If you thought that Archie’s new look was a wild, new approach to the classic comic book character, get ready to see him burst into song. Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Betty will soon be like you’ve never seen them before, live and on Broadway!
Adam McKay, the writer/director behind Anchormanand The Other Guys, is working on the project with Archie Comics and Funny Or Die. Yes, I thought this had to be a Funny Or Die sketch at first. However, it turns out that the Riverdale gang is indeed packing up and heading for The Great White Way.
“Archie represents a bygone era of America. And like all bygone eras, there are elements we miss and elements that should be bygone,” said McKay. “This will be a musical that deals with both those realities in a bright, colorful, and slightly demented way.”
McKay is writing the book for the new show. The rest of the creative team and a start date will be announced at a later date.
Kickstarter campaigns can attract a lot of attention, and often it can be hard to tell which ones are truly something special. But when one is featured on the Onion’s AV Club, and is publicly backed and tweeted about by Neil Gaiman, and becomes a Kickstarter staff pick, it becomes pretty clear that something spectacular is going on. I took a few minutes to catch up with the writer of Asphodel: A Mythic Space Opera, Alex Kane!
GeekMom Mel: Welcome, Alex! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Alex Kane: Thank you for having me! I guess I’m mostly a short-story writer whose work falls under the broader category of science fiction, with a bit of fantasy and horror thrown in when the mood strikes. I’m also the managing editor of The Critical Press, where I copyedit and typeset books of film criticism and cultural commentary, as well as a submissions editor for Uncanny Magazine and an executive producer on the Star Wars documentary The Prequels Strike Back.
GMM: How did you get into writing? What has your path looked like so far?
AK: In college, I discovered there was a whole world of science fiction beyond movies, games, and media tie-ins—Star Wars novels were an early gateway drug for me—and also started collecting comics, like the Dark Horse Knights of the Old Republic series by John Jackson Miller. A few years later, working full-time as a retail banker, comics would become my salvation. But it was the discovery of voices like Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin, Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Tobias Buckell, and books like King’s On Writing, that led me to try my hand at getting some short fiction published.
I’d written a really awful novel at thirteen, and had generally thought of myself as a writer for years, churning out attempts at a sequel and a number of embarrassing short stories, but by the time I was nineteen it had grown into an obsession. I made my first professional sale to Digital Science Fiction in 2011, while I was still in college, and soon thereafter earned a finalist status in the Writers of the Future contest, attended the 2013 Clarion West Writers Workshop, and made a handful of additional pro fiction sales, all the while putting pressure on myself to get better.
GMM: You have a new comic, Asphodel, up for funding on Kickstarter. What made you decide to make Asphodel a comic rather than a regular story?
AK: After Clarion West, the world started to look a lot different. I saw that a career in publishing meant making sacrifices, leaping at the first sign of an opportunity, and having the courage to really give it your absolute best shot—something that just isn’t possible when you’re working a job you hate, getting bullied by micromanaging coworkers over the phone, and having to smile through the abuse of yet another rightfully angry customer whom you can’t possibly satisfy.
That year of soul-scarring limbo saw the loss of both my paternal grandparents, a few months apart from one another, and almost zero fiction writing, despite all I’d learned at Clarion West the prior summer. But for one miserable year, I glimpsed the power of the comics medium with maximum clarity: Every day at work, even when management informed us that we were understaffed and not allowed to leave the building during lunch breaks, comic books allowed me ten to twenty minutes of blissful, absolute escape—physically, I was stuck in the break room, phones ringing all around me, but mentally? I was in the world of Eric Powell’s The Goon, or Gotham City, or some galaxy far, far away, immune to the horrors of the inevitable adulthood that lay ahead of me.
The day I put in my two weeks’ notice, I felt like Andy Dufresne crawling out the other side and getting baptized in the rain of renewed possibility. Comics had saved my life, far as I could tell, and I figured I owed it to myself, creatively, to try my hand at writing in the medium myself.
GMM: Did you know New Horizons would be reaching Pluto right during your Kickstarter? How does it feel to have a new vision of a place that you have written about?
AK: I had no idea. The story that became issue one of Asphodel began life at Clarion West in summer 2013, as a sketch I turned in for critique by Samuel R. Delany and my seventeen brilliant classmates, and I spent a year revising it in prose form, trying to get it to work—but ultimately it’s a story too big for just a short story. A novel series, or creator-owned comic, is really the best way to do justice to all the big ideas and worldbuilding.
Since it’s sort of the “crowd favorite” among the manuscripts I wrote at the workshop, I’ve made up my mind that it’s a story that deserves to be finished and done proper justice. The New Horizons images, and the incredible timing of that mission with our Kickstarter campaign, feels like only one more reason to get excited about this story I’ve spent more than a year turning into a comic book. It’ll be really useful for researching later issues, if and when the time comes.
GMM: Can you give us a quick overview of Asphodel?
AK:Asphodel is an underworld myth for space opera fans. Whenever you see a “god” of some sort in the realm of science fiction, it’s often in the form of a technologically advanced alien race, or an A.I., and I wanted to play with the concepts in Michio Kaku’s books, giving humanity a shot at godhood for once. But the characters are the real focus, and I think that really comes across well in Gale’s art style, which more closely resembles the work of cartoonists like Bryan O’Malley and Genndy Tartakovsky than mainstream comics artists. The result feels quiet and intimate, despite the galactic scope of the worldbuilding and the postwar aftermath that Vic and Sedna are caught up in.
GMM: What was it like to work with an artist? How well did she capture your vision?
AK:Gale Galligan contacted me after I posted a call for artists on a Facebook group for comics creators, and it was clear right away that she stood out for both the distinctive, professional artwork in her portfolio and her enthusiasm for the project. She really understands the kind of story I’ve wanted to tell for two years, and she’s a fantastic collaborator. It’s been amazing.
GMM: Neil Freaking Gaiman backed your Kickstarter, and then tweeted about it. That must have felt awesome.
AK: Neil’s so cool! He was my teacher during the second week of Clarion West two years ago, and he’s been an incredible source of inspiration and support. He was, by the way, not the easiest teacher to please—he really tore apart my writing piece by piece, and stitching it back together has proved to be one of the most crucial stages of my development as an artist. He really, really knows his stuff, and while I wouldn’t recommend being Neil Gaiman’s “teaching moment” to anyone looking to have their ego massaged, I will say that my writing’s benefited enormously from it. Having Neil on board with the Kickstarter and helping get the word out has really given me a nice boost in visibility, and I just love the guy. No one understands stories like he does.
GMM: What are some of your other interests? Tell us about your geek cred ;).
AK: I’m a huge Star Wars nerd, in case there was any doubt, and I play a lot of videogames. I’ve literally logged about a thousand hours in Bungie’s shared-world FPS, Destiny, and I tend to watch just about every Marvel, DC, and sci-fi movie that comes to theaters. I’m that guy who’s destroying pop culture—though I also voice my criticisms about science fiction and film pretty frequently, which I think makes up for it a little. At the end of the day, I always feel like there are too many comics in my stack, too many books on my shelf, too many movies I haven’t see and games I haven’t played yet. There’s no right or wrong way to be a geek—said the guy who’s never seen an episode of Doctor Who or Firefly—but there’s really a lot of great art being made, despite what jaded cynics on the Internet would have us all believe. Feel free to dismiss all my opinions on this if you must, though: I am one of the guys behind The Prequels Strike Back.
GMM: What were some of your inspirations growing up? Do you see ways these are reflected in your work now?
AK:The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Knights of the Old Republic. Halo 2! Really, I think most of my work reflects my love for all these flawed but richly drawn universes. I grew up watching space opera and playing videogames with spaceships and robots in them, so my most fruitful creative periods are usually spent developing worlds that feel a little like George Lucas’s, though mine tend to be a lot darker—more Blade Runner-meets-Alien in tone and feel. I’ll never forget the first time I read 2001: A Space Odyssey, or playing Halo 2 on day one.
Every time I move away from the genre, it’s not long before a book like Leviathan Wakes or Dark Orbit, or a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, comes along to remind me how much life’s really left in it. Space opera has begun to grow up a little, thanks to some of the great SF writers of today. John Scalzi in particular has done a great service in making it more accessible.
GMM: So what’s up next for you? Any big plans in the works?
AK: I’ve gotten a little bit too comfortable with short fiction, and I think I’m at risk of repeating myself if I don’t take a bit of a break from it, so the next thing is either a novel or continuing the story of Asphodel with a limited series. Certainly the world of Asphodel is my focus for the foreseeable future. I have a horror novel I’m also working on, but you can never tell what’s going to happen with a particular project. If sales don’t lead to further issues of the comic book, the most likely course of action will be to write a novel set in that universe. I’ve pitched a nonfiction book on my favorite videogame, as well, and I’m still waiting to hear back from the publisher. It’s been a busy year, but I hope next year will be a whole lot busier.
GMM: Anything else you’d like to add?
AK: I’d love for anyone reading this to take a look at the Kickstarter and leave comments with any questions or feedback they might have about the comic. Asphodel represents two years’ worth of work, and it’s a real passion project for me. It has been so heartwarming and inspiring to see the reception the Kickstarter has gotten, but it’d be great if more people could share the project, and this interview, and help to get the word out—we’ve still got a long ways to go to reach our minimum funding goal, and the comic simply won’t happen if we don’t hit it.
GMM: Thanks so much for spending time with us, Alex, and best of luck with your Kickstarter!
Alex Kane is the managing editor of The Critical Press, a publisher of books on film and culture, as well as an executive producer of the Star Wars documentary The Prequels Strike Back. He also serves as a first reader for Uncanny Magazine and works full-time as a freelance copyeditor. A graduate of the 2013 Clarion West Writers Workshop, his fiction has appeared in more than a dozen venues, including the Exigencies anthology from Curbside Splendor’s Dark House imprint, edited by Richard Thomas, and he is the writer of the creator-owned comic Asphodel. His reviews and criticism have been published in Foundation, The New York Review of Science Fiction, SF Signal, and Omni, among other places. He lives in west-central Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.
With the fifth full-length Peanuts film right around the corner (and the first in 35 years), now would be a great time to introduce your kids to the works of Charles M. Schulz.
And today, especially—it’s National Franklin Day! I’m not sure who came up with this “holiday,” but around my house, we love celebrating all things Peanuts just about every single day, which includes the franchise’s first African-American character.
In fact, we have been big fans of Franklin, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the gang for years. I’ve told my son on numerous occasions that he will be required to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas with me every year until he turns 18. (Sweetly, he tells me he’s willing to go beyond that age.) We watch all of the specials, have several DVDs, and even read the comics. Needless to say, we are pretty psyched for the new movie.
If you want to get your wee ones ahead of the game, the TV specials and comics are a perfect way to start. More specifically, you can talk to them about the impact of Franklin on the Peanuts franchise and comics in general.
Forty-seven years ago today, Franklin made his first appearance in Peanuts comics. He was actually inspired by a letter Schulz received from Harriet Glickman. Following the death of Martin Luther King, the school teacher urged the cartoonist to add an African-American character to the lineup. On July 31, 1968, Franklin Armstrong made his debut.
According to the people at Fox, Franklin is actually Charlie Brown’s best friend. Funny, I always thought it was Linus! A few other fun facts:
Franklin has been voiced by 19 actors over the years.
His favorite sport is ice hockey.
The Peanuts Movie will mark Franklin’s first appearance on-screen since 1999.
Check out a peek at Franklin’s upcoming film appearance in the trailer below. The Peanuts Movie will hit theaters on November 6, 2015.
Remember when you used to be able to get comics for just a few cents? Well, Marvel is making comics available for a penny—about 17,000 of them.
The company just announced plans to offer its Marvel Unlimited service for the introductory price of 1 cent. As part of the San Diego Comic-Con festivities, this deal will only be offered to new subscribers and only for the first month.
However, that’s an awful lot of eye candy for the price of well… penny candy. The collection features 75 years of Marvel Comics, which includes The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and so much more. If it seems really overwhelming (in a good way, of course), click over to the Discover section, which allows users to search by storylines, characters, or creators.
To get the discounted goods, you will need to use the promo code PENNY during your checkout process. Just know that this offer is only good through July 20, 2015. (Editor’s Note: The offer has been extended through July 27!)There are a few other restrictions as well. Like, don’t expect to cancel your current subscription to get the discount; the offer is only open to new and former (now-cancelled) members who have not subscribed with a promotional offer in the last 6 months. It also doesn’t work on gift subscriptions, Annual, or Annual Plus memberships. Make sure to read the fine print!
The Marvel Unlimited app is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. After the 1-cent promotional period is up, expect to pay $9.99 per month. However, that fee ensures that you’ll always have plenty to read, since both classic and new issues are being added on a weekly basis.
It’s been six weeks since the Sleepy Hollow hiatus began, and if you’re anything like me you’re really starting to miss the weekly adventures of Abbie, Ichabod, Jenny, Frank, and the other inhabitants of the little New York town. I’ve been reading my way through the various Sleepy Hollow publications on offer to see which are worth reading over the summer. Continue reading GeekMom Approved Reads for Surviving a ‘Sleepy Hollow’ Hiatus
I recently had a chance to interview Katie Cook! Who is Katie Cook? Well, she is a comic book writer and artist, and has done licensed work for tiny franchises such as DC Comics, Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. She also frequents conventions and paints the most adorable little images, from video game characters to Star Wars to Harry Potter—and she takes requests! In a couple weeks, her webcomic, Gronk: A Monster’s Story, is going to be released into print by Action Lab Comics. I asked her a few questions about life around her corner of the nerdiverse.
GeekMom Mel: Hi Katie Cook! Welcome to GeekMom and thanks for doing this interview!
Katie Cook: Thanks for interviewing me!
GMM:How did you decide to become an artist? And did you always want to do comics, or did that come along later?
KC: I don’t know if I “decided” it… I’ve just never really wanted to be anything else! I really wanted to draw a newspaper comic strip… drawing longer form comics just kind of came from that (and I loved reading comics anyway… natural fit!).
GMM: I met you at Boston Comic Con, where I could barely get close to your table because of little geeklings (including mine!) crowding around to see your work. What’s that like for you? What’s it like by the end of the con?
KC: I LOVE kids. LOVE THEM. I have 2 of my own… knowing that my work is something that kids enjoy reading is amazing to me. And spending a convention weekend interacting with kid after kid after kid is just hysterical. I have the best conversations and I’m just beaming by the end of Sunday.
GMM:What is the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you at a con? Has anyone ever asked you to draw something particularly strange?
KC: I have many stories… many, many bizarre stories. I have an entire panel discussion at Emerald City Comic Con just to tell stories from my 10 years in the comic convention trenches. I can’t even begin to poke that iceberg now.
GMM:I received Gronk: A Monster’s Story from Action Lab for review, and it is so utterly adorable and funny (“But this is the KITTY bath!”). Could you tell our readers a little about your process in making Gronk? What was the inspiration behind him?
KC: Gronk began as a character I designed back in college (so, so long ago, siiiiiiigh). She was actually a project about what *I* would look like as a monster! Since beginning the comic, I’ve since had kids. Gronk has evolved into the embodiment of my oldest daughter. (Fitting, no?)
GMM: You have many projects, from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to F*ck You, Box (and other observations of my cat’s inner dialogue) to cute sketch cards and banners of movies and characters done in your own style. Do you have a favorite thing to work on?
KC: I like to draw cats. Caaaaaaaats! And Star Wars. If Star Wars cats were a comic, I’d want to work on it.
GMM:Rebels or Empire? Or…something else?
KC: Jedi! I can’t be the bad guy… my family roots are tied too closely with Canada.
GMM:How has parenthood changed your experience being a geek?
KC: I guess it’s made it more exciting? I have a whole flurry of things I can’t wait to share with my kids when they are old enough.
GMM:I’ll assume you, like many of us, had geeky leanings since your youth, and you remember what it was like growing up. What do you think is the best way a non-geeky parent can support their young nerdlings?
KC: Don’t discourage it! IF your kids likes comics… buy them comics (it’s reading!). If your kid likes Star Wars, don’t tell them it’s silly! I’ve seen parents tell their kids that it’s “ridiculous” to like superheroes and whatnot. What if you just turned who COULD have been the next George Lucas into an accountant with those words?!
GMM:What is your favorite part about being a mom?
KC: The absolute adoring look in my daughter’s eyes when they see me… they haven’t figured out what a dork I am yet.
Thank you so much for doing this interview, Katie! And you, people out there, be sure to check out Katie’s website where you can see all kinds of goodies as well as find out more about her new comic Gronk: A Monster’s Story, coming out March 24! You can also hear her chat about all manner of geekiness on episode 59 of the Once and Future Podcast (you might want to block the kids’ ears a bit for that one, though). I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do!
Being a geek is becoming more and more mainstream. Yet there are still stereotypes of what makes a geek a “geek.” Being a comic book fan is a quintessential sign, and often linked to the old-school idea of socially-inept, single guys. For women who proclaim their love of comics (like me), it’s just…strange.
But that is changing. I was just invited to a Fan Girls Night Out at my local comic store by another mom who is also into comics. There are more of us than you realize. And although it may seem new to the mainstream world, it is far from abnormal. The history of women in comics as both fans and within the industry stretches back to the beginning.
The new documentary She Makes Comics is an eye-opening and heartfelt look at women within the history of comics, and I highly recommend watching it. The film is directed by Marisa Stotter and produced by Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert of Respect!Films. It is executive produced by Sequart’s Julian Darius and Mike Phillips and by Columbia University comics librarian Karen Green. It is a series of interwoven interviews of passionate people with different roles and points of view. My teenage son and I watched it together, finding it informative and entertaining.
Did you know that women and men made up equal numbers of comic book readership before the 1950s? American comics were about many topics, had various settings, and reflected every possible interest. By the ’70s, women readers started to drop off dramatically, partly due to the focus on male superheroes as the best-seller comic book theme, as well as the feminist movement awakening a generation of women who were tired of the same “wedding bliss” ending. An underground women’s comic movement began, and it was fascinating listening to the creators talk about it on camera: both the excitement and the fears.
Several women really changed the comic book world, from Wendy Pini, the original chain-mail bikini awesome cosplayer who then created ElfQuest, to Janette Kahn, former publisher of DC who broke the glass ceiling, to Gail Simone, notable comic writer, and author of Women in Refrigerators, an unapologetic look at how female characters are unfairly treated in comic stories, to Kelly Sue DeConnick, the creator of the hugely popular female Captain Marvel, and many more.
How do women get into comics in the first place? Better comics. The consensus of the interviewees was: Give us a variety of women featured, complex characters, and in-depth storytelling. As an X-Men fan, it was cool to know how many other women in this film cited that series as their turn-on to the whole genre. The fact that the male creator of the series had two female editors makes sense. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was another “gateway” comic, again, with a female editor. In fact, that editor, Karen Berger, is credited with developing the talents of some of the biggest names in comics for the past several decades.
I personally got into comics in the 1990s, and was quite alone. I took my two young children to the comic book store and was the only female there, let alone a mother. I found it interesting to hear about that time period. The film talked about how more women were getting into the creative side of comics then, but still not equally represented by a long-shot. The industry was not welcome to women or women-centered stories, but also, women are not as confidant in promoting themselves.
Comics used to be sold in supermarkets and bookstores, but then only in specific comic stores that were (and mostly still are) very much a bachelor den of boob posters and all-male staff who assume a girl is only there because she is dating a comic book fan. In 1994, a support organization for women in comics was created called Friends of Lulu which put out a book helping comic book stores understand how to attract more females to their stores—why shut out the biggest consumers in the country? The internet ushered in a huge change. This has given women a place to connect, collaborate, and share their love of comics. The film also mentions the influence of the manga craze during that time as well, with comics targeted to girls.
There is so much to this film, but what stood out to me most was the passion of the people interviewed, and the range of ages. I loved hearing from the elder pioneers in the industry, as well as the younger talents of today. Inspiring the next generation of comic creators came up a lot, and is something I support wholeheartedly. Everyone should be able to express themselves in whatever medium suits them best, boys and girls. Check out the film!
She Makes Comics is now available to order on DVD and as a digital download at SheMakesComics.com.
Every superhero has an origin story. Hollywood can’t seem to get it together when it comes to putting Wonder Woman’s tale up on the big screen. (Sorry, but I’m not counting her appearance in 2016’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Amazon Princess deserves her own movie! Here’s hoping the announced one actually is made.)
IDW Publishing worked with DC Entertainment and the Library of American Comics to produce this gorgeous coffee table book, which focuses on the world’s first and most kick-ass female superhero. This is the kind of thing you’d put out for guests that you’d actually want to stay for a little while. Captivating and entertaining, the book’s 196 pages features Wonder Woman’s entire newspaper run—the whole darn thing.
The Library of American Comics’ Bruce Canwell kicks off the book with an excellent essay, which includes a little backstory about the comic and the character, as well as a peek at some promotional materials, original sketches, and other tidbits. It’s just a few pages, so don’t expect anything comprehensive, but it’s an awesome few pages.
From there, the rest of the book has all of the black-and-white comics that ran in newspapers from May 1, 1943 until December 1, 1944. It ran six days a week, so there’s a ton of material and characters to comb through. Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Cheetah, and many more are all represented here. There’s info on Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, her bracelets, and even the Invisible Plane. Some of the storylines may seem a little very familiar and some is a bit dated, but this is part of comics (and superhero) history. It’s also really cool. The imagery is insanely detailed, which is especially awesome, because you have to remember that this is the first time that these particular comics have been printed since their original run.
The $49.99 price tag may seem a little steep, but this book is well worth the cost. The material created by writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peters is something to experience. And this is one good looking collection that will certainly warrant repeat reading. If you are a fan or have a Wonder Woman fan in your life, it would be hard to find a better gift than Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics. Consider your holiday shopping complete!
Halloween is definitely the sweetest of holidays and, with the overwhelming amount of candy given out, it’s nice to have an alternative to the sugar frenzy. Why not be the coolest house on the block and hand out comic books?
This year Boom Studios will be offering a KaBOOM! Trick or Treat Pack, a pack of 50 assorted all-ages-friendly comics for a special discounted price of just $19.99, available from their online store. It’s an amazing package that’s over $200 in value and includes favorite titles like Adventure Time, Regular Show, Peanuts, and Garfield.
Handing out issues of popular comics promotes reading, creativity, and is a healthy alternative to seasonal candy!
Note: This offer is for a limited time and packs may contain duplicate issues, individual comics will not be placed in bags and boards. All orders must be placed by Oct. 22nd to be received by Halloween.
Abandon yer landlubber ways and set sail with the Cutlass: Read Pirates of the Silver Coast, an all-ages fantasy adventure graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Scott Chantler. It features a feisty, adventurous girl seeking her lost brother in a fantasy medieval setting. In this fifth story in the Three Thieves series, former circus acrobat Dessa is seeking her kidnapped twin brother Jared, along with her two companions, Fisk and Topper.
At the opening of the book, Dessa is waiting for a broken leg to heal and hiding with her two companions. Topper is a small blue being, who is quick-thinking and loves a good risk. Fisk, on the other hand, is a quiet, huge and gentle creature, who has been outcast from his tribe. To proceed with their mission, the three need funds. Raising funds and seeking Dessa’s brother while under pursuit by the evil queen’s guard, using the highly sought-after map to a mysterious island that Dessa acquired in the previous issue, gets this tale off to an in-your-face start.
Once the trio have purchased safe passage on the Cutlass, they get to mix it up with pirates—several times. Some people are surprisingly piratical, some pirates are surprisingly human, and our friends require bravery, trickery, feats of strength, or leaps of faith to continue the journey without piratical penalties. At the end of the book, I wanted to keep reading to find out the resolution to all of the dangling questions and intriguing situations. I would love to read this book with youngsters in my life.
Since I have not yet read the preceding volumes in the series, I did not have a strong sense of the characters’ history or personalities. Dessa and Topper tell us who they are quickly through their actions, but Fisk is so quiet that his other characteristics are hard to discern. There is a sense in this story of payoff from earlier story investments, as if the series is a big Jenga tower and this episode is the point where we start worrying about each move we make.
Chantler’s art and writing move the story along briskly and convey the plot clearly. I did not have to study panels to figure out what was happening, but sometimes I studied a panel just for the fun of it. The art style is uncluttered and direct with clean lines, a somewhat painterly style, and the pages vary between bright primary colors and more muted, neutral palettes, depending on the atmosphere. My favorite line was, “By the great mermaid’s clamshells!” and my favorite image was of Fisk gliding through the air with his head up and his arms wide. Not because it is particularly artsy or beautiful, but because it looks both fun and serene—and it’s effective, in story terms. Images like this make it easy to hope to see this story as an animated or live-action film.
Q&A With Scott Chantler
GeekMom: Did you have any particular inspiration or goal in designing your main characters? We love strong female protagonists at GeekMom, but Dessa’s posse is interesting too.
Scott Chantler: Topper and Fisk are characters I’ve been kicking around since university. There’s an old drawing of them in one of my sketchbooks from probably 1993. So those are characters who have been with me a while, just waiting to pop up as sidekicks somewhere.
Dessa herself came much later. My original 2006 concept for Three Thieves had a boy lead. Before actually pitching it, I changed it to a girl. It just felt a little less cliché, and maybe made her seem a little bit more vulnerable out there in that pseudo-Medieval man’s world. You’re seeing a lot more female heroes in comics lately, especially in all-ages books. In fact, a lot of them are using “strong female characters!” as a sort of feminist marketing hook. Which is fine, but Kids Can has never publicized the Three Thieves books that way, which I’m happy about. That Dessa is a girl has never been a big deal (Pirates is the first book in the series to reference to it as a plot point.) Because it shouldn’t be. I certainly wasn’t trying to force some kind of social justice agenda. The themes of the series are more universal than that.
GM: Without serious spoilers, what was your favorite part of creating Pirates of the Silver Coast and/or the Three Thieves series?
SC: The entire series is just a blast to work on. But Book Four (The King’s Dragon) was pretty dark, so I purposefully wanted to make this one light and fun. Of the five books so far, it was the easiest to write. It’s a little shorter than the others, so that helped. But it also ends with a couple of big twists that I’ve been working toward for years now, so I always knew exactly where I was going. Finally arriving at those scenes was really satisfying.
GM: Who did you read as a child and who do you read now?
SC: When I was very young, I was all about superhero comics. When I hit my teens, it was more about fantasy comics and fantasy novels. Conan the Barbarian, DC’s Warlord, Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara, etc., Tolkien of course. A lot of that stuff ended up in forming the Three Thieves books.
As an adult, I’ll read pretty much anything. Fiction, non-fiction, genre stuff or “literary” stuff, comics, or prose… I just like to read. Prose-wise, I’m finishing up Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter’s The Monuments Men. Comics-wise, I’m re-reading the ‘90s Vertigo classic Sandman Mystery Theatre.
GM: Do you prefer writing or art? Do you ever wish you were collaborating on the book creation?
SC: Cartoonists get this question a lot, and it’s always puzzling to us, because in comics the art is the writing. Most of us don’t think of them as two separate things. We’re people who “write” with pictures. That said, the script stage goes faster than the drawing does. But it’s also less satisfying than looking at the giant pile of art boards you’ve got when you’re finished. So it’s a toss-up.
And no, I don’t wish for a collaboration. We can all name some successful writer/artist teams who seem to share a vision, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. I think a true synthesis between word and image is best achieved when those two things are married inside a single creator.
GM: What is the hardest part of the process of creating your comics?
SC: The drawing stage takes a long time—longer than I’m sure most people would imagine. Drawing comics is more fun than digging ditches for sure, but sometimes when you’re several months (or years, in some artists’ cases) into the process, it’s hard to remember that. Many of us also work in isolation, which makes it tough, too. There’s no one around to give you a pep talk when you need one.
GM: Any tips for kids or adults interested in pursuing comics?
SC: Drawing skills are important, of course, but I would stress to them that comics aren’t simply heavily-illustrated books, but a unique storytelling language. And mastering that language involves so much more than drawing. You need to think about what to draw, not just how to draw, and that means studying drama, studying film, studying movement, studying iconography, studying anything that helps get ideas across to readers, visually. Creating comics isn’t about picture-making; it’s about communication. The best cartoonists aren’t the ones who draw the coolest-looking stuff. They’re the ones who can translate their ideas most effectively into simple, clear, dramatic imagery.
(GM: Amen, brother!)
Thanks to Scott for that insight into the life of an artist and writer. You can see the trailer for Pirates of the Silver Coast and buy the book at Scott’s website. Pirates of the Silver Coast is 96 pages from Kids Can Press. It sells for $8.06 and is suggested for ages 8-10.
What’s better than Free Comic Book Day? Two Free Comic Book Days each year!
Good news for all of our comic book lovers: Another fun day offering free comic books is heading your way: Halloween ComicFest, featuring Halloween-themed comics. While most shops will celebrate on the designated date of Saturday, October 25, some shops are planning to go all out on Halloween or accommodate other dates. Check with your local shop for their date.
Halloween ComicFest is a single-day event when local comic shops offer free comics with a Halloween theme. Many shops also plan fun activities such as costume contests, giveaways, sales, guest appearances by comic artists and celebrities, and more. Starting October 1, some shops will have packs of 20 mini-comics for sale for $4.99, so you can hand them out to trick-or-treaters or use them as party favors. Over 1,500 shops are participating in HCF, so remember to check in with your shop!
Full-size comic examples include Rachel Rising #1, Scooby Doo Team Up #1 Featuring Batman, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Afterlife with Archie, which got tons of positive talk this past season. Additionally, who can resist Hero Cats/Princeless or Fathom: The Adventures of Ernie, featuring an adorable seahorse in a lovely aquatic world on the cover?
Mini-comics include Vamplets: The Undead Pet Society, Angry Birds, Betty and Veronica, Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse, and more.
When you get one of the free comics, you are eligible for the “Greatest Halloween Contest Ever.” Just take a picture in costume while holding a HCF2014 comic and submit the photo to HCF at halloweencomicfest.com. Watch the HCF Facebook page or follow them on Twitter at @halloweencomic to avoid scary developments!
What happens when a rambunctious eleven-year-old girl becomes the captain of her very own spaceship?
Everstar, a new webseries created by Rebecca Tinker, written by Tinker and drawn by Joie Brown, will be released Friday, August 8, at Thrillbent.com and through Thrillbent’s free app. Thrillbent offered me an advance look at the first two installments and, if the rest is anything like the first two, this creative team has hit the mark perfectly.
Ainslie Wickett is an 11-year-old girl growing up on the New England coast. Left alone atop a lighthouse with electronic signaling devices, Ainslie can’t resist the temptation to try them out. But instead of communicating with ships at sea, she accidentally sends out an intergalactic SOS. Oops.
Her call is answered by a rogue spaceship and they take Ainslie and her best friend George on board. The creators promise encounters with pirates, malfunctioning robots, and space battles galore. It’s a given that Ainslie retains her ability to get both in and out of trouble.
“I’m a huge SF fan but there’s not a lot of SF comic out there for young girls, particularly going on a grand adventure in a wild environment,” Tinker said in an interview last week. She said her influences were superhero comics, Sailor Moon, and that “Tamora Pierce was my absolute favorite.”
I asked her about a sequence that particularly struck me, in which Ainslie and George surf the waves on a sailboat. “I was a sailor for a long time as a kid and I’m pulling from exactly the kind of things I did as a kid. I wanted to have that backdrop to start the series.”
Tinker , a graduate of Emerson College and an Executive Assistant at Thrillbent co-founder John Rogers’ television production company, originally developed this concept for television. “I showed it to him and he thought it would make a good script.”
The next step was finding an artist to make the vision become real. Tinker spotted Brown’s artwork originally at WonderCon.
“She specifically pointed to a couple of pieces in my portfolio,” Brown said. A few art exchanges later, and the match was sealed. Brown said her artwork reflects a mix of influences: manga, favorite children’s books, and a little bit of Adventure Time. Brown allowed that there’s one other influence: Sonic the Hedgehog. “I was wild for it growing up and if you look closely at my work, you can see the influences.”
She said she was thrilled to be working on Everstar. “I was just over the moon about the story. It feels like something I would have come up with,” Brown said. “Everything just clicked for us.” Tinker said the artwork turned out “better than I could have imagined.”
Mark Waid, co-founder of Thrillbent, said the site decided on Everstar specifically because it is aimed at a demographic that they don’t currently serve.
“We’re really excited to be doing this because it’s a really good comic and the bonus is that it reaches a different audience,” Waid said.
Everstar will update weekly on Wednesday. The first installment up today is free. Later installments will be available via the $3.99 subscription price for the site, which features more than a dozen webcomics and eight short stories.
When a film gets such nearly universal glowing praise as Guardians of the Galaxy has, all those accolades can inflate expectations to such a degree that nothing could ever live up to them. So I realize that I’m only adding to the hype here when I say that Guardians of the Galaxy is every bit as epic, irreverent and plain old fun as you could hope it to be. But that’s just the way it is.
Director and co-writer James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman, who is rumored to also have a script for a Black Widow floating out there (ohpleasemakethishappen), expertly traverse a diverse color palette of tones, always keeping that core of lighthearted mischief at the center. If you’ve seen the trailers, you should already have a good idea of what you’re in for, but rest assured that there are so many fantastic moments you haven’t seen yet, and they’re not all jokes.
Take the first five minutes, which punch you in the gut with a heart-wrenching death scene and then immediately whisk you away to the far reaches of the cosmos for a goofy solo dance number. You might think this would give the viewer a kind of emotional whiplash, and it does, but it also serves to establish a range right off the bat, to let you know that despite the jokes there are actual, emotional stakes here.
That sequence also does a great job introducing us to the film’s lead character, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), or as he likes to call himself, Star-Lord. Abducted from Earth as a boy, he was raised by a group of intergalactic outlaws known as Ravagers. Pratt infuses the character with his personal charm and unassuming heroism, and damn near carries the movie on his broad shoulders alone.
When Peter steals a mysterious orb and attempts to double cross the Ravagers by attempting to fence it himself, he becomes the target of a number of unsavory operators. Among them is the deadly assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of powerful supervillain Thanos (who is mentioned more than he is seen, but is played by Josh Brolin in the quick glimpses we do get). She is sent to retrieve the orb by genocidal buzzkill Ronan (Lee Pace), who is in league with Thanos and becomes the de facto antagonist of the film. But Gamora has her own ideas, and her motives line up more closely with Peter’s than either of the big baddies.
Also on Peter’s tail are a pair of scrappy bounty hunters: Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a wisecracking genetic anomaly who also happens to be a brilliant escape artist; and Groot, a sentient tree-man whose vocabulary is limited to the words “I am Groot,” exclusively in that order (those three words are given proper weight by Vin Diesel). These two are so good together they could support their own spinoff film, or an HBO series. If it weren’t for the inherent likability of Pratt and the formidable screen presence of Saldana, they would steal every scene out from under them.
The four come to blows and land in prison, where they add one final member to the team, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a muscle-bound brawler craving vengeance against Ronan for the death of his wife and child. He joins up with Peter, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot when he finds out that their mission intersects with his own and may bring him closer to the subject of his wrath. To his, and everyone’s, surprise, he finds himself coming to respect and even trust his new companions as they work together toward a common goal.
The impact this film will have on different audiences is bound to vary, depending on their familiarity with the source material and the Marvel universe. For those who know the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, the changes in many of the origin stories may be disconcerting at first, but it’s not hard to see why Gunn and Perlman made those choices.
As if to make up for that, there are some Easter eggs thrown in that only those fans will get. If you only know the Marvel movie universe, there are a few morsels thrown your way too, though some of them won’t pay off until far down the road in future films. And if you have no familiarity with any of those things, you’ll still have a great time discovering these characters and this world.
Be warned that the introductions fly by almost too fast, though. If there’s one issue I have with the film (and it’s a minuscule one compared to all the other great stuff), it’s that it moves at such a brisk pace there’s hardly any time to absorb all the new features of this cosmos before we’re thrown hurtling through it. Those familiar with the outskirts of the Marvel universe probably won’t be thrown off by the references to things like the Nova Corps, Xandar, and the Kree race, but everyone else may find themselves playing a bit of catch-up during the first act. Of course, that won’t be as much of a problem the second time you see it. Or the third. Or the fourth.
It’s also important to note the essential role that the soundtrack plays in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not just background music; it’s a part of the story. Peter’s Walkman and mixtape, which he had with him the night of his abduction from Earth, are his prized possessions and his only connection to his home planet and long-lost mother. The filmmakers took great care in selecting each ’70s track not just for its sound but for its thematic relevance to the story. From the catchy “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede to the Jackson 5’s groovy “I Want You Back” to Redbone’s soulful “Come and Get Your Love” to the punky “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways, these songs are the film’s beating heart.
For those who keep track of these things, Guardians of the Galaxy does pass the Bechdel test, but only just barely. There are a few quick exchanges between Gamora and her half-sister Nebula (Karen Gillen) during a pretty awesome fight sequence that hint at a much deeper story for both of them. Gillen looks amazing in her blue makeup and prosthetics, but Nebula amounts to little more than a one-note henchwoman for Ronan. The film doesn’t have the time to go into the relationship or history between these two fascinating female characters, which I would have loved to have seen.
In an era where sequels dominate the box office, it’s wonderful to see a giddy, visually spectacular, original film (at least, original in the sense that the title doesn’t have a Roman numeral after it) like Guardians of the Galaxy emerge from the pack to become the must-see movie of the summer.
And make no mistake, if you like science-fiction, comedy, action, or things that are good in general, you must see this movie.
I hope everyone has picked up a copy of The Shadow Hero for you and your kids’ summer reading. If not, read my review on why you should! Plus, here’s an interview with the writer, Gene Luen Yang:
GeekMom: How was the story and art divided between you and Sonny Liew? What is your creative process?
Gene Luen Yang: I did the writing and Sonny did the art. There was some overlap, of course. Comic books by their very nature demand that the text and the visuals interact, so the writer and the artist have to interact.
I wrote the book as thumbnail sketches—rough sketches of what each page should look like. Sonny reframed the panels that weren’t working. He did all the character designs. He also did extensive visual research on the time period to give the book the proper look and feel.
GM: Who found out about The Green Turtle comic? And how?
GLM: My friend and fellow cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim first pointed it out to me. (If you’re unfamiliar with Derek’s work, I highly recommend it. His latest, Tune, is a wonderful sci-fi rom-com graphic novel series.) Derek had read about the character on Pappy’s Golden Age Blogzine, a blog about obscure Golden Age superheroes.
As soon as I learned the rumors surrounding The Green Turtle’s creation, I became fascinated with him. Was he a Chinese American or wasn’t he? Chu Hing, his creator, never gives his reader a definitive answer. I really wanted that definitive answer, so I teamed up with Sonny Liew to provide one.
GM: I like The Shadow Hero a lot because it has a great blend of action, character, good plot, and humor. The mother is very funny! How did her character come to be?
GLM: Thank you! Hank’s mother was inspired by a few of the ladies at my home church. I grew up in a Chinese American Catholic community. Many of the “aunties” were very much like Hank’s mom. They were well-meaning, but also very… opinionated. Their hearts were always in the right place.
GM: I am currently running an Asian cultural studies camp for teens, and we talked about old stereotypes of Asians in the media (film, tv, comics, etc.). The kids were totally baffled at the caricatures depicted from the turn of the previous century and early decades. What would you like my students to know about Asian stereotypes in today’s media?
GLM: I think that’s great! I’m glad today’s kids are baffled by the caricatures from a century ago. It means things are different now. It means we’re growing in our understanding of culture.
At the same time, stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans still pervade today’s media. An Asian or Asian-American character’s ethnicity can sometimes be used as a lazy way of flattening her, of sidestepping her humanness. Pay attention and you’ll see it. The long-term solution—or at least one of the long-term solutions—is to tell better stories about Asian-Americans.
GM: The Shadow Hero certainly sets things up for more adventures. Are you planning on telling more?
GLM: I have vague notions of doing two more Shadow Hero books: One about the relationship between early Chinatown and early Japantown, another about The Green Turtle in post-World-War-II China. Nothing’s set, though. We’ll see how this first book does.
A big thank you to Gene for taking the time to answer my questions! Here’s to more of The Shadow Hero.
“Look at this.” I showed page twenty-nine of The Shadow Hero to my daughter, who has been taking a comics and cartooning class. “You see how your eye flows around the page, the action and reaction shots branch out in all direction, yet clear storytelling and speech bubbles properly placed—brilliant comic montage! And check out this completely different take on page 105, artistically reflective of the spinning barrel of a gun as the panels…”
I’m not an artist, but wow, do I appreciate a good one. First Second has put out a superhero graphic novel with ties to the history of comics, racism, and the duality of first generation Americans, in an entertaining format that young YA and up will enjoy.
Gene Luen Yang, creator of award winning American Born Chinese, and Sonny Liew, who recently did a graphic adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, have come together to introduce The Shadow Hero. It is the origin story for a long-forgotten comic superhero from the 1940s: The Green Turtle. As a history geek, I was curious to hear there was an Asian-American comic so long ago, since mainstream comics are amazingly white and male. Yang explains that in 1944, Blazing Comics asked Chu Hing to create an original superhero for them. Hing came up with The Green Turtle, but not everything is clear about this superhero during his brief run.
Yang and Liew have filled in the past with The Shadow Hero. Yang is a powerhouse in the graphic novel world, and does not disappoint. The story takes place in West Coast Chinatown during the early twentieth century. Hank is a young, handsome, nice guy, whose only goal in life is to be just like his father: an honest grocer. But then his mother decides her son should become a superhero, and since his father has an ancient Chinese spirit residing in his shadow, fate leads Hank to become more than he had planned.
Although Hank is our hero, his mother, Hua, is my favorite character. Starting with her resignation of the drabness of American life, to her being flattered that another superhero was checking out her “bosom” (really a hidden pork bun), to her inability to keep her son’s dual identity a secret, this lady made me laugh.
Speaking of women, although there is a kick-ass, sexy romantic interest here, she isn’t the only girl around. Not only is the mother a big role, but there are two other dangerous women introduced. Yay!
The plot is fast-paced, the dialogue true, and the artwork brings a likable personality to the world. Besides page 29, there is creative use of the comic format throughout, especially during the action scenes. I really liked the ending (defeat by the clever use of words!), and hope there is more to come.
The Shadow Hero comes out in July. GeekMom received a copy for review purposes.
We Love Fine features a great line of shirts by artist Kelly Sue DeConnick, who writes the Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble series for Marvel Comics. The only problem is that they haven’t had them available in kids’ sizes, so her littlest fans have been left out of the fun—until now.
The “Princess Sparklefists” and “Carol Corps” designs are now available in both toddler and youth sizes! They’ve also introduced a gorgeous brand new design called “Every Little Girl Flies” that’s available in men’s, women’s, and kids’ sizes in your choice of several colors.
DeConnick didn’t just specially designed these shirts; she is also doing some good by donating her curation commission to the Girls Leadership Institute. This non-profit organization aims to educate and empower girls through a variety of programs designed to help them become leaders who know they can change the world.
Lumberjanes is the new all-ages comic from Boom! Studios, and given that it’s girl/women/Hardcore Lady Types centric, it makes for a spectacular good time for everyone from kids to adults.
Created for Boom! Box by Grace Ellis and Boom! Senior Editor Shannon Watters, the series is written by Noelle Stevenson and Ellis, and illustrated by Brooke Allen, with fabulous exclusive covers available at various comic cons. Boom! bills it as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls,” and you don’t have to tell me twice, that combination sounds amazing. I’ve already seen a ton of cosplay online, pretty good for a book that’s just been released!
The comic centers around five scout pals, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley. If you can’t see yourself in one of the characters, there’s a good chance you’ll see yourself in all of them. The girls are at a summer camp like no other, with freaky crazed creatures and, of course, kittens.
Lumberjanes is more than just entertaining adventures and fighting mysterious creatures. Those two things together are already satisfying, but there’s a great underlying story of friendship, or “Friendship to the Max!” as they say in the book. That friendship is going to get them through all the weirdness that is sure to come their way in future issues.
Name dropping great female historical and pop culture role models like Bessie Coleman and Joan Jett should tell you this comic is all about female empowerment mixed in with a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what other adventures and terrors the girls come across in the future. For now let’s all commit the Lumberjanes pledge to memory, and go find some plaid shirts.
Since its premiere in 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has established itself as a perennial favorite both to a core of die-hard Whedonites and to a broader mainstream audience. The show wrapped in 2003 after seven seasons on television but returned for an eighth in 2007, this time as a comic series from Dark Horse. The series was so popular that the initial 25-issue run was expanded out to 40. In 2011 the series returned for Season Nine wrapping at the end of last year, and this week the tenth season has begun.
The beginning of a new season is a great jumping on point for anyone interested in joining the Buffy-verse for the first time, or for those returning after an absence. However with nine seasons of backstory there’s now a lot of history to get through. All seven seasons of the TV show are currently available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video but that’s a whole lot to sit through even for those with a lot of spare time, and that’s before you get to the comics. So for those of you interested in diving headlong into the show again, here’s a (mostly) spoiler-free recap of the road so far.
After being expelled from school, 16-year-old Buffy Summers and her mother move to Sunnydale, California, in the hopes of starting afresh. Secretly Buffy hopes to leave behind her life as a vampire slayer but life isn’t that simple and within her first day at Sunnydale High the supernatural is already closing in on her. Soon she teams up with fellow students Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris who, along with Watcher/school librarian Rupert Giles, form the Scoobies – a team who will go on to fight evil in countless forms over the coming years.
The relationships established in season one increase in complexity during the show’s second outing. Xander hooks up with school top dog Cordelia and Willow with Oz, a guitar player with a canine secret of his own. Even Giles gets in on the action by establishing a relationship with computer science teacher Jenny. However these relationships and the issues they encounter pale in comparison to Buffy’s own relationship with Angel which will irrevocably affect everyone around them.
Buffy returns to Sunnydale after unsuccessfully attempting to start a new life in LA and she’s not the only person arriving in town. The Watcher’s council send in Wesley Price to replace Giles, fearing that he has become too emotionally attached to Buffy, and a second slayer named Faith also arrives. Throughout the season, which marks Buffy’s final year of high school, the Scoobies work against the town Mayor who is planning to make their graduation more memorable than any before and for all the wrong reasons.
Buffy and Willow enroll at the University of California: Sunnydale where each begins a new romantic relationship; Buffy with graduate student Riley and Willow with Tara—a witch like herself. The vampire Spike returns but soon finds himself at the mercy of The Initiative, a secret military organization based beneath the campus but with many links above ground. Eventually Spike teams up with the Scoobies and together they fight against the latest monster to be unleashed on the unsuspecting town.
We are shocked to be introduced to Buffy’s younger sister Dawn, and even more surprised when every character acts as if they have known her from the beginning. Buffy meets the season’s key “Big Bad”, an exiled Hell God named Glory who is looking for her way back downstairs through the use of a key which will open the door between Hell and Earth. As the season progresses Buffy’s family life is shattered, and when Glory kidnaps Dawn she has to decide whether or not to make the ultimate sacrifice.
A contender for the show’s darkest era, not one character escapes from season six unscathed. Buffy falls into a deep depression and begins a mutually abusive relationship with the one person you would never expect. Concerned about her reliance on him, Giles leaves for England, and Xander’s forthcoming wedding is ruined by a last minute decision. Even Dawn begins suffering from kleptomania and Willow’s addiction to magic continues to grow. When a fight between Buffy and season Big Bad Warren Mears results in an accidental death, Willow’s powers turn dark forcing the Scoobies to fight against her.
The final television season introduces the First Evil, an incorporeal power that is killing off all potential slayers and raising an army of ancient vampires. Giles gathers a number of potentials who seek refuge at Buffy’s house as the First Evil and the preacher Caleb work against them and cause activity around the Hellmouth to increase. Soon most of the population of Sunnydale has fled. Several characters return for the finale with Willow activating all potential slayers for an almighty showdown. Not everyone makes it out and the town of Sunnydale is destroyed completely but the show ends on a positive note regardless.
One year after the destruction of Sunnydale, Buffy and the Scoobies have set up a military-like approach to slaying. Now based in Scotland the Scoobies organize over 500 slayers in squads around the world, however they are seen by the US government as international terrorists and many groups are actively working against them. Soon a new pro-vampire world order is established and the groups are forced into hiding as relationships between them grow more complex. When the true identity of the season’s Big Bad—Twilight—is revealed, things become even more intense. After the death of someone close, a distraught Buffy destroys a powerful artifact which subsequently removes all magic from the universe and leaves Buffy as a pariah.
Buffy and most of her friends are now living in San Francisco. Buffy works in a traditional slayer role as Willow departs on a quest to restore magic and a new team slowly begin to come together. Because magic is now gone from the world Dawn begins to fade from existence, devastating Xander who has now formed a relationship with her. He is approached by the demon Severin who wants to restore magic and the two begin secretly trading information. Buffy and the Scoobies travel to the Cotswolds in an attempt to save Dawn, eventually facing off against Severin. Magic is restored and the season ends with the revelation of an entirely new form of vampire, however Watcher’s Council is destroyed and the pages of their primary research book now blank.
The Buffy-verse is one of the most complex out there and this recap only begins to scratch at its surface. Alongside the primary Buffy TV series there was the Angel spin-off which itself has transitioned into multiple comic series—Angel at IDW and the more recent Angel and Faith through Dark Horse. Dark Horse also produced a 63 issue run that ran alongside Buffy on television prior to Season Eight. Joss Whedon produced the Fray mini-series about a future slayer, and of course there are dozens of novels and collected short stories—not to mention the original 1992 film. For anyone entering the fandom, the sheer volume of material can be a little overwhelming.
I hope that this recap gives you a taste of the series and allows you to step into this brilliant world. I’m reading to dive back in and so we say, “Once More with Feeling!”
“Swords were used in Viking battles. They were made of iron. They were decorated on the hilt. Swords and battle axes were used in different ways. You could throw an axe, but you always hold a sword.”
Proper use of weaponry was an important part of my daughter’s education. This is a quote from my daughter’s Viking project she did for 4H when she was seven years old. It goes on for awhile. She made the above picture, plus another one, plus a shadow box with a popsicle stick ship, cloth sails, and clay Vikings off on a painted sea background.
She was really, really into Vikings that year. We took out every Viking fact book from our library. I enjoyed it!
Here’s a book about a girl obsessed with Vikings by Judy Schachner. Yo, Vikings!
Apparently, 2014 big year for Vikings with the whole Viking Apocalypse. That I missed. Darn it. One of my music students mentioned it, after it already happened. No matter, there is always fun to be had with Vikings with your kids, or on your own:
Make some runes, the Viking writing system. There are several versions and it can get as complicated as your kid is interested. Here’s a site with how the runes sound, rather than trying to replace English letters with Viking ones directly. Writing secret messages in runes is fun, but carving messages in clay is way cooler. We made some clay necklaces too.
Thor’s hammer is always a conversation starter. I have a friend (yes, an adult) that always wears a pewter version. But you can make your own. After the clay dried, we just colored it with a silver marker. Unfortunately, the marker would come off on our skin. If I were to do this again, I would use silver paint instead.
Speaking of Thor: Norse mythology has the best stories! Just ask your friendly librarian to recommend books that are age appropriate for your child.
What about the Thor movies? Eh…not particularly true to the myths, but a good way to get your kid interested in the topic. For myself, I’m a Loki fan, so I never mind watching them with children.
Of course Thor is part of the comic book world too. But like the movies, this is more of a jumping off point to then find out the actual myths. Teens and up might enjoy a new comic: Loki: Agent of Asgard. My fifteen-year-old son enjoyed it, and I did as well. But I’ll admit, I stared at the pictures longer. It starts off with Loki (looking a lot like Tom Hiddleson) in the shower, which my friend Karen says,”Finally, Marvel is realizing women read comics!”
Any other Viking projects? Books? Movies? Has anyone else or their children become obsessed over Vikings?
After the Sandy Hook tragedy in December of 2012, many of us were left wondering, “Why? How?”
The same questions were being discussed among the editors of GrayHaven Comics, a small independent publisher that strives to give new writers a voice and forum. Many of their editors are parents of young children themselves, and while discussing the tragic events with their colleagues they realized that two issues were “at the core” of the trend of violent tragedies in this country; bullying and violence.
Rather than sit idly, the group decided to reach out to kids that are victims of abuse, bullying, racism, homophobia, mental illness, and poverty. The editors and staff at GrayHaven wanted to create a way to let kids struggling with these issues to know that they are not alone, and more importantly, that violence is not the answer.
GrayHaven has created an almost 200 page book with vivid and intense stories covering difficult topics such as depression, bullying, and gun violence. The art work of the stories highlights the emotions and struggles of victims, and depicts how kids can help each other. Interspersed between chapters are resource pages with links and numbers for victims to find help. The message that kids are not alone no matter what they are going through is powerfully woven into each story. While the topics are intense and powerful, over all the book is hopeful. The books are available for free to school and organizations nationwide and The goal is to get it into the hands of as many kids as possible.
The response to You Are Not Alone has been so positive, that the editors are working on expanding the project and opening it to new stories and topics. To help them, check out their KickStarter, also to request a copy of the book for your school, youth group, or homeschool co-op, you can email Andrew Goletz : GrayHaven Publisher & Editor in Chief – email@example.com. Get one, the kids in your community will thank you.
I had the opportunity to see a preview copy of the book, and to speak with one of the editors, Marc Lombardi, about the project. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
GeekMom: In all honesty, this book is the one of the most intense and realistic looks at abuse, bullying, and homophobia that I have ever seen. Did you all know that the use of comics would be such an effective means of communicating these issues to young people?
GrayHaven: That was our hope. We all grew up in the age of after school specials and those horrible videos you would watch in Health Ed class. The subject matter was always important and the intent was always genuine, but the result was quite often off the mark. We realized that comics were a much more accessible way for getting a message out to people of all ages, but especially younger readers. Even though some of the topics are a little more mature in nature, the ideas that people who are suffering through these issues can find hope is something that is more universal across all age groups.
We knew that doing something like this book would make the message more available, make it easier to understand, and hopefully something that is more sustainable.
GM:The thing that really strikes me, along with the text, is the art. The art really conveys the pain that victims of abuse and bullying feel. I think that it is easy to read an article online, or listen to a talk in an assembly about these topics but not really internalize the issues. The pictures in these stories draw you in and don’t give any option to run away from the issue. Can you comment on the process of matching the art to these stories?
GH: Matching artists to the stories is something I always loved doing, but for this book it was fellow editor Glenn Matchett who took those reigns and he did a really masterful job. Some of the stories, when they were pitched, already had artists attached to them that the writers brought into the projects. Others, as the editors read them, just yelled out certain artists who were already in our stable of regulars. You know how when you read a book and you can picture a particular actor or actress being perfect for the role of one of the characters? That’s how it is sometimes. The wrong art for the story can really take you out of it, so it was very important that we put a lot of care into the pairings that were made, and I think Glenn was really amazing in what he did.
GM: I really loved the Silent Story by Ken Godberson III and Brent Peeples. As I was reading it, I thought, “Here we go, his best friend is going to turn on him.” But that isn’t what happened. Do you think we are reaching a place where this will be more common? Kids sticking with their friends through the “coming out” years of high school and college?
GH: I sure hope so. I mean, in this day and age so many things that were previously taboo are almost commonplace, but society just hasn’t caught up with this yet. Kids are going to be cruel — that’s just something that doesn’t seem to change over time — but I think that kids are also more likely to be the ones who change their minds about what to be cruel about. They’re less likely to have a problem with people that are gay than our parents did. You would hope that as the years go on and the laws change and everyone is given the same sort of rights regardless of who they are sexually attracted to that you will see less and less of a big deal made about it.
GM: The bullying section was intense and I have read it multiple times. Back to an earlier comment, the art work was spot on. It showed that bullying really and truly hurts it’s victims. In the story “Letting It Go” by Thacher Cleveland, the Dad tells his son in great detail how much the bullying affected him. In “Your Secret, My Secret” the bullying victim is clearly distressed. I think a lot of folks in our society brush bullying off as “just part of life”, almost as necessary for development. From this book, and the accompanying art, is it safe to say that you and GrayHaven Comics disagree with that adage?
GH: We absolutely disagree with it, and it’s really the main reason we created this book. Bullying, no matter the reason, is unacceptable. It shouldn’t be “just a part of growing up” any more than physical abuse should be tolerated. Mental abuse has a long-lasting affect for people on both sides; those who are bullied and the bullies themselves. And that’s something else we considered. We were hoping to not only reach out and give a little bit of solace to people who read these stories with the experience of being in those same situations, but we also wanted to maybe catch the eye of some of the people who are bullying others and give them the perspective from the other side. I think — hope — that someone who is bullying someone else could pick up this book, read it, and realize that what they are doing is wrong. So if this book gives one bully a different outlook on what they’re doing then I think we did something good.
GM:I like that your stories show kids helping other kids. That’s a great message. Care to elaborate on that part of the stories?
GH: That was another big message for us to get through to people in the book…that help and hope can come from anyone. The earlier that you realize that you can make a difference the better it is. I mentioned earlier that kids can be cruel, and while that can be true, kids can also be resilient and remarkable in the way that they reach out to others in need. We wanted to reach out to the target audience, give them hope, give them the resources they need to get help if that’s the case, and educate them in (hopefully) an entertaining way to being a better person.
I think the reason that so many different writers all had the same idea to make the kids the heroes just as often as we make them the victims is because, in reality, that’s often the case. In my own struggles with bullying it was more often my friends, not teachers or other adults, who came to my aid.
The first time the show American Idol hit my radar was in 2002, in its first season. My kids were little, filling up the living room with their pajama-clad bodies and assorted toys. We were hunkering down to watch a little bit of TV together before bedtime. My daughter, who was ten at the time, was flipping through the television channels and landed on a show that featured a large stage and a lot of confetti. It all looked very exciting so we decided to watch it.
We quickly found out it was a singing competition show and a girl named Kelly Clarkson had just won. The idea intrigued me. I know people who are very talented singers, as good as some of the ones I hear on the radio, and I always wondered what it really took to cross over into singing for money. It seemed to me that it only had a little bit to do with actually having a great voice. Then here was a television show set up to find those diamonds. The idea captured me.
We watched the next season with gusto, then a bit more of the seasons after it, but soon other shows took its place. This year I accidentally started watching it again and was instantly hooked by the chemistry between Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and one of my all time favorites, Harry Connick Jr. It seems to me that they finally found their perfect trio of judges.
I’m not a singer. No one on my side of the family can carry a tune that’s not related to a hymn sung in church. I can’t relate to having a dream of being a rock star. But I can relate to having a dream. And I can relate to feeling like you’ll never be able to cross over into a higher level of your craft until you happen to find that friend of a friend who gets your foot in the door. The beauty of American Idol is that you finally don’t have to ‘know someone’. If you are willing to stand in line for a day or two, and make your way through a series of producer auditions, you can have a shot at being noticed.
I believe that many of the writers and readers here at GeekMom can relate. We have artists in our midst of every kind. Some write,some paint,some draw, some create comic books. They all work hard to perfect their craft and work just as hard to be noticed. I’m a writer and I don’t dream of being a super star. I dream of being able to share my writing with a larger audience. The book I’ve written, about my journey to becoming an elective amputee, has been an encouragement to many people who are considering the decision themselves. I’ve received their emails, full of appreciation that I’ve helped them on their journey. But the conundrum of how to get it to a wider audience that might need it, haunts me some days. I watch American Idol and wish there was a version for writers.
What about you? Do you have a craft that you desire to be noticed? Do you work hard on a hobby that you love and wish it could be a full time, money making venture too?
I have an idea. In the comments section of this post, share with us your dream, and your website. Then we can each go to these sites and support each other. Who knows? Maybe somewhere along the way, a connection will be made that gets you to the next level, just like American Idol. Let’s have our own version, maybe call it Artist’s Idol, and do what we can to support each other.
Now’s your chance. Tell us what you do and where we can find you. Then scroll through the other comments and do what you can to support your fellow GeekMom readers.
This drawing was a present from my daughter: me having tea with Wolverine. But she made me old because it was more “appropriate” since I’m married to her father. I found that hilarious because he’s a fictional character so what’s to be worried about? Only just my total obsession with Wolverine.
And other “bad boy” fictional characters.
You are quite sexy
Yet so two-dimensional
This would be followed “xoxoxoxoxo” and then I’d be too embarrassed to sign my name—assuming Renji and I would be in the same junior high classroom, forced to exchange valentines. Considering he doesn’t really exist, I suppose I shouldn’t feel any shame admitting that there was a time when I would spend free moments rummaging on deviantart for any and all renditions of my favorite Bleach character, that I became obsessed enough to write a haiku, then a song called “Two-Dimensional Love.” The lyrics are about falling in love with someone fictional, being aware of it, knowing it’s ridiculous, but you just can’t help yourself.
Renji is loud, quick to anger, and jealous. So why do I love him? He’s also fiercely loyal, first to defend others, and when he is gentle—it is a beautiful moment. Renji, Wolverine, Zuko…
Lately, my crush is Loki. I remember the first Thor movie; I never mentioned to anyone that I found Loki attractive because his helmet was so silly, his hair was kinda floofy—but I was only trying to talk myself out of yet one more dive into bad-boy fandom. I want to kiss that smirk off his face! I thought I must be the only one.
What’s up with the bad boys, you wonder? When I was chatting with a fellow geekmom, we both admitted to being attracted to fictional characters that we would never want in real life. She married a computer programmer, I married a molecular biologist—both are sweet, soft-spoken men that bake cookies with their children. My husband has never gotten into a physical fight in his entire life, and I don’t see him starting now. The only arguments he gets into are verbal, and never gets above a tolerable volume—he mostly just points out logic and facts. The one time I was majorly insulted in his presence, I defended myself while he silently put a hand on my shoulder.
Sometimes I want to imagine what it would be like to have a hot-tempered manly man. But in my bed, not daily life. Fiction is great that way. Whether it’s a TV show or comic book, I’m introduced to lots of sexy men that would piss me off in the real world. In the second X-Men movie, Wolverine says to Jean Grey, “I could be the ‘good guy’.”
No, you can’t.
And I love you that way.
(from the geeky girl in the corner)
So, ladies, what are your favorite bad boys of geeky fiction?
Today the first issue of The X-Files: Conspiracy is released, another of IDW’s crossover multi-property events that follows on the heels of last year’s Mars Attacks storyline. Over the next few weeks the characters of the X-Files universe will be joining up with the Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and The Crow as The Lone Gunmen (with Mulder and Scully in supporting roles) try to stop a deadly plague from wiping out humanity. It sounds, well, rather ludicrous if we’re honest, so I asked lead author Paul Crilley a few questions about it all.
How long have you been a fan of The X-Files, and what are some of your favourite episodes from the show?
I’ve been a huge fan right from the beginning. The X-Files started showing on TV here in South Africa back in 1994/95 and I’ve followed it since then. One of my friends used to buy all the VHS videos (the ones that collected all the mythology episodes, then the standalone episodes, that kind of thing). I bought the Topps graphic novels as well.
How did you come to work on The X-Files: Conspiracy?
I’ve actually pitched for X-files before and on the strength of those proposals Denton Tipton [IDW Editor] asked if I would be interested in doing X-Files: Conspiracy. Obviously, it was a very easy decision to make.
Which of the other four properties also appearing in the series were you most excited to work with?
I only worked on TheX-Files and Transformers. Those were great fun, especially as my son is a huge Transformers fan. But out of the other properties, it would have been great to try out Ghostbusters. I’m a huge fan of the movie. It’s one of my favorites.
Which one did you find most challenging to incorporate into the The X-Files universe?
It was difficult coming up with an overall idea to tie all the properties together. It had to be believable in each of the property’s universes while at the same time fitting in to an X-Files story. It was tricky balancing the tones of each strip. But once the framework story was in place, the other properties seemed to fit quite easily.
Are there any other properties you think would work well if The X-Files: Conspiracy were to come back for another run?
I’d love to do a Judge Dredd crossover. And G.I. Joe might work. Military stories tie in quite easily with X-Files ideas.
The X-Files: Season 10 has been going for eight months now. Did you take any cues from that series in developing Conspiracy or separate entirely from it?
Totally separate. I didn’t want to step on Joe’s [Harris – author of The X-Files Season 10] toes. It had to be standalone.
Conspiracy is set in 2014; how did you approach bringing The X-Files into the modern era?
It wasn’t too hard. The last X-Files movie was relatively recent, and you just have to read the news to see there are so many ideas out there for X-Files stories. (Actually, the impetus behind this story is WikiLeaks.)
Which character did you enjoy writing for the most?
Probably Mulder. I love the dry sense of humor he has.
In issue one we see The Lone Gunmen working alongside Mulder and Scully. Can we expect appearances from any other characters such as A.D. Skinner, Agents Doggett and Reyes, or the Smoking Man?
I’m afraid not. Only two of the issues are full-on X-Files and we needed the panel count to introduce and tie-up the Conspiracy storyline, so there wasn’t space for them. Maybe I’ll get to write them in the future though.
This week’s issue of The X-Files: Season 10 sees the return of the Flukeman, a classic monster from the show’s second season. The issue got me thinking about other episodes which didn’t wrap up their plots entirely or were left open-ended making them available for a future return to the show via comics. Here are nine monsters, baddies, and other dangling plot bunnies I’d like to see make a return appearance.
Antagonist: Jersey Devil Girl From the episode: Jersey Devil How the episode ended: A local detective killed the adult female Jersey Devil but the final shot shows a young girl peeking out from under some rocks — the next generation. What about now? Jersey Devil aired twenty years ago so that little girl should now be in her mid-20s. Has she found a mate and produced children of her own or is she the last of her kind?
Antagonist: The AI/Brad Wilczek From the episode: Ghost in the Machine How the episode ended: Mulder used a computer virus to destroy the murderous AI and Brad Wilczek was kidnapped by a government who wanted to force him to make weapons. The final shot showed a single blinking light on the computer – was the AI still in there? What about now? The tech bods and government agents had six hours to try to find something useful in the computer wreckage before the whole thing was shredded. Did they ever find anything? Is the AI back up and running? Were its murderous impulses tamed? What about Wilczek? Did he finally agree to work for the government and if so, what has he been creating over the last two decades?
Antagonist: The Worms From the episode: Ice How the episode ended: The military and CDC torched the research station but the worms were still there, buried deep in the ice sheet, 200,000 years down. What about now? A parasite that can turn people violently aggressive would certainly seem to be of significant research interest to the sort of amoral military/government agenda we saw on the show. I find it hard to believe that they would be content to abide by Scully’s suggestion to “leave it there.”
Antagonist: The Eves From the episode: Eve How the episode ended: Eve had pretty much the perfect open ending. Cindy and Teena (now renamed Eve 9 and 10) were incarcerated at the Whiting Institute for the Criminally Insane along with Eve 6. Eve 8 arrived in disguise during the final scene, apparently to rescue them. What about now? If the remaining Eves managed to avoid their tendency toward suicide, then Cindy and Teena would be approaching 30 today. A group of four women working together and all possessed of superhuman intelligence and homicidal psychoses would be enough to open a whole realm of possibilities, most not worth thinking about. Mulder and Scully might need back up if this lot ever re-appear.
Antagonist: The Secret of Youth From the episode: Young at Heart How the episode ended: John Barnett had stolen Dr Ridley’s seemingly successful research into reversing the aging process and was negotiating with the government to hand it over. After being shot by Mulder, Barnett refused to reveal the location of the research which viewers later learned was in locker number 935 at an unidentified train station. What about now? The secret of eternal youth is one of the most incredible assets anyone could possibly hope to own and one of incalculable value. It seems plausible that the CIA dedicated significant manpower to uncovering the location in which Barnett had hidden the research. Even if they did not, after 20 years there is a good chance that locker would have been opened by someone. That leads to the question, if it’s not still in the locker, who has that information, and what are they doing with it?
Antagonist: Chester Ray Banton From the episode: Soft Light How the episode ended: Chester Ray Banton was apparently vaporized by a particle accelerator, but Mulder theorizes (correctly) that the victim was instead Banton’s colleague, Christopher Davey, and that Banton was actually kidnapped by the government. The final shot shows Banton hooked up to machines, being experimented upon. What about now? After nearly twenty years the government may well have succeeded in extracting some very useful and very dangerous information from Banton regarding dark matter and how to use it as a weapon. Of course, once they had found out all they could, there seems very little reason to keep poor old Dr Banton alive…
Antagonist: Eddie van Blundht From the episode: Small Potatoes How the episode ended: Eddie was sent to the Cumberland Reformatory and made to take a muscle relaxant to prevent him “making faces.” Scully and everyone at “the lab” were still researching the body of Eddie’s father in excruciating minutiae. What about now? How long Eddie could have been kept at the reformatory is debatable. After all, how does one prosecute a case like his? Once released, did he go back to his old tricks or did his self-esteem bolstering red cap work? Scully could have probably built a career based on her research on van Blundht senior’s unusual anatomy; it would be great to see something come of that.
Antagonist: The Great Mutato From the episode: The Post-Modern Prometheus How the episode ended: Weirdly! Dr Pollidori was arrested for the murder of his father, the townspeople realize that the Mutato is not a monster but simply a deformed man, and finally everyone goes to see Cher in concert. What about now? We have absolutely no idea what actually happened to the Great Mutato, the other deformed babies, or the rest of the townsfolk after the concert. Technically the Mutato could be a rapist (we are unclear as to the exact means by how Ms. Berkowitz and Mrs. Pollidori are impregnated) and even if not, he is now fatherless and presumably the subject of national attention thanks to the Jerry Springer show. The events in the town in the years following the episode would make for a fascinating comic book issue, especially considering the comic book analogies present in the original.
Antagonist: The Vampires From the episode: Bad Blood How the episode ended: An entire town of vampires just “pulled up stakes” and disappeared while Mulder and Scully both slept off the effects of being drugged. What about now? Where exactly does an entire town full of vampires just disappear too? Also, we know that the cow/human killer Ronnie was alone in not understanding the need for keeping a “low profile,” so what exactly was the rest of the town eating? I kind of want to see a spin off show called The Adventures of Sheriff Hartwell in which he leads his lowly band of vampires across America trying comically to fit in. OK I’ll stop now.
There were countless other episodes with unresolved or open endings, quick shout outs to Detour, Sanguinarium, Chinga, Folie a Deux, and Die Hand Die Verletz among others. Which episodes would you like to see revisited in the new comics series?
Welcome to How To Be A Super ____ Mom! From crafts and recipes to fun toys and adventures, here are ways to take your child’s fandom and make it even more fun!
When the news broke this year at New York Comic Con that Stephanie Brown was returning to Batgirl, interest was kicked into overdrive into an already devoted fan base. The character has gone through so much with Gail Simone‘s recent Barbara Gordon Batgirl run having the heroine go through trauma therapy with a doctor named after a fan and consulant for the book, Dr. Andrea Letamendi, who is an actual real-life psychologist that helps kids get through trauma. Even superheroes need to work on their mental health.
Batgirl is a strong female character and it’s easy to see why geek girls of all ages love her. Here are some great ways for younger fans to discover more about one of Gotham’s finest female crime fighters!
1. Batgirl and baby Robin cosplay
The most fun you can have as a GeekMom is dressing up your kids in their favorite heroes’ costumes. There are a lot of options out there now in the girl superhero department or if you’re a DIYer you can always craft your own! Nanette of Say It Don’t Spray It‘s daughter wanted to be Batgirl for Halloween and did a great job striking a pose too—nice character development! What else would a mom of two girls do but get the younger sister into the act as an adorable baby Robin sidekick.
2. Batgirl and Supergirl Cookie Exchange Art by Mike Maihack
Mike Maihack is one of my favorite artists, not only because his work is beautiful but his stories are also sweet and heartwarming. I have several (way too many) of his pieces and often buy them as gifts for friends. His Batgirl and Supergirl strips are begging to be made into a series. I’m particularly fond last year’s Batgirl and Supergirl Christmas comic because as we all know, cookies solve everything.
3. Batgirl Cake
Doll cakes have been around for decades and have been turned into every girls dream from a standard pink doll cake, to Tinkerbell, and all the Disney Princesses. The superhero doll cake faction is definitely lacking out there, but never fear, Batgirl doll cake to the rescue! An innovative take on a classic, this Batgirl truly has the best superhero costume ever…because it’s made of cake!
4. Batgirl – Fisher Price Little People Wheelies
For the smallest Batgirl fan, Fisher Price’s line of cute superhero Little People are a great way to start off fandom at a young age. Batgirl comes in a two pack with another great female heroine, Wonder Woman, or solo in her own tiny Batmobile.
5. Batgirl – Super Best Friends Forever
As a rabid fan of anything adorable and geek girl superhero-related, I was jumping out of my seat when DC Comics started showing Super Best Friends Forever as part of their DC Nation shorts for Cartoon Network. Lauren Faust (My Little Pony, Power Puff Girls, and more) came up with ridiculously fun stories of Batgirl, Supergirl, and Wonder Girl and their crazy, feisty, kid-friendly adventures. At just a minute and a half apiece you’ll be wishing for hours more; alas, the series was never meant to be. At least you can still buy SBFF merchandise.
My eBay Collections were curated as part of a sponsored collaboration with eBay.
You might have noticed eBay’s Collections feature popping up recently. Here at GeekMom, we were able to start our collections a little early, and we’re really excited to share some of our favorites with you. It’s a great way to organize your all the things you love on eBay and share it with your friends and family. Best yet, all our picks have a geeky slant. Y’know, with our readers in mind, too.
Wonder Woman was a natural first choice, as I’ve already cosplayed as Wonder Woman, and I have a Wonder Woman hoodie that draws compliments everywhere I go. This collection includes purses, earrings, that Wonder Woman hoodie, other jewelry, your very own tiara, bracelet and lasso set, a Wonder Woman throw, and even a poster. Basically, if I’d been let free with my purse, my house would look a little bit like an ode to Wonder Woman.
I took a different strategy with All Things Batman. Because with Batman, there’s so very much. First, I made sure to include a few Batman shirts, including the one in this post, and my favorite Batman story, Batman: Year One. I also wanted to recognize the other members of the Bat-Family: Batgirl, Robin, and Nightwing. You’ll find Nightwing and Robin t-shirts along with a classic Batman hoodie, as well as something for the toddler-size Robin, and even a necklace.
But if Wonder Woman and Batman aren’t among your favorites, there’s also the Wear Your Favorite Superhero Collection, where I picked out shirts featuring other heroes. Of course, Superman and Supergirl are included, and a few joint Girl Power-style shirts, but also some Justice League with logos about dating superheroes, and even Dream from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.
Last week I had an unexpected night free and ran over to Tiger Trap Studios, a local art place. The owner, Ira Marcks, has monthly adult collage nights (BYOB). I’m not an artist. I write songs, stories, posts on GeekMom. But I can cut and paste with the best of them, and an evening of only adults sounded like heaven. I made myself a to-go cup of cocoa with rum and headed out.
Oh, it was fun. I found a pile of old comics that I was appalled and fascinated with. I ended up cutting out several characters and swapping speech bubbles to create odd and silly collages. Up top is just one example. I’m not sure I should show the rest in public. Heh.
Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to start chopping up old comics lying around, who knows what is worth a million dollars. But I’m sure every comic store has a pile of no longer wanted issues lying around for cheap (or free). That’s the pile to have fun with. Have your own adult-only collage night with comics. Don’t forget the rum!
I traveled to Seattle last week with my sons; one was there to attend BrickCon, the other to teach ‘ukulele lessons. Me? I got to tag along and see sights like the famous gum wall and the myriad vendors at Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and the very first Starbucks location (complete with a long line that I didn’t wait in). I even got to meet our own GeekMom Kelly live and in person! There’s plenty to see in the Emerald City, and a fair number of them make the cut for those of us who consider ourselves geeks.
Heading to Seattle? Take note of these five stops!
We spent an inordinate amount of time in this store that is packed to the ceiling with geeky pleasures. With a large collection of comic books, scripts from iconic television shows and movies, autographs, star photos, and vintage collectibles, fans of cult classics will find plenty to ogle. Then there’s the collection of memorabilia and toys based on popular games like Portal and Minecraft, as well as fan faves from TV shows like Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, and TheBig Bang Theory. My eldest came home with a Walter White figure for a friend who has a serious love of Breaking Bad.
We could have spent even more time in there, poking through the various button collections, stickers, and other totally random fun stuff, but we wanted to see what else Seattle had to offer.
In its own right, the Experience Music Project (EMP) is a music geek’s playground. Rockers can delve into the history of Jimi Hendrix or Nirvana, see a visual display of the history of the guitar, or watch the big screen showing all music, all the time. Bang the drum—quite literally—in soundproof booths that allow visitors to try out a variety of musical instruments like guitar, bass, and keyboard. My son the musician had a go at the full drum set, while I took an electronic drum kit for a (not very impressive) spin. While there is a hands-on aspect to the EMP, I suspect younger children will find it a bit tedious unless they have an intense love of music.
The Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit at the EMP cranks the geek volume up to eleven. Divided into three different themes—science fiction, fantasy, and horror—there’s a display for everyone. Tolkien fans will drool over the handwritten manuscript page and sketches from his earliest known version of The Hobbit. Trekkies can see where Captain Kirk sat at the controls along with one of those famous red suits, while fans of the Man of Steel can see the Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve. Darth Vader’s lightsaber and Yoda’s cane will be the highlight for Star Wars fans.
The crowning glory for me, though, was the costume and prop collection from The Princess Bride. Princess Buttercup’s pale blue gown, the costumes worn by Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black, and the six-fingered glove, along with the swords used in the famous “prepare to die” scene had us quoting the movie for the rest of the afternoon.
Boeing offers the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America at its facility just north of Seattle. It is amazing to step into a 93-acre building (yes, you read that right — it’s the largest building in the world by volume) and watch as jetliners are assembled, piece by piece. Airplane geeks will definitely get a thrill out of seeing the production line in action. Jets in various stages of completion—just the fuselage, the fuselage with wings, the fuselage with wings and cockpit—are visible in the bays below as they’re assembled by some of the 43,000 Boeing employees that work here. The Future of Flight gallery gives visitors the chance to see some parts of a jetliner, compare various plane materials, and sit in a mocked-up version of the new Dreamliner.
Despite the fact that the tour has appeared on a number of “top factory tours” lists, I have some reservations about it after taking the tour with several young adults. While the tour is touted as a 1.5 hour activity, we probably spent just half an hour in the factory itself. The sheer size of the facility meant a lot of time on buses and walking through underground tunnels to get to the interesting stuff, and the time we were inside the facility was rushed as one group after another was herded through. This is really a shame because there was so much to see! The Future of Flight gallery was given a solid “meh” by the five young adults who joined me on the tour. Caveat emptor and all that.
You won’t find any iconic characters at this venue, but if you’ve ever been amazed by the art of glass blowing, this place will blow your mind with the neon-bright displays created by Dale Chihuly and his team. A friend of mine suggested that we visit, promising “your eyes will be happy.” Right she was. The displays are pure eye candy, each one more impressive than the last. The 20′ high display of blue glass reminiscent of ocean waves; the indoor “garden” of glass; the ceiling of glass that had visitors (well, okay, me) sitting on the floor in an attempt to see it from a different angle? They were all just visually stunning. We really enjoyed the video vignettes shown at the end of the tour that offer a look at the art of glass blowing itself as well as the creation of many of Chihuly’s art installations.
You’ll only catch this event once a year—the first weekend in October—but if you can be in Seattle for it, it’s worth a few hours of your time to see some of the amazing Lego creations dreamed up by hobbyists. Check out my earlier post about the Lego Rivendell on display in 2013; that alone might entice you to plan for an early October visit to Seattle.
Entrance to Boeing and the EMP was provided to GeekMom for review purposes.
Imagine people wanting to create weird and interesting comics that would appeal to adults, parents, teens, kids, and very small kids alike. Comics that every single person in the family can enjoy, separately or together. Comics that are wholesome and adventurous, and would capture the interest of old and young, seasoned comic reader and those new to the art form.
All of the stories are done in black and white, but each has a different style because each story is done by a different artist. In each subsequent issue, the creators move on to another part of the world, and take up someone else’s story. After reading enough stories in enough issues, you will start to get a better idea of what life is like in the world. But with such a variety of cultures, characters, plants, and scenery, Cartozia holds no end of possibilities.
I’ve read the first two issues, and I have to say, the stories grabbed me right away. The end of each story leaves you hanging in just the right way to make you look forward to reading the next issue. One or two stories, however, wrap up the action in the one issue, giving you a combination of wrapped-up-story satisfaction, and making you excited to learn what happens next.
The stories of Cartozia are sometimes light on words, but the drawings tell half the story on their own, often helping to deepen the mystery of the action, leaving you with some guesses as to what will happen next. You can then speculate all you like, waiting to read the next issue.
The printed copies of the comics are very high quality. The paper is thick, and smooth but not shiny, and the comics have a really nice feel in your hands. The front and back covers are in color, with the inside pages in black and white. While the stories are great in and of themselves, it is very much worth getting the hard copies for the full experience.
The first issue has a section on learning to draw maps. This section is likely aimed at kids, but there’s no reason why we grown-ups can’t also draw our own maps of whatever we like. There are other informative drawings in between some of the comics, too. The middle of the first comic also has a map of the world, so you can orient yourself during each story. Later comics have other spreads in the middle, but a map is a part of every issue in case you get lost.
I don’t get into more mainstream comics, such as the Marvel and DC. But these more independent, unusual stories are always interesting to me. Cartozia Tales are quirky stories, the kind that have unconventional creatures, and unusual twists and turns.
I recommend that you consider supporting Cartozia Tales as something that your entire family can enjoy together. After each issue, you can discuss what you’ve read, follow everyone’s adventures on the map, and speculate as to what everyone thinks will happen next! You could also write and draw your own stories set in the world, and encourage your kids to do so as well. Then share with each other. I guarantee that hilarity will ensue.
The Kickstarter campaign for Cartozia Tales is nearing its end, with only a little more than a week to go, but it needs your help to get funded. Swing on over to the website now and check them out, and consider funding this worthwhile project. For only $68 you can get a basic subscription for the first ten issues of Cartozia Tales, and there are many, many other options, for both less and more money, which include other comics by the artists; mini-comic options; special postcards, posters, or custom drawings; curricula; appearances in the comics; original watercolor art; and classroom subscriptions. An Alphabetical Bestiary of Cartozia, one of the items you can get in some of the support levels, details many of the beasts in the world. An Introduction to the Principles of Cartozian Magic explains—what else?—how magic works on Cartozia. These both give a bit of background information to deepen your understanding and enjoyment of the comic series.
There is a new swashbuckling adventurer on the literary scene, and her name is Delilah Dirk. In her first adventure, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, the author and illustrator, Tony Cliff, introduces our heroine through the eyes of Selim, a tea-loving lieutenant of early 19th century Constantinople. By simply doing his job in a civilized way, he impresses an imprisoned Delilah, and gets himself on the executioner’s block. He is saved by this resourceful and dangerous woman, and they set off on a journey to avenge her uncle from the pirate captain Zakul (the terrible!).
Daring escapes, witty banter, fine tea, and the start of a good friendship fill the colorful pages of Cliff’s first graphic novel. Both of my teens really enjoyed the book, and I did as well. Tony Cliff was kind enough to answer some questions I had about Delilah Dirk:
GeekMom: I am a bit obsessed with tea, so immediately bonded with Selim in the very first pages. Are you a tea drinker yourself? (I won’t hold it against you if you’re not…)
Tony Cliff: I am! Definitely. It’s comforting. I’m pretty casual about it, though. A half-decent off-the-shelf Earl Grey will do me fine, though I DO take it with milk and sugar (don’t hold THAT against me).
There’s a nice story behind the “tea recipe” that Selim recites in the prologue. Chapter One of The Turkish Lieutenant had actually been self-published in 2007 as its own little self-contained comic, and in it Delilah has a line about only drinking “the blood of her enemies.” An enterprising reader took it upon herself to craft a “Blood of My Enemies” tea blend, which she documented online. Since the prologue for The Turkish Lieutenant was completed more recently, I asked her if I could use her recipe in that sequence. The ingredients are listed in order of representative quantity, so it’s conceivable that the recipe could be replicated. I have never tried it myself, though I understand it’s a bit spicy and the colour lives up to the tea’s name.
GM: Delilah’s character jumps off the page with her energy and personality. How did she arrive in your imagination?
TC: Honestly, I have to admit that there wasn’t a lot of thought that went into her character. Some of her comes as a reaction to everything I’d taken in at that point—a lot of Hornblower and Sharpe books, a lot of mid-90s Image comics, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Disney Saturday-morning cartoons. The male heroes were relatively serious, stern, square-jawed men. The women were similarly humourless, fun-hating Amazons. I like James Bond as much as (probably more than) the next dude, but he’s not exactly a bundle of laughs. There’s a place for that, of course, and I understand that it’s a time-tested trope to surround a more serious-minded protagonist with other characters that provide comedy relief and so on and so forth.
I don’t know where I started with Delilah Dirk, but it felt natural to respond to those familiar action-adventure characters and tropes with a quirky, energetic, slightly sarcastic woman. It just seemed like a fun thing to do. There’s a bit of a gender-politics angle to it insofar as I DID feel motivated to put a female character out into the world that I could feel proud of; one that I wouldn’t feel ashamed to show my female friends, or my girlfriend, or a potential daughter, or my mom. So far, so good—my 92-year-old maternal grandmother likes Delilah, I’ve been told.
GM: Although Delilah pulls us along in this adventure, Selim is the main character. Why did you choose him to tell this story? How did his character come about?
TC: Because if I were to tell the story from Delilah’s point of view, all her feats would be presented in a hum-drum, matter-of-fact sort of fashion. This is daily life for her. She’s familiar with the sorts of things she’s willing and able to do.
For Selim, this is all new and astonishing, not least because Delilah is a woman in a time and place where exceptional feats are not generally expected from women. Quite the opposite (if you’ll allow me to generalize). From his point of view, Delilah and her exploits are surprising and unheard-of, which just seems like a more natural, more exciting point from which to approach Delilah. The reader is introduced to Delilah as Selim is introduced to Delilah. You’ve got a friend along for the ride as you meet this wholly exceptional character. Someone to reassure you, “Yes, this is as crazy as it seems.” It all just helps reveal the context in which Delilah’s operating, specifically, she is an unpredictable sword-swinging foreign woman in a land where such a thing is even MORE absurd than you might have assumed, had you not been presented solely with Delilah’s point of view.
In fact, Selim’s character might have come out just as a vehicle for illuminating Delilah’s adventurous exploits. I think it’s only through the process of writing the story and having them play off each other that they ended up having the exchanges that they do. It’s tough to remember exactly where these things came from.
GM: Tell me about your research for the time and place of this book.
TC: It is constant! One thing I have discovered during the course of making this project is that if you stop to wait until you feel as if your research is “complete,” you will never make anything. Some days you just have to push forward with whatever information you have.
It’s also surprising the way research works. It feels as though 98-percent of the research that I’ve done has not explicitly informed the content of the book. This is a tough concept to explain, but I’ll try. It feels like most of the research goes into building a foundational understanding of the place and the time. You will never call explicit attention to it on any one page of the book, but it will be there in the background, informing every panel and every line of dialogue. There are a lot of things you and I understand about the world in which we live and we take those things for rote. You cannot assume those things will be the same in another culture, two hundred years ago. It is really surprising to discover that you have no idea about the specifics of how someone would have travelled from one town to another. Little things like that keep popping up—little intangibles of no major historical significance will pop up and remind you that you are in way over your head.
Fortunately, the main focus of the book is on the characters and their stories. Little historical details are important, and they add a subtle texture to the work that you can feel, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it, but they’re not the reason most people are engaged with your work. They’re there for the story, to see the play between characters unfold. When I get hung up on a little detail, I just try to remind myself that it’s the characters’ stories that are most important.
GM: What were the biggest challenges of this five year project?
TC: Just between you and me? Getting people to read it. Fortunately, it seems like a lot of the people who read it end up enjoying it, but man, it is tough to get over that first hurdle. I get it, too. The book has a setting that isn’t very familiar, there aren’t any easy hooks. The illustration style is something that perhaps most people would associate with a Disney cartoon (and thus associate with children’s entertainment) while the subject matter is better suited for a slightly older reader.
Nevertheless, I’ve tried to deliver some engaging characters, a good shot of humour, and a story that’s both honest and exciting. I can tell it must read differently than people expect, as more than one reader has seemed surprised at how much they’ve enjoyed it. I like that reaction, though, and if I can keep surprising people, that makes me happy. I would much rather have people be pleasantly surprised than be disappointed at something that got hyped-up beyond warrant.
GM: I assume (hope) there will be more adventures?
Making comics is a slow process, though, especially when you insist on doing all the work yourself, so it will still be a while before the second book arrives. That said, I’ve learned a lot from the process of making The Turkish Lieutenant—really worked all the kinks out—so how long could it possibly take? A month? Maybe two? Definitely two months, tops.
GM: Thanks, Tony! Looking forward to more global adventures with these two entertaining characters. Here is a page from the book of where Delilah and Selim first. The entire story is out now to purchase, so enjoy!