Tagged: Steven Universe

Joe Corallo: Save Our Ship!

Last week I talked about my opinions and ended with how I might talk about shipping this week, so I am! No, not that shipping. This shipping.

For those of you not in the know, when all those hip, ironic millennials are talking about how they’d “ship that” what they’re referring to is (mostly) romantic relationships between fictional characters. This is the sort of thing we’ve seen throughout history, and before the advent of the internet fans of soap operas are long-running romantic book series did the same thing just without the cool contemporary jargon.

People ship lots of things in those “will they or won’t they?” situations on TV shows. It’s gotten more attention in more geek centric fandoms like Harry Potter, Xena and Star Trek. It gets even more attention in queer geek circles involving same gender pairings as well as triads and other poly relationships. Kirk and Spock from Star Trek is a prominent and early example of pop culture shipping in queer geek fandom.

Personally, I’d like a Cosmic Boy/Saturn Girl/Lightning Lad triad myself, and maybe one day I’ll commission Kevin Wada to draw them on a date together because he’s incredible and I think he’d nail it.

While shipping is often casually thrown around in fandoms, it sometimes leads to great debate. A recent example of that is with fans of the Supergirl TV show. Many who were shipping Kara and Lena were upset when the cast made jokes about that at SDCC earlier this summer. Last year a Steven Universe artist deleted her Twitter account after she was harassed by fans shipping Amethyst and Peridot. Lauren Zuke had shared art that seemed to support the Lapis and Peridot shippers which initiated the harassment.

There are more examples that exist outside of those two of (arguably) shipping gone wrong, but there are plenty of others and there will be plenty more. So what is a shipper to do? What is someone outside of that aspect of fandom do when things like this happen?

There are definitely a few different ways at looking at these sort of events. We should start by acknowledging that shipping is okay. Hell, it’s often encouraged and teased by people working on these different properties. We also have to understand that for many, LGBT+ representation has been next to nothing for most of these fans lives, including myself. While it’s getting better, it still has a ways to go. Many fans, particularly queer fans, use shipping to fantasize about the representation they’re starved for.

Ultimately, these are properties and franchised owned by corporations or at least owned by people that are not the fans who are shipping in question. Creators need the freedom to do what they would like when they can. It’s often why you like the particular property in the first place.

Fans like the ones in the Steven Universe example are not a majority; they’re a loud minority of fans. In the Supergirl example, people working on a show are not obligated to support your shipping of certain characters. Accusations that they are being anti-LGBT+ by doing so is a little off as there are already characters who are in the show.

Yes, they are side characters, and that’s a big part of the problem when we talk about representation and how much still needs to be done.

Creators and people behind different properties need to avoid alienating fans as well. One of the reasons they still get to do what they love is because of the fans. Upsetting fans isn’t necessarily a great model for continued success. Telling fans what to feel and how to enjoy your property isn’t always helpful either.

Intense fandom can be alienating to people too. I know more than a few people, including those in my fellow ComicMix columnist ranks, who aren’t opposed to things like Steven Universe but the rabid fans that pop up in those situations are what gets reported and it makes them want to avoid it. While I do love the show and think it’s important LGBT+ representation particularly for people a bit younger than me, I can’t say I don’t at least somewhat understand why someone would feel that way.

Shipping is A-OK in my book, and you should have at it. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel bad about it. However, if the people behind the property don’t agree with or support your ship, getting mad and attacking people on the internet won’t change that. They can’t make you change your mind or want something different though, so don’t worry about what they say; ship who you like!

Tweeks: Steven Universe Interviews

Steven Universe is one of our favorite cartoons ever and so we were really excited to get to interview them at Comic Con.

We talked to Zach Callison (who is not only the voice of Steven, but also of Prince James in Sofia the First), Ian Jones-Quartey (storyboarded/animator), Michaela Dietz (Amethyst), Deedee Magno Hall (Pearl….who Anya has been singing along to since she was 2 years old — no kidding, Deedee was Jasmine in the Aladdin Spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure), Estelle (Garnet), and Rebecca Sugar, the show’s composer & creator, who incidentally was shattering glass ceilings as the first woman to independently create a series for Cartoon Network! What’s really cool about Rebecca, as you’ll find out in our interview is that she’s a bit of a musical theatre geek like us. She not only got a song idea from Sweeney Todd, but she quotes Bob Fosse too.

It’s a long interview, but if you are a fan of Steven & the Crystal Gems, you need to watch this. The whole cast was so nice and fun. Plus they are very funny. And if like Maddy your life’s dream is to be a voice actor on a cartoon, you will love all the inside scoop on how that’s done.

Joe Corallo: A ComicCon Of Many Flavors

Sonny.Liew-650

This past weekend was MoCCA Fest 2016, or for those of you unfamiliar, the Museum of Comic and Cartooning Art Festival. Since 2014 it has been put on by The Society of Illustrators. Once again it was held at a new venue, the Metropolitan West next to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museu. Highlighted guests included Sonny Liew (Doctor Fate, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye) and Rebecca Sugar (Adventure Time, Steven Universe). As with the past few years, I attended both days.

noelle.mocca_final2I was fortunate enough to get into both Sonny Liew’s Spotlight discussion on Saturday and Rebecca Sugar’s on Sunday. Both of these discussions were eye opening not only in the words that were said, but in who was listening to them.

On Saturday, Sonny’s discussion was moderated by his Doctor Fate collaborator, Paul Levitz. And you know that it’s an important discussion when people like Columbia University’s Karen Green and legendary storyteller David Mazzucchelli are sitting front row center for it. Sonny Liew was introduced to me through his work on DC’s most recent efforts to reintroduce Doctor Fate. Being a fan of Paul’s and following his Legion run in the New 52 as well as part of his World’s Finest run, I was looking forward to checking out Doctor Fate when it premiered last year. What kept me going on Doctor Fate was more than just Paul’s ability to craft a story, but Sonny Liew really knocking the art out of the park.

Another important element of this all was the diversity in Doctor Fate. After some 75 years, Doctor Fate is Egyptian in the main DC continuity. Granted, James Robinson and Brett Booth beat Paul and Sonny (not by much, but still) in Earth 2 continuity, but that Doctor Fate didn’t have his own solo title. And Doctor Fate is a character that really should be represented by someone of either African or Middle Eastern heritage. It was a (too) long time coming, but I’m glad DC got there.

Even then, that might not even be most important element of the diversity in Doctor Fate. Sonny Liew is. On the Friday before MoCCA Fest, Sonny and Paul were signing at Midtown Comics Downtown. Sonny Liew is a Malaysian-born artist residing in Singapore that was in town for MoCCA Fest. He’s had worked published on and off for over a decade at both Marvel and DC. His latest works with Doctor Fate as well as new hit creator-owned graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye have increased his profile. It’s how I became aware of him, despite loving Marc Hempel’s work and not realizing he also worked on My Faith In Frankie with Marc.

The point I’m getting at is at both the signing at Midtown Comics and the discussion at MoCCA, many people in attendance were of Asian heritage. A young man sitting by me was furiously taking notes and anxiously awaited his turn to ask Sonny Liew a question about how to be a better artist. Non-white women and men were excited by Sonny Liew and engaged in the discussion. This is important. This is the only way comics (and any entertainment medium) can have a future. Different people with different backgrounds and different stories to tell need to feel not only welcomed, but encouraged to participate. Sonny Liew is not only putting out great work on his own, but he’s inspiring other people to as well.

Rebecca SugarSunday was about all about Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar. If you were in attendance, you saw some people wearing their red t-shirts with a yellow star in the middle just like Steven Universe’s shirt. Sunday, however, such apparel was a phenomenon. Many people were decked out in Steven Universe merch or homemade creations. A line wrapped around the Ink 48 hotel where the panels were held. I was able to get into the discussion moderated by Ryan Sands, but by then it was standing room only. It was packed to the absolute limit. The excitement was contagious, and if you scanned the room, there was a smile on everyone’s face.

From the moment she began talking, the room hung on to every word she said. She talked candidly about her life and her creations in a way that’s rarely scene at these sort of conventions. She talked with an immense appreciation to all of her fans, and humbly about her roles at Adventure Time and Steven Universe at Cartoon Network. All of the points she made were encouraging ones. She pushed people to create. To always strive to be better. She talked about how Steven Universe is for her brother who is not only her best friend, but someone who helped her to strive and be a better artist. She took out her ukulele at one point and played the song “So This Is Love” from Disney’s Cinderella which meant a lot to her and she only played before in front of Ian, her boyfriend. You can watch that here. It was moving. You could barely hear a pin drop. She even mentioned she wrote some poems and wasn’t planning on reading them, but when everyone in the audience could be heard gasping in delight when talked about her poems, she read one anyway.

Once it came to the audience questions, people of all different ages, races, orientations and gender identities were given a chance to ask her everything from how to be a better artist to how can I geek out in front of you without being scary. It was honestly one of the most diverse groups of people I’ve ever seen at a convention discussion before, if not the most that wasn’t specifically about diversity.

You know why that is?

It’s because the audience Steven Universe has is that diverse. Rebecca Sugar unapologetically explores gender politics, alternative families, queer romance, and much more in a sci-fi cartoon that offers something for a wider audience than most television ever has before, if not offering the most for a wider audience. She also has the honor of being the first woman to solely create a show for Cartoon Network, proving once again that diversity works for everyone. It lifts us all up.

Rebecca Sugar also had advice on comics, the medium in which she started out. She suggested to any artist that wants to break into cartooning, that doing your own comics is the best way to start. No one can stop you from making them. She warned that doesn’t mean people read them, as she states from her personal experience, but it’s the only way you’ll get better. The same holds true for writing. No one can stop a writer from writing writing a script, a poem, a song. The only person stopping you is you. So stop it.

I left MoCCA Fest this year feeling inspired, and I don’t seem to be the only one. Which is good. I even felt less cynical. Having coffee with Molly Jackson after the show, the song “It’s All Been Done” by Barenaked Ladies came on. And you know what? I didn’t believe it this time. I’m never going to believe it again. It hasn’t all been done. So many voices have never been heard. More than we can even comprehend. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Just you wait.

We need more Rebecca Sugars in the world with a creative voice. A lot more. I wish I was more like her. A lot of people do. And that’s what we all need. This is only the beginning.

 

Molly Jackson: Many Faces of Fandoms

Many Faces of Fandom

Fandoms can be a wonderful thing. People who are drawn together by love of a particular series, be it written/filmed/drawn/created in any way, can and have banded together to do some amazing things. I’ve written about how my fellow Browncoats (a.k.a. Firefly fans) and I have raised money for Equality Now. Supernatural fans have come together along with show star Jared Padalecki to raise money for nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms. Gamers have gaming marathons for various charities throughout the world.

Most recently, Star Wars fans took to Twitter to help a dying fan see Episode 7. Sadly, Daniel passed away a few days after his screening. It may be right out of a movie script (ala Fanboys) but it was a touching gesture by fans, cast, crew, and SW franchise to make sure it happened.

With all this in mind, why am I telling you how awesome fans are? Because sadly, sometimes they aren’t awesome. Sometimes people ruin the friendship that grows out of fandom love. That has happened from the Steven Universe fans. A small group of SU fans appears to be growing increasingly mean to the point of brutal. Another fan documented the escalating issues, which have gotten out of control. Fans have been so vicious to other about opinions on the show, they are using rape and death threats. At this point, the ongoing abuses have caused someone to attempt to take their own life.

No fandom is worth any life. I can’t say that loud enough. I love being in fandom groups but I would give them all up in a heartbeat if it meant saving a life. My personal entertainment does not come at the expense of someone’s emotional wellbeing. If yours does, you need to reevaluate.

Steven Universe is a show a lot of friends have told me to watch. After this, I don’t think I can. Yes, I know I can watch a show without being involved with the fandom. But if I like it, I know I’ll want to see what’s out there. It might be unfair to judge a show by the actions of its active fan base. If this is the negativity surrounding a show that is described as all about love, understanding, and equality, then I need to stop before I start.

The real fear is that this can happen to any fan group because the internet is filled with people who think anonymity means no consequences. That since you don’t know the person on the other end in real life, they don’t really matter. Good rule of thumb to use: If you won’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on the internet. Be respectful to each other. That means you can still argue facts or provide criticism, but you don’t threaten someone bodily harm because they have a different opinion.

Imagine a world where every conversation on the internet is an engaging one for the right reasons. Imagine reading the comments only makes you cringe from bad grammar, not crude language. Don’t sit there and think it isn’t possible. Go make it possible by showing the world there are still decent human beings on the internet.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please seek help and assistance.

Tweeks: #SDCC Interview with Crystal Cadets writer Anne Toole

crystalcadetsOne of the best parts of Comic Con International was getting to talk to so many women working in the comics industry.  Anne Toole was one of those women geek girls like us can aspire to.  She not only is an Emmy-winning writer of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but she also writes video games (who knew that was a thing?!) and has a new monthly comic series coming out from Lion Forge/Roar this October called Crystal Cadets (Art & covers by Katie O’Neill Colors by Paulina Ganucheau) which we are all over!

C’mon! Middle school girls with magical shiny crystals fighting dark mystical forces, how could we not be giddy over it?