Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag me so I’ll see your list.

  1. War with the Newts, Karel Čapek
  2. Seabiscuit: An American Legend, Laura Hillenbrand
  3. Rurouni Kenshin, Nobuhiro Watsuki
  4. The Queen’s Thief series, Megan Whalen Turner
  5. American Born Chinese, Gene Yuen Lang
  6. Lieutenant Hornblower, C.S. Forester
  7. The Riddle of the Dinosaur, John Noble Wilford
  8. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  9. The Trial, Franz Kafka
  10. The Westing Game, Ellen Rankin

The most “high lit’rachur” book on this list has the pulpiest title.

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On Continuity


So. I think the terror of back issues is influenced some by the culture around comics, the widely-repeated notion that you’ll get your nerd card checked and revoked if you haven’t approached this stuff from 1966. That kind of attitude can make it really hard to walk into a comic book store and poke around for back issues, it punishes people who want to learn for not knowing. And without continuity, without a difficult continuity, we wouldn’t have continuity experts, the people who bank their fandom authority on trivia.

(I think we should do everything we can to like, alleviate this kind of alienation. But I think sometimes creators mistake approachability with “dumbing down” : I think it can actually pretty alienating to treat new readers with training wheels.)

And I can see how it’s a devil to storytellers. It limits what you can do by what has already come before. It means you can’t let things end. It saddles characters with unapproachable history, terrible stories, sometimes. Sometimes the alienation of continuity isn’t just the vastness of it, but its content. If you want to learn about Carol Danvers, and you start with Avengers #200, wouldn’t that be alienating?

There’s a lot to say about the unapproachable weirdness of superhero comics but that vast history is their specific delight, as well. Like there are mountains of storytelling opportunities in the frayed edges of dropped plotlines. There’s more to comment on because more has happened. And sure it gets confusing eventually when Reed Richards served in WW2 and the FF blasted off in the sixties, but isn’t it neat as a fan of the Fantastic Four to think about what they must have meant during the space race? You aren’t starting from a blank slate; blank slates are intimidating. And I love the collaborative approach to storytelling, the large and graceless mess, storytelling by accumulation. Characters become richer, this way, in multiple hands, they get blacker and brighter and more difficult. And there’s automatic stakes to the storytelling, we as fans are already invested, we’ve already bought in, so you, the writer, don’t have to do all that work.

I like being able to pour through a comic and compare one throw away line to another throw away line from 1996. It’s not important, but it’s fun, it’s fun to wonder and to try to fit pieces of a story together. And it’s super cool that you can doodle Sue Storm and know all these other great artists have doodled her before. Being a super-invested comic fan makes you part of this long tradition. It’s so cool to be reading a letter’s column from 1972 and see someone who loves your favorite character the same way you do. That’s the opposite of alienating, it’s community.

So basically continuity is like all the famous Marvel super powers, its own blessing and its own curse.

Stop taking words from my brain, it’s very disconcerting. (Never stop.)

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Who is the rule 63 Black Widow?


Today is International Women’s Day, aka Working Women’s Day, a holiday with socialist roots that was officially adopted in the Soviet Union following the October Revolution. So, internet. Let’s talk gender.

Once upon a time ComicsAlliance commissioned a mock-up of the Avengers movie poster line-up. All the dudevengers were replaced with a female counterpart— She-Hulk, Thor Girl, American Dream. Black Widow got, uh, Dead Husband.

dead husband
I wasn’t lying!

The comments section brags about its vast collection of Dead Husband™ merchandise and, in the grand tradition of comicfan pedantry, lists some possible alternatives. Like Red Guardian, Natasha’s real actual occasionally dead husband, or Winter Soldier, Ed Brubaker’s one-man world tour attempt at making Bucky Barnes relevant. But I’m gonna call it, the picture is right. There is no male counterpart. Here’s why.

Read More




Let me emphasize: the problem isn’t sexiness, or sexy costumes, it’s that artists casually revise her costume design to emphasize breasts to the degree that it overwhelms all sense of practicality and/or stealth. And they don’t, I suspect, consider why they do this, they simply frame their panels to accentuate her “assets” before conveying action, tone, or mood.

Cosplayers revise her costume to emphasize themselves too sometimes. Not all no but I have seen some that have chosen #4 just b/c they know they will get more attention and it sickens me.

I am not saying they are ‘fake geeks/nerds’ or ‘sluts’ just a little too proud of their bodies maybe. Showing themselves off in a venue with out thinking of the affect/effect on the children and families that attend who may not be adjusted to convention or comic culture =/

——- Opinionated Dick on the internet. I have voiced my opinion on the topic and have nothing else to say but if you want to be hateful or go off on a rant b/c of it do so on your own blog away from mine please and thank you. I say good day to you!

Hi just another man!! The thing that is different here about what you are talking about and what I am talking about is that comic book artists have a responsibility to the story, and women getting dressed have a responsibility to, uh, just themselves, actually.

Except more and more comics these days seem to be going with option #4, like— oh hey wow some examples, so maybe girls feel like they have to show a bunch of skin to emulate their favorite character. Lord knows the official adult costume comes replete with scoop neckline, and most other mass-produced superhero costumes for ladies are “sassy” versions, like so. (“Who needs superpowers when you have this super sexy costume?”)

Or maybe women feel like dressing sexy is the only way geek guys will let them feel like they belong. It won’t work of course, you’re on the case there, just-another-man, but the last time I went to a comic con another man came up to me and asked me what I was doing there, since I wasn’t wearing a costume and available for pictures. Or, yeah, maybe some women are like their bodies and like attention, but I’m not really worried about that because it doesn’t seem like an actual problem. (Just to review: women wanting to be sexy, not a problem. Women having no choice but sexy, problem.)

NECESSARY DISCLAIMER: this is just my opinion, deal with it, I’m invoking the first amendment, don’t take this the wrong way. Yeah, just-another-man, I feel you, it sure is annoying when people feel they gotta go into your posts and use them as their own misguided soapbox.

*slow claps*

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Judging Books By Their Covers


So, I have a few asks coming in about My Imaginary Black Widow Ongoing and what sort of book it would be, and I will answer those eventually, pinky-swear. But I wanted to tell you something important about My Imaginary Black Widow Ongoing: it doesn’t have the same cover.

What do I mean by this? Roll tape.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1, Black Widow #1, Black Widow Strikes #1

These are the three most recent Black Widow #1s, and they are all the same cover: Natasha stands in the foreground, quasi-dynamically but not interestingly posed, more boob is shown than necessary, and a foreign landmark is used as a backdrop. Other common options: a fast car, an explosion.

These books were quite different. One is a flashback mini focused on hammering out Natasha’s origin story, one is an ongoing set firmly in the current 616, one is a prequel mini to the Avengers movie where Natasha doesn’t wear clothes. One of these books is actually set in Russia, none of them involve cars or explosions, in two of these series the cheesecake is kept to a minimum and Natasha’s costume is drawn on all the way. You can’t tell which is which by the covers.

Two of these covers in no way match the look of their books’ interior. Now, me, I think for a comic to really work, it needs to have an aesthetic, a visual tone that matches the tone of the story. A really great example is the Waid relaunch of Daredevil— there have been a few pencillers on that book, but they’ve all been able to work with the manic swashbuckling and create an atmosphere distinct from the previous volume of Daredevil, which had its own aesthetic created by artists like Lark and Maleev.

Black Widow Strikes had no aesthetic: it was a book with five or six artists listed per issue drawn vaguely to invoke the Cinematic Universe. Deadly Origin had two aesthetics, one for the present, one for the past, neither of them remotely the plastic blow-up doll look of Greg Land. The Acuña run on Black Widow had a terrific aesthetic, one that matched Liu’s moody, poetic voice. That book was dark without being gritty, stylish and feminine without being frivolous. But you get none of this from the cover, because it’s the same damn cover every other Black Widow series has had.

This would maybe be less of a problem if other Black Widow books had been runaway successes, but much to my eternal sadface, they haven’t been. The cover of a #1 issue shouldn’t just show you what the book is about, it should show you what about it is different. Here are some recent #1 covers that have been way more successful than the above three.

Captain Marvel #1, Hawkeye #1

You might think, “Hey, that Captain Marvel #1 issue is the same standing-around thing that the Black Widow covers have, except for some reason artists always remember Carol’s zipper goes all the way up.” Well, yes. But the new costume and codename were a big buzz-worthy controversy, and highlighting those two things showcases the fact that this new series is an important turning point for Carol. Obviously this strategy isn’t going to work with Natasha, who can’t get a drastic makeover because movie synergy.

Hawkeye immediately stands out because the white space sets cover book off-kilter. It stands out because hey, it’s not just the hero posing in the foreground. The logo-dressing is brand new for the current volume, emphasizing that this is an exciting new direction, and the cover also nicely sums up that direction. The image of an archer standing lone and lonely on an urban rooftop, splinters hanging over him, that’s a visual summary of the themes Hawkguy Now! is dealing with. David Aja’s design sense is huge part of the books appeal, and it’s on full display in all his covers.

When I say I wish they’d treat Natasha with the same care and thought they’ve given to Hawkeye, this is what I mean.

(via latkje)


BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.   So by now we know that U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps has broken the all-time Olympics record for most medals ever, with 19 (as of yesterday — Phelps has three more events to go at the summer games in London).  But many members of the media failed to point out exactly whose record Phelps had broken: it belonged to Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 medals between 1956 and 1964.  She was in attendance during Phelps’s record-smashing performance on Tuesday.  ”Latynina joked in recent weeks that it was time for a man to be able to do what a woman had done long ago,” wrote the New York Times.  ”And that it was too bad Phelps was not Russian.”  (Photo: AP via the Times)

#h e h
I see what you did there, Alex.


BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.   So by now we know that U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps has broken the all-time Olympics record for most medals ever, with 19 (as of yesterday — Phelps has three more events to go at the summer games in London).  But many members of the media failed to point out exactly whose record Phelps had broken: it belonged to Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 medals between 1956 and 1964.  She was in attendance during Phelps’s record-smashing performance on Tuesday.  Latynina joked in recent weeks that it was time for a man to be able to do what a woman had done long ago,” wrote the New York Times.  ”And that it was too bad Phelps was not Russian.”  (Photo: AP via the Times)

#h e h

I see what you did there, Alex.

(via latkje)

12,139 notes

latkje replied to your photo: SPIDEY: Uh, do you want to fight? GERT: No, but…
Of course, BKV *would* write a perfect Spider-man.

He does do “snarky but thoughtful” very well.

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latkje replied to your post: latkje replied to your post: Sudden thought HEH…
SOME DAYS I’D REALLY LIKE TO IGNORE ALL THOSE, but the truth is event plotlines have a way of creating interesting status quo developments and fertile storytelling ground, sometimes in spite of themselves.

This is very true! But unfortunately — and this is almost my biggest objection to the way Marvel does event storylines these days — what tends to happen is that we get all this fertile storytelling ground, and then a great deal of it never gets sown or gets churned into the muck (I’m really stretching this metaphor) by the NEXT event storyline. Give us and your writers a little more room to breathe, damnit!

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latkje replied to your post: Sudden thought
HEH HEH, not many. Though they probably whine about events like everyone else. But I don’t think they’d want to get rid of the symbiote because it’s tied to Secret Wars.

YES! Perfect counterexample. Or try and imagine what Marvel continuity would be like right now without House of M/Civil War/Secret Invasion/Dark Reign/Siege/Fear Itself, not to mention all the other events that fed into and out of each of those storylines.

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shulkmeyer replied to your post: ffff loki, then. /STILL CHEATING /STILL NOT CARING


Yes as soon as I mentioned Loki apparently everyone wanted to know

I WAS GOING TO ASK BUCKY but you said loki so aflasdmalsfakl

People p much only rarely ask me about Bucky or Natasha h e h

Probably a SHUT UP, ALEX sign

Well for me it’s more of a, “Alex is probably soooo sick of talking about these characters, so I should think of someone else!” thing.

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