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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 10/21/2015

Hey there comic book nerds. All of you Marvel fans out there, are you struggling to keep up with the All-New, All-Different relaunch? Feeling that void in your wallet growing wider and wider each week? Want to check out all the yarns spinning out of the big red machine without having to resort to a Ramen noodle diet? Check out a Newbury Comics if there’s one in your area. You might be able to get 50% off any Marvel comic priced $3.99 or lower until the end of October. $3.99, that’s just about every book out from Marvel this week. Oh happy day.

 

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

 

 

The Top of the Pile: Weirdworld #1 Marvel

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The final battle for the fate of Weirdworld. To save his home of Polemachus, Arkon must lead his newfound allies against the armies of Morgan le Fay!

You will have to excuse me for sounding like a broken record, but Weirdworld has been my favorite thing from this Secret Wars event. It is truly unique and awesome in so many ways. A smash-em-up world of some of the craziest creations to have ever graced Marvel’s pages. The entire Marvel reboot has been worth it for Weirdworld alone.

 

 

The Mainstream One: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #4 Marvel

 

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Concluding the first new-canon comic tale set between episodes VI and VII! As the Empire Shatters around them, Rebel heroes fight for a better tomorrow!

The last issue in the first cannonical volume of Star Wars to be published by Marvel, Shattered Empire has not been what I had expected. Solicited as a story that would bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and the Force Awakens, I was hoping for hints of subplots that would tie into The Force Awakens. Sadly, it has been not that kind of series. Heavy on the character drama, I’m guessing that this is an introduction to relatives of our Force Awakens heroes.

 

 

The Indie One: Tokyo Ghost #2 Image

 

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Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay are given their final mission: purge their bodies of all technology and invade the Garden Nation of Tokyo.

I enjoyed the first issue of Tokyo Ghose a lot, my only criticism was that it was dense. It threw a lot at the reader and wasn’t big on subtlety. Not an easy read but I think Remender did it intentionally to get the reader up-to-speed on the details so that he can get to the stories. Looking forward to where this series heads in issue two.

 

 

The #1 One: Back to the Future #1 IDW

 

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‘Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines,’ part 1: Take a trip back to 1985 and be there when Doc Brown and Marty McFly first meet, and then jump even farther back, to 1945, to witness Doc’s involvement in the super-secret Manhattan Project. All-new canonical stories by Bob Gale, creator and screenwriter of Back to the Future.

There are movies that were experienced by everyone of a certain generation. Back to the Future was seen at least once by anyone who was alive during the 80’s. Me and my friends watched it wayyyy more than that. The fist movie was an instant classic and keeps a special place in my heart.  This is some heavy stuff doc!

 

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Beauty #3 Image

 

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The Beauties are dying. They’re dying bad. Foster and Vaughn find unlikely allies in their fight to find the truth.

Three issues of Beauty, three gorgeous variant covers. Story ain’t half-bad either. Recommended.

 

Carpe Comics!

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The Female Perspective: This Lady Geek Is In HEAVEN

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


Star-Wars-590x330

If you are a geek (dork, nerd, whatever you call yourself) like me then last week was a BIG week for you. Why? Well damn, the new Star Wars trailer dropped along with the Superman versus Batman trailer came out early and we also saw the new Fantastic Four Trailer, the new Ant Man trailer and I got a look at the teaser for the new Quentin Tarantino movie, The Hateful Eight. I mean, seriously? Could you ask for any more than that????

I thought I’d compile all these goodies into one happy place for people to peruse at their leisure, plus, I am dying to take another look at this good stuff.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I can barely handle this trailer, it starts with that familiar music. The haunting Star Wars melody that is seared into my brain since childhood. Then freakin’ MARK HAMILL starts talking about the Force and all bets are off. We get a new look at some of the upcoming leads (including what looks to be a bad-ass lady, yay!) and not only that, Solo and Chewie…Oh man…SOLO AND CHEWIE…I need a minute, here, watch the trailer.


Okay, I’m better now…onward and upward they say! Let’s move along to yet another highly anticipated movie, Superman versus Batman: Dawn of Justice 

We get a great voice over (including Lex Luthor) taking about the difference between Gods and men and should we trust this fella called Superman? It sets up a fantastically dark story. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that we don’t get to see anything of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in here (I’m anxious to see her in action) but I get it. They want to set up the central battle between Batman and Superman, sure I get it. I just have to ask, for the next trailer, can we see some Wonder Woman??? I have a deep fear that she’ll be shuttled over to the sidelines, a secondary character and that she won’t be as strong as her male counterparts. But I also have hope that it’s going to be one kick-butt kind of movie. I personally loved the Nolan Batman films, I enjoy when my superhero’s get all dark and gloomy (take a look at Netflix’s recent hit, Daredevil for a great example of this) so I’m really looking forward to this one.

“Devils don’t come from hell below us, they come from the sky.” – Ahhhh awesome quote to set up the distrust of Superman, and do you blame them? He destroyed a city last time!


I know nothing about Ant Man except for what my boyfriend tells me but I can tell you, watching these trailers makes me want to see this movie. I have been a huge fan of Paul Rudd for a long time now, he can be serious and hilarious and that is PERFECT for a superhero movie. Ant Man looks like it’s not going to disappoint and with the Marvel track record, I have a lot of hopes pinned on this movie. It looks fun, interesting, different and amusing. Can’t wait!

Not to mention, the sight gags they can do when there is a battle on a kids train set end up being pretty dang funny. Watch the trailer for more!


I’m going to admit something that may not be popular right now, I enjoyed the first two Fantastic Four movies. I know, I know, that is a widely unpopular viewpoint but I simply don’t care. I found them to be fairly decent films, silly at times and badly acted at others but you can do worse than Michael Chicklis is anything and Chris Evans.

All of that being said, I have to say that watching these trailers for the new Fantastic Four that I am intrigued, once again, we are seeing a darker take on a comic book story and it looks to be a pretty interesting film. I don’t care if Doom looks “right” or that the actors are different ethnicities (and really, what the heck does that matter?), all I care about is a good story, good acting and a fun movie. That’s all I ever want from these movies and Fantastic Four looks to be in line with being a good time. We’ll see when it hits theaters!


More than most things, I am a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, from his True Romance screenwriting days to today’s glorious films like Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds I just love everything he does. So I am super extra psyched for his new movie, The Hateful Eight, not only because it boasts a cast that includes Kurt Russell and Walton Goggins (if you don’t know who he is, watch Justified and you’ll love him too) but because it’s Tarantino doing a Western and it’s, well it’s Tarantino. That’s enough for me!

The teaser dropped in theaters recently, it’s been out for a while but can now be viewed by us regular folk. Sadly, there is no footage in the trailer (there wasn’t any yet) but hopefully we’ll see a trailer with footage soon. I can’t wait!

For the story and the teaser trailer, click here.


And simply because I’m doing a fun post today with videos, here’s one that struck my funny bone, it’s…well, just watch it, it’s funnier if you watch it.

I think he sums up how many of us were feeling watching the Star Wars trailer, it was a special day.

Hope you enjoyed this post with my thoughts on some big upcoming films, but tell me, what movie are you looking forward to most? Is it one of the ones I talk about or is it something different? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: A Little Something Different Part II: A Chat with Jill Thompson

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


Recently I was given the opportunity to talk with comic book artist and creator Jill Thompson. Jill has been working in the comics industry since the 80’s, when she did work for First Comics and Now Comics. In the 1990’s she became the artist for the Wonder Woman series and has since worked on The Sandman, Death: At Death’s Door and many, MANY more. She created the truly AWESOME Scary Godmother comic that is a MUST read for any comic fan. You can check out more of her work at her website (and I highly recommend that you do)!

Jill was kind enough to respond to some questions I asked her about feminism and the comics industry. Jill is a big proponent of allowing the new voices to speak and has asked that people spread the word that if you see her at a Con, feel free to go up and chat with her, she loves to talk to her fans and to up-and- coming artists.

OK, now onto the interview, Enjoy and feel let me know your thoughts in the Comments!!!


Artist Jill Thompson
Artist Jill Thompson

How do you feel about feminism in the comic world today? If not feminism, what are your thoughts on how female characters are drawn?

I’m a feminist. I don’t think that’s a bad word. Some people mistakenly believe or want to believe that it’s somehow anti men. To me it means that you respect all people and treat everyone as equals. It means you have an even playing field. 

What do you have to say to young girls if they want to get into art of any kind, but especially comics?

I say this to all aspiring artists male or female  who come to me for advice.  Learn the rules of drawing! This means you must study anatomy, life-drawing (that’s drawing from real people, animals and things; food, furniture, structures, clothing, cars, bicycles) perspective, design, color theory, etc. Once you master them you can apply all of that to comics and storytelling and bend and stretch the rules.

Next, PRACTICE everyday! The only way you get better is to put in the hours!!

Use reference to draw objects but do not be a slave to it. You’re not always going to be able to find exactly what you want on your Phone. Or heaven forbid, you have no internet access! You must  be able to manipulate basic shapes and turn them into whatever you need. Use your imagination!!

I subscribe to the school of “good comics storytelling is 80 percent silent”. The majority of your story should be able to be understood by someone who does not speak your native tongue. To me the dialogue and captions in comics are the icing on an already delicious cake! 

Your storytelling should be able to evoke an emotional response from your reader. You can create suspense, elation, relief, sadness, joy through your story pacing. 

Experiment with camera angles and shadow to help create a mood. 

Keep a notebook/sketchbook with your story ideas and daily sketches. Fill it up and make a new one! 

While your fans probably already know this, can you tell me what brought you to drawing comic books?

I’ve always wanted to draw comics. It’s one of my earliest memories, copying Peanuts strips from the newspapers. I realized that I wanted to be a cartoonist, a creator of comics stories.  I liked the language of comics as a way to tell stories. I had so much great inspiration in material along the way!!

My father used to bring me comics from the newsstand when he would come home from work on Fridays. At first, Archie Comics, which were my early favorite ever since I bought an orange crate full of vintage Archie’s at a house sale as a 9-year-old. To make a long story short, my interests in comics changed as I grew older. My father noticed that there was a comic book store in the town adjacent to us and took me there. It was like heaven for me. Yes it smelled musty like old paper but the owner, Rick Manzella, carried a great selection for a time when there really were no comic shops to speak of.

So I would save my babysitting money and pedal my bike over there on Saturdays and feed my comic addiction in boxes of back issues and new comics. And thankfully there were more varieties of comics to add to my repertoire as needed! I went from Peanuts to Archie to Spider-Man to X-Men to Elfquest, Lloyd Llewelyn, Love and Rockets, nexus, The Badger, Elementals, The Dark Knight, Watchmen, Anime and Manga,Judge Dredd, 2000AD to Moebius and more!  

Around the time I was fifteen, I was introduced to comics conventions. And to clarify, these were not the media extravaganzas they are today. They were not even the large comics-only events that conventions were less than a decade ago. These were tiny affairs held in the ballroom of some hotel or another. Mostly retailers selling old comics and portfolios of art and a couple of guests. Ours was at the Americana Congress Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. My father took me to my first one but soon would simply drive me downtown and drop me off at the hotel with instructions to meet him back outside at 4 pm.

I would go inside with my sketchbook and watch the artists draw. I was usually the only girl there. And one of the only teenagers there. But I was surrounded by comics and artists who encouraged me. One artist in particular, Bill Reinhold, would look at my art, critique the things that were artistically incorrect and not only tell me why it was wrong but also how to do it correctly. He encouraged me to attend the American Academy of Art when I graduated art school and taught me that you have to know all the rules of art I mentioned earlier and not just copy the comics I liked. And I suppose I’m doing the same now for anyone who is willing to do the work.

How do you create your characters? Do you consider how they’ll be perceived by a younger audience when you do create them?

If you’re talking about The Scary Godmother, I really started out as a happy accident. I was making a gift for my first niece when she was born. Subsequently it turned into my first creator owned project. I was trying to make a comic that was entertaining to me but a gateway for kids to get used to reading the comic format. I mostly try to amuse myself first and make sure it is suitable for both young and old. The same goes for my series Magic Trixie from Harper Collins. Just like any other form of entertainment, you can’t just expect every person to suddenly like comics at 13 if they are not accustomed to reading it or reading in general. But I subscribe to the belief that reading material for children or a younger audience need not shelter them from life’s lessons. I cannot stand bland, ‘everyone gets a medal’, everything is nice, can’t have anything scary or dangerous types of Children’s stories. I prefer telling interesting G rated stories with drama and capable main characters that all ages can enjoy. 

If you haven't read "Scary Godmother" you need to get on that...STAT.
If you haven’t read “Scary Godmother” you need to get on that…STAT.

Recently, you posted this comment on FB…

“Women and Girls who like and want to make comics! Please come and show me your art at conventions! Do not be afraid or shy! I want to help you succeed! I do not bite! But I might give you an educational critique to help you improve your skills! wink just like Bill Reinhold did for me!! He is amazing and I love him so! Use me as a resource! I have a great helper Kyle Joseph Schmidt who will sell all teething awhile I help you! Come watch me draw and paint!! Here are the requirements!

1. Yes, your pin ups and character designs are nice! Please choose two of your best ones!

2. Do sequential comics pages that have backgrounds, locations and storytelling! You know how you can watch the Hush episode of Buffy and know what is going on with no dialogue? That’s what you need to show! Word balloons are icing on an already delicious cake!

3. Let’s do this! You are amazing and the world needs your comics! And I want you to support yourself by doing what you love, okay! You might need more work, but you’ll never get better if you labor in obscurity!

4.Please Repost!”

What is your biggest hope for this kind of post? What do you hope to get out of this more than just young girls coming up to you at conventions? (I, for one, think it’s awesome and I 100% agree with you – there NEEDS to be more female comic creators!)

I recently was the guest of a comic convention in Monterrey Mexico and I was honored and humbled by all the Mothers who brought their daughters over who were interested in art to meet me to show them that ‘Yes, you could achieve your dream of drawing comics if you were a girl’. I never had any doubt that I would draw comics someday, I always assumed that if I drew well enough and kept learning, I would succeed. I had the full support of both my parents in my dream of drawing comics. I went to art school on Scholarship, Pell Grant and through the help of my parents. But I know that not only do some kids not have the support of their parents, they might live in a cultural setting that has an outdated or limited view of what careers a woman should do. And the fact that I’ve met scores of girls who tell me that I was the first female artist who made them believe that they could achieve their dream of becoming a comics artist makes me want to help as many of them succeed as I can. 

Maybe the girls are shy, or afraid to show their artwork to someone they admire. I know I was intimidated the first time I wanted to show my art to artist John Byrne! I loved his art but I was frightened by his sarcastic personality when he engaged with his more unusual fans. I was so nervous! I spent the whole day watching him draw and every time the crowd would thin out and I’d get close enough to talk to him, I’d scuttle back behind the remaining few fans.  Thankfully Terry Austin was sitting next to him and watched me do this nervous dance all afternoon and asked to see my sketchbook. He then showed it to John who gave me the thumbs up! It was a great moment for me! I know what it’s like to be intimidated and scared. So if I can do anything to make up and coming artists feel comfortable and welcome, I want to do it!  The comics community has plenty of room for new stories, ideas, formats and genres! 

I am first and foremost an ambassador for the medium of Comics Storytelling. I love it and I want everyone to have a favorite comic and maybe that comic is yet to be created by one of these girls! 

Recently, Erik Larsen went to Twitter to complain that female characters like Batgirl, Super Woman and Ms. Marvel are too “overdressed” have you seen this (if not, the link is below) and what do you think about it? Especially since Ms. Marvel is a teenage character!

Haven’t seen it. Poor costume design is poor costume design and that could be scantily clad  or heavily shoulder padded. I think if you’re creating a costume for superheroes, male or female, it should be practical and wearable. It can be sexy. I love sexy stuff! What one designs for a Sci Fi story is different than what one would create for a Sword and Sorcery Fantasy story. We’re creating beautiful things for beautiful characters. Its part of the world you create and should be an extension of the character’s personality, whatever that might be. It’s a form of fashion design. There’s a place for Bob Mackie/Cher at the Oscars style outfits as well as athletic workout gear. But remember, I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who can run in high heels. I also know what happens to your boobs if you try and throw a punch in a strapless corset or bustier…one thing stays facing forward and the other things move with your body. This is a good place for the winky face emoticon, as well!

I say let the artists who create the superhero costumes wear their own designs and run a Spartan Race and we’ll soon see how practical it is! 

And really, cosplay has shown us what looks fantastic in real life and what looks uncomfortable or impossible to navigate in for longer than a photograph.

Who are some of your influences and why?

Ha, wow! In comics?! That’s a hard question to answer completely, I’d be afraid I’d leave someone out! Let me throw out a few …Dan DeCarlo, Bob Bolling, Harry Lucey, Chuck Jones, John Buscema, John Romita, John Byrne, P. Craig Russell, Wendy Pini, Steve Rude, The Hernandez Brothers, Rumiko Takahashi…the list is enormous and changes with new artist discoveries! 

For everything else- Andrew Loomis!

I’m a fan of amazing illustrators from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.

I can walk through the Art Institute and be inspired by something new each time I go there! 

I’m influenced by things I hear or see everyday! You never know what might spark a new idea! 

Jill Thompson's Wonder Woman is pretty phenomenal if you ask me.
Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman is pretty phenomenal if you ask me.

Thank you so much for your time Jill, I really enjoyed chatting with you and learning more about what makes you tick both creatively and as a feminist in the comics world. Let’s hope this helps to spread your message and to get more young women coming up to you at conventions to talk or show off their art!

For more on Jill Thompson, click here.

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The Female Perspective: Erick Larsen and Too Many Clothes…A Story That Makes Me Go…Huh?

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


There is some debate going on in the comic book world today about comments made by renowned artist Erik Larsen. Larsen went to Twitter recently to declare that he thinks that female superhero’s today are wearing “unflattering” or “bulky” costumes. Basically saying that he thinks they are wearing too many clothes.

Yes, you read that correctly. They wear TOO MANY clothes. Read on for Larsen’s comments.

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Mr. Larsen may be a great artist and comic creator, I won’t deny his legacy in that regard, but to go around spouting this type of contradictory nonsense is not only asinine but it is counter-productive to all that women in the comics industry (and beyond) are trying to achieve. Women in comics can wear clothes and still be powerful, attractive and strong. He complains that Spider-Woman and Batgirl are already covered so they don’t need more clothing. He also goes on to state that their costumes are cumbersome and unflattering. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Hmmmm…I don’t know about you but I don’t see anything wrong with either costume. They are bad-ass and don’t seem to be interfering with the action. I refuse to discuss whether their costumes are “flattering” or not – that’s sexist insanity since we don’t discuss that when it comes to male superhero’s.

Also, Larsen manages to contradict himself pretty well. He complains that these aren’t real characters and shouldn’t be drawn that way and yet then goes on to list all the reasons their outfits would get in the way of their abilities. Huh? It’s a comic book and is therefore granted a certain amount of leeway but at the same time, we want the kids who read these books to realize that women (and men) should not be created in stereotypical ways. I don’t want my superhero’s to look like me but I also don’t hover under the delusion that real people without abilities can look this way. The fact is, I’m an adult and so many young kids don’t have the same life experience and knowledge that I do, they often grow up thinking that men and women can and should look this way and that if they don’t, they’re failures. There has to be a healthy dose of reality mixed in with the fantasy.

Finally, Larsen spends some time criticizing Ms. Marvel’s costume, now, while I haven’t read the Ms. Marvel comics, I am to understand that she is a teenager. To me, her costume seems appropriate for that age but what Mr. Larsen seems to want is for her to be half-naked. Seriously? I don’t care how amazing you are in your field but to complain that a teenage character is too covered up, even in a comic, is pushing things too far.

She's a TEENAGER Larsen. Get a grip.
She’s a TEENAGER Larsen. Get a grip.

It’s been said many times before and will most likely keep being said but the fact is, women in comics are drawn overly sexy. Plain and simple. It needs to change to encompass more diversity in body types, styles and personality. While the “big two” take small steps in that direction, there always seem to be people who speak out against creating women in more realistic (but still heroic) ways. There is nothing wrong with our super ladies being a bit more covered up, it doesn’t make them any less bad-ass.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I honor that for Larsen. I do not respect his thoughts and I do not agree with them. I think his thinking is the “old thinking” in the comics world and it needs to be eradicated. We need more thinkers who realize that both men and women in comics can be drawn with clothes on and as powerful, brave and heroic.

What do YOU think!?!? Does Larsen have a point or is he way off base? Tell me in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: My Favorite Book Is…

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


I thought that I would change things up a bit today and write about something dear to my heart, books. I admit it, I have an addiction to the written word (duh) and I cannot possibly ever have enough books. Not eBooks mind you but REAL, physical books. To that end I sat down today and tried to contemplate what my “favorite” book is.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.

The fact is, I had to go with the book that has made the biggest impact upon me, the book I read over and over again on an almost yearly basis. Each time I read it, I find some new nugget of wisdom, some new moment or some new lesson.

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For me, that book would have to be Stephen King’s The Stand. It is by far one of the most well written of his works and the sheer expanse of the book can be overwhelming to most. At a healthy 1,472 pages you don’t read this book unless you are serious about it.

For those of you who haven’t picked up this novel yet (and shame on you, kidding!) The Stand is Stephen King’s answer to the “end of the world” genre. He doesn’t create zombies or a flood or any other type of disaster. No, King decides that the world will be caused by a mistake at a military base that studies (and creates) nasty, nasty germs. This particular bug is dubbed the “super flu” by many and “Captain Tripps” by others. It’s a truly devastating virus, causing delusions, high fever, lots of gross mucous and the infamous “tube neck” – it ends up killing about 80% of the human population in the span of a month or so.

But that’s not all…

King diabolically crafts a story about death and disease but includes a true battle between good and evil. The “good” being the folks who meet up with a 108-year old woman named Mother Abigail. They make camp in Denver, Colorado (that was oddly the scene of a mass exodus during the epidemic so it is strongly lacking in corpses like so many cities). They are a varied group of survivors. From the musician and playboy, Larry Underwood to the stoic and brave cowboy that is Stu Redman. They know, from dreams they all have that evil  is preparing for an onslaught and they have to prepare themselves.

The “evil” is represented by Randall Flagg, also know as “the walking dude” or “the black man” – he is a creature made of pure evil. He is unsure of his past but he knows he has been an integral part of so many uprisings and brings a feeling of dread to everyone he meets (even his followers). This camp sets up in Las Vegas (of course!) and includes criminal Lloyd Henreid (as his lieutenant) and The Trashcan Man (who is an insane pyromaniac who actually ends up being a sort-of hero). This camp is made up of criminals, drug addicts and confused souls who though that “the walking dude” was the right path for them.

Randall Flagg is one bad man...or creature...
Randall Flagg is one bad man…or creature…

Where Flagg is a tyrant, Mother Abigail is a welcoming and open soul. Flagg crucifies people who don’t follow his “rules” while Mother Abigail mostly leaves her people alone to do their (and God’s) will. It’s a wonderful study in duality. We see that the world truly can be broken into two camps, good and bad, God and The Devil. It’s also a story about redemption and discovering who you are. Many of these folks never had a real purpose in their lives before it the world ended. Nick Andros (one of the “good” guys) is a deaf and mute young man who drifted from town to town, doing odd jobs. He becomes a powerful force and finds that he can be a leader. Same with Larry Underwood, who is said to be “no nice guy” at the start of the book but in the end, manages to summon his strength and bravery and do his best to save his people.

I don’t want to spoil the end (and it’s a good one folks) but I want to say that it’s well worth reading. The Stand might be one of King’s finest works because it doesn’t rely on gore or cheap scares. No, he shows us how great a writer he truly is by crafting a story of biblical proportions.

Nick Andros is an important character and he gets the holy heck beat out of him more than once...
Nick Andros is an important character and he gets the holy heck beat out of him more than once…

Currently, The Stand comes in every format you can imagine and is easily found at bookstores and online. What’s really fun is that it also comes in a graphic novel addition which is well worth a ready. The editors did an awesome job editing this massive story into a comic format. The artwork is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

So tell me, what’s YOUR favorite book and why?

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The Female Perspective: Superhero’s Drawn “Realistic” For a Good Reason

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


I came across a Huffpost Women article the other day. It was about a website called Bulima.com that decided to re-draw some famous superhero’s with realistic body types. Interesting idea, I was intrigued.

Bulimia.com is dedicated to helping those that suffer from body image disorder get better. Their Mission Statement:

Welcome to Bulimia.com, a resource dedicated to providing information and treatment options to men and women suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and other types of eating disorders.

What was their purpose in re-drawing the iconic figures?

“We didn’t intend this project to be a commentary on whether or not comic books send the wrong message about body image,” a representative with Bulimia.com told The Huffington Post in an email Tuesday. “Rather, our hope here is to show the extent to which superheroes’ body types (as is the case with their super-human abilities) are fictional. Our hope is that when viewers see these superheroes visualized in such a manner that they can identify with, they may feel better about themselves and realize the futility of any comparison between themselves and the fictional universes of Marvel and DC Comics.”

Makes total sense to me. I studied some of the pictures, you can check them all out here. What I saw was nothing that amazing. They very subtly made the women’s torso’s bigger, enlarged their waistlines and got rid of any visible collar bones or other details that would make them look thin. It was a simple and decent effort to help people who suffer from eating disorders to realize that pop culture is not where you should be going to find the people you want to imitate.

Does a few extra pounds make her look more realistic?
Does a few extra pounds make her look more realistic?

I thought it was a fun way to convey a really important message. Not to mention, Bulima.com very smartly included male superhero’s in their campaign because men also suffer from body disorders and they deserve to be seen and helped as much as women.

What astonished me (once again) were the comments. People were really bashing the project.

Utter nonsense. Why is it every time a do-gooder makes-over a fantasy female icon as a “real woman” she gets larger thighs and smaller breasts. Newsflash, some real women have large breasts, some don’t have large thighs. There is no ONE real woman body, sorry.

***

Super Heroes are supposed to be SUPERIOR… AVERAGE people with average bodies look ridiculous in spandex…

***

This is by far, the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.
So, overweight heroes are supposed to make people feel better about themselves?

Hmmmmm…

What I gathered from the comments is that people missed the point. Or, maybe they understood the point and decided it was dumb. While I wasn’t overly impressed with the effort, I understood why they did it. To me the changes were subtle and sent the message that superhero’s do not have to be perfect and more importantly that people shouldn’t be trying to emulate their physiques. While I can see why people would think it was dumb, it saddens me a bit that they so clearly missed the message that Bulima was trying to convey.

I also thought that they could have Googled “cosplay” and they would have seen a huge range of body types to choose from. I think “real world” examples would have almost suited this project better. It would have made the message much clearer about accepting who you are, no matter what you look like.

Maybe I'm weird but I kind of dig the ab-less Iron Man...
Maybe I’m weird but I kind of dig the ab-less Iron Man…

I personally think this was an attempt by Bulima.com to get some attention and to try to be part of the cultural discussion on superhero’s and self-confidence. And when I say that, I don’t say it in a  snarky way. I think they very smartly created a campaign that will get them some attention which for a site like this, can only be a good thing. I think they succeeded above their expectations to get any kind of press on the matter. If that press makes even one person aware of their site and the site then helps them, than I’d say mission accomplished. I say well done.

What do YOU think? Does this project make sense or is it just dumb?

Let me know in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: The “Agent Carter” Finale

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


I’ve posted a couple times now on the series Agent Carter and it’s no secret that I very much enjoy the show. So you can imagine how excited I was for the finale. I expected big shocks or at least a seriously bad-ass fight between Carter and Dottie but what I got was good but not great. It was a little less than the fantastic episodes we were getting in Agent Carter. Don’t get me wrong, there were some truly amazing moments during the episode. Maybe I’m sad it’s over or maybe it simply wasn’t a perfect episode.

The Agent Carter finale was good, but not great.
The Agent Carter finale was good, but not great.

Even with my disappointment, I disagree with this commenter, Anthony Ocasio on Screenrant, who says that “Marvel failed” with Agent Carter. Is it a failure that Peggy Carter brought a female with stellar fighting skills and a brilliant brain to the forefront of the Marvel Universe? Even for just a little while. I think that all shows have less than stellar episodes sometimes and it’s not a fault of anyone but the writers. The show as a whole is a huge success for comics, Marvel and for women superhero characters.

Ocasio goes on to stay;

Either way, the end result is a product some fans fully support, while others continue to champion its downfall. Ultimately, that means Marvel failed – but there’s always hope that they will return again with a new direction. Agent Carter season 1 isn’t perfect – and it never was going to be, either. It’s also not a triumph for feminism. It’s simply a TV show which failed, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

What the HECK?

Not only is his conclusion condescending, it’s also false. I shouldn’t be overly surprised though, his comments throughout the article are very skewed in one direction. He commends the male characters as being the strongest members of the team and totally ignores the main character, ya know, that Peggy lady. His thoughts are his own and that’s dandy but I find it ignorant and misinformed to say that Marvel failed (but it’s OK, gee whiz guy, I am sure they’re grateful for your approval) and to also state unequivocally that the show failed because some love it and some hate it. I feel as though that is a mark of a show that is well done. It provokes discussion, thought and opinions. To me, that’s a success.

The fact is, the folks at Screenrant clearly don’t care for Agent Carter and they never have. I searched around and found various articles that felt differently about Agent Carter and I was able to get a much fuller picture of the season itself from a critics point of view (I’m always curious what the critics say and often my feelings disagree with their’s).

I love the show and I sure hope it comes back for a second season. Even saying that I can admit that the finale wasn’t all that I hoped for. It felt rushed, it felt uncertain, as if it didn’t quite know where to go and that was not something I had felt in any of the other episodes of Agent Carter. 

Peggy vs. Dottie is an unfinished battle that NEEDS to be finished!
Peggy vs. Dottie is an unfinished battle that NEEDS to be finished!

I refuse to say it was a failure though because ultimately, Agent Carter was a fun romp through another chapter of the Marvel Universe. The attention to detail, with the fun “old-timey” gadgets and amazing fashions were awesome to behold. Not to mention, having a woman of such power as Peggy have to deal with the sexism that ran rampant in that day was a treat to behold. She uses her invisibility to her full advantage during the season. Running around trying to solve the mystery of Howard Starks missing tech without any of her co-workers knowing. She ultimately saves the day by talking Howard Stark down (in the seasons most amazingly written and heartbreaking scene) and then, she gets none of the credit at the end! But this is where Peggy utters one of the best lines of the season;

 “I know my value, everyone else’s opinion really doesn’t matter.”

Oh yes…yes, yes, a million times yes!

Sure, there were parts of the show that didn’t live up to my expectations but there were parts of the episode that made me insanely happy. I was feeling all the feels and to me, that’s a mark of success.

Let’s hope we get to see more of Peggy and the gang in a Season Two!

The great cast helped make "Agent Carter" a great show!
The great cast helped make “Agent Carter” a great show!

What did you think? Did the finale live up to your expectations? Tell me in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: The New Avengers, The A-Force

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


A-Force hopefully equals Awesome.
A-Force hopefully equals Awesome.

This past Friday saw the announcement of the new Avengers, called The A-Force. What’s the big deal? Well, if you didn’t hear it’s going to be comprised of all female superheroes.  Not to mention, it is being written by women! I had to take a few days to process this information as once again, Marvel has surpassed my expectations. I know that many folks were annoyed, frustrated, devastated, joyful about the change of Thor from male to female but this, this is without argument, an amazing idea. To have a group of females working together to fight evil, what a wonderful concept and one that I would see occur in the real world.

You see, one of the biggest issues in feminism (to me, anyway) is that women simply do not work together. So many women backstab, gossip and judge other women. So many put each other down because of jealousy or greed or cruelty. If women worked together, truly worked together, then big things could happen. BIG things.

Ok, back to the A-Force…let’s see, it’s going to be comprised of some pretty awesome characters, including a new one, named Singularity who will be cosmically-based.

G. Willow Wilson, one of the writers on this new project had this to say about the upcoming A-Force:

We’ve purposefully assembled a team composed of very different characters — from disparate parts of the Marvel U, with very different power sets, identities and ideologies. They’ll all have to come together to answer some big questions: What would you sacrifice to succeed? What is being a hero worth?

Let’s look at that again, “What is being a hero worth?” An interesting question for sure and one we’ve seen answered many times before in various comic universes. We see Batman, Superman and a host of others struggle with this very concept. Is being a hero worth never having a life of your own? Never having a family in the conventional sense? Is being a hero worth always being an outcast, a loner? These are big questions in the comic world. Superheroes are flawed beings (whether they are human or not), they struggle with finding a balance between their superhero life and their “normal” life. Some succeed but mostly they are in turmoil. To see a group of women have to deal with these ideas and still succeed as a team would be a truly wonderful thing to see.

Wilson, one of the writers of the new A-Force, doesn't want to shy away from the tough questions in her new comic venture.
Wilson, one of the writers of the new A-Force, doesn’t want to shy away from the tough questions in her new comic venture.

It’s my hope that young men (old men too) will see these A-Force comics and not scoff at them and dismiss them out of hand. It is my hope that they will see that women can be powerful and beautiful. Maybe that’s too much to hope for but I have faith that with this new development, Marvel is once again proving that girls can kick every bit as much ass as the boys have been doing and they’ll probably all do it in heels too.

I like what Wilson has to say about her upcoming universe. It’s deep questions that we ask ourselves with the male driven comics, why shouldn’t we ask the same of our female hero’s? Wilson also posed this important question:

Do we respond to female superhero teams in the same way that we respond to superhero teams composed primarily or entirely of men?”

Time will tell on this new venture, but I sure as heck hope it does good things. We’ve seen the emergence of a group of female heroes that people are really responding to. Black Widow, Agent Carter and soon, Wonder Women have all been on the big screen and elsewhere. Women are making up a bigger and bigger portion of comic book readership so it makes sense to start creating comics that appeal to them along with hopefully appealing to the men as well.

Either way, I know I’ll be checking it out when it hits stores in May!

A-Force will include the likes of She-Hulk, Medusa and a new character, called Singularity, among many other female superhero's.
A-Force will include the likes of She-Hulk, Medusa and a new character, called Singularity, among many other female superhero’s.

What about YOU? What do you think of the A-Force? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Bionic Boobs and Yes, Women DO Read Comics

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


Women working indeed.
Women working indeed.

I’ve read a couple articles recently about taking young girls to comic book stores. The first, written by a Dad who had his mind opened to the fact that ladies in comic books are often dressed scantily and are unappealing to young girls, or, as his daughter asked, “Dad, where are the real comics?” She wanted to know where were the comics that had women on the front who were posed in a stoic fashion, who were dressed as well as their male counterparts, or at least, their boobies were covered. What bugged me more than that (and that bugs me, trust me) was that when the Dad inquired with the worker at the Comic Book store the guy smiled and said, “I bring these home to my daughter.”, Hello Kitty and Monster High.

Seriously? As someone who works at a comic store, that was the best he could come up with? In the comments alone there are hundreds of suggestions for comics for a seven year-old girl.

I realize that comics are neither geared towards seven-year old girls nor are they geared towards girls. The fact is, both of these things need to change. I know that I went into my local comic store awhile back and wanted to get a couple Spiderman comics for my friends son for his birthday, he was very young, maybe three or four. He was fascinated with my comics but stuff like Watchmen and Batman weren’t necessarily good for him to look at so I wanted to try and find him some comics he would like. Lucky for me, the guy in the store was able to steer me towards a couple good ones that were appropriate (meaning, no nudity or terrible violence) but it wasn’t easy, he said most of the books were geared towards older folks, which I do understand but at the same time, it seems kind of sad.

What truly frustrates me about comics today is how they portray women. Not as smart and capable and dressed appropriately but as damsels in distress and wearing outfits that can only be described as ridiculous. A good example is this past summer, Marvel hired artist Milo Manara to do a variant Spiderwoman cover. The first problem here is that Manara is known for drawing erotic art so I think you can guess what the second issue is, see below…

Milo Manara's Spiderwoman variant cover.
Milo Manara’s Spiderwoman variant cover.

Look at the picture above and you tell me that this cover isn’t completely sexist? Have we recently seen Spiderman posing this way? Because if we have, please, set me right and send a picture over to me. I’ll be happy to see it.

In the meantime, I find this type of cover to be extremely insulting. The fact that Marvel knowingly hired Manara, who is known for his erotic art, to do their variant cover astounds me. Is this how they plan on getting in touch with their female readers? Because, I gotta say, I would never pick up a comic book with this as the cover. Simply looking at it fills me with anger. And while I realize that we live in a culture where “sex sells”, it seems like overkill to me.

When is the comic book world going to get on board with the fact that women do read comics and that it’s disgusting to put this type of ridiculousness on the cover? No wonder the Dad’s little girl was confused, sex doesn’t sell to young kids, only adults. These types of covers are part of the problem, they are clearly trying to draw in an audience of adolescent men to read their books. Fine. I understand that, but what the industry is failing to understand is that it’s not just adolescent men reading the comics anymore, women are reading them. According to recent market research, about 46.6% of comic readers are female.

“If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.

– Axel Alonso, Marvel’s editor-in-chief”

So here’s the issue, why do comic artists feel the need to sexualize the women but not the men? I realize that everyone is wearing skin tight costumes that show off muscles and bulges and whatnot but even with that, the men still manage to look brave and tough while the women are left pushing their breasts or their butts out (sometimes both at the same time which just looks painful) and it’s ridiculous. What’s truly ridiculous is that there are still men out there who don’t think women read or enjoy comics. After a recent announcement of the relaunch of the Ms. Marvel comic (Ms. Marvel now being a Muslim Teen) this was stated by a reader online:

“Yeah, this won’t last very long. Women don’t buy comics. They love geek culture, and they love all the attention it gets them but they don’t read comics in any signifigant numbers. Once they start seeing that they aren’t making money by ignoring their core audence, they’ll go back to business as usual.” ~ From the I Like Comics Too Blog

As a strong-willed feminist I cannot see why there isn’t equality in comics. Women kick butt just as well as men do (Look at Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Supergirl and our ever-lovely Agent Carter) so why do comics have to make such an effort to make sure we know they are women? Or is it that the men drawing these women honestly have no idea what they’re doing? I have to doubt that as most of them are very smart men with extraordinary talents. They can draw a woman who is both sexy and powerful without making her look like she’s selling herself on the street corner.

The new Ms. Marvel. Look how many clothes she has on!
The new Ms. Marvel. Look how many clothes she has on!

I want comic covers like the Spiderwoman variant to be part of a bygone era. I want covers to be wonderful works of art that depict men and women on equal footing when they are fighting the battles. I want women to be strong, stronger than the men sometimes, so that they can be seen as more than sex objects to the young readers. The fact is, comic book companies are starting to see the change, they are starting to see that women want women characters in their comics. Which is great! My hope is that they’ll see this changing trend and also manage to draw the women respectfully and without Bionic Boobs of Death. Most of all, I want the guys drawing these ladies to understand that by drawing women as tarts, you are doing a disservice to the comics industry. Women read comics too and most women won’t pick up a comic with a half naked woman posing in an anatomically impossible fashion to show off her T&A. Comic books and their artists need to get with the times. Start showing women as both sexy and tough and you’ll enhance your readership. Of that, I have no doubt.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Where Are My Dang Toys?!?!?

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


As with all my blog posts, they are born from reading I do on the internet (a magical tool for writers, let me tell ya). Today, as I was alternately staring out at the blizzard and perusing Facebook, I came across an article that sparked my inspiration and I had to share with my peeps. It’s about the distinct lack of female character toys. Say what, you ask? I am talking about Black Widow, Gamora, even Agent Carter to a certain extent. They barely exist in the collector world and it annoys the heck out of me.

Black Widow has been in more movies than The Hulk and yet, her action figure came out after his.
Black Widow has been in more movies than The Hulk and yet, her action figure came out after his.

I am sure there are those who will argue with me about the fact that, there have been Black Widow toys, and yes, there have…sort of….

Despite being introduced in Iron Man 2, it would take until The Avengers for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow to get an action figure: even then, she was shortpacked in the third wave of figures that came out months after the movie hit, with the prime first wave spots going to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk. It took until The Winter Soldier last year for Widow to show up in both Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Infinite 6-inch line and Funko’s wildly popular range of Marvel Pop Vinyls for the first time, a whopping four years after the character first appeared. Fast forward to Age of Ultron today and she’s once again seemingly missing — she doesn’t show up at all in the new action figure playsets. She’s not in the first set of Pop Vinyls, and neither is Scarlet Witch, another prominent female member of the cast. She appears in one of the six new Lego sets for the film (Cap’s in three, Iron Man is in four). She doesn’t appear in the team shots on the boxes of merchandise (to be fair, neither does Hawkeye. Poor Hawkeye.). Hell, the first action figure we’ve seen for her for AoU specifically is Diamond Select. ~ James Whitbrook for iO9

So, you see, they do create the toys, they simply wait EONS to ship them out and they never ship them out with the so-called, “main-cast”. This highlights an issue within the movie comic world (ironically the toys are released quick as bunnies for the comic books), they still think they are marketing these movies to BOYS only. Come on guys, WAKE THE HECK UP! The audience for Guardians of the Galaxy was largely female. San Diego Comic Con had a 40% female attendee rate. WOMEN ARE WATCHING & ENJOYING THIS STUFF TOO and what’s more, people’s daughters are watching these movies. They are seeing these phenomenal, kick-butt women characters and yet, they don’t get them as toys. They have the option of the male cast but these girls don’t want that, they want to play with the toy of the character they identify with. The one they want to be.

Peggy Carter may not be a household name, but she's been in a couple movies now AND has her own show, maybe a figure will be on it's way soon.
Peggy Carter may not be a household name, but she’s been in a couple movies now AND has her own show, maybe a figure will be on it’s way soon.

I remember, when I was young comic book, Star Wars nerd, I had about ten different Princess Leia toys at my disposal. I would get every Leia they made as they came out. I always noticed though that my brother got all sorts of different characters, Luke, Han, Chewy and yet, I only received Leia (and one memorable year, I received Boba Fett). That was a weird thing my folks did and I don’t blame them, they were conforming to gender rules in the 70’s and 80’s, I loved my Leia figures. I wish I still had them! At least I was lucky enough to be able to GET the toy of the one female character in Star Wars. Today, young girls have tons of female characters to look up to and yet, they get no toys. What the heck!?!?! It’s an unfair disparity that needs to change and the guys who handle these decisions (should they ever read my blog) need to know that women dig this stuff too. A LOT of women. It’s time to start acting like it.

I loved my Princess Leia action figures, this was one of my all-time personal faves.
I loved my Princess Leia action figures, this was one of my all-time personal faves.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!