Friday, November 27, 2015 

Liberal politics and darkness seep into Jessica Jones on Netflix

In this Slate article, they wrote about the new TV program based on the Brian Bendis creation, Jessica Jones, now broadcast on Netflix. Aside from how it draws from the work of an overrated writer, one of the central themes here doesn't sound very appealing:
Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones is many things. It’s possibly the biggest surprise spotlight grab by a B- or even C-list comic book character since Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s one of the grimmest, darkest, boldest shows out there: a TV show that’s essentially 13 hours of PTSD related to the aftermath of sexual assault. This is even more remarkable in light of the fact that the show is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that Jessica Jones’ graphic sex scenes and shivering junkies and dour musings on futility coexist in the same world as the massive alien invasion of The Avengers or the wacky heist in Ant-Man.

And it’s a huge feminist achievement. This is a show in which rape is a core theme, but one that pretty much entirely avoids feeling exploitative or male-gazey. It’s a show with a female showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg, who’s done her homework about depicting sexual assault and the associated PTSD realistically and responsibly and who knows all the standard tropes for strong female characters and deftly avoids most of them. But perhaps most interestingly, Jessica Jones is our first identifiably post-Gamergate thriller.
Even if allegedly deals with sexual assault properly, which is surely more than can be said for recent superhero comics from the mainstream, this still sounds awfully superfluous. If nearly every episode deals with sexual abuse, that would surely make it a challenge to watch. If Daredevil had been that heavy, I doubt many people would've wanted to read it (and if it's like that now in the Quesada/Alonso era, probably even less). But no less eyebrow raising is how this series apparently takes the Gamergate campaign and follows the mainstream press example by turning it into a villain without expert research, in the guise of the adversary called Kilgrave:
He may be just one man, but he can act through an army of servants, of which he has a limitless supply. He can “be” anyone in a crowd, turn anyone from a small child to a police officer to a close friend or lover into an agent for him to act through. Jessica realizes that Kilgrave has compiled an accurate photographic record of all her movements simply because there’s no way for her to walk around New York City and avoid everyone with a smartphone. In other words, Kilgrave’s power is an analog, low-tech, “meatspace” version of a power that some men in the Gamergate crowd seem to dream of having: the power to be anyone, be anywhere, and do anything without social repercussions. It’s a power that, in our world, can be acquired by any determined troll with basic computer skills and an Internet connection.

The frightening thing about Kilgrave, after all, is we see people who act like him and get away with it all the time in the real world despite the real world not including genetic mutants with psychic abilities. People who, despite their failure to emit infectious brain-altering viral particles into the air around them, are able to make other people do horrible things. A guy who crowdsources sexual assault by making random calls to fast food restaurants pretending to be a cop and instructing managers to strip-search female employees. One deranged troll—who went to prison and got a swastika tattooed on his chest—can flood a woman’s inbox with death threats by making up blatant, obvious lies that an angry misogynist mob wants to believe.

And, of course, in the case that feels most eerily parallel to Kilgrave’s motivations in Jessica Jones, a vengeful ex can systematically destroy a game developer’s professional reputation, social network, and overall sense of safety by writing a blog post designed to push all the buttons that make gamers angry, sparking a massive culture war that’s still going a year later. As Rowan Kaiser put it in an early review of the first two episodes of Jessica Jones, it would be fair to describe Kilgrave as a “living, breathing harassment campaign.” He is a guy who sees the whole world as a game, himself as the player, and everyone else as nonplayer characters—and he is willing to try over and over again at the game until he wins.
One thing that's clear - Slate's writer is using the Gamergate campaign as a scapegoat, just like countless other PC advocates. But I wouldn't be surprised if the writers of this series did exploit all the propaganda over the past year for narrow agendas.

On top of all that, I just don't see the point of giving viewership to a program based on a Bendis premise, because it only gives him an undeserved boost.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015 

Again, it looks like 3rd Captain America movie is going by the Civil War crossover's premise

As the third Captain America movie draws near, we again get announcements that it's more or less basing its premise on one of the worst politicized crossovers of the mid-2000s:
Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
Boy, do I pity the moviegoer who attends this movie without pondering just how insulting the source material used for this new movie is. Of all the movies adapted from Marvel stories to date, this could end up being the most pretentious. Cinema Blend's asking if this new film will make us dislike Iron Man:
It’s certainly hard to imagine the Tony we met in 2008 doing the things he set to do in 2016. He's going from refusing to give the U.S. government his armor in Iron Man 2 to working with them to register superhumans. Of course, it sounds like this stance switch isn't coming without reason, as the changing political climate and the fallout from the Avengers’ battle with Ultron will force Tony’s beliefs to change. Unfortunately, that will put him in conflict with Captain America and perhaps several other close allies, but it's interesting that Robert Downey Jr. doesn't see the character as the villain in the story - especially when you consider the comic book source material.

If this movie adheres closely to the original 2006 story, then Tony is likely to get a bad rap in Captain America: Civil War. What started out as a ideological debate over whether superpowered individuals should give up civil liberties in the name of safety and security turned into a witch hunt against anyone who didn’t register and divulge their secret identity, with Captain America playing the part of resistance fighter. It certainly didn’t help that Tony was imprisoning his former allies and recruiting villains to enforce the Superhuman Registration Act. Topped off with Captain America being "killed," a lot of people (both Marvel heroes and real-life readers) looked at Tony as the bad guy. But it seems that Robert Downey Jr. doesn't see it that way for the big screen version.
While I realize it could turn out to be a case of Tony Stark being brainwashed in the finished screenplay, that doesn't make this any less politicized a premise. But if readers looked at Tony as the "baddie" in a literal sense instead of voicing disapproval of Mark Millar and company for putting him in that kind of role, that's insane, and embarrasses all sensible readers who know where the blame should really be laid. Of course, it's also possible that CB is putting words in the mouths of all readers, and that's very foolish. The real culprits in Civil War were Joe Quesada, Millar and even J. Michael Strazcynski and Brian Bendis. Just why aren't they held accountable? Oh right, because a movie site can't possibly be bothered to offer a more objective take on comics.

If the movie does force Tony into a role where he's meant to be disliked, then the filmmakers have done a terrible disfavor to the source material, much like the comics published by Quesada did for several years. And even if that's not the case, Civil War was a bottom of the barrel excuse for superheroes to clash with each other, and not the kind of tale deserving to be adapted for the silver screen. Or, put another way, the moviemakers should know better, and clearly, they don't.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015 

The unclear accusations against Julius Schwartz: another Disney-style posthumous defamation?

This is something I had difficulty deciding before if I wanted to address it, but finally concluded I should, because I'd noticed that something wasn't right in all this mess.

Back in April 2004, The Comics Journal published an interview with a woman whom former TCJ contributor Heidi MacDonald is referring to now as "Christine Dobbs", where she accused the late DC chief editor Julius Schwartz of sexually assaulting her in "the company limousine" (there were 2 other women who may have had negative things to say about him too, but not as severe). Now I know who the accuser is - it isn't really a secret at all - and while it probably isn't necessary to use the pseudonym, I thought I might as well use it too for now. However, it's decidedly inevitable that I will have to let know through some of the articles I'll be linking to here who she really is, if I want to get my points across as best as possible. So here goes.

First off, I don't think Schwartz was a saint. I'm sure there were some things he did in his public/private life that would've made me angry. It's to be expected of just about any past contributor, good or bad. I probably wouldn't find his political leanings appealing either. And I hold no illusions about the past state of the industry, having no doubt that sexual harrassment/assault could've taken place as much in the past as it can in the present. But in this case, the accusations made seemed to have some holes, inconsistencies, and there were hard questions left unanswered - not to mention the accusers and their supporters were of such questionable character themselves - that I have my reasons to be skeptical about whether the accusations, which MacDonald recently dredged up again, make any sense. And while sexual abuse is a sadly existential problem, so too are people who make false accusations for any bizarre reasons, and making phony accusations can damage the ability of those who did experience harassment and assault to get justice properly, and causes them serious harm. Some recent examples include the Duke LaCrosse case, the stupefying Lena Dunham affair, and even a recent case in Canada involving two former colleagues of Justin Trudeau who were falsely accused, but he turned his back on them.

If Schwartz really did do what he was accused of, that was disgusting, and he should've been penalized for the offense. But if "Dobbs" lied about what went on, then that was wrong, and qualifies as defamation of character, not to mention it's hurtful to actual victims. Based on what I've been able to research so far, that's why I find myself having to wonder if it was the latter. For example:
  • Did DC really keep a limousine around? Even after Warner Brothers bought them in the mid-1970s, they never sounded to me like that kind of outfit that would have a limousine handy, even for traveling to conventions. That part sounded rather farfetched to me. I doubt Marvel had one either, and Harvey was surely even less likely to own one.
  • "Dobbs" did say she'd gone to the police and hired an attorney, but are there any police, medical, company and legal records that could help verify whether she'd taken any of these steps at the time? And if the lawyer was only willing to get an injunction against Schwartz, as she put it, why would she want to retain the services of somebody like that?
  • The earliest place where she might've alluded to what she accused Schwartz of was in a 1986 story published in Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim's Cerebus. This raised eyebrows for me, as I discovered Sim had been accused of misogynist writings in the past, and after reading a few of his commentaries, they just creeped me out. It makes no difference whether he's a conservative; I find his views revolting, and want nothing to do with him. His willingness to put Islam on the same level as Judeo-Christianity in a bizarre self-conceived religion he practices is even more discouraging. Isn't that an irony: a man who published viewpoints that could be offensive to women as far back as the mid-80s is somebody whom "Dobbs" thought would make the perfect partner on a project about her alleged experiences with sexual assault and/or harassment? I don't get it.
  • TCJ's interview said that 3 editors/publishers thought the story was about them, and asked it be dropped, but that "none were Schwartz". As it so happens, there could be a reason why: even after he left his job as a chief editor in 1986, he was still working for them for at least 3 more years as a PR spokesman, and at that same time, "Dobbs" was just beginning to do art assignments for DC, so whether he knew about the story and thought it was about him, it's possible he thought it better not to make a fuss, because it could cause friction at work and a "conflict of interests" that the staff would surely have preferred they avoid. Or, maybe nothing happened, and he didn't think it was about him at all, hence, nothing was said?
  • How come, of all the past medium contributors who might've done a wrong, do we only hear about Schwartz? If somebody long past at DC could've committed sexual harrassment/assault, there's every chance a now deceased contributor to Marvel, Harvey and Gold Key could've been guilty too. Yet the only one we seem to hear about now is Schwartz, as if only legendary figures matter, and not rank-and-file contributors with less recognition. Do I sense obsession or a lack of altruism here?
  • I also get the strange feeling the article was published to divert attention from Identity Crisis, which was coming out at the time the TCJ issue went to press, in hopes it would get people to throw Schwartz and his past contributions under the bus while ignoring all the modern messmakers whom we shouldn't be letting off the hook for their offenses. Could it be that they saw a brilliant stroke of luck before them when Schwartz passed away, and exploited the allegations for just that purpose?
  • "Dobbs" said TCJ's interview was originally taken nearly 15 years prior to when it later got published. Be that as it may, it doesn't prove she was being truthful, and at the time, it's possible they didn't publish it because they couldn't find any solid corroborations from other people, and Schwartz could've sued them for defamation. And for all we know, he could probably have won easily. Yet it could also be that the reason they published it after his passing was because the people in charge of TCJ by the mid-2000s thought he'd make a perfect scapegoat. That said, from what I could learn, there was some content in the interview from around 2004, proving "Dobbs" gave her approval to publish it when they did.
  • If she really felt she had a case to make, how come she didn't try turning to the mainstream press or other comic magazines? On which note, the story, such as it is, never seemed to go any farther than whatever comics press outlets spoke about it.
And then, there's another matter I'd noticed was curiously absent from the whole affair: she said Schwartz sent a letter of apology to one of her business agents less than 2 years before his death. This was a key element that was missing: the actual letter in its entirety, whether written on paper or electronically. Why, of all the details we could've seen as much as read about, did this not seem to make an appearance?

If "Dobbs" really wanted to prove her side of the story to the crackpots she said were antagonizing her in their backlash, she would've posted the letter on the web immediately, unabridged, whether as a picture scan or a PDF, and any last lingering doubts could've been put to rest. Apologists would've found it harder to defend Schwartz after that, and there's every chance it would've been plastered all over the web since. Yet here we are over a decade later and no full letter has ever turned up. I once tried doing a search nearly 2 years ago on the search engine fields to see if I could find any trace of an actual letter, using some keywords, looking through image menus and such...but I had no luck. If there was ever a letter, my attempts to find it were fruitless. Should we be surprised if her argument didn't hold up? One could probably wonder if the superficial mention of a letter was a pre-planned attempt to mollify dissenters by basically saying "see, he did a wrong, but he at least had the audacity to apologize later, so you needn't feel reluctant to keep appreciating him."

The point here is that, when you say you were sexually assaulted, and say that the perpetrator later provided you with a form of evidence that could back up your side of the story, it pays much better to show you have said evidence than simply say you do, by keeping the note she said she got stored securely, ready and waiting for if and when it'll come in useful. In fact, one of Bill Cosby's victims did something like that: she showed everybody at a press conference a customized jacket she got that was distributed exclusively to the cast and crew on The Cosby Show. And she'd kept it for over 3 decades! How is it Cosby's victim could keep useful evidence around so long, yet "Dobbs" couldn't even keep what she claimed to have gotten for even a year?

Which brings us back now to the matter of Mrs. MacDonald. Following the recent reports of sexual harassment/assault that came up lately, she used this as an opportunity to rehash an otherwise unproven case, and this time, MacDonald says she was harassed by Schwartz. It's the first time I know of where she's claiming to be a victim of the guy, and if she never said so before, why are we only hearing about it now? How come she never said so before? Here's what she says:
Take the most notorious example of this is the story of a woman we’ll call Christine Dobbs, a talented driven artist who dreamed up her own SF epic and started drawing it while only a teenager. Such a precocious talent should be encouraged and nurtured. It’s hard to imagine that a lad with such ambitious career plans wouldn’t be welcomed into the man’s club (although maybe envied a bit) and pointed to as an example of vital new blood.

Unfortunately, Dobbs had the misfortune to be born female. Instead of her desire to make art and tell stories being accepted as a natural, wonderful thing, it was questioned, belittled (“draws like a girl!” “manga stuff”) and subjugated to her position as an attractive teen-aged girl trying to break into a man’s world. While still a teenager, Dobbs attempted to break into mainstream comics after winning an art contest sponsored by Walt Disney and being hired to draw a Miss Fury revival for a fanzine called Graphic Showcase. Somewhere along the way, Dobbs was left alone in a limousine with Julius Schwartz. Uncle Julie. The guy who invented fandom, who invented the Silver Age. A god among men to the teenagers who doubted their masculinity.

And also a man who was known to be incredibly “handsy” with any woman or girl who got near him. A man who regularly greeted me whenever I was near him with a bit wet kiss on the mouth no matter how much I squirmed away. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Hobbs told the story of what happened in that limousine once, without naming names, in a post now scrubbed from the internet, and to the Comics Journal in the past—a story they decided to run only after Schwartz was dead, which made it look opportunistic. It involved groping, which is sexual assault. And when she complained to the ADULTS who ran DC Comics, they decided to solve the problem by not giving her any work, the symbolic purdah that so many women were relegated to in those days.
You'll notice that her accusation is superficial at best, doesn't say when and how it happened, if other people were present, what year this harassment/assault first began, or if she even had the guts to yell at him for insulting her intellect, let alone lodge a complaint with the company staff and/or police. And I know what book they're talking about, but whatever one thinks of its liberal politics, it was well regarded ever since first being published in fanzines, and here's something to consider: at the time she was beginning to practice illustration, "Dobbs" was 15 years old at best. There was once a time when publishers would hire kids as young as 13 until the early 1970s. Siegel and Shuster may have begun their own careers in cartooning when they were about that age. But in the mid-to-late 70s, legal issues prompted a lot of the mainstream publishers to modify their employment policies so that by the end of the decade, you'd have to be about 21 years old to qualify. Keith Giffen and Frank Miller were 26 and 21, respectively, when they had their first work published, and I can't think of any contributors since the late 70s who were less than 18 when they began official careers. If so, this means DC would not be allowed to hire "Dobbs" until she'd reached an exact age threshold. I'm sure there were also plenty of disappointed teenage boys who were turned away because they weren't old enough.

And that part about "so many women" was becoming pretty moot by the mid-70s, when more women were finding employment, like Ramona Fradon, Ann Nocenti, Jan Duursema, Karen Berger, Louise Simonson, and most notably, Jeanette Khan, who'd become a senior publisher at the time. Not sure what she means when the problem was being solved, more or less.

Through the Internet Archive, I found some interviews from the mid-2000s on a now defunct site called Buzzscope/Pop Culture Shock with women who experienced sexual harassment that I believe Mrs. MacDonald was alluding to, and they don't exactly back up her own arguments. Here's what "Dobbs" had to say:
I'm afraid so. I've had several similar experiences, all when I was just starting out. Each of these men I first encountered while I was still a teenager. Even though I usually traveled to conventions with my mother, I still had problems. I even got attacked right in front of another woman. This man just jumped right on top of me when I was sitting next to him in the company limousine. The woman on the other side of the car literally had to pull him off the top of me. It was utterly bizarre. He not only didn't think he was doing anything wrong, he was genuinely shocked when I made a complaint with the company. He really lambasted me and my career at that company came to a standstill. It was a nightmare.
Make what you will of the credibility of her argument (or lack thereof), That is a lot different from what MacDonald had to say. "Alone"? As this states, somebody else, regardless of gender, was there, and bravely helped her out of the awful jam. You wouldn't know this from reading MacDonald's ambiguous account, which doesn't even thank the unnamed woman for saving her from potentially worse. Some way to show appreciation for good samaritans!

This also made me think of something curiously unmentioned here, if we go by the assumption it's true, and if Schwartz is whom she was talking about: what if Schwartz was drunk? It wouldn't make the alleged incident any less reprehensible, and "Dobbs" would still have every right to be outraged and call the cops, but it could explain why he'd go berserk in front of a third passenger in a saner state of mind than he was. Individual rapists who aren't intoxicated usually attack their targets when the twosome are all alone, and while there's strong suggestions Bill Cosby's colleagues knew what was going on backstage, just about every woman he victimized was alone with him. The only time more than one person was present was when he targeted Victoria Valentino and Meg Foster in 1969, and in that incident, both women were drugged, one unconscious and the other at least partially. A drunkard is more likely to rape and commit violence while there's other people present, because all that filthy whiskey scrambles up the mind, making one unaware of what they're saying/doing. That this doesn't factor into the interview even as an afterthought is mystifying. If he'd been a cannabis addict, wouldn't we have the right to know about that as well?

And in the second interview, "Dobbs" says something about employment that conflicts with both her previous statement and MacDonald's:
I don't really know if there is a blacklist. If there were, I would be on it. I work for every single major publisher, including DC Comics, the only mainstream publisher at which I ever made a complaint about harassment. Since I made my complaint, I have gone on to do numerous comics with them including a couple of series and some graphic novels. Immediately after my complaint, DC editorial was not so anxious to work with me. But that was many years ago, times changed, and I have worked with DC ever since. I have discussed these matters with several of my editors and have received nothing but support.

[name redacted, read original for that] also complained about the same man. She was not blacklisted, either.
So what was even MacDonald saying? She did get work. I did research on the GCD, and this 12th issue of Amethyst's brief ongoing series from late 1985 is the earliest I could find she ever drew for them. I even own a copy of the New Teen Titans Annual 4 from 1988 where she was one of the illustrators (very impressive artwork too, I might add). It's only a case of that she didn't get hired all at once; as noted before, legal issue involving age thresholds must surely have played a part in determining when anybody could be hired. Plus, as she says, they may not have been excited about working with her initially, but certainly did gave her assignments when the time was right, and her relations with them solidified.

But then, why'd she say in the first interview that her relations with DC, if that's whom she was talking about, came to a standstill? What she said in the second contradicts that, and it's the second, along with any careful research of her portfolio, that proves the second holds truer to reality.

My theory is that, if there was any kind of incident between "Dobbs" and Schwartz, it could've been that she was trying to get a job before she'd turned 18-21, but the aforementioned legal issues prevented DC from employing her immediately, and Schwartz tried to explain that, but "Dobbs" wouldn't listen and got into a quarrel over it, and he got so furious that he threw her out of his office on her ear, so she became vindictive. Or, maybe he did act like a total jerk in one of their meetings, but she took it all out of context and exaggerated everything? We'll probably never know what really happened, but for now, that might explain what could've happened.

You'll also notice that in these Buzzscope interviews, she no longer refers to Schwartz by name. There may be a plausible reason for that: it's possible any remaining relatives of Schwartz (he does have a granddaughter) threatened to file a lawsuit for defamation of character. And if "Dobbs" had no evidence to back up her allegation, then she'd have to avoid further direct accusations against him for those precise reasons. Also important to note is that the Buzzscope interviews came out in 2006 after the TCJ interview, and not before, as MacDonald's post implies.

She also said in one of the interviews that she heard from almost no women at the time who gave their support or wished her well, with MacDonald one of the few who had, but did hear from a lot of menfolk. Really? So many men? For whatever reason, this brought to mind Jim Shooter. Whether rightly or wrongly, Shooter had his share of detractors who disliked him for various reasons when he was Marvel's EIC. From an artistic/business perspective, my reason for feeling let down was his engineering the crossover that served as catalyst for the many that since destroyed superhero comics, Secret Wars. In fact, several writers left Marvel at the time because they felt their creative freedom was being sabotaged. I'm sure Schwartz had his own share of people who disliked him for reasons both just and unjust, and even Stan Lee probably has his own set of detractors of those sorts. People who probably disliked them because they detested their visions that didn't coincide with their own less clear, more irrational visions. But which is no reason to want them to be monsters if they weren't. If there's ingrates out there, that's simply terrible.

But now, with that having been discussed, let's turn our attention back to Mrs. MacDonald. There are reasons why I'm skeptical she's being altruistic, and can't buy her own accusation instantaneously as she must want everybody to believe. I've done some research on some of the things she's said about the Big Two's MO, and what have we here for starters from earlier this year:
Say what you will about Dan DiDio: in his time as DC’s first executive editor then co-publisher, he’s remade a lot of what made the company tick, starting with Identity Crisis, the controversial but best selling mini series that kicked off what we at Stately beat Manor call The Crisis Era. (Infinite Crisis and the misleadingly named Final Crisis would follow)
Dear dear dear. Another example of somebody who's taking a pretty unconcerned, dismissive approach to a perverted book with a viewpoint that's over 99 percent masculine. Acting as apologist for the very kind of excrement that got me into the blogging business, I see. Earlier examples of apologia include this sugary lip service item about Brad Meltzer being "king" of all media, and even these "quotable" moments. How fascinating that somebody who claims victimhood doesn't seem to see anything wrong with trivializing serious issues she supposedly went through, let alone what "Dobbs" allegedly experienced. Mrs. MacDonald, do you know what you've done through your apologia for DiDio and company, and their repellent little miniseries? You have effectively trivialized the very plight of the victims in whose name you claim to be speaking. Are you saying the disrespectful, inconsiderate attitude in the miniseries towards the fairer sex, not to mention victims of sexual abuse, is no big deal? But then you're saying your own supposed harassment by Schwartz is no big deal! Why, you're even saying that what "Dobbs" went through is no big deal! Sure, what takes place in fiction may not be as noxious as what goes in real life. But that's still no excuse for insulting victims of a serious offense, and saying that what they experienced is less important than what the aggressor was subjected to in return (and in the DC miniseries, the magic "lobotomy" is peanuts compared to what real life felons might be subjected to). One can only wonder what MacDonald would say if Sue Dibny were Latina. I can hardly wait to hear all the pathetic excuses she's welcome to blubber away with. "But I was just trying to help!" Oh yeah, and so was Henry Kissinger. *AHEM* Mrs. MacDonald, you do NOT help by a]being otherwise dismissive of screedish books that make light of serious issues, b]playing drama-queen and spicing things up like an overwrought TV show, c]taking prior allegations out of context by obscuring certain details and lying by omission, and d]being totally inconsiderate of what victims of terrible felonies in real life might think of these one-sided atrocities published in comics. Your claim that DiDio boosted DC into stratospheric success is not looking at the horizon through realistic lenses either. And you even expect everyone who realizes this to buy into your own accusations instantaneously? Please. My grandmother's Chevrolet Nova got better mileage in several years - even with automatic transmission - than your own allegation does in a fortnight. I'm sorry, but excuses are unbecoming. MacDonald's flippancy is just why I can't take her own allegation at face value. She even let one of her co-writers post an item condoning vandalism of Pamela Geller's ads on her site without objections. Will we find out next that she gave Marvel's race-baiting miniseries The Truth: Red, White and Black her full backing? Oh wait, she did! Man, what a money quote: "brilliantly mixed". And no consideration whether she was throwing Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's visions under the bus for the sake of bizarre agendas that see nothing wrong with Chomskyism.

And you know what? At this point, it isn't "Dobbs" who bothers me. Not one bit.

It's MacDonald.

For all we know, people like her may have done more to undermine the ability of anybody who's been victim of a terrible crime in the industry from getting justice properly. MacDonald comes off here sounding like a professional victim, and for somebody accusing TCJ - which she'd once written several articles for in the past - of opportunism, that's just what she's doing herself, following the recent news of sexual assaults, using that as an excuse to rehash older accusations that weren't proven or fortified properly. What makes this even weirder is that in the past, she actually posted some items on her site that were far from hostile to Schwartz; in fact, one could say they were otherwise favorable, including a link to a pretty favorable experience Gerard Jones relayed of a meeting he had. "For some reason I bookmarked" does nothing to prove she has a valid beef with him. If she really had been wronged by Schwartz, why would she want to say - let alone link - to anything positive? "Diplomacy" doesn't wash with me. Either she resents him or she doesn't. Which is it? Let's also not forget that this was the same woman who earlier regurgitated debunked accusations against Walt Disney, completely ignoring the recent refutations. And now that I think of it, that's exactly what the case involving Schwartz is beginning to resemble, with Uncle Julie cast in the role of Uncle Walt, and subject to accusations of the worst kind yet. (Similarly, a lot of the trumped up accusations against Disney started coming out after his death too, in the late 60s-early 70s.) My guess is that Mrs. MacDonald read the same interviews I did, spotted the same puzzling discrepancies, but the difference is that unlike me, she did not enter this topic with an open mind, and wanted to believe, in a way not all that different from a 9-11 Truther, that Schwartz was guilty. And because the allegations did not have firm corroborations, she decided to dramatize everything by not even mentioning what sources originally published them, so that nobody could judge for themselves, and didn't even bother going to the plaintiffs for a repeat of their stories. And for added measure, she might've decided to claim victimhood herself. But that only suggests she knew the allegations could be weaker than even I might think, and demonstrates how disloyal the comics press really is to an objective viewpoint, and makes it look more like they want to throw past contributors under the bus, while the newer ones, by sharp contrast, are considered more acceptable.

On which note, does anybody think Mrs. MacDonald would be accusing Schwartz of wrongdoing if he were still alive? Would she even speak out against any current contributor who knowingly committed a felony, even if they got arrested for it, and say they should be banished from showbiz? No way. And that, in a nutshell, demonstrates what's wrong with the comics press past and present: they talk big, but do little, and valid complaints about sexual abuse in the medium are few and far between. As for those times when they do speak about it, while it is important to hear felons apologizing, I'm not sure MacDonald should be providing them with a platform when they have their own Facebook accounts where they can let people know their confessions. Since the Dark Horse editor Scott Allie admitted to assaulting Joe Harris, she's pretty much dropped the subject, without nary a peep about whether Dark Horse should continue to employ somebody who could commit such a vile offense, and so far, he's still under their employ, getting paid with their money, and still editing their books, sans protest from MacDonald and company. Nor has she criticized Mike Richardson if he still refuses to show Allie the door, and she even posted a statement from him without comment. The only reason why people like Schwartz are scrutinized is because it's easy - they're long gone, unable to confirm or deny the accusations. That's not very challenging or bold at all. If she were serious about these concerns, she'd be publicly encouraging any victim of abuse to go to the police and file complaints, and agree to give it some kind of mention if offenders are arrested and charged, so that everybody could know and judge for themselves. And if the publishers threatened to blacklist? She could tell them not to let it get them down, and make clear that sometimes it's best not to seek careers and fame at all costs. But she's not doing that, so we remain firmly one square one.

And what if someday, a historian like Neal Gabler comes along, gains full access to the DC archives, and finds no solid evidence to confirm the accusations against Schwartz? Will she acknowledge that, or, will she continue to act like everything must go according to the vision she wants to be "reality"?

The best take I could find on the whole subject was this op-ed on Sequential Tart, written by a woman who'd known Schwartz when he was alive, and knew another woman who was more acquainted with him in his private life. It's a pretty well-balanced article, and it shows that there are women out there who realized that "Dobbs" did not fortify her allegations correctly, and hints that there could be a lot more women out there who had no serious problems around Schwartz when he was under DC's employ. And that, within just 2 years of TCJ's article, she never published the aforementioned letter for everyone to see and pass judgement on. If she had, I'm sure we'd be reading an entirely different story.

It's been nearly 12 years since the allegations were originally published, and Schwartz's reputation has suffered no serious damage, though I do expect this subject to continue being dredged up from time to time. I honestly hope he's innocent, not because he was famous in his time, but because it's not like we should want there to be so many felons in this world. But, for all we know, I may have turned up a lot of details that could exonerate him of anything severe. At the same time, I'll decidedly hold no animosity towards "Dobbs", even as I find her claims weak. MacDonald, however, will still have to be held accountable for the grave disfavor she's done to actual victims, and has explained perfectly why I became so bored with her website. This should serve to inform everybody how MacDonald is decidedly one of the most biased and unreliable reporters in comicdom.

In conclusion, I hope this'll be the last time I have to address this particular subject, because, even if Schwartz is innocent, it's still an aggravating topic.

But if there's any important point to take away from this, it's that, if we're to defend Schwartz, it shouldn't be simply because he was a legend.

It's because it's wrong to besmirch the name of an innocent human being.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015 

One inspiring idea Jeb Bush had in a recent interview about comic publishers

GOP candidate Jeb Bush may not know much about superhero comics, and he's not the candidate I'd want to support, but if there's something worthwhile to take away from the recent interview he gave in Las Vegas, it's the following:
"And I wish I owned Marvel, as somebody who believes in capitalism."
Now isn't that an interesting idea! Imagine that, being the owner and manager of a comics company. Something I'm sure a lot of people would want to do. But then, we'd have to prove we could restructure to a better business format, one that would rely on direct-to-paperback/hardcover format, and stop wasting so much money producing company wide crossovers that allow no creative freedom. If a sensible person were to fulfill those steps for starters, it could avail tremendously, as could ceasing with all the abusive storytelling that's become a terrible staple of superhero comics for over 2 decades now.

I'd definitely like to see some conservatives willing to step up to plate and offer to buy ownership of Marvel and DC comics as book publishing companies, and Bush's comments are something to ponder seriously. Because there is all sorts of potential in trying to own a comics company and hire the best writers who can conceive tasteful storytelling that doesn't mire itself in the kind of revolting ideas we've seen over the past decade. So maybe some businessmen and women would be willing to step forward and offer to buy or at least license the use of the Big Two for a good cause? Maybe Sheldon Adelson, for example? If anybody can convince bigshots with a tasteful view of what makes good entertainment to give it a try, I think they'd be helping an undermined art form tremendously.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015 

Leftists exploit old Superman advertisement for positions on "refugees" from Islamic countries

I found CBR contributor Albert Ching writing about Capitol Hill's approval of stricter screening procedures for presumed refugees from Islamic countries - noticeably without mentioning it comes as a reaction to the bloodbath in Paris in the past week - by featuring an old advertisement for the UN appearing in World's Finest #111 from 1960, where Superman is shown explaining to two youngsters what refugees are going through, and why they should just welcome them more easily.

Now I don't know if the people involved at the time were actually alluding to situations like today's - indeed, that probably wasn't the case at all back in the early 60s - but if they were, then as a matter of fact, I would be disappointed, as I'm sure would also be plenty of other people. Even in the past, it's not like older contributors were innocent or capable of making mistakes. Yet that obviously makes no difference to the leftists of today, who're now shamefully exploiting past products done in cooperation with an outfit like the UN that even then was already becoming very bad. And yes, it's regrettable that any comics outfit even at that time would do business with such a repellent organization, whether they understood what's wrong with the UN or not. No doubt Marvel's also guilty of similar collaborations, and they certainly did once publish an advertisement for Planned Parenthood in 1976 featuring Spider-Man. If there's any problem with the old ad, it's that it was all done superficially, without stating just what topics it was meant to represent. That's where it disappoints in hindsight.

I think it's safe to say that back in 1960, the advertisement with Superman was alluding to refugees from Cold War countries like Russia, east Germany, and even the early days of the Vietnam war. Those people were fleeing an enemy sticking with an ideology that was destroying them, and which nobody at the time was denying. But not all of today's "migrants" coming from Iraq and Syria are fleeing Islamofascism if they continue to worship it after settling down in the next country that's taken them in. And their children, if raised on the evil doctrine, could continue the dirty work started by the same adherents who supposedly drove them out of Syria. That's why Congress approved the measure in an emergency meeting, yet Ching fails to acknowledge that part.

There's always been some politics in comics. The question is whether it's always been done in good taste and with a full understanding of whether all is as it seems. And today's leftists shouldn't be exploiting past products to service their personal agendas.

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Friday, November 20, 2015 

Lego-based comics exhibition in Australia

Here's an article from the Australian Daily Telegraph about an exhibition of DC comics figures all built from Lego bricks on display at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015 

Marvel's propaganda representative

Vox wrote a sugary interview with the Marvel editor Sana Amanat, one of the modern, very PC selections made by the modern overlords for producing their Orwellian content:
Over the last few years, Amanat has become one of the most powerful people in the comic book industry. Her flashy, fancy job title — director of content and character development at Marvel — is corporate code for a job that a million comic book fans would kill for. After six years as an editor for the company, Amanat was promoted to the role in February; now she's charged with making Marvel's superheroes bigger, brighter, bolder, and, most important, reflective of the rich audience that idolizes them.
What, do they mean a staggeringly wealthy audience? Which could easily be some, if not all, of the speculators who're buying left and right not so they can read the material for story merit, but in hopes it'll be worth money someday. Okay, I know, they mean a "diverse" audience, yet even then, it remains a very limited form of diverse cast, little more than skin color, sexual orientation or specific religions.
As a woman and a Pakistani American, Amanat has made it her mission to redefine what is possible for women and people of color in an industry dominated by white men. Through her work as an editor on comic books like Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, and Ms. Marvel, she has helped reimagine what superheroes can be. Last year, the first issue of Ms. Marvel — a series and character that Amanat co-created with editor Steve Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona — went into its seventh printing, a level of success that's extremely rare. Earlier this year, Amanat was introduced to National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates — that initial introduction would later develop into a successful deal orchestrated by editor Will Moss, Marvel's VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to bring Coates to Marvel and write the new Black Panther comic book series.
Gee, I thought it was the Big Two that are dominated by white men. Men who're very disrespectful of their country, and even insult the intellects of the communities they're allegedly catering to.
Since her promotion, her editing duties have been streamlined to Captain Marvel, Daredevil and Ms. Marvel, three books she's very passionate about, to make time for an endless array of strategy meetings. Amanat's goal is to determine how Marvel can evolve and make its superheroes more representative and diverse, and then to ensure that it happens. By doing less hands-on editing, she's able to work with the company on a grander scale and across multiple titles.

Rhimes has stated on more than one occasion that "you should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe." Amanat's objective is to give her audience, Marvel readers, the same kind of opportunity — she wants them to be able to open a comic book, see their tribe, and feel less alone.
In that case, how come they haven't touted any Romanians or Moldovians? We're still mainly stuck on emphasis of skin color and sexual orientation, I'm afraid. I'm sure I've noted this before, and I'll do so again, but why do only superheroes seem to count for diversity?
"I ask myself, 'Are there other audiences that we're ignoring?' It's really more about the fact that comics are for everyone, and Marvel wants to remind people of that," she tells me.
Of course there are others they're ignoring. Audiences who want story merit, title-by-title. That includes the "tribes" they speak of too. They literally take those tribes for granted, thinking they'll buy the books without question as to how enjoyable the tale is or not, and that does nothing to boost their image anywhere.

But while comics are for everyone, Marvel's no longer are. They're only for leftists. They're also only for people addicted to company wide crossovers:
A great example of this is Secret Wars, the company's gigantic, ambitious crossover event that's allowed it to better address the question of who it can better serve. Secret Wars has made some big editorial changes to Marvel's status quo by shaking up teams, recasting heroes and villains, and, in a sense, kicking off a reboot of the Marvel comic book universe. Its conclusion has allowed for the launch of new, exciting titles like The Ultimates, the continuation of hit stories like the revitalized Thor series (in which Thor is a woman), and the reaffirmation of Marvel's commitment to diversity — that aligns with Amanat's vision for the company.
They've also got a commitment to crossovers, and so long as they keep it up, it should be crystal clear they're not committed to good storytelling. What's so ambitious about it? And shaking up is another laughable excuse the Big Two have had not to focus on talented writing. As for the Ultimates, that's not new, and it's bound to be even less exciting this time.

And femme-Thor is a "hit story"? Not with its tedious sales numbers it's not.
[...] She'd been editing comics since 2007, and back then, the industry was a lot different, a lot less welcoming than it is now. There were no discussions of representation or diversity.
More hilarity ensues. Today, it's still very unwelcoming, especially if you're a right-winger. In fact, like I've said before, Marvel in its current dire situation wouldn't welcome black and Latino creators who liked the Spider-marriage and wanted to restore it, among other fine elements since destroyed.
Comic books — specifically Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's X-Men — were the only place she could find characters she related to. The mutants known as the X-Men, who came in all shapes and colors — a black woman from Africa with white hair; a Southern belle with the power to steal people's life force; a telepathic bald dude in a wheelchair — became the people Amanat identified with, her tribe, after pop culture failed to give her any other options.
Boy, she sure doesn't sound like somebody who cared about talented writing. I guess this means she couldn't relate to Power Man and Iron Fist, nor Colleen Wing and Misty Knight! If she wouldn't read the Avengers, then I'm convinced she was never into this for simple enjoyment, unless it was written in a way that suited her narrow visions. It doesn't take much to figure out she never cared for Spider-Man either. The only failure is her ability to appreciate other products without basing it all on some bizarre notion of diversity.
Amanat's editing résumé includes some of Marvel's most instrumental and inventive titles: Hawkeye (writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja) presented a witty and crucial resurgence for the character; Ms. Marvel (Wilson and Alphona) is the crown jewel of Amanat's career and Marvel's wondrous hit; and Captain Marvel (DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy) became the pioneer of what's become a golden age for the woman superhero.

"Captain Marvel was really the signal of the change in the market," Amanat says, explaining the moment when it finally dawned on her that what she was a part of, and what she was doing with her writers and artists at Marvel, was making a difference.
But wasn't it cancelled recently? And sales were never stratospheric. They never sold in the millions. So what change really occurred?
...Because the industry is still lacking in diversity, Amanat's gender and the color of her skin make what she says and what she does even more important.
I thought it was the talent she could bring to the table that mattered, not skin color and gender. Besides, it's clear her politics are what prompted the editors to hire her.
She's quick to name past women editors and writers at Marvel like Jeanine Schaefer and DeConnick, as well as current co-workers like Adri Cowan, Judy Stephens, and Emily Shaw, who inspire her. She also outlines her many goals: to hire more creators from different backgrounds to tell Marvel's stories, to expand the Marvel community, to make Marvel's heroes more inclusive, and to do it all with a sense of optimism.
More like a sense of phony, selective optimism, I'm afraid, as the Muslim Ms. Marvel series has proven. A book or story written with a sense of optimism only seems to come now if it has some kind of propaganda angle to it. And I seriously doubt they intend to hire anybody of different backgrounds unless they fit the vision that suits them. That is, people who're knee-jerk, and wouldn't ever favor Mary Jane Watson as Peter Parker's wife.
"Fundamentally, we have to think about getting the best kinds of stories from the best creators we possibly can," Amanat says. "As we start to have more and more people come [into the industry], we have more creators — maybe someone who can create the next Ms. Marvel, or have Ta-Nehisi Coates write another, different story."

Amanat chuckles at the idea of luring Coates into working on another Marvel title outside of Black Panther.

"I was one of the voices in the room saying if we're doing a Black Panther book, we have to push for an African American writer to write it," Amanat says. "We have to make the effort to be inclusive."
Unfortunately, the only folks they want to be inclusive of are the most politically charged from a left-wing position. Hence, the hiring of Coates.
"So, when are we getting the Kamala Khan movie?" I ask. I'm slightly joking, but Marvel still hasn't given a female superhero a solo movie (Fox owned Elektra's rights when that movie was made). Captain Marvel, the first (and only) solo female superhero film on the schedule, has been pushed back to make room for the upcoming Spider-Man movie and the Ant-Man sequel.
I think it safe to say that's unlikely to happen, because they know that, in an age when Islamofascism has ravaged many civilized societies, who in the right frame of mind would want to support that?

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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