miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Steph Brown Batgirl)
I still need to do a comics catch-up post but for a quick hit, of all the various advent things going around, my favourite is the Phoenix's Santa-Thon. This is not JUST because Miss Holly's suggestion got chosen to be drawn by Art Monkey (after all, she has form for suggesting curious Santas for Santathons) but because this year, as in previous years, it is shaping up that there will be some wonderfully weird and hilarious suggestions.

I genuinely recommend the Phoenix as a great, broad-ranging comic for kids. It has the funny, but also the emotional, the educational, and the interactive. It's a bit of a bugger to get hold of - my nearest stockist is OK Comics in Leeds - but it's well worth it for kids of any age up to adolescence. They have some great subscription options if you trust me enough to plump for that.

Or if you just want crazy Santas you can get em direct from the struggling artist here.

Dredd

Saturday, September 8th, 2012 09:24 pm
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I've seen it. I want to see it again. And then probably again. It was bloody marvellous. Anderson in particular kicked serious arse.

There will probably be more (lots more!) and more detailed on this film later, but for now GO SEE THIS FILM. OK, so there's lots of swearing and violence, and some of the violence has sexual connotations but the way it's framed is not disempowering. There's a technical bechdel pass, and the lead bad guy, the person in charge/chief judge, AND one of the two viewpoint characters are female. Stunning cinematography, fabulous performance from Urban, lots of geeky refs...

I'll geek about stuff that's geeky later (Ezquerra block! Tom Frame block! Meat wagons!) but right now it's time to watch tonight's Who.

Holy SHIT that was good.
miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Steph Brown Batgirl)
So, my comics dealer sent me the Night of the Owls Batverse crossover stuff this week. Mostly I decided to get them because I have really been enjoying the storyline in Nightwing, and this would give me an opportunity to dip my toe into the titles I had decided against getting. Mostly, reading them has confirmed that I was right in which books I had selected. Batwing remains full of well-intentioned benevolent racism, Catwoman's art is just embarrassingly awful - by turns sexist and jaw-droppingly anatomically inaccurate, Red Hood and the Outlaws is cringemaking in it's constant references to Roy and Starfire's sexual exploits, and All-Star Western is just baffling.

I really, REALLY didnb't like the Batman Annual. It took a lot of the ambiugity away from Mr Freeze and made him more of a straight mad deluded villain; I kind of liked him being noble-but-misguided, even if Nora WAS the original Woman Inna Fridge.

The comics I am really enjoying at the moment mostly weren't involved in Night of the Owls. Batwoman continues to be intricate with character and story and beautiful in art; Justice League Dark is by turns creepy and hilarious, stuffed with dark humour and beautiful interplay between Constantine and Zatanna; and Birds of Prey is stackloads of fun, and I am really loving what they are doing with Poison Ivy (or as Starling refers to her, Crazy Plant Lady).

Outside of the main DCnU I am loving New Deadwardians and IDW's Doctor Who comic, which has just finished Casablanca With Silurians (art by a very good Mike Mignola impressionist). And the first issue of WhoTrek has really whetted my appetite for more.

Any of you lot been reading any good American stuff?
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Most of the entries I have seen for this month's women in comics carnival have centred on USian comics. This is not surprising, given how UScentric the comics industry is in general. I want to highlight some of the female characters that have been central to my comics upbringing here in the UK. This list is by no means exhaustive, it's just a random gathering of some of my favourite girls.
  1. Venus Bluegenes (2000ad) Tough as nails soldier. Originally introduced as a supporting character in Rogue Trooper, but quickly got her own strip. Venus is powerful and strong, but she's not masculine with it.

  2. Minnie the Minx (The Beano) Enfant terrible since 1953, Minnie hates snobbery, instinctively rebels against authority, and defies gender stereotypes. She's fabulous.

  3. Hilda Margaret McGruder (2000ad) Her long reign as chief judge in the big meg, and her slow and painful descent into mental illness after being the most capable chief judge the city ever had make McGruder a fascinating character. Plus, ladies with beards are awesome. I'm sorry she's gone.

  4. Granny (the Beano) When I was a regular Beano reader, mumblemumble years ago, Dennis the Manace's Granny got her own strip called Go Granny Go. In it she caused WAY more trouble than Dennis ever managed, by virtue of being an adult, and was generally a kid's version of the Hell's Grannies from Monty Python. Complete with motorbike.

  5. Durham Red (2000ad) The vampire bounty hunter that they didn't rip oiff for Rayne in BloodRayne, honest guv. Her current position in canon is somewhat unclear, given that her origins have been declared non-canonical, but given that she's going to be returning to 2000ad later this year, I'm sure we'll find out.

  6. Dinah Mo (the Dandy) Mechanically adept and tomboyish, Mo is the Dandy's version of Minnie the Minx. But where Minnie is a more traditional child rebel, Mo, by virtue of the time of her creation, is much more geeky (not that she'd ever let you call her that) and into technology.

  7. Cassandra Anderson (2000ad) Yeah, you all knew Cass was going to come up at some point, didn't you? One of the hands-down most popular characters 2000ad has ever produced, Cass is the yin to Judge Dredd's yang, and (like Venus) although she's tough and battle-hardened, she never becomes blokey or masculine.

  8. Tank Girl (originally Deadline, occasionally 2000ad) From wikipedia: She is prone to random acts of sex and violence, hair dyeing, flatulence, nose-picking, vomiting, spitting, and more than occasional drunkenness. Er, yeah. I've even got the hairdo. We'll leave it at that, shall we?

I'd also like to mention (again) that 2000ad is doing really well on the leading females front right now, with Age of the Wolf and Grey Area, and Judge Beeny playing the lead role in Dredd at the moment. So, you know, if you have a spare two and a half quid a week, and you're vaguely interested in comics, and you want to support British industry... well, there are worse ways to spend your money. And all this is my way of saying that I can't actually pick a favourite story starring a woman without feeling that I'm doing a disservice to all the other ones I love. But I guess, if I was pushed, it'd be McGruder and Dredd, in the Cursed Earth, bringing rough justice to the Muties and giving McGruder one last hurrah rather than the compulsory euthanasia she'd been slated for. Yes, McGruder was completely batshit by this point, but she was still awesome.

(and composing this entry has successfully distracted me from the unfolding horror of the budget, right until the email from Nick Clegg just landed in my inbox - a budget we can be proud of Nick? REALLY?)
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Storylines:
- I've loved the "What if...?"s in recent issues, especially the Anderson one, and am sad they've been replaced by Flesh, which I've always found a bit dull.
- Dredd is coming along quite nicely; I like the characters in the current storyline, especially Beeny, but they seem to be dragging it out a fair bit.
- I am really LOVING Age of the Wolf and its kick-ass female lead, and gender-balanced cast in both protagonists and antagonists - Granny is fabulous.
- Nicolai Dante appears to be what he was when first introduced: an excuse for issue-length fight scenes and swearing in Russian. And I'm sore that they brought back the awesome Mamma Dante only to kill her off. Seriously, there must be SOME more mileage in a pissed-off middle-aged pirate Queen? Didja HAVE to kill her off that quickly? Of course you did, because women in Nicolai Dante only exist to further the stories of the men. It's SUCH a male-gaze story *sigh*
- Grey Area is interesting in terms of what they're doing with the arc, although they overused the "bitch=beach" joke in the recent story (to say nothing of the gratuitous nudity). Again, I like the female lead, and there's some interesting depths to some of her collegues too.
- The thing I look for first, though? Every week? "Is there a Droid Life strip this week?" I love Droid Life. The one with the educational pizza had me howling with laughter. MOAR DROID LIFE PLEASE, THARG!

Art:
- Ben Willsher's Dredd is clear and crisp and attractive, with possibly a slight tendency towards pneumatic tits, and Annie P is still the best letterer in the business (and I say this as an amateur calligrapher).
- Jon Davis-Hunt's art for Age of the Wolf is utterly stunning; brilliant use of light and shadow, each character is a recognisably different person and none is a trope, and his archery stances are actually proper stances. But more than anything, his art is so beautiful and so immediate that it drew Holly into reading the strip over my shoulder. Possibly she's a bit young for it, yet, but... Anyway, the wraparound cover for prog 1772 was really, REALLY beautiful. I'd happily have it as a picture on my wall beautiful. So, yes, Jon D-H doing a good job.
- James McKay's art for Flesh has a problem I often find with black and white art: very stark, no grey, just black or white... There's no depth. I can't tell where the creature ends and the tree in the background thirty yards behind it begins. I really have to concentrate to find the edges of each element, and that's very tiring to read. Its a shame because I can see his creatures are really well done when I DO screw my eyes up and concentrate.
- Lee Carter, who's doing Grey Area, can't draw women. Anatomically, facially, still or in motion, none of it. He just can't do it. This is especially galling when for two of the most recent three issues he's been required to put a naked one in nearly every panel (there WAS a storyline reason for this, but... yeah. Don't get me started on how breasts just do not work like that. Not even silicone ones). His men are competent, though, and his scenery is gorgeous.
- I have really liked Simon Fraser's art in Nicolai Dante of late... Right up until the most recent issue, in which John Burns took over, and appears to have gone for the Old Ladybird Fairytale Book style, which doesn't really fit with the sci-finess of the story.

Things to look forward to:
- Durham Red!
- Anderson PSI!
- Durham Red!
- Hondo City judges with giant spiderymutie things!
- Did I mention Durham Red?

Overall:
The galaxy's greatest comic is pretty good at the moment, and is giving me plenty to look forawrd to. Given that the price for the whole damn thing is roughly equivalent to what we pay in the UK for a single issue of a DC comic (which would have one storyline in it, and is on paper half the size, and has less pages) I think it's bloody good value for money too. I reckon I shall be numbered among the Squaxx dek Thargo for quite some time to come.

(see, this entry is dull, isn't it? I told you British comics don't make me rant like American ones do. Ah well, just got a parcel from Reed today, so may be back in a bit after reading the USian stuff... ;))
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I first started reading DC comics, after being a 2000AD reader for a long while, when I read Judgment on Gotham. I'd always had a soft spot for Batstuff; the Keaton Batman was one of the first films I went to see with friends rather than parents; reading the comics just seemed to be a natural step. I didn't really know where to start, given that American comics are very different in structure from British ones (What do you mean you only get part of one story per comic? 2000AD has at least 5!) but I dived in, picking up trades and floppies willy nilly and absorbing the stories and characters as I went.

I went through Knightfall and all the fallout from it; I have a signed first issue of The Long Halloween; I was pretty immersed in the Batverse for a long time. Then I got a house and other things took over my finances and I became all sensible and grown up...

When [personal profile] innerbrat tempted me back into comics fandom the last couple of years, the three comics I got without fail and with gleeful excitement for every issue were Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and Batgirl. And I think from just me saying that, you can see where this is heading. I'm a huge fan of Gail Simone's writing, and I really love the respect she treats her characters with, but there's a but coming up in this sentence, and it's a biggie.

I've already talked a lot about how I love Bryan Q Miller's run on Batgirl, I adore Steph Brown, and I love the way she never, EVER lets the bastards grind her down. I've talked a lot less about the pivotal role Oracle played in both Batgirl and BoP. See, for the entire length of time I have been reading American comics, Barbara Gordon has been Oracle. She's been proof that being female, being in a wheelchair, being ginger, even, do not prevent you from basically running the whole crimefighting scene in Gotham. You can nurture the morals and talent of others (as she did with Steph, but also Proxy and so many more) and you can become someone that even Batman himself can't do without.

Now?

Now Barbara Gordon is just another cape in a city full of capes.

And I've tried, I really have. I don't like deserting the output of one of the few female creators in comics, and so I have persevered and given it 6 issues. But it's not working for me. Putting Barbara Gordon back in a Batsuit, no matter how sparkily and beautifully Gail writes her, is an editorial decision to put her back in her place for being an uppity woman who got too much power. It shafts Steph at the same time, and that makes it doubly wrong. So I'm taking Batgirl off my list. It's not Gail's fault, and I really want to stress that. Her dialogue and characterisations are as awesome as ever. It's just "Woman put back in her place" is not a story I want to read right now, especially not with all the Killing Joke flashbacks and PTSD. Oracle BEAT PTSD and it made her stronger. Why does Barbara have to go through all that again? The only narrative purpose it serves is to show that women are feeble, and again, that's not something I want to read right now.

So I've emailed Terri at Reed Comics (yes, my comic dealer is a girl too - so much for girls not being into comics *rolleyes) and told her to take Batgirl off my list. And when Kelly Sue DeConick's reboot of Ghost comes out, I'll be adding that instead.

:)


Just for total clarity on the DC front I'm also dropping Green Lantern Corps, which may as well be called Green Lantern Corpses, and Batman: The Dark Knight which I only got in the first place because it had TwoFace on the cover, and it's been supremely dull in that specially violent way that some comics have. But I am keeping Batwoman, which has been consistently brilliant, and is the one DCnU comic I would call an essential, Voodoo, Justice League Dark, Nightwing and... Suicide Squad. Because Suicide Squad is bloody awful, but I'm enjoying it anyway. I am a bad bad feminist.

One day I might blog some more about British comics, it's just that they don't tend to annoy me as much as the American ones, they just continue on being quietly brilliant, so I don't get the urge to type up long rants about them... But you should all totally get The Phoenix if you know anybody 8-12 and FORCE them to read it, because it's amazing.

Oh yeah, and while I'm a DC, largely for the incidental reason pointed out above, that there was a Batman/Dredd crossover, my daughter is totally turning out to be a Marvel. She loves Xmen, no doubt, but she totally ADORES Thor. To the extent that she's made a Heroes of Might and Magic game map based on the Thorverse. I suspect that this is because her first exposire to him was the Brannagh movie, which has marvellous strong, intelligent female characters. DC might want to pay attention to that. Just sayin...
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Marvel Superhero Squad is now available in trading card/CCG form. And while I approve of many of the cards (Captain America doing the washing LOL), This one is clearly the best trading card ever made:

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This will only make sense to you if you are familiar with both Bod (old kids' TV show in the UK) and Judge Dredd (old comic character from the UK). As this is MY readership, I expect most of you will get it ;)

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About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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