My colleague, Kate Kotler, has assembleda list of articles about the continuing harassment of women at comic book conventions and other gatherings of fans. I’m late to this party, but that’s because I’m conflicted.
There are many more cosplayers at conventions than there were when I first started to go. There are many more women and girls at conventions than when I first started to go. As one would assume, this means there are many more female cosplayers.
And here’s my problem. I don’t really get this. Maybe for Halloween, I’ll pull something together for a party or to answer the door for trick-or-treaters. I have no desire to make costumes, nor to wear them around thousands of strangers.
Let me be clear. This is my problem. The people who cosplay are clearly enjoying themselves, and I have no desire to deprive them of that joy. If anything, it’s my loss that I can’t be less self-conscious when I’m out in public.
And yet, there are many who can’t let cosplayers enjoy themselves, especially not female cosplayers. Some guys think they are entitled to go up to women and say repulsive things to them. Some guys (sometimes the same guys) think they are entitled to assault these women physically as well as verbally.
And some people think this is okay, because if those women didn’t want the attention, they wouldn’t wear costumes.
Because an admiring glance or a respectful compliment, the kind of attention the cosplayed might appreciate, is exactly the same as a guy who rubs his erection against you while describing how much he wants to rape you.
If there are other parts of modern life where men think this kind of behavior is acceptable, I do not know what they are. I would guess that, if they exist, they are other events where men consider women to be interlopers, invading their secret clubhouse, and this is how they let women know their place.
Comic book conventions contribute to this problem in the way they program. Although the female attendance at the recent New York show was estimated to be around forty percent (and looked like more than that from my unscientific observation of the floor), the guest list was less than two percent female. At the recent Harvey Awards in Baltimore, only one presenter was a woman, although Fiona Staple won a respectable percentage of the prizes. It would be easier for women to be taken seriously by convention goers if they were taken seriously be convention planners.
I don’t think we should sit back and wait for others to fix the problem. I think we need to fix it ourselves. Every time we see bad behavior, we should say something, loudly. Every time a convention or industry event ignores women, we should ridicule them for their lack of knowledge about our industry and its future.
This isn’t for my convenience. This is how we save the world. Women are not objects of prey. If, today, we tolerate sexual assault “because look how she’s dressed,” then, tomorrow, they can feel entitled to shop for us on the street, like groceries.
On October 17, one of the hottest animated series returns for a second season as Frederator Studios unleashes all new episodes of the breakout hit Bravest Warriors exclusively on its Cartoon Hangover YouTube channel.
From Pendleton Ward, the creator of the Emmy-nominated Cartoon Network smash hit Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors chronicles the out-of-this-world futuristic adventures of four teenaged costumed heroes as they warp through the universe to save adorable aliens. Joined by fan favorite characters Catbug and Impossibear, the Bravest Warriorssplit their time between intergalactic adventures and hanging out in their invisible giant robot hideout. The new season will feature 12, 5-minute episodes with new installments debuting every other Thursday at 4pm ET.
Upon its premiere last Fall, Bravest Warriors became an instant hit. The 11 episode first season has garnered more than 32 million views to date, and won the Shorty Award for Best Web Show of 2013. Its appeal has also attracted the attention of the licensing community, with more than 15 manufacturers signing on to develop an array of merchandise featuring Catbug, Impossibear, and the warriors that is now rolling out to Hot Topic, Wal-Mart and other retailers.
The Bravest Warriors second season premiere episode , “Aeon Worm,” directly follows the season 1 finale cliffhanger “Catbug,” with the secret of the mysterious, unlockable door sent from the See-Through Zone where their parents have been trapped for two years. The new season will feature episodes written by Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Nickelodeon’s cult-hit Invader Zim, and rising star Noelle Stevenson, best known for her Internet Comic Nimona. The roll-out of the new season is being supported by a multi-platform social media campaign across YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Google + and Instagram.
The showis the flagship series for Frederator Studios burgeoning Cartoon Hangover YouTube Channel and the new episodes are part of an aggressive programming expansion planned over the next year. Conceived and developed by Frederator Studios’ head Fred Seibert – the animation luminary whose executive producing credits include such animated blockbusters as Adventure Time, The Fairly OddParents, The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory – Cartoon Hangover ranks as one of the fastest growing channels from YouTube’s 2012 funded channel initiative. Since its launch in November 2012, the channel has generated more than 13 million unique viewers (source: YouTube Analytics), over 55 million views of its programming, more than 156 million minutes watched of its shows, and over 780 thousand subscribers. Cartoon Hangover is part of Channel Frederator, a new multi-channel network devoted to animation and entertainment.
“The internet is ushering in the next golden age of animation. We created Cartoon Hangover to hurry it up and give tomorrow’s hitmakers a platform to show their creations to big audiences who deserved and are craving quality animation, wonderful writing and great characters. Bravest Warriors reflects the type of highly-innovative and imaginative entertainment Cartoon Hangover will deliver as we look to lead a whole new animation revolution,” said Mr. Seibert.
Bravest Warriors is directed, written and executive produced by Breehn Burns, with Frederator Studios serving as series producers. The show was developed by Breehn Burns, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi (Pete & Pete, Sanjay and Craig).
Also this month, Cartoon Hangoverwill continue to unveil new animated shorts that could serve as the inspiration for new series on the channel. This includes Dead End, created by Hamish Steele and animated by Mel Roach, who has also created the popular Cartoon Hangover short, Rocket Dog. Dead End tells the tale of the dynamic trio of Barney, Norma, and Pugsley who discover that a ghost is haunting their Wifi, and clogging up their Internet connection with ectoplasmic goo. The Dead End pilot is slated to release just in time for Halloween on Thursday, October 24.
The new season will feature 12, 5-minute episodes with new installments debuting every other Thursday at 4pm ET.
Into every comic book writer’s life – certainly if he or she works at all for the Big Two – some crossovers will fall. Maybe quite a few of them, especially these days. If you’re writing a series, it’s going to interrupt whatever storyline that you’re working on. Or you may get hired to work a fill-in connected to the series as I’ve done with the Forever Evil event over at DC with the Cheetah one shot running in Wonder Woman’s space. It’s totally deserving of your support to the point where I urge you to buy multiple copies. Give them out at Halloween to the kiddies.
Erm. Maybe not. It’s a tad violent.
Anyway, I know about crossovers from having had a series interrupted by them to having written the main event. They’re a special breed and have special demands and I’ve run hot and cold with the concept. I can’t dis them because they’ve done me good overall.
I plotted the series Legends which was the first DC company wide crossover following Crisis on Infinite Earths. The series, by design, served as the launching pad for several new series including the Wally West version of the Flash, a new Justice League of America, and Suicide Squad. Along the way I was asked to write a two-part crossover in Firestorm, then being written by series creator Gerry Conway who wasn’t interested in doing the tie-in issues. The theory was that, since I was plotting the miniseries, I would know what was going on and thus be able to better co-ordinate.
I was eager for the assignment. As I said, I was plotting Legends but this would give me the chance to plot and dialogue and get my foot in the door for more work. I knew Suicide Squad would be launching from the crossover but I hadn’t yet actually dialogued any DC characters.
Denny O’Neil had just come over to DC and was the new editor on Firestorm and that made me nervous. Denny was, and is, a legend in the industry and I was still pretty new and green. What could I possibly come up with that he wouldn’t think was lame? We met at a Chicago Comic Con and I took him out to a lunch at a vegetarian/organic restaurant (Denny likes those) and he was amenable to anything I wanted to do. He figures I was a pro (albeit a new one) and knew what I was doing. One less worry for him (although I’m certain that if I had sounded like a dolt he would have let me know).
The result? He was pleased enough at what I did to offer me the book when Gerry Conway left a few issues afterwards.
Crossovers can be a pain. Millennium, with Steve Englehart as the scribe, was published weekly and the concept was that every other comic published that week would tie into it. My week had both Firestorm and Suicide Squad in it and all the books that week were supposed to attack the same place (a Manhunter Temple in Florida). I asked what was the purpose of the temple and was told, “Anything you want it to be.” That wasn’t the question I was asking and it seemed to me that the five or six books that were out that week needed to be coordinated so we were all on the same page or we’d all look like idiots. So I came up with a plot for our week that would work with everyone else and we came off pretty well. I think DC also slipped me some extra cash for doing it and that was nice.
Invariably, the crossover is not going to be the best story in a given ongoing series (with the notable exception of the Cheetah one shot coming out very soon which I would really hate for you to miss) but there are reasons as a writer on a series connected to the event that you want to do good things with it. Sales can go up on those issues (I’ve had royalty checks – pardon me, incentive or participation checks – that tell me that) and there is the possibility of attracting new readers who may be sampling the book for the first time. You want them to have a good experience and come back. Anything that increases readership is a good thing. You want to make the story accessible enough for the potential new readers without alienating or boring your regular readers.
You also need to be flexible. Details and story elements in the main event can change as other editors chime in on it and/or publishing or even marketing. Those changes can radically alter your tie-in. It’s more work and it’s usually not more money and you have to hope he changes are not going to affect what you have planned for your own story further down the road. You need to roll with the punches and make the story work. Treat it as a challenge and an opportunity to make the story even better. In theory. Showing you’re a team player can make you more valuable and get you more work. Again, in theory.
Every story you write, especially for the Big Two, has parameters. You’re expected to make each one a good story, one worth the money that the reader is paying. Crossovers just add a few more parameters. The basic rule still stands – make it the best story you can.
Most of ComicMix’s readers know that Tim Burton made his live action Frankenweenie short (starring Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall, and Daniel Stern) while at Disney and was too quirky for the Mouse House so left to carve out a career of his own. The short was visually stylish, creepy, and filled with affection for the horror films of his youth. Since then, he has created his own brand of horror (Edward Sciossorhands, Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and has reinterpreted classic works (Batman, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Planet of the Apes) with varying success.
Last fall he finally released a feature-length version of Frankenweenie and while it underperformed at the box office, it is a creatively satisfying effort, and a great family feature. This can now run with The Nightmare Before Christmas as annual Halloween viewing for which I am grateful.
As with most great tales, this is a love story. In this case, it’s about a boy, Victor (Charlie Tahan), and his dog Sparky. When the beloved pet dies in a car accident, Victor uses his scientific genius to bring Sparky back to life. While some see this as a noble thing, Victor’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein (Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara), worry that their son is overly involved with the dog and lacks human friends.
A boy and his dog is classic and Sparky is your typical dog, although he now has trouble keeping all his parts intact, notably his tail.
When the local boys hear about the successful experiment, things begin to go off the rails. Victor may have Sparky back but things have certainly not gone as planned and that’s where the film’s charm and humor shines through in a well-plotted expansion of the original tale. That said, things do drag the further we move on, as if Burton said all he had to say and needed to stretch to get to a proper running time, 87 minutes, for a feature.
Burton stayed true to his vision, retaining the black and white, evoking the great Universal horror films of the past. And like them, this is filled with winning supporting character — Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) — enlivening the overall story.
The film is being released by Walt Disney this week in multiple formats including the four-disc combo pack — 3-D, 2-D, DVD, digital — and the Blu-ray comes packed with fun extras starting with “Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers” (2:30) — a new short with Victor and Sparky watching the title home movie; “Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life” (23:00) minutes), your typical behind-the-scenes featurette; Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit (4:30) 1/2 minutes); the original Frankenweenie short film (30:00); “Pet Sematary”, a music video from Plain White T’s. The first few featurettes are eye-opening in the effort that goes into making these stop-motion films. Burton, executive producer Don Hahn, producer Allison Abbate, and animation director Trey Thomas exhaustively cover the production, shot at the London-based Three Mills Studio.
This is the most entertaining video release of the week and comes highly recommended.
Following the successful previous three tales from Airship 27 Productions’ book BROTHER BONES – THE UNDEAD AVENGER, his fourth entry is titled “See Spot Kill,” and has a gruesome zombie dog prowling the streets of Port Noir.
“Voice actor Mark Kalita totally puts his Master Storyteller hat on this time,” Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron Fortier praised. “This is one of those tales that lends itself to a dark rainy night with folks gathered around the family radio to share the chills.”
“Dynamic Ram Audio’s Sound Engineer, Chris Barnes, loaded the forty minute recording with lots more sound effects this time around,” added Fortier. These elements add so much creepiness to the entire listening experience, I know our fans are going to love this.”
Airship 27 Production is selling each of the original stories individually for $2 each as mp3 downloads from their website. After all seven have been produced and released individually, the entire book audio package will go on sale for $9.99, a $4 savings.
Art Director Rob Davis has provided cover images from the illustrations he drew for each story. SEE SPOT KILL is an audio pulp written by Ron Fortier and read by Mark Kalita is now on sale and is the perfect “treat” for this Halloween season.
A brand new edition of the book is available on Create Space, Amazon, Indy Planet and Kindle.
BROTHER BONES – Audio Tales #4 The Scales of Terror is now available for download here.
Airship 27 Productions – Pulp Fiction For A New Generation!
Just in time for Halloween— New Pulp author and artist David Wright visits The White Rocket Podcast to talk about Stephen King’s epic THE DARK TOWER saga with host, New Pulp author Van Allen Plexico.
Spoilers aplenty! Van and David talk about every book and even dig into the ending of the whole story– what it really meant, and how they feel about it. You can listen now at www.whiterocketbooks.com/wrpodcast.
Never let it be said that I won’t change my mind if circumstances change. In that vein, I’m starting today’s column with a little addition to last week’s thoughts on Arrow.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
After writing about how things in the first two episodes seemed too crowded and rushed, and how I wish they’d slow down a bit and also give Arrow a few challenges to the thus-far routine of “Ollie targets bad guy, Ollie triumphs over bad guy,” Arrow turned around and gave me exactly what I was asking for. Sure, I still wish they’d taken more time to mine the experience of the first few days/weeks of his return from nowhere (sort of like how Elementary managed not to pile on every revelation about Holmes’s and Watson’s pasts and presents right up front, as I mention in my Elementary review here). And I still think the voiceovers are overly melodramatic, and in fact may be the thing that’s jarred me out of enjoying the show the most so far; but it feels like with episode three, the show is now hitting its stride.
For one thing, they actually gave Arrow an adversary worth a few minutes time, i.e. Deadshot, who throws Ollie off his game and wings his bodyguard, Dig. True, Ollie gets the easy upper hand by using his standing as, apparently, a captain in the Russian mob (eh??) to find Deadshot, and then takes him down reasonably quickly – but at least it wasn’t all smooth sailing this week. For another, they introduced a new step in Ollie’s playboy disguise – opening a nightclub to cover his secret base – without resolving it magically in one episode (I was half expecting the final scene to be opening night at the club or something). And finally, they’ve slowed their roll on the character drama to what feels like a more manageable and real life pace, focusing mostly this episode on Arrow beginning to build a bond of trust with Detective Lance (woo!) and Thea being a willful teen headache to everyone around her. Plus there was a bar fight that involved Laurel beating the crap out of a dude, which was killer and by far my favorite scene of the episode.
Happily, it looks like they may also be giving themselves an in to address the voiceover issue, by giving Arrow a confidante in the wounded Dig (and just in time too, as my friends and I were beginning to suggest other possible solutions, such as Arrow getting a new sidekick, Quiver. He would look like this). I hope so, as that could introduce more humor or banter into the show. I’d like to see the grimness tempered with an occasional sense of adventure and fun, as well as more of an open emotional connection to someone from Ollie, and maybe with Dig knowing his secret, that will come to pass.
Until then, I’ll keep watching, and amusing myself by trying to spot the new extreme form of exercise Ollie does each episode (this time, it was lifting a ridiculous amount of weight via a pulley system-thing). I’m hoping they’ll keep including those, so I can turn them into a game like spot-the-pineapple in Psych. I’m also hoping the next Easter egg for comics fans is a character named O’Neil (or possibly Denny?) after ComicMix’s very own Dennis O’Neil. C’mon, writers! I’m sure an absent-minded Perfesser character would come in handy for exposition and the like. Do it!
(End of spoilers!)
In other news, Halloween is just around the corner, which brings me great joy and the usual expectation of going to parties where no one recognizes my costume. Just kidding! I guess I’m still slightly bitter about the time I went out in Georgetown as Black Canary and exactly zero people got it (although there were three votes for Lady Gaga since I wasn’t wearing pants. Sigh.) I can’t complain too much about that, though, because I had fun with it, and it did inspire this awesome sketch by amazing comics artist John K. Snyder III. Yay!
Despite the Philistine-like character of some mundanes in DC, as an adult and convention costumer I love that Halloween provides an opportunity for all the local geeks to strut their stuff without (much) comment from everyone else. Sure, when I go out tomorrow night, I expect the usual round of gangsters, zombies, “sexy” whatevers, and that guy who always shows up dressed as himself with a nametag. But Friday night on the Metro I ran into a matched pair of Trekkies, and they were swiftly followed by a full-grown Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. And nobody in this usually stuffy town blinked an eye – or at least, if they did, you could tell by the look in said eye that they were admiring the costumes, not sneering at them.
Given that when I’m on my home turf my life is caught up in my full-time professional job, my professional commitments, and more, I don’t get to do as many local geek things as I’d like – and a lot of my genre friends are folks I’ve met at cons, and live far away. So it’s nice to have the reminder that actually, there are a lot of locals who love the same things I do (and to maybe meet some of them as we’re making the rounds, nerd flags flying high). It makes my geeky little soul happy to be out and about in the neighborhood, shining that geek light with costumes I made for conventions, even if most of the people out there don’t know who I’m supposed to be because it’s a comic book character don’t any of you people at this dance club read comics geeeeez.
Therefore, I plan to keep on representin’ for us comics fans at Halloween this year with the Arkham City Harley Quinn costume I described the construction process for in an earlier column and made for Dragon*Con, which turned out like this, in case anyone was wondering (with bonus Lego Poison Ivy!). And happily, my friend actually discovered that the club we’re planning to go to has the perfect theme – Haunted Mental Ward – so for tomorrow night, I went the extra mile (okay, inch) and also made this. I’m hoping that this year, at least a few people get my costume; but the funny thing is that, if they don’t, I kind of don’t care. Because Halloween is a fun time to go out wearing whatever the hell you want and have some fun with it, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
What about the rest of you? Any exciting Halloween plans? Great costumes? Feel free to share in the comments (with pictures! Pictures are great!) and I hope that everyone has a fun, and safe, and slightly spoooooky Halloween!
And until next time, Servooooooo Lectiooooooo!
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Pontificates
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Hands Out Marching Orders
It’s that time of year when the geeks turn into ghouls and the cobwebs in Earth Station One are decorations rather than poor housekeeping – Welcome to Earth Station Boo! Join Phantom Troublemaker and his co-ghosts Mike STABber and Mike GORE-don as we discuss creepy movies, spooky memories, and all things Halloweeny with our very special fiends Stephen SPLATinum, Eddie Cadaver, and Mark “STARK-RAVING” Maddox. With Special undead guest Martin “The Halloween Legion” Powell taking his chances with 13 questions. This is a ghastly and horrifying DEADcast you can’t afford to miss!
Rondo Award-Winning Artist of The Year, Mark Maddox is an artist extraordinaire, with many magazine covers to his name, including work for HorrorHound, Screem Magazine, Undying Monsters, Little Shoppe of Horrors, Monsters From Hell and much more. He can be found at: http://maddoxplanet.com/
Stephen Platinum is the Creator and Owner of Platinum Championship Wrestling, which can be seen LIVE the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month at The Main Event in Porterdale, GA. Facebook: facebook.com/platinumchampionshipwrestling
Martin Powell is a professional writer, having just entered his second decade with over 300 published credits. His newest project “Halloween Legion” is coming soon to a spooky store near you. Facebook: facebook.com/martin.powell1
Cover Image Provided by Mark Maddox for Screem Magazine #25
If you would like to leave feedback or a comment on the show please call the ESO feedback line at (404)963-9057 (remember long distance charges may apply) or feel free to email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org