‘SheZow’ – A Fun Gender-Flipping Cartoon With Issues

We haven’t fully cut the cable cord, but we have dramatically cut back on our subscription. Our kids are such astute users of Netflix and Hulu (and TiVo) that live TV befuddles them. As a mom, that means I’m watching a very wide variety of TV from across channels I’ve never watched and countries I’ve never been to. That also means I can walk you through what to expect from these new-to-us shows.

SheZow, an Australian-Canadian show, is one my kids found over the summer.

SheZow exemplifies the problems of having an interesting thought or making a funny one-liner joke and then trying to flesh it out into a full idea. What would happen if a superhero, upon becoming that hero for the first time, found him- or herself in the wrong set of circumstances? Thus was born Guy Hamdon, also known as the greatest female superhero, SheZow.

The premise is simple: As the creator, Obie Scott Wade, explained, he was a fan of Shazam as a child and wondered what would happen if he said his name wrong. SheZow grew out of that flight of fancy; Guy and Kelly Hamdon find their deceased Aunt Agnes’ ring and Guy puts it on, transforming instantly. Continue reading ‘SheZow’ – A Fun Gender-Flipping Cartoon With Issues

Get the Superhero Wall Art You Deserve (at a Discount)

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The fine folks at the Two Fish Project store on Etsy put out this wonderful modern art versions of our favorite superhero, videogame, and other special heroes. They print them as posters or special occasion cards, or you can get them as iPhone backgrounds too. And they’ve offered to donate a percentage of sales back to us, which is a win-win as far as we’re concerned!

You can get the posters as small as 5″ x 7″ for just $9, up to 11″ x 14″ for $20 (unframed), and they have special deals when you buy themed groups. Even better, you can save 10% when you use the discount code GEEKMOM at checkout! There’s more to see, so go check them out! 

All images courtesy Two Fish Project.

Everyone Should Meet The Shadow Hero

Image By First Second

“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.

Lottie Dolls Is Running a Super(hero) Costume Contest!

Girls can be superheroes, too! Photo credit: @Lottie_Dolls

Here at GeekMom we’ve had some spirited behind-the-scenes debates on whether or not Barbie’s unrealistic dimensions affect a little girl’s self-image. Some, like me, wonder if women’s tendency toward perfectionism isn’t perhaps the result of the barrage of idealized feminine images children receive through their toys and the media. Others at the blog take a softer approach, claiming, “I played with Barbies as a kid and I turned out happy and confident.”

What we have agreed upon, though, is that Arklu’s Lottie Dolls are wonderful toys—many of us have bought them for our children or for friends. Whether you appreciate the fact that Lottie has a “childlike” body (she doesn’t wear makeup, jewelry, or high heels either), or just enjoy her for her hobbies (including robotics, ballet, karate) and accessories (puppies, picnic baskets, pirate queen ensembles), there is no getting around the fact that this is a fun, well-constructed, charmingly-conceived toy. Also: affordable.

And now, as it turns out, your family could win the entire Lottie collection—dolls, accessories, clothing, and animal friends. Lottie Dolls is teaming up with the non-profit organization “Brave Girls Want” to launch a global competition to get kids aged 10 and under to design a superhero outfit—the first “crowdsourced doll outfit design by a child” for the Lottie™  doll.

With the release of a whole slew of superhero movies on the way, we know that there is an acknowledged lack of strong female superheroes out there, so this is why we thought a competition and campaign with the message that girls can be superheroes too is very much needed.

Want to enter the contest? Here are the details…

The prize:

  • One lucky child will see their superhero outfit design manufactured and made commercially available in Autumn 2014.
  • The winning child will see their original artwork design, first name, age, city, and country on the back of the outfit packaging.
  • The winning child will also win the entire range of Lottie dolls, accessories, and outfits.

How to enter:

  • Parents: Go to the Superhero Contest app on the Lottie Facebook page; like the page and download and print out the Superhero Outfit Design template.
  • Kids: Start coloring and create a superhero outfit design for Lottie.
  • Parents: Take a photo of your child’s design and upload it on the Lottie Facebook app, and fill in a form to allow your child to enter.

Terms and Conditions:

  • Competition open to kids aged 10 and under only.
  • Parental permission required to enter the competition.
  • Competition closing date 7th May 2014.
  • A winner will be selected by jury and confidentially notified in May 2014.
  • Multiple entries permitted.

Full terms and conditions available here.

PS: A selection of entries is shown on Pinterest—and if you have ever enjoyed the company of a little person with a vivid imagination you will need to immediately head over there and check out some of the superpowers that the contestants have imagined for Lottie:

  • “She can touch animals wounds and they go away. She shoots bandages over their wounds.”
  • “She can fly into whirlwinds in air and water. She can make rainbows.”
  • “She shoots love hearts from her hands to make sick children better.”
  • “Her cape shoots out [watermelon] seeds to grow for all the children [so that they] never go hungry again. No one will ever die from hunger or thirst again!”
  • “She can fly with her jet pack and protect dinosaurs.”
  • “She shoots rainbow colored hearts from her hands. When she hits a villain it makes them turn nice/good instantly. If she was real there would be no wars.”

This is good stuff; you won’t want to miss it!

Max Steel Reinvented

Image: Mattel

With a four year old who is obsessed with superheros and knights on a rotating basis, I was intrigued to take a look at the world of Max Steel, a sword-wielding superhero based on the line of toys from Mattel. In 1999 when the first Max Steel toys were released, children were introduced to the character through a free 12 page comic titled Take it to the Max. The franchise then became a show, which aired from February 2000 to January 2002. There are even movies available in Latin America where the hero has a devoted following. More recently for the US audience, new Max Steel episodes returned to Disney XD in March with the newest episodes beginning to air on August 17. This past month the new line of toys was revealed.

Image: Amazon.com

Having long since laid aside an aversion to my children playing with fake weaponry, I was excited for my son to play with Max’s Sword. Not in the least because I am told at least a half dozen times a day that his favorite color is blue, the color of choice for Max’s latest incarnation. It’s no lightsaber, but it’s pretty cool. It was a big hit with my recently turned 4-year-old, who has an extensive collection of fake pirate swords, Excalibur-like swords, and sticks that he plays with. Much like the lightsaber of my childhood, it makes those “vroomy” noises when you swish it through the air, instant win.

The sword comes in two pieces, the main blue sword and Steel, Max’s companion/protector with whom he merges to become Max Steel. From what I can see of the show, Steel usually attaches to Max in some way, but can attach to the sword for special effects. My son prefers to play with Steel and the sword independently of each other, and is quite willing to let his brother play with Steel. Given the way my boys have taken to it, and with Christmas just around the corner, I have to say it’s a pretty cool thing to pull out of the box.

Max Steel 2
Image: Mattel

As to Max Steel himself, we have yet to let our kids get in on the animated action. We have our fill with Daniel Tiger, but as the toy commercials start hitting our screens I’m sure there will be questions. The new show is animated, but rather than reminding me of Marvel or DC’s animated offerings, it really has more of a Power Rangers feel to it. A little campy, but some good fun. My husband took one look and flashed back to the Transformers of his youth. The relationship of Max and Steel has a very Michael Knight/Kitt feel to it.

Things to know about Max Steel:

  • Where other superheros find their powers in a dark past, the yellow sun, or a spider’s bite, Max is powered by Turbo energy.
  • Turbo is an acronym for Tachyon Unlimited Radiant Bio-Optimized, an energy which Max is able to create and control.
  • Miles Dredd is the main villain, one of the founders of the agency under which Max operates. He turned on them to use Turbo energy for his own gain.
  • Steel’s full name is N’Baro Atksteel X377. His memory core was damaged and so he experienced things that he no longer remembers.

Any show whose villain uses the line “Ah Max Steel, if I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake” gets an extra point in my book. On the whole, decent show, great toys, and fits in nicely with the Mattel toys that I grew up with. You can get the full line at Amazon for a pretty decent discount, and otherwise hit up your local big box store. I have yet to see these guys in our local independent stores.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

History Geek: Comics and Games from the 1930s

Image By Lilianna Maxwell
Image By Lilianna Maxwell

Superman and Monopoly. Can you imagine the world without them? Oh, you can? Do you know how much Superman has influenced ALL comic books, which in turn influenced radio shows, TV shows, and movies? And Monopoly? Besides chess, it is the most popular board game of all time. Both began in the 1930s.

Superman’s legacy is incredible. In comics, he is still going strong. I think every generation will get their own movie version. Before Superman, the popular comics were about normal humans in extraordinary situations. Superman was an extraordinary alien on normal Earth. This set the stage for all the superheroes to follow.

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman is an entertaining and eye-opening look at Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I had to explain to my campers that being a geek at that time, heck during MY teens, was not cool at all. These two geeky guys escaped into their imaginations and pulled out the icon of Superman.

Monopoly, ah, the bane of my gaming existence. I never played a full game until adulthood in an epic battle that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. (I talked about that game in a previous post.) When I first met my husband, I couldn’t believe it when he told me he and his sisters would play MORE THAN ONE game of monopoly in a day?! How is that possible? As parents we’ve played Monopoly Junior many times with our kids, even creating a family song, “Loop de Loop! Loop de Loop!” about one of the spaces. I’m sure you have your own stories of this American pastime staple.

But there were other games and comics from that era that we know and enjoy today: Sorry (hate it!), Scrabble (love it!). There was more to comics than just Superman (“just” Superman, ha…). The 1930s are called The Golden Age of Comic Books. In fact, the style of the comic book (small, thin paper booklet) started at this point in comic history. Look at some of the comic book characters that debuted in the 30s: Wonder Woman, Captain America, The Flash, the Green Lantern, Batman and Robin, Captain Marvel, and more. (Seriously, there are more; it’s stunning how many started during this time.)

Beyond superheroes, comic strips featuring stars like Dick Tracy, Popeye, and Little Orphan Annie were incredibly popular. Annie is dear to my heart since I wanted to be her after the movie from my childhood. Like Superman, this character continues on.

So what was in the air in America during the Great Depression that gave us such long-lasting pop culture? Maybe when times are tough, and life is slow, the imagination is the best place to be.