On Body Image, Diversity, and Comics’ Outdated Standard of Beauty

Originally posted on Black Nerd Problems

ESPN made a “Body Issue” based on Marvel superheroes, and it’s glorious. But before we get to that, let’s go through some fascinating history first. The first Body Issue was published in 2009 in response to a significant decline in ESPN magazine’s revenue during the financial crisis. Not only that, because it was also a response for that pesky high-selling publication from their competitor, Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue. ESPN photographers took shots of athletes — some more famous, others less known — nearly or completely naked, bearing it all with a soccer ball, or a baseball bat, or the snowboard they ride on. Where the Swimsuit Issue focused on homogenous models showcasing bikinis and pandering to the typical standard of Hollywood beauty however, the Body Issue saw an opportunity: ESPN the Magazine would focus on the diversity of the human form by centering on the athletes themselves.

And focusing on diversity proved to be an amazingly successful strategy. Who knew?

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LeBron James is Captain America

Originally posted on Black Nerd Problems

I want you to imagine superheroes exist. Put an image in your head. What they would look like, what they would wear, what their powers would be. Are you there? Did you envision Superman flying, maybe Cyclops’ lasers? Did you imagine Flash’s speed or Oracle’s intelligence? I can’t blame you if you did, because that’s where we go when we envision the “super” in super-powered. But for those that went a little simpler in their criteria, they might’ve imagined a skilled tactician whose powers are superior strength, speed, intelligence, and healing compared to that of the average human, whose government-sanctioned enhancements came from a secret program decades in the past.

Not 1940, but 1984… because LeBron James is Captain America.

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After Daredevil, I Will Never Watch Arrow Again

Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

Word to God, I will never watch Arrow again.

Let me rewind a minute.

This past weekend was the first weekend of spring weather in New York City, and instead of running through Central Park or eating ice cream from the street vendors that appeared like spring flowers, I spent 13 hours indoors watching Daredevil. And I regret nothing. Daredevil is — and I don’t say this lightly — the best superhero show ever made.

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The Future of Comics Belongs to Women

Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

When you read the guest list of a comic convention, what do you see? Usually I notice the big names first, maybe a few iconic, and then a spatter of new faces whose work drew my attention in the past year. I skim the headshots and begin to add unrecognizable faces to their recognizable names, and as I browse through the photos and my eyes begin to blur, something strange happens: it begins to look like a Magic Eye puzzle we used to play with in 3rd grade. The pictures merge to show a single representation. That’s when I look away, shake it off, and start looking for my favorite women.

And lately, that’s becoming easier to find.

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Why I Hate All Things Mockingjay

Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

While the book Mockingjay was released in 2010, this is your spoiler alert for both the book in its completion and the movie, Mockingjay: Part 1.

Several years ago I was introduced to The Hunger Games, a new book gaining popularity as a young adult dystopian novel featuring a female lead. I borrowed a copy from the library and was introduced to Katniss Everdeen from District 12, and she was everything I wanted her to be. Clever, bold, and independent, The Hunger Games’ leading lady was instantly a crowd favorite, and the world of Panem made for a breezy thrill ride as I sped through it in 3 days of subway rides and bedtime reading. When the second book came out, Catching Fire expanded the world from the Battle Royale of the games, to the larger theme of dystopia and revolution. “Tread carefully,” I remember thinking. But most of my thoughts were still preoccupied with wishing Katniss would finally leave Peeta to die and ride out with Team Gale, so I was still a fan, to say the least. Before the first movie was even announced I tried to pre-order tickets by holding my Fandango app in my hands and concentrating really hard.

All of that ignores the existence of Mockingjay.

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Why Creators Should Look at Conventions Differently

Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

For a comic fan, attending a convention is a mass gathering of distant relatives — the one you play Titanfall with online, that guy whose reviews you browse online, that girl you haven’t seen since the last convention — all in one place. It’s a family reunion of sorts, and in the case of New York Comic-Con, it’s a big one. But for those of us who are artists, designers, writers, cosplayers, or any other type of creator, a convention is more than a fan space, it’s a networking opportunity for you to share your work. These are your future collaborators, guidance counselors, business partners, and consumers, so approaching a convention from that perspective means the difference between being a fan of someone else’s work, and being on track to add fans of your own.

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Conception: Origins of a Nerd of Color

The gun fired and we were off to the races. I was one of the first to dive in the water without a moment’s hesitation; it was as if Denzel trained me himself. It was the early-mid 80s so “Eye of the Tiger” was quite possibly in rotation on the radio as I stroked ahead of the pack, feeling fresh and new, keeping my eyes on the arrows directing our path.

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