Luke Cage: Dig a Little Deeper

My sister, Dr. Tara Betts, dropped the Luke Cage syllabus over at Black Nerd Problems. It is a must read. I wanted to add to this wealth of knowledge by offering my own “special features” companion piece to Cage. I will present the following without description as I do not want to taint anyone’s experience. This is only a small amount if what is actually out there. I mentioned other books in my reflections on the series. You can read it here.

Continue reading Luke Cage: Dig a Little Deeper”

‘Pokémon Go’ and Choosing the Blackest Joy

by Lauren Bullock | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

As you might expect, it begins with a selection of starters: today, do you choose fuming rage, crushing grief, or helpless fear? Perhaps you feel all three. Or none. Being Black in America is not just some game that anyone can control, after all.

As a Black Nerd it’s impossible to ignore that in the same week that we gained Pokémon Go, arguably one of the most anticipated games of the year, we lost Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to police brutality (who in reality are part of an even longer list of murders by the police this week alone). Once again the debates flare up between distraction and self care, between what people “should” be talking about or feeling at any given moment. But if Pokémon taught me anything, it’s that there is always another option than the “starters” you’re given, and sometimes this, too, is its own revolutionary act. I’m talking about allowing ourselves to sometimes choose Black joy. No, the Blackest Joy.

Continue reading “‘Pokémon Go’ and Choosing the Blackest Joy”

NOC x BNP at #CrossLines with Lauren Bullock

An historic event occurred during our special live recordings of Hard NOC Life from the Smithsonian’s CrossLines pop-up culture lab on intersectionality. The NOC and Black Nerd Problems formed a Nerd Voltron when we were joined by BNP’s own Lauren Bullock.

Continue reading “NOC x BNP at #CrossLines with Lauren Bullock”

On Body Image, Diversity, and Comics’ Outdated Standard of Beauty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

Continue reading “On Body Image, Diversity, and Comics’ Outdated Standard of Beauty”

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.

Continue reading “LeBron James is Captain America”

Giving Daredevil its Due

It’s been three weeks since Marvel dropped Daredevil on Netflix, and the nerdosphere is still head over heels for the show. Now that Netflix has announced a second season of their hit superhero series, Hard NOC Life returns to talk about how Marvel is taking over the streaming television game with Black Nerd Problems’ Jordan Calhoun (@jordanmcalhoun) — whose Daredevil piece you’ve probably read — and returning Hard NOC champ Raymond Chow.

Continue reading “Giving Daredevil its Due”

N.O.C. One-Shot: Batman v Superman and What’s Wrong with DC Movies

Stay tuned for a longer conversation between Keith, Raymond, and Jordan Calhoun, from Black Nerd Problems, about all things Daredevil. In the meantime, the trio took a moment to discuss the Batman v Superman trailer and what it portends for DC’s Cinematic Universe.

Continue reading “N.O.C. One-Shot: Batman v Superman and What’s Wrong with DC Movies”

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.

Continue reading “After Daredevil, I Will Never Watch Arrow Again”

People on the Internet Get Things Wrong: Comic Book Cover Edition

by William Evans | Originally posted on Black Nerd Problems

Trigger Warning: Some of the images pulled from comic books depict assault and violence towards women.

DC is celebrating the Joker next month with a plethora of variant covers devoted to him. The Joker, who by definition is a deranged, sinister and disturbed individual is shown on most of these covers the way he’s always been: scaring the shit out of somebody. One specifically that sparked a lot of outrage was where the Joker is cozied up to a frightened Batgirl for her cover. After a lot of people voiced their displeasure with the cover AND RECEIVED THREATS OF VIOLENCE FOR IT, the artist Rafael Albuquerque asked DC to pull the cover. Now of course, there’s the backlash to the backlash as many fans and creators are crying foul and constructing this as an evil feminist argument that ruins everything. Sigh.

Continue reading “People on the Internet Get Things Wrong: Comic Book Cover Edition”

White People’s Superheroes

Hard NOC Life emerges from its winter hibernation, and you can thank Michelle Rodriguez for that. After telling TMZ POCs need to “stop stealing white people’s superheroes,” the actress took to Facebook to say she meant POCs need to focus on creating their own stories.

Naturally, Keith had to discuss this with  William Evans (@willevanswrites) of Black Nerd Problems and newest NOC contributor Valerie Complex (@ValerieComplex).

Continue reading “White People’s Superheroes”

How the Diversity Argument in the Nerd Community Chases its Own Tail

by William Evans | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

I don’t usually, and don’t plan to be the guy that writes reactions to other columns. It’s kind of circular and masturbatory and rarely does the work of informing an audience, as opposed to finger pointing across the table at someone else doing the same thing you do. The issue of the diversity in comics seems to be taking on a larger life beyond simple media commentary, however. And we are always 72 hours away from the next event that brings this conversation into focus. For days (and continuing now) it was the topic of what Marvel and Sony should do with their respective versions of Spider-Man. Debates involving Peter Parker’s race, the likability of Miles Morales (or some saying he’s a C-level character), and just how white the MCU films still are currently, have hit the internet at breakneck speed. I contributed to that malaise as well.

The latest such “where we are in 2015 with race and pop culture” test came with the Michelle Rodriguez story over the weekend. Responding to TMZ about the rumors of her being cast for Green Lantern, she responded with the now infamous “stop stealing white people’s superheroes.” Well, as you can imagine, that led to someone Michelle Rodriguez pays, probably telling her how her message was going viral in the way you don’t want things to go viral, which led to her issuing an apology via her Facebook page. It was your garden variety “I’m sorry you’re offended, not sorry for saying something offensive” type of apology that gets passed out in Hollywood as frequently as gift bags at award shows.

Continue reading “How the Diversity Argument in the Nerd Community Chases its Own Tail”

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.

Continue reading “The Future of Comics Belongs to Women”

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.

Continue reading “Why I Hate All Things Mockingjay

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.

Continue reading “Why Creators Should Look at Conventions Differently”

N.O.C. One-Shot: Green Lantern Ruined the DC Cinematic Universe

In this outtake from last week’s Hard N.O.C. Life with William Evans from Black Nerd Problems, Keith and N’Jaila get him on a rant about the 2011 Green Lantern film and how it ruined the nascent DC Cinematic Universe it was … Continue reading N.O.C. One-Shot: Green Lantern Ruined the DC Cinematic Universe

Fall TV Nerd Problems

William Evans (@willevanswrites) of Black Nerd Problems joins Keith (@the_real_chow) and N’Jaila (@blasianbytch) to talk about this fall’s slate of nerd-centric superhero television shows, including The CW’s Arrow and Flash from DC Entertainment and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter from Marvel Studios.

Continue reading “Fall TV Nerd Problems”

What if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Chooses Shazam?

by William Evans | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

Yes, my people, it is I, he who typically slams everything the DCU does with its movie franchises. But look, if this all but confirmed news that Dwayne Johnson will portray Shazam comes to fruition: I like this one. I really, really like this one. If we’re being 100% honest, I think the actor formerly known as the wrestler known as The Rock would be a great Black Adam. Besides the comically-not-really-him-CGI depiction in The Mummy Returns, have we really had Johnson play a villain?

If the news is to be believed, Johnson hasn’t decided which character he’ll portray, but the smart money is on Shazam, and I can’t blame him. As far as franchising, being a good guy on the Justice League is going to afford you many more opportunities in the franchise than a villain who might appear in one flick. But I digress. For the first time since Zack Snyder started signing off on costume designs, I actually like a casting choice for this Justice League universe without having to have seventeen think-pieces to convince me of it. Johnson has proven he can be heroic, goofy, lighthearted, and certainly looks the part of being a “superman-ish” hero.

Continue reading “What if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Chooses Shazam?”

The Carcosa Interview: Greg Pak

by William Evans | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

At Black Nerd Problems, two types of people that will always appeal to us are: 1) those that “get it” when it comes to diversity and representation in our geekdom and 2) really smart individuals. Greg Pak is both of those. As the comic book writer responsible for Batman/Superman, Action Comics’ recent resurgence, the most heralded Incredible Hulk books in the last ten years and the first ongoing series for Storm, Pak has made a huge impact in the comic book world. But as we found out, there’s still a lot more beyond comics that make him such an interesting talent.

This interview could’ve been three times as long, but not wanting to keep the man from all this good work he’s involved in, we got to talk about the politician that never was, beating down superheroes, and I even snuck in a little bit of NBA talk.

Continue reading “The Carcosa Interview: Greg Pak”