Author: Molly Jackson

Molly Jackson: Pass or Fail?

pass failI went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night. That’s not incredibly impressive because so did almost everyone else. While I was on line for my overpriced movie snacks, I did overhear a very interesting conversation. Three guys in their late twenties, talking about the Bechdel test and if certain movies would pass or fail.

In case you don’t know what the Bechdel test is, here are some details. The Bechdel test (also known as the Bechdel-Wallace test) first appeared in Alison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For. In a strip published in 1985 “The Rule”, two women discuss seeing a film and one of them lays out these rules that we have all come to use. The rules are: 1) The movie has to have at least two women in it, 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man. After the comic strip’s publication, it has also become common to require that both women have character names.

Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin)It has been applied to TV shows on a regular basis. I’m fairly certain that every episode of Buffy hasn’t passed this test. Teenage girls do spend a lot of time whining about their undead boyfriends in between saving the world from the bad guy. And my favorite comic book, The Life and Times of Savior 28, definitely doesn’t pass. (You should still read it though.) These examples don’t diminish the fact that this test, while far from perfect, is our only real judge of women in movies or any form of media.

So back to my eavesdropping. Here are three fairly young good looking albeit kinda hipster guys chatting about the Bechdel test and how movies need to change to better represent women. They were talking about the movie The Big Short in the context that women weren’t as involved with the real life events (which I don’t know is true) so that is why it probably won’t pass. They actually got really serious and intense in talking about the gender inequality in movies, especially in relation to the Bechdel test.

So, in overhearing all of this, I started to giggle. One of them caught my eye and we began to chat. I told them that the test had worked perfectly in their case because it made their discussion happen. When this comic was published, this conversation wasn’t happening on a movie concession line or probably anywhere else. When it finally started, it was women forcing the conversation upon men, as they explored the possibilities for equality in movies. Now, men are becoming equal partners in wanting to see change happen.

I’m not saying this change is going to be immediate; in fact it has been going on for longer than anyone’s lifetime who is reading this. Nevertheless, compared to 30 years ago when this was published, the conversation is happening on a public level. Yes, there are still people who deny the conversation exists, and we all know that equality is a hot button issue right now.

The world isn’t perfect and there is still a lot of room to grow. Sometimes the way things are really gets me down. But sometimes, I overhear the very best things and get re-inspired that we can change for the better.

Molly Jackson: Giving Back

Toys for TotsDuring the holiday season, I really get into gift giving. It’s my thing. I go out of my way to get the weird and unusual gifts for people. It doesn’t matter for what religious holiday; I just really like shopping and need a way to justify the spending. Plus, it’s nice to make people happy with an item they never knew they wanted.

So, naturally, I’m a big supporter of Toys for Tots. I firmly believe that every child, no matter what religious celebration, should have some fun in their year. So when a geek I knew criticized me about giving “good toys” to Toys for Tots, I was seriously disappointed.

Here is a little detail in what happened. I am lucky in that I do get some nice toys throughout the year from various companies. The ones I don’t want or get a chance to do something with, get saved for donation at the end of the year. It seems like the least I can do. The best part is that they are usually geeky toys. I like being able to share toys that I loved as a kid with other kids today. So, the toy that drew the ire of another geek was a Masters of the Universe action figure. Cool, right? This geek was shocked that someone would donate that. As per him, this was too good to give away to Toys for Tots. Considering that the bin was mostly filled with discount toys, I was happy to have added some variety to the bin.

What I told him was that I can donate what I want and I wanted to share that toy with a kid who needs a toy. There was no need for me to keep it (I mean, it was cool but not a must have for me) so why not share it with someone who can really enjoy it. I also encouraged him to go shopping for toys he loves to share with kids in need.

At the end of the post, I’m going to encourage you all to do the same and donate toys. But first, I’m going to remind you that most successful franchises are considered successful based on toys sales. Think about that for a second. Do you have a franchise that you love that might be struggling? Maybe picking up some toys could help, not just to spread the word but also bump up those sales numbers. And hey, while you are at it, buy female characters too. That is, if you can find them.

I also want you to remember that as geeks, we are kinda honor-bound to pass on the things we love. I buy my niece tons of geeky presents even though she is two and has no idea what any of it means. I want her to feel comfortable with starships and superheroes from as young an age as possible. That is the other reason why I share these toys with charities. I grew up with the original MOTU and I loved it beyond belief. It is time for the younger generations to enjoy it too. Yes, kids can play with toys without knowing the backstory. But unlike our own childhoods, with the internet you never know what a kid may discover and what they might fall in love with. Spread your fandom and share that thing you love.

I’ve touted before that geeks can be very generous with their time and money. Donating for Toys for Tots is right up our alley! Toys are awesome and we all have ones we love and still play with. Times are tough for everyone but if you can afford it, please spread the joy this holiday season. Head to your local toy store, pick out something that you love, and share it with a kid in need.Giving Back




Molly Jackson: Lessons

LessonsIt’s been a long week in comics, for me at least. Frankly, I’m already behind on reading all the “Best of 2015” lists and my inbox is totally overflowing. So I when I saw the latest announcement from Dark Horse Comics, I was super surprised, definitely excited, and a little anxious.

It was announced yesterday that Margaret Atwood is writing her very first graphic novel series. It is a superhero tale called Angel Catbird, who is a half-cat, half-owl hero with a bit of an identity crisis. The first book in the series of 3 will be out in Fall 2016, with more announcements to come. The best part is the comics are being published with support of Nature Canada, a conservation charity.

Her comic sounds very lighthearted and fun, which is not at all the descriptors I personally think of when talking about Margaret Atwood. To ma at least, she has always been a serious and deep writer, warning the world of lessons it needs to learn. If you’ve ever read The Handmaiden’s Tale, you know exactly what I am talking about. When I read that novel, I was (and still am) terrified of that world.

Right now, that story has more in common with today’s reality then anyone would like to admit. We are living in a time where we are turning against each other out of fear and misunderstanding. Literature is here not just to entertain, but to pass on knowledge and lessons. With each passing day, the path towards The Handmaiden’s Tale becomes a little clearer, which should scare all of us.

I’m not sure if Dark Horse’s Angel Catbird will have a lesson to learn. I can make a guess that it will considering the involvement of Nature Canada. I will just sit here and hope that its readers and the world will be there to listen.

Molly Jackson and the Mystery Quota

Mystery Quota
A couple weeks ago, Jessica Jones premiered with much fanfare. The internet vomited up so much detail about the character you would have thought Alias had been Marvel’s biggest selling book since Amazing Spider-Man. Fans are tripping over themselves to talk about Jessica and her abusive relationship with Kilgrave. But another, more disturbing line of conversation has emerged: the competition between female superhero shows.
Yes, people are taking to the Internet now saying Jessica Jones should and will get Supergirl cancelled. Because those two shows are exactly alike, have the exact same audience, and must compete as per the laws of the Internet.

Oh wait, none of that is true. But sadly, this type of fear mongering will always continue.

In geek culture, we are taught from a young age, that things we love will get cancelled by the network, the creative team will get taken off the book they made big, our childhood loves will be rebooted into a steaming pile of crap or our favorite character will get ret-conned into an asshole. Just because we have suffered through that kind of trauma doesn’t mean we need to succumb to it. Right now there are geeks who are saying Supergirl should be cancelled because Jessica Jones is a better show. I’d surmise that each has their own place in entertainment. I’d also like to point out that I don’t think Netflix shows can be considered anything similar to network television due to the differences in distribution. The entire show structure has to be thought out better since viewers are more likely to binge watch. Though, that is really an argument for another column day.

My point, long and rambling as it is, is that geeks seem to need to compete against other geeks, like we are all fighting for a limited spot in the geeky quota. Yes, the quota does seem to show up on occasion. In comics, we’ve seen a limited expansion of diversity on creative teams and in characters. At DC Comics, they were even told to stop “Batgirling” a.k.a. stop exploring new things.

Entertainment as a whole has stuck with the basic “meat and potatoes” idea. But when a new idea takes off, it does explode with similar stories and genre exploration. I don’t see why superheroes, which is having an amazing renaissance in television, would be any different. Would it be great if there was more? Of course. But that is no reason to take two slightly similar shows and say one can’t be on the air because another show is. Then we wouldn’t have 30+ different cop shows on TV. (That is an entirely arbitrary number. I was going to count but it already seems like a lot. That’s probably closer than TV would want to admit.)

Show the entertainment companies what you love and you might get to keep it. Just don’t knock other creations in the process.

Molly Jackson: Looking Back At “The Kiss”

Looking Back

A few days ago we had the anniversary of the first interracial kiss on US network television. No, this post isn’t about Star Trek, even though that is where it took place. But it is nice to look back and forward to see the path we, as a people, are on.

Less than 50 years ago, we broke through what now seems like a stupid boundary. Still, at the time this was a very important step. Especially when you look at the response that the actors and studio got, which was a largely positive one. The public at large didn’t react negatively or angrily; they just wondered what it was like in letters to each of the actors.

This scene went on to be just one of Nichelle Nichols’ accomplishments; she was and still is a public face for NASA, which at the time was almost unbelievable for an African-American actress.

Now in current times, we are still fighting the battle of diversity and equality. If you turn on the news, it is more than evident. Comics has been continuing on this path as well. We have seen the comics news cycle focus on this issue time and again.

In the past year, we have seen growth as well as the troubling yet continuing trend of ignorance. As we look towards the future of comics, the past we have come from will impact how the industry moves forward.

We can look at the past, where a simple kiss is a groundbreaking moment, and see how crazy it seems to us now. Still, we can’t deny that it made a difference in our lives today. With the changes still happening, in the comics industry and in the wider world, perhaps we are ready for another “simple yet groundbreaking” moment.

Molly Jackson: John Scalzi Got Me Again

The End Of All ThingsAuthors go out of their way to provoke emotions. I understand that. And authors do an amazing job of balancing that impact. However, they aren’t writing for automatons, so each person’s reaction is different. That reaction is where it can all go wrong.

Some authors just have a way of getting to me but John Scalzi in particular. Have you ever read his work? He has a great conversational tone that can suck a person right into the story. After reading his book Redshirts, it ruined TV for me for at least a few months. Over a year later, I yelled at him at Book Expo America. It’s true. I have witnesses. Afterwards, I realized how cathartic it was. I felt unburdened and relaxed. Which brings me to my point. He did it to me again.

While at NYCC, I had a chance to pick up a copy of his new book, The End of All Things, which is in the Old Man’s War series. (Read the first book and you will be hooked.). It is a collection of short stories following the political turmoil in this universe. While I was getting it signed, I made a point of telling him about how traumatized I was from Redshirts. At that point, I was still a little upset but mostly I was over it.

Fast forward to last week. I had finally picked it up to start reading (still struggling with my reading list) and well, I had to stop reading because way too many feels. He sacrificed an important character in a way that was too emotional for me. I really wish I could go into details but I can’t without spoilers! Safe to say, this rocked me once again. They don’t give time off for emotional scarring from books.

Now, I know this all might seem like I’m angry at the writer. I’m not, really. Scalzi is one of my favorite writers. Look at the emotion he invokes in me. The impact his writing has had on me and now all of you. I willingly go on this roller coaster. And yes, sooner rather than later I will finish reading The End of All Things.

So think about the books that have made you so emotional. The writers that still impact you long after the book is finished. Hunt them down; seek them out. Let them know that their writing affected you. I yelled at Scalzi. He was happy that his writing made a lasting impression. Let your writers know how you feel. Yell and everything.

Molly Jackson: Many Faces of Fandoms

Many Faces of Fandom

Fandoms can be a wonderful thing. People who are drawn together by love of a particular series, be it written/filmed/drawn/created in any way, can and have banded together to do some amazing things. I’ve written about how my fellow Browncoats (a.k.a. Firefly fans) and I have raised money for Equality Now. Supernatural fans have come together along with show star Jared Padalecki to raise money for nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms. Gamers have gaming marathons for various charities throughout the world.

Most recently, Star Wars fans took to Twitter to help a dying fan see Episode 7. Sadly, Daniel passed away a few days after his screening. It may be right out of a movie script (ala Fanboys) but it was a touching gesture by fans, cast, crew, and SW franchise to make sure it happened.

With all this in mind, why am I telling you how awesome fans are? Because sadly, sometimes they aren’t awesome. Sometimes people ruin the friendship that grows out of fandom love. That has happened from the Steven Universe fans. A small group of SU fans appears to be growing increasingly mean to the point of brutal. Another fan documented the escalating issues, which have gotten out of control. Fans have been so vicious to other about opinions on the show, they are using rape and death threats. At this point, the ongoing abuses have caused someone to attempt to take their own life.

No fandom is worth any life. I can’t say that loud enough. I love being in fandom groups but I would give them all up in a heartbeat if it meant saving a life. My personal entertainment does not come at the expense of someone’s emotional wellbeing. If yours does, you need to reevaluate.

Steven Universe is a show a lot of friends have told me to watch. After this, I don’t think I can. Yes, I know I can watch a show without being involved with the fandom. But if I like it, I know I’ll want to see what’s out there. It might be unfair to judge a show by the actions of its active fan base. If this is the negativity surrounding a show that is described as all about love, understanding, and equality, then I need to stop before I start.

The real fear is that this can happen to any fan group because the internet is filled with people who think anonymity means no consequences. That since you don’t know the person on the other end in real life, they don’t really matter. Good rule of thumb to use: If you won’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on the internet. Be respectful to each other. That means you can still argue facts or provide criticism, but you don’t threaten someone bodily harm because they have a different opinion.

Imagine a world where every conversation on the internet is an engaging one for the right reasons. Imagine reading the comments only makes you cringe from bad grammar, not crude language. Don’t sit there and think it isn’t possible. Go make it possible by showing the world there are still decent human beings on the internet.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please seek help and assistance.

Molly Jackson is Not Going to Write About It

Not Going to

I am not going to write about it. I know everyone thinks I will since I am a huge Trekkie, but I won’t do it. Despite my love for the franchise, I’m not gonna write about the new Star Trek series. Not happening at all.

I won’t acknowledge how confused and nervous I am about the potential premise of the show. All they said in the press release is that it isn’t affiliated with the new film. So, what timeline is in, the old fan favorite or the new Abrams one? What year will we be in, Kirk’s era, Picard’s, or a completely different one? And are we even talking about the Enterprise? All of these questions are valid. Still, I won’t acknowledge I am excited under all that nervousness.

And I won’t even admit how nervous I am about the guy at the helm. The same guy who brought us the multiple cringe-worthy, fan-hated Into Darkness. However, Alex Kurtzman has working on some shows I’ve enjoyed. He got his start working Xena and Hercules! Still, he proved in the movies that he just doesn’t get Star Trek. My nervous brain is wondering if he can bring back the true spirit and ideology of Star Trek or if it will just be another plotless, bad story lacking character development, action show on TV.

I’m not going to write about how the new pricing structure is kind of insulting. CBS All Access doesn’t really appeal to me. They want me to spend $72 dollars a year so I can watch two shows. That’s assuming I keep watching Supergirl (which I can get a season pass for on Amazon for $29.99). CBS needs to up their game and they need to do it fast. They rarely appeal to me and their overall image needs to change. Can’t they work a deal out with Warner so they can add some CW shows on there? And for all the arguments that Star Trek: TNG helped launch cable, I don’t really care. It’s mean to do this to fans who might not be able to afford it.

Mostly, I’m not going to let anyone know how pissed I am they announced this in the 49th anniversary year of ST but it doesn’t come out until the 51st anniversary year. Which means they will spend an entire year torturing fans with bits and pieces of details. They knew this damn 50th anniversary was coming; couldn’t they have planned it better?! I hate waiting for details!

I won’t talk about how wonderful it is that they are finally bringing Star Trek back to the medium in which it works best. While the movies are great, the stories really shined in the TV format. TV gave them the ability to single out and look at everyday social issues, from week to week. That is why Star Trek is known for tackling boundaries long before society. So, I can’t admit that I am so excited despite my reservations.

So yeah, I’m just not going to talk about any of this. I’m so glad I’m keeping quiet, I have a lot of uncertain feelings.

Molly Jackson: Time for Treats!

Time for Treats

It’s a fun week in NYC, with everyone getting into the Halloween spirit. At my day job, I was chatting with some of my co-workers about the upcoming festivities. They were talking about taking their kids trick-or-treating. Since this is city living, they were talking about the trick-or-treating event at their local mall.

Growing up in the suburbs, I always had tons of houses to hit up for candy. Going out on Halloween wasn’t a special event, it was serious business. I wasn’t really in it for my costume, it was all about the trick-or-treating. Getting all that candy require planning and dedication. I loved every minute of it. Because, free candy. If it were socially acceptable for a 32 year-old, I would still go trick-or-treating today.

However, different locations mean something different for Halloween. City kids go to events either at stores or a building that sets hours. It all seems so weird to me. As you can probably tell, I have such fond memories of demanding candy from strangers. That sounds wrong but that is exactly what trick-or-treating is: politely demanding candy from strangers.

I did make it a point to let them know about Halloween Comic Fest. This is the fall’s answer to Free Comic Book Day, where stores hand out some free, Halloween-inspired comics to kids of all ages. This event is usually a smaller affair than FCBD but still just as fun. Plus this year is extra-special because it actually lands on Halloween. The majority of the books are usually all-ages, which makes it an even better event for all those trick-or-treating city kids going to stores.

Trick-or-treating has evolved and adapted to fit the needs of every community, so it is interesting to learn about how it has changed. Still, I miss my days of walking for miles and obtaining a gold mine of candy. At least I have Discount Candy Day (a.k.a. Nov. 1st) to look forward to!

Until next week! Enjoy your tricks, treats, and forthcoming cavities.


Molly Jackson Has Pull List Envy

Dr Fate

I’ve learned a very important lesson this past week: Never ever start training for a new day job the day after a four-day convention. All it does is turn your completely exhausted brain to mush. However, with said new position I will have a very small amount of extra cash available to do something I miss. Set up a comics issue pull list at a local comic store (LCS).

Many moons ago I moved from the suburbs to the bright, shiny lights of NYC. When I did that, I left behind my LCS Amok Time (Go check them out, I still heart them so much!) and with it, my last pull list. I wanted to give myself a few months of trying on the large variety of comic shops in my area and finding one that fit well. Alas, a few months later when I was getting serious about committing, I ended up in a 14-month period of unemployment.

I made the responsible but not fun decision not to commit to buying single issues on a regular basis and began reading graphic novels from the local library, which I totally recommend. Being unemployed made me a little nervous about committing to spending on a regular basis. Even after being employed steadily for almost two years, I am only now considering it because I am getting the aforementioned raise.

My real desire to move forward is all the amazing books starting to come out. At NYCC, I picked up a few things I have been meaning to check out and frankly, I am afraid I will miss an issue here or there. And after finally getting and reading Bitch Planet Vol. 1 at NYCC (I can almost hear EIC Mike Gold admonishing me for waiting so long), I don’t want to wait for Vol. 2 to come out. I want to see each issue unfold. I got issue #1 of We Are Robin (plus got it signed by Khary Randolph at NYCC) and almost missed issue #2 coming out this past week! Not to mention I only just discovered Paul Levitz’s Dr. Fate! Pull lists will mean I don’t always have to be on top of what comes out when.

So yes, it will be a very small pull list. Probably five or six titles at the max. I need to save a lot of my moolah for the future, like attending more conventions, so my LCS spending will still be at a minimum. However, part of my relationship with money is prioritizing what is important to me. Comics, like probably all of you, are important enough to me to bring lunch to work rather than buying or passing on some unneeded shopping.

And, I miss the special trip of picking up my pull.