November 8, 2015

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Weekend Pattering for November 8th, 2015-- The Alonso Labelling Game

** It's still the weekend somewhere so let's drive into what your Panelteers have been up to this week:


** So let's play a game and try to track what Axel Alonso has to say about Marvel characters being gay or not being gay just in the last few months.  

July 31st, 2015- Hercules and James Howlett's relationship in "X-Treme X-Men" took place in a unique alternate universe, similar to how Colossus was gay in the Ultimate Universe, but is straight in the 616. Same goes for Hercules here.
October 30th, 2015-- That's a question for readers [of Angela] to ponder and answer for themselves. We're not looking to put labels on the character or the series. We'd prefer that the story Marguerite, Kim and Stephanie are telling -- all aspects of it -- speak for itself.
November 6th, 2015-- I mean, the moment you say that young Bobby Drake is gay, you have to consider the ramification for older Bobby, right? Brian and I were totally on the same page: it absolutely made no sense for older Bobby to be anything but gay. They're the same guy -- just from different time periods and at different stages of their lives.


The last two quotes are the particularly curious ones.  One week, Alonso refuses to define the sexuality of one character when the next week (and also months beforehand,) he's willing to label other characters as straight or gay.

A weird thought occurred to me about his lack of talking about Angela's sexuality a week before they reveal that Iceman is gay (and let the record show that this is the second time this year that an Iceman has come out as gay.)  Presswise, can Marvel afford to have the same discussion about two characters two weeks in a row?  Was he unwilling to define or "label" Angela because Marvel didn't want that to be the big news story a week before the Iceman reveal?

Or am I just reading too much conspiracy into this?

** Axel Alonso Contradictory, Probably Irrelevant on LBGTQIA Marvel (The Rainbow Hub): Emma Huxbois has a unique view of this issue.  She approaches the identity of Angela being gay or bi from a fan ownership perspective. Does there come a time when the desires and beliefs of the fans become more the official word on these characters than the ideas and concepts of the companies that hold their copyright?
Ultimately though, the fandom will outright reject or ignore canonical distinctions they don’t care for. Probably the most prominent example of this is the Teen Wolf franchise, which, despite the series having a canonically gay character in Mason Hewitt, remains utterly focused on pairing Derek Hale and Stiles Stilinski. There are, of course, significant problems with that situation, but it remains a pointed example of a property with a significantly larger following than anything Marvel produces in which the vocal fan base has completely overridden the intent of the creators.
This requires a certain amount of fan ownership of the comics and characters that I'm not too sure that I really understand anymore but am seeing a lot of recently.  And it encompasses more than just sexual orientation of the characters.  It's almost a complete ownership of the publishing policy of these big companies, as David Harper suggests at SKTCHD a couple of weeks ago.
On a line-wide basis, this causes significant heartache. It’s even worse for the individual comics. Books like Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Karnak are new titles with exciting creative teams, but I’d be lying if I said the specter of Secret Wars doesn’t dampen my experience reading those titles. Sure, they are all blessed with an “eight months later” gap after the events of Secret Wars that is meant to remove that issue, but it doesn’t help. Reading those comics with the unresolved questions behind them – especially in the superb Doctor Strange – feels like digging into the opening chapter of the second book in a series without having read the concluding chapters of the first one. They work, but there’s a part of your brain that is yelling “SOMETHING IS WRONG.” It’s not just me, either.
Sure it's a different type of fan ownership but the idea that what's happening now in one book is affecting people's enjoyment of other books just baffles me even though I'm sure it wasn't so long ago that I would have been in the same situation here.  I'm enjoying Secret Wars and I'm enjoying some of the new Marvel titles but I personally don't see how one changes my view of the other.

In mainstream superhero comics, this has always been a conflict between the publisher and the fan.  At some point when things become so popular and so dominant, the fandom begins to exert some type of power either financially or narratively to eventually have a type of power over the object of their fandom.  In the past, it's been about who could beat up who in a fight but today is seems to be shifting to a more political power about beliefs and sexuality. So the official word is that Hercules is not gay, Iceman is and there is no official word about Angela.  But Marvel only controls the characters up to the point where you hand over your money to buy the comics.  From there, those stories seem to be up for grabs as fans try to define the stories themselves.



** How I Told My Grandma that I'm Transgender (Fusion): Dylan Edwards has a comic that on one level is about telling his grandma that he's transgender. But it's more about the confusion he had to deal with during the last 1990s about understanding his own sexuality and how art helped him understand who he was.


** The new Big Two isn’t DC and Marvel—it’s the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon (Slate)-- That subheadline is far more telling than the main headline as Heidi MacDonald looks at how today's cartoonists are finding steady work in animation rather than getting regular gigs at Marvel or DC.
While I have a hard time frowning on indie cartoonists eating regular hot, nutritious meals with their animation loot, I still wonder if some young creators are being led on by the dangling brass ring of developing their own show. After all, there are scores of talented young cartoonists, and there isn’t enough room on the schedule for all of them to get their own show. Many of these cartoonists have gone through the pitch process, with several almost getting to the finish line, but no one has crossed it yet. Sands and DeForge worked on a pitch for a year for Cartoon Network before it was killed. They have no hard feelings, but it must have sucked a lot of time and energy.
There's a lot to think about here and I'm not too sure that I could unpack it all.  As I read comic by Michael DeForge, my son could be watching cartoons created by him and getting indoctrinated that way into this outre storytelling.  It's a really different and exciting storytelling style that's showing up in cartoons that the kids are watching rather than the homogenous, dull and cheap cartoons that littered the airwaves than when I was a kid.



** The Silent Lessons of Strange Fruit #2: A Review That Isn’t (Women Write About Comics):  After a troubling first issue, it doesn't sound like Mark Waid and J.G. Jones' Strange Fruit isn't getting any better.  At WWAC, J.A. Michelinie tries to tackle how Boom Studios, Waid and Jones could have reacted and failed to after the delays the series has encountered since the first issue.
After I finished reading Strange Fruit #2, I sat for a while and wondered if there was any point to writing about it at all. When it came down to it, the reality was–to use an Internet tautology–tone deaf comic is tone deaf. By now, a reader should know what they’re getting into and declaring the second issue as “tone deaf too” doesn’t quite have the same impact as addressing the book’s opening salvo. I could do it, certainly, but to what end? I looked at the comic, examined what was fresh to discuss, and to be perfectly honest: I got bored. I don’t mean that the comic’s contents were necessarily boring–some may think so, others may not–but instead, I was bored by the very idea of doing a second critique. Still, I had to, right? I am a black woman reading and writing about comics and if such a #2 exists, surely I must respond to it using the same critical eye with which I approached #1.
 Honestly, I haven't read these issues because I'm not a huge fan of either creator but I'm fascinated by the reaction to it and the seeming disregard of anyone involved in the comics to acknowledge the potentially troublesome aspects that it sounds like the second issue replicated from the first issue.  And there's still two (three?  four?) issues of this series to go?