Pan and the Amazing Technicolor Natives

First things first: Pan — opening in U.S. theaters this weekend — is a colorful, action-packed PG-13 reimagining  of the origins of Peter Pan and his relationships with and to Captain Hook, Tiger Lily, and Neverland as we know them through J.M. Barrie’s play and novel and their myriad subsequent Broadway, Disney, and Hollywood (re)interpretations.

My daughters, ages 11 and 6, enjoyed the film, and the 6-year-old, who often asks to leave the theater during intense or “scary” action sequences, made it through with only a bit of parental ear-covering during loud bits. The world-building and -design and the effects were beautiful and well-done, with visual call-backs to many fantasy, science fiction, and action films that parents will recognize fondly (the Mad Max films and Avatar being just an example) and original effects like giant bubbles of water containing aquatic life floating in the sky that I will remember for a while. But it’s the twists, and the questions and consequences they bring up, that I want to talk about now. So from here on in, SPOILERS AHEAD.

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Kickstart This: The Princess Who Saved Herself

Two years ago, comics writer and filmmaker (and familiar name to NOC readersGreg Pak, known for his work on several Hulk and X-Men titles, including the current Storm book, and his current runs on Action Comics, Batman/Superman, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, among others (like Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology), was raising funds on Kickstarter for a graphic novel based on beloved geek culture singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton‘s Code Monkey character. As a reward for meeting a stretch goal, Pak and his collaborators promised an original children’s book based on Coulton’s popular twist on children’s fairytales, “The Princess Who Saved Herself.”

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My Daughter’s Preschool Class Sang “Let It Go”

I’m sure that by now you’ve seen the video in which young Jathan Muhar answers the perennial graduation-time question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with an answer to warm any NOC’s heart. He wanted to be Batman. [Ed. note: I guess kindergarteners are a superstitious, cowardly lot. Also, somebody should warn the kid’s parents to never walk down any dark alleys at night. Just sayin’.]

In one short day, it’s been everywhere from Break.com to Gawker to The Huffington Post to the Facebook page of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. But I saw it before it went viral — I saw it live because my 5-year-old daughter was a classmate of his, graduating with him this past Wednesday.

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The LEGO Movie’s Lessons for Raising NOCs-In-Training

I took my 9- and 5-year-old daughters to see The LEGO Movie on the second day it was out, and all three of us loved it. It is a true family film, one that can be enjoyed by different age groups at different levels — kids will love the humor, the action, that song they won’t stop singing once they get home, and, hey, it’s LEGO, while their parents will appreciate all the references to the kits and playsets of their childhoods, the inside jokes (ones that stick in my mind include the bearded fantasy wizard confusion, needy Green Lantern, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson playing parodies of their archetypal screen personas, and, of course, Batman and his song), and the amazingly detailed art and animation. It is also more subversive and heartwarming than you’d expect an hour-and-a-half-long corporate toy commercial could ever be.

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Dressing Our NOCs-in-Training on Halloween

In honor of The Nerds of Color’s first Halloween, this week’s School of Hard NOCs features our own little NOCs in Training in Halloween costumes past and present. We’ll forgo any identifying information to protect the innocent (inasmuch as we can do so while acknowledging that we are both dressing our children in geeky costumes and posting their pictures in said costumes online), but astute readers can probably figure out which younglings belong to which NOC.

To whet your appetite, we wanted share our favorite Halloween-themed commercial that proves the old adage that the NOC family that dresses in themed costumes and trick-or-treats together stays awesome together; click on the “more” link below that to see our own kids (both human and non-) in costume. From our families to yours, Happy Halloween!

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Shameless Self Promotion: Read These Books

The Nerds of Color collective is proud to be host to such an amazing group of talented creators, for not only are we fans, but among us are writers, artists, and musicians who distill their love for genre culture into new creations, continuing the dialogue and moving the culture forward. Today, as we close out #LitWeekNOC, our week-long look at issues of diversity in written speculative fiction, we want to recognize our talented colleagues. So go read these books!

390844_10151004994121867_835486522_nFirst up, let’s acknowledge our fearless leader and Head NOC In Charge Keith Chow. Keith is education and outreach editor for the groundbreaking Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology and its sequel, Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology, and wrote several pieces in their pages, including the “Peril” stories. It’s not exaggerating to say that without Secret Identities and Keith, we wouldn’t be here right now on this blog. So thanks, boss!

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Talking Back to White Creators: Rachel Rostad’s “To J.K. Rowling, From Cho Chang”

The flip side of the discussion of opening up the speculative fiction genres to more writers of color telling stories about characters of color is the phenomenon of white writers employing characters of color. Such works are not automatically or inherently problematic when done sensitively and skillfully; indeed, the diversification of the worlds of white creators to reflect the real diversity of our own is necessary. Speculative fiction abounds with examples both bad, like the racial allegories of Tolkien‘s Middle Earth, and good, like Le Guin’s Earthsea series, Stephenson’s Snow Crash, or Gaiman’s Anansi Boys.

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Diversifying Our Kids’ Genre Bookshelf

As the father of two daughters of color, finding reading material and other media that both reflect back at them and reflect the wider, diverse world of which they are a part is important to me. The discussion around what kind of stories get told about what kind of characters and who gets to tell them is, sadly, not relegated to the realm of speculative fiction literature or literary fiction. The dismal state of affairs in the world of children’s literature was recently put in stark relief by the good people at Lee and Low Books, whose tagline is “About Everyone. For Everyone.”

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Opening the Book on #LitWeekNOC

While this blog regularly gives voice(s) to the perspectives of self-proclaimed nerds of color on speculative media cinematic, televisual, animated, illustrated, and digitally interactive, we can’t forget that the pop-cultural expanse of fantastic worlds and stories we subsume under the rubrics of science fiction and fantasy, or speculative fiction more inclusively, or even nerd or geek culture more broadly, have their roots in the written. And so, this week on The Nerds of Color, we celebrate the written word. Literature. Books.

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First Impressions: Sleepy Hollow

Fox’s Sleepy Hollow premiered on Monday, the first new speculative fiction show of the fall television season. We discussed our anticipation of the supernatural buddy cop drama on the second episode of Hard N.O.C. Life, focusing on the rarity of its black female lead. Here, with some minor spoilers, are my first impressions.

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