Tagged: Dakota North

Martha Thomases: Katie, Emily & Sana


When the phone rings on a Sunday and it’s not even 9 AM, I leap up and brace for news that someone has died.

Luckily, when the phone rang this past Sunday that wasn’t the case. “Turn on the Today show right now!!” said my friend, Pennie.

Right there on a network news show (one that was on at the crack of dawn on a weekend) was a long segment about women and comics.

It was great, but I have issues.

Really, go watch the clip, and then we’ll talk.

First of all, huge props to the Marvel/Disney PR department for not only getting the story placed, but for making it all about Marvel. In my experience, many general-interest journalists conflate Marvel and all super-hero comics, and it seems that Marvel is just fine with that.

Erica Hill, the reporter, claims that one third of the Marvel editorial department is female, and that may be true but I’d like to see a breakdown. I loved seeing Sana Amanat, Katie Kubert and Emily Shaw talking about their jobs. Those are three smart women who know a lot about the business, and it was fun to see their chops and enthusiasm.

However, Sana is the only one who is an executive, and Emily is an assistant editor. How do women in Marvel editorial rank in comparison to the men, especially among staff with the same amount of tenure?

I really don’t know the answer to that. I hope it’s one I like.

The story also says that between 30-50% of the comic book market is female. How do they define this market? Does it include manga? Does it include graphic novel sales in bookstores? Do they mean Marvel sales (as they seem to conflate Marvel with all comics)? If a third of Marvel’s sales are to women, why haven’t I seen that news before? Am I just oblivious?

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m aware that a morning-news piece isn’t going to go digging too far because their audience is just getting coffee, getting over a hangover or getting ready for church. Still, I wanted to know more.

Is it too meta for a column about comics on a comic-book site to critique a television news piece about comics? Maybe. As a publicist I would have been thrilled to get the placement, but I would have buried the producers with information, not just about my company but about the entire field. I would have especially directed them to Image Comics, where women don’t just work on different titles but get to own the rights to their work. I would have urged them to interview female writers and artists and retailers, to get their perspectives on the changes in the market.

Most of all, damn it, I would have urged them to highlight Dakota North. We have to find a way to get her on Netflix.

Martha Thomases: Trigger Warnings! Beware!


Like the dweeb I am, I spent last weekend watching television on my computer. First (because I’d already seen the first two episodes), The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime, and then Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. I suppose there might have been other things to do for two days, but all of them involved wearing pants.

This isn’t going to be a review, or even a comparison of the two shows. Instead, I want to talk about trigger warnings. Still, you might want to beware of spoilers.

A trigger warning is a note, usually on a book cover or syllabus or other preview piece, that informs the potential user that some material in the specific piece might be disturbing. If you watch the network news, you’ve probably heard some version of a trigger warning before the camera cuts to pictures of starving children or corpses of people shot down in the streets.

The term “trigger warning” has become a cause du jour because some people think it means a particular book (or movie or newscast) is banned when it comes so captioned. To those people, a trigger warning is just another way we are coddling kids today, with their crazy music and their hair, who don’t appreciate how good they have it and they should just get off my lawn already.

Anyway, some people think that there should have been a trigger warning on Marvel’s Jessica Jones. And, I confess, I hadn’t thought about that until I read the essay in the link.

Here’s what I think is the key quote: The point of a trigger warning is not to tell people “Don’t watch this.” Or “You’re too weak to handle this.” The point of a trigger warning is to empower all viewers by informing them of what they can expect so they can make the best decision for themselves, cognizant all the while that the viewer’s personal response is just that: personal.

Maybe I would have understood if I had read the comic book on which Jessica Jones is based. I did read the first issue, and I didn’t like it much. To my reading at the time, it seemed to me to be trying to hard to be shocking and gritty. I watched the series because I totally love David Tennant. Yes, I’m shallow. Don’t judge me.

If I’d read the series, maybe I would have known that Jessica Jones is the victim of the violent sexual and emotional abuse perpetuated by Kilgrave The Purple Man, the villain who uses his mind control powers exactly as you’d expect if you imagine David Tennant to be the embodiment of a houseful of frat-boys. Still, because I heart him so much, I found myself, after the first episode, wishing he would come to me in my dreams and lick my face, as he did to Jessica.

After a few more episodes, I didn’t want that anymore. If anything, I felt kind of soiled for having wanted it at all.

I haven’t experienced the kind of comic-book violence Jessica Jones went through, nor have I experienced any more than the daily insults and bruises that any woman gets in this culture (and as a straight cis woman with gray hair, I get less than many of my sisters). The violence in the Netflix series seemed more harsh than what we see every day on network television, but I didn’t have to look away except for the parts about needles in the eye.

Still, there are millions of women who have experienced actual criminal violence, and they might have been disproportionately upset by the fight scenes on the show. (When I say “disproportionately” I don’t mean they are too sensitive, I mean that their reactions are not what the creative people intended.) If Netflix put some kind of warning or disclaimer in the descriptive materials (like cast information and plot summaries) they post before the user clicks to play, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.

There wasn’t a warning on Amazon Prime for The Man in the High Castle either, and I haven’t seen anyone ask for one. So I guess it’s just me.

If you haven’t read the Phillip K. Dick novel on which the show is based, you can still enjoy the show. I haven’t read it in decades. The premise imagines a world 20 years after the Axis won World War II. Germany controls the East Coast of the United States across to the Rockies. Japan controls the West Coast. There is a narrow neutral zone in between.

The world-building on this series is awesome. Everything, from the cars to the clothing to the outdoor advertising to the streetlights, reflects a world in which the American way has been perverted by fascism. It takes a while to notice some of the detail (like the lack of anyone but Aryans in Manhattan) but it’s chilling when it sinks in.

I didn’t experience concentration camps (I’m not that old), but I have been freaked out by the imagery for my entire life. I also have trouble looking at old footage from Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs destroyed those cities. There’s a bunch of both of these things in this series. You have been warned.

Even if the shows had been labeled, I would have watched. Again, trigger warnings are not censorship. If anything, more people would probably enjoy them if they knew what they were getting into.

Now, if we could only lobby Marvel into that Dakota North series…

Martha Thomases: Rosario Dawson Is… Who?

Rosario DawsonThe most important entertainment news this week was not the announcement of new television or movie deals. No one with the star power to open a movie got arrested or married or gave birth. There is no hot new music festival, nor have any celebrities been released from jail.

No, this is the most important story. Rosario Dawson has been cast in the Daredevil series Marvel Studios is producing for Netflix.

The reason I know this is the most important story is that it caused the most people to send me e-mails or texts. Everyone had the same question.

Was Rosario going to play Dakota North?

As near as I can tell from reading the stories to which my friends linked me, the answer is no. Nothing in the character description indicates that she is playing a former fashion model turned private investigator and freelance security professional.

Still, I understand why people ask. Dakota North has been a more frequent participant in the Marvel Universe of late, appearing not only in Daredevil but also Captain Marvel. She’s a useful item in the toolbox because her skills make it believable that she knows something important to the plot. You believe her father (former CIA) taught her the necessary moves to not only find out secrets, but to also fight her way out of any jam.

She is not a social worker, as seems to be the case with the Dawson character. She doesn’t know how to help people talk through their problems. She doesn’t know how to help people get what they need from a convoluted government bureaucracy. No one person can excel at everything.

This is a shame, because I would love it if Dakota North were to be played by Rosario Dawson. She’s tall enough to be a credible fashion model, and we know from movies like Sin City and Death Proof that she can kick ass. No, she doesn’t have red hair, but, really, that’s hardly a defining character trait.

More important, I would love it if Dawson were to play Dakota North in the series because she has already been cast and it would mean I’d get paid. I forget what the page limit is past which Marvel must pay me for using her in a single issue of the comics, but they haven’t reached it yet. However, if she were to be on screen, I’d have a case.

I would like to urge each and every one of you to lobby for this to happen. I, myself, have already spoken to The Incredible Hulk about this when I met him at a political fundraiser last year.

(It was for Martha Robertson, whose anti-fracking stance won his support. I urge you to support her, and not only so you can meet movie stars, but because she is a great candidate.)

This isn’t as important as getting Jack Kirby recognized and paid. I don’t believe that the comics community is going to rally around this particular cause, nor should they. However, it would be lovely if all of us who contributed to making the various comics universes interesting and complex enough to entice paying customers could share the wealth.

Even if it’s just one character.