Tagged: The Beat

Mindy Newell: Martha Got Me Thinking Again!

I listen to feminists and all these radical gals – most of them are failures. They’ve blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That’s all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they’re mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They’re sexist. They hate men – that’s their problem. – Jerry Falwell

 “Because feminists never disagree with each other. ” – Martha Thomases

That’s what Martha Thomases posted in response to my column last week at the League Of Women Bloggers site on Facebook, where she and I both share opinions and work with other women (such as Trina Robbins, Corrina Lawson, Kate Kotler, and Heidi MacDonald) in the comics and blogging industry.

Martha (whom I have known since I wrote for DC back in the ‘80s) wrote what I think is a brilliant rebuttal last week. So brilliant that I am here to respond. And no, this is not going to become an ongoing issue between co-workers at ComicMix. You are not going to be reading about a “cat-fight” between Newell and Thomases on Bleeding Cool or The Mary Sue or Geek Mom or at The Beat. Because despite the title of Martha’s rebuttal (Girl Fight), you’re not going to see us going at it ala Krystal and Alexis in the swimming pool on Dynasty.

I think that is exactly what is so cool and brilliant about Martha’s column is that it’s a direct stab in the eye to all those who think that “feminism” is one gigantic single-celled amoeba of a socio-political movement.

In other words, just because I can’t get all that excited about Spider-Woman’s ass sticking up in the air on “that” cover doesn’t meant that I don’t agree with Martha about the many shades of feminism. We do come in all shades, in all sizes – some of share opinions and political leanings, some of us don’t. Martha mentioned “Republican Feminists” – click on the link in her column and it leads to a page about First Lady Betty Ford. And First Lady and matriarch of the Bush political dynasty Barbara Bush said. “I hate abortions, but I just could not make that choice for someone else.”

Martha posted a comment to my original column that included the following: “We don’t celebrate the sexuality of “ugly” women (as judged by society). For example, Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids isn’t feared for her powerful sex drive. Instead, we laugh. And that movie deserves credit for acknowledging that she has a sex drive at all. Usually, only “beautiful” women (as judged by society) get to do that.

Yeah, we laughed, Martha. McCarthy raising her foot up against the wall of the airplane at a 90o angle as she came on to the air marshal (played by her husband, Ben Falcone) was funny (as well as impressive). But what about the scene where she comes to Kristen Wiig’s home and beats her up over feeling sorry for herself? “Get over it!” she’s telling Kristen. “Embrace yourself! That’s where it starts!” In other words, I think Melissa McCarthy’s real power is in her ability to make people accept her as a fully realized adult woman with a brain, and, yes, a libido that demands to be satisfied.

Yes, she’s overweight by some people’s standards. So what? In the past, buxom, voluptuous women were the ideal – think of the Flemish baroque painter Paul Reubens. And modern painter Lisa Yuskavage’s beautiful and erotic portraits of “fat” women have been exhibited at major art institution around the world, including the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

In response to her critics, who have accused her of painting “pornographic” crap, Ms. Yuskavage said, “it’s actually a reclaiming of power and the ability to depict women in all their forms. ”Melissa McCarthy does the same thing with her acting and comedy, forcing us to accept that “rubenesque” women are sensual and sexy and comfortable in their own bodies.

Leslie Tane, the author of the article on Ms. Yuskavage at www.BeautifulDecay.com, said “The essence of female power is not that women must be desexed, it’s that women can decide how they want to be seen – sexy, silly, powerful, maternal, erotic, masculine, intelligent, profound – any combination of these, and much more. ”

Yeah, I know. Lisa Yuskavage didn’t paint Spider-Woman. A man known for his erotic portraits of women painted her.

So the question is: If Lisa Yuskavage had painted an erotic variant cover for Spider-Woman #1, would there have been such an uproar?

I really wonder about that.

And one more thing….

I’ve been wondering why the owners of Twitter – hmm, since Twitter is on the NYSE, it would be Twitter’s Board of Directors and the company’s prime shareholders – haven’t blocked ISIS (ISIL, IS, whatever) from using their application to post their barbarism? Why are they enabling the publicity these monsters are using to “up” their sociopathic and psychopathic “membership” list?

I’m certainly not saying that using Spider-Woman’s derriere on the cover to promote publicity is the same thing. But Marvel’s got to be digging it, despite “apologies” from Axel Alonso, the company’s editor-in-chief – which by the why made stories in The Hollywood Reporter, Yahoo Lifestyle, and various websites, i.e., more publicity. There’s no doubt in my mind – nor should there be in yours – that Manara’s “variant collectible cover” is going to increase sales.

So maybe we – Mindy Newell, Martha Thomases, all us commentators and bloggers, all us pundits – it even made the “Bullseye” feature in Entertainment Weekly – would have been better off ignoring the whole thing.

Then it would have been just another cover of another comic book.

Wouldn’t it?

 

Mindy Newell: Mother’s Day

“I have called on the Goddess and found her within myself”

Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon

Feeling very Hemingway-esque because I am sitting here in front of the computer sipping a glass of merlot and smoking a cigarette while I write – although the truth, according to the website Food Republic, is that while the Master was “notoriously fond of drinking…he refrained from indulging while writing [and] when asked in an interview if rumors of him taking a pitcher of martinis to work every morning were true, he answered, “Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

Not to mention that Hemingway’s favorite instrument for writing was the (lowly?) pencil. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it… It also keeps it fluid longer so that you can better it easier” he wrote in his book On Writing. Although he would then transcribe it to his typewriter – over his writing career he used the Corona No. 3 & No.4, an Underwood Noiseless Portable, various Royal portables – aha! My first typewriter was a Royal portable – and a Halda portable (which, according to www.myTypewriter.com, was recently sold in an online auction, although the article doesn’t state the final bid).

Well, be that as it may – and also because I never could get into Faulkner, maybe because he is just waaaay too morosely Southern for this New York Jewish chick – Ernest still lurks beside me while I work today on my Mac desktop. And the merlot is very fine, fruity and yet exquisitely dry, from a Chilean vineyard I never heard of, but I loved the name on the bottle…

Sweet Bitch. 

Oh, yeah.

Anyway, since Sunday is Mother’s Day, I wanted to write about mothers, but in a different way …

I’m currently rereading, for the thousandth time, The Mists of Avalon by the late, and very great, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Simply put, it is Le’Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, perhaps better known to you as The Once and Future King by T.H. White or The Idylls of the King by Tennyson, or the movie Excalibur, produced, directed, and co-written by John Boorman, or Camelot 3000 by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, published by DC Comics over three years (1982 – 1985), which makes it DC’s first maxi-series. It is the great medieval romance of King Arthur, Queen Gwenhywfar, Morgaine of the Fairies, Lancelet, and the court of Camelot and the Round Table.

Except that Bradley tells it from the point of the women.

But more than that, Bradley uses the tale to spin a story of the ancient, and original, Celtic women-as-life-bearers, Mother Goddess-centric religion of the British Isles and its battle, with a patriarchal Christianity in which women were looked on, through Eve, as the source of original sin.

It is a story of women struggling to maintain their dignity, their wisdom, their power, and their equality in a world in which masculinity is uprooting their place in it.

At the end of Mists, Morgaine, sister to King Arthur, High Priestess of the Goddess, and the Lady of the Lake, goes through the mists that hide and separate the world of the Mother (the enchanted isle of Avalon) to visit the tomb of her mentor and aunt, Viviane, the greatest of the Ladies of the Lake, which now rests on what it is called the Isle of Priests or the Isle of Glass (Glastonbury) in “man’s world.” (Avalon and Glastonbury are also symbols of the duality of nature and humankind that Bradley discusses throughout the novel, as both are the same island, separated only by the mystical planes of existence). At first distraught and bitter that Viviane’s final resting place is in the world of the patriarchal Christians that call the Mother Goddess “demon,” Morgaine comes to a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus…

And there she realizes that the Mother she worships has not left the world of men, but only taken on a new form; forever and ever, she realizes, the Mother Goddess will live in the hearts of humankind.

I searched Google to see if anyone had adapted The Mists of Avalon into comics form, and found none, though there were many, besides Camelot 3000, that adapted the Arthurian legends in one way or another. I think it would make an amazing adaptation; two artists that come immediately to mind for it are Jill Thompson and Charles Vess. And yes, of course I would love to write it, because it is a story, I think, which is particularly relevant today in our comics world.

Martha Thomases and I have written here about the negativity, bigotry, and the outward hatred being displayed towards women in comics and its related fields (such as gaming and cosplay) and it would take little more than a quick Google search to find other articles and blogs written by Heidi MacDonald, Corinna Lawson, Janelle Asselin, Alice Mercier, and, unfortunately, too many more. But as I reread Mists, I think some of the power of the Goddess comes down into my soul, and I feel uplifted; not angry or bitter or even snide about the abuses or the abusers, but actually sorry for them; that they are so consumed with fear and jealousy, and, oh, just so much negative emotions that they are unable to allow their feminine side to come out into the light.

Because, oh yes, these men do have the Goddess within them, just as we women have the God within us. As is said so many times by so many of the players in Mists, in different words and in different ways, but all still meaning the one truth: “All the Gods are one God, and all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and the one God and the One Goddess together are the Initiator, and the Initiator dwells within us all.”

May She bless you all on Mother’s Day.

 

We’re removing Google AdSense until they reinstate The Beat

We’re removing Google AdSense until they reinstate The Beat

Okay, two can play that game. We’re taking off all of our ads from Google until they reinstate The Beat. We call on other comic sites to do the same.

In related thoughts, have you donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund lately?

Martha Thomases: Criticizing Criticism

Thomases Art 140418This isn’t what I wanted to write about. I would much prefer to tell you about some hidden gem in the world of comics. Instead, once again, we’re going to slog through the mud.

A while ago, a writer, Janelle Asselin, wrote a critique of a Teen Titans cover for Comic Book Resources. The cover is an incoherent piece of art, and she described her problems with it. Her comments included art criticism (mostly centering on the lack of anatomical reality of the depiction of Wonder Girl, a teenager), sociopolitical criticism and observations on marketing. She suggested that sexualizing characters who are supposed to be minors was more than a little bit creepy. She pointed out is that Teen Titans is a book that has a great deal of potential to reach outside of the typical comics market because it was a popular cartoon series, one with a lot of female fans, and, from a marketing perspective, there was a lot of money to be made by doing a comic that might draw in some of that audience.

So, of course, all hell broke loose.

I didn’t read all 40 windows of comments. Life is too short. After I read a few screens, I got the drift. For one thing, many people don’t understand the difference between marketing and editorial. More to the point, guys don’t like it when you notice they’re being creepy. Especially when they’ve been bragging about the creepiness up until this point.

Example? Here’s a comment from someone code-named Rakzo: “It seems like we can’t enjoy sexy superheroes anymore.” Did you see what he did there? He said that because Asselin criticized the (unnatural and/or surgically enhanced) depiction of a teenage girl, somehow this became an authoritarian edict that was actively prohibiting him from doing something.

Now, there are a lot of things that people do sexually that aren’t my thing. If they announce this in a public forum, I will, if asked, admit to the occasional icks. Obviously, this varies with the fetish. Shoes? Not my thing, but have fun. Scat? Not my thing, please don’t tell me about it and clean up after yourself. Your list may be different from mine. That’s what makes being humans interesting.

Being sexually aroused by under-age girls? Please stop talking before I wonder if you’re a registered sex offender.

A few other commentators called Ravko on this, and replied, “Maybe, but that’s not my point, it seems like the comic community has become a place where being a prude is considered ‘cool’.” Because there is no one more oppressed than the poor pedophile.

While this was happening on CBR, there was a parallel nightmare on Twitter. In her Tumblr. Asselin describes how she was ridiculed and hassled. Her professionalism was called into question. So was her safety. She not only was dismissed as a “disgruntled former employee,” but she was also threatened with rape.

Yeah, that’s right. The proper response, when someone has a different opinion about a work of comic book cover art is to threaten that person with physical violence.

My pal Heidi MacDonald wrote a wonderful piece on her blog, in which she wonders why more men don’t speak out against this kind of hate speech. She’s not asking for censorship, just peer pressure. When a man demeans a woman in our profession simply because she is a woman, other men should call him out. That’s not radical. That’s good manners.

On a related note, I’m going to Awesome Con this weekend, an event I’ve never attended before. (Stop by and say hello!) In keeping with my obsession, I’ve noted that, of the 52 guests announced in the comics and literary field, only eight are women. This is a better percentage than lots of other shows, but still woefully non-representative of the number of women actually working in our industry.

And when I went to see what kind of programming they had, including the number of panels that included women as experts, I was struck by this one: “Part Time Writer, Full Time World. The panelists are all women (Lindsay Smith, Jean Marie Ward, and Janine K. Spendlove). The subject: “How do you balance a full time job, parenting, writing, and *perish the thought* actually having some hobbies or perhaps even a social life? Everyone handles it differently; come to find out tips and advice as to how.”

Gee, I wonder why there are no men on that panel. Obviously, they’ve got the full-time job/parenting/writing/hobby balance worked out. It would be really swell if they’d enlighten us ignorant women about how they do it.

Mindy Newell: Monsters Of The Id

Newell Art 131209I may be behind the eight-ball here, but last month much blogging, Facebook and Tumblr posts and Twitter accounts were ablaze with comics artist Tess Fowler’s account of sexual harassment at the 2007 San Diego Comic Convention – a comics pro used the age-old pretense of being interested in her work to try and get her to come up to his room, and when Tess declined, he then went about insulting her work, her cosplay and talking bullshit about her to other male comics professionals and anybody else who would listen on the convention floor, i.e., in public.

Yeah, I know I’ve written about this subject before, and so has Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat, Colleen Doran on her own blog, former Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin on her Tumblr site Postcards From Space, Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue, and Corrina Lawson on her site, Geek Mom.

What I’m wondering now is…

Is sexual harassment towards women in the industry more prevalent now than when I was actively writing and editing in the 80s and 90s?

Was I really that oblivious?

No, I wasn’t. But I had confidence in myself and didn’t think too much about it, and I honestly really never felt harassed or put upon or insulted. In fact, I enjoyed my professional and personal friendships with Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Mike Gold, Joey Cavalieri, Bob Greenberger, Fabien Nicieza, Dick Giordano, Tom Brevoort, Mark Gruenwald, Jerry Ordway, Tom DeFalco, Ernie Colon, Richard Bruning, Keith Giffen, and so many other men in the biz, just to name a few. In fact, I was honored to be able to call these guys my friends and co-workers.

But there was one particularly nasty incident concerning an editor and a letter and my toilet bowl. Yes, I was so disgusted by the contents of that letter that I flushed it down the toilet in a fit of rage – thus “burning the evidence,” which was a ridiculous thing to do, I know, but I also stopped working on my assignment long enough to have the big boss of this company call me and invite me to lunch with him at the Top of the Sixes, a very swanky restaurant. During the phone call I told Mr. Big (with apologies to Candace Bushnell) about the letter, and he asked me to bring it to the lunch. “I can’t,” I said. “I flushed it down the toilet.”

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I couldn’t keep that disgusting piece of filth around this house.”

But the lunch went off as planned. Mr. Big was a wonderful man, a true mensch, and he made me realize that, as a comics professional, hell, as an adult woman, I had to finish my commitments. Which I did. Even if my heart was no longer in it.

But this was the only time that I experienced any kind of direct sexual harassment in the comics industry. Perhaps it’s because the men I met were, for the most part, of an age – all high school and college students in the 60s, shutting down universities and marching in the street to protest the Vietnam War, “tuning in, turning on, dropping out” during those summers of love. Women were burning their bras, men were burning their draft cards, and the police were beating up protestors at political conventions while inside the buildings journalists were being manhandled off the floor. The men who were older – Julie Schwartz, Joe Kubert, and others – had lived through their own hells of the Depression and World War II.

They were mature.

They were adults.

They were men.

Now I’m not part of the current scene in comics; well, I am, but only peripherally. So I can’t speak directly of the XY set in comics today. But from what I read, from what I hear, it seems that there are more boys in the field than ever.

Boys who seem to be the very essence of the cliché of the male child who lives on TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and in movies like Knocked Up. Only, unlike Leonard and Sheldon and Howard and Rajesh, unlike Ben and Pete, these guys don’t grow up; they won’t grow up. They are Peter Pan children eternally stuck in a Never-Never Land of narcissistic masturbation of their own (unfulfilled) “who’s the man?” fantasies.

And as children, they have no idea of the repercussions their behavior is causing. Repercussions that could result in the destruction of an industry.

And all because they can’t keep their ids zipped up.

TUESDAY MORNING: The Debut of Jen Krueger!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The Return of Michael Davis?

 

Marc Alan Fishman: The Con Con

Fishman Art 130817So after all that hemming and hawing, Wizard World Chicago came and went. Unshaven Comics saw record sales, happy fans, and well… that’s all we needed. The vibe itself of the show was tepid at best. Many many folks stopping by were quick to talk about their excited meetings with John Barrowman, Wil Wheaton, and Zach Quinto. Others simply said the show was OK, and that they were having a good time as always.

As always, the looming undercurrent of complaints crept around the edges. Full weekend passes cost nearly $100. The show floor itself (due to circumstances beyond Wizard’s control) was split between two floors, with significant bottlenecking of crowds throughout the day. And for those of us showing, Artist Alley seemed to have significant dead-spots – places on the show floor where traffic seemed to never pass by. Attempts to move (and move, and move) seemingly did nothing for the sales. I would guess that roughly a third of the exhibitors left unprofitable, and grumpy.

But I digress. I’m not here to give a thorough analysis of this particular con. Nor am I going to politely make suggestions on how Wizard might improve their exhibitions. I did that last year. And the year before that. I wave the white flag on Wizard’s practices. It’s clear that they want to be micro-San-Diegos in pop-culture-scope and have no desire to really cater to comic creators or the fans that-there-of. My biggest gripe found its way to my Facebook feed via the illustrious Gene Ha.

Gene caught a story over on The Beat that declared Wizard was moving in on comic-con competition in Minneapolis. It’s Wizard World Minneapolis show (a new one amongst their cadre of dates and locales) is scheduled a mere two weeks before the Midwest Comic Book Association’s already established SpringCon. Well, well, well Wizard. Good on you.

Once again, Wizard chooses to horn in on territory where locally owned and beloved conventions have scheduled. Just as they purchased Mid-Ohio Con in Columbus and took over the New York Comic Con in years past. When asked for comment (in case you didn’t read the link above) Wizzy just piddled in the corner… essentially blaming the convention center, and kicking the dirt by it’s boots like a child trying to lie, and failing. It’s maddening.

Wizard has deeper pockets than small comic-based shows. It’s a fact. They book bigger halls, bag bigger stars, and charge exhibitors considerably more. And the fact that Wizard Chairman John Macaluso himself commented that “Scheduling conflicts do no one any good,” he’s merely playing coy in my not-so-humble opinion. What Macaluso isn’t saying is that the conflicts are plenty good for him because the odds are in his favor. His shows snipe in dates weeks earlier than his competition, and brings in pop-culture stars from movies and TV… which invariably draw in a larger audience. And in a smaller city like Columbus or Minneapolis? The average con-goer will have little to no reason (or a plethora of discretionary funds) to attend one con right after the other.

In short, the little guy gets boned, unless they spend their time creating guerrilla marketing efforts such to undercut Wizard all in an attempt not to go under. Mid-Ohio simply caved. And now? The same Cincinnati/Columbus area will see three conventions within a six-week period: Wizard’s Mid-Ohio Con, the newly formed Cincy Comic Con, and the elder Cincinnati Comic Expo.

Is this the fate of Minneapolis looks forward to? Conventions fighting over guests and rolling the dice on their attendance? In the end, if that happens everyone will lose. And when the competition has a deeper wallet, the battle becomes that much harder to fight. We proud dwellers of the Artist Alley are left in waiting, trying to figure out what move to make. Especially those of us making the choice to venture beyond our hometown borders… Where profitability of these shows determines whether we’re eating a nice steak dinner after the show, or supersizing on our way home, with merchandise still in tow.

As it stands, Unshaven Comics this year alone has visited Dayton OH, Ft. Wayne IN, Novi MI, Charlotte NC, and the Chicagoland area several times. Later this year we’re going to Cincinnati, St. Louis, Baltimore, New York, Dearborn, and Kokomo. It’s our hope that Wizard takes a step back, and considers making the shows its known for good again… rather than simply expand it’s empire of bullying.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

 

Mindy Newell: Gail Simone and the Mayan Calendar

According to many interpreters of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012 was to be the last day of the world. Were we going to go quietly, or in another Big Bang? No one knew. But some portents started happening as December matured.

A woman slept while a tornado ripped off her home’s roof.

More than 100 UFOs are seen along the India-China border.

A contestant on The Bachelor claims the producers brainwashed her.

Karen Berger resigns as Executive Editor of Vertigo.

And on December 9, 2012 (or thereabouts), Gail Simone is told her services as the writer of Batgirl are no longer required… via fucking e-mail!!!!!

Although I did once work at a hospital where the Director of Anesthesiology fired one of his staff via FedEx, and although Editor Mike Gold tells me that this is simply the snafu way that corporations use to rid themselves of the suddenly tainted, I personally think this is an unbelievably putrid, cowardly and totally unprofessional way to be axed, corporate or otherwise.

Gail Simone displays superb class; only tweeting I am very proud of what we accomplished with Batgirl and it was an honor to get to write Barbara Gordon again. Love that dame, as well as a longer post at her blog Ape In A Cape in which she thanks Scott Snyder, Bobbie Chase, Brian Smith, others at DC, and her fans for supporting her.

And the shit, in Newell’s unclassy words, hits the fan.

The comics world, not waiting for December 21st,explodes!

Twitter accounts overload. E-mail boxes are stuffed. Phones ring off the work. Websites, (ComicMix, BleedingCool, Wired, The League of Women Bloggers, The Beat) are “hot off the presses” with the news. Fan forums are abuzz.

Friday, December 21, 2012.

What happens in the Bat-offices will most likely remain between Gail and DC, although there will sure to be many rumors spread by many pundits. Fan outcry? Pushback from other pros? Some even speculate that it was a massive marketing ploy…

Friday, December 21, 2012.

According to some expert on the Mayans and their calendar, the date did not signify the end of the physical world, but simply the death of one cycle and the beginning of another.

Friday, December 21, 2012.

And for one extremely talented and deserving woman, it sure was!

Friday, December 21, 2012.

Gail Simone tweets: Here’s the thing. Gail Simone is the new Batgirl writer. 

Hmm….

Maybe those Mayans were on to something. Congratulations, Gail!

But don’t breath easy yet, girlfriend. According to the Huffington Post, German scientist and Mayan calendar researcher Nikolai Grube says the 13th Baktun (or cycle) may not actually be over until December 24, 2012.

That’s today, boys and girls.

TUESDAY MORNING (assuming there is one): Emily S. Whitten

TUESDAY AFTERNOON (assuming there is one): Michael Davis

 

What Makes Martha Thomases Ridiculously Happy?

I’m writing this just back from the dentist, from which a friend had to pick me up because the dentist gave me drugs. I couldn’t be trusted to get myself home, even though that involved taking an elevator to the building entrance and getting a cab. And my dentist may have had a point. When my friend came to pick me up, I talked her into buying shoes with blue sequins on them.

So this will be a little bit scattered. However, you, the reader, are probably online to see The Dark Knight Rises, so we most likely share a mental state. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously.

• As I mentioned last week, I missed the San Diego Comic Con. Once again, it seems I didn’t miss a lot, at least about comics. I realize that IMDB might not be an impartial editor of Comic Con news, but this makes it look to me like the geeks that were out were television and movie geeks, not comics fans. Or, to channel earlier cons, these are not the nerds I was looking for.

• I find the only time I can concentrate on a real book is when I’m away from home, or I’m in the middle of a good mystery. When I read at home, in my living room, in the comfy chair, I’m always looking at the clock, or the computer, or the phone rings, and I can’t get a good reading rhythm happening. I can read comics, but sometimes I want more than that. As a result, I now have a stack of graphic novels next to my sack of pamphlets next to my stack of knitting books. Waiting, with maximum anticipation, are Dotter of her Father’s Eye by Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot, Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work) by Michael Goodwin and Dan E. Burr, and Darkroom: A Memoir in Black & White by Lila Quintero Weaver. I feel very highfalutin’. These are much classier than the vampire books in my Kindle.

• Batman and Spider-Man are heroes. Our troops are heroes. But you know who else are heroes? Garbage collectors. I can think of nothing braver than picking up other people’s rotting refuse when it’s over 100 degrees outside. The smell alone can kill a man where he stands. Lifting bag after bag of the stuff, all day, every day, is a superhuman feat.

• You, constant reader, probably don’t get press releases in your e-mail every day. I do. I’ve also sent out press releases. There are some companies that send me something every day. There are some companies that send me something several times a day, every day. I’ve been the publicist whose client demands a long list of media outlets pitched so I understand the pressure they’re under, but it’s ridiculous. I’m not going to write two or three stories a day, every day, about the same company. I’m going to follow up on a press release that seems like it’s about something in which I’ve expressed interest. Most likely, a carefully written pitch letter, one that references my interests, would work the best. I’m taking this knowledge to my next clients.

• The photo above is swiped from The Beat. It makes me ridiculously happy.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

Is Jim Starlin gearing up for a lawsuit over Thanos?

Jim Starlin has offered proof that he created Thanos, leading to speculation that he may launch a lawsuit against Marvel Comics.

The writer and artist has posted an early concept drawing of the Mad Titan from before he began working at the publisher, reports The Beat.

Interest in the character is growing following his cameo in The Avengers movie, the speculation of an upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film and the announcement of a Thanos: Son of Titan miniseries from Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson.

“This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel,” Starlin wrote on his Facebook page. “Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid.”

“Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.”

Marvel is reportedly struggling to find records relating to the period in the mid-’70s when Thanos debuted in its comics.

“This is the second film that had something I created for Marvel in it – the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor being the other – and both films I had to pay for my own ticket to see them,” Starlin previously said.

“Financial compensation to the creators of these characters doesn’t appear to be part of the equation.”

Dynamite responds to ERB Inc. lawsuit over John Carter, Tarzan

Originally posted at http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/04/dynamite-responds-to-erb-inc-lawsuit-over-john-carter-tarzan/

In response to the lawsuit filed in February by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., Dynamit has filed what amounts to a blanket denial to accusations of trademark and copyright infringement and unfair competition involving its Lord of the Jungle and Warlord of Mars comics.

ERB Inc., which holds the existing rights to the works of the author of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, claims the comics Lord of the Jungle, Warlord of Mars, Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris and Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom are likely to “deceive, mislead and confuse the public” about the source or sponsorship of the content, causing “irreparable injury” to the family-owned company. It also insists the titles were published without authorization after Dynamite Entertainment President Nick Barrucci was told that Dark Horse held the licenses for the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars books.

In its answer to the complaint, filed last week in federal court in New York City and first reported by The Beat, Dynamite points out that the Burroughs works on which the comics are based are no longer protected by U.S. copyright law. As to the trademarks, the publisher notes, “There are numerous examples of Burroughs’ novels, and other works inspired by Burroughs’ novels bearing such alleged marks or similar marks, which have been published by third parties without any reference to” ERB Inc.

“In addition, Burroughs’ public domain novel Tarzan of the Apes has been republished by numerous publishers without any attribution to plaintiff, and the basic story of a jungle-dwelling, Tarzan-like character has appeared in and film without any affiliation to plaintiff,” the document states.

Dynamite, of course, asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit, which will likely be watched closely by those concerned with what’s been characterized as an effort to use a trademark to, effectively, prolong the duration of copyright.

More to come on this case.