Archive for September, 2012


This Week in Panels: Week 158

September 30th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Hey kids. I’m helped out this week by Jody, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Jawa wanted me to note, what with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue having come out this week, that the new cartoon is worth checking out based on the first episode.

I should note in the upcoming images that the gentleman in the Space Punisher panels is none other than Jarvis the Butler. Yes, in this reality where everybody is reimagined as a futuristic dude from space, the biggest badass on the block is none other than Jarvis. It’s rad.

Speaking of rad, the panels between me and Jody perfectly explain why FF was such a great issue this month.

All-Star Western #0
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat

Aquaman #0
Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 3
Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

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Strawberry Fields Whatever, Forever

September 28th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been reading this new-ish site, Strawberry Fields Whatever. It’s the blog of Laura Jane Faulds, Elizabeth Barker, and Jen May. I don’t know Jen beyond her art, but Liz & LJ have been Twitter friends with me for a while now, and I bought their Beatles zines last year, too. They’re cool people, and I think of them as friends. Is it weird to write about your friends? Who cares, I’m doing it.

SF Whatevs is a great site partially due to the fact that LJ and Liz don’t write like anyone else I read. It feels different and fresh, anything but sterile. It’s very music-centric, in that they both use rock music as the soundtrack to their lives. This song reminds me of this trip we took as a kid, this singer makes me feel like I can do anything, and this album is perfect for this scenario.

It doesn’t just stop there, like some type of Family Guy reference, either. The music is used as a stepping stone to talking about their memories and lives. It’s both foundation and segue, so it goes “I liked this song during this time period, and then I met this person, and then this happened, and here’s what that song means now.” The music is the scalpel in an examination, the bright light in an interrogation. It’s an entry point for something bigger, but it still matters when the story’s done.

Liz and LJ are pretty different, too. Liz writes about Los Angeles a lot. I have an outsider’s love of LA. It’s the city of Tupac, Boyz in the Hood, Eazy-E, Cube, and Heat. James Ellroy’s LA. It’s different to Liz, and I really enjoy seeing her work that out on the page. I have this mental image of it that I could probably never really properly express — can you imagine a girl with long sandy-colored hair sitting on the hood of a vintage El Camino, enjoying the sun and the music coming out of her tinny speakers? big sunglasses on her face? that’s the foundation, at least — but instead of sounding more like a crazy person I’ll just share this comment I left on a post she wrote about Cat Power the other day:

You never fail to make LA sound like the best place on Earth. Not like a paradise on Earth or anything, but more like… a place where things happen. Beautiful things, sad things, happy things. I especially like the detail about the couch in the parking lot, and the idea of lost friends being beautiful in their own way. I feel almost like a country mouse saying this, but you make LA sound like a place where adventures are a matter of course, where adventures just happen. And I really enjoy/appreciate that. Thank you.

And I mean, I don’t know anything about Cat Power, the musician that Liz talks about some in the post, but I still got the post, right? I like that.

LJ always amazes me with how personal she’s willing to get. I’m pretty closed off when it comes to that stuff, barring a few things that I’ve grown more comfortable joking/writing about (daddy issues, HOLLA), but LJ is astoundingly open to me. I really dug her “Laura Jane’s Quitting Smoking Journals” (one, two, three, four, five) because they were as much smoking confessional and diary as they were a deep look at motivations, positive/negative reinforcement, and even how we tell ourselves little lies just to keep ourselves going. Life as performance, you’re your own audience. I don’t smoke cigarettes, and I’ve never had to quit smoking cigarettes, but again, I can recognize the truth in her words.

(I had the pleasure of pitching in on a few group posts on SFWhatevs, alongside a gang of writers and musicians, including Kitty Pryde, whose ha ha, i’m sorry mixtape/EP is pretty good. You can find me talking about a song that makes me cry, a song I associate with falling in love, and my favorite Beatles song. Maybe more in the future? I like how they push me out of my comfort zone.)

They do stories, too. You can read their Beatles zines, which are excerpts from a book-in-progress called Let It Be Beautiful or check out their stories on places like Storychord, where LJ wrote about a girl named Sam and Liz wrote about a girl named Sally. Both are good. I don’t have a full list of their fiction or anything, but read SFW and I figure they’ll link new pieces as they come. Their stories have a similar swing as their posts, which is cool.

Anyway, read Strawberry Fields Whatever and follow @SFWhatevs because Liz & LJ & Jen are pretty cool and good at what they do.

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One of the best Spider-Man moments

September 27th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

This is something I wrote for a group post that ended up not going up anywhere, so I figured I’d share it here. The theme is “Favorite Spider-Man Moments,” in honor of the character’s 50th anniversary. I’m not sure how old I was when I first read this. It would’ve been ’89 or ’90, I think, which means I was six or seven. It made a real impression. I still like when heroes lose or freak out. It feels more honest than unshakable courage in the face of horrendous danger.

Anyway, Spider-Man was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. Thank you, fellas.

One of my favorite Spider-Man moments comes from the first comic I ever owned, David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man 316. I didn’t know it at the time, but the comic was the big return of then-new Spider-Man villain Venom. It’s a pretty wild ride for a first comic. My moment comes toward the end of the issue, when Spider-Man goes off to confront Venom. He locates him in a slaughterhouse, they fight, and Venom manhandles Spider-Man. At one point, Venom dumps a vat of offal and blood onto Spider-Man, and Spidey panics. He flips out, crushes Venom under a few machines, and bugs out, accidentally leaving his address behind.

This is so great because it sets up Spider-Man as something other than a super-man. He loses, and on top of that, he panics. He loses control. He gets freaked out. The man beneath the mask was revealed, just for a moment, and he rejected the horrors of superheroic life on an instinctual level. This scene is extremely humanizing, and just good entertainment besides.

I like this scene so much because it feels so true to Spider-Man. When the people in charge of his stories bring their A-game, Spider-Man is Peter Parker first and a superhero third or fourth. He’s not an everyman, not at all in thinking about it, but he is a regular man. He’s meant to be someone we can recognize slivers of ourselves in, and that makes it easier to buy the hijinks he gets into. This scene is just one of several great examples of how Peter Parker is the best superhero ever.

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How do you avoid interview aikido?

September 26th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

When “Avengers” came out there was a vocal fanbase of “Avengers” co-creator Jack Kirby that thought his role in this big pop culture event was being underplayed. With “Guardians of the Galaxy” coming up, there’s already hype around those characters — especially Rocket Raccoon, who was created by Bill Mantlo. What kinds of safeguards and policies do you want to be in place for Marvel to protect the comic creators who are in their older years now, but whose work is entertaining millions of people around the world?

Well it’s a complex question, but I will say that Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley will take the lead on a lot of that and they are actually quite, quite good in acknowledging and letting us know as we share the scripts and character lists with them [by saying]: Here are the creators of this. Here is where they are. Here is who they are, and figuring out what we can do in terms of recognition. If you look at the special credits sections of all the Marvel Studios movies, you’ll see lots and lots of names, probably half a dozen or so, that apply to even the small characters, much smaller than Rocket, that are included in the movie. In terms of Kirby, I always thought of the “Thor” movie as one of the biggest testaments to what Kirby did because at every turn with the production design, we wanted to embrace it. The helmet design, those horns on Loki. “Do you really want those to be that big?” “It’s gotta be that big.” I love that stuff, it’s tremendous.

Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios Head, On Marvel’s Next Risks, Tom Hiddleston’s Bad Boy Appeal And Jack Kirby, 9/24/2012

Question: What are you doing to safeguard or enrich the lives of the creators of the properties that are making you a billion dollars a year?

Answer: We really like to pay homage in the form of Special Thanks and emulating the things those people did in the comics.

Frustrating, isn’t it? It’s a complete dodge, which is whatever. But it prompted some thoughts in addition to the frowns and rolled eyes:

-These questions matter and absolutely should be asked of Marvel, DC, Robert Kirkman, Dreamwave, and whoever else is involved in labor disputes/benefitting off past sins. It’s not negative, or muck-raking, or anything like that — it’s important. These people should be held accountable.

-But the subjects do not, and will not, answer the questions directly, either thanks to ongoing lawsuits or just complete disinterest in publicly addressing the story. Feige here dodges the controversy and uses it to position Marvel as someone who greatly values their creators. It’s spin. Which is useless as anything but marketing.

-So, what’s the answer? How do you address this in the face of silence or spin? How do you keep yourself from being co-opted?

Hostile interviews aren’t the answer. The subjects clam up and the interview ends. Fawny love-me-please interviews don’t work, either, because you’re too busy trying to make a new BFF to honestly address or apply criticism.

Agitation is necessary. That’s how you get people to change. You make the point of contention public, you explain it so that people can understand it, and then you get up in their face. They bend or they don’t — that’s out of your hands. But you can convince people and try to show the upsides of a change. There are ways to go about it that work better than others, I’m sure, but I’m not sure what they are.

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King of Trios Hangover

September 26th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

If you check this site regularly, you know that a week and a half ago, I went to Easton, Pennsylvania to check out CHIKARA’s 2012 King of Trios. The reason you would know is pretty much the same reason it’s taken me so long to even write about it: I just did an excessive amount of posts about the previous five years of shows. So I kind of needed to take a writing break.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back to talking about comics in a little bit.

I won’t get too in-depth on the trip, but it was easily one of the most fun weekends I’ve ever had. I was joined by my co-worker buddy Colin, his brother Sean and fellow internet writer guy and enthusiast of bat-related people Chris Sims. I had only met Sims once prior at Comic Con back in 2010 and he admittedly doesn’t even remember it. Anyway, after months of pestering him, I convinced him to fly over and check out the show. Everyone got along swimmingly and not a problem was to be had outside of my questionable driving. Sims is a really nice guy who I have a strong respect for, so it was great that he was able to make the trip.

I’m not going to go over the events of the show itself because you should really just check it out yourself. Only 24 hours after the third night, Smart Mark Video released all three shows. They’re available in streaming form for $10 each (Nights 1, 2 and 3), downloadable MP4 form for $12 (1, 2 and 3) and DVD for $15 (1, 2 and 3). While I do the first two options most of the time these days, I went with the DVDs because I felt the need to physically own them. I lucked out because for some reason my DVD cases are cherry-scented.

If you can only get one show, do Night 3. The second half of it is completely amazing stuff with the best comedy match, an incredible joshi match, a very violent singles contest and the finals, which itself is pretty epic. Also, the Tag Gauntlet earlier on introduces the first major CHIKARA appearance by my new favorite tag team, the Devastation Corporation, made up of Blaster McMassive and Max Smashmaster.

Somebody took the big comedy match from Night 3 and turned the highlights into a Vaudevillian silent film. Give it a look.

The Fan Conclave was an absolute blast. Jakob Hammermeier was schooling everybody in Smash Brothers Brawl, wrestlers took pictures with fans in front of a yearbook-style backdrop, Soldier Ant was playing Battleship with some folks and I got selected to take part in CHIKARA’s Not-Jeopardy gameshow. It’s just like Jeopardy with the differences of being hosted by Leonard F. Chikarason, it had the Swamp Monster remove the points squares off the wall and Icarus was there to make fun of you for getting the answer wrong… and often getting the answer right.

I did really well. In fact, I was cheated. You see, right before Final Not-Jeopardy, I was in the lead. I bet all but 100 points on the final question for strategy purposes. The final question was in the form of a sheet of paper asking various number-based questions (ie. how many people unmasked as Vokoder, how many matches has Mixed-Martial Archie won, how many moves is Johnny Saint a master of, how many title defense has Eddie Kingston had, etc.) then adding it all together. Nobody got it right. In fact, I was the closest by being only two points off! But then ol’ Chikarason had to suddenly curveball me with, “the closest without going over”. COME ON! This is Not-Jeopardy, not Not-Price is Right! So I got second place, netting me a $50 voucher for anything at the CHIKARA merch table.

The wrestlers were extremely cool in person. I found out that Chuck Taylor was reading up on the King of Trios Retrospective, which was major. At my B&N, one of my customers is Green Ant’s mother, so I awkwardly told him, “This is going to sound extremely weird and random, but I work at a Barnes and Noble and—” and he interrupted with, “Oh yeah, my mom.” Heh. Scott Parker and Shane Matthews both loved my vintage “Big Shot” Hardcore Holly t-shirt, especially when they saw the “NUT UP OR SHUT UP” text on the back. Matthews laughed and pointed out that he only said that catchphrase for like two weeks. I even briefly got to talk to the Warlord and told him that his match with the British Bulldog at Wrestlemania 7 is my all-time favorite match.

The best interaction was with Mr. Touchdown. I bought his t-shirt at the merch stand during one night’s intermission and he pulled out an 8×10 and a pen.

“Wait, before you go. What’s your name?”


“Gavin? Like Gavin Loudspeaker?”


“Okay. And how do you spell that?”


“What was that?”


He started writing. “G-A-V…?”


“All right. Here you go.”

And so, he gave me the signed 8×10. At the top of it? “To: NERD!

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Foxconn Riots: “Tell-Lie-Vision distorts your vision”

September 25th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Unconfirmed photographs and video circulated on social networking sites, purporting to be from the factory, showed smashed windows, riot police officers and large groups of workers milling around. The Foxconn plant, in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, employs about 79,000 workers.

The Chinese state-run news media said 5,000 police officers had been called in to quell the riot.

A Foxconn spokesman declined to specify whether the Taiyuan plant made products for the Apple iPhone 5, which went on sale last week, but he said it supplied goods to many consumer electronics brands.

An employee at the Taiyuan plant, however, said iPhone components were made there. Most Apple-related production, though, takes place in other parts of China, particularly in the provinces of Sichuan and Henan. Apple could not be reached for comment.

Foxconn Plant Closed After Riot, Company Says, 9/24/2012

I feel strange about how every article about Foxconn focuses on the Apple connection. “Were iPhones built there? Is the iPad worth the cost of being poisoned or maimed? Does Apple know how abhorrent the conditions are at Foxconn plants? No blood for MP3s!”

Questions like that are good, necessary even, but by focusing so strongly on the Apple connection is a mistake, particularly when you consider how comparatively little attention is given to the other companies who employ Foxconn to manufacture their products. That focus seems like it makes the problem easier to minimize and dismiss, in addition to demonizing Apple. The impression is that Apple is the biggest offender here, and those other guys are small time in comparison.

Here’s a list of Foxconn clients I pulled off Wikipedia: Acer Inc.,, Apple Inc., Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Nintendo, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio

They’re ALL compromised and we’re all compromised by extension. Not just Apple. A significant number of personal electronics are made at Foxconn. That Kindle you bought your mom, your old Nokia flip, that blu-ray player you watch your HD porno on… the poison has deep roots. I’m writing this post on a MacBook. I just went for a run using an iPod Nano. I was watching youtubes earlier on my Sony Google TV box-thing. I was reading comics on my iPad last night.

I benefit from the exploitation of others, we all do. And I think this style of journalism actually hurts awareness of that. The laser-tight focus on Apple means that people who don’t use Apple products, or who only have one or two, might not realize that the rest of their technology is compromised, too. PlayStation 2s used to use coltan, and there was a long-lasting violent conflict over the rights to mine and control that metal in the Congo. While I was traipsing around a virtual world, somebody my age on the other side of the world was working his fingers to the bone.

But Apple, as a company and a concept, moves units and generates controversy. They’re extremely popular; people are more likely to click through if they see Apple’s name. They attract virulent haters and strident defenders who battle it out every single time.

This type of thing shows that even factual reporting is a game, whether it’s the news gleefully playing along and encouraging the Obama birth certificate controversy or… do you remember the shooting at the Empire State Building a few weeks back? It was immediately termed a mass shooting and the think pieces started rolling out about gun control and how we’re messed up as a country. Turns out, the mass shooting was actually one guy shooting one other guy and then being killed by the police, who also managed to shoot nine bystanders in the process. It’s not the mass shooting that anyway said it was.

Meanwhile, nineteen people were shot in Chicago that weekend, a number that they match week after week after week. But that’s not marketable enough to go above the fold. It’s sad. Complex did a horrifying memorial for the teenagers who’ve died in Chicago this summer. “Between the first of June and the 31st of August, 152 people were killed. Of those, 38 were teenagers.” Scary, right?

It’s all a game. News organizations have to make money just like anyone else, and will do things that encourage that. I include myself in that number, too, though I don’t make money off this site at all. (It’s the opposite.) I prioritize subjects according to my own interests and desires, which creates a bias. It is what it is. Just be aware of that and seek the truth, instead of being given just part of the truth, I guess.

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This Week in Panels: Week 157

September 23rd, 2012 Posted by Gavok

After last week’s ACTION PACKED end-of-year-three spectacular, it’s a pretty small week. Partially because my only backup is Gaijin Dan supplying the manga dose.

This weekend I saw Dredd 3D. The movie is entirely awesome and wipes away the stink of “YOUBETRAYEDDALAAAAAAU!!” The whole thing is like some kind of cyberpunk mix of Raid: Redemption and Punisher War Zone and it’s hard not to love. Plus the aftermath of the gattling guns scene is easily the most badass thing I’ve seen in any movie in YEARS.

See it while you still can. Sadly, it’s doing shitty in the box office and that puts a damper on any plans on a sequel.

Avengers Academy #37
Christos Gage and Tom Grummett

Barrage #15
Kouhei Horikoshi

Bleach #505
Tite Kubo

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THUG LIFE: Manhood, suicide, and love

September 19th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Almost ten years ago now, Cameron “Killa Cam” Giles, one of my favorite rappers, launched an assault on the rap industry. He came out wearing pink polos and pink fur coats while driving a pink Range Rover. It was a dare and a dis, all wrapped up in one incredible package. The dis was that Cam was so much more secure in who he was than every other rapper that he could co-opt pink, a feminine color, and rock it like it was all black everything without losing any of his manhood. It dared other rappers to say something about him, so that he could turn any of their attacks back on them. “I dare you to test me over what I’m wearing,” the pink seemed to say. “We’ll see who the real man is.”

Killa Cam botched the dis from word one, though, by clinging to “no homo.” Any power his pink swagger might have held over insecure rappers was utterly defused by Cam’s own insecurity and fear of being seen as feminine or homosexual. He went from alpha male to typical punk over the course of three short syllables, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

One of the worst things about having a rough year are those moments of clarity that come along every once and a while. They aren’t respites from pain so much as a quick gasp of air before returning to drowning. They give you a chance to understand exactly how far in over your head you are.

I had one twelve days ago, and it hurt. It hurt so bad that I had to sit down and write out exactly what’s gone wrong and how I could fix it. It started as something I thought about putting on the internet and quickly turned into a conversation with myself. No, it quickly turned into a heated and honest conversation with myself.

I wrote out where I’d been lying to myself, what I’ve been doing wrong, what’s gone wrong, and how I got here. I wrote out where I wanted to go and why I’m not there yet. I cussed myself out and smoothed myself over. I admitted that the best I’m able to do lately, physically/emotionally/mentally, is “I’m maintaining.” I tried to work out solutions to the things I could handle and a gameplan to treat water until I could handle the things I currently can’t. I made it a point to make myself uncomfortable, to be even more unfair to myself than I generally am, so that I could get the job done.

The solutions, such as they were, weren’t the hardest part, but they were close. I don’t have many, but I wrote down a lot, just to see how they tasted. Reasonable ones, unpleasant ones, unthinkable ones, I wanted to know how they all felt jockeying for position in my head. So I wrote them.

I looked at a certain subset of those solutions and said, “No. These are weakness. Unacceptable.” And I crossed them off my list and put them out of my head. Accepting them would have drastically changed who I am and how I live in ways that are uncomfortable to think about. So I rejected them. I don’t want to be weak.

Malcolm X, 1965: We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.

I latched onto Malcolm because he didn’t beg or plead or ask. He told. There’s something attractive and powerful about that, when you’re small and unsure. Something real manly. Something strong.

“I am a man. You are going to treat me like one, or you — not me, you — are gonna have a problem.”

I’m an ’80s baby. I was born in 1983. My mother raised me. My father didn’t. Without a template to follow, my idea of manhood is a patchwork affair. A little Tupac, a little Malcolm, a little Denzel by way of Malcolm not much Martin at all, a little of my grandfather, probably a little of Shawn Corey Carter, a little of my uncles, and a little more from here and there. Instead of being shown, I had to figure out manhood for myself. Trial and error. What skin fits the best? What school of thought will get me killed? How hard do I have to try to get this right? Can I get this right?

I know where I stand on a lot of things. I avoid passive-aggression at all costs. If it’s important enough for me to want to pass-agg somebody about it, it’s important enough to be worth naming somebody’s name. I frown when my friends go pass-agg over something. I believe in being direct, because that is what a man does. No dilly-dallying, no fooling around. You get it done as efficiently and cleanly as possible. I learned to work until the job is done, no matter what it takes, from my grandfather. I learned to get in somebody’s face when they treat you like trash from my mother.

I still don’t have it figured out.

There are a lot of men like me.

Kendrick Lamar, “Chapter Six,” from Section.80: There’s a more important topic I’d like to discuss: the dysfunctional bastards of the Ronald Reagan Era. Young men that learned to do everything spiteful. This is your generation. Live fast and die young. Who’s willing to explain this story?

When interviewing Ron Wimberly about his graphic novel Prince of Cats, I said: “Tybalt, like the world of Prince of Cats, feels so familiar. His suicidal rush toward manhood and respect reminds me of… honestly, almost every black man that I’ve known, myself included.”

“Suicidal rush toward manhood and respect.”

I don’t know if I stole the turn of phrase from somewhere. I probably did. Regardless, it’s an apt description for what I’m trying to talk through. We want to be men, by any means necessary (“by a very specific set of means, all of which are necessary,” maybe), and that means proving ourselves against other men. “Give me the respect I deserve or I’m going to take it by force.” “Time is running out, tick tock, like the grains of sand. Every man sharpens man, like steel sharpens steel.” Boys, desperate for the attention of men so that they might be seen as peers, as equals, instead of children.

Live life reckless.

Part of that suicidal rush is rejecting the soft and the feminine. In figuring out what it means to be a man, you define your manhood by specific absences. You discard forgiveness for vengeance, defeat for victory. Death before dishonor. Being a man is inviolate, and anything that tests your manhood, that shows you anything less than the respect you feel you deserve, is targeted for destruction.

Cee-Lo Goodie, on Goodie MOb’s “The Experience”, from Still Standing: So many black men out here trying to be niggas, keeping it real to the point that they dying to be niggas.

I look at Wimberly’s Tybalt and I see a man that’s uncomfortable expressing love directly to his loved ones, but eager to show his love by demonstrating exactly how much he’s willing to hurt whatever threatens the object of that love. “I love you” is hard. Putting a blade to someone else’s throat is easy.

Romeo’s intrusion into Tybalt’s life, and attraction to Juliet, is an insult. He’s a rival, someone to be defeated, not someone to love as a brother. So, instead of having a conversation with Juliet after he discovers that she’s married a man he hates because they’re in rival crews, Tybalt steps to Romeo. “Thou art a villain,” he says, and dies a man.

But imagine what happens when your new husband kills your beloved cousin over petty beef. Imagine the trauma, the hole that would leave behind, all for the sake of manhood.

Big Boi on OutKast’s “Return of tha G” from Aquemini: Man, a nigga don’t want no trouble. A player just want to kick back with my gators off and watch my lil girl blow bubbles. But still ready to rhyme, standin’ my ground, never back down, willin’ to rob, steal, and kill anything that threatens mine.

Drake first hinted at an upcoming Aaliyah project during an interview with Tim Westwood in March. “I have some great Aaliyah news coming soon,” Drake told Westwood, adding, “You know it’s hard for me to ride around to a female singer because at the end of the day, you’re a man, but she always kept it so G with the writing and the melodies. It was something to ride to, especially when it was chopped and screwed. That’s when I used to love.

Aubrey Drake Graham on Aaliyah

Drake is either playing a role here — and by that I mean lying — or he’s insecure. That’s the only excuse for what he’s saying here. The idea that Aaliyah was more of a gangster than other singers (she wasn’t, that’s silly) and is therefore more appropriate to rock in your whip is insane. Who thinks like that? It’s a parody of thugs, which Drake is most definitely not.

This is what happens when you grow up spiteful. This is what happens when you are obsessed with being seen as, not just a man, but more of a man than most men. You reject your own history and your own softness. You define yourself not as a man, but as not-female, and you reject anything that feels female to you.

Drake is implicitly dissing Aaliyah here, and more than that, he’s dissing every woman singer and rapper that came before her. He’s dissing Lauryn Hill, Sade, Janet Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, and everyone else who helped provide the soundtrack to our lives and history. He’s lumping them together as something soft and not-gangster, something I think those women would be pretty surprised to hear, considering the nonsense (nonsense just like this quote!) they had to fight through just to be heard.

Drake once said that he was the first rapper to successfully sing and rap as a style. It’s a boast, another desperate grasp at a thin vision of manhood. “Nobody’s as good as me, you know? I’m just the real deal.”

Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott would beg to differ.

Andre 3000 on OutKast’s “Return of tha G” from Aquemini: Return of the gangsta, thanks ta them niggas who got them kids who got enough to buy an ounce but not enough to bounce them kids to the zoo or to the park so they grow up in the dark never seein’ light so they end up being like yo sorry ass, robbin’ niggas in broad ass daylight, get down.

It’s a cycle. The average black man only influences a small number of people over the course of his life. Children, friends, cousins. Coworkers maybe. They can give people poison or peace, depending on who and what they are, and those that are influenced in turn influence others. I didn’t become a man and suddenly know exactly what manhood entailed. I had to be taught, I had to figure it out, and at some point, I’m going to end up passing that on. Actually, I already have. I have younger cousins who looked up to me when I was growing up, and I’ve undoubtedly influenced them already.

I can look at my mother and see my temper. I can look at my father and see my distance. I’m an amalgam of what I’ve learned, and those that I will influence are the same thing. We feed off each other and others. Each one teach one.

Drake has an audience who listens to his words and are piecing together their own fragile manhood, too. My audience is maybe two dozen strong. His is larger, much larger. And when Drake demonstrates his insecurities in public, people don’t see a small man desperate to be seen as something larger. They see a famous, successful man, a man women want to sleep with, and they digest his words in that context. I did it with Jay-Z, Mos Def, DMX, and the Dungeon Family. I internalized a lot of poison because it seemed like the right approach to take. I worked some of it out. I absorbed some of it. Work in progress.

This cycle won’t ever end. It’d need a seismic, or apocalyptic, shift in society to force that change. But the cycle is a vicious one, and it results in stunted and deficient men. Men who have no idea how to be men and keep picking the wrong route on their way to an early grave or a poisoned life. Not always, obviously, but too often.

We’ve got to change the situation, but that’s a tall order, isn’t it? There’s so much inertia, so many ingrained prejudices and ideas to work out. I don’t know how to fix it, but I do know that I can’t support these fakes.

But then, even though I don’t support these fakes, I definitely get down with a few others who are fake. So maybe it’s all bad. Everything. I’m not man enough to make a decision I can consciously recognize as being the right decision for whatever reason. So, in a way, I’m propping up and perpetuating the same thing that I hate.

Tupac Shakur: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.

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This Year in Panels: Year 3

September 18th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Damn. Three years… So yeah, it’s been three years of This Week in Panels. Because of that, it’s time for This Year in Panels (“ThYiP” doesn’t have the same ring to it). The idea is to take a panel from the last 52 updates while making sure not to use the same title twice. It means not being able to use “TO ME, MY GALACTUS!” from Fantastic Four but what can you do?

All-Star Western #9
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Moritat and Patrick Scherberger

Avengers Academy #25
Christos Gage and Tom Grummett

Avenging Spider-Man #2
Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira

Axe Cop: President of the World #1
Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle

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Grant Morrison & The Fan Entitlement That Wasn’t

September 18th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Coming to the end of a five-year run on various titles starring the caped crusader, the Batman brand has cemented Morrison’s reputation as one of the top writers in his field. That fame though has come with the price of becoming a figurehead for the industry, a responsibility that he is happy to escape when he steps away from superheroes next year. Morrison stresses again and again that he sees himself as a “freelance writer” rather than a cog in the corporate publishing machine, yet his words are pounced upon, dissected and recycled by fans and critics alike.

“They try to find some hidden darkness or something like that,” he sighs, “or ‘this proves, this proves!’ – naw, it just proves I said something that day, you know, which either I still agree with or don’t. Why do I have to defend all of this? I think people just want to be mad and want to fight all the time, so I’m gonna join in now!”

New Statesman – Grant Morrison: Why I’m stepping away from superheroes

From my position as someone who has gone from stannish to uncomfortable to frustrated and on down to fed up with Morrison’s public persona, this is an utterly gross interview on both sides. The interviewer, Laura Sneddon, is clearly a fan of Morrison, which is fine. I interview people I’m a fan of, too, and I don’t hammer them on things. Not every interview has to be hard-hitting, obviously, but there’s a difference between a friendly, fun interview and one that puts the subject over at the expense of everyone else.

Sneddon, when asking about contentious points, minimizes and turns complaints against Morrison into easily-dismissed strawmen. She mentions that it seemed “like many of the detractors were coming from a distinctly middle class perspective” and Morrison agrees with her and goes on about middle class prejudices against the “trappings of high privilege.” (what?) Earlier in the interview, she writes: “Is it a slightly classist thing, I wonder, the idea that you can just drop your job at work as a protest?” (what?) She asks Morrison about comics critic Matt Seneca grilling and eating (part of) a copy of Morrison’s Supergods. Instead of Seneca’s weird performance being an act with some type of point, it’s used as evidence that “Fans are crazy and cynical and stupid.” Dissent is never treated as reasonable, only as aberration, and a de-fanged aberration at that.

This approach is tainted to me, because it’s a journalist once again taking (sometimes) reasonable dissent and painting it as babytown frolics, instead of something people actually care about. The Seneca point is an extreme example, of course, but that feeling permeates the piece. “These guys are dumdums, aren’t they?” instead of “So what’s up with this?” It feels like whenever fans or critics are mentioned, it’s about how they’re hurting comics or doing terrible things to a nice old comics writer.

The most aggravating part of the interview is the quote at the top of the post. That is a grown man asking why people believe the things that come out of his mouth. He wants to know why, after he says things, people care about them and hold him to his word. “Why can’t I just say things willy-nilly without having people look at my position?” he’s essentially asking here.

That is laughable, because he has built a career, in part, on people paying attention to, falling in love with, and believing his words. He set himself up as a counter-culture type of guy by producing works that embraced the counter-culture and drew on classic counter-culture subject matter and authors. He’s given at least one rock starred out speech at DisInfocon, and his letters pages let interact with a specific subset of comics readers.

He built this personality, this image of Grant Morrison-as-King Mob. That didn’t come from the fans or critics cruelly picking apart his words. No, we took him at his word and at his work, just like we’ve done with everyone from Stan Lee to Frank Miller to Dave Sim to Alan Moore. When confronted with the fact that King Mob prefers to defend a corporation over creators, describes a certain subset of fans as “voluminous Goth girls, victims of some unspeakable abuse,” and generally isn’t who he sold himself to be, I (and others, sure, but this is all about me-me-me-me-me) reacted with surprise, and then frustration.

It’s my fault, of course. I believed the hype. I believed in what Grant Morrison said and wrote, so I just set myself up for disappointment. Judging by this interview, what I should have done, were I not a weary cynic ready to burn down the temple (“the temple!”), was to assume that Morrison was just a cog in the machine and not take him so seriously, I guess.

But the thing is, I’m not a weary cynic. I’m a fan. I’m a fan who followed Morrison’s writings in comics and elsewhere, looking for and generally receiving knowledge jewels or great laughs. I’m not a cynic or critic that’s just aching to throw a sacred cow on the rack. I’m disappointed that the persona this guy sold me was a smokescreen, and that the real guy is someone I disagree with on a lot of different things. I feel played, if anything.

Later in the interview, Morrison says that he “still feel[s] the same way I do about the monarchy, the class system, about everything I’ve ever written, about everything I will write.”


We don’t believe you. You need more people.

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