Dull, Repetitive, Completely Expected, Mundane “SHOCKING ART”

Today one of the first images I saw on Facebook was a drawing of Batgirl with her shirt torn open, exposing her breasts, rope strangling her, a bare foot and torn knees, and a bloody hammer next to a face covered in her tangled hair. Instead of sharing it, because so many ‘supporters’ of art already have liked it, and shared it, including some well known artists, i’m gonna share images of Batgirl that aren’t about her being brutalized.

art by Murphy Anderson (correct me if i'm wrong)

art by Murphy Anderson (correct me if i’m wrong)

Every time this subject comes up, and now its like twice a year, I see so many male cartoonists that have never experienced rape that decided everyone needs to know their many lofty opinions and thoughts on their right to draw rape, write rape – in any comic, at any time, regardless of tone or necessity.

I believe everyone has the right to draw or write or say anything they want. I also have to write to respond to them and call them assholes. I’m fine with their right to draw anything, that is, if I was actually having this debate with creators that had half an ounce of taste, sensitivity and intelligence. Or more importantly, any kind of experience with rape and brutality in their lives. The problem is I am fully aware of how completely separated, isolated, and ultimately SAFE from assault they are and have been, and yet they lecture about how others have to be less sensitive and exposed to their scum. They are a cowardly and suspicious lot, because they use the language of artistic freedom to cover for their inhumane juvenile obsessions.

We might feel tempted to just cry out about how this is such distasteful art!  That it should be removed! But I don’t even feel that anymore. I’m resigned.  It simply reinforces my belief that comic professionals and to a larger extent, comic conventions are hostile to women and minorities. It’s not all the T&A and pin-ups and rapey comics I want removed from the industry, although I wish there was a lot less of it. Its the old timers who are out of touch, their legions of fanboys that support any bone-headed move they make, the bullies and the creeps, the dick pics and the soft men, the pale faces and the sweaty palms – that I want removed. More specifically, I want their culture that they protect and defend and promote to be removed. There’s a myth of Nerds, that these communities are open to all, especially the marginalized. That myth has been totally debunked faster than you can say “PWNED!” The Nerd community recreates the power dynamics of the larger society in miniature, and in its isolation, has mutated into a caricature of the worst facets of racist and sexist America. Old timers, reveal opinions from 35 years out of date, evidence of a community that has nothing challenging it for decades, except now in the real time democratic reactions of twitter and tumblr. Although these social streams of anti-oppressive consciousness tend to fuck up almost as often as they help, it’s probably the first situation of its kind where the “vocal minority” can actually prove that it’s not a minority, its a rightful participant in this culture, same as all the gamer and comic nerd fuckboys.

We’d like to believe, i’m speaking as a comics professional, that when you see fanboys going into fits supporting some distasteful art, that THOSE are the vocal minority. Comics as a whole, IS liberal and does pretend to be progressive. We like to maintain this myth that an Old Timer is just one of a few. That one republican comic artist or writer you know, he’s just naive! But the creators of these nerd past-times created the culture of hate along with it. I don’t believe a video game makes you go out and shoot someone, or that a bad comic cover makes a rapist out of a man. It is simply images that reinforce a culture that says some horrible acts are more permissible than others. Every time you can drive your car in GTA blasting at sex workers after you fuck them, thats just one more troll online deciding its cool to blast verbally at a woman, telling them they’ll forcibly fuck them. We can argue that GTA is fiction and must be protected, and i’d agree with you. But then what argument do you make when an anonymous teenager says he’s playing a character on twitter, and that he must be protected as well. His is a fiction that has become real, but since no one is having an actual intelligent conversation about the limits of fiction and also the responsibilities, we are left with our dick in our hands. The culture doesn’t kill people, people kill people. I believe that’s true, but its the culture that forgives them and permits it to occur.

Babs Tarr

Male, often white cartoonists and their fans continue to complain about artistic integrity, artistic merits, and artistic rights. These are all concepts that they actually haven’t properly explored. So many of them are non-artists and shouldn’t even be participating in this conversation, but such is the result of a free internet. The concept of artistic integrity, artist merit, and artistic rights, are these comfortable struggles that they love to champion. They love to say #jesuischarlie as if they are fighting ISIS on the frontlines. They love to say that they alone are holding up the 1st amendment in the USA. But they don’t even realize that they are making up fiction as they speak. A drawing of brutalizing someone does as much for free speech as telling a young girl or young boy that they are ugly and won’t amount to anything. These free-speech patriots do more damage to growing artists and creators than any gov’t agency. The only censorship that occurs is the one where minority and female and trans voices continue to remain silent in our nerd communities because of these culture wars. I’m sorry I value someone’s right to feel safe over your juvenile interpretations of centuries old artistic arguments. I’m sorry I value someone’s right to feel welcomed and encouraged to make more work, over your defenses of the same demographic to keep making the same type of work.

If shocking art is something you enjoy and defend and has a place in comics, why is it always in the least shocking way, in the way we always have seen before. Male on female violence. White Male on POC violence. White Male on POC female violence. Exploitation comics written by the same demographic, read by the same demographic. Tom Neely telling me that i was once amusing, but now he’s tired of my complaints when I discussed Fukitor negatively.

Why is shocking art only pushed in one direction ever? Why are the exploitative elements in comic art so perfectly aligned with the power structures in society? Why do underground comix perfectly reflect mainstream comics worst qualities? If art is about shocking people, why do artists in comics only like to shock women and minorities? If shocking people is about bringing awareness to a subject, through ridiculousness and over-the-top parody, why does it never bring any new awareness? Why is the take away never “Men use their dicks as knives and it kills people,” but usually its “Men use their dicks for fun. This is just a comic, get over it!”

I often focus on whiteness, white culture and white males because when you’ve spent enough time in bars and hotels and cons and you see these same arguments manifested, perhaps more politely, with the same group of people, and whiteness and maleness is what they all have in common, it seems way too gracious to then censor myself and say #notallwhitemen. They’ve dug that grave, now i’m burying them. 

I am a fan of Eric Larsen’s work, and I actually feel that for the most part, he was taken a bit out of context. He still has some out dated ideas, but they aren’t nearly as revolting as his supporters. He was the weird uncle at thanksgiving who says colored person instead of Person of Color, unfortunately he brings along with him and entire contingent of weird uncles. Unfortunately, he allows that contingent to reinforce the worst of his beliefs and in term, he sanctions even worst beliefs. What could’ve been a neutral discussion of older costume designs vs. modern costume design, something any artist would enjoy reading, ends up tripping over its own points because he can’t separate comic design from the ever-present male gaze. That is unfortunate, but now check out all the gamergate dudes who are hanging out on Erik Larsens facebook page. Who are crying “CENSORSHIP!” and don’t know the meaning of the word. Who are the same types of dudes who like a photo of Batgirl with a bloody hammer next to her face.

Bruce Timm

Ask yourself, do you think they didn’t exist before? What responsibility does Erik Larsen, but more accurately, all creators in these industries have for creating the culture that has allowed this rot to fester. I leave you with this quote, from actual art, hundreds of years ago, HAMLET:

Horatio:

Have after. To what issue will this come?

Marcellus:

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

 

 

Comics Review

The last time i reviewed comics was about a year ago? I’m not really sure, i mostly stopped reading comics after reviewing comics for a bit and when i actually began thinking about what i was actually consuming, felt deeply dissatisfied. Reviewing comics is exhausting, but more so it really began feeling like i was trying to find the critical value in cereal box literature. Lately though, i really began wanting to read a comic again, not anything significant, just anything i can find. Something short and sweet. Maybe it was because i’ve been making more work for myself again, feeling happier just doodling comics and telling stupid stories. When you think about taste, we don’t perceive our own perception as part of that taste. In the same way as when you take a bite from a piece of food, you don’t account for the flavor of your own mouth to see if you like it.

Maybe criticism is useless in a stagnant medium, like ice cream losing its flavor after many bites, and just tasting vaguely sweet. The comics i purchased were 3 old comics, and 2 brand new ones, all of which seemed to share a common DNA – junk food. But not all junk food is created equal.

Guardians of the Galaxy Team Up #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Art Adams

I only buy comics based on art nowadays. For the most part, i believe the writer in most american comics is almost completely unnecessary. I don’t know of any writer that i’d choose to read their work if they weren’t being carried by a fantastic artist. I don’t know of any of my peers that actually look forward to reading any comic writer’s work if its just prose. As an artist, most scripts i receive i treat mainly as blueprints or suggestions, the final form is something they aren’t aware of.

Arthur Adams is a really gifted cartoonist, and Bendis is a talented writer in as much as he is an extremely capable writer. He knows how to cross the street in the fewest steps possible. But reading this comic was probably the least exciting of all the books I purchased. It was so “by-the-numbers” that it read as a mad libs for superheroes. Vague cosmic threat, generic skull-faced aliens, quippy witty bantering superheroes. Bendis is one of the pioneers of the over-saturated ping-pong style of dialogue, he fills the same role as Joss Whedon did for television, and Tarantino does for film. It is absolutely boring at this point. Sometimes it feels every writer in mainstream comics writes in some variation of this style.

image (11)

Occasionally, Gamora, the green female character speaks in the haughty ways of a space warrior, similar to Drax the Destroyer, the muscle bound green fellow. But it’s handled completely inconsistently. This is a criticism i have for this style of writing at its worst, its always at the mercy of being quippy, even if it means the character switches from Thor-speak to Gilmore Girls on the same page.

Reading this comic, i wonder how bored Bendis and Adams must be with these stories, but i also wonder if they aren’t bored at all, and believe this is great work. It reminded me of the disappointment i always felt when i was reviewing comics on the regular, so many hours are being spent around the country, so many artists and writers and conventions and airplane rides, based on so many vacuous empty ideas that say nothing new and are fully satisfied in their mediocrity. Guardians of the Galaxy Team Up #1 was made by a machine, its components happen to be humans. It is a well made product, be sure to buy the slightly different variation of this product next month.

Some Beautiful Panels:

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I actually thought the above panel was some fine cartooning. Its simply a sequence where the space ship is twirling about, and so the panels themselves being flipping in circles. It is disorienting without becoming confusing, so i gotta give props to the artist for handling it with style.

image (9)

 

 

That expression is awesome. Its such a cute little moment, that it reaffirms my hopes that these aren’t completely soulless automatons churning out products. A lot of Art Adams work reminded me of one the last comics i read and enjoyed, Elias the Cursed.  Elias the Cursed, is a fairly typical sword and sorcery comic, but as a total piece of work, just has a bit more vitality and heft to it. I would love to read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic that was treated as a bit less disposable. I think that’s a feeling that i experience a lot reading new comics.

image (13)

Ms. Marvel #9 by G.Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Ignore that cover, its straight up terrible. Medusa, the long haired woman sitting in the throne is well rendered, but Lockjaw has a strange lecherous appearance. Some artists are great at rendering one thing, like pretty women, but drawing giant bulldogs, not their strong suit. It’s okay, sometimes i’ll get a cover job, and i don’t got time to do it, but i really need the dough, and i just wing it. I’ve made some garbage covers, and i just think “Oh well, i gotsta eat.” So Jamie McKelvie, i understand and forgive you. Please read my comic “Pug Quest” for some tips on how to draw cute smushed face doggies.

But this comic was great! Super fun and the writing WAS whip-smart and cute without trying so damn hard to seem whip-smart and cute. This was like the Tina Fey of comics, where that Bendis comic was the girl on OkCupid who insists she’s JUST LIKE TINA FEY, OMG. This is a comic where i feel like the artist and writer are not only in tune with each other, but also are working towards making a really great project, not just getting it done and cashing the checks.

It’s harder to say why something is good, versus why something is bad, so i usually spend less time on things i like. Hey, maybe i suck at telling my parents i love them too. Don’t hate me cause i have trouble handling emotions.

image (16)image (18)

The way Ms. Marvel’s stretchy powers manifest is drawn with such cartoony imagination, that her powers aren’t just this neutral feature of hers, but actually reflect the character’s personality. Imagine when we thought about how Superman flies, or how Spiderman swings, artists really thought about how those characters would do those activities. Oftentimes it seems Superman flies just like every other character flies. Their is so many little moments in Ms.Marvel that the writing and art really is inspiring. Compare the stiffness of Lockjaw on the cover of #9 to the interior art from issue #8, where he is a goofy bouncy huggable giant pug.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 1.36.02 AM

“Hey girl hey,”

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 1.38.08 AM

“…hey,”

 

The Saga of Crystar – Crystal Warrior by David Simons and Ricardo Villamonte

I bought this because the cover was dope, but this was pure junk food. The thing with junk food is quality still matters. You can go deluxe and get Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, or you can be a broke ass homie getting that fake vanilla stuff for 2 dollars. I did a little googling, and Crystar was supposed to be Marvel’s shameless toy cash in. I had a feeling it would be, because the comic goes through the motions of introducing and giving a brief synopsis of almost a dozen characters. At least 4 of them are superfluous. But it’s a cash grab, and these are all dope action figures. Story-wise, even for a clearly commercial property like this, there’s way more plot packed into this comic than the Guardians comic above. This thing took me like 5 times the amount of time to get through. At some points, i was like “THERE’S MORE?”

But yo, check out these dope panels.

image (15) image (14)

“I AM SATISFIED” What a smug dude answer. The villain is the twin brother of Crystar, who both inherited the kingdom, and villain walks in and is like “Yo, technically, i still am also the rightful ruler of this place too, even though i’m like evil now.” And their advisor dude uncle actually finds this to be a very reasonable argument, and exiles Crystar. How he made the mental leap from “You two chill out and just rule together,” to “Ok get out Crystar, you weren’t being fair so now you get nothing,” escaped me. But I really found it hilarious that evil dude’s grand plan was arguing on a technicality. I love evil dude’s design too.

I really wanna go on ebay and buy the toys now. Merchandise advertisement = successful.

DEVIL DINOSAUR #5 and #8 by Jack Kirby

Save the best for last. Sometimes i find Jack Kirby comics boring. Like you open them up, and it’s like the moment you become an adult and fireworks no longer impress you. But every once in awhile, you hear the boom-pop-fizzle and see the brilliant lights of a fireworks display, and you become a kid again and you can’t look away. Devil Dinosaur is like that. Its such a silly idea, where Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy are practically a Sherlock Holmes and Watson arrangement. Moon Boy does all the talking, but you really get the feeling like Devil Dinosaur is the brains of the outfit. One comic was about some cavemen trying to steal Devil Dinosaur, the other one was about some giant robotic aliens have kidnapped Moon Boy. The Result – Devil Dinosaur just tears shit up. The whole book is just an excuse for action, and its pure and you really understand why Jack Kirby is so universally adored. There’s so much energy and fire and power in each panel, and it just hurtles forward. There’s no ego, no self-satisfaction, no “Look how clever and topical i’m being,” dialogue. These comics exist in their same powerful form now as they did decades ago, like a radioactive isotope with no half life, all killer.

Check out some of my favorite panels:

 

A lot of times i hate that we call Jack Kirby “The King”, not because the title is undeserved, but because now sits an empty throne, everyone seemingly too humble to attempt to take it. But everyone’s not reeeeally humble, they are just too fake to admit they want it, and too scared to think they’d deserve it. But greatness doesn’t come to cowards, you can’t make great art unless you see the heights that can be reached and try to go higher. I wish more artists and writers would strive and fail to be as productive and unrestrained as Jack Kirby, imagine what comics would look like if we all believed we could be like him or even better.

 

We are all making junk food, but i feel like Jack Kirby was like Willy Wonka, asking questions like ‘What if we made a football helmet out of brownie dough and then drove our cars into dipping dots ball pits?” meanwhile, Bendis is like ‘Here’s a chocolate chip cookie with precisely 9 chocolate chips, the optimal amount of chips for this cookie,”
Anyway, read Ms. Marvel, it does a body good.

A History of Violence

I watched a movie yesterday named “Boyhood”. I don’t know what post-traumatic stress disorder is like, I imagine what i felt is probably only 10% what PTSD must be like. Sometimes when you feel things too strongly, you feel even more isolated when you think “Well, i bet others have it much worse” because you don’t know how much worse it can be. When you’re hurting, you live in a black hole of pain and you can’t see past the event horizon.

Anyway – there was a scene in the movie, where the children were hiding from a drunk violent father. Wait, no, it started before then. There was a scene in the movie, where the mother was on the floor, it was unclear if she had been hit. I thought “Please, I don’t want the movie to go in that direction.” But it was going in that direction, in the same way as i could detect when a family fight was about to spark off. Then there was the scene with the children hiding in their bedroom, and i begun to cry. Afterwards, i was discussing the feeling, and it’s not like normal “oh, sad movie scene” tears, which are ultimately cathartic and just pass you by after the credits roll. My stomach hurt, i felt sick, i felt like i was having a panic attack, i almost had to leave the theatre. But i felt silly for feeling this way, so i stayed. But as soon as i left the theatre, it all came out. Even now, thinking about it, it comes back.

This morning i read about Ray Rice and his wife who he punched in the face, the past few weeks i’ve read about harassment online, women who are threatened out of their homes, i’ve watched a lot of rapes on Game of Thrones. A lot of stuff has been on my mind. But mostly, i’ve thought about how alone seeing violence makes me feel. People only seem to care about victims after there’s proof, a video, etc. No one believes a bruised face is proof, no one wants to see proof, and people who are hurt, they don’t want to share it often. Being a victim feels like a cage. Why don’t abused women leave? I don’t know, but when you don’t leave physically, some other part goes.

I often feel very broken inside. I thought i’d write a short history of violence, i think it might make me feel better to just see it out there.

– Age 3 or 4 . My father throws a vase across the room at my brother. It breaks in a million pieces. It was my stepmother’s mom’s vase. It was a gift. My father didn’t care. I was hiding under the bed. My brother cursed in school.

– Same age, maybe older. My mother (my stepmother, but i don’t refer to her as that) comes out of her bedroom with cigarette ashes all over her face. My father threw an ashtray in her face. Later on, i learn, my mother told my father she would leave him if he did that again.

– 6 years old? I see my mother (biological) at an mental asylum. There are shambling people on the grass. My mom is pretty calm. We play checkers. I feel disturbed by the environment, when i leave, she stays where she was sitting. Later on, me and my brother agree we probably shouldn’t have seen her like that. Later on still, my sister reveals to me how she was abused by the orderlies there. I feel angry, but she’s never told me about it. Many of her schitzophrenic delusions are of men coming after her. Its her reality.

– A family joke, but disturbing to others, my brother hits me in the eyeball with a toy crossbow gun. My father breaks the toy crossbow on my brother’s head.

– Younger than 10, i throw up on myself and my bed. I have to sleep on a bare mattress.

– Younger than 10, i didn’t eat my food. For some reason, i didn’t change fast enough before being hit, so i had to sleep naked. It was cold. My parents think i made that one up. I don’t think i did.

– As i get older, the violence goes away, but the intense fights don’t.

– Around 11, i’m still playing with stuffed animals and my sisters, and my sister’s dollhouse. My father begins asking at dinner if i’m a faggot. Whenever there were fights in my house, i’d protect my mom, he asks me why i protect her more than him? When he calls me a faggot, my sister defends me for an hour. “It doesn’t matter if he wants to play with stuffed animals, he’s 11″ I quietly did the dishes.

– I was in school fights every year of my life. I didn’t win really any. In 9th grade, i started a fight trying to be a bully, i got my teeth punched in. I decided to not get into fights after that. I still was a bully though, just with smaller kids.

– In college, i stay with my girlfriend in texas. When they fight, they speak in the same tone of voice and don’t insult each other. I felt so jealous.

– Towards the end of college, i discover my mother is addicted to drugs. I feel abandoned by her. For about a year or 2, we don’t really speak. She goes to rehab. When she returns, my parents get into a fight and my father hits her, the first time in years. My mom tries to stay with family, but no one wants her to stay with them. She ultimately stays a hotel for the night. She calls me, asking me for advice. I begin crying, i don’t know what to do, i don’t WANT to give advice to my mom. I want my mom to be my mother. I tell her i can’t be her therapist, i’m just her son. I hate drugs, i hate violence. My sisters want her to leave my father, my brothers kinda shrug at it.

– 23 years old, I go to a party at my upstairs neighbor. I wanted to have sex with one of them, didnt care which. I found them both to be attractive. When i arrive, i discover they invited many guys from around the block. They were all members of the Bloods gang. I felt awkward, i knew that a house full of young men (11-35 years old) with alcohol and 3 women was not a very safe environment. When one of the women left with a guy to have sex, me and the remaining person realize she hasn’t returned after we see the guy. I find her in the bathroom being sexually assaulted by multiple men. It was probably the scariest night of my life. It didn’t end for a few more hours.

I never have felt the same after that. I never felt right about everything i already had experienced. It kind of made everything i already didnt like in my life, feel darker. The next day, i called out of work. My boss didn’t understand why i was so upset. When i finally came into work, 2 days later, my boss’s sister, who was 64 years old, just held me for awhile and i cried and i cried. I always cry when i think about it. I hate that night. I tried to be friends with my neighbors after that, but i always felt like i was lying or faking or being phoney or just acting wrong.

– A year later, i began dating someone who was a victim of childhood abuse. Every time we had sex, that was a part of our lives. It broke us up.

– For years, since i have been sexually active, i’ve had trouble with sex. As i get closer to women, i become less able to perform, i think its cause i end up treating them more like moms than like girlfriends. While casual sex, one night stands, and fuck buddies have just become how i have relationships. When i have a girlfriend, i have to disclose to them eventually my years where i went to adult video stores, the STDs i’ve gotten, the serial cheating. Although i went to therapy for 4 years in order to get some control, i still have destructive behaviors that i have to always pay attention to.

– Currently, i’m 28. I am dating someone. Sex is mostly okay. But when i began crying next to her in the movie theatre, while watching Boyhood, i didn’t want her to see. Afterwards, she gave me her scarf to cry on, and i just felt she didnt understand. She made a few jokes, and i began laughing and feeling better. I thought “I don’t have to tell her all about it,”

I think its probably better that she doesn’t fully understand. I think its better that she just hands me her scarf to cry on.

Why We Won’t Win Against Trolls

I’ve been thinking about this lately, wondering what possible solutions can we find to finally eliminate trolling culture. It’s getting to the point where unless there’s a culture-wide shift and recognition that there’s a behavioral virus sweeping through our society, someone will likely be killed.

One of the most fascinating ideas i’ve found in science fiction, is the “Stand Alone Complex” of Ghost in the Shell. To sum it up, its the behaviors of random persons acting in seemingly coordinated ways towards some ends. No one actually is in charge or determining what these persons do, and they all believe they are acting individually. But i see it when multiple mass-murderers latch on to the image of Heath Ledger’s Joker, when anonymous wears V for Vendetta masks, when gamers harass, stalk and threaten individual women out of their home, for fear of their own lives. The internet is real, the consequences of these actions are real, and memes that replicate online also take root in our minds, altering our behavior. Why is this behavior becoming increasingly aggressive and polarized? Because right now exists a fully new environment, that organisms must adapt  to according to Darwinian natural selection.

Internet culture, especially in the darker and deeper corners of the internet, allows for a breeding pool to create new personalities that have not existed before, which in essence, outbreed calmer & saner minds. Ignoring trolls is not a solution, because for every person that ignores a troll, there are that many more people who decide to leave the conversation entirely. The troll remains, the tone of the entire community begins to change, and an entire ecosystem now has an invasive species that cant be eliminated until the vocal minority becomes the majority. For quite some time, it was physical distance and population size that kept these species from overrunning this digital planet. With the transformation of the internet from a niche interest to a fully global platform, we are finally reaching a tipping point.

What happens when a human being making videos online can no longer feel safe offline? What happens when all of us, have to worry about open-carry psychopaths converging in Chipotle? None of these things were possible or even imagined, 10 years ago? We are in a singularity, where human evolution changes so fast, no one can see what is coming next. 

Currently, there is no single practical solution to combating trolls. Deleting, muting, blocking can not stop the hordes of anonymous decency-eating zombies. In fact, the solutions we have now simply embolden trolls to find new ways to transgress social mores. When we ignore the trolls, we simply reinforce the artificial selection where a more shocking troll will make sure he can’t be ignored. When we block, we lead them to create ‘campaigns’. Like any invasive species, it is not the individual organism, but the health of the entire genome that matters. And this organism has one thing that the rest of us do not, and no one is speaking about: The constant protection of anonymity.

We need the elimination of an anonymous internet.

Being able to be identity-less not only creates a damaging psychology in the troll, but also a power that must be abused. The consequences of one’s actions become separate from the ‘real’ persona, and the desire to wreak more and more damage becomes addicting. That is why the number one attack of trolls online, is to reveal as much information of a person’s identity as possible. What used to be public knowledge, our names-numbers-addresses, found in the phonebook, has been transformed into a poison against us. While we flirt with privacy, letting our eyes get familiar with the darkness of anonymity, there are those, like the familiar Dark Knight Rises villain, who were born in darkness. 

Until we finally realize that the internet is a real place, a real environment, and we are the same persons online and offline, and consequences are no less severe because the actions occurred online, and that this isn’t a loss of privacy, but a necessary protection, the trolls will continue to outbreed us. There is no stopping a hydra, you must cauterize each wound after decapitation. Twitter, Facebook, all sites that allow commenting, need to be able to connect each online persona to a person, so that each person can be held responsible for their actions.

A few years ago, Google tried to do something like this, but it was a complete failure because it never considered that those who desire to remain anonymous are always hiding from something: They are either the threatened or the predators. Without considering this question, and forcing everyone to be in the bright lights it only benefited the predators. We need to eliminate anonymity, but it needs to be done in a careful, considered and just way. So we can truly protect our images from being shared on revenge-sex sites, so we can know where the predators are waiting or hiding, so our private conversations can be truly be private with all the legal protections, so we can hold ourselves and other responsible for all of our actions. I want consent for my whole life. From corporations, from governments, from individuals – we have a metastasizing tumor called the internet, made up of undeclared, undecided, unclear borders between oneself and others.

I want to be 100% me in all aspects of my life. I walk into a store, thats my face, thats my body, I can’t be harmed. If a cop walks into a store, thats their face and their body, they must be identified, they should not be allowed to harm me. If a troll goes online, they can be anyone, anytime, they dont have to be identified, they can harm me as long as they want, there are no consequences. 

End Anonymity.

YOU ARE JUST VISITING, I LIVE HERE

This is my response to that terrible Bleeding Cool article. Not gonna link it.

I’m mad about ‪#‎Ferguson‬, and i’m being asked what am i doing about it, and i’m just harshing on someone else’s fun, and criticizing some one trying to do something good. But what all Yale Stewart’s fans and himself are missing, is i’m not mad at some stupid fan art, i’m mad because this is how it always is.

Some shit happens, and to have some white guy decide to make a feel-good chibi image, for his own self promotion, and have all his fans pat themselves on the back for ‘caring’, is just a bunch of motherfuckers playing tourism in a racism theme park.

I don’t want your fucking chibi, i don’t want to be nice, i don’t want some cute Hal Jordan saying he supports Ferguson, and by extension, all victims of police brutality. I don’t want this to settle down and he goes on to the next tragedy, to “support”. Don’t hallmark card this shit.

Because long after this is done, long after no one remembers this pointless twitter scuffle, the opportunistic bleeding cool, the parasitic Rich Johnston, the tone-deaf Yale Stewart – I’ll still be loud, proud, brown and angry.

I’ll still remember my father being arrested when i was a kid, i’ll still know my father was a victim of a police state imprisoned without trial for 10 years in cuba, my mother was a victim of a predatory mental health system, i’ll still have it in my blood that all this shit that happens to poor people, mostly brown people.

And then you draw a cartoon that says you support me? Where were your cartoons last week? Where was your voice last month? Last year. Because i’ve been talking this shit for as long as anyone knows me, and i will keep talking about it. I don’t get to play tourist, i don’t get to play at self promo, for me, any time i talk about racism, i gotta worry that this is the time people get tired of seeing it.

Long after your visit, i’ll still be living in the America that you can’t even see.

This is why i hate what Yale Stewart did, don’t let any other story twist it.

From twitter, the conversation continues, since a lot of his fanboys are writing me there _

I will never hallmark card my existence. I will always be angry, & it might be irrational, it might be wrong, but thats what America made me

I don’t draw cute shit for how i feel about #ferguson because its disgusting, revolting, unbearable, and there’s nothing i can do to express

that long after the debate is over with the white person online, after i’m kicked out of bars, made a party weird, i go home and im still mad

Because nothing has changed, nothing changes, and you motherfuckers are telling me Yale Stewart, he’s the one making the change w/ Chibi JLA

I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed, i woke up on the wrong side of the tracks. You can keep your hallmark cards and self promo.

But go ahead, let Yale Stewart tell you how he helped Ferguson. Congrats, I wish some of that money would’ve bailed me out of being poor.

rant done. Enjoy your Sunday, this won’t matter in a week. None of these tweets do.

Superheroes and Family

I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy so much. I don’t think it’s the best movie of all time, but that just makes me think of the limitations of best-of lists. I remember over the past week, having a discussion about the best wrestler of all time with my cowriter Erick Freitas & Jarrett Williams (creator of SuperPro KO), and we all had wildly different ideas of who the BEST was. Sometimes, you love something so much, you don’t need reasons. In fact, reasons never do the object of affection justice. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t a perfect film, but it’s an instant classic. And it does what every superhero movie has been struggling to do since the genre began roaring at full steam in the early 2000’s: Simply have a happy ending.

Despite the genre having to be by necessity, about heroism, i’d argue that every blockbuster superhero movie has been a movie about heroism in spite of itself. Spiderman should be about responsibility, but is overwhelmed by loss. X-men should be about Justice, but its really about survival. Avengers should be about teamwork, but settles for sacrifice. All these movies, that we want to enjoy like how we did on Saturday Mornings as kids, fails to truly satisfy. You want to be a kid again, you want future kids to be inspired, and you want it to stay with them as they grow into adults.

Guardians of the Galaxy takes a completely new approach. It abandons the Hero-At-All-Costs for the Rogue, and it finds happiness in the most universal superhero theme – family. Every Superhero story is about family, but somehow that simple concept has escaped modern Superhero movies. Batman loses his parents, but there’s barely any family relationships in the Nolanverse, this universe’s Batman retires in anonymity and leaves all family behind. In Man of Steel, Superman inexplicably allows his Father to die, and only a few scenes earlier is told by his father that letting people die, might be okay. Captain America – The Winter Soldier, is a beautiful tragedy of two brothers losing their bond. Regardless of the quality of the movies, we are unable to leave a superhero movie and believe “Things worked out for the best!” There are no cowboys riding off in the sunset, no knights being saved by the princess, no astronauts experiencing the wonders of our galaxy. But it is a disservice to the genre, to abandon optimism, because there’s only one reason a kid puts a towel on his back as a cape. They believe they can save the day, not that they’ll keep the worst from happening or stave off genocide for one more day. They believe they can fly.

That is what is so damn good about Guardians of the Galaxy, thats why you watch it and it feels familiar and new all at the same time. There’s a scene where Rocket Raccoon can’t take being called Vermin anymore. Being called “a pet”, “a rodent”, and it’s maybe the most convincing CGI emotion i’ve ever seen. “I didn’t ask to be torn apart and tortured and put back together again a million times!” he yells and almost cries, and you can see his frustration at even letting himself get this upset, and you feel it. You know you feel it, because its no secret that hundreds of us were the kid called vermin, or rodent, or so many different names. So many of us got beat up and shoved and got hurt. For some of us, the torture was worst than we can really ever express, but we can’t do anything about it, we just are how we are now. This past year, i remember feeling so constantly frustrated, revealing how constantly angry i am. There’s a lot of dialogue about depression, but i often feel pretty alone when it comes to anger. There’s a reason i read Superhero comics, because it is a power fantasy, but its not power to defeat others, its power to simply protect yourself. Rocket Raccoon’s protector is the infinitely patient, majestic and immensely powerful Groot. Groot doesn’t judge him, Groot only wants to help him. We all want a Groot in our lives. This is why his final words are so important.Each character in the Guardians of the Galaxy, is dealing with some aspect of dealing with family. Losing a mother, being abused by a Father, being betrayed by a Sister, not knowing where you stand in these relationships, and finding security in new relationships. Worst than just having a broken family, is feeling broken yourself, knowing that the mechanisms you’ve created to survive are not enough to make a life on. Each new person you meet, is another affirmation that you can’t be loved, that you can’t do relationships, and it just plain sucks. When Drax reveals that all his rage and anger are simply covering up his sadness, it quickly cuts through all the moments you laughed at him as he raged impotently. Guardians of the Galaxy simultaneously allows you to see their foibles, lets us laugh at them, and lets you forgive them for their faults.

(spoiler alert) The final scene of the movie, we are at a familiar trope. It is always darkest before dawn, and almost every action movie needs the moment where you must honestly believe that this might be it. If you’re an art house film, it’s usually where you end the film, roll the credits, and collect your laurel leaf crowns for Best Picture at Film Festival. But for the more sophisticated tastes of children, thats where you prove your mettle, and show the audience what type of movie you are making. Man of Steel, had no darkest before dawn moment, it simply never ever relented with depressive imagery. The Avengers has it right before the Hulk arrives, when those giant technowhales arrive. The most recent Spiderman puts Gwen on a string, and she falls and brings his world down (and your mood) with her. In GOTG, our band of adventurers and scallywags, sits together, as if on moist dirt after a long summer’s day and you find out your best friend is moving away. They all might die in a fiery crash, but Groot decides to make a shelter of himself, knowing he will die. He’s only said the words “I AM GROOT” in different tones throughout the film, but when he says “WE are GROOT,” he says everything this movie is.You are not just your pain, you aren’t alone. Even though you feel like no one understands you (I am Groot?), all you want from your family and your friends, is to feel like their love is your shelter, and your shelter is your love. We want to believe bullies will turn into friends, because we let them borrow our walkman. We believe that Drax is trying his best to say he’s your friend, but he’s better at just showing it punching someone for you.

A lot of people have compared this movie to Star Wars. It’s interesting, because if you think that Peter Quill is this generation’s Han Solo, it’s because he’s a softer interpretation. By now, the Han Solo anti-hero IS the Hero, so Peter Quill ends up being truly rebellious by being sweeter. He looks like the once chubby dude, the kid on the bleachers who just let you have his snickers bar for NO REASON, the kid that even the teachers laugh when he’s getting in trouble. In Star Wars, Han Solo shot first, but in Guardians of the Galaxy, he leaves a little troll figurine in your pocket and you smile, and think “Oh, Starlord.”I think it’s much closer in style and approach to the Princess Bride movie, but both Star Wars and Princess Bride are movies that remind you how much you actually like a happy ending. Heroes gotta go up against some big bads, and as you get older and older, you realize that the evil of a man in a weird suit isn’t much compared to the evils of shrapnel wounds inflicted on children, or ideological fear mongering, racism, sexism, all kinds of crap. But if you really want to fall in love with a superhero, you got to let them win. Eventually, after some struggle, there’s gotta be a clear and amazing victory. You gotta pick up the big bad, symbol of all evil, and solve the problem by throwing him into a hole. That’s what puts the super in superhero. Actual heroism is the sad kind that happens on 9/11. But when we want to believe in something bigger than just the grey and greyer world we have, we need the lush colors of costumes and lasers. We need the saturated color of fiction, so that our often grey world doesn’t descend into a black hole of depression. More importantly, when you’re a kid and your whole world IS your family, sometimes you need to believe you can fly, with your friends the Raccoon, the Tree, The Brute and the Ninja.

Best Friends Forever

Also, consider donating the price of a ticket to helping with Rocket Raccoon’s creator, Bill Manto’s healthcare costs. More info here: http://comicsbeat.com/on-bill-mantlo-rocket-raccoon-and-guardians-of-the-galaxy/ http://gregpak.com/love-rocket-raccoon-please-consider-donating-to-writer-bill-mantlos-ongoing-care/