Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Presentation of The Slave Leias

"Does LucasFilm officially sponsor this," I ask my video-blog co-host as more than a dozen half-naked women in slave outfits and French braids are paraded out in front of a life-sized replica of Jabba the Hutt.

"Well, they must at least be aware of it, if it's connected to Gentle Giant."

Gentle Giant, at whose booth at the San Diego Comic Con the event was taking place, produce high-end Star Wars replicas and statues. They list the event on their blog as a "Slave Leia Photoshoot."

But the actual organizer of the slave line-up appeared to be a rather mild-mannered & well-groomed gentleman dressed in an imperial guard outfit.

"I just remember watching that scene as a child and being shocked and thinking: wow, that's really sexual," he said, explaining how he got on the whole "Slave Leia" kick.

An Elvis impersonator dressed in Stormtrooper armor announces that the "presentation of the Slave Leias" is about to start. A mad crush of mostly male humanity surges to the stage, crowding me, my co-host, and our cameraman.

Bedlam siezes the San Diego Comic Con as hundreds of men armed with digital cameras and camcorders train their sights on the costumed women.

I try to come up with some on-air banter that will simultaneously fulfill my blog readership's expectations, not completely alienate men, and accurately describe what I am really thinking.

And what am I really thinking?
That this is the way of the world.
That it is all so logical, the whole situation, that to get upset would be superfluous and serve no purpose other than raise my blood pressure.

When the procession is over, me, my co-host, and the camera man are off to interview the Leias and their "handlers." No matter how many times the girlfriend says that this was completely her own decision and that her man, standing beside her in a Han Solo outfit or trucker's hat, had absolutely nothing to do with it, I just didn't buy it.

"She killed Jabba the Hutt," the woman will usually say in response to my question as to whether Slave Leia is an empowering figure. "She choked him with her own slave chain."

But the real question is: how many aroused lightsabers in that compact space filled with Leias, conventioners, and recording equipment? That is the only real question with a real answer, that doesn't beat around the bush (so to speak).

One Leia is pointed out to me as a convention regular, complete with her own MySpace page. After the interview, my co-host suggests to me that maybe she could share the hosting duties for the video blog Saturday night.

Cyborg: Where's The Love?

Cyborg: Where's The Love?

Looking at this cover for the new "Titans East" book, I just have to ask: why is Cyborg always trotted out as the "resident black guy" every time DC does licensing yet he can't be the star of his own team book cover?

Cyborg has been around for around 25 years, has totally proven himself, and deserves more. It's not like he's a crappy character. But on this cover he's playing second-fiddle to "Mimboy" from the latest "Supergirl" series -- one of the worst characters ever created.

Where is the love for Cyborg, DC?

Iron Man Movie Teaser From Comic Con

NOT my footage, but found on YouTube and has been circulating like crazy.

Pants had to be changed at Casa Del Occasional Superheroine after viewing these clips.

It looks really, really good. Downey is perfect and between him and Ed Norton doing "Hulk," I think Marvel is putting out enough solid movie product to tide viewers over until "Spider-Man 4" and the Wolverine movie.

Added: seems this footage is getting pulled left and right on YouTube, so here is a description of what you see:

Tony Stark: "I am cranky, sexy, arrogant, and badass! And smart!"

Pretty reporter: "Some say you are the modern-day Leonardo DiVinci! What do you think of that?"

Tony Stark: "I am badass! And dead sexy!"

Then Tony is riding in some SUV in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever and gets caught up in an explosion. He wakes up and some mysterious guy like Liam Neeson in "Batman Begins" tells Tony,

"Without this machinery I've put in your heart, you will die."

Tony: "I know, I will build armor."

So then we see that classic silver "boxy" armor from the early days and everybody's like: "oh man this is so cool ahhhhhh!!!!"

Then we see that better, more modern yellow-and-red armor and now we've got the CGI and he's flying and shooting things.

It was awe-some.

Paraphrased From An Independent Comic Creator Outside The Convention Center

"They want to bring comics down, they want to cut people out, they want to take all the rights for themselves -- F**K THEM. They want to bring comics down, they want to move progress backward, they want to present the same old shit, f**k them, comics doesn't need them.
 If you're not out to help comics, get out of the f**king way."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Comics: What Women (and Girls) Want

I conducted a series of impromptu interviews with female attendees at the San Diego Comic Con and these are my findings:

1. Mainstream Superhero Comics:
The minority of females I spoke to had any interest in mainstream superhero comics whatsoever. This lack of enthusiasm for the capes and tights seemed to be strongest in girls 12-20 years of age.

2. Fandoms for Females:
Fandoms cited as favorites included "Smallville," "Pirates of the Carribbean," "Harry Potter," "Firefly," "The Sandman," "Lord of the Rings," "Batman the Animated Series," "Justice League Unlimited," and various manga/anime.

3. Why Did They Visit The Con?:
The majority of women/girls I spoke to did not come to the convention because of comic books; rather, they were either into fantasy lit, gaming, anime/manga, and selected movies/TV shows.

4. Have They Ever Heard of the "Minx" line from DC?:
Most did not.

5. Format Preference: "Floppies" or Trades?
Most women preferred trades.

6. What Did They Think of Comics Specifically Marketed As "Female-Friendly?":
HATED IT. Makes them feel patronized. They also feel that "Female-Friendly" books promises "weak & boring" topics like shopping, dating soap-operas, and the like.

7. For the Girls: Is It Common For Their Female Classmates To Be In Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fandoms?
Yes. But again, it is not common for them to like mainstream superhero comics.

8. Did They Encounter Any Harassment or Were Offended By Anything In The Convention?
Most of the younger women, ages 12-20 did not -- in fact, they were not even sure of what I was referring to. But older women, 25+, did refer to some offensive images, negative experiences at past conventions, etc.

9. Why Did They Prefer "Smallville," "Justice League Unlimited," and "Batman Begins" But Not The Comics?
"Better Stories."

10. What Was Their Biggest Criteria In Choosing Their Books/Comics/Movies/TV?
"Good Stories."

11. "If A Marketing Person From DC or Marvel Wanted to Figure Out How To Get A Female To Buy Their Monthly Comic Book Titles, What Would You Say To Them?"
"Write good stories." "Stop marketing to me as a gender and just appeal to me as a person." "Publish more stories in book format."

In addition, virtually all of the females I talked to appeared to be highly literate, intelligent, forthright, and happy (even eager) to discuss the above. A good number of them also wanted to be writers.

I will be transcribing a few of the interviews I wrote down, from a spectrum of age groups, in a future post.

Friday, July 27, 2007

My San Diego Comic Con Rant,
Part One Of One Million

OK, my darlings, just in case you think I take you all for granted...

I turned down a night of wine, wimmens, mens, and song ("Bat Dance" by Prince) in order to take the time to blog to you here today. The usual Con schedule of the comic professional/aspiring so-and-so does not allow for the proper time for ranting, it starts at the crack of dawn so you can get a damned parking space or somehow defy traffic and it continues inexorably down past midnight, from hotel bar to hotel bar. In-between is a marathon, one that doesn't hit you until somewhere around 3:00 when you can feel the bones in your legs, two straight hard bones that wither under your burden of portfolios and swag. I said to myself today, "Self, you shouldn't be feeling your leg bones. They should be silent. Why are they talking? Hush, you."

No, it was clear to me that my ambitions of blogging continually throughout the Convention, dazzling you all with my pithy and insightful brilliance, just could not happen with the hotel bar things until 2 AM. So here I sit in the lobby of the Hotel Lafayette, listening to something that could almost be Elvis -- only it's not, it could be Hassselhoff for all I really know -- typing away, downing a huge latte from Starbucks, the modest hotel bar somewhere behind my shoulder and painted in neon. And while I would like to start my narrative deep in the thick of it, regarding x, y, and z, name-dropping, bitching, praising, spoiling -- I'm not.

I'm going to start my narrative in Long Beach.

In my Mr. G,'s parent's house, whom we stayed with for 2-and-a-half days, is a guest room filled with books on meditation, religion, positive energy, and healing. It is quite an impressive collection, surrounded by all means of peaceful decor and awesome feng shui.

Years ago, when I was in college, I used to be big into the whole spiritual thing. In fact, I owned or read many of the books on that shelf. And for the whole time I stayed at Long Beach, in Casa Del Parents Of Mr. G, my energy was hopelessly drawn to that bookshelf.

Fast-forward to Day 3 of the San Diego Comic Con.

Holy Christ, I am tired. When I came back to my hotel room, somewhere in the area of 8:30 PM, I actually danced. I danced, I talked aloud to myself. Then I broke out the Blogger because I am somewhat of a masochist.

I was looked at somewhat askance for my decision to cut the night early.



"Did you get into the Marvel party?"

"I didn't ask."

"Can you get me into the Marvel party?"

"I didn't ask."

"You should stand there and hover over the Marvel booth all day until they invite you to the Marvel party."

"Yeah, not so much. I stayed out pretty late last night. I think I'm going to rest tonight."


So here is the first thing perhaps you civilians do not know or fully understand about the San Diego Con. There is, at least among aspiring comic creators and freelancers looking for work, an absolute obsession with getting into the DC & Marvel parties.

I don't knock this obsession. I suppose it's wicked cool to rub shoulders with the top editorial & creative talent. Can't hurt your chances for getting this work or that, either -- I guess.

But what about flow?

Flow -- riding and gently guiding your destiny?

See, I'm thinking about that bookshelf back in Long Beach again.

Playing now on the hotel soundset: "Thank you for letting me be myself again" by Sly Stone
San Diego Comic Con: Memorable Quotes

"The next time my boobs get grabbed at, I'm going to knife someone in the eye."
-- female attendee commenting on being groped at multiple Cons

"At first I thought it was amusing. But then when you pointed it out, yeah, I got offended."
-- another female convention attendee in response to my question as to whether a booth display was offensive to her as a woman.

"Supergirl gets the headband back."
-- nameless

"If it says For Girls it's probably weak and crappy"
-- teenage female comic fan commenting on the trend of "woman targeted" comic books

"I'd like to stick Iron Man in Ms. Marvel."
--Brian Reed at the "Mondo Marvel" panel

"No, I definitely find the character of Slave Leia empowering. She killed Jabba the Hutt, remember?"
-- woman in Slave Leia outfit

"Do you really believe that the character of Slave Leia is empowering?"
-- Me
San Diego Comic Con: It's All About The Rock Star

Thursday morning we find ourselves stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the convention center.

"How many cars you think are convention attendees?"

"All of them."

Directly ahead of us is a SUV with a Stormtrooper/crossbones decal on the back. We pay for our taxi fare and decide to walk it the rest of the way.

Watching the masses pour into the convention center, I wonder how many are out-of-state & how many are local. How many sacrificed all their savings and vacation days for the love of fandom and how many were merely saw the event as something comparable to the circus blowing into town.

Or maybe the heavy Hollywood influence on the convention, evidenced by the star-studded panels and omni-present "Iron Man" movie banners hanging overhead, has garnered the Con "crossover" success.

Is Hollywood, so close by, paying attention to the tens of thousands of fans crowding the San Diego convention center? Such a development can only help the comic book industry -- right?

The fact is, it's a lot about movies, it's a lot about animation, it's a lot about toys and video games and mobile phone apps. If you are a fan you already know this, at least unconsciously as you watch your "Heroes" and play your "World of Warcraft."

But if you're an aspiring creator or publisher, it is something to always keep in mind. Because without that eye to multimedia, I don't believe you can really make any mad money in this industry anymore. You can make enough to get by. But you'll never be a "rock star."

And the San Diego Comic Con, at night, after the show, when the hotel bars are swollen with comic professionals and the hugging and high-fives start, is, to a degree, all about the Rock Star.

And you know what, it really beats being 13 years old with the buck teeth and the lovingly preserved collection of Grell "Legions" wrapped in Saran Wrap because comic bags were hard to come by. So screw it, it's cool.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Video & Audio From The San Diego Comic Convention

Here is the link that will host the New Rage Order video & audio coverage of the convention. It's not up as I write this, but check back later Thursday.
San Diego Con: Preview Night

If preview night at the San Diego Comic Con was any indication, Saturday is going to be just insane. Masses of humanity have come together for a lot of stuff over the centuries, and having the common goal of loving comics, anime, tabletop gaming, and Harry Potter is probably on the more positive and even quaint end of the spectrum.

I just got into San Diego late Wednesday afternoon and was sort of thrown into the Con and shooting some video clips so I haven't quite gathered my thoughts yet but you can keep things tuned in here at and at New Rage Order for updates. See you soon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rock N' Roll

"A chance for geeks and those in administrative positions in the comic industry to behave like coke-addled rock stars."

--Rich Johnston on San Diego

Me: So I'm very curious as to how "rock and roll" comic people can be. Like, they might be all sex drugs and rock and roll but it would be tempered by general geekery. You know, with Lord of the Rings mugs from McDonalds.

G: I hope I won't hear any rumors about you getting all "rock and roll" while you are there.

Me: Of course not. I'm a serious journalist.

Pre-Convention Discussion Over Coffee

Me: Does this shirt look ok?

G: You should bunch it up a bit at the waist.

Me: Why? Does it look like I have a tummy?

G: No, it's just that you shouldn't have it pulled all the way down like that, it looks a little geeky.

Me: How about the sneakers?

G: They won't even see your sneakers.

Me: But it's the whole look!

G: So who are you going to see when you get there?

Me: I've got a whole list...lunch with XXXXX, then XXXX, then the thing with XXXXX.

G: That's a lot of X's.

Me: Yeah.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On My Way To Cali...

I'm writing this in the airport on my way to CA for the San Diego Convention. Things are mad busy, but I will have a few days to sort through my e-mails/catch some R&R before the craziness of the Con.

Don't forget to join me for live-ish coverage of the Con both on this blog and New Rage Order!

See you soon,


Friday, July 20, 2007

The Green Hornet: "Knocked Up"

"Knocked Up" actor Seth Rogen slated as new writer/lead actor in the upcoming "Green Hornet" movie.

Which, right off the bat, means a few things:

1. This movie most likely will be a comedy.

2. Rogen positioning himself as next Kevin Smith.

If it's going the humor route, I'll admit I'm a little disappointed. The actual 60s TV series was actually pretty good, and I think it would have made a great big-budget action-adventure movie.

The "old" Kevin Smith -- Kevin Smith -- unavailable for comment as I did not ask him for one. It had been long rumored that Smith was to have written/directed "Green Hornet."
Fangirl Fridays

San Diego, here I come

I'm leaving for California on Monday morning, and I'm really excited to be covering the San Diego Comic Con for New Rage Order. Never been to Cali, never been to the SD Con. Swimsuit is ready, nice stack o' papers for various comic booky things ready, interviews with talented-types booked, kitty-care arrangements still not solid.

Measured chaos in Casa Del Superheroine. But excitement too.

Yes, I realize I'm the same person who blogged something under the title "Goodbye To Comics" about nine months ago.

It's so funny, years ago I tried so hard to color within the lines, to plan my comic career out in detail, do everything that people said I needed to do in order to "make it." But everything I've truly gotten of value -- the gig I have now, this blog, you wonderful readers, and especially my Mr. G. -- I've got by just being my true self and rolling with it.

And that's what I'm going to do in my San Diego coverage.

Of course, for all the scheduled interviews and whatnot, the coolest stuff will probably be spontaneous, slice-of-life, etc. Just like that wonderful "Hogan Knows Best" show on VH1.

A lot of damn comics

Impending major trip not withstanding, this week in comics almost killed my bank account:

Legion Of Monsters: Morbius
Legion of the Superheroes In The 31st Century #4
All Flash #1
Justice League Of America #11
Amazing Spider-Girl #10
Captain America #28
World War Hulk #2
Avengers: The Initiatve #4
Super-Villain Team Up #1
The Order #1
Mystic Arcana: The Black Knight
Thunderbolts: Desperate Measures
Giant-Size Marvel Adventures The Avengers #1
Avengers Classic #2
Annihiliation Conquest: Quasar #1
Alter Ego Magazine #70

Yes, a stack so high even the clerk at the comic shop raised an eyebrow; though I explained I was purchasing for two. Luckily the tastes of me and Significant Other overlap to some extent, though sadly not when it comes to "Archie" & Rob Zombie movies.

All-Flash #1: An Assessment

1. The cover is unfortunate. Not a knock on Sienkiewicz's art, it's just that it's a moody piece with a terrible photoshoppy "cosmic" background. Would have done much better to use the splash page of the actual issue.

2. Karl Kerschl's art -- with the assistance of the very-talented Hories -- is excellent.

3. Karl Kerschl's art is only in 10 pages of this book.

4. This issue is like an archeological dig through the last days of the just-ended "Bart" series to see what went wrong and how they scrambled to fix it. The individual segments, in terms of art & story, just don't mesh at all. Some segments look like they were ear-marked for "Flash" #s 14 & 15, and were carved out of the scripts & married to the new Wally storyline.

5. Am I the only one whose heart doesn't leap for the requisite joy and wonder at the sight of Flash's bouncing "Incredibles"-like children in their cute superhero costumes? It feels like when they added those twins towards the end of "Growing Pains."

6. For all of Inertia's villainy, the way Wally handled things smacks of too much sadism and doesn't seem fit his characterization.

7. I was really under the impression that All-Flash #1 was the start of the new series. How many other readers are under that impression, only to find that the "old" series is going to continue with issue #231? How confusing is this?

8. I realize that the shot of Batman's outfit jumping out of the ring is supposed to be intriguing, but it's too vague and I'm more like "wha?"

9. The long and short of it is, the Waid run with Wally West sold solid and the book was never the same since; so they're just starting it up all over again, speed-brats in tow, as if the intervening years never happened. I can think of worse things than to go back to something that worked -- as long as it works. And for all of Mark Waid's skill as a writer, I don't think this book can survive without top-notch art like Kerschl's.

The Latest Outrages

Dark Horse Comics took the heat off of DC & Marvel with their "Gor" Omnibus. From the sales copy:

"Part science fiction, part adventure novel, the stories in the world of Gor would unfold to show Tarl Cabot's growth from a novice to a man whose fate might determine the course of every man, woman, and child on Gor."

Nowhere in the copy can I find reference to the fact that within this stirring Joseph Campbell-eque narrative of the hero's journey are slave women chained to beds with rings in their noses--and loving it, might I add.

Dammit, it's time to adapt Anne Rice's "Sleeping Beauty" trilogy. Somebody call Marvel.

Then of course we have the fury over "Showcase Presents Batgirl," which depicts the caped crusadress (probably not a real word, but I'd use it in "Scrabble") powdering her face while the boys do all the heavy lifting.

I'm not offended per se by the cover, just bewildered at the poor quality of it. It's a trace of a splash page from an old comic, and a charmless one at that. Surely, there could have been a better option, from an aethestic and ethical viewpoint.

However, I don't fault overt sexism for the cover. I think it was just kinda dumb and uninspired. Perhaps time constraints was another issue, considering these books were all solicited without the original cover art.


Is "The Wraith" from Marvel's "Annihilation Conquest" Really "Rom?"

Look, if this bit of craziness actually turns out to be true, let it be known that I didn't get any inside info on it, it's just the latest bit of fanboy buzz.

Besides, I think the book could only score more readers if it really was Rom. Who owns the rights to Rom, anyway?

Bring back "Crystar."

Oh, Boy!

In the latest "Countdown," Jimmy Olsen sews his own costume to become "Mr. Action!" Donna and Jason hang out with "Bob The Monitor!" Those slaphappy jokesters Trickster & Piper get out of another scrape by the skin of their teeth! And Don Rickles makes an appearance!

No, that's not true. Don Rickles isn't in this book. :-(

"Final Crisis"

Are we there yet?

...and that's a wrap! :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Barbara The Potty-Mouth

To DC's credit, I rush to read these previews for "All-Star Batman & Robin" as soon as they are posted.

Barbara Gordon kissing her dad hello on the cheek:

"Hi Daddy. I'm going to hit the books. Big test tomorrow -- With Miss Ainsworth who is totally a total bitch."

Later, in captions:

"Never have a detective as a dad. Not unless you're really good at bullshitting him."

"And always throw in a smile when you're bullshitting your dad."

Cursing teenagers are fine if the book in question has a "mature readers" label on it. But thankfully, there is an option on the stands for those younger persons who wish to get into reading about Batgirl:

The Last Real Man In Comics

What interested me far more than Beau Smith's commentary on the pariah-cover-of-the-week "Showcase Presents Batgirl" was his "About Me" blurb:

"My name is Beau Smith. Others have tagged me as 'The Last Real Man In Comics'. That comes from a time when there was nothing but poodle skirt wearin', crybaby , hobbit lovin' liberals and former dope dealin' hippies in comics . I was one of the few if not only men in comics that liked and participated in sports, enjoyed grade B-Action movies and had done time in jail.

"I also did my time introducng other to my fists as my father and his father did. Rumors have it that I was in the first Tough man Contest in West Virginia in the late 1970s. The ones that weren't sanctioned by law and took place in the back alleys and bar rooms of various places of ill manners. My fists were sold for hire in college to girls that were gettin' smacked around by abusive boyfriends. I never wanted to take their money, but they insisted. I rarely turn a damsel in distress down. The longest love affair I've ever had is with cold beer. It began when I was in the 6th grade and continues to this day. Don't look all PC put out by that fact.. .things were different then. It was a time when Jonny Quest, a 14 year old boy , could blast bad guys with a machine gun and no one thought it was wrong."

Perhaps his bio is written a little tongue-in-cheek, but "the longest love affair I've ever had is with a cold beer" will stay with me a little bit today, at least until tonight when I have a cold beer.

Which brings up the topic of "He-Men" working in the comics industry. Larger-than-life individuals that would look comfortable wrestling with the Red Skull on the top of a moving train.

Two that come to mind is Darwyn Cooke & Howard Chaykin. Neal Adams might be a third, though his graying temples and listening him expound on his geological theories gives him more of a professorly aura.

Are they hearkening back to another time when men got up in the morning and caught their own breakfast and spent their leisure time wrestling sharks and fighting one deadly horde or another? Have they been influenced at all by the comics and movies they devoured as a kid, showcasing "men who were men," hard-as-nails heroes that predated the introspective second-guessing of the O'Neil/Lee era of comic book writing?

Beau Smith reflects on the controversy regarding the Batgirl cover,

"Who has time to think of this stuff? Is there some long line to be a victim of society that I’ve missed. Last time I looked there was a difference between being an activist and annoying. On second thought, no there isn’t. Not when it comes to this kind of time wasting stuff in comics."

Further on in the column, he profiles a MySpace hottie, with pictures.

I don't see anything wrong with the hottie photos or his take on the cover or the fact that he refers to liberals as "Hobbit-loving." The whole thing, taken as a package, has a rather cute pseudo-conservative quality about it; maybe not as adorable as Stephen Colbert, but somewhat more palatable than Guy Gardner.

As an aside, I actually clicked on the link for the hottie's MySpace page. It's...apparently not the same girl. BEWARE MYSPACE, PEOPLE!

Also, I am wondering if the "Last Real Woman In Comics" honor has been taken already. Nominees?
New York: The Zone

Yesterday evening, almost at 6:00, I received a phone call from my boyfriend. I had been waiting in front of my work building for him to pick me up, playing "break brick" on my PDA to pass the time.

My boyfriend never actually got through on the phone. All I heard was an explosion.

The next thing I saw was people, briefcases & handbags in tow, running away from the East Side of New York and talking about a building falling down. They pointed in the direction of where my boyfriend worked.

Soon, everybody was running, desperately pressing keys on their cellphones and twisting their necks to query the stranger beside them, behind them:

"What's going on?! Are we under attack?"

I frantically dialed my boyfriend's number but even when I could get through, it would go straight to his voice mail.

Doing the math, I assumed a building fell on him.

Here is where I measure how much I have changed in the last six years.

When 911 happened, I was a wreck. Sheer terror. And I wasn't even near the WTC.

When 911 happened, I couldn't even think.

Now, six years later, I let my body be carried away by the tide of the evacuating New Yorkers, heading for where we don't know, assuming the worst, bracing ourselves for more explosions, smoke, blackness. This, and that I can't reach my boyfriend, who is where the building collapse/terrorist attack/dirty bomb took place.

But I am not a wreck.

I think clearly.

I calmly tell my fellow evacuees what little I know.

I turn and look towards the East Side and contemplate just walking back to see what happened to my boyfriend.

And I feel many things, and one of those things is a sense of guilt that I do not feel scattered or hysterical. I feel dread, sure. But the dread, or my sadness over my boyfriend's uncertain fate, doesn't overwhelm my judgement.

Because over the last six years I have discovered The Zone. No, not that fad diet.

The Zone is where you have lived through so many crises that you've developed an ability to look beyond the crisis, to remove yourself from it, to see the bigger picture.

You go from "why is this happening to me?!" to "huh. this sort of thing happens to people every day in the world. I wonder if I shall get out of it. well, I'll certainly give it a try."

I first realized I had achieved the zone when I was in the emergency room last year after my accident. The nurses said I was one of the most calm patients they had ever seen for this sort of traumatic injury. And I think I hardly shed a tear while I was admitted there.

So anyway, I'm in the zone, and I'm looking back towards the East Side, and I'm thinking about just just walking to my boyfriend's office. I mean, why not? What, I'm going to flee on the nearest train, assuming they're working, and just not know?

Then he finally gets through, though the reception weaves in and out. He is screaming over the sirens and alarms, asking me where I am. We establish a place to meet. I head out towards the East Side, against the current of humanity.

As I push past the people, I get strange looks here and there, looks that seem to say, "why are you going in that direction? death is in that direction."

I'm running and calling out my boyfriend's name. I find him. He is covered in debris. I hug him.

He just remembered the sound of what initially sounded like thunder, then sounded like a train, then sounded like an airplane, then sounded like a building collapsing.

He seems really calm, but part of that is shock, and part of that is that he is also familiar with "the zone."

We make our way Downtown, catching snippets of information from passersby and the intermittent news from my PDA. Slowly we piece together that a transformer blew up. Later, the explosion will be blamed on a burst stream pipe. No buildings collapsed, but there is a modest crater in Midtown.

Some of the debris got on my mouth as I kissed him. It tasted bitter, it made my throat tight. It was, we assumed, mud. This morning we took the advice of the mayor and bagged up my boyfriend's shirt, boots, bag.

The Zone wouldn't even allow me to get s**t-faced drunk in order to cope with the stress I just went through. After 911, on the way home, I ducked immediately into a liquor store, which was quite full. But yesterday night I could hardly drink a beer. I just wanted to sleep. We both did. And we did.

In the morning, I debated going back into work.

"You've already taken too many days off for San Diego," my boyfriend reminded me.

This was true. His job was in the "frozen zone" area, so he would be working from home. As for me, I suppose I could have called in to my boss, said I couldn't make it in today because of what happened and the stress and trauma.

But that excuse just wouldn't be true.

So I emailed some photos from the incident to my boyfriend, photos of office workers evacuating and him covered in spattered mud. We watched the news coverage on NY1 as we sipped our coffee. We kissed and then I retreated into my bedroom to write this.

When the "frozen zone" is reopened, I would like to take a look at that long, jagged fissure down Lexington. But it might be filled-in by the time I get there. Because Bloomberg is so damned efficient.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Better Than Action Figures

From Reuters:

"Real love is hard to find for one Japanese man, who has transferred his affection and desires to dozens of plastic sex dolls. When the 45-year-old, who uses a pseudonym of Ta-Bo, returns home, it's not a wife or girlfriend who await him, but a row of dolls lined up neatly on his sofa."

Why collect those sexed-up comix statues when you can shell out $5000 and get one of these gals?

"Sometimes it takes too much time before I can have sex with the person I meet. But with these dolls, it's just a matter of a click of the mouse. With one click, they are delivered to you."

(weeps for humanity)

"The man, who says he has had sex with five women but prefers the dolls, is one of a gradually increasing, though secretive, group of Japanese men who have given up on women."

The president of the company who makes the "love dolls" commented,

"Nowadays, women are sometimes more dominant than men in the real world, and they don't always pay attention to men. More and more men are finding themselves miserable so we're making these dolls partly in support of men."
Tamora Pierce Vs. Gor

I've always wondered what would happen if the feminist comics blogosphere ever collided with the decidedly un-PC "Gor" science-fiction series. Now I know.

On Pierce's blog, commenting on Dark Horse's upcoming "Gor" omnibus:

"...swaggering male stereotypes, rape disguised as sex, with women begging for more. Women who dare to try to transcend these highly limited roles are beaten down, enslaved, conveniently killed by the plot for their presumption, or made to crawl to the father phallus hero--or forced to serve as egg farms.

And Dark Horse wants to perpetuate this. Dark Horse wants to make money with this. I have no doubt that they will. Neither do you, I suspect. This of all of those fanboys who have ordered us to cook for them, opted into hive-vagina rhetoric, demanded that we stop whining, called those of us who are men all manner of names, told us to get out of comics. They will love this world, if they don't know it already. They'll be able to live every woman-beating, woman-raping, woman-enslaving moment. Dark Horse means to enable this kind of hatred of non-phallo-stereotype men and women alike. In these books the heroes are muscular studs who prey on all that is Other."

To fill you in, the "Gor" novels, by John Norman, are about another planet where women are systematically enslaved. I mean, there is other stuff in the books -- social commentary, sword play, etc -- but the concept of enslaving women is at the heart of these books. It sort of takes the sort of "women in peril" cheesecake stuff you see in comics twenty steps further.

On one hand, it is a series of "classic" sci-fi novels and there is a market for reprints, comic book adaptations, etc. There is a loyal fanbase.

On the other hand, there is no way in hell I could tell a women concerned about feminist issues to "lighten up" about "Gor." It would be like me trying to tell them to "lighten up" about "The Devil's Rejects." As a horror fan, I think "The Devil's Rejects" is unique & has merit. But the first scene has a dead naked cheerleader being dragged through the dirt. In terms of feminism, it is hideous.


If you want to get a taste of what the "Gor" books are about but would prefer it in a more watered-down form, you could do worse than read this.

I think Pierce is calling for a boycott of the book. At any rate, certainly the company must be aware of the shit they are going to catch for carrying this title.
Going On The Desk Next To
"Shaun Of The Dead"

Out this Fall from NECA. Men in polyester "S-Mart" coveralls? Equals awesome.

I'm enjoying NECA's line of horror classics action figures, though I don't really have that "bug" in me at the moment to collect toys on anywhere near the scale I used to. For me to collect would place me in a two-toy-collector household, and such a decision deserves a bit of reflection (if only due to the amount of vinyl fumes that will fill the apartment).

I liked McFarlane's Movie Maniacs line & collected that for a while, but they got a little too esoteric for me with the gross-out/kink lines (Wizard of Oz, Tortured Souls).


I also like "Snoopy."
Never Catch A Jigsaw
With Your Crotch...

...and other lessons I learned about being a superheroine.

Good morning, people.
"Ultimizing" The DCU?

The current debate raging in Casa Del Superheroine this morning:

I think DC will, for "Final Crisis," do some variation on "ultimizing"/rebooting/de-aging their characters. For the core characters, you will still have Bruce Wayne as Batman, Clark Kent as Superman, etc. But they will start at square one. "Streamlined." No characters appearing older than 25-30. No marriages, no steady girlfriends. So Superman is a free agent, romance-wise. You could even see the comics restarted at #1. For the more secondary characters, you choose the version that has been most popular. GL = Hal Jordan, Flash = Wally West, etc.

What would such an "ultimizing" accomplish?
It would make it easier for their characters to blend in with what is being done with the movies & TV shows.
You will get another spike in sales with all the reboots & #1s. Sure, fanboys & girls will complain at first. But you explain it away as a decision based on a "love & respect" for the characters -- to get at the "heart" of who they are really about.
You rewrite a lot of bulls**t.

So you have:
Action Comics #1! With this great all-star creative team! Superman up against Lex Luthor! Who will Clark choose, Lois or Lana?
Detective Comics #1! With this all-new kick-ass creative team! Batman meets Robin for the first time! Holy crap, Robin might even be Dick Grayson again! Dovetails perfectly into the new movies!
And look! Sue Dibny was never raped!

Now, from an integrity aspect this course of action might be a bit creatively bankrupt. And so the objection -- "DC wouldn't dare do this."

But --

This is the best course of action to take to satisfy two main needs:
1) Sharp short-term increase in sales
2) Streamlining characters to satisfy needs of corporate parents

Why not invest in the long-term?

1) The days of staying at the same comic book editorial job for 10+ years is, in my opinion, over. That emphemeral "job security" that lulled many a worker into contentment? Over. One's worth to the company is determined by the current month's sales figures. As such, you need to have as many gimmicks, crossovers, events, reboots as possible to boost sales on a continual basis. You can't have a second-tier book chug-chug-chugging along with fair-to-mediocre sales, giving it "time" to build a cult following. And so you have "52," "Countdown," "Post-Crisis," "Final Crisis," etc. So when your boss walks into your office with the sales numbers, you will know there will always be one sales spike or another. And if the fans get fatigue and don't "bite the carrot" anymore? You start planning to get another editorial job before they axe you. Short-term vs. long-term investment.

2) There is an assumption that the newest generation of potential comic book readers have the attention-span of a may fly. That the only way to lure them away from the bells & whistles of video games & their various internet pursuits is by constantly flashing "new cool s**t" in front of their face.

Now -- the above is NOT what I personally advocate as the best course of action to take.

What I would WANT to do is to invest in these books for the long-term with consistent stories and stable, top-notch talent. But, in the current business climate, this is the riskier choice. You might be labelled "old school" for such a mindset -- and God forbid you take on such a label.

That said, I think yesterday's "Final Crisis" teaser image was something hastily put together in response to "Countdown's" increasingly poor sales & in lieu of the San Diego Comic Con. I think if DC has a conception of "Final Crisis" at all, it is in its most youthful stages.

And I think fan response to the image -- how they interpret it, what they like or dislike about it -- will have a definite impact on what direction that particular event is taken. For all we know, tossing such images online without comment could be the company's way of conducting "snap" marketing research.

And to those who will counter with "DC already sort of rebooted half these characters 2 or 3 years ago! They wouldn't have the balls to pull a stunt like this!" -- I think they would.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Howard The Duck" Vs.
"Captain Carrot" --
Who Will Win?

With Marvel's "Howard" & DC's "Carrot" minis debuting in October, I wondered which anthropomorphic "superhero" would win in a battle to the death...

Might be a good time to dust off Spider-Ham, no?

"Final" Crisis?

The "final" Crisis? Really? Sure you wouldn't want to squeeze in one more year-long weekly series?

This is it?

Fantasy Editorial Meeting:

"Ok, so now what we do is kill off all the 70s & 80s DCU characters. It's just like "Crisis," only updated. Because if there is anything "Smallville" and the recent films has taught us, it's that kids today can't relate to these thirtysomething superheroes. I mean, how old is Ollie?"

"Uh, 50?"

"Exactly. Exactly."

"But if we kill off Wally again they are going to kill us."

"Yeah, but he's in the right age bracket."

"He's a dad. Kinda boring, no?"

"I'm not talking about killing off all of them...more like...rebooting. De-aging."



"So Hal can be a young sexy fighter pilot again?"


"That's pretty hot."

Is Black Canary
Sleeping With Connor Hawke?

The current topic of discussion in Casa Del Superheroine is the October solicitation information for Green Arrow/Black Canary #1:

The new Green Arrow/Black Canary team investigates the shocking results of the Wedding of the Century in an all-new adventure that brings the Star City-crossed
lovers together!

Exhibit A: "shocking results of the wedding of the century"

Exhibit B: "Star City-crossed lovers"

Exhibit C: See cover above.

Holy crap.

I really think this could happen.

Which brings me to this Salon article Superheroine's Sweetie just emailed me...

"I have the hots for my stepson. He's 17, and I know it's wrong, but I think he has the hots for me, too.

"I'm a 35-year old stepmom and mother of a 5-year-old daughter. I find myself attracted to my 17-year-old stepson and, more worrisome, I think he is attracted to me. He lives with his father and me half the time and with his mother the other half. I've been in his life since he was 9 and his brother was 7, and we're pretty much a blended-family success story. Everyone gets along, my stepsons are both great kids, and my daughter worships her brothers. My husband and I love each other and are good partners in working as a team, taking care of the kids, home, work, extended family, etc., though "marital relations" are close to nonexistent, due partly to the usual stress and partly to my husband's low libido.

"The kid I used to know has grown into a charming and attractive young man who looks even older than his age."

How old would Ollie be? I'm thinking mid-to-late 40s.
Dinah? 32-35
Connor? 18-23

If this is true, Ollie's gonna snap an arrow up somebody's bum...
Bond Back, Now With 56% More Funny

According to Rotten Tomatoes the next James Bond movie will be out in 2010 and be "less serious."

Daniel Craig says: "The next one’s going to be a lot funnier. Octopussy and Pussy Galore-style gags."

Is this a made-up interview for The Onion or is this for real?

Because that's what one of the best-reviewed James Bond movies of all time needs: more "pussy" gags.

Hollywood boardroom after screening of "Casino Royale" :

"Needs more pussy gags! Can we have Pussy Galore in Octopussy? Is this possible? How about Allotta Fagina? Can we get her in there too?"

Somewhere Roger Moore laughs heartily.
The Brevoort Blog @

...never fails to fascinate and amaze. A really interesting look at the making of past present Marvel books -- the good, the bad, and occasionally the ugly. Props to Marvel for being so candid.

Here is the column about the making of Civil War. The following quote regarding Speedball really caught my eye:

"Cripes this kid is your Sue Dibny except his insignificance in Marvel continuity and his connection to Tony is that tiny hole in the dike that starts the flood."

Yes, Speedball is to "Civil War" as "Sue Dibny" is to "Identity Crisis" (except Speedball doesn't get raped). He is also a victim but not a victim -- the cause of all the drama that is to follow and yet also a relative innocent (we will forget the whole "drug den" thing in "Alias") that is totally crushed by the horror he inadvertently unleashed (though, of course, according to the Deadpool/GLI special & Squirrel Girl it all really wasn't his fault anyway).

In a way, Speedball is more like Dibny AND Jean Loring. But the readers get a bit more satisfaction out of his storyline because A)He isn't dead and therefore able to deal with the ramifications & B) He is pretty kooky but not hopelessly evil & insane thus able to deal with the ramifications.

Anyway, the blog is fascinating, check it out.

PS: Just purchased a hardcover collection of "Identity Crisis" at a used book store. First thing me and my shopping companion did was turn to the masthead to see if my name was in it. Then I was thinking of doing a live-blogging thing maybe on Twitter to give commentary as I read it straight through. Started to read it, then headed straight into dinner with friends at an Afghan restaurant. Pepto-Bismol.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Occasional Superheroine",
Valerie D'Orazio
San Diego Comic Con International
For "New Rage Order"

Valerie D'Orazio -- known for her blog "Occasional Superheroine" -- will provide multimedia coverage of the San Diego Comic Con International for the pop-culture website "New Rage Order" on July 25-29.

"Hey, I'm new to this whole video thing but I really love comics so I'll just be myself and have a good time," D'Orazio said. "I'm really looking forward to working with "New Rage Order" on this project!"

Her experience as former editor for the comic book publishers DC and Valiant gives D'Orazio not only a unique perspective on the convention but access to the industry's top talent. Confirmed interviews include such luminaries as Image Comics Publisher Erik Larsen, Paul Gulacy, Sean McKeever, Roy Thomas, Eric Powell, Greg Horn and Gene Colan.

"I'm very excited to have Valerie onboard," New Rage Order editor-in-chief, Blair Marnell exclaimed. "She's one of the best writers in the comic blogosphere and she exemplifies the kind of talented individual that we want to work with here at NRO. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in San Diego!"

In addition to on-camera interviews and news coverage, D'Orazio will be giving web surfers the opportunity to vicariously attend the Convention through her via a hand-held video camera and live continuous audio feed.

"I want the audience at home to tune into New Rage Order and see and hear the complete San Diego Comic Con experience," D'Orazio explained.

She will also be blogging the convention and sending out periodic updates via Twitter.


Valerie D'Orazio has worked in and around comic books since she was a teenager, and possesses arcane knowledge about the Bottle City of Kandor that no woman should ever know. She helped edit "Shadowman" and "Magnus Robot Fighter" for Acclaim/Valiant Comics and "Justice League of America," "Aquaman," "Batman Black and White," "Arkham Asylum: Living Hell," and the controversial "Identity Crisis" for DC Comics.

Following her departure from DC, she became a popular Internet commentator on women and comics, both on other websites and her own blog Occasional Superheroine.


Founded by Media Beam Partners and Blair Marnell, New Rage Order is a pop-culture website dedicated to the world of Comics, Film, TV and Video Games. Media Beam Partners has extensive capabilities in production and post-production. Under Marnell's guidance, NRO delivers new media shows, video blogs and podcasts as well as exploring new methods for media delivery.

For more information, visit

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fangirl Fridays

Good morning! My neck really hurts because I did the salon thing; they baked my hair for an hour, washed it like 10 times. Patient boyfriend waiting for TWO HOURS in the salon, thumbing through their fashion magazines, torture.

Is Vogue More Sexist Than Adam Hughes Covers?

Patient boyfriend, after reading every women's magazine in the salon, inquires:

"How come there is such feminist uproar specifically over comic books when these magazines also show idealized, often skimpily-dressed women on a regular basis? I mean, any number of these blond models could be Ms. Marvel."

I, of course, was quick with an answer:

"Well, the purpose of cheesecake comics is the boobies, the purpose of Vogue and In Style is to make me feel like I'm not living up to an artifical standard thus propelling me to buy more stuff."

It's a good question, though. And of course I'm answering this as I'm paying through the nose to get my hair done.

This Week At The Comics Shop

I didn't go to my usual comics shop yesterday so I'm sure I've overlooked some issues...

New Green Lantern Issue: nice, but there's no urgency there. Oh, Hal and Kyle/Parallax are going to mix it up! Wow, didn't see that coming! Oooh, will one of them die? No?

Alternate cover for Flash #13: It takes a lot of balls to put out "collector's covers" for a book of this quality.

Punisher #49: Here's a new one: breast cancer instead of rape for a female character's motivation. Bought this, haven't read it yet. Opened it up on the train, faced with naked woman w/one breast covered in blood shooting the face off another guy while everyone is naked and covered with blood. Punisher naked handcuffed to bed while said woman climbs on top of him and asks him to "f**k" her and then blows her own brains out. Yes, the streets are tough.

Countdown: Probably would help sales if Wizard wouldn't reveal everything that happens that day.

Deadpool/GLI: No, the present isn't safe for you, Squirrel Girl & Speedball. Dan Slott has to seriously think of a way to protect Squirrel Girl so she doesn't become the next Sue Dibny. Speedball, Sue, then possibly ripping Jimmy Olsen's intestines out through his nose -- no square character is safe!

Putting The New Gods Out Of Their Misery

What happens to the quaint properties of yesteryear after several revivals have failed?

Well, you could hire Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. to do a mini-series.

Or you could ask Jim Starlin to kill them and reboot them all.

A Wildstorm "revival" of some of the New Gods characters was on the docket while I was still working at DC. One or two involved artists that would in theory take such a long time to finish an arc that conceivably there might even be a finished issue or two ready to roll.

These revivals seemed to me to be more like Morrison-esque reinterpretations rather than wholesale reboots. However, the gist I've gotten from Starlin's Newsarama interview is that there are going to be reboots.

I don't think inventing whole new character concepts based on the original New Gods names is in itself a bad idea. But based on several recent DC reboots I am a little skeptical.

Then there is the whole question if killing off all the New Gods and rebooting them is disrespectful of the memory of Jack Kirby. And there is the whole question as to whether factoring in such a consideration is the publisher's job, since they own the properties and can do whatever the hell they want.

Zuda, Zudes, Zudons, Zudez, Zudent

Speaking of companies owning properties, I've been pondering this Zuda comics initiative.

I don't think we can really know what Zuda is about and if it is going to work or not until it actually gets launched. I'm reserving judgements until such time.


All the internet commentary on the subject brings up the larger issue of work-for-hire and creator rights.

Tom Spurgeon brought up the point that no matter how above-board DC is, no matter how "informed" the creators are about what they are getting themselves into, it is still ethically wrong to ask a creator to sign away their rights to an artistic work.

Another point-of-view would be that without the economic incentive of aquiring intellectual properties, there is no reason for a big company like DC or Marvel to waste their time. That to ask these publishers to allow creators to hold on to the rights is to ask them to do something out of an ethical, not business, motivation.

This brings me to something I noticed yesterday when I was getting my hair done.

The neighborhood was pretty posh, and most of the boutiques there were these overly-priced tourist traps that offer discount-quality clothing for inflated prices. There was only one boutique there that had decent prices. It was run by an affable, down-to-earth lady who believed in offering fair prices for quality goods. She was from California, a little bit of a hippie, and completely contrasted with the elegant but cold Euro-shops that dotted the block.

I bought a really good peacoat from that woman last fall for a great price.

She's gone now, replaced by another inflated-priced Euro-shop tourist trap. As I knew she would be when I bought that awesome coat.

It's a great coat.

Teh Internets, They Are Teh Dead

Man, between the Summer Vacation & the pre-San Diego Con festivities, the internet is *dead*!

Me me me me me me me me pimpage me

I've got a big(ish) announcement at the beginning of next week. Just another chapter of my interesting life in comics -- be there!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chiklis: Fanboyz
Iz The Crazzzzziest Peoplez

Michael Chiklis is quoted recently as telling Maxim:

"Fantastic Four fans are a rabid fanboy geek set."

Well you're the frickin' THING. Suck it up!
"Justice League: New Frontier"
Cartoon Voice Line-Up
A Fanboy/girl's Wet Dream

Think of it:

Neil Patrick Harris as Flash

David Boreanaz as Hal Jordan. David $%@&%@ Boreanaz!

Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman.

Kyle Maclachlan as Superman.

and Brooke Shields as Carol Ferris.

Collective fan orgasm, Meg Ryan's beating the tabletop, it's all good.

The New Supergirl

It's official -- Canadian actress Laura Vandervoort is the new Supergirl on "Smallville."

From People Online:

"She's a combination of beauty, intelligence, a certain warmth, and great attitude," Smallville co-creator Al Gough tells PEOPLE. "We've wanted a character to shake things up. She may be Clark Kent's cousin, but that doesn't mean she's going to be the obedient one!"