Archives for posts with tag: Cosplay

comics and popular arts conference hosted by dr. sivana

With Dragon Con less than two weeks away, the schedule for Dragon Con’s academic side-con has been released and I thought I’d share it with you here. While some events certainly appeal to me more than others, I’ll likely attend as much of the comics programming as my volunteer schedule allows. Quick observations: The schedule is pretty dominated by gender studies stuff. There seem to be a lot more television based panels than last year and most of the comic book stuff is on Monday. Sunday has almost nothing.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Friday

11:30 AM Comics, Trauma, and Psychiatric Disorders  (Hanover F Hyatt)

  1. Austin Hendricks (Georgia Regents University), “Waiting for Heroes: An Examination of Psychological Disorders, Existentialism, and General Strain Theory in Superhero Films”
  2. Kari Storla (University of Southern California), “Superheroes, super trauma: Is trauma in superhero comics a human or superhuman experience?”

2:30 PM – Game of Thrones: The Dark Time – (M301-M302 – Marriott)

        CPAC Panelist: Matthew J. Brown (UT Dallas)

4:00 PM – The Wayfaring Gater and Other Traveling Metaphors  (Westin, Chastain FGH)

CPAC Panelist: Richard Scott Nokes (Troy University)

7:00 PM – Of Monsters and (Super)Men (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Corey Goergen (Emory University), “’It’s [Not] Alive!’: Disability, Eugenics, Zombies, and Frankenstein’s Creature”
  2. Shanna Early (Emory University), “Are Superheroes Monsters: Of Monsters, Superheroes, and the Law”
  3. Stephanie Larson (Emory University), “Dial Meow for Murder: The Figure of the Feline in Horror Literature, Film, and Comics”

8:30 PM – Roundtable: History of Gender and Race in Comics (Hanover F – Hyatt)

Comics Scholars: Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar), Matthew J. Brown (UT Dallas), Kari Storla (University of Southern California)

8:30 PM – Anime, Manga, and Japanese History  (Location)

  1. Yasemin Davarcı (Ankara University), “1904 – 1905 Russo Japanese War in Historical Japanese Manga”

8:30 PM – Hannibal Fannibals– Horror Track (Peachtree 1-2 – Westin)

        CPAC Panelist: Damien Williams (Kennesaw State University

Saturday

10:00 AM – Wonder Woman and Greek Mythology (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar), “Wonder Woman and the Reappropriation of Women Warriors of Greek Myth”
  2. Matthew J. Brown (University of Texas at Dallas), “Love and Strife, Aphrodite and Ares – Marston’s Manichean Reconfiguration of Greek Mythology and Philosophy in the Wonder Woman Comics.”

11:30 AM – Hannibal: Brunch (Peachtree 1-2 – Westin)

Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson dissect Hannibal’s elegant take on the horror genre

CPAC Panelist: Damien Williams (Kennesaw State University)

5:30 PM – Virtual Reality in Japanese Anime

        Panelists: Damien Williams, Michael Bugajski, Carl Dull

8:30 PM – Roundtable: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Comics – (Hanover F – Hyatt)

Professional Participants: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Amanda Conner, Laurenn McCubbin

Comics Scholars: Kari Storla, John Flowers, Tini Howard (Cape Fear Community College), Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar)

8:30 PM – Sense8 – Is this just another Cluster? (M301-M302 – Marriott)

 Panelists: Matthew J. Brown

Sunday

11:00 AM – CPAC Scholars Forum

Topic: Incorporating Comics and Pop Culture in the Classroom.

7:00 PM – Philosophical Perspectives on Japanese Anime

Scholars Carl Dull and Michael Bugajski discuss the philosophical themes in Madoka Magica and Cowboy Bebop.

8:30 PM – Diversity and Sexuality in Comics (Hanover F – Hyatt)

        CPAC Panelists: Johnathan Flowers (SIU Carbondale), Daniel Amrhein (Independent Scholar)

10:00 PM – Con Culture and the changing face of Fandom (Hanover F – Hyatt)

CPAC Panelists: Molly Dilts (Pennsylvania State University), Kari Storla (University of Southern California)

Monday

10:00 AM – Comics and Feminism (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Molly Dilts (Pennsylvania State University), “The “Fake Geek Girl”: Female-Occupied Space and Masculinity in Geek Culture”
  2. Tini Howard (Cape Fear Community College), “Thinking Outside the Fridge – Changing Comics with the Subject/Object Problem”

11:30 AM – Kelly Sue DeConnick in Focus

  1. Ahmed Younis (Chapman University), “Comic Feminism: Re-Imagining Traditional Perceptions of Heroism”
  2. John Flowers (SIU Carbondale), “Captain Marvel and John Dewey’s Theory of Imagination”

Response: Kelly Sue DeConnick

1:00 PM – Comics in the Classroom Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Elizabeth Perkins (Morehead State University), “Teaching Critical Thinking Skills to College Freshman Utilizing the Portrayal of Crime & Justice in Superhero Movies and Comics”

2:30 PM – DC Comics and Cultural Studies  (Hanover F – Hyatt)

  1. Durf Humphries (Independent Scholar), “Discipline and Punish: Foucault and the Suicide Squad”
  2. Jessica Dambruch (Old Dominion University), “Rev Up Your Harley: Cultural Constructions of Gender In The Batman Universe”

supergirlschoolin

Advertisements

superman233hiptobesquare

For Halloween this year, I salvaged what I could from the Green Lantern Jack-o-lantern and the lights were the only thing to be salvaged because that pumpkin went south shortly after presentation. I’ve been out of the jack-o-lantern game for a while and did not realize the nuances of preserving a carved pumpkin. Out of the ashes and into the night like Jean Grey in a character-defining saga, those lights came to become part of my Halloween costume, a costume that I’ll admit belongs somewhere on yourcosplaysucks but it’s Halloween and Halloween is not the convention scene. I don’t think there should be too much pressure to have perfect cosplay on Halloween. I’m just happy people dress up at all. On Halloween, a shitty costume is better than being too cool for school. At a convention, I go for the too cool for school look because I’m not a cosplayer and I am too cool for school. My costume this year was an ode to the iconic cover of Superman 233 illustrated by comics legend Neal Adams.

halloween2014

As you can see, the costume’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Using only materials I already had, this creative couture costs  me nothing except the juice in the battery. The t-shirt I already had and wear with some frequency. I’ll admit that I’m the type of nerd who who have also been prepared had a Flash, Batman, or Green Lantern idea come instead a Superman one. I used some scraps from the last round of printing for the issue numbering and pricing.

halloween2014inblackestnight

So Dragon Con is finally over and I’m too tired to type too much. I had a ton of fun volunteering at the Art Show- a great gang of volunteers- much better experience than when I volunteered with Security last year. I think my panel went well- I was amazed how many people showed up despite the parade going on outside. Anyway, I promised some folks I post some pictures of costumes I saw over the weekend. My friend printed me a bunch of stickers of my drawings (mostly images that I’ve posted here) and he asked I take a picture of the people to whom I gave stickers. Unfortunately because I spent over 20 hours in the Art Show where photography is prohibited, most of the people you got stickers are not posted here and a few of these pictures are from Friday and the stickers didn’t arrive until Saturday. SO… enjoy these pictures.

greenarrow

Green Arrow (New 52)

marko

Marko (from Saga, the best comic on the shelves) & Alan (Zach Galifianakis’s character from The Hangover). This was my favorite cosplay I saw all weekend.

psylocke

Psylocke

blackcanary

Black Canary

machoman

Macho Man Randy Savage (there was a lot of wrestling cosplay this year)

penguin

The Penguin

humanbeing

Greendale Human Being (Go Greendale. Lower your standards. Six seasons and a movie.)

creepyratshit

I don’t know, but I dig it. The tail is especially creepy.

raven

Raven

dudelookslikeadaisy

Princess Daisy

harleyquinnnighty

Harley Quinn After Hours

huntresss

Huntress

sinestro

Sinestro

staticshock

Static Shock

To my pictures from last year, click here but I should warn you that not all of the images are suitable for all audiences- you could say that are not safe for work, if that’s your lingo.

dragonconunicornandangel

To see more pictures from Dragon Con, click HERE

(warning: some pictures might not be suitable for all audiences)

Dragon Con this year went pretty well. I enjoyed nearly every panel which I attended, which was considerably less this year as I volunteered for the first time. As usual, the panels from the academic conference were the most interesting. I must admit I had the most fun at my panel, “Comics Through A Socio-Political Lens.” The other speakers were very nice and delivered witty papers. The crowd was engaging and even included a real life superhero- Jet from the Rock City, Alabama! I got to speak with a lot of artists and writers, such as Neal Adams, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Connor, Brian Stelfreeze, Darwyn Cooke, Van Jensen, and others. Because I was a volunteer, I ended up meeting a lot of movie and TV stars including Malcolm Macdowell, George Takei, Edward James Olmos, and the guy who plays Hank on Grimm. I did feel a bit starstruck meeting the cast of Smallville, especially Allison Mack- talking to her was just like talking to Chloe Sullivan. Supergirl is even more beautiful in real life and Brainiac has been working out. The other volunteers I met were generally nice. Some of them were more interesting than others.

The most interesting person I met wasn’t actually a guest at Dragon Con. I was walking out the Marriott when I spotted a guy wearing a Strange Talent of Luther Strode t-shirt and I complimented him on it. It turns out he’s Tradd Moore and he gave me a copy of Luther Strode Vol. 2, which was pretty sweet.

dragoncontraddmoore

To see more pictures from Dragon Con, click HERE

After Dragon Con, I realize that I left two great titles from the past year off the list of best comics. Obviously the omission of Luther Strode is a bit embarrassing and perhaps even a little corrupt in light of his recent generosity, but it’s definitely a book that stood out this year. The other omission is the unreasonably controversial and incredibly well-done Before Watchmen series, which I really feel like rereading after hearing Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Connor talk about it.

dragonconbatmanbehindmileycyrus

To see more pictures from Dragon Con, click HERE

BraunLantern

Atlanta’s beloved science fiction convention Dragon Con will be coming at the end of summer and I will be presenting some of my ideas about the historical significance of the Green Lantern. Any of you who have looked at the timeline know that I’m pretty serious about the Green Lantern and its relationship to the American identity. I will be presenting on how Cold War realities and imagined realities appear through the Silver Age Green Lantern. It should be part of two tracks. I know one of them is the Academic tracks and I assume the other one is comics, but there isn’t a comics track mentioned on their website yet, which is weird but don’t worry. There’s a whole page devoted to comics related stuff where you can see some of the creators who will be attending and other practical information. I’m excited to hear that Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti will be attending. I read the first two Before Watchmen trades and really enjoyed them. The Minutemen/Silk Spectre one that Cooke and Conner worked on is wonderful. Their art is quite special in superhero comics. The New Frontier is one of my all-time favorites, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Darwyn Cooke is probably the top on my list of people I’d like to discuss the implications of the Cold War on the Green Lantern with (besides Gil Kane, Julie Schwartz, et al. who were creating GL in the Silver Age).

If you’ll be attending Dragon Con this year, I hope you’ll check out my panel. There will lots of pictures, argument fallacies, and over-reaching. I will dress sharp, but I won’t be doing cosplay. I appreciate the cosplay in others, but it’s not really my thing. I think I could pull off Yorrick from Y- The Last Man.

I’m not sure what my panel will be called, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble identifying it as there probably won’t be too many panels on the Cold War and the Green Lantern. In all likelihood, it will be in the same room as all the other comic book panels which is where I will probably be for most of the entire con. I hope there will be a lot of academic programming because I prefer joining discourses over fandoms.

veidt-poison-ivy-panda

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.

veidt-arisia-panda

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.

veidt-rrab-panda

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.

veidt-starsapphire-panda

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rorshachsexy

As its very essence, democracy is institutionalized civil war. This doesn’t simply apply to political states, but to wherever democracy flourishes and spirited debate ensues. Contesting for authenticity, for sovereignty, for status among the masses- this quest to be deemed legitimate by the standards of the arena compels the democratic imperative. Comic books are one of the most democratic artistic fields, largely because of its ties to the capitalist system. People buy more Animal Man than Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. so Frankenstein is cancelled and Animal Man lives on. Every comic book convention is a market research orgy for publishers. Consumers voluntarily mail, email, and blog their votes/marketing information to allow the producers easy access to their opinions. The democratic elements on the production side are quite similar to rap music- you don’t need much more than a pencil and some paper to get started. Comics, like political democracies, have established seats of power, factions, propaganda departments, dirty tricks, and giant fucking egos. Here I’d like to touch on a comic book icon that reminds me a little bit of the recording artist Prince, Alan Moore.

alanmooreandtherevolution

Certain pop culture figures and moments in their public life can stay with you. Many of my first impressions of celebrity came from the actions of Prince Rogers Nelson a.k.a. Prince. I can clearly remember watching Weird Al Yankovic as a young child and hearing him explain that Prince refused to let me parody his songs, which may have been the first time I ever heard of Prince. One of the favorite Prince stories is the bit about how he demanded youtube remove a fan-shot recording of a live performance of Radiohead’s “Creep” that he had performed at Coachella and Thom Yorke, hearing of this, defended the fan and told youtube to unblock the recordings. Whatever your opinion of Prince, you must admit that a central component to his public persona is active paranoia regarding his music and his money. You could hate Prince for it and consider him a mega-crybaby,  but he deserves credit for committing to his own insanity.

With the release of the TPBs of the recent Before Watchmen series approaching, I’ve been thinking about comic book icon Alan Moore. Many consider Moore to be the greatest comic book writer of all time. Is it wise to criticize this legend so early in my foray into the medium? Well, it worked for Grant Morrisson. My problem is not so much with Moore’s work, which I really enjoy, but with his personality and contradictions in it as it relates to how his work is used.

Moore has been vocal in his protests of the film adaptation of Watchmen and the Before Watchmen series. He was also pretty vocal about the film adaptations of V for Vendetta and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I sympathize with his commitment to the characters he “created.” Many fans align themselves loyally and somewhat blindly with Moore. Regarding the films, a lot of material was cut, changed,and thematically distorted. Of the three films, Watchmen is by far the most loyal to the source material, but Moore and fans alike have grumbled loudly about the film. I really enjoyed the V for Vendetta and Watchmen films and generally think it’s great when artists try to interpret other artists’ work- like Prince covering Radiohead’s “Creep,” for example. I enjoy mash-ups, film adaptations, fan art, plays, homages, cosplay, and other instances where people contribute the larger essence of a work, giving it new life and killing the author is Barthesian fashion. In this way, I’m like Voltaire and would die for Jessica Simpson’s right to slaughter Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ ” because art progresses with mistakes and the freedom to make them, good with the bad, bad with the good, equality with your neighbor and enemy alike and all that.

Adaptations are one thing. The Before Watchmen prequels are something else entirely because they’re not recreating Moore’s narrative in a parallel medium, but adding to Moore’s narrative in the same medium. Of course, they only add to the narrative if the reader allows it or enough readers allow it to justify the prequels entering the public perception of what Watchmen as a sequential art narrative entails, what constitutes its entirety. As an artist, I can understand how Moore feels threatened. It’s like Nickelback saying they want to add a few verses to “Stairway to Heaven,” but not as frightening. (That Nickelback thing might actually offend the gods in the volcano in my attempt to use hyperbole- I’m just trying to take the concept to its absurd conclusion, so forgive me.) Moore and fans also see the Before Watchmen series for what it is at its essence, a capitalist enterprise. Alan Moore is really mad, but the co-creator of Watchmen Dave Gibbons has given the project his blessing, which only complicates the validity of Moore’s assertion that DC Comics should not have pursued Before Watchmen.

What is Moore’s problem? Is it that he doesn’t like a comic book character being written by someone other than the creator? That would be absurd. Moore wrote Superman comics and he didn’t create Superman. Moore built his reputation on his run on Swamp Thing, which is a character created by Len Wein, the editor of the original Watchmen series and writer for the Ozymandias storyline of the Before Watchmen series. The greatest flaw of this argument lies in the original conception of Watchmen to be based on characters from Charlton Comics that Moore didn’t create, but also in the premise of Moore’s other acclaimed serieses League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Marvelman, From Hell, and Lost GirlsLOEG being the guiltiest party by featuring nearly two hundred characters that Moore did not create. Alan Moore has taken broad strokes with character he didn’t create, such broad and extreme strokes as shooting them, paralyzing, and taking naked photographs of them with the intent of driving their father insane. Moore has demonstrated a fondness for sexualizing, often violently, characters he didn’t create as seen graphically in LOEG and Lost Girls. A somewhat simplistic reading of LOEG will see it as merely common sexual fantasies manifested through the actions of Mina Murray- her sexual liberation through sexual assault at the hands of Dracula, the Invisible Man, and many others, her eternal youth, her bisexuality, a lover who can change genders (Orlando), the affections of multiple monsters, free love, incest (Quartmainn’s reincarnations), and on and on. The text itself is a sexual act and Lost Girls? That book’s even dirtier than LOEG, so if Alan Moore can take such sexual liberties with beloved characters from children’s stories, why should he be so upset by a couple of prequels for one twelve-issue graphic novel?

Is Moore’s problem with the capitalist enterprise of milking a story past its expiration date for financial reward? Isn’t that what comic books are all about? Such a large component of comics is the recurrence of characters, which is distinctly not a Nietzschean eternal recurrence but rather a more broad exponentially eternal recurrence as evidenced by the ever-expanding continuity organism that thrives on disruptions like the New 52 or Ultimates. Also, I love What If and Elseworlds imprints. In the case of Moore, didn’t he just release the LOEG: Century and Nemo books to cash in on the previous success of LOEG? Look at how those books were sold, Century is sold as three skinny books 1910, 1969, and 2009 even though they should be sold as a single graphic novel. Nemo has been released in hardcover despite being a mere 56 pages- $14.95 for 56 pages? Seriously? On this point, I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed every bit of LOEG and regard the additional material as worthwhile, but its nowhere near as good as the original first two volumes of the series, which probably stand better independent of the Black Dossier, the Century books, and Nemo. Mary Poppins might be worth it though.

I haven’t read Before Watchmen as I don’t read single issues and am waiting for the trades to come out. I’ve heard good things from people who read them and bad things, mostly from people who haven’t read them. I’m excited by the creative teams that worked on them- Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Jae Lee, Brian Azzarello, et al. are some of the most talented people working in comics. Stuff like Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote the Nite Owl storyline of Before Watchmen, is one of my favorite Superman storylines and the current Wonder Woman is one of the best titles being published, written by Brian Azzarello, who wrote the Comedian storyline of Before Watchmen. I’ll wait to see the final product before I judge and I’ll be amused and impressed, but not swayed, by Alan Moore’s commitment to his creations, despite obvious contradictions in his behavior- same with Prince.

fcbdjesusbacon

When: May 4th, 2013

What: Free Comic Book Day

Where: Criminal Records and Oxford Comics in Atlanta, Georgia

Today was my first Free Comic Book Day. Of course, I’d heard of it before. It’s promoted in single issues a lot, but I usually read TPBs, which causes me to miss out on various snacks marketed towards young children and Nintendo promotions. Still, I’ve seen the promotions before and my local comic shop Oxford Comics gives away Free Comic Books all year round. I’ve always thought highly of the idea and have been anxious to see it in action. Having been in China for the past years during this holiday, this was my first opportunity to witness it. I had a nice time. The weather could have been better. Blame Storm.

First, I went to Criminal Records, a comic and record shop in Little 5 Points that has always been dear to my heart, first as a record store and then as a comic book shop. In many ways, Criminal Records is responsible for my current love affair with sequential art. Once before I left China to visit the US, my girlfriend at the time (wife at the present time) had gotten her hands on a copy of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and asked me to pick her up some American comics. From that point on, every time I would return to the US, I would stop my Criminal Records and the staff there would let me know what was hip in the world of independent comics. Today the atmosphere was pleasant. There were a handful of cosplayers, including what I think was one of the TV-headed bad guys from Saga. I didn’t get any pictures- sorry. There were several local artists and comic creators. I first spoke with Chris Hammer,a sketchy looking character who was accompanied by a well-mannered illustrative model. Both looked like they could eat nails, but carried on like well-groomed teddy bears. Hammer’s art is mostly too cool for school stuff, evoking graffiti and pop art. I picked up his book Long Way Home, a very fun book.

longwayhome

I also had the pleasure of speaking with Rodney Rodis, Tony Barletta, and George Marston who work together as illustrator, writer, and inker respectively on a little sci-fi book called Cosmic Behemoth. The three of them seem to get along well and embrace their cooperative process. Rodis and Marston both do some great work independently. Marston, in particular, had some very stylistic interpretations of the enemies of Batman and Spiderman. Marston is distantly related to William Moulton Marston, inventor of the lie detector, creator of Wonder Woman, and gender radical in both theory and practice.

Photo of Sue Storm cosplay, obscured by Cosmic Behemoth's creators Rodney Rodis, Tony Barletta, and George Martson

Photo of Sue Storm cosplay, obscured by Cosmic Behemoth’s creators Rodney Rodis, Tony Barletta, and George Martson

Several other creators were on hand at Criminal Records. All of them quite busy, happily entertaining customers and exhibiting their crafts. Customers, staff, and guests all seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Way to go, Criminal Records! A great success!

fcbd2

After Criminal Records, I headed over to Oxford Comics. The festivities at Oxford were more kid-themed than at Criminal, which is kind of funny considering that Oxford offers a lot of hyper-mature products like jaw-dropping Japanese cartoons, adult films, and heartily hardcore homosexual comics. Artists were on hand to do free sketches of kids 6 and under. Two totally rad parents were there with their kids in homemade costumes, a Hulk (pictured below) and a Robin.

Little Hulk With Hulky Dad

There was a woman dressed a Green Lantern. When probed as to which Lantern she represented, she denied ties to any specific member of the Green Lantern Corps. I told her that if she lost the mask and drew some triangles on her face that she could make a good Soranik Natu. She told me that several people had already told her. Maybe she’ll take our advice and my stock in red paint will finally begin to rise! rise! rise!

Green Lantern cosplay

I picked up ten of the free titles:

-Bantam Dell’s previews of Louis L’Amour’s Law of the Desert Born and Jonathan Kellerman’s The Web.

-Local heroes Top Shelf’s Top Shelf Kids Club

-Archaia’s Mouse Guard/Rust

Ugly Doll Comics which features a parody of the cover of Action Comics v.1 #1. I like the Ugly Doll story very much. It’s one of those very cute love stories between creative people from different sides of the Pacifc Ocean. If we’re lucky, those kind of cute love stories are the future of cultural production- cooperation between male and female as well as eastern culture and western culture. Also mixed babies are adorable before they grow up to become very attractive adults.

-IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures

-DC Comics’ Superman: Last Son of Krypton Special Edition, which features an interview with Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, the creative team behind Superman: Unchained

-Aracana’s The Steam Engines of Oz

-Marvel’s preview of their upcoming six-issue mini-series Infinity

-Drawn & Quarterly’s preview of Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season

-DC Comics’s Capstone Presents Mr. Puzzle

bestsworstsnew52ladies

This is the third installment of Bests and Worsts of the New 52, following the first and the second ,where I mostly praised the work being done at DC even when nominating books for Worsts. This entry will continue in that tradition. Also I am describing the first 52 or so collections, not the issues on the stands or titles like Earth-2 or World’s Finest which haven’t been collected yet. A few of the Bests and Worsts here will deal with sexuality in the New 52. It is an undeniable characteristic of this universe, geek culture, and real life. If sexuality makes you uncomfortable, that’s totally normal and you just try to deal with it as best you can. In the collage above, I included elements from panels that celebrate feminine features.

Best and Worst of the Young Justice Family of Titles

Best: Teen Titans Teen Titans is a fun book. The characters are all very distinct. I especially like the new characters. As a gay Mexican immigrant, Bunker is relevant and liberating, yet condescending and slightly offensive- I love it. Bunker might be my favorite new hero of the New 52- not my favorite new character, because that would probably the Court of Owls. Bunker, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl bring a lot of humor to the book. The Superboy story is reliable Superboy narrative and ties in smoothly with this book. Scott Lobdell also writes Red Hood and the Outlaws, which is also a team book featuring a non-Nightwing former Robin, but wildly different than Teen Titans. Tim Drake has probably lost the most agency in the New 52. In this book, he reminds me a lot of the Robin rip-off in The Uniques, which is a fun independent superhero book about the emotional and physical battles of young white superheroes.

Worst: Legion of Super-Heroes. Brainiac-5’s cheesy hair.

Best and Worst Fishnet Reboot

Best: Zatanna in Justice League Dark. Zatanna has lost the traditional magician (magician’s assistant?) costume and embraced a very goth, very Vertigo Death look. The look changes her dramatically. No longer does she hint of potentially pulled rabbits and endless scarves. She wears her fishnets on her arms now, perhaps to hide the track marks because she’s become just that rock n roll. I’m super-excited about Guillermo del Toro’s alleged movie version of Justice League Dark and anticipate falling in love with the actresses who play Madame Xanadu and Zatanna. Justice League Dark and Hellboy have a lot in common and both Hellboy movies were incredible.

Worst: Black Canary in Birds of Prey. What happened to Dinah Lance? She’s a character in name only on Arrow, never exhibiting metahuman powers or donning fish nets. On Smallville, she did not fall in love with Oliver or stay true to the Black Canary comic couture. On the Birds of Prey television program, she was nigh a child. On the pages of Birds of Prey, she’s wearing the worst rebooted outfit of the New 52. It doesn’t make sense- which has never been a problem for super-ladies before. It’s not fashionable – which has also never been a problem for super-ladies before. It robs Black Canary of her working class roots- this is a problem. Black Canary is supposed to the biker chick badass next door and now she looks like space army Barbie.

Best and Worst News for Fans of Semi-Nude Cosplay

Best: White Rabbit in Batman- The Dark Knight. I think she’s also the most scantily clad new villain of the New 52. I might be wrong about that. If I am, please correct me. The New 52 has no shortage of exposed flesh. It also abounds in varieties of woman’s underthings.

Worst: Poison Ivy in Birds of Prey. As Harley Quinn abandons the bodysuit in favor of less conservative attire, Poison Ivy has chosen a new costume that would deny convention peepers the always popular string of leaves.

%d bloggers like this: