The Super Bowl was this past weekend. I’m sure you know this, as it is a (unrecognized) national holiday. I enjoy watching football; it is a fun pastime to me. (The shock! The horror!) However, the game this year wasn’t all that great. There were too many fumbles and too many errors. Very disappointing indeed. But then again, the Super Bowl isn’t really about the game anymore. It is about the commercials.
This commercial revelation isn’t a new thing either. It has been at least a decade of excitement over the commercials. But even that is beginning to fade a bit as everything gets released online in advance. Now we get trailers for commercials! Or in our case, (bringing this back around) trailers for movie trailers.
As geekdom has become “normal” and accepted, comic book movies seem to have exploded in popularity. This past weekend saw at least five comic book movie trailers, plus commercials that featured comic book characters. However, you didn’t need to watch the game to see them. They were all released on the internet almost immediately after airing.
For those who skipped the game, the weekend also saw a minor feud start up (or possibly flare up) between creators Rob Liefield and Dan Slott about credits on the new Deadpool movie. Things were said, tempers rose, and we all got the ringside seat. In the past, this would have been an internal comic fight but the internet brought it straight to us.
Geeks connecting outside of their basements or comic shops is still a good thing. Now I know geeky people all over the world. Still, with great connection comes great responsibility. We all use the internet as a platform for expression, but it is always interesting to watch companies and celebrities use it to reach the masses.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we are all connected. Now, creators get recognized for their own work globally. Before the Interwebs, we would have had no idea who Rob Liefield was, much less any quotes taken out of context. Bill Finger still would be an unknown and Superman creators Siegel and Shuster would have never gotten any credit in the history books. And without the interwebs, we wouldn’t get tangled up in creator fights or five trailers for the same film that provide no extra info.
I am told there are people who are sick and tired of the massive, overwhelming, unending, incessant and redundant Deadpool promotion campaign.
Yeah, I get that.
I found myself in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal this past Monday, on the way to a little get-together with fellow ComicMix columnists Molly Jackson, Joe Corallo and Martha Thomases. I was in a great mood – Molly, Joe and Martha are wonderful people to hang out with, and walking through Grand Central Terminal is always a breathtaking and inspiring experience. I was going to the Times Square subway shuttle, and Grand Central and Times Square combine to become one of North America’s most advertising-congested venues. Just about every square inch of building space is covered in billboards and electronic signs. Even the very steps are decked out in promotional advertising. It’s a colorful, bright, shiny, noisy, and ceaseless experience that you either love, hate or have learned to ignore.
And, last Sunday, it seemed as though damned near all of it was pushing Deadpool.
Add to this the almost-daily release of new trailers, photos, interviews and commercials and you’ve got a promotion going that’s larger than about any four movies combined. It’s pretty easy to appreciate how some folks could experience Deadpool burnout prior to this Friday’s official opening.
Some folks. Not me.
That’s odd given my always-fleeting attention span and my basic anti-capitalist worldview, but, damn it, the whole Deadpool campaign has been very, very funny. Entertaining. Sometimes stupefying, particularly when you compare the theatrical trailers and broadcast commercials to their uncensored Internet equivalents.
Of course, given my vocation and my predilections I would have gone to the Deadpool movie even if the only promotion was a black-and-white leaflet mounted on the wall above a urinal in the back of a seedy bar. However, when it comes to fans and civilians alike, this colossal campaign has inculcated the movie with “issues.”
First of all, it has raised the bar of our expectations. If this isn’t the funniest, most action-filled and visually spectacular movie ever made, some will be disappointed… or, on the Internet, apoplectic. Experience already has taught the average movie-goer that sometimes all the worthy scenes in the film were revealed in the trailers and spots.
Second, it has presented some people with quite a dilemma. You can’t mass market something without (duh!) marketing to the masses. Deadpool is rated R. That means those under 17 (you know, what used to be perceived as the comic book audience) are supposed to be excluded from admission without an “accompanying parent or adult guardian.” That’s going to make it harder for a lot of adolescents to get in, and that’s going to make it harder on a lot of their parents or adult guardians who haven’t seen South Park Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
No matter how much Marvel might despise 20th Century Fox or how much the True Believers (like myself) despised their Fantastic Four movie last year, Fox has injected a lot of much-needed levity and energy into what clearly is an oversaturated superhero media market. They might have wound up extending Marvel’s movie longevity.
If the Deadpool movie is as good as their campaign.
You know how every year when spring rolls around you get that compulsion to turf out, e.g., those sweaters you’ve had since high school (high school, for heaven’s sake! That was an eon ago, back when you thought skater style was rad)? And those old magazines, and maybe a set of silverware someone gave you once but you’ve since replaced with a nicer set?
Well I always get that compulsion after Christmas. Possibly because I don’t have a ton of storage space, and inevitable I’ll return from Christmas break with some awesome thing that I have absolutely no place for. And thus, the turfing out begins.
It always takes me awhile, and I like to blame this on my grandmothers (who I loved dearly, by the way). You could not imagine two more different houses when it came to aesthetic than those of my two sets of grandparents (and while everyone contributes to the home decor, I think my grandmas set the tone the most).
My dad’s parents had a home that was well decorated and homey but only lightly accented with knick-knacks – a jar of marbles here; a stained glass biplane there; that weird spinning perpetual motion thing my grandpa loved. There was a place for everything, and everything was in its place.
My mom’s parents, on the other hand, had a proliferation of collectibles, living side by side somewhat regardless of their categorization and in whatever room they felt like living in. Thus, my grandma’s perfumes hung out with her collection of Taco Bell dogs (she had the whole set at one point) and her beautiful hand-painted items kept company with Babe the talking pig. And so on.
It could be genetic, or it could be that I grew up in a house that combined these aesthetics; but either way, I find I am constantly warring with myself when it comes to home decorating…and especially when it comes to geek collectibles. I want a nice, neat place for everything and everything in its place; but I also want the “everything” to include a display of, e.g. every single Deadpool thing I own and at least some of my Minions (I can’t resist the Minions. They’re so silly!). And that’s how every now and again I look around and realize that suddenly, within my neatly organized habitat, my bookshelves have become so overrun with fun collectibles that I can’t get to my books. And why it takes me forever to do my sorting; because every decision of what to keep or give away is an agonizing debate of, “I must get rid of things to have a nice neat space,” versus, “I must display all twelve variations of Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that I own, and no, I can’t get rid of that Pez dispenser, because then I’d only have eleven Donatellos!” Sigh.
My winter cleaning this year has unearthed a number of geek collectibles I didn’t even remember I had, and made it clear to me that maybe, just maybe, I have a wee bit of a collecting problem. It’s also made me wonder what it is that makes us geeks want to own every collectible for the things we love (and in my case, a lot of cute plush anthropomorphic food, as well). Is it a compulsion? An addiction? A desire to express our love of said things in visible ways? A way to wordlessly connect with fellow geeks through a simple display? Or is it simply the sheer happiness of owning and being able to see and touch the embodiment of things we love?
I don’t know. What I do know is that even though I vowed to myself that I wasn’t going to buy any more Deadpool or other collectibles, my mind also has the perpetual caveat unless they’re really awesome and I can’t live without them embedded in it, and clearly, I can’t live without this: a.k.a. the Hot Toys movie version Deadpool. I mean look at it: it’s a thing of Deadpoolian beauty. I must own it.
I also know that I have a lot of things I ought to be selling on e-Bay, and also, that I need more shelf space.
So last night the Deadpool movie marketing folks tricked me into watching The Bachelor’s season premiere by teasing a Deadpool TV spot during the time slot. And the first thing I want to say about it is… twenty seasons, you guys? This show has been on for twenty seasons? Man, our culture’s addiction to reality TV really is sad. As is the lack of dignity inherent in the show’s premise.
That said, it is kind of addictive. I mean, even after the Deadpool slot aired, I couldn’t stop watching. Why? Because, seriously, these Bachelor contestants are quite possibly crazier than Deadpool ever was. I mean, in just one episode as the contestants were introduced we had a dentist wearing a red rose hat that was bigger than her head who then proceeded to actually give the Bachelor (Ben) a mini dental exam right there; a woman wearing a rubber unicorn head that she couldn’t even see out of; a woman who brought along her pet, an actual mini horse (okay, that was kind of awesome) who also swears like Debra Morgan from Dexter; a woman wearing footie pajamas when everyone else was in formal wear because Ben is the “onesie” for her (*sob*); and a woman who thought the best first activity to do with your potential husband was to smash baguettes against a curb like a violent maniac. Because gluten is baaaaad, y’all.
There was also a woman named Tiara (who names their child that?) who I won’t pick on for her job as a “chicken enthusiast” because there’s nothing wrong with people being fond of their pets, right? Even if they’re tiny hamsters. And also because the pictures of her reading and brushing her teeth with her favorite chicken are hilarious. But let’s not forget Lace, who one of the other contestants actually described as “50 Shades of Craaazyyyy!” And she really is, getting drunk on the first show, alternately exhibiting entitlement, disdain, self-confidence, and low self-esteem, and calling Ben out after receiving a rose because she thought he avoided eye contact with her during the rose ceremony on purpose. Good luck with that one, Ben!
As an alternative to The Bachelor, though – have you ever wondered what a date with Deadpool would be like? Where he would take you? What you would eat? Whether he would, in fact, show upwearing nothing but white socks and 312 candy necklaces? After watching The Bachelor and the Deadpool spot, I did; and comics writers have too. Therefore, we know that if you ever dated Deadpool…
You might find yourself spending time with sweet, vulnerable, sensitive Deadpool who wuuuuvs you, like Siryn did.
You may discover that he secretly (or not so secretly) likes a woman with curves like Big Bertha, but also unfortunately lose your dinner after seeing his face (poor Wade).
You could enjoy a nice, relaxing day at the beach with Wade Wilson as your personal masseuse(but only if your name is Nathan Dayspring Askani’son Summers Cable Soldier X, also called Priscilla, Savior of the World. Wade doesn’t break out the WD-40 for just anyone).
You may spend a night as the newest couple of contestants on Dancing with the Stars (what, Deadpool’s totally a star now. He’s getting his own movie and everything! And Death is famous everywhere).
Or, maybe Deadpool would just buy you a new apartment (after being responsible for the destruction of your last one, which is what happened to Outlaw) and then you’d engage in some quality time together to break it in.
Who can say? In other words, dating Deadpool means you’d never have any idea what kind of a day or night you were going to have. And given Deadpool’s unpredictability, I’d probably rather watch A Date With Deadpool than more of The Bachelor, even with the amount of crazy we’ve seen in just one episode. However, since we can’t have that show (maybe someday?), I guess we’ll have to make do with what we’ve got (and, okay, I’ll be honest, I might have to watch another episode of The Bachelor. I kind of want to see what Lace does next. …Damn you, Deadpool marketers and weird tie-ins!).
Here’s hoping next episode a contestant brings along her pet alpaca or something. Until then, Servo Lectio!
First column of the new year. We’re already over 1% through the year. How’s it treating you so far?
Switching gears from last week where I was reflecting on 2015, I’ve been thinking about what we have in store for us in the year to come. Upon pondering what’s awaiting us over the course of the next twelve months, I realized that we may not be moving forward as fast as I was hoping. Particularly when it comes to the movies.
I’m starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as it’s still making money and hasn’t even opened in China yet. This may be considered a minor spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and any plot detail revealed may cause you to succumb to an unimaginable rage, then I suggest you skip to the next paragraph. Anyway, the opening scroll of the movie reveals that the major plot point is that our heroes need to find a straight cis white guy, Luke Skywalker, to save them all. Sound familiar? And while the new main characters are a more diverse crew, they’re still not only serving to find previously stated straight cis white guy, but the movie gets hijacked by another straight cis white guy, Han Solo, the moment he comes on screen. Not quite the kind of progress you’d hope to see in a movie that was billed as being diverse.
How about the superhero/geeky movies coming up? Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is about a couple of straight cis white guys who are up against a straight cis white genius with a straight cis white woman tacked on as an afterthought. That’s not to say it won’t be a good movie or we shouldn’t give it a chance, but that doesn’t change those facts.
DC may be offering us more diversity with Suicide Squad. Will Smith as Deadshot, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller do give me hope that we will be seeing a more diverse cast in a superhero movie, possibly the most diverse yet in the Marvel and DC universes big budget films. However, this could just as easily end up being primarily about The Joker and Harley Quinn. Will Smith did indicate that Deadshot and Joker would both be pursuing Harley Quinn, so Deadshot may have a significant role in the film. However, this may also indicate that we’ll have a straight Harley Quinn as opposed to her bi comic counterpart. Not to mention the heteronormative nature of a love triangle involving two men going after one woman who is only allowed to enjoy one of them intimately.
As for Marvel’s offerings, we’re looking at Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange from Disney and Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse from Fox. Starting with Captain America, we do have the introduction of Black Panther into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Falcon and War Machine will also have roles in the film, in addition to Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. That being said, the movie is being carried by Captain America, a straight cis white guy, protecting his friend Bucky, a straight cis white guy, primarily from Iron Man, a straight cis white guy. Noticing a pattern?
The Doctor Strange movie, from what we know of the casting and plot synopsis so far, is that it will be about a magical straight cis white guy that needs to stop another magical straight cis white guy.
Deadpool is about a cis white guy, but this one is supposedly pansexual. We’ll see what this ends up meaning. It could be an actual representation of a pansexual character. It could also easily be used to have Deadpool jokingly hit on guys while only having a more realistic interest in women. I’m hopeful, but I’ll believe he’s pansexual in the film when I see it.
X-Men: Apocalypse, while having some diversity in its cast, doesn’t mean it’ll be about diversity. These movies tend to revolve around Xavier and Magneto, two straight cis white guys. Cyclops and Jean have been recast and brought back into the fold of the X-Men movie franchise. A straight cis white heteronormative relationship is just what the X-Men franchise needs! It’s not like Storm could have ever had an interesting relationship in the comics that could translate to film. To be clear, she has, and I was being sarcastic. Also, casting Oscar Isaac, a Hispanic actor, to play the Egyptian villain Apocalypse is a bit troubling too.
As I was saying earlier, none of this means that these movies will be bad. This may very well be the best slew of superhero movies yet. However, they are lacking quite a bit in the diversity department. Having slightly more diversity in the cast of a movie while still having straight cis white guys moving the plot forward and taking up the majority of the screen time is really missing the point.
The point being that we need to be exposing ourselves to people of different backgrounds, points of views, and people who have had radically different life experiences than we commonly see depicted in media. We don’t get that by having them walk on screen or onto the pages of a comic. We get that by having them be an integral part of the plot, or better yet, the focus of the plot. A radical concept, I know.
The comics and the TV series are doing a bit of a better job this year. Shows like Supergirl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., comics like Midnighter, the new Black Panther series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates starting this year, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and many other examples exist that show that we’re continuing to make some progress in both of those mediums. That said, out of the 11 oversized 50th issues DC has coming out in a couple of months, eight of them star straight cis white guys, two of them star straight cis white women, and one stars a bisexual white woman.
The movies really do need to step up their game in the diversity department. It may be too late for 2016 already. We do at least have the Wonder Woman movie coming out next year. Let’s hope for better luck in 2017.
In these waning days of 2015, our media tends to look backward at all the great stuff that came down during the previous year. That’s because there’s damn little that happens between Christmas Eve and New Year’s morn and people like me are tasked with filling space. This plays nicely with my powerful sense of cynicism. Hey, it’s a living.
But what the hell. For all practical purposes 2015 is already history (and I hope that comment doesn’t come back to bite me in my ass). Instead, in a fit of optimism I’d rather talk about what I’m looking forward to in the new year.
When it comes to the mother medium, I eagerly await the return of Bitch Planet, easily my favorite new series of 2015. Actually, I have yet to stop being pissed at Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro for having the audacity to take a vacation.
The third and final volume of the graphic novel series March, Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell story of the struggle for civil rights, is due out this coming year. If you haven’t read the first two books, you’ve got time to catch-up. This series carries my highest recommendation. By far.
DC and Marvel have retconned and rebooted and reimag
Bitch Planet, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, March, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, Savage Dragon, Superman v Batman, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch, Agent Carter, Hayley Atwell, Civil War, Skottie Young
ined their respective universes to death, so it’s hard for me to show any enthusiasm for their upcoming projects. Why bother? They’ll only be retconned and rebooted and reimagined still again. Give me the stability and pure fun of Savage Dragon any day.
We’ve got lots and lots of comic book based movies and television coming up because Hollywood lives to run stuff into the ground. I can’t say that Superman v Batman or Civil War makes my pulse race – we’ve seen it before, and besides I have no reason to be optimistic about any Warner Bros. superhero flick. While I hope for the best, the comics movies that are putting the salt on my popcorn are Deadpool and Doctor Strange – which are two different movies.
Our pal Emily Whitten talked about the Deadpool flick in this space yesterday afternoon and backed up her enthusiasm with 32 links, so I don’t have to be repetitious. I will say that from the trailers and the hype this appears to be a movie that will either be a lot of fowl-mouthed fun and a much needed satirical jab at the form… or a complete disaster. I like both the character and the lead actor, and the campaign has been very amusing so I have reason to be optimistic. We can always use a good laugh.
Doctor Strange has been one of my favorite characters since Lee and Ditko invented the psychedelic superhero way back when I was still (barely) a pre-teen. He’s never really been able to hold onto a title of his own, but he’s been a vital – even critical – part of the MCU for over a half-century. And casting Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme (which still sounds to me like a Baskin-Robbins flavor of the month) seems perfect.
As for comics-on-teevee, I’m looking forward to the return of Agent Carter because the first series was my favorite comics-based series on broadcast television. Hayley Atwell will also be reprising Peggy Carter in the Civil War movie, which is set in contemporary time. Peggy will be real old and nobody expects her to make it to the end-credits, but, of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t be in future flicks. It’s comics, folks.
What would I like to see in 2016? Hey, I’m glad you asked. I’d like to see a year of solid storytelling that does not reply upon overworked and overproduced “events” and variant covers (except those by Skottie Young) and phony deaths – in comics, that’s redundant – and astonishing resurrections. Honest, comic books are stories; let’s get back to good stories.
You know, the kind from which they make movies and teevee shows.
Have yourself a safe, productive and amazingly entertaining new year. You deserve it.
Merry Christmas (or other winter holiday of your choice) and Happy Almost New Year! I hope everyone has been having a wonderful time with family and friends (and food. Ohhh, that holiday food!).
In case you missed it, the Deadpool movie advertising folks have also been having a wonderful time, posting fun “12 Days of Deadpool” featurettes to different news outlets and to their social media.** And because I know the holidays are busy and I am your Deadpool Guru, I am rounding them all up for you here. So, to begin:
Day 2: People shares pictures of Ryan Reynolds sitting on the lap of his Deadpool movie theater standee (Which is pretty cool, as I can attest because my friends and I posed with him after seeing Star Wars.)
Day 5: Fandango gives us another new Deadpool movie poster, featuring a sweater I would totally wear (after all, who wouldn’t wear a sweater that Ryan Reynolds says is like wearing “a coffin made entirely out of adorable”)?
And there, dear friends, are your Twelve Days of Deadpool. Although I’m sure we’ll be seeing more Deadpoolian shenanigans from Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool, and those ad folks, even now that Christmas has passed. After all, there’s still New Year’s!
And speaking of New Year’s – maybe this year Deadpool will finally get around to all of those New Year’s Resolutions he made last year – after all, as far as I can tell, the only one he managed to keep was the one about becoming Really Truly Friends with Ryan Reynolds. Oh well. At least that one went well.
And we’ll see just how well on February 12, when the Deadpool movie debuts. Until then (or next time), Servo Lectio!
* * *
*P.S., ad folks – You missed us over here at ComicMix! *gasp* Someone forget to inform you that I am the World’s Biggest Deadpool FanTM (before everyone else TM’d it, honest!) and that I wrote an article advocating for a Ryan Reynolds Deadpool movieway back in 2010? I mean, Deadpool and I have been best buds (one might almost say of one mind) since 2008. And of course I’ve written about the Deadpool movie and Deadpool stuff manya time on ComicMix. But hey! Who’s complaining? (Me. Totally me. Also Deadpool, Bob, Sandi (who broke the news of the Deadpool movie on Ask Deadpool yea, these many moons ago), and the rest of Agency X. Except for Agent X. He’s still snacking, and will be unto eternity.) It’s okay, though, ad folks. You can totally make it up to me. Just send along two tickets to the premiere, and all will be well. Muchas gracias and may all your chimichangas be not beyond their expiration date.
Side note: The Ask Deadpoolarchives: also the only place you can read about that time Thor decided he liked women with spurs on and dated Outlaw. Really: it happened.
Several decades ago the American comics medium in general – and Marvel Comics in specific – were criticized by some in fandom for being overly formulaic. I realize it is possible for a few fannish souls to overreact, but I have to admit there was an element of truthiness in their concern.
Today we can clearly see a contemporary incarnation of this issue. Not that plotlines are being rubber-stamped; slavish adherence to ever-shifting continuity undermines such creative shortcuts. No, today we are suffering from a different sort of redundancy: overexposure to such a degree that most truly successful superhero characters have become akin to amoebas.
I was just thumbing through the sundry Diamond catalogs announcing comics and related effluvia ostensibly set to ship this coming February. Out of convenience and a desire to meet my deadline, I am going to focus on Marvel’s output – but DC, and to a lesser extent other superhero publishers, are also guilty of sequential overexposure.
This coming February, Marvel is supposed to be shipping (in the unlikely event that my math is correct) no less than three Captain Marvel books, seven Avengers titles, four Deadpools, seven X-Men, three Inhumans titles, six featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy…
… and no less than fifteen titles featuring Spider-Man and his Spiderverse. Fifteen. Back when people were criticizing Marvel for recycling plots, they didn’t publish fifteen different titles a month! I guess that’s pretty damn good for a character that can’t even hold onto a major movie franchise.
Of course, the sundry Spideys also appear in various Avengers titles, as do most if not all of the aforementioned properties. And many of the other Avengers like Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America have their own titles as well.
It is true that this sort of thing has been going on for a long, long time. Maybe not quite as long as it may seem to geriatric fans who recall Superman appearing in seven different titles in the late 1950s (Superman, Action Comics, Superboy, Adventure Comics, World’s Finest, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen), but only two of those were published monthly. The rest were published bi-monthly or every six weeks. Still, five titles a month is a lot. Fortunately, continuity was weak at best and if you had an aversion to pill-box hats you could safely avoid Lois Lane (and her omnipresent scissors) and still understand what was going on in the other titles.
However, we have not previously seen such character redundancy to this degree. Not even when the original Captain Marvel and his family were featured in eight different titles back in the 1940s. Not all were monthlies, although the Big Red Cheese did see his own book go out every three weeks for a spell. Then again, in February at least two Spider-Man titles double-ship, and, for the record, February 2016 only has four ship weeks. It’s pretty rare that Leap Year Day falls on a Wednesday.
So, why is this a problem? Well, if you’re a massive Spider-Man fan, it might not be. However, ComicMix columnist Emily S. Whitten is a proud Deadpool fan, but having a job, a life, and a commitment to writing one of the best comics and pop culture columns on the Interwebs, so even Emily has a hard time keeping up with the nutty merc.
This is a problem because it undermines the uniqueness of the character. It’s called overexposure. We used to have three or four Punisher titles; in February 2016 Marvel won’t be releasing a single one.
Sure, as I said, all this goes for DC as well. They’ve been pushing Batman titles out as though they were Cheerios, and they out-X-Men the X-Men by having several thousand different characters all named Green Lantern.
At least Image only produces one Bitch Planet a month… and that’s on a good month. A very good month, in my opinion, but your mileage may vary.
As promised in my last column, this week is about bi-erasure in comics. It’s come up too often as of late and deserves its own column rather than being crammed into an already dense essay on critiques of Iceman’s coming out. It’s a problem that extends beyond the comics themselves, and has reached the TV adaptations as well.
Before diving in, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page. Bi-erasure is varying levels of denying bisexuality truly exists, whether intentional or not. In comics, this manifests itself in rewriting bisexual characters as being straight or gay, having characters tell other characters they’re definitely just gay and not bisexual despite many decades being written as straight and refusing to even entertain the idea that maybe that character would be bi, using shapeshifters to skirt around the issue of bisexuality, and that’s just a few general examples.
Marvel has recently given us two examples: Hercules and Angela. Hercules, a historically bisexual demigod, will definitively be straight according to editor-in-chief Axel Alonso. He did address that Hercules was in a relationship with James Howlett in X-Treme X-Men at one point, but that was outside the main universe and doesn’t count.
With Angela, despite her being intimate with Sera in the first issue of Angela: Queen of Hel, Axel makes it a point that he doesn’t want to put any labels on these characters to let the readers decide. Angela’s actions with Sera make it clear to the reader that she is bisexual, pansexual, or possibly a lesbian. Sera herself is even considered a trans character at Marvel, as she was assigned male at birth. Her being an Angel of the tenth realm and not someone of earth makes me a little hesitant to consider her Marvel’s first trans superhero. Axel saying that Hercules is definitively straight, then saying with Angela he doesn’t want to put labels on these things within a couple of months of each other will make just about anyone scratch their head in wonder.
On a positive note, the director of the Deadpool movie has said that Deadpool will be depicted as openly pansexual. I’m cautiously optimistic about this. It could be great, or it could be using Deadpool’s pansexuality to make lazy homophobic jokes where the entire joke is it’s funny because he’s hitting on a guy! We’ll have to wait and see.
Over at DC, they’ve made some very positive strives towards bisexual representation. They’ll have four ongoing series with a bisexual lead: Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Constantine: Hellblazer. Granted, all but Constantine are very recent revelations, but this is a great step forward. All the characters are fairly well known to general audiences, have had some suggestions in the past of their bisexuality, and now it’s just been confirmed. And with Constantine, since the latest reboot, his bisexuality has been more prevalent than ever.
On a negative note, one of the larger missteps in bi representation lately was NBC’s decision to make Constantine straight for their TV adaptation. From NBC’s perspective, Constantine’s bisexuality was rarely delved into in the comic, that it wasn’t important for the adaptation. This is probably one of the best/worst examples of bi-erasure as of late. Unlike Axel Alonso, the excuse of “That’s a different version of the character!” isn’t even viable here. It was NBC flat out stating they were perfectly aware of the character’s bisexuality, but it wasn’t important enough so it got nixed. That might not have been a factor in the show getting cancelled, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t something in all that happening that wasn’t at least kind of satisfying to see.
It’s easy to see how bi-erasure comes about. We live in a society where the end goal for most people is to find a partner to maintain a monogamous relationship with. When someone is coupled off in a monogamous relationship, others view you as being actively straight or gay. If you aren’t perceived as being actively with both men and women, it’s easier for people to assume you’re just one or the other, regardless of what you tell them.
Part of that also comes from the antiquated idea that gays and lesbians used the label of bisexual as a transitioning term, being unsure or afraid to commit to the labels of gay or lesbian. When I was a teenager I didn’t come out as gay at first, I came out to a few people as bi before identifying as gay. And to be entirely honest with you, bisexual, pansexual, or queer are probably more accurate labels for myself, despite being far on one end of that spectrum. Perhaps I’ve been unintentionally adding to bi-erasure. It’s something for me to think about. In the meantime, I’ve decided to update my bio here to queer rather than gay.
With more openly bi leads in comic books at the big two, we are starting to combat bi-erasure. However, it’s still rampant throughout comics because of the mentalities of some of the people working on them, even though it’s usually unintentional. If we’re going to push for an end of bi-erasure, we need to support books with openly bi leads, let them know about other bi characters we’d like to see more of, that we want more representation, and make our voices heard every single time the comic industry gets it wrong.
Oh, Dragon Con, how I adore you! Let me count the ways…
1. The fact that even the airline losing my luggage until 3 a.m. on arrival Thursday feels like something I can roll with, since, after all, the minute I walk in I find old friends (and new) to greet me and take my mind off of things – and to commiserate, and hope with me that all of my toiletries and hand-made costume items are not lost forever in the bowels of Reagan National. Thankfully they weren’t.
The parade of Deadpools, which deserves its own number because it was epic. It included everything from Chef Deadpool to Wolverine Deadpool, and delighted my Deadpool-loving soul. And I managed to get a couple of segments on video (there was more, oh, so much more).
Meeting the amazingly talented and nice Randy Rogel, who is clearly a kindred spirit as well as the man responsible for many of my favorite Animaniacs songs, and getting a copy of his original music charts for my sister the musician & teacher of children’s music classes.
Getting to see and hear Randy Rogel and voice actor Rob Paulsen (Yakko, Pinky, Doctor Scratchansniff, and more) perform a slew of great Animaniacs songs live (seriously a huge highlight of my weekend, possibly my overall favorite thing). I’m Mad was a special favorite, and they received twostanding ovations for the panel. They do a show that travels around, and I really hope to see it come to Washington DC someday. If they come your way, don’t miss them!
Watching the Voice Acting with the Pros panel with wise and funny voice actors Bill Farmer, William Salyers, Carey S. Means, Sam Marin, and Rob Paulsen, with excellent moderator Brian Prince. (And seeing a life-sized Dot Warner in the audience.)
Going to the Hannibal Fannibal Panel, in which my roommate Cleolinda and friend Damien participated (and seeing all of the flower crowns).
Catching up with great Walk of Fame guests like Bill Farmer; Rob Paulsen; Bill Corbett; and Clay Croker, and meeting delightful guests like the aforementioned Randy Rogel (and the awesome Pat Brady); Aaron Abrams; Scott Thompson; Aaron Douglas; Vanessa Marshall; Carey S. Means, and William Salyers.
Having a laugh at a Startled Cat picture waiting to stare in an alarmed manner at me when I entered the Hilton elevator (thanks, Dragon Con attendees with meme-friendly senses of humor).
Delicious dinners and fun parties and chilling at the bars and lounges with friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough, and meeting Twitter friends who I’ve only known via computer or cell phone screen until now, or brand-new friends who may one day be old friends.
Playing a completely inappropriate and hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity (the only kind of CAH game possible!) in the lounge late at night with a bottle of wine and good friends.
Robots! Droids! Woohoo! A.k.a. the big interactive talking robot that was outside of the Walk of Fame for some time (my favorite interaction was when it made fun of a Headless Horseman cosplayer walking by), and the tiny Star Wars BB-8 Droid that just went on sale and was being demonstrated at a party by one of the fellas working with Peter Mayhew (it’s so cool).
The Aftermath of Con (not to be confused with the Wrath of Khan), where everyone sits around together staring companionably at nothing and wondering if they’ve actually ever slept before or if that was just an imagined state.
The Even Later Than Aftermath of Con, when most people have left and it’s time to wrap up with dessert and cocktails with your roomie (because otherwise, you just aren’t doing it right).
So many other things I’m probably forgetting because conventions are crazy and no one sleeps much at Dragon Con; but they may be on my Instagram or my roomie Cleolinda’s Twitter or LiveJournal recap.
And finally, arriving home after a really great Dragon Con (with all of my luggage intact!) to the sweetest l’il hamsterlet in the world, Wee Mini Squish. Ahh, home and tiny cute creatures.
So there you have it! It was an amazing Dragon Con, and I hope you enjoyed the recap as much as I enjoyed the trip. Stay tuned for next week, when I will have my Dragon Con interview with Randy Rogel up for everyone to see!