*steps up to the soapbox*
Hey folks. Sorry I’ve been quiet on my end here, as I’ve been a little busy. I was going to talk about some anime this time, but the San Diego Comic Con was this past weekend and a few things popped up that kind of made me have a couple of second thoughts. There was a woman at SDCC dressed as Batgirl who asked a very important question: Why aren’t there more women doing comics for DC? I’ve had this conversation with my girlfriend many times. At first my answer was the same as many male comic readers. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, there’s tons of them.’ And when asked to name them, I start to rattle off Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, Jo Duffy, Devin Grayson, Louise Simonson, Jill Thompson, Nicola Scott, and even one of my favorite artists Amanda Conner. But I started to realize I couldn’t name any others. And a lot of them I did name, I’m not sure are even working in comics anymore. There was a few others who’s done work for Vertigo comics, like Elaine Lee or Alisa Kwitney, or even some of Marvel’s more off-the-wall comics done by Colleen Coover or Kathryn Immonen. (Seriously, I cannot recommend ‘Pasty Walker: Hellcat’ enough!) But really, I started to hit the end of my list there. And I‘m really good at minutiae, and I can name almost hundreds, if not probably thousands or male comic creators. But I couldn’t even name fifteen female ones? It bothers me. (For the sake of discussion, I’m referring to comics and webcomics as two separate entities, though I shouldn’t, it just makes discussion easier.)
Just why AREN’T there more women working in comics? (Not just DC, but Marvel too.) I mean, there’s a lot of women working in ancillary roles, like inkers and colorists. (I really don’t know if I’ve ever seen a female letterer… Then again, if a letterer does their job, you should never notice them at all.) But why not more writers and artists, the ones that get the fame and acclaim? Look, I’m a perv and we all know this. (You’ve seen what I draw!) But I’m also the furthest thing from a misogynist as well. If the talent is there (and it is) then why isn’t the industry utilizing it more? I thought about the usual excuses I’ve heard for many years:
- It’s been a man’s game for so long, and the women creators just haven’t stormed the field yet.
I’ve heard that before, and yeah, I could accept that, back in the early 90’s, when I was a young lad buying Youngblood. But it’s been almost two decades now. Try again.
- Women just aren’t as interested in superheroes like men are.
You think all those women cosplaying at conventions are just men in drag or there just to make their boyfriends happy? You think girls don’t read and like superheroes? What the hell is this, the 1950s where girls are only supposed to read bad romance comics? That’s a crock of crap if I ever heard it. Tons of girls like many of the same things as guys do.
- There just aren’t as many women comic creators out there as there are men.
So this wide plethora of female webcomic and indy comic creators only came into existence because they’ve only read manga and other webcomics in the past ten years? And many of them I know weren’t exactly influenced by reading girly manga books in high school. They read Batman and X-Men like the rest of us. (And quite a few of them make me look like a high school art student who holds his pencil wrong.)
- Well, what would you consider a good affirmative action for the industry to take?
Christ, this isn’t the Equal Rights Amendment, or some public relations diversity ratio so you can get Rachel Maddow to write the foreword to your comic. It’s simple point. There’s lots of women comic creators, and there’s less than ½% of them working on the “big boy books”. Why? That woman dressed as Batgirl had a very good point and no one can give her a good answer, and when she pressed for one, she was mocked and ridiculed. I think that’s what bugs me more than DC’s response to her, was that the surrounding fans pretty much told her to shut up and sit down. Every time I think comics are on the verge of being taken serious as a respectable creative medium, like novels, movies, and television… Crap like this happens and reminds me there’s a real reason stereotypes like the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy exists.
It’s like women creators are akin to nuclear power. They’re an awesome powerful resource that people aren’t using for reasons that are steeped in traditionalism and fear. Taking it all into consideration, the only reason I can come up with is that ‘girls have cooties’. It has to be that! Because otherwise the only other logical reason is that the industry still has some serious cases of sexism going on, and that would just be insulting, infuriating and just outright depressing. I don’t want to say that, but they’re running out of reasons. And that’s one trait I really got to love about the webcomic community. It’s truly a community where anyone can be a creator, who’s judged on talent and not their gender. (Or race or sexuality.) And as comics start to go digital, blurring the lines between them and webcomics… I hope that this is a trait that they someday will also adopt, in actual practice and not just lip-service.
*Steps off soapbox, and goes back to the art table*
Alright folks, this isn’t the blog entry about anime like I just said I’d have… But it’s something even better! You know how I’ve been saying we’ve got some stuff coming down the line that I’m not able to talk about yet? Well, believe it or not, I wasn’t making it up! And I guess we can talk about a side project we’ve been working on for some time now. Ladies and Gentlefish… Please Don’t Wake Dagon!
Please Don’t Wake Dagon is a fast-paced card game set in the Innsmouth Day Care where you and your preschool playgroup aim to misbehave and commit as many Hijinks as possible and gather the most Goodies without being sent into Time Out. But you have to keep the noise down and avoid disturbing the sleeping monster in the yard next door. Because once Dagon wakes up…the fun is over for everyone. (Because you know… Deep One are party poopers.)
Try to resist the World’s Most Adorable Zombie Attack or succeed at Raiding the Cubbies! Be the first to have the Non-Euclidean Teddy Bear or to wield the power of the Necronomicon Pop-up Book against Hamstur the Unsqueakable with the Shadowbabies and a few friends, who’s tagged along for the fun.
Please Don’t Wake Dagon is a stand-alone, but expandable, card game designed by Jonathan Schwarz and published by Th3rd World Studios for 2 to 4 players. This starter set is priced at $24.99 and comes packaged with 126 full-color cards, a double–sided Dagon card and a rulebook. And you can order it now. No, not pre-order… ORDER! You can buy it HERE now!
Seriously folks, this thing is awesome!
I’ve never been a huge fantasy fan. I mean, sure I seen the Conan movies when I was younger, but the whole swords & sorcery genre never appealed to me all that much, as I was more of a science fiction nerd. And I mean no disrespect to the lovers of the genre. It’s just never been my bag. I mean, I liked to the Lord of the Rings movies, but I just never felt the love for the genre that I know others have, even though technically speaking, most of my favorite franchises would indeed fall under the fantasy categorization. (I mean, seriously Star Wars is more fantasy than it’s Science Fiction. And Star Trek is a communist fantasy.) I can appreciate it, but it was just something that never held my interests as a child. But that doesn’t mean I never liked watching a halfway decent barbarian film, because I did. And mainly because there was a better than average chance, you were gonna see boobies. A couple of friends I’ve been hanging out with lately are big fantasy buffs, and they’ve sorta helped rekindle an interest in the genre for me. I mean, it’s still nowhere near my love for Cybertronians, but I have developed an appreciation for it. And recently, I stumbled across a movie two-pack containing the movies ‘The Warrior and the Sorceress’ and ‘Barbarian Queen’. Now my friends think that Barbarian Queen was a better movie, because it has a better narrative and the story flows better, and they’re probably right. But I prefer the former more, because of just how weird it is.
‘The Warrior and the Sorceress’ is an Argentine fantasy movie made in the early 80’s, during the wake of the Conan the Barbarian movies. It’s essentially a sword and sorcery version of a ‘Fistful of Dollars’ or ‘Yojimbo’, or whatever you prefer. Essentially on a desert planet with two suns, that’s not Tantooine, David Carradine plays a wandering former holy warrior named Kane. (That’s a stretch, right?) Two parties are fighting for control of the only well of water in the region, and he plays each other against one another for gold. Kane looks nothing like he does on the box art above. Where there, he looks like a strapping muscular hero who would be a real challenge to Thundarr the Barbarian, in the movie, he’s clad in a black cloak that covers his small frame… And he looks bored the entire time. Even when he’s in the midst of a battle, he’s going through the motions like he just doesn’t care.
One of the bad guys reminds me of the human version of Jabba the Hutt. (Pre-Return of the Jedi version) complete with a laughing muppet-like sidekick and slave girls. Seriously, all he needed was a creepy looking Twi’lek looking guy to whisper in his ear. There’s an evil slaver (as opposed to a ‘good slaver’ I suppose) who looks like he was inspired by Humungus from the Road Warrior. But the thing that stood out to me as a laugh fest… And sorry ladies. This is where I turn into a total guy here… Is the titular sorceress, who’s name, much like everyone else in this movie, is not important… Other than the fact that, and I kid you not, she spends the entire movie topless. And in the few scenes that she’s got some kind of top on, she either loses it, very quickly… Or she gets a suit of armor that covers her top, except her boobs. It’s like designing armor for Final Fantasy characters. It’s seems that functionality was second in conceptualization. I mean, it’s not even teasing or sensual… It’s just so casually done, it’s almost comical. I mean, later in the movie, she’s reunited with her father. Does her father cover her up with his robes? No. She keeps running around topless. You might say “well, it’s just that planet’s culture.” Yeah, except that some of the other women in the movie are wearing tops. And then we much bring up… The “other woman” in the movie. And if you’ve seen the movie, you know who I’m talking about. If not… You see the box art up there with the lady in it? Yeah. Except her hair is goofier looking. Yeah, I know. Four breasts and I’m talking about hairstyles. Go figure. I mean, both girls are pretty, and I’m not complaining. It’s just… Somewhere it stopped being awesome, and just turned weird. But not weird in a bad way. Just… Weird. (Like Quentin Tarantino’s foot fetishes.)
Okay, ‘nuff about the boobs, let’s get back to the actual movie. Bad guy #2 wants the sorceress, because she has the ability to forge a mystic sword. (Maybe it’ll grant him access to Castle Grayskull.) Kane, being a former holy warrior, manages to free the sorceress in the world’s most uninspired escape scene. (Which involved climbing a wall and climbing back down it. And she promptly gets recaptured again.) There’s a lot of double crossing, and a spider-octopus monster, that’s not as cool as it sounds. In the end, she makes the sword for Kane to use against the bad guys, and stuff happens and then it ends. Yeeeeah… The thing is, it’s not the greatest sword and fantasy movie ever made. Hell, it’s not even in the second tier. (Maybe not even the third!) But I cannot say it’s not watchable. For all it’s stupidity, it’s a highly entertaining piece of crap. (Especially if you got some friends around.) There’s lots of weird stuff going on, and despite the constant nudity going on… Other than a drowning scene, which was just thrown in there to show how evil bad guy #2 is, it’s actually a quite harmless, like the Deathstalker movies. They’re silly and only offensive to people with a stick up their bum.
Join me next time, as I switch the topics up a bit and talk about some anime.
I figured while we’re waiting for the comic to continue, I’d continue my run of “Stupid Awesome” movie reviews. Now remember… These movies are by default “stupid” but they’re watchably awesome in thier stupidity.
I’ve been critical of James Cameron in the past, to the point that I’m sure many of you probably think I hate his movies. Well, I’m not fond of a lot of them, but his undersea documentaries I think are utterly beautiful, and I consider his 1989 movie ‘The Abyss’ his best movie. I really love it. Now what’s interesting is that in ‘89, the Abyss was not the first, but the SIXTH film in a slew of movies with the premise “Help, I’m trapped underwater and there’s a monster down here with me!” Cameron’s just happens to be the best of them. The others are honestly subpar. ‘DeepStar Six’ had laughably bad special effects, I don’t even remember ‘Lords of the Deep’ and the others I had to check Wikipedia to get the names. But there’s one that stands above those others that truly earns the title… Stupid-Awesome. Ladies and Gentlemen… ‘Leviathan’!
Okay, right of the bat, this movie is one of many rip-offs of Alien. You know the set up. Future setting, seven member crew (five men, two women), a shifty doctor with a questionable past, a corporate guy who’s heart’s in the right place, big cool black guy, ect. They get a call to check out an abandoned derelict on behalf of the company, and end up bringing a monster on board, which proceeds to kill everyone, one by one, until it’s down to one or two people. The monster is a genetic alteration, which after it kills people, it absorbs their memories, so it’s kind of like ‘John Carpenter’s The Thing’ as well. It’s very formulaic in it’s construction. You know who dies and in what order they’re going to die in. It holds no real surprises. You know the alcoholic’s gonna buy it first, and then the doctor’s gonna do something that’ll make escape impossible, and the cool black guy sacrifices his life to save the others, and he’s usually near the last to die. The corporation is ‘eeeeeevil’ and wants to doom them all. By the way, as an aside, how overdone is the evil corporation shtick? How exactly do you package and market evil? “Oooooooh! Big Guns and Big Pharmaceuticals are bad, man!” Because you know, soldiers can use harsh language and antibiotics are bad for you. Just once, for a change of pace, I’d love to see the evil corporation be a major manufacturer of wind turbines or hydroponic wheatgrass. I will give this movie credit though, in that the company didn’t want to retrieve the monster for some ‘bio-weapons’ division. They just wanted it to be destroyed. (They were just willing to sacrifice the crew to do it.)
But here’s the two things that makes Leviathan stand out from the others. It’s production values are pretty decent. Nothing ever really looks like a model or a cheap rubber suit. (With heavy exception of when you finally see the monster at the end. You’re kind of laughing, because you’ve seen more convincing Power Ranger monsters.) And the other is who they got to star in this movie. We have Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern, Meg Foster (and her cool eyes), and Winston Zeddemore himself, Ernie Hudson! Holy crap, how have more people not heard of this movie! That’s almost a geek battalion right the hell there! We also have Amanda Pays, who played Tina McGee on the old Flash TV show. Her British accent’s so freakin’ hot, the movie could just be an hour and a half of her reading a phone book, and I’d be content. (I could go off for a long period of time about how hot she is, but this would really quickly go from being pathetic to just plain creepy.) Generally the characters are well likable enough, especially Ernie Hudson’s character. However, Meg Foster’s character, as the company spokeswoman is so obviously evil. She’s like secreting underhandedness. It’s almost on a smarmy Doctor Doom level.
Okay granted, Leviathan is not high art. It’s formulaic. There’s built in cap to how good it can actually be. If they had actually broken away from the formula, it might have really been a good film. Simple little things, like had Meg Foster’s character not been a “heartless corporate shill” or if Ernie Hudson’s character could have survived and not die, as per the “black guy always buys it” trope. (Seriously, he’s the coolest character in this movie. But that’s probably because Ernie Hudson may be the coolest person period.) It would not have changed the context or direction of the story. In fact, it might have been somewhat revolutionary for it’s time. But unfortunately, it follows that formula to a tee, and I think it suffers for it too.
But as it is, it’s stupid but kind of fun. I don’t know if I can call it awesome, but I can’t exactly say it’s bad either. It’s a Diet Alien. It’s made with aspartame, so it’s like the original, but tastes kind of funny and not all that filling. But at like just over 90 minutes, it a decent rip-off. Which is more than I can say for the majority of the sequels to Alien. Next time, I’ll go into a wonderful piece of crap barbarian movie, starring Caine from Kung Fu, and not much else.
This past weekend, Transformers: Dark of the Moon opened up to a staggering worldwide gross of $440 million. A couple of people wanted to know my opinion of the movie, since I’m one of those people who openly liked the second movie, Revenge of the Fallen. (For those that weren’t aware of that, go HERE and read my reasons why before bitching to me about it.) Well, my general assumption is that I liked it. It was far better than RotF but not as good as the first one. Did it have it’s flaws? Oh yeah, and it did drag a bit toward the end. I mean, generally… The Transformers movies are like the Twilight movies, in that if you don’t want to like them, then nothing in the world will change your mind. But this was Michael Bay’s last Transformers movie, so this will be good news for the critics, and the films can only go uphill, right? Right?
Oooooooooh no. If history repeats itself here, as it has for other franchises like this one… This is where it gets BAD. And for those of you who really didn’t like the Bay-helmed movies? You’re not going to like what’s coming. But if it makes you feel better, neither will anyone else. You see, with Transformers, a lot of the complaints I’m hearing about it today, I’ve heard before. First time I heard it was in 1988 and then in 1992. With Batman. Complaints of the character being changed, the visuals not being right, Batman being more brutal than he is supposed to be, sexualization of Catwoman (seriously!), deforming Penguin into whatever he was in Returns, making Harvey Dent black, stupid jokes like the penguin army, and what not. You see, Transformers is a franchise, much like Batman, X-Men and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those of you who were around back then, remember that the average person who didn’t read comics still thought of Batman as pudgy Adam West, trying to get rid of a bomb. When it was announced that they were going to make a live action movie of Batman, the big question wasn’t “Can they make a faithful movie?” No, the question was “Can they make a movie that wasn’t a laughing joke?”