FCBD Part 1b.

First, I must give many thanks to LurkerWithout, who provided me with the full plot to the Identity Crisis graphic novel! Now that I know the full plot, I must admit that I would no longer recommend the series. I believe that many consumers would find reading a tale featuring both mature themes and the innocent icons from their youth to be an unpleasant experience. Simply put, there are just some stories that cannot be told using childhood icons. Well, they can be told, but I highly doubt they would be well received.

I assume that a reader’s reaction to Identity Crisis would be similar to the unbridled outrage that occurred over Janet Jackson’s exposed breast during her Superbowl halftime performance. Men who had probably spent many a night searching for illicit photos of Jackson were now seething because she had essentially given them what they wanted—at the wrong time. I’m still stunned that the usually shrewd Jackson could make such a monumentally careless career move. Any person who has spent even a small amount of time in the United States knows that Americans don’t want sex mixed in with their conservative American events—not publicly where others can see them enjoy it, anyway.

Are readers so fragile that they cannot handle stories featuring gruesome crimes such as rape and murder? Hell, no. You’ll pry my DVDs of The Wire out of my cold, dead fingers. Are readers so fragile that they cannot handle stories featuring gruesome crimes such as rape and murder that star childhood icons? Sadly, I’ve seen some stomach-turning, yet popular fan fiction and fan art that says otherwise. Are readers so fragile that they cannot handle stories featuring gruesome crimes such a rape and murder starring childhood icons that are published by Marvel and DC?

Yes. Yes, they are.

How can I explain it? People are just strange. And they will cheer some nameless person on the Internet who has drawn a disturbing picture of Batman molesting a bound Robin, but rage at DC over the horrific fate of Sue Dibny. You see, companies simply should not be seen as condoning this material—those that handle childhood icons, anyway.

On a lighter note, I wanted to include that when I visited my local comic shop for Free Comic Book Day, all of the customers present were women. Pretty neat, huh? Sadly, my local comic shop isn’t really all that local and is a thirty-minute drive away, which means I don’t visit that often. I feel guilty for buying things on Amazon when shops and bookstores are struggling, but Amazon is so much cheaper and delivers right to my door. Although, when there’s a one-shot floppy I have to have, I’m grateful that there’s a shop I can go to in order to get a copy.



What I learned at New York Comic Con.

I’ve fallen out of love with comics. No, wait. That’s not true. There are comics that I absolutely adore. How shall I put this? I’ve learned that comics are no longer special to me. I love comics like I love books and video games and television. The product? Yes, please. The culture surrounding the product? I just don’t care anymore.

Trust me, this is not one of those elitist posts where I tell you that I’ve matured beyond what pleases the geeks. I hate posts like that. I’m very much still a geek. Honestly? I’m a little saddened by the fact that I don’t care.

I truly have no one to blame but myself. I went out of my way to distance myself. I was deeply upset by recent whitewashing issues and I felt that if I wasn’t so invested in the characters I wouldn’t be as upset by it. And, lo and behold, I was right. I do smirk when I think about it now. Honestly, it is a wee bit funny when entertainment companies pull this kind of stuff—and they always do. Tell me you didn’t laugh when you saw the pictures of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender movie cast. And Misty’s decrease in melanin was simply the Marvel equivalent of Power Girl’s expanding breasts.

However, the whole thing snowballed somehow. I stopped buying the books and decided to read them casually. Then I stopped reading them casually and decided to keep up via Scans Daily. Then I stopped visiting Scans Daily and decided to simply check The Beat and Journalista.

And now here we are—at the point where I’ve skipped out on 75 percent of a convention that I paid fifty dollars to attend so that I can play Grand Theft Auto IV until two in the morning—a convention that I only went to in order to hang out with friends and see a Venture Bros. panel. This would have been insane behavior to me a year ago.

Long story short, I stopped caring so that I wouldn’t get hurt. It worked. It worked so well that I have no idea how to undo it. I’ve tried. I’d like to. I feel guilty about not caring. I feel like I’ve let people down. I should be posting. I should be blogging about the offensive mess that Avatar: The Last Airbender is bound to be. I’m not. I feel bad about that. And I’m not really sure what to do about it, but I did feel as if I owed the two or three people who still visit this site an explanation.

So here we are.



So, anyway…

I’m purchasing a new computer. This has drastically eaten into my entertainment budget in the short run, but will make up for it in the long run when I’m playing Grand Theft Auto IV and The Sims 3 for the next year and beyond. Thankfully, it takes me a very long time to get tired of sandbox games. Hell, I still fire up The Sims 2 at least once a week. I love it—even though I am sure that the game is aggravating my OCD. I once spent an entire Saturday afternoon making sure that I had an equal number of simulated people from each skin color and that 10 percent of my Sims were gay. That, my friends, is pathetic. Seriously, I had notes and everything.

Luckily, I’d given up on mainstream Marvel and DC comics after my annoyance with both companies’ skin-lightening sagas from earlier this year. So while fanboys and fangirls have been complaining about the dollar increase, I’ve been scanning deals on PC games and components trying to save a few of my own. My comics budget has plummeted due to following creators instead of characters. I purchase six trades a year—if I’m lucky. The creators that I adore? Fantastic, but slow. Very slow. Glacier slow.

There’s one serious problem with the way I’ve laid out my comics budget. I never planned on any new creators arriving on the scene with a product I might like.

Jersey Gods

Oh, hello there, comic curveball! Doesn’t this look awesome? Seriously, go read the Jersey Gods preview they have up on Newsarama. Awesome, right? How dare they make a wacky superhero comedy with elements of romance? They should know damn well that I’m a sucker for wacky superhero comedies with romantic elements! Brunswick and McDaid must think they’re slick.

Y’all ain’t slick!



Eight is enough.

On one hand, I’m appalled that 70 percent of African Americans in California (according to exit polls) voted to ban marriages between gays and lesbians! That is absolutely ridiculous—not to mention hypocritical. What is wrong with these people? Are there problems with short-term memory, perhaps? On the other hand, I am getting so very tired of rich, white people blaming black people for their own misfortunes. We’re responsible for the economic crisis, the mortgage crisis, and now we’re responsible for stripping gays and lesbians of their rights too? And we’re only 12 percent of the population—even less in California? Sigh. Fine. Just throw it on top of the pile.

However, I look back at the other hand. 70 percent? Really? Someone needs to explain this. I don’t want to explain it. When I explain it? I sound very much like a church basher. I don’t want to sound like that. Those churches are what sustained my family members when the world was against them. Those churches gave my family members the power to cope and the power to fight for their own freedom. And though I don’t attend those churches as an adult, I wouldn’t be here without them. And I’ll be damned if I let someone try to destroy them.

Sigh. I’m straight. What do I know? I only have half of the picture. Perhaps the best way to heal this rift would be for straight black individuals and white gay individuals to simply shut up for a while and actually listen to black gays and lesbians. How are they hurting? How can we make them feel welcome? How can we make them feel more like what they are, which is a part of the family, and what they should be, which is a vocal and respected part of the family?

By voting Obama into office, I feel like I’ve dragged a rickety and unbearably heavy cart of supplies up a steep and icy mountain. And now I’m at the top. And I’m looking at these supplies. And I don’t have the foggiest notion of what to do with them. I shouldn’t have even bothered with this post. I should have simply sent you here. And here. And here. Go read the words of several ladies who are awesome and awesomely informed.



Huh.

After bragging so much about how much celebrating I planned to do, all I want to do today is what I’ve been doing all morning—sitting on my couch, watching the news, and crying quiet tears of joy. Casting my vote for this man is the most important thing I’ve done in my life. I could die today and be content in the fact that I have actively helped to make this world a better place.



Three more weeks? No. A lifetime.

Here’s the problem with people trying to equate the violent acts and words of McCain supporters to those of Obama supporters. You can pull that sign that keeps getting firebombed from your front lawn. You can decide not to discuss politics in public. You can peel that bumper sticker off of your car. You’ll be safe. Silenced, but safe.

I can’t peel off my skin. The guy down the block can’t stop being Arab. Children in mosques aren’t being sprayed with chemical irritants because McCain supporters who watched the Obsession DVD can’t bear the thought of those children voting for Obama. I didn’t get the stink eye a couple of weeks ago from a guy loudly ranting about Obama not wearing a flag pin because of my own Obama pin. I wasn’t wearing one. I was just being my regular ol’ black self—which apparently is more than enough to hurl abuse in my direction. And it is more than enough for McCain supporters to call a cameraman a racial slur and tell him, “Sit down, boy.”

I can’t stand Sarah Palin. Yet I’m not staring down some random innocent white lady in Walmart while I scream about rape kits. I’m not going to an Obama rally in order to call a white cameraman a slur and shove him to the ground. I’m not storming into St. Peter’s to spray mace in children’s faces. I’m not attacking people because I’ve decided that how they were born is somehow anti-American and a cause for disgust. My irritation with McCain and Palin is due to their behavior and not the circumstances of their births.

Stump speeches have fanned the flames of racism. False accusations have fostered ethnic intolerance and religious bigotry. And regular Americans—and we are regular Americans—no matter what our skin color, religion, or middle names may be, are being hurt because of it.



Circles.

Lisa speaks the truth; Laura also speaks the truth.

I stopped reading superhero comics from Marvel and DC a couple of Secret Invasions ago. I stopped buying superhero comics from Marvel and DC a couple of Secret Invasions before that. Do I miss them? Nope. Yes, Morrison’s Batman does look interesting. Still, there’s no way I’m plunking down twenty bucks for back issues. I paid $3.05 a gallon for gas today! And I really don’t have the patience for torrents. I have to sit and download six full weeks of comics for six Batman issues? Yeeeeah, I’m not doing that. I don’t buy the books. I don’t download the books. I don’t read the books. I don’t miss the books. However, I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t miss the fanboy rituals. I have missed them—deeply. It’s difficult to drop something that your friends are still a part of. I didn’t miss reading superhero comics from Marvel and DC, but I damn sure missed talking about them. I missed being an armchair editor. I missed speculating with friends about various plots. I missed watching friends cringe as I threatened them with spoilers. I missed arguments about which character is the better fighter. But all of that simply wasn’t enough to make me want to read the books again.

I wish I could say that I’ve matured in the same way that Laura has. I wish I could say that I have outgrown these books. Yeah, right! We all know that’s not true. Kicks to the face? I’m all about it. Explosions? Yes, please. Beefcake and cheesecake? By all means! Alpha-male posturing? Oh, yeah. Tough chicks? Bring ’em to me.

Here’s the problem for Marvel and DC. I’ve realized that Marvel and DC do not have a monopoly on any of those things. In fact, Dark Horse, Image, Fox, FX, Activision, and Rockstar Games have all done a much better job of fulfilling my desires as well as eliminating my pet peeves. However, I don’t think I’ll ever get those fanboy rituals back where comics are concerned. No one seems to read the same comics I do. Thankfully, other rituals have taken their place. Arguments about which era in hip-hop is the best have replaced heated debates about which character is the best fighter in the Marvel universe. Speculation about Prison Break has replaced speculation on the direction of Secret Invasion. I’m an armchair political pundit. I’m the one being threatened with video game spoilers—and I finally realize how unbelievably annoying that is.

Could it be that I just missed fandom? Could it be that I simply needed to find a similar fandom to replace the one I had given up? I don’t like the idea of fandom having such a big impact on how people choose to entertain themselves. Still, I must admit that fandom kept me reading Marvel and DC superhero comics even when the books no longer made me happy. It took something major in order for me to kick the habit for good. Yet have I kicked the habit? I still read comics and I’m still part of a fandom. Seems like all I did was switch from heroine to methadone.

Aw, screw it! It’s not that deep. I’m happy and I’ve saved a little dough. End of story.



Thoughts on convention harassment.

Listen, I will go off if a man touches me in a way that I feel is inappropriate at a convention. Please know that I am around my fellow geeks and feel completely at home and secure. This means that I have absolutely no problem wilding out on your behind if you feel that it’s okay to touch mine. Contemplate whether that handful is worth a few bruises—because I don’t mind getting a few bruises in order to defend my honor. You know what else I don’t mind doing? Pressing charges.

Now, I fully admit that you might get confused. You’ve just seen me kiss a stormtrooper, dance with an inker in the middle of an aisle, laugh as a reporter grabs me from behind, tuck in the bra strap of an artist, goose a fan, and tell an off-color joke to a convention model. So, why would I chew you out for similar behavior?

Because I don’t know you. Understand?

A comic or anime convention is not free-for-all-huggy-time. I am affectionate with people I know. And if I don’t know you? I will ask you if I can touch you. And it will be done in a very sweet and non-threatening manner. And if I can’t do it in a sweet and non-threatening manner? It won’t be done at all. Period. And if I ask and the answer is no? I’ll politely accept that answer. Respect is key—and that applies to both genders. Don’t think that every dude likes that “glomping” mess. They don’t.

To be honest, I’ve never had a problem at a convention that a well-timed side-eye couldn’t fix. I can deal with nerds and geeks. Hell, I can even deal with thugs, though I would prefer not to. I have a much bigger problem—Abercrombie douchebags. Abercrombie douchebags (or their cousins, the Ed Hardy harassers) are the reason why you will not see me at any hotel bar after a convention. I am quickly going to my hotel room or home—or wherever all the black people in that city congregate. If I don’t? I’m usually sitting at a bar that’s 50 percent friendly comic book people and 50 percent obnoxious townies who like to touch me inappropriately and whisper racist lines about experimentation and chocolate in my ear.

Yeah, you can miss me with that garbage. Never been with a black girl before? You won’t be with one tonight either, sparky.

No one is going to defend me but me. I’ve learned that lesson. And while it’s easy to put that 5’5″ guy in the Transformers T-shirt in his place, that giant meathead in the popped collar with five clones behind him isn’t so simple to deal with. Better to just not go to events taking place after the convention, which is sad. Even sadder is that there might be a girl out there who is rightfully afraid to attend the convention itself. Every individual should be entitled to a safe convention experience. We as a community need to get together and figure out what can be done to ensure that.



Fandom.

“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.



What am I supposed to do?

Long ago, when I was much younger than I am today, my aunt purchased a VHS tape of cartoons for the children in my family to watch. She quickly removed the plastic wrapper, slammed the cassette into the VCR, and promptly left the room in order to tackle the long list of chores she had that day. My cousins were toddlers. I was a small child.

I’m sure that my aunt believed that what she had set us down in front of was harmless. And it initially was. My cousins and I laughed at silly cartoons of goofy animals. The images were dated, but still quite funny. And watching them made me feel good.

Somewhere around the middle of the tape, the images changed. The animals vanished. There were no longer quick-witted bunnies or dim-witted pigs. There were black people—black people who were designed to look like animals. Gargantuan lips, inhuman noses, blue-black skin, images based on caricatures designed to ridicule the features of black people—these images I saw before me. I cried. I actually cried until I made myself physically ill, but I wouldn’t tell anyone what was wrong.

A few days later I approached my mother and told her that I didn’t want to be ugly anymore. I told her that I wanted to be white. My mother looked at me and smiled. She told me if I waited in the bedroom for her that she would make me white. I waited, and after a few moments she entered with a bottle of lotion. She spread the lotion out in a thick layer on my legs as if she was icing a cake. My chocolate brown skin began to slip from view. She stopped after a few moments and looked at me.

“Doesn’t that look silly?”

I nodded as she bent over to wipe the lotion from my legs.

“See? You’re not supposed to be white! You’re exactly how God made you to be. You understand?”

I understood perfectly. God meant for me to be black. He meant for me to be ugly—because that’s what the images I had seen had taught me to believe.

I’m actually terrified to have kids. It’s inevitable that my children are going to come across the same type of caricatures that I did as a child. Why? Because comic and cartoon fandoms cling to these caricatures and cherish them. They create new ones based upon the older incarnations. They place these images above the basic human dignity of black people. They tell black people that nostalgia is more important than their humanity. What am I going to tell my child when he or she comes across these images? How am I going to rebuild his or her spirit when the images break it? Because my mother’s initial approach? Did not work. And fandom simply isn’t going to let these images go. They don’t respect us enough to do so.

So, what am I supposed to do?



I used to love H.I.M.

What is this? And this? Are there any mainstream rappers who are actually men? This is behavior a mean-spirited twelve-year-old girl would engage in. Crying on the phone? Taping conversations?

Where are the men? I don’t want to hear from metrosexual braggarts who spend more on face cream and furniture than my car costs; men who are more excited about going to the mall than I am; men who have on more jewelry than I do! Give me a man in a t-shirt and jeans. And those jeans better not cost more than thirty dollars either. We’re in a recession, damn it. And while we’re on the subjects of clothes, take off that t-shirt that looks like a dress! And find one that doesn’t give epileptics seizures! Why are you dressing like a toddler? No one will buy your subpar ringtone music if you look like you’ve completed puberty? Put on some clothes that fit properly! Buy a suit that isn’t velvet or a Day-Glo color. Act like you have some class and functioning retinas when you appear at an awards ceremony!

I want to hear from a man who makes me want to whip up home-cooked meals; a man I’d bring a beer and a sandwich to while he watches the game; a man that doesn’t scramble to get R. Kelly on a remix or crack jokes about “fast ass” little black girls. Real men don’t tolerate child molesters. Real men plant and nurture seeds. They don’t pluck them. Real men don’t act like children with wounded egos. They don’t make YouTube clips to throw shade. They don’t run to gossip columnists or mixtape DJs to snitch about someone else being a snitch. Why? They’re too busy minding their own business. And making that business grow.

I’m so tired of these fools. I swear.

As an aside, I want to make clear that cooking or bringing a man a beer and a sandwich is not a woman’s role or something a woman is obligated to do. I just like making my partner feel comfortable. If I were a lesbian, I’d still be making sandwiches and bringing beers. And if I were man, I’d do the same.



I miss my grandpa.

He’s been gone a long time, but Father’s Day kind of kicked me in the gut about it. I miss his chubby cheeks and his raspy voice. And the weird way he ate pizza with a knife and fork. I eat pizza that way too. Every weird look I’ve ever gotten in a pizza parlor is his fault.

I wonder how he would have felt about this election. He was a Republican, much to the annoyance of every other person in the family.

I miss having an older black man in my life. Yeah, I have my dad, but he’s not that old yet. I mean old like my grandmother is old. I should stop complaining. I had a grandfather. I have a father. I have a whole host of uncles and cousins. Some people don’t have any good men in their lives to look out for them. I’ve had dozens. I should really shut up.

I still miss my grandpa though.



Five things I miss from my old neighborhood:

  1. Black guys.
  2. Black guys.
  3. Black guys.
  4. Latino guys.
  5. Latino guys.

I miss, “Excuse me, miss? Can I talk to you for a minute?” I miss doors being held open for me. I miss “How you doin’, ma?” I miss being flirted with. I miss smiles from old dudes drinking Goya Maltas on their front steps. I miss soft, deep voices telling dogs to sit when I walk past. I miss my uncles telling me to watch my step when I try to maneuver around cracked cement in heels. I miss bringing my father a plate. I miss wicker fedoras being tipped in my direction. I miss being acknowledged as a woman and a lady. I just miss being acknowledged as a person by anyone—male or female. I’m invisible here. I’m a ghost.

It’s strange. When I was heavier, living here was a relief. I was very uncomfortable and unhappy with my appearance. Not being noticed was a blessing. I remember visiting my parents in Georgia and being mortified when guys would hit on me. Now that I’ve almost lost all of the weight I wanted to lose, I actually want to be a part of humanity again. I can’t do that here. I’m an outsider.

I’m really homesick.

Strangely, I see women who are heavier than I was at my heaviest and they look completely normal to me. Often, they look attractive. So, why did I see someone so awful when I looked in the mirror?



Conventionally speaking.

If deals are made over drinks at the bar, and those who have the power to make deals are male, then those with ovaries are screwed. Because there are so many chances for someone involved to get the wrong idea. Though the gentleman you’re talking to is actually legitimately interested in mentoring you, you’ve already turned down his invitation to dinner because you have no idea what his motives are. Or perhaps the man you’ve invited out for coffee thinks that you have romance on your mind instead of finance.

What muddies the waters is that the bar, the restaurant, and even the convention floor are where people also go specifically looking for romance and friendships. I know this for a fact because I’ve sought and found wonderful friendships in all of those places—no romances though. I heed the advice of my girlfriends very closely. Of course, for every forty horror stories there’s a Jimmy and Amanda or Mikhaela and Masheka. God, they are so cute!

Meh, I need to stop being so paranoid. Of course, my biggest fear is not being sexually harassed, but that someone will think I’m sexually harassing him.

Person A: Dude. That Cheryl Lynn chick just asked me out.
Person B: Seriously? Look at Superpimp over here.
Person A: Yeah. The power to pull ugly chicks in a single bound.
Person B: They’re all hot when you’re drunk, man. You going?
Person A: Hell, no! I told her I had like nine portfolio reviews.
Person B: Lying? Obviously not one of your superpowers.
Person A: Dude, bite me.

And then they make fun of me for the rest of the night. And I have a black mark on my reputation for the rest of my days. This is why I always talk to gay dudes and married dudes. Nerds are so wrapped up in their spouses that they can’t even entertain the idea of wanting another woman or another woman wanting them.

Hmmm. I know I started off on the topic of deal making, but it truly goes beyond that to just forming new friendships as well. Sometimes I’ll think that a person I’ve met is cool and I’ll want to spend more time with that person, but I’m afraid that person will get the wrong idea if I extend an invitation. Unless the person is female. ‘Cause then we’re behind some booth somewhere butchering “When Doves Cry” and wearing curtains around our neck because we totally have superpowers and we are awesome—until security throws us out for touching the Hulk statue inappropriately.

I wonder if things are easier for artists. It seems much more straightforward. If you have your portfolio out, you’re looking for work. If not, you’re looking for fun. End of story. Well, not completely. You still have to specify what kind of fun you’re looking for.

Man, this blog post was all over the place! That’s what I get for never planning these things out in advance. Let me take it back to grade school. In conclusion, I will stop turning down invitations and start socializing more. Hopefully, by the end of convention season I will have more people of both sexes to make comics with and butcher Prince songs with.



Eye of the beholder.

Okay, my beauty regimen consists of Ivory soap and water, but check out these products from Benefit Cosmetics! How cute are they? It makes you wonder why DC or Marvel never started a kitchy line of cosmetic products featuring their superheroes.

Don’t pretend you geeks wouldn’t use Wonder Woman lip gloss or Captain America aftershave.