Tagged: Neil Gaiman

Glenn Hauman: Neil Gaiman Does Not Need A Pity Hugo

Jeff_GilloolyRemember this class act, America?

This is Jeff Gillooly. You may remember him from the 90’s. He “masterminded” the hit on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee on the eve of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1994, to prevent Kerrigan from skating and making the U.S. Olympic Team, for the benefit of his ex-wife, Tonya Harding.

What does this have to do with the Hugo Awards? Well, it should be obvious. Theodore Beale, by slating again with his Rabid Puppies, has decided to kneecap the 2016 Hugo Awards… and just to add to the fun, this time he’s trying to create poison pills by nominating famous authors in some categories, so he can take the credit if they win, and cry persecution if they are rejected with the rest of his slate.

John Scalzi, talking about the Hugo mess on his blog, takes the position:

…I see some people here and elsewhere swearing they’re going to put anything that was on the Sad/Rabid slates or recommendation lists below “No Award” this year. Bluntly, you’ll be foolish if you do this. As I noted in my LA Times piece yesterday, the Puppies this year slated things that were already popular outside their little circles, like, for example, The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman.

Come on, folks. Does anyone really think Neil Gaiman holds active membership in the Puppy brigades? Or Stephen King? Or Alastair Reynolds (who specifically asked to be dropped from the Puppy lists, and was ignored)? Or Lois McMaster Bujold? […] Don’t give credit for the Puppies slating already popular work and then acting like they got it on the ballot, or for dragooning unwilling and unwitting people onto their slates for their own purposes. That’s essentially victim blaming. Rather, use your common sense when looking at the work and people nominated. The Puppies would be happy if you didn’t do that, mind you. I’m hard pressed to understand why you would oblige them so.

With all due respect, John’s way off base here. Hugo voters are more than entitled to say, “While Sandman: Overture is worthy of nomination, I’m voting No Award for everything that was slated because the nomination process was corrupted. Because of slate voting, books like Saga, Bitch Planet, Chrononauts, and Kaijumax weren’t allowed to compete. It’s a fixed fight against weaker opponents.” After all, if the slate pushed off more worthy contenders, is whatever’s left actually worthy of being called “Best”?

By the same token, King, Reynolds, Bujold, and any other person whose works were placed on the ballot by Beale’s machinations are perfectly entitled to withdraw their works from consideration without any loss of honor, because Beale’s slating tactics insured a uneven field. Beale publicly admits this, claiming “even when we don’t control the category, we still have the ability to decide who will win and who will lose when the SJWs don’t No Award the category.”

Neil Gaiman is well within his rights to say, “Yes, I believe Sandman: Overture is Hugo-worthy, but I don’t think I should win just because Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor was pushed off the ballot. I said The Sculptor was the best graphic novel I’ve read in years, it says so on the cover of the book. If I’m not going against that, it’s not a fair competition.”

Neil Gaiman does not need a pity Hugo. He’s already won five Hugos, fairly. He does not need a fixed fight to win them.

Lois McMaster Bujold does not need a pity Hugo. She’s already won four Hugos for best novel, tying the record. She does not need to play against the literary equivalent of the Washington Generals.

Stephen King does not need a pity Hugo. He’s Stephen Goddamn King. (And he won one in 1982.)

And getting votes for being the only good candidate in a bad field, a deliberately weakened field, is getting a pity Hugo.

One author has already realized this. Thomas A. Mays says he has decided to withdraw his Hugo-nominated short story “The Commuter” from the ballot:

I did not ask to be part of any list, but I hoped at the very least that it might bring other eyes to “The Commuter”, readers that might appreciate it for what it was and perhaps honor me with an uncontroversial nomination (or at least a few Kindle purchases).  But, now that all hopes for a clean nomination are dashed, it is my turn to speak:

Rather than eat a shit sandwich, I choose to get up from the table.  

You know who needs a pity Hugo? Theodore Beale. And he’ll never even get that. Maybe there should be a participation Hugo for him. The type some teachers give to a little boy who eats too much library paste, so he can feel better about himself.

Saying Beale wins by provoking others to further damage to the prestige of the Hugos is just silly– it’s Beale himself who kneecapped the Hugos. Beale’s claim of “You’re pushing worthy authors off!” is self-serving, because he pushed them on us in the first place— just because his actions insure someone other than him benefits is no reason to reward him for swinging a wrench at Nancy Kerrigan’s kneecap.

Here’s what Beale doesn’t get, not being a very good creator himself: good creators want to be judged on the quality of what they create. They don’t want to race against hobbled runners. Can you imagine the Cincinnati Reds felt good about beating the Black Sox to win the World Series? Beale is trying to force an affirmative action awards program, because he and his are not good enough to win on their own merits. And in doing so, he’s become the Jeff Gillooly of science fiction.

2016 Hugo Award Nominations announced

2016 Hugo Award Nominations announced

hugo_smThe finalists for this year’s Hugo Awards and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer were announced on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, at 12:00 PM CDT. The announcement was made live to social media, including the Twitter and Facebook accounts of MidAmeriCon II, and via press release.

4032 valid nominating ballots (4015 electronic and 17 paper) were received and counted from the members of Sasquan, MidAmeriCon II, and Worldcon 75.

As was noted by Mike Glyer at File770 before traffic took down his site, it’s very much “Puppies all the way down”.

Theodore Beale, a.k.a. Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate placed 64 of its 81 recommendations on the final Hugo ballot. (Withdrawals or items ruled ineligible will not be made known until the voting statistics are released at the Worldcon.)

The following table shows in red the Hugo Nominees that were NOT on the Rabid Puppies List.

The Sad Puppies List is included for the sake of curiosity. It was handled much differently from last year. Items on the SP4 list were ranked in order of the number of recommendations they received. In only four categories did anything get double-digit numbers of recommendations.

We look forward to Mr. Beale crowing how he, Vox Day, got Neil Gaiman a Hugo nomination.

For further reading on the topic, we recommend Hugo Award winning author John Scalzi’s writeup at the Los Angeles Times.

Hugo Nominees Rabid Puppies List Sad Puppies List

Ancillary Mercy
by Ann Leckie
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
by Jim Butcher
The Fifth Season
by N.K. Jemisin
Seveneves: A Novel
by Neal Stephenson
by Naomi Novik

Seveneves: A Novel, Neal Stephenson
Golden Son, Pierce Brown
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher
Agent of the Imperium, Marc Miller

– John C Wright
Honor At Stake
– Declan Finn
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
– Jim Butcher
– Naomi Novik
A Long Time Until Now
– Michael Z Williamson
– Neal Stephenson
Son of the Black Sword
– Larry Correia
Strands of Sorrow
– John Ringo
– Brian Niemeier
Ancillary Mercy
– Ann Leckie

by Nnedi Okorafor
The Builders
by Daniel Polansky
Penric’s Demon
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Perfect State
by Brandon Sanderson
Slow Bullets
by Alastair Reynolds

Fear and Self-Loathing in Hollywood, Nick Cole
Penric’s Demon, Lois McMaster Bujold
Perfect State, Brandon Sanderson
The Builders, Daniel Polansky
Slow Bullets, Alastair Reynolds

– Nnedi Okorafor
Penric’s Demon
– Lois McMaster Bujold
Slow Bullets
– Alastair Reynolds
Perfect State
– Brandon Sanderson
The End of All Things 1: The Life of the Mind
– John Scalzi
Speak Easy
– Catherynne M. Valente
The Builders
– Daniel Polansky

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander
“Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai
“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu
“Obits” by Stephen King
“What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke

“Flashpoint: Titan,” Cheah Kai Wai
“Folding Beijing,” Hao Jingfang
“What Price Humanity?,” David VanDyke
“Hyperspace Demons,” Jonathan Moeller
“Obits,” Stephen King

“And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead” – Brooke Bolander
“Pure Attentions” – T. R. Dillon
“Folding Beijing” – Hao Jingfang translated by Ken Liu
“If I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up In the Air” – Clifford D. Simak
“Obits” – Stephen King
“Our Lady of the Open Road” – Sarah Pinsker

“Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon
The Commuter
by Thomas A. Mays
“If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris
“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao
Space Raptor Butt Invasion
by Chuck Tingle

“Asymmetrical Warfare,” S. R. Algernon
“The Commuter,” Thomas Mays
“If You Were an Award, My Love,” Juan Tabo and S. Harris
“Seven Kill Tiger,” Charles Shao
“Space Raptor Butt Invasion,” Chuck Tingle

“Tuesdays With Molakesh The Destroyer” – Megan Grey
“Today I am Paul” – Martin L Shoemaker
“… And I Show You How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes” – Scott Alexander
“Asymmetrical Warfare” – S. R. Algernon
“Cat Pictures, Please” – Naomi Kritzer
“Damage” – David Levine
“A Flat Effect” – Eric Flint
“Daedelus” – Niall Burke
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” – Alyssa Wong
“I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything” – Laura Pearlman

Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986
by Marc Aramini
“The First Draft of My Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson
“Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness
SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police
by Vox Day
“The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland

Appendix N, Jeffro Johnson
Between Light and Shadow:
An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986, Marc Aramini
The Story of Moira Greyland, Moira Greyland
Safe Space as Rape Room, Daniel Eness
SJWs Always Lie, Vox Day

Sad Puppies Bite Back
– Declan Finn
Appendix N
– Jeffro Johnson
Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End – Daniel
A History of Epic Fantasy
– Adam Whitehead
Atomic Rockets
– Winchell Chung
– Tom Simon
There Will Be War Vol X
– Edited Jerry Pournelle
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day
Frazetta Sketchbook Number 2
Galactic Journey

The Divine
written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka
Erin Dies Alone
written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell
Full Frontal Nerdity
by Aaron Williams
Invisible Republic Vol 1
written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman
The Sandman: Overture
written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III

The Divine, Boaz Lavie, Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka
Full Frontal Nerdity, Aaron Williams
“Erin Dies Alone”, Cory Rydell and Grey Carter
The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III
Invisible Republic Vol 1 (#1–5), Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman

Order of the Stick
Stand Still Stay Silent
– any 2015 plot arc
Schlock Mercenary Book 15
Empowered Volume 9
Saga Volume 5
Fables: Farewell Volume 22
Gunnerkrigg Court Chapter 15: Totem
Invisible Republic Volume 1
Lazarus: Conclave

Avengers: Age of Ultron
written and directed by Joss Whedon
Ex Machina
written and directed by Alex Garland
Mad Max: Fury Road
written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller
The Martian
screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Until Dawn
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Martian

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Inside Out
(Season 1 as a whole)
Person of Interest
(Season 4 as a whole)
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Ex Machina

Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay
Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf
Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and
written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller
Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr.

Supernatural, “Just My Imagination” Season 11, Episode 8
Grimm, Season 4 Episode 21, “Headache”
Tales from the Borderlands
Episode 5, “The Vault of the Traveller”
Life is Strange, Episode 1
My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, Season 5, Episodes 1-2, “The Cutie Map”

Daredevil Season 1 Episode 2
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 11: If-Then-Else
Kung Fury: Laser Unicorns
TIE Fighter animation
by Otaking 77077
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Melinda
Daredevil Season 1 Episode 13
Doctor Who: Heaven Sent
Gravity Falls: Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons
Gravity Falls: Northwest Mansion Mystery

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow
Jerry Pournelle
Sheila Williams

Jerry Pournelle

Jerry Pournelle
John Joseph Adams
S. M. Sterling
Jason Rennie
Paula Goodlett
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Vox Day
Sheila E. Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Jim Minz
Toni Weisskopf

Anne Sowards
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Mike Braff
Toni Weisskopf
Vox Day

Toni Weisskopf
Jim Minz
Tony Daniel

Lars Braad Andersen
Larry Elmore
Abigail Larson
Michal Karcz
Larry Rostant

Larry Elmore
Michal Karcz (Karezoid on Deviant Art)
Abigail Larson
Lars Braad Anderson
Larry Rostant

Abigail Larson
Sam Weber
Frank Cho
Larry Elmore
Dustin Nguyen
Richard Anderson

Beneath Ceaseless Skies
edited by Scott H. Andrews, Nicole Lavigne, and Kate Marshall
Daily Science Fiction
edited by Michele?Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden
Sci Phi Journal
edited by Jason Rennie
Strange Horizons
edited by Catherine Krahe, Julia Rios, A. J. Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the
Strange Horizons
Uncanny Magazine
edited by Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Abyss & Apex
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Daily Science Fiction
Sci-Phi Journal
Strange Horizons

Sci Phi Journal

Black Gate
edited by John O’Neill
Castalia House Blog
edited by Jeffro Johnson
File 770
edited by Mike Glyer
Superversive SF
edited by Jason Rennie
Tangent Online
edited by Dave Truesdale

Black Gate
Castalia House blog
File 770
Superversive SF
Tangent Online

File 770
Nuke Mars
Superversive SF
Otherwhere Gazette
Tangent Online

8?4 Play, Mark MacDonald, John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, and Justin Epperson
Cane and Rinse, Cane and Rinse
HelloGreedo, HelloGreedo
The Rageaholic, RazörFist
Tales to Terrify, Stephen Kilpatrick

The Rageaholic
Hello Greedo
8-4 Play
Cane and Rinse
Tales to Terrify

Tea and Jeopardy
Geek Gab
Hello Greedo

Douglas Ernst
Mike Glyer
Morgan Holmes
Jeffro Johnson
Shamus Young

Jeffro Johnson
Morgan (Castalia House)
Shamus Young
Douglas Ernst

Jeffro Johnson
Declan Finn
Eric Flint
Mike Glyer
Brandon Kempner
Charles Akins
Dave Freer
Dorothy Grant (fynbospress)
Ron Edwards

Matthew Callahan
Christian Quinot
Steve Stiles

Matthew Callahan
Darkcloud013 (aka Christian Quinot)

Karezoid (Michal Karcz)
Michael Callahan
Piper Thibdeau

Pierce Brown *
Sebastien de Castell *
Brian Niemeier
Andy Weir *
Alyssa Wong *

Pierce Brown
Cheah Kai Wai
Sebastien de Castell
Brian Niemeier
Andy Weir

Andy Weir
Brian Niemeier
Alyssa Wong
Natasha Pulley
Becky Chambers
Scott Hawkins
Charlie N. Holmberg
John Sandford & Ctein
Sebastien de Castell

Mindy Newell is Just Ramblin’ On

Swamp Thing

Sometimes a writer can sit in front of the computer screen for hours, fingers poised on the keyboard, and – nothing happens. Not a word, not a syllable. Not a random thought, not a brainstorm. There’s not one single idea that can be expanded upon, not a hint of anything that seems at least remotely interesting.

Hmm, here’s something.

Did you read Denny’s column last week, the one about the Mighty Marvel Method? This writer came late to that particular game; in fact, I didn’t even know it existed, and the first time I heard the words “Marvel style” – another way to describe the “method” – I didn’t have a clue, though I was familiar with what a “script” was, having read numerous plays, including a whole lotta Shakespeare, in high school and college. I do think that, for novices, the best way to learn how to write a comic is by the “full script” method, which helps (forces?) the writer to understand pacing, hone dialogue, and think visually, because in the full script the writer is describing the artwork in each panel. This can be pretty easy to do in an action scene, but what if it’s basically just two people talking? Then the writer has to think like both a director and a cinematographer, and keep the “camera” moving and the “light” interesting, because otherwise a “talking head” interlude, no matter how important it is to the plot, how crucial to moving the story forward, is just plain b-o-r-i-n-g.

Either way, as in a football game, it’s a team effort. The writer may be the quarterback, but without a trusted receiver – Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Peyton Manning and Demarylius Thomas, Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. – he or she won’t reach the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. I’m thinking Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette on The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Marv Wolfman and George Perez on The New Teen Titans, Frank Miller and David Mazzucheli on Daredevil, our own Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams on Batman. Neil Gaiman and Sam Keith on Sandman. And, of course, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, Captain America, et.al. Of course, these are all classic pairings; YMMV.

Did you read John Ostrander’s column yesterday? John is rightly furious. What’s happened in Flint Michigan is a fucking disgrace. Oh, and one thing John didn’t mention. The fucking Republican Ohio Governor Rick Snyder wouldn’t ask for federal aid or for the President to declare a federal emergency because, you know, Obama’s a Kenyan Socialist Muslim Anti-American Democrat. And he’s black. Thank God for Rachel Maddow, Michael Moore, and the Detroit Free Press. And above all to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who blew the whistle.

Yesterday I finished semi-binging on The Man in the High Castle on Amazon – semi-binging because I didn’t watch all 10 episodes at once, but divided it up into two “showings” – so I wasn’t aware of the release of the American prisoners from Iran until about 5:30 or 6 p.m. MSNBC and CNN were both covering the story. I turned to FOX, because I was wondering what they were saying about this windfall from Obama’s policy on Iran; no matter what you think about the nuclear deal with that nation – and I’m still on the fence about it – our people have been released. Would Fox, the bastion of fair and balanced reporting” at least celebrate that? Nope. They just kept replaying and replaying the Republican debate from Tuesday night until the other stations turned to other stories. So fucking typical. Meanwhile, the sixth prisoner, Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who allegedly was in Iran on a covert CIA mission (according to ABC News) and who disappeared in March 2007 is still missing. I told Mike Gold that I think he’s dead.

By the way, The Man in the High Castle is a brilliant and engrossing adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel. I heartily recommend it.











Joe Corallo: Coagula, DC’s First And Only Transgender Superhero

CoagulaLast week I met with my friend Kelsey to get a tarot reading. I brought along my copy of Rachel Pollack‘s Arthur C. Clarke award winning novel, Unquenchable Fire, to lend to her. Beyond being a novelist, Rachel Pollack is a well-published authority on tarot, a transgender woman who tackles the subject in her different works, as well as having written comics.

She wrote Doom Patrol for two years following up on Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s popular run on the series over twenty years, when it moved from DC’s main line to the Vertigo imprint. Her run built on the bizarre nature of Grant’s image while creating new characters.

The most important of which was Kate Godwin, a.k.a. Coagula, DC’s first – and to date only – transgender superhero, with the power to coagulate liquids and dissolve solids at will. Prior to joining the Doom Patrol, she tried out for the Justice League, and it’s implied that she was rejected in part for being an out transgender lesbian activist, brandishing a pin on her jacket stating, “Put a Transsexual Lesbian on the Supreme Court.”

Rachel Pollack was able to use the character of Coagula to discuss trans issues and to inform readers who were unaware of these issues as to what it means to be trans. She even crafts a brilliant moment in storytelling where a transcendent being requires the strongest example of a man and a woman, and Robotman and Coagula are the man and woman the best personify those genders, driving home the fact that a trans woman is a woman. Period.

So decades before the biggest and most active push for more diversity and representation in comics on the page and behind the scenes, DC had a trans superhero written by a trans woman. You would think that’d be a bigger deal, wouldn’t you? It would seem to fit right into what people have been clamoring for, doesn’t it?

That’s not to say that DC hasn’t created trans characters before; they just haven’t been superheroes. Wanda from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman run was trans, and has been both embraced by fans keeping it in the context of the time it came out and criticized in hindsight. Shvaughn Erin, the Legion of Super-Heroes Science Police Liaison, was trans but that has since been retconned and she’s back to being cisgender. Gail Simone put in the effort and created Alysia Yeoh, Batgirl’s transgender roommate for her New 52 run on the book, and often incorrectly sited by blogs and news sites as the first true transgender character at Marvel or DC. Unfortunately, after Gail Simone left the book, Alysia Yeoh has mostly faded into obscurity and the team that took over Batgirl afterward was quick to fumble on trans issues. They have since apologized and the issue in question has been modified to remove the transphobic dialogue in subsequent reprints.

I am not counting any characters that are magically trans, or have powers that allow them to change their genders, because that’s not a trans character and you shouldn’t count those either. Marvel has even less trans representation.

If you haven’t heard of Rachel Pollack’s run on Doom Patrol, it’s probably because it’s never been reprinted. And if you haven’t heard of Coagula, it’s for the same reason. Her stories have never been reprinted. After Rachel Pollack’s run on Doom Patrol ended, no one seemed to know what to do with the character, and she would appear just a little more before being unceremoniously killed off.

In order for me to read those stories, I used a combination of eBay and multiple comic shops to find all the issues. You should be able to find all the issues reasonably priced if you feel so inclined. It’s a fantastic run, and a worthy follow up to Morrison’s Doom Patrol. Rachel Pollack, in my opinion, is the last writer that truly understood the Doom Patrol.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles written lately about the efforts DC has been putting in to making more diverse comics. If they’re really invested in that, why not bring back their only trans superhero and reintroduce Coagula to a new generation of readers? Or at very least just reprint Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol run? Reprinting those issues in a couple of trades or so would be a great start for DC to show that they have an interest in trans representation.

And while they’re at it, they could hire a few trans writers and artists, too. We have more openly trans writers and artists working on comics now than at any other point in the history of the medium. They’re here, they’re queer, many of them could use the opportunity to craft stories at DC or Marvel, and we could all benefit from the opportunity to read them.

Martha Thomases: The Cool Kids

Thomases In DisneylandIt would be my guess that, until recently, most people who loved comic books were not the sort who were popular in high school. We weren’t prom kings and queens. We weren’t elected to student council. Sometimes, we weren’t even the stoners.

To some extent, that’s changed now. Comics, or at least comic book properties are cool now. Celebrities compete to see who has the most geek cred.

Therefore, to people who are as socially insecure as I am, it’s possible to feel that comics is not the safe haven of fandom that it was in the old days. (To be fair, when I’m really feeling it, I’m too insecure to feel accepted anywhere, which is my problem, not yours.)

It was not always like that. And two books by my pal Jackie Estrada celebrate the days when comic book folks could create a place where we were the cool kids.

For those of you who don’t know, Jackie runs the Eisner Awards, and she is publisher of Exhibit A Press. Since the 1970s she’s taken zillions of photographs at various comic book events, especially the San Diego Comic-Con. She was influential in adding Artists’ Alley to conventions. I know her best through Friends of Lulu, since we were both on the first few Boards of Directors.

Jackie has put together two volumes of photographs from various comic-book events, Comic Book People: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s and Comic Book People: Photographs from the 1990s. They both feel, to me, very much like looking at old high school yearbooks.

Both books are organized in similar ways. The photographs are grouped in chapters, starting with the legends of the field — Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Siegel and Shuster, Stan Lee, and their ilk — then to writers, artists, inkers and colorists, editors, marketing people, retailers and others. A lot of the same people appear in each volume, usually with more hilarious hair in Volume 1.

Each photo has a caption explaining who the person or people are, their work at the time, and sometimes, why they are making such ridiculous faces. Jackie herself is in many of them, enjoying the company of her friends and “family.”

Because the comics industry was very much like a family. Especially in that first volume, we see a group of people who are being noticed for their achievements by their peers, often for the first time. In those long ago, pre-Internet days, there weren’t always credits in comics, so finding out who was responsible for your favorite stories could require some real sleuthing. Maybe I’m projecting, but I see surprise and pride in those faces, enjoying some well-deserved recognition and appreciation.

Instead of being ridiculed for liking and making comics, they are finally with a group of people who share that affection.

I didn’t go to many comics events until the 1990s. In the late 1970s and 1980s, I tended to just go to New York-based parties, usually with Denny O’Neil, because, as a freelance writer, I appreciated passed hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. I knew the folks at Upstarts (Walter Simonson, Howard Chaykin, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz) and, later, when I worked at Marvel, I knew Archie Goodwin, Mary Wilshire, Trina Robbins and Louise Simonson. I met Howard Cruse at a Village Voice holiday party.

I recognize a few of the people in the first volume, but it’s the second one that sends me back to my high school neuroses. There are my colleagues at DC. There are people who make me squee and people who make me blush and people who I think are so cool that I can only stammer around them. There are people whose work I love but with whom I never connected personally, and people I adore whose work occasionally leaves me cold.

Jackie can’t be everywhere, and there are, inevitably, some people who I think should be represented and aren’t. Among these are Larry Hama, Mark Millar, Bob Rozakis, Lou Stathis, Gerry Jones, Keith Giffen and Shelly Bond. Maybe they loomed larger in my experience than they did in Jackie’s. That’s fair. Maybe they were just camera shy. That’s fair, too.

I want to be in the photographs with all of these folks, just like Jackie is, but I am not, and that makes me feel unpopular. As an adult woman of 62, these emotions are unbecoming.

You, Constant Reader, will probably not find yourself awash in insecurity when you look at these pages. Instead, you’ll see (especially if you get both books) how an entertainment industry grew up and grew close. You’ll see curly shag haircuts give way to well-trimmed styles (or baldness). You’ll see more women and people of color as the years go on. You’ll notice some of the legendary older folks passing on, but loads of talented new kids hoping for a place at the table.

Because our table is now the cool kids table. Everyone wants to be with us.

Tweeks: The Graveyard Book Shouldn’t Get Buried (Week 4 #ChallengedChallenge)

It’s Week Four, which means we are at the half-way mark of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge. This week we take on The Graveyard Book Vol. 1, the graphic novel based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. This witty and compelling story was enhanced by P. Craig Russell’s graphic adaptation which includes amazing artwork by different artists in each chapter. We couldn’t help but love this book. We also couldn’t help but be confused as to why the CBLDF had to defend this touching book about a boy being raised by ghosts from being banned at a middle school. As middle schoolers ourselves, we don’t get it. We think maybe those who were so concerned with a few panels of blood missed the point of the story altogether.  Not to mention that for the genre and for our age group, this book is not in the least bit shocking. Watch our discussion about why this book deserves to be read by everyone who choses to do so.

Comics Reviews (July 29th, 2015)

Comics Reviews (July 29th, 2015)

Fables #150

From worst to best of what I bought.

Sandman Overture: Special Edition #5

The quality of the bonus material in this is really, amazingly, egregiously shit. I think my favorite this time is once again the Neil Gaiman interview, which is five questions long and consists of questions like “What’s on The Sandman ‘s iPod,” a question that manages to find an impressive variety of ways to be stupid, including “why is the editor of this book referring to the main character as The Sandman,” “why are we still using ‘iPod’ as a cultural signifier in 2015,” and my personal favorite, “why did anyone think this was a good question to ask Neil Gaiman?” The only decent bit is the short Dave McKean essay about his process creating the covers. All in all, especially given the considerable number of months they have to pull these special editions together, this is one of the biggest rip-offs in comics at $4.99.

Daredevil #17

Surprised that this one ranks so low for me, but it completely left me cold. Can’t even particularly articulate a reason, although it doesn’t help that I have no real sense of who half the characters are. The Shroud has been appearing for a while, and I get the broad strokes but… nothing sparks for me about him and his plot. Ikari, I vaguely remember, but he seems to just be Daredevil who can see, which, OK, that’s kinda flat. This storyline was working as a operatic and inevitable Daredevil/Kingpin finale, but this puts the emphasis on the wrong parts of the story.

1602: Witch Hunter Angela #2

I found myself a bit lost in this one. Part of it is marketing; I’d expected something a bit more Neil Gaiman pastiche, and instead it’s very much the Gillen/Bennett Angela book filtered through the 1602 aesthetic, with very little of the underlying Gaiman remaining. Was less amused by the 1602 Guardians than I’d hoped from the cover. All in all, this was a bit of a misfire, though the five-page story-within-a-story was cute.

Fables #150

Actually out last week, but I missed it then and grabbed it this week instead. Turns out releasing your final issue as a trade paperback goes poorly for your regular readers. And is, all in all, a more than slightly ludicrous idea. It’s not fair to call it overdone or undeserved; much as it lost gradual steam over its run, Fables was a landmark series, and earned an unapologetically maximalist conclusion. But equally, after an extended final installment and (not kidding) fifteen epilogues, culminating in a gatefold spread to match the gatefold cover, not a single panel of which was even half as good as Legends in Exile, it’s tough to actually praise either. Like a double album a decade after a musician’s best work: you’re glad it exists, but you wish you hadn’t spent money on it.

Sex Criminals #11

Another solid installment long on hilarity and character bits, although a bit ruthless in terms of picking up after a six month absence; this does not feel like the first issue of a new story arc in the least. But that’s neither here nor there; it’s a new issue of Sex Criminals, and as wonderful as you’d expect given that.

Lazarus #18

There’s definitely parts of the plot here I’m having trouble keeping track of – in particular, I’m at a complete loss for anything that’s happening in the combat scenes besides the character moments. Though I suspect some fog of war is the point. In any case, that only sort of matters – it’s only the mid-size plot I’m losing. The broad strokes are pleasantly clear, and the issue introduces its POV characters well enough to flow on its own merits. Good stuff, in other words, and an effective demonstration of how to do a big, plot-heavy political epic as a serialized comic. I should sit down with the run so far and marathon it sometime soon, as I suspect I’ll really love it.

Thors #2

Man, I’d forgotten what Jason Aaron is like when he’s actually writing good stuff. Police procedural multi-Thor book is just a golden premise that’s almost impossible not to like. Unlike a lot of the Secret Wars books, this one keeps its central premise in tight focus, so it’s easy to keep up with the plot (a particularly big issue as Secret Wars gets stretched out – this is off until September now), using a neatly high concept murder mystery as a hook to keep things running. Effective and fun. Why can’t they all be this good?

Batgirl #42

Love the Batgirl/Gordon!Batman relationship, with Barbara cheekily giving her father advice and instructions and calling him a rookie. Love Tarr’s willingness to work with high panel count pages, which I really think give comics a lovely rhythm. All in all, really just love this book – good superhero fun with a strong aesthetic. Mildly astonished to find it my favorite book of the week, but I think that’s just an idiosyncratic week and my brain being particularly bad at remembering month-old plot threads this week such that this was about my speed.

Originally published on PhilipSandifer.com.

Mindy Newell: Gaiman, Luthor and Trump, Oh My!

lex luthor trump

 “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again. Because I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money. I’m not using lobbyists, I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

Who said that?

This being ComicMix, and you being a comics fan, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said it was Superman’s arch-enemy, Lex Luthor.

This being ComicMix, and you being a comics reader, I wouldn’t be surprised if you picked up on the interesting concept of life imitating art as you witnessed Barak Obama’s arch-enemy, Donald Trump, announce his candidacy for the office of the President of the United States on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

Yesterday, out for a stroll with Alix, Jeff, and little Meyer, we browsed an outdoor celebration of Jersey City’s multi-cultural milieu, which included a terrific, mesmerizing, head-nodding, toe-tapping “Bollywood” dance performance by a professional Indian theatre group. What would “the Donald” say about that? Oh, wait, they weren’t Mexicans, so I guess they’re okay.

Anyway, continuing our stroll, we went to Jersey City’s greatest (and only) independent bookstore, The Word. While browsing the shelves, I picked up Neil Gaiman’s – and please don’t tell me that I have to remind you who Neil Gaiman is, this being ComicMix and you being a comics reader – new collection of short stories, Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions and Disturbances. Here’s some of what the New York Times had to say about it (and about Neil):

One of the most enjoyable pieces of writing in Trigger Warning, which assembles a range of previously published material from the past seven or eight years, along with a new story that revisits the world of Gaiman’s best-selling novel American Gods, is the author’s introduction, delivered in the chatty, generous and digressive style familiar to readers of his blog. He supplies contextual anecdotes for every story or poem in the book, apologizes (unnecessarily) for its inherent shagginess and lack of thematic clarity, and expends rather too much effort explicating his title, a puckish reference to the Internet-spawned notion that all potentially provocative material should be flagged in advance, lest it engage latent trauma in its audience.

“I wonder, are fictions safe places?Gaiman writes. “And then I ask myself, should they be safe places?” He means to suggest that his fiction may indeed prove disturbing and that we’re on our own, but that last part isn’t quite true. We have a guide. In practice, Gaiman’s writing answers the introduction’s questions both in the negative and in the affirmative. In his fictional worlds, reality is frequently subject to disturbing or hilarious slippage: A moonlight stroll in search of a defunct local attraction shifts without warning into a Shirley Jackson-style murderous ritual (“A Lunar Labyrinth”); a talkative woman in a small-town pub turns out to be a spectral jilted lover with a gruesome secret to reveal (in ‘Black Dog,’ a new adventure of Shadow Moon, the hero of American Gods); a teenage girl’s addiction to tanning lotion may result in the creation of a shimmering orange entity known as ‘Her Immanence,’ or to her sister as ‘the Great Oompa-Loompa.’ (That story, ‘Orange,’ is skillfully constructed as a litany of unsatisfying answers to official questions.)

One of the things I love about Neil is that he embraces his own fan sensibility and geekhood; Trigger Warning not only includes the afore-mentioned Oompa-Loopa, but also stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

I was also amused – well, I’m not sure if “amused” is the right word, unless it’s used in the ironic sense – to find G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Aphona’s Ms. Marvel series in the “Graphic Novels/Comics” section of the bookstore. I couldn’t help wondering if Kamala Khan, who lives in Jersey City, sometimes comes into The Word. (Um, that’s the “ironically amused” part.)

And I also couldn’t help wondering if “the Donald” would be okay with her. But she’s not a Mexican, so I guess he would be.

Wait a minute, she’s Muslim!

Just like President Barak Obama. Right, Donny?


Tweeks: ComicMix’s Challenged Comics Summer Reading Challenge

It is officially summer for us! Yay!  So, we thought this would be the perfect time to tell you about our summer reading plans.  In this week’s episode, we tell you about the CBLDF and announce our Challenged Graphic Novel Reading Challenge.  Our hope is that kids and parents (and everyone else) will read along with us.  Because you seriously can’t question that book be suitable for library shelves if you haven’t read it, right?

CMCC Picture

This summer we will be reading 8 graphic novels that have been challenged or banned in school libraries and then every week we will discuss one of the titles.  We’ll talk about why it was challenged, how to best talk about the questioned topics or themes in the book with your kids.  We’ll also tell you from a kid’s perspective how we viewed the appropriateness of the books for us, because sometimes adults forget what they could handle and understand when they were our age.

We also hope that you will support everyone’s right to choose what they want to read by doing some sleuthing in your local or school library.  Take a look at our reading list and see which of the books are available for you to check out.  You can post your findings in Social Media like Facebook and Twitter (@ComicMix and @The_Tweeks) with #InTheStacks and/or #ComicMixChallengedChallenge, hopefully generating further discussion. We also think you should check out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s site.  We talk more about them in the episode.

So, get to reading!  Our discussion schedule is:

7/13 Bone, Vol 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
7/20 Drama by Raina Telgemeier
7/27 This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
8/3 The Graveyard Book Vol 1 (the graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
8/10 The Color of Earth Book 1 by Kim Dong Hwa
8/17 Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux
8/24 Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
8/31 Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

Upcoming Lucifer TV Series Coming Under Fire


It’s been a couple weeks since we got the news of this coming fall’s network TV lineups. Many have noted it’s a golden age for comic-sourced television. One of the fall’s new shows on FOX will be Lucifer, based on the series of the same name featuring characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith & Mike Dringenberg for DC Comics.

Not so surprisingly, a show about The First of The Fallen getting bored with his tenure ruling Hell so he moves to L.A. to be a nightclub impresario has some folks upset, namely the American Family Association and its offshoot OneMillionMoms.com. AFA & OMM have started online petitions to “urge Fox [to] drop plans to air Lucifer” citing “The program previews mischaracterize Satan, departs from true biblical teachings about him, and inaccurately portrays the beliefs of the Christian faith. By choosing to air this show, FOX is disrespecting Christianity and mocking the Bible.” OMM also points out that “Previews of the pilot episode depict graphic acts of violence, a nightclub featuring scantily-clad women and a demon,” as objectionable content.

Here’s the first look trailer for Lucifer starring Tom Ellis:

OneMillionMoms.com state that “Our goal is to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media,” which begs the questions: Why haven’t they gone after the source material? Why are there no online petitions against any comics or comic book publishers on either the OMM or AFA sites? Doesn’t Fredric Wertham’s theories of youth corruption dovetail nicely with their “values”? Are comics not an entertainment medium?

At the time of this writing 9,175 “Moms” had e-signed (that’s almost 1% of one million) and 53,386 e-signatures have been collected on the AFA petition. It’s unclear if AFA’s numbers include the Moms or not. Oh, and the trailer has 565,783 views on YouTube.

It’s probable that if their petition fails to get FOX to cancel the show prior to its 2016 airdate, they will turn to the tactics they are currently using against TV Land’s Younger and urge sponsors to pull their spots.