Archives for posts with tag: Marvel

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

coversheader

2014 was an interesting year for comic book covers. Some Vertigo titles experimented with putting the first panels of the story on the cover. Independent publishers like Image Comics, Top Shelf, and Oni Press drew inspiration from wells outside of traditional comics to unleash some phenomenal design and the Big Two continued to offer loads of variants while still ruining covers by filling them with ads for movies and TV shows. Convention floors, the blogosphere, and comic book shops had readers and creators discussing the merits of covers while speculators looked for hidden Easter Eggs and social activists looked for opportunities to progress a higher discourse. Two covers in particular stirred more conversation in 2014 than all others. The re-reboot of Teen Titans and a reboot of Spider-Woman faced resistance specifically from critics for whom the representation of women is elemental to their comics critique. Here I will discuss both those covers and the cover of the second volume of the Justice Society of America omnibus. Before I begin, let me just admit that my white male privilege allows me to write this article without fear of rape or death threats. It’s disgusting that we live on an internet where a noticeable portion of its populace respond to ideas they find threatening with threats of physical violence. The fact that such behavior finds a home in discussions about comic books is especially sad- what would Superman say if he saw you writing rape threats to a stranger because of her opinion on a comic book cover?

threecovers

For the first issue of their latest Spider-Woman reboot, Marvel recruited the talents of Milo Manara, an Italian comics creator known for his hyper-sexual style. Full disclosure: I’m not a Marvel reader and don’t have any emotional ties to Spider-Woman as a character. I am however a fan of erotic art and have an appreciation for low brow art. I also appreciate the long standing tradition of sequential art itself as a marginalized art form. When I heard an esteemed erotic artist would provide art for a mainstream variant comic book company, I thought it sounded like a cool idea. I love diversity among artists and believe comics generally benefit from outside influence. For example, I think the Scribbenauts variants and most of the Robot Chicken variants that DC’s been using look pretty dumb, but I appreciate that such distinct styles are been experimented with and I like to see a wild mix on the comic book shelves. Still, much of the controversy had little to do with those few defenses I just offered, but rather focused on the use of such an artist to promote a book that had been admittedly targeted towards women and on book about a character that many female readers had identified as an example of progressive representation. A lot of male readers and the creators responsible for creating it took the criticism very personally.

spiderwomanbuttscandal

Some readers found humor in the controversy.

640_spiderwoman_nicki_minaj_split

Some readers got scientific.

funkyspideraliennudewomanperversionfromplanetx

News operations outside of the world of comics like TIME magazine even picked up the story, reporting on the cover controversy and supplying Marvel with a bit of free publicity.

mostoffensivecomicbookcoverever

The other cover that drew a great deal attention is the first issue of the re-rebooted Teen Titans. Unlike Spider-Woman, the Teen Titans are characters that I do follow and for whom I have developed some sentimental attachment. The controversy over this cover began when former Bat-title editor Janelle Asselin wrote an article about its cover where she described it as “not just a terrible comics cover, it’s a prime example of how even the most corporate comic book companies can make basic mistakes regarding the potential audience for a book.” I have a little trouble with her describing it as a “prime example” as it seems as if she picked it arbitrarily. Her critique of the cover is largely valid; I just think it can be applied to scores of other covers that supply greater evidence to support her criticism. You can read her original article and you won’t find anything too confrontational. You might feel a little bad for Kenneth Rocafort being singled out for a trend and tradition in comics that is much larger than his own contribution to the medium, but Asselin articulates pretty clearly in her article that her intention is not to attack the artist.

janellewithbeastboy

Asselin’s complaints are in some ways more justified than those made against Spider-Woman and in some ways less. For example, Spider-Woman is a variant cover and this Teen Titans cover is the official cover. On the other hand, the Spider-Woman cover is explicitly sexual while the Teen Titans cover more subtly directs attention towards Wonder Girl’s breasts. Both Asselin’s critique of this cover and the general complaints about the Spider-Woman cover made specific points about how the two books are targeted somewhat to female readers. In that instance, the real criticism is “hey comic book companies, you’re marketing your books poorly!” not “hey comic companies, you’re perpetuating a hate crime!” Disgustingly some of the public responded the criticisms as if they had been the latter “hate crime” accusation by responding themselves with very hateful speech and even threats of physical violence. Coupled with the species-wide embarrassment that was Gamergate, geek males looked really bad in 2014. Not simply because they acted like monsters towards others, but they demonstrated such resistance to advancing the mediums they purport to love. Of course, this demented vocal element of the comics reading community represents only a small portion of that community. Neither the critique against Spider-Woman nor the one against Teen Titans were revolutionary nor were they particularly sophisticated, but they absolutely belong in our discussion of comics which makes the toxic reactions so absurd. I find Asselin’s critique to be somewhat arbitrary and forced. I find the controversy over Manara’s Spider-Woman a little dumb because 1) it’s a variant cover, not the official cover 2) it’s painted by an erotic artist with the intention of being hyper-sexual, so being upset with it parallels hating ice cream sandwiches for being delicious. Still, both critiques have value. Now I would like to present a critique of the cover used for the second volume of the JSA omnibus that requires less nuance to explain.

First, let’s look at the cover:

JSA Omnibus volume two two two two

For the cover of the omnibus, DC Comics decided to use the wrap around cover from JSA #50, an iconic cover featuring most of the primary players in the series. In terms of aesthetics, I think DC could have used better images for both volumes, but this isn’t a discussion of aesthetics. As you can see, the characters that appear on the front cover are Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Wildcat, Captain Marvel, the Flash, Dr. Mid-Nite, Sands, and Hawkman. These are all important characters though some are more prominent than others. Two things that the characters all have in common are their race and gender.

Second, let’s look at the full image from JSA #50‘s wrap around cover to see what other members of the Justice Society appear on the back:

all those heroes with so few pockets

Here we see the rest of the team: Atom Smasher (white male), Power Girl (white female), Hawkgirl (white female), Black Adam (middle eastern male), Mr. Terrific (black male), Jakeem Thunder (black male), Hour Man (white male), and Stargirl (white female). As you can see, all of the women and minorities have been placed on the back cover. Because this image is originally from the fiftieth issue, what we are seeing here is DC Comics deciding to make the same offense twice. None of these offenses- Manara’s Spider-Butt, Rocafort’s Wonder-Boobs, or the JSA’s occasional instance of segregation- are end-of-the-world problems, but they ought be discussed while creators and readers alike consider the vulnerability of the medium and the value of constructive criticism in order to produce higher quality art and tell more compelling stories. While conventional wisdom tells us not to a judge a book by its cover, we should recognize the role the cover plays in determining the reception, reputation, and overall destiny of the book.

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

%d bloggers like this: