Earlier today, Kim Masters from The Hollywood Reporter informed us that Warner Bros. (parent company of DC Comics and the DC Extended Universe) wants to “usher out [Ben] Affleck’s Batman gracefully.” While this hasn’t been confirmed by Warner — the article sites a reliable source. Is it because Affleck stepped away from directing the nebulous The Batman film?
“Art will save us,” Dr. Tang told me as we drank coffee and played chess at a Berkeley Starbucks. She suddenly stopped, her hand still holding her rook a few centimeters above the board. She shook her salt and pepper hair, took a deep breath and smiled. “Let me rephrase. Art will not save is, Shawn. But it will make the bullshit easier to deal with. It will inspire us to do good work. It will gives us new eyes through which to see.” Checkmate. As Dr. Tang got up to leave, she told me one last thing. “As usual, the art that will get us through is music.”
I wanted to dispute this. I wanted to talk about the political dimensions of aerosol art, street theater, cyphers of emcees (like this still happens) — but in my experience, she was totally right. Almost all of my prosocial politics have come from music. Music has been there for me when so many others chose not to, or I didn’t allow them to. Music has been as much a part of my life and growth as geek culture.
I had the utmost pleasure interviewing Victor LaValle about his upcoming comic, Destroyer, from BOOM! Studios. It drops today, May 24, 2017.
[Can we take a moment to admire BOOM!’s roster? I’ve already written about one of my all time favorite books. They are on an astonishing creative trajectory. I’ve yet to read a bad book from them. If you’re trying to convert someone to the comics life, get them a first issue from any BOOM! title. They’ll be hooked.]
I just wanted to let you know about my new e-book (paperback version will drop in a week), Parables, Vampires, and Pregnant Men: The Narrative Resistance of Octavia E. Butler. Adapted from my graduate work, this little volume refutes C.M. Kornbluth’s assertion that science fiction is unable to work as social critique.
We are living in a truly golden age of nerdom. There are several superhero films out each year — the amount of films increase each subsequent year; damn near every night of the week you can watch a superhero, supernatural, paranormal, or spy-fi program, comics are everywhere, graphic novels are taught in the academy — our once exclusive (and highly ridiculed) club is, gasp, mainstream. Going mainstream comes with its own set of problems. But I want to focus on what I feel is the primary problem of this golden age: Toxic Fandom. Continue reading “Toxic Fandom”
As a long-term comic head, I have become enamored of every type of comic book. I have horror, Classics Illustrated, science fiction, traditional superhero, and tons of international comics in more long boxes than I can count. The one comic lane I could never get in to: educational comics. I love the old Civil Rights, How Toons, and history comic books. What I could not stand were the ‘this is how the digestive tract works’ or ‘let’s wind our way through the eyeball’ offerings. This would seem to be in direct opposition of my cheerleading the use of comics in educational settings. Hey, I’m complex. As a parent, my dislike has curdled to disdain.
I know I’ve been posting here infrequently, but I have a very good reason. I’ve been working on my site and my podcast over at www.uncleshawn.com. When I was growing up, and when I became a father, I searched for things that spoke to my navigating manhood, masculinity, and fatherhood. Nothing commented on my experience. The things I found were too white, too patriarchal, too classist, or just plain crap. I’m creating what I wish I had when I was on my search to make sense of my shifting ideas about masculinity and fatherhood.
When Chappelle’s Show dropped in 2003, never in my history of comedic television viewing had a first episode been so explosive. Clayton Bigsby was the most audacious thing I’ve ever seen. A black white supremacist? I, along with millions of others, was hooked. Until then, Dave Chappelle was a marginal comic presence. He had bit roles in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blue Streak, Undercover Brother, and other films. Then he became a star with the stoners for the cult classic, 1998’s Half Baked. He was a stand-up whose career consisted of mostly juvenile and scatological humor with flashes of the socially and culturally relevant comedy displayed on the first two seasons of Chappelle’s Show. He was a hard worker. Dude toured and gave it his all. It was fascinating to see him mature from confident performer to a master of crowd control. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Daves, Past and Present”
This has been an amazing ten months for Black cinematic culture. We had Beyoncé’s Lemonade in April 2016. Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar both premiered on September 6, 2016. Luke Cage’s entire season broke the Internet on September 30. Barry Jenkins’s Best Picture Oscar winning Moonlight dropped October 2016. So did Issa Rae’s Insecure. And then the wicked mind of Jordan Peele unleashed Get Out, this past weekend. There were other films, television shows, videos and the like, but damn. Look at this trajectory. It would be so easy to label this a Black Cinematic Renaissance, but I don’t think I want to be that optimistic.
The way people are reacting (and/or responding) to our current political moment is all over the map. Some are taking the ostrich head in the sand approach: If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Some are happy that the end of the American experiment is closer than we ever thought possible. Some are going full-force with resisting, making sure that what is happening does not become the new default. Some are embracing the newly- burnished hate and division, their fantasies of a fourth and fifth Reich are invading our shared reality. Remember when these people used to be on the fringe? Some say this is the last gasp of a dying ideology. I’m of the mind that it is the first deep breath of a newborn. But what do I know? I’m a born pessimist.