Welcome Back, Kevin!

About two years ago, my son, now 11, popped the “What does ‘gay’ mean?” question. I answered plainly, and he made a little face. Not in an “I’m Pat Robertson way” but a “Gee, that’s … odd” way. We had a brief talk about it not being odd at all, and then — shiny object! — he went right back to his beloved PSP.

What does this have to do with comics? After introducing Kevin Keller last year, Archie Comics has given Riverdale’s first openly gay character his own series, which hit shelves last week. It’s a typically cute, zany Archie story about pie-eating contests and parade floats. It’s also about Kevin’s coming-out experience, and writer/artist Dan Parent handles it with humor and sensitivity. Continue reading

Rethinking Lois

Rumors are swirling that Lois Lane might not be the female lead in the upcoming Superman movie, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating on who should play her if and when the time comes. As much as I love Emily Blunt and Rachel McAdams, I’m a little annoyed by how monochromatic the entertainment media wish-lists are. While some armchair casting agents have looked beyond the typical starlets, most have been depressingly predictable. Obviously, the role should go to the best actress available. However, there are a number of wonderful actresses who don’t even seem to be in the running. Hollywood, here are some alternatives you might want to consider:

Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan: She’s played plenty of strong characters, and her turn as a driven career woman in the little-seen Something New was really good. As an actress, Lathan has the right mix of steeliness and vulnerability to do right by the role.

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones: The multitalented Ms. Jones could do a great screwball comedy turn on Lois Lane, harkening back to the Margot Kidder model. There’s something wonderfully perky about her, and since she’s co-authored a comic book, we know she’s a fan of the medium.

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes: Besides having a stunning screen presence, Eva just comes across as a formidable woman. She’s also funny, as her turn as Will Ferrell’s wife in The Other Guys proves. I can definitely see her staring down a shady mofo on the other side of a reporter’s notebook.

 

Anika Noni Rose

Anika Noni Rose: The voice of Disney’s first African-American princess and big-screen Dreamgirl would make a plucky, loveable Lois. She’s a fresh face and a big talent who deserves more exposure. Plus, she’s a fellow alum of my alma mater (Florida A&M, represent!).

Grace Park: She’s been on Battlestar Galactica (geek cred!), and she’s currently Det. Kona Klakaua in the updated Hawaii Five-O TV show (badass!) Enough said.

Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton: OK, Thandie was my top choice to play Selina Kyle, but that ain’t gonna happen. So why not give this lovely, proven actress a chance to do her thing as the most famous reporter in the DCU? Besides, who would deny this woman a quote?

A Word About Diversity

 

A character, not a "statement"

By now, you’ve probably seen Gail Simone’s fierce, utterly awesome rebuttal to an aspiring comic book writer who said, essentially, that characters should not be forced on publishers for the sake of inclusion. Specifically, gay characters. This person’s argument is annoying for a number of reasons, but what struck me is how frequently I’ve heard versions of this from otherwise reasonable people. Continue reading

G3 Guest Essay: DC’s Legacy of Legacies

V. and I feel like proud parents with the posting of today’s guest essay from our fellow fangirl, Jenn. She’s the brains behind Dirty Blonde & Nerdy, where she writes about her adventures in geek. Jenn was also one of our earliest readers, and it warmed our jaded little hearts to learn that Girls Gone Geek had helped guide her as a newbie in the often overwhelming world of comic-book reading. Seriously; we had a moment. (Me to V: “Dude, she’s like our Padawan!”) Anyway, we enjoyed the heck out of her essay on DC’s throwback strategy, and we think you will, too. Take it away, Jenn!

WHYYYYYY!!???? Oh. Right. Darkseid.

There have been quite a few shake-ups in the DC comicverse in recent years. It’s been a pretty intimidating time for anyone to follow, especially for someone just diving into the fun. We had the Crisis siblings: Identity, Infinite, and Final; Bruce Wayne is now sleuthing up to his inevitable return after his supposed death, the Justice League has a new Big Three, if one at all, with a table full of new faces, and the big to-do with Blackest Night led directly to Brightest Day. And, of course, there is the new Wonder Woman run/temporary costume. DC has had its hands buried deep in the cradle of its characters and titles, and the editorial powers have been stirring things around for a while.

Let me make it clear that I have absolutely no problem with that. At all. I love nothing more than when someone takes the plunge and dares to do something different, outside the box, and makes people mad or excited about the idea. It garners plenty of attention, a necessity in any entertainment business. But an “A” for effort doesn’t really count. Success doesn’t ride on the back of good intentions and certainly not on the shoulders of half-assed executions. Continue reading

Comic Blast From the Past: Hip Hop Heaven

Don't act like you didn't own a flannel shirt.

Few things in pop culture withstand the passage of time unscathed, and comic books are no exception. Like gauchos, Jheri curls or LFO’s brief musical career, things that seem perfectly reasonable in their moment look entirely different a decade or two later.

In terms of sheer wackiness, nothing will ever top Spire’s 1970s series of Christian-themed Archie comics, which must be seen to be believed. But Hip Hop Heaven, a comic that I collected briefly in the early ’90s, is somewhere in the top five. I had forgotten all about it until I unearthed issue #2 during a recent housecleaning fit. I’m glad I held onto it, because as with Archie’s One Way, people wouldn’t believe Hip Hop Heaven (Boomtown Productions) existed without hard evidence.

In its defense, Hip Hop Heaven used issue #2 to make the case for safe sex in the post-AIDS era — a worthy goal. Milestone Comics launched around 1993, so at the time, it wasn’t exactly common to see several black characters playing pivotal roles in a single comic book. I bought it for that reason, and I was excited to see something different and indie on the shelves.

Almost 20 years later, Hip Hop Heaven reads as a comic very much of its era, one working awfully hard for the credibility. (No love without a glove? Really?) I graduated from a predominantly black university around the time it was published, and I don’t remember conducting conversations with quite as much … flair as female protagonists Coco and Feather:

There’s a preachy message about Korean-made sneakers, complete with a “What Would Martin/Malcolm Do?” splash panel, and an oh-so-’90s discussion about hairstyles and heritage:

Still, creator Craig Rex Perry’s art had a fun, vibrant style — and as much as I’d like to, I can’t deny that he captured the fashion and hairdos of the time. I’ve given away/recycled/donated a lot of comics over the years, but there must be a reason I haven’t parted with Hip Hop Heaven. It’s certainly easier to explain than Archie’s Sonshine.

Change Comes To Riverdale!

Meow!

When word got out last spring that Archie had gotten off the fence and proposed to Veronica, news outlets and old fans went nuts. But as far as I’m concerned, the solicitation for Archie #608 — which suggests young Mr. Andrews has been swapping more than guitar licks with Valerie, the African-American member of Josie & the Pussycats — blows that event out of the water. Here’s a sampling of the reaction from some friends, who are all jaded media types: Continue reading

Comic Shop Unicorn-Spotting

My LCS isn’t exactly conveniently located, so I have to plan my Wednesday pick-ups strategically. If I don’t get them on my lunch break, I have to be sufficiently motivated to drive in the opposite direction of my house on a cold winter evening. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to brave some crappy after-hours weather to get my books. It turned out to be worth it in ways I didn’t anticipate.

While I’ve gotten used to being one of the few female regulars at comic shops, it’s really not all that unusual to spot another woman browsing the aisles. However, in all my years of fandom, I had never encountered another black woman in a comic book shop — at least not since college, when my friend C. and I visited the one near campus. Um, that was 20 years ago. So when I looked up to see a twentysomething black woman — one also wearing geek/hipster specs! — walking into my LCS, it was like seeing a unicorn. A fellow unicorn. I started to whip out my cell to send my husband photo evidence, but I didn’t want to frighten her away.

Fortunately, she was as tickled as I was to see someone in our shared demographic leafing through Marvels and Blackest Night tie-ins. After we traded wow-this-is-cool comments, she (I’ll call her M.) told me that she was a college student and an aspiring writer who had been frequenting my LCS for a few months. She also said her friends gave her a hard time for spending so much money on comic books. (Yeah, I’m sure they’re all squirreling away cash in Roth IRAs.) Then, she asked the question every experienced geek longs to hear: “What do you recommend?”

Best. Wednesday. Ever.

M. and I traded phone numbers, and I went home feeling like I had actually helped someone. I realize this is hardly the equivalent of mentoring at-risk youth or building a Habitat for Humanity home, but when you’re a minority in your chosen subculture, it’s nice to see a face that looks like yours once in awhile.

This is probably less of an issue for M.’s generation, but when I was growing up, other black girls my age found my love of sci-fi and costumed heroes a little … eccentric. Dabbling in the geek arts was socially risky for me — at least as risky as it could be for someone who wore Bass Weejuns and played second-chair flute and  piccolo. I wasn’t exactly sitting at the Unfriendly Black Hottie* table to begin with.

By the time I went off to a historically black college in the late ‘80s, I decided those interests were best shared on a very limited basis, with people like my pal, C. (There’s a street in our college town named Jim Lee Road, and I’m fairly certain she and I once talked about taking a picture of the street sign and mailing it to Jim Lee. Does that make us geeks or dorks?) I stopped caring about being alternative a long time ago, but it sure would have been nice to occasionally bump into a woman of color — any color — back in the day. So if talking to me made M. feel even a tiny bit more confident about loving comics, well, that makes me happy.

Which reminds me: I need to check in with my padawan to see if she wants to borrow some Fables trades. Geeking ain’t easy, or cheap — but it’s worth it.

*This is a term from the movie “Mean Girls,” which you should have seen by now.