Author: Molly Jackson

Molly Jackson is a many-fandomed geek living in NYC. Basically, name the fandom and she has an opinion. When she isn't working her day job, you can usually find her waiting on line for a comic signing. You can also read up on her exploits as Wilderowens at [insertgeekhere].

Molly Jackson: Conventions for All!

Diversity amongst geeks has been a popular topic as of late. You would be hard pressed to find a comic convention without at least one diversity panel. Usually, though, there are panels about the diversity amongst fans, creators, cosplayers, actors, and fictional characters.

Usually, these panels focus on the heavy hitters of diversity: race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. And yes, these are all very important issues that need to be discussed. I know. I’ve argued on these very points myself on numerous occasions. Still, these aren’t the only groups that should be discussed. One group intersects them all. The disabled.

I bring this up because over the weekend, comics writer & Mine! Contributor Tee Franklin announced she would be no longer attending Baltimore Comic Con (Full Disclosure: Various ComicMix staffhumans are guests at the Baltimore Comic Con). This is because, despite her notes about her needs, the convention placed her in a distant spot from the door and bathrooms. Because of Franklin’s disability, she would not be able to make the regular walk through the floor. When she asked for a table change, the con staff told her sorry but there is nothing we can do. So Tee made the decision to skip BCC, which has disappointed a number of her fans. And this isn’t a unique event. This is Franklin’s first year doing conventions, and three of the four shows failed to assist her.

At least one table swap was offered by another creator, but by that time Franklin had already decided to skip no matter what. As a popular creator, this is a serious blow to attendees but teaches valuable lessons that every convention needs to be aware of.

When we talk about diversity, we should mean everyone. Every single person has a unique experience and view of the world. And everyone wants to see people like themselves successful. That’s why characters like Oracle have always been so important to this community, and why writers like Jill Pantozzi were so disappointed when they changed her back to Batgirl. I find Faith from Valiant inspiring and I would be upset if they suddenly made her skinny.

Franklin has only been tabling at cons a short time, and it’s possible that the conventions aren’t equipped to deal with disabled exhibitors. However, I doubt she is the first or even the fiftieth to make these requests. BCC has announced changes to their exhibitor planning to alleviate this issue from happening again in the future, which is a step in the right direction but comes too late for 2017. As we continue on this journey of diversity, we must remain inclusive of everyone, not just the groups we remember.

Speaking of diversity, Mine! A comics collection to benefit Planned Parenthood has a wide variety of creators, including Tee Franklin. Please check out this amazing Kickstarter, and join us in helping spread the word about Planned Parenthood’s important work.

Molly Jackson: Politics, Comics… and Mine!

Molly Jackson: Politics, Comics… and Mine!

If you’re a regular reader of ComicMix, then by now you’ve got to know about Mine!, the comics collection we are doing to support Planned Parenthood. If you just shook your head at the screen, please take a minute to read yesterday’s column from my co-editor and fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo.

All caught up? Perfect.

With everything happening in the world today, a comic doesn’t seem like the answer. I mean, we can do so many things. Why a comic book?

Here’s why. Comics, like all forms of art, is a voice of expression.  We use these to amplify our thoughts, feelings, and political opinions. But comics are special in that we can tell a story. We can tell the stories of those deeply affected by the choices made by the current administration. We can tell the stories of the heroes of the cause from the past, and the current day. Sharing the history of why we fight and who we fight for.

Comics have long carried the banner of activism. The most powerful being Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, which was published by civil rights groups in 1957. Telling the story of the fight for equality, it has since been published in multiple languages all over the world. This comic became the inspiration for many to fight for equal rights and served as a primer for millions on non-violent resistance. More recently, Love is Love is an LGBT comic anthology that benefited the victims of the Pulse shooting. It served as a way to share the stories of the LGBT community, educating others on their experiences while memorializing those lost on that tragic day.

Mine! is no different. Both Joe and I want to share the stories of the people who work with or use the services of Planned Parenthood every day. These are the everyday people in your life. Your best friend, your sister, your co-worker, and your grouchy neighbor. By educating others about the work of Planned Parenthood, we can achieve reproductive rights for all.

So I hope that you join us on this journey. I promise that this collection will entertain as well as educate. With everything happening today, we need to be aware. Not just on current events but the history behind them. Take a moment to check out the Kickstarter and support a great cause. You’ll be glad you did.

Molly Jackson: Strength Times Twenty

Today is A Day Without A Woman, a demonstration of solidarity to show the need for human rights for all. Throughout the country (and perhaps the world), you will see women wearing red, not spending money, and not working to protest gender inequality.  I admit I was torn about having a column posted today.  I respect today’s protest, and I am taking part in the ways that I can.  Still, I wrote this column before today, and I felt very strongly about marking the 20th anniversary of a strong woman who inspired me, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Back in 1996, I remember the excitement when I saw the commercial for the new show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  My sister and I loved the original movie, in part for the camp, in part for the wit, and in part for the female hero in the title. The next time she called home from college, I remember grabbing the phone to tell her that Buffy was back. Little did I know that the Buffy and the WB were about to shape my entire generation.

When Buffy helped really launch that channel on March 10, 1997, it was the beginning of an era. When I was in high school, everyone watched the WB. That singing frog was on everyone’s TV, we all knew about the love triangle of Percy, Joey, and Dawson, and Buffy was an icon; at least, she was to me. I did have a single friend tease me about watching Buffy; by season 3 I had him hooked. I still don’t let him live that one down.

The best part of Buffy for me growing up was that she was a year older than me, in a critical time of my life: high school. She was getting ready for prom when I was just a junior. Buffy and her scoobies survived high school when I questioned if I could make it through junior year. Her first year of college coincided with me applying for schools. When she entered the working world, I was at the point of college to start thinking about my future employment. Buffy got through those hurdles and set the example that I could as well.

It never mattered that Buffy was the creation of Joss Whedon. He wrote a strong female role model when others only wrote set pieces that had lines.  He was able to channel a teenage girl surprisingly well, and 20 years later, he is still celebrated for it.  Whedon continues to fight for women’s rights through Equality Now.

I owe more to Buffy and Joss Whedon than most people even know. Truth is, without Buffy I wouldn’t be here on ComicMix. I was a casual comics reader as a kid (I would refuse to get on an airplane without an Archie digest in hand) but it was never a serious passion. When Buffy came to comics with Season 8, that was my true gateway into this world. Dark Horse made comics so inviting, that I simply stayed. I delved in with two hands and never looked back. In fact, the reason my site [insertgeekhere] was started was so my writing partner and I could defend Dawn, Buffy’s little sister, after we heard some truly horrible things shouted at her during a sing-a-long event. And writing about geek culture has helped me express myself in ways I never thought possible.

So on today, a Day Without a Woman, I can only reflect on the women that gave me some of the best pieces of who I am.  A day without these women means a day without myself.  In real life, my mother gave me my love of books; my grandmother gave me my snarky attitude. My rabbi showed me that striving to answer a question is its own reward. And in fiction, Captain Janeway gave me a role model of strength and grace (plus my love of coffee).  And finally, Buffy gave me the very reason and drive to write and express myself.

So all I can do today is quote Buffy herself. As the slayer said, “Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”

 

Molly Jackson: It’s Toy Time!

Yesterday was the last day of Toy Fair. I spent the past four days running through the Javits Center here in New York City playing with toys, hanging out with companies, and trying to steal a giant Chewbacca. I failed at that last venture… this time.

As always, I attended Toy Fair with my [insertgeekhere] site partner, Andrea. The over-arching theme for this year was Collectibles. It was even named as a major trend for the rest of 2017 by the Toy Industry during their trends briefing. For full disclosure though, I missed that event because I was at an actual collectors event. Collecting has always been a big part of the geek world and it is totally reflected at Toy Fair.

I spent a long time checking out statues and figures that are mainly for display. Quantum Mechanix has been rolling out figures that reach fandoms other companies won’t focus on, like Supernatural. They are also working on a Millennium Falcon that could rival the real deal in detail. I was also blown away yet again by Mezco Toyz One:12 Collective line. With the addition of female characters like Wonder Woman, these figures are some of the best on the market, and one of the few to have real clothing rather than sculpted.

As you might expect, blind boxes are still climbing in popularity for another year. They were everywhere. New companies and the old favorites were all about the blind surprise items. My favorite definitely was the DC Shoebox Collection line at Cryptozoic, sculpted by Shephan Ehl. Super creative and well representative of the women in DC Comics. I am also a big fan of Cryptozoic because they always credit the designer and/or sculptor with all their pieces. I was also a big fan of the upcoming Classic Nickelodeon line from KidRobot. They probably had the best-looking Ren and Stimpy that I have seen in years!

My absolutely favorite items were at the LEGO booth. LEGO Marvel is hitting it out of the park this year. My two greatest loves are things that I haven’t seen before: Agent Coulson in a flying Lola should be a fan-favorite because of how beloved that character is. Plus, I would love to see Clark Gregg playing with it. No one loves Lola like him! And the possibly best thing period is the LEGO Ms. Marvel with the giant arms. I love love love Kamala Khan and to see her added to the LEGO universe is just awesome. March 1st is when I finally get to add them both to my own personal collection.

This is just a small taste of the things that made me squeal with joy throughout the week. Every year, I am just amazed by the ingenuity of the designers and how excited these companies are to make the fans happy. It is going to be a great (and pricey) year for toys!

Molly Jackson: Pulp, Puns, and Groans


Out yesterday was Angel Catbird: To Castle Catula Vol. 2. Now, you might recall that I mentioned this series once. OK, twice. Well, maybe three times. OK, I may have gone overboard. In case you forgot, the Angel Catbird series is by the genius writer Margaret Atwood, who is behind the ever-relevant The Handmaid’s Tale and fantabulous artist Johnnie Christmas.

At this point in the story, Strig (a.k.a. Angel Catbird) and his friends are moving to regroup at Catula’s castle (hence the title). As they walk, they tell stories about their past, and meet up with some new friends. We also get to see the dastardly plans of the evil Dr. Muroid and his rat army.

The pulpy nature of this story just makes you feel good when you read it. Plus, it gave me a great opportunity to use the word “dastardly” to boot. It’s got its own dark moments, to be sure, but overall it is a lovely break from the dystopian stories that have become more popular. Like for example, the nightly news. It reminds me of reading old school comics as a kid. This is something that feels more like old school Batman or Spider-Man. Plus the puns!! You laugh and groan at the same time for all the puns!

Through all the pulp, puns, and groans, Atwood builds a new universe that we only glimpsed in Volume 1. This time, we get a nice sized history on some of Angel’s companions, while meeting new friends like the half-owl community. The owls and cats, two communities on opposite sides, untrusting but willing to come together to protect each other. It sounds so important to today’s time, two different groups getting along.

A valuable but overlooked part is the fundraising and awareness aspect of this series. It continues to share cat and bird facts to enlighten the readers to the struggles of the animal population. All proceeds are still going to Nature Canada, a preservation organization in Canada. Today’s society is filled with causes, all deserving of attention and funding. It is important for comics to be a part of that. Using this platform to educate and help others, whether human, feathered, or feline is important.

I believe that comics are a great educational tool that appeals to all ages. Everyone should take a moment to learn, and learning can be educational too. But when learning also contains a 1000-year old vampire half cat, half human, it’s f*cking fantastic.
Until next time, same bird time, same cat channel!

 

 

 

Molly Jackson: Arts of War

Wow, the past 12 days have been a whirlwind of change, and I am not talking about comics. It’s incredibly hard to write about anything but the ever-changing world that we live in. It affects the very fabric of reality, and it ripples through space and time. But as in any and every art form, the impact of the current political and social climate is already being seen.

Over the past few months we have seen the influx of protest pieces on social media, from art to music to videos to memes and more. Yes, I know that memes as art is a stretch but they are created as form of expression, which is what art really represents. As artists continue to create political pieces, the fans who rally around them need to how to respond.

One such piece is this essay by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. SMBC isn’t normally a political comic but creator Zach Weinersmith hit his limit and felt the need to write down his thoughts. He spoke about his family’s immigrant past, and expressed his disdain for the current hate against other countries. He also writes that he is ready to use his voice, writing letters to politicians.

Angela Webber of the geek music duo The Doubleclicks wrote an article for The Mary Sue about her difficulty with creating in this turmoil. She poses the question about why should she create art when all of this is happening? Ultimately, she vows to continue on with creating art, and not just because she can. She reminds us that through art, hope can spring up. That when art is created, it can be a powerful force to sway hearts and minds.

Another is the art piece above that has gone viral. It’s by artist Yusef Abonamah, and it illustrates two people who we consider American heroes, but are the very types of people that our current government has been vilifying these past two weeks. It is a powerful message to all comic fans – especially if you think about all the times they tried to kick Superman off the planet and how that turned out.

The truth is, our superheroes embody all the traits that we all hope to emulate. We want to be able to make the sacrifices that Wonder Woman and Superman make to protect others and do the right thing. We may be mere mortals, but ascribing to more makes us better.

As we look at the art born of this current unrest, I hope that you find something that speaks to you. Something that grabs you and compels you to think, feel, act in the best interest of yourself, the country, and the world. And if you feel so inspired, perhaps you will create some art yourself.

 

Molly Jackson: Omaze Me

Scrolling through your Facebook feed, I’m sure you see them. They catch the eye with promises of grand adventures with exciting people. Sometimes you even see a fun video, with celebrities doing crazy things to unsuspecting people. That’s exactly what caught my eye when I saw this video of Chris Evans leading comic fans through an surprise escape room. It isn’t just a jest though. This prank is part of the pitch for his latest fundraising effort through Omaze.

In case you don’t know, Omaze is what celebs use to raffle off experiences to raise money for various charities. People can enter to win for as little as $10, which gets you 100 entries. If you want to spend more, you can get more entries as well as perk items like t-shirts, DVDs, key chains, and so on.

Like I said, you have probably seen links or videos for this website. And you’ve been intrigued by the chance to try your luck. It started with two guys who had a dream to meet Magic Johnson and an opportunity to win it in an auction. They realized there was no way they could afford to bid to win a chance to hang out with them. Rather than just let their hopes be dashed forever, they turned their frown in something positive and Omaze was born.

I’m still super curious about how they got that name though. Omaze sounds more like a stage magician obsessed with alliteration. The Amazing Omaze!

Buying a chance to win like the old school raffle makes it more affordable while raising more funds for those in need. Granted, with the popularity of this site and its wares no one has the best chance to win. I’m guessing that is why they also have some products for sale, both through individual campaigns as well as in the store.

If you haven’t guessed already, this is also a great promotional tool for films as well. It’s become quite the popular site with many of the geek-related films. Ben Affleck raffled off a chance to join him on set at Batman V Superman to support three global charities. Chris Pratt used Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to help build a teen center in his hometown. Both did fun videos that entertain. Honestly, you could fall into a Omaze youtube video hole for a bit. Watch Bon Jovi surprise karaoke singers and Robert Downey Jr. hop around in a bunny suit.

Seriously. A bunny suit.

So, yes, this may just be a PR stunt. But geeks are well known for their charitable giving and activism. I’ve even spent time writing about how great our geek community is about fundraising. This site makes that even easier for more people around the world to take part. And for those who need the incentive, celebrities are willing to give their time to see it happen. And it has worked. Over 170 countries have given to over 150 charities around the world.
The video I shared earlier where Chris Evans kinda tortures comic fans? He is doing it to raise money for Christopher’s Haven, a group that helps support families who have children being treated for cancer in the Boston area. In today’s society, we need all the support that we can provide to charities and people in need. The world is a scary place. If we all come together and support each other, the world can be made better. Every person can make a difference.

And if I can make a difference while hanging out with Captain America, that’d be cool too.

Molly Jackson: Classic Days, Sound Advice

It’s been an interesting week. Watching the news is almost akin to watching a horror film at times. At my day job, we usually talk about anything but the current events. Somehow, the other day our daily conversations turned to our childhood television shows. I spoke with glee about the past shows like Pete & Pete, Animaniacs, Ren & Stimpy, Aaah! Real Monsters, and Batman: The Animated Series. While a couple of these shows brought excitement to my coworkers, most did not. I was baffled, how could people not love Pete & Pete or Animaniacs?!

In thinking about it afterwards, I understand why they weren’t as excited as I was. In my day job, I am older than most of my team. This runs counter to the majority of my life, when I was always the baby of the group. It’s an odd feeling, to have to explain days gone by. In a way, I am finally starting to understand my parents.

However, I’m not one to let a chance at nostalgia slip by. It is, after all, the upcoming theme of the country. Since it was the first show I could find available on Netflix, I started rewatching the animated classic, Animaniacs. On the off-chance you haven’t seen it (you weirdo), it follows the misadventures of the Warner brothers Yakko and Wakko, plus the Warner sister, Dot. It runs like an anthology of shorts, with appearances by a wide cast including fan favorites Pinky and the Brain.

I tried actually writing this column while I caught up on Animaniacs (I blame Mindy for this). That was a mistake. It is still a really good show that frankly holds up to the tests of time and age. I was mesmerized by episodes I barely remember so everything felt new. A few things were dated, like anyone wanting to hang with Mel Gibson, but it hardly mattered to me. I felt the easy peace that comes with revisiting old, cherished friends. Yes, it’s been over 20 years but I still know that Bill Clinton can still play the sax, the Warner kids are still snappy and witty, and right now I’d take the Brain as the new world leader.

The next nine days will not be easy for anyone. The country is in turmoil, no matter what side you agree with. Taking the time to relax with your childhood memories can be reinvigorating and fun. So if you get a chance, put your feet up and give that a shot.

Molly Jackson: Treat Comic Con Volunteers Right!

It’s a New Year, a new me, and another 361 days of geekdom to look forward to! I started off this New Year by cruising the Internet and catching up on some geek updates and what caught my eye was the convention news. Usually, December/January is slow for cons, so I was shocked to find multiple stories that really caught my attention.

Some were positive, like diversity and inclusive Universal Fan Con getting fully funded. It looks awesome and needed and you should check it out. I’m a backer and I’ll see you there in April 2018. Others were sad, like the complete collapse of con company Geek Expos after they unsold their Marvelous New Year’s Eve Con with Stan Lee. It was a cool concept, but ultimately poorly promoted in a city that just couldn’t support it. And then I saw this next piece of news, which just pissed me off.

Phoenix Comic Con announced a new way for fans to apply for the volunteer army that works their convention each year. They want them to pay a yearly fee of $20 for the chance to apply. Amongst other things, I am not really sure that they understand the meaning of the word “volunteer.” It’s not a refundable fee either. This is going straight into the con’s pockets. PCC stated that they are doing this to ensure that volunteers do not just take the badge and not complete their volunteer shifts.

Here are the flaws with that plan. People bailing on their volunteer hours is still going to happen, even with paying. A $20 weekend pass isn’t as good as a free one, but it’s still cheaper than the full $55 price. But wait, they say. They will ban volunteers who do exactly that! But what was stopping you from doing that before??? If you want more reliable staff at your con, then hire people like ReedPop does. Or overbook your volunteer staffers so you have plenty of people. See who shows up for volunteer training and who doesn’t and keep records. Use the new popular tap system so many conventions are using so that you can deactivate badges from wayward volunteers, or only give them a badge for the day they are working. Do anything but forcing them to pay for the ability to apply to volunteer with no guarantee of getting the spot.

A good chunk of volunteers are people who don’t have the disposable income for tickets or for fees. I know this first-hand, as at one point I was one of them. I volunteered and I had a great time, meeting people and hanging out. So much so that I kept volunteering at that con, just for the experience. Volunteering is great and I highly recommend that everyone try volunteering at least once for the experience.

The thing that keeps making the story worse is that the convention is now getting into public fights. The con director and a former volunteer/vendor have been duking it out in comments. It’s a petty he said/she said fight. It became such a big comment war that Bleeding Cool even published an article about what happened in their comment section. What happened to the unwritten rule to not read the comments?

Volunteers are usually a convention’s biggest and most dedicated fans. Treating your fans with respect shouldn’t be a stretch for a business. It’s true, some people wrongly try to game the system. Those people should be banned, with no question. But don’t use the few bad apples as an excuse to abuse the rest. Cherish your fans or they will eventually abandon you.

Molly Jackson: Sci-Fi Screaming

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This past week, I went back to my parents for Thanksgiving. One of the big benefits of that is the ability to watch TV. Yes, I said that. I went back to watch TV. I don’t have cable, and I’m lazy about downloading things illegally. So I spend a good chunk of holidays binge watching my parents OnDemand cable package. My parents seem to be fine with this. Seriously.

While I was there, I caught the first episode of SyFy Channel’s latest show, the futuristic Incorporated.

Incorporated follows Ben Larson, a young executive with a secret. He isn’t who he says he is. He is actually from the red zone, an outside district of the Spiga Corporation. He has secretly built a life in Spiga’s green (a.k.a. safe) zone, where he leads the perfect life and hunts for the girl he loves. What this show does a great job of laying out in the first episode is the future they envisioned. It is a world controlled by corporations, not governments.  A future world where everyone either works for the corporate machine or lives in extreme conditions. A world where getting fired literally equals torture and death.

This show may sound eerily familiar, especially if you are an avid SyFy or Sci-Fi watcher. It is because it really is just the latest in a long and growing list of shows warning about corporate control. On SyFy alone, this is the third (at least, I might have missed one) currently in production. By the by, Dark Matter and Killjoys are both awesome shows and you should check them out. But these shows aren’t the first of the controlling companies in Sci-Fi. Weyland-Yutani, OCP, Tyrell, Soylent, GeneCo; the list can go on and on.

Entertainment, especially Sci-Fi, works to envision all possibilities for humanity as well as look at who we are as a people. Every story is informed by the current events of the world. So what does it say that we have a trend of corporate greed/government in our visions for the future? When you look at the Incorporated website, they include a “historical timeline” of how the world got to the corporate control in 2074 that the show revolves around. It was so realistic, so possible. It was terrifying.

Science Fiction has been warning about corporate corruption and unlimited control for decades. This isn’t a huge leap for anyone who has been watching or reading the news. The warnings are more and more frequent and obvious. The real question is, are we listening and learning?

In case you want to catch the first episode of Incorporated to see what’s to come, it officially premieres tonight at 10pm EST on SyFy.