Every now and then, we get the opportunity to bring you a story of someone who is inspired by comic books to do something good in their community, and Lenny Robinson was one of those people. We covered his story back in 2012, when a video appeared online of Robinson, in full Batman costume, being pulled over for a lack of proper tags on his Batman-themed Lamborghini, and what seemed like a funny story quickly turned into an uplifting one when it was revealed that Robinson was on his way to a hospital to visit sick children while dressed as a superhero. It was something he did frequently, becoming something of a local celebrity brightening up a hospital stay with autographed Batman-themed gifts.
Now, that uplifting story has come to a very tragic end. On Sunday night, Robinson died in a car accident. He was 51 years old.
Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill is a narrative history for young readers. The book was released in May of 2014 to some acclaim, but didn’t quite break through to a wider audience. Mark Waid and JG Jones' controversial recent Boom project of the same name has made Gill'’s excellent book a topic of conversation again. J.A. Micheline and Megan Purdy dig deep into Gill's exploration of some of the forgotten faces in black history.
In honor of the caped crusaders of the convention scene, ComicsAlliance has created Best Cosplay Ever (This Week), an ongoing collection of some of the most impeccable, creative, and clever costumes that we’ve discovered and assembled into a super-showcase of pure fan-devoted talent.
The mythological demigod Hercules is bisexual. How you feel about that fact doesn't change the fact; the myths of antiquity have told us that Hercules loved women and men alike. Lustfulness is at the core of his character, and Hercules' appetites aren't limited by gender.
Like many ancient myths, and like much of history, Hercules' stories have been bowdlerized by those who think same-sex relationships are sinful. Audiences introduced to the character through the Disney cartoon, the Kevin Sorbo TV show, the Dwayne Johnson movie, or the Marvel comics have good reason to think the character is heterosexual, because that's all they've ever seen. But that doesn't make it true. Hercules is bisexual. To deny that fact is to participate in the erasure of same-sex relationships on the grounds of a narrow and prescriptive morality.
The last few years have seen a number of fan-films produced by smaller production companies, for characters ranging from Black Panther to the Power Rangers. The films tend to reproduce the original costumes faithfully... before completely disregarding the original tone, style, and voice of the characters and comics in favor of gore and 'edginess'. Despite the popularity of fan films, not many of them actually tend to serve the stories they base themselves from.
But Judge Minty was different. Produced in 2013, this Judge Dredd fan-film immediately caught attention by actually proving itself to be something that fans of the serial would want to watch. Critically acclaimed and shown at film festivals throughout the year, the project was also received positively by creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra --- and it was that endorsement that led the team to set up a second fan-project, currently in production: Strontium Dog.
Today, The Mary Sue reported that GenCon would be hosting a panel titled "Writing Comics: Writing Women Friendly Comics" that featured only male comics writers. While GenCon has since stated that they will be including women on the panel, this isn't the first time this has happened at a convention. Men are also usually the majority of convention guests. One group of women hopes to make it the last time it happens.
My earliest encounters with transgender characters came in Vertigo comics in the mid-90’s, especially Wanda in Sandman and Coagula in Doom Patrol. Wanda dresses a bit like a drag queen (and dies a tragic death), and Coagula is a sex worker, but they both felt like real people, which is not how I’d ever previously been encouraged to view trans people in any medium. Growing up, reading comics has always played a role in my understanding of my own identity and worldview. I certainly wouldn’t say comics had an effect on my gender, but they definitely affected my understanding of gender.
Recently, I’ve been wanting to look back farther than Wanda and Coagula and the mid-90’s. Amidst recent discussions of trans representation in comics, I’ve found myself thinking about what preceded trans characters in comics, before there was any chance of them existing.
Since their first tiles appeared on comic-shop shelves in 2012, the resurrected Valiant Comics has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Their new take on the characters and mythology of the original 1990s Valiant line, their pursuit of top-shelf creators, their focus on storytelling and world-building, and their gift for unorthodox marketing and promotion has drawn praise from both fans and press, led to a film development deal with Sony, and won scores of industry awards (and award nominations). They've proven themselves to be not just cashing in on past glories, but a company that's capable of pushing their stable of characters in new and exciting directions while remaining true to their roots.
Deny it if you want, but after last week’s Strange Fruit controversy (which Boom Studios has yet to address), this week’s discussion about Marvel’s appropriation of hip hop and black culture (which Tom Brevoort addressed first badly, then wrongly) and a general pattern of racial diversity promised in press releases but rarely actually seen in the creative process… the writing is on the wall.
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