Saturday, October 25, 2008

2008-2009 Nominations for the Friends of Lulu Board of Directors.

The time has come again to nominate the best and brightest for the Lulu Board of Directors! We need our members to nominate dedicated people to keep up the good work, changes and new adventures for Friends of Lulu that has been the hallmark of 2008.

Nominating and voting individuals to the National Board is one of the privileges enjoyed by members of Friends of Lulu; if you are a member please visit our online nomination page at and submit your nominations!

Comics professionals and members are welcome to run for the board; self-nominations are also accepted and encouraged! We are looking for a few dedicated souls to volunteer their time and energy for a year as we go about bringing women and comics together. Being part of the national board can be very rewarding, enjoyable, and you will make a huge difference in the FoL organization.

We currently need to fill the following positions:

The Treasurer keeps account activities up to date including PayPal and checking accounts,establishes & adheres to budget for Friends of Lulu projects and programs, and processes retail purchases through the website.

Recording Secretary:
The Recording Secretary sits in on monthly online meetings, records minutes and presents them, maintains an archive of previous minutes, and prepares documents as necessary.

Membership Secretary:
The Membership Secretary keeps an updated record of current and lapsed members, and maintains e-mail and snail-mail correspondence with them. Mails out welcome letters and membership cards to FoL members, new and returning. Regularly sends membership updates to the Newsletter Editor.

Make a nomination online by using our form at: php, and please include the full name and email of your nominee.

We are always looking for volunteers to help us out at conventions, on our website, and in our newsletter! If you wish to donate your time and energy to Friends of Lulu but do not wish to be on the Board of Directors, please contact us by e-mail: We are currently seeking volunteers for many positions, and your skill set may be just what we are looking for.

Nominations will CLOSE on Monday, November 10th and voting shall begin shortly thereafter.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Follow up on the Memin Pinguin situation.

Yesterday post gathered a lot of responses, not here on my blog but on the blogs that linked to it. I'm glad I took my time to read those answers, even if I still don't know if it would be wise to answer them one by one, because it really nailed it to me what the whole problem is.

American people are complaining about the ART in Memin Pinguin, more specifically, the way Memin and his mom are drawn.

Mexican people are defending the STORY of Memin Pinguin, trying to put some emphasis on the fact that it was the story we paid attention to, not the art that sure is dated.

As long as the argument runs around those lines, we're not going to get anywhere.

So I was talking with my business partner Aurea Freniere, and we decided that while we don't have the power to change the way in which Memin was drawn, and the industry in our country is not in the shape to support a complete re-make of the series, we can at the very least do something to show that we understand the problem and that, if we could, we would change it, and, at the same time, try and showcase exactly why we love Memin and his pro-equality (Because, in the end, Memin preaches equality in every way) message.

Yesterday I made an open call in my DeviantArt account to all mexican and spanish-speaking members who knew Memin to redesign Memin. To take him away from the racist and stereotypical designs from which he took influence as a drawing, and instead focus on the good things he gave us. To show how we wish Memin looked now so his message wouldn't be lost and we could have avoided both controversies. After all, we can't expect every one who sees Memin in the states to understand Spanish enough to understand the context, and while I still maintain that before condemning the whole country as racist and ignorant the people behind the media reports should've done a better research, I am not saying that people in general got offended 'for nothing'. They had the right to be offended, they had the right to protest, and I hope this shows that, even when we're powerless to make a bigger change (say, get that modernized comic), we understand, and we're willing to learn and to change for the better.

And if you're still interested on this whole thing three months from now, tune in here for the announcement of the page where Aurea and I will recopilate all the new Memines.

I firmly believe something good can came out of all this, that we can use this to understand each other, and make those cultural differences smaller, respecting both cultures at the same time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The trouble with Memin Pinguin.

I read Journalista in a sort of daily basis, but this is the first time I've felt compelled to write a long post over a story I found there. The story in question is the Top Story of yesterday, where a woman in Texas found an old Memin comic being sold, bought it and promptly declared it racist and offensive.


This is not the first time that Memin has caused controversy on the states, but last time I held on hopes that someone from my country would step up and explain what Memin is about, but no one did. Most of the posts in México were about how hystericals americans were at some stuff, not delving in the fact that there's a huge cultural difference between the States and México, and that most of the problem American's have with Memin is due to those cultural differences.

First point in fact: There's not that much racism in México against PoC. We have our own problems against the indigenous habitants, but not against PoC, and that makes us have troubles to relate to the situation north our border. What we have is a huge problem of class discrimination. Upper class looks down on Middle Class, who looks down on the poor. You could have green skin and purple hair but as long as you don't stray away from your own economical class, no one would bat an eye at you. If pressed, I'd say we have a huge discrimination trouble against Spainards in a very intricate level, mostly because a little over 200 years after our Independence from them, we still haven't forgiven them for Hernan Cortes.

Second point: No one in this huge complains against Memin has ever tried to actually read the whole story. I know it's daunting, as last I checked it ran around the 200 issues, but they could ask about it to people who had read it. Because when you get Memin in context, the story is quite different from what you might guess at the covers, or at a single issue.

The Wikipedia entry on Memin touches it a bit, but it doesn't quite goes in depth enough to explain why Memin is so popular here, or why no one in their right minds see him as a racist caricature. (I am aware of the history of the depiction of PoC in the States, and that Memin does borrow from those stereotypes, but again, history of both countries is completely different, and in 1940's, when Memin was created, even in America people didn't bat an eye to those representations. We have to remember that Memin is not being re-drawn, but reprinted. And knowing Sixto Valencia's art (the man behind Memin) if he had designed Memin now and not then, the kid would look completely different)

Created by Yolanda Vargas Duché, the first woman writing comics in México, hailed by many as the Queen of soaps, Memin Pinguin usually tackled social problems but it was very rare that Memin's skin color was actively addressed. In the very first issue, his classmates and professor are shocked to see him there, but it's not due to his skin color, but because he's very small, and thus, they all assume he's very young so he should be in another class. Once that mix up is cleared, Memin is just another student, nothing more and nothing less. To the seven year old reader that I was -and to many like me- it was Ricardo, the blond blue eyed rich boy, who was out of place in that class room.
He was a rich kid who was going to public school because his father wanted him to learn to fend for himself, snobish and standoffish at first, and he seemed like a sore thumb in a class filled with brown haired kids. They all also made him know it, and here's where we go back to class discrimination. The poor 'good' kids wouldn't give the rich 'bad' kid the time of the day, because he was rich. He didn't belong there, and he would never belong there.

Until Memin decided to befriend him, that is, and he became the fourth in the gang conformed by Memin, Carlos, the rude mouthy kid raised by a single mom (Like Memin himself, only due to very different causes), and Ernesto, the quiet, smart kid who was the very end of the social scale, being the poorest of the four.

In the run of the comic, only the villains of the piece tend to try and make Memin feel bad for his skin color. Ernesto's father starts the story being an alcoholic carpenter, so poor that his son has to go to school without shoes, and who spends most of the time completely out of his mind. At one point, in the middle of delirious tremens, he calls Memin 'the Devil'; later on, after Ernestillo almost dies due to alcohol poisoning, the father reforms, never drinks again, and becomes one of many Memin's friends, never mentioning again that particular bout of delirium. Carlos's paternal grandmother, who is a very rich woman set in never letting Carlos's father marry his mother (Carlos's mother is a prostitute, even when the comic calls her a cabaret dancer, it's obvious what she does. Carlos's father is upper class, and left her before Carlos was born, and there's a bit of soap-operaish plot going on that leds to Carlos and his father being reunited). However, the old grandma is more concerned about Ernesto stealing her silver, than about Memin being roaming around the house, and after a very tear-inducing issue, Memin also wins over the old woman and she repents of all her previous cruelty, little before dying.

Here I'd make a pause to mention that the only real happy family of the whole thing, the ones who didn't had a soap-operaish past, and whose only problem was the lack of money which is still true to this day for many Mexican families, were Memin and his mother, who was also the most important figure of authority for the gang, over their teacher and Ricardo's father. Even the teacher and Ricardo's father would bow down to Eufrosina's authority at times.

There are, however, three times when race does comes into play. At least, the ones I remember from the 200 and so issues. (In fact, they were short stories into themselves. Mrs. Duche spent far more time in Carlos's subplot with his mom, or with Memin confronting his own fat predjudice -although at the time it wasn't called that- than with race itself). The first one I remember, and I'd like to say it was the first chronologically speaking but I'm talking from memory so I might be wrong, was when Memin and the gang entered the Boy Scouts, with the help of Ricardo's father. The Troupe leader, upon seeing Memin, declares that in the Boy Scouts there's no place for those of 'his kind', and refuses to let him go with the rest of the group. Upon hearing that, Carlos first decks the troupe leader, then they smuggle Memin into the excursion and later, when the troupe leader still won't change his mind, they leave the camp because if the Boy scouts don't want Memin, then the gang doesn't want the Boy Scouts. (I think that was the time when Memin tried to wash himself with milk, under the belief that it would lighten his skin, but upon seeing his mother's dismay at that situation, he realized that the problem wasn't his skin color, but the hate filled mind of the Scout troup leader. If it wasn't that storyline, it was in one of the other two, but I honestly can't remember it right now)

The second one, and probably the most offensive to Americans was when, for some reason I can't remember, the school football team wins some tournament and is selected to go to play against an American team in Texas. The whole gang is on the team, and so they go. This cover, that I found thanks to Supermexicanos, shows pretty much the summary of that particular storyline when Memin faces for the first time in his young life institutional racism. While he had met some nasty people like the aforementioned scout leader, he had never been denied service in any place, or treated like if he was somewhat inferior until he had gone to the States. In the story, he and Carlos go to have a milkshake, and when the man refuses to serve Memin, Carlos gets angry, ends up hitting the man (A very common thing with Carlos, he always tried to solve things by fighting) and both Memin and Carlos find themselves in Jail, so Carlos's father, Ricardo's father and Carlos's texan aunt have to get them out of the mess.

The third one, and my personal favorite to explain why Memin isn't racist and in fact can be used to teach kids that racism is wrong, is when Memin and the gang are going to have their First Communion (Another cultural thing here. Even when we do have freedom of religion, and there are many different religions in Mexico, everyone is assumed to be Catholic until there's evidence that they're not, so seeing this type of religion storylines in comics is not even considered propaganda. It just is). At one point, another kid in sunday school points out to Memin that he is wasting his time, he's going to go to hell even if he has his first communion because there are only white angels in heaven. As a proof, he shows Memin all the paintings in the church where of course, all the angels are white and blond haired.

Memin gets so disheartened at that, that he really decides that there's no point in being a good kid, and so he starts not talking to his friends, being mean to people, talking back to grown ups, not doing his homework and so on. It takes a bit of sleuthing from his teacher, his friends and the priest to figure out what is the problem, and the solution presented by the priest is simple: He sends the gang to buy some brown paint, and task them to paint some of the angels in the murals black, because of course, even if they weren't painted by the artist, there are angels of color in heaven. That gives Memin hope, and he finally makes peace with his friends. The kid who started the problem though, if I recall correctly, is expelled from Sunday school.

Now, Memin was created back in 1940, and it hasn't changed since then. Should he get a revamped version, that draws less from the old design? Maybe, if they were paying Mr. Sixto Valencia, the artist (Mrs. Duche died a while ago) for redrawing his old work. As things stands now, what Editorial Vid is doing (And had been doing for a while even before the stamps controversy three years ago) is just reprint the old material, exactly in the same way as it had been published back then. There is no modernization, no attempt to make the material more current (And trust me, there's more than just Memin's appearance that reads dated when you start reading the whole story, for instance, the much critiziced corporal punishment against Memin by his mom. In 1940, mothers were expected to do that. Or have we forgotten all those Superman covers where Superman is spanking someone, or getting spanked?) and I don't think there's any interest for it to be. While Memin is a very loved character, and his comic has been reprinted at least 5 times if my memory serves, mexican comic books aren't treated with much importance by Mexican business, mostly because they 'don't sell' and thus, a modernization of Memin is probably seen as a useless risk. Reprinting makes money with very little cost for them, so it's seen as risk free.

Oh, one final word. There's a lot said about the language used against Memin (I've even read a blog that translated parts of it, by a man who claims to be fluent in both languages but obviously fails at contextual reading), but most of it forgets one thing: In Mexico, 'Negro' is not an insult, and, when used by members of your own family, or very close friends, is usually a term of endearment. So when Memin's mom calls him "condenado negro" (lit. "Damn Black") what she is saying in spanish is equivalent to a mother calling his kid 'naughty boy' even if the words literally say something different. But then translation is a tricky business, and usually, a literal translation will only translate words, but not real meanings especially if those meanings are culturally charged.

ETA: I sent my post to Journalista, because I feel strongly about finding solutions to cultural differences, and I see that it's been posted on other sites, sparkling discussion in them. I am now thorn between going there and explaining one point that seems that I failed to make clearly, or just editing, so I will do the editing. Hopefully, the people who already read the post and didn't comment here will read it. If not, at any rate, it is a point that should be cleared.

I am completely aware on how anyone living in the United States (Or, I'd even risk to say, outside Latin America) can be offended by Memin's looks (and, by extension, how his mother looks). He is, after all, drawn in the same fashion as many people of color were ridiculed back in 1940, and yes, that is offensive, and, even if I'm pretty sure that neither Mr. Sixto Valencia nor Mrs. Duché intended it to be, racist. That should not be up to discussion, and I'm really ashamed that I couldn't make that clear. I wish Editorial Vid (Because the Mexican Goverment has nothing to do with Memin or its publication) had the good will to ask Mr. Sixto to re-design Memin and redraw the old stories. It would be a win-win situation. We could keep the anti-racist message that Mexicans love so much, lose the ugly stereotypes that make that same message get lost, and Mr. Sixto would get paid more, but I honestly doubt it will ever happen due to the bad shape the comic industry in this country is in. My only point with all of this was to put a bit of perspective on the history of the comics, and to why so many mexicans defend Memin. Mostly? They aren't talking about the art, but about the story.

In any case, I also like to thank those commenters I read in those other blogs (That you can see in posts linking to this blog), because they have made me think a lot about not only the issue of Memin, but also how we all see our cultural neighbors. And that maybe a good subject for another post.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Misa Misa. The not so dumb blonde.

One of the main criticisms against yaoi fangirls (and by this I mean the type of rabid fan who will chase guys around in cons to hit them with a 'yaoi' pallet, or will say that a cute guy is 'rapeable' and not see how creepy that is) is that they will call *any* female who comes between their guys (Or, in the most extreme cases, any female) a whore, a bitch, a slut, and an idiot.

Unfortunately, that one is not so much a stereotype as it's the truth, and sometimes, not only with the most rabid type of fans. Setting aside the 'but she's not as important/strong/cool/interesting as the main character' complains, that might be true as sometimes, secondary characters don't get as much development as the main characters, I'm talking about people that complain that the daugther of a Foreign Minister doesn't has the same combat skills and military know how as a Gundam Pilot. Or, in the particular case I'm going to discuss, that a pop singer isn't as bright as the best detective in the world, and a guy who fooled every single government agency in his country. And here I make a pause to warn you, I'm going to pretty much spoil a couple of very important plot points of the Death Note manga.

Misa Misa, whose real name is Misa Amane, is, at first glance, hated by many fans and critics of Death Note alike. In secret communities, is fairly easy to find 'I know my friends will kill me, but I like Misa Misa' secrets, as easy as is to find people who complain about Misa Misa fanart (Even more if she's paired with one of the main characters of the series). On the other hand, I've also read in at least two forums (One a community in live journal, another was that people where hesitant to pick up Death Note because while the two main male characters were genious level smart, the main girl was the equivalent of a teenaged Britney Spears, who talked about herself in third person, and only cared about dates. Tom S.Pepirium of IGN even compared her to Jar Jar.

Because at first sight, yes, Misa Misa could be considered at best dumb, and at worst stupid. After all, she's a struggling idol singer wannabe who, as I mentioned before, talks about herself in third person (a sign in manga of 'cuteness' and 'childlike personality'). From the moment she appears, she declares her absolute love for Light Yagami, and not only she manages to put him in danger of being caught a couple of times, she also seems to be only interested in getting him to date her. She's like a psychopathic Silver Age Lois Lane in that aspect, and yes, I understand how that can be a bit jarring.

But in a series where the main characters spend most of the first volume playing complex cat and mouse games, second guessing each other, and correctly predicting the other's actions without even meeting face to face, where L is apparently the best detective in the world at the tender age of 25 (And the second and the third best too, because he sockpuppets), and Light is a top student, who is called a genious by his teachers and is so smart that he gets bored by school easily, anyone else can come up as stupid. A good example is Naomi Misora, an FBI agent that comes incredibly close to discover Light without the help of the FBI or L, but committed the one fatal mistake of telling Light her real name because even if she knew that Kira used the real names of their victims to kill them, she had no reason to suspect Light.

Thing is, and most people forget this, that there was one person who managed to not only find that Kira was Light, but also managed to trick him into revealing his identity without revealing hers. If you've read the series, you probably will say that of course she managed to find him, since she had the Shinigami Eyes that reveal a person's name and lifespan... unless that person has a Death Note. However, the planning that went into assuring that Light would be within her eyesight without her being recognized was quite solid and she managed to fool everyone except for Light and L.

She also has a very strong personality, at least in the sense that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. When Light tells her he will have to see other girls, she doesn't hesitate to announce that she will kill all of them if he does that. Where at that point Light still refrained himself from killing too many innocents (He killed all those who were directly a threat to him, but not random cops just to show off his powers), Misa simply views those causalities as steps on the way to make Kira's perfect world. In that way, she's far colder than Light, and one would thing that if she had been the first Kira, that is, if she had been the only possesor of a Death Note, she could've been far more dangerous than Light because even when she didn't had the intelligence that Light had, she was far more willing to kill, and had something that Light never had: A completely loyal Shinigami at her side.

Another great example of her personality is on volume 4 of the manga, in what can be called one of the most disturbing sequences of the whole story (And that's saying a lot). After her first meeting with L, she is captured by the FBI and, since they don't know how Kira kills, but know that she needs to know her victims' faces and names, they cover her eyes with a metal mask, and put her in a straitjacket, and keeping her restrained in what many fans have come to call 'bondage Misa'. Misa then is kept without water or human contact (L talks to her through a microphone but no one comes near enough to touch) until she confesses that she's Kira the Second, and who is Kira the First. And Misa, the bubbly hair head who doesn't seem to think about consequences at all, who seems more concerned about make up and clothes than anything else, doesn't budge. There's a very chilling moment when, after three days of being deprived of food and water, Misa just asks 'Kill me'. It is her codeword to give up the Death Note, but at the time, we readers don't know that. For a moment, we're witnessing Misa's suicide, and it's a very poignant moment for her, as it's the last time we'll see Kira/Misa for a while.

That same torture scene brings forward another thing that most readers overlook: Misa is far more stronger than Light in front of adversity. Following his (Incredibly complex) plan, Light gives himself up to be locked up just like Misa was. Only that he isn't troused up like Misa was. He's just handcuffed, and someone puts headphones on him, ostensibly to keep him from finding out where he is just by the sounds. He waits seven days, according to his plan, before giving up the notebook, but we never know the exact situation of his confinement. We can figure out he's being fed and given water, since there's no indication to the contrary. And when he loses his memory of being Kira, the first thing he does is to ask for his immediate release, and keeps insisting that since he's innocent, he should've let go. Misa, on the other hand, stays tied up like Hannibal Lecter's female version for 50 days. And in those 50 days, with no clear memory of how the hell she ended up like that, she doesn't cry, or begs. She comes to the conclusion that she was taken by a stalker, and starts negotiating for her freedom in a way that keeps L puzzled. She calls him a pervert, she acts as if she's bored out of her mind, and the only time she asks for something not biolgical (namely, going to pee, so we can imagine she's being fed now), is to see Light. In L's own words 'the only thing I see is the abnormal strenght of Amane's love for Light Yagami'.

After that, Misa is shoved in the role of Light's girlfriend by Tsugumi Ohba, so she gets less and less to do. But even so, she still manages to make her opinions heard and, in many occasions, she proves to be braver than the super smart guys because while she knows she can't second guess everything, she jumps into the situations life throws at her willingly, ready to make the best of them.

So sure, she seems like an airhead, only interested in Light as a romantic partner even if he doesn't love her, and at times, she can be certainly annoying. But all those things don't make her an unnecessary character, or a weak one.

If you ask me, she's one of the most multidimensional characters of the whole story, just because of that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My issues with manga. (part I)

Ok. First of all, anyone who has seen my deviantart account, or my webcomics, or even my banner will be puzzled at the title of the post. After all, I must like manga, if I'm so heavily influenced by it, right?

Well, of course. I do like manga. I have a pretty big collection of manga in my house, have read even more manga due to my wok, and admire a lot of japanese artists, as well as the people who are influenced by their style* But that doesn't mean that I don't have certain issues with it, and with the assumptions people make about people who like manga, and about people who don't like manga.

When I decided I was going to use this blog to write about comics and such, I originally said (I don't remeber if I actually posted that or not, but let's assume I did) that I wasn't going to talk about manga. I do that in my work. I review about three manga every two weeks for my job, and that's a lot of manga, especially if you take in account that there are some mangas that I read for review purposes that aren't picked for publication. So I was totally against the idea of doing even more reviews for my blog, even for those manga that I had already read.

There's a lot to be said about the idea of 'too much of a good thing', especially when half of those manga aren't that great to begin with.

Now, obviously I've changed my mind, mostly because due to the nature of the reviews, my personal opinion isn't important. I've got to be as impartial as I can, and sometimes, that can be a bit frustrating **

And that's my first issue with manga. That, for many fans, if you like one manga (or even, say, twenty), you must like all manga. Every single genre, every single author, and not find any possible flaw in comercial hits like Naruto or Death Note, and if you don't think the hit of the season is the best thing since sliced bread, then you're a hater. Maybe it's not that extreme with fans from the USA, but in Mexico, you can't say that you like, say, Saint Seiya, but you find its treatment of Greek Mythology and female characters reprehensible (True story, a friend of mine was actually threatened with physical violence for daring to say that she found plot holes in Saint Seiya, and that she didn't like Evangelion. And not just threats. She was actually followed to the bathroom during a convention, and barely managed to escape getting beaten. For not liking an anime, if you can believe that). You can't like Tokyo Babylon but find CLAMP's treatment of cross generation romance sickening at best and problematic at worst, and so on. The almost cult-like following that some animes get is one of those things that actually put me off anime and manga, and the reason why some titles are in my 'only if boss asks' list.

This of course, goes hand to hand with the idea that some fans have that somehow, manga is inherently superior to comics. I have no idea where that one came from, or why is so popular. Of course, there's also the opposite, and t comes to a point where manga-fans don't talk to comic-fans and vice-versa, and, even worse, they sneer at each other. It's like superhero readers and independent comic readers all over again. And meanwhile, there are hidden jewels that go unnoticed due to this attitude.***

Finally, or at least for this part, is the eternal idea that 'Girls love manga' and 'Girls draw manga'. Sure, I'm a woman, and I like manga. But my best friend is a woman, and she doesn't like most manga. And there's a thousand women like her. I don't know if Nicola Scott likes manga, but I can swear her style isn't manga no matter how broad your definition of manga is (Well, unless it is so broad as to include every single comic style). On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Adam Warren isn't a woman and whatever else you may say about him, his style is very manga-influenced. And the problem with this particular stereotype is that it alienates women. Both as readers and as artists. Sure, offering a particulary good manga to someone isn't alienating, but if said someone is a woman who happens to be saying that she wishes there were more strong female characters in, say, X-men or Avengers... it's not going to go well. It's just like saying "No, you can't play with this toys, but here, have a Barbie."

There's also a lot to be said about the myth that manga is somehow more 'girl-friendly'. Yes, it does has a lot more genres than the mainstream american comic industry, and yes, it appears easier for a female author to publish and become popular, however that doesn't mean that there aren't problems, starting with the division of stories 'for girls' and 'for boys'.

But I already went way too long, so that will be for another post.

*I'm not going to go now in the whole mess that is the whole debate about if manga can only be done in Japan or not. That's for another post, another day.
**That is not to say that it doesn't slip from time to time. But my editor is cool with that and understands that there's a point in which no one can find something good to say about a title, no matter how much you're grasping for straws.
***And that's not going into the art style situation, and the thousand of 'how to draw manga' books that are around now. Because, yes, if you're only copying manga you're doing it wrong, and it will take years to unlearn what you're doing now. Oh, I know. I'm still on the process of unlearning many things.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dear Joss, please stop.

I just read a couple of new scans on the latest Buffy comic, and I've never been more glad that I never listened to peer pressure and spent money on them. Even with the gorgeous covers.

And this is not about the whole 'Buffy is now experimenting' thing from last issue, although that still makes me groan. No, this is about how, once again, one of Xander's girlfriends has ended up dead. Or, at least, impaled from behind with a very big spear.

Now, I'm pretty sure that Rene is not going to even count as a WiR, because that particular trope is not about just being a female character who dies, but you also have to be a female character whose death (or rape, or depowering) is used just to further a male character's story and let's be honest, Xander has never been one to get in the warpath because one of his girlfriends dies. And he's got some experience on that.

What pisses me off is that yet again there's another romantic relationship in the Jossverse that is doomed. And while I get that perpetual happiness won't sell books, coming this close to the whole Brand New Day mess, and with so many mainstream comics showing break ups and separations its getting tiresome.

Seriously, is there any romance in the Jossverse that hasn't ended in disgrace, death, or both members of the couple hating each other?

Othello, an interesting manga surprise.

I am not a very big fan of shojo manga. I liked it back when I was 16 (Sailor Moon and all CLAMP works were my favorite back then) but lately, all the girls in distress and drooling over misterious masked guys were getting on my nerves. However, this week I had to read the first volume of Othello for reviewing, and I have to admit, it was not at all what I was expecting.

Sure, the plot sounds a bit contrived: a girl who is too shy to even stand for herself develops a second personality who goes on avenging wrongs and beating bullies, and, in the middle of it, finding love and a music career for the original personality. It's like modern maho shojo 101, but without the sparkly transformation.

But in practice, Othello ended being quite different. The first thing that I noticed was that there was no sparkly trasnformation in sight, not even when the original 'gimmick' to go between Yaya (the shy, quiet personality) and Nana (the outgoing, and a bit violent) was Yaya looking at her reflection in a mirror. Yaya never remembers what Nana does, and in fact isn't even aware of her existence, while Nana knows everything that Yaya thinks, and at first just works to avenge those who made Yaya feel bad with herself.

There is a cute guy on all this, Matsuyama, who knows Yaya's secret, and swears to protect her all the time, but in truth, he ends up being moral support for Yaya when she finally realizes what's going on, and just stays in the sidelines while Yaya/Nana fix things for themselves.

The art is very shojo-standart, but I'm amazed how you can distinguish perfectly between Nana and Yaya even when Nana is dressed like Yaya. There's no change of hair color, no change of eye shape, just attitude. And while one could dismiss Othello as a 'makeover story' with a gimmick, I can honestly say that it was a worthwhile read.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sorry for the lateness. Friends of Lulu nominations

Long, long story. In the meantime, in case you haven't heard:

It's that time of year again -- time to nominate the best and brightest for the 2008 Lulu Awards!

Nominations due May 14!

The Friends of Lulu annual Lulu Awards bring honor and recognition to the most inspiring and noteworthy women in the comic book industry, as well as the efforts, achievements, and works that reflect Friends of Lulu's goals. Nominations for the Awards are open to anyone. Once the nominees are chosen, only current members of Friends of Lulu will be able to vote for who should win each award. The Lulu Awards will be handed out this year during the MoCCA Art Festival in New York City, Saturday June 7.

The Women Cartoonists Hall of Fame nominees must have published work, whether self-published, company-published, or Web-published. An individual cannot win more than once.

Women of Distinction nominees must have worked in the comic industry in a non-creator role, such as editing, publishing, reporting, or retail.

The Lulu of the Year Award honors the creator(s), book or other project whose work best exemplifies Friends of Lulu's mission.

The Kim Yale Award nominees must have published work, whether self-published, company-published, or Web-published. Nominees must be nominated for this category within three years of their first published work. An individual may not be nominated more than twice, and cannot win more than once. The award is named for comics writer Kim Yale, a founding Lulu member who passed away in 1997.

The Volunteer of the Year award was introduced in 2002 to recognize those people who have volunteered time and effort to advance Lulu's goals. Current board members are not eligible. The Volunteer of the Year award is nominated by and voted on by the National Board.

To vote -- and read more details about the awards -- go here

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Friends of Lulu is moving the organization's Lulu Awards event from the San Diego Comic-Con to the popular MoCCA Art Festival (aka Artfest) this year!

The annual Lulu Awards, which recognize the efforts women make in comics, will be held at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in Manhattan on Saturday, June 7 at 8:30 p.m.. Light refreshments will be served, and there will be a suggested donation of $7.00 at the door.

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, along with IDW, DC Comics and Archie Comics, is sponsoring this major event.

"We are excited to bring an award event to MoCCA Artfest, and just as excited not to be competing with the multitude of great events at San Diego Comic-Con this July. We are able to reach a larger group of people eager to see wonderful creators recognized for their hard work in this field," Treasurer Marion Vitus notes.

On the schedule to present awards are the previous years' award winners, including Rachel Nabors and Abby Denson, and on the roster to emcee the event is Lulu Eightball creator Emily Flake.

The new Lulu Awards date, in June instead of July, means the nominations are right around the corner; nominations will be open to non-members this year and begin at the joint MoCCA/Friends of Lulu table at the New York Comic-Con starting Friday, April 18.

Look for more details on the Friends of Lulu blog:


About our sponsors:

Founded in 2001, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) is one of a small handful of not-for-profit organizations dedicated solely to the collection, preservation, study and display of America's favorite art form. In addition to a year-round slate of on-site exhibitions and programming, the museum holds an annual fundraiser, the MoCCA Art Festival, which has grown to be widely recognized as one of the major events of the comic convention season. MoCCA's Website is located at http://www.moccany. org/

IDW Publishing is a division of Idea and Design Works, LLC, a revolutionary creative service company with a wide range of clients. Among its best-selling titles are Hasbro's THE TRANSFORMERS; Paramount/CBS's STAR TREK; Fox's ANGEL; the BBC's DOCTOR WHO; and Ben Templesmith's WORMWOOD. IDW's 30 DAYS OF NIGHT film from Sony Pictures was released in October 2007 and was the #1 movie in its first week of release. IDW's website is located at http://www.idwpubli

DC Comics, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world and home to such iconic characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Sandman. These DC super heroes and others have starred in comic books, movies, television series (both animated and live-action) and cyberspace, thrilling audiences of all ages for generations. DC Comics' Web site is located at http://www.dccomics .com/

The Archie Comics line of comic books is one of the most successful, longest-running lines in the history of the comic industry. Compared to other comic publishers whose audiences are primarily male, the comics of Archie Comics are read and enjoyed by males and females alike. Archie Comics are favorite reading of young people and young-at-heart adults. They are also published in nearly a dozen different foreign languages and distributed all over the world. Archie Comics has not only spawned characters that have been successfully exploited in comics, but characters whose popularity has spilled over into other media and who have become part of current culture. In addition to comic books, ARCHIE has found success on television, radio and in the music industry. SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH has also become a major television star with two animated series and a live action network sitcom. JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS have also enjoyed success beyond comics, with an animated series and a recording career, and a major motion picture. The characters of Archie Comics have also found success on the Internet, at http://www.archieco

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I miss Murphy Brown

I haven't got cable in a couple of weeks (long story) and to be honest, I like having the tv on as 'white noise' when I work, so I decided to put on some of my DVDs in order to, well, get some white noise, and also, remember why I bought them in the first place. Also, a very good friend of mine lent me some of his copies of the different shows he has been watching, so I'm pretty much set.

But after checking The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Burn Notice (Which I loved, being a Bruce Campbell fan), and Buffy, I made my way to my lonely Murphy Brown season I set, and with the first episode something struck me.

There is no 'modern' Murphy Brown.

Sure, there are a lot of great female characters in the new tv series I've been watching (and I'm sure in some of those I haven't been watching). While I wish I could wring Jhon Connor's neck, the interaction between Sarah and the new Terminator are interesting and intriguing, if it wasn't because the new Terminator falls in the 'strong, tough young girl' category that seemed to kindle after Buffy. Fi, the female co-lead of Burn Notice, as well as Mr. Weston are quite strong in their own way, but sometimes Fi strucks me as a bit of a pshyco, and Mr. Weston... well, her role in the show is basically be Michael's mother. I won't say the female detectives, DA's and judges on Law and Order aren't great, each in their own way... but even so, I still feel like there's something missing there.

Another series I've been watching is Damages, starring Glenn Close. Now, one could argue that if I wanted the slot of 'tough, no no-sense, strong lead female', Patty in Damages is pretty much it. Except that, unlike Murphy (And, in her own sitcom, Ellen, and probably a couple I'm missing from the 90's), Patty is a very manipulative and cruel woman. I'm hooked with the series, I won't lie, but I wouldn't like to be Patty's friend, the way I would've loved for Murphy to be my aunt back when I watched the series the first time.

I'm not saying there aren't great female characters in today's TV, and maybe it's the kind of shows that I watch, the kind of shows that get released in my country. But I spent the last 24 hours trying to come up with a modern equivalent of Murphy, and the closest I got was... well, House. But he's a guy, so it's not quite the same.

If anyone has any suggestions for a modern Murphy, I would love them.

Oh, and btw... does anyone knows if Season 2 was ever released on DVD?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Broadening one's point of view.

I haven't been posting a lot, but I've been reading a lot, and thinking even more.

See, when I joined Friends of Lulu's Directors board, one of the things I said was that I could bring a different perspective to the organization, as I'm a very new person to the american comic book industry, but have a lot of experience in the Mexican comic book industry (What little is left of it)

Of course, the opposite is true too. And while one could make a point about anglo-centrism, and how many things on the internet automatically assume that a) the reader can read english, and b) the reader is in the USA, there's a lot to say about what we, as in everyone who lives outside of the USA, can learn from that anglo-centrism.

In the case of women and comics, for instance, I think we're in a pretty even territory to speak about the problematics we face. There aren't many mexican comic books being produced right now, but the "women as object" problematic is as notorious here as it is in America. I think that might be true everywhere, although I suspect places like Japan have a complete different set of problems to deal with.

In the case of the industry, and the sad death that some people like to annouce for it, with the eternal 'big summer events' and the trace artists, and porno-faces, and continuity problems... well, we (and by we, I mean Mexicans who live in Mexico) might be only able to contribute as readers. Our industry is completely different, we don't have 'corporate owned characters' and so all the attempts to revive the industry here can only be likened to the independent american comics, even when our comics may or may not be supported by an editorial. In that field, our opinion matters as much as any other reader. We're consumers, but our industry, and our country, has a lot of different troubles that I think makes it difficult for us to relate. Unless, of course, we're talking about those who work on both industries. Humberto Ramos, for instance, can talk with a lot of authority about how is both places are different because he has worked professionally in both. He wouldn't be speculating, he would be talking from experience.

Censorship, on the other hand, is that field in which I don't think anyone can find an even field when we take in account different cultures. Forget about what is pornography or not (Nipples? Boobs? underwear?) we cannot even agree in age of concent. UK has one, USA has another, México has a very strange policy about that. And once we field that one hurdle, we get in deeper waters as we try to define what is 'acceptable' and that changes from country to country. Talking about that would take us years.

And then we get to the on the one subject that I must confess that I was completely ignorant about until I started reading other blogs, especially Cherry Lynn's via When Fangirls Attack, and that is race in comics.

Living in Mexico, I had the luxury of living in a sort of bubble when it comes to racism. I am not saying that Mexico has no racial problems, but they're not in the same league as the USA. It does help that most of our population is mestiza, mixed, and thus we've got a bigger trouble with class issues than with race issues. At least where I was growing up, what mattered was the money you had, not the shade of your skin.

That is not to say, of course, that we, as a country, are not aware of the racism problems in the world. It's just that we see them a bit different than what is seen outside our country (And for that, you can google the Memin Pinguin incident. That was a very good example of different contexts). The most sexy woman in mexican comics has been, for a long time, considered to be Rarotonga, who, while she could be seen as the 'femme fatale' stereotype of a black woman, at least was always drawn as a black woman.

So it's been enlightening to read every post I've read in different blogs about diversity in comics, mostly because it's helped me to challenge my own views and my own attitudes about it. I was raised upon the principle that people are people, no matter their gender, race, economy status, or religion, and for that I've always thanked my parents, but until I got into the internet, until I got into publishing, I started realizing that no, not everyone has been raised the same, and the problems are very real.

And so far, the best education I've gotten is from reading, reading the comments, and being able to recognize that educating one's self is the best way to start solving that problem.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Femisism, Comic books, and percieved images.

There is a new storm brewing in the usual comic blogosphere. As far as I know, it started when Grant Morrison wrote a dream scene where Batman saw a case for the fallen Stephanie Brown. Some people saw it as a triumph, some people saw those people as a threat, and somewhere in between, Dirk Deepey from Journalista grouped every single female blogger as part of the 'Girl Wonder crowd'.

While reading those, I also found an old 2006 post about the Wizard 'How to Draw' segments, where men were portrayed super heroic and women sexy and 'sultry'. Amazingly enough, that old discussion still has some posts where guys insist that if 'fat femnazis don't like that, they shouldn't read comics'.

Now, a bit of a digression. I was talking to a friend about old dubbing. When that happens, I get nostalgic since when I was little, Mexican Dubbing was among the best (Or was the best) dubbing in the world. I watched all Disney movies in spanish, and I know most of the songs of those old movies by heart. It's still odd for me to hear The Bare Necesities in English, and I really can't relate to many of the old dubbing actors for Disney in English as I have no idea who they are or how do they sound like. Same with old series. I know Richard Dean Anderson has a rough, manly voice, but for me MacGuyver will always have the smooth, polite voice of Mario Castañeda (Who, incidentally, was also Benton Fraser in Due South, another show that sounds alien to me in english). During this talk, I remembered who had been my first exposure to feminism. Although my mom has always been a feminist, when I was 6 I wasn't exactly aware of that. My dad agreed with her, and thus I wasn't aware of the real struggle outside the house. She was my mom, not a feminist.

And I wouldn't know about the 'man hating, bra burning' feminist until much, much later, when I started arguing about women rights on my own, way into highschool. No. My first feminist was none other than Disney's Mary Poppins Mrs. Banks.

Played by Glynis Jhons (Who, btw, was also Lady Penelope Peasoup in the Batman series), Mrs. Banks serves as a comic relief in the movie. She's a suffragette who balances the act between going to march to ask for women's votes, but whose lines inside the house are usually 'Yes, dear' to whatever her husband says.

Still her song, Sister Suffragette, is the first one of the movie, and it was always the one I remember first when talking about Mary Poppins. I remember the original translation, that, re-transtaled, would be something like "I'm a brave soldier with a skirt, who is chasing the right to vote. Today is the day we break our chains, in a hard fight to be free,
and our dignified successors will sing when they're older At least, the women can vote." The new translation is more faithful to the original english but it lacks melody in my humble opinion. Anyway, Mrs. Banks is as far an image from the usual fat, unkept, hairy man hater lesbian that is the usual strawfeminist on internet debates.

Thing is no matter how much we insist that there is no such thing as a hive vagina and that no two feminist are exactly the same, critics will never believe us. Because we might disagree on the small details. Not every woman cared about Stephanie Brown, or about the Mary Jane statue. I find Maya, from Heroes, incredibly offensive, but I'm sure that for many people that's a not-issue.

And as I write this I realize that the problem is quite similar to the other problem we usually argue with the good old boy's club. All women look the same. All comic book women must be a certain shape, and dressed in a certain way. All feminist must be of one mind, and look roughly the same, despite evidence to the contrary. Which is one of the reasons why we keep arguing about that. Maybe if they realize that not all 2d women are exactly the same, they'll realize that not all 3d women are the same either.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Heroes as Celebrities. My two cents on the Wonder Woman thing.

When I saw the Wonder Woman Playboy cover, the first thing that crossed to my mind was 'Oh, shit'. Basically because it was the confirmation of an idea I've been bouncing around for a long time now, and seeing it in print, and just in the magazine I said was wrong for Wonder Woman was quite a shock.

I'll explain. I'm convinced that, in our world, if superheroes existed there would be no secret identities. Take a look at our celebrities. Unless they're in the D-list or lower, they can count on a paparazzi stalking them. This triples when they're A-list, or they bring scandal to their lives. Some of them seem to be unable to get one really private moment. So if we had a man flying around New York in bright prime color tights, you can bet that before six months were up someone would've gotten that elusive picture of Superman turning into Clark Kent. Superheroes could possibly exist but the double life they have? That would've almost impossible.

On the other side of the coin, the same magazines that now fight for getting the latest picture of the hottest hollywood star would be fighting for getting the chance of having a member of the JLA or the Avengers pose for them. That was my reasoning on doing a Vouge mock cover with Wonder Woman, and can you imagine Bruce Wayne on Forbes? With an interview explaining why he is Batman? Or Booster Gold on GQ? I would bet that Wonder Girl would appear in Sixteen or Teen Vouge, while the Supergirl who was portrayed at the beginning of her newest series would shock Clark and the Kents by doing a Maxim photo spread. And Playboy? I can think of a number of heroines that, the way they've been written more or less constantly and as part of their personalities, would jump at the chance of appearing in Playboy.

That list starts with Powergirl, since I honestly think the 'secure on her sex appeal' part of her personality is not only an excuse to draw the hole in her chest bigger. She Hulk would be another who wouldn't say no. Emma Frost. Starfire. Fire, who canonically had a website of her pictures naked (although in powered form). Storm, pre-T'challa's marriage. Psyloke, maybe the Wasp.

Wonder Woman, though, I'm not sure. When she just arrived to man's world? Probably, as I doubt she had any taboos regarding nudity living on Paradise Island. After a couple of years in the USA? Doubtfully, especially as she grew in her role as an ambassador and realized the difference between Themiscra and the rest of the world.

But all in all, I can't blame Playboy for their photoshot. I don't particularly like the comparison in text to Lynda Carter but that's not because I hold Lynda Carter in a high pedestal, but because I hate the way in which new comers have to be 'the modern' anything.

What I do wish, though, was that Wonder Woman wasn't the only high recognizable superheroine so every time someone does something like this, it has to be Wonder Woman, or, in a lesser degree, Supergirl. I understand how many people think that the photoshot is somewhat demeaning to a femenist icon, and why they're offended. Someone has mentioned the fact that Wonder Woman is the only superheroine for women and girls, at least in the view of the public eye. And I can't shake the feeling that if that wasn't true, the Playboy cover wouldn't have been such a huge deal. If we had more superheroines visible and, lets admit it, maybe less cheescakey in their original medium, then maybe we wouldn't have this kind of problems.

That or, as someone else pointed out, let's have at least one Playgirl photoshoot with a model painted on as Batman. Or any other male superheroes. They have plenty to choose from.