trans-dimensional rock.

chainsawsocial

A chainsaw social / A chainsaw socially

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I did a little panda action tribute to The Burbs. I think it would be a good cover for Camus’s L’estranger– the panda eyes evoke a bit of Robert Smith who was also a stranger, staring at the suburbia, killing an Arab.

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Jeffrey Bützer is a living musical treasure. For years, he’s been crafting sounds that transform the environment around them. He employs a wide arsenal of instruments and has played with some really talented folks. I first met Jeff back in the twentieth century when we were both working at an extremely corrupt discount movie theater that has since closed. I had the pleasure of playing with him once. I don’t remember much of what we played, but I do remember he espousing an ambition to play more swamp rock. Since then, his music has only gotten more sophisticated. You should check out his music, join the cool kids for a celebration of the release of his new album “Collapsible” at the Goat Farm, and enjoy our interview with the maestro himself.

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INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY BÜTZER

WXL: You have a new record coming out on June 29th. You must be very excited. What’s the newest thing about your new album?

JEFFREY BÜTZER:
Yes, I do and yes, I am. The most noticible difference is the addition of vocals on 90% of it by the very talented Cassi Costoulas (who has joined our band) and Lionel Fondelville (from France). He wrote most of the lyrics as well. Other than that I would say  the biggest difference is the direction I am trying to take as a composer. Moving
away from the clunkier, Oom-PA, Tom Wait-ish approach I kind of took with my first record, (and spilling into the following one). I am listening and drawing influence from more dream-pop, French folk and French-pop on my newer tunes.

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WXL: You are celebrating your album’s release with a performance at the Goat Farm, one of Atlanta’s most unique venues and a good fit for your music. What is your favorite venue in Atlanta?

JEFFREY BÜTZER: For rock shows I always love the EARL. But The Goat Farm is probably my all around favorite place in Atl right now. They are so supportive of artist. It is exactly what the City needed.

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WXL: Your music appeals to an international audience and you draw from the traditions of many different cultures to create your unique sound. Are there any places in the world that you dream of playing? Is there any exotic instrument that you’re dying to get your hands on?

JEFFREY BÜTZER: I would love to play in Spain, Italy, and Japan. We’ve been fortunate to get to play over seas a few times, but never in any of those destinations. There aren’t really too many instruments on my “want” list right now. I would love a Celeste if anyone has one lying around.

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WXL: If you were a superhero in the DC Universe, which villain from that universe do you think would make the most appropriate nemesis for you?

JEFFREY BÜTZER:  Oh boy, I don’t know my DC universe too well. Most likely whatever
villain can destroy what little time I have to myself these days. OR, I think everyone would like to fight Bizarro, right?

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WXL: One of the most sincere compliments I could give your music is that its intelligence is apparent by how readily it brings to mind thoughts of death and romance. In addition to your extraordinary musical talents, you have some expertise in film.  What are your favorite cinematic death scenes and cinematic romance scenes? Also can you recommend films that you believe combine the two concepts in poignant ways?

JEFFREY BÜTZER: First off, thank you for the compliment. That is tough? There are so many great death scenes. I like Belle De Jour, Dead Man, A Zed and Two Noughts. I love the sugguestion at the end of one of my favorite recent films, A Serious Man. Romantic scenes, the first one that pops in my head is the phone call scene in Before Sunrise, to me that is one of the purist romances on film. As far as recommendations for films that combine both…that is hard. I think Peter Greenaway in his own detached way deals with both in an interesting way. For lighter fare, the recent French romantic- comedy Delicasy is pretty good!

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canthelpfallinginlovewithyou

Here’s a little fun I had with Elvis Presley.

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2013 is turning out to be a busy year for Charles Soule. Debuting his creator-owned series Strange Attractors and his first issues on two of my personal favorite DC properties Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns, Mr. Soule is one of the reason’s your local comic rack suddenly got so much more exciting. While I’ve enjoyed the Green Lantern run under the reign of Geoff Johns, DC has picked some incredible creative teams to take over the Green Lanterns, bringing up some of independent comics’ most innovative talent including Mr. Soule.

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INTERVIEW WITH CHARLES SOULE

WAYNEXIAOLONG: First of all, congratulations on being chosen to write two of what I consider to be DC’s best titles right now, Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns. These two titles are pretty different from each other. Can we expect to see any overlap between the two books?

CHARLES SOULE: Well, you said it yourself – these two titles are quite different from each other.  The fantasy/horror tone of Swamp Thing doesn’t obviously mesh with the sci-fi space opera of Red Lanterns, but it’s comics, so never say never.  In the short term, I’m trying to do a bunch of world-building in each title, to really give them their own identity.  Once that’s established, though, why not? No specific plans, but one of the great joys of working in a big shared universe is actually sharing the universe.  We’ll see where it goes.

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WAYNEXIAOLONG: From your comics and your blog, you demonstrate a fiercely independent spirit, reminiscent of grassroots activists and punk rockers. Are you having any trouble reconciling that spirit with the fact that you are now working for the Man?

CHARLES SOULE: Ha! Creating comics is hardly the same as slaving away over a set of accounts ledgers.  My experience with writing company-owned characters has been remarkably open so far, to be honest.  I think DC (and any other comics publisher) just wants fantastic stories that push things in interesting directions.  There are certainly bullet points to be hit in any story, and you can’t really burn a franchise to the ground, but since that’s not something I particularly want to do, it’s all good.

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WAYNEXIAOLONG: Like you, I am an historian and I’m thrilled whenever someone with a strong sense of history translates that into comics. Recently, fans like myself have been blessed with far out works like 68, The Manhattan Projects, and your brilliant 27 that mess with historical conventions to reveal some invisible cracks in the narratives we use to comfort ourselves.  Likewise, the past twenty years have shown a significant rise in the study of environmental elements of social history. What kind of research have you done in preparation for writing Swamp Thing?

CHARLES SOULE: A fair amount – I like to immerse myself in whatever subject I’m writing about, just as a matter of course.  If you do enough homework, you get to the point where cool details rise to the surface while you’re scripting in a completely organic way.  I’ve also been a big history guy for ages, and I really enjoy integrating that into my stories.  Swamp Thing in particular is a great character for that, because part of his established history is that there have been Swamp Things on earth for billions of years, covering all of recorded history.  So, I can delve into any period I like.  In  Swamp Thing 21, we see the Avatar who was active in the 13th Century, and the upcoming Annual will cover a huge swath of Swamp Thing history. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing that title.

As far as non-historical reference goes, I took a trip down to New Orleans earlier this year and went out into the swamps in the Atchafalaya Basin region.  I checked out Houma, LA – which is the traditional “home” of old Swampy.  I just immersed myself as much as I could, so I could write about the region with a little authority.  Plus, I got to hang out in New Orleans a bit, which wasn’t half bad either.

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WAYNEXIAOLONG: You’ve studied Chinese history and culture. How do you feel about how China has been represented in the New 52?

CHARLES SOULE: That’s a good question.  One of my favorite character groups in the DCU is the Great Ten – the China-based superhero team.  I know a bit has been done with them so far, but it would be fun to see them brought out in a more significant way.  I actually have a story idea for Accomplished Perfect Physician that it would be fun to write up one of these days.  Put it in the stack with that Swamp Thing/Red Lanterns crossover idea – we’ll see!

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WAYNEXIAOLONG: Which figure in Chinese history do you think a Green Lantern ring would most likely have chosen?

CHARLES SOULE: This might be a bit inside baseball (or inside Chinese history), but I think Zhu Yuanzhang, aka the Hongwu Emperor.  He’s the guy who started out as a Chinese peasant during the latter years of the Yuan Dynasty (which was when the Mongols – guys like Genghis Khan – were running China).  He ended up fronting a revolution against the Yuan, and, eventually, taking over the whole country and founding the Ming Dynasty.  Talk about willpower.  I actually shudder to think of what the world would look like today if that guy had gotten his hands on a ring. He did plenty with nothing other than what he was born with.

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WAYNEXIAOLONG: Which figure in human history do you think would be most justified in putting on a Red Lantern ring?

CHARLES SOULE: Red rings are given to people who have experienced great rage. You know who’s always seemed incredibly ticked off about just about everything? John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols.  Harlan Ellison, too – neither one of those guys seems to get through a day without flipping out about something or other.  I realize you might have been looking for someone more like Boudicca (the revenge-crazy Celtic queen who whipped through Roman Britain like a well-sharpened scythe), but hey, there’s plenty of room in the Reds for everyone.

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The cosplay phenomenon manifested itself, mostly at a grassroots level, from the collision of social forces old and new. Equal parts post-modern hyper-consumerism and ancient ritual, cosplay combines humanity’s celebration of its own imagination and a refusal to accept its natural limits. Like mating dances and funeral marches, it is inherently sexual with its multiple sexual identities decided by its multiple audiences. Through cosplay, the cosplayer rejects their reality in favor of a reality augmented by a fantasy element. The act is both self-destructive and self-affirming. It is both personal and social. During the act, the cosplayer is constantly engaging the character being recreated and through this process, an intimacy is created. For fans of those character, observing others in the cosplay act can stimulate their own feelings of intimacy will the character, exponentially increasing the Barthesian experience of an author losing control of their work while the audience creates its own text from its own understanding of the work. People are attracted to the cosplay community because of the orgy of it all, the give and take of cerebral and sexual signs that compel visceral responses from the intellectual and physiological self.

Cosplay is real people, but it isn’t. The characters are generally more professional than the actors. Cosplay succeeds when it blurs the lines between its multiple realities in interesting ways. Lex Luthor is obvious in the Prometheus suit, but what about his birthday suit? Craftsmanship, creativity, and courage are characteristics that greatly benefit a cosplayer. Veidt.com is a unique voice in the cosplayer universe. Describing themselves as “a stupid little fansite celebrating alt cosplay, post-human culture, and parody,” Veidt offers what a lot of people are looking for in their cosplay- nudity. Veidt is not a pornographic site, but it will likely stir a few of those feelings you discovered during puberty. In addition to its erotic character, Veidt maintains a minimalist aesthetic more John Waters than Andrew Blake, punker than it is pretty.

Additionally, Veidt stands on the merits of its own street credibility or rather its geekdom authenticity. Named after the ozziest of the Watchmen, Veidt demonstrates flawlessly a genuine interest and understanding of comics’ rich culture without the need to boast Comic-Book-Guy-style about its own authority. At a time when an embarrassing number of males in the sci-fi community are attacking females in the community under the ridiculous charge of being fake nerds, Veidt is a site maintained by women that are real nerds- I mean that as a compliment, of course. Sure, you will find Supergirl and Catwoman on their site, but also several Green Lanterns (even a pre-Red Lantern Green Lantern), characters from independent comics, characters of their own creation, and other characters of varying obscurity.

Anyway, I spoke with some of the ladies at Veidt.com and did a few Wayne Xiao Long interpretations of some of their photos. I encourage you to check out their site to see what it is these remarkable women do.

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INTERVIEW WITH THE WOMEN OF VEIDT.COM

WXL: Who are you?

VEIDT.COM: I’m the concept artist behind the alt cosplay site Veidt.com, which encompasses pretty much everything on there, except for the part that actually matters- wearing the costumes.

WXL: You maintain a site that features pop culture news and your opinions, but is mainly known for featuring beautiful and beautifully tattooed women dressed as characters from video games, comic books, and your own imagination. Unlike many other cosplay sites, yours sometimes offers a more intimate look at the bodies of the cosplay models. It’s a very popular site that doesn’t generate income, right? So, my question is, why do you do it?

VEIDT.COM: This was never intended as a for-profit venture, it’s a silly little art project that’s somehow developed a following. There are very definitely real costs to the stuff we do, but have been quite fortunate that whenever we put up a crowdfunding campaign to keep going, the audience has responded. I’m so grateful for their interest and support, which has allowed us to continue growing.

That’s not to suggest there’s anything wrong with generating revenue. I’m very much a fan of capitalism, and will do other things, but I’d like to keep Veidt as freely available as I can, for the foreseeable.

WXL: Your site gives the impression that all of you are friends. How did you meet each other?

VEIDT.COM: There’s definitely a couple of interesting stories there.

People seem to have a lot of distinct impressions about the site and I kinda like that it’s open to interpretation. As long as they know the shoots are very much a collaboration, and that the best ideas often aren’t coming from me, they can think whatever they like.

I am working right now on a story that combines some of the history and experiences of the site, as a foundation for some radical leaps of imagination, to do something I haven’t seen in comics. Ideally, would love to find the right artist to work with, and make it an open-ended one-off comic book. But if not, I suppose it will go out at some point as a prose piece, with supplemental sketches and photos.

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WXL: Two characters your site is particularly fond of recreating are the Green Lantern characters Star Sapphire and Arisia Rrab. These are both characters under the thumb of Hal Jordan in pretty demeaning ways. By becoming Star Sapphire, any of Carol Ferris’s personality other than her love for Hal ceases to exist, revealing a very outdated perception of women. Arisia Rrab is Hal Jordan’s thirteen year-old girlfriend that alters her appearance to allow Hal to continue his pedophilia when they return to Earth. These women surrender control and even meaning over their lives to a man so easily and yet the models on your site seem to have taken a great deal of control over how they use their bodies and they allow themselves to be publicly represented. Was this a conscious choice to use such characters? More generally, what are your intellectual objectives with the site? How do you define the feminist components of your work? What is your contribution to our collective and your individual struggles with gender?

VEIDT.COM: It’s even weirder, as Hal Jordan doesn’t really mean anything to me. The first DC series I devoured, outside of some Batman books, was Grant Morrison’s JLA, which had Kyle Rayner. That lead me to track down the Keith Giffen run, which came highly recommended, and that’s wall to wall Guy Gardener. And then the JL cartoon was John Stewart…all of those characters had great moments, and strong personalities, so when all of the focus seemed to suddenly shift to Hal Jordan, I didn’t get it. I have no idea what’s supposed to make him better than these other guys, and in fact my biggest exposure to Hal was the pacifist fighter pilot nonsense in the beginning of The New Frontier, and that almost made me stop reading- fortunately, I persevered through…it is an exceptional story.

Very aware of the back-stories of Arisia and Star Sapphire, and would love to go off on a screed about Arisia, in particular, but I’ve actually channeled my reactions to and fascination with that character into the more fictional aspect of the story I mentioned working on. Don’t want to spoil that, but I hope it makes for an interesting / alternate / unexpected take on an utterly absurd, yet compelling character.

As for our cosplay shoots inspired by these characters, there’s definitely a degree of satire by exaggeration behind them. Also, one of the motivations for the images was to try to channel some of the comic book, post-human world into our mundane reality. I don’t think I’ve succeeded at conveying that, as the most consistent criticism is of things like power outlets and light switches in the background. That was kind of the point, and I guess I fail at subtext for having to come out and explain it.

And while I appreciate the question on intellectual objectives, I haven’t earned that. I got accepted to CalArts after hs, but didn’t get to go (parents wouldn’t pay for art school.), made and maintained friendships with some people there, though, and because I had an outsider perspective, was able to see how uncomfortable it could get when people spoke way too much about their process. Not taking your work too seriously, I think that’s actually admirable, and can be an asset. But radically overestimating the audience’s interest in the people behind the work, or being an obv try-hard at personal brand building, is just…*shudder.*

I’ve gotten some fascinating feedback from all kinds of people, who’ve noted many things that were, and many that definitely weren’t, intentional. I appreciate getting people’s responses to this stuff.

WXL: Your site celebrates women in comic books and satisfies a desire than many people have. Most people that search for my site end up here because they were looking for naked pictures of Zatanna or some other comic book femme. It’s great they have your site for stuff like that. Are there any male comic book characters that you like to create costumes for and shoot pictures of?

VEIDT.COM: Well, I’m not short on volunteers, which is nice.

We actually did one this year, a Namor shoot for April Fool’s. A friend of mine has achieved some real fame in a particular niche, and he’s got the classic olympic swimmer’s build, so we did this…intending it to be a joke, but it actually turned out kind of amazing. Rarely look at my stuff and think, there’s a shot that could actually sell as a print, or something, but this set had one.

Sadly, someone close to him didn’t appreciate it, and I was asked to sit on them. That’s happened before, someone asking not to run certain pictures, which is fine, but this one kinda hurt.

If I don’t get the okay to use them soon, I’ll try reshooting it with someone else, as the costume and location really worked, and I’m curious to see what kind of reaction the pics might get on the site. We’ve gotten positive feedback from a pretty diverse array of people, so I’m hopeful some might be open to it.

Either way, there’s at least one other idea I has incorporating a male character; will get that done this summer, too.

WXL: Many of your shoots are in rather public locations. Could you share some interesting encounters with or reactions from the general population? Anyone cast a hex or proposition you?

VEIDT.COM: My favorite thing in the world is going hiking, really late at night. Running up and down hills, climbing and jumping like an idiot, it’s very effective for stimulating introspection and creative thought. Started doing it at night because when I’d go during the day, would occasionally run into another hiker, and that took me out of the moment, and tended to made me self-conscious. I bring this up to sort-of convey that I try to avoid people, generally, no matter what I’m doing. [And should the updates on the site abruptly stop, I’m likely dead somewhere in the Santa Monica mountains, or thereabouts. Hiking at night is very fun, but also dangerous and dumb. It’s cool, though, I will have gone out doing what I loved.

So yeah,  we have used public locations, but I’ve studied them in advance, and felt confident we could work there without running into anyone. It doesn’t always work out that way, though. We were shooting on a fire escape, once, and gradually became aware of this squat little guy masturbating from his window in the adjacent building, with a big smile on his face. We waved, and quickly went elsewhere.

It was a little surreal going into a comic store in LA, not long ago, and a couple people were looking at the Post-Human Pin-Up ebook on an iPad. They were going through it, occasionally talking about it, and I’m 3 feet away listening intently, having that comic book moment where Peter Parker has the imaginary half Spider-Man mask on his face, or Bruce Wayne’s shadow suddenly has bat ears, or whatever.

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WXL: I’m guessing that all of the models on your site have thought about this question before. Which comic book character do you think you personally could portray best on screen?

MARNIE: Cassie Hack, mofo!
HAN:  We just did Ravager, she’s the character i most wanted to do. Please, somebody, just make a Titans movie.

WXL: GL fan to GL fan, what do you think is the number one problem with the movie? Don’t say the costume- that’s a cop-out answer for a cosplayer!

VEIDT.COM: Number one problem? Radical over-reliance on ugly CG, and the costume is part of that, but so are the uninspired designs for Oa, Kilowog Potatohead, Parallax, and so many other elements.

But even if you somehow fixed all that, you still have the choice of Hector Hammond as a villain, the charisma vacuum that is Peter Sarsgaard, casting Blake Lively in a role that screamed out for Eva Green, the implausibility of Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, and Sarsgaard as a peer group with a long history, things like the GL oath and Kilowog saying,”Poozer”, which read fine on a comic page, but should probably never be spoken aloud in a film. Why was Tim Robbins in this movie? Bland music that made no impression. Also, no Arisia and no fleeting glimpse of Ferris as her future alter ego.

What it did right is a much shorter list: Ryan Reynolds wasn’t bad casting; at least someone thought to start hinting at a larger shared universe by bringing in Amanda Waller; and Mark Strong was pretty good. Happy we got to see him in Sinestro Corps mode for a few seconds.

GO VISIT VEIDT.COM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Atheist Batman Bauble

In the tradition of my previously posted Superman crossword puzzle for ESL learners, here is a Batman crossword puzzle. Like the Superman puzzle, this puzzle is modified from a puzzle I made for students with low English levels and limited familiarity with the superhero. I modified it for the blog by cutting out parts of the lesson I teach along with it. If you’re a capable educator, you can surely adapt it to your needs, work it into your own lesson or build your own lesson around it. Please feel free to use any of the materials on this site that I’ve created in the classroom. If you have any questions or want advice on using comics in the classroom, feel free to comment below or email waynexiaolong@gmail.com

THE BATMAN

batman crossword

Bruce Wayne comes from a very _____12 across___________ family.

His _______6 across__________ loved him very much.

One day, when Bruce was very young, his parents took him to the ____7 down______.

When they left, a ____20 down______approached them and demanded their money and Bruce’s mother’s ______23 across_______.

The thief had a _________3 down___________ and shot both of Bruce’s parents.

They died and Bruce became an ________15 across__________.

Bruce’s butler______28 across________ became his _______29 across________.

Bruce missed his parents very much and felt ______27 across_______ about the crime in _______25 down_____________.

Bruce decided to use his _____9 across_______ and energy to fight crime as the Batman.

He often uses ________30 across (two words)_________ equipment to catch criminals, but relies mainly on his _______18 across_________, which earned him the honor of “World’s Greatest ___________5 across_______________.”

He is not a member of the_____2 down________, but sometimes he works with them.

 

Because he is rich and _______13 down_________, he attracts many women and has many girlfriends.

However his crime-fighting keeps him from _____16 down  (two words)________.

He has no parents and no wife, but his life is not __________8 across__________.

He has many friends.

When Bruce meets a talented young boy, he will often _______10 across_______ him to live in his ______26 across_______ and train to fight crime alongside Batman as Robin.

 

Batman may have many friends, but he also has many ______19 across__________.

The criminals that Batman encounters are very ________4 down_________.

______1 down (two words)____ is a woman who can _______24 down_______ with plants and flowers.

Her kiss allows her control over men’s minds. They become her ______22 down_______.

Another villain that Batman often faces is Oswald Cobblepot. He earned his __11 down__ because he walks like a _______17 down_______.

Most people use _______21 across_______ to protect them from the rain, but he uses them as weapons!

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