Archive | February, 2013

We Saw Your Boobs-And I Want Feedback

28 Feb

 

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http://youtu.be/saHG2MLDfPI?t=12s

So, this is getting a lot of attention. Above is a link to Seth McFarlane’s opening Oscar number. This thing has raised a few eyebrows, and cause some people to pull out the old soap box. My reaction: what did you expect from the creator of such potty-humor juggernauts as *Family Guy* and *Ted*? McFarlane opened the show with a song and dance routine that named various actresses and the films in which they appear nude, aptly titled: “We Saw Your Boobs.”

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Some critics are complaining that the actresses singled out in the bit bared all for art. They are bothered because the actresses efforts have been subverted for the sake of a joke.

But that’s sort of the thing about art, isn’t it? Once you put words, or images, or body parts out there; people will interpret them as they wish. I doubt Van Gogh ever foresaw *Starry Night* iPhone skins and area rugs, but those things exist. So do people who think boobs are worth giggling about, McFarlane capitalized on a point of view that already existed, he didn’t invent it.

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I am not sure that the Oscar Award Ceremony was really the time and place for such humor, but I am not sure it was really the place for McFarlane either. The Academy did, in some capacity, know what they were signing up for (the segment was not performed live after all). Its not like Hugh Jackman went rogue with a number about testicles, or James Franco suddenly burst into spoken word poetry about orgies, or Billy Crystal had a wardrobe malfunction… this was planned. McFarlane is the guy who makes us laugh whether we want to or not, despite the fact that we sometimes know we shouldn’t.

So, with all that said, this got me thinking about comic books (yes most things do) and I decided to write about it. I was thinking that, while actresses and actors get the final say on their nude scenes; comic book characters are in the hands of their creative teams. They don’t get to choose whether or not the public sees them unclothed. Yet, once it has happened, its out there. For better or worse, to be appreciated, or mocked. I can’t imagine Barbara Gordon (as Oracle or New 52 Batgirl) signing up to do Batman Confidential #18, but there she is, wearing nothing but a cowl and a grimace. That book is still attached to her name, and if you google “Batgirl nude” it will pop right up. The legacy of nudity for comic characters is very similar to that of actors.

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So in preparation for a much longer post on this subject… I am putting out an all call.

Tell me what you think about nudity in comics. Is there a scene or character that comes to mind when you consider the topic? A time when it added to a story, or detracted from one, that left an impression on you? Does it affect the books you buy, or tell people you buy? Who gets it right? Who misses the mark? Surprise me with your own insights. Tell me what you think. E-mail me at comicsonice@gmail.com

I’ll post the best response here on my blog, and make sure everyone (or no one if you prefer) knows who is responsible.

Follow me on twitter @comicsonice

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Modernity & Mythology: What Saga Tells Us About Ourselves for Image Addiction

26 Feb

Modernity & Mythology: What Saga Tells Us About Ourselves for Image Addiction

Just posted a new Mirror Image feature on the Image Addiction website. I hope you’ll stop by and take a look.

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Review of Saga #10 for Image Addiction

20 Feb

Review of Saga #10 for Image Addiction

I posted a review of Saga #10 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples on the Image Addiction website, go visit and find out more.

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Review of Revival #7 for Image Addiction

20 Feb

Review of Revival #7 for Image Addiction

I posted a review of Revival #7 by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton for Image Comics on the Image Addiction website, stop by and check it out!

Follow me on twitter @comicsonice

Icebreakers: Mindy Wara Mackiolek Introduces Comic Books in the Classroom

19 Feb

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Mindy started collecting comic books with her husband as a hobby they both could share with the DC New 52 relaunch, but recently she has started getting into more indie and digital comics as well. She is 26 and grew up in Wisconsin, but currently lives in Saskatchewan. Mindy graduated with a degree in English and Theatre Education and Creative Writing. Most of the time she can be found reading, knitting, drawing, watching New Girl, listening the the Talking Comics podcasts, or spending time with her husband and two cats. Her favorite super heroine is tied between Batwoman and Barbara Gordon as Oracle and Batgirl.

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I love comic books for so many reasons. They are not only pieces of literature, but pieces of art as well. Because of my literature and education background I tend to focus on the same things I focus on when reading a full text book – women’s issues and/or how this might translate in a classroom setting. I used Maus to teach about the Holocaust during my student teaching and the kids loved it. I have also done a lot of research on character origins and general comic book history (in case I ever get the opportunity to teach a class on comic books). Comics are a less intimidating form of reading with the added challenge of interpreting pictorial representations – what more could you want in a book?

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Find out more about Mindy! 

Read her blog here: 

Or find even more information about Mindy and comics in the classroom at these URLs:
 
 
Follow me on twitter @comicsonice
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Review – The End Times of Bram and Ben #2

19 Feb

Review – The End Times of Bram and Ben #2

Check out my review of The End Times of Bram and Ben #2 by Asmus, Festante, and Broo published by Image Comics for Image Addiction here. 

 

 

Review Batgirl #17

16 Feb

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Something Old, Something New, Something borrowed, Something better?

So, here we are, sans Gail Simone. I expected to be outraged, disappointed, and then finish off my pout by feeling an intense sense of relief that Simone would return to the title soon.

Instead, I read the book and realized what BATGIRL has been missing. Fawkes’ third person narration stuck me as emotionally rich and thought provoking. This story, told from the perspective of James Gordon, Junior, made me do two things I haven’t done when I read the title in the past: think and feel.

It’s really not fair to compare this issue to what Gail Simone has been doing on the book. It’s such a departure, residing inside the mind of a villainous character, and only partially concerned with Barbara’s self-affirming internal pep talks. When James, Jr. tells us that Barbara is ‘fascinating,’ it’s the first time in a while that I have considered that a possibility in a long while.

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I love Barbara, but recently I feel our relationship has devolved to one of those where I take her calls because imagining what happens if I don’t makes me very anxious. I listen to her talk about the same old things over and over, trying to seem interested—even though we’ve been over this and she is clearly making no progress. She never asks me how I feel about important issues, or makes me think about things in a different way. My love for her is very one-sided; I am not getting a lot out of the time we spend together. I expect at member of the Bat-team to be a bit more complex than the Barbara we have been presented with thus far.

This issue was very successful. It had a clear rise and fall in action. The twists and turns were thoughtful and surprising; and the voice used to tell the story was genuinely inspired and original.

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Sampere’s artwork is dynamic and visually appealing. I would love to see him stay on the book, I really love the way he draws Barbara. His representation of The Firebug helped characterize the villain even though he only appears in a few panels. The medals on his chest tell us that he was not always a menace, but in a past life might have even been a hero.

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The highlight of the issue for me was the large panel featuring James, Jr. sitting on a hotel bed in the dark. He looks just like his father here. The clear nod to BATMAN: YEAR ONE reminded me of everything the Gordon family has been through, and how truly horrifying it must be for Barbara and the commissioner to see their own flesh and blood as a force of evil. This scene had real resonance.

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This issue by Fawkes and Sampere was thoroughly successful. I am interested to find out what happens next month. Perhaps in the myriad of Bat-titles, one focusing on James, Junior could support its own weight. I’ll stick by Barbara and Simone, for all they have done to promote strong women in comics and female readership; I just hope to see ‘something better’ soon. If anyone can realize the full potential of BATGIRL, I believe it is Simone. I will be waiting and reading in the highest hopes that she will do so.

Follow me on twitter @comicsonice

The Encomium of Josephine: The Exoneration of a Disastrous Woman

14 Feb

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In the series Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips published by Image Comics; the main character Josephine, or “Jo,” is a moral gray area. Is she a hero, or a villain?

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To begin, there should be no ambiguity regarding the meaning of the term, “femme fatale,” which translated from French literally reads, “disastrous woman.” The dictionary goes on to define the term  as, “a seductive woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations,” or “a woman who attracts men by an aura of charm and mystery.” Using this definition as a rubric, how does Brubaker’s leading lady, Jo, stack up?

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Jo is certainly mysterious; she is certainly beautiful. She has power and influence over the stronger sex, which she seems capable of wielding to various degrees of accuracy and deadliness. She does seem to enact Murphy’s Law on the men who cross her path. Once she is a part of their lives; anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. However, to this point in the series, Brubaker has lead us to see Jo as a reluctant vessel for this power. While manipulating the men who surround her, she often develops strong feelings of affection, if not love, for them. When calamity consumes her lovers, she seems to feel genuine remorse and sorrow. So, that leads naturally to the next question I will ask: is there such a thing as a reluctant femme fatale; or does the term by definition imply intent?

Case Study: Helen of Troy

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“…she had godlike beauty, which having received she not inconspicuously retained. She produced the greatest erotic desires in most men. For one body many bodies of men came together…”
-Gorgias “The Encomium of Helen”

According to ancient Greek legend, Helen was the most beautiful woman ever to have lived. She belonged to Sparta; she was their queen. Her lover, Paris, was a Trojan prince. He took her away with him, to live happily ever after. As is so often the case when a young man takes a bride, an epic war broke out; taking the lives of countless men, destroying families and permanently altering history. Helen has been given the monicker, “The face that launched a thousand ships.” She has been vilified and berated for centuries.

Was she to blame for the effect she had on the men of her day?

Between 480-380 B.C.E. a Greek Sophist, called Gorgias, set out to accomplish the great feat of exonerating Helen in his speech, “The Encomium of Helen.” He posited that Helen’s actions (leaving Sparta and starting the Trojan War) were the result of one of four things: fate, force, persuasion, or love; and the if any of these were the culprit, she was blameless. Could the same be said for Josephine, the heroine in Fatale?

FATE:

“For the will of a god cannot be hindered by human forethought.” – Gorgias

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It is clear that Jo is a piece of a much larger puzzle. Brubaker takes care to establish that she is cursed, and this curse touches every facet of her existence.

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There are worldly forces controlling her fate…

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And that the rules of this mortal existence do not apply to her.

FORCE:

“But if she was abducted by force, unlawfully constrained and unjustly victimized, it is clear on the one hand that the abductor, as victimizer, committed injustice…” – Gorgias

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It is clear time and again, that Jo is motivated by her fear of violence and victimization. The consequences she would face if she fell into the hands of her adversaries are great enough that she will do anything to avoid facing them. Her fear suppresses her conscience. The threat of violence is tantamount to force in this case.

PERSUASION:

“Persuasion belonging to discourse shapes the soul at will,” – Gorgias

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The truth is, we still do not know how Jo came by the power she possesses. Did she willingly acquiesce, was she tricked into it, or did she come into existence already endowed with this fatal beauty? The panel above seems to indicate that she was somehow initiated into this life.

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However, we learn later that she was not fully educated on her power, or the potential harm she could generate. This might suggest that there was an element of trickery or deception in her initial encounter which led to her acquiring this power. If she was deceived in the beginning and not made fully aware of the devastation she could cause; can she be held responsible?

LOVE:

“If Love, being a god, has the divine power of gods, how could the weaker being have the power to reject this and to ward it off?” – Gorgias

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Time and again, Jo thinks of her affectionate feelings for the men who come in and out of her life. She never takes for granted those who come to her assistance, and seems genuinely invested in her partners.

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She never discounts the sincerity and earnestness of her lovers feelings for her. In fact, she seems as incapable of stopping herself from reciprocating those feelings as she is of inspiring them.

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Jo even puts herself in harms way to protect those who love her, braving bullets and a fiery crash to save Nicholas Lash.

How then is it necessary to regard as just the blame of Helen, who either passionately in love or persuaded by discourse or abducted by force or constrained by divine constraints did the things she did, escaping responsibility every way? By this discourse I have removed infamy from a woman… – Gorgias

Jo is a force of nature, not a malicious temptress praying on the innocent. Find it in your heart to pardon her, and pick up this beautiful series from Image comics here: http://www.comixology.com/Fatale-1/digital-comic/NOV110354

Follow me on twitter @comicsonice

And find more of my writing at http://imageaddiction.net/ 

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Review of The Manhattan Projects #9

12 Feb

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Review of The Manhattan Projects #9

Please check out this review I wrote for The Manhattan Projects #9 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

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Review Fatale #12

12 Feb

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Review Fatale #12

Please check out the review I wrote for Image Addiction on Fatale #12 by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

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