Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Barely Legal" is Barely Tolerable

"Barely Legal" is Barely Tolerable

This is an open letter to the comic book community regarding the trend of sexualizing superheroes or supporting characters that are established as being minors.

This is by far not a trend unique to the comic book medium -- in fact, it is, at least to my knowledge, far more prevalent in music, TV, and movies.

But I think since we are in the business of spinning tales of Heroes, maybe we have a little more responsibility.

When you present minors in a sexually provacative way -- skimpy costumes, cheesecake, etc. -- you are doing two things:

1) You are sending the message to teens that it's okay to dress this way and be a sexual object.
2) You are seending a signal to those attracted to teens -- "jailbait" chasers -- that somehow their sexual desires for these girls and boys are socially acceptable.

Though the idea of "barely legal" is sort of considered merely "naughty" -- radio disc jockeys and comedians joke about being sexually aroused by developing teen icons like Dakota Fanning or the Olsen Twins -- there is a very ugly side to this.

I should know, because, as I write in my book, from the ages of 13-16 I was the target of the sexual interest of several men, including one who lived in my house and regarding whom I have gaps in my memory that I do not wish to pursue.

When I was 16 -- and hot and "barely legal" hubba-hubba -- I was seduced by one of these idiot adults who got off on my "sweet innocence." I count myself lucky that I didn't get pregnant or catch AIDS from this scumbag -- but it was merely "luck" that I didn't.

These jack-offs who prey on teenage girls -- and boys -- do so not only for the sexual thrill but because they either possess the mental age of a child themselves and/or are insecure and want to "boss around" their sexual partner.

And I just had one of these morons tell me recently that had there been more of a taboo surrounding sleeping with minors -- had it not seemed so acceptible by both our environment and society -- he probably wouldn't have tried it.

So I am taking this issue out of the merely theoretical and telling you that -- from my own experience -- the sexualization of teenagers ends up hurting people.

There have been many fine teenage female characters in the past and present -- Spider Girl, Stargirl, Spoiler, the girls from "The Runaways," the new Hawkeye, Batgirl II, Kitty Pryde.

Presently, the biggest iconic teen superheroine we have is Supergirl. Though I am not 100% up on my Kara lore, I believe she is indeed a minor. Since this is the case, and given her worldwide fame as the most famous teenage superhero second to Robin the Boy Wonder (who, as far as I know, has not had that many cheesecake covers with his massive package straining against his too-tight green undies), she probably should be portrayed and drawn accordingly.

Of course, the whole crap with the current Supergirl started when Leonard Kirk was pulled off the book about 5 years ago and replaced with Ed Benes. Kirk's rendering of Supergirl, assisted by the very capable Robin Riggs, was one of the most realistic and yet attractive illustrations of a teenage girl I've ever seen in comics. There was never a sense of "exploitation" in his pencils -- just a sense of humanity and fun.

In contrast, Ed Benes's version of Supergirl was pure sex.

At the time, the book was going to be cancelled and frantic brainstorming went on as to how to revitalize the character's image. It was thought that Kirk's rendering was "too boring" and could not compete in an industry full of Witchblades, Fathoms, Lara Crofts, and the sexy Mutant-of-the-Week. The word was -- we need a hot new artist.

So this one idiot came up with a brilliant idea:

"Hey, you know that guy from 'Gen 13?' His stuff is really good, nice and sexy. Look at the body on Fairchild. Wow. Maybe we can use him?"

Based on this suggestion, Benes was put on the cancelled "Supergirl" as an experiment.

Sales went through the roof.

Supergirl was now one hot piece of ass. As were all the female characters in the book. Including the granny.

"Supergirl" was still cancelled, but based on the sales, a new path for the character was set.

And you know who came up with the idea of putting Ed Benes on "Supergirl?"


I did.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why Superman not telling a lie had such an impact on my life

Why Superman not telling a lie had such an impact on my life

I want to preface this post by saying that I'm not presenting myself as this great self-righteous pillar of virtue. I'm not. I'm really not. I mean, I have a generalized goal of being a good person and all that. But I'm not a pillar. Thank you.

A common thread I found in the story of my life, as I wrote it, was being constantly faced with immoral situations and being told that it was "the way of the world" and that I would be the "oddball" if I did not participate.

For example, when I was a teenager and being told that I should be having sex -- that it is what "normal" young women my age did. Being told this not only by my "peers" but by adult men who should have known better who wanted to sleep with me, being told this by certain members of my family, being told this by the media.

While at 16 I did have certain awakening sexual needs, there was a strong, firm part of myself that didn't want to do anything of the sort. Or, if wanting to do it at all, to do it with a Good Man, somebody responsible, somebody who really loved me -- as if I was actually going to find a man who wanted to f**k me at 16 who actually had those qualities. As if the scumbag dude in his twenties who was f**king any woman that crossed his path and was basically a cherry-hound could embody any of the qualities of a Good Man. And as if any boy my age still struggling with high-school algebra was going to pay for my baby's diapers.

Perhaps in other cultures, in other times, the 16-year-old -- sexually mature and ready to conceive and deliver -- would have been at the perfect age for intercourse, the idea being that she would get married and start pumping out the brood.

But in this culture all being a sexually active teenager means is problems, problems that few people are ready or willing or able to deal with.

And yet I was told over and over and over again, "be normal, have sex."

Then I'm in the comic book industry and I'm told -- sex sells, nice guys finish last, let's go to the strip bar after work with these freelancers. What, you don't want to go to the strip bar? What are you, strange? Why don't you want to go to the strip bar? They have good food there. If you don't go, these freelancers will think you are a prude. Don't you want to be a "fun girl?" Don't you want to be social?

And then I lose all this weight, cut and dye my hair, and make one last ditch effort to be "normal" -- normal like every other "sophisticated" girl in New York City is normal.

And I go to these "sophisticated" parties, full of "sophisticated" people, and I'm told -- everybody sleeps around with everybody else here. See that woman? She's slept with everybody here, both male and female. She the most liberated woman on the planet. That's who you should be like.

And I'm taken to these clubs where people are f**king on the floor and on tables and are drunk and stoned, a big orgy, and I'm trying to get into it, I'm trying to be "normal," I'm trying to be sophisticated, I'm trying not to care, I'm trying to be "liberated" -- and in the end, I'm standing around in the middle of this orgy, bottles of beer rolling past my feet, and my arms are folded against my chest and I'm acting like Bob Newhart and I just want to go home.

Then I agonize -- I plan-- I scheme -- I try to figure out some sort of way to "move past my inhibitions" and remake myself and get to the point where none of this bothers me.

And what I've realized from writing my book is that, though I occasionally feel tempted, in the end, I will NEVER get to the point where this sort of stuff doesn't bother me.

I've spent what -- 32 years?! -- listening to people who have tried to convince me that what is wrong is right:
* lying is right
* sleeping with people you don't love is right
* sleeping with teenagers is right
* drug use is right
* excessive alcohol use is right
* covering up the truth is right
* doing bad things for financial gain is right
* exploiting others is right

And the lesson is -- no, it isn't right.

And you know where I got this deep sense of what is wrong and what is right from? This default mechanism that makes me such a nerd, so uncool?

Not really from my family, I'm sorry to say.

From the church? A little bit. I attended Catholic religious instruction on Wednesday evenings, if that really had an impact or not.

No, I learned the bulk of my morality from -- the media!

Yes, as a small child the television was my constant baby-sitter, and comic books my catechism.

I learned morality from Sesame Street, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Romper Room, Peanuts specials, Batman, Fat Albert, Little House on the Prairie, even All In the Family.

Hey, remember how like in the 70s all the TV shows had to have "messages?" Well, it actually worked, at least on me! I actually learned the messages. I learned to love my neighbor, not discriminate because of skin color, and wait for sex. I learned that the most important thing was a strong family that loved each other.

And as the movie "Superman" explicitly taught me, never lie.

Superman, the most powerful being on the planet Earth, never told a lie. Wow. To a 6-year-old, it's really powerful stuff. It says a lot.

What does the 6-year-old of 2007 have in comparison?

Chris Reeve as Superman was my hero, representative of everything a man should be -- honest, brave, kind, respectful.

But who are our heroes now?

Are heroes passe?

The problem is for me, I'm really really really really good at writing about the crappy side of life. All the whoremongers, druggies, sociopaths, statutory rapists, and other scumbags I've just been complaining about? They make for great stories. I try to smuggle some of those "messages" in there. But in a society where serial killers and gangsters are elevated to the level of "heroes" in our media, I realize that there is a good chance that this "message" will be missed, discarded, edited out, misunderstood. And that some may think that the whoremongers, druggies, sociopaths, statutory rapists of my stories are kind of "cool."

They're not. They're scummy. But still, by writing about them am I contributing to the problem?

(shrugs) I don't know. I only can write what I can write. I don't know.

I'm not a pillar.

But I think I have a sense of right and wrong. I think I'm going to trust it from now on.

"What would Superman do?"

Friday, January 26, 2007

What Writing A Book About My Life Taught Me

What Writing A Book About My Life Taught Me

I've just finished writing a book about my life.

I never thought I would have to write a book about my life. I wrote a 600-page vampire novel. I thought that was the book I had to write, and that it was enough. But looking back at that novel, I can see it was just a book about my life dressed in Buffy The Vampire Slayer drag.

I probably avoided writing an actual book about my life because it's a really f**king painful endeavor. How painful was it? Well, my therapist said it was ok for me to have some shots of alcohol as I wrote it. Which I did.

I had a creative writing teacher once in high school who really hated me. He didn't like my writing. He said that cutting off your arm at the elbow and bleeding all over a stack of paper doesn't qualify as writing. Maybe not and maybe so -- but that would be one damn interesting book. A good title for that book would be, "Clot."

Writing the story of your life affords you the opportunity of viewing all the events in your life in a linear, organized fashion -- and, in so doing, giving you the opportunity to see how many times you did the same f**ked-up thing, over and over and over again. You can pick up all the frightening parallels, all these moments which are like those horror movie scenes. You scream at the character on the screen entering the house with the killer in it:

"Don't go in the house! I said, don't go in the house -- you f**king moron!"

But of course, the character -- who is you -- goes into the house. And here you are.

Then there comes the point where you have to end the story, and, perhaps, come up with some sort of conclusion. A lesson. An epiphany.

Or, you could simply have yourself wake up and find Bobby Ewing in the shower.

I am all for waking up and finding Bobby Ewing in my shower:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Feng Shui Of The Obsessive Comic Book Collector

The Feng Shui Of The Obsessive Comic Book Collector

Act I: "It Can Only Go Up In Value"

I am currently helping my friend pare down his comic book collection and get some of it in storage so he can move. This is the same friend who, in my memoir "Goodbye To Comics," had collapsed. The one who had so many collectibles in his room that initially the EMS could not locate his body until I pointed it out.

My friend has two rooms piled to the ceiling with comics, genre books & magazines, and toys. Working with him to manage this collection is sheer animal torture. Because every last comic, TV Guide, and newspaper "might be worth something one day."

"It can only go up in value."

The reality is, he cannot bring everything with him to his new apartment, and the storage costs would be phenomenal. So some of it has to be either sold, given away, or thrown out. Most of what can be sold, in today's comic market, will go for relative peanuts -- dimes or quarters.

My friend does not want to hear this.

"It can only go up in value!"

Comics like "The Nth Man." The Robocop II movie adaptation. Every multiple cover for "X-Force #1" -- sealed in their polybags, of course!

There are also quite a bit of DC and Acclaim comic books. This is because I used to work for both companies, and, in my infinite wisdom, gave my friend boatloads of freebies. Me and my friend also used to work at the same comic book store. We got boatloads of freebies and discounted books from there, too.

Picture thousands upon thousands of comic books. Picture the smell of all that ink!--

"It can only go up in value!"

I can talk frankly about this condition -- the condition of the obsessive collector -- because I was once one myself. I used to own hundreds of mint-in-package action figures and dolls. About 15 long-boxes of bagged-and-boarded comic books. And countless books.

It all made me feel so secure, so safe. It gave me an identity. It replaced sex.

It disgusted me. Because I knew that I was hiding behind my collection so I didn't have to face myself. Also, men had problems fucking me in the midst of buckets of old He-Man and She-Ra action-figures.

"I can't...they're all looking at me! With their little eyes--"

One solution, of course, was to go out with another collector and merge our treasures. We'd have a kick-ass mega-collection, and we would never have to change.

But eventually I got so sick and tired of my toys and my comics and my fanzines and my crap that I began selling it off. Then I just started throwing it out in mass purgings.

It took about four years to get rid of 90% of it.

The need to collect is still there, though, lurking. I still have several hard-core collector friends and when I see their stuff I just get set off, I just want to hop on eBay. I picture a day when I'm solvent again and comfortable and I have a mate who understands and I can just buy up all those McFarlane "Movie Maniacs" again and just have a dusty crowded chaotic cluttered home-office stuffed to the gills with all my "preciousssssses" and empty styrofoam "Dunkin donuts" coffee cups crammed with cigarette butts. And I can totally backtrack on everything I just wrote and have a collectibles orgy.

And my mate would be like:
"Let's go to the Con -- let's buy more shit!"

And we buy up all this shit -- autographed pictures of wrestlers, old Megos, back-issues of "Ms. Marvel" and "The Human Fly" from quarter bins -- and then we come home and open it all up and pass out on the sofa in complete and total ecstasy.

There might even be sexual intercourse -- maybe. If we have time. If we're done watching our bootleg DVD sets.

Yeah, I know: I'm weak, I'm a backslider.

But like Jules in "Pulp Fiction" I'm trying really hard to stay on the straight-and-narrow.


Next: In "Bring Me The Head Of Shari Bobbins," I discuss what happens when a silly female has the nerve to stop the collectibles-flow, and how she must pay...and how she must pay! (da-dummmmm...)

Monday, January 08, 2007

R.I.P. "Buffy" 1997-2007

R.I.P. "Buffy" 1997-2007
"A really fine cat"
"Time for grand-children"

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Really Great Idea For A Comic Book Story

A Really Great Idea For A Comic Book Story

Ok, here's the plot:

A dastardly mega super villain -- say, Lex Luthor, Magneto, etc -- devises a way to fuck up all the weather on the planet.

So the villain shoots this ray and covers the planet's atmosphere with this stuff that turns winter into summer, etc.

At first, there are only subtle signs that something is amiss. The temperature gets unseasonably warm. Flowers bloom in January. A gigantic ice-shelf falls and melts away here or there.

Then, things get more serious. Droughts in Australia. Floods in Bolivia. Massive hurricanes off the Florida coast.

The calvary is called out to deal with these natural disasters -- either The Avengers or the Justice League, depending which company publishes the story. Aquaman tries to rescue polar bears and emperor penguins as they suddenly die, their habitats melted to pools of salt water. Mr. Fantastic is busy trying to figure out a treatment for the epidemic in skin cancer and new superbugs that have flourished in the higher temperatures.

Then whole sections of countries in Asia and South America are wiped out in typhoons. In contrast, other countries experience crushing drought.

Meanwhile, in New York, Vogue Magazine reports that yes, culottes and tank tops are "in" -- forever! Isn't that great?

New York becomes the new Florida.

Then, a super weather-related disaster hits a city with a high concentration of rich white people in it. Oh, no!

In the end, though there is extensive damage to property and loss of life, the superheroes band together, kick Luthor or Magneto's or whomever's ass, and things are brought back to normal.

But right now, as I write this, cherry blossoms are blooming in New York, clothing stores are stocking up in T-shirts and cute plaid shorts, and scientists have predicted that 2007 might be the hottest year -- ever.

The scenario I've provided - sans superheroes -- has a good probability of coming to pass.

It is the perfect crisis-plot for a comic book, and it is a reality.

We can theorize about potential terrorist threats, or meteors crashing into the Earth, etc, but the environmental crisis is HERE.

Global warming could wear the environment down gradually, or hit places like New York City in an instant.

And I just feel impotent to do anything about it, which is how I gather a lot of people feel.

But I think since we are in a crisis, there are two basic ways we can handle it:
1) Become hedonists (which includes pretending it isn't happening or saying "I don't care")
2) Become aware & involved

Now, I'm not a big genius when it comes to getting socially active for a cause. I can get pretty weak. I come home from work sometimes and all I want is a muffin with my coffee and to watch TV for three hours. So I warn you, I might totally crap out. I might totally blow it and take option #1. But I think I'm going to take a chance with option #2.

Now if you excuse me, I need to buy a cute pair of plaid shorts.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Schizoid Amazon

The Schizoid Amazon"Wonder Woman symbolizes many of the values of the women's culture
that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream."
--Gloria Steinem

(Found On YouTube)
Item# 882312

Childs Deluxe Wonder Woman

New Version of ChildsWonderwoman. Costume includes Wonder Woman Dress with attached cape, wonder woman headpiece, arm bracelets, belt and Boot tops. Wonder Woman Emblem is Stitched on.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I Just Found My New Screensaver

I Just Found My New Screensaver
From Omac #4.

You know, I'd really stop writing these sorts of posts if they would just stop providing me with material.