Month: June 2013

RACCOONS IN THE MUSIC: If You Like It

There’s a band called If and It, which is a pretty stupid name along the lines of She and Him. Their music is okay, it reminds me of the mellower pieces by the defunct UK band, Seafood (such as What May be the Oldest, my favorite of theirs.)  Why are they being mentioned here?  Because at the end of last month they released their latest album, titled Racoon (I assume the dropped “c” is a stylistic choice.) I didn’t learn about this until a review popped up online, because the band is currently on tour to promote the new album.  It’s pretty positive, but I would have to buy it anyway.

  • If and It @ Facebook
  • The band Heathers has an album titled Kingdom which has a raccoon on the cover. Not that that’s the only reason I bought it. My friend, Erik, heaped praise on the album, which I will agree was pretty good.
  • Of course, you can’t mention raccoons and music without including the Beatles’s classic, Rocky Raccoon, so consider that tick marked.
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Comic Roundup: How Bad Can it Be For Free?

I mentioned that I went to several stores with some people from a local Geek Club during the last Free Comic Book Day, where the most notable thing was me loading up on feline fantasy. I recently got around to reading the small stake of free stuff along with some free offerings via ComiXology, which I’m slowly growing to appreciate, even if it does toll the death knell of comic book stores.  Sadly, all I can  really say is: what a lot of crap!  Surprisingly, or not, things that seemingly skew more for older audiences on the whole were much, much worse.  I’m starting to think the Bronies might actually be on to something.

I got three comics from Aspen Comics, a studio I never paid attention to before.  I think only one was a free comic, with the other two being sold as cheap promotional items for the store, which was relative newcomer to the area, Game On! Comics (a nicely organized, if sparsely stocked store; it’s not the place you go to for poring over longboxes of ages old comics.)  I think all of the comics mentioned Michael Turner‘s involvement with the comics in their back pages, which seemed odd considering he’s been dead for five years. Although he did found the studio and the place clearly seeks to cultivate a house style that mimics his work.  That strikes me as unfortunate, because his style was very off-putting to potential buyers who a) were women or b) didn’t want to seem like perverts.  It has a knack for communicating to the audience “yeah, this comic is for people afraid of looking at pornography,” which should be a limited market since the advent of the internet.  It’s also pretty accurate.

  • Jirni #1, which was exactly what it looks like: a fantasy T&A fest.  There’s barely a semblance of a story, with confusing transitions between settings (or maybe there was a flashback?), and there might have been one page that didn’t feature an ass or cleavage shot … sometimes both at the same time
  • Then I read Shrugged #1 (of volume 2.)  This looks like it might be a comic with a clever premise, but as a stepping on point it failed miserably.  There’s a teenage boy who has an angel and a demon perpetually on shoulders who talk about him throughout the day.  However I was very unclear as to what their relation to the boy was.  Could he hear them or at least be influenced by them?  The two characters talked about influencing him one way or another but it never seemed to happen.  Then they talked about engaging in some sort of war with monsters (presumably back in volume 1) and I couldn’t really tell if the kid had been involved at all.  Might have been interesting, but it just left me perplexed and unmotivated to bother reading more.  Also, all the girls in his school are hot.  And the slang-ridden conversations were annoying as hell.
  • The cover for Worlds of Aspen 2012 (I guess this was a leftover) features three chicks on the cover (of course) just standing there because … well because. It had a preview for a series, Homecoming, about a teenage boy (of course) whose world is turned upside down when a (sexy, naked) superpowered alien (or is she really human?) woman crash lands in his backyard.  I think this is the opening for a shitty anime harem series. It also had a preview for a series titled Idolized, about a superhero reality show along the lines of American Idol.  Of course the heroine is a hot chick, but I’ve always liked comic book series that address the business aspects of superheroing so I might actually check this one out.  There was also a one page advertisement for Executive Assistant Assassins.  All I know about that series is there’s a girl wearing a hoodie who wears it to show off her bikini top underneath.  And she holds a machine gun.  Again, Aspen aims squarely for that lowest common denominator!

Don’t let me misguide you into thinking that Aspen has the market cornered on titillation.  I also read Exposure #1 by Keen Spot comics.  It was free on ComiXology and categorized under Horror and Supernatural/Occult.  Oh, god … again, just buy porn.  It was laughably stupid.  I’m sure the creator will try to push this as parody but I think it’s simply incompetent.

The Doom of DOMA

Yesterday was a big deal for the LGBT(Q?) community because of Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA.)  The ruling effectively allows gay marriage in California and may be the tipping point in allowing it across the country. Or does it?
The internet (especially social networks) was quick to celebrate the ruling.  From the reserved to the ridiculous and outright nonsense. Take the two political cartoons highlighted by npr. The first one especially brought my piss to a boil because it’s a great example of combating ignorance with ignorance.  
Characterizing the opposition to Gay Marriage as literally a handful of people, the entirety of which sit in the Supreme Court, is laughably (well, it IS a cartoon) unrealistic.  The fact is that opposition to gay marriage is much more significant than its supporters want to delude themselves into believing.  In the 2008 presidential election–when California voted on Proposition 8–the amendment that banned gay marriage Proposition 8 got 52% of the vote.  That’s a majority of the voting population in that state, one that’s generally considered very blue.
 
Of course, 2008 is not 2013.  Polling suggests that Californians are now support gay marriage a little more (a whopping 56%.)  But then, according to polls, 51% supported gay marriage back in 2008, and they still couldn’t translate that into votes.  So just a few people?  No, it’s much more than that, and the more that the LGBT community wants to pretend those people simply don’t exist, the more trouble they’ll have getting the progress that they want.

Sexual Inequality in Videogames … Problem SOLVED

Much has been made over the past couple of years about the role of women in video games and, by extension, the video game industry.  The lack of female video game developers, or a intangible global conspiracy of the matriarchy to keep women down, are often blamed for female characters usually getting the short end of the stick.  I think the big problem with this problem is that there’s a lack of perspective.  In fact, if we look to another bubbling controversy; that of the recognition of transgendered people, we actually strike upon a solution to both of these issues!

As recently pointed out by Kotaku, games aren’t progressive enough if they discuss women’s issues related to traditionally female anatomy because not all women have vaginas. That’s such an axiomatic statement that you’re a horrible person should dare to disagree. With that in mind, doesn’t it call into question the progressiveness of someone who complains about the presence or role of “women” in video games?  How are they distinguishing between what is an is not a woman?

The notorious video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games goes at length to detail the imbalance in the portrayal of women in games (mostly as victims.)  However the host, Anita Sarkeesian, never bothers to lay down the groundwork of what constitutes a “woman” in her analysis.  Considering how, in the real world, the difference between a man and a woman is simply a matter of saying so then how can we simply look at these characters and know whether they’re a man or a woman?  One could argue The Last of Us, like The Walking Dead (and even Tomb Raider,) is simply the continuing subjugation of women (particularly when shown as girls) to men (particularly bearded, burly, manly men.) However, that interpretation is just loaded with stereotypes. Why are the girls considered girls? Because they have breasts?  If having a vagina isn’t proof of womanhood, then certainly the presence of breasts isn’t.  In none of these games does the player become familiar with any of the characters’ genitalia anyway, so how could we really know that Nathan Drake isn’t just a particularly masculine woman or Clementine an effeminate little boy? We can’t even take for granted the characters’ use of pronouns, as those are possibly just socially-imposed on a gender confused character afraid to use their preferred identifier.

Where does that leave us?  There is no gender gap in gaming because there are no longer any genders in gaming.  We don’t have enough information about any given character to say definitively who is a man or woman, let alone how that’s influencing their roles.  “Princess” Toadstool is just an unlucky cross dresser, Duke Nukem is the champion of the bull dyke, and the cast of most Final Fantasies remains somewhat ambiguous.  Transgendered people suddenly find themselves well represented in gaming while “women” no longer have to worry about being the victims of plot contrivance.

RACCOONS IN THE COMICS: A Little Outdated

I had bought the first volume deluxe hardcover for DC/Vertigo’s Fables series back in mid-2011.  I finally got around to reading it earlier this month.  I didn’t expect much (or any) raccoon presence in the book because, aside from some Native American folklore, raccoons don’t really figure prominently in the sort of material this series draws from.  Still, I was super psyched to see the guy pictured above appear in the corners of a couple of panels.

The other major development in regards to raccoons in comics was the launch of the Regular Show comic book series by Boom! comics back in May. The Regular Show is a series that, obviously, should appeal to me because of its protagonist, Rigby. But I have to admit, after watching a few episodes on Netflix the show just doesn’t do it for me.  This, like the lauded Adventure Time, don’t strike me as terribly funny.  All they do is throw a lot of random elements at the viewer in hopes something is at least vaguely humorous.   This is the kind of stoner humor that Cartoon Network has been cultivating primarily on their Adult Swim lineup.