“Ethyl Byrne,” by Cecil Castelluci and Scott Chantler, from Mine!: A Celebration of Liberty and Freedom for All Benefiting Planned Parenthood has been nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best Short Story category.
Mine! is a comics anthology with dozens of stories about trailblazing women, civil rights leaders, a person’s first time going to a PP clinic, debunking myths about sex, STI screenings, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, fantastical stories with superheroes, Greek mythology, and a future both with and without Planned Parenthood.
Mine! also includes work from previous Eisner Award winners Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Eric Shanower, Shannon Wheeler, Mike Norton, Andrew Aydin, Paul Levitz, Dennis O’Neil, and many other nominated creators.
We’re very proud of this story, and so we present the full story of Ethel Byrne for you here:
Ethel Byrne – Page 1
Ethel Byrne – Page 2
Ethel Byrne – Page 3
Ethel Byrne – Page 4
Ethel Byrne – Page 5
The other nominees for Best Short Story are:
“Forgotten Princess,” by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Antonio Sandoval, in Adventure Time Comics #13 (kaboom!)
You can vote for the Eisner Awards at http://www.eisnervote.com/ All professionals in the comic book industry are eligible to vote. The deadline for voting is June 15. The results of the voting will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 20 at Comic-Con in San Diego.
“Mindy Newell (veteran of Wonder Woman, Daredevil, and just about everything else) noted that she originally thought ‘SJW’ stood for ‘Single Jewish Woman.’” • Comics for Causes: Planned Parenthood at the New York Comic Con • John Odum • Bleeding Cool, October 7, 2017
At my family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah – Food! Lotsand lots of food! And much imbibing of the alcohol of your choice! – shortly after 9/11, the conversation that we all had been avoiding finally arrived with the dessert and coffee. A lot of anger, a lot of sadness, a lot of fear, but no historical context until I opened my big mouth:
“This is what happens after nearly 100 years of the West treating the Middle East like pieces on a chessboard.”
Silence. My father is shaking his head.
“Hello,” I said. “The break-up of the Ottoman Empire? The Sykes-Picot agreement? Ignoring, discounting, millions of people with their own history, their own ethnic and religious and tribal identities?”
“You’re not excusing what they did, are you?” someone said in astonishment and horror.
“No fucking way! But, and I’m sorry, guys, we are not innocent in any of this, either.”
A fight was about to start, but someone, I think it was my cousin, quickly changed the subject.
Later on, driving home in the car, everybody else fast asleep in the back seat, my dad said, “When are you going to learn to keep your mouth shut?”
“You don’t think I’m right?”
“You were absolutely right.
“Just don’t say it at work or anywhere else. People don’t want to hear it.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know.”
I’d like to say that I listened to my dad, who was a very smart man, but *sigh* I guess it’s still a work in progress. I have a very hard time “keeping my mouth shut,” even at work, especially when I get fired up.
And, oh, boy, was I fired up on Saturday at the NYCC, where I was part of the Comics for Causes: Planned Parenthood panel to inform and also celebrate the coming publication of the Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom and Liberty anthology put into production through fellow ComicMixers Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson to benefit the Planned Parenthood organization, which is now being attacked more brutally than I can ever remember, and is in very serious danger of being defunded by “you-know-who” and “you-know-who”’s administration and the Repugnanticans. (Just a week ago today, Tuesday, Oct 3, the Repugnantican-controlled Senate passed this, ignoring the law of the land that Roe vs. Wade has become.
Nobody counted, but my use of F-bombs might have set a record at this NYCC, and quite possibly every other comics convention on record. John Odum of Bleeding Cool even made note of it here. First time I’ve ever made it into Bleeding Cool… as far as I know.
I’m not apologizing. I meant every single one of those F-bombs. I meant every single thing I said.
My dad must be spinning in his grave. But I also know that he’s also proudly thinking:
We were humbled by over two hundred people that showed up for the panel, including at least half a dozen more Mine! contributors including Adam McGovern, Alice Meichi Li, Dave Kelly, Keith DeCandido and Tom Daly. Mindy spoke passionately about health care as both a comics writer and a nurse, Gabby addressed the importance of sex education and queer youth outreach, Sheilah talked about her and many other freelancers’ experiences having difficulty accessing affordable health care, Mike talked the current need for political activism, and Sean did an impression of me that was so spot on that someone assumed I had said something that he in fact said.
There was a question asked at the panel about discussing the different stories we’re contributing. I didn’t get a chance to answer that question at the time, so I’d like to use my column to talk about that now. Hey, it is my column after all.
One night some months ago a friend and I were talking over drinks. Mine! had come up in conversation, which lead to her sharing a story with me. Years ago she had been out at a club with a guy and that guy had given her something so strong the next thing she knew she was waking up in his bedroom. The next thing she did was go to a Planned Parenthood.
We talked about it further and decided that this was an important story to tell for the anthology. Unfortunately, it’s not important because it’s such a rare and unusual story, but rather that it is far too common. For many people in that situation, Planned Parenthood is their only option. I’m collaborating with artist Kristina Stipetic on this and made sure my friend approved the script before handing it off. I filled in some details and took some liberties, but the core of the story is all there. It was honestly one of the more emotionally draining things I’ve written. I can’t say that I hope you enjoy it exactly, but I hope all of you that pick up Mine! will come to this story and have a better understanding of how these situations often play out.
There are so many other great stories in Mine! too! Mindy is talking about a time before abortion was legal, Gabby about her Catholic upbringing, Mike about a couple that desperately needs health care but you don’t find out which one of them needs it until the end, and Keith came up from the audience to talk about how he and Tom Daly are doing a story about learning self-defense. Sean even made Keith show demonstrate a karate move!
You can preorder Mine! now on Backerkit, and you can preorder our t-shirts as well, if you so desire. Please go check it out if you haven’t reserved your copy yet, and spread the word!
This past week or so has been about getting ready for NYCC. ComicMix has a panel for our successfully funded comics collection, Mine!, which benefits Planned Parenthood. I’ll be there with fellow ComicMix team members Molly Jackson, Mike Gold and Mindy Newell as well as Mine! contributors Tee Franklin, Gabby Rivera and moderator Sheilah Villari. We’ll be at room 1A02 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm on Saturday, October 8 at the Javits Center on Manhattan’s mid-town west side. If you’re at NYCC, please come on by – we’ll have a sneak peek at some new art from the book!
This past week or so, there has also been more than a little turmoil in the comics community.
Since I wrote my piece about the Aubrey Sitterson incident a couple of weeks ago, events surrounding #ComicsGate have escalated. From blocking and doxxing to accusations and deplatforming, things are really intensifying in the lead-up to NYCC as followers and subscribers keep going up after these conservative comics critics involved. Because of everything that’s been going on I feel that it’s important to discuss this further.
As I stated last time, part of what’s been going on has been that comics critics on YouTube and social media who lean conservative (or libertarian, in this instance) are calling out specific creators for their content; being Social Justice Warriors (SJWs); and are, in some cases using direct and targeting language that attacks a creator for their minority status. Often in cases like this, and #ComicsGate is no exception, some followers end up taking things to the next level and using even more divisive and hurtful language and carrying out acts of targeted harassment and doxxing.
A video one comics critic released last week specifically targeted one comics journalist. The video ended up being flagged, then deleted by the uploader. Not long after, more videos were flagged on this comics critic’s YouTube account, leading to the account in question being suspended. Tensions have risen as accusations of attempted deplatforming of comics critics by comics journalists are being raised. As in #GamerGate, we are seeing similar arguments of “It’s about ethics in journalism,” whether or not that’s the actual issue.
Whenever issues like these come up or any other divisive politically driven issues arise you often hear the same things. You hear people talk about how the other side is horrible, how we shouldn’t even attempt to understand them and how we need to focus on beating them back and diminishing them. But in my case, I usually like to at least understand how things have come to be how they are.
Many of these conservative-leaning comics critics do more than provoke harassment of comics professionals to whom they are opposed: They’ve built a community. Like-minded comics fans who have similar issues with the direction that mainstream comics are going in get together for online hangouts, talk about the comics and creators they like, and more. Some of what they talk about I can even get behind, like how Black Bolt is one of my favorite books that Marvel is putting out right now. It’s easy to paint everyone involved as a troll, and that’s not to say there aren’t any trolls involved, but there are a lot of others who are fans of comics that want to see changes made and get riled up and moved to action when they can rally against perceived hypocrisy and calls to violence from the left.
Look, I’m an unapologetic liberal and political activist — I’m working on a Planned Parenthood benefit anthology, after all. That said, comics is not an exclusively liberal or conservative space and we have to exist without this level of conflict. There are plenty of conservative voices in comics who have put out quality work over the years including Chuck Dixon, Mike Baron, and Frank Miller. I (and others) am not advocating for an eradication of conservative thought from the comics medium.
With that in mind, there are things that cannot be tolerated. Transphobic language and personal attacks targeted at comics professionals and journalists cannot be tolerated. Using a creator’s’ background and minority status to attack them and their work cannot be tolerated. Allowing followers to go unchecked in their further attacks on comics professionals cannot be tolerated. Creators are getting death threats. We need comics professionals to feel safe.
Conservative voices in comics aren’t ever going to go away. If these comics critics, or anyone for that matter, want to be taken seriously by the comics industry that they’re criticizing then they need to drop the bigoted language and personal targeted attacks, and lead by example and call out the increasingly abusive behaviors of some their followers.
Presenting two real-life stories from my days of yore, although names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.
Story The First:
I knew a girl in high school – I wouldn’t say we were friends, but she was someone who had never participated in the Piggy horrors. Sally was an A+ student, on the track to an Ivy League school. Pretty (but not gorgeous) and popular (but quiet about it), she came to me one day and said that she needed to talk to me privately. I was surprised… and a bit suspicious. What did she want? But because Sally had never been overtly mean to me, even though she was part of the clique that instigated most of the callous cruelties upon me, and because I still hoped to be “accepted,” and I wanted to believe for some reason she was about to warn me of some new devilishness about to be inflicted on me – forewarned was forearmed – I agreed. But it had nothing to do with me at all.
Sally was pregnant.
I was, frankly, shocked. Not just about what she said, but also because I was thinking, why are you telling me?
She seemed to be reading my mind about that last part. “I can’t tell Laura, or Toni, or anybody. It would be all over the school in a second. You know how they are.”
Did I ever. Still –
“But they’re your friends.”
All she said was, “I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood in the city. Will you come with me?”
I know exactly why I said “yes.” Out of kindness, certainly. But to be totally honest, I also thought that this could be a way in. Hey, whaddya want? I was a teenager.
We had to cut school the day of her appointment. I met her at the corner bus stop, about an hour after classes started. Sally was very quiet, she didn’t say anything, but I remember she was very pale. As for me, I was sure I would see my father in his car on the way to work. I wasn’t so worried about my mom – I knew she was already at the hospital, where she worked in the ER. At any rate, both of us were very nervous and impatient, waiting for that bus to the PATH train into the city.
At the time – September 1971 – there was a Planned Parenthood in Manhattan on First Avenue between 21st and 20th Streets. I guess – and I don’t blame her – that Sally made the appointment there rather than the one in Jersey City because Jersey City is too close to Bayonne… too close for comfort. Anyway, I don’t know what either of us was expecting, but it was modern and clean and the staff was professional, kind, and, most importantly, totally non-judgmental.
Sally’s name was called. I sat in the waiting room. It seemed like a long time, but the receptionist at the desk assured me everything was fine when I asked.
Interjection – as an RN in the operating room, I can tell you that the actual procedure takes very little time, especially in the first trimester [as Sally was]. Frequently I’m not even done with my charting before it’s over and I have to assist in transferring the patient to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, commonly referred to as the Recovery Room). Most of the intraoperative period is taken up with other things involved in any visit to the OR – anesthesia induction, proper and safe positioning, emergence from anesthesia, transfer to PACU, and monitoring in the PACU, which lasts about an hour or so on average, until discharge.)
Afterwards, as we had planned, we used our pooled resources and took a cab home. This was well before Uber or Lyft. Sally didn’t’ say much except to complain about some cramping – totally normal, btw – but the “worry” was off her face; she was visibly relieved. The cab dropped us off about a block from her house; I walked her home, and before she went inside, she turned and said: “See you in school tomorrow.”
No, we didn’t become best friends after that; things pretty much went back to normal, actually. Hey, we were teenagers, and there were rules of engagement. But I do remember that Sally was never around when it was time to “play Piggy with Mindy.
Sally went on to graduate in the top 25 of a class numbering 750 (I finished 145) and went on to that Ivy League school. I didn’t see her much after high school, a couple of parties and a reunion or two at the Jewish Community Center. I don’t even know what she went on to become as an adult, though I’ve heard she was “successful and happy.”
Story The Second:
Jack and Jill were my high school’s dream team. Every high school has one. Jack was the champion quarterback. Jill was the head cheerleader. Jack was the president of the Student Union. Jill was the editor of the school newspaper. Both had bright futures. Early admission to the colleges of their choice, with Jack receiving a full scholarship based on his football prowess to a Big Ten school, and Jill planning on majoring in journalism at NYU.
They were great people.
And they never treated anybody like Piggy.
Anyway, sometime in the late fall of our senior year, after the Thanksgiving holiday, Jill suddenly disappeared from the school hallways. First, we heard that she was sick with mononucleosis (the “kissing disease,” as it used to be called), but as January became March, rumors began spreading, rumors having to do with pregnancy and forced marriages. Especially after Jack dropped out – two months before graduation.
The truth broke free, as truth is apt to do, sometime in the fall of 1971. During the Christmas break when everybody came home from college, it was the talk of the town, the bars, and the parties.
Jill had become pregnant, and, since back in those stupid days, girls “in the family way” were not allowed to finish high school, she had been forced to leave under the cover of the mononucleosis story, though she refused to go to one of those “homes for fallen women” or whatever they were called. (Do they still exist?) Her parents had gotten her a tutor so she could finish her high school degree, but not only had she disappeared from the school hallways, Jill had also been confined to the house to “hide her shame.”
Worse, when Jill wanted to go to Planned Parenthood for advice – and advice only – her parents would not allow it. They were very observant Catholics and the name Planned Parenthood was as abhorrent as the name Judas Iscariot. Jill’s pregnancy was treated as if it were a monstrous sin.
She had also finally admitted that Jack was the father because her father had beaten it out of her. Her father then called his father, and they decided that Jack and Jill would get married right away.
And in 1971, not only could you not be pregnant in high school, you couldn’t be married, either; which meant that Jack had to drop out, too, meaning, of course, that he lost his football scholarship and any hope for college. And in case you’re wondering – no college for Jill, either.
Of course, there was always the future, but…
After they got married and Jill had the baby, and Jack got some kind of job, nothing much, he started drinking. Drinking hard. And doing drugs. Hard drugs.
And that’s how the story stood that Christmas break, the last week of 1971.
But it didn’t end there. About 10 years later I met one of Jill’s cousins at the mall. We got to talking about high school, and eventually – of course – Jack and Jill came up. I’ll never forget that conversation.
Jack’s downward spiral had continued. He lost one job after another. The drinking continued, and he was “chipping” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chipping on some weekends, too.
Then he started abusing Jill, and it hadn’t stopped.
“But Jill was always so smart. Why doesn’t she leave?” I said.
“Jesus,” her cousin said.
“Jill’s become really religious. That’s why she won’t leave. I think she thinks she’s atoning for getting pregnant and fucking up Jack’s football scholarship. “
That was the last time I ever heard about Jack and Jill. I have no idea what happened to them. Or their kids.
And, look, guys, I get it. This has been a summer and early fall of donating funds. I understand it’s a matter of priorities. I get the feeling of being “donated out,” too. And our hearts go out to the many caught up in the current round of hurricanes.
Even if it’s just $5, hell, even if’s just a $1, just think about what Bernie Sanders accomplished with an average of $27 to his campaign.
When people think of Planned Parenthood, they think “abortion.” But I’m telling you, and now I am speaking to you as a member of the professional healthcare community, the organization does so much more: Counseling and cancer screenings and preventative and maintenance health care. For women and for men.
Somehow, I seem to have inserted myself onto the Marvel “Friends and Family” list for preview screenings. A few weeks ago I got an advance look at The Defenders in a small screening room with about 25 people. On Monday, I went to an IMAX showing of The Inhumans with an audience of several hundred.
The environment in which I see a film influences the way I feel about it. I love going to screenings because they make me feel cool and sophisticated. TheDefenders event was in the morning, with a group that included people I’d known for decades, in comfy chairs with excellent sight lines. TheInhumans was in an enormous theater, with an enormous screen, and hundreds of strangers (although there were some people I knew, including a new friend, an old friend and a really old friend.
Even before the movie started (and, to be fair, it’s not really a movie, just the first two episodes of an ABC television series), the mood was festive and celebratory. My date, ComicMix colleague Joe Corallo and I found our assigned seats and gleefully looked around to see whom we might recognize. Lots of people brought children with them, and they were thrillingly well-behaved. Before the movie started, we sang a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Jack Kirby, in celebration of his hundredth. The print was crisp, and the creator credits received applause.
If only I could tell you I liked the show.
I knew nothing about the characters beforehand. I did a little browsing online, and Joe told me a few things (including how great the Paul Jenkins run was). I would imagine that most people who will watch on the ABC television network are similarly ignorant, and the show would allow for that.
It is not good. And it’s not good in a way that makes it seem, to me, to be the anti-X-Men. People with mutant powers are exalted here and given high-status government responsibilities. Those with no powers are sent to work in the mines.
The Inhumans live on our moon, in a city at the border between the light side and the dark side. We first see the king and queen, Black Bolt and Medusa, in bed, where she is using her superpowers (magically manipulating her long hair) to excite him as much as network television allows. These two people are attractive and playful, so I was ready to like them. Also, the actress, who plays Medusa, Serinda Swan, looks like a grown-up version of Ann-Margaret in Pocketful of Miracles, one of my favorite movies.
We see them getting on with their royal responsibilities, as they walk up and down and through the massive castle. First up is a ceremony in which two siblings find out if they have super-powers. It is there that we meet Black Bolt’s brother, Maximus, who we know must be a bad guy because it is the same actor, Iwan Rheon who played Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones. Maximus seems to have no powers but is allowed to stay in the royal quarters because his brother is such a softie.
There is lots of back-and-forth travel to Earth, sometimes through a sentient wall and sometimes with a giant bulldog which I think has some kind of fan following (and, hence, anticipation) but which is just a big CGI dog in these first two episodes. There is a royal betrayal, a rebel uprising, and a great escape. Each character gets a chance to use his or her powers, sometimes to great effect, sometimes just because, I assume, Jim Shooter said every character must use powers within the three pages back when he was editor-in-chief at Marvel. Some powers, like being able to come back to life after being killed, seem like a narrative cop-out, a deus ex machina of the gene pool.
A lot more questions were raised for me than were answered. Where does the royal family get all the leather for their outfits? What are they digging for in those mines? Are terrific eyebrows a way to tell which women have super-powers? Where does the food come from? I would have preferred to see more of the city as a whole, and less of the king and queen walking up and down stairs. Also, why are we supposed to think the king and queen are good and Maximus is bad? Wouldn’t it be more interesting from his point of view?
I think that Inhumans wants to be the new Game of Thrones, but without the historical parallels, the multiculturalism, the armies, the enormous cast or the budget. Instead, it seems much more like high school writ large, with the cool kids getting to have a working source of light, and the rabble doomed to the underworld.
Will it get better? Will it be even worse when it’s on a television screen, not in a theater? Will there be dragons or just giant dogs?
• • • • •
Just a reminder: It’s not too late to get in on our Kickstarter campaign for Mine! A Comics Collection to Benefit Planned Parenthood. This book will be full of cool stuff… including a story by Neil Gaiman and Mark Wheatley! You’ll be helping people around the country receive quality health care. We’re on track to hit our initial goal, and if we raise more than that, there will be lots more other goodies. So check it out, and pledge whatever you can afford.
Next Monday marks the 100th anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birth. For one horrible moment, let us consider the following question: what if that birth never happened?
No Captain America. No Fourth World. Probably no romance comics. No Challengers of the Unknown. No Kamandi. No “Marvel Age of Comics.”
Think about that last one for a moment. The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Hulk, Nick Fury, Thor, Silver Surfer, Black Panther… most likely, they would not have existed; certainly not as the astonishing successes they were.
I will avoid suggesting the American comic book medium would have disappeared decades ago if not for Jack Kirby, although a case could be made for that argument. If Marvel Comics didn’t happen the way it happened, it’s possible that direct sales to comic book stores would not have happened, and that little phenomenon certainly has kept this racket alive.
Nobody put more power, more energy, more excitement onto a single page. Even when he dialogued his own work when he created the Fourth World for DC Comics – and, to be fair, his dialogue was damn close to self-parody – his story, his concepts and his ability to deliver sheer entertainment were so strong the reader would forgive his few shortcomings. In fact, after a couple panels, we usually didn’t notice.
From time to time, artists of subsequent generations would be accused of being too “Kirby-esque.” Well, all artists (including writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) tend to reveal their influences, particularly in their early stuff. In comics, there always has been a fine line between influence and imitation. And that applies to Jack himself: the visage of Etrigan the Demon, first published in 1972, bears very close resemblance to a mask worn by Prince Valiant on Christmas Day 1937, drawn by the great Hal Foster. And Jack always was upfront about the source material.
I look at this “influence” thing a bit differently. Instead of accusing an artist of being Kirby-esque, I wonder why some of the others are not. In the early days of their careers, a little Jack Kirby moxie would have helped guide them to their own distinctive abilities.
Sometimes I wonder if some later generation of comics talent will not know of Jack Kirby’s work. I have met many a young’un who was sadly unfamiliar with the work of Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Wally Wood, Jack Cole… to name but a few.
I need not worry. If there is one person who has an indelible legacy in the comic art medium, it is Jack Kirby.
• • • • •
Plug number one: I will be at Wizard World Chicago starting tomorrow, and I will be on two panels: one discussing the bombastic Doctor Who convention of 1982, the first major big-time Who show in the States. For three hot, sweaty days Chicago’s Congress Hotel looked like the San Diego Convention Center on steroids. The other panel will be a tribute to legendary artist Jerry Robinson, on occasion of the publishing of Jerry’s last memoir, Jerry and The Joker. Both panels are on Saturday.
• • • • •
Plug number two: Martha Thomases said it best last Friday, and since I’m about to drive off to the above-mentioned convention I shall re-appropriate her words:
Just a reminder: If you haven’t already, get thee to this Kickstarter page and pledge some money for Mine! the anthology book ComicMix is producing to benefit Planned Parenthood. You might not know it from the Fake News Media, but Planned Parenthood provides necessary health care to millions of people of all ages and genders. In some communities, it is the only place where women can receive pre-natal and post-natal care. In some communities, it is the only place where poor women can get vital cancer screenings. In some communities, it is the only health clinic available, for women and men.
You might also want to pledge so you can get a cool book, with stories by Neil Gaiman, Trina Robbins, Rachel Pollack, Becky Cloonan, Stuart Moore, Mark Said, Amber Benson, Louise Simonson, Jody Houser… and Mike Gold… and Martha Thomases!
This column going up marks the first full week of our Kickstarter campaign for Mine!, our comics anthology to benefit Planned Parenthood. As of this typing, we’re 44% funded. Not bad for one week.
And a busy week at that. It’s been all hands on deck over at ComicMix and Molly Jackson and I have spent time together than we’d care to discuss. It’s a wild ride, and we still have a few weeks to go.
One of our stops on said wild ride was Flame Con. I’ve been going since the first one in 2015 and have tabled at the past two. This year Molly printed out a lot of fliers, brought recording equipment, signs, and coffee. That last part may have been the most important.
Flame Con, as always, is a positive experience for me. I’ve tabled both years with Robby Barrett and he always does well with his prints. Steven Universe and Pokémon are both still real popular at this convention.
I realized that one of the things about Flame Con I like so much is they don’t have a lot in terms of people looking to flip comics, or those guys with the short boxes on a cart that try to get creators to sign entire long runs or comics they’ve done. Part of that is because they don’t have a lot of people selling back issues and another part is because they don’t have too many legacy creators you could do that with, but it’s still nice. I hope it stays that way as long as it can.
Okay, I know this is short and I didn’t really get into much, but working on this Kickstarter is time-consuming and I have to get right back to that. Thank you so much to everyone that’s pledged and spread the word so far. Keep spreading the word about the Mine! Kickstarter and I’ll be back next week to complain more about how tired I am.
Last Friday, my pal Larry Hama invited me to a “friends and family” screening of the first two episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders. I mean the new series debuting on Netflix today, not the classic television show, The Defenders, the source of many many jokes made during the screening.
Before the screening began, I was feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about seeing so many of my old friends and meeting people whose work I admired. Hence, I was psyched to enjoy two hours in a comfy chair in a screening room.
Mostly, I had a great time. I have a huge crush on Charlie Cox, the beautiful man who plays Matt Murdock. And I love Rosario Dawson, Mike Colter, and Kristin Ritter. The production design for the series suggests the color schemes associated with each of the four main characters so that Daredevil’s scenes are dark and red, Jessica Jones’ scenes are blue, and Luke Cage’s seem to have been shot in the 1970s.
I don’t blame Finn Jones. He’s working as hard as he can. Unfortunately, the way Danny Rand has been written for these series, he’s a narcissist. A benevolent narcissist, but still a man who only sees the world as it relates to him. Daredevil is trying to keep crime out of his neighborhood. Luke Cage is the Hero of Harlem. Even Jessica Jones goes out of her way to help a stranger.
Danny Rand only thinks about Danny Rand. Even in his guilt, he can’t see past himself.
I guess this makes a certain amount of sense, given that he was raised by Buddhist monks and taught to look within himself for strength. Buddhists can be rather solipsistic. They aren’t the only ones, certainly, and that’s not all there is to Buddhism, but that’s what I infer from the Netflix series. In any case, his self-absorption has the effect of making the character and his struggles seem less important.
(For another perspective on Buddhism and action heroes, you might want to check out this series, co-written by my high school friend, Tinker Lindsay.)
A few supporting characters from each series are here, so our heroes have someone to provide exposition. I like to see Colleen Wing and Misty Knight and Foggy Nelson and Trish Walker. Sigourney Weaver and Waitlist Ching Ho make excellent villains. And there are many many, many other characters, enough so that it feels like it’s actually shot in New York City, where many millions of people live.
I can’t give a real critical overview of a series from just the first two episodes. It felt like they were taking their time getting to the real story because when the screening ended, the four main characters had not yet all met each other. That seems to me to be a bit too slow.
Still, it’s the tail end of August. What else do you have to do this weekend? I certainly have nothing better.
• • • • •
An important reminder: If you haven’t already, get thee to this Kickstarter page and pledge some money for Mine! the anthology book ComicMix is producing to benefit Planned Parenthood. You might not know it from the Fake News Media, but Planned Parenthood provides necessary health care to millions of people of all ages and genders. In some communities, it is the only place where women can receive pre-natal and post-natal care. In some communities, it is the only place where poor women can get vital cancer screenings. In some communities, it is the only health clinic available, for women and men.
You might also want to pledge so you can get a cool book, with stories by Neil Gaiman, Trina Robbins, Rachel Pollack, Jill Thompson, Becky Cloonan, Stuart Moore, Mark Said, Amber Benson, Louise Simonson, Jody Houser… and me me me!
If you’re a regular reader of ComicMix, then by now you’ve got to know about Mine!, the comics collection we are doing to support Planned Parenthood. If you just shook your head at the screen, please take a minute to read yesterday’s column from my co-editor and fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo.
All caught up? Perfect.
With everything happening in the world today, a comic doesn’t seem like the answer. I mean, we can do so many things. Why a comic book?
Here’s why. Comics, like all forms of art, is a voice of expression. We use these to amplify our thoughts, feelings, and political opinions. But comics are special in that we can tell a story. We can tell the stories of those deeply affected by the choices made by the current administration. We can tell the stories of the heroes of the cause from the past, and the current day. Sharing the history of why we fight and who we fight for.
Comics have long carried the banner of activism. The most powerful being Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, which was published by civil rights groups in 1957. Telling the story of the fight for equality, it has since been published in multiple languages all over the world. This comic became the inspiration for many to fight for equal rights and served as a primer for millions on non-violent resistance. More recently, Love is Love is an LGBT comic anthology that benefited the victims of the Pulse shooting. It served as a way to share the stories of the LGBT community, educating others on their experiences while memorializing those lost on that tragic day.
Mine! is no different. Both Joe and I want to share the stories of the people who work with or use the services of Planned Parenthood every day. These are the everyday people in your life. Your best friend, your sister, your co-worker, and your grouchy neighbor. By educating others about the work of Planned Parenthood, we can achieve reproductive rights for all.
So I hope that you join us on this journey. I promise that this collection will entertain as well as educate. With everything happening today, we need to be aware. Not just on current events but the history behind them. Take a moment to check out the Kickstarter and support a great cause. You’ll be glad you did.