Tagged: Deadpool

Emily S. Whitten: NYCC – The Good, The Bad, and The Slightly Sad

The New York Comic Con has come and gone like a whirlwind, leaving me, as always, gasping for breath (and craving a week of sleep) as I recover from the huge crushes of people, hectic dashes to see friends or get places on time, and general excitement. No con is perfect but I am pretty fond of NYCC, in part because the sheer size of it means every moment can be filled with something fun (if you have the energy and aren’t afraid of crowds) and in part because I love visiting New York City. Even if you’re in town for the con, it’s not a bad idea to leave the Javits Center at least once or twice to experience a bit of the rest of New York.

In keeping with the spirit of what my brain feels like after three to four days of non-stop excitement and unable to remember in what order anything happened and/or to form coherent sentences, I feel like it’s proper to talk about the highs and lows of my NYCC/NYC experience in a randomly ordered bullet-point list. Ready? Let’s go!


• Terry Pratchett is in town! Terry was here to promote his newest novel, a non-Discworld book called [[[Dodger]]], and it was, as always, delightful to see him. While he was at NYCC, for me the high was not his NYCC appearance (we’ll get to that in a second!) but his appearance at the Barnes & Noble in nearby Union Square. Despite a pretty full house, the store was so quiet you could hear a pin drop (or Terry and his business manager Rob bantering with each other on stage) as everyone listened to an excerpt from the book and a fun Q&A.

We learned that Dodger (which came out in the US on September 25th, so you can go get it now!), is a young adult book in which, among other things, Charles Dickens meets the boy who will inspire him to write about The Artful Dodger. Terry and Rob talked about researching the history of Victorian London, including the fact that the streets of London at that time were so terrifyingly bad that “they made Gangs of New York look like kindergarten.” They also talked about locating the oldest gentlemen’s outfitters in London, and discovering that the shop had not only provided Sir Robert Peel with his personal clothing, but also designed the original police uniforms – a fact which made its way into the story. From the excerpt and talk, the book (which I have but have not yet read!) sounds great.

Other information shared with the crowd is that Terry fully intends that there be a sequel to Dodger; that he has been working on the second Long Earth book with co-author Stephen Baxter; and that (as some may have heard already) he has formed a production company with business manager Rob Wilkins, Managing Director and producer Rod Brown, and daughter and fellow writer Rhianna Pratchett. Upcoming projects include The Watch series (a 13 episode series described in a nutshell as “CSI: Ankh-Morpork”) and the Good Omens miniseries, along with more upcoming Discworld adaptations. Yay!

• Happening upon awesomeness while randomly wandering the show floor. This included running into and geeking out about the con with the super-nice Dan Slott, Amazing Spider-man writer; walking through the DC booth at just the right time to snap a picture of Stephen Amell and the rest of the Arrow cast and crew (though sadly I did not have a signing ticket); discovering the terrifyingly lifelike (and life-sized) Chris Hemsworth Thor at the Midtown Comics booth (a Madame Tussaud’s figure); and spotting and snagging the last signed copy of The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon at the Abrams ComicArts booth (which I’d been meaning to pick up after reading a great review and seeing some of the beautiful art).

• Joe Kelly cheerfully signing his way through half of my Joe Kelly Deadpool issues. For some reason, at the last con where I saw Joe, I’d only brought along half of the run for him to sign (well, okay, I know the reason – those books get heavy; or, as Joe said, “you’re basically carrying around a block of wood”). So this time I brought the other half, and had a great time chatting with Joe as he signed and signed. Not only is Joe tied with Fabian Nicieza as my all-time favorite Deadpool writer, but he’s also done a lot of awesome things since then, so it was great to catch up with him at the Man of Action booth (and he mentioned that Deadpool appears in his Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, which I did not know. Ooh!).

• Attending the fantastic book launch for Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s newest anthology, After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia. Like I said, it’s nice to get out in NYC a little bit even at con-time, so when I heard that Ellen was having a book launch on Thursday, I had to pull myself away from the show floor and go. The event, at Books of Wonder, was great, with about nine of the authors reading from or discussing their stories, and a signing afterwards. After includes stories from a host of previously published authors, including Gregory Maguire, who also wrote Wicked, so I picked that up for him to sign as well. The stories sound great and have been getting excellent reviews, so I’m looking forward to reading my copy (which now features a sad-looking “dystopian flower” as drawn by author N.K. Jemisin at my request, and further graffiti’d by Genevieve Valentine).

• Snagging some con merch and freebies, including two adorable new t-shirts (one of which is a sad-looking hedgehog holding a “free hugs” sign, and how can you possibly not love that?), and the Cable/Deadpool Heroclix figure, which I hadn’t been able to find for anything under $25 and got for $3 at the con. Score! I also got several ARCs and a free Phantom Tollbooth poster – and I love that book. Yay!

• The joys of Artist Alley. Artist Alley is really my favorite part of any con, and I rarely manage to spend as much time there as I would like. I had a lot of fun while I was there this year, though, catching up with friends, chatting with the ever-amusing Bill Willingham; finally meeting Ed McGuinness (a favorite Deadpool artist who had not been at any of the cons I’ve previously attended, but was happy to be at this one and mentioned he’d love to get back on the Deadpool book. I approve of this idea!); and talking with V for Vendetta co-creator David Lloyd about his newest project, Aces Weekly (check out the ComicMix review here). Aces Weekly is “an exclusively digital comic art magazine which features some of the world’s finest sequential art creators” from all over the world, and sounds really interesting. It just launched at the beginning of October, so it’s easy to check it out now and catch up on the first couple of issues. David also kindly drew me a V sketch, which made me ever so happy. I also had fun hanging out with Reilly Brown, particularly since I was actually costuming as his and Kurt Christenson’s character the Ice Queen from their fantastic digital comic Power Play (available on ComiXology – check it out!) on Friday. Another character from the comic, Gowanus Pete, mysteriously showed up to be in a picture with me (who was that man behind the mask?), which was pretty fun as well.

• Attending cool panels like the Marvel prose novels panel, in which Axel Alonso, Stuart Moore, Peter David, Alisa Kwitney, and Marie Javins talked with moderator James Viscardi and the audience about the popular storylines they are adapting as almost a hybrid of the comics and movie worlds. I really liked the Civil War adaptation by Stuart Moore, and am super-excited about the upcoming ones, which include “New Avengers: Breakout” (Alisa Kwitney), “Astonishing X-Men: Gifted” (Peter David), and “Iron Man: Extremis” (Marie Javins). Alisa talked about her research into things like how the Helicarrier actually works and how to make an impossible feat of archery seem plausible, also noting that one change she’s made from the comics is that in the prose timeline, Hawkeye is still alive and appearing in the story. Peter talked about his use of Kitty Pryde as a means of sharing new information with the reader, and how through this she really became the heart of the story and his favorite character to write. Marie noted that, like the movie storyline, in her novel Iron Man’s identity will be public, and that she’s having fun trying to channel “Warren Ellis mixed with Robert Downey Jr.” for her work, which she finds “very funny and very disturbing.”


• The placement of Terry Pratchett’s NYCC panel. Don’t get me wrong – Terry and Rob were as entertaining as always, and I was delighted to see them. But for the first time in my experience, NYCC committed a major error in planning when they stuck the best-selling adult fiction author in the UK in a giant echo-y hallway next to a music stage (which started playing loud music half-way through) for his event. I can’t even imagine what they were thinking, and can only assume it was done in complete ignorance by someone who has mysteriously never heard of Terry and couldn’t be bothered to look up whether his panel was likely to be popular or anything else about him. Even if they didn’t realize that Terry’s Alzheimer’s necessitates that he have a lavaliere microphone rather than a hand-held, or that he often speaks rather softly and so a loud hall is not the best venue for him, such placement is unforgiveable, and I hope NYCC never makes such an asinine mistake again. Honestly, I doubt they’ll get a chance, since I’m sure nobody presenting on this stage would have been happy to be put there or want to come back. Also, I will note that the seating of that stage looked to be similar to the prose novel panel seating, which was in a nice quiet room and about 2/3 full. Terry’s panel, on the other hand, was overflowing with people sitting and standing in the back, straining to hear, some of whom, I am sure, had not had an opportunity to see him before and were forced to miss out on part of what is a wonderful experience when it can be heard. For shame, NYCC!

• The broken escalators and bottlenecks. I know there’s only so much one can do when working with a set layout, but due to broken escalators, the wait to get from one floor to the next, particularly on Sunday, was claustrophobic and glacially slow. Also, the placement of the TMNT tunnel display, I am told, created a huge bottleneck and traffic jam. Very frustrating.

• The lack of cell service. It’s become a known fact and common complaint around the Javits Center that the cell service from location to location is spotty and unpredictable. It makes it almost impossible to meet up with friends and coordinate with people, even if you try to do so before going inside. Lousy cell service caused me to miss at least two or three friends I’d have liked to see, and almost made me entirely miss seeing a good friend who miraculously found me after I’d unsuccessfully looked for him for two days in a row (and had my calls not go through to his phone). The Javits is a big and popular convention center; they should look into improving this service ASAP.

• Con funk OMG. Seriously, people. Deodorant. Showers. Perfume or cologne or a constant spray bath, whatever it takes. Please, stop stinking up the con and causing me to accidentally inhale all of your nasty B.O. when I take a breath. I’d really, really appreciate it.

Well! Despite the few low points (of which the placement of the Pratchett panel was the most egregious), I had a great time at the con, and am already looking forward to next year’s. I do have a little request, though – my camera memory card is giving me error messages, and so, tragically, I may have lost 2/3 of my photos from the con (which would make me soooo sad). If you did happen to see me and take a picture, and are reading this, please feel free to send any photos to emily@comicmix.com. Thanks!!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis’s Escape From France!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold’s Escape From New York!


Mike Gold: Batman Is Batman, and I Am The Sweetheart of the Donut Shop

Back in the mid-70s the astonishingly gifted Neal Adams pointed out – in context of something else – that the issues of Detective Comics he drew outsold those Frank Robbins drew. Let me state: Neal was not putting Frank’s work down.

Nonetheless, I felt that comment lacked veracity, so – being an honest-to-Crom obnoxious brat hotshot at DC Comics at the time – I looked up the sales figures. It turns out Frank’s issues actually sold slightly better than Neal’s on average. But in those days of newsstand-only comics, the all-important sell-through percentages – that is, the percentage of comics sold out of the total print run – was a couple points higher. And each point over breakeven is pure profit, each point significant to the publisher and to the success of the title.

I am not putting Neal down; I think most people would have suspected his work would outsell Frank’s. But, really, the marginal victories contributed by the artists are less significant than the mere fact that ever since Adam West donned the cowl, Batman is Batman. It’s possible that really bad talent could torpedo the character, but it would take a while and management would notice and hit teams would be assembled.

I mention this by way of Marc Alan Fishman’s discussion in this space last Saturday of the recent brouhaha between Rob Liefeld and Scott Snyder. Scott went on about how his Batman (which, in my opinion, is one of the best monthlies DC Comics publishes these days) sells 80,000 copies and how it outsells Rob’s work at DC, from which Rob recently resigned.

Rob’s position is that such stellar sales are not due to the craft of the talent within as much as the fact that the book is called Batman and that Batman would be a top-seller even if Jason Todd wrote it. Scott said horse hockey (I paraphrase), and lots of folks agreed, including our own Marc Alan Fishman – the son I never had and if there were any hint he was he’d demand a blood test.

At this point, I need to point out the following: It was Marc who turned me on to Scott’s Batman. As he has repeatedly made clear, Marc’s not a big fan of The New 52. Yet he personally took every opportunity to inform me that Batman was an exception. I read the first three issues and told him I agreed.

I also need point out that I have never met Scott. I’ve met Rob, although I haven’t seen him since a San Diego show about a decade ago and I don’t think we’ve ever had a real conversation. I personally do not find his work of late to be compelling, but that’s my taste. There’s a reason why DC gave him all that work this past year, and he’ll always be a hero for creating Deadpool. Rob’s managed to make an impressive number of not-friends during his career, but that can be a positive mark of distinction depending upon the individuals and circumstances involved. I, on the other hand, am well-known as the sweetheart of the donut shop. I have no axe to grind against any anybody.

Batman receives much wider distribution than Savage Hawkman or Deathstroke. The latter titles are pretty much restricted to the comics shops and to e-comics sales; you can buy Scott’s Batman at a great many convenient stores, truck stops and the more enlightened supermarkets. This is because Batman is Batman.

His Batman outsells Rob’s New 52 titles in the comics shops, to be sure. Quality is in the mind of the reader and, unfortunately, when you’re dealing with Batman or X-Men or Oreo cookies, who’s got the better stuff simply is not as important as the brand itself.

Rob Leifeld is absolutely correct when he says Batman is Batman.

But bringing rational thought to a flame-fight is a buzz-kill.

Mike Gold, Marc Alan Fishman, and our fellow ComicMixers Emily S. Whitten, Glenn Hauman and Adriane Nash will be at this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, mostly hanging around the Insight Studios and Unshaven Comics booths, annoying the innocent. Drop by and say hello.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

Emily S. Whitten: In Pursuit of Lunch

O.K. This is the wiseass editor typing. Emily’s not here today.

Something about near-complete exhaustion from something called “work.”

Do not fret. Emily will be back next week, no doubt because we’ll hire Deadpool to either find her or ghost her column.

And Emily will be at the Baltimore Comic-Con  September 8th and 9th, joining fellow ComicMixers Marc Alan Fishman, Glenn Hauman, Adriane Nash, and Mike Gold (who always enjoys writing about himself in the third person), and artistic ComicMixers Timothy Truman, Mark Wheatley, Andrew Pepoy, Robert Tinnell and Marc Hempel. We’ll mostly be terrorizing the masses at the Insight Studios booth and at the Unshaven Comics booth.

Yes, I just used poor Emily’s exhaustion to plug a comics convention. Any port in a storm.

‘Till then, caveat emptor!

Emily S. Whitten: Hello, My Name Is Entitled Fan. You Ruined My Fandom. Prepare to Die!

I haven’t talked about Deadpool around here for, oh, say, two whole minutes, right? Time to rectify that!

You know why Deadpool’s my favorite character in the whole wide world of comics? Well, actually, there are several reasons, but one of them is that no matter how dark the character gets, there is also levity there. And call me grandiose, comparing the adventures of a wisecracking merc to the daily toil of Real Life, but really – that can be a true reflection of what we experience. In the depths of disaster sometimes we just have to laugh (possibly inappropriately), and in the midst of our merriment, suddenly one little sentence may bring the room down. That’s life – a perfectly imperfect mix of random ups and downs.

What’s important about the often unexpected comical moments is that they remind us that it’s not all doom and gloom out there, even when sometimes it’s been feeling like it is. And if we don’t get enough laughter in our lives, I fear some of us might turn into this guy. As I’m sure everyone knows, Joe Kubert passed away a few days ago. I didn’t know Joe personally, but I know and like some of his work; and I had a nice chat with one of his sons at a con; and I know several artist friends who have gone to his school (in my home state of New Jersey, no less, which makes it extra-cool). All in all, I’ve never had a bad thought about him, and admire him as much as I do any of the other Greats in comics (yes, he most certainly was one of the Greats, with a capital G). But even if for some reason I hadn’t been a fan, or even if I hated his art (which I don’t), I’d never, ever, have posted something like what that supposed fan of comics said; and then failed at properly apologizing for such insensitive and offensive comments.

The comparison that was made is just inexcusable, and Mike Romo has a good discussion of that at the iFanboy link, so I will not rehash it all here. But I will say that as a fan, I am continuously disappointed in other fans who turn their dislike of a piece of creative work into a giant, seething, pulsating ball of wrath and disgust, to be lobbed at creators and fandom and the internet so we can all experience the pus and bile of some fan’s misplaced sense of entitlement as it oozes down our screens.

Okay, that metaphor was disgusting. But then, I feel disgusted when I read shit like that. And it really does all boil down to entitlement – fans who think that their hateful view of whatever-it-is is more important than the fact that they are throwing vile words or accusations at a Real, Live Person who most likely doesn’t deserve them. A person whom they might even have admired at some point (or still do admire). Likening an upstanding and recently deceased comics creator who worked on a comic you don’t think should have been made (Before Watchmen) to a man who failed to report child sexual abuse is an extreme example, of course, but still; this isn’t anywhere near the first time I’ve seen this kind of disproportionate hatred towards someone whose only fault was making a creative work someone else didn’t enjoy.

Look, I’m not saying we can’t critique what we don’t like. I’m a true believer in the importance of free speech and discussion. But that also means that if you’re being an asshole on the internet or in fandom, I have a free speech right to call you out for being an asshole. And calling hardworking people who make their living making comics “known hacks” or “scab artists” because you don’t like their work or work choices is being an asshole. [See also: anyone who’s ever said so-and-so “raped their childhood.” Because using the word “rape” in that context is another form of entitlement; in which the user assumes it is more important to dramatically emphasize their disappointment in Prometheus than to not casually throw around a word that has terrible connotations for over 17.7 million women and 2.78 million men in America alone. Plus, I just hate that phrase.]

But I digress. Neil Gaiman once wrote a fantastic journal entry on entitlement issues which I think every fan ought to read and re-read. In fact, if someone ever wrote a computer program in which that entry popped up every time some entitled asshole was about to hit “post” on a needlessly vitriolic diatribe about creative works and people they hate, I’d be ecstatic. (Seriously, hackers – stop making useless pop-up viruses and get on that.)* But since that’s not the case as yet, I’d also be happier if we all just read that entry, and tried to remember before hitting post that creators are real people with real feelings and families and needs to put food on the table and all of that. And that it’s probably not necessary to wear a t-shirt saying a real person sucks just because you didn’t like a movie about aliens.

Maybe we could also just run a little test in our heads, similar to the one I wish misogynists would use before speaking (“How would you feel if someone said or did that to your mom/sister/favorite female person in the whole world? Or to you?”) in which we think about how we’d feel if someone likened, say, our dad or our best friend to a guy who ignored reports of child molestation. I’m pretty sure for most of us, that would make us remember that it’s not all about us, and hit the delete key before doing something asinine. So maybe we can all give that some thought before posting something so unwarrantedly hostile about what is, as Romo said, “just comics” (and other pop culture).

Or, as the LOLcats would say: we can fan moar better; and then maybe instead of encountering so much petty bitching, we will instead be rewarded with more things that remind us that life is not all doom and gloom – like this and this. (You’re welcome.)

So until next time, Servo Lectio!

* Disclaimer: I am not actually encouraging anyone to hack anything. Please do not go and do this and then say it’s all my fault, hackers. Thank you.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis’ Milestones, part two

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold, Who Do That VooDoo?


Marc Alan Fishman: Marvel Now and Later

Sorry for my absence last week, loyal readers. It would seem something had to break in my fragile world, and this was the first thing closest to the exit ramp. Luckily for me you all had more important things to do on a Saturday morning than read my rants and raves. Right? You didn’t? You mean to tell me you’ve been sitting there, at your desk, for a whole week… awaiting my article? Jeez. I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you. Let’s start off with something really inflammatory to get back into the thick of it, shall we?

Marvel Now is what I’d wished DC would have done with their New 52.

Marvel comes right out of the gate with the smartest roll-out plan I’ve seen in a while: A sensible one or two new books out every week, over the course of a few months. DC’s “throw everything at the fan, and watch the sales spike and recede” did exactly that. Marvel Now (boy, that’s gonna get annoying) sidesteps the idea that fans are willing to try everything all at once, in lieu of a doing it a few at a time. I’m a marketing man by trade. This screams of “listening to the target audience” and “lowering the barrier to entry” for those less willing to hop aboard. In human-speak? Someone at Marvel realized fans aren’t made of money. They are more willing to start a new series at #1, and toss it into their weekly rotation a little at a time, rather than dump their entire paychecks out for the opportunity to “catch up” to a continuity that wasn’t quite rebooted, wasn’t quite reset, and wasn’t quite defined in the slightest.

Marvel also has taken it upon themselves to shake up some major players on major books, after successful long-term runs had been accomplished. Where DC has been quick to play musical chairs before some writers grew their sea-legs for a particular title, the House of Mouse once again played it cool. Let Bendis play in the Avengers sandbox until he’s run out of awesome things to do. Then let Fraction do the same with Iron Man. Then put Waid (who is still rocket hot after relaunching Daredevil back into our hearts) onto a book, The “Insert-Adjective-Here” Hulk, that frankly I’m sure no one has cared about since Jeph Loeb murdered it in the early aughts.

In the art department, fan favorite John Cassaday gets to give The Avengers a nod, which I hope is as good or better than his work on the Astonishing X-Men. The always tried-and-true Mark Bagely will lend his hand at Fantastic Four, which should loosen the book up from its present look and feel. And over in the Four’s sister (or really… daughter?) book, FF, none other than Mike Alred is slated to put pencil to page. The last time I believe he was around MarvelLand, we got X-Statics, which was X-cellent. Sorry, had to go there.

And how about the overall plan? Axel “Not Danny D” Alonso made it pretty clear that the books that are working well now will have no plan for resets. This means fans of Daredevil, the Punisher, X-Factor and the like won’t have to fear an immediate exit strategy and creative retreat from their favorite books. This is of course (to me, at least) a direct wink and a butt slap to the boys with the new oddly shaped logo.

DC was glad to let its entire line of books stink up the joint for the last three months they were around prior to the New 52 debut. Never in my 20+ years reading comics had I felt more books “phoning it in” then at that time. As a 20+ DC book subscriber? It rubbed me the wrong way. Hard. Here, Marvel seems to realize the old adage holds true; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Generally we know this is the point where I play devil’s advocate. And I see by the folding chair in your outstretched arms, ready to strike me where I type, I’d better get on with the “Howevers…” or else. Now, Marvel Now is just an on-paper-plan at this point. Even with that said, it’s hard not to notice a few things that reek of desperation. I love Brian Posehn. I do. But does anyone here honestly wish to place a wager on how long his run on Deadpool will last?

And just how many Avengers titles are they releasing? 20? 30? We get it, the movie made a kajillion-billion Disney dollars… but someone somewhere had to wave a white flag. As it stands I still contend that the over saturation of books with the popular characters just clutters up racks with an ultimately less-than-the-best product. All this, and somehow, the X-books still all sound ludicrously horrendous, Bendis or not. The idea that “silver age” X-kids land in the present, and get to play the “Oooh-how-the-world-changed-card” to me is choking hard on the gimmick bone. Be sure to take a shot every time NewOld Jean Grey asks “what’s an iPod?”

See? I’m not just shilling for Marvel, unless they wanna send me a check. In that case, I’ll make myself “AR” compatible in a heartbeat. In the mean time, my opinion stands: Marvel Now appears to be better thought-out, with a smarter release schedule, and an ideology that holds on to the notion that quality beats quantity every single time. Mark my words, kiddos. Marvel Now is gonna pants DC, and in the scramble expect DC to fire back with 17 epic all-title consuming crossovers.

Did you mark that down? Good.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Emily S. Whitten: Marvel Movies: Are They Going Too Far?

I suppose we could call this a follow-up or at least sister piece to last week’s column, in which I interviewed the fantastic Cleolinda Jones, author of Movies in Fifteen Minutes, about her experiences with comic book movies. Cleo noted that she tends to be more interested in Marvel characters because “Marvel has been so much more pro-active about getting movies made and characters out there;” which is true. Let’s look at some numbers for live action comic book movies, just for kicks.

Marvel Movies: 37 (33 + 4 from other Marvel imprints)

DC Movies: 33 (23 + 10 from other DC imprints)

Marvel Movies since 1998: 31 (28 + 3 from other Marvel imprints)

DC Movies since 1998: 18 (8 + 10 from other DC imprints)

Forthcoming Marvel Movies: 16 (8 announced – Iron Man 3; The Wolverine; Thor: The Dark World; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; The Amazing Spider-Man 2; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Avengers 2: Guardians of the Galaxy; Ant-man. 8 speculative – The Amazing Spider-man 3; Deadpool; Doctor Strange; Nick Fury; Runaways; The Hands of Shang-Chi; The Inhumans; Fantastic Four)

Forthcoming DC Movies:   9 (1 announced – Man of Steel. 8 speculative – Constantine 2; The Flash; Green Lantern 2; Justice League; Batman reboot (again); Wonder Woman (maybe?); Suicide Squad; Lobo)

Sources: Wikipedia’s Marvel and DC movie pages; IMDB; tooling around the Internets for all the announcement mentions I could find.

As we can see from the numbers, Marvel consistently beats DC overall in live action movies and soundly whups DC’s behind in live action movies (released and upcoming) from 1998 forward, which I think of as the current/modern comic book movie era (it started with Blade and gained momentum thanks to X-Men and Spider-Man in 2000 and 2002). In the upcoming movies department, not only does Marvel have almost twice as many movies as DC, but at least eight of them are pretty definitely moving forward; as opposed to the one DC has in the can and ready to go. Although DC has announced or sort-of announced several more, they have been much less forceful in confirming their future line-up, and most are not yet locked in.

The Dark Knight Rises (and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy in general) was a huge success; but The Avengers is currently ranked third overall  in box office sales, and Marvel is pushing full steam ahead with a long list of upcoming movies to expand on that success. But is their current success making them go too far? With future movies pulling from somewhat second-string characters like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and The Runaways, is Marvel stretching itself too thin and being too ambitious? Are they going to burn out moviegoers with a plethora of new movies about characters people might not know?

Actually, I’d say the answer is no; Marvel is doing exactly what it should to continue producing quality comics movies, and to continue beating the pants off of DC. There are two reasons Marvel’s exuberance in greenlighting all kinds of characters is going to pay off. The first is that Marvel’s attempt to interlock its movies and continue to build off of its shared movie universe, as it has built off of its shared comics universe, has been a resounding success; and if the quality of upcoming movies is consistent, there’s no reason why that should change. In fact, if the future movies are quality, things can only get better for Marvel. Everyone loves a good series, and Marvel’s movies promise to be an ongoing and expanding series like nothing we’ve ever seen in mainstream cinema. They will pull in, if they haven’t already (and dollars to donuts they have) those who don’t read comics but love sci-fi and fantasy series’ like Lord of the Rings, or even those who just like stories that keep on giving. As long as the overall weight of the expanding universe doesn’t drag down the individual movies, love for the whole series will increase exponentially.

The second is that making movies about possibly second-string-ish but still fully developed characters gives Marvel more creative freedom. Despite Ant-Man being a member of The Avengers, he doesn’t have the pull and wide recognition of Iron Man or Captain America. And while Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways was a great series, since it doesn’t often cross paths with a lot of the more enduring characters, even core Marvel readers may not have picked it up before. By greenlighting some less familiar faces, I’d say Marvel has the leeway to be a bit looser with the source material if it will result in a better movie. Similar to what DC has tried to do with the New 52 comics, Marvel can make these characters accessible to the modern audience, but in an easily digested format in which it’s already accepted that stories may be adapted to serve the medium. I see this as a strong benefit, because often being too enmeshed in the sometimes complex source material can drag a movie down. Thanks to the successful movie platform they’ve built, Marvel now has a great opportunity to introduce some less known characters, including to casual or even serious comics readers, for the very first time through the movies, as they continue to build a more and more of a “realistic” and layered movie world that viewers can lose themselves in.

So I predict that Marvel’s method of movie-making (say that three times fast!) is going to keep working for them. And with that in mind, even though Marvel’s got a super-awesome and full line-up in mind already, here are some other (slightly more minor) characters I’d love to see greenlit for movies:

Taskmaster – He’s a villain, he’s a hero, he’s a villain, he’s a…oh, who knows. Probably not him. All I know is that his backstory is already intertwined with S.H.I.E.L.D. (and Deadpool!) so he could be woven into the overall movie universe; and that he’s fun to read about. And that I’d like to see those photographic reflexes at work on the big screen.

BAD Girls, Inc. – A group with ambiguously good/bad members, Diamondback, Asp, and Black Mamba have crossed paths with Captain America, Iron Man, and more. They could eventually be folded into the wider universe, but given that there are three of them with great interplay and distinct personalities, and given their eventual status as reformed criminals, I could first envision a great mostly standalone strong female action/adventure/crime-related movie with solid and engaging character arcs and redemption. Unfortunately, one of the three, Asp, has been revealed to be a mutant, so I’m not sure if there would be rights issues; but then again, Marvel is doing Runaways, and in that group, Molly is a mutant; so maybe FOX only owns the rights to mutants who have been tied to the X-Men.

Hawkeye/Mockingbird/Black Widow – Marvel’s teamed these three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents up in the comics before, and Hawkeye and Black Widow have already been introduced in the movie universe. I definitely want to see a movie featuring those two, but I like the idea of bringing Mockingbird in as well. I’d love to see a movie that casually establishes that she was already a known entity with an established history with Hawkeye in The Avengers but was just not part of that particular fight; it adds to that “layered universe” feel to have characters who have been presumably going about their lives offscreen before being brought in to the event we’re watching. Plus there’d be some great interplay between those three, and I feel like a S.H.I.E.L.D.-focused movie would benefit from a small team of fairly equal major players.

Ms. Marvel – Okay, she’s not actually a minor character. She’s a major character, an Avenger, and a fucking badass powerhouse. Despite the horrifyingly fanservicey costume, she’s a super-strong (literally) female character, and we need to see her on the big screen. Like, yesterday.

Black Panther – He’s got an interesting backstory and eventually does a stint with The Avengers, but is also powerful and important in his own right. There’s a lot to choose from in his history, since he’s been around since 1966. Also, obviously, it’d be great to see a minority character getting first billing.

…And after Marvel does all of these movies, when we’re all eighty-five years old and hobbling to the movies on our walkers…then they can finally wrap it up by thumbing their noses at us with a Nextwave: Agents of HATE movie. And then maybe close out with X-Babies to make us feel better about everything. Because awwwwwwww, X-Babies.

After all this talk of Marvel, one obvious question is: what can DC do to be more successful in the movie arena? One answer is that they can build up an interlocking universe like Marvel; and it looks like that’s what they’re now planning to do. But as they’re developing that, there are a couple of other things I’d recommend for them. One is to put a lot of energy and love into making a Wonder Woman movie a staple part of that interlocking universe, and do it right. There have been several attempts to get a modern Wonder Woman something off the ground, but the proposed TV series never came to pass, and although the modern animated movie was fun, it didn’t reach a wide audience. Wonder Woman is a major and much-loved DC character, and perfect for the current climate of successful strong female character movies. For whatever reason, though, adaptations seem to struggle with what part of her giant backstory to tell. I’d advise DC to simplify things by deciding how Wonder Woman would be living today, and picking up only the threads of her long-running story that will play with modern audiences. Look first at what makes the best contemporary story that embodies who she is, and second at how faithful each individual bit is to the preceding comics.

Another thing DC can do is to stop rebooting Batman. There have been three versions of Batman to date, and now there’s talk that Christopher Nolan will eventually be helming another Batman reboot. Now, it could be that this rumored reboot is actually going to continue the story Nolan left us with at the end of The Dark Knight Rises and connect it to Man of Steel and other DC movies. If so, great. But if it is indeed a fourth iteration of a character that just wrapped a super-successful trilogy…well I don’t even know what to do with that. DC should be focusing on characters it hasn’t featured instead of relying too heavily on continuously reimagining its two staple stars, Batman and Superman. I hope it does.

Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to the movies that are in the works, and continue to cross my fingers and hope that they’ll all be amazing.

Until next week, Servo Lectio!

(And thanks to my friend @wmslawhorn for inspiring this topic while in a WSFAn’s kitchen eating brownies and drinking beer.)

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold’s Cold Ennui


Emily S. Whitten: Heroism and Bravery

Some people think that comics are a kid thing – the bright colors; the often cartoony style of art; the people parading around with their underwear on the outside – and they are for kids. But they’re also for teens, and adults, and all of us. They are a medium of storytelling that can be just as beautiful and terrible and effective as any other. If done right, the stories within a comic can bring joy, and can hurt, and inspire, and educate, and much more.

It’s funny when I try to talk about comics to someone who doesn’t read them, like my dad. His first response is “We didn’t have those in my house growing up. Some of the other kids did, I guess.” You know – because it’s a kid thing. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not criticizing my love of comics; he just hasn’t read many, and might not be aware that they can contain nuanced and complex storytelling, both for kids and adults. But I’m a well-read adult, and comics engage me, they bring me joy, they make me laugh, and yes, sometimes, they even make me cry. I know I’m not the only one.

In today’s hyper-connected society full of Internet news and forums and blogs, we know, more than we might have in the “old days, that there are tons of us adult comics fans out there, and that, indeed, at least in media like movies, comics have gone mainstream – people who’ve never read a paper comic have watched movies about Superman and Spider-Man and the X-Men and The Avengers and Batman and all the rest. Parents of children who are themselves adults have gone to see these movies. These days, as pointed out in John Cheese’s article, if you don’t get excited about the newest comics movie, or aren’t planning to see it, people might even think you’re out of the loop. Everyone now has exposure to comics, and all of us adult fans know we are not alone.

We also know that even though comics are a pretty big thing these days, there are still going to be people that think they’re only for kids, and/or don’t see the value within. There are also going to be people who look at art of Spider-Man in mid-fight and only see people beating up on each other. And they’re going to be concerned (maybe for the kids, or maybe because of the violence in general) and think that comics don’t hold much value, or that they are a bad influence. But Spider-Man landing a punch is only part of the story.

In the wake of the horrible and senseless Dark Knight Rises shooting tragedy, I know people are already questioning whether comics (and their affiliate media, such as movies) were responsible for the violence, and how violence in comics is affecting people, including children. I also know that comics creators and fans are trying to understand how a man who was presumably at least some sort of a fan could have done such a terrible thing. I certainly don’t know, except that quite probably, he is mentally ill.

Having studied media in culture way back in the dark ages of college (was it really so long ago??) I know that we don’t know, and probably won’t ever know, exactly how much influence violence in media has on people, although we do know that there can definitely be a correlation. But by the same token, we also know that two people being exposed to the same violent media can have completely different reactions, and for some people, there may be no correlation at all. For the majority of society, seeing a violent movie, or reading a violent comic, doesn’t directly cause violence; otherwise we’d have a lot more tragedies like this recent one.

I don’t believe we will ever be able to definitively answer the “effects of violence in media” question. Does that mean we should just shrug our shoulders and give up on our studies of this issue? Of course not. But at least at this point in our cultural learning, we don’t know what exact factors may have caused a man to methodically plan to shoot into a crowded theater. And although the news is reporting that the man said he was the Joker and had dyed red hair (presumably to emulate the Joker in the hospital nurse scene of The Dark Knight), I don’t think that necessarily means that Batman comics or movies caused him to do what he did. They may have narrowed his focus of where to attack people, and that is awful; but if The Dark Knight Rises hadn’t been there for this man to focus on, I’m guessing he would have found some other place to focus his violent acts.

I also think that as long as any kind of popular media, including comics, exists (which it always will) there are going to be some stories that may need to include violence in order to make their point, and there are going to be people out there who will miss the point of all of the complex and nuanced storytelling we can possibly include, and only see the violence; whether it be a concerned parent, or a politician, or a news reporter, or tragically, a man who thinks violence against random people in a theater is okay. But that isn’t a reason to censor necessary elements of storytelling.

Yes, Batman as a character can be violent; but as my friend Cleolinda Jones said about The Dark Knight Rises, “The sad thing about this theater tragedy is, the major theme of the movie is about inspiring others to stay strong and do good, even in the face of tragedy.”

As comics creators, I think the best we can do regarding the “violence in media” issue is continue to create nuanced stories which frequently show the good in our characters, and hopefully inspire readers with messages like staying strong and doing good, or helping others; and in which any violence is included because it is necessary to the point of the story, and does not champion violence for the sake of violence or as something without consequences. As fans, I think it’s important to tell people about the parts of the stories that move us or inspire us to be better people.

In that vein, here are just a few snippets of stories that I think show the goodness, heroic sacrifice, and bravery that is almost always present in comics. (Caution: Potential random STORY SPOILERS BELOW.)

Spider-Man: During the Marvel Civil War storyline, after years of actively and carefully protecting his identity, Spider-man bravely unmasks on national television as a gesture of support for the Superhuman Registration Act, despite his discomfort with the idea and his fear for his loved ones (who he takes steps to protect first). He makes this choice because he thinks, like Iron Man, that the Registration Act is the best way to protect American citizens and the superhero community.

That in itself would be pretty brave, but later, after Spider-Man discovers the extreme and unjust measures that are being taken to capture and imprison “rogue” superheroes whose only wrongdoing, in many cases, was helping people without registering, he switches sides to fight against the Registration Act, even though he nearly dies because of it. That’s an admirable devotion to doing what’s right.

Richard Mayhew: In Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere (adapted for comics, which is where I first became familiar with it), Richard Mayhew, a young businessman with a steady job, a flat, and a fiancee, stops to help what looks like a homeless woman who is lying injured in the street. Despite his fiancee’s protests, he takes the woman home (she insists he not take her to a hospital) and cleans her wounds. Unfortunately, helping this scruffy woman causes him to become invisible to regular Londoners, and visible only to the “London Below” of which the woman, Door, is a part. Naturally he panics at first, but then he stays with Door to help her escape the assassins who have killed her family and are hunting her down. There is a fair amount of violence and death in this story; but ultimately, it is about a hero’s journey, and helping others in need, and that is the part that stays with you.

Deadpool: Come on, you knew I’d include Deadpool. The ultimate screw-up most of the time, in Joe Kelly’s run, Deadpool is sought out as a predicted savior of the world. After a lot of scoffing, Deadpool finally believes that maybe, just maybe, he can be the hero he keeps trying to be, and throws himself into getting ready for his new role, where he is to destroy a monster who will arrive to stop the Mithras, a being who will supposedly bring good to all mankind.

As it turns out, what the Mithras brings is bliss in the form of a loss of free will; and after agonizing over the choice of giving mankind blissful but blank happiness, or protecting free will, Deadpool defeats the Mithras and saves the world. He is utterly broken by his choice – the fact that he had wanted so badly to be a hero, and yet had still, through his (heroic) choice, brought the continued pain and suffering that goes with free will to the whole world. But he did it anyway, because it was the right thing.

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle): In her earlier years, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter trained herself as Batgirl so that she could fight crime like Batman, and she did so for awhile. However, by the time of Batman: The Killing Joke, she is semi-retired, and at home when the Joker comes to the door and shoots her, which causes her to be paralyzed. After spending some time in deep depression (as you would), Gordon rallies and decides to use her mental gifts (such as her intelligence and photographic memory) to help fight crime instead. She develops a complex computer system, uses her photographic memory to read dozens of news sources every day, and turns herself into an invaluable resource for Batman, the Birds of Prey, and other superheroes. She pushes past her own trauma to continue helping others.

Iron Man: During Marvel’s Dark Reign storyline, Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin) tricks the government into thinking he’s a reformed villain, and they replace Iron Man with Osborn as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. To keep the mentally unstable and untrustworthy Osborn from acquiring superheroes’ identities from the Registration Act database, Iron Man destroys all copies, but still has one remaining copy in his computer-like brain. To protect the information from Osborn, Stark, as a fugitive, goes tirelessly from one location to another, deleting the knowledge from his brain bit by bit. He knows this will also lead to the loss of his highly valued intelligence, and will eventually cause brain damage, but chooses to sacrifice himself to protect others. That’s heroic.

Batman: Since I’m not as big a reader of DC Comics, the live-action more immediately comes to mind, and naturally, right now, specifically the Christopher Nolan version – but there is so much to Batman generally, and in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, about sacrifice, and bravery, and doing what’s right, that if I threw a dart at the script (or the comic) I’d hit an example. Essentially, Batman’s whole story is about sacrifice – he’s not a superhero with superpowers, but rather just a rich dude who had a tragic thing happen to him. Yet he chooses to turn that experience, and his resources, into something that can constantly help others and his home city, by training his body and mind and developing and perfecting his gadgetry so that he can use both to fight crime. And in the movies, every time he chooses to protect his identity by turning his public self into something neither he nor others would respect; or takes a beating to foil a villain; or what-have-you; he’s showing that it doesn’t take superpowers to be a hero, or to protect and help people.

The above are just a few examples I happened to be thinking of. But comics are so full of examples that if you read almost any storyline you’ll find them in spades. And although as with many stories, sometimes reflections of real-world violence have a prominent place in the storylines, the violence is not the point of the story – the heroism and bravery of the protagonists is. Those things are the things that stay with most of us, and the things that make me and so many others love these stories.

I don’t know why a few of us miss the point, but I am saddened by it, and I am more saddened by this recent tragedy, and whatever connection it may have had to what is, for the most part, the wonderful world of comics. My heart goes out to all of the victims, and to everyone affected by it – which is all of us.

Until next time, Servo Lectio.



Emily S. Whitten: Making Lunch Breaks Everywhere More Fun Since…Now?

What I’m about to tell you may seem shocking, given that you all must think my entire week is taken up by laboring over each of my beautiful, wonderful, perfectly polished and amazingly insightful columns (really, they’re good enough for framing, every one), and that’s 100% true. But I’m an excellent multi-tasker (it’s one of my secret superheroine powers, along with the Gift of OCD), and so at the same time as I am cogitating about, compiling, and composing said columns, I’m also magically working a regular 9-5 – or sometimes 10-6, Odin and all his Asgardians bless flex-time.

So, like some of you other folks out there who are concerned with paying the bills and all that nonsense and thus have desk jobs, I sometimes spend my lunch time stuck in front of my office computer with just a few free minutes to obtain sustenance and enjoy a mini-vacation from Work. Sometimes I think to myself, “Hey, now would be a good time to catch up on the news, maybe see how that health care reform thing is going to affect me or something.” And then I laugh at such a silly idea, and I go read webcomics.

Just in case this is something you’ve never tried on your lunch break, let me tell you that it’s infinitely better than reading the news, and studies (to be cited when I make some up and post them on respectable-looking science websites) have shown that it improves both your mood and your good looks. In fact, if you read webcomics at every lunch break, by about three weeks in you’ll be a Happiness Guru and also look like Angelina Jolie or one of these other fine ladies. Which is maybe too bad if you’re a guy, but them’s the breaks.

Since I’m a veteran webcomics-at-lunchbreak reader, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorites with you. These aren’t necessarily super-secret cutting edge webcomics – some are quite popular and you’ve probably heard of them before, and some have even been around for years – but really, the internet is so big and full of things, I have to think at least some of you haven’t encountered some of these before. Maybe? Anyway, they’re some of the ones that make me happy so I wanted to share.

So here’s a little bit about each one, and, to help you avoid Archive Panic, three random favorite entries for each so that you can quickly see whether they might be your kind of thing. Enjoy!

XKCD is “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” but I don’t think that does it justice. Randall Munroe somehow manages to encompass every topic at some point or another while keeping a coherent tone, and even has some ongoing characters and mini-storylines going in what is, essentially, a bunch of one-shot comics. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me nod in agreement, sometimes it’s profound and makes me think, and sometimes I even learn math and science-y things from it. Win! Make sure you hover your mouse over the comics for added fun.

Three favorites:


Hamster Ball


Hyperbole and a Half is a blog by Allie Brosh; and, okay, it might not exactly be a webcomic in the traditional sense. But it is a series of stories told with graphic accompaniment (of the amazingly-funny-in-Allie’s-hands MS Paint variety) and it’s extremely hilarious, so I’m putting it on the list. It pretty much consists of Allie sharing about her life and childhood; and if that sounds rather mundane to you, give it a read and you’ll be in for a surprise.

Three favorites:

The Alot is Better Than You At Everything

This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult

The Party

The Oatmeal is a site which features both comics and quizzes, and which you may have seen in the news lately. I mostly go for the comics, but on the other hand I have also fallen prey to quizzes like, “How Many Justin Biebers Could You Take In A Fight” (16!) which are fun too. The art is sometimes grotesque but conversely also sometimes adorable, and the comics are often insightful (oh, professional web design; how I remember all of your myriad headaches) or educational (Nikola Tesla facts, yay!).

Three Favorites:

Cat vs. Internet

How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell

8 Ways to Prepare Your Pets for War

A Softer World is sort of hard to describe. It pairs photos with a few lines of text to great effect. I’d call it quirky but that might imply it’s always fun, which, honestly, it’s not. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s poignant, sometimes it’s joyful, and sometimes it’s bleak and sad or nonsensical or twisted or downright disturbing; but maybe that’s what makes me like it? Whatever the case, it’s always interesting.

Three favorites:

I can contain it, if I have to.

don’t be so foolish

Oh! Oh man, we should bring an old-timey lantern!

The DM of the Rings is summed up succinctly by its author –  “Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign.” I’ve never really played D&D but I’m fairly familiar with it, and that (and/or a decent understanding of human nature) is really all you need to get a laugh out of this one (and the accompanying notes, which are also a fun read). It’s kind of tricky to pick “favorites” since this one’s a tightly continuous story, but here are three anyway.

Three Favorites:

Uphill Battle

The Tenacity of Greed

Overly Requited Love

pictures for sad children is cynical and sort of bleakly terrible but also sometimes funny and pretty addictive for some reason I can’t really explain. it starts out with a story about “PAUL: who is a ghost.” and it’s sort of sequential but not always. and then it changes to one-shot comics that aren’t really connected. and it is kind of written in disjointed sentences, and the author mostly doesn’t know what capital letters are. give it a try.

three favorites:

the comic that dares to stare

how to explain the puddle

later you will regret putting trash in your ears

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella is all about Wonderella, who’s, you know, kind of like Wonder Woman, if Wonder Woman were a bit more…human? Rude? Boozy? Valley girl? Interested in shopping? Politically incorrect? Whatever you call her, Wonderella’s having fun in her own way while (sometimes) saving the day, and it makes for fun, if sometimes absurd, reading.

POWER Couple

SATAN on the Dock of the Bay

RANG in the New

Penny Arcade is mostly about video games and gaming, with frequent geek culture commentary, and features the dry and self-deprecating wit of its two completely awesome creators. It’s been around for yearrrrs but that doesn’t mean it’s old news. It always makes me smile.

Three favorites:

The Adventures of Twisp and Catsby

The Glass Tweet

Retales, Part Two

Bonus Comic!

Which isn’t actually a comic. Okay, I’m cheating here, but for those of you who are able to watch YouTube at work (read: not me, WOE), here’s a fun video thing you really need to check out on your next lunch break.

I’m a Marvel…and I’m a DC started out as a video parody of the Mac/PC commercial, and evolved into its own awesome collection of stories and series videos. For more sequential stories, check out the After Hours and Happy Hours playlists or other playlists; or just tool around the videos that strike your fancy, because they’re all awesome.

Or, just check out my favorite (of course) Rorschach and Deadpool.

Hope I’ve brought a little joy to your lunch hour! And of course, there are a lot of other great webcomics out there too, including a bunch I’m sure I haven’t heard of. What’s your favorite? Tell me in the comments!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold, Bourne on the Fourth of July


Emily S. Whitten: Women and Costuming

I came at fandom costuming (or cosplay, or whatever term you want to go by) from a pretty sideways angle. The entire purpose of the first set of convention costumes I ever wore was to advertise, for three days straight, the first North American Discworld Convention, of which I was a co-founder, and which took place back in 2009.

 (Side note: registration for NADWCon2013 is now open. Discworld fans: come to Baltimore next year and join the fun!)

All three of us co-founders were attending the 2008 UK Discworld Con, both to get an idea of how they ran their con (for the two of us who hadn’t been to a Discworld Con before) and to spread the word about our new con. The one co-founder who had been to the UK Con before happened to be a talented costumer – I mean the kind who can actually sew together outfits from scratch – and she convinced me that I should costume too, to call attention to our con and encourage UK attendees.

In the Discworld there’s a character named Moist von Lipwig (pronounced LipVIG, of course, for any ignorant heathens out there), and he wears a brilliant cloth-of-gold suit, both to look flash and get attention, and to represent, in the minds of the people of Ankh-Morpork (main city of Discworld) the avatar of the failing post office as he tries to pull it from the ruins of neglect and make it successful again. Therefore, my co-founder had decided that for maximum attention she should do a female version of this – an amazing cloth-of-gold-looking Victorian walking suit, patterned with the turtles I had designed for our convention symbol. She looked freakin’ amazing. As for me, I was, well, shall we say, a bit more lazy.

Nevertheless, at her prompting I decided to do something in gold to match her and garner us more attention as we walked around together, but to stay a little more within my costuming skill set (which was almost zero at that point). Think of something I could cobble together by just buying a bunch of stuff that somehow coordinated into a “costume.” Between the two of us we came up with the idea of me going around as a flashy “Band With Rocks In” groupie (a band featured in Soul Music, the first Discworld book I ever read); with a t-shirt of the Band that advertised their “North American Discworld Convention” world tour. This is how I ended up wearing gold go-go boots, gold fishnets, and a ridiculously short and tight gold miniskirt all over a convention for three days. Also gold leather jewelry. And a gold bag shaped like a guitar. Rock!

So, you know: the first time I ever costumed at a con I was flashy and I wore a tiny miniskirt and that was solely to get attention. For a convention, not for myself, but still. Why am I talking about this now? Because there have been, and continue to be, a lot of interesting discussions about women and costuming at comic cons and related geeky cons, and why we wear what we wear, and whether it’s for the love of the fandom, or the love of putting together awesome outfits, or to get attention for our skills, or to get attention as sex objects (the most prominent theory and/or wish fulfillment thought in circulation). And after reading this blog post and a number of related ones that discuss primarily the “sex object” angle, I feel this merits further discussion.

That so many people seem to think women have only one motivation for wearing convention costumes that happen to be “skimpy” or “sexy” or whatever bothers me and implies some pretty negative things about the way women are viewed in comics and geek fandom. Women are more complex than that, y’all. Really we are. We have many motivations for what we do, and they don’t all boil down to “trying to get some dude’s attention.” Assuming that the purpose of a woman wearing an attractive costume is solely to garner attention as a sex object also removes those women, in the minds of those making the assumption, from the general group of fans who are at the convention to geek out with other fans and have fun, and places them in another, dehumanizing category – things there just to be looked at. And sometimes, as geek gals just wanting to have awesome geek conversations with other fans, that really spoils our fun.

While I certainly don’t take issue with women who do wear skimpy outfits for male attention, or deny that as one motivation for such convention wear, I have great concern about the attitude, particularly in the already heavily male-centric comics fandom, that the purpose and/or function of women in costume is just to look hot for all the random dudes in the crowd.

I’m not pulling this attitude out of thin air. I’ve encountered it personally, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. For example, after telling a very nice guy friend (i.e. not a sexist jerk or something) that I was working on some costumes for the next con I attend, I was reminded that “sexy is popular.” When I joked that just for that comment, I was going to go dressed as a down comforter, he responded that this would be a waste for “all those guys looking at” me. But…see, awesome as my friend is, he was missing the point. I am not primarily costuming for “all those guys looking at me” (at least, not in that sense. I always like people appreciating the effort I put into a costume, of course). Nor is that something I should be required to do for my costume to be admired at a comic/fandom con. I mean, sure, I like my costumes to look attractive – I always like to look nice. And I’m not going to faint in shock if I’m walking around in a miniskirt and guys happen to approve. It’s a miniskirt. They’re guys. There’s a Pavlovian response at work there, and I’m not naïve about it.

Obviously I don’t want people to think I’m unattractive – who would? But my point is that when I sit down to create a costume, I’m not thinking, “…and then I’ll wear the short skirt, because guys think that’s hot.” No, if I wear the short skirt, it’s because, say, the skirt is authentic to the costume. Or it calls to mind the stereotype of a band groupie at a rock concert. Or it’s floofy, and I just love wearing floofy things. And that’s as it should be.

I can’t speak for the motivations of every female costumer out there, but just for kicks and education, let’s look briefly at the motivations behind a few of the costumes I’ve worn or will be wearing to cons that someone out there might assume I’m just wearing to get a guy’s attention. In numbered list format, because Deadpool approves of numbered lists.

1)   Black Canary: I’ve worn a Black Canary costume for Halloween and Dragon*Con. If you’re somehow not familiar with Black Canary, her costume could certainly be stereotyped as something worn to get attention. I mean, for one thing, she doesn’t wear pants. Add to that a leotard, high-heeled black boots, and fishnets, and, yeah, I’d guess this counts as a “sexy” outfit. Why did I wear it? Simply put, I had two weeks to come up with something to wear for Halloween and I like Black Canary and suddenly realized I already owned 90% of what I’d need to be her. I’m lazy and cheap but I still like to costume Geek, even for Halloween. So I rounded up the stuff I already owned, bought a cheap cropped leather jacket and, voila! Instant costume.

2)   The Absinthe Fairy: This isn’t a comics costume, but I’ve worn it for Discworld and Dragon*Con, and I love it to death. It features a lacy corset, a short floofy skirt, and bright green five inch platform heels. It’s inspired in vague part by the absinthe fairy in Moulin Rouge. Why did I wear it? Because I love that color of bright green, which prompted me to buy the bright green corset (curse my magpie reaction to pretty things!), which inspired me to come up with a costume for it, which had to be of the right period to fit with Discworld (think burlesque, not proper parlors). And I like fairy wings, because who doesn’t like fairy wings? Even the five inch heels were motivated by something other than wanting attention – they match the corset perfectly, and nothing else looked even remotely right.

3)   Deadpool Cheerleader: This is one I’m putting together for an upcoming con. It will feature a very short cheerleading dress, because that is what cheerleaders wear. Not to wear something like that would negate the point of the costume. Why am I wearing it? A large number of people have suggested to me at various times that I costume as Deadpool, but I have zero desire to actually dress as the character. I’ve never wanted to be Deadpool – I just like to write him. However, after the umpteenth time someone suggested this to me, I thought about how I spend a lot of my comics-discussion-time as Deadpool’s unofficial cheerleader, and, well – sometimes I have a pretty simple sense of humor. So. Yeah.

4)   Arkham City Harley Quinn: I’ve seen a lot of women complain that this version of Harley was designed solely to pander to the fanboys. She’s wearing leather pants, you can see her bra, she wears a belly-baring corset, etc., etc. I’m currently working on putting this costume together for a con. Why am I wearing it? Because Arkham City Harley Quinn looks like a badass punk who just doesn’t give a damn, yo. She looks pissed at the world and ready to do something about it. And if I could dress however I wanted to with no consequences (like totally getting fired), not gonna lie, sometimes I’d want to get up in the morning, put on studded wrist-cuffs and leather pants, and go out into the world angry and ready to kick some ass. Wouldn’t you?

Like I said, I don’t know what every costuming woman’s motivations might be. But take a look at the above, and I think you get my point. Behind every woman in costume, there could be any number of motivations for what she’s wearing, and they’re probably much more interesting than “looking hot.” So let’s discard the assumption that women in costume are just there to be ogled or looking for male attention and move on to the part where we’re all well-rounded personalities with many facets who like to have geek fun together, shall we? I think that’s an excellent plan.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Goes Beyond!


Emily S. Whitten: Ask Deadpool, Because You Just Won’t Get These Answers Anywhere Else

Hey everyone! Emily here, and all ready for a great Tuesday column! Today I’m going to be talking about cosplay. I read an article a little while ago, about why women cosplay, and whether they –

Why women cosplay? Well ain’t it obvious? So they can look smokin’ like Lady Deadpool an’ stuff.

Um, Deadpool? What are you doing here?

Dontchya remember? You promised me I c’d take out my backlog’a Twitter questions by answerin’ ‘em on yer column this week!

…I did, didn’t I? Well crap. I had this whole great column about women and cosplay ready to go! Are you sure you don’t want to come back next week??

Em, I love ya, but GTFO.

*siiiiigh* It’s all yours, man.

RIGHT. Well now. Since we ain’t been properly introduced yet, ‘sup, people’a ComicMix. My name’s Deadpool, an’ I come in peace.

[Well we all know that’s a big fat lie.]


Okay, maybe I come in peace an’ a little bit’a mayhem. Guess it kinda depends on my mood what you’ll get, an’ th’ way my brain works, who c’n predict? But right now, I’m feelin’ all mellow an’ $#!% ‘cause I just ate ten chimichangas, five enchiladas, an’ a chalupa. Also a coupla churros. You ever had a churro? Man, I c’d eat those things all d –


All right, alright. So, yeah. All fulla food an’ mellow an’ happy an’ ready ta clear up some’a those burnin’ questions people are always askin’ me ‘cause they know I’m th’ world-wide expert on everythin’ on Earth, ever. Also a pretty good consultant fer death an’ th’ afterlife an’ life in other galaxies. Also I play a mean game’a shuffleboard


So now that ya know why we’re all here, let’s get on with it, eh?

[I get ta say “Eh?” ‘cause I’m Canadian.]

[So you say.]

Ah-hem. On ta all th’ burnin’ questions, is what I say!

…But no questions about burnin’ as it relates ta you, yer pants, an’ that donkey ya met last week, ‘kay? Last time I got one’a those kinda questions I couldn’ sleep right fer a week fer all th’ nightmares. They got other people fer those questions, capeesh? I’m a merc, not a doc!

So, yeah, let’s see here…last month’s laundry…IOU from Cable after he borrowed my WD-40; man, that’s old, I bet I c’d collect some killer int’rest on that…souvenir slice of Agent X’s pancreas (he never missed it!)…ah! Twitter questions!

Oh, hey. This one just came in, from @foresthouse.

Emily says: Wade!! Don’t forget to post the comic that @MarcVuletich and I did in your Tuesday @ComicMix column!

Crap! I almost forgot, didn’ I? Stupid shimmyin’ brain cells. Emily said I c’d only answer questions here if I remembered ta post the latest comic she an’ Marc Vuletich did. I let ‘em hang around th’ office sometimes ta chronicle my amazin’ life. Here’s what happened last week…

…Not my proudest moment. And now, on ta th’ rest’a th’ internets:

@Gohanguy22 asks: “Who would win in a fight? Justin Bieber or Aquaman”

Ah, geez, another one’a these “who would win” questions where th’ answer is just so obvious I don’ know why there’s even a question. I mean, here we got Justin Bieber, The Dude Formerly Known As A Hairstyle, who’s basic’lly recycled pop songs, a few dance moves, an’ a big cheesy grin; versus Aquaman, th’ freakin’ king of Atlantis, who c’n like, breathe underwater, make sea creatures dance th’ merengue if he wants ‘em to, an’ punch through submarines. Also th’ dude c’n swim up Niagara Falls.

So, obviously, th’ answer is: Justin Bieber. ‘Cause even though Aquaman c’d snap that little feeb’s neck like a tiny piece’a coral or drown him in three feet’a water or have him eaten by piranhas no problem, ev’rybody knows th’ King of Atlantis’d be too dignified ta bother fightin’ or drownin’ somethin’ that silly an’ inconsequential.

Also, what’s th’ point? Ya get rid’a Bieber, an’ ya just know there’ll be another Bieber along ta replace him soon enough. They got, like, a factory somewhere or somethin’.

@Flobberknocker wants ta know: “you versus 100 chimichangas. Who wins?”

Well obviously th’ first round goes ta me. I’d be eliminatin’ th’ competition left, right, an’ center. Hooverin’ up those chimichangas like it ain’t no thang. Knockin’ ‘em down an’ goin’ in fer th’ kill while they cried fer their wussy mommy chimichangas. Then, sure, I might haveta stop fer a few, ‘cause 100 chimichangas is a lot of chimichangas. So yeah, I’d take a breath, get someone ta mop my brow an’ squirt water in th’ general direction’a my mouth, maybe tell some people passin’ by ‘bout how I was eatin’ 100 chimichangas (okay, I’d tell everybody passin’ by, but just ‘cause “chimichanga” is fun ta say, it’s not like I like ta brag or nothin’).

But hey, then I’d be right back in th’ ring, ‘cause ya know, I’m like th’ Chimichanga Terminator, lookin’ those tasty deep-fried burritos in th’ eye an’ bein’ all: I’ll be back. An’ they’d be quakin’ in their little guacamole-covered boots, cryin’ tiny sour cream tears, ‘cause ya gotta know chimichangas are cowardly little things; ya’d almost feel sorry fer ‘em in this scenario ‘cept they’re just so damn delicious! So yeah, th’ second round would be mine, all mine! An’ before ya know it they’d all be gone an’ I’d be sittin’ all fat an’ happy in my easy chair with a smile on my face an’ th’ Golden Girls marathon on TV. Challenge accepted; mission accomplished.

…But hey. I ain’t gonna lie. This is Mexican food, here. We all know who wins round three.

@Kingvilehelm inquires: “If you had a baby would you train it all Kill Bill style or let it have a normal childhood”

A baby? A cutesy-wootsey itty-bitty widdle baaaaabyyyy?? …Ah, who’re we kiddin’, is there anyone, anywhere in this world or any’a all th’ ridiculously large collections’a alternate Marvel universes out there who would leave me alone with a baby long enough ta raise it?

[Unless it was baby Cable! You looked after him for awhile, don’t forget.]

[Yeah, and then when Cable got to his teen years he took him to Intercourse, PA in hopes it would live up to its name, remember?]

[Fair point.]

Yeah, pretty sure th’ whole’a th’ Marvel multiverse’d frown on me bein’ allowed ta raise a baby, not that I’d know what ta do with it if I did get one – I mean, I know there’s somethin’ involvin’ diaper-changin’ an’ all that, but I ain’t touchin’ that $#!% with a ten-foot pole (all puns intended)! That’s def’nitely someone else’s problem.

But…maybe…someone in another universe’d be interested in improvin’ th’ shallow end’a th’ gene pool with ol’ Wade, eh? Hmm...I wonder what that’d look like… 

@flanaganbennett asks: “Deadpool, what do you think of this bunny?”


…You have found my one weakness, good sir. Yo, verily, I take off my mask ta you.

Well, that’s it fer this week, feebs an’ fans! Come back next week, when Emily tells me she’ll be here with what I’m sure’ll be a super rivetin’ column about costumes an’ stuff. I mean, not nearly as rivetin’ as me answerin’ questions, but hey, we don’ wanna spoil you all, now, do we? Not ta mention Emily just came over ta stand near th’ keyboard an’ she’s kinda tappin’ her foot an’ gesturin’ fer me ta leave an’ I’m not sure if she’s gonna invite me back anytime soon. But…I’m sure she’ll let me near her computer again one’a these days, an’ if she doesn’t, you c’n always come visit me over at Ask Deadpool!

So until next time, chimichanga!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and those kids…