Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Semi-Annual Chicago Toy Show

Once again, this show ran concurrently with C2E2, but unlike last year, I decided not to go downtown to the con. There were panels I'm really sorry I missed, but the crowds are just unendurable for me.

This year is the 41st for the Chicago Toy Show, taking place at the Kane County Fairgrounds, in St. Charles, IL. It took me three hours to get though the buildings I wanted to (I skipped the "doll" building, partly because it's a little creepy). I still haven't found the Borg Queen, but I did come home with:
  • Classic Silk Spectre (The Watchmen)
  • Aspen Matthews (Fathom)
  • Kim Arashikage (GI Joe, AKA Jinx; according to the seller, Hasbro lost her name copyright)
  • Dr. Elsa Schneider (Last Crusade)
  • Black Queen (Marvel Legends, TRU exclusive)
  • Jade (Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones)
  • Plaster of Paris (from The Spirit)
  • Arsia (Green Lantern)
  • Boodikka (Green Lantern) 
So a good haul, really! And three hours all to myself, even if it was a little crowded. (People were queuing up to get in a half-hour before the gate even opened.) I got a little warm-up the day before, finding the Aliens: Resurrection Ripley and Walking Dead's Maggie Greene at Half Price Books, so my weekend total was eleven new figs.

The next show is October 26th, so mark your calendars!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Call (Alien: Resurrection) and Crime Syndicate Superwoman

I recently found Call, portrayed by Winona Rider in Alien: Resurrection (1997), at a Half Price Books store. Made by Hasbro (still with the Kenner brand on the box -- Hasbro bought Kenner and its licenses in 1991), this was from Hasbro's "Signature Series." Unfortunately, they didn't also have Ripley, so the only Lt. Ripley I have is the small 1992 Kenner figure that looks nothing like Sigourney Weaver. Rider's likeness in this figure isn't bad, and I much prefer the larger size. The box is pretty beat up, but since she won't be in it for long, who cares?

I'll be on the lookout for the Ripley figure from this series that has a much better likeness to Weaver (and is taller).

Last Wednesday, I also picked up Crime Syndicate Superwoman at my local comics shop. This DC Collectibles figure is quite an attractive sculpt and paint. The face in particular is awesome. Her blue eyes are rather piercing, and they and her mouth were painted with a glossy paint so they have a wet shine. She's also wearing high-heeled boots, so it should be interesting to see how well she stands up out of the box. Which poses the question: as (essentially) Wonder Woman's evil twin from an alternate dimension, does she go on the Wonder Woman shelf, or with the other DC figures? Leaning strongly toward "other."

There's another female figure in with the Super-Villains Crime Syndicate set. Atomica, a small unarticulated figure, comes with Johnny Quick, but I am not paying $25 for Quick when all I want is the little 2-inch Atomica.

Monday, April 14, 2014

ComiXology Is Now Part of Amazon

Jeff Gomez at Business Insider has written an article about Amazon's acquisition of ComiXology. In it, he says
Women 17 – 26 have risen to comprise over 20% of ComiXology’s users, and that’s certain to rise after Amazon’s acquisition. The books will now be exposed to millions of newcomers, so it will behoove major publishers to make their stories more female-friendly, streamlined, and accessible. [Link is to a Comic Book Resources article from October, '13.]
"Make their stories more female-friendly" is going to be the contentious point, I think. Someone accused Gail Simone of turning Red Sonja into a feminazi yesterday, so making stories "female-friendly" is going to be met with significant resistance.

And then she pretty much made fun of the idea all day. :D

Don't get me wrong, I think the comics publishers should pay attention to reality and acknowledge the fact that WOMEN READ COMICS, and I stand to benefit from stories that are less about men's fetishes and more about actual plot, but I think there's going to be a lot of very ugly pushback. It's already there, as evidenced from Hungry_man above. Would he have been complaining to the writer if the writer had been male, or would he have accepted the story-so-far without accusing the character of being a feminazi?

It seems like any time people (non-cis-white-male people) suggest that comics could be more inclusive, have better representation, be less male gaze-y, those cis white guys just get pissed off and circle the wagons around their precious male fantasies of power and big boobs. Because if their comic book females don't look like porn stars, who wants 'em??

When the stories are better, everyone benefits. When women in those stories are more than seductive window dressing, take an active role in the story, it's a good thing. No, it's frickin' great thing, because it means women and girls will have the benefit of having heroes that look like them to emulate and be inspired by, just like boys have had for decades. Many of the men who read comics now, started out watching superhero cartoons and reading comic books. They love their heroes: Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the Hulk... but what do you notice about that quick list? They're all straight white guys (except when Hulk is all angry and green). Who have women had, consistently, to look up to? Wonder Woman. That's it! She's the only really significant female character who's been with us since the early superhero comics, and she's been sadly underrepresented. DC has hemmed and hawed over why we can't have a stand-alone WW film, but pretty much everyone has called bullshit on their excuses. The fact of the matter is, DC in particular simply doesn't want to acknowledge that their old-guard way of doing things isn't going to cut it anymore.

Which brings me back around to the original point: ComiXology now being part of Amazon is going to change things.

Women are already a strong demographic in comics readership. One reason for women to be a rising demographic for ComiXology is the safety of it. Comic book shops are not always welcoming to female customers. Shopping online, no one can harass you or make you feel bad about what you read or don't know. Oh they'll still get you on Twitter or in various forums if you dare to voice an opinion, but at least you can shop in peace.

With the juggernaut that is Amazon, that will only accelerate. More women will flock to digital comics, because they may not even have known about ComiXology in the first place. Now that Amazon has the property, it's going to be all over their front page, promoted and marketed. Amazon has changed book publishing. Can anyone think that they won't force comics publishers to do the same?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Bang Theory Mystery Minis Display

The Funco toys and figurines are everywhere these days. You can't go in a comic book shop and not see something from them. For xmas, my husband put a "Mystery Mini" Big Bang Theory* in my stocking; it turned out to be Sheldon in the blue Superman shirt. Over the next few months, on a whim or availability, I picked up 3 more boxes and chanced onto Penny, Bernadette and Howard. Knowing the probability of getting Raj, Amy and Leonard (and not more Sheldons) was low please don't ask me to do the math, I picked up the last three to complete the cast on ebay.

I had them sitting on a shelf on my desk, but Penny especially is really unstable the way she's sculpted (her hair puts too much weight on the dorsal side of the figure). Bernadette is too, but not as bad. I had to build a frame for another project, and happened on some unfinished shadow box frames that I thought would do the trick. I'm going to paint it to resemble the colors used in the opening sequence
but not a perfect replication of it, and without the lettering. I want to highlight the figures without distracting from them. (And to help with the Penny Problem, I got wax adhesive.)

I sprayed a light coat of primer on the bare wood to help with blending paint. I used a combination of yellow, light orange, red-violet and blue to get the colors where I wanted them. I sprayed a coat of sealant on it, which also give it a nice gloss, once the paint was dry.

This may be the best photo of how I blended the colors.

I need to switch Raj and Howard around. Bernadette looks like she's
gazing adoringly at Raj, and that's no good.
 Not sure where I'm going to hang this, but at least I have another project completed.

* I have read a few criticisms of BBT that suggest it's "nerd blackface." First of all, to make that comparison is a little racially insensitive, and secondly, it's just wrong. It is NOT blackface, and here's why: it's a sitcom, and sitcoms parody and exaggerate real people to make jokes. Is the King of Queens blue collar blackface? (No.) The people screaming the loudest about this are the nerds who think they're being made fun of, after years of that in school. But BBT isn't ridiculing the characters -- yes, laughing at them because they're funny, but not in the mean high school way.

And here's another thing, I am married to a Sheldon. Oh, he doesn't have the eidetic memory or some of the more annoying quirks that Dr. Cooper possesses, but it's there. (And remember, sitcom: parody!) He even has a degree in physics. When he gets into discussions with another physicist (who was the best man at our wedding), I feel a little like Penny when the math all shoots right over my head. My degree is in psychology (a softer science than neurobiology), and when we were in college, I took an incredible amount of flak from my then-boyfriend-now-husband about it being a "fuzzy science," much the way Sheldon regards Amy. Here's the Science hierarchy, according to the physics guys: Sociology < Psychology < Biology < Chemistry < Physics < Math. Sound familiar? If you think conversations like those that happen on BBT don't happen IRL, you're deluding yourselves.

I don't love everything about the show, but I think it's a more accurate depiction of nerd culture than some of the nerds want to admit. YMMV.