Ongoing canon is what it is

Being a fan of the X-Men has prepared me for so many fannish experiences.

I was pondering this while watching the most recent episode of Once Upon a Time. Someone on Tumblr noted that, based only on this episode, you would never know that Ruby and Belle were really close friends. Yet we had two episodes devoted to that subject.

The thing is, with a complicated and ongoing canon, you can’t make everything fit all of the time. Some episodes focus more on one character rather than another. Or on one plot instead of another. That’s just the way it is, and you can go crazy trying to fit everything together in a reasonable and consistent manner.

I know this lesson from reading the X-Men and related comics for over twenty years. Most recently the comics had a complicated plot about who was hosting the Phoenix. And, repeatedly, characters said that only Jean Grey was ever able to host the Phoenix for any length of time — and even that killed her. I read all of these declarations while mentally shouting, “WHAT ABOUT RACHEL.”

But, this wasn’t Rachel’s story. And in what was a pretty rip-roaring, damn good story, there wasn’t room for every character and every loose end and plot thread from twenty years of canon. I know this, I understand this, and it doesn’t really affect my enjoyment of the story. I can let it go.

Similarly, I can let the loose ends and character inconsistencies on Once Upon a Time go. The show is what it is, and it’s trying to incorporate not only two seasons of show-specific canon, but fifty years of Disney films and eight hundred years of Western literary tradition. Some episodes are going to further one plot or character at the expense of another. That’s okay with me. I can watch for the characters and moments I favor.

.
.

Age of the Geek? Age of the Fan.

I’ve been reading some things online that are all swirling around that all seem to indicate something to me about fandom, and fannish power, and fannish creators. I don’t have an actual thesis here, just some thoughts.

1. Creators of properties have frequently been fans of the genre before attempting to create in it, whichever genre “it” may be. But there’s been this new thing in the last twenty years, this internet fandom. And today’s creators are people who have grown up in internet fandom.

2. The BBC article about Jim C. Hines’ cover poses also mentions the Prismatic Art Collection and The Hawkeye Initiative. The Hawkeye Initiative is entirely a fannish thing. It’s people with no connection to creating comics trying to bring about awareness of something stupid in comics. And now it’s in a BBC article.

3. There’s a whole group of creators, in comics and in SF/F, who insist on feminism and gender equality in their work by the simple fact of putting it in their work. These are people around my age or a bit younger. Who grew up being fans of the same things I am a fan of. People who read the life-changing, awesome, and problematic books and comics of my childhood. The people making my comics now are the people who remember Tony Stark’s alcoholic crash, who remember Storm’s punk transformation, who remember Rusty and Skids and Cameron Hodge. The people writing my SF/F are people who read Seaward, The Stand, and Dragonflight. Who read The Cage and Dealing With Dragons and Alanna: The First Adventure. War for the Oaks and The Dragon Waiting and Barrayar. These creators, they put women in their work because women have always been a part of comics and SF/F. A minority part, sure, but often the best, most interesting part.

Brian Wood said, in his interview for Wired magazine, “The female X-Men are amazing characters, they always have been, everyone knows that. They’ve been the best thing about the franchise.”

This is who is writing my comics these days. People who think this.

4. The writers and creators, they are talkative. They tweet and tumbl and blog and do interviews and podcasts. This is how the world is now, yes. But a lot of them, however introverted they may be, they grew up being able to talk to the creators they loved. On message boards, on LiveJournal, at conventions, on The Well, in zines. There’s this idea that communication is a two-way thing.

None of those thoughts are really coherent. I don’t have a thesis. But I like it. I like Kieron Gillen’s Tumblr posts of music and lyrics and images and words, all trying to explain something heartfelt about characters he is gleefully privileged to write. I like Jim Hines’ send-ups of cover art and his commitment to not replicate those problems in his own work. I like that Kelly Sue DeConnick posts knitting pattern fanart of Captain Marvel to her Tumblr. I love the idea that there’s a We, here, of people who genuinely love this stuff. Who love it enough to fight for it, to be angry at it, to gently correct it. Who love it enough to celebrate it, to share it, to laud it.

I’m pleased that my people are now making the things I love.

.
.

Last night’s bruschetta, a recipe

1. My son, the poor pook, was pretty sick yesterday. Fingers crossed that he feels better today.

2. The knitting pattern for Carol Danvers’ Lucky Hat is a real thing, and I wish I was a knitter because I would wear the HELL out of that hat.

3. I made the best bruschetta for dinner last night.

Spinach Mushroom Bruschetta

Loaf or two of french bread, sliced
small pkg.of chopped frozen spinach
4 Tbsp olive oil
cup of chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic (or more if you like, I used eight cloves)
8 oz. pkg. of mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Saute onion, mushroom, and garlic in olive oil. Add chopped spinach. Remove from heat. Add mayo and parmesan cheese.

Butter one side of the french bread slices and place (buttered side down) on baking sheet. Top with spinach mixture.

Bake 10 minutes.

You can also make this with chopped artichoke hearts instead of mushrooms.

NOM.

.
.

Gone Girl, no, wait, Young Avengers

I would have something interesting to say on this Monday morning, but I read Gone Girl this weekend and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Oh, wait!

I made a fanmix for the forthcoming Young Avengers comic, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

The comic is not even out yet, and I want to make fanworks for it.

Here’s the fanmix post on Tumblr.

And Kieron Gillen’s Meet the Team intro post.

And here is Gillen’s post on Kate Bishop.

And here’s a lettered preview of Young Avengers.

And Gillen’s Meet Marvel Boy.

2012 Moments in Fandom

2012 Moments in Fandom

Your main fandom of the year?

My fannish participation this year has been consuming the works of others. And by that measure my principle fandoms were Marvel’s Avengers movie, Pitch Perfect, and Once Upon a Time. But that’s misleading. What I actually have been a fan of this year are

1) the updates to AO3 that makes finding the fanfic I want easier for me, and
2) Tumblr.

Tumblr is a TERRIBLE medium for having a conversation. About anything. It’s a TERRIBLE venue for deep conversation. What it is really awesome at is flickering shiny curated visual fanworks — fanart, gifs, cosplay, animated gifs, vids, and show clips — in front of my easily entertained eyeballs.

I appreciate this greatly. I do not want to take the time to learn to make these things. But I love them — I love the cosplay, love the fanvids, love the gifs, love the transformative nature of creative fanworks. Yet, I don’t want to struggle to find things I like. Tumblr makes it easy for me to passively consume the fanworks I enjoy, and it makes it easy for me to pass those on to other people.

“Look at this shiny thing! It’s funny/poignant/sarcastic/queer/assertive/whimsical/whatever! I really like it!”

I appreciate this quality about Tumblr.

Your favorite film you watched this year?

The film I liked the most, from start to finish, as written and performed, was The Avengers. I loved many, many things about that movie. The performances. The characters. The costumes. The sets. The dialog. The messages. The plot. The action. I loved it all. I’ve been reading rather a great deal of Avengers fic on AO3. I like this universe and I like what people are doing with it.

I also like the authorized movie fanfic — namely, Avengers Assembled. This comic is set inside the Marvel comic-verse, but it’s specifically for new readers who loved the movie and want to get inside this world. I recommend it highly.

My other favorite film is a movie I love more in my head than in reality. I watched Pitch Perfect and loved it with a crazy love. But I edit out about … 25% of the film. All the gross-out humor. The humiliation stuff. And about half of the heterosexuality. So. I’ve read ALL the Pitch Perfect fanfic on AO3. But I can’t say the movie was actually my favorite this year. That would be Avengers

Your favorite book read this year?

I read all eighteen of the Kerry Greenwood Phyrne Fisher novels this year. Twice. I’m holding off on starting a third re-read because I have a lot of books on my tablet that I have purchased and not yet read. Plus, as I write this, a three-week backlog on comics. I wrote about the books here. I don’t have much to add to that; I love them to pieces.

Your favorite tv show of the year?

This was tough this year. Game of Thrones? Downton Abbey? Doctor Who? I love those shows, and more besides. But the show that I clearly have the greatest fannish obsession with is Once Upon a Time.

OUaT went from being a show that lost me in the last four episodes of the first season to being a show that I pine for each week. I went back and watch the end of season one, and I am still not impressed with it. But season two keeps me coming back.

Here’s the thing. This is NOT an unproblematic show. The treatment of characters of color is shabby-to-poor. The handling of adoption as a major show theme is wildly variable. I have an auto-dislike of stories that are solved by The Power of True Love — I prefer plots to be resolved by grit, repentance, and true change. Almost all of the male characters are either not written well, not acted well, or both.

But.

This is an ensemble show in which the women — all of the women — are well-written, well-realized, and mostly well-acted.

I harp on how the thing I want in minority representation is VARIETY. I do not want ONE lesbian to represent all lesbians, I want a variety of portrayals. I do not want ONE geeky girl, I want a host of geeky girls and women of all sorts. I do not want ONE character of color whose primary characteristic is that they are not-white, I want diversity. Variety. I want the pantheon of human existence and experience to be represented broadly across the vast bulk of fiction.

OUaT does many things half-assedly. But it represents white women pretty well. And as one portion of the entertainment I consume, I love it.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Scandal.

All my thanks to Anika for pointing this one out to me. Scandal is fantastic.

I realized, halfway through the season two opener, that Scandal is a Vorkosigan story. We have this manically driven leader of a team of misfit crusaders, who work around the edges of a political-military system which is problematic but also the only game in town, fighting to maintain their secrecy, integrity, and position, while also fighting to protect each other.

I could talk more about the specifics but I truly do not want to spoil the show in case any of you intend to watch it.

Snappy dialog? Check.
Attractive actors? Check.
Characters of color in a variety of types of roles? Check.
Men and women in a variety of types of roles? Check.
Poor decision-making based on an over-developed sense of justice? Check.
Poor decision-making based on guilt? Check.
Attempts at redemption? Check.

I do love this show. So very much.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

DC Comics has consistently shown that, not only do they not want to support comics I want to read, they aren’t even concerned that I don’t want to read their stuff. This stings, it truly does. But I am comforted by the fact that the wheel turns, and eventually these people will not be in control of characters I like.

Your fiction boyfriend of the year?

Jaqen H’ghar, from season two of Game of Thrones.
Thor.

Your fiction girlfriend of the year?

Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time.
Natasha Romonov from the Avengers movie.
Dex Parios from the Greg Rucka and Matt Southworth comic, Stumptown. Which is a terrible idea. I should never date any Greg Rucka characters.
Beca from Pitch Perfect.
Quinn Perkins from Scandal
Kate Bishop from Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye comic.

And in the want-to-be-them, not want-to-date-them camp:

Carol Danvers from Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel comic.
Phyrne Fisher.
Ruby from Once Upon a Time.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?

Probably when I saw that Rucka had included Mim in Stumptown. I mean, I squealed audibly, and then all over the internet.

My other squee moments, well, I was trying very hard to be calm and professional, and so the squee manifested as a complete lack of affect. These mostly involve meeting people whose work I have a huge amount of respect for, and getting to tell them how much their work means to me. But this also includes the publication of Chicks Dig Comics, the book I co-edited with Lynne Thomas.

There’s a book out there that I helped put into the world. This made me really damn happy.

The most missed of your old fandoms?

I’m not sure I really missed any this year.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?

I don’t really know! I try to avoid the marketing associated with fiction properties I love, because the marketing for them makes me angry and avoidant. So I don’t know what’s coming, fannishly. There’s … another Marvel movie? I suppose? And Seanan has a book coming out? Maybe two? And the nineteenth Phryne Fisher book is coming out in January. And … there will be more comics? And tv shows?

Professionally, I have a couple of projects coming out in 2013 that I am really looking forward to. :)

***

Past Moments in Fandom posts:

2008
2009
2010
2011

.
.

December 14 2012

1. Tumblr has reminded me how very much I love Bill Sienkiewicz’s art. He was on New Mutants during a … formative period of my comics-reading life. Some part of my head thinks that THIS is what art LOOKS like.

His art made all the stories, even the reasonably light-hearted ones about slumber parties, full of tense foreboding. And when the characters actually died?

Whoa.

2. I made a BEST carrot-cauliflower-cumin soup this week. The very, very best. I can’t really give a recipe, because I looked at the recipe on allrecipes.com and I didn’t have some of the things, and I had some other things, and I winged it.

3. I love my phone. The Droid Razr Maxx HD. They are really not kidding about the battery life, dear sweet crickets, no they are not. This battery is freakin’ amazing.

.
.

Things I Like: Daniel Govar’s “X-Men Days of Future Past”

Daniel Govar’s X-Men Days of Future Past

.
.

The “Days of Future Past” storyline, AU, world, plot, or whatever it happens to be is a part of X-Men comics that I … don’t always like. I like the fact that it gave us Rachel, I like the very first, original, story. I like some of the repercussions since then. But there’s a lot of crazy wacky later additions I tend to ignore.

That’s okay. I’m an X-Men fan. We are used to this sort of mental shenanigans.

But Daniel Govar’s illustration, above, is like my dream of DFP. Kitty is adult, clearly in charge, leading the tattered remnants of the X-Men. Alex and Lorna are the heavy hitters, along with Lockheed. Pete and Logan are the brawlers. Ororo is part of the team. Illyana is … creepy, which I love.

But what I love, what I love most about this illustration, is who is looking at whom and what Sekrit Messages this sends the fanon in my head.

I particularly love that this is framed by Rachel the Hound’s gaze. We’re looking over her shoulder. We see what she sees. Kitty is staring at her, daring her to do something. I imagine the next moment after this picture and I like what I see. I like how the story after this moment plays out in my head.

Thank you, Mr. Govar. I really like your art.

.
.

Pretty Deadly

Pretty Deadly SDCC teaser

At SDCC this weekend, Image Comics showed this teaser art for a forthcoming comic by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios.

2013, it says. Mark your calendars.

.
.

What my Local Comics Store clerk thinks of digital comics

So I went to my LCS yesterday — The Source Comics and Games, Falcon Heights, MN, can’t recommend them highly enough! — and removed six titles from my pull list.

This is not a ton. As the gentlemen who assisted me pointed out, my pull list on their computer is two-and-a-half screens long. But I expect to remove two-to-six titles every week this month. I expect to cut my pull list in half.

I chatted with the gentleman in question about my concerns. He agreed that it’s a conundrum — The Source keeps their back issues in a WAREHOUSE that they rent. In long boxes, on shelves, alphabetically by title. They are two years behind on their bagging and boxing. Just like me.

He said that whenever they file something, they have to shuffle the existing titles along in the boxes. Get a whole bunch of Batman back issues and you’re shuffling issues through the whole alphabet. It’s a pain. There’s no easy solution.

I said that I was buying the X-Men and Avengers titles digitally. But then we talked — where’s the cut-off? I am of COURSE going to buy Captain Marvel in floppies. I know how crucial that is for a new mid-list title. I also know that buying Uncanny X-Men digitally is not going to get the title cancelled. (But is it going to lose Kieron Gillen his writing gig if scads of folks move to digital Uncanny on his watch? Does that sort of thing happen? I don’t know, and I like and respect Mr. Gillen and would hate to see his tenure on Uncanny end prematurely due to a drop in single-issue sales.)

But what about New Mutants? It’s an X-Family title, it’s on issue 42 this month. It’s been involved in lots of crossovers, it seems to have legs. But it’s not Uncanny X-Men. Does switching to digital hurt that title?

How does this work for Dark Horse, or other companies? I still have Alabaster and Dark Horse Presents in my physical, LCS, pulls. But I didn’t even buy Chew until I got my tablet and signed up for Comixology. I’m not going to start buying it in floppies now. How does my digital purchase of Chew, and Locke and Key, help or hurt those books?

We talked, the clerk and I, about this conundrum. He didn’t have any answers for me. There’s a clear low end of sales, that needs to be pre-ordered in physical single issues. And there’s a clear high end that can withstand digital sales. But we don’t know about the mid-list.

I’m not sure what titles come out next week. I expect I’ll log onto Comixology in the morning, buy a number of digital titles, and then go cancel those orders at my comics store.

As problems go, this is really a trivial one. I’m actually quite grateful that I don’t much have problems worse than this. But in the aggregate this is a problem the entire comics industry has. I’m certain that eventually digital comics will be a significant portion of sales. I’m just not sure how it’s going to come about.

Chicks Dig Comics Table of Contents

The time has come when I can reveal the full splendor of the contributors for the forthcoming Chicks Dig Comics.

Introduction by Mark Waid
Editors’ Foreword, by Lynne M. Thomas and Sigrid Ellis
Mary Batson and the Chimera Society, by Gail Simone
Summers and Winters, Frost and Fire, by Seanan McGuire
Cosplay, Creation, and Community, by Erica McGillivray
An Interview with Amanda Conner
A Matter of When, by Carla Speed McNeil
The Other Side of the Desk, by Rachel Edidin
An Interview with Terry Moore
Nineteen Panels about Me and Comics, by Sara Ryan
I’m Batman, by Tammy Garrison
An Interview with Alisa Bendis
My Secret Identity, by Caroline Pruett
The Green Lantern Mythos: A Metaphor for My (Comic Book) Life, by Jill Pantozzi
Vampirella, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Page Turn, by Jen Van Meter
Confessions of a (Former) Unicorn, by Tara O’Shea
The Evolution of a Tart, by Sheena McNeil
Kitty Queer, by Sigrid Ellis
The Captain in the Capitol: Invoking the Superhero in Daily Life by, Jennifer Margret Smith
Burn, Baby Burn, by Lloyd Rose
Tune in Tomorrow, by Sue DCWKA
An Interview with Greg Rucka
Comic Book Junkie, by Jill Thompson
From Pogo to Girl Genius, by Delia Sherman
I am Sisyphus, and I am Happy, by Kelly Thompson
Captain America’s Next Top Model, by Anika Dane Milik
An Interview with Louise Simonson
Me Vs. Me, by Sarah Kuhn
A Road That has No Ending: Revenge in Sandman, by Sarah Monette
Mutants, by Marjorie Liu
You’re on the Global Frequency, by Elizabeth Bear
Crush on a Superhero, by Colleen Doran

When I have dropped irritatingly coy hints about how proud I am of our contributors, how pleased I am with the book, well, now you understand why. The essays in Chicks Dig Comics are from some of the brightest, most passionate, most articulate lovers of comics books I have the pleasure to know. I am proud of their work, and of this book.

You can pre-order Chicks Dig Comics.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Powell’s
Indiebound
Diamond

Spread the word, if you can. Tell your local comic store about the book, about the fact that Diamond is shipping it. Tell your friends, your LiveJournal or Dreamwidth, tell your blog. Tell your Facebook and Google+ acquaintances. Look at that table of contents and pre-order a copy for your mom, your sister, the girl who sits next to you in Greek Lit and doodles Wonder Woman during lecture.

If this book is anything at all, it’s a love letter. Glance up at that Table of Contents again, will you? If you love comics, just look at the company you keep.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,257 other followers