The Top 5 Graphic Novels You Should Check Out

Hello everyone and welcome to a Top 5 list of Graphic Novels that you should check out that are NOT superheroes nor are from Marvel or DC Comics.

There is also a really good review of Kevin Keller’s mini series, which is part of the collected work that I reviewed, done by my good buddy Dennis Upkins that you can check out here and here.

In looking at the list, you’ll notice a few things about it:

1. No books on the list have a straight, white, cisgender, and able bodied male as the lead.

2. Women and women of colour are the leads in 4 of the 5 books.

3. There is LGBTQ representation in 3 of the 5 books.

Yes, I collect some Marvel and DC Comics, but those comics are few and far between, and more often than not they’re not the new comics coming out today. If the Big Two are not willing to change for the better and faster, then people WILL go elsewhere for comics, and they’ll find better alternatives that reflect who they are.

Brain Food – Episode 34

Hello everyone and welcome to the latest episode of Brain Food, wherein I discuss the latest series from Marvel written by G Willow Wilson, Ms Marvel!

And wouldn’t you know it? It’s a top seller at Comixology, actually beating out one Batman title as of the time of the release of its 4th issue!

Not bad for a new legacy character.

What I want to see

You know what kind of story I want to see?

I want to see stories about a woman of color enacting theatrical, operatic vengeance on anybody who fucks with her or stands in her way. I want a woman of color with such a lust for power that she makes Frank Underwood look like a slacker. I want a women of color who’s such a slippery, duplicitous, self-serving, magnificent bitch that David Xanatos would be impressed.

And I want the narrative to not punish her for it. That’s right. I want her to get away with doing horrible shit in the name of vengeance, ambition, or some other shit we act like we disapprove of but actually enjoy. I want her life to not be some Aesop about how good always wins or some other trite bullshit we know to be a flat-out fucking lie.

I am so tired of women of color, especially Black women, having to be and noble and selfless. I am so done with stories where women of color are not allowed to have grand flaws and epic passions.

If the Bride from Kill Bill can slice and dice her way through Tokyo to get back at five people who did her wrong and still have people root for her and call her an awesome character (without any of the justifications or qualifications that one would have to do with, say, Regina Mills or Marie Laveau), I want women of color to be able to do the exact same type of shit without the story or the audience constantly reminding us of how badwrongevilhorrible she is.

We throw the term “goddess” around so much when it comes to women of color. So let’s give them the same freedom as true goddesses. Let’s allow them to be everything they can be: kind and cruel, beautiful and horrible, wonderful and terrible.

You can’t make this shit up (“Alice in Arabia”)

You ever see something so fucked up that you can’t even get mad?

It’s one of those things that, if somebody told you about it, you wouldn’t believe it unless you saw it yourself. And if you saw it, you’d just stand there staring at it like, “This is so fucked up that I wanna keep it as a specimen for further study. I wanna pin it to a board and dissect it.”

That’s how I feel about Alice in Arabia.

Here’s how ABC described it:

“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.

(And the English major in me notes the parallel between Alice in Arabia and Alice in Wonderland. That’s right–countries with lots of Brown people in them, especially Arabs, are not real places in the real world with real people in them. No, they are nonsensical realms akin to an alternate universe where cakes turn little girls into giants and people play croquet with fucking flamingos and Johnny Depp can breakdance.)

Get this: this was not satire. This was not a joke. This was not a market survey designed to test the waters for what audiences like and don’t like.

A real live human being–not an alien, not a robot, not a mermaid who recently switched out her fins for legs–decided that this was a good fucking idea. Even more than that, that human being convinced other real live human beings that this was a good fucking idea. And they didn’t even need to make an offer the other people couldn’t refuse!

Pro-tip: If you have an idea for a story about people of color, and it sounds like some shit straight outta The Onion or The Colbert Report, DON’T FUCKING DO IT!

 

Fandom Sickness

Or alternately called Dear Lord If You Bring That Excuse Out One More Time, I Will Smack You With This Mauling Grizzly Bear, I Swear To God.

In this video, I look at some of the common excuses I’ve come across from White Fandom to try and cover their own racism.

For further clarification, here is the post about Heroine’s Quest at The Mary Sue.

Now, these were just the excuses I came across the most in my experience, so if you like, please share with me the racist excuses you’ve come across as to why black people, or any other person of colour couldn’t be in a movie, comic book, or video game.

Jars of mayonnaise are not characters

One of the most frustrating things about being a person of color critically engaging with film and television is being constantly force fed whiteness as the standard for all humanity.

Aside from the fact that these movies and shows tend to have weak characterization, flimsy motives, shoddy worldbuilding, and cliche plots, there’s the fact that they force me to spend my precious time and brain cells on characters who have zilch going on to make them the least bit compelling and essentially sit there and be white while the story happens around them.

I won’t even bother with examples because this shit is so ubiquitous that I’d have a hard time keeping track. But even good movies and good TV shows are not immune. Even in the best of the best out there, you can probably find that one character that just takes up space and does nothing for the story other than exist, who is important not because of anything they bring to the story, but because you have to keep being told over and over again that they’re important.

In stories like this, you can get the distinct impression that the only reason why anyone should care about these characters at all is because they’re white and they exist. If the people making this shit are going to put so little effort into giving me characters who do more than exist and be white on screen, the least they can do is not insult actors and acting by forcing live human beings to play the equivalent of a jar of mayonnaise. Just cut out the middle man and put a jar of mayonnaise where the actor would normally be. They could save themselves money and the actors some time.

And you know what? This bullshit is really fucking noticeable when the character is a white woman. Because, apparently, “girl” or “woman” or “wife” or “mother” is all the characterization she needs. So it does this weird sort of white supremacist yet patriarchal thing where a woman is only a person insofar as she’s important to a man, but at the same time, her status as prize makes her inherently more valuable to a narrative than any women of color, especially Black women,  in the same story.

Consider Katrina Crane in Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. Look, I fucking love Sleepy Hollow! But if Katia Winter went to another show, and Fox replaced her with a jar of mayonnaise, I’d be hard-pressed to notice. What the hell does she do other than be Ichabod’s motivation, say all kinds of cryptic shit, and fail at being a witch? She only exists to be something that Ichabod strives for. Yet at the same time, when it comes to people arguing against the romantic potential between Ichabod and Abbie, or Abbie Mills being the character people most identify with, Katrina’s name consistently gets invoked.

Give me a motherfucking break.

Don’t show me a jar of mayonnaise and tell me it’s a character. Don’t show me a jar of mayonnaise with a girl’s name and tell me that’s feminist, let alone womanist.

And last but not least: STOP LEAVING ALL THESE FUCKING JARS OF MAYONNAISE ALL OVER THE GODDAMN PLACE!