Any rapper interested in shining a spotlight on his or her lyrical ability and skill with wordplay should be writing new lyrics to accompany the recently released Yeezus instrumentals. Immediately. However, I’d avoid outright attacks on Kanye’s ability or output. It makes one appear bitter and the flaws in Yeezus are already glaring to critic and fan alike. I’d also avoid penning the standard sixteen bars of crack rap as well. No, what is needed is something akin to Yasiin Bey’s “Niggaz in Poorest”—a work that explores street-level issues from a position as an ambassador or survivor rather than predator. It is a position that allows one to lampoon out-of-touch mainstream darlings who champion luxury and excess to the point where they are consumed or enslaved by their beloved commodities. It also cements one in a position above those who would exploit those still chained to the streets that birthed them in order to obtain small scraps of credibility to please critics on the hunt for a little ‘hood realism to titillate and tantalize.
Commentary on geek culture, race, and gender by Cheryl Lynn Eaton
I am elated by the announcement of the release of The Sims 4 in 2014! I still play The Sims 2 occasionally and am thankful that I didn’t waste money on the third incarnation of the series. Having sampled The Sims 3, I found the interface to be unwieldy in regards to building houses and altering landscapes. In addition, the characters themselves seemed less lifelike than the characters of The Sims 2. The bloated “pudding faces” that characters from the third game came equipped with certainly didn’t help to sell me on the product.
No matter. In the teaser image provided for The Sims 4, the faces shown are reminiscent of the characters found in The Sims 2—a good sign. Now, I readily admit to being biased. I found The Sims 2 to be a near perfect game (once all of the essential hacks had been downloaded and inserted, of course). So, what would The Sims 4 need to possess to make me abandon my favorite game of all time?
The ability to drive as a selected character. I’ve often stated that I wish that I could find a game that was the perfect blend of The Sims series and the Grand Theft Auto franchise. My favorite activities in games are often world-building and exploring. Hopefully, The Sims 4 will allow players to drive through the streets they have assembled.
Useful neighborhood decorations or “rabbit holes.” As someone who prefers games with urban landscapes, playing The Sims 2 can be frustrating. I would love to have a bustling city overrun with skyscrapers. This cannot be built given the limits of the game. Since towers cannot be created, they should (and have) been provided by game developers. However, two or three buildings are not nearly enough. There should be dozens. I also find it hard to understand why developers for The Sims 3 provided “rabbit holes” for buildings that would have been much better served as playable community lots—for example, the diner, the bookstore, and the bistro. In The Sims 4, these non-playable structures should be reserved for the following: towers, office buildings, shopping malls, schools, police departments, hospitals, and fire stations.
Expansion packs focused on lifestyles rather than life stages. I do not want to see expansion packs focused on college life, childhood, career exploration, or retirement! This material should be included in the base game! I would prefer to see a simple suburban life presented in the base game, with a new type of environment provided with each expansion pack—urban, pastoral, futuristic, and magical. New environment-appropriate activities and characters should be featured in each world.
Characters of different heights. Something tells me this wish may be impossible, but I’m tossing it out here just in case!
Greater diversity in hairstyles. I really wish developers would not depend on fans to provide material that should be found within the base game—such as several modern hairstyles for kinky or tightly coiled hair.
That’s all, folks! As I’ve stated previously, it wouldn’t take much to bring The Sims franchise from good to great. I look forward to seeing what Maxis has in store for The Sims 4.
“If Kanye’s new album is, as I’m suspecting, a letter to the different facets of black America, I’m going to have to give up the Internet.”
Sadly, I could not have been more wrong. I listened to Yeezus tonight and I am disappointed. I feel as if ”New Slaves” was the ultimate bait and switch. Given one of the biggest platforms a black man could possibly be afforded, during a time when black men and boys people desperately need someone to celebrate them loudly and publicly on a grand scale to counteract the warped negative projections found in the media, need someone to address the life-threatening inequities they currently face (that America wishes desperately to bury), Kanye used it mainly to recite a love letter to himself, and solely himself—a self-serving album (of which we already have several from his peers).
West has what few have been given—the power to change our culture with his actions. So for him to return to a superficial world of MDMA, groupies, and high-end luxuries after a conscious “one-off” is frustrating. The beats, melancholy and haunting and sparse, are beautiful. However, the lyrics, championing a spoiled boy-king’s heartbreak and resulting misogynistically-tinged tantrums, are audible self-absorption at a time when the problems we currently face are so much greater than this one man.
I suppose this is the eternal push-and-pull for popular artists belonging to a group that has been so fervently oppressed and silenced. Once one has broken through the barriers and has received a highly visible canvas upon which to create, does one owe it to the group to try to speak for/to all? Is it unfair to ask the artist to integrate a larger societal message into his personal work?
Disappointed though I may be, Kanye doesn’t owe me—us—anything. His lyrics are and should be his own. I suppose it is our responsibility to seek new artists and build new platforms if the message we seek cannot be found in the music he creates.
I know comics and I broke up a while ago, but I must state that Francesco Francavilla’s pet project modeled after works appearing under DC’s Elseworlds imprint is money on the table for DC. Three sets of 64-page one-shots starring the trinity. Each character gets a different decade: Superman against the backdrop of the gluttonous, Cold-War-fueled ’80s; Batman in the crime-ridden, wayward ’70s; Wonder Woman fighting for our rights in the mid ’60s. Superstar artists all the way. When it’s all done, bind that sucker up in a huge hardcover crammed with all sorts of pin-ups of the trinity in different time periods. Then? Do it all over again with a different set of artists: Superman in the early atomic age (’50s); Wonder Woman taking on Nazis during WW II (’40s); Batman trying to keep Gotham from sinking during the Great Depression (’30s).
Money on the table.
I want to take a moment to expand upon what I mean by that phrase. Every product containing Batman is profitable. Fans of the character will purchase even subpar work containing an appearance by the Dark Knight. However, the work I described in the preceding paragraph, if marketed correctly, would have a great deal of longevity as a trade and would easily interest fans outside the standard direct market. What I described is a coffee table book crammed to the brim with trendy, superstar artists, featuring America’s favorite modern myths and leaning heavily on the country’s most beloved form of entertainment—nostalgia.
I will make this short, but sweet. Should Rihanna ever allow a surgeon to carve into her face, to raise the slope of her nose and narrow the bridge between her wide, sparkling eyes, she would cease to be unique. For unlike the many pop princesses who have preceded her, women who have unfortunately thinned their features to secure public acceptance, Rihanna’s beauty is subversive. Cloaked in the light skin that is erroneously heralded as superior in many cultures, Rihanna’s decidedly wide African features are allowed to project boldly from the covers of fashion magazines, to be emblazoned upon billboards, to slip across our television screens, to be uniformly heralded as what they are and would sadly not be considered should they be found upon a woman of a darker hue—beautiful.
Like water eroding stone, each appearance, each reinforcement of her desirability is a slow and steady wearing away of the narrow and racist standards of beauty that have maintained a chokehold upon North and South America for centuries. Like a bombshell girl of the forties, Rihanna is a symbol of warfare, though cultural rather than conventional. Undoubtedly beautiful and black, she is unapologetic and joyful regarding both.
When I moved I had a decision to make. Would I spend the ninety dollars required to bring my comic collection with me or would I leave it behind?
I left it all behind—every comic, every graphic novel, every ashcan, every sketchbook, every ‘zine. Such a decision was not to be made lightly. I began first by pruning, eliminating books I knew I would not reread and would not miss. Great swaths of comics from the nineties were relinquished, banished to Ikea dustbins and set aside for donation. In the end, when I had accepted that I would be leaving my entire collection behind, I set aside a weekend to simply sit and read. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the older works held up.
Though I had the funds to take my collection with me, I was reluctant to take it out of my “start-up money.” I knew that bringing the books with me was not a necessity. A more religious (and more annoying) person would probably mention the need to put away childish things. But comics are not childish things. How can a medium, a fully formed method of storytelling, be childish? The notion is absurd.
It is, however, an expensive thing—as a consumer and as a creator. As a consumer, one must have the space to house a personal library and the lucre required to spend $2.99 on roughly seven minutes of entertainment. That’s $25.00 an hour—nearly double the average person’s salary.
And yet that $2.99 must provide for nearly a half-dozen creative individuals—writers, pencillers, inkers, letterers, colorists, and editors. The amount of labor involved to produce such a small—though delectable—morsel of entertainment is astounding and should be adequately compensated. Often, it is not.
In Chris Arrant’s interview with the talented Sean Murphy (who amusingly provided an image that once served as the logo for this site), Murphy was asked if the comics industry was a young man’s game.
“I think it probably helps to be young, not only because you have more energy, but it means you probably have less real-world responsibilities like a mortgage or children (I certainly wouldn’t have had the luxury of doing Punk Rock Jesus if I had two kids to feed). Going to conventions, staying out late and hobnobbing certainly isn’t as fun as it was when I was in my 20s.”
I have to disagree with Murphy. The comics industry—any entertainment industry—is a rich man’s game, be he young or old. Surprisingly, creation itself is a luxury—one that requires time, supplies, and a support network. Those who have wealth are able to acquire resources in greater abundance. Those who do not have money but still possess the desire to create are often expected to suffer for their art. Poverty is romanticized. We swoon over the starving artist or struggling writer. “You have to love comics to be in it.”
When I left my previous position at an academic publisher, I was adamant that I would remain in publishing. In fact, I was certain that I would make the switch to trade or comic publishing—and perhaps write as well. Had one stated that I would set my creative aspirations aside for the field of property management, I would have scoffed.
Yet I left the books behind for a reason. I am far too practical to let the wide-eyed writer inside of me drag me into noisy, cramped apartments; cold, polluted cities; and low-paying daytime drudgery in an attempt to satisfy her creative wishes. I am poised to purchase my first property; she will have to settle for a diary and a library card.
Perhaps when I make that last payment on that last house—somewhere near water where the skies are blue and the political affiliations are as well—I will allow her some leeway. Luckily, writing isn’t a young man’s game.
The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer since I plan to touch upon comic companies directly competing with Image, but good headlines are hard to come by! I’ve been thinking a bit about my previous posts concerning the fate of Vertigo (of which there were many). I had come to the conclusion that Image would usurp Vertigo’s grip on the publication of cutting-edge titles from superstar creators and talent on the cusp of notoriety. Looking at Image’s line-up, I can certainly say that I was right. I had also assumed that Vertigo would then conquer IDW’s domain, bringing quality cult classics from other arenas to the world of comics. My belief was that IDW would simply roll over, unable to compete with DC’s monetary resources. Those predictions were wrong. IDW has in fact strengthened its position: securing work from creators Jeff Parker, Steve Niles, and Duane Swierczynski; luring away former DC editor Sarah Gaydos (who can boast of her work on Vertigo’s Django Unchained); and expanding its list of titles. Clearly realizing that there is strength in numbers, Dark Horse and Dynamite have entered into a partnership. While the partnership concerns only digital works, there are still many more months of announcements and a long stretch of convention season still ahead of us.
Where does this leave Vertigo? Stripped of its power and glory—seemingly embedded in its former executive editor, Karen Berger—it must begin once more as a fledgling imprint, laying the groundwork necessary to rebuild its talent pool and brand. At first glance, it seems to be doing a superb job, publishing work such as Prince of Cats and Django Unchained. Though the works listed are of a higher quality than the fare once found on UPN and the WB, I can’t help but recall how the struggling stations bolstered their ratings by reaching out to talent of color—and wonder if DC has attempted the same with projects from writers such as Mat Johnson and Ronald Wimberly (as well as the earlier acquisition of Milestone’s characters). That Prince of Cats does not boast an i in its upper left-hand-corner should honestly be of great embarrassment to Image. That Mat Johnson has made Vertigo his home in the four-color realm should be unsettling as well. Why is Image unable to “seal the deal” with creators such as these?
But will Vertigo possess the ability to do so much longer given the absence of Berger and her protégés?
“I wrote a scene where Juliet is smoking weed with her homegirls in the bathroom. I started thinking about NY in the late ’70s and ’80s, [so] I put that in there. Karen liked it. Karen was real supportive. It was important to me that Karen dug the characters. I broke down the whole book.
“I guess here’s where things got difficult. I got lost in the bureaucracy. They switched editors twice on ‘PoC,’ and in the end, I lost that game of musical chairs, and badly. I had to nag to get things looked at and approved. Because I wanted certain control over things like color and design, the process was held up further. The fact that I’m a bit mercurial didn’t help.”
The empire has clearly fallen, and I think this remaining dominion of Vertigo will be conquered by organizations such as Dark Horse, Oni, Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly, and—of course—Kickstarter. As for Vertigo, I wonder if it will simply become an imprint for quirky off-brand works featuring existing DC properties.
I (and many others) have jokingly referred to Image as the new Vertigo, but can Image become the new DC?
“Image will increasingly shift from creator-owned to in-house properties. These ‘in-house’ properties may themselves be partially creator-owned, but the focus will be far more on developing their own brands (in the style of ‘The Walking Dead’) than launching those of independent entities. Of course, a big part of this has to do with TV/movie options, etc.”
A shift in Image from creator-owned to in-house properties? Sounds ludicrous, no? For those paying attention to interviews with Stephenson, it shouldn’t seem too farfetched.
“One of the things we’ve been working on this year, with our What’s Next campaign is to focus more attention on continuing series, through both ads and retail posters, because it is important for people to be aware of those books. We’re also working on a variety of retail incentives to make it as easier for retailers to support a title at literally any point in its run, whether it’s on issue one or 100.”
I don’t think Image will ever abandon its focus on creator-owned properties, but I think there will be greater emphasis placed on promoting books featuring characters owned by the Image partners. After all, charity begins at home.
Can Image become the new DC? DC is an engine that runs on the fuel of its beloved icons; Image is a young company and possesses no icons. However, with twenty years beneath its belt, Image can certainly use nostalgia to its advantage. Just as it was successfully achieved with the Extreme titles, Image can reinvigorate interest by (1) relaunching earlier works with new visions by popular creators and (2) providing longstanding Image titles with consistent material by their original creators, cosmetic revisions for struggling works, and new “jumping on” points for all.
In regards to diversity, DC simply takes a consumer’s approach, using its vast resources in an attempt to acquire what it has difficultly cultivating in house—popular characters of color and a diverse writing staff. Image appears content to be pursued by talent, which generally results in homogeneity in regards to race and gender. Earlier, I was discussing with a friend how I felt that talented black writers mainly tended to eschew the mainstream, convinced in the belief they are not welcome. Now, it seems there is even an avoidance of smaller companies, with Kickstarter reaping the benefits—leaving slim pickings for actual publishing companies.
“No one likes to say this out loud, but for the most part, the submissions publishers receive are not very good. By and large, the art is so bad that even the proudest parent in the world wouldn’t put it on the fridge if their kid brought it home from school. There are endless pitches that are either re-hashed versions of stories that have already been told, or even worse, completely incoherent. Most of the time, looking through the submissions pile is pretty depressing.”
If a racially diverse selection of writers is a goal—and to be honest, it seemingly isn’t a goal for the industry, nor a concern outside of Black History Month—both DC and Image will have to select representatives who can act as talent scouts and impress upon the populace that diversity is a concern. Image will need to woo established writers of color (Liu, Bernardin, etc.) from other comic companies and arenas; DC—hit with a wave of bad press that has made many established writers wary—may have to settle for grooming novice writers with potential.
“Don’t know if [Milestone] would fit at Image. They’re kind of about that solo pioneer spirit. And imprints revolve around one creator’s properties.”
The above quote is one from a debate I had on Twitter on whether Image could succeed with an imprint akin to Milestone where DC had clearly failed. Though Image excels at world-building across multiple titles (as most comic companies excel), those worlds clearly spring from one writer’s creative vision—generally, one lone white guy (Kirkman, Silvestri, etc.). What was so wonderful about Milestone was that men and women from a large variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds came together to create quality comics featuring a world that was equally as diverse. Image cannot provide that. DC cannot provide that. I cannot think of one company that possesses the diversity, the level of talent, and the financial stability required to recreate such an operation. All three are required for it to work.
All in all, I’m interested to see how things unfold—for Vertigo, for Image, and for the industry as a whole. Even Milestone, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, may have surprises in store.
I got my Earth One: Wonder Woman! But I’ve already discussed that. Today, I’m here asking for a mile out of the inch that was given. I want more. Specifically, I want Earth One: Flash, Earth One: Green Lantern, and Earth One: Justice League. And then? I would like the Earth One universe to rest on its laurels and allow for innovative ideas concerning wholly new characters.
For Earth One: Flash? We’d be examining the life of one Walter West—endearingly referred to as Junior. Desperate to fulfill both the Park family’s desire for another doctor to add to the fold and the West family’s desire to have yet another West as a member of the police force, the affable Walter—the son of Wally and Linda West—works as a medical examiner for Central City’s police department. Walter’s grandfather, Jay, has recently retired from his position as police commissioner. Walter’s uncle, Barry, still holds a position as captain. Wally, Walter’s father, died as a hero in the line of duty. Walter worries that he will be forever trapped in his father’s shadow, unable to live up to the idyllic example Wally provided.
Walter possesses all of the wisdom of the Park and West clans and none of the grace. His mind is forever two steps ahead while his body is a half-step behind—until a freak accident while out in the field leads to a discovery that alters Walter’s life permanently.
I chose to retool the West family to allow for both nostalgia and novelty. Earth One would have its first biracial superhero and a brand new character but also tie heavily into existing characters and themes explored in Flash issues. I believe that all of the Earth One volumes should serve as a bridge, connecting the history of past tales to our modern culture. Stories bend and shape to fit who we have become as a people.
Next up? We’ll discuss Earth One: Green Lantern and how I like my Green Lantern like I like myself—black with a handful of green.
We need a remake of The Wiz immediately.
- Dorothy – Janelle Monáe
- Scarecrow – André Lauren Benjamin
- Tin Man – Dave Chappelle
- Lion – Kanye West
- Evillene – Retta
- Aunt Em – Mary J. Blige
- Glinda the Good – Mariah Carey
- The Wiz – Jamie Foxx
- The Four Crows – Hannibal Buress, Dante Terrell Smith, Charlie Murphy, and Debra Wilson
Please start making calls.
Love, Cheryl Lynn
DC is rightfully lambasted for what the company gets wrong in regards to representation. However, diversity initiatives launched by the company to correct existing problems are often ignored by fandom.
New writer, Marguerite Bennett – @EvilMarguerite here – is penning a badass Batman annual for you all. Proud of her.
— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) May 7, 2013
The above is a perfect example of DC getting it right. Outside of the realm of self-publishing, the comics industry’s writing pool is overwhelmingly homogenous—white, American, and male. I’ve often stated that the best way to diversify the talent pool is to hire writers from outside the field of comics and allow said writers to hone their skills by (1) pairing them up with established professional comics writers on ongoing titles or (2) allowing novice writers to create short back-up stories in existing popular works. And though disgruntled reactionary fans would like to accuse Marguerite Bennett of simply being a quota hire, she is an individual with the talent and determination necessary to improve DC’s status quo. In addition, many white male writers launched their careers in comics in the exact same manner as she (sans the added stress of bigots combing through their credentials with a fine-toothed comb). Luckily, for Bennett—and for DC, for that matter—gender was of no importance to Snyder in picking his protégés. And, equally as important, Snyder’s profession as a teacher allows him access to a diverse (and novel) selection of writers in regards to race, religion, and gender—something his peers cannot take advantage of given the industry’s overwhelmingly white and male pool of writers and apprentices. In Snyder, DC has a tutor, recruitment center, and diversity outreach program in one—and is clearly taking advantage of that fact.
David Brothers, who beat me to the punch, discussed Bennett’s recent hire, networking, and the dearth of writers of color in the comics industry. David suggested, and I agree, that the lack of writers of color in the comics industry may be linked to the lack of creators of color in the social circles of those in a position to hire new creators. Networking in any creative industry is key. Without the ability to network, aspiring writers are relegated to talent contests, cold pitches at conventions, and unsolicited submissions. As indicated in Nancy Ditomaso’s piece for the New York Times, opportunities for success are frighteningly slim.
“Help is not given to just anyone, nor is it available from everyone. Inequality reproduces itself because help is typically reserved for people who are ‘like me’ … Because we still live largely segregated lives, such networking fosters categorical inequality.”
I am lucky in that my social network is absurdly diverse. There are many I adore who are “like me,” yet there are clear differences in race, gender, nationality, and age. There are cultural bonds upon which friendships have been formed that bridge all differences. Still, diverse social and professional networks sans the power to employ individuals are useless in changing an industry’s landscape. The industry will change only when those in a position of power to generate change feel the need to expand their existing networks, or younger individuals with diverse networks assume positions of power. Waiting for the industry to “age out” of its racial and gender inequality is frustrating, but given the mainstream’s disdain for other outreach methods and its current industry monopoly, I don’t see change occurring any other way.
Finally, I apologize for the title of this blog post. Actually, no. No, I don’t. It is glorious.
Okay, asking all creators…what is your definition of a great editor?
— GailSimone (@GailSimone) April 28, 2013
Gail Simone asked a fabulous question on Twitter. I provided my own thoughts.
“I think an editor has a greater responsibility than just making sure the ‘trains run on time.’ An editor must make sure the work is correct grammatically and visually. But, as importantly, an editor must make sure the story makes sense. And not just that the single issue makes sense, but that it fits the ongoing continuity. And if you are working at Marvel or DC, there is the added responsibility of protecting the brand and your rolodex—a narrow tightrope to walk. You are an ambassador to three worlds—the creator’s, the salesman’s, and the consumer’s—and must satisfy the needs of all. As an aside, just as Jeff Parker stated that a good writer must stop being a ‘fan,’ it is necessary for the editor to stop being one as well. You cannot be personally invested as a ‘fan’ would be. You must be able to pull back and view the material objectively. No identification. To be able to pull back is key in order to identify flaws in the tapestry and suggest revisions. To pull back allows for more creative freedom, free rein to try new things. Fewer instances of ‘Batman wouldn’t do that.’”
In comics, an editor assumes multiple roles—talent scout, copy editor, salesman, researcher, critic, and creative consultant. If you’ve been lucky enough to discover a good one? Hold on tight.
New York City has often been referred to as its own major character in the series Sex and the City. While I don’t agree, the importance of New York to the series cannot be denied. New York—any city—has an impact on its denizens, shaping them to fit the existing culture within its borders. To move to a new area, not as a tourist or transient figure, but as a settler, is to assume the customs and lifestyle of one’s neighbors that are necessary to survive and maneuver efficiently. If not, problems quickly occur. For example, Brooklyn-born, the excessive socialization required amongst strangers while in Atlanta is still disconcerting. Privacy and solitude are at a premium in New York and are not to be relinquished without great reluctance.
Good fiction requires cities to have their own cultures as well. The character of a region is shown by how the landscape and structures are depicted. It is also reflected in the temperament and appearance of its citizens. For these reasons, team-ups and crossovers must be created with care. Unless the “hook” of a tale is to show a “fish out of water,” a mish-mash of incompatible worlds and characters is confusing and distasteful to the reader. One cannot build the foundation of a good story on earth that is not firm.
Seemingly rebroadcast at least once yearly, the crossover between Homicide: Life on the Street and Law and Order is fantastic. Both worlds are clearly defined, and characters from both series find themselves as strangers in a strange land. Another tactic that works is to simply create a new world for all the characters in question. This has been successfully executed repeatedly in comics, the Amalgam universe (depicting blended versions of Marvel and DC characters) likely being the most lucrative example.
With DC Entertainment’s New 52 initiative, the DC, Wildstorm, and Milestone universes have been folded into one world. As a former fan of Wildstorm and Milestone characters, the development is frustrating. It is frustrating because I do not feel that a new world was developed that was hospitable to all characters; Milestone and Wildstorm characters were simply plugged into the DC universe. The number of Milestone characters appearing has been minimal, so a fish-out-of-water approach could have been successfully taken with Static and Xombi. However, given the sheer volume of Wildstorm characters inserted and the incompatibility of the former DC and Wildstorm universes—one an idealistic place with nearly black and white depictions of good and evil, the other a more sinister place with various shades of gray—results have been dreadful. DC fans have largely ignored Wildstorm characters. Wildstorm fans, given a strange world that in no way exploited already weakened nostalgic ties, had no reason to stay. I am apprehensive about what will occur should more Milestone characters make an appearance.
DC’s recreation of Earth 2, a world that could have easily been shaped to fit Wildstorm and Milestone characters, is essentially the existing DC universe with different characters plugged in. The culture remains the same—charmingly idealistic. In contrast, Marvel’s Ultimate universe began as a world that was much darker and cynical in nature compared to the existing Marvel universe. As of now, the two Marvel worlds are largely similar, and a large event featuring a rebooted world containing the most popular characters and concepts from both would work fabulously—though given fan resistance to change, it would probably be best to test the waters with a temporary revision akin to Age of Apocalypse.
But, uh, back to the lecture at hand: how does DC solve the problem of compatibility? There are three options: remove the Wildstorm characters from the DC universe; alter the Wildstorm characters to fit the DC universe; present the Wildstorm characters as part of DC’s underground, an off-the-grid assemblage of cynical characters largely not in contact with DC’s icons.
I’m curious to see which path DC decides to choose.
One of the fun things to do AFTER you’re on a panel– is to read all the transcriptions on different sites of things you DIDN’T say.
— Dan Slott (@DanSlott) April 26, 2013
I’ve often discussed how comic companies can make things easier for journalists and increase the flow of accurate information to fans. Many journalists bring laptops with them to cover conventions. A great idea for comic companies such Marvel and DC would be to provide journalists with flash drives containing key panel notes. The flash drives, smartly emblazoned with a Daily Bugle or Daily Planet logo, could be handed out to members of the press as they entered a panel. A company rep or convention organizer would simply seek out individuals with press passes in queue. To add to the kitsch factor, panel notes could be packed with a friendly note from a colleague named Lois or Betty.
The price of flash drives has dropped so dramatically that this method of dispensing information is now feasible. And with key information and a panel rundown already typed and formatted, journalists could devote more time to accurately transcribing a creator’s pithy comments. More importantly, it would provide more time for analysis of the information distributed instead of just releasing a dry rundown of events.
I like William Leonard Roberts, the real man behind the public persona of the rapper Rick Ross. I like him for what I imagine him to be—an individual of working class roots, thrust into a realm of wealth and excess, desperately attempting to remain competitive with men of poverty in regards to bravado, and men of wealth in regards to indications of abundance. I project a great deal of myself onto Roberts I suppose. I too feel caught between worlds of greater than and less than, and feel as if I am a fraud in both. There is a double consciousness at work, not of race but of class. And unlike the eventual smooth transition that occurs with race (as Dave Chappelle joked, every black person possesses the ability to speak “street vernacular” and “job interview”), transitioning between various socioeconomic groups is uncomfortable. Awkward. It does not help that to be working class is to be in transition. One is either slipping into poverty or climbing one’s way into middle class. One’s children will most likely not share one’s economic status as adults.
It is interesting that Roberts was able to propel himself into the realm of the wealthy by assuming the invented persona of a once poverty-stricken man now loaded with ill-gotten gains. Ross is nothing more than a series of masks for Roberts to don. Roberts is not a criminal who escaped from an impoverished ghetto, but a former blue-collar correctional officer. He is not an elegant criminal mastermind who delights in high-end luxuries, but an average man still elated by a trip to the strip club and a well-seasoned bucket of wings.
I would say that William Leonard Roberts is a fraud, but you cannot fool one already aware of the game. Like a submissive that has paid for abuse, America both fears and adores the stereotype of black men Ross presents. It abhors it, and yet demands it for titillation, luring men outside the lines within the narrow box it has provided.
Ross is the monster in the fun house—an empty threat, a thrill. So, when I heard his lyrics in “U.O.E.N.O.,” I simply shook my head. Was I supposed to feel threatened? Disrespected? How could I be disrespected by a joke? I should clarify that Ross’ lyrics are not the joke, but Ross himself.
In hindsight, I realize the issue. There are those for whom Ross is not a mask, but a reality—women for whom Ross is not an empty threat, but a real one; young men for whom Ross is not a punch line, but a compatriot. For the sake of those women and men, Ross’ lyrics must be publicly denounced and Ross himself must be punished.
Yet, I cannot help but think of Roberts. How bewildered and heartsick he must be that his mask was rejected! At first tested by “the streets,” his persona successfully weathered the firestorm of the public announcement of his former employment. It is now being tested by “the suburbs”—middle and upper-class women with socioeconomic clout. I do believe Ross will weather this storm as well, but not without a reduction of the perimeter of his permitted area—something I honestly feel should occur. Point blank, Roberts, once again attempting to shoehorn drug use and criminal activity into his lyrics for “street cred,” clearly crossed the line.
I wish we could do away with the stereotypes Roberts embraces entirely, but America seems intent on maintaining their existence. Perhaps the best we can do for the moment is to emphasize that these are merely roles; we have to choice to assume them—or not.
I’ve discussed the topic of sponsorship so often with friends that I had to do a search to be certain I hadn’t addressed the topic on this site. I hadn’t—until today.
The word sponsor is having a renaissance. Sadly, the current connotations are far from positive. In certain circles the word is used to define an individual who provides financially for a woman or man in return for companionship and sexual favors. Moving from the bedroom to the boardroom, the word also conjures up images of corporate meddling, a profitable company usurping the core of an organization that is under financial duress in order to broaden its brand and increase public awareness.
I would like to see a resurgence of true sponsorship. In America, we often romanticize the starving artist; a creative individual must suffer—endure poverty—for his craft. That view is, quite frankly, ridiculous. The musician must feed her children. The painter requires a bed to sleep in at night. The writer needs a roof above his head. Should one’s creations appeal to the public, one should be compensated for them.
The work and research of Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston was subsidized by the philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason. Mason’s wealth allowed Hurston to produce folklore classics such as Mules and Men. However, in today’s competitive climate there are too few philanthropists with an interest in the arts, and far too many artists who cannot make ends meet. The patronage of the past is not sustainable. There is also the danger of an artist compromising his vision to appeal to his patron.
Sponsorship would allow for one organization to financially cover the project of another while receiving benefits that are not monetary in nature. It is imperative that both organizations have brands and mission statements that are similar in nature to avoid either organization altering one’s core values for another. It is also important that the companies do not produce the same product to diminish the possibility of one company placing a financial stranglehold on another to eliminate competition.
Perhaps a sneaker company such as Adidas could sponsor a creative troop featuring creators such as Ronald Wimberly, LeSean Thomas, and Khary Randolph. Adidas would sponsor printing costs for graphic novels, and provide funding for launch parties and signings. In return, artists could design limited-edition sneakers, or create a short strip advertising Adidas sneakers that could appear in magazines such as Vibe or Esquire. Honestly, the marketing possibilities are endless as long as there is at least a small overlap in clientele—the lack of which destroyed the partnership between femme-friendly Reebok and the notoriously sexist public persona of Rick Ross.
So, here’s to true sponsorship! And hey, if you’re a company seeking a creator for collaboration? I’m certainly available.