CouchGuy Digital Comics
Comics are A-Changin’

This morning, on the Twitter feed of Gail Simone, she unloaded on the creators, editors, comic fans and commenters who are obstructing (by design or through inertia) comics made by and for a wider variety of people beyond the 13-year-old male demographic. If you haven’t read it yet… well, you need to follow Gail Simone there. In the meantime, here’s the wrapup (bottom to top, as usual for Twitter…):

Gail’s been talking about systemic mysogyny and lack of diversity in the comics industry from before she was in the comics industry, including her original “Women in Refrigerators” blog. She’s still fighting that fight, as is every comics reader who wants something more. Gail says here that she sees the audience might be getting smarter and outgrowing the decades of foolish exclusion. I hope so, too.

As is so often the case, I find Bob Dylan said it best.

"The Comics Are A-Changin’"
Music and original words by Bob Dylan
New words by Couchguy

Come gather ‘round readers
Of comics and such
And admit that the foolishness
Is just too much.
And accept that the comics
you buy are a crutch.
If the comics you love
are worth savin’
Then you better buy comics
With an inclusive touch.
For the comics are a-changin’.

Come writers and artists
Who speak to us with your pen
Make sure that your stories
Aren’t made just for men.
Your readers have told you all
Time and again.
“Listen up! It is you
That we’re namin’
For what worked in the old days
Will not work again!”
For the comics are a-changin’.

Come editor, bigwig,
And comics VP
Realize you’ve allowed this crap
To large degree
And vow that you’ll open
your eyes up to see
That much bigger
Audience pagin’
Through your books that give them all
Nothin’ to see!
For the comics are a-changin’.

Come critics and commenters
Throughout the land
Don’t threaten and hate
‘Cause you don’t understand
If not you’ll be feelin’
The back of our hand.
We won’t tolerate
All your ragin’
Please get out of the way
‘cause we’re taking a stand!
For the comics are a-changin’.

If your comic’s just made
For a 15-year-old guy
And appeals to do better
You always deny
And all who think different
You loudly decry
Your days in the market
Are fadin’
Don’t accept it’s enough;
Don’t believe The Big Lie!
For the comics are a-changin’.

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Wonder Woman’s “Sensation” Comes to Digital Comics; Five Reasons This is Important

dcwomenkickingass:

Earlier this week DC Comics announced a new digital first series, Sensation Comics starring Wonder Woman, will launch in August. I’ve long known that DC was working on a digital Wonder Woman series. But what I didn’t know was just how important the series would be. Here’s some thoughts on why it’s important and good news for Wonder Woman.

(BTW this is “variant cover” by Phil Jimenez which is another of his amazing montages. If you remember he did one for Wonder Woman’s 600th as well).

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A response to Gerry Conway on Amazon/ComiXology

Gerry Conway has weighed in on the recent changes close in the wake of the acquisition of ComiXology by Amazon. His vision of the result of these changes isn’t at all pretty. When someone as distinguished and demonstrably caring about the comics industry as Mr. Conway speaks, it behooves me to listen. Having done so, however, I’m unconvinced that this change is the unmitigated disaster he seems to believe has occurred.

Amazon/ComiXology has basically rolled back to the same sort of deal Amazon has for their Kindle Store on the iOS platform. Is it ideal, no. Has it crippled Amazon Kindle Store sales on the iOS platform. Hell, no!

Amazon makes damn sure they put the weight of their full marketing machine behind being sure I see anything I might be remotely interested in buying from the Kindle Store in every way possible.Direct email newsletters, targeted ads that appear especially for me everywhere I go on the web, Twitter-fed reminders — they want my money and are damn sure going to get all of it they can. I fully expect them to put the same marketing might behind ComiXology sales. If so, impulse sales will only take a small hit in comparison with Amazon’s demonstrated ability to pull people to things they want to buy.

There is no percentage for Amazon in “crippling” the iOS platform for ComiXology to make the Kindle platform more attractive, nor has Amazon ever been foolish enough to try and do so with the other digital stuff they sell. Yes, they want the Kindle to be attractive because it is the ultimate captive platform. If you have a Kindle, you have every reason to buy from Amazon and little incentive (or ability) to buy anywhere else. Selling Kindles, however, is not and never has been Amazon’s interest, except to those people who need them to buy from Amazon.

If you own an iOS device, an Android device, etc. Amazon is thrilled to sell stuff to you whether you own a Kindle or not. Amazon’s margin on the Kindle devices is thin to non-existent. The money is to be made by selling you digital stuff, not a platform to play it on. They must produce the KIndle to maintain a minimum cost platform that still makes using their digital products attractive. The Kindle went to color and high resolution screens not to make the Kindle compete with the iPad, but because people who didn’t want to buy an iPad would only buy their high-res color movies and books if they could do so with a device at a lesser price.

Amazon wants everyone to be a potential customer, even if they have to lose a little money on creating, maintaining and marketing a platform device themselves. As entry-level cost of full-function tablet devices con tinues to drop the Kindle itself will become less critical to Amazon’s marketing strategy. But it will never go away or become a second-class comnsumption device again. It is vital that Amazon not give the appearance of being wholly dependent on the good will of other platform providers to sell their goods. The existence of a quality Kindle device at less than the cost of a full function tablet is their insurance policy against an Apple/Google freezeout. Apple and Google would love to cripple the Kindle Store even more if they dared — but they don’t dare. Their users would never stand for it.

I’m by no means trying to paint Apple or Google as bad guys here — certainly not in the way Mr. Conway is trying to paint Amazon. Apple’s primary business is hardware. Google — well, Google remains confused about what the real business purpose of Android is, and until they figure that out they are something of a wild card. But both have the right to pursue their business interests, just as Amazon must pursue their own.

Finally, let’s deal with the 30% cut taken by Amazon and Apple. Certainly Amazon would want to eliminate that cut going to Apple, but here is no reason to believe Amazon would double dip one of their own divisions, charging off both the Amazon cut and the existing Comixology cut! The smarter play for them would be to use the opportunity to make their prices more attractive and to promote more sales and specials — something they can do now without really cutting into their income much. That would be consisent with what ComiXology says is one of the major reasons for the merger and the change in purchasing procedure. I’m willing to give them the benefit of that doubt — ComiXology has earned that much trust from me. I’ll give them time to make a transition to new revenue practices that will be beneficial to the creators, publishers and consumers. It would be smart business, and no one has ever claimed Amazon isn’t smart.

I find Mr. Conway’s observation that “there is no ComiXology any more”, as if the company has been turned over to rapacious ghouls, to be really over the top. I’m sure he speaks with a sincere concern for the industy, but I think such a judgement is way premature.

The ComiXology crew has time and again demonstrated their integrity, their vision for the future and their sincere desire to build a business that grows because it serves the audience in the best way it can. Certainly, they want to make money, and certainly there will be a payday involved for them. Good for them — they have earned it. The idea that they somehow turned their hard-won business leadership over to Amazon in ignorance of what Amazon planned to do, or that they believed that Amazon was going to sacrifice ComiXology’s broad-reaching market platform just to sell more Kindles and didn’t care as long as they got their payoff — well, if I were ComiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger, I’d be insulted on behalf of myself and my co-founders and colleagues. I don’t think Mr. Conway really believes that. If I’m wrong and he does, he’s doing those people a disservice that they haven’t earned.

The acquisition has all sorts of possibilities for improving, not crippling, the buying experience overall, and reaching more new readers than ever before — assuming Amazon is smart enough to make the best use of what they bought. Why keep on the entire ComiXology employee base from top to bottom if you are going to dump out of the way they do business altogether and ignore what made their approach work? I credit Jeff Bezos with more sense than that.

Yes, there will be changes and yes, some of them will require some short-term retrenching and regrouping. But I think we have reason to believe the final result will benefit both Amazon and the consumer. If it doesn’t, consumers will abandon them over the long haul and new customers won’t come to the platform. That would be a damn shame — but I think the smart money bets the other way. I think a full-fledged bloody panic fit is the wrong thing to do now. Instead, please do hold Amazon’s feet to the fire if they don’t use their position to build the platform over the long haul.

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An updated Christmas song…

(With thanks to @JosephScrimshaw & @lartist for the inspiration…)

You’d better not post mean things on your wall!
Better not make no nasty Skype call!
Santa Claus is hacking your feed!

His bots will be tracking all that you say!
The elves have got skillz envied by NSA!
Santa Claus is hacking your feed!

He knows your stupid Klout score. He doesn’t really care!
That’s not what he keeps lists for,
so it won’t help you out there!

Your wi-fi is pwned! Your passwords are known!
Even Anonymous leaves him alone.
Santa Claus is hacking your feed!

He’s reading all your email! He’ll know it if you troll!
He’ll might block your Warcraft account,
and fill your inbox up with coal!

So…

You better not Tweet or Tumbl or Vine,
unless it’s a wish for a happy Yuletime!
Santa Claus is hacking your feed!

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If Wonder Woman HAD Been in the Beyond Universe, Here’s What Derek Fridolfs Wanted to Have Happen

dcwomenkickingass:

Earlier this evening I posted about how writer Mike Barr pitched a Wonder Woman Beyond digital comic to DC Comics but “nobody had any interest.”

Since then I was told by DC Comics PR that there might be something on the horizon for Wonder Woman in digital:

But while Mike Barr never got any interest - Derek Fridolfs did get some interest in bringing Wonder Woman into the Beyond Universe. And his pitch is very interesting.

Especially if you like this.

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What might have been…

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The Ebert Connection

Forgive me for sounding like a squealing little girl (which is what I *do* sound like right now), but OMGOMGOMGOMG!

I am a big fan of the immortal (I don’t want to hear anything else) Roger Ebert and of Chaz Ebert and the crew that are carrying on for him in his unfortunate absence. Some time back, Chaz posted the beginning of “The Thinking Molecules of Titan”, a science fiction story that Ebert began and did not complete. She challenged his fans to write an ending for the story.

Ebert’s writing always inspires me, but this story I found resonating in my head as soon as I read it. Though I know such thoughts are hubris in the most extreme fashion, I could not resist seeing if I could get the ending that immediately presented itself in the back of my mind onto paper. What resulted was something I desperately hoped was something I would not be totally ashamed to appear with both my and Roger Ebert’s name on it, so I submitted it.

This morning, I found out that my story ending has been selected as one of the finalists in the competition! (Thus, the squealing like a little girl.)

You can find Roger’s incomplete story here:
http://www.rogerebert.com/chazs-blog/molecules-of-titan

and links to all of the eight finalists here:
http://www.rogerebert.com/chazs-blog/the-thinking-molecules-second-group-of-four-endings

with my ending here:
http://www.rogerebert.com/chazs-blog/the-thinking-molecules-of-titan-ending-by-guy-mclimore

“Collaborating” with Roger Ebert… Man, is that ever one checked off my bucket list in a most unexpected way! The thought that this might have been something Ebert would have liked — well, that will sustain my ego for a long while!

If you like my ending, won’t you please vote for it?
http://www.rogerebert.com/chazs-blog/the-thinking-molecules-second-group-of-four-endings

I’d be very grateful!

Meanwhile, back to squealing!

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Screw Truth, Justice & the American Way, Superman! Just Save My Ass!

The always-funny, always-insightful Ty Templeton (@tytempleton), a long-time favorite creator in CouchGuy’s Pantheon of Heroes, had a Bun Toons offering this week that gave me the usual laugh — and then caused me to pause to think. Check out the ‘toon before I continue. (Hint: If you haven’t read Ty before you read me, you are doing it in the wrong order.)

Bun Toons: Other Comics Get The Man of Steel Makeover

Like Ty, I enjoyed Man of Steel but like Ty I do see a trend toward making our heroes just a little less caring and concerned about the civilians around them. The “code against killing” that was once the staple of the four-color superheroic genre has been slip sliding for a long time. DC certainly don’t start the trend. (Marvel’s most popular character by far, for decades, has been Wolverine. Need I say more?) But the level of destruction shown in Man of Steel brings a sharper focus on it because Superman has always been the very paragon of the kinder, gentler superhero trope.

I point back at the popularity of Wolverine as being an important indicator of this sea change. Frank Miller’s Dark Knight refocused Batman in a similar direction after the TV series had made him a total goody-goody. Another DC favorite anti-hero, Lobo, is all about desensitizing us toward random violence.

But when Superman himself has to escalate the mindless destruction to get a decent movie made, I suppose we have to pay attention. But it isn’t comics that is promoting caring less and punching more. It’s us.

This is where Wertham and his ilk always got it wrong. Comics don’t shape the readers nearly as much as readers shape the comics. Our comic heroes promote our ideals, and those ideals shift over time.

During WW2, the primary ideals were patriotism and personal sacrifice for the freedom of our own nation and others. During the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s comics reflected our optimism for the future and a desire to create a better society through organized efforts within and between nations. Into the 80’s and 90’s, people lost faith in their government as an agent for change, and more and more often saw political and religious organization as an anchor rather than a lever. Comics reflected these changes, lagging behind the universal shifts just enough to never be seen as anything more than a conservative view-from-behind of change already occurring.

As we moved into the more self-centered ideals embraced by our culture during the late ’90s and into the 2000s, so did our comic heroes focus more on their internal dilemmas and less on solving the big problems we, as readers, used to care about. Superheroes are wish-fulfillment fantasies, and mostly we wished to preserve and perhaps improve our own personal status quo.

A change in the attitudes toward Superman indicates how far this has gone. Remember, superheroes are a time-delayed reflection of our own mass mind. Today, to be successful with a mass audience, even Superman must choose between abstract ideals and today’s survival. Once he stood for abstract concepts — Truth, Justice and The American Way. Even as he became more conflicted (reflecting our own conflicts between ideals and reality) we wanted him to stand up as the Best of Us.

I think some of the compromises Superman makes in Man of Steel, however, scared us all just a little bit. He reflects our mass mind as viewed from behind. I don’t think some of us were ready to realize how far we have fallen.

Today, have we come to the conclusion that we don’t care so much about his ideals, his commitment to the common good, or his restraint in the exercise of his power? Are we already too comfortable with the exercise of unlimited power — as long as it doesn’t step directly on our house?

We used to want Superman to save the world. Are we now ready to say, “Screw saving the world, Superman! Save my ass!”? We’re comfortable saying that to others around us to whom we have given power. “I don’t care what you do,” we tell them. “Steal what you need, break the law, bind our freedoms, destroy anything you need to destroy and kill if you must — just protect me and mine!”

As I said, I enjoyed Man of Steel and I’m glad it has been so successful. But like many of my fellow fans who grew up as Superman fans, I’m a little uncomfortable with what that success says about us — about me.

Maybe we should be uncomfortable. Maybe that discomfort is the way Superman — the inner Superman in us all — is telling us to turn around before it is too late.

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christopherjonesart:

This is my friend ThePrettiestBird cosplaying Black Canary. I think she looks great!

It saddens me to say that when she posted these pictures, she got some very rude comments about her body type, and even some death threats. I will not re-post what they said specifically because that kind of ugly language has no place in cosplay. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I support all cosplayers regardless of race, age, gender, ability or body type. I’m touched by the enthusiasm of the fans and their love for the material being so strong that they literally want to become part of it. That is just awesome. ThePrettiestBird is awesome.

I think she’s done a marvelous job re-creating the essence of the character, and I’d ask everyone else who thinks she makes a great Black Canary to please reblog this post. 

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Coming this fall…

Lar deSouza (@lartist on Twitter — Tumblr at uncalar.tumblr.com) recently did several pieces of Saturday Morning Heroes artwork that got me nostalgic for the days when we waited impatiently to see what the new season of Saturday shows would be from each network. You could always count on a two-page ad spread In the monthly comics from each network, coming out just before the shows premiered.

Every year you could expect at least one show based on a popular comic book hero or group (often with teen sidekicks added), a “dramatic” series featuring a heroic adventuring family, a live-action romp with costumed actors introducing short cartoon features, a “cute” cartoon about a group of sweet little characters, and a show designed entirely to promote a toy line.

I watched them all, and I’m familiar enough with the tropes that I thought it might be fun to create a plausible set of show promos. How do you think I did?

Guy “Couchguy” McLimore
Couchguytv@yahoo.com

——————————————————

Saturday Morning Super-Science Heroes on NBS!

Kids of all ages will thrill to the all-new NBS Saturday morning line-up, with animated and live-action shows featuring NBS Heroes of Super-Science!

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents — Straight from Tower Comics, The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves use one of a kind devices to equip their agents with incredible abilities to protect humanity from the forces of SPIDER! Join Dynamo, Lightning, NoMan and the Thunder Squad against deadly foes like Demo, Menthor, and the Iron Maiden! Now featuring the Thunder Teens, heroes in training — Dynamo Jr, Lightning Girl and their canine android pal NoDog!

Astro Defenders — It is the year 2000, and the American space program has carried brave astronauts and colonists to the moon, Mars, and throughout our solar system. But when danger in space threatens, ex-astronaut Lance Sterling and his amazing family of space travelers protect our planetary colonies as the Astro Defenders! Meet his brilliant wife Dr. Madeline Sterling and their genius children Grant, Lisa, Jimmy and Beth as they perform daring rescues and fight the evil Plutonian League from aboard their amazing ship, the Silver Defender!

The Animaltronics — They’re furry, funny and fantastic! This music-filled live-action series features four fuzzy friends who are a rock band by night, and a crew of bionically-enhanced animal superheroes by day! Powerdog, Armorcat, Electromonk and Roboroo will entertain you with their songs and have you in stitches with their bumbling super-antics! See each hero in superpowered animated cartoon adventures shown between their live-action comedy sequences!

Dust Bunnies — DeeDee Davis discovers the entrance to an entire magical world lies under her own bed in this charmingly funny cartoon series. The Dust Bunnies “borrow” lost items from our world to build their hidden village in their desert-like Dust Bowl home! Clever Gramma Bunny leads her cute (but dusty) family to teach them that being smart and fast is better than being big and mean by outwitting their giant neighbors, the Clutter Clan!

The Adventures of Blokbot — Davey Dudley is given a special BlokBuilder construction set by his Uncle Dan. When Uncle Dan mysteriously disappears, Davey’s colorful Blokbot buddy amazingly grows to giant size and takes Davey on adventure after adventure in search of his uncle. Blokbot can do almost anything with the clever attachments constructed by Davey, limited only by his imagination.

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uncalar:

Frankenstein Jr!: I should draw like this all the time. So much fun :) Hope you enjoy :)

Lar deSouza (@lartist on Twitter) recently posted a series of pieces on his Tumblr inspired by old Saturday morning cartoons. I remember these so very well…

uncalar:

Frankenstein Jr!: I should draw like this all the time. So much fun :) Hope you enjoy :)

Lar deSouza (@lartist on Twitter) recently posted a series of pieces on his Tumblr inspired by old Saturday morning cartoons. I remember these so very well…

Comments