Tag Archives: superheroes

GGC12 Panels: Chicks Dig Comics

This panel discussion is about women in the comic fan community and addressed the myth of the “fake geek girl” and the new “geek is sexy” marketing that’s been cropping up.

Chicks Dig Comics is an anthology collection by female writers and artists, published by Mad Norwegian Press. The panelists were all contributors, and they are:

Sarah Kuhn. Author of One Con Glory. Her essay is Me vs. Me, and is about why she doesn’t like the conversation of who would win in a fight. She’s not a fan of pitting characters against each other. 
Jill Pantozzi.
She’s writes for The Mary Sue, among other things. Her essay is about the Green Lantern as metaphor for her life and the emotions people go through as fans of comics.
Sheena McNeil. She is currently “Editorix and Chief” of webzine Sequential Tart, which was created to support women in comics. Her essay about the evolution of the zine and her experiences with it, and her knowledge of comics.
Rachel Edidin
. Editor at Dark Horse. She works behind the scenes in comics. Her essay focuses on the editing and how she engages with comics in that way.
Erica McGillivray. Writer and blogger at 6’7″ and Green. She’s also the head of Geek Girl Con. Her essay is about Geek Girl Con and she and others decided to create it after connecting through the cosplay community.
Jen Van Meter. She has written for dc and marvel. She hesitated when asked to contribute because she was worried about writing nonfiction, since it had been a while since she’d done it. But her daughter was having issues at school and it reminded her of being young and relying on horror comics, and wanting to like scary stories. She found Vampirella, among others, so her essay is about how those comics helped her deal with fear and social anxiety.

After introductions, the panels opens by talking about Geek Girl Con and what it means to them, and how comic fandom has changed for women. Kuhn says one thing that’s really great bout GGC is the sense of community. Pantozzi is very thrilled that people and fans are happy to come together online and in person. When she started her own blog, there weren’t a lot of women out there writing about comics and that’s changing now. Twitter has helped the community grow and connect as well.

Kuhn agrees. She even has a Twitter list called “Nerd Girl Mafia.” As far as connecting to other female comic fans, she says things shifted when comment sections popped up on the internet. As much as we hate those, before they existed, you had to email someone to reply, which took a lot of effort. Comments allow other women to say hey, I am a lady and I like these comics too.

McNeil says that when manga peaked in the us, female readership of comics went up. Some places embraced that, and some did not. With manga you didn’t have to go to a comic book store to get it. And there’s a 50/50 chance the author is female.

Edidin got involved tn the comic book world from several different angles at the same time. Writing essays and working at Dark Horse .”One of the things that I’ve found I the feminist comic community.. is that it’s really celebratory.” There are a lot of stereotypes about women competing and being catty, but it is largely the opposite in the comic world, at least as far as she’s observed.

McGillivray came from the Buffy fandom and the world of fanfic writers, both of which are largely female, so when she got into the comic scene, she was like where are all the ladies?

“I’ve probably got ten years on very one here,” Van Meter says. Back when she was a kid who liked comics, the stereotype was closer to true. There weren’t even comic book stores, just comics on spin racks, so there was no way to really interact with other fans until one found the convention circle. Even there, she often felt like she was one of the few women there as a fan and not a girlfriend. When she first started going to SDCC twenty-one years ago, the ladies’ room was always empty. The first time she had to wait in line for the restroom, she was thrilled.

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GGC12 Panels: Capes & Canes – Disabilities in Comics

Geek Girl Con was so much fun, I don’t even know where to begin. Autumn and I have a zillion photos and reams of panel notes, and Autumn interviewed some ladies from NASA. So we’ll be posting our Con Converge as quickly as real life allows. (Damn real life!)

Barbara Gordon as Oracle from her Wikipedia page

This panel was proposed and moderated by Katelyn Bruhn. The other panelists were Greg Rucka, comic writer and novelist; Jen Van Meter, comic writer; Teal Sherer, actress and producer, and star of the webseries My Gimpy Life; and Jill Pantozzi, writer who contributes to many sites including The Mary Sue. This is a long write up because it was so awesome and so much was discussed.

So what inspired the panel, among other things, was the backlash last year when DC announced that in the New 52 reboot of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon would reprise the role. She had been using a wheelchair after the Joker shot her through the spine and had become the Oracle. In the reboot, she would be walking again.

Pantozzi says she was mostly in the dark about new 52 but a friend from DC gave her a heads up that they were getting rid of Oracle and putting Barbara back as Batgirl. She found it extremely upsetting. “Oracle is a role model of mine,” she says. And to have a bad ass female character alone is unique in the Dc universe, let alone one in a wheelchair. And of course back then, she had no idea how they would do it. Would they magic the wheelchair away? Pretend it never happened?

Sherer says she felt basically the same way. There are so few characters out there with disabilities.“There’s this misconception out there that people with disabilities are broken and need to be fixed..Maybe she doesn’t want to be fixed.She released a youtube video dressed as Oracle to argue that side of it last year. (It’s hilarious and I suggest you watch it. On having to be Batgirl again: “Girl, I’m 30 years old!”)

Rucka says he’s curious now, a year later, how you feel about it and how it was handled? He’s quick to add not about Gail doing a good job, because that’s a given.

Pantozzi says Barbara Gordon is a good character no matter what. “[Gordon] as Batgirl is interesting but also, we have seen that story.”

Rucka agrees and adds that Oracle was so successful as a story because the entirety of her journey was in the books. Readers got to see her before the wheelchair, and see the trauma of being shot and then disabled, and see her cope with it and accept it and move on. If DC were to say, Okay, we hear you, toss in another wheelchair-bound lady crime fighter, it would feel apologist.

Bruhn asks, How important is it that when we rejoin Barbara she is recovering physically and emotionally even though she’s out of the chair? Bruhn is a big Marvel fan, so she’s big on the idea that when you fix something with Tony Stark you give him another problem. It’s a constant battle.

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ECCC Panels: Sympathy for the Devil – Crafting Great Villains

I didn't get a photo of the panelists. There were a number of reasons. I'm sorry.

Villains can make or break a story or RPG. This panel was about crafting a good–or even great–villain for your story or game. First, let’s meet our panelists: Philip Anthans, author of several books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. Erin M. Evans, author of The God Catcher and soon Brimstone Angels. And our panel leader was editor and writer Susan J. Morris of Writers Don’t Cry.

Morris begins by asking why villains are important. Anthans says, “I really, really believe it’s the villain that begins the story.” Generally the hero is sitting around and waiting for things to happen. It’s the villain’s actions that spur the hero into action. Evans agrees, because villains are the source of the conflict.

“Villains have to want it,” Morris says. There’s rarely a reluctant villain. They tend to have active personalities. Anthans adds that heroes can start out with weak motivation. For example, a homicide detective is assigned to a case and has to deal with it. The killer isn’t assigned to the murder. And of course, villains are great to use as foils to the heroes.

What about sympathetic villains? Evans says “I like villains that you almost want to succeed and then feel dirty about later.” Like minions with incompetent bosses who are always riding them. You kind of want them to show their boss, until you realize that probably means doing bad things. She adds that villains can have good traits and do decent things. A prime example is Tony Soprano. The TV writers managed to show him being a family man but then would make sure to remind the audience he was a terrible person by showing him randomly hitting people who didn’t deserve it, etc. Evans really likes villains who do things anyone could do, and might do if not for X, Y, or Z. Anthans points out that most of the time, the villain doesn’t think they’re the bad guy. They have some agenda and then their methods go off the rails.

What’s the difference between an anti-hero and a villain? Anthans says simply, “Villains don’t turn away from the dark sides of themselves.”

What are good and bad ways to signal who the villain is? Morris said basic evil acts, obviously, like murder and rape. Evans says it depends a lot on the context. Morris brings up Supernatural: on that show, evil is shown in how people think about their actions afterward or whether they hesitate. Anthans added that well drawn villains will have that moment of hesitation too. They may decided to kill people to get what they want, but they will think about it and have to decide how many people can die or how far they’re willing to go.

How does the villain get defeated without making them look stupid or incompetent? They don’t always need to be defeated, Anthans says. Sometimes they win. Evans says that sometimes it can be closer to a draw: the hero doesn’t win but the villain isn’t defeated. All the same, the conflict needs to be resolved. That doesn’t mean one side has to be destroyed.

And now the big one: Villain Origin Stories.

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Zombie Love!

I hated zombies as a kid because they genuinely scared me, and later because it felt like every zombie thing was exactly the same. The dead start walking around trying to eat the living, people do dumb things and die, and no one understands the simplicity of shooting the infected the minute the infection happens because they have, like, human emotions and compassion or whatever.

That has changed in recent years. I’ve grown to appreciate a lot of zombie things but more importantly, zombie things are getting better, smarter, and more genre-savvy. Since tonight is the Mid-Season Premiere* of The Walking Dead (which you bet your butt I’m jazzed for), I thought I’d post about some of the more awesome zombie things out in the world, in case you’ve been living in Dracula’s castle; everyone knows he only has dial-up and still thinks the rotary phone is new and progressive.

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

It’s superheroes and zombies. Superheroes fighting zombies with superpowers and trying to rebuild the world after the Zombie Apocalypse. Do you really need to know more?

Clines gives each hero a flashback chapter that shows the progression of the zombie outbreak and in the present, the heroes aren’t just fighting the undead (called Exes, as in ex-human, ex-living, etc.) but a Los Angeles gang that’s trying to claim the city.

Clines also does some serious virulogy to explain the zombie epidemic, which I appreciate. I like my zombies with a side of science. It’s a fast-paced read that’s part comic book and part classic good versus evil.

The Newsflesh Series by Mira Grant

I could rave and flail about these books til the end of time, and have done so until most of my friends have relented and read them, and in turn flailed and raved, making them sort of infectious. It’s just everything I love about zombies – virology that puts every other zombie series to shame, a well-worked history of the outbreak, and a world that has adapted to life with the undead. Plus sarcasm, puns, and bloggers.

The first book, Feed, takes place 25 or so years after the the Kellis-Amberlee virus began spreading (it’s a mutation of two viruses, one of which was released in experimental stages by terrorists who wanted the “cold cure” free for everyone). As the infection spread, the media downplayed it and ignored it, while bloggers said, “YO. The Dead are walking. Shoot them in the face before they eat you,” and thus bloggers are the new media. Everywhere requires blood tests to enter, buildings are built or adapted to keep people safe, and once you test positive for the virus, you’re considered legally dead (meaning you can and will be shot on site).

In this world, adopted siblings Georgia and Shaun Mason run their news site, After the End Times, and are picked to cover a Presidential campaign. They end up uncovering a huge conspiracy. So it’s smart and clever, and zombieland is merely the world they live in (albeit scary as hell). And the characters are awesomely genre-savvy, so there’s no frustrating arguments about the morality of killing the undead, and there aren’t many irritatingly stupid mistakes either.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

It’s zombies with steampunk. Again, what else do you really need to know? (Also Wil Wheaton reads half of the audiobook.)

Set in an alternative-history Seattle where the Civil War is still going, spurring inventions of war machines, the zombies here are caused by a mysterious gas that began seeping out of the ground. It’s dense, so people walled up Seattle, and live on its borders, but sometimes people go back inside. It’s an intense, fascinating novel, and the zombies are just a small part of it, but they’re scary and well done. Also they’re called “Rotters” which might be the best term for zombie I’ve seen.

Those are my three favorite zombie books ever. I highly recommend all of them.

*Is it just me or this “mid-season return” crap sort of new. Shows never used to pause for months at a time, did they?

Review: After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn’s After the Golden Age is a novel about superheroes, parenting, coming of age, and accounting. Set in the fictional Commerce City, Celia West rides the bus and works as a forensic accountant at a legal firm.

She’s also the daughter of the city’s most famous superheroes, Captain Olympus and Spark, who were unmasked years ago. Ever since people learned their civilian identities, Warren and Suzanne West, villains and thieves have been kidnapping Celia to get at her parents. Worse, Celia has no superpowers, unless you count recognizing the supers without their masks, which is probably more of a learned skill anyhow.

All Celia wants to do is live her life out of her parents’ super shadows, which isn’t easy when kidnappings to goad them are routine. It’s less easy when she gets pulled into working on financial records for the court case against the Destructor, her parents’ nemesis. As a rebellious teenager, she even ran to the Destructor once, very briefly, something her father doesn’t want to let her live down.

The deeper she digs, the more strange coincidences she stumbles upon. Things in the files she tracks down don’t make sense – and the recent crime sprees don’t point to the old supervillain, but a whole new conspiracy. Unless Celia’s just being paranoid. And she’s very paranoid, just like her father.

The cast includes all of your superhero favorites:  the guy who can fly, the strong captain, a woman who can shoot fire from her hands, and the telepath. Despite the commonality of the superhero family plot and the traditional, even cliched, superpowers, Vaughn weaves a story that’s uniquely fun, fast-paced, and hard to put down until all of the threads come together at the end. Celia is smart and likable. She may fall for a trick or two but she isn’t stupid or helpless. She repeatedly shows that even without powers, she has what it takes to be a hero and save the city. Hell, sometimes being underestimated is just the advantage one needs to thwart the bad guys.

The tropes it doesn’t subvert, it embraces and loves. It’s a superhero book for superhero fans. Not to mention anyone who’s ever felt they haven’t lived up to the expectations of their parents, however briefly. And, I guess, fans of accounting, since Celia manages to use those skills to help save the day.

First Impressions: Tiger & Bunny

Fortune Cookie over at Defective Geeks is often my go to for when I need a new anime to check out. Most recently, she recommended Tiger & Bunny, which is available subbed on Hulu. Huzzah!

I’ve only watched one episode so far, and really, that’s the most important episode for me – it determines whether or not I will keep watching in a big way. I’m sure it’s like that for a lot of people too, so I here are my first impressions of this anime in case you aren’t sure if this is one for you!

Episode 1: All’s Well That Ends Well – beware of spoilers!

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