Wednesday, March 04, 2015

"Finally, comic book women get a real bodies make-over"

Title in quotation marks because redraws have been going on for years.

I am referring to this article which has been doing the rounds.  A facebook friend asked me what I thought of it so I thought I'd tidy up and post it here.

The motivations of the team behind this are explained as follows:
When the team at saw Buzzfeed's Disney princess makeovers, they decided they should take these super-human ladies and give them some super human bodies. Their hope is that when viewers see these realistic waistlines, they will be able to better relate to the characters. After all, being powerful doesn't have to correlate with being a double-D, size 2 cat lady,

I'll admit that I'm more inspired by men's physiques in comic books than I am by women's physiques.  I'm not sure if this is because I have a fairly relaxed attitude to gendered bodies or because men are shown as being more muscular than women, but if I think about who I most want to look like it's hook handed Aquaman, every time.  I know I'll never look exactly like him, I know his physique is caricatured, but when I think of visual motivation for working out and getting a six pack he's who I think of.

I don't lady comic characters unrelatable because they can be drawn ridiculously.  I think the world of Wonder Woman, even when she's drawn by Mike Deodato.  Relatable doesn't just mean 'looks like me'.

Having said that, I like the idea of re-drawing characters to look more normal.  It made me realise that some art which I consider realsistic really isn't - the thigh gaps for example.  I think that some of the redraws aren't quite right though - they aren't athletic enough.  There's a difference between tits an ass, normal realistic bodies and athletic.  I don't think there's a problem with making superheroes (and villains) look atheltic if their power set and skills demand it.  For example, the Flash should look like a runner.  Guy Gardner is an ex PE teacher, John Stewart is an ex marine.  I'd be surprised if they didn't keep fit, but they shouldn't look like triangular beefcakes.  Aquaman and Mera should look like swimmers.  Batman and Black Canary should look like martial arts experts.  Wondy should look like a gladitorial athelet.

Some of the redraws don't look right.  Black Widow doesn't look as fit as a physically active spy should be.  Her spying is a core part of her character, and if she doesn't look right I can't relate to her.  If she looks like she spends more time behind a desk than out in the field I'm not interested.  Catwoman, Ivy, Power Girl and Phoenix work for me.  Rogue doesn't.  Given the amount of time the X-Men spend training she shouldn't be as soft as that around the middle.  The same goes for Storm.

In making these characters look like normal everyday women that we can now supposedly relate to, they've taken away some of the power fantasy.  If I'm going to be inspired by a superhero I'll be inspired by their strength of character, their morals and what they can do with their bodies and how capabel their bodies are - but I'm someone interested in fitness and what exercise and training can do to the body.  Not everyone is.

To simplify, often lady superheroes are drawn to be fancied by men, and male heroes are drawn to be power fantasies for men.  Female characters should be power fantasies for women too, but to dot hat, you have to understand how bodies and exercise work.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Casual Silver Banshee cosplay

I've got several days of leave to take before the end of March so I've now got 3 or 4 day weeks for a while, which is great, and most importantly, allows me to nap on the sofa on Friday afternoons while I re-watch Smallville, which I'm sure most of you know I love.  Smallville is my go to telly series for when I'm ill or don't want to think, or have a lazy day planned, so I'm currently on season 10.  Today I watched:
Warrior (which had Lois in an Amazon Princess outfit which is glorious)
Persuasion, which had Lois gaining the values of a traditional 50s housewife, while still being quintessentially Lois
Conspiracy, which is really, really quite dark
and Escape, which has Lois and Clark on a romantic getaway, to the same place that Oliver and Chloe go to, not for romance, but for a dirty weekend.  It's also got the Silver Banshee, whom I love. Particularly, I love her costume, so I got to thinking what could a casual Banshee cosplay look like.

This is the traditional Silver Banshee costume:

Now because I like the aesthetic so much I would love to do a true to the comic version of this costume, but I'm not sure I'd ever have the confidence to wear something so form fitting.  I also have a thing for Marvel's Black Cat's costume (it must be the monochrome), and a while ago I saw a great casual cosplay on tumblr.

Long story short, I was inspired by Smallville's episode and the Black Cat costume to come up with a casual outfit for the Silver Banshee.
These are the rules I'm playing to:

  • It's con casual, not everyday casual.  So it's something that needs to be recogniseable to other comic fans.
  • The outfit must ape the banshee's costume enough to be recogniseable but must consist of ordinary clothes I would myself wear everyday.

I found these items online which I thought would work:

Bangle by Liquorish from ASOS - to be worn one on each wrist
Black scoop neck top from Dorothy Perkins
Monochrome Top from Asos collection
Skinny black lisbon jeans from Asos
Boots from this ebay seller - they are called Oxford Roma and come from China.  I'd rather people bought goods from a UK shop though.

At a con you'd want to do Silver Banshee makeup, then I think you'd be recogniseable. What do you all reckon?

Instead of the jeans you could do black tights and a black lycra mini skirt.  Instead of the tops I've chosen you could do a tight black vest, but then you'd need to sew on white panels to approximate the Banshee's vest.  This version would probably only work for summer.

Things I have learnt:
I hate clothes shopping, even virtually, and even when it's costume related.
I don't know the terms for enough types of garments to search effectively.
I'm probably not cut out for these sort of posts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Supergirl telly show

I've just seen news that Calista Flockhart is going to be playing Cat Grant on the Supergirl telly show.
I don't think I like this.  I hated Ally McBeal.  Hopefully Flockhart has more range than I saw on that godawful show.  I don't know the other actresses thus far named for the show so have no opinions on them.

I can tell you that I listened to last week and episode 2, discussing the film, was delightful.

On a related note (ish), I found out that the Wondy film starts filming later this year.  Hurrah!  I think I want to start reinstating my Wonder Woman Wednesday/Super Sexy Saturday/Super Silly Sunday posts.  I just need to time to locate and blog all the images I've got saved on tumblr and twitter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pregnancy after stillbirth: 17 weeks 3 day

I was all out of talking and then lying in bed last night stuff hit me and I had an urge to get everything out.  Which is why I write,

I've switched bras.  I'm now in the ones I got fitted for in Feb last year, going from a 30 back to a 34 back.  This isn't because the top of my torso has got fatter, it's because my bump is pushing all my organs up so I'm wider around the ribcage,  I was a month ahead this time last year.

Have I mentioned how my bump is a different shape?  It's lower.  At night when I roll over in bed sometimes I need to support my bump, or it pulls at my pelvis/groin.  I didn't have to do that last time either.  Mind you, last time I ran my first ever (and likely only) 10k race at 4 weeks gone.  I'd been going to the gym regularly for the previous year or so and my torso muscles were so much stronger.  Now they so, so much weaker.  Even the pilates can't make them tough again, not with a 5 month gap between pregnancies.  Ah well, it doesn't bother me.

I've been pretty tired these last few days.  And continuously hungry today.  It must be having a growth spurt.  Hopefully I'll get regular movements soon, then I can stop fretting that it's died inbetween midwife appointments.

My current fear is that I'll develop, or that I have, gestational diabetes.  So I want to have more fruit in the house and eat less sugar, but sometimes I just want sugar!  It's nothing out of the ordinary, just an ordinary craving, but it worries me.  I was using the myfitnesspal app to log my food, I used it before falling with C, after losing him, and continued using it until a couple of weeks ago when I just got fed up.  I liked it because it reassured me that I was eating what was necessary, and not just eating junk food. After falling again I set it to maintain for the first tri, then to gain by half a pound a week for the second tri.  Now, without it, I don't think I'm overeating and I am listening to my body more, so that's good.

I feel like i'm repeating last year, month for month, in symptoms, but the gestational dates don't match.  It's eerie,

I have a physio appointment next week to look at my knee.  I'll explain more about that later.  Considering when I left the message to book the appointment I asked them to look at my records, they didn't and had no idea of my history.  So I had to explain.  Gaahh.  They are situated in the damn maternity unit, why can't they look up records???

Monday, February 23, 2015

Multiversity and DC's timelines

I had wanted this to be some sort of in depth exercise in comics journalism but I kind of stalled when doing a small bit of research.  So instead I'll just put out some unsupported conjecture.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about DC's new publishing direction.  I get frustrated when fans don't understand the long lead in times for deciding creative direction and producing a comic.  When I read  the Multiversity guidebook last weekend (it's really rather good) I came across a story with Earth 8 and Earth 42.

Earth 8's logo:

Earth 42's inhabitants, named the Little League:

In the last panel they've been taken over, they weren't always red eyed monsters.

Now, the Little League most likely were developed from the chibi Justice League from the pre New 52 Superman/Batman series:

But, to get to the point of when this stuff is developed, I think Morrison's Multiversity concept was developed in 2012 or 2013.  i.e. about 2 years before it was first published.  I think this because there is a webcomic, now called JL8, but which was originally called Little League.

I first came across and reviewed this webcomic for New readers... in 2012.  I know this because that's when the review was published, and I didn't write reviews too far in advance back then.  The review states that were about 40 strips published at that point.  I remember seeing a post from the creator, Yale Stewart, saying that DC had contacted him telling him stop using the name Little League because, if my memory serves me right, his webcomic's use of the name was copyright infringement or some similar thing.  Apparently it was a legal letter and I got the impression it was pretty official and scary looking.  So he changed the name to JL8.  I reflected the name change in my post, but sadly I didn't note the date of when this happened.  That'll learn me.

So, go have a look through at the JL8 tumblr.  Notice the chibi style of the characters.

Now to my recollection the chibi Justice League were never named the Little League in the Superman/Batman issues they appeared in, or in the Halloween or Christmas issues they had an appearance in (It was one or t'other).

So, my point is that if DC sent a letter to the creator of JL8 in 2012 or 2013 saying he couldn't use the Little League name, that could mean that they were thinking about and planning out Morrison's Multiversity as far back as then.  The ideas could have been purely at concept stage, or they could be being drawn out and the Multiversity being created and nailed down.

(I wish I knew the date of the change, or could find the post that Yale Stewart, the creator put up announcing the name change).

Or it could mean that DC were looking to capitalise on the Chibi Justice League at some point but they weren't sure when or how.  I think this idea is unlikely though, as the New 52 was launched in August 2011 so I think they'd be mostly busy with that and not with very conceptual ideas that might never see light.  What would be the point?  If they were annoyed with the JL8/Little League series existing they could have filed a proper take down notice to the creator.  They didn't, they just said the name had to change,

Of course, this could just be wild conjecture from me, but I think it goes some way to demonstrate how far in advance DC plan their storytelling.  It's for sure not just a few months in advance.

This all feels a bit self indulgent, sorry,

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pregnancy, stillbirth, I've written a lot...

So I guess I should say something.

I feel really exposed publishing all those pregnancy posts.  I am actually a really private person and I don't like discussing my feelings, certainly not face to face, although I can manage it online.

As I said in the first post, I published this stuff because people need to know that babies die, and that this goes on in the midst of the rest of life, and that somehow, the rest of life goes on, whether we want it to or not.  I still read comics.  I still piss about on twitter and tumblr.  I go to work.  I see some friends.  I eat and I shit and I sleep and I breathe.  My body forces me too.  Grief sits alongside all that.  Losing your baby... everything has changed and nothing has changed.  People need to understand that.  Just because I go on with normal everyday life does not mean I am normal, that I have forgotten, that I am not hurting.  I will continue to hurt and I will miss my son until my dying breath and I just have to learn how to deal with that.

The second reason for posting is that others with rainbow pregnancies, or wanting rainbows, are probably looking for similar experiences and evidence of how life continues with all this stuff happening too.  I know that's what  I wanted last year.  I didn't want specialist baby loss books.  I wanted to know how this rawness could fit alongside everyday activities.

I deliberately did not blog C's pregnancy, because there are hundreds of first pregnancy blogs out there and I had nothing to add.  I also wanted things kept private.  I still want things kept private. There are things I will never ever ever post on here.  But now, there is a need for people to talk about rainbow babies and to see how it fits with the rest of their lives.  I have not been able to find any blogs about this that are not exclusively about this, and so I want more. So there must be others who want more as well.  So maybe I can help.

Of course, writing like this, for others, gives me a more objective feel, it sets me outside of my situation, and that helps because then it hurts less, for a bit.

One thing this will not become is a campaigning blog.  My son is worth more than that and I will not have him reduced to a slogan or a movement.

So a few words on language.
Please do not ever refer to my son, or any other children, as 'a stillbirth'.  Say that he died.  Or say he 'was stillborn', or that he was born still.  Referring to him as 'a stillbirth' is dehumanising.  He is not an event, a thing which just happened to me and then left.  He is a person and he deserves to be recognised as such.

Also, the word stillbirth does not really convey what happened - people don't understand that it means the child died in utero.  By referring to him as 'a stillbirth' (a noun?) you are making the circumstances of his birth the important thing, and people can file it in their minds without really understanding.  By saying he was stillborn (a verb?) you make him the subject and you describe how he was born (except you don't really because children die at all sorts of stages, before and during labour, and after, quite regularly).  That's important.  But best of all, you should say he died and then say he was stillborn.

I thought quite carefully about how to title these posts.  I decided on pregnancy after stillbirth rather than pregnancy after loss, or rainbow pregnancy, or second pregnancy, because I wanted it to be absolutely clear.  I wanted there to be no confusion.  I want people to come across this and go 'oh, stillbirth, that means they died in utero, that means babies die before they are born'.  If I titled these posts pregnancy after loss people might think that he died at a few hours or a few days old.  Those situations are just as terrible, but they aren't my situation.

I'll just say something about miscarriage - I hate that word.  Everyone knows about first tri miscarriage, but very few know what it involves.  No one knows about second tri miscarriage.  You have to labour if your baby dies after 14 weeks.  If your baby dies and you deliver him or her at 23 weeks and 6 days, your baby is classed as a miscarriage.  If your baby dies and you deliver him or her at 24 weeks exactly, your baby is classed as being stillborn.

No one can tell me that the baby is less of a baby for being born a day earlier.

Miscarriage is a vastly misunderstood term and doesn't convey the horror of your baby dying.  As far as I'm concerned your baby is a baby as soon as you decide it is, whether that's 5 weeks, 15 weeks or 25 weeks.  'Miscarriage' seems to reduce them to being abstracts when really, if they die after 16 weeks you've probably already heard their heartbeat and felt them move.  And yet they are never legally classed as a person.  I realise the 24 week thing in the UK is linked to viability and also probably our abortion laws, and someone more sophisticated than me will have to come up with a solution, but it seems to me that the term miscarriage is a cruel one.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The acclaim given to sign language interpreters

The Limping Chicken has today published a post titled 'Are Interpreters like #SignGuy, who sign during public emergencies, going viral for the right reasons?'.

The article goes on to discuss the hearing population's reactions to sign language interpreters they deem as particularly animated and amusing, and the reasons why the signing might be so expressive.  Please go read it.  There are linguistic reasons why some signing is bigger, more animated and larger than life, I guess.

I got to thinking whether hearing people would be so interested in a Deaf person's signing.  Would a Deaf person on telly get the same sort of social media fans, would they get a hashtag dedicated to them.  In my experience, hearing people, unless they are involved in the Deaf community and or learning BSL, have a special sort of admiration for Interpreters that they don't have interpreters or translators of other languages.  Part of this is the obvious beauty of BSL, when a language is visual it's easier to appreciate than a spoken language (or is that just me?).  But hearing people seem to have special credence and admiration for sign language terps, beyond the visual nature of it.

I think it's driven by the pretty low awareness people have of sign languages, so when they do pay attention they are impressed, and then they think a sign language is either really hard or really easy to learn, in a way they don't apply to spoken languages.  You'll see loads of people claiming that they can understand interpreters on the telly.  Unless you've studied the language you can't.  People don't do this with French or Japanese.

Then people seem to think that BSL Interpreters are performing a selfless act.  They think of the profession and skills as being really rewarding.  I used to volunteer in the local Deaf Centre's cafe.  I had someone tell me that must be really rewarding.  Erm, I served teas and coffee??  That's not rewarding.  I volunteered because it was a good break from my regular job and I really enjoyed the social side of it.  I liked chatting with the regulars.  I got far more from them than they got from me, not least because I can make really bad cups of tea and it took me months to remember the sign for kit-kat.

Some people can't see that interpreters get satisfaction from just doing a job well.  They don't see the intricacies of the job, or the difficulties, or the hard situations a terp might be places into.  They don't consider the pleasure in finding accurate interpretations for complex concepts.

So because of this they don't regard interpreting as a real job.  Yet when faced with an actual Deaf person who used BSL they'd be completely stuck and they wouldn't know what to do.  They'd feel awkward.  They wouldn't know how to speak to them.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this or how logical it is.  I think I'm just a bit put out that despite some peoples interest in BSL they wouldn't think to learn it or think of Deaf people as normal people.