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“Diversity Marketing”

July 28th, 2014 Posted by |

The other week I lost my temper and said some stuff about Marvel’s announcements of Captain America and Thor, who are replacing White Captain America and Dude Thor. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, mulling it over, because it’s been pretty inescapable.

I like Marvel’s characters. I think that much is obvious. I like the creators, too. I might quibble with some story details, but big whoop. That’s the smallest thing ever, “I don’t like this specific aspect of a comic that isn’t being written for me.” No me importa, basically. But it’s the marketing that’s killing me, and I think I figured out why.

Marvel’s making moves to increase the character diversity in their books, and drawing ire from the usual gang of idiots. Which I’m all for, even though I’m way more for creator diversity, and believe is a good thing. But the thing that’s grating is that instead of putting the work out on its own merits and marketing it about how great it is, a lot of the conversation around it has been about the basics that hate it.

I’ve been seeing Marvel folks, mostly white dudes but not entirely, retweet or address or bring up racists and scumbags and sexists while pushing their books, positioning themselves as taking a stand against these people talking trash.

They’re hijacking hate to a certain extent, in the Situationist sense, and are using it to market their comics. The new black Captain America, the new lady Thor, both of these announcements were followed, within minutes, by people talking about the people who are hating on the project. “Big ups to all my haters!” is such a soft position, because it positions you as good because these other people are worse.

On top of that, it also colors the reaction to the announcement. If you disagree with whatever for genuine reasons, but you phrase it as “I don’t like that the Falcon is Captain America,” the reaction to that is now tilted heavily toward “Oh, what’re you, racist?” instead of it being something more reasonable. By putting those people front and center, by tweeting about them and giving interviews about how you won’t change the project no matter the response because you believe in your stuff, you’re…it’s not ham-stringing criticism, but it’s definitely preempting it, in a way.

And I think that’s the gross part. I spend a lot of time consciously pushing back against the messages society tells me about being black. The unworthiness, the laziness, the dumbness…all of it’s fake. But I have to stay on the ball, I have to keep Black Is Beautiful in the front of my mind, because black IS beautiful, and it always has been, and it always will be.

But I remember being in kindergarten and getting called nigger on the playground. I remember fachas screwing with me and my friends in Spain. I remember getting followed around stores, people looking at me like I don’t belong, and getting ignored when trying to do my job because there’s a white dude next to me who people assume is the boss of me. This weekend I got confused for a few other black dudes in comics who I don’t even resemble, and it stings every time.

And I think it’s messed up to see somebody who doesn’t know that pain harness it to sell some comics. That’s what’s been grossing me out, that’s what I haven’t been able to properly articulate. It’s the corporate version of dudes crowing about how feminist they are, like being a decent human being means they deserve groupies. “One episode of The Wire, what you know about dope?” right? And I feel like Marvel gets it on a certain level, and they certainly employ people who get it, but they don’t get it yet.

Somebody calling you a nigger ain’t a badge of honor. You don’t show off your gunshot wounds. You don’t crow about how people hate you in the name of making yourself look good. You let the dead bury the dead and leave the garbage men in the rear view or in the ground. They should not matter to you or me not nary an inch.

That’s why it feels like diversity-as-marketing to me. The creative teams are killer, and I like that Marvel is putting the full weight of their machine behind these books. I respect the people creating the comics. But I can’t take seeing people be proud of getting hated on in a way that doesn’t hurt them but forces me to think about how crap and dangerous it is to be black (or anything else) and alive in America in 2014.

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This Week in Panels: Week 253

July 28th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ooga Chaka

Ooga, Ooga, Ooga Chaka

Ooga, Ooga, Ooga Chaka

Ooga, Ooga, Ooga Chaka

 

It’s This Week in Panels! That weekly thing where we…take single comic panels for… summarizing.

I’m feeling real hyped right now…for a certain movie….Guardians of the Galaxy…believe it, it’s a thing!

 

Alright, that’s probably gone on long enough. Helping keep this column full of panels this week are Gavok – the Thief, Space Jawa – the Thug, Gaijin Dan – the Assassin, and Matlock – the Maniac.

And now it’s time to get hooked on some panels.

 

afterlife with archie 6 [Gavok]

 

Afterlife with Archie #6

(Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla)

all new invaders 8 [Gavok]

All-New Invaders #8 (Gavok’s Pick)

(James Robinson & Steve Pugh)

All New Invaders 8 [Matlock]

All-New Invaders #8 (Matlock’s Pick)

(James Robinson & Steve Pugh)

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CHIKARA vs. The Flood: Wrestling with a Kill Count

July 27th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , ,

Last weekend, I took a trip to New York City to watch a CHIKARA show. Between that and the Boston show that followed, CHIKARA has done six shows since their return announcement at February’s National Pro Wrestling Day. CHIKARA likes to focus on overarching storylines every season and in this one, it’s about CHIKARA vs. a massive villain group called the Flood. Wrestling has had many, many good stable vs. evil stable storylines – CHIKARA specially – but there are two things that make this specific one unique.

First, the Flood isn’t just a stable. It’s a super stable made up of other stables like Devastator from Transformers. Or, to keep the nerd references going, it’s like the Secret Society of Supervillains from DC Comics circa Infinite Crisis. It’s several dozen bad guys from CHIKARA’s past banded together under one banner. I don’t even know if there were this many members of the nWo at any single point.

Second, this war actually has a body count. Going with the comic book nature of CHIKARA’s storytelling, they’re actually killing off wrestlers like it was an event comic. Kind of. For the most part, they aren’t outright saying “dead,” but they are heavily insinuating it.

That’s pretty cool to me because as much as I love a cool stable angle, once it starts going it can be really hard to figure out a satisfying ending. It usually just peters out, the heel team turns against each other, or they do some kind of, “If they lose, they have to break up forever,” stipulation. Even the popular BDK storyline only came to an end because two members burned their bridges with the company, one member got signed by WWE, one left wrestling in general, one turned face, one was written off for health reasons and one wasn’t local enough for the full-time schedule.

The big story from mid-2013 to mid-2014 was that CHIKARA was simply kaput. The corrupt owners Titor Conglomerate ended the company and the workers headed off into a handful of far-less-popular offshoots. CHIKARA guy Icarus started a grassroots campaign to get Titor to sell the rights off while the offshoot promotions were systematically crushed by old heel factions out to destroy what was left of the company until Icarus united the CHIKARA faithful against the Flood at National Pro Wrestling Day and announced the return of CHIKARA.

During that time off, the promotion Wrestling is Fun had a ten-man tag match featuring future Flood members Oleg the Usurper, Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch and Jaka. Their opponents were no match for them, but what nobody saw coming was what Oleg did to fan-favorite Dragon Dragon.

My God! That’s barbaric!

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The Seven Most Important Panels at SDCC 2014

July 23rd, 2014 Posted by |

THURSDAY, 2:00, Room 23ABC: I IS FOR INFINITY, featuring Nick Dragotta, Rick Remender, Richard Starkings, Jason Latour, Stuart Moore, Ryan Burton, and a few special guests I can’t name yet! This is about the infinite genres comics can do.

THURSDAY, 7:00, Room 23ABC: Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining, featuring Murs, Mix Master Mike, Kenny Keil, and a few others. It’s about…it’s bout it bout it.

FRIDAY, 11:00, Room 23ABC: I IS FOR INCEPTION, featuring Fiona Staples, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, Kelly Sue DeConnick, John Layman, Steve Seagle, and a couple of special guests who do dope work. This one’s about collaboration, and there’s a cover reveal in here. Whose? SHOW UP.

SATURDAY, 1:00, Room 7AB: SAGA, featuring Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I’m not moderating this one, but I’ll probably be present or on A/V duty.

SATURDAY, 4:30, Room 6DE: I IS FOR IDEAS, featuring Scott Snyder, Josh Williamson, Kyle Higgins, Joe Kelly, Brian K Vaughan, and a few special guests. There’s a cool announcement at this one, so come through.

SATURDAY, 7:00, Room 23ABC: Best and Worst Manga of 2014, featuring Deb Aoki, Brigid Alverson, and Chris Butcher. I love this panel—I respect these folks so much. This is the one where I tell you your favorite manga sucks and my favorite manga rules.

SUNDAY, 2:00, Room 7AB: I IS FOR INNOVATION, featuring Amy Reeder, Chris Burnham, Tula Lotay, and some Expo guests who are particularly ferocious storytellers are on deck. This one’s about being an artist in comics, storytelling, and making some good comics.

When I’m not at these, I’ll be at booth 2729, putting out fires and busting heads.

For the Image panels—I brought some random #1s with me. Ask a question, get a free comic, probably of my choosing. I’ve got some Shaky Kanes in here, so stay woke. It’s a random selection of books, but you might get lucky. I’ll have digital codes for a free comic on imagecomics.com falling out my pockets, too. I’ll be the dressed up black dude. Come say hey.

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The 10 Most Awesomely Terrible Art Moments from WWE Superstars #6

July 21st, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , ,

The nice thing about being a blogger is that it’s like a tax write-off on buying terrible shit. It’s great when you read a great comic, see an awesome movie, or something like that, but if you pay for something lame, you can always twist it into an article. It’s really one of the best perks.

I can’t not read WWE comics and I’ve filled up big chunks of this site proving that. The latest attempt at a WWE series is WWE Superstars by Papercutz. It’s been written by wrestling legend Mick Foley and Shane Riches. I imagine Shane Riches wrote most of it. Anyway, the first four issues were just released in a trade under the name Money in the Bank. I reviewed it here. The arc was about reimagining WWE wrestlers as characters in an overly-casted crime noir story. A cool idea that wore out its welcome.

The art was mostly done by Alitha Martinez, who did an all right job. Most of the time, wrestlers looked like who they were supposed to and some pieces looked really nice. Other times, the pencils were rushed, as was the need to get through the story, meaning fight scenes all had an unnatural flow to them. Then in the fourth issue, Martinez was replaced for four pages by an artist named Puste and oh boy was it noticeable. Lifeless, awkward, incoherent and ripe with inconsistency, it was a complete trip.

For some reason, Papercutz decided to have Puste be the main artist on the current arc, which has the wrestlers actually being wrestlers. It’s a weird storyline called Haze of Glory that features Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio and Hornswoggle with a wicked hangover due to some spiked punch. The backstage area is in ruins, everyone blames them and they don’t know what in the hell happened. All they know is that they’ve been set up.

And yes, CM Punk is still a main character despite having been gone from the company since January.

I really can’t judge the wacky story on its own merits because the art is so distracting. Issue #6 alone has so many moments that make me shake my head that I’m able to make an actual top ten list out of it.

Let’s get started!

10) THE ATTEMPTED F5

Well. Lot of stuff going on here. Brock Lesnar is trying to F5 CM Punk and Goldust saves Punk with a kick to the nuts. Looks awkward, but okay.

Hornswoggle is bald here and that might make sense at first glance. After all, he recently lost a mask vs. hair match and for the past couple months he’s been bald in real life. Except in every single other panel he shows up in, he’s got a full head of hair. Remember, this comic is out of date enough that Jack Swagger calls Cesaro “Antonio” and CM Punk is there.

Puste seems to have a thing against drawing backgrounds most of the time, so for some reason the 4th of July is going off behind them. I don’t know.

9) CM PUNK CHOKES OUT MARK HENRY

A zombie CM Punk goes for Mark Henry’s brains and Henry seems almost happy about it.

He took out Cena too! You’ll… You’ll just have to take his word for it, okay? Punk certainly applies the sleeper an awful lot like the Anaconda Vise. Hm.

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This Week in Panels: Week 252

July 20th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Gavok: BTW, after Week 250, I’m taking a break from Week in Panels. I have a lot of real world responsibilities now and don’t have time for it.

Space Jawa: What would it take for someone to take over for you?

Gavok: Why, you want to?

Space Jawa: Yeah.

Gavok: Sure, have at it.

 

And that’s the abridged version of how I became the new host of This Week In Panels.

Oh, and then Gavok went out, bought a cigar, lit it, and then reached through the internet so he could put it out in my face. I think because he was trying to make a tradition out of it or something? I don’t know.

Jerk.

Anyway, joining me this week are Gaijin Dan, Matlock, TheAnarCHris, and Gavok himself. Gavok, Matlock, and I are all in agreement that the art on She-Hulk continues to be terrible, though I’m the only one who managed to get all the way through it. I’ll probably hold off on further issues until they get someone better, though. Because as it stands, I’m feeling inclined to think that I could do a better job.

Believe me when I say that I don’t make such statements lightly.

But let’s get to some panels, shall we?

 

Avengers World #9 (Matlock)

 

Avengers World #9 (Matlock’s Pick)

(Nick Spencer & Stefano Caselli)

 

avengers world 9 (Gavok)

 

Avengers World #9 (Gavok’s Pick)

(Nick Spencer & Stefano Caselli)

batman 66 mtgh 5 (Gavok)

Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #5

(Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, & Ty Templeton)

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Nu-This Week in Panels – NOW!: #1!!!

July 14th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , ,

(After some unintended delay…) THIS! Is Week in Panels!

Greetings, and welcome to a brand new edition of This Week in Panels, where brevity is the soul of comic reviews. And NOW(!), it’s time to kick things off with this brand NU reboot-that’s-totally-not-a-reboot edition.

As always, for those who are Nu-ly joining us, This Week in Panels works as following: The contributors take all the comics they’ve read for the week, and then pick out the one panel from each of those issues that best summarizes that comic. The two major rules being 1) No Splash Pages, and 2) Don’t pick a panel from the first or last page of the issue.

Other than that, it’s pretty much fair game!

Contributing this week as I take over from Gavok are “Marvelous” Matlock, “Dandy’” Gaijin Dan, “Grinnin’” Gavok himself, and myself, your new host, “Smilin’” Space Jawa.

And NOW!, let’s get to some panels!

Provided I can avoid making any (more) first-time mistakes…

aninvaders7

All-New Invaders #7

James Robinson & Mark Laming

Amazing Spider-Man #1-3

The Amazing Spider-Man #1.3

Dan Slott & Ramon Perez

angrybirds3

Angry Birds Comics #3

Jeff Parker & Paco Rodriquez

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Beyond Outrage

July 14th, 2014 Posted by |

Kanye West is a passionate dude.

The passion is what makes his art work. People connected to him because they can feel that passion. It’s visible through his work, whether it’s a banging beat or some deft observation about life. He has a habit of doing scheduled interludes at his concerts, where he talks about whatever’s on his mind. It’s the most direct way to view his passion, I think, because it feels relatively unfiltered—it isn’t, we know that, but it feels more raw than a song—and it’s not hidden behind layers of cleverness.

He’s talked about his struggle to gain traction in the fashion industry, despite his success with Nike. He’s talked about what he wants to be to society, who he respects, what he hates, and what he loves. It’s wide-ranging, but that makes sense, because West is self-admittedly a guy who is interested in a lot of things, from Margiela to Akira.

These interludes are almost always called “rants” by music journalists. Despite being planned, despite being a regular feature, they are “rants” because…Kanye West is a passionate dude, and sometimes he gets emotional when talking about things. You can see it when he goes in on Sway on Shade45 or when he got at George W Bush over Katrina.

By calling these interludes “rants,” the media is painting West with a very specific brush. The word rant implies that the thoughts are off-the-cuff, overly emotional, and therefore invalid. It’s “Look what this kooky guy said now!” instead of engaging with any of his points.

It happens to all of us, of course. We all have triggers that make us get weepy or excited in conversation, I know I have a lot of dumb ones, but that doesn’t make them invalid or malformed. It just means you care, right? And that your level of care exceeds your calm nature for a moment. The opinions you’re expressing aren’t invalid because you stumble over your words or have to pause to collect yourself.

Passion isn’t perfect. I think that’s pretty obvious. West isn’t 100% right about everything, but he has been 100% right about specific things. The presence of passion doesn’t mean that you have to believe everything someone says. It’s just a factor that will, or should, help you judge what they’re saying and where they’re coming from. By recognizing West’s passion, I can tell that he genuinely cares about the stuff he’s talking about, and that helps me evaluate how I feel about what he said and where he’s coming from.

But he’s not ranting. He’s speaking his mind.


Comics has an outrage problem.

I don’t mean people getting up in arms over things, either. That’s an issue unto itself, and like anything else, it could be better than it currently is in several different ways, but that’s not today’s conversation.

What I’m talking about is how we—the comics community—describe, talk about, and address the concerns of people who are upset about one thing or another. The way we talk about outrage fatigue, outrage-of-the-week, faux outrage, outrage-o-matic, misplaced outrage, another outrage, this outrage, that outrage, and why it’s gross and short-sighted. How we use “tumblr” as a pejorative but ignore the poison in our own forums and followers.

The way we use the word outrage suggests that the outrage in question is fake and irrational, on account of being poorly thought-out and overly emotional. It happens every time someone brings up a point to do with equality, sexism, racism, or justice. It’s the same tactic the music media uses to devalue Kanye’s rants. They’re invalid, an inconvenience, annoying, or fake because you can see the emotions driving it, and emotional reactions aren’t valid.

We use the presence of passion to first diminish and then dismiss arguments. The offended must play by the rules of the unoffended, or even worse, the offenders, in order to be heard. You have to tamp down that pain if you want to get help or fix it. You can see it when people say things like “Thank you for being civil” when arguing something heated with someone they disagree with. Civility is great, sure, but we’re forcing people who feel like they’re under attack to meet us on our own terms. In reality, passion shouldn’t be dismissed. Passion has a purpose.

The way we treat passionate reactions is unbalanced, too. We eat up gleeful reviews or tweets like they’re pudding and retweet them by the dozen. There are sites out there that have used the word “masterpiece” over ten thousand times. We promote fawning interviews and king-making, but never once question passionate praise the way we do passionate criticism.

Comics as a community tends to react to every new outrage with disbelief and scorn, lumping them in with “the crazy ones” or “tumblr” instead of looking at what they’re actually saying and figuring out what it means. Every once and a while we’ll band together like “Yeah! That IS bad!” when something is particularly egregious and “safe” to comment on, but a month later? We’re back to blindly propping up garbage men and ignoring people’s pain. The arc of the argument is the same, whether we’re talking sexual harassment or creators’ rights.

No matter how you feel about whichever issue is at hand, whether you agree or disagree or loathe both sides, you should think real hard before responding to anything. Think about what the person is saying and where they’re coming from. Think about why they’re saying it. Think about your position in society, our culture, or our dumb little hobby and think about the position of the person you’re about to put on blast. Think about what you’re about to bring to the conversation. Think about how your words will be received, even if—especially if—the originator didn’t.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow, the idea that you should take your lumps and do the work you think somebody else didn’t do. But life sucks, y’all, and if I have to choose between someone who doesn’t like somebody else’s tone or someone who doesn’t really know how to argue but has fascinating points about our culture, I’m going for the latter, even when I’m the one under the gun. One of those people has a lot to lose. The other is inconvenienced.

That power differential is important to keep in mind. Despite the petitions, despite the so-called outrage, fans have very little real control over the comics industry. As professionals, as journalists or creators or promoters or whoever we are, our voice generally has a much, much broader reach than the offended. The weight of our reactions when criticized often goes much, much farther. We have less to lose by virtue of being in a position of power by default, and that makes it exceedingly important to check yourself and your reactions.


A lot of people don’t feel welcome in the greater comics community. We created and create this environment with our words and actions. If it’s not people hassling you over taste or creeping on you at cons or making “funny” jokes about things you care about, it’s seeing how people respond to outrage. When you see a community consistently dis and dismiss people expressing their pain, you’re less likely to share your own pain when the time comes, because odds are good you’re gonna feel a lot worse when the usual suspects get ahold of your words and the blowback starts coming in.

The way we talk about outrage-in-the-abstract has a way of building further outrage in addition to diminishing other types. Where some people will shy away out of self-preservation, others will go even harder because they know you won’t listen. They know their words will be skimmed and stripped of context before being ignored and insulted. To have a point you care deeply about and then to be told that point is irrelevant and invalid—that warrants anger, doesn’t it?

I have friends who simply don’t talk about things or hold back because they know their words will fall on deaf ears or worse. My friends have been screwed with on a level that’s incredibly frustrating and continually disappointing. In watching how they’re treated and talking to them about it, in watching what happens to the men and women who would rather send out tough guy threats and harassment, I’ve learned that a lot of things don’t get said because the offended doesn’t have any real power but their words, and others with more power will eagerly leverage their power to crush the dissent in the name of “keeping the peace.”

But we talk and we share and we know who is receptive to our stories, who will pretend like they are to gain brownie points or satisfy their ego, and who’ll smile and nod and move along at their earliest convenience because they just don’t care. We pay attention to the reaction to the outrage because the odds are good we’ll be in those shoes one day, should we decide our stories are worth the cost of the telling.

We’re in a complex place right now, in terms of our culture and people who speak on it. Suddenly a lot of people who were limited by the hateful whims of our culture in the past—non-whites, women, trans persons, gay people, and more—are able to sign up for a platform to express their views and speak their truth in a way that the mainstream has largely never seen before and often doesn’t know how to react to.

As a result, we’re realizing the way we enable -isms and hate by simply going about our daily lives the way we always have. We’re seeing the anger and sadness and passion that has been tamped down and ignored for years bubble up, and the conversations are often fraught with tension thanks to both sides and every participant coming from different places and contexts. There are more moving parts in these conversations than in two Space Shuttles.

Case in point: I realized I had to put subtle disclaimers in this piece just so someone wouldn’t get at me on some “Well, I don’t think all outrage is valid like you do, and here’s why you’re dumb for thinking that.” I know for a fact that’ll happen if I don’t try to beat it, even though other adults are clearly capable of understanding that talking about a thing isn’t necessarily complete unquestioning support of that thing.

That’s what I mean about the reaction to outrage being enlightening. I know the countermoves, the derailing moves, and I have to spin my wheels trying to head off the “Why don’t you get mad about real things?” or “You’re just angry all the time” or “Oh great, more faux outrage” goons on an essay that is fundamentally about how everyone should think more, jeer less, and process things a little bit longer before they react.

It sucks right now. I get that, and I empathize, whether you’re talking about the hate for the social justice conversation or the deluge of complaints that you can’t control and wish would stop. But it’s not gonna get better by going out of your way to talk about outrage and the outraged as if they were basic children, full of fury and lacking in thought. It’s not gonna get better when we have more editorials decrying “outrage” in general than we do editorials actively discussing and dissecting the outrage itself.

It’s not gonna get better if we choose ego instead of empathy every single time we’re up at bat. It’s not gonna get better if we aren’t willing to at least appear to listen. It’s not gonna get better if we paint every passionate criticism as “outrage” and stick our tongues out at it. It won’t get better if we pre-reject what people have to say.

If we paint every outrage with scare quotes and pithy jokes about the internet churning up outrage for no good reason, regardless of the outrage in question, we’re blocking progress. We’re telling some people not to share their thoughts, and we’re telling others that we don’t deserve their respect and honesty. Both are embarrassing, frankly, and abhorrent.

We need to be more kind, and this brand of kindness takes conscious effort.

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Genius: Renegades, Never Slaves

July 11th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , ,



Way back in the bad old days of 2008, I read a comic called Genius. It was part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season program, an initiative meant to bring new blood into the industry and to the company, and it was created by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson. Now, it’s 2014, I work at Image Comics, and Genius is on the way back this August as a weekly miniseries.

The concept of Genius struck me first. There have been several incredible military leaders throughout the years, and the latest is Destiny Ajaye, a young woman from South Central. Rather than becoming a kingpin or joining the military, she takes another route: armed insurrection. She unites the gangs and goes to war against the LAPD.

I’m an ’80s baby whose life was changed by Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and has spent a lot of time writing about the intersection of black culture and comics. The concept alone spoke to me, it reminded me of conversations and boasts that felt familiar and real. Bernardin and Freeman’s dialogue was on point and natural, authentically “black” without tipping over into parody or offensiveness. Richardson’s art was the bomb, inventive and kinetic and off-beat in all the right ways.

Genius hit me in my heart. There aren’t a lot of comics coming out of mainstream houses aimed at people like me, much less specifically me, but this one? It’s a comic that’s tailor-made for me, it feels like. The concept, the art, the focus on a majority-black and brown cast…there is something about Genius that other mainstream comics are lacking. It’s something different, something outside of the usual Direct Market experience.

It’s a familiar story, a Hero versus the enemy with an army at her back, but the twist is in the character work and the artwork. The characters feel familiar and honest, and Richardson’s artwork ranges from staging natural moments in a surreal manner to perfectly-emotive conversations. The creative team clicks for me.

A side effect of my job at Image is that I got issues 1-4 early as part of the production process. It’s work, but I read them while I was on vacation instead of waiting until I got back. I read them because I believe in Genius and Bernardin and Richardson and Freeman and I’m excited for this comic.

Final Order Cut-off for the comic is Monday. It’s shipping weekly in August, with two issues hitting on the last Wednesday of the month. If you shop at comic shops, tell them you want it. The Diamond Code for #1 is JUN140478, if you need it. Pre-ordering helps comics a lot, and for a book like this that’s sitting left-of-center with what’s prevalent, you’re going to need a little extra legwork to get what you need. You don’t have to pre-order it, it’ll presumably be available in a digital edition, but if you’re the pre-ordering type and you trust my taste, please call your shop and hook it up. I’m a fan, and I hope you will be, too.

I wrote about Afua Richardson for Black History Month 2011 and about Genius for ComicsAlliance in 2010.

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This Week in Panels: Week 250

July 6th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s time for This Week in Panels! The weekly segment where my wonderful contributors and I all take the comics we’ve read over the course of this week and cut them down into one panel. One representative panel that tries to explain the issue. We’ve only been doing this for… oh shit, 250?! Christ.

Yes, it’s Week 250. For nearly five years I’ve been doing this series. I started this back when Old Man Logan and Blackest Night were still going on. I originally got the idea during the short time I was writing at Pop Culture Shock. I did a bunch of one-paragraph comic reviews every week and I hated it. How many times can you write the same review of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America?

A few years before that, one comic site I can’t remember (probably Newsarama) had a preview of an upcoming issue of Civil War. Rather than show several pages, it just showed a handful of panels without context. I found the whole thing more intriguing than if we got the regular style of preview and I guess that just stayed with me. Another thing that stuck with me was when people would talk about the first Agents of Atlas series. One thing I’ve read once or twice was that it didn’t matter what you had to say about the comic in terms of opinion. Just show the panel of a 1950′s robot running down a hallway carrying a talking gorilla while said gorilla shoots four guns via both hand and both feet. That says everything.

I figured that I read a bunch of comics on a weekly basis, but nobody really had any interest in my opinions. Why would they? I’m just some guy on the internet. Worse than that, I’m a guy whose favorite character is an alien-wearing journalist-turned-hobo with delusions of grandeur recognized for being one of the poster boys of everything wrong with the 90′s. My opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Why talk about what I read when I could just show you in its purest form and let you decide for yourself? I suggested the This Week in Panels idea to David and he put a cigar out on my face. I took that to mean, “Yes, go ahead.”

ThWiP has been very good to me and I was happy to see that it got enough regular readers and regular contributors. Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa especially, who never missed a beat when it came to sending me their stuff. I’m glad to see my idea was vindicated and it kept enough people interested.

With a heavy heart, I’m announcing that after 250 wonderful weeks, I’m stepping down from This Week in Panels. It sucks, but I need to move on. One of the things about starting ThWiP was that I wanted to do a weekly series for the sake of proving to myself that I could hit a regular deadline. And I did. Unless there was a hurricane or some kind of power-destroying storm, I hit the update every Sunday. Then I got my position at Den of Geek US, which has responsibilities beyond just writing articles. Plus my main job has been keeping me busier and busier. ThWiP updates went from regularly happening over the course of Sunday night to late Monday night or even early Tuesday morning. Simply put, I actually have real deal deadlines to deal with now.

Hell, I haven’t written a non-ThWiP update for 4thletter! since WrestleMania happened. I kind of need to rectify that and I have only so many hours in the day.

ThWiP isn’t done-done, at least. Space Jawa, otherwise known as Michael Stangeland (or as I keep accidentally typing, “Strangeland”) will be taking up the mantle. Personally, I can’t wait to see what he’s capable of.

Anyway, I still have this 250th update to do. We got me, Gaijin Dan, Matlock, Space Jawa, Was Taters, AnarChris and Dickeye. Let’s go down the road one more time.

Action Comics #33
Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift, Pt 2
Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #4
Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman and Ty Templeton

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