A word for Comicsgate supporters

I’ve mentioned Comicsgate and the frankly, fucked upness of the entire ‘movement’ (they believe there’s a conspiracy to enact ”forced diversification” upon the American comics industry) which is trying hard to become a ‘thing’ like gamersgate but keeps failing badly. That however doesn’t make it a pain or something that sees people involved in it doing their best to harass people (mainly women) in the industry or just interested in comics.Every now and then they do something so depressingly fucked up it makes you depressed. to be sharing the world with these people.

The latest blip goes like this. An old interview with the late Darwyn Cooke was posted, which prompted the poster to say that were Cooke still alive, then he’d support Comicsgate. This caused Cooke’s widow Marsha to come online to Twitter and put people straight.

You’d think people would have the intelligence, if not the decency to accept Marsha Cooke’s word as after all, she would have known if he husband was a homophobic, racist, misogynist with strong feelings of woeful self-pity. But no, that isn’t what happened. Instead Marsha was attacked by Comicsgate supporters, and you can see some of the replies here. You can also get a larger picture of what Cooke was dealing with in this Bleeding Cool piece. In that latter piece it’s clear that Ethan Van Scriver (one of the so-called creators of Comicsgate_ is doing his best to stoke things up while seeming ‘reasonable’ but a reasonable man wouldn’t carry on wittering about SJW’s while letting his followers pile on the widow of a man they’re trying to claim as ‘one of theirs’.

This for many was enough so a variety of creators have spoken out against the Comicsgate crowd who themselves say are just ‘criticising’ the industry. Putting aside the fact there’s little good in the way of comics criticism out there (a topic for another time) the idea that Comicsgate is about criticism is nonsense. They clearly want to return to some long gone time when it was only boys and men who bought American superhero comics (and we’re only talking about this particular genre) and women are reduced to bit roles at best.

These people are of course the same folk being Hoovered up by the ”alt-right” movement because out there in the world there’s a lot of sad, angry young men looking for easy reasons to blame what’s wrong in their life on others. Which is where people like Van Sciver come in to poke, and feed the issues these people are suffering with so that gay, lesbian, trans, black, Asian, or indeed anyone not a white American male is blamed for all the wrongs with comics and these people participating in comics is making the industry die. And here’s Van Sciver to make things perfect with his creation, Cyberfrog.

You might laugh at this (and feel free, it is shite after all) but it raised over half a million dollars in a crowdfunding effort. There’s a lot of people out there willing to pay for this so it has a market and I don’t deny it shouldn’t exist, but where the problem lies is in Comicsgate trying to make the entire American superhero comics industry the same.

The fact is these people want less diversity, less variation and they want to return to a time when they thought (or in some cases, are told because they’re too young to remember these days) comics were simple and for a huge audience of sweaty boys. Fact is we’re in an actual Golden Age of comics. Anyone can create comics and publish them online while the market for comics isn’t translating to sales for Marvel and DC (and there’s a blog in itself as to why this isn’t the case) there are more people from a more varied number of backgrounds interested and reading comics than at any time in the 35 years or so I’ve been in the industry in some shape or form.

People like Van Sciver keep his followers constantly angry, constantly locked as the victims unable to accept any responsibility for themselves and this alienates people from society. So for Comicsgate followers the ball is in your court. You can carry on like you are, or grow up and take some responsibility for your actions. Learn to be a better person and speak to people so you develop some empathy and you never know, maybe then you’re life will be better than harassing a dead man’s widow.

RIP Russ Heath

Russ Heath was one of the last surviving artists from a Golden Age of comics has died aged 91, and I guarantee you’ve all seen at least one piece of his art even if you’ve never read a comic in your life because thanks to Roy Lichtenstein’s theft of his work.

Heath worked for decades in an industry which may never have paid him well, but kept him in work which for many artists isn’t the case.  The fact he barely touched superheroes choosing to draw a wide variety of genres but it is the war comic he’ll be best known for.

But is Roy Lichtenstien’s use (And by ‘use’ I mean uncredited theft) of his work that means you’ve seen a Russ Heath piece of art but you have no idea who drew it. You probably thought it was Lichtenstein. As artist Dave Gibbons points out, Lichtenstein just did bad copies of more talented people’s work but it the marketing of, and the idea that Lichtenstein ‘elevated’ junk art into something else (when in fact all the stuff that makes Lichtenstein’s work art is there from the people he’s ripping off) which rankled Heath til well into his old age.

Heath is his later years addressed this in a one-page comic for The Hero Initiative; an organisation designed to help comic creators in need.

For me it’ll be his Sgt Rock material I remember him best for.

Heath was an original that should have died a millionaire, but didn’t. Losing him means we don’t have many of the greats that formed the language of modern American comics left. He’ll be missed.

”Herb Trimpe: We Love You!”

I’m a massive fan of Herb Trimpe. Ever since starting this blog I’ve made this clear over and over again, and although back in the day it was fashionable in some quarters to mock Trimpe’s art, I always stood by his work until the recent trend is to praise his work. Trimpe for me drew the definitive version of the Hulk. Kirby’s Hulk was fine, but Trimpe made his Hulk capable of more than just rage and angst. His work with Marie Severin is just wonderful.

I even loved his Captain Britain.

However Trimpe’s later work from the early 80’s onwards suffered because he was drawing everything it seemed as editors picked someone reliable and able to hit deadlines. By the 90s he’d drifted into doing whatever he could and became a bit of a lost figure amongst the Liefelds, McFarlanes and Lee’s.

So imagine my surprise to come across this from 1970 when Trimpe was well and truly in his prime. Made as part of a college project,”Herb Trimpe: We Love You!”is a fantastic bit of archive featuring not just Trimpe, but footage of the Marvel Bullpen in 1970.This is a piece of prime history about an artist who deserves greater acclaim than he got when he was alive.

The strange sexless word of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The other night I was watching Avengers: Infinity War on Blu Ray and totally enjoying it as much as I did at the cinema. As is always the case I watched the deleted scenes and a wee thing stood out. Firstly watch the scene of Vision and the Scarlet Witch fighting Thanos’s Black Order in Edinburgh.

That line from the Vision about staying in bed and the Scarlet Witch’s smile is a cheeky little reference as to what Wanda and the Vision have been doing in Edinburgh apart from drinking in every pub in Rose Street and eating kebabs. Here’s the deleted scene; spot the incredibly small difference…

It’s only a few frames and it’s a longer shot on Wanda’s smile after VIsion’s ‘we should have stayed in bed’ comment, but those few frames change Elizabeth Olsen’s smile from a knowing one to a bit of a dirty ‘phwoar, I’ve got a super-powered sexbot’  kind of smile. It then dawned on me that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a chaste universe where people smile at each other or make jokes, but nobody, well, actually fucks. Hell, there’s barely any kissing let alone anything that might make Thor’s hammer twitch.

But it wasn’t always like this. Back in Iron Man in 2008, Tony Stark is shagging anything with a pulse, to the point where it’s hinted that he’s doing the deed with his pole-dancing staff.

There’s an attempt to set up a romance in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, but it isn’t helped by the lead pair of Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman having zero chemistry togehter onscreen, and Branagh concentrating on the more Shakespearean/Kirbyesque aspects of the story, while Captain America being the eternal virgin was a nicely hinted part of the characters sacrifice in WW2. ”He never came home for the girl” was loaded with meaning.

Through to Iron Man 3 there’s still a feeling that the people inhabiting the MCU live like normal people with the same urges but then once Disney have bought Marvel, the films become more celibate, sure there’s a longing glance between Bruce Banner and the Black Widow but it doesn’t go anywhere. Captain America might get a snog but he’s going to get nothing more than that. Sexual relationships don’t exist in the MCU (unlike the Marvel television shows, especially on Netflix, where characters are at it all the time) and have been replaced by this 1940’s style of interactive human relations where there might be a glance, or an odd cheeky line but no pants are ever dropped. It’s a very Disney, very bland vision. The one part of the MCU that stands out is the Guardians of the Galaxy, and this video from Lindsay Ellis explains some of the complexities going on in these films.

Two films where the expectation of Quill getting the girl has been dangled in front of us, and it’s never happened thanks to some very clever writing from James Gunn. Sadly much of this is wasted in Infinity War for the sake of the plot, but it shows there’s still room for emotional complexity in a series of films aimed for a family audience that’s action orientated.

I understand why the MCU films are like this. Marvel are now owned by Disney  and they need to reach as large an audience as possible but in creating a formula (and the MCU films as entertaining and fun as they are, follow a strict formula) they’ve created a strange sexless world that can be as violent as they can get away with for a 12A certificate but human relationships are limited to side-glances and marriage plans.I’m not saying the MCU should become like the Netflix shows, but perhaps rounding out the characters may make them a bit less 2-dimensional and a bit less Disneyfied because right now Disney is in danger of homogenising our entertainment and that isn’t a good thing.

It’s crap being disabled: Part 245

I’ve got some time off at the moment so I finished work last Friday and spent the weekend & Monday recharging as I’ve rather overdone things of late, and my doctor advised me to take some time to just basically relax. This means I’ve been catching up with things like Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Better Call Saul, and playing loads of God of War, and finally getting on with GTA V. If it sounds like I don’t sleep much that would be right. It’s been this way since my stroke in 2016 so if I get 4/5 unbroken sleep of a night then I’m doing good but this time off has allowed me to slowly start to recharge.

Today I popped into town to do some odds and sods at the bank and a few other places while trying as much as possible to have a wander. The problem about doing this in a city is bad, but in a city like Glasgow it’s far worse than it should be through a mix of stupidity, ignorance and idiocy.

.Glasgow has a good, effective underground system. The subway is often the quickest way to get round a city which is often gridlocked on the roads but there is no disabled access in most stations, and most stations don’t have escalators which go to the platform so stairs are the way in and out.

Today I thought I’d jump on the subway to the West End after coming out the bank. Getting off at Hillhead saw me confronted by hordes of people coming down the stairs slamming into me with their backpack because if you walk the streets with a stick or move with a wheelchair for 90% of the population you become invisible. After nearly being knocked over a few times I managed to get onto Byres Road by this point I was tired and fed up of being a pinball.

So today’s lesson is that if you see someone disabled don’t knock into them. Don’t pretend they’re not there. Don’t be a dick because you want to rush somewhere or you have no spacial awareness.

Now back to GTA V where I can imagine I’m laying waste to arseholes in the street…

A quick word from Scotland for the Brexit People’s Vote

At the weekend there was a People’s Vote rally in Edinburgh that had speakers from the liberal left based in England. Sure, the likes of Dr. Tanja Bueltmann were there, but mainly it was people like Rory Bremner, Gavin Esler and Menzies Campbell who spoke to  around 1k people about the need for a second Brexit vote. The line ”love the UK, love the EU’ was pitched. This sparked independence supporters to refute this on everyone’s favourite online Thunderdome, Twitter.

The jist is that people saw a movement which til now has focused, rightly, on drumming up support for a second referendum in England but had totally forgotten Scotland existed because Scotland voted 62% to Remain and Edinburgh the remain vote was 74%. So to many people it just looked like a bunch of folk who were in the area for the festival turning up to make a few speeches then vanish back down south.without engaging what’s happened in Scotland since the EU referendum because it hasn’t went down the same path as England.

On Saturday in Dundee, somewhere between 12k and 16k people marched through the city in support of independence, and of Scotland independent within the EU. The People’s Vote has ignored the fact for two years the people of Scotland have been fighting to not just stay in the EU, but to preserve devolution itself which is at risk from Brexit. So to have folk swan in and out telling people in Scotland what they should do reminds too many people of the independence referendum in 2014 when folk based in England swept in to tell people what to do, including telling people a Yes vote would be the best way to lose EU membership so vote No said people like, Gavin Esler and Rory Bremner.

We know how that turned out.

Scotland is treated as an afterthought by the main Westminster parties. Theresa May swans in and out of Scotland giving the air of someone who’d rather be at her own funerals, while Jeremy Corbyn swans up for a few days to put us bloody Jocks back in their place because that’s been Labour’s job.All the time the message is ‘be more like the rest of the UK, just conform to what England does’ and that’s what drives people insane as this has never worked. The UK’s political system was for years held together by bits of string & chewing gum but all its horrible flaws are now exposed, but Esler, etc don’t propose a People’s Vote which will result in this being rectified. They just want Scotland’s vote and when they get them (because polls now show support for the EU to be around 70%) they’ll walk away.

It is the idea that for two years Scotland has sat around doing nothing but here’s Rory Bremner here to put us right. The same man who wrote this now quite pitiful piece in the Telegraph four years ago (there’s also an exceptionally cruel line about Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism) that said basically Scotland should vote No because it might, possibly, perhaps get a better deal and hey, Kirsty Wark made it big so it shows Scotland is doing well!!

It is bullshit.

When pushed as to why they won’t support at least the principle of a second independence referendum, the likes of Esler, Bremner, etc say ‘ah well, you voted No in 2014. Shut up and support this’ which is at best, tone deaf.

So to hell with Bremner and those like him. The English liberal left has never been there to show solidarity with Scotland having chosen to show their solidarity by standing back when the Tories decimated Scottish industry and brought in the likes of the Poll Tax. But Brexit is important to fight however a second UK wide vote will give Scotland whatever England votes for, so independence is important as if Scotland wins it, then all cards are in the air, including Brexit. The problem is that too many pushing for a People’s Vote are also those most in favour of a return to the status quo and that ship sailed.

Want to help? Understand Scotland’s politics and history. Understand what Scotland has done to speak up for immigrants and protect them as much as possible. Perhaps put feelers out to Indy groups; see if you can work together but don’t assume the argument in Scotland is the same as England. It isn’t just as it isn’t the same in Gibraltar or Northern Ireland. Even Wales is starting to shift slightly away but don’t assume things can go back to normal as that (whatever it was) is no longer on the table. Want allies? Then speak to folk and understand the situation rather than preach.

The ball is in the court of the People’s Vote. We have a large organised grassroots campaign in Scotland that can attract tens of thousands in areas that weren’t big on supporting independence four years ago. It has been built up with zero support from the media, or the liberal left in England but it’s the sort of activist base political parties and movements would die for. Why not make bridges to help fight Brexit but the People’s Vote need to give a hell of a lot, and ensure they don’t do anything as cack-handed as the weekend in Scotland again.

Watch the full muddy horror of Glastonbury 1998

In three decades plus of festival going there’s only one festival that really beat me and that is Glastonbury 1998. I’ve written in detail about it previously, but upon looking at the BBC’s coverage from 1998 which is on YouTube, the main thing that strikes me is how fucking wet and miserable everything looks because, well, it was.

Like 1997 it rained turning Worthy Farm into a mudbath. Unlike 97 it didn’t stop on the Friday but carried on and on and on with even hippies who’d been to every Glastonbury and free festival you can and can’t think of, admitting this was the worst year for the weather they’d had. Excuse the pun but it was a perfect storm of the largest attendance ever, with a great lineup (including Pulp, Blur, Tony Bennett, Catatonia, Portishead, Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Robbie Williams and err, Rolf Harris who makes an appearance in the first of the videos below) but at that point Michael Eavis hadn’t installed the drainage systems the farm has today. It was in fact this year that prompted the installation of the drainage.

But it was the rain that killed it for me. It started raining on the Friday morning and didn’t stop til the early hours of Saturday morning. It was already muddy when we arrived on the Thursday but this rain didn’t stop dropping then historic volumes of water on the farm and with nowhere to go, vast swathes of the farm was just muddy puddles.

So these recordings of the BBC coverage captures some of the misery of that year as 100k tried hard to have fun in knee-high wet mud as centimetres of rain drop from the sky. The second part onwards captures it the best as all the presenters, barring a stoic John Peel, grow increasingly fed up, then angry, then depressed about the weather ruining what should have been a classic year. Sadly I don’t think too many people count 98 as one of their best years, especially those who used the dance tent after it was cleaned of shit after a farmyard worker mistook blow for suck while trying to drain the water out the tent.

There were wet years after 98 but thanks to the lessons learned then they’ve not been as intolerable so here’s the complete BBC weekend coverage of 1998’s Glastonbury Festival. This time I can enjoy Catatonia without having every part of me battered by the wind and the rain…