She Changed Comics (Image)

Finally! A book about women who challenged and impacted the comic book industry. Featuring the likes of Gail Simone, Jill Thompson and Aline Komisnky, it is full of contemporary references that will resonate with comic book enthusiasts. Is it perfect? Close to it. Is it missing people? Even the editors say it probably does. Will it change the mind of the men in the medium or serve as proof that women can illustrate and pen graphic stories? Hopefully so. Does it matter/is it relevant for the times we live in? Yes.

Why?

Women have fought for decades to bring their perspective into the mainstream media and it seems to be paying off. We see more female led stories, female written, inked and edited materials. How did this come about? Because the women featured in this book never gave up on their dream and desire to share their imagination and experiences with the rest of humanity. Some of their work has become so iconic or instrumental for society’s understanding of change that it is featured in curricula throughout the United States and beyond!

Censorship, persecution and discrimination were never far behind these ladies who range in age, gender, race, religion and culture. The comics movement is international, and not confined to the Western world therefore it has many faces and backgrounds. There is room to build a more robust anthology and document the entire history of women in this field. I hope Image and other publishers seriously consider investing in expanding the project in the near future to paint a better picture of the struggles of women and minorities in this industry.

Please share this review, buy the book, and share with the women in your life. The materials at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (cbldf.org/she-changed-comics) and follow up on those artists that catch your eye. There is also suggested reading provided under each profile in the book that are worth following up, especially if you recognize works you are currently reading or are familiar with. That’s how I found Persepolis (buy/rent On Demand) and The Diary of a Teenage Girl (blog linked here).

Enjoy!

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

A few years ago I met a guy that works at JPL. We all treated him like a rock star and with reason: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is every engineering nerds dream job, right up there with Skunk Works and Disney’s Imagineers. My pal has pictures with every actor and director involved in space movies, as their mock ups are borrowed and used in films like Interstellar and Armageddon. Shortly after meeting him, his team told me they were hiring. Had I read Donna Shirley’s Managing Martians sooner, I would have been all in, even if it meant moving to Pasadena, CA.

Asking around, I knew there had to be more stories about the women that worked there. What I wasn’t expecting was that there would be so many! You see, depending on the statistics and who you ask, there is at least 18% of women in engineering. Companies like GE want to #BalanceTheEquation and hire over 20,000 women into leadership positions. The cool part is JPL has been hiring women since the age of the human computers, and one of these women, Sue Finley, has actually been there so long she is one of NASA’s longest tenured employees. 50+ until her retirement in 2016.

The book itself features the story of a few of the women following them from the moment they got hired through multiple pregnancies, and rehirings. Women didn’t have the luxury of maternity leave so their opportunity to serve ended the moment they started to show. Barbara Paulson, Helen Ling, Macie, Margie, Sue, Silvia and Ginny stand out off the top of my head, with many more serving their country and science valiantly. Check out their stories and the cool satellite images inside the book. Nathalia Holt did a wonderful job relaying the story of these marvelous women. The Rocket Girls will always reign supreme; we honor their memory reaching for the stars, building atop their legacy.

To infinity and beyond!

“We all made it to Hall H”

Comic Con International at San Diego is the stuff legends are made out of; people line up by the thousands to earn a spot at the coveted panels, signings and celebrity appearances. Marvel and DC shell out big bucks to let everyone know they are the biggest games in town on paper and film, backed up by the Disney and Warner Bros studios posses, respectively.

Because the SDCC is full of marketing and exclusive news and previews about everything comic and book related, attendees go through great lengths to maximize their experience. “We all made it to Hall H” is the mantra chanted by all, attendees, writers, producers, directors, cast and crew, all alike, all as proud to be there. Everyone at the Con does their best to make the journey memorable since we are all in!

There are a few hacks and tricks you can use to ensure a spot at the coveted line, especially for Friday and Saturday. These are the days were most bombs are dropped and the fans are treated to never seen before antics, trailers, previews, and announcements. It’s not easy but with some effort and cunning, you can make this dream come true.

1. Procure a badge at all cost.

If you haven’t qualified through the lottery system, see Badge FAQ for details, there are people who will sell them to you online and on-site. Fair warning, the badges are non transferable and someone who sells them must provide you with the paper ticket and RFID badge to gain entry. If for some reason you get asked for your ID and it doesn’t match the name, the staff can remove/ban you and ban the person who is named on the badge. Some guests resort to sharing the same badge with family members and friends so they can go in and out the main hall during the day. Be careful and don’t draw attention to yourself if you are going to do so, and remember that only those with a badge can get wrist bands to reserve their spot in line for Hall H.

2. Share the responsibility of standing in line with a group of people.

Since you need a badge to get the wristband, people in line have to ensure they save the spot in line continuously for up to 24 hrs before the doors open. However, you are in luck! Comic Con is notorious for altruistic gestures and people are willing to cooperate to secure a seat in the coveted Hall H. If you have a small entourage, or are on your own, tweet, send FB posts, and attempt to gather allies via social media to take shifts. One human can save the place in line for up to 5 humans total, so there is no need to be there at all times. Just make sure no one leaves the site unattended, and that you are all present by 7:30pm the night before the event to get the band. Everyone must be in line again by 7:30am to be let in during the first seating. Miss this deadline and you will need to…

3. Have a good cover story to be able to rejoin the line or reenter the Hall H line and area if you missed the queue and have the band.

I admit my friends and I had to step away from the line and Hall for different reasons, and we all got back in through different methods. Ask a supervisor if you missed your group in line and they will help you only if you have a band. If you don’t and got into the hall anyway, make sure you get a pass to leave the area and return or they will not grant you access. Hall H is so popular people line up after it has filled up with the hope of filling up the spots of those who vacate the premises. Some people leave and trade the badge, with the exit pass, so someone else can enjoy a panel. This is done as a thank you for helping with the line or just cause. If they catch you though, the consequences will be dire for all involved. Proceed with caution.

4. Bring cash or food. It is a long haul.

Because you cannot easily procure food in Hall H or go outside and come back with sustenance, you will need to either suck it up or bring your own food into the place. If you have kids, make sure you equip yourself with whatever you need to survive, and drop off minors under 12 at the daycare. You can get a pass to tend to your kids amid breaks. It’s doable but you need to keep track of time or they will not let you back inside.

5. If all else fails, volunteer or get a job running security.

You may not get assigned to Hall H on your first run but if you network and prove your worth, you may get a shot. Check which company the convention center has hired for security and join the staff. There’s not a lot of other options past this other than…

6. Getting a pro or press pass.

If all else fails, become a bona fide member of the press or star in/create content that becomes popular and gains you notoriety worthy of a pass. Blogs, articles and freelance writers can request passes to the event, or they can apply for a table at artists ally or the exhibitor hall. You will need to prove your worth so plan accordingly. If you are there with the power players chances are you will score reserved seating.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

“A Girl Can Do That…”

Atomic Blonde was a labor of love for Charlize Theron, who had to produce a female lead action movie at 40 because not one single worthy project had fallen in her lap. As a producer, she grabbed the opportunity to search for the hero she wanted to portray as an actor and she found it in Lorraine, a true Atomic Blonde.

During the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Charlize addressed her journey to become this iconic bad ass character and bring her to the silver screen. Her 4+ hour work outs made her so confident, the movie was recorreographed to be more physical. She was so good at picking up the martial arts and action sequences that she didn’t even need a stunt double for most scenes. Her presence as an actor makes her actions grand and flawless. You believe she is an MI6 agent, one as excellent or better than the best 00s. Her past is as mysterious as her motives, playing by the same rules as men.

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EW sponsored the Womem Who Kick Ass Icon panel and Charlize delivered, even demanding  Women can rock the world and don’t need some tragic origin story to do so. Lorraine, like Charlize, doesn’t need an excuse to be a bad ass. They are both fearless and unstoppable. About time humans realized how amazing and awesome women can be when given free rein to color and exist outside of the lines. Go watch Atomic Blonde and support all female written, directed and led by women actors. The myth that women can’t command the box office ended as Wonder Woman being the most grossing film of the 2017 summer has put it to rest!

Atomic Blonde opens July 27th.

Oh, and next time: SDCC volunteers and staff, make sure the questions in a panel for women are asked by women. Charlize’s demand of “We cannot end without a female question” was proof that she means business. GIRL POWER!!!

Comic Con Bound!

Sunny San Diago, as Ron Burgundy would say, is the perfect summer getaway for the geeks and nerds. Why? The San Diego Comic Con, the Mecca of all things derived from graphic novels attracts the best of the best: actors, writers, cosplayers, entertainment studios, and fans from all over the world. The nice sandy beaches and weather don’t hurt either, especially if you can spare time to visit Petco field, the zoo and the Embarcadero.

Flights get booked months in advanced but the popularity of the convention usually results in additional last minute flights. My family flew ahead of me, with a layover, but I managed to grab a direct flight two weeks prior to departure. Skywest and Delta FTW! There is no entertainment on the E175s which is not a problem for me. Books, comics and the inflight banter usually occupy my time and the free upgrade I scored definitely gave me a couple of extra 21+ choices to savor. 😎😛😇

So many things to see, so little time…

10 Things You May Have Missed While Watching Wonder Woman

Spoilers to follow…

By now, movie goers have been slammed with reviews and opinions of DC’s cinematic adaptation of Wonder Woman. Truth be told, I cried, cheered and cherished every moment of her debut and thanked the Gods for Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot but knew many were not aware of the inside jokes or tips of the hat to the original super hero. Feminist or not, I implore you: Read up on Diana’s legacy during her last 75 years of history before throwing shade at plot points you didn’t understand. This film was fan service to the extreme and had a few reshoots with a very pregnant leading lady to make the film more relatable to the uninitiated viewers. Those just introduced to this leading superhero may not be aware of the following:

1. By defeating Ares, Diana becomes the God of War.

She is a demigod and daughter of Zeus. A weapon designed to eradicate Ares from existence. In Greek mythology, besting the God of War means you become “IT”. Similar to the Elder’s Wand in Harry Potter, the power is passed on to the conqueror. Ladies and gents, we have a new sheriff in town and she is all out of bubble gum. The new God of War is full of compassion and confidence. Does this mean that future wars are to be blamed on her? How will she influence the will of men? To be continued…

2. Amazons are not immortal, and more so outside of Thermyscira, Diana can be killed.

By a lead bullet no less. What makes Wonder Woman so badass is that she goes into battle knowing she can die. She is vulnerable and can get beat down by enemies and that fact doesn’t phase her. You see her bleed and hurt just like any other human. She just doesn’t dwell on the pain and works through it, gracefully. Broken ribs? No problem. She’s got this. 💪💪💪💪

3. No one calls Diana Wonder Woman during the entire movie.

She is always Diana, Princess of Thermyscira and the Amazons, Daughter of Hippolyta, God Killer. Steve gives her the last name Prince to make her appear normal. Not a single soul calls her Wonder Woman. She is always herself and her moral fiber earns her peers’ respect. Ain’t that grand?

4. Diana’s Amazonian armor is the color of Steve’s country of service.  

For this movie, Steve is both US Air Force and a spy for the British Army. The colors of the Union Jack and the USA flag are similar shades, but for modernization’s and shock value’s sake, DC made the colors more metallic and armorish. The original outfit for Wonder Woman was made in these colors to make her more relatable to the world of men. She wears the flag, in a way, of the imperialists and superpowers of the world at the time of her inception. (1940s)

5. The Amazonian Queen and General are played by actresses who have played popular movie royalty. 

Connie Nielsen played a Greek princess in Gladiator, and Robin Wright played Buttercup in The Princess Bride. Even though it doesn’t relate to the lore, these ladies are icons in their own right and could have not been cast more appropriately. The rest of the amazons were Olympic athletes and fitness stars, among others. All these women trained and were not faking it. They all made me proud to fight wearing a skirt.

6. In the comic books, Diana’s original cover story is that she is Steve’s secretary.

She gets clearance this way and is close by every time Steve needs saving. The trope of the damsel in distress was reversed in their love affair. Originally, her love for Steve is what has her leaving the protection of her Queendom, and Etta Candy was a college student that befriended the Amazon when she was introduced to the world of men. It is Etta who tells her how to dress and what to say or do. This is why this secondary character’s role is so meaningful: a woman helping another sister without passing judgement. Wow!

7. Another trope reversed: Man’s savior and protector is a woman

There is a reason why the word human is not used. All the points made are about men and their nature. Men or man is plural for humankind BUT, in this movie, the emphasis on the world is meant to anchor us around the concept of the patriarchy and its hegemony. In other words, the darkness and cruelty of humanity is embodied by men, and it is up to a man to prove they are creatures worth saving. The woman in the room doesn’t understand why men can’t be more like the Amazons and why women in general aren’t more like her. Hmmm.

8. Hippolyta plays the role of Queen and King, misogyny and all.

The Queen goes out of her way to protect her daughter and keep her in the dark about her true power. She refuses to train her because a Princess should not be a warrior and tells her she was made if clay, a very frail and temperamental material. When she leaves to fight Ares, the Queen calls her “Her greatest sorrow”. Considering she had an affair with a married man and raised the kid on her own you’d expect her to be more progressive and would want more for her daughter. A little more support, mom?

9. The Amazons’ knowledge is thousands of years old but they never show how advanced it truly is.

Diana has never left “Paradise Island” and has to rely on information collected and analyzed almost a millenia ago. This is why everything is new to her but her people are incredibly advanced. In the comics, the medicine in Thermyscira borders on magical and can heal almost anything. Yet Antiope dies and we move on. Hmmm.

10. The invisible jet is never explained (or shown).

We know Wonder Woman has an invisible jet. It appears it could be made of transparent aluminum (wink wink) and has some kind of stealth propulsion that makes it undetectable. Why did they not explain this part and/or skipped it? Does it matter? Aliens? Wayne Tech perhaps? It will probably not make it into the movies. One can dream…

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There are many other intricacies left unexplained or unmentioned but I’d need to see the movie again to fully exploit and explain those. Are there any you remember that aren’t on this list? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Enjoy!

Gal Gadot is not Wonder Woman: She Is Just the Actor That Portrays Her

I am getting tired of the mainstream media making everything about politics. I’m tired if men saying Wonder Woman as a film is a waste of time because women can’t be heroes or that the movies they star in are not worth the film used to capture the story. Now, I have to put up with people turning Wonder Woman into a white zionist because Gal Gadot happens to be Israeli? WTF!

Wonder Woman is a symbol of justice, truth and love. She was born on a fictional island called Thermyscira because her author, Dr William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, realized that no woman of this earth could be sold as a superhero to the men of the 1930s. Why? These men of power viewed women as weak, inferior and not worth the right to vote; things to be controlled and cared for. In a way, his duplicity worked out and after 75 years she is still an icon and one of the most popular and successful characters in DC/comic book history.  Diana Prince stands for more than whatever Gal Gadot, Lynda Carter and Patty Jenkins stand for or have achieved. The Queen of the Amazons was designed to save the world and serve as an example of what women can accomplish if they are given the power and space to perform.

When they announced Gal Gadot was cast, I didn’t like the decision because she was of Fast and the Furious Fame. Her acting wasn’t atrocious but it didn’t draw me in. She was too skinny, etc. Ironically, the fact that she was an ex-soldier for the Israeli army was the only plus to me as this meant she had combat skills and first hand experience of courage under fire. Soldiers are loyal, and execute orders BUT they are also trained to use judgement and to avoid conflict. Just like Wonder Woman.

Yes, Gal participated in the war against Palestine in which men, women and children died. My parents and cousins fought battles against enemies foreign and domestic too. I bet she has no qualms about having represented their country, regardless of the blood spilt. So did my family.  Yes, they all regret the loss but they did the wrong thing, according to those who oppose war, for the right reasons. The victors will write history and in 200 years we will see how well we will be judged, when the dust has settled. For now, all these people live daily with the consequences of their actions and have moved on from the events in question to a more promising future.

The movie itself is not about the Holocaust or has zionist undertones. It attempts to paint the first world war as the horrifying event in history it was, and to pay homage to the lives lost by asking the viewers to reconsider bigotry, racism and blind patriotism. Regardless of who plays Wonder Woman the message would have been the same and just as powerful, until some critic with a dissenting opinion decided to make it about Ms Jenkins, the studio or any of the cast members.

It always happens. An agenda comes in politics and startegists decide it is best to smash and bad mouth the intention of the plot or backers to devalue the content. Where were these detractors when white actors were cast as black heroes? When asians were poorly portrayed as illiterate buffoons or martial artists? When where they when Italians played Latinos and Latinos played the bad guys? Don’t get me started on the portrayal of Arabs and Muslims as agents of evil. Doesn’t surprise me we are making this about Gal Gadot and not about the character. She is Israeli so she must be evil, and therefore Wonder Woman’s portrayal is tarnished by this happenstance. Give me a break people!

I’m a Wonder Woman fan well versed in her character, deeds and lore. Her origin story and her achievements are out of this world, and live in the annals of comic book history. If liking this movie and Gal make me a Semitic supporter and person to be hated so be it. I refuse to make this superhero about the people behind her cinematic portrayal. I love Steve Trevor and I dislike Chris Pine. In my world, that would be more of a valid reason to boycott. To each their own, except in this case. Step away from my feminist idiol. You definitely don’t deserve her.

Back to Leveling Up

A long time ago, before I decided to buy a new house, move and upgrade it/decorate it in modern geek industrial chic style, the goal was to reach level 14 as a PSN user. My darling MrEnginerd is a level 14, soon a 15, and its tempting to take advantage of his love affair with the Switch to catch up. Rise of The Tomb Raider isn’t piqueing my attention anymore but buying Titanfall 2 or another game just cause isn’t going to gel well with the overall “saving to rehabilitate the backyard” plan. Being indoors while the sun shines brightly in the PNW is frowned upon too so the games may have to wait until the fall. 😣😑

As impressive as it is to be a Level 14, my partner believes that the trophy hunt belittles the true worth of the ranking. I’d agree with him if my achievements were the Barbie game type but I’ve played RPGs, FPS and action/adventure sagas too. Knowing I have to prove myself to my biggest fan is a pain. Had I been a guy this trophy quest, even if it had Barbie type games, wouldn’t be an issue. Blazing the trail of video game equality is my mission, and it is very serious business.😎 Need to make the time to get cracking again. My controller must miss me. Hang on buddy, momma is coming for ya!

If anyone has a suggestion for good, quick games to do between emptying moving boxes and/or decorating a nerdy home, I’m open to ideas. 

Cheers!

Cheater!! You turned the sound OFF…

Tetris isn’t the mind twisting, nail bitting, move your controller buttons and scream at the TV masterpiece Nintendo intended without the speeding music. As an extra element to the experience, the score of the game is designed to engage all of your senses and submerge you in the gameplay. Heart rates go up just by remembering how most games accelerate the rhythm and heighten the tone of a song during the last minute or seconds of the game. Super Mario Bros. used to drive me crazy when I ran out of time near the castle. The anxiety always forced me to miss an easy jump or obstacle.

To the people who play with the sound off or music down in order to concentrate: That’s Cheating! It is sooo much easier to forgo the soundtrack and enjoy the visuals because you will not be prompted by the music to feel a particular way or to be weary of the next moves. The suspense will be lost since the terrifying notes will not drive you insane. It is not fair to rob yourself and others from watching you quake in your boots, driven by the sounds of the story. Winning is empty if you don’t learn how to beat the programmers on their own terms. There is no hollower victory if you ask me.

So, the next time you need to beat a game and choose to use this shortcut, don’t sell yourself short and have the cojones to try it in its whole unnerving musical glory. You will feel pride knowing you had the guts and skills to beat the game fair and square. Wear headphones if you must not bother people. Do it for the developers, the musicians, the music directors and for the love of the challenge.

Game face on!

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