We The Fans: How Our Powers Can Change The World

As some of you know, I spent some time with the Pop Culture Collaborative as their Senior Fellow on Fandoms and how Fandom power can be used to add to the social good.  What follows is a distillation of my research and findings. There are hundreds of pages that I’ll do something with at a later date. Also, for those who want it, there will be an audio version coming soon. Here’s the intro:

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Introducing Megascope: a Diverse Line of Graphic Novels Curated by John Jennings

There are some people who like comics. There are others who love them. Then, there are those who live and breathe comics. Not as a way to keep copyrights up-to-date for further cinematic use, but who see the comic form as important; as a worthy and necessary part of our collective artistic and cultural life. Professor, scholar, and creator, John Ira Jennings, embodies the latter.

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NOC Blasts Off to the ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ During Star Wars Celebration

Soon you’ll be able to visit a galaxy far, far away real, real close to home. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Disneyland opens May 31, 2019, then Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Disney World opens August 29, 2019. Disney and Lucasfilm previewed their newest theme park attraction at Star Wars Celebration and here’s what we learned. 

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#EduHam: ‘Hamilton’ Puts History in the Hands of the Future

”This is for ones like us, that had big hopes and dreams but didn’t make it.” — Lea Ibragimova, Shanae Bennett, and Valentina Vidal Ortega from Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies

There’s nothing like seeing Hamilton the Musical with a crowd of high school juniors. They laugh at the sex jokes, they get squirmy about death, and they echo the chorus of “ohhhh” at every diss in the show. Having seen Hamilton three times now (yes, I’m bragging a little — you would too), it was absolutely the best audience to see the show with. But it wasn’t the centerpiece of the day.

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Wakanda and Migration: #BlackFreedomBeyondBorders

We are living in a world where people are moving around the earth almost as fast as information. Most of us will not be buried in the soil of our birth. We move for different reasons: safety, opportunities, whims. What is gained and lost from these migrations?

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Decolonizing My Fandom

Dr. Who. Star Trek. The Twilight Zone. The Night Stalker. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Battlestar Galactica (the original series) E. E. “Doc” Smith. JRR Tolkien. David Eddings. Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman. Joseph Campbell. The Avengers (tv show and comic), Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men, DC’s Trinity and on and on and on. What do all of these pieces of geek-pop have in common? They were all generated from the minds of (mostly) white men.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this, but it begs the question: Do I actually like this stuff, or is it all part of some kind of indoctrination into the dominant culture? Continue reading “Decolonizing My Fandom”

Know Yourself: One Happy Parent

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.

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KidLit: Recommended Reading on Justice and Understanding

Originally posted at The Writer’s Block

At a time of great unease and injustice, those of us who are parents of children have a challenge ahead of us. Most of our kids will be exposed to the happenings of the world, and well they should. At the same time, what books can we read to them that will help them understand, and provide tools they will need to survive, thrive, and engage? We reached out to several Minnesota writers with children to compile this list of suggestions. This is by no means definitive, nor complete.

This list was compiled by Kurtis Scaletta, Shannon Gibney, Lana Barkawi, Kathryn Savage, Molly Beth Griffin, Sarah Park Dahlen, Bao Phi, and Lorena Duarte Armstrong.

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SIUniverse Celebrates Lunar New Year at The Met in NYC

A little over two weeks ago, I had the honor of leading a comics workshop with my SIUniverse partner Jerry Ma at the world renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Part of their annual Lunar New Year festival, Jerry and I helped small children and their families use inspiration from the museum’s rooms of Asian art to create their own superhero characters.

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Help Support a Couple of Good Causes

Hello All,

I received a few emails and messages from people who wanted to support the AfroGeeks Unite! summer camp, but didn’t want to wear a shirt with a raygun on it. I completely understand. We’re living in interesting times and the raygun (with the RBG colors) design could be interpreted in a variety of ways… ways some folks may not be comfortable with.

With this in mind, I’ve added two new designs:

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AfroGeeks Unite!

Hello Friends,

This has been a dispiriting couple of weeks. We are facing a new political reality and now, I feel, there is an increased social, political, and creative urgency — something I’ve never felt before. To address this, me and a few local Bay Area creators have decided to launch AfroGeeks Unite! It is a small initiative that aims to get more POC youth (particularly black youth) involved in the speculative fiction (used as a catchall for SF, comics, horror, etc.) community.

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An N.O.C. Halloween: Our Children’s Edition

Amongst my friends and family, it is no secret that the only holiday I care about is Halloween. No, it isn’t just because the candy is free and flowing — although this is a huge bonus. What I love the most about he holiday is that there is this unbridled demonstration of ingenuity, creativity, and imagination. People get to step a little outside of their mundane lives and step into the realm of the fantastic.

Another thing I love are the costumes. I don’t think I’m alone in this, especially amongst my fellow NOC. While many of us were too busy to dress up, we made sure that our children did.

I would like to present to you the NOC Parade of Costumes: Our Children’s Addition.

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Representation Is Heavy (But It Matters)

[Featured image by: Menellaos]

Several weeks ago I had the singular pleasure of substitute teaching for a course in the California College of Arts M.F.A. in Comics program. Yes, you read that correctly. There is an M.F.A. in comics. Where was this X number of years ago when I was on my Higher Ed journey?

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#DiverseChildrensBooks: El Primer Corte de Mesita de Furqan (Furqan’s First Flat Top)

As a parent of color it is very difficult to find children’s books that reflect how diverse our world actually is. When we do find books, many of them are about historical figures, historical events, or rooted in surviving tragedies. This is what makes El Primer Corte de Mesita de Furqan (Furqan’s First Flat Top) such a wonderful addition to the POC children’s book canon.

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Sankofa, Survival, and Science Fiction: A Graduation Speech

This keynote speech was delivered at the Portland State University Multicultural Graduation Speech, June 12, 2015 in Portland, Oregon.

It is such a privilege to be at this year’s Portland State University Multicultural Graduation — I look forward to this graduation every day, to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our students of color. I am so honored to be the keynote speaker, and to have been chosen by the student leaders to do so. Yall know the Cultural Resource Center student leaders are phenomenal, so this is definitely an honor!

This is such an incredibly important time for each of us here — students obviously, but also parents, friends, family, faculty, and staff. It makes me so happy to see so many brilliant students I’ve had the opportunity to get to know graduating here today. This is a time to celebrate the immense amount of work and sacrifice and dedication that got each of you graduating here.

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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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El Chu and Some Other Planes

As a parent, you remember the first time you took your #NOCsintraining to see their first movie. Isabella’s was Kung Fu Panda. Giselle’s was Kung Fu Panda 2. Well, it was their little brother’s turn, and we were honestly apprehensive about the situation. Santi cannot sit still for more than 20 minutes, so we needed to find something that would boost his interest.

Santi's first movie
Santi’s watching his first movie.

The Disney film Mater’s Tall Tales was a huge hit in our household, especially with Santiago, our 2-year-old. So when we found the short film at the end of Cars 2 about “Air Mater” all that Santiago could say for weeks was “Again! Please!”

With that in mind, we settled on Planes to watch. The nerd in me, researched characters and plot before we went to see it. Everyone was excited because this was supposed to be the next in the Cars series, but I was intrigued with one character, El Chupacabra.

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Watching LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload

If you walk into our house, then head up the stairs, take a right at the top and walk through the door, you will find yourself in the lair of our #NOCsintraining (aka my girls’ room). From a quick glance around, you will deduce that there are Star Wars and Avengers bed sheets. Further examination of the room will reveal that LEGOs are also in abundance. And if you inspect their bookshelf, you will find comic books mostly from the Marvel Universe with a focus on the Avengers.

So yes, LEGO and Marvel nerds, we are. But my girls seem to take most interest in building LEGOs these days. Which I enjoy, too. So it was to our delight when we found out that Marvel and Lego decided to put out a series of, well, Marvel LEGO Super Heroes and titled it Maximum Overload. Since it was a Saturday evening, and it was on Netflix, and I had made popcorn, we watched it.

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Aw Yeah, Tiny Titans!

For four years and fifty issues, DC Comics published what should be considered, in my opinion, one of the best kid-friendly comics in the history of the medium: Tiny Titans. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The series was nominated for multiple Eisners, and actually took home the award on two separate occasions — in 2009 and 2011 — for Best Series for Kids. And while DC no longer publishes (for now) the adventures of Robin, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, Raven, and the rest of the gang at Sidekick Elementary School, Art Baltazar and Franco’s creation has left an indelible mark on how good “comics for kids” can truly be. Plus, my daughter loves these books. So much.

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