Tagged: Ghostbusters

John Ostrander: The Face in the Mirror

The most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly featured an article about and interview with Emma Watson, playing Belle in the upcoming live-action Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. She may be best known for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films. In addition to being very talented, Ms. Watson is also very smart and very articulate. As the article notes, she has also been a leader in feminist causes.

In the article, she’s asked why it is hard for some male fans to enjoy a female hero. (Witness the fanboy furor at the all-female remake of Ghostbusters and the female leads in the last two Star Wars films.) She replied: “It’s something they [some male fans] are not used to and they don’t like that. I think if you’ve been used to watching characters that look like, sound like, think like you and then you see someone [unexpected] up on the screen, you go ‘Well, that’s a girl; she doesn’t look like me. I want it to look like me so that I can project myself onto the character.’. . .for some reason there’s some kind of barrier there where [men] are like: ‘I don’t want to relate to a girl.’”

That sounds right to me. We’ve seen that attitude prevalent not only in movie fans but comic fans as well. There’s a wish fulfillment, a fantasy fulfillment, in comics and comics-related TV and movies, in fantasy as well and we want to be able to easily project ourselves into that. For some male fans, a woman doesn’t cut it. The bias also can extend to seeing someone of a different race as the hero. I think it’s certainly true about sexual identity as well. To appeal to a certain demographic, the hero, the lead, cannot be female, or black, or gay. And heaven forbid they should be all three; tiny minds might explode.

Why is that? A good story takes us out of ourselves, expands our notions of who we are and who we can be. Why the resistance to that with some of the white male audience? Why the insistence that the character be as they are?

It comes down to how we define ourselves. Just as an artist can use “negative space” to define objects, so we define ourselves often not only by who and what we are but by who and what we are not. It becomes very black-and-white thinking; that which is me or like me is right and that which is not me or not like me is wrong, is less, is inferior. This is becoming a crucial issue not only in the stories we tell but in what we laughingly call “real life.”

Are you Arab? Do you wear a turban? Are you black? Are you gay? Are you female? Then you are not like me, you are “Other.” And that is inherently dangerous. We cannot be equal. It comes down to “zero-sum thinking” which says that there is only so many rights, so much love, so much power to be had. If I have more of any of these than you, I must lose some for you to gain.

Some of the people feel they don’t have much. I remember a line from Giradoux’s one-act play The Apollo of Bellac: “I need so much and I have so little and I must protect myself.” Sharing is not gaining; sharing is losing what little you may have.

Except it’s not. If for you to keep your power intact, you must deny someone else the power to which they have a right, it’s not really your power. It’s theirs and it’s been stolen.

Pop culture has its part to play. Putting women, blacks, gays, Latinos, and others in the central role helps normalize the notion of equality. Mary Tyler Moore did it; Bill Cosby (gawd help me) did it, Rogue One does it. However, pop culture can – and has – also re-enforced negative stereotypes. So – how do we engage it for more positive results?

Denny O’Neil, many years ago, when he was editing a special project I was working on told me, “You can say anything you want but first you have to tell a story.” That’s your ticket in. “Tell me a story” appeals to the very roots of who we are as human beings. It’s how we explain and codify our world. If you want to open a closed mind, go through the heart. Don’t lecture; engage. Show, don’t tell. Showing women, blacks, LGBTQ, Latinos, Asians, and so on as heroes, as something positive, normalizes the notion. If I can be made to identify with them then The Other is no longer strange; they are me and, thus, not other.

So I’m looking forward to Belle in Beauty and the Beast. And after that?

Bring me my magic lasso.

Tweeks: Best of 2016

It’s true that 2016 was kind of a dumpster fire, but thought we’d think really (really, really) hard about it & come up with the best things of 2016. And after like an hour, we realized that there were some great moments.

Like we started high school at OCSA, went to Hawaii, got into Club 33, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios, we were extras in Hairspray, saw Hedwig, Book of Mormon, Beautiful & Newsies, had some great times with our friends, got to interview some of our favorite writers & actors, went to a bunch of cons, and took in some amazing memes, TV, comics, books, & movies. Things were really good when they weren’t bad and we’re grateful.

So this week, we give you the best of last year….and look ahead to more good stuff in 2017.

Martha Thomases: We’re A Happy Family!

ramones archie

Ah, the dog days of August. Carefree times when our only worries are going outside where we might sweat to death or staying inside and being driven insane.

Luckily, we have each other, right? We can band together and support our shared passions, especially as they relate to pop culture, can’t we? Isn’t that why we have the Internet?

Well, sure, unless you’re a woman, queer, a person of color, or a member of some other group of random people that someone decides to insult gratuitously and, usually anonymously. The most high-profile recent example is what happened to Leslie Jones, but there are a zillion others we can cite.

Up until now, there is nothing anyone could do about it except ignore it, and shudder in despair at the hatred that eats away at certain human souls. And, when it gets personally threatening, tell the police and take out a restraining order, if possible.

However, there may be hope that haters will no longer be able to hide behind a fake user name. Technology might be able to discover which anonymous trolls actually are in real life. We will, virtually if not actually, tell their moms how badly they behave.

Let me be clear here. I’m all for freedom of speech. You can say anything you like, no matter how hateful. However, if you don’t say out loud it in public, or if you don’t sign your name on media, I will think you are a weasel and a coward and deserve to be ridiculed. And if you make credible personal physical threats, the law says you have moved beyond free speech and into criminal activity.

Look, I understand baseless rage. I feel it several times a day. It’s a characteristic we all share, proof of our inner two-year-olds. Is the line too long at the ATM? Is my food delivery delayed? Does my elevator stop at every floor? Is it hot in the subway station? All these things make me want to rant and rave and call people horrible, abusive names.

But I don’t. I’m an adult. And my inner two-year-old is properly terrified that my inner Mom will yell at her.

That’s maturity.

Mine will be tested this fall, when Archie Comics publishes Archie Meets the Ramones. One of my pet peeves is that many more people now claim to be Ramones fans than ever supported them in the late 1970s or 1980s, when they could have used the money. They couldn’t even get radio play. And now AT&T uses their songs to sell their wireless service and most of the Ramones are dead.

I went to see them a lot when I was young enough to go out at night. And I took as many people with me as I could, famous and not. Those memories not only bring me pleasure, but they contribute to my sense of self.

I sure as hell never saw Archie Andrews and his ilk at CBGBs. Nor, despite what the actual story might depict, did I see his father, either.

So, perhaps in a way that might provide me with some empathy for those who don’t want anyone to remake Ghostbusters, I’m skeptical of this. I don’t know if it will seem true to me in the ways that the best fiction is true.

And then I remember how much the band liked comic books, and how much they probably would love being in an Archie comic, and I try to let go of my resentment.

I’m not promising to love the story when it comes out, but I promise not to anonymously make threats about its creative team on the Internet.

Molly Jackson: The Magic of Nitpicking

Harry Potter and the Cursed

Like most geeks, I picked up my very own copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last weekend. It was definitely cheaper than a ticket abroad to see the play live and waiting for the show to make it stateside would take way too long. I eagerly went home to read it immediately and to once again delve into the world created by J.K. Rowling.

In case you aren’t a Potter fan and are still reading, this latest addition to the Potterverse is a play based off an original short story (that as far as I know hasn’t been released to the public) by Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne. The play was actually crafted by Jack Thorne. A quick note about what I thought about the play. It was enjoyable to be back in that world, if even for a short time. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that due to the play format we lost some of the usual detail I’ve come to expect in a Potter story.

I also thought that the path of the story was a little boring. It just seemed like an imitation of Rowling’s own work rather than imagined by her, which makes me wonder how much involvement she really had. However, I am glad that I read it and did enjoy that another story made it into the Potterverse. I would love to see it live; to see the special effects described in the story would make it worth it.

My biggest pet peeve of the play isn’t the story or the play itself. It’s that there is no listing of characters with a short description at the start of the play. If you have ever read a playscript, a listing of characters is always at the start, usually with a short description. This just jumped right into the play with no thought to the characters. If you read a play, this is how you are initially introduced to characters, versus watching a play where characters are distinguishable by actor, costume, makeup, or acting style. While I was reading, characters whose names that I did not know just popped up with no introduction or reason for being there and I was forced to go along without understanding. Granted, the main characters I know from years of reading but new characters deserve an introduction.

I went on a long, overdone rant about this oversight to my poor roommate, who happened to be within earshot. She agreed with me, partly to shut me up and partly because she studied theater in college. And I don’t think my concerns are unfounded; I’m positive some high school is already planning their own illegal production of Cursed Child with photocopies of the same edition I own. And these students will not learn about theater in the accepted way. The play format was thrown out by Scholastic, a company that, until now, I considered a standard bearer for youth education.

On the other hand, I have to wonder if I am nitpicking just a little too much. We’ve just watched the four actresses from Ghostbusters (and especially Leslie Jones) get verbally attacked for starring in a female-led version that didn’t conform to fan’s vision. Fans attacked Marvel over the Captain America hails Hydra plot rather than see how it played out. The entertainment culture has changed that if I wanted to, I could repeatedly harass Rowling, Thorne, Tiffany, the editors at Scholastic, the executives at Warner Bros., and so on.

It has become a trend to not just share your opinion on the internet but to shove it in anyone’s face/feed repeatedly until they block you or leave social media.

I see the irony in writing a nitpicky post and then complaining about nitpicky fans. The difference is that beyond this post, I won’t do much. I’ll probably just talk about it with friends, family, and random geeks that I meet and converse with. Do I think I’m right about this oversight in publication? Yes, I really do. Do I think that others will agree with me? Yes, I really do. Am I starting an Internet protest about this? Nope, it just isn’t worth it to me.

Marc Alan Fishman: Gazing Beyond the Gender Gap

ghostbusters thor spiderman iron man

By the time this column posts, I will have seen the new Ghostbusters flick from the Freaks and Geeks guru Paul Feig. I have chosen to see the film based not on any lingering love of the first two incarnations of the franchise (but put a pin in that until next week). I am not seeing it because of any particular love of the paranormal. And I’m especially not seeing it because a who’s-who of amazingly funny women are starring in it.

I’m seeing it because it looks like a fun flick to shut my chattering brain off for a couple of hours. Maybe giggle and marvel at some special effects in the process.

Meanwhile I also saw this week that Iron Man will be played by a black woman in some upcoming issues of the series. I’ve literally no doubt that the move isn’t permanent. I’m chalking it up to Marvel’s occasional jones to do the unexpected. It’s a great marketing plot to enrage Old School fanboys, while making millennials have hope for the future. It’s the battle-cry of the embittered old farts of fandom… “It’s not my Iron Man / Ghostbusters / Peanuts / Voltron / Power Rangers!”

Ahh, but that’s where you’re wrong, Grandpa. It’s merely a horse of a different color.

I’m personally mollified by the continual degradation of our pop culture society’s abandoning the shades of grey that better fit our worlds of fiction. To take a hard line stance over the casting of a female in what was once a male role, a black person in what was once a white role, or even a CGI character where hand-drawn animation once stood is just lunacy to me. At the end of the day, I don’t care who. I care what, why, and how.

While the 2003 Daredevil film will be fondly remembered as dreck, I actually liked it quite a bit. Sure it was muddied by Collin Farrell clearly ingesting a bit too much coke before filming. Sure it introduced the Greek ninja goddess Elektra as a supremely white chick. But you know what? It also gave us Michael Clark Duncan owning the Wilson Fisk role. I recall some sects of fans going banana-sandwiches over the darkening of the character.  And then I recall seeing the film, and basking in the depiction. Duncan was strong, stoic, and the apex of scene-eating-villainous. It never mattered once that he was black. Nor did he speak in jive, or really reference his ethnicity at all.

And yes: Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk is a million times better… but you’re taking a slow burn performance in a carefully built show vs. a blockbuster built to bank bucks in the short term. But I digress.

In the last decade or so, specifically in comics, we’ve seen a veritable gold rush of diversity. To quote Vox: “[Marvel] has already given us a black Captain America, a female Thor, a Muslim American Ms. Marvel, and a black-Latino Spider-Man. That push has been met with applause from fans who want to be included, praise and recognition from critics, and prickly criticism from comic purists who believe their beloved titles have been shunted aside for gimmicks and stunts.” And while those purists poo-poo the notion of such hypocrisy, I’ve been able to enjoy hearing about new readers coming to comics because they now had a character to relate to. Comic books (and I’d go far as to say science-fiction and fantasy) have long been the secret playground for those with a better vision of society. Where the world is color and gender blind. Where the story above all else determines the validity of a character.

Maybe I’m just that liberal a person; I don’t balk at any casting of any character in any fiction for any reason with regards to sexual orientation, gender, creed, religion, or pizza topping preference. It will always be about the character in context to the plot around them. If Riri Williams dons the red and gold armor to do battle with nefarious ne’er-do-wells, so be it. So long as she provides depth and clarity to the book; giving me, a long time reader, something new to respond to. If the Ghostbusters of 2016 are women? That’s fantastic. More so, if they provide a new take on the classic model of snarky comedians waging war on special effects. Regardless of erogenous zone paraphernalia… plot overpowers all.

And at the end of the day, if you want to call it a marketing gimmick, so be it. Because if the final piece of fiction is good enough, then you’ll swallow your ignorance with a smile and a changed mind.

The Point Radio: Buckle Up For More UNREAL

Lifetime’s critically acclaimed series, UNREAL is back with a new season starting tonight. Series stars Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby talk about what fans can expect and what the reaction has been from actual reality TV shows. Plus summer blockbusters are hitting every weekend and Fandango’s Alicia Malone gives us a guide of just what will be ticket worthy this summer.

Follow us here on Instagram or on Twitter here.

Martha Thomases: Waiting For The Right Part

archangel gibson guice

I’ve had computer issues for the last day and a half. Nothing major, but I needed a part, thought I ordered it from a place that would deliver in two hours, and, after my order was processed, I found out it would be two days, not two hours.

So this is late to my editor. And also, I thought I had a “Get Out of Writing My Column Free” card since I couldn’t use my computer, so I haven’t been thinking much about comics or pop culture. At least, not any more than normal.

So, here’s some thoughts at random.

  • Maybe I’m not reading the right sites, but I don’t recall any fuss about a woman of color playing Tulip on the television series, Preacher, despite the comic book character being a blonde, blue-eyed white woman. Have we grown up, or have too few people read the original story?
  • Or perhaps all the trolls are so busy trying to sabotage the new Ghostbusters that they don’t have any time for cable television.
  • On a related note, let’s all make sure to see Ghostbusters on opening weekend so those misogynist assholes don’t think they have any power. You know, like we did with Star Wars.
  • What’s with all the two-hour season finales of television shows? If they’re not any good, I stay rooted to my seat, afraid that if I change the channel, I’ll miss the cliff-hanger at the end. And if they are good, I stay rooted to my seat, engrossed in the story but still unable to go to the bathroom. Thank you, DVR and pause buttons.
  • The best new comic I’ve read recently in the category of “I Had No Idea This Was Going to Be Published” is Archangel from IDW, written by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith, with art by Butch Guice. I confess that I was nervous about whether or not Gibson could write for comics as well as he writes fiction (I love his fiction), but I think he pulls it off. Cool twist on time-travel, interesting and diverse characters, and, unlike so many new series, I think I’ll be able to follow this without getting too confused. Pay attention, Ta-Nehisi Coates!
  • This Monday is Memorial Day. Thank a veteran, and do what you can to stop any more of them from getting killed.

Marc Alan Fishman: When You Can’t Have It All

Touching Evil

Barely six days ago from the time this article prances across the interwebs to be posted to my little corner here at ComicMix, I will have once again broke bread with our ol’ E-I-C Mike Gold. Mr. Gold was in town (Chi-Town) for secret business. I’ve long since learned to stop asking for details, as when such a query is prodded Mike is prone to drum up a story with no fewer than seven name drops, and four blink-and-you’ll-miss-it delicious details about someone famous in comics. Before you know it, the subject has been changed, the barbecue brisket has hit the table, and you’ve completely forgotten your original question.

It was on the ride home that found Unshaven Matt Wright and me doing as we’ve come to do weekly: wax poetic about the state of our lives. You see, marrying our wives roughly two months apart, buying homes roughly five months apart, having our first kids about six hours apart, and then the second kids about two days apart has led he and I to fairly symmetrical lives. As such, these days … it’s been the world crashing down on top of us, whilst we have nary a baseball cap to keep from impending concussion. The finite details here are irrelevant. Let’s look to the macro.

When we’d completed our Kickstarter, we’d been about halfway through the inks on our final issue to-be-collected in the Curse of the Dreadnuts four-part series. Matt and I each felt that a solid four-to-six weeks would be all it’d take to plow through. Well. That was back in November. It’s not November now. And we’re still working on those final 10 pages or so. It’s blindingly frustrating. More than others may know because as much as we could choose any number of distractions in our lives preventing the completion of our book, it’s honestly the unrelenting pile-up of all of them at once rendering us barely able to scratch at a single page a week – if at all.

Reconnecting with Mike this past weekend reminded me that no amount of money sitting in my bank account will make up for the life not lived. Since November, when I should have been shuttering my side business to hunker down on a book, I took on five new freelance clients. And while I told myself the little bits and pieces of work they threw me would allow my family to exist when my wife eventually took her current maternity leave, I know I’m mostly lying to myself because the honest-to-Rao truth is I can’t say no. Until now, I suppose.

For example, take my ComicMix cohort Emily Whitten, who recently took a polite bow in order to tackle sundry missions in her neck of the woods. I read her wave goodbye and applauded. Make no mistake: I’m not going anywhere. I show up on a site a day before John Ostrander every week, which allows me to say I open for John Ostrander weekly to all geeks I meet on the street. I can’t ever give that up. Plus, my rants and raves about the geek culture I hold so dear is one of my favorite escapes when I sit down to write. But I digress. And screw Peter David. I stole that line from my high school choir director. Natch.

But the hunger pangs to be a true creative is now far too strong. I’ve denoted my fellow Midwestern comic makers doing amazing things as of late, and it makes me a brighter shade of Sinestro in jealousy of their output. My number one frenemy Dan Dougherty? He’s recently collected his comic Touching Evil http://www.beardocomics.com/#!touching-evil/c17ar into a trade paperback and is presently poised to release issue eight. And it’s seriously one of the best books I’ve read in years. I die a little every time I admit it.

As for Dan’s karaoke cohort, Dashing Dirk Manning? Well, he just launched a Kickstarter for the third volume of Tales of Mr. Rhee (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dirkmanning/tales-of-mr-rhee-those-who-fight-monsters-hardcove?ref=nav_search, and I’m one of the 100+ backers onboard in the first day. By the way, Dirk met goal in less than half a day. It’s fitting given how wonderfully macabre that series is. Then there’s my good buddies Leo Perez and Mikey Babinski, who both landed their art into exclusive tie-in trading card sets for the upcoming Ghostbusters movie. Trust me, I’m barely scratching the surface. My Facebook feed overfloweth with glowing announcements of soon-to-be-released goodies. All my friends… living their dreams, while I tackle yet another logo, business card, and UI update.

Until now. My name is Marc Alan Fishman. My shoppe is hereby closed. My studio is now open nightly. My book will be done. I know now that I can’t have it all. But the truth is, I never needed it all in the first place. It’s time to get back to doing what I love. The rest of the world can wait.

Marc Alan Fishman: Nerd Rage Begone

Wonder Woman 49 Neal AdamsMaybe it’s the fact my son Bennett has finally mastered the art of pooping, or that my second son is due in less than three weeks, but I’m getting soft, my friends. To be clear, I still get migraines whenever I pull my attention towards the pending nominations of candidates from both parties. To be clear, I still shake my fist aggressively when Chicago drivers cut me off. To be clear, I still snark at things and get bent out of shape over tons of crazy Internet news. With that being said, a few of my friends on my social media feeds are seemingly raging hardcore over a litany of geek-related issues that just plain baffle me. Actually, strike that. It doesn’t baffle me so much as enrage me. I get the irony of it all, mind you. But I just can’t keep my snark in any longer over their bunched up panties.

And for the record, I don’t deny anyone the right to be snarky, angry, or anything else. I merely find these topics too silly to get an anger-boner over.

Issue 1: The Big Bang Theory

Recently this tweet elicited a resurgence of hatred over the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. If you’d like a detailed recounting of my feelings for the show, you’re welcome to do so. I penned that article in January of 2013. And here I am, basically three years later feeling absolutely no different.

For someone to feel the need to light the torches and mount the armies of nerditry in an effort to chase this windmill really must have nothing better to fret over. To mock the lowest-common-denominator joke mills that are most of the network half hour sitcoms in perpetuity is akin to scoffing at those who eat fast food. No one – and I assure you that includes the entirety of Big Bang‘s staff – actually feels like the show is somehow a Bat-Signal for nerds, geeks, and dweebs to uniformly celebrate as barrier-breaking television. It’s stupefying to believe I have more than a fair share of friends that feel a need to #nerdrage over the comings and goings of that show – in part because a few soccer moms said trivializing comments to their local comic shop owners.

A person who doesn’t know Bruce Wayne from Wayne Brady tells a store clerk he reminds them of  Sheldon Cooper is as bad as that store clerk implying the insulter shops at Lands End and drives a Buick Enclave. Both parties are in the wrong. And if you find yourself seething and foaming at the mouth because Big Bang had the audacity to make boobie joke about Saga? Go buy a tee shirt that says so from Hot Topic and blow that rage out yer’ hipster ass. Next time? Be glad Saga got mentioned to literally tens of millions of people instead of pitching a needless hissy over the sheer gal of it all.

Issue 2: Wonder Woman’s Ass and Leg Lifting Kiss

Wonder Woman #49’s Cover B Variant by Neal Adams depicts Superman and Wonder Woman embracing in a totally PG-13 kiss. Diana’s rear end is facing the camera. I assume this was done because the way the legendary Adams depicts the Amazonian Princess, had the camera angle been reversed, the entirety of the cover would be Superman’s cape, calves, and booties, with Wonder Woman’s feet in between, making a passionate kiss look more like a night at the Cosby residence.

Let me make this clear, in case the snark isn’t coming through. The cover that has caused several pals of mine to shake their fists to the heavens in womanly rage (and this includes dudes too) is a variant cover. Meaning the actual cover than the majority of comic collectors will preciously bag and board after reading cover to cover is not in fact this man-first, woman-hating, soul-destroying piece of dreck. This means that only those who covet artwork by Neal Adams, or are tender completests in the highest regard will actually need to seek the cover out from their local comic retailers to even get it.

To quantify any negative feelings over this drawing is simply a rage too far to me. Yes, Wonder Woman isn’t facing forward on her own cover of her own book. Because Neal Adams chose to draw it this way, and the editors said “cool.” Yes, Diana has her leg up as if to imply she’s not only enjoying the kiss, but she may even feign to a submissive role in Superman’s larger frame. But that’s the prerogative of Neal Adams to choose to make her that much smaller than the Big Blue Boy Scout. For the record, I’ve long held it in my mind that she was likely as tall as he was, but nowhere near as wide. But hey? Guess what? I’m not Neal Adams, and I wasn’t paid to draw the cover. A cover by any account isn’t being force fed to adolescent males with a call out balloon declaring “Superman gets what’s coming to him, baby!”

I could go on. I could hand-pick several other ragers who need to calm down – like those who need to imply that the executives of Hollywood don’t understand our culture. Or the dorkus milorkuses who feel it necessary to pass judgment on a blogger declaring Chris Hemsworth went full geek in the next Ghostbusters movie because he’s wearing a vest and horned-rimmed glasses. The list goes on and on.

Simply put, when our nerdy culture can finally take the time to accept that those not-in-the-know mean us no harm when they simplify our loves… when we can stop over-analyzing every little detail to acknowledge our hobbies are still businesses in the business of making money… when we can stop feeling the need to throw stones through the glass houses that offer us shelter?

Well, that’ll be the day I feel no rage against the nerds who need to rage.

The Point Radio: A Decade Of Fright With The GHOST HUNTERS

It’s been ten years of terrifying jumps and unexplained events on the SyFy series, GHOST HUNTERS. The stars of the show talk about how’ve they have survived a decade and a few the scariest moments they have faced. Plus funny man Jerrod Carmichael brings his talents to a new NBC series and tells us what to expect.

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