I’m completely bored now of the whitewashing debate. That is not to say I am a racist.Yes I am aware as a thirty year old white man I’m not allowed to voice an opinion. I just believe when it comes to comics and genre based TV/movies there is so much more to complain about. Lets remember no one is forcing anyone to watch or read anything.
In recent weeks it has been Iron Fist on Netflix and Ghost in The Shell taking all the hits. I don’t see where people get off on saying Danny Rand shouldn’t be white in the Netflix show because the character never should have been white in the first place! I’m sorry did you create him? Nobody said you have to read and like Iron Fist. If you want a Asian Kung-Fu comic try Shang-Chi who debuted a year before Iron Fist in 1973. Admittedly recently Iron Fist creator Roy Thomas made some rather uneducated comments. But I don’t think the case of Thomas and artist Gil Kane creating Iron Fist in the first place as white American can be considered racist. Comics are a product of their time. They were working from page to page to earn a living. Look at whos popular in comics, Batman and Ironman are both rich white guys. Thomas and Kane were sticking to what sold. Marvel were undoubtedly cashing in on the impact Bruce Lee was having on cinema screens. But like I mentioned earlier they already had an Asian kung-fu comic. So where was the harm in trying something different. People see Iron Fist as the story of a foreigner going to a foreign land and stealing from them. Maybe I’m being narrow minded to see Iron Fist as a story about a young man achieving greatness in the face of adversary. Isn’t it equally stereotypical to say only Asians can be good at kung-fu? Nowhere is it mentioned anywhere that the people of K’un Lun are Asian. It’s a mystical city they could and should be fucking any race! These are all reasons why I stand with the creators of the Netflix show in their choice for keeping Danny Rand white American. I might be bias as an Iron Fist fan but if they were to change a character who has existed for forth three years why bother adapting it in the first place? Why not make Shang-Chi? Recently and rather refreshingly Daniel Wu star of Into The Badlands spoke up about the Iron Fist whitewashing debate. He called people ‘precocious’ saying their argument was misplaced, as Iron Fist has always been white. He went on to say he doesn’t buy into “cultural appropriation bullshit that only Asians can do martial arts.” He did concede Marvel had the chance to do something different by casting an Asian American, “But they didn’t so what can you do?” I think it speaks volumes when a creator defends a supposed case of whitewashing. That is exactly what happened recently when Ghost In The Shell creator Mamoru Oshii spoke out about Scarlett Johansson’s casting. When he says “Major is a cyborg, her physical form is an entirely assumed one… There is no basis for saying that an Asian actor must portray her.” For me it just highlights the fact that the arguments are misguided and skirting the real issues. There is so much more inequality on comics and movies to complain about.
Genre TV and movies seem to bare the brunt of the whitewashing debate. More so than every other Hollywood genre. But it is very easy to make the argument that genre TV and movies is also actively looking to make things equal more than any other genre. Look at one of the hits of last year Rogue One. Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang and Forest Whitaker all played significant roles in a Star Wars movie! Marvel could greatly shift the balance of things if and when Chris Evans steps away from the role of Captain America. Anthony Mackie or Sebastian Stan? Both would certainly bring something different to the Captain America role. Both characters have wielded the shield in Caps absence so Marvel couldn’t be accused of whitewashing. No doubt if they choose Stan over Mackie the accusation would be thrown anyway! I’m not just saying it for the case of being impartial but I think Mackie would certainly bring more to the role. Stan has the tortured potential hero of Winter Soldier down to a tee. The argument could be made that having him take the shield would be a more complete story arc, but I see more potential in Falcon taking the role. They would be able to move away from the man out of time angle with Mackie. Sam Wilson is a modern man, he has a certain swagger which would make for a very different leadership role. Its been promised the landscape of the MCU will be very different after 2019. Anthony Mackie as Captain America first in a solo movie then leading a new generation of Avengers would certainly be a huge step forward. It is a big step Marvel could have taken a few years ago when Spider-Man became part of the MCU. Why didn’t they look to cast a Miles Morales? Peter Parker has years of fandom behind him and therefore is more instantly recognisable as Spidey and therefore my bankable. But Miles Morales in a short space of time has built a strong following in this day and age it would have been great for the MCU to make the move. Maybe after what happened with Tilda Swinton’s casting in Doctor Strange was met with negative reviews they decided against it. In this case Marvel thought they were being brave by giving such a high profile role to a women only to have the whitewashing card thrown in their face!
There could come a time when too much negativity in the whitewashing debate will lead to a feeling of pandering. Why change a characters race for an adaptation of a comic? Why not just tell an original story if you are going to make such changes. There a times when it works and times when it doesn’t. In comics when Marvel launched the Ultimates in 2002 making Nicky Fury African American was a move that worked for a new era. Going forward it also proved a move that would work for the inception of the MCU. Now if the change of race had been made in the movies without the change in the comics proving a success I don’t feel it would have worked. You couldn’t adapt the original Nick Fury war stories for the silver screen with an African American actor. It is just a sad fact of history that a man of colour wouldn’t have had the status of Nick Fury. When DC relaunched with the New 52 they made Wally West a black character, why? It is a move they have since gone back on. So if they wanted a black speedster why not create a new character alas Miles Morales?
I understand I may have said something here that may be viewed as controversial. I’m simply throwing some ideas out there. I often feel the argument is misguided and loses its focus easily. At times it gets thrown around to easily without people really thinking about all the aspects. Whilst comics and movies often find themselves under the spotlight like I said they are often at times making huge steps to address the balance. To anyone who reads comics and regular goes to the cinema this can make you feel proud and part of something important.
Dear Geoff Johns
I am convinced 2017 is the year to bring back an Unknown Soldier ongoing. Now I should probably leave out the part that this idea came to me in a dream but it’s best to be truthful. Also while we are being truthful I’m not expecting you to hire me to write it, though it would be amazing. I mean I’m a nobody. At best I’m an ideas guy. I do the skeletal system I need somebody else to do the muscles and blood. In the dream it was Frank Tieri and Sean Chen (My favourite Wolverine creative team). Anyway I digress.
So why 2017? Well when I woke from the dream the next day, thought about things logically and made some notes everything just seemed right. Rebirth will be coming into its second year. At some point it will need a shot in the arm. New characters to freshen things up. Instead of rebooting an existing title relaunch an oldie. Unknown Soldier can work in 2017. It will be the first full year in Trumps administration. People are more politically minded than ever. Comics is a format that can tackle any subject. I’m not saying make the Unknown Soldier be anti Trump propaganda. But right away the real world sets the tone for the comic. Another reason Unknown can work in 2017 is that anyone can be the Unknown Soldier. Meaning it doesn’t have to be continuity heavy. From the start of the series we have a new character in the title role. An unknown character (See what I did there). The readers learn what he/she is about by watching there actions as the story unfolds. The reader learns who the Unknown Soldier is as other characters in the story learn. By having a fresh face in the role it makes it more appealing to new readers. In early story arcs drop hints to a bigger picture and once the new readers are hooked you hit them with the continuity. The role of the Unknown Soldier has passed on from war to war so you have back story to play with. Hit them with nostalgia with Kanigher and Kubert! Americans killing Nazis sells! Flashbacks to Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. There is undoubtedly a rich history to play with both from comics and real life. Do you know how many countries have ‘Tombs to The Unknown Soldier’? My research found 49! Some countries have more than one. So you could say 52 just to keep things symmetrical. You could have Unknown Soldiers on a Batman Inc. level if handled right. Making things more appealing to readers overseas.
Conspiracy theories, true crime and war accounts are such a big part of the global zeitgeist right now. Bringing back Unknown Soldier in 2017 can not fail. Serial, Making a Murderer, The X-Files comeback, Russian email hacks, WikiLeaks. The world The Unknown Soldier operates in is happening on the news and in popular entertainment every night. Not having him in a comic while this is happening would be like having a comedian in eighties England who didn’t do satire. It would be like not having rock bands that hide political agendas behind heavy licks and riffs.
Now for what I believe is the icing on the cake. The element that will tie Unknown firmly into the world of Rebirth. I want to go back to The X-Files for a moment if I can. It helped provide me with the final piece of the puzzle. The final piece of inspiration that made me think this could work. The ten seasons were divided into ‘Mythology’ and ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes. You do the same with The Unknown Soldier except you swap out ‘Monster of the Week’ for ‘Heroes and Villains’. Let me explain further. The ‘Mythology’ issues of The Unknown Soldier would deal with government conspiracy. All with the powers that be not being what it seems. Botched assassination attempts, government sponsored death squads, political back handers. That kind of thing. The ‘Heroes and Villains’ issues would deal with The Unknown Soldier interacting with the DCU in a wider scope. At first I didn’t know how to make this element work then it hit me. As we have established the role of The Unknown Soldier has passed on from generation to generation. Well so has the information they have gathered over the years. For example The Unknown Soldier of 1939 would first have investigated the ‘Superman’ of Metropolis. Whilst The Unknown Solider of 1993 investigated his death. All this means the ‘Heroes and Villains’ issues provide further space to play with the characters past continuity they also provide great fanboy moments. Isn’t that what reading comics is all about?
Thank you for your time
It’s been nearly a week since this horrible situation and its consequences occurred. Did it really need my ass hole with a blog opinion? But that’s how the whole thing started, ass holes with an opinions! They were abusive, sexist, derogatory and uneducated opinions. Its rather sad to think that comics and entertainment as a whole can create this much hate and abuse in people. It is absolutely senseless to go after a creators gender because you don’t agree with their message or even worse just because you don’t rate their work! This incident has just highlighted the dark side of social media even more. Twitter and Facebook can be great tools for creators especially those in the shelf publishing areas. It can be very useful those creators in feeling the vibes of fandom. But when you get situations like last week it throws it all in to question. The creators know their fan base they don’t need all this extra shit on top of meeting deadlines and tackling writers block. Yes it takes away that level of contact with fans but they have to do what is best for them. The Mockingbird TPB made it to Amazons number 1 top seller this week so it shows educated people win out in the end. It’s easy to say Chelsea Cain should have remained on Twitter and rise above it, but like I said why bother? She knows Mockingbird was largely well received fuck what the sexist trolls think! I would be more than happy if Chelsea so wishes for me to go after the individuals in question via this blog. I don’t have any deadlines to worry about and at times in the past I have spent weeks arguing about sport online so I’m well trained! There has been a positive to come from this though. The way fans and fellow creators have come out in support gives a sense of pride to educated comic fans. This show of support was us saying “These idiots do not represent us!” I agree there are times when comics and other forms of entertainment can be over used to push a message. It can be frustrating if you are just there for entertainment and don’t want an agender forced on you. But you know what to do? Stop reading or watching! Try something different, broaden you horizons! Don’t sink to caveman levels of uneducated bullying. Its not clever! It’s disgusting to talk to people in the way Chelsea Cain has been addressed just for putting out a form of entertainment! Female creators and lead characters seem to be in the spotlight more than ever in recent years. This incident started negatively but when we all stand with Chelsea Cain it has become a positive. I was going to say a female presence in comics needs to be increased, then I looked through my back issues. Marvel has strong representation despite a call for more. Ann Nocenti, Jo Duffy, Marie Severin, Glynis Wein, Louise Simonson, Gail Simone, Marjorie Liu, Kelly Sue Deconnick and all the others Stand with Chelsea Cain!
If your a hard core comic collector, a casual reader, someone who loves comic book movies Jack Kirby has influenced what you enjoy with or without you knowing it. Sunday 28th August would have been The Kings 99th birthday. Do you think when he drew his first comic people would still be talking about the importance of his work eighty years later?
I suppose we should address the elephant in the room. The injustice Kirby and his estate have suffered down the years at the hands of Marvels lawyers. But we shouldn’t still be talking about it. I don’t want to sound blasé but it is a problem from a different era. I’m not saying Kirby supporters should go silent and let the injustice rest, but there is a time and a place for it. Kirby Week should be about the man and his art. The management and personnel have changed so many times over the years fans should not harass them when it comes to Kirby. A lot of Marvel staffers are comic fans. Jack Kirby means as much to them as he does anyone else. It is a problem they probably never wanted to inherit from regime change to regime change. I don’t envy them at all. Next year would be the big 100. Can we celebrate the man and his art and not mention the other stuff?
Since Fantastic Four #1 hit the stands in 1961 Jack Kirby remains as relevant and popular as ever. No one in any form of media has enjoyed such longevity! With good reason too, you don’t get the nickname ‘King’ by being bang average. I went onto Twitter with the simple task ‘One word or one piece to capture Jack Kirby?’ I got some good responses that helped fuel my passion in this blog. Artist Ryan Cody (@ryancody) gave me ‘excitement.’ It’s a simple word, but hard to disagree with. From a personal point of view Kirby has never had a strong input on the characters I collect. But you look at his art and it brings a smile to your face. His are images that remind you of a simpler time in comics when it was all about telling one good story a month. Creators were working issues to issues putting their all into never knowing if there would be work the next week. Kirby was a pioneer and the innovations and techniques he used paved the way for longevity of superhero comics right up to their dominance on the big screen. Mike Zapcic of AMC’s Comic Book Men offered this image https://twitter.com/michaelzapcic/status/768800532660121600. Powerful stuff, instantly recognisable as Kirby! Artist David Golding (@DavidGoldingArt) put forward the word ‘genius.’ While Kirby is predominantly thought of as an artist his writing duties aren’t to be scoffed at. The post-apocalyptic Kamandi and the first Black Panther on-going. Huge sagas for both Marvel and DC in the shape of The Eternals and The New Gods respectively. Paul (@pb609plus1) gave me a more colourful word with ‘unfuckwithable.’ Again its hard to disagree with when you look at the evidence. When you think of Kirby instinctively you think Marvel Comics and the era that launched today’s popular characters. There was a time when Marvels loss was DCs gain. He gave them gold! Darkseid often thought of as the JLA’s main protagonist is a Kirby creation. I found out the other day that he tweaked Green Arrows origin to the one we know today. The same one which was the basis for the flashbacks in season 1 of Arrow. Going forward the DCEU is going to be packed full of Kirby creations. We have already had glimpses of Steppenwolf, Mother boxes and Boom tubes. With Justice League out next year his creations are going to play an important roll in DC movies going forward. Which brings me to my next point. Has anyone put my original characters from comics to the big screen? (Remember we are ignoring the fact he hasn’t been properly credited). Captain America, Hulk, Thor, The FF, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, most of the X-Men. Add to that which ever DC characters they use going forward and I think he has it in the bag. The size and the diversity of his career also put him head and shoulders above everyone else. Especially his modern contemporaries. Jack Kirby done 102 consecutive issues of Fantastic Four. A superstar artist these days does one story arc and needs a break! Superheroes, Westerns, Crime, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi. Kirby did it all and he did it with enthusiasm and to the highest standard.
So next year will mark what would be Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. Maybe Marvel and DC can give him more than a week. Why not go all out? One Hundred years deserves a Kirby Con. If no one else does it I’ll do it online. Contact me via Twitter @ianwells87 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put some ideas together.
Long Live The King
London Film and Comic Convention 2016
I haven’t had a con experience this positive since my first ever con when I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I don’t have one negative comment and if you’ve read my previous ‘Convention Diaries’ you might find that hard to believe. Lets start with the venue, The Kensington Olympia. It is a great space and for me coming from Milton Keynes was very accessible by rail. I could get one train straight through without messing about with the underground. So I must sat back and put my music on. The space inside the venue was very well utilized. From what I read on Twitter the space and the layout was deemed better than last year. Last time I went to LFCC was in Earls Court and that was very cramped. There were positive vibes as soon as I got off the train with people milling about all excited for what the day ahead held. There was a guy dressed as Batman and every kid he passed wanted to high five him. Female cosplayers are definitely getting more daring and I will say no more than that (I’m keeping it positive remember). I had an after 12pm entry ticket which was £16 pound. My first sight on entering the venue was the 89 Batmobile in all its glory. £16 well spent. I think that is what made this con so enjoyable. There was plenty of stuff going on so if you weren’t spending a fortune on merch it was still an experience. Like I said there was the 89 Batmobile, the Dumb and Dumber car, The Delorean. Also on the next level was a big Suicide Squad section with a Squad cardboard cut out you coud pose in front of. On display were the majority of actual film worn costumes from the movie. The amount of guys taking pics of Harley Quinn’s costume from front and back was off the scale. I suppose its the closets we will ever get to Margot Robbie. Another good photo opportunity was a full sized Star Wars action figure style box. The good thing about this was they were only asking for donations upwards of £3 and all the money was for a good cause. A recent trend I’ve noticed in UK cons is the increasing number of talks and panels just like our American cousins. This is the biggest positive of all, as it will increase the profile of cons in the UK. Therefore increasing star pulling power, increased attendances and all round good fun.
Now onto the merch side of things. Funkos and comic based Legos continue their world take over. I was looking for a Netflix style Daredevil, I would go to one stall and not find it and then you would turn around to walk away and immediately see another pile of pops on another stall. I found one but thought it was a little overpriced. I’ve since seen one on eBay but I kind of enjoy the thrill of hunting one down at cons. Talking of the thrill of the hunt I plugged plenty of holes in my back issue gaps. Recently I started picking up lower number Daredevils. I got a #63 in VG condition for #12. I also got #293 which is an awesome cover of a gun toting DD standing over a slain Punisher. Then I picked up all four parts to the ‘Last Rites’ story arc. All of my Daredevils came from one seller and totalled £30. The guy on the stall also tried to tempt me with a #158 the first Frank Miller on Daredevil. He was asking £100. Fortunately I picked that book up at a con last year for £18! On the topic of expensive key issues The Comic Alchemist (www.thecomicalchemis.com) had a ton of key issues and variant covers. A lot of them were CGC. Out of my price range but an experience to look at. From another seller I scoured the 50pence bins and got some Classic X-Men. Not bagged and board but in relatively good condition. I’m sure I’m not the first genius to come up with this but picking up Classic X-Men is a cheap way of enjoying the Claremont/Byrne run. Now when I completed my Wolverine run a few years back it left a hole in my collecting plans at cons. Recently I done some research and came to the conclusion the Master of Kung Fu would be a fun series to hunt down. This was first con doing so it I wasn’t disappointed. I was able to pick up six issues. Five in the low 50’s and #87 for £19. Not boarded but bagged. Two of the issues were marked as NM and I haven’t read them yet but I would say the others could be between F and VG. Steven Englehart was a guest in the comic zone and had I been collecting Shang-Chi a little longer I would have been tempted to get an autograph. My last purchase was a nice little novelty item and if you are a fan of old Kenner and Hasbro toys I suggest going to http://www.theretrodraughstman.co.uk for a look. All my purchases are on my Instagram (ianwells87). All in all it was a very good day. I a, now considering rearranging my con schedule for next year to accommodate it. Congratulations to all associated with Showmasters for putting on an outstanding convention.
What few readers I have might have noticed my recent lack of productivity. It all comes with good reason though. Firstly I won’t lie was a lack of creative juices flowing in me. Which is something that the people at my second reason won’t want to hear so shhhh. So on to the good I mean great news. As of early July I will be writing a weekly blog for Richard and Shawn of Language of Bromance fame (www.languageofbromance.com). The guys put out a great podcast on all things nerdy so if your not listening check it out. Its available at all the usual podcast outlets or click the link above. They are in the process of revamping the website and were looking for bloggers. I put my name in the hat and so far we’ve clicked. I can’t thank the guys for the positive feed back they’ve given me so far. These are really going to be fun and exciting times.
PS so from here on out my #TBOCHT will be superseded by #LOBarmy
PPS New email not that I’ve ever been contacted by a reader email@example.com
PPPS I need to come up with a sign off…
So last year on FCBD I wrote about how I no longer have a Local Comic Shop. Earlier this year I discovered I wouldn’t be having a local con for the foreseeable future either. If you read my Con Diary entry last year for Collectormania 23 you probably assumed I wouldn’t miss it. But of course I will. Who wouldn’t miss a con ten minutes from their front door and with free entry? I’ve come to accept that last years failings were probably down more to the venue owner than the Showmasters staff and the dealers. I like to think if another alternative venue became available in Milton Keynes both Showmasters and the dealers would be welcome to get the con on again.
Now if my memory serves me correctly the first Collectormania took place in 2002. The venue back then was inside the local shopping centre. It took place over a bank holiday weekend and yes I went all four days. I was in my element! I went a little berserk! Back in those days I was still operating on pocket money. It must’ve taken me months to save up for it. A small sacrifice. Now I won’t bore you with a list of every item I brought. A particular golden moment in my collecting career was a Wolverine TPB f the original mini series for £1! Ray Park was the biggest guest signing that year. He was fresh of the back of portraying Darth Maul (Remember him he was meant to be huge) and Toad (Remember him he was lame). Recently when I was tidying up some nerd stuff I discovered some photos I took. Yes back in the day when you still had photos developed. They were of The Arc of The Covenant and a Snowspeeder. I don’t know if they were replicas or actual props from the films but they made the con feel authentic. This is what San Diego must be like I was thinking.
Collectormania Milton Keynes popularity grew so quickly they started having two a year. The local newspaper was always bragging about how people would come from all over the globe to come to our little con. The guests grew in calibre. The year Elijah Wood was there was fucking manic. It was between LOTR films so he was a big deal. None of the guests ever took my fancy. My sister did meet Carrie Fisher. She was seated next to Billy Dee Williams and neither of them looked silver screen ready back then. Episode 7 was nothing more than a pipedream. By the way Lando has to be in Episode 8! Over the years over two different venues I’ve seen dealers come and go. I’ve seen dealers go through changes in what they consider best selling items. I’ve even seen a dealer be there on the Friday and disappear by the Saturday. The annoying thing being I was mulling over buying something from them as well.
I once out nerded a guy at Collectormania. I live off of this story. I was purchasing a Sabertooth Bowen Designs bust when the guy takes down an Iron Fist #14 and asks if I want that too. I tell him no and then I hit him with my encyclopaedic knowledge. I ask him if he knew #14 was the penultimate issue of Iron Fist and it got cancelled after #15. Of course he was dumb founded. I payed for my bust and walked off… Okay I may have over sold that story.
When the venue was changed to The Stadium MK it made it feel bigger and better. ‘All New All Different’ if you will. It allowed a little more space to spread out. Guest signings weren’t getting in the way of dealers. The best part was it stopped gormless none nerds getting in the way. Which was a big bug bear when the con took place in the middle of the local shopping centre. I was once pushed out the way by a member of Dave Prowse’s entourage. Now here was a guy in a movie 30 years ago under a helmet. I can assure you ninety percent of the attendees had no idea who he was. There was no need to move me out the way there was no clamour to get to him. Because it was now on the outskirts of down it made it more of an event. You would go there lose a couple of hours walking the concourse. Then grab some lunch and head back for some last minute purchases.
All in all down the years I’ve enjoyed Collectormania. I got all my Wolverine Bowen Designs bust there. Its also accountable for the bulk of my back issues. Like I said earlier a local con with free entry was hard to dislike. It was love hate at times but I guess that’s all part of collecting. I’ll miss it in the long term. If I didn’t do any cons through out the year I always done Collectormania Milton Keyens. So come on Showmasters work at getting it back next year!