I went to Nerd Heaven, aka Wizard World - Comic Con
I was very lucky to attend the Wizard World Comic Con in New Orleans this past weekend, a.k.a nerd heaven. If you're not familiar, Comic Con is a popular culture and comic convention held annually around the country. It features a variety of different celebrities, artists, merchants, and most importantly FANS! Thousands of people fond of sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, comic books, anime, and cosplay gathered together at the convention center to hang out, meet some of their heroes, and buy cool stuff. Some of the guests of honor this year were Matt Smith (of Doctor Who), Pam Grier (!!!!), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead, The Boondock Saints), Linda Hamilton (The Terminator), animator Phil Ortiz, and the comic legend Stan Lee.
My cosplay was San from Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. This was when I finally found the sailor scouts!
Nola feels like a pretty magical place on any old day, so it was extra awesome to be surrounded by superheroes, trekkies, zombies, steampunks, and some of my favorite video game characters. There was so much to look at; from collectors’ action figures, light sabers and cosplay crafts, to striking and innovative professional-fan art. Nen, Greg Horn, and Sara Richard were a few of my favorites. The con creates such an open environment for all things geeky, so by just mingling with folks you’re bound to meet someone who’s into the same stuff as you. I chilled with storm troopers, an extremely realistic lookin wookie, Thor, Bat Woman, and the Mario Brothers to name a few. And speaking of wookies, if you will be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is holding their annual parade and after-party this Saturday! Who doesn't love a drunk Chewbacca? It’ll be a blast, hope to see you there.- Olive Henzel
Absolute Promethea 2: A Review
The last time I wrote about Promethea here I'd just gotten my hands on the first Absolute volume, and it had blown my mind.
"It's less a narrative than a trip, fables layered on top of stories and characters' identities shifting into dreams. If Watchmen is Moore's Ulysses, then Promethea is Finnegans Wake and it demands the same experience--stop trying to make it make sense and just let it wash over you and enjoy the ride."
The second volume arrived last week, and I'm just as thrilled with it. I drowned myself in it yesterday, spending hours with its glossy, gorgeous pages, and at the end of it found myself just as inspired as the last time.
Part two is part adventure narrative/vision quest, but mostly an explanation of a mythology--if it falters at all it's the transition between expository characters whose voice-over is a little too clearly the voice of Moore explaining just what's going on here. He's pulled together a myth-world that's based in systems that already exist--the Kabbalah, various pantheons of gods and goddesses--and sent his characters off on it, including a foul-mouthed teenage guardian angel and a green-haired college student turned superheroine (or, tellingly, Moore calls them "science heroines").
Promethea is, aside from an explanation of a magical worldview, also an argument for the seriousness of comics. J.H. Williams' art doesn't so much toy with panel structure as explode it entirely, and as the journey goes on he shifts art styles so entirely, mimicking classics and classic comics so perfectly that the James Joyce analogy seems appropriate again--just as Ulysses went tripping through the entire history of literature, Promethea skips through the history of visual art and by doing so places itself squarely in the tradition, daring you to argue.
Moore's expert at using the medium to play with space and time, and he understands the difference between comics and any other visual or narrative art better than anyone working in it. And there is a narrative here, though you'd be excused for just gaping at the visuals, a narrative and characters worth knowing and loving and following, and more than the first one this volume left me breathless for what comes next.
"I guess that telling stories with pictures is the first kind of written language," one of the Prometheas notes, and it's true. As Harvey Pekar said, comics are words and pictures and you can do anything with words and pictures, from Pekar's working-class warts-and-all lifestyle to the lushly gorgeous dream-world of gods and goddesses and the blurred boundaries between mortal and divine that Moore and Williams set out here.
#BanBossy Update: Awesome NJ Girl Scouts Weigh In
Let's hear it for the NJ Girl Scouts who are making us proud with their involvement in the #BanBossy movement!
The New Jersey Courier-Post, a South Jersey newspaper, featured an empowering and inspiring video and article where young NJ Girl Scouts discuss what it means to them to be a leader and how they feel about the term “bossy”.
The "Ban Bossy" movement was launched by the national Girl Scout CEO Anna Maria Chavez and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg earlier this year.
In part to the success and popularity of the campaign, Assemblyman Paul Moriarity has spoken out about the NJ legislation’s desire to close gender and race-based wage disparities.
“Someone made a joke the other day that we should hire Hillary (Clinton) to be out next president because we’ll save 30 percent,” Moriarity said. “I have a daughter. I don’t want her paid less than someone else doing the same work.”
“'We have some pretty strong women in New Jersey,” Moriarity said. The state has a “very progressive” State House delegation, with one of the country’s largest women’s caucuses.”
At first, I was hesitant to see how the campaign would pan out when it jumped from celebrity-spokespeople like Beyonce to actual societal change. But these awesome NJ Girl Scouts prove that banning the term bossy may have spark change in our society after all.
Sparkling Foxes, Feathers & Genie Lamps. I Heart Mandy Shadforth!
Mandy Shadforth is an AMAZING award-winning contemporary artist from Queensland. This Aussie babe paints in a super realistic style, drawing her viewer into intimate details that would usually be overlooked. Mandy paints with such control and depth. She is able to manipulate her pop culture/natural images into mysterious kaleidoscopes of daydreams and bewilderment. She just released her 2010 collection a few months ago and I am smitten. Aren't you?? Mandy is currently showing her annual exhibition at the South Yarra Arthouse in Melbourne.
Ps. She has an awesome blog.
photo credits: http://www.mandys.com.au/
A Feminist You Should Know: Spotlight on Mwende Katwiwa!
Recently I sat down with the lovely and talented Mwende Katwiwa — a.k.a. FreeQuency, a spoken word artist, recent recipient of the Feminist You Should Know Award, and senior at Tulane University. Ms. Katwiwa is 22 and double majoring in Political Economy with International Perspectives, and African & African Diaspora studies. Originally from Kenya, she came to New Orleans after graduating high school to pursue service with the AmeriCorps program City Year, prior to enrolling at the University of Chicago. However, after immersing herself in the city, Katwiwa realized that engaging communities and contributing to sustainable change would take a lot longer than one year — so, she applied to Tulane and has since worked her way into different social change circles both on and off campus. Currently she is a member of WhoDatPoets and Slam New Orleans (NOLA's championship-winning spoken word team). She also serves on on the executive board of The Black Student Union, at which post she chairs The Tulane Black Arts Festival (February 17th to the 23rd). In addition to putting most 22 year olds to shame with her glowing C.V., Katwiwa is well known around Tulane's campus as an inspirational, intelligent, down-to-earth, and all-around-super-cool lady. She was kind enough to share a bit of her story with me:
What initially attracted you to the Spoken Word medium?
My mom (who is the coolest lady in the world, the more I remember all the things she's done I'm like “aw yeah that was my mom!") does a lot of work with community engagement and activism,and she took me to my first spoken word show by a group called 2050 which I later joined. Before then, I though I hated poetry because it didn't say anything. Then here I was at this show where every single person was using their voice to say something meaningful in a poem. I had never had poetry presented to me in that way and I was so captivated by it. I happened to live in a community that supported youth arts and so I was able to join in pretty quickly.
What are some sources of inspiration for you?
My parents are first generation immigrants who came here and worked their way to the top. They came here on student visa's as graduate students and now they're tenured professors. How could you not admire them? If there is one thing that really does encourage me to keep doing things it’s just looking back on where my mom and dad came from to where they are today. If they can do that, I can do more because I came from them.
Any other projects you have going on right now?
I teach poetry after school and social justice at Akili Academy here in New Orleans. I love it, I really love working with kids, they're just so hungry for knowledge and when you talk with them you have to be careful about what it is your instilling in them. I like that because it really keeps me accountable for things.
I'm also a producer for the Vagina Monologues, (if you can't tell [there's] this theme of arts and activism...), I really do believe in the power of art to connect different groups of people and give voices to people who would otherwise be silenced. With the Vagina Monologues it’s kind of around the same idea but now focused on marginalized women. One of my reasons for becoming a producer this year instead of being a cast member, which I've been for the past two years, was to make the production more intersectional and more inclusive of all kinds of women, whether those are women of color, queer women, trans women — all women.
What is really cool about the organization that named me the Feminist You Should Know is they encourage women’s initiatives, so I'm using that to try and throw support to some groups on this campus that have never had it before. For example, we have a pretty active pro-life group on our campus but [had] a much less vocal pro-choice scene until this semester. I recently started a 1 in 3 chapter on Tulane’s campus, and there is a lot going on in terms of reproductive rights in Louisiana so it is a perfect time to start and build a college coalition on that.
There is a performing arts showcase TONIGHT from 8-10pm in the Kendall Cram Room of the LBC on Tulane's campus featuring Sunni Patterson and Mwende.
--Interview by Olive Henzel
Images courtesy of Mwende Katwiwa
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