Monday, June 29, 2009

So, I found a cool car

Which is noteworthy because I hate cars. I didn't actually buy it and I don't own it but I was very impressed nonetheless because it is..........
A Delorean! (To those ignorant oiks like me that's the Back to the Future car)
Check it out:

I was on the way back from a wedding getting a lift to the train station by my mate, and he spotted the car. He then floored it and we followed the guy back to his house. He then proceeded to talk cars with my mate for about 15 minutes, while I went oooh it's just like in the movies, then stroked a ginger cat. The dude who owns it then took my mate out for a spin round the block.

Pretty awesome eh? There's only about 150 in the UK.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not a post

Honestly not.

Does anyone know which Impulse issue was the silent one? No one spoke a word it was all Bart's thought bubbles.

On second thoughts it could have been a Young Justice issue. Anyone know what i'm talking about?

I think I've blogged about it before but I obviously didn't tag it very well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Signing, translation and Christianity

I’m a member of a Sign Choir. In a nutshell this means that we translate songs, usually church songs, into British Sign Language (BSL), and perform them. Some of us mouth the words as we are performing, some don’t. We definitely don’t sing out loud. Instead, there will either be a stereo playing the songs or there we will perform next to a vocal choir.

I have been a member of this for about 9 months now and I love doing it. I’ve been learning BSL for about 5 years, which doesn’t mean I’m proficient or fluent, far from it, but being part of the choir is a brilliant way to keep learning, as well as being just straight up fun.

For those that don’t know a lot about Ddeafness or sign languages I shall elucidate.

Sign languages are not based on spoken languages. They are wholly separate and have their own grammar, syntax and everything else that goes to make up a language. They are most definitely languages, and are certainly not just a series of mimes or gestures. There are words and phrases in signed languages that have no translation to the countries equivalent spoken language.

The structure and grammar of sign languages varies form country to country. In fact, each country has it’s own sign language. BSL is entirely different from Irish Sign Language (ISL), American Sign Language (ASL), French, German, Brasilian, Norwegian etc sign language. However, the languages may be related. Like you can trace the roots of French and English to a common point, I believe that BSL and Australian Sign Language (Auslan) have some aspects in common. But, if I were to go to Australia and start using BSL, Auslan users wouldn’t understand me. For another example, the ASL fingerspelt alphabet is on one hand whereas the BSL fingerspelt alphabet is done on 2 hands. There are signs that exist in ASL that don’t exist in BSL, and vice versa. There is an international sign language but I think it’s about as commonly used as Esperanto.

There are also regional variations in BSL. For example, the number systems change between where I live and the next county just a 1 hour train ride away. So, it’s complicated. You can’t learn BSL from books you need to be taught in person, preferably by a Deaf person.

Regarding the distinction between Deafness and deafness, this is to do with the language that the individual uses, whether they are part of Deaf culture or hearing culture and partly concerned with the type of hearing loss. Typically, Deaf people are profoundly deaf, use BSL as their first language and are fully part of Deaf culture. They tend to be very proud of being Deaf and wouldn’t necessarily want to be hearing, given the option.

On the other hand, deaf people are typically deafened or hard of hearing, use English as their first language and are part of hearing culture. At least as much as you can be when you’re in a culture that can disable you at nearly every step, but that’s my own personal view.

Should you be interested in finding out more about Ddeaf issues I have a list of online Ddeaf resources in my recommended list. Have a look on the right hand side of this blog.

Oh, yes, I should say that I am hearing, so if anyone who is more involved with or knowledgable about Ddeaf issues is reading this and thinks I’m talking crap, then I apologise, and if you let me know I’ll do my best to rectify the information given.

Back to the Sign Choir. I am thoroughly loving it. There are 4 of us in the choir, with an occasional fifth member, 2 of us are Christian, 2 not. The occasional fifth member is spiritual. 1 of us is deaf, or Deaf, I wouldn’t like to speak for her. The Choir leader is Deaf and I believe is a Lay Pastor for the Church. My mother tried to bring me and my sister up Catholic, we’ve been confirmed and went to Sunday School and all that, but we never really believed it. Now, although I believe in Gods, I am not Christian and highly unlikely to convert. I haven’t been regularly involved with Church stuff since I was about 10. The other regular, non-Christian member, doesn’t know a lot about Christianity. So between me and her there are enough questions about what the whole shebang means, even as much as working out how to translate the songs.

You see, when you translate songs, it’s not as easy as simply picking out the first literal translation you think of. You’ve got to fit the signs into the rhythm, make sure they also fit the mood of the song, and sometimes translate what can appear to be abstract poetry. You also don’t tend to translate to pure BSL because sometimes that just doesn’t fit the song. You have to find a halfway house and you have to present the lyrics in a manner in which Deaf people will understand. To do this you’ve got to really understand what the English version of the songs means.

For example, recently we did Morning Has Broken. Lovely song, dead easy to translate until you get to the final verse:

Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning
born of the one light
Eden saw play!
Praise with elation,
praise every morning,
God’s recreation
Of the new day!

The problem lines were ‘Mine is the morning, born of the one light Eden saw play’. To translate literally you would sign:
Mine morning
Childbirth one light
God see play (use the sign for children playing, not a theatre play)

But the song doesn’t mean literal childbirth, or playing like children playing. It’s an odd lyric, like poetry, and to me at least, isn’t immediately clear on what it’s talking about.

Typically, this song came up when our most learned Christian and hearing member was on holiday. She came back, and after 4 or 5 weeks of discussions and thinking, and getting second opinions, we have come up with the following way of translating it:

Mine morning
Start one light
Garden can happen

See the difference?

I’ve started translating songs at home for fun. The first one I did was Lord of the Dance. I’m very proud of myself for working this one out and I shall take it back to Choir next week and see what the others think of my translation. There’s a few areas I’m stuck on, mostly to do with how to sign Pharisee, and the line ‘they ripped and they stripped and they strung me up high’. I’m having trouble working out how to show the context it’s in. But I’m pretty happy with the rest of it.

I’ve also had a go at translating some Manics songs and a Wildhearts song. When songwriters choose words to rhyme and use metaphors, it gets tricky. You wouldn’t translate ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ as Rain Cat Dog, because that would mean animals were literally dropping out of the sky. Instead you’d use the sign for rain combined with the appropriate facial expression and also use other non manual features. In this way you would indicate that the weather is pissing it down.

If you want to view some BSL interpreted songs on Youtube I have some listed in the Ddeaf resources section of my links. Go check them out.

(This is probably the last post of mine for a week. I'm away this weekend and am likely to be working late Wed and Thurs. As I have no posts lined up I'll be out of commission for a while. Roll on July I say.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today's post

has fuck all commentary.

Found here via the comment thread here. Went to a solstice party on Saturday night. Went to bed Sunday morning about 8.30am, woke up again at 2, went to bed again at 11.30. I think I'm still hungover, hence no commentary.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog Banner help requested

I'm hoping someone can help..I'm trying to sort out a blog banner, you can see the half assed attempt that I've done, but it turns out I'm crap at using Paint. I can sort of crop pictures but that's about it.

So yeah, now I'm gonna throw myself on your mercy and ask if anyone fancies making me a banner if I email them the page I want? I couldn't crop the picture to the right size - I can't select all that I need, and I can't work out how to put writing on without blanking out the picture behind. It's probably a really simple thing to do but I suck at this sort of stuff.

I'd be utterly appreciative and of course will give you full acknowledgement. If anyone can help can you either leave a comment with your email address or just email me - contact details on my profile page.


Coming out in comics: Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol, Grace Choi and Thunder

I’ve thought of a few more:
Justice League Task Force #8: Diana admits to lesbian sex on Paradise Island. Sort of.

This issue, and the preceding one, is quite interesting as it’s women focused. Written by Peter David. it’s got his brand of humour. The story arc is titled Valley of the Daals, in a rip off from the Valley of the Dolls book, which I haven’t read but I gather it doesn’t have a lot in common with this comic plot.
Anyway, a couple of dudes crashland in the jungle. One gets eaten by piranha like fish the other survives the crash and the fish and finds himself in an underground civilisation, populated exclusively with green skinned half naked women warriors. They lock him up and send a message saying that he can be rescued but only by women.

J’onn J’onzz gets together a crack team consisting of Vixen, Maxima, Dolphin (yay! she’s far too underused), Gypsy, Wonder Woman. Under duress, J’onn shapeshifts into a woman, J’oan J’onzz, for the rescue mission. Somehow his boots become thigh high, his pants ride up to become a thong and he does something clever with the red straps to make an impromptu barely there bra. They get to the valley of the Daals and their leader takes a fancy to J’oan and demands that she marries her.

It’s a fun couple of issues and it’s probably meant to be a send up of the general depiction of women in comics, but Herland it ain’t. At any rate I enjoyed it enough to buy a few hardcopies from ebay. I like Peter David’s comics but since Racefail 09 I haven’t been too impressed with his politics.

Doom Patrol #34: Monsieur Mallah and the Brain admit their love for each other. The Brain is currently in Cliff’s metal body and they share a robotic/simian kiss. It’s very sweet. Then they get blown up.

The Outsiders Unknown (to me) #: I’m sure this was the series where Grace Choi and Thunder got together, so I am wondering if this is the book where they both came out? I adore Grace. Not enough to keep buying the Outsiders books, but she’s one of those characters who I love that they exist and I think has a lot going for her. And she just looks so damn cool. With her tattoos, her shortish hair, low slung trousers and general stance, she’s awesome. If she got her own book I’d buy it, but not an Outsiders monthly issue. Maybe it’s the Bat-clan connection. Mind you, now Bruce is dead maybe it would be worth picking up again. Anyone out there reading it? What do you think of it? Are there lots of Grace/Thunder scenes?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My problem with Raven’s costume

She was raised to be devoid of emotion right? From what I’ve seen of her backstory* she wasn’t given a whole lot of agency when growing up. She had to feel nothing because otherwise Trigon would take her over in some manner, use her for evil. The way I’ve interpreted her upbringing is that she didn’t get to make decisions about anything – she was kind of an automaton. When she was brought back to human society she had to learn how to be human again, and suddenly learn how to take choices, have emotions and grow into her own person. Without emotions I don’t think you can truly have a character.

So if she wasn’t give any choice growing up, if she had to be obedient and quash her emotions and do only what she was told without questioning, then that means that someone else has picked out her costume. A rather sexy provocative costume with thigh high boots**, cut away gaps at the side of the torso to show the breasts (sometimes), and all in all is rather skimpy (excepting the cloak of course). Now someone else choosing to dress a teenage girl in that way is pretty exploitative, especially when the girl in question probably doesn’t really understand what the style of dress means.

The fact that she kept wearing it is also rather creepy, because when she came back into human society she would have been rather innocent of the world, and now she’ll have half the blokes and lesbians on the earth leering at her. The fact that she can feel emotions and all means she’ll have an idea of what people’re thinking, which can’t be pleasant.

It reminds me of that issue of Batgirl where Babs takes Cass on holiday and gives her a tiny skimpy bikini to wear. Cass can’t deal with it because she can read the body language of all the blokes and see what they want to do to her. At least most of us can ignore or may not notice sexual harassment on the street, but if you can read body language then it must become really oppressive and aggressive.

*My knowledge of her backstory comes from the current Teen Titans run, so it's quite likely there's a lot I don't know. If anyone would like to fill in the gaps That's be much appreciated.

**I know she doesn't always have thigh high boots but when artists change the costume for one issue, without an in context explanation, I get the idea that they are intending that version as the definitive costume, so for the current issue you can just forget about past options.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eek I forgot something!

The Black Cat and Spider-man trade. The best part in it was when Spidey and Felicia had defeated Scorpia and she'd been put in gaol. They turned up outside her cell needing more info. Their method of getting the info out of her is to annoy her into submission - Spiderman flicks web balls at her head and Felicia starts singing 'Memories' from the Cats musical, badly. They do this until she gives in from frustration - about 2 seconds.

My point is that that is a much more interesting way to get info out of a bad guy. Sod the huge fights, superheroes should comedy annoy them into giving up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hawkgirl dissatisfaction

I was *so* pleased with Hawkman, I really enjoyed all of it, there was so much good stuff happening and it was a really layered and mature story. OK the last few issues before One Year later were a bit off, but tbh I haven’t yet found a DC title that wasn’t a bit off in the few issues just before and around Infinite Crisis.

Hawkgirl had a change of writer in Walter Simonson and it was crap. The depth of relationship between her and Carter has gone and thought bubbles were introduced. Ugh. I think Simonson used the narration boxes and thought bubbles to echo more old fashioned styles, so maybe other readers got a kick out of it, but I hated it. Or would it be the letterer (Rob Leigh) responsible for this? Either way, I’ve read other Simonson books and I’m sure they’re usually more enjoyable than Hawkgirl, so maybe it is just a matter of taste (or generation?).

The end of the run saw Kendra and Carter fighting Hath-Set again, and after 3500 years, defeating him. This should have been more interesting than it was. Hawkman was written by Geoff Johns, then Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and any of them would have done this last fight far better.

This fight irked me in that it was a reminder of how Hath-Set had been dropped by Johns early on in Hawkman and then ignored until the last few issues of Hawkgirl. Suddenly Hath-Set can possess many people’s minds and not just one descendent at a time. An explanation for how this came about would have been nice.

Also, Kendra suddenly has telekinetic powers over her wings. Why? My final jibe is over the art – about half the panels in every issue has Hawkgirl’s nipples on prominent display. I guess after Infinite Crisis she always gets the horn when fighting baddies.

There were a couple of good bits, the 2 issues with the female furies and a giant robot Kendra were pretty cool, but that’s more about the art than the writing. Simonson also expanded on how Sheira’s soul joined with Kendra, which was useful to me. On the whole though, I’m very glad I never bought the Hawkgirl trades.

To take away from the crapness have some cover and internal art, mostly from Hawkman:

Kendra does make a damn fine robot:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It’s the ultimate man-cave!

Featuring spoilers for Spider-Man and the Black Cat trade, Booster Gold #21 (+ Blue Beetle back up), Action Comics #878, the Flash Rebirth #3 and Red Robin #1
Spider-Man and the Black Cat trade, comprising issues 1 – 6

I think you all know that I don’t usually read Marvel, but I saw this trade in the second hand shop and plumped for it. I’ve always had a soft spot for Spider-man - for years he was my favourite superhero, despite not reading comics or watching any animated shows, and the boyfriend bought me a wall hanging of Spidey vs Venom. I have been aware of the Black Cat for a number of years and have really liked the look of her – white hair and an awesome costume. So when I saw this trade and noticed the writer is Kevin Smith with art and colours by Terry and Rachel Dodson I went with it.

Boy am I glad I did this is a bloody great book. Kevin Smith rocks, I loved his Green Arrow stuff and he has got a pretty good handle on these two. Black Cat is awesome – she’s flirty and glamorous and oh so cool and I am more than a little in love with her. The art is strong on the cheesecake and the low cut wardrobe but that’s part of who she is, it’s not gratutitous.

Hell, even the paper this is printed on is really nice, it’s quite thick, not quite card but definitely not thin like, say Dc’s Teen Titans trades.

Parts 1 to 4 are all very lighthearted and fun. Spidey and Felicia are on different cases but bump into each other when their leads take them to the same man. They then team up and there is much flirting and griping about how their previous relationship ended. They continue tracking down the bad guy, Garrison, Felicia decides to go directly for Garrison and leaves Spidey tied up so he can’t stop her. She then gets caught in a trap and arrested. Spidey gets Daredevil on side to help bust Felicia out only to find out that she’s already gone.

This brings us to part 5, Felicia has been teleported away by the brother of the bad guy and this is when it stops being quite so lighthearted. Felicia and the brother, Francis, are talking on a rooftop, I assume they already know each other, and it turns out Francis had been sexually abused by Garrison, his brother, for years, since childhood. Kevin Smith must have had an agenda writing this because there is a discussion on the motives behind abuse, the ‘fault’ of the victim, statistics on rape in America, the feelings after the abuse, how to deal with it and move on from it and the role of the police. It is also revealed that Felicia was raped at University (this had nothing to do with her decision to become the Black Cat).

It’s powerful stuff, it’s upsetting stuff. Not an easy read but really well done. Definitely recommended and if there are any more of these trades I’m gonna be hunting them down.

Booster Gold #21 feat. Blue Beetle back up.
More fun from Mr Jurgens. The title of this post comes from this issue and is spoken by Booster when he gets back to the Batcave. He has a point. I want a giant dinosaur. Good issue and Booster’s next task it to back in time and save Nightwing from the black Beetle who has just killed him. Should be fun.

The BB back up was also good and makes me wish that I’d bought the BB ongoing. Oh well. Jaime gets to fight a giant robot named Thinko. The fight goes on for three hours, much to the chagrin of his friends. Thinko is destroyed but a new threat in the form of an army of Unimate robots arrive declaring the human race imperfect and therefore in need of cleansing from earth. How does the dude who designed Unimate know that he’s not going to be destroyed after everyone else has been killed? Everyone knows robots can easily turn on their masters.

Action Comics #878
Again with the advertising for children’s books. The inside cover features an ad for fluffy children’s book with characters named Tumtum and Nutmeg (mice), Haggy Aggy and a book titled Jurassic Grampa and The Mousehunter. It even has a quiz titled ‘What (book) fits your personality best?’ which indicates to me that they think kids are reading the comic. Yet in the first few pages we see the bad guys land near an old lady’s house, ask about the state of her bed, kill her, destroy the house and have sex on her bed with the lady’s still frozen body next to them.

Not a kid’s comic!

As for the rest of the comic, not bad. Thara looks rather young in this, but that makes sense as her and Chris are revealed to be in relationship, and if she was in her mid 20s, as she’s looked in other books, that would be wrong and weird. As it is they make a lovely couple.

The art is good. Basic, not much detailing, but good. I really like Chris’ golden band round his forehead.

The Flash Rebirth #3
Wow, this was so much better than the previous two issues. No more long flashbacks (arg!), we’re actually dealing with the here and now. The first page featuring the puppets looked great. I really like how they are using representations of the heroes to move the story along.

Bart arrives and asks Barry if he knows anything about Max. Unfortunately he doesn’t. I’m really glad they are bringing that up and not just forgetting about Max Mercury. The power of the Black flash courses through Barry and he has to tell the other Flashes to run in order to save themselves. He then screams for Hal to get him out of the area. I think this is a really great touch – it shows how implicitly they trust each other and how well they work together.

Barry then asks to be let out and decides to run back to the speed force as he doesn’t belong back on earth and he doesn’t want to endanger those he loves. Superman races beside him and tries to talk him out of it. Flash easily outraces Supes. As it should be.

Barry runs to the speed force and meets Max Mercury and Johnny Quick there. Johnny is seemingly destroyed when he touches Barry but then we see it is actually the Reverse Flash who has done this. Obvious villain? Maybe, but it works, it fits. I like it. And I’m really hoping for them to bring Max back.

Red Robin #1
It’s Tiiimmmmmy! Oh yeah, I’m happy :D
My wallet and my shelf space won’t be happy as I see this is an ongoing, but I’m happy.

I hate the costume. It’s awful and doesn’t look like Tim. I can see why they’ve chosen that one, but I think it’s crap. Tim angsts some more, but I think he’s entitled to it. His world just keeps falling apart bit by bit. Family and friends all die, then Bruce his adopted father dies, and then Dick takes away the Robin costume. I mean, he’s only a teenager and we’ve seen his unstable tendancies, caused by grief – futureTim and attempting to clone Connor, so you’d think Dick would be drawing him into the fold and letting him know he’s loved. Or no he just gets pushed out. Dick Grayson, you suck. Tim needs to be with people, not be isolated. He now thinks all he’s got is Bruce Wayne and lord knows that man isn’t a healthy parental figure.
Hopefully Steph will catch up with him properly and he’ll get some support from her. Or Bart and Kon will come find him.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Turns out I’m a sucker for eternal romance

Take Hawkman v4. The Hawk folks are destined to meet life after life after life after life and be together. Isn’t that what the books and the fairytales tell us is best? To be together forever and ever? Maybe that’s not such a shit hot thing.

Every life you live you will make friends, find new people to love and care for and lose them. You’re trapped in a cycle which never changes, offers no possibility of change and in which he can never have peace. Prince Khufu and Chay-ara will never get to heaven; they will be reborn again and again and fight crime and evildoers again and again and be murdered, by the same reincarnated soul, again and again.

Imagine knowing how you will die. Imagine knowing it’s inevitable. Most of us think we’re immortal. We don’t want to die and we can at least pretend we’ll die of old age in our beds surrounded by our loving families. Now imagine knowing that you have never had this, will not have this in your current life and will never have this. You are destined to die a painful grisly death.

How tragic. How could you cope with that century after century after century? Wouldn’t you just want to shut yourself off from the world? A-ha, but you are not alone. You have your one true love reincarnated with you every time. You can cope, you both have your memories, you can comfort each other. You've always got someone you can unerringly count on, who will always be there for you. You're a unit. Until the current life. When this reincarnated Chay-ara has no memories of her past lives and thinks that this Khufu is a pervy freak. Then what would you do?

The reincarnated Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman is a brilliant idea. And so far, give or take a few lazy continuity mistakes, it’s been executed very very well. However, a few questions for those more in the know than I:

Are the Hawkfolks meant to always know of their past lives? For example, at age 5 can they remember their past lives or do they have to have them triggered?

There was a reference to Kendra Saunders dying and Chay-ara’s soul inhabiting her body. Wha’? Can someone elaborate? I’d like to know more of this.

Kendra had a baby?? Who by? When??

Carter had a son but he’s not Hawkgirls? What? Isn’t that cheating? I think this goes back to when do they become aware of their past lives.

I wonder if they’ve ever been reincarnated into two male or two female bodies. That’d be interesting. And how do they find each other each time??

To sign off, I leave you with my minimate Hawkman on guard in the flowerbed:

grr gnash BOSH!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Battlestar Galactica

I watched the pilot of BSG yesterday. No one told me it was 3 hours long!! We settled into watch it at 9.15 figuring for an early night and were still there at 12.15. Oh well.

It was pretty damn good. I am now hooked. The boyfriend is ordering season1. And blimey, I just realised that this will be the first time ever we've both agreed on a tv show. He hates Buffy (mostly cause he's sick of it). He really hates Smallville (probably because he's got taste). He loathed Angel, mind you so did I mostly, except I kept on watching. He's not remotely bothered about the Sarah Connor Chronicles or Heroes.

He watches anime, I have this terrible tendancy to fall asleep during anime, no matter how good it is and no matter how awake I was before. I am training myself out of this habit and we are having anime night every Wednesday whereby I just about manage to make it through half an hour. So far we've watched Gunbuster and now we're on Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop is ace. But still has a tranquilizing effect on me.

Anyway, BSG looks to be awesome. Obligatory politics bit - holy crap they've got black folks and asian folks in the future! And women!

That's not why I like it, that's a reason for not disliking it. I like it because it's epic, well scripted, and they've all just suffered a huge catastrophe. I like disaster movies, a lot. Plus, killer robots who look like us. A Commander who slips back into army mode just like that. Space stations. Space stations full of greenery and saccharine children. Who get killed. Killer robots in your mind and a right wanker who's gotta get his comeuppance. I do not want to see him redeemed, he's a bloody prick.

Anyway. Ace.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Coming out: Obsidian + Nuklon, Fire + Ice

I thought I’d share with you all some comings out scenes from comics.

First up, we have Obsidian (Todd) and Nuklon (?) (Albert) from the pages of Justice League America, #s 110 and 111 from 1996:

In the same run we have Ice (Sigrid) coming out (#110) and a hint that maybe Fire (Bea) isn’t as straight as we’d hitherto thought (#112) :

Was anything ever confirmed one way or the other with Bea?

Does anyone know of other coming out scenes in comics? I know of the Piper in the Flash v2 run - he came out to Wally but then it was ignored for quite a long while.

Speaking of the Flash, the end of the JLA run was very much about relationships. Yazz, a ‘lil blue alien spent a lot of time winding Wally up by refusing to state his/her sex:

We also had Constance (Crimson Fox) dealing with the animal inside her and sorting out her relationship with Metamorpho, Blue Devil dealing with the aftermath of his murder of Kid Devil’s aunt, Power Girl dealing with the birth and loss of her baby, Guy Gardener and Fire dealing with the loss of Ice.

I found it unusual, but enjoyable, to have the focus be so much on relationships and not big giant aliens. It wasn’t always written particularly well, sometimes it was handled clumsily, but overall we got a feeling of rawness and uncertainty. There were so many emotions in the air from nearly every member of the JLA.

The run ended with issues #113 and I can’t help but wonder if all this stuff was brought up because the League was about to be reincarnated.

Jeez, I'm such a cynic.

In other news, To egg or not to egg? The F Word debates the egging of BNP leader. I think I'm still for it. however I am not particularly fond of some of the self righteous comments popping up in that comment thread, nor this one. I appreciate Jess' comments about derailing, but it seems to me that some commenters are dismissing Lorna West because she's a Tory. That's not really on.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

More BNP stuff - hopenothate and media coverage

Hope not Hate is a campaign run by Searchlight with the aims of countering racism and fascism in elections. They have a petition up which they will present to the European Parliament on the day that the 2 BNP members take their seats.

I urge all UK citizens to sign it.

I had actually seen a flyer by this campaign before the election. I had a brief look at it and put it to the side, I didn't actually think that they were serious contenders.

Please forward the link to your UK friends, put it on your facebook status, twitter it, post a link on your blog. The least we can do is stand up and say that racist fascists don't represent us.

And next time maybe ya'll should vote?

EDIT- I've been reading the Justice League Task Force run and one of the issues dealt with racism. The task force set out to find and stop a group who had bio-engineered a virus that would target the genes of non whites and melt them to death in a painful and prolonged fashion. The end result was that he unleashed the virus (in a confined air tight space) and himself melted as he evidently had non white ancestors.

In real life we don't have a task force, we do however have protestors who find where Nick Griffin is and pelt eggs at him. It's a start. It would be helped if more of the media had referred to the BNP as a fascist racist party in their pre-election coverage. I'm looking at you EDP who in a pre election guide to all the parties article, not only included the BNP but completely failed to label them racist or fascist, and presented them as a legitimate political party.

I should have complained. More shame on me for not.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Who says voting doesn't make a difference?

Due in part to Labour supporters not voting last Thursday we now have two BNP MEPs.

Two members of a fascist racist party representing us in Europe. because the Labour supporters in those areas didn't turn up to vote.

No matter how disgusted you are with the behaviour of the MPs, it doesn't make much sense to take it out on the European or County elections.

There are now no Labour led councils in the UK. None. When the next election is called it's gonna be a Tory victory. Then we'll be fucked.

The only good things to come out of these elections are that Norwich now has 7 Green County councillors, out of a total of 9, and a Deaf guy has been elected as an MEP in Hungary.

That doesn't make up for the BNP representing us.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

On empowerment and the language of comic art

As I was browsing The F Word a few weeks ago I became involved in a discussion about a mannequin that had appeared in UK store New Look (here). The comments discussion then got somewhat off topic and a few posts were exchanged between myself and another commenter (named Jen) about women in comics.

I just wanted to highlight a couple of comments from Jen:

“This mannequin - it's interesting. I'd see it as a key, as a set of signifiers, as part of language - definitely not a reason to boycott a shop”

“I don't love her [She-Hulk] because she's empowering, she's not one of the many things that inspire me to do weight training, but she is fascinating.”

She’s got a lot more to say, so I’d recommend reading it, but the above two sentences caught my imagination.

I hadn’t thought of the T+A aspect of women in comics as being part of the language of comics before. When I come to think about it, I think the idea has some merits. It’s true that not all artists focus on T+A, several seem capable of drawing women as people, not wank material, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the majority of art does have a certain T+A element to it.

If that’s the case, if that style is a set of signifiers, is it worth complaining about it? Or does it just serve to make the complainers feel better – we’ve done our bit sort of thing? Jen has more to say about this in her comments on the thread. I mean, if you change the language and the way something is framed, that doesn’t necessarily change the underlying reasons and feelings that led to the offending article being produced in the first place. And if the underlying ideas don’t change, then another offensive product will surely surface at a later date. So what will have changed?

Well, I think that if you change the way the language works you end up with a finished product that doesn’t alienate or discriminate against people. That is a good thing. I also think that the way you can express yourself has an effect on the way you think. I realize that this is probably due to reading 1984 at a very impressionable age. Are there any linguists out there who could tell me more about this?

If you no longer produce such sexist and offending material, if we do not see it in nearly every media article we pick up, then surely the general belief of women only being worth as much as their looks will not be as deeply felt in society. Obviously there are many many other ways in which this message is promulgated, but to change the way and manner in which we currently discuss and refer to women, to make it less oppressive, less one dimensional, would be a good start.

The other thing that came to mind when reading through Jen’s comments, was the idea about comics being empowering. That again is not something that I’ve recently experienced. Mind you, I am not too keen on the word ‘empowering’, mostly because of it’s connotations with pole dancing and lap dancing. It’s funny how anything marketed as empowering generally means adopting traditional roles and ways of being sexy for men. (Wear lipstick, it’s empowering! Wear a wonderbra, it’s empowering! Learn how to lap/pole dance, it’s empowering!*).

I may have felt empowered when reading something when I was little, in the sense that it opened my eyes to the different direction my life could take, the different things I could be. The media that we consume, as much as the people in our immediate vicinity, teaches us about life. It teaches us how people act, what is right and what is wrong and different ways of living. So yes, when I was little I probably found Cheetara quite empowering, I probably found Julie or Katie Power empowering. I probably found the one girl child on every kids TV show empowering – it said to me this could be your place, this is what you could achieve; you can win and be involved in adventure like the boys. Being a girl doesn’t have to hold you back**.

Question time:
Does anyone out there find comics empowering? Do you get a sense of victory when reading about some female character kick someone’s ass? If you don’t feel that way about comics have you ever felt that way about other fictional characters in any media? What was it that resonated with you and why?

I’d be truly interested to hear about your experiences.

*Not to imply that women never feel empowered by these activities, but I am skeptical of the marketing machine when the word is attached to something that would have been pretty much universally decried as sexist 20 years ago. Where are the adverts saying get a degree, it’s empowering! Leave that violent relationship you’re in, it’s empowering! Get some financial security, it’s empowering! Instead, empowering seems to be shorthand for some (straight) male view of sexy. Blah. I hate capitalism.

**Now, just as soon as I develop those mutant wings I’ll really be able to have adventures and visit other dimensions.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Comics review - 4 collections and 4 newbies

In this here week's installment I bring to you thoughts on the following:
Green Arrow Showcase
Doom Patrol: The Painting that ate Paris
Superman Returns: The Prequels
Midnight: Anthem
Superman 688
Teen Titans 71 (All about Rose!)
Superman World of New Krypton 4
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires one shot

(Spoilers ahead)

Green Arrow Showcase
Ludicrous. Very Silver age. Yet I did actually manage to read all of it, and I think that's the only Silver Age collection I've managed to read more than 2 stories of. Unless you count the Essential Silver Surfer. Which was goddamn awful.
GA was basically a Batman ripoff, but wearing green and using arrows. He didn't have a social conscience, well no more than any other hero did anyhow.
There are trick arrows galore. The names of some as follows: boxing glove, big ben, ricochet, ink, acetylene, grenade, flint, time-bomb, rope, umbrella, boomerang, mirror, supersonic, flare, diamond, net, handcuff, fire-foam, radio, sleep, glider, anti-missile, gelatin, acid, smokescreen and para-arrows.
I'd be really intrigued to know if they ever came up with a scientific explanation for how any of these worked.
Not surprisingly, any stories which feature a character who is not white American are horribly racist, even when they are trying to be progressive. The 3 stories that Miss Arrowette appears in are horribly sexist. The comics are a product of their time, and while that doesn't excuse their failings and bigotry, it does explain it.

Overall, if you ignore the racist/sexist stories, the rest of them are pretty good fun. There's a few team up stories -
GA and Superboy from Adventure Comics 258
Justice League of America 4: Doom of the Star Diamond
The Brave and the Bold 50: Wanted the Capsule Master! (Featuring the Martian Manhunter)
The Brave and the Bold 71: The Wrath of the Thunderbird (Featuring Batman)
The Brave and The Bold 85: The Senator's Been shot (featuring Batman and a beardy GA).

The rest are taken from World's Finest Comics and Adventure Comics and are only a few pages long. 527 pages of silver age comic action. Recommended. I only wish they could reproduce them in colour, in as cheap a manner.

Doom Patrol: The Painting that Ate Paris
Well, it's by Grant Morrison so it's a bit mental. It's also very surreal. It was however good curious fun. I've since found the Magic Bus trade, so will be reading and having a think about that soon.

Superman Returns: The Prequels
The best, and most human one, is Ma Kent's story, and Lois's. Very touching.

Midnighter: Anthem
This is my introduction to Midnighter and Anthem, chiefly bought because Midnighter is gay and because Brian K Vaughan and Keith Giffen wrote it. So you couldn't go wrong right?

The first story, by Brian K Vaughan, is told from the the wrong done way round. The first page is the finale, the second page is a minute or so before that, the this page a minute or so before that and so on, until you get to the start of the adventure. It's a really effective and engaging way to tell a story. For those that don't know much about this character, (like me), Midnighter has a form of precog where he can see the various different ways that any given situation will turn out, so he always knows exactly how it will end. the presentation of the story showed us how he sees the world and was really very very good.

The rest of it was a pile of crap. The plotline of the Giffen written part was Midnighter locating his life story from before he became a superhero (and got his mind wiped), and int eh process coming across various bad guys and killing them.
The art was rubbish, averagely drawn and averagely coloured, boring standard middle of the road rubbish. Far too many fight scenes for the sake of having a fight scene and not enough emphasis on the human angles.
With a different artist I may have thought more of it, as it is I will keep the trade but only for the Vaughan written story.

Superman 688
Mon-El discovers that his lead poisoning is not cured. The cure that was given to him is fighting against and containing the lead in his body, but his body's immune system thinks the cure is a foreign substance and is trying to get rid of it. This is why his powers are going wobbly and also means he has only 18 months to live.
Mon-El then gets cornered by the guy who owns the cafe below his apartment and through a conversation with him and a quick trip to Paris Mon realises he does want to live and is not satisfied with merely protecting Metropolis.

Oh I will be heartbroken if they kill off Mon. He's such a great character - he's naive, idealistic, earnest and not a little childlike. He's so new to this world his perspective becomes quite captivating. It will be really interesting to see how he matures and develops and becomes his own person. Up until now he's just been trying to fill Kal's shoes. He needs to find his own.

Teen Titans 71
A whole comic devoted to Rose Wilson. Ooh yeah. Ok so we knew she wasn't going to be part of the Titans again, but we'll see her in the back up feature. Makes me happy.
Rose and Eddie would make a fabulous couple - until this comic its mostly been Eddie pining over Rose, but in this issue, she makes the move. It looks like he's said no though, which is a crying shame. Rose could do with some honest (non murderous brotherly) love in her life and Eddie just seems so lonely right now. Maybe I'll try and find some fanfic. Anyone know any good Ravager fan sites?

I should also mention that this issue shows Rose relying on her adrenalin shots too much - she's close to becoming a junkie, if she's not already. She's in a pretty shit place at the moment, she's lost her brother, her former team hate her, when she forces Bombshell to demonstrate her allegiances Cassie goes nuts. I think the interactions between Cassie and Rose are very useful to show how flawed Cass can be. Not many (any?) other people can push her butons like Rose does, and in so doing we get to see the bad sides of Cass' character. making for a much more interesting read.

When are Kon and Bart coming back to the Titans? I miss them *whines*.

The art in this was rubbish. Rose and Cassie's faces change panel to panel. The penciller, Yildray Cinar, could do with some more practice. The colouring is fairly standard. Unless they get someone like Renato Guedes in the art will never be my favourite in this book, but that doesn't matter, because I love the team and the individual members.

Superman World of New Krypton 4
This issue was more about filling in the gaps of knowledge about New Krypton and setting up for the next issues where Kal has been charged with treason against New Krypton. Anyone expecting a Kal/Hal fight will be sorely disappointed. No Guy Gardener either. :(
An ok issue but rather dull.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires one shot
Good. :) New artist, i.e not Georges Jeanty who I hate. A good little story told from the perspective of a bored teenage guy in a small town America who gets turned and discovers that bloodlust can make him feel. His best friend is a slayer, whens he finds out she kills the vampire who turned him, then her former friend turns on her.

I find the whole set up of vampires known about and loved and slayers feared so bizzare but great. The boy's mum finds out he's a vampire and her reaction is to move his bedroom into the basement and warn him away from places where vampires have been killed recently. Because everyone knows about them now, thanks to Harmony and her TV show, everything about vampires is accepted, no questions asked. All they have to do is keep up the pretence that they don't kill many people.

I also love seeing how the Slayers who haven't joined Buffy's army are coping. It's astounding to me that some of them are not happy with being a Slayer - I mean, I think it's the coolest thing ever, especially now it's not just the one slayer.

A question for y'all: Has a Slayer ever been turned vampire? What would happen if she was turned? Would it be an uber vampire? Would it be subservient to it's sire?
Speculation welcomed.

(My pull list has been added to the Ch-ch-ch-check it out now links bit, plus I've added more books and resources to the Deaf issues post)

My Pull List

DC Week 1: Animal Man, Green Arrow (electronic)
DC Week 2: Superboy, Demon Knights (electronic)
DC Week 3: Birds of Prey, Supergirl, Wonder Woman
DC Week 4: Teen Titans 

Weeklies - Ame-Comi Girls and Smallville

My Marvel pull! Ultimate Comics Spider-man
My other pulls! Danger Club, Princless

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I am an architect, they call me a butcher

Emphasis mine.

[spoken] I hate purity
Hate goodness
I dont want virtue to exist anywhere
I want everyone corrupt

I am an architect, they call me a butcher
I am a pioneer, they call me primitive
I am purity, they call me perverted
Holding you but I only miss these things when they leave

I am idiot drug hive, the virgin, the tattered and the torn
Life is for the cold made warm and they are just lizards
Self-disgust is self-obsession honey and I do as I please
A morality obedient, only to the cleansed repented

I am stronger than mensa, miller and mailer
I spat out plath and pinter
I am all the things that you regret
A truth that washes that learnt how to spell

The first time you see yourself naked you cry
Soft skin now acne, foul breath, so broken
He loves me truly this mute solitude Im draining
I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing

Sleep cant hide the thoughts splitting through my mind
Shadows arent clean, false mirrors too many people awake
If you stand up like a nail then you will be knocked down
Ive been too honest with myself I should have lied like everybody else

I am stronger than mensa, miller and mailer
I spat out plath and pinter
I am all the things that you regret
A truth that washes that learnt how to spell, learnt to spell

So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything
So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything
So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything

So damn easy to cave in, man kills everything

Faster, from the album The Holy Bible. Fucking magic. The new album aint half bad too. I find 'She bathed herself in a bath of bleach' really powerful - no idea what the lyrics are about but the music, especially the chorus is just wonderful.

My head is stuffed up with a dust mite allergy so this is about as considered as y'all getting today. Thankfully, my anti allergy duvet arrived today so hopefully I'll wake up and feel human tomorrow, with the added ability to breathe. That'd be nice.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The murder of George Tiller

Cross posted from The F Word who put it far better than I:


On Sunday morning, US gynaecologist George Tiller was murdered. He was one of the few providers of late-term abortions in the US.

Christine at Our Bodies Ourselves gives some background - Tiller had faced many years of persecution:

In March, Tiller was found not guilty of illegal abortion. He had faced 19 criminal charges for allegedly violating a state law requiring an “independent” second physician’s concurring opinion before performing later term abortions.

“Tiller, 67, is one of a handful of doctors in the country who terminate very late-term pregnancies and has virtually become public enemy No. 1 to those who oppose abortion. For years, prosecutors and activists have tried to bring him down, and for years, Tiller has survived legal and physical challenges,” wrote Robin Abcarian in a L.A. Times story previewing the trial.

Tiller was shot in both arms in 1993; Rachelle Shannon remains in jail for the shooting. The clinic was bombed in June 1986, and vandals caused extensive damage, including flooding, to the building earlier this month.

“For almost two decades, Dr. Tiller and those individuals who helped provide care to his patients have lived under intense harassment tinged with persistent threats of violence,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement issued today. “Even under these adverse circumstances, Dr. Tiller never wavered in his commitment to providing abortion services and other reproductive health care to women and their families, often in the most difficult and heart-breaking circumstances.”

Sara at Bilerico says:

Dr. Tiller faced a lifetime of threats. His clinic was bombed in 1985. He still continued his work because he was saving lives. And one of the few willing to take the constant abuse thrown at him and his family.

Walking into church, a sanctuary if nothing else, he was shot and killed. I am certain the shooter believes he has saved countless babies lives. I am also certain he has cost countless women’s lives.

Shot dead in front of his wife and daughter.

I no longer stand vigil at clinics. I believe deeply, though, that the right to choose was essential in the battle for women’s rights, regardless of whether or not a woman would ever be in the position of making that choice.

No woman ever makes the choice lightly.

Our bodies. Our choices. Over the years, the anti-abortion groups have pressured so many decent doctors out of providing safe access to a medical procedure. Few are brave enough to continue.

Dr. Tiller was brave enough.

My deepest condolences to his family.


You are not pro life if you murder someone. You are only pro your own views. You do not get to say who deserves to live or die.

Yes, I am aware many anti abortion campaigners would take my words and apply them to doctors carrying out these procedures. Abortion is a complicated issue. I think that until you are in that position you never know what you will do. I also think it is a choice for the woman, and the woman only. Our bodies, our lives, our health.