Tag Archives: Bleeding Cool

Asian-American Creators in Comic Books As Of July 16th: 2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad

The last time I wrote a post that was titled in a similar format was back in 2013, which followed another the year before. Both were written because at the time events had occurred in the comic book industry that touched on LGBT representation. Given the fact that Western comic books don’t necessarily have a dearth of Asian creators [Gene Luen Yang, Annie Wu, and Jerome Opeña being just a few examples] it’s actually sort of surprising that it wasn’t until this week that I felt justified in putting together a similar post.

What’s unfortunate is, as you can probably tell by the title, that it’s not all good news. With that in mind I’m going to go with the classic “sandwich” delivery, with the positives buttressing a negative. That said, and without further ado-

Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk #15 Brings a Tear to My Eye

I should probably clarify that I have not read the 15th issue of Totally Awesome Hulk. That won’t actually hit stands until this upcoming October. That said, the cover was released in the Marvel NOW’s Previews Magazine this past Wednesday [with leaks hitting the internet a little earlier]. You can see the cover below in all of its glory-

marvelasians

Cover art by Mukesh Singh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Clockwise from the very top of the cover is: Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel [Pakistani-American], Shang-Chi/Master of Kung Fu [Chinese], Amadeus Cho/Totally Awesome Hulk [Korean-American], presumably SHIELD Agent Jimmy Woo [Chinese-American], Cindy Moon/Silk [Korean-American], and lastly a character I can’t place who Bleeding Cool cites as being Winter Soldier [which I could not confirm through my own research].

What struck me was that this is a comic book cover from one of the the two major publishers [DC and Marvel] on which every one of the many characters depicted is Asian. It’s also not an established team of Asian heroes like Big Hero 6 [the film adaptation of which you know my exact feelings about]. This is especially notable in light of the fact that other comics like Sam Wilson: Captain America #10-

blackmarvel

Sam Wilson: Captain America #10. Written by Nick Spencer, illustrated by Angel Unzueta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bp7

Cover art by Marguerite Sauvage.

-and the cover to Black Panther #7 [as seen on the right] communicate the ideas that a) Black heroes exist within this universe and b) just like in many real life situations, Black people can and do congregate together.

Even before these respective examples came to light most of these heroes were fairly recognizable by the public [Storm and Black Panther, Nick Fury Jr.], but they also shine light on the lesser-knowns [Misty Knight, Doctor Voodoo, Spectrum].

The cover to Totally Awesome Hulk #15 is the first major step in my recent memory to bring a similar awareness to Asian representation in comic books, and it’s very clear that a conscious decision was made by Greg Pak [a Korean-American himself] to do this. It’s no exaggeration that just seeing the cover made me emotional, and I cannot wait until October to get my hands on the issue.

Frank Cho Stirs Continues to Stir Up Controversy Over Wonder Woman Variant Covers

There’s no such thing as the perfect week.

Frank Cho, a Korean-American artist and the initial collaborator with Greg Pak on Totally Awesome Hulk [their similarities to the titular character further discussed here], announced two days ago that he would be walking off Wonder Woman as variant cover artist with Issue #6. Deciding to go to Bleeding Cool, Cho explained that:

“All the problem lies with [author] Greg Rucka.

EVERYONE loves my Wonder Woman covers and wants me to stay. Greg Rucka is the ONLY one who has any problem with covers. Greg Rucka has been trying to alter and censor my artwork since day one.

Greg Rucka thought my Wonder Woman #3 cover was vulgar and showed too much skin, and has been spearheading censorship, which is baffling since my Wonder Woman image is on model and shows the same amount of skin as the interior art, and it’s a VARIANT COVER and he should have no editorial control over it. (But he does. WTF?!!!)

I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible. Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics.

To DC’s credit, especially [Art Director] Mark Chiarello, they have been very accommodating. But they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

I just wanted to be left alone and do my Wonder Woman variant covers in peace. But Greg Rucka is in a hostile power trip and causing unnecessary friction over variant covers.”

For those who are not familiar with comic book journalism websites, Bleeding Cool excels in tracking a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in the industry. That said, they’re also known for rumour-mongering, a practice with a so-so success rate. They have also devoted many an article to the artist’s last controversy over covers, noting each time one of the illustrations made its way online.

While Rucka has made no official response to Cho or to anyone else asking for comment save for the following tweet:

As far as an actual example of the “censorship” Cho is decrying, pictured below is the aforementioned cover to Wonder Woman #3, with the final cover on the left and the original art on the right:

frankchoww

Notably absent is the character’s panty line, shown on the right. Apart from the cropping, the art appears untouched.

It should be restated that Cho was not fired from the gig, but instead chose to leave of his own volition. As a creator doing work-for-hire the people at DC comics had every right to ask for edits to be made to whatever iss submitted to them. It was also his choice to approach the comic book journalism site most likened to a tabloid to announce the reasons behind this. The true irony is that the artist’s sensitivity over what occurred feels out of line with his approach to the outrage others have felt about his own work.

Gene Luen Yang’s New Super-Man #1: This Man of Steel is a Boy From Shanghai

Particularly worth spotlighting as the first-ever DC book I’ve decided to buy issue-to-issue, New Super-Man comes from the same writer of one of my favourite graphic novels, American Born Chinese. That book proved that Yang understands a lot of the innate conflict in being Asian-American, living your entire life in a country but never quite feeling like you fit in.

Cover art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

Cover art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

With that in mind, several months ago he wrote a blog post for the DC Comics site in which he admits almost immediately that “I’ve only visited China twice, so my understanding of Chinese culture is through echoes.” That said, he wants to do everything he can to make his portrayal of the character as authentic as possible, and the majority of the post spends time picking apart exactly how and why he landed on the name “Kenan Kong”.

It’s but one example of how committed he is to the authentic portrayals of Asians, and it can be strongly felt throughout that first issue, which was sold in comic stores everywhere this past Wednesday.


It’s my hope that this isn’t the last such blog post that I piece together, and that part of the reason for that will be even more Asian creators working in both mainstream and indie comics. While the news won’t always be positive, the dream is that with even more talent we’ll be able to see the best that they have to offer, especially in regards to pushing representation in my favourite medium.

Advertisements

Shame Day: Shia LaBeouf

Writing the first Shame Day of 2014 is a difficult position to be in. The topic must be the source of some terrible wrongdoing, but must also have committed that wrongdoing in a way that truly incenses us as decent human beings. All that being said, let me present today’s subject, Mr. Shia Saide LaBeouf.

Now rest assured, dear readers, I have reasons for targeting the former child star and lead in Disney’s Even Stevens and repopularizer of the word “no.” Believe me, I wouldn’t willingly put myself through having to check and recheck that I’m spelling his surname correctly otherwise. To begin with, midway through December of last year he released a short film titled Howard Cantour.com.

The film follows the titular Cantour, an internet film critic, and received a pretty hefty amount of critical acclaim. Not only that, but it starred my number one favourite stand-up comedian who almost exclusively jokes about food, Jim Gaffigan. It was also a near shot-for-shot adaptation of the comic Justin M. Damiano, by Daniel Clowes.

Continue reading

Shame Day: Internet Journalism

So yesterday I was reading through comic book news, as I do, and came across
this image that features award-winning actress Glenn Close as Nova Prime in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.

When I saw this I thought to myself, “Huh, that doesn’t look a darn thing like Glenn Close as Nova Prime in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.” Then I moved on with my life. Aside from that brief thought I didn’t really question it. The thing is, neither did most sites. Continue reading

Shame Day: Spoilers

Today’s post is going to be a little shorter than most, primarily because I am, well, not writing this from home. Take from that what you will.

spoilersspoilersspoilersspoilers

I write this because last night, while perusing Facebook, the page for CBS’s How I Met Your Mother posted an image of a certain someone [seen on the right]. The caption for the image was as follows:

A secret 8 years in the making! You just met… wait for it… the mother! Like this post if you were surprised!
http://bit.ly/10K4e18

But here’s the thing, I hadn’t seen the episode. I was busy talking about short stories with my writing group, which was swiftly followed up by reviewing the season finale of the other CBS sitcom. As the description of the image reads, this was a reveal “8 years in the making.” I may not have started the year the show came out, but I  have seen every episode. That’s 183 episodes; that comes out to something like 3660 minutes, or 61 hours, or 2.5 full days of television. Continue reading

The Avengers Go To Hong Kong, Japan

Early this week I was perusing Marvel’s solicitations for May 2013, and came across the following cover for Avengers #11:

avengers11

Art by Dustin Weaver.

The first part of the issue’s description [and the one I thought was most relevant] was the following:

As Shang-Chi battles an ancient enemy, the Avengers hang out in Hong Kong’s swankiest casino. Continue reading

A Comic Lover’s Opinion on “The Bakersfield Expedition” [Last Night’s Episode of The Big Bang Theory]

I love comics. In no way should this be a surprise to anyone who’s given this blog more than a passing glance. I also love television a lot, and when the two happen to overlap you can be assured that you have my undivided attention.

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about Bleeding Cool’s response to The Big Bang Theory episode “The Bakersfield Expedition”, half of which revolved around the premise that the show’s female cast would be entering a place traditionally closed off to their gender. I was able to catch the show last night and have many thoughts, but my ultimate conclusion is this: It really wasn’t that bad.

The guys, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard are all off to the Bakersfield Comic-Con, so the girls enjoy their weekend alone by having brunch [an idea celebrated by the character we all know is an alcoholic, Penny].  While sitting around and enjoying their croissants and mimosas, Amy states that she doesn’t get why the guys go to these conventions. To which Penny responds:

“The four of them work at a major university, they’re all super smart, how can they still be into something made for 12-year-olds?”

Which did not please me. Having given it a second viewing, however, I realize that it’s a believable response and the perspective many people still have on the medium today. Bernadette suggests that they try to become a part of their significant others’ lives by seeing what the big deal with comics is, and soon they’re all off to their LCS [local comic store].

As the promo advertised, the following does indeed happen:

 

 

 

 

But it’s a quick gag that thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome. Owner of the store and new series-regular Stuart is quick to chastise his socially awkward clientele and is soon talking to the girls about comic book recommendations.

Amy’s direct approach of asking “Alright, well who’s the best super hero?” and Stuart’s haste to nip that line of questioning in the bud was fantastic. There isn’t really any media that’s cut and dry as far as what “the best” is, and his whispered “What do you want to do, start a riot?” communicated well that this is a pretty contentious topic in certain circles.

Stuart also does a great job in saying that there are many different kinds of comics, and a little later on that there are different types of super heroes as well. The character really shines when he recommends to the ladies the incredible Fables #1, about which he says:

“The artwork is sophisticated, it’s intelligently written and it doesn’t objectify or stereotype women.”

Unfortunately Penny ultimately chooses for the group when she looks over and sees an issue of Thor and notes that:

Back at the apartment Amy and Bernadette sit quietly as they wait for Penny to finish the twenty-or-so-page issue. The following exchange occurs:

Amy: “There was a lot of action, the story moved along at a brisk pace, it was overall, what’s the word I’m looking for?”

Penny: “Stupid”

Amy: “So stupid.”

This upset me when I first watched it, but upon finding out the title was Thor, God of Thunder #2, written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic I was dumbfounded. The Big Bang Theory has always been really good about keeping their comics contemporary, and the stock in Stuart’s shop actively changes to keep up with what’s new on the stands, but this was something else entirely. Aaron’s new Marvel NOW! title follows the character as he grows from a young, brash god to the hero we all know today and then further on to his role as the future king of Asgard. It’s masterfully written, and features artwork like this jaw-dropping splash page [which also happens to be my current desktop wallpaper.

I’m willing to assume, probably correctly so, that the show was in no way actually referring to anything in the actual book [though it would not surprise me to have an entire page featuring the single word “Krakka-DOOM” in a Thor title].

Then, as the three gripe about the waste of time that is their boyfriends’ [and husband’s] pastime, Bernadette notes that “It’s crazy, they spend hours arguing about things that don’t even exist!” And then things get interesting. Penny mocks the idea of a “hammer so heavy that no one else can pick it up” and then before you know it the girls are deeply debating the fundamentals of who or what can wield Mjolnir.

A lot of good points are bandied back and forth, but the best is easily Penny’s observation that:

“If we were in outer space, anyone could pick up the hammer  because it would be floating around in a weightless environment that’s right the slow reader used science suck on that.”

Wonderful. I say that without a trace of sarcasm.

After a fairly unenjoyable pan back to whatever it is the guys are doing we return to see that the girls are in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, eating takeout with comics strewn all around them. They are still talking about Thor’s hammer. Then the following exchange happens [and this is my last quote, I promise]:

Bernadette: Red Hulk must be worthy.

Penny: How can Red Hulk be worthy?

Bernadette: You don’t know his life!

If there was any laugh-out-loud moment of this entire episode that was it.

Coming away from watching “The Bakersfield Expedition” for the second time [which I did to write this post] I have to say that I quite enjoyed exactly half of it. Absolutely no part of me was invested in the guys trekking [ah ha] around the desert as a Federation landing party. What I was interested in was watching three characters, formerly wholly unfamiliar with comic books, arguing intensely about a matter which, and I’ll be honest, is not important in most senses of the word.

While The Big Bang Theory has often taken the nerdier passions and portrayed them in a fairly mockable light, it was certainly not so in this episode. Yes, comic books were referred to as something for twelve-year-olds, but Stuart does a great job in telling both the girls and the audience that it’s a broad, diverse medium that has beautiful illustrations and excellent writing, as well as a little eye candy for the ladies.

Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool thinks they did a passable job at addressing comics, but continues to assert that it’s still The Television Show That Hates [Comic Book Fans]. The episode review over at The A.V. Club’s TV Club actually referenced the Bleeding Cool movement [which you again read about in yesterday’s Fame Day post] and similar to what I did focused mainly on the girls’ plot for this episode. The comments section of that review go over the age old conversation of how the show treats its subject material and its potential audience, but that is another post for another day.

All I have to say is that I was pleasantly surprised by the episode, and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I also finally received the second volume of Mark Waid’s Daredevil, so this is not a day on which I can feel unhappy. Here’s another picture of Thor from Issue #4 of Aaron and Ribic’s title for all you lovely people.

Fame Day: Bleeding Cool and The Big Bang Theory

It all started with this teaser for tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory:

“The girls go . . . WHERE NO WOMAN HAS GONE BEFORE.”

This prompted the writing a post two days ago by Rich Johnston on his comics website Bleeding Cool, entitled “Are You A Woman, Have You Actually Been Inside A Comic Shop?” This in turn prompted another post by the name of “Disproving The Big Bang Theory” in which Johnston received feedback from numerous individuals on what they thought of this premise.

A few response tweets:

Untitled-1

Untitled-1

And one of the longer email responses, this one from Susanna Baird:

I started reading comic books about a year ago. I’m a middle-aged mom and the first few times I walked to the “New Comics” back wall at Harrison’s in Salem, MA, I felt like I was walking the halls of my junior high school with a new haircut. But after a few weeks, I realized that feeling was entirely my own.

Everyone wanted to talk comics, and no one cared that I was the only middle-aged housewife in the store. Now it’s like all the enthusiastic geekery of junior high minus the mean girls. I love it. Love comics, love Harrison’s – the staff, the clientele – and I love being in a room full of metal shelves lined with three-dollar art.

I love Harrison’s.

Finally, one last post just today revealed that even an editorial staffer at one of the Big Two [Marvel/DC] had things to say about, which I won’t quote here since I don’t want this to just be links to Bleeding Cool articles. You can read that here, though.

Is all of this attention warranted? Should The Big Bang Theory really be criticized for depicting comic book stores as havens for uncomfortably staring virgins?

The fact of the matter is this: it’s the perpetuation of a stereotype that simply isn’t true. More than that, it’s based on the sexist assumption that some forms of media [in this case, comics] are closed off to women. I know for a fact that there are members of the finer sex who appreciate a good comic book, and saying that no woman has ever stepped foot in a comic book store straight-up denies this.

As someone who loves comic books, and wishes more people did, it’s a huge
encouragement to me that so many women are speaking out on this topic. They’re asserting that they appreciate good art and storylines too, and I am immensely pleased that this is happening.

asdgasdgasgd

It’s unfortunate, as well, since The Big Bang Theory has actually been really great this season. They’ve started giving the female cast members equal screentime, and it’s refreshing and creates a lot of immensely funny situations. It’s a shame that tonight’s episode turns to relying on such tired material, but it is definitely worth giving kudos to those who are doing their best to prove its premise false.