I'm not reading Marvel, because I'm just so irritated by the perpetual and disruptive crossover events, the endless reboots, and the constant juggling of creative teams. So it's all Image and other smaller publishers for me. It's too bad, because Marvel is putting out a ton of female-centric books these days but ugh. No. I might break my rule for Gamora, though, but in general it's all Image and Dark Horse and indies for me.
I keep having this problem, though, where I feel like I don't know how to be fannish about comics. Most comics have no fic fandom whatsoever, and in order to write I need both readers and, ideally, some predecessors whose fic I can read, so that's a no-go. Likewise, it's often hard to even find anyone to talk with about what I read. I have zero graphics skills, so that's not really an outlet (and that would really work better if I bought digital, which I don't).
It kind of feels like the way to be fannish about comics is to read more comics, but a) $$, b) I don't want to just be consuming media all the time. IDK. I don't know how to funnel my comics enthusiasm into something that feels creative or productive. It's a struggle. I've started dabbling in drawing again, so at least there's that? (NB: I am Not an Artist.)
I'm also having some angst, again, about how to buy comics. I don't have a tablet, so digital is a pain. Floppies just irritate me; I hate storing them and I dislike rereading them. I really just want trades, but they always say if you want to support your favorite series, you buy floppies. But I don't wanna. Also I just respond better to comics if I get a bunch of story at once, ie in a trade. So I think I've decided to just spread my comics $ out among more trades. That supports my beloved LCS, at least.
And if I DO start buying floppies of something, it's a rule that I have to buy a whole arc of five issues or whatever. I have the first three issues of so many books which I then finished in digital or failed to finish at all.
* I looked through my fic spreadsheet and discovered approximately half the things I've written in the past three years have been for exchanges, and NO FREAKING WONDER I'm feeling a little burned out on exchanges. I keep saying I'm going to do them less, and I keep failing to do fewer of them. But maybe next year. I've turned in my last outstanding assignment (for Trick or Treat!), so that's something, and there's nothing else I'm going to be even tempted to sign up for for several months.
* Feeling more fic-fannish than sports-fannish with hockey right now. I think I'm still recovering from the playoffs. I'm with Sid - I didn't realize how hard it would be to win the Cup. /o\ But meanwhile there's so much fic I want to exist, so I'm working on that.
* I've started using the "Choose random icon" function here, because I have so many great icons I don't use anymore. So here, have some darling Genevieve.
* So I guess the comics experiment is over. I gave up Saga after several arcs I didn't care about + killing off my fave, and meanwhile Marvel is just too big a mess of events, "reboots", creator juggling, and the willful prevention of any kind of character growth and movement. I took Marvel out of the interests in my Tumblr bio today, so I think that makes it official.
* Flower is out with a concussion. I hope he recovers fully and with no long-term effects, however long that takes, although we've had so many different injuries in the last 2-3 months it's hard to feel properly concerned about any one of them any more. Every year, Pens. :( At least we got Dumo back today?
* When I got interested in the Bruins, I said to myself, yay, a new ship that will give me a different dynamic than Sid/Geno. The problem? Marchy and Bergy are even more PDA in their appreciation of each other than Sid and Geno. Brad is not Geno, but otherwise, yep, another ship where they just like each other a lot. Oh well. At least Marchy/Segs breaks that mold - they also like each other, but in a bro way.
What's The Point Of Comics Criticism? A Conversation Between Daniel Elkin & Colin Smith. Very interesting discussion of the role of cultural criticism, and how and if a critic should constrain themselves to certain approaches.
Je Suis Airboy: Why Airboy’s Defenders Need to Listen and Reflect Instead. That the comics mainstream, including creators, is gross in any number of ways is not new, but this nonetheless felt like a worthwhile response to a particular comic's issues.
Batgirl: Transgender Representation and the Power of Words. And this, meanwhile, is a great example of the better way to respond when one's work is criticized for being offensive, including an extensive panel-by-panel comparison of some changes made to a recent Batgirl comic in response to criticism.
* SAGAAAAA. Saga is back, as is almost the entire cast! :DDDD
* This new #1 sounds intriguing: The Empty, by Jimmy Robinson: Tanoor lives in an empty apocalyptic world of poison and decay. Her village is all that remains of humanity as they struggle against mutant beasts and rotting bones.But Tanoor finds a chance to save her people when a stranger drifts into town. A stranger armed with the power to grow life from death. A stranger who could change the world—if Tanoor can keep them alive in the deadly world of The Empty.
* Likewise Postal by Hill/Hawkins and Goodhart: The townsfolk of Eden, Wyoming wake up to the first official murder the town has seen in 25 years. Their reaction to this isn’t normal, and there’s a reason for that. Eden operates as a haven for fugitive criminals who remain here while new identities, often including facial reconstruction, are created for them. There is zero tolerance for any illegal activity that might draw attention to the town and an “official murder” is the last thing they want. A single, tight-knit family runs Eden with the youngest oddball son Mark Shiffron overseeing the postal branch, the only means of shipping in or out of the city.
* Lots of next issues for series I'm enjoying, including East of West, The Wicked + the Divine, Lazarus (although I'm behind on that).
* Elektra canceled. The art was so pretty, but the story was so cold. IDK. I wanted to love it.
* Lots of new female-led titles: Spider-Gwen, Silk (both Spider-man affiliated, kind of? Spider-Gwen is AU somehow), and by then we'll be three issues into Angela: Assassin of Asgard, which I must say is not a book that I'm filled with hope for, although I do like women are involved in both the writing and the arting.
* Jorge Molina is taking a shift (or taking over?) on Thor. Given the kind of style he had when he filled in on X-Force, I think he'll be a good fit, especially if they keep the same colorist. Solicit seems to imply that we still don't know new Thor's identity?!
* MS MARVEL VERSUS LOKI. ALL MY DREAMS ARE COME TRUE. I mean, just look at this cover. (Sad we don't have Jake Wyatt back, though - artist this issue is Takeshi Miyazawa, whom I'm not familiar with.)
* I will be interested to read the rest of X-Force once it finally comes to MU. This Fantomex-as-antagonist thing seems designed to make me unhappy, but Spurrier is a clever and complex writer. IDK.
* Storm #8 - Phil Briones arting this issue. I recall quite liking his work on Humphries' UXF, although not as well as I've liked Ibanez.
In which I look at some August direct market sales figures of books I’m reading, and I fret and stew a bit. This is a long ramble that is informed mostly by me reading a lot of discussion and articles at Comic Book Resources, so, I am no expert. Corrections welcome!
( an image and a lot of rambling )
Instead, what I can do is write a character with a particular run of comics in mind. So I wrote Edmondson!Natasha, all isolated and driven, and then I wrote early!00s!Natasha with Yelena, where she cares about Yelena and views her from the perspective of a wealth of spy experience, and also she has kind of a sense of humor about Yelena. Those are basically different Natashas, though, as far as I am concerned. I *could* fanwank the differences, but in order to do that I'd really want some kind of coherent narrative thread in the comics that take us at least in the general direction from one to the other, and AFAIK there isn't one (although to be fair I haven't read most of the team stuff Natasha's been in).
In any case, point is: I can write for specific runs or sets of runs (Betsy and Fantomex in UXF vol.1, UXF vol.2, and XF vol.3 come to mind as a related set of runs that are relatively unified). And that works fine as long as there's enough in the run to write a character. OTOH, I'd have a really hard time writing for, say, Wood's X-Men, because none of the characters get enough time or arc stand alone as characters in that book.
But what I figured out today was, I actually don't enjoy reading outside of specific runs, either. I'm a little slow, but it finally occurred to me to look for X-men fic on ff.net, which actually is pretty fantastic, because they have fic split into comics and movies. However, again, I don't actually want to read most of it, because it doesn't seem to be set in any particular portion of canon, so I can't place it. I don't know what the fic is responding to. It's even worse than trying to read fic for a particular book that I don't know; at least there, I can see where the holes are.
tl;dr superheroe comics fic is hard.
I used to think there was some complicated and mysterious alchemy that determined what my next fandom would be, but in fact it seems to boil down to two things:
1. A character I obsess over. This character has so far always been male, which might surprise some of you given my enthusiasm the last few years for female characters. Historically, though, my pattern is: fall in love with male character, get into fandom, eventually switch allegiances primarily to female characters. (Who knows what this bodes in terms of hockey fandom.)
Now, why some male characters do this for me and not others is mysterious; there are some similarities that can be drawn between Spike and Dean Winchester, but my most recent obsession is character/RL person Evgeni Malkin, who has basically no similarities with either of the other two.
2. Lots of fic already existing about said character. It turns out that I can love a character to bits and pieces, but if there isn't tons of fic to feed my interest, it withers and dies. And what's more, I need all that fic to play off of when I start writing my own, which is what rahirah really asked. Writing fic for a small/non-existent fandom is hard work, as far as I'm concerned - much harder than writing for a larger fandom. I'm not great at inventing the wheel; I will never be one of those authors on the forefront of a new fandom, blazing the trail. I need a fandom to be in conversation with.
Now, the exception to all this for me is Marvel comics.
( cut for long description of the shape of Marvel canon and fandom )
Having given you all that background, Marvel comics really does not look like the fandom for me, does it? Current fannish communities and fic are clustered largely around a handful of titles I'm not fannishly invested in, and the only male character I care all that much about, Fantomex, has like five fics on AO3.
And yet, like I said, Marvel comics are the exception to all my fannish patterns, because I've loved the female characters right from the start and because I continue to love the canon so much that I keep offering various pieces of it in exchanges and trying my hand at it. I'm pretty sure Marvel comics is never going to be my main fic fandom, because there just isn't enough concentrated community and fic. (This means when I write fic, there aren't a ton of people interested, either.) But apparently I'm going to keep plugging away nonetheless.
Now that I've said all that: What does it take for a canon to move you to writing fic/making art/getting fannishly creative? What are the secret ingredients?
But years and years of accumulated posts! Some of those threads were into the thousands of posts over the course of as much as ten years. And those posts are going to be, apparently, completely unavailable starting two weeks from now. So I am torn between \o/ and DDD:
Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, who writes Afterlife with Archie, has just been promoted to Chief Creative Officer for Archie Comics. Apparently this is a new position created for him as Archie Comics continues to expand its interests in all sorts of interesting directions. There's an interview with Aguirre-Sacasa and co-CEO Jon Goldwater here, which has a fair bit of corporatespeak but also a nice summary of the different things they've been doing lately.
I'm particularly fascinated with their explicit interest in creating Archie AUs:
Given what we've seen from Archie in the last few years, and "Afterlife" being as far as things have been pushed so far, do you think there's a lot of room to further challenge the perception of what people expect from Archie?
Goldwater: Yes. As long as the story is a great story, and you're not changing the essence of who the characters are, I think people will not just accept it, I think people are incredibly interested in Archie being put in different types of incarnations, whatever they may be. As long as Archie's Archie, and the gang are who they are, whatever the setting is around them, I think people are really interested in that kind of situation.
Aguirre-Sacasa: I completely agree. The monthly "Life with Archie" -- I think people love seeing those twin storylines develop. That's now been going 35 issues. People love it. "Betty and Veronica" -- the brilliant Dan Parent did a great run of stories [last year] in a fairy tale setting. I think people love seeing these characters in different environments. It feels a little more fresh, it feels a little more contemporary, it feels like it's in dialogue with the rest of culture. Do I think there could be a "Game of Thrones" version of Archie and his gang? Absolutely.
Obviously such things have been around for ages; there's a futuristic Archie-in-space setting that turns up in reprint digests sometimes, there's the one with the time-travel agents, there's the crossover where the Archie gang met The Punisher (I am not even kidding). Still. I approve of the new wave of weird stuff. Although probably I still will not get my a/b/o AU.
An enterprising person at the CBR boards is conducting a Favorite Marvel Characters poll. I felt a little silly when nine of my ten favorites were women, but now, seeing how many people's lists are all men, I feel much less silly. If you have a CBR account and feel like throwing your two cents in, the poll goes through the 28th.
* I have discovered a sudden and mighty need for moderately IC Steve Rogers mpreg. Alas, there seems to be none. There really isn't any het Steve Rogers mpreg.
* I like a lot of MCU characters better than their comics equivalents. I think part of this is actors being able to give even flatly-written characters more nuance and likability: see for example Sharon Carter, who's doing nothing for me in the comics but whom I expect to like in the movie if for no other reason than because she's played by Emily Van Camp, which is perfect casting by the way.
But also, for the guys in particular, it's because male superheroes look so ridiculous in the comics. You know that old, wrong retort that guys are sexualized in comics just like women are? No. Guys in mainstream superhero comics, especially on the cape-and-mask side of things, are bizarre and weirdly bulgy and completely off-putting as sexual objects, and I'm not even talking about Rob Liefield. I'm talking about any of the Cap comics covers.
Which isn't to say you can't have hot men in comics. Marko in Saga is quite attractive. See how he's built more like a normal human being, despite the horns and ears? Yes. I also find Fantomex extremely attractive, but that's like 90% because he has a really fabulous costume. Anybody'd look good in that. *points to icon*
Interestingly, the X-men side of things tends to be slightly less bulgy, partly, I suppose, because a lot of the guys have nonstandard body types in the first place: Beast, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Rockslide. Wolverine's muscular but short, which kind of undercuts the Greek god thing that the male Avengers so often fall prey to.
* Matt Fraction is writing a genderswapped Odyssey in space, because WHY NOT? A glance at artist Christan Ward's work boils down to very colorful.
* Nick Spencer has a modern day spy/fantasy thriller and an SF book, both of which sound interesting.
* Rick Remender is doing a far-future aquatic SF thingy which I shouldn't care about, because Remender has been letting us down on all fronts lately, but the art is SO pretty.
* NEW GILLEN/MCKELVIE. "Every 90 years, gods reincarnate in human bodies." See cover.
(Right now it's a webcomic published twice a week. Reeeeeeead it.)
And then it spawns comments like this: I thought to myself, "I would like a Shapeshifting Murder Piñata for my birthday" and then I thought about it a little more and realized that I did not, in fact want one of those.
Speaking of things happening, ( spoilers for SPN 9.09 )
* As previously mentioned, I've been wanting to read some more comics by female creators, preferably recent comics. I did a duckduckgo search and surprise, surprise, Kelly Thompson has exactly the kinds of info I wanted: two lists of her favorites in 2010, and another list of her favorites in 2011. Hurrah. I'm off to go read some comics now.
The identity is vague no more; she's directly confirmed that this person was Brian Wood. Further discussion here here.
It's all very disappointing, folks. I was pretty upset when this stuff started airing two weeks ago; Wood's all-women X-men comic is the reason I am in comics. It's one of the things I point to to say that the comics industry is getting better in terms of its treatment of diversity, which only makes all this worse. I can only think of maybe one or two other comics authors I'd be sadder to learn this about than Wood.
I mean, I could ask. But it'd be nice if that was a standard thing. When you're dealing with characters with 40+ years of backstory, just listing the character name is only moderately helpful. It'd be like if someone wrote Doctor Who fic and didn't specify which doctor.
2. Apparently Deadpool mpreg-via-a/b/o is a thing on Tumblr, at least among a certain clientele. It's mostly in the form of gifsets and fanart and seems to be associated with Wade/Peter, which I'd heard vaguely of. Of all the fandoms and characters I'd have thought would end up attracting these tropes, I have to say Deadpool was fairly low on the list. The more you know.
Then I spent the rest of my morning reading about Dave Sim and Cerebus. Cerebus was a graphic novel serialized monthly over some thirty years, featured a talking aardvark, and, so I am told, produced more innovation in comics than any author's work since Eisner while talking a great deal about life, the universe, and everything. I'd heard of it mainly because over the course of the comic Sim developed into not a raging misogynist but a coldly rational one, and also because in the comic he explains his development of a new and, uh, quite innovative reading of the Abrahamic religions' sacred texts, which he eventually concludes is the correct one (and which everyone would hail as genius if only his reputation hadn't been ruined by Feminists).
It does not sound like a work I am in the least interested in exploring for myself, because cerebral parody is not my bag even without the misogyny, but reading about it was fascinating. I followed a bunch of links from Tim O'Neill's blog, which includes a number of his own posts on the importance of Cerebus to an understanding of comics in academia as well as some introductory material by other people that he recommends for context.
Speaking of reading about comics, I recently finished Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics, which my college boyfriend gave me many moons ago. Unexpectedly, especially given that it is actually in the form of a comic, I found some of it hopelessly dry, either because it was too subtle or too obvious - I wasn't always sure which. He also made an awful lot of assertions about the effect of this or that artistic technique on the comics reading experience that I would have liked a whole lot more argument and support for, and I could have done without the art theory and "What is art?" discussions.
However, I liked it a lot more once he got down to the brass tacks of comics, like making gutter space between panels versus letting a panel run to the edges of the page, what a panel with no dialogue might accomplish, that sort of thing. Really, I just want help figuring out how to look at comics art - panel design, textures, pacing, that sort of thing - and the middle parts of the book were helpful for that. I would also really like to learn some more vocabulary to be able, for instance, to describe David Aja's Hawkeye art to someone (points to icon), but I think I'll have to look elsewhere for that.
Obviously this is anecdata, but still damning anecdata it is, especially alongside all the discussion we've had recently of sexual harassment at cons.
From my previous comics exposure of "movies plus what my friend TheRazor told me," I've never managed to get even mildly interested in any DC characters, but nonetheless this costume design for the new Batgirl pleases me very much. Here are artist Annie Wu's considerations for the costume:
Well, when it came to addressing the needs of the story, I spent a lot of time considering each element with the lens of “If this is true, what else is true?" Okay, so, you’re a teenage girl AND a costumed vigilante so you need to design your costume to look extra-intimidating. All right, you know the legendary bat symbol carries tremendous weight with it so you make that as prominent and strong as possible. You need a silhouette more menacing than your natural teen build will allow, so you find ways to exaggerate that (hence the wider shoulder armor and cape). You’re doing this on your own, unlike Terry McGinnis who has Wayne money and support, so you would carry yourself as such (put your best mean-face on, adjust posture accordingly). Things like that.
I mean, how sensible is that? And then you get this result, which tickles me to no end.
I suppose it says something uncomplimentary about me that so far the element that excites me most about superhero comics is the costumes. (But only certain costumes, mind.)
In the meantime, Wonder Woman is Not the Problem by Tansy Rayner Roberts is a nice character appreciation post that makes me think I should look that character up, too, when I get the chance.
A little while after, I stumbled across an encouraging article about costume redesigns of female superheroes. As a person concerned with representation of women in fiction, I looked at the before-and-afters, smiled approvingly, and moved on to the next article.
Then I found out that several of those redesigns were part of Marvel's plan to relaunch their X-Men comic with an all-female cast. "OOOH," I said.
( and then I went on at length )
My reaction to the Big Important Character Death? Oh, thank goodness it wasn't Spike. Because that would have caused significantly more hue and cry than we're already getting. (Also I'm glad it wasn't Dawn, because however little I care about the comics, I'm apparently still capable of being upset by threats to my girl.)
ETA: spoilers in comments.
I should go reread it.
(Not coincidentally, the S8 stuff dealing with Melaka Fray and future!Willow is some of my my favorite S8 stuff, second only to NFFY.)
Whatever, Joss. I'm going to go rewatch this cool TV show I have. I think you worked on it at some point, but you must've forgotten. It has these neat characters that are flawed and frequently broken and yet still largely sympathetic, and until an unfortunate last season their actions always grew out of what came before. You should check it out sometime - the first couple of seasons are on Hulu.
So why, of all a Slayer's attributes and activities, is her sex life the one The Universe pays attention to?
[Not really in keeping with the tone of this post, but: Issue #34! Rule 34! How has no one mentioned this?!?]
Regarding latest developments, seeing as how this is the crack writing team that brought us Dawn the Centaur and Buffy the Bank Robber and The Submarine that Went to Tibet, I should hardly be surprised that ******* has been looking for ways to kill ******* or that ******* is doing the mid-air sex thing with ******* (and here that's what I thought wingfic was for!). And since I can't really see centaur!Dawn ever being part of my personal canon, I probably shouldn't care about this latter stuff, either.
OTOH, it has resulted in some way cool Buffy is My (Penguin) Hero responses, quinara's action-packed fic Gone Fishin' and ladyofthelog's fantabulous bit of penguin!Buffy art (spoilers for the comics). Which is way more fun than foaming at the mouth in rage, eh?
ETA: COMICS SPOILERS IN COMMENTS!