I should admit something that some people already know about me, Despite them being anachronistic and a little misogynistic, I have a fascination with romance comics. The only problem with romance comics is that they are notoriously hard to track down. If you don't believe me, next time you are at your comic store look in the back issue bins for titles like Young Romance, Girls' Love Stories or Heart Throbs and see how many you turn up (or better yet ask the clerk if you want them to laugh at you.) As a part of comic history though, romance comics are pretty important, if not individually then as a whole to show a time in comics when heroes weren't popular and when war, western and romance comics dominated the medium. While being unable to acquire them in a consistent way (I find them sometimes at comic consolidators, or in comics bins in used book stores) I looked around the internet for suggestions on how to better find them. Surprisingly the advice was that I should download them, and also surprisingly the advice was that it was not illegal. This should be qualified in a sense though. What makes them legal to download and read is that they are public domain comics that companies no longer care about, mostly because the companies have ceased to exist. So while DC puts out a mostly pointless Valentines Day special called Young Romance to perpetuate the title, a lot of early romance titles are available for free download, as well as all kinds of other comics. Of course to be public domain these have to be old comics, I think 1960s is the most recent (there is a statute of 50 years for copyrights I believe.) The best of such sites which I have found is The Digital Comic Museum. Most likely fans of modern characters will find this resource somewhat useless as there are none to be found in there, but for those interested in the medium and not the characters so much (and especially comic history) this is a pretty amazing resource.
My cataloging of places on the internet where I have found comics continues, in an unexpected series of blogs for me on a Monday morning. Again as I mentioned in my previous blog, I am not so keen on the illegal download of comics, rather in the research of public domain comics, and sometimes these are to be found on blogs or websites in their entirety. This website is the personal one of Ethan Persoff, and its banner says it is "Political Ephemery, Drug Hysteria, Vintage Sex and Health Items ... [and] other miscellany delivered to you in a timely inappropriate manner." To give this a bit of background, I am a woman, and most every woman that I know living in North America has some opinion in one way or another on the subject of abortion. At the time of the Sandra Fluke controversy, I got interested to see what comics has ever done on the subject and put "abortion" into the wiki search engine. It came up with only one result (as it does now) a 1970s educational comic called Abortion Eve (my review of it is here, if anyone is interested). Lo and behold despite a seeming mismatch in terms of interest, I found this comic in its entirety on the website of Mr. Persoff. Despite finding what I was looking for, a quick glance at this website shows that this is not really the type of stuff that I am interested in (the same could be told from the intro to the subject matter) but the author does a decent job looking at issues from the standpoint of comics. On the first page the day I checked it out for the review (today) there was a small comic on a drug arrest and another on totalitarianism. Interesting subjects I guess, but not one that I delve too deeply into. As a source of comic related information this website does offer a few other interesting free comics, and again ones that I imagine are in the public domain, such as Threat to Freedom (which at the moment is not in the CV database.) In terms of comics it is for instance more relevant than the previously reviewed site (the Ephemerist) but this works better as a subject specific look at comics.
So after my most recent blog, I thought that I should perhaps go through and to actually detail a few things, more for my own memory than for anything else. Most of my comics come from the old fashion way, by buying them, but sometimes this is not possible and so I poke around the internet to see if anyone has uploaded these to a website. I am not sure of the legality of this, I know that for modern comics that it is against the law, though in terms of ownership different countries have different guidelines in terms of what you are allowed to own digitally. In my experience of searching for comics though it has all been around a general theme - looking for comics that are either educational or promotional. That is I am not looking for Avengers Arena #10, but rather I am looking for Dagwood Splits the Atom. These are occasionally on the internet, and specifically in the case of Dagwood Splits the Atom, on a blog style website called the Ephemerist. Something which some comic bloggers seem to enjoy doing is to have a bit of campy nostalgia in their otherwise sedate feed relinking other pics they find on the internet or responding to other blogs or tweets (I do similar stuff). In some cases I guess this entails actually uploading entire comics and in this case I got to read the Dagwood science story without having to search for years in used bookstores. Based on the time frame and educational nature and that the publishing company has long since been out of business, that the comic is legal to broadcast in this way. The website on the whole though is not for me - there is some substance there, just not the kind that I get interested in.
When I first came onto this website I discovered that I very much enjoyed the platform for blogging, and that I was happy that I had found a place to write and have people interact with me over what I had written. At the time though I had a strong impulse to blog a lot (I blogged on average once per day my first year here) but sometimes I came up with bizarre things to blog about. I did a few book review blogs, because we do not put books into the wiki, so the only other outlet was to blog the reviews. I extended this idea to a few other areas including one website review blog and one board game review blog. I never thought I would review another website again, as the concept was kind of weird to me. This morning however, I was doing a bit of comic research and happened across a website (more of a fleshed out blog actually) called Plaid Stallion. I was trying to find something on an Evel Knievel comic, and I found the information there. Looking around the site (which aims to collect catalog information from the 1970s) there are a few other things about comics (the website is not comic specific). It is a well detailed website for anyone interested in such information from this time frame and has numerous campy and yet somewhat entertaining comic book merchandise items on sale.
I should say before I get started that I know that Indian is not the proper term for people that lived in North America before it was colonized by Europeans. With that out of the way, I should point out that I have recently read the entire run thus far of the Legend of Oz from Big Dog Ink. With the Western re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz the story takes on a very different tone than the Baum classic, somewhat more violent and convoluted. Thus far the two series and one miniseries have produced 16 issues, and as with any such story in its infancy, there are still lots of questions unanswered. One of these deals with the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow's back story is not really explained at all yet (despite that the miniseries was about her past) and her powers are somewhat ambiguous as well. What is known about her is that she has some degree of magical power and that her depiction is Native American. I have talked about the concept of the Magical Negro before (albeit a looonnng time ago) how in mainstream media black people are given some degree of inexplicable power, seemingly only by being black. The same somewhat holds true here. The medium of comics puts a lot of stock in some cliches such as Voodoo priests or Native American Medicine Men, both of whom are often depicted with some sort of magical power granted to them by their gods. The reason that this becomes somewhat out of line is because the inverse of the same situation would result in a lot of criticism, or to put that another way, if Christian priests were referred to as magic men using the supernatural powers of Christ, there would be some outrage (though not everyone would be outraged.) It is kind of a bizarre double standard which the predominantly Christian culture uses to discriminate against the other cultures. Cultures and religions often talk about co-existence, but it is not really possible when one religion regards one as mythical magics, while guarding the supernatural aspects of its own beliefs as sacrosanct.
Previously in my heavy criticism of the series Irresistible I mentioned how among many of the things that they got wrong (and were offensive about) in the depiction of women was there footwear, depicting shoes that would more than likely cause breaks of sprains. The series is gone (thankfully) but Zenescope artists still seem to be up to their old habits:
This is Sela dressed up in armour as a realm knight. It is a decent enough look, though it has the regular drawbacks of female armour (not really protecting much.) In addition to the chain mail which only covers part of her, she has boots with a chain mail heel. I am not sure at all why a woman warrior would want to wear high heels. It would seem that on the battlefield that they wouldn't want something weighing them down or slowing them down. This would be the case here (I have made this point many times before.) The fact that she has an armoured high heel seems a little bit more over the top though than what we regularly see from such depictions. It was just an alternate cover on a series that most people won't read, just I wish that sometime that men would actually bother to figure out realistic female footwear.
Among the many strong points of Danger Girl, one of them is not how readily they rip off ideas (sometimes completely directly) from other stories, including movies. Previously I had mentioned how the beginning of Trinity looked very similar to the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In issue #2 a similar moment occurs, which bears some similarity to the helicopter explosion in Die Hard 4.
I watched a video detailing some of the physics involved in this stunt and in terms of vectors they do a sufficiently good job in terms of describing how far a car launched at approximately 60 mph would travel (they set the distance of the helicopter off of the ground at 30 feet which seems similar to that in Danger Girl). The end state of their analysis was that it might be possible. Granted that I don't know as much about physics, but there are a few things lacking here for me. In their analysis they stated that it would be possible under a number of conditions, specifically that it was launched off of a ramp with no other forms of deceleration. I find that this is one of the problems that I always had with physics, in that everything is so complex that it is hard to deal with more than one problem at a time, and in such a case, there are so many problems that it is kind of hard to combine them all together. Forgetting for a moment that Sydney's plan was to to shoot a driver of a car in the hopes that in his death that he would still apply force to the accelerator and drive the car in the desired direction. From a physical standpoint, this consideration is not even worth considering, as I am not sure that such an outcome would ever be planned on by even the most calculating hero. The problem though here is two fold, but both sides of the same problem, that of the ramp of launching platform. Generally speaking when one object hits another in the same on dimensional plane, the resulting effect is a transfer of energy between the two (in the case of cars, they crash.) If this energy is to be transferred to a different dimension (in this case shot upward) there needs to be something to change its direction. In both cases it is implied that the collision forms the stationary object into a form of ramp. This doesn't work for the previously mentioned two reasons. The first is that things generally don't take clean shapes such as a ramp after violent collisions. This is a result of entropy whereas things tend towards chaos as opposed towards order (I know entropy is a lot more than this from a scientific standpoint, but that is the simple version.) The other is that even if the momentum of the impacting vehicle could form the stationary object into a ramp that it would lose a lot of its momentum doing so (momentum is a product of mass and velocity.) Thus the moving car would have to be going a lot faster than 60 mph as it would be losing a lot of that energy to friction. On either one of these two limitations the stunt fails, in both the comic and the movie. It still looked cool though.
For anyone not prepared for an overanalysis who is reading one of my blogs, be forewarned that there is more to be found here. Unlike usual though this overanalysis does not involve science, but like usual it will involve Danger Girl. The issue in question here is Danger Girl: Trinity #2. I have already written about this from the vantage point of Sydney and Sonya, but something about the experience of Abbey was noteworthy for me as well. A while back I wrote about the role that Egypt has had in the history of comics, from a standpoint of Egyptology coming to the forefront of pop culture at the same time that comics became popular (the same holds true with some other themes.) Despite that, in modern comics, there are still a lot of somewhat stereotypical uses of images when it comes to Egypt.
From this issue there are a few examples in succession:
This somewhat represents a Las Vegas concept of what Egypt looks like (in that Vegas hotels often go with a theme and incorporate only the most stereotypical aspects of that theme.) In terms of this being a comic and especially being Danger Girl there is nothing really all that wrong here, just in terms of representation of a culture it is somewhat one dimensional. It is equivalent to those people that come to Canada and expect to see igloos and polar bears.
As I generally tell people, I am more of a story person than an art person when it comes to comics. In terms of art though, I do still notice the difference in styles among different artists. This is evident in such series as 52 where the artwork changes all the time within the same issue. The newest Danger Girl series is also designed in such a way, with different artists providing their skill to different parts of the story. In Danger Girl Trinity, there are three artists - Stephen Molnar, John Royle, and Harvey Tolibao. For me, Danger Girl will always be somewhat associated both in terms of story and in terms of art with its original creator, J. Scott Campbell. When I see the characters depicted it can help for me to enjoy the story to have an artistic style similar to Campbell's. Molnar and Royle seem to channel Campbell's interpretation of the characters quite well, but Tolibao has a distinctly different style. Each artist is drawing one of the three main characters (Sonya, Abbey and Sydney respectively) but the one drawing my favourite character (Sydney) is also the one the furthest away from the traditional depiction.
In issue #1 I felt this to a degree as thematically Sydney's story seemed a little different from the rest. The same happens here as well in issue #2 except the effect was actually kind of different than in the first issue. I previously mentioned how the international setting of this series is kind of off for me, and already questioned the artistic format, but in this sense with Sydney it really makes her stand out this time as opposed to being lost in the mix. With a story that isn't working for me on all gears yet, the use of a different art style in the most action filled portion of the book actually made it that I enjoyed it far more - the middle pages here serving as the focus and heart of this story and somewhat succeeding while being bookended by some more pedestrian material.
I am not sure if it was the intended focus of the design for it to be accomplished in this way, but for one fan at least, it gave the audience what they wanted.
People often ask me why as a fairly strong feminine voice among the community here why it is that I read Danger Girl. I suppose there are no easy answers, but I suppose the answer is that it is a fun group of characters which is a parody of the entire genre, and when not at least that the sensationalism is mostly spread around all genders. In terms of their feminine depiction, they are generally a little bit ahead of most portrayals of comic book female characters (though equally I have somewhat stopped paying attention to this after all this time – for instance I read Dejah Thoris.)
From time to time though I do notice something a little peculiar about the presentation of female characters, and I like to point it out, and here it is:
In this case Sonya Savage’s breasts are being presented in a way which makes it seem like they are what is causing her to float in water. Some flotation devices are called Mae Wests after the golden age movie star, though in this case it would seem as though this is actually the case. I understand of course, that it is just a bit of gratuity, but that it equally has a kind of funny look to it. As always though there will be someone that wants to prove me wrong (well not so much in such matters as this) but I considered that maybe she was standing on the bottom of the pond or whatever she is in and that is all that is showing of her body as she stands upright. This is likely not the case though as in the next panel she is shown diving well below the surface.
I guess that this can be written off to just another case of female characters being controlled by a predominantly male group of creators. Next time they might want to check some human anatomy and basic physiology though.