Tag Archives: comics

Iron Fist, or white wish fulfillment from its beginnings

Ah Iron Fist. I read the Essentials Volume 1 because by the end of it he partners up with Luke Cage, and I love Luke Cage. I wanted to know just exactly who Luke Cage was getting mixed up with.

It ain’t pretty.

Too bad it’s way too late for Luke Cage to stay away.

Iron Fist wasn’t really enough to write about, but Netflix is making a series about the dude inspiring some controversy. Undoubtedly to cross over with Luke Cage (yay) and Jessica Jones (yay). I enjoyed a recent article by Noah Berlatsky with the subheading ‘iron flop’ and the title ‘“Iron Fist” proves Marvel is obsessed with rich white men—and it’s ruining their superheroes’.

Which is funny, partly because it’s true given there’s Iron Bat and Bat Fist and Dr Strangebatiron and more. Only one of them is an arms dealer at least. Iron Fist could have been, should have been Asian. He gets his powers from a fabled village in China’s K’un Lun mountains — where his DAD is from. Marvel argued they needed an ‘outsider’, which makes no sense as justification for casting a white guy. My favourite part apart from the title was actually the quote from Shaun Lau, an Asian-American activist and co-creator of the “No, Totally!” podcast (which I will have to listen to except I’m not much of a podcast girl and haven’t even finished my beloved Welcome to Nightvale since I quite farming):

“I don’t think people understand the extent to which ‘outsider’ describes the life of an Asian-American,” Lau said. “When I walk down the street, I’m not perceived as an American because of the way I look. But I did a family trip to China, Japan, and Hong Kong, when I was 19, and I didn’t fit in at all in any of those places. I don’t speak the language, just looking at me the people who live there knew that I was American.”

Unlike Rand, Asian Americans are perceived as aliens both in the US and abroad. “Asian-Americans really are this level of outsider that would work really, really well with the character of Danny Rand,” Lau said.

Ultimately, Lau argued that casting a white actor to play Danny was a “missed opportunity” for creating a new narrative.

It really was. It should have been done. Even in these early comics you feel how awkward and weird it is that Iron Fist is white, especially as all his family drama and their connections to China unfold. It never makes much sense. 1974 feels pretty late for that kind of shit, but there it is. Anyway, that shit keeps happening.

But reading the comics you realise this is something that often ‘ruined’ their superheroes. It is hardly surprising Marvel felt they had to cast Iron Fist as white — not that anyone in their production department necessarily read these early comics. But they are entirely white male wish fulfillment (and what else are many of these comics and films really about?) They are written as if *you*, the imagined (white, male) reader were iron Fist:

I know I’m still learning my way around comics, but I haven’t come across this before. I mean, look at that last panel, you, the imagined (white, male) reader *are* Iron Fist with crazy muscles about to kick some ass. It just keeps going.

I liked that it was ‘kung-fu’ heavy, but it so reminded me of the multiple films in which dudes from the US become martial arts saviours — they still get made even when the only explanation for white prowess is down to fate and watching kung-fu films. I never understood what was up with any of them, but clearly they belong in a long tradition of white guys longing to appropriate the awesomeness of another culture and pretend it really belonged to them all along. At least some of them train a few years for it, but still. I long for the film where Michelle Yeoh reduces each and every one of them into a quivering pile of humiliated jelly.

In fact the only good thing about Iron Fist is how awesome the ladies in it are, like Colleen Wing and Misty Knight.

Anyway, the various writers on the team keep up this writing style of making *you* , the imagined (white, male) reader the hero for a long time. You, the ‘master’ of chi.  At least, occasionally, there is a crazy cool monster.

Anyway, that’s me done ranting about Iron Fist, we definitely don’t need more billionaire heroes. Though I confess I did enjoy his visit to London. Look! It’s the Post Office Tower!

And ah, the London slums (?) between Maida Vale and Paddington. The good old days.

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Luke Cage: Back to Essentials #1 and #2

Luke Cage: Hero for Hire — I loved these, much prefer Luke Cage to Black Panther though I am not sure why… But maybe I am. My adopted home ground may have been South Central LA not NY, but these are the gritty streets, the hustlers, the African American and Spanish-speaking mix, the dirty cops, the unfair prison rap that you can never come out from under, the community clinic hanging on by the skin of its teeth that I know and love… and I know it’s still almost all white writers, but there’s inker Billy Graham and he had a shot or two.

Look at this opening cover. Maybe I love Luke Cage because it is as much (or maybe more) noir than superhero comic, look at the elements up in this mix:

origin-imageTrue enough he’s unlike any superhero before him, just like his background and his neighbourhood — no surprise comics are as segregated as real life.

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Straight out of (prison) hell to Harlem… Of course, it’s no surprise that I should think this is more like noir, because they make it hard to miss. There are all kinds of references, Luke’s just another PI, right?

There’s a homage to Dashiell Hammett in The Claws of Lionfang from Graham and Engelhardt, and a hint to what they’re kind of trying to do, but not too hard given Luke’s doing some of that ‘unromantic’ footwork, but it’s all to find a dude who can control giant cats with his mind:

There’s lot’s of this colourful language, like the writers can finally liberate themselves a little…

img_4868Three hours of expletives that never repeats? Goddamn, now that’s some street.

You gotta love Luke’s reactions to the superhero world too…

img_4870C’mon man…how many times have I said that to myself? Especially reading Iron Fist and those Fantastic All-American Four, but anyway.

I loved this issue. Doom assumes he has to hire a black man to find escaped slave robots who have also disguised themselves as black so they can better hide themselves after they have fled? A creaky setup, but there are some fucking layers here. Reminds me too, of that crazy quote from Ross Macdonald’s The Ivory Grin:

“I think you said she was a Negro”
“I have no race prejudice–”
“I don’t mean that. Black girls are unfindable in this city. I’ve tried.”
— Lew Archer to client

There are these moment when the distance between worlds crystallizes into just a few words, the off-hand commonsensical acknowledgment of just what a segregated society white folks have created, but treat as just the way of things.

Billy Graham comes more to the fore in Retribution, where he is co-scripter and artist. A side story, one of many, showing Luke Cage just can’t stop himself from helping people in trouble, and in this case the victims are the construction workers destroying condemned tenements for ‘yet another round of urban renewal’, and finding themselves trapped (like the tenants once were? are still?).

img_4875See, you’re just not going to find references to urban renewal in the Fantastic Four or the other story lines, not like this. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at the world reflected here in such ways, yet still I am. Something about this black superhero allows things to be seen that are usually ignored completely. Then and now. They are suddenly part of the script, a sudden awareness of another reality.

Of course, the city in these stories plays its traditional role in the American consciousness — dangerous and dirty, home to criminals and those on the run. Still, it’s refreshing to see an ex-prison guard referred to in such terms, who’s the criminal now?

This guard advertises to find a job for himself in the personals? Almost makes you nostalgic….Check out these homemade costumes as well, they are pretty awesome…

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Back to Rich Man: Iron Man — Power Man: Thief. George Tuska artist, Graham inker, Len Wein writer. And the moment Luke Cage becomes Luke Cage (Black) Power Man. A little Black Power never goes amiss. Sadly he also starts calling people sugar.

img_4881Of course in this world you can’t just take on a name like Power Man and think you won’t get challenged by the last dude who had that name already. This is from The Killer With My Name — Tony Isabella with assist from Len Wein, drawn Ron Wilson, inked V Colletta — check out those middle panels:

img_4883Turns out the old Power Man is a bit racist…I enjoyed the shit-kicking Luke Cage gave him. I also liked the ‘my family was so poor…’ joke.

You can see, though, that they keep switching the team around, not like Black Panther who got a solid run at a consistent identity.

On to Essentials Book 2 – My old favourite flowery comic book philosopher, from the Black Panther in fact, Don McGregor writes some deep thoughts in Look What They’ve Done To Our Lives Ma!:

img_4894and Luke Cage faces Cockroach and Piranha. Piranha is a nod to the comic world, Cockroach a nod to the world of slums and predatory hustlers and shitty housing. I like the mix.

img_4895But in later issues the writing starts shifting around, as does Luke’s character. He is more and more violent, thinks less and less, then thinks more… they’re reaching to figure out what to do with him, so there’s Chicago storylines from Marv Wolfman as editor/plot and Ed Hannigan guest scripter, with Mace — just another vet who didn’t get the help with his PTSD that he needed:

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Luke running around trying to foil some harebrained scheme. And still succeeding with the ladies…

I don’t know why these panels make me laugh at loud, but they do. By the end of the volume it’s C. Claremont and Tuska

img_4900Oh shit, Black Buck? They came out and said it. Luckily there’s some people around to call him on it, sort of.

My favourite issue will be in a separate post — good old Mace starts up a gated community in the middle of nowhere and they try to blow up the Greyhound Bus Luke is on because it comes too close to their territory… I can’t even begin to describe how interesting that set up is to someone working on race and geography. Jaw dropping really. So I’ll keep that separate. It’s been interesting watching Cage change, get reimagined, first to be kinder, then to be more physical — though in truth all he knows to do is just go smashing in no matter what the odds.

I love it.

Sadly at the end he teams up with Iron Fist.

Oh, Iron Fist.

So annoying.

I might write about that essentials Vol. 1, I read them because Luke Cage comes in at the end…I also like the women in those stories I confess.

I might write too about the new Luke Cage series. I enjoyed them immensely,  though I’m a little bit conflicted about some things maybe.

Anyway, to end with a little salute to Billy Graham.

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The Origins of the Black Panther

13528786More Comics! The Black Panther to be precise, it is such an exciting time right now, with Ta Nehisi Coates revamping the Black Panther for Marvel (I love this revamping) — even as Netflix’s Luke Cage series is filling my facebook feed. I have to wait until Christmas to see it. Too long to wait, sure — but it is also a good sort of present. It will also let me finish reading those early Marvel beginnings. These two Black superheroes of the Marvel universe couldn’t be more different, but I have enjoyed them both immensely.

Black Panther is the first, appearing in July 1966, Fantastic Four issue #52, and then sporadically — guess I’ll have to hunt down those issues. I didn’t so much care for the Fantastic Four, mostly as white and wealthy and respectful of 1950s conventions and American as apple pie. There was none of the fumbling towards their powers either, or deep interior conflict which made me love the Hulk so much. The Black Panther has none of the same kind of interior conflict either, but his debut is fascinating in terms of both the white gaze on race, and the white gaze on Africa. he is T’challa, prince of Wakanda, a small African kingdom made rich by the presence of an extraterrestrial metal (vibranium), and thus torn between the heights of technology but also tradition. The Essential Collection contains the collected stories from Jungle Action (1973-1976) #6-22, and then the new Black Panther (1977) #1-10. The first few covers:

img_4709 img_4711There is some crazy jungle action going on here. This is Jack Kirby’s initial vision for…the coal tiger! Ha, I’m glad they didn’t stick with that. I do like those shoes though! And the collar. This also reminds me that all of these were originally published in most garish colour — you forget that reading these collections in black and white, and it changes the experience of them.

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There’s some geography in here too, because that’s how they used to roll in those days. From the end of the first ish:

Black PantherPiranha cove! Serpent Valley! Panther Island! I would have fucking loved this map when I was 13. This parallels in its way the diagrams of the Fantastic Four’s secret but not-really-secret headquarters in the big city. It allows the writer to play more as well.

So back to the jungles…look at me taking some these pictures in the October sunshine.

img_4669A lot of these enemies are from the U.S. — where T’challa has just returned from (bringing with him the lovely black power figure of Monica Lynne, who causes all kinds of uproar and jealousy amongst the ladies — he rescued her in NY, but we don’t get to see that). Below we have Venom, ‘he had been known as Horatio Walters, and when he was young, he thought the name quite poetic — until scorn and derision killed the poetry in him.’ It’s surprising (or is it) how many of the villains have been twisted by bullying and discrimination in the U.S., and some, like Venom, are white even.

img_4675There are many references to pulp in here (I love it), and an interesting narrative of hero returned (from the U.S. to Africa — a familiar longing expressed in these times), an interesting shift in culture — ‘Damn! He thinks, must all of his reference points be so foreign to his native land?’ There is also so much poetry in Don McGregor’s prose. Like ‘The mist is carnivore pink…’

img_4677I love Rich Buckler’s drawings as well. It gets real poetic as a matter of fact — is that because this is Africa? An indigenous, tribal tradition welded uncomfortably with technology?

img_4680Such a different feel from Marvel’s other comics — at least the ones I’ve read. There’s a lot more detail as well, cool use of silhouettes, good monsters. And the Black Panther ‘consumed by a sense of his own mortality.’ Wrestling with what all this fighting is turning him into.

img_4682Being Africa, there is, of course, the obligatory dinosaur issue. But still, DINOSAUR ISSUE. ‘The valley is aptly named. It is evolution denied, time standing as stagnant as the air and water.’ This is evocative of so much adventure fiction and views of the African continent as a whole. But with a twist,

img_4685Dinosaurs being used to fight a technologically advanced African kingdom. They are being transported in a pleasantly maniacal plan by Eric Killmonger — one-time native of Wakanda, exiled and ended up in Harlem. Which broke him more or less.

This is a liberal comic you see, there’re some thoughts on revolution — and how it never works out. Bad guys? They’re for it, but it’s all an illusion. Makes you feel for the bad guys.

img_4689Still, it’s got dinosaurs. They are pretty awesome. Dinosaurs and radio sonar.

img_4691So it’s really interesting when T’Challa and Monica Lynne leave Wakanda (after another adventure or three). Lynne feels so liberated-sister-from-New-York-or-Oakland, but really she’s from Georgia, and returns there when her sister dies. And thus begins the most interesting series of all, as the Black Panther goes up against the Klan. But look at this cover.

img_4694I found this amazing actually. ‘In the heart of civilization, T’challa battles the primitive power of the clan!’ I’m liking this contrast of civilized and primitive. I can see why this might have been controversial.

img_4695Her sister had been doing some investigating, and died in suspicious circumstances… there’s a mix of historical stuff in here too, as Monica imagines a different fate of her great grandfather if the panther had been there to save him from lynching at the hands of the soul strangler:

img_4696There is a plucky investigative reporter, a crochety father who eventually overcomes years of practical silence and decides to stand up for himself. There are racist white cops supported by a generally racist white populace, a lot of daily harassment and threats — it’s enjoyable watching the Black Panther give them their dues, I have to say. Because it’s the clan, you’re just waiting for when T’challa gets tied to a burning cross… and escapes. Monica’s sister worked in a real estate office and was killed there, there’s more than a hint that the night riders that are caught up in development schemes and corrupt politics and it’s hard to see just where all of this will end up. But it’s good to see that we are being reminded of how much our present is shaped by this past…

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And then suddenly it is all over. Cut off in the middle. Poof. I was very sad.

And we are on to the Jack Kirby revamp in the Back Panther issue 1, and it’s 1977.

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A crazy, very campy superhero run-in with the collectors. Oo-ooh. Not that I didn’t enjoy it. There are some special characters, like Colonel Pigman, and Mr Little. The Black Panther mostly runs around without his mask on as well, it makes it feel very different — but everything about this version is different, from the blocky vitality and force of Kirby’s drawings to the treasure maps and silly villains. No klan here.

img_4698Still, enjoyable. Slapstick as well.

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And I don’t know what I think about this vision of a ruling African family, apart from not liking it much.

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But they do all join together to defeat a powerful foe, each of them finding their own power inside. That was nice.

I look forward to more…

 

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The Beginnings of the Fantastic Four

Fantastic FourI am enjoying working my way through these early comics. Funnily enough, I rather disliked the Fantastic Four as characters unlike the Hulk, who was tortured, an outsider, stuck living a dual life and managing two identities, both of which were feared and disrespected I think, in different ways. Bruce Banner the scientist viewed as tricky and effeminate by the general, the Hulk viewed as overly animal and brutal and terrifyingly strong.

The Fantastic Four fit right in with American society — so obviously I don’t really get them. They’re loved by the public — with some ups and downs of course, or where would be the drama? But mostly ups. The Thing has some of the existential angst of the Hulk (and there’s an interesting angle on race here, and how these two play into stereotypes about ‘the other’, especially Black men, you can read more on Mark’s post about the new Fantastic Four film) but here the Thing seems marginalized in his rather boring stupidity and crankiness and obsession with a few street thugs, while the Invisible Girl is out buying Dior dresses and the Flame is kissing girls in the latest model of Ford. Stretchy dude is just tinkering away with things that can destroy the whole world, and making occasional appearances which send red-blooded American women swooning.

But there’s a hell of a lot of urban and architectural geekery to be found here. I mean, only the second issue in, you get  a secret headquarters! Complete with cut-away diagram! It even has a giant map room (3rd March, 1962, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)! I particularly love the note to save it for future reference…as the complexities of future stories might drive you back to the Gormenghastian reaches of this skyscraper…

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Or maybe not. That’s the comic I would have written I guess. By the 5th of July (still Lee and Kirby, always Lee and Kirby fabulous tag-team that they are) the Fantastic Four have had to expand — they still have the missiles, but the living quarters are better explained, there’s a gym and a trophy room/weapons collection. Ammo room. Of course. It’s a pretty fascinating glimpse of what any super-rich superhero might want their building, along with some pretty awesome exposition explaining how the entrance is protected by a special elevator. This is probably all in response to questions from eager fans designing their own secret headquarters in their head and wondering how the plumbing works, and I rather love it.

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The fantasticar  (this is from 12th March 1963) gets similar kinds of explanation and exposition. It’s kind of sweet, especially as the early version totally did look like a flying bathtub.

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Then there is this one time (6th Sept, 1962 Lee & Kirby) the whole skyscraper is picked up, fabulous adventures are had, and then returned safe and sound. So actually, scratch that about them giving any thought to the plumbing.

This is probably my single favourite frame — already, planning nerds of mine,  we see the unnatural yet taken-for-granted logics of a downtown that empties out late at night, except for a handful of people subject to hallucinations. Not explicitly caused by drink or drugs (though I think that may be taken for granted, they just can’t say it out loud in something targeted at kids), but of ‘the anxieties that plague our nuclear society.’ Damn. I think I’m right there, that anxieties of nuclear war are seen as less harmful to America’s kids than alcholism and LSD, but I could be wrong.

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But wait. It gets crazier. There’s that episode where the Fantastic Four lose their money, can’t pay their rent, and so out they go. Evicted! This leaves their incredible super base with its missiles and laboratories FOR RENT. To the highest bidder. I couldn’t imagine a better argument for rent control in all of literature. Thank god it was just Sub-Mariner behind it all, back from when he was just kind of evil.

Fantastic FourI would also rather enjoy writing the spin-off series, Fantastic Four on skid row.

Then, too, which I appreciate as a writer, there’s that crazy moment when the creators themselves pierce the veil and emerge as characters. It’s not as exciting as it sounds, but them it never is, is it. Not even when it’s Italo Calvino.

Fantastic Four

There’s a lot of interaction between writer, artist and fans — these are as much celebrity mags as comics it feels like (apologies to all of you who will hate me forever for saying that). But there are separate sections responding to questions about the Fantastic Four’s lives and their lifestyle and how they deal with fame and stress.

Sadly this opened up the opportunity to show just how lame female superheroes were drawn — and how fans called those responsible out on it not by demanding stronger women, but by suggesting they just fade away into the background. In this episode Sue breaks down after receiving a bunch of hate mail about how she sucks (11th Feb, 1963). Who knew trolls were roaming the universe in this way before the internet?

Fantastic Four

 

Yes, you say! Set the record straight! But what is the best they can think of? Abraham Lincoln’s mother. It is by being mothers that women contribute most. But wait, you say, Sue isn’t even married, much less a mother! True, so we’ll relate that time or two where she didn’t have to be rescued, but actually used her powers for something useful.

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A huge thank you to all the ladies of the 1960s (and those before and those after), who complained and raised their voices and fought this bullshit so we could be awesome outside our roles as mothers and wives, by actually doing all those things we are awesome at, and so kick ass women superheroes like…like…yeah, comics still aren’t so good at that. Tank Girl, Hopey and Luba and the other awesome ladies from Los Bros Hernandez Love and Rockets. Those are a few I know and love.

This damn collection ends like this:

Fantastic Four

God, what would those guys do if Sue didn’t clean, in silence so as not to disturb them? I can’t believe the fans are complaining.

I don’t want to end on quite that note though. So I’ll give you one of the things I really love — Jack Kirby’s imagining of an ancient city on the moon (13th April, 1963). Pretty cool and one of the reasons to love comics, but maybe not this one quite so much.

Fantastic Four

The Incredible Creation of the Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Essential 1This collects Incredible Hulk 1-6 and Tales To Astonish 60-91, beginning in May 1962. I enjoyed it immensely, and somewhat unexpectedly, much as I enjoyed reading Captain America — and the similar trials and tribulations of the early years of a character’s introduction into the comic universe. Perhaps because what I love most is what they reveal about the process of creation, the twists and turns the superhero takes in the collective hands of each team, and the breakneck pace at which these twists and turns happen issue by issue because as good hacks really good at what they do, they never had time to slow down or think too clearly. They wrote really fast, spun out every idea to see how it worked, and if it didn’t they scrapped it and started again.

You get the sense they loved most every minute.

There are wonderful sentences like these:

But with the coming of dawn, the thing that was the Hulk, vanished, and Bruce Banner returned to normal, knowing that he was destined forever to be two people — by day, a mild-mannered intellectual–but by night, the most dangerous menace the world had ever known!

I love the exclamation points, they are everywhere. I love the fact that Bruce Banner once upon a time changed into the Hulk only at night — it is only gradually that his anger becomes the trigger. He keeps getting hit with those gamma rays you see, and the plot keeps requiring different methods of change, different triggers. For a while it was just the rays themselves. And Bruce Banner complies with it all, goes with the flow because he never has a second to think, he is too busy fighting amazing creatures, discontented men, powerful aliens and super spies. You see him go from one thing to the next before he gradually begins to settle down into the character you thought you knew.

I don’t know what could be cooler than that. You almost don’t want him to settle. The constant creation and re-creation of character around a recognizable frame, this is what I find most awesome in comics. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, what a team…

Then there are the antics — I don’t know why this stunt on a teeter-board with all the bad guys apparently poised on one end made me quite so very happy, but it did:

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Things like the the ‘world’s first nuclear absorbatron, it was built to absorb the impact of an atom bomb blast,’ or Hercules exclaiming ‘By the Zesty Zither of Zeus!’ also filled me with pure joy. As did the raw energy and movement of Jack Kirby’s drawings — the way the images are the equals of the words in driving forward the story. It’s funny too how the Hulk shifted one way and another in the hands of different artists, from almost-Frankenstein to my least favourite, where the Hulk is at his most monkeyish. But that didn’t last for long and I can’t help but think it was Kirby taking a hand in again as he took over art direction for a while (but not the art itself).

Then there is this title page:

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Beginning: A new chapter in the award-winning series that delicately poses the age-old question, “Can a green-skinned introvert, with anti-social tendencies, find happiness in a modern, materialistic society?”

These are the questions that matter….

La Fwindy

I don’t know where my superhero name came from exactly, it was invented on a little trip to Tijuana so I suppose no more need be said. And I don’t mean to brag, but La Fwindy’s adventures in her own comic are going to be incredible (Heavy Load, 2011), along with Diamante (aka Jose the amazing artist…) and Sharkey…not that I will always be in Dia de los Muertos drag, that’s only my away uniform in the battle to understand the intricacies of vortices, carteles, chicleteros and global capitalism (and of course, the daily grind, the run-ins with love, getting jumped by cholas in the bathroom and this time it’s me kicking ass!)

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I’ll take my laughs where I can find them

And the comics in the paper, apparently, are a good place to go for a good bitter-sweet laugh on all that is wrong with the world. I don’t know when they made the move from Kathy to stuff like this, but it makes me happy, and so I’ve started actually reading this strip instead of single-mindedly focusing on the crossword…

Sorry it is crooked! But this one made me laugh. I’m not sure if you boil the geo-politics, structural poverty and greed of war all down to their essence that this is what you would get, but it is an essential point. And the mouse is hilarious. Far too much like me I think. So I am now part of the throng that thinks Stephan Pastis is brilliant. Pearls Before Swine.

Comic-con Community 2008

Jokers…there were jokers everywhere. They outnumbered the batmen and I believe that says a great deal about good and evil. I saw superman: a device blasting out his theme song was hidden somewhere in his costume…I saw an everyday superhero with a boom box blasting James Brown’s Sex Machine…my kind of superhero. He wasn’t wearing tights. At least 30 people dressed up as ghostbusters stood on the steps of the San Diego convention center with some really authentic looking equipment, i don’t know how they fared against the Star Wars crew…there were plenty of storm troopers. Most of them were shiny and new, but there was one old battle scarred veteran who looked like he had fought through all three of the original movies and survived. A couple of luke skywalkers. Not a single damn Chewbacca, such sadness! Jose had promised to tackle the first one we saw. And I stood beneath the hallowed portal of Castle Greyskull!! God damn! If the power were invested in me, there would be a real Castle Greyskull and not a fake portal to merchandise land, and perhaps I might have foregone the massive fake bronze statue of He-Man himself…it might have been a bit much really. Plenty of goth kids, a couple of girls with flying toasters on their heads, Bender, Link from Legend of Zelda, the vampire league flyering people outside, a few manga characters, miles and miles of comics, drawings, art, action figures, T-shirts…more booths than you could imagine.  And a crowded program of talks, the only one we managed was Steven Moffat and Julie…hmm, just Julie, the writers from the new Doctor Who series, they were brilliant and witty and some of the questions were even good. But most started with “you know the (insert episode title here)? So when the Doctor does…” at which I just had to shake my head. And one old guy who was really convinced that all of the doctors HAD to be brought back in one episode for…well, I won’t tell you in case it happens. There were no spoilers sadly, but I enjoyed myself.

It was all a bit much really, hard to know how to even begin to describe it, and you might be wondering where the pictures are…I wish, I really wish I had them. I left my camera battery in my bag (left untouched from my trip to Tucson, serves me right for gadding all around about the country I suppose). So the only picture I have is this one of me, Sergio Paez was kind enough to draw it for me and give it to me for free as we wandered up and down the artist tables looking at people with talents I could only dream of. It’s very nice though:

I do quite like it…we stayed over with Cici and wandered Balboa Park and talked shit in Hamilton’s over a grilled cheese sandwich and hard cider, then came back home on the train.

And today I bowled. And I won. It was unprecedented and gives me great hope for the future.

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