“Lighten Up” – A Thought-Provoking Look at Color, Race and Comics

It’s no secret that comics have a…problematic history of their portrayal of women.

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Case in point.

But, as a new comic posted to The Nib (one of my favorite new websites) shows, the subtle racism of the comics industry’s treatment of characters of color can be just as problematic.

Beginning with a seemingly innocuous request to change the skin tone of of a character in a X-Men comic he was working on, Ronald Wimberly crafts a brief, but surprisingly wide-ranging look at the implications of how we talk about our art in relation to race and ethnicity.

Check out the full comic, “Lighten Up” and see more of the artist’s work (plus assorted musings) at his Tumblr, Ignorant-Bliss.

Listen to the longer version of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s ridiculously catchy theme song

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I love this show so much, you guys.

SO. MUCH.

It’s embarrassing, really. The writing, the characters (with the exception of a tone-deaf portrayal of a Vietnamese love-interest), the delicious absurdity, the cameos (just wait till you see who the Reverend is!).

And Titus Andromedon, aka Tituss Burgess. He is THE BEST.

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From Episode 5, “Kimmy Kisses a Boy!”, easily one of the funniest things I have ever watched.

Other than the first episode feeling a little weak, due to all the narrative heavy lifting, it is a triumph of comedy television.

And if you are anything like my wife and me, you have had the theme song stuck in your head on repeat. It was written by series composer Jeff Richmond and the good folks at Songify the News, of “Bed Intruder” and “The Rent is too Damn High” fame.

I’m nearly convinced that it’s TOO catchy. It’s like aural heroin.

Here it is in all it’s glory.

Quote of the Day – 3.8.15

“Mr. Robinson was a polished sort of person. He was so clean and healthy and pleased about everything that he positively shone – which is only to be expected in a fairy or an angel, but is somewhat disconcerting in an attorney.”
― Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Quote of the Day – 3.7.15

“There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes no sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal. So how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence?”
― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

Restarting the Atomic Age – Why Lockheed Martin’s Compact Fusion Announcement is Such a Big Deal

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You know what movie I loved? Chain Reaction.

It had everything. Rachel Weiss. Pseudoscience. Keanu Reeves outrunning an explosion on a motorcycle.

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Woah.

At it’s core, though, Chain Reaction (which by the way, is really, really not very good) was about cold fusion, a long sought after form of cheap, clean, nearly unlimited energy production. The problem is, it’s been impossible.

Until now.

Book Review – Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

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If you will forgive me a moment of indulgence, I’d like to brag a little.

I’ve read a LOT of fantasy over the years. Like, a whole lot. (If the last month of posts didn’t tip you off already).

I say this only to point out that it is rather strange that I came so late to the party.

The Neil Gaiman party, that is.

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*types Neil Gaiman party into Google*

I read through Sandman several years back (amazing), as well as the graphic adaptation of Coraline (superb). But the love affair really got swinging this past year when I read The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and American Gods most recently (see my review here).

I also like short stories.

So when I heard that ol’ Neil (that’s what I like to call him) had released a new short story collection, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances?

Well, what choice did I have?

From the author’s introduction;

I first encountered the phrase “trigger warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them…

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places?…

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the Web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

It will come as no surprise that the stories within are overall excellent with a few outliers, some truly superb, and others only interesting. Given the structure of the book, I’ll simply highlight a few of my favorites.

But not the poems. They’re nice, but not my cup of tea.

Quote of the Day – 3.4.15

“Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken…

Kiss a lover
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure…

Face your life
Its pain,
Its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Quote of the Day – 3.2.15

“Books — the warm, leather-skinned weight of them in your hands, the way they smelled when you lifted them close to your face. The unfeasibly heart-jolting shock once, as a tome fell heavily open at some much-visited page, divided itself neatly in two blocky halves along the spine — and you thought, guiltily, that you’d broken it.”
― Richard K. Morgan, The Steel Remains

Round-Up – February 2015

So, February started out a bit slow, but what do you know? It ended up just fine. Here are the highlights.

Features

9 Bestiaries for the Budding Nerdy Mind

Five Essays (and One Book) That Just Might Change Your Mind About Reading Speculative Fiction

Don’t know what the Trans-Pacific Partnership is? Well, this may get a bit Graphic…

Reviews

Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff

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City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

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Are You my Mother? by Alison Bechdel

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The Craft Sequence, Books 1-3 by Max Gladstone

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The Martian by Andy Weir

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“Matter” and “The Hydrogen Sonata” by Iain M. Banks

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Thanks to all my new followers! Here’s to an even better March.