I’m Not Your Candy Darling, You’re Not My Maury Povitch

“Exploitation Cinema”… it’s all in the name, isn’t it? One of those rare instances in which bigotry and kyrarchy brazenly names itself. And we, collectively, brazenly accept it as a legitimate aspect of our cultural discourse regardless.

How, exactly, is it that white male hipsters can go around describing themselves as fans of “exploitation film” and get a pat on the back for their “good taste”? Where the racism and misogyny of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino is accepted as “genius” so long as it remains filtered through “contextual” qualifiers of “retro-aesthetics”, “irony” and its allegedly “empowering” nature for whosoever is the target of the exploitation? [Read more…]

Trigger Warning

A couple days ago I was mindlessly killing some time and unboredifying myself by clicking the random button at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. After awhile of this, a certain comic pulled up. The caption read “Who says money can’t buy happiness?” and, in the panel, an enthusiastic, smiling man was handing a syringe over to another man, raising his fists in joy, while saying “here’s your heroin!”.

It was, to put it mildly, a little bit triggering. [Read more…]

Blogathon: 22nd Hour

Goddamnit. I just smoked my last cigarette.

Everything is about to become horrible.

Well, I mean, the state I’m already in is well beyond horrible already, but, you know, like… EXTRA horrible!

By the way, I think I totally need to draw a comic called Spiroman vs. Doctor Testostopus.

Anyway… I have some requests!

It seems people would like to know how someone writing a trans character in work of fiction can do so without totally fucking it up.

Well… [Read more…]

Blogathon: 4th Hour

So… I kinda really, really, really dislike the writing of J. Michael Stracyznski.

For those not familiar, he’s a TV show and comic book writer. For TV, he’s probably best known for his personal project Babylon 5, which broke TV tradition in being the first serial drama to have it’s total, complete story arc planned in advance. And actually successfully told the complete story before being prematurely canceled.

He also was one of the head writers on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Which, if you’re around the same age I am, you undoubtedly remember. It was the one with Egon, Peter, Ray, Winston, Janine and Slimer, even though they didn’t look anything like the actors who portrayed them in the movie (the cartoon was unable to acquire legal rights to those actors’ likenesses). Not the stupid other one with the gorilla.

His current project in comics is working on the Before Watchmen series. He’s doing the Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl mini-serieses, if I recall correctly. I won’t be reading them. I’m only following Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen (because Hollis Mason is my favourite Watchmen character, and Cooke is a great writer) and Silk Spectre (because I love Amanda Connor’s art, and really enjoy comics with well-written female protagonists). I might take a look at Brian Azzarello’s Rorschach and Comedian, though. MAYBE.

But, for J. Mike (all J. Mikes are horrible), I never saw Babylon 5 (I liked Deep Space 9 better), and aside from Ghostbusters, my first encounter with him was reading his comic Rising Stars. [Read more…]

A Trans Girl’s Guide To Gotham

As anyone who follows my twitter feed is already painfully aware, I’ve lately been going through a ridiculously, passionately, pathetically, obsessively renewed interest in comic books. Specifically, “mainstream” monthly titles, something I haven’t really followed since I was a teenager. I’ve had a real, genuine love for the medium my whole life, and went through lots of times throughout my twenties where I was enjoying reading “indie” stuff like Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, James Kochalka and pretty much anything Drawn & Quarterly or Fantagraphics did, but for some reason I just didn’t let myself fully geek out on superheroes, despite how much I love them and love the broad stories -the myths, as cheasy as it is to say so- that define them. I kept it as a relatively minor little part of my pop-culture-addled brain, and used them as touchstones, metaphors, cultural reference points, conversation fuel and so on without diving back into the pleasures of actually reading them.

But that changed about six weeks ago. In a really really big way. I’ve been especially immersed in DC’s “New 52”, a decision they made ten months ago to reboot their entire continuity (while maintaining in broad strokes a lot of the more well-loved stories as back-history), and relaunch their line as 52 new titles, all starting at #1, with new readers not requiring any previous knowledge to start following a title. In other words, the absolute perfect set-up for a fan of comics who’d been longing to return to the medium but felt intimidated by the gargantuan continuity scaring away potential new generations of readers (and creators) like some Eldritch abomination from the darkness beyond the stars, the gravity of its immensity distorting narrative itself into labyrinthine, non-euclidean timelines.

For me, it was an in. And frankly, I think both of the “big two” comics publishers should do this kind of thing once a decade or so. Because one of the coolest, strongest, best things about superheroes is that there’s no one “correct” interpretation of any of them. They don’t belong to any individual artist or reader. We share them. And there’s nothing but positives to be had from periodically providing a little breathing room for new generations.

And so I’ve been obsessively catching up on the back issues of the titles I like, and sifting through the whole current comics industry to figure out what characters, writers and artists and stuff I do and don’t like, and have been having a whole hell of a lot of fun doing so. My twitter feed has been choked with my ramblings on it… complaining about the creepy implications of the “majour hero” DC had come out as gay turning out to just be an alternate universe Green Lantern on “the Earth where it all went wrong”, feeling embarrassed for recommending Resurrection Man before realizing that from issue two and onwards it’s totally choked with sexism (totally not kidding: it features a pair of sociopathic “slutty” porn-star assassins in mini-skirts who speak in valley girl slang), wondering about the racial implications of Static Shock’s cancellation and what it represents in relation to the legacy of Milestone comics and minority-oriented comics in general, gradually coming around to regarding the sweetness of the love story and beauty of the art in Batwoman as being enough to really like the title and forgive the issues I had with the characterization, being indifferent to Northstar’s wedding, which came about five years too late to feel like anything other than a sales gimmick (when Archie beats X-Men to the punch on one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, I’m not going to be impressed when the latter finally gets around to it), wondering if Starling from Birds of Prey was deliberately modeled after Skepchick’s Surly Amy, getting a bit sad when Blackhawks got cancelled before I could find out if their Lady Blackhawk was Natalie Reed, feeling excited but not getting my hopes up for Archie’s upcoming gender-swap issue, feeling totally heartbroken over how Harley Quinn’s new origin irreversibly ruins absolutely everything I most loved about someone who’d been one of my all-time favourite DC characters, deciding I like Scott Synder’s take on Batman the best, as his most closely matches the Paul Dini interpretation I grew up with, etc. etc. etc.

And in case anyone’s wondering, my current pull consists of Batman, Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Animal Man, Dial H, Saga, Rachel Rising, Alabaster: Wolves, Doctor Who, Fables and Fairest. I love all those titles, and totally recommend them. Except for Doctor Who, which I only recommend to people as stupidly head-over-heels for The Doctor as I am. I’ve also been enjoying The Flash, Action Comics, Justice League Dark, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E., The Defenders and iZombie, but haven’t been following them quite as closely.

But there’s one title that above all the others I really, really, truly love. One that isn’t just fun (although it certainly is fun), but resonates on a very personal level too. Where I get that rare, intensely beautiful feeling I always chase after in literature; that feeling like somehow, someone, somewhere, genuinely understands some part of you. That feeling of something reaching out from the oceans of time and culture and hitting home. Those little moments of sharing some deeply personal feeling or idea or something, some intensely particular way of being human amongst the nearly infinite such possibilities we stumble through as we work our way through our funny little lives. That someone gets you, and you get them. And in those moments, you feel just a little less alone. While I love all the titles I’ve got in my pull, and always look forward to them on Wednesday mornings, there’s the one that feels really special for me.

Batgirl. [Read more…]

Lazy Sunday: Got Monsters

First of all, a quick note: sorry there was no recap yesterday. I just figured since the week had so few posts (again… -sigh-) that it wasn’t really worth sacrificing a greatly needed night away from the blaggy-blegs. I’ll recap this past week’s posts when I do the recap this coming Saturday. Moving along to this week’s video…

I feel adding much in the way of commentary would spoil this, but for the sake of context, this is from Mina Caputo, singer of the metal band Life Of Agony, who back in the summer publicly revealed she was transitioning. This song and video’s release predates her coming out.

Slightly NSFW, albeit not egregiously so.

In the words of an e-friend of mine “That’s not subtext. That’s text.”

And links… [Read more…]