Tagged: Times

Martha Thomases: Rape Is the New Black

The front page of a newspaper is usually reserved for the most important news. So you can imagine my surprise when, on Saturday (admittedly, often a slow news day) the New York Times featured a front page story on HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones.

As you’ll see if you click on the link, this wasn’t a business story about how successful the pay-cable series is. Instead, the article discusses the many times rape is used as a plot point. Amazingly, the writer for Times, along with a bunch of other people, thinks rape is a bad thing.

You kids might be too young to remember this, but there was a time when rape wasn’t considered to be a serious crime. Too often, the law decided women and other victims deserved to be raped, that they “asked for it” because of their style of dress or previous behavior. Or else a man was so overcome with lust/love that he couldn’t control himself.

Then, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Third Wave feminists started to question this perspective, most famously, Susan Brownmiller. Brownmiller, along with others, redefined rape as a crime of dominance, not lust, a way for men and others to brutally assert their power.

(Her book is important, really good and, while I disagree with some of her conclusions, I very much admire her research and analysis. You could do worse with your time than read it.)

I think that is the perspective the producers and writers and actors et al. have on Game of Thrones. Rape is definitely portrayed as something barbaric. I’ve never once thought, “Hey, that looks like something cool to do. Those must be the good guys.”

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who continue to believe in the old view of rape. This isn’t limited to those we generally define as uneducated idiots, but includes people in power, such as ministers and judges.

And, unfortunately, a lot of people in comics.

I’ve already written too much about a situation that happens way too often in our industry. A woman becomes noticed, whether it’s because she walks into a comic book store or writes comics or draws comics or dresses as a comic book character or writes about comics. Some men, boys and others who feel threatened strike back, metaphorically (and sometimes literally) with their threatened little dicks.

Think I’m being paranoid? Well, if I am, so is Jonah Weiland, the owner of Comic Book Resources. He was so appalled by the threats on his site that he changed the policy on what could run on his message boards. Good for him. It’s his site, and he is taking responsibility for the tone he sets.

I’m urging all of us to be responsible for the tone our industry sets. Others do. Just the other day, the Feminist Majority Foundation staged a demonstration with Jay Leno and others against the Beverly Hills Hotel because it is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, a country that treats women and LGBTQ people like animals. Maybe we can get them to show up the next time a convention fails to protect cosplayers against similar idiots.

In the meantime, I leave you with the example of cartoonist Donna Barr. She’s fed up with the demeaning comments, the threats of rape and other physical assault, and she’s treating the latter like the criminal activities they are. She’s leaving a paper trail with local police departments. Like a lot of old, radical hippies, I don’t always think to trust the police to protect me.

She did, and I can’t wait for some moron to call her bluff.

Martha Thomases: To Infinity … And Beyond!

Martha Thomases: To Infinity … And Beyond!

Thomases Art 140425Do you ever think about infinity? I do, and it makes me dizzy.

I don’t just mean infinity in terms of numbers, although I do mean that. I mean infinity in terms of space. When I think about space not ending but going on and on and on and on indefinitely, it makes my stomach hurt. This is why I can’t see Gravity, even though it’s supposed to be an excellent film.

Then there is temporal infinity. There is time before the dawn of time, and there will be time after the end of time. Millennia more. This makes me so queasy that I understand why humans invented religion.

But that wasn’t enough for infinity. There had to be more. Which, I guess, is kind of the definition of infinity.

Then, I read a New York Times review of a new book  about infinity. I haven’t read the book yet (it’s on my Kindle, I swear), but it looks like the kind of thing that I will really want to read and then it will make me nauseated. According to the Times, the book posits that everything that could possibly happens either has happened or will happen, if not in our reality than in another.

This means that at every decision point in every day of every human’s life, one or more parallel dimensions came into existence. Not only for the big decisions, like whom to marry or which job to take, but also whether one chooses paper or plastic bags at the grocery store, crosses with the light or jaywalks, watches Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D or Brooklyn Nine Nine.

The concept of alternate and parallel dimensions is nothing new to comic book fans. We know there are Flashes on Earth-One and Earth-Two. We also know there is a Marvel Universe and an Ultimate Marvel Universe.

What we didn’t know is that, if I understand this book correctly (and I’m only going by the review), all of these dimensions do, in fact, exist. That’s how the concept of infinity works.

In any case, I have a few questions.

• Are these dimensions better than mine?

• If so, how do I get there?

• If I go and superpowers are a thing, do I get any? Do I get a choice as to the kind of powers I want?

• Will my credit score go with me? Can I choose a dimension without credit scores?

• What are housing prices like? Can I afford something with a pool?

• Is there some kind of “no-backsies” clause so I can’t change my mind? And, if so, can I choose one of the infinite number of alternate dimensions in which the “no-backsies” clause doesn’t apply?

In any case, I expect to be back here next week, in the potential dimension in which I survive another week. I hope you do, too.

But if you go someplace better, please send a postcard.

Dennis O’Neil: What the World Would Be Like if “Noah” Didn’t Exist

Okay, let’s begin by looking at today’s Times.  Bad news, there above the fold: A U.N. panel says climate change is getting worse.  Melting ice caps, acidic coastal waters, sea life migration – all negatives caused by ecological woes that we noble humans are causing.

And did you see last week’s Vice on HBO, the story about how Greenland is literally melting?

As Bill Maher observed, in other nations conservatives and liberals disagree about how to deal with global warming, but neither side denies that the problem exists.  Not true for us.

Seen Noah yet?  Me either, but apparently some religious folk are upset because the filmmakers have taken liberties with the source material.  Maybe somebody in a film seminar someplace will tell us how one could avoid taking liberties with that particular source material.  I mean, there’s not a whole lot of source material to take liberties with and… hey, I’m not going to enter the debate about the literal truth of scripture — I’m old and I don’t need anyone else hating me — but two of every living creature?  Every one?  In one boat? At the very least, that needs some explaining, and since no such explanation is given in the source material, any such explanation would be taking liberties and… you can see the problem.

Why did Darren Aronofsky,  who does not deny being an atheist, decide to direct this particular flick?  Maybe if I see it, I’ll have a clue.

I wonder: could it have something to do with our American monomyth?


Mike Gold: The Man Who Didn’t Save Krypton

gold-art-131211-148x225-3279509I’ve gone on record many times about how I enjoy much of DC Comics’ digital line. I’ve even been snotty enough to note that, unlike much of The New 52, these titles are quite readable and are DC’s saving grace. So I’ll take it one step further.

One of these weekly digital titles is called Adventures of Superman. Yes, I realize it’s not the first comic book (let alone teevee or radio show) to employ this name. This doesn’t matter. Like DC’s digital Legends of the Dark Knight weekly, each story is by a separate creative team and said stories usually run across several “issues.”

If you’re thinking about sampling, let me strongly recommend the three-part story that was just completed (Adventures of Superman numbers 31, 32 and 33). The story is called “The Dark Lantern” (yes, I will not be surprised when DC does “The Dark Sugar and Spike”) and it was written by Jim Krueger and drawn by Neil Edwards and Scott Hanna; a fine pedigree. I single this story arc out for three reasons: its concept, its execution, and its timing.adv-supes-33-150x115-9844960

The concept is first-rate. It figures that Krypton must have fallen within some Green Lantern’s sector. Clearly, that GL didn’t save the planet and presumably it went blooie on that guy’s watch. How does he feel about that? Does he think he should atone for his failure to prevent the incident? And what happens when he learns there was a survivor?

The execution is first-rate. The story is well told and complete within its 60 half-page bandwidth. DC reprints some of this stuff in trades or pamphlets and stacks the half-pages, so let’s call this a 30-page story. Simply put, we rarely see so much story within 30 pages.

I mean, we used to. Hell, Ditko and Lee took 11 pages to introduce Spider-Man and tell his origin. 38 years later, it took Bendis and Bagley about 136 pages to tell that same story. Times change, and not always for the better. Mind you, I enjoyed their retelling and we no longer rely on nine panel pages to get through a tale, but my point remains. It is quite unusual to see so much story from DC or Marvel in so few pages, and if “The Dark Lantern” is a throwback, then let’s throwback some more.

However, nobody can take credit for the timing. Take a good look at the two panels above. “I failed to save his people and threatened to kill those he now loves. I fought him and brought poison to him. And still he forgives me. Still he thinks of me.”

It is simply amazing that this issue was released within hours of Nelson Mandela’s death.



FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Review: “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 / “Avenging Spider-Man” #15.1

I already said in my discussion of Amazing Spider-Man 698 that I had utter faith in Dan Slott.  Yes, the plot twist he’s spun here is, at the least, controversial.  It proves, simply, that he’s got what it takes to sell  real estate. This is a story he’s been setting up for several years.  Slowly, deliberately, under our noses.  He’s taken an almost standard plot twist, seen in countless comics, movies and TV shows, and built it into a firestorm.

And I want to go to the people who don’t like it and take their comics away.  because if they don’t like this storyline, they just don’t like comics.

Do not click past, lest ye see spoilers. (more…)

Mindy Newell: It’s All About The Image

The first thing that popped into my mind when I turned on MSNBC’s Way Too Early With Willie Geist – yes, I get up for work “way too early”– and saw, instead of Mr. Geist talking about the Presidential campaign or Jon Stewart’s latest and brilliant riff on the newest foolishness in this nation’s ongoing political foibles, a deployment of cop cars and ambulances flashing red, white, and blue – an ironic picture, actually, now that I think about it – in the parking lot of a movie theatre complex in Aurora, Colorado was, “Oh, shit, now what?”

Then, as I discovered that a mass shooting had taken place at the first showing of The Dark Knight Rises, my second thought was, “Wonder how soon it’ll be before they (the media) connect it to comics?”

Not long.

By the time I got to work, changed into scrubs, and was in the staff lounge sipping my tea and watching the television along with everyone else – which was 6:55 A.M. EDT – FOX News was already claiming that the alleged shooter, James Holmes, had stated that he had done it because “I am the Joker.”

*Note: Never saw or heard this supposed statement repeated on any other TV or radio news show. FOX News stopped running this bit of faux information, but also never retracted or apologized for it.  

“But Heath Ledger’s dead,” said a staff member.

“Oh, shit,“ I said to myself again.  Out loud I said, “The Joker’s not even in this one. Bane’s the villain.”

“Who’s Bane?” another staff member asked me.

“Stupid fucking comic book people,” said another. Then she looked at me and remembered that I had worked in comics and that I write this column. “Sorry,” she muttered.

I bring this up because of Mike’s column.

Yeah, San Diego got a lot of “mainstream” press, but how much of it was about comics? Not much. Most of it, even in Entertainment Weekly, covered movies and television. The stuff that was about comics was of the usual KA-POW! BAM! variety about the fans showing up in costumes. Except for the announcement of a new Sandman story by my friend Neil (Gaiman), which made the pages of the “old grey lady,” i.e., the New York Times.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Times got the story of the origin of comics publishers and creators’ rights wrong.  The paper also got it wrong when it did a story about Gail Simone being the first woman to write Wonder Woman.  Gail called me to apologize, saying that someone (I forget who) had told her “you’re not the first, Mindy Newell was.” She also told me that she tried to tell the reporter this, but that the reporter didn’t want to hear it.

“Of course,” I said. “Because if DC admits you weren’t the first woman to write Diana’s stories, then where’s the publicity for DC, and where’s story for the New York Times to print?”

The point is that the story about Image was a publicity thing, Mike. Their P.R. department did their work, and the New York Times picked up the story. And if – that’s a big if – the Times reporter did his due diligence, as a good reporter should, and discovered that ‘the creators’ rights movement on a publishing level started with Denis Kitchen and his fellow underground comix providers and that ‘the actual creators’ rights movement pretty much started…when folks like Will Eisner, Bob Kane, William Moulton Marston and Joe Simon and Jack Kirby negotiated their own deals with the existing publishers and retained certain rights and/or received cover billing and/or creator credit and/or royalties and that First, Eclipse, Comico, Now, Malibu, and the rest – took all that several steps further. Creators received certain ownership rights, cover billing, creator credit and royalties,’” and if that reporter took this information to his editor, and if his editor had given the go-ahead to write all this…

Well, then, where’s the story about Image?

Well, yeah, the story could have still been about Image, and about how it’s following in the steps of its predecessors, but that not what the P.R. department of Image started.

And also, imho, the Times would not have cared about Image’s twentieth anniversary except for two things: The Walking Dead being such a huge hit on AMC, and the award-winning (rightly so) Neil Gaiman’s much publicized lawsuit with Todd MacFarlane.

‘Cause it’s all about the image.

And just for the record (and this has absolutely nothing to do with Gail herself)…

That article about Gail being the first woman to write Wonder Woman?

It really pissed me off.




MARTHA THOMASES: Out and Proud for Comics!

For the longest time I thought the ultimate act one could commit to drag comics out of its closet of nerdiness was to read them on the New York City subway. Unlike a bus or a train, because of the way the cars are configured, on the subway most riders face the other people. As a result, every other rider can see what you’re doing or reading – or pretending to be reading to avoid eye contact.

I loved to read comics on the subway. I especially loved to read DC’s Wednesday Comics, oversized and colorful as they were. Not only did I enjoy the stories, but I felt like I was making an ironic comment on those engrossed in their equally large New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.

Deciding what to read on the subway is a lot like deciding what to wear. New Yorkers judge each other on style, and one’s reading material is a key accessory. Several years ago, when Amazon’s Kindle was first breaking through, the Times did a feature about people who loved everything about the device except that other people couldn’t tell what they were reading.

That’s sure changed. Now, I’d guess, at least 60 percent of riders are using some kind of device, either to read or play games or listen to music. And half of the others are eating smelly food, talking loudly to their friends on the other side of the car, or applying nail polish, oblivious to any drips they get on my shoes.

Over the past several months, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the waiting rooms of hospitals and doctors’ offices. If you want to be out and proud about your comics habit, read them there.

Admittedly, people in these situations are not concerned about showing off their highfalutin’ tastes. I’ve seen no one reading Proust. Still, with my gray hair and knitting bag, I’m not exactly the person you expect to see reading four-color pamphlets.

And yet, comics are the perfect thing to read. You can finish one in less than 20 minutes, which is handy if the doctors are running late and you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting. If you’re anxious (and you probably are), an inability to concentrate is not a problem. Going back to find that plot-point you missed is easy. There is something I find soothing about watching unrealistically drawn people beat each other up. You are unlikely to come across a story that reminds you of your personal situation, and therefore you are even less likely to have to consider the less attractive aspects of human mortality.

While I enjoy the fictional violence, and don’t care who knows it, I find myself oddly self-conscious about sexual content. I love The Boys, but there is a lot of (hilarious) nudity in that book. It’s not something I feel comfortable accidentally exposing to other people waiting. They might not share my sense of humor. They probably have other things on their minds.

In any case, it’s easy to fold back the cover and be discreet.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


MARTHA THOMASES: Good Times At Comic Con High

It is something of a movie cliché, especially in buddy-movies, for one of the two, in the heat of battle, to mutter, “I’m getting too old for this.”

That’s how I felt before New York Comic Con.

It’s another cliché that, just when you think you have life figured out, it changes. I had a pretty good time.

Granted, I was frustrated by the crowds, and the noise aggravated me (and yet, I live in New York City!). Also, I wasn’t there on Saturday, when I’m told the crowds were the worst. And I’ve been to so many shows by now that I know how to edit my experience.

So, despite the backpacks and the people who thought that because they were taking photographs they were entitled to take away an entire aisle from pedestrian traffic, and the plethora of booths devoted to gaming, not comics, there’s a fun time in there.

Let me count the ways:

• Even before the show, the press coverage was so much better than comics used to get. Sure, there was a lot of attention paid to people in funny costumes, but there were also stories like this in the New York Times, which focused on people who are cool and creative and artists worthy of attention, just like other New York talents.

• Not only are talented writers and artists getting some respect, but so are the fans. True, there was lots of pandering to people’s desire to get something for free, but there were also some unusual businesses setting up booths. The Museum of Natural History promoted their planetarium. Chevrolet not only had a booth, but they also had artist-painted cars around the show, including one by Neal Adams. This is so much better than the first show, where there were military recruiters.

• There are so many kids (who probably hate being called kids, but indulge this old fart) who are excited enough by comics to want to make them. For example, Joe Corallo recognized me and chased after me to give me his self-published comic, The Uncanny Undergrads. Comics remain one of most democratic of media, where anyone with an idea and guts can make something amazing and try to make a career out of it.

• Best of all is seeing old friends. I never went to comic conventions as a fan. It was never part of my social life. When I met Denny O’Neil, I started to go to convention parties, back when they were easier to crash. When I had to go to cons for work, I found out that, for me, Artists’ Alley was the most fun place. It still is. At a big show, it’s a place where you can usually avoid mobs, and actually talk to the people who make the comics we love. This year, I was blessed to run into Bob Camp, whom I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years. He’s still sweet and funny and brilliant.

So maybe, if I have to go to more comic shows, I’ll go. I’ll kvetch, but I’ll be secretly pleased about it.

Martha Thomases is proud of herself for not buying a rabbit on Saturday.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

MICHAEL DAVIS: Spanish Harlem – The New Spider-Man, Part 2

Please read part 1 from last week before reading this. Thanks!

Spider-Man: The Rice And Beans War
By Glenn Beck

When Manny awoke he was looking down the barrel of an Arizona State Trooper’s gun. He and Juan and the illegal brothers and sisters they were transporting to a better life in Arizona were all sitting on the side of the road hands on head encircled by other State Troopers.

Something in Manny’s head was tingling, as if it was some kind of warning. Manny looked around for something he did not know what until he found it, the spider he was bitten by.

“That’s your spider sense, Ese!” said the spider.

End of part 1

Part 2

Manny quickly reclosed his eyes hoping to wake up from the dream soon. “This can’t be happening. OK. Get a grip Manny, get a grip.” He thought while keeping his eyes shut tight as if the tighter they were the less real the situation will be.

Manny thinks, “OK, it’s possible that Juan and I were stopped by State Troopers. That’s possible. It’s also possible that I’m on the side of the road with my illegal brothers and sisters we were transporting to a better life in Arizona. It’s impossible that the spider that bit me is talking to me. That’s just not possible. So that means everything that’s happening is not happening. I must have had some bad rice or bad beans in my rice and beans.”

“It’s happening, Ese.” Said the spider. You better open your eyes before one of these troopers take them being closed as a threat.”

“Now I know I’m dreaming! How in the world could a state trooper take my eyes being closed as a threa…”

“This wetback’s eyes are closed…gun!”


Judd Winick Talks Adapting ‘Batman: Under the Red Hood’

Judd Winick Talks Adapting ‘Batman: Under the Red Hood’

Judd Winick has returned to Gotham City with a vengeance. The award-winning cartoonist has  transitioned one of his benchmark storylines from comic book pages to animated film with the upcoming release of Batman: Under the Red Hood, the latest entry in the popular series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies.

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, the University of Michigan graduate gained national fame as a cast member of MTV’s The Real World, San Francisco in 1994. In the wake of the death of his Real World roommate and friend, AIDS activist Pedro Zamora, Winick embarked on a national AIDS education lecture tour. Later, the lecture and his friendship with Zamora was documented in his award-winning graphic novel Pedro And Me.

Winick next created his original comic book series, Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius, and then began a long running stint as one of the top writers on mainstream super hero comics. Winick has scripted such titles as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Trials Shazam, Green Arrow and Outsiders (for DC Comics), Exiles (for Marvel) and Star Wars (for Dark Horse). He also was the creator and executive producer of Cartoon Network’s animated series, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee.

He is currently developing live action television and animation, writing the new bi-weekly comic title for DC Comics Justice League: Generation Lost, as well as the monthly Power Girl.

In 2005, Winick presented his Red Hood storyline in the Batman comics and it was met with tremendous sales alongside powerful waves of controversy. He has evolved that story into the script for the all-new DC Universe film, Batman: Under the Red Hood. In celebration of the film’s July 27 street date, DC Comics will distribute a six-issue mini-series, Red Hood: The Lost Days. Written by Winick and drawn by Pablo Raimondi, the mini-series offers greater insight into the back story of the title character.

Batman: Under the Red Hood will be distributed by Warner Home Video as a Special Edition version on Blu-Ray™ and 2-disc DVD, as well as being available on single disc DVD, On Demand and for Download.