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2015 CON CALENDAR
MARCH 
Emerald City, Seattle
Seattle, WA, March 27 - 29, 2015 JUNE
utopYA Con, Nashville
Nashville, TN, June 18-21, 2015
SEPTEMBER
DragonCon, Atlanta
Atlanta, GA, Septebmer 4 -7, 2015

OCTOBER
GeekGirlCon, WA
Seattle, WA, October 10 - 11, 2015 GeekGirlCon, Seattle, WA, October 11-12, 2014

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Wednesday
Apr012015

Episode 146 - Emerald City Comic Con LIVE!

Hello Everyone!

Have I got a treat for you! Here is a very special episode of the podcast, recorded LIVE at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, WA March 28th and 29th. Check out the pics and the episode!

I must say, it felt pretty good to be sitting behind that Yeti microphone again. :D

Until next time, game on!
Regina

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Interviews:

Dezi Desire

Winter and Arienne from Geek Girl Con

AJ AKA THE MEANER GEEK (We finally met!)

Simone from Pixelkin

Simon and Eliza from Black Hole Wizard and Problem Glyphs 

Eric Fell from Critical Hit Show

Monday
Mar302015

Triad Anime Con: Review

The Triad Anime Con (TAC) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was started in 2012 by a local anime fan group, Winston-Salem Anime Group (WSAG). Information about the fan group is pretty difficult to find, a characteristic reflected in the con itself.

For a small, young con, TAC offers a wide variety of events including dances, gaming, dealers, artists, a cosplay contest, autograph sessions, special guests, and a library. They also have well-defined con rules for costumes, conduct, and weapons.

There are a lot of advantages to TAC. The con is very affordable. This year pre-registration was $35 for three days. You can also buy day passes and registration at the door. At least for now, the city of Winston-Salem can contain the con and it’s the perfect location. Parking is across the street and affordable at $9 per day and plenty of eating and coffee establishments within a block!

The highlights of the con included the Carolina Manga Library, the “Parent’s Guide to Anime” panel, the artist’s alley, and the dealer’s room.

One of the most impressive rooms at the con was the Manga Library hosted by the Carolina Manga Library non-profit, a traveling manga library of over 3,000 manga, American comics, web comics, and comic strips. The librarian, Laura Mehaffey, also lead the “Great Graphic Novels” panel with suggestions of manga for every taste. There’s nothing more enjoyable than listening to someone who is passionate and loves what they do. The following are Mehaffey's suggestions for getting started:

ACTION

"Arpeggio of Blue Steel" by Ark Performance
"Revolutionary Girl Utena" by Saito Chiho

ROMANCE

"A Devil and Her Love Song" by Tomori Miyoshi
"A Bride's Story" by Kaoru Mori

HEROIC

"Legend of Zelda" by Himekawa Akira
"Magic Knight Rayearth" by Rumiko Takahashi

HORROR

"Magical Girl Apocalypse" by Sato Kentaro
"AJIN: Demi Human" by Miura Tsuina

COMEDY

"Food Wars" by Tsukuda Yuto
"Assassination Classroom" by Matsui Yusei

FANTASY

"Hibiki's Magic" by Aeda Jun
"Wolf Children" by Mamoru Hosoda and Yu

SLICE OF LIFE

"Voice Over" by Minami Maki
"Bunny Drop" by Unita Yumi

NON-MANGA

"Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" by Laurell K. Hamilton
"My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Omnibus" by Katie Cook

HEAD LIBRARIANS CHOICE

"Night School" by Svetlana Chmakova

David Rothman is the author of “Parent’s Guide to Anime: What is Safe for Your Children to Watch?” A father and anime fan, he led the “Parent’s Guide to Anime” panel, another enthusiastic and information-packed panel.

The anime artists were impressive and offered a wide range of merchandise, as did the dealers. Unfortunately there’s not a complete list of artists or dealers on the web site or in the program book. If an attendee wanted to follow up with any, they’d be out of luck.

"Long Distance" by P-ShinobiOne of the more impressive illustrators I met was P-Shinobi with Boomslank. He has a distinctive style with enormous detail. His designs translate beautifully to t-shirts and posters.

TAC’s program book and web site could use a lot more information. Each panel should list the names and organization of the panelists leading it. There should be a map of the hotel in the book. Although the book included panel descriptions, it didn’t include the panel schedule. Information about downtown parking would be helpful because it’s very limited. All of this should be in the program book and on the web site.

Although the staff is enthusiastic, they were mostly absent. They were very good about verifying badges and carding panelists for 18 and over material, but about half the panels had technical difficulties without any IT help to be found. And most panelists were bigger fans than speakers--they frequently got off topic, talked amongst themselves or to friends in the front row, did not have an informative presentation, or didn't have a presentation at all.

The following are the panels I attended and a really small sampling of what was on the schedule:

  • ConSurvival 101
  • Cosplay Makeup for Beginners
  • Are You a Nerd?
  • What Needs to be Done in the Anime Fandom
  • Parent’s Guide to Anime
  • Great Graphic Novels
  • Cosplay Contest
  • Tokyo Ghoul: An Introduction
  • Voice Acting with Lauren Landa
  • Otaku Flea Market

As a small con, this is a great start for anime with energetic fans and extensive cosplay, and parents should be comfortable attending with their young fans.

Friday
Mar272015

Famicom Females: Valkyrie (Walküre no Bōken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu) and Samus Aran (Metroid)

valkyrieValkyrie (Walküre no Bōken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu)
Release Date: August 1, 1986

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Namco

Format: Cartridge (Japan)

Role: Main Character (Playable)

Any Subsequent Appearances: Yes

Introduction: It’s our first playable human primary character! And oddly enough, it’s not Samus Aran, but Namco’s Valkyrie (or “Walküre”), who beat Nintendo’s bounty hunter by five whole days. Valkyrie is also one of Namco’s earliest women protagonists, and made her debut in this Famicom exclusive title, which riffed on Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda more than a little. She is half god/half human and resides in the sky. However, when the evil wizard Zouna threatens the kingdom of Marvel Land, Valkyrie quickly comes to their aid. Valkyrie wields a sword and shield at the beginning, but as the quest progresses she gains the ability to cast magic and boost her arsenal.
wob
Character Design/Personality
: I haven’t played this game (or any of the other Valkyrie titles), so I’m basing this off of what I can discern. Her attire isn’t horrible, for one; she has armor in the right places and lacks any pandering design elements (one could argue the slit in her dress is a tad high, but at least it’s a long dress that fits the Norse/Viking motif well enough to not be too off-putting). She may not be super original, but she’s not offensive, and that’s a plus. As for her personality, I’ve read that she’s brave, friendly and versatile, but considering I haven’t played the game, I can’t really go into any more specifics. She does seem to hold her own, though, and that counts!

Impact on Narrative: Without Valkyrie’s assistance, the realm of Marvel Land will fall into ruin. So, she’s pretty important.

Positive Aspects: Valkyrie’s the savior of these people! She wields a bunch of weapons, magic, and armor all by herself, and she’s quite capable! Her design isn’t necessarily sexist or degrading at all. She, so far, may be the best character we’ve had so far in the series.

Negative Aspects: The game she appears in is quite hard, so her empowerment is somewhat impaired by a swarm of angry, powerful enemies that the game’s programming doesn’t allow her to handle properly. Even grinding for a while won’t really help.

My Reactions: I wouldn’t mind trying the game out someday, but Namco is pretty stingy with their localizations of obscure quirky Japanese arcade titles nowadays, so I don’t think I will be doing so any time soon. Based on what I’ve read, she seems pretty cool and influential for her time.

Future Appearances: Valkyrie would make a few more appearances in her own series, one of which did end up crossing the ocean: Walküre no Densetsu, a top-down arcade action-adventure game that apparently is quite good. You can snag Namco Museum #5 off of PSN or by stumbling upon the PS1 disc, which includes Namco x Capcom, Project X Zone, Soul Calibur II (as Cassandra’s third outfit), and even had a ShiftyLook comic. I imagine her relative purity is challenged somewhat by these particular appearances (the crossover titles are pretty fanservice-y), alas.

Sources:

Chrontendo Episode 9
Namco Wikia entries on Valkyrie and Walküre no Bōken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu

Hardcore Gaming 101 entry on the Valkyrie series

Valkyrie artwork

*

Metroid-powersuitSamus Aran (Metroid)
Release Date: August 6, 1986 (Japan)

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Nintendo
Format: Disc (Japan)/Cartridge (world)

Role: Main Character (Playable)

Any Subsequent Appearances: Yes

Introduction: Metroid is the first title of Nintendo’s that puts a human woman front and center... although they didn’t necessarily let players in on that secret at first. We’ll cover this in more detail later on, but let’s just say that Samus Aran’s sex was left omitted (in Japan) or switched to male (in America) in the manual, and expert players could discover her true identity if they hastened through the game.

As for the plot, the planet of Zebes has become ridden with Space Pirates, led by the criminals Ridley, Kraid and the enigmatic Mother Brain. Rumors persist that the Pirates have taken a mysterious lifeform, known as Metroids, to potentially implement them as weapons of war or for energy generation. The Galactic Federation has hired renowned bounty hunter Samus Aran to investigate and destroy the Pirate base at any cost.

metroid Character Design/Personality: Samus is AWESOME. Seriously fantastic design. Her armor completely covers her body, and is quite unique. Her capability of morphing into a ball allowed for some interesting puzzles and exploration opportunities. Her arm cannon’s diverse arsenal of various beam types and missiles gives her a lot of offensive options, and her jumping prowess is fairly legendary, especially when the mighty Screw Attack is equipped. In-game, she’s the ideal heroine. She has no iota of personality in the game beyond competence and expertise in being a bounty hunter... save the ending, but I’ll get to that.

Impact on Narrative: Samus is crucial to the narrative as its driving focus.

Positive Aspects: In game, Samus is a wonderful avatar. She looks cool, has a ton of weapons and gadgets to play around with, and she exudes confidence. metroid-jb
Even in her unlockable or password-enabled leotard suit, she’s fully capable of defending herself. Unquestionably, she is Nintendo’s finest hour for a woman of their design. Which pains me that I must segue into…

Negative Aspects: Samus’ body becomes a reward for fast players.
nes-metroidend
They should have stopped at the (not quite as problematic) leotard outfit, which served the goal of revealing Samus' gender without going resorting to the pandering we see here. There really is no reason for Samus to be stripped down to her skimpy undies as a further reward, beyond titillation. What’s truly tragic is that this weird dichotomy of Samus – as a badass bounty hunter and as eye candy – continued past Metroid and into many of the sequels.

My Reactions: I love Samus as a playable character. Two Metroid games sit on my Essential list, and I have a Figma figure of her that I’m a huge fan of. I had Samus’ Morph Ball on my graduate cap, for goodness sake. She’s just such a great design. It bugs me that there’s developer interloping that takes her gender and uses it as a sexual treat, but I try my damnedest to ignore that side of her character. To me, she’s the bounty hunter who screams out professionalism, courage, cleverness, and strength – not a pin-up model.

Future Appearances: Samus has several other games to her credit in the Metroid franchise, and has also appeared in all of the Smash Bros. titles. She’s cameoed in quite a few games as well, including Kirby’s Dream Land 3, Kirby Super Star, Famicom Wars, and Super Mario RPG.

Sources:
Personal Experience
Wikitroid Page for Metroid

Wednesday
Mar252015

My First Anime Convention

Ellie as Envy from "Fullmetal Alchemist"My first ever anime convention was recently at Triad Anime Con, located in Winston-Salem, NC. The first thing I want to say is that I had a wonderful time and would definitely recommend the con to others. The second thing is that I am obviously no expert on conventions and, therefore, my opinion on the matter should be held in no position of authority.

Location

The con took place in several event rooms in the Winston-Salem Mariott. The building has a corridor over the road that connects the two halves of the building. One side held The Dealer's Room and the main event room. In the other half there were three smaller event rooms and the Artist's Alley where people sold their creations. It was a five minute walk to get from one side to the other and people were continually staking out in the corridor over the road. Thankfully, they mostly stayed out of the walkway. Compared to other conventions, I think there was minimal walking involved but I was very confused for the first few hours on how the heck to get anywhere from anywhere.

Panels

The lines for panels were minimal since this con was pretty small. I got into every panel I showed up for, which was awesome, and I didn't waste a huge amount of time waiting.

There seemed to be a serious issue at this con with mis-labeling panels. I don't mean they had the names switched on the schedule – I mean they didn't accurately name the panel content. I attended a panel called “An Introduction to Tokyo Ghoul” which turned out to be season one spoilers and fan trivia, with no introduction involved. The first panel I went to was called “Con Survival 101,” but was really the staff recounting horror stories from previous years. Almost no advice was offered after they went over the rules. Another example is the panel referred to as “Are You A Nerd?” which would be more accurately named “Power to the Nerds” or “Nerds Have Power.” I got there at the very end but I got the gist of what they were saying and had been saying for an hour.

We nerds have power over 'normal people' who think we're weird! That discomfort people feel when they're around you? Well, that's power!

Personally, I don't want power. 'Normal People'?!? Come ON. No such thing.

My favorite panels were mostly the fan-run ones. "Team Avatar" was a collection of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra cosplayers doing Q&A in character, which was uber-fun. "Hetalia: Beautiful World" was essentially the same thing, but still extremely enjoyable. I loved the woman who did “Moms and Dads of Anime” and “Love, Hate, and Rivalry: Siblings of Anime.” She was good natured, passionate, and did an excellent job with her presentation. She covered a lot of genres with minimal spoilers. The only main event that I attended was “Acting Workshop with Chuck Huber,” which was awesome. He asked for volunteers to come onstage and we played an acting game. It was funny, interactive, and instructive.

I went to a panel called “Voice Acting with Lauren Landa,” who, it turns out, voices Annie in “Attack On Titan” and so many other roles even she couldn't keep track of them all. It was essentially a Q&A session, but I liked her as a person and the answers she gave were instructive as well.

Cosplay

Oh, the cosplay. I was in total bliss at the sheer amount of cosplayers whose characters I recognized.  The volume of excellent cosplay was of epic proportions. There were three Edward Elrics and at least five Levi Ackermans. Hetalia people were everywhere. There was one guy who was cosplaying as Italy and he had the accent and mannerisms down pat. I stood next to him in the line to the Hetalia panel and he deserved to be ON that panel. Some of the Avatar cosplayers had fabric that they used to 'waterbend' and 'firebend.' I wanted to mention the cosplay solely because it so thoroughly blew my mind.

So, if you were there, were there any panels I should've mentioned? What did you like or dislike about the con?


Ellie is a geek teen who loves to read, watch, draw, and talk about all things manga. When she's not doing that, she's playing Minecraft with her gang of friends or gaming with her family.

Monday
Mar232015

Batgirl #41: She Can Handle It

"Batgirl", #40, DC ComicsAs a comic book fan, a Batman fan, an artist, and a reasonable person, I’m going to talk about the Batgirl #41 variant cover by Rafael Albuquerque, which has caused the Twitter #ChangeTheCover/#SaveTheCover efforts. The social media fire storm has led DC to cancel publication of the Albuquerque variant cover.

"Batman: The Killing Joke", Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, DC ComicsBecause I wasn’t reading comic books back in 1988 and I hold to the Voldemort Axioms, I went back and read the original “Batman: The Killing Joke” (B:TKJ) by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland which is the influence for the Albuquerque cover. I found it profound and probably the best interpretation of the personas of Batman and Joker, and their relationship. The Joker is a mystery to me and the Moore story added a lot of depth. Joker’s backstory is mostly an untold mystery that is the constant itch to the motives behind his insanity.

Let me give my opinion about the feminist issues brought up in this stir.

Was the treatment of Barbara Gordon in Batman: The Killing Joke a misogynist trope?

Misogynist  noun. 1. a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women (as in discrimination, denigration, violence, or sexual objectification).

Trope noun. 1. a commonly recurring rhetorical device, motif, or cliché.

Barbara Gordon’s treatment in B:TKJ is argued to be the objectification of a woman by the writer, a lazy crutch to promote the protagonist’s story.

There are actually two questions here: is the plotline misogynist and is it a trope?

Is every storyline including the objectification of women misogyny? Is it always a careless trope?

One bad day. According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as The Joker, that’s all that separates the sane from the psychotic. – Batman: The Killing Joke

There’s no question that Joker is objectifying Barbara in B:TKJ but I don’t believe that means that Moore is objectifying women.  

Joker wants to answer the question: how do you drive Jim Gordon, “the sanest man alive,” insane? One sure way is through his daughter. You could kill Batman, ruin Jim’s reputation, or shoot Jim and take naked pictures of him, but nothing would terrorize Jim more than the flippant, demeaning mistreatment of his confident, intelligent daughter, while he can do nothing about it.

Could Moore have chosen some other way? Maybe. Joker could have just shot Barbara. He could have photographed her bleeding body without undressing her*. But the sexual objectification of a strong woman is one of the worst things you can do and it fits the Joker.

Besides, nudity is a theme in the story. Forced nudity strips a person of their identity. It leaves them vulnerable to the elements and forces everything into view.

It shouldn’t be casually dismissed that Joker strips Jim Gordon naked as well, binds him S&M style, parades him in front of a laughing audience, and puts him in a cage. Joker’s true identity is masked, as is Batman’s. Joker thinks his madness is his true face and that Jim is in denial of his own madness. Joker must remove Jim’s façadehis power and identity as a strong, skilled policeman and a loving and doting father.

Given all of this, there is no way that the shooting of Barbara Gordon plot line in B:TKJ is in a lazy plot trope or mere misogyny on Moore’s part.**

"Batman", issue 189, "Fright of the Scarecrow", February 1967

Is the variant cover a misogynist trope?

Arguments against the cover are that it shows Batgirl subjugated by Joker, weak and weeping, and, that it makes reference to DC’s worst treatment of women.

For years, comic book covers have depicted heroes being subdued by their enemies. It’s provocative and makes us buy the issue. “That’s my hero! How is she getting out of this one?” It is a comic book cover trope perpetrated on all heroes. We love it because we love the thrill when our hero comes through in the end. Our hero is empowered even more.

If Albuquerque’s cover is sexist you are saying that, as a woman, Batgirl can’t stand up to the same rigors as the male heroes.

Censorship, Canon, and Sensitivity

Many protestors describe themselves as comic fans, and comic books as if they’re talking about My Little Pony or Archie and the Gang. Comics have always been deviant art and storytelling, gritty and sensational and a fight against establishments like the Comic Code Authority. Before the CCA, kids weren't deterred from comics and I don’t think that girls now are such genteel, clay-footed creatures that they can’t handle their hero in the grips of a villain.

I think Batgirl can handle it as well.


*The question of whether Joker raped Barbara or not doesn’t add weight for or against the misogynist argument. Moore may have left it open for interpretation on purpose. I personally don’t think there’s a rape because that’s not Joker’s style, persona, or motive. Joker is not a sexual deviant and not a sexual being. It’s a great contrast to Harley Quinn’s passion towards him.

**In fact, it could be more easily argued that the last frames where Barbara appears are more sexist on Moore’s part than what Joker did to her.