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.
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.
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.
Some of us here at The Nerds of Color are also fathers, and we decided to put together a popcorn style post about being dads. Happy Father’s Day!
For parents who know a little about me but don’t really know who I am, the conversation starts something like this: “My [son/daughter] tells me that your daughter is one of the best readers in class. She’s always reading… I also heard that you were really into… comic books, superheroes, and things like that. Is this true?” I proudly proclaim that comic books were instrumental in my becoming a voracious reader, and that I used comics and graphic novels to instill in my daughter and intense love of reading, creativity, and fantasy world-building. I explain that since reading comics and YA fantasy/adventure books, my daughter’s imagination is incredibly expansive and that her being able to make-believe is a value that I and her mother share.
They are usually intrigued by now.
Last week, one of the most-lauded science fiction films of the year was released digitally, on demand, and in cinemas in New York and the Bay Area. The film, Advantageous, a special jury award-winner at Sundance, tells the story of a single mother and the sacrifices she makes for her daughter in a pre-dystopian, near-future not unlike our own time.
Starring Jacqueline Kim (Star Trek Generations), Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty), and Ken Jeong (The Hangover), the film’s writer/director Jennifer Phang recently joined Keith for a special one-on-one edition of Hard NOC Life.
A few months back, an imgur post about a girl who turned her LEGO Friends juice bar Christmas present into a giant mecha went viral. And the internet cheered. Stupid gendered-girl LEGOs get turned into awesome robot, was the typical response I saw tossed around.
And while the robot was indeed awesome, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about all of the ridicule that was being hurled at the original LEGO set. You see, my own daughter also received a similar playset for Christmas. Should she be ashamed that she wanted (and actually liked) to build the “boring” girly thing instead of the “awesome” robot thing?
Two years ago, comics writer and filmmaker (and familiar name to NOC readers) Greg 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.”
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.