Archive for the ‘ Comics ’ Category

Those Cap Feels

CN: Mention of the Holocaust, Nazis, and the current political climate; mention of anxiety and suicide.

For all that warning, this post is actually about saying thank you.

Backstory: Over in my capacity as a blogger for The Ace of Geeks, I wrote this piece on why we will not be covering Marvel Comics’ Secret Empire crossover event. I’d love it if you read it, but tl;dr: because I think making superheroes into secret fascists of any stripe, but especially secret Nazis, is too tasteless to give the time of day beyond saying I won’t give it the time of day.

I posted this yesterday, and the cloak of dread immediately descended on me. Being anti-Nazi shouldn’t be a controversial stance; but, it being 2017 in the Darkest Timeline, Secret Empire has had a legion of apologists standing behind it, insisting we need to give the story a chance, that we’re exaggerating how bad it is, and of course that old chestnut, that we’re just as bad as them if we infringe on their freedom of speech (which of course we are doing by not listening to them). And riding in the sidecar with that dread was the other dread that every artist feels sometimes: the one where you’re afraid that this stand, right here, is the one that torpedoes your career — a feeling that lingers no matter how small or basic the stand is, no matter where in your career you are, because it’s hammered into every artist that any stand at all is career suicide. (A feeling that my dude anxiety only amplifies.)

But it needed to be said (my editor-in-chief and I both agreed), and so said it was, and so dread I did. And sure enough, the initial comments were critical of the decision to varying degrees, most of which I could respond to with “did you read the article?” or “we go into that in the article.” I focused on my day job and just tried to accept that people are going to be people. But then, we got into the comments that inspired this post:

People thanked us. People supported us. People — and I want to say, largely women, people of color, LGBT+ people, people whose families fought against and/or died to the Nazis in World War II — said that it meant a lot that we made this decision. These voices rather vastly outweighed the ones that felt we had done wrong, and they definitely spoke with more emotion than the critics. We had — my words had — touched them, and we had made a difference for just a little bit. It wasn’t the end of The Dead Poets’ Society or anything, but it was enough to make it feel like taking a stand of any kind was worth it, and almost as important, that my words have power.

Being a writer is lonely business, and you spend a lot of time feeling not good enough — the nature of the industry is that you get rejected, a lot, and that successes will tend to be modest, and even when you get a taste of the rarefied air, it’s been so difficult getting there that you can wind up feeling you don’t deserve it, because how could you after all that? But then sometimes, you touch somebody and you feel like things are worth it; and that is how I have felt every time I’ve gotten to approve a comment these past two days.

So thank you, friends and loved ones and anonymous Internet commenters, for making me feel loved and supported and like I did a good thing. I hope I continue to do good things in the future. Let’s all do good things for ourselves and each other, yeah?

2016: Good Riddance

So here we are: December 31, 2016.

It’s not unique nor surprising for me to say that 2016 was a terrible year — the deaths of people my generation idolized, American politics doing a belly-flop straight into a dumpster fire, a cavalcade of wars and horrors and accidents great and small — but I was fairly lucky with 2016 on a personal level.

As I go into the details, CN: anxiety, violence, sexual assault, Tr*mp.

Looking at my Facebook memories, I went into 2016 full of hope and optimism, and ignoring truly horrific world events, that was mostly rewarded; but where it wasn’t, man was it a kick in the teeth. A long-time friend turned out to be a multiple-offense abuser and sexual assailant, and I learned when that came out that several long-term friends had covered up how bad his behavior actually was. When the local gaming community saw a direct action to excise another sexual predator from its midst, a different long-time friend caped for the perpetrator. Two different relatives-in-law turned out to be awful people with awful politics. At least one friend lost a beloved pet; another lost a beloved relative; yet more friends got evicted. We totaled our car right before Christmas Day (everyone is fine; the car took all the abuse).

But the good parts were superb. I celebrated two years of marriage with S., and our relationship is in a fantastic place, even better than where it was in 2015. My health was excellent, to the point where my doctor forgot I was diabetic until I reminded him. I started reviewing comics for The Ace of Geeks, a dream gig if there ever was one. I joined a monthly actual play podcast of one of my favorite indie RPGs (World Wide Wrestling; here’s the website, for those interested). I made new friends who are supportive and kind and interesting, both online and in meatspace, and I maintained and improved several other relationships that I am grateful to have. One of my best friends got engaged. I found joy in a little game called Pokemon Go. I got to see the Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time, and was there for their first ever Stanley Cup Finals win, 3-2 in overtime. I wrote two short stories I was extremely proud of. I had “The One About Jacob” accepted for publication. And I finished writing The Imaginary Corpse, the novel I am most proud of yet in my career, and one I am elated to be shopping around later this year after I’ve finished post-beta revisions. I figured out how to walk the walk on social justice issues, and learned it is both easier and harder than I gave it credit for. I got a much better handle on my anxiety, though post-election it’s been pretty rough.  I learned how to be more authentically myself — even when I am anxious or sad or angry, I am able to accept that it’s OK to feel those things most of the time, and I’ve stopped being ashamed and embarrassed of my likes and dislikes — again, most of the time.

I am stumbling to the finish line, bloodied and exhausted, and I anticipate a marathon of horrors coming out of the new White House. But I also anticipate my community being there for each other, and I know we will celebrate together in victory and comfort each other in defeat. I know there will be good art, and good love, and fun times, and people building toward their dreams. We may take a few body-blows this year, but we’ll try to protect each other from the knockout punch.

I’m off to go clean up and get ready to see friends this evening, but before I go, I want to say: thank you. Thank you for reading this blog, and the Pull List, and my fiction. I don’t know exactly how many of you there are, and I don’t need to, but knowing that these words are not just falling into the void and vanishing means a lot.

And now, I’m off to vacuum, and then play Sentinels of the Multiverse in my penguin kigurumi.

Yeah. That feels like the right way to end it.

Happy New Year, everybody.
Photo on 12-31-16 at 11.17 AM #2

On Convolution 2016

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I mentioned this on Twitter, but now I’m making it official: I am once again a guest at Con-Volution! I’m very pleased to be joining the convention again. My panel schedule is as follows:

Friday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm: Classic Scary Stories: Shelley, Poe, and Others

Looking back on some of the classics of literary monster-makers and scary storytellers

Saturday, 12:0opm – 1:30pm: BOF: Marvel Universe

There’s SO much to love about the Marvel Universe, both in Comics, and in Cinematics — so come join other fans to chat about what you think has been done well, could have been done differently — and even better — what’s next! (I’ll be moderating this birds of a feather meetup; I’ll be the one in the Avengers t-shirt. You know, the one.)

Saturday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm: Building a Better Monster: The Nuts and Bolts of Monster Physiology

It may seem like the more tentacles and claws, the scarier the monster, but when it comes to writing a monster worth its scales, sometimes less is more. Or is it? We’ll discuss!

Sunday, 12:00pm – 1:30pm: How Far is Too Far? Introducing Change to Established Characters

Just three words: Captain. America. Hydra. When does an evolving, long-time character get driven too far off its original basis, and is that a good thing, or ultimately bad, no matter what?

Sunday, 2:00pm – 3:30pm: We Love the Scare

Discussing the need for horror in pop culture, modern media, and fiction. Why it works for us, and why we need to keep it working.

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In and around all that, I’ll be attending some of the other programming (I’m not only a panelist at Con-Volution, I’m also a member!), and I’ll be around and available to chat as much as anxiety allows. I’ll probably also camp out in the gaming room for some Sentinels of the Multiverse at some juncture, though I’m going to have to schedule that on the fly. If you’re looking to see me, I’m going to be most available on Saturday; I am commuting to and from the con this year, so it’s very likely that on Friday and Sunday I will be leaving soon after my panels, probably after having dinner with friends and performing some of the (pleasant) duties that come with being a convention guest.

Also, my now-usual disclaimer: I suffer from society anxiety. I’m medicated for it, but it does mean that sometimes, talking to people is very difficult for me, and it is likely to be even harder after a day of public speaking and answering questions. I won’t blow anyone off, and I encourage people to talk to me, but if I need to make a hasty exit, I am not being trite when I say it’s me, not you.

I hope to see you there!

On New Ventures

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This post will be brief; all I’m doing is announcing the new place you can go to see my words.

I am proud to announce that as of today, I am officially a contributor to The Ace of Geeks. Every week I’ll be writing The Pull List, a review column focused on the comics I read this week, as well as new trade collections I recommend. I’ll be contributing other articles on a more ad hoc basis, but The Pull List is the guaranteed place to see me.

I’m pleased as punch to be joining the Ace of Geeks staff; I’ve loved them since I first got introduced to their podcast via mutual friends, and I was absolutely delighted and flattered when Mike asked me to start writing for them. This feels like a big step for me and I’ve been very excited ever since he pinged me; it’s nice to finally get a column out so I can say something about it!

Currently, the Pull List will publish every Thursday; if that changes I’ll make sure to let you know. I’ll post links in my Twitter feed rather than spam them at you both there and here (SHAMELESS PLUG FOR MORE TWITTER FOLLOWERS), but for now, the first one is here.

I hope those of you who aren’t already Ace of Geeks fans join us on the regular, and I’ll look forward to seeing you in our comments sections!