For the long haul.

“Given that times are tight, longevity is so important in entertainment. I still play The Sims 2 four years later. In regards to comics, a very important question comes up: can this book entertain me after it has been read? Has an online community developed around the book? Can I have a lively discussion about this book with others? Does the creator provide random content in installments during ‘down time’? (Sketches? Sneak peaks? Snippets of the creative process?)”
Cheryl Lynn Eaton

These are difficult questions for a creator. You can’t simpy fabricate a community. One must develop naturally. However, actively interacting with fans can help.

What you can do is check your distribution.

So, I have quick question regarding the sale and marketing of digital comics. Has any publisher attempted to package a digital download of a comic with an MP3, game, or other digital content?

Yes! And a request.

Oh, GTA modders. How I love you. Oh, how I love you. But why has no one created the most obvious mod of all? Grand Theft Auto III on the Grand Theft Auto IV engine! No remapping necessary. Just update a few of the buildings to fit Grand Theft Auto III. Honkers and the Triangle Club become Luigi properties. Brucie’s place becomes Joey’s garage. The Majestic is repurposed as Kenji’s swanky hotel and casino. Maria gets high in an unnamed Hercules every night. Fix up Salvatore’s place out in Alderny so that it’s shiny and new. Pull all the old audio files over (as well as some from Liberty City Stories) and film new cut scenes.

Yeah, it’d be a bit of work, but it’d be worth it. Taking Maria out for dinner? Bowling with 8 Ball? Popping online to read the latest from the Liberty Tree? Storming through Kenji’s casino in order to take him out? I’d probably set the mod in 2006 to keep from having to update the pedestrians and cars too much though. Actually, given Rockstar’s new foray into DLC, why haven’t they issued a remixed Grand Theft Auto III on the Grand Theft Auto IV engine? It gives PC gamers something to tide them over until the Grand Theft Auto V port and is a nice way to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the franchise.

I can’t be the only one who thinks of stuff like this!

Hey, Dark Horse!

You know what would be nice? A Grand Theft Auto comic series. I would buy those comics. You should start making them. I’d ask Wildstorm, but…you know. And where’s my Venture Bros. graphic novel? Get to work!

I need this.

Every video game should come with a bot that will play through a hard level for you so you can just skip ahead and not drive yourself crazy trying to time a stupid move just right. This would also come in handy for people who just want to know what happens next and don’t have a boyfriend willing to play Grand Theft Auto: Whatever for four hours straight in order to get to the ending.

Booth truths.

Hey, EA? Enjoying all that money you’ve siphoned from female geeks with The Sims franchise? I suggest you start thinking about what you’ll do without it when that flyer starts making the round of feminist blogs!

EA Flyer

With this contest, EA has made comic and video game fandom a hostile environment for women. It has reinforced the idea that women aren’t appreciated except as prizes and/or tools used to obtain wealth. EA does this to women. “Too big an audience to ignore.” The next person to tell me that the only thing a company is looking for in a consumer’s pants is a wallet or that the only color a company sees is green is going to get told off—for days. Time and time again this has been proven to be untrue.

Yes, Virginia. There is a writing ghetto.

“What I think is also interesting is when we’re hiring writers for the show we send out a call for writers. They only sent us white writers. It wasn’t that I could tell from the writing, it was when we started meeting people, I kept thinking, ‘Where are the writers of color?’ And then when I called the agents and said, ‘[Where] are the writers of color?,’ they said, ‘Oh, you want writers of color!’ which they put in a separate category, which I find very disturbing. And I’m going to work to do what I can to make that change, and I think all the writers out there should be calling their agents and sort of demanding that you don’t segregate us based on a category in that sense.”

Shonda Rhimes

The above quote from Shonda Rhimes is frustrating. It’s doubly frustrating for women of color because it seems as though that which involves race remains dominated by male voices and that which deals with gender remains dominated by voices that are generally female and white. And so you must fight simply to make others aware of your existence. You must fight to be considered for that small selection of projects “reserved” for minority writers—projects that aren’t really reserved for minority writers at all if a notable writer who is white and male desires them; projects that aren’t really reserved for women writers of color because they aren’t the writers who come to mind when an editor or a director is even considering hiring a minority writer in the first place.

It’s a problem. And I don’t have the foggiest notion as to how to help solve that problem outside of the comics genre. In comics, if you can draw, you simply create your own project. You don’t need Marvel or DC. You need a pen, a sheet of paper, a scanner, and a story. But what about that woman who has a brilliant idea for a television series? Or a video game? Or a movie?

How can I make equal access to job opportunities a reality instead of mere lip service? As a consumer, how can I help to change things? I’ve written letters to producers and network executives stressing the importance of diversity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those letters were never even read. I feel impotent.


“I think it’s easier for me to put up with offensive wackness in gaming because I don’t interact with fandom. Fandom is a wackness amplifier.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

When I heard about the upcoming PC release of Grand Theft Auto IV, I bounced up and down like a hyperactive child and scoured every news site I could to look for information. I still obsess over the neighborhood I’ve constructed in The Sims 2, and I will risk a throbbing headache just to make sure a telephone pole has been placed correctly. I have an irrational fondness for point-and-click adventure games, and will scan dusty shelves looking for one I might have missed.

I love video games. Am I dismayed by the bigotry that permeates the genre? Yes. Do I still play? Yes!

How do I cope? Easily. I don’t buy what offends me and I don’t interact with fandom. I can count on one hand the number of people I discuss games with or play games with online. Yeah, I may get smacked in the face with racism/sexism/colorism issues when reading an article in a gaming magazine or searching the aisles for a new game, but I’ll never have some jackass calling me a racial slur while I play Starcraft. I’ll never understand how some of my friends put up with that nonsense.

I’m pretty pleased to say that I enjoy video games now as much as I did when I first started playing them. And I think my avoidance of gaming fandom is the reason for that. I think that fandom tends to enhance all of the negative aspects that plague a genre. Not only do you have to deal with those negative aspects in the work created, but fandom will immediately parrot and defend those aspects as soon as the work is released to the public. It can sap your enjoyment over time.

I think that’s what has happened to me in regards to mainstream comics and mainstream hip-hop. I wonder if I can get my enjoyment back by not interacting with most of my fellow fans save a small few.

Ah, fandom. You so crazy!

As a black woman, I apologize for the fact that strong women of other minority groups aren’t represented in the media. Because, like everything else bad in the free world, this is the fault of black people. Even though there is a dearth of black women writers in film, television, comics, and gaming. And it has nothing to do with black women not being seen as feminine or desirable for centuries so that they are stuffed into roles such as the tough warrior or the feisty best friend instead of the damsel in distress. Nope. Not at all. Black people, what is wrong with you? How come you are the only race with members who feel that they are the only ones misrepresented, underrepresented, or important? No one else feels that way or expresses those feelings. Shame on you, black people! Shame! You must be called out! You are taking up far too much time and attention.

Okay, let me stop being goofy! But really, posts such as the one above from FandomSecrets are why I don’t interact with most of fandom. No loss for either side though.

Fandom is nuts, yo.

Why do people continue to interact with prejudiced fans when they end up repeatedly hurt by virulent bigotry? I don’t understand why some people subject themselves to abuse. Listen, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t take a clear stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, and more, but shouldn’t those efforts be focused on trying to eliminate those things within the products being created? Arguing with an intolerant fan on a message board won’t help eliminate or reduce bigotry in comics (or video games, or music). It’s only going to cause stress and take an emotional toll. Having a polite and respectful discussion with a creator or editor about what steps he or she can take to eliminate or reduce bigotry in comics and reach new markets? That’s something can work wonders.

Being a fan of comics and video games can get lonely at times, but I’d rather be lonely than deal with intolerant people bashing minority groups on a regular basis. I avoid message boards where those fans are known to congregate. Of course, not all places where fans congregate start out as a bastion of intolerance, but there are often clues to let one know that the environment will soon be taking a turn for the worse.

Has someone started to complain about how his or her right not to be subjected to homosexuality has been violated? One should probably leave. Is someone using the word feminazi in a manner that is not facetious? Yeah, it’s about time to go. Has someone decided to announce that “blacks are the most racist race” and routinely brings up Al Sharpton, gangsta rap, and how unfair it is that “white people can’t say the n-word” even though none of those things have anything to do with the topic at hand? Bounce.

These are just a handful of clues out of many. I may be a little isolated, but I’m a great deal happier not having to deal with bigotry. And those bigoted fans are probably happier not having to interact with me as well.

Re: Resident Evil 5.

Y’know, I have no problem with the zombies being black. After all, the new Resident Evil game is set in Africa. What do you expect? But why are the heroes, no matter what the setting, always white?

That’s the real problem, if you ask me—perpetual sidekick syndrome. Let me guess what the plot will be. White hero travels to African village to study and hopefully halt the spread of a virus that turns people into zombies. White hero loses sole method of efficient transportation. White hero must kill massive waves of zombies to survive. White hero finds beautiful white female missionary that needs protecting. White hero finds sage black man with weapons cache leading small band of uninfected villagers. Sage black man informs white hero of the history of the village and how the virus has spread. Sage black man dies brutally from giant monster attack. White hero valiantly kills giant monster. White hero finds new method of efficient transportation. White hero and beautiful missionary escape village. White hero and beautiful missionary stare at vanishing compound sadly as they remember their fallen Magical Negro.

The End.

ETA (10:45): I haven’t even seen the trailer yet (dial up) and I am fairly certain that will be the game’s plot.

ETA (11:11): I’ve now seen the trailer and would bet money on that being the game’s plot. Same story, different day. It’d just be nice to be the hero once in a while. Not a thug, not a sports star, not a sidekick, not a zombie—a real, honest-to-God, saving-the-day hero. Is that so wrong?

ETA (12:10): The hateful comments on these two pages have pummeled my brain until it threatens to ooze from my ears. Gaming fandoms really seem to have a monopoly on the knuckle-draggers, I swear.

ETA (12:24): There needs to be a greater variety of skin tones in this game for better realism. Okay, I’m done talking about this. Finally. Yes, really.

Random keystrokes.

Does participating in a certain fandom mean that you are less likely to enjoy what the fandom is centered upon over time? I notice that I haven’t been getting much enjoyment out of comics lately. Could it be that the more you interact with other fans, even if those interactions are positive, the more you become focused on the fandom itself instead of on the object the fandom should be focused upon? I wonder, because it seems as if what I talk about most I enjoy least. And what I enjoy the most is rarely mentioned at all.

I am damn near obsessed with both The Sims 2 and the Grand Theft Auto series. And yet I’ve never been to a video game convention. I can’t remember the last time I posted on a message board dedicated to either franchise. And I can probably count the number of times I’ve mentioned either game on this blog on one hand. I don’t talk about the stacks of books by Andrew Vachss and Michael Connelly sitting in my bookcase. No posts about my ridiculous dance music collection. I don’t go to dance clubs. I don’t belong to any Prison Break or Venture Bros. message boards.

I suppose the secret to long-lasting enjoyment is to share what you enjoy with as few people as possible. Wait, that sounds horrible. Let me think of another way to put that. No, on second thought, that sounds about right. Recommend what you like and keep it moving.

In the pink.

I am getting so tired of people declaring that girls are buying Bratz dolls over Barbie dolls because the company producing Bratz dolls has placed a greater emphasis on sexuality. Both types of doll wear similar clothing. Both types of doll have bizarre proportions. Both types of doll wear heavy makeup. You want to know the real difference between Bratz and Barbie?

With Bratz dolls, the minority girls don’t have to play second fiddle to an all-supreme white one. Christie, Kira, and Teresa are perpetually Barbie’s sidekicks. Their clothes aren’t as nice (or pink). They don’t get as much attention. They don’t have boyfriends (or cars, or houses, or careers). With Bratz dolls, Yasmin, Cloe, Sasha, and Jade are teenage friends who come together as equals. The blonde doll with the pale skin is no better or worse than the other dolls. She doesn’t have better accessories. She doesn’t have better clothes. She isn’t the only one paired off with a male doll.

Perhaps all of the girls out there who aren’t blonde-haired or blue-eyed simply desired toys that didn’t declare them to be second best. Unfortunately, by the time Mattel had finally figured that out, those girls had already placed Bratz dolls in their mothers’ shopping carts.

Mary Jane!

So when do we get the second statue in the series featuring a naked Peter Parker fondling himself? I’m totally buying that one. In fact, I’m sure Hughes is drawing a pin-up to base the statue on as I type. I can’t wait to see it.

All joking aside, it’s really the fact that the statue is incomplete that irks me. After all, I’d be lying if I said that people don’t perform goofy sexy stunts like that on occasion as a joke—for their partners. But take Peter out of the equation (and Mary Jane’s wedding ring as well) and the scene goes from cute and sexy to pandering and creepy very quickly. Is the buyer of the statue supposed to put himself in the place of Peter? Because that is rather sad.

Adding a second statue to the set featuring Peter Parker wearing a towel and Spider-Man booties while grinning sheepishly would add back the playfulness that Hughes probably intended when he drew the pinup in the first place.

Hmmm. Looking at the pin-up, it also seems that Hughes intended for Mary Jane to have a different facial expression, thicker waist, and smaller chest too. And Mary Jane’s jeans weren’t skintight either. Interesting.