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26. NZ Post Book Awards finalists

       Not fearing competition from that Man Booker Prize, they also announced the finalists for the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
       Okay, they take things at their own pace down there -- last year's Man Booker winner is a fiction finalist -- but what really struck me is that five of the eight fiction and poetry finalists are published by Victoria University Press. Sounds like a pretty interesting/unusual book market there if that's possible ..... (VUP describes itself as: "New Zealand's leading publisher of new fiction and poetry" -- but also notes that it publishes (only): "on average 25 new titles every year" (which is ... not that much).

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27. Lost for Words review

       Appropriately timed with the announcement of the Man Booker Prize longlist (see above), the most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Edward St. Aubyn's Lost for Words -- about which Stuart Kelly wrote (in his review in the Times Literary Supplement, 21 May):

To call this a thinly veiled attack on the Man Booker Prize [...] would be a disservice to veils and how diaphanous they might be.
       This has already/soon will appear in French and German translation, but turns out to be a rather disappointing prize-satire; among the few who really, really seemed to enjoy it was the Kakutani.

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28. SDCC ’14: Image Comics Goes to Infinity Recap

by Zachary Clemente

Image Comics’ all-around rad panel host (among other talents) David Brothers hosted the first of many of the “I is for…” panels scheduled this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Following in line with their new branding which spins their lineup with succinct descriptive words that being with “I”. “Innovative”, “Irreverent”, “Interplanetary” have been banded about with this new means of breaking the bonds of genre definitions – but today’s panel (“Infinite” for those keeping score at home) was all about introspection.

IMG_1207A good mix of writers and illustrators joined the panel to talk their work in respect to genre definitions, their experiences at Image, the next stages of their projects, and field a good amount of questions from the audience. Since the publisher has a whole mess of creators working with them, an interesting mix is available. On the panel was Ryan Burton (Dark Engine), Nick Dragotta (East of West), Jason Latour (Southern Bastards), Richard Starkins (Elephantmen), Declan Shalvey (Injection), Tom Neely (The Humans), Stuart Moore (EGOs), and Rick Remender (Deadly Class).

The two most noticeable things about the panel was that it all of the creators on it were white and male. Considering Eric Stephenson’s points of the necessity of diversity in their creators at yesterday’s Image Expo, the panelist lineup does seem to strike an odd chord. Granted, the following Image panels scheduled throughout the rest of the week due feature non-white creators and female creators – so let’s chalk it up to scheduling.

I have to say, often panels like this can hit low points where the people participating weren’t sure where to go from the previous discussion, but give it up for Brothers – this one moved smoothly between talks; allowing all the panelists good time to talk about their own experiences and share their own stories, while the rest were able to interject casually. It felt more like watching a conversation than attending a press event, which is what I look for in a good panel.

Going up and down the table, each creator touched on the influences that shape their books and their relationships with genres such as sci-fi and western and how that informs their books. Burton commented on how he doesn’t feel that Dark Engine could be done elsewhere as he’s allowed to push the concept further – creating an intensely powerful female character in the vein of Conan or Beowulf, going as far as give her a sword made from a T-Rex’s rib.

One interesting topic broached was the age gap for most Image readers. There really isn’t much along the lines of all-ages or kid-friendly currently being published by Image – and Nick Dragotta was happy to discuss the strange interplay he has as an artist recollecting the for-kids DIY educational HowToons book and his raucous and bloody work in East of West. We also found out that East of West is set at about 60 issues, with each 15-issue installment representing approximately a year in the story’s timeline.

Jason Latour, half of the Jason-based team creating Southern Bastards talked about how the book, while not from exact experiences, is ingrained with impressions of spending childhood weekends in rural North Carolina. Otherwise, he jokingly suggested that “it’s about watching dogs poop.” When pressed about his working relationship with Jason Aaron and their southern roots, Latour explained their occasional disagreements with the example of  “I’ve tried to convince him that farm animals are off-limits for sexual proclivities,” which received quite a hoot n’ holler from the audience.

Notably, many questions were directed to Remender, which isn’t too surprising considering he now has 4 titles with Image (Black ScienceThe LowDeadly Class, and the recently announced Tokyo Ghost). As he had in the back of the trade release of Deadly Class, Remender delved into his past, much unpleasant, that influenced the world and emotional core of the teenage assassins book. When queried about engaging the controversy over a certain scene involving Marvel character Sam Wilson and how fan reaction plays a part in their work, Remender was quick to explain that there wasn’t a true controversy in play and that as the outrage built, he “removed himself and spent 3 days hugging his kids, while eating toast and crying.”

As the rest of the panel attempted to field the question, Latour piped in, saying that “some of the rednecks who would have a problem with Southern Bastards can’t read.” Problem solved.

Overall, it was a well-organized panel that come from a lot more thought about their lineup of talent and book on the part of the publisher that I expect of most, though perhaps a slightly more diverse cast would have played well. I’m looking forward to the rest of the Image panels, featuring different guests to discuss different topics.

 

 

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29. The vote for women bishops

vsi bannerBy Linda Woodhead


There are two kinds of churches.  The ‘church type’, as the great sociologist Ernst Troeltsch called it, has fuzzy boundaries and embraces the whole of society. The ‘sect type’ has hard boundaries and tries to keep its distance. Until recently, the Church of England has been the former – a church ‘by law established’ for the whole nation. Since the 1980s, however, the Church has veered towards sectarianism. It’s within this context that we have to understand the significance of the recent vote for women bishops.

Robert Runcie (Archbishop of Canterbury 1980 to 1991) was the last leader to have no doubts about the Church’s role as a pillar of society. That didn’t mean he was a flunky of the social establishment. When he prayed for the dead on both sides of the Falklands War, or commissioned the Faith in the City report which criticised the Thatcher government, he did so from a confident position at the centre of things rather than as critic standing on the margins.

A shift away from this stance began under Runcie’s successor, George Carey (Archbishop from 1991-2002). Carey was part of the modern evangelical wing of the Church, some of whose members were already pushing for the Church to keep its distance from ‘secular’ society, but it was under Archbishop Rowan Williams (2002-2012) that the really decisive shift took place.

The background was a British society whose values were changing rapidly. My recent surveys of British beliefs and values reveal a remarkably swift liberalisation of attitudes. In this context, liberalism is the conviction that all adults should be equally free to make up their minds about choices which affect them directly. Its opposite is not conservatism but paternalism – the view that one should defer to higher authorities.

In the 1960s and ‘70s the Church of England was travelling with society in a broadly liberal direction, with prominent Anglicans supporting the liberalisation of laws relating to abortion, homosexuality, and divorce. But after Runcie, Anglican leaders made a U-turn. The extension of equal rights to women and gay people proved hardest for them to swallow. At stake for evangelicals was God-ordained male headship, and for Anglo-Catholics, an exclusively male priesthood extending back to Christ himself, and good relations with Rome.

Under the leadership of Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, the Church of England campaigned successfully to be exempted from provisions of the new equality legislation, took a hard line against homosexual practice and gay marriage, and made continuing concessions to the opponents of women’s progress in the Church (women had first been ordained priests in 1994, expecting that the office of bishop would be opened to them soon after).

Williams often behaved like an outsider to mainstream English society. He was a fierce critic of liberal ‘individualism’, and thought that religious people should huddle together against the chilly winds of secularism (hence his support for sharia law). He favoured the moral conservatism of African church leaders over the liberalism of American ones, and made disastrous compromises with illiberal factions in the Church. It was the latter which led to the failure of the last vote for women bishops in 2012 – shortly before Williams stepped down.

Williams’ supporters can say that he maintained Anglican unity, both at home and abroad. But the cost has been enormous. Church of England numbers have collapsed,  and it has become more marginal to society and most people’s lives than ever before.

So the vote to allow women bishops is a turning-point which may see the Church re-engage the moral sentiments of the majority of its members and the country as a whole. But the sectarian tendency remains strong. Although Archbishop Welby supports women bishops, he remains opposed to same-sex marriage and assisted dying, and takes very seriously the relationship with African churches and their leaders. The sectarian fringes of the Church remain influential, and the bishops remain isolated from the views of ordinary Anglicans. The Church as a whole creaks under the weight of historic buildings, unimaginative mangerialism, and sub-democratic structures.

Over the last few decades the Church of England has missed a great opportunity to reinvent itself as a genuinely liberal form of religion in a world suffering from an excess of sectarian religion of illiberal and paternalistic kinds. It lost its nerve at the crucial moment, forgetting that liberalism has Christian as well as secular roots, and reading Britain’s drive towards greater freedom and toleration as permissive rather than moral.

To task Anglican clergywomen with putting all this right is to ask too much. But the vote for women bishops strikes a blow against sectarian ‘male’ Christianity. And if the Church is serious about drawing closer to the people it is meant to serve, then becoming representative of half the population and an even bigger proportion of Anglicans has to count as a significant step in the right direction.

Linda Woodhead is Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University, UK. Her research interests lie in the entanglements of religion, politics, and economy, both historically and in the contemporary world. Between 2007 and 2013 she directed the Religion and Society Programme http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk, the UK’s largest ever research investment on religion. She is the author of Christianity: A Very Short Introduction, which comes out in its second edition in August. She tweets from @LindaWoodhead.

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.

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Image credit: Common Worship Books, by Gareth Hughes (Own work). CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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30. SDCC ’14: Female Heroes, Then & Now Panel Recap

By Matthew Jent

To mark the 25th anniversary of Heartbreakers, an action/sci-fi serial originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents, co-creator Anina Bennett brought the conversation about Female Heroes, Then & Now to SDCC.

Allison Baker & Claire Hummel share their personal heroes with a full  room.

Allison Baker & Claire Hummel share their personal heroes with a full room.

Anina was joined by her husband and Heartbreakers co-creator Paul Guinan, Geek & Sundry’s Kiala Kazebee, comics/movie/video game writer Jimmy Palmiotti, Monkeybrain Co-Publisher and IDW Director of Operations Allison Baker, and former Xbox/current HBO Production Designer Claire Hummel.

The room was packed, and it was filled with men, women, and a fair share of cosplayers. There was a twi’lek wielding a lightsaber, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, a TARDIS, and a little Batgirl — also carrying a lightsaber, which was downright adorable.

Anina, who introduced herself as “a recovering comic book editor,” led off by thanking so many people for turning out for a positive discussion about female heroes. Her first question to the panel was about their real-life female heroes, and the panel name-checked a lot of the more popular and interesting female cartoonists in the industry today — Kate Beaton, Colleen Coover, Joelle Jones, Kate Leth, Erika Moen, and others. Claire Hummel specifically pointed out Sheilah Beckett, known for her work on the Little Golden Books, and 20th century artist Mary Blair. “Everyone’s trying to be Mary Blair,” Claire said.

Allison Baker mentioned comics writer & all-star Trina Robbins, Jimmy Palmiotti and Paul Guinan lauded their (respective) mothers and wives, and Kiala Kazebee said she looks up to her Geek & Sundry co-hosts Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, and Bonnie Burton.

The panel moved on to discussing some of the everyday examples of sexism and fear of feminism in the comics, film, and video game industries, including Ubisoft’s recent declaration that female avatars were too difficult to add to the upcoming Far Cry 4, and David Finch’s assertion that his upcoming run on Wonder Woman will feature a strong, but not feminist, version of the Amazon.

In a time when more and more women are creating and enjoying media in comics, film, and video games, this backward assertion comes from, in the opinion of the panel, that fact that the editors, managers, and leaders of these companies are still men. Without that diversity of thought and opinion from the top, there will continue to be shortsighted missteps like Ubisoft’s.

Anina stressed to the panel attendees: don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist.

“It means we want equal rights,” said Kiala. “That’s all it is. It’s very simple.”

“I think real men are feminists,” Allison added, and the audience agreed.

There was a brief discussion of the new Thor, but that was deemed not as good news as it might seem, since there are still so few freelancers working on Marvel titles.

“Representation is important, but also on the creators’ side,” Claire said.

Paul asked if Thor as a woman, and Captain America as an African-American, were just gimmicks. But the panel mostly shrugged it off.

“It’s more than DC is doing,” Kiala said.

So why aren’t there more female creators on the big-name books? Jimmy Palmiotti asserted that at DC it was matter of putting the right creators on the right books, but Allison said, “It’s the sign of a rut. The editors don’t go outside of their circles when assembling their creative team. If women see more women working in that field, more women will go into that field.

When asked if leaders had a responsibility to build more diverse teams, the panel’s answer was resoundingly yes. More diverse teams would mean more diverse outlooks, which would mean better books, movies, and games.

Nearing conclusion, Anina asked if the panelists had themselves been accused of sexism or bigotry. Claire talked about creating some Indian-influenced steampunk designs in her early Tumblr days, and being called out for still relying on primarily Western concepts. She said it was because, at the time, she thought, “Steampunk is Western.” Being called out made her realized it didn’t have to be. “I can say I’m sorry, and I can move forward, and I learned how to react reasonably and take advice,” she said.

(Although apparently some doofball approached her after the panel to add a particularly doofy addendum to this commendable and enlightened anecdote. But we’re patient and enlightened feminists around here, so we won’t let that ruin a perfectly good panel.)

A few other examples were given, including a recap of the Harley Quinn/art contest/bathtub snafu from a few months back, but Anina summarized them all with, “All examples involved taking a step back and changing your attitudes and your behavior.”

With a growing number of women in the industry (and fandom), these kinds of conversations are going to happen more often, and not just within the confines of the old school “Women in Comics” panels that used to permeate conventions of this size. Women Heroes was an engaging and (overall) positive discussion about how far this industry has come — and how far it still has to go.

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31. SDCC ’14: Fairy Tale Remix Panel Recap

By Matthew Jent

The Fairy Tale Remix panel, moderated by author Shannon Hale, brought together more than half a dozen authors of young adult and fantasy fiction in front of a packed panel room. Hale a confident and fun tone, promising a fight to first blood by the panelists if things got boring. Full disclosure? I took a seat in this panel to get a good spot for a later panel in the same room that I wanted to cover for the Beat — but Fairy Tale Remix has proven to be the highlight of my SDCC 2014 experience so far. It was a symposium on fairy tales, storytelling, writing and the search for magic in real life. No first-blood-fights were required, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the room. The audience included mostly women, from kids on up, with more than a few cosplayers. Before the panel began, there were a number of kids (and their accompanying grown-ups) having their pictures taken with some folks who cosplayed the Frozen sisters Elsa & Anna and if you weren’t yet caught up on this season of Once Upon a Time, it was a bad audience to eavesdrop on.

Shannon Hale holds court.

Shannon Hale holds court.

After introducing the panel members as Marissa “The Mauler” Meyer, Katherine “No Safe” Harbour, “The Hammer of Lore” John Peck, “The Baroness Schadenfreude” Cornelia Funke, Tony “The Terror” DiTerlizzi, Ben “The Equalizer” Tripp (dressed in a Georgian England costume, complete with white wig), and Danielle “Toto’s Bane” Paige, Hale began with a quote from Albert Einstein: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be moreintelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Asking how the panelists were introduced to fairy tales, it was across the board as children.

“It was the first time I realized, everything is a metaphor,” Tripp said, “These stories are all about something else.”

Funke, after explaining that she is German and so was naturally raised with the original, brutally violent versions of the tales, said she hated them as a child. They were full of death and dismemberment, and swans who had to knit sweaters for their brothers.

Meyer added that her first fairy tale love was Disney’s film version of The Little Mermaid, and upon subsequently reading the original version by Hans Christian Andersen, in which Ariel dies at the end, she wondered, “What else is Disney not telling us?”

That discomfort and that desire to know more was a strong motivator for the writers to tell their own versions of Rapunzel, Oz, or Puss N Boots. Meyer got her start as a writer with Sailor Moon fan fiction, and writing new versions of fairy tales was a logical progression. When Hale asked the panel if it was fair to call what they were doing fan fiction, everyone agreed.

“How is rewriting fairy tales different from fan fiction?” Hale asked.

They’re basically the same thing, the panel agreed, but “You can take fairy tales in more directions than fan fiction,” said Meyer. Tired of passive princess characters, Meyer wanted to get back to the older versions of very old tales — where Little Red Riding Hood rescued herself from the Big Bad Wolf, instead of waiting for the Woodsman to appear.

Fairy tales come to represent the times and the places in which they are written. Adding something new to those tales — characters, points of view, social agendas or social awareness that did not exist when they were first told — is part of a storytelling tradition that goes back to Shakespeare, and earlier. Peck added that no story was worth retelling without adding something new.

The panel ended with a Q&A from the audience, many of whom were writers and storytellers themselves. One audience member asked where the writers found magic in the modern world to write about.

“Where do you not find it?” Funke said. “Look at the people in this room, the hundred million stories in these chairs, in these costumes. There is so much in this room I would call magic. We are just the reporters of that. We are in pretty magical times.”

A parent asked how she could encourage her daughter, who wanted to be a writer.

“Forbid it,” said Tripp, whose own son was studying medicine and science.

“Don’t give too many instructions,” Funke said. “And give her beautiful, empty notebooks.”

It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale.

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32. SDCC 14: Dark Horse’s ‘Aliens, Predator, Prometheus and Beyond’ Panel

imageBy Kyle Pinion

Dark Horse Editor in Chief Scott Allie has pulled together a wide array of young and up and coming talent for the upcoming four interlocking mini-series that revolve around the Aliens, Predator and Prometheus franchises entitled “Fire and Stone”. The majority of those creators joined him on stage for Dark Horse’s panel on the subject and included Paul Tobin (Prometheus), Chris Sebela (Aliens vs. Predator), Chris Roberson (Aliens), Joshua Williamson (Predator), Juan Ferrerya (Prometheus), and Ariel Olivetti (Aliens vs. Predator).

While the majority of the discussion held therein was for the most part news that has already been reported in the previous months leading up to the end of year release of this long-anticipated “mega-series”. There were a number of items worth noting:

- The collaborative process between the entire team has been a smooth one, despite a significant bump caused by notes given by Fox and Ridley Scott’s team regarding some of the content and the narrative direction of the series, causing much of each creative teams’ work to be scrapped. Though Tobin made note that the studio has now opened up “more of the tool-box” for their usage.

- This change of direction from Fox is one of the major factors that caused the eventual release delay of each series.

- Originally, Williamson was slated for an Aliens comic before the “Fire and Stone” concept came into place, and while he was sad to see the take that he and Allie had worked out not see the light of day, he believes this new effort is equally as exciting.

- Each team member stressed that the chemistry of their writers’ room approach was a big part of why this project came together as well as it did, despite significant rewrites being needed.

- Kelly Sue DeConnick, who is also writing the finale of the series in Prometheus Omega, was credited as the key driver of research regarding incorporating Prometheus into the Alien and Predator universe. According to Allie, she brought an entire pink binder full of Prometheus theories from the internet.

- Ferrerya was brought on board to the project because of his design skill, and that was an angle that the team wanted to make sure was highlighted. Roberson likened Ferrerya’s map-making abilities to being “one step away from a DnD campaign”.

- Paul Tobin was brought in for the Prometheus series because of his previous work with Ferrerya on Colder.

- Williamson discussed the eponymous Predator of his Predator series, named Ahab, who is indeed hunting for a “white whale” though the identity of said target had to remain a secret. He also was proud of the fact that Ahab already has an action figure, which could be found at the Dark Horse booth on the show floor.

- Williamson also discussed his protagonist, Galgo, who will be appearing in Prometheus first, followed by Aliens v Predator, eventually becoming the lead in Predator. The writer made sure to mention the morally grey nature of the character, and also his verbose nature.

- Sebela, regarding Aliens vs. Predator, stated that he spent his entire childhood trying to figure out a way for Xenomorphs and Predators to fight and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do the same in comics. Allie felt as though Sebela’s horror background was a particularly strong fit for the “monster-like” material in his series. Olivetti expressed excitement for the cinematic nature of the visuals he is producing, a first for him in comics.

- When asked if the stories connect, the team stressed that the books could be read independently of one another and readers could get a satisfying story that way, but they would see the larger picture form if they wanted to read the entire event.

- The chronology of “Fire and Stone” was also cleared up, as Aliens is a pseudo prequel to the other tales, and takes place between scenes of Aliens (the film), Predator takes place after the other minis and Prometheus Omega is the finale.

- In response to a question regarding previous usage of “The Space Jockey” and the mythos built around it in previous Dark Horse Aliens comics, Allie said those stories will not come into play with Fire and Stone.

- Bouncing off of that, Roberson made mention that the key directive was to “start from the films and go from there”, and the only films that team really concentrated on were: Prometheus, Alien, Aliens, and Predator. Sebela, when asked, said that the two Aliens vs. Predator films were not canon to his series.

- When the divisive nature of Prometheus amongst fandom was brought up, Paul was quick to point out that he wasn’t interested so much in leaving any elements of that film behind, so much as he wanted to highlight the parts of it that worked well, specifically the concept of scientists going on a mission and realizing that things are far bigger than they ever imagined. Ferrerya then joked that he was excited to bring back the biologist and cartographer characters that everyone “loved” from the film.

- Allie made sure to underline that theme was key driver in the storytelling of each mini-series, particularly the idea of the “stewardship of life”, which runs in the background of the Alien and Prometheus films particularly. Roberson also made mention that the parallels that run between the androids in Aliens and Prometheus was a major influence.

- And yes, there will be Black Goo! Which, according to Roberson’s read of the notes they received from Fox, is called “accelerant”. They declined to go into further detail regarding the role it will play in the stories themselves.

- Prometheus and Aliens will both be due out in September, Aliens vs Predator and Predator will see release in October. The Prometheus Omega one-shot is set to arrive in February. Each series will be a 4-issue mini respectively.

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33. SDCC 2014: Movie Poll!

And now… time for a reader poll!

Which actor would you most like to see on screen?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

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34. SDCC ’14: Avengers & X-Men: AXIS Panel Recap

by Alexander Jones

Marvel’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS panel is officially getting underway here at San Diego Comic-Con International. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso is hovering near the stage about to get ready. In the background there is a line of people getting ready for the show. Name placards for the panel are all lined up as follows; Senior Editor Nick Lowe, AXIS writer Rick Remender, and Executive Editor Mike Marts.

Senior Editor Nick Lowe is moderating the effort. Jordan D. White, the Editor of Deadpool made an appearance at the show as well. As soon as that was done the group jumped right into some of the new announcements from the show.Avengers_Rage_of_Ultron_Interior

All-New Captain America is given an official name and features the art of Stuart Immonen.

Remender stated that the new comic is going to have a completely different tone for this new series. He stated that having Steve and Sam working together is going to add some new dynamics to the title. A new Alex Ross cover for the book was also shown here at the show. Remender states that writing more lighthearted characters in the book adds a sense of fun to the storyline. Ian Rogers is also revealed as the new Nomad in the comic book series. It was also stated that Hydra is being built up again in a way that apparently we have not seen before. Marvel vaguely stated that they are doing something completely new with Marvel’s premiere terrorist organization.

Remender talks about how Immonen takes the story to a nearly perfect level. He was wondering “what drugs were being put in Stuart Immonen’s water supply,” as the panel were shocked that the artist was able to give such detailed work and deliver it to the publisher on time. Captain America #25 is also going to have a bit of Stuart Immonen artwork towards the back half of the title featuring the brand new incarnation of Hydra. Unfortunately this also means that Stuart Immonen is departing fan-favorite title All-New X-Men

The Avengers: Rage Of Ultron Original Graphic Novel was then announced. Rick Remender is once again writing the storyline along with artist Jerome Opena and Dean White. The new story is an in-continuity original graphic novel that has an April 2015 release date. Alonso stated in a joking manner that Jerome “is so much better than Stuart Immonen.” This event takes place in a post-AXIS environment, which “leads to some very exciting things that are coming down the line.  The under-appreciated hero known as Starfox is heading back to the surface in the brand new graphic novel. The Red Skull is also going to tie into the big Avengers & X-Men: AXIS storyline with the March to AXIS titles including Uncanny Avengers #24 and Captain America #24 which sees the final fate of Jet Black and observe what has been happening with the Red Skull.

IMG_0812-1

The panel then revealed Avengers & X-Men: AXIS Issue #1, whose first is entitled The Red Supremacy. The title contains artwork from Adam Kubert. The group shared that the Vision is being toyed with once again. He is said to play a part towards a major moment in the upcoming AXIS and Graphic Novel storylines. We are also shown the debut of the brand new Jim Cheung cover for Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #2 pencilled by Kubert again. The third issue was revealed as well, which is being drawn by Leinil Yu.

The focus then shifted over towards the AXIS: Carnage mini-series from Rick Spears and the AXIS: Hobgoblin mini-series by Kevin Shinick and Javier Rodriguez. Where the group explained that there are exciting things to come from both series. AXIS: Revolutions features writing from Dennis Hopeless and Simon Spurrier with art from Ken Lashley.

There were even more small issues that were announced including Uncanny Avengers Issue #25 and Deadpool #36. Remender and artist Daniel Acuna are covering the final issue which is born out of the conflict with Scarlet Witch and the Red Skull.

Magneto #11, Loki: Agent of Asgard #7, All-New X-Factor #15 were all also announced to tie into the event.

When the floor turned over for Question and Answers from fans, a young man named Rory dressed up like Captain America asked a question about the Fantastic Four. Alonso stated that an upcoming event storyline is going to be more focused on the team. Another fan asked about certain X-Men characters joining the Avengers, and was wondering why there is less cross pollination happening with X-Men becoming Avengers

IMG_0813-1Lowe elaborated that the X-Men is categorized in that group based on their genetics. White noted the amount of cross-over and talked about books like Danger, Longshot, Mimics, and some of the other comics’ characters that have been featured on both teams. It was announced that Brevoort was really the one that had the idea of the Onslaught motif powered by Professor Charles Xavier. Remender said at first he sort of rejected the idea, but then started to re-think it towards the past few minutes, and it all came into a notebook for him.

Remender interjected that he is trying to mix both of these separate continuities to blend together shaking up the status quo for each hero. Another fan was curious about why there is a lack of X-Men material at the show, while there are many Avengers and X-Men panels that are featured here at the show. Nicke Lowed Jokingly stated to the group, “Put the hack Brian Michael Bendis on the book.” The panel explained that fans had nothing to worry about as AXIS is going to feature a heavy amount of X-Men material. On the topic of unworthy Thor, Remender stated that he had spent hours on the phone with Aaron talking about how they can tie the storyline into AXIS.

A comic book reader asked point blank whether Cyclops was going to be killed in Avengers vs. X-Men. The panelists explained that the idea might have been “floating around in the room, but never entertained for too long. “It was also announced that Jason Aaron was the one who had actually had the idea of the female Thor.

 

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35. SDCC ’14: Hall H shocker! No lines!

Whaaaaaaaaaat?

Was it just a slow day in Hall H? Or were we more right than we even knew about this being the year things didn’t get crazier? Did the new wristband system—and the ban on tents, forcing people to Rambo it—work? IS this just another world? Maybe everyone went to the PetCo Park experience?

Zillions of reports all day from Twitter about minimal lines for Hall H.

And Ballroom 20

Craziest Comic-Con EVAH this year.

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36. SDCC 14: #comicsbeat Kneel before your god(zilla)


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37. SDCC 14: #comicsbeat Really top-notch Bee and Puppycat cosplay by @microcake !


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38. SDCC 2014: Watchtower Thursday: Surfing the Tsunami Online

*  We’ve won!  Politicians officially open Comic-Con!

On Thursday, to mark the official opening of Comic-Con International 2014, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria harnessed their inner superheroes and flew through the air on a zip-line near the downtown Convention Center.

Gloria was the interim Mayor after the Filner scandal.  Faulconer won the special election.  Faulconer has strong ties to Comic-Con: he worked PR on the second convention center expansion before he ran for public office, and supports the expansion of the convention center.  His hobbies: yachting and biking.

* Google Glass banned from Comic-Con screenings.

 Not that surprising.

*For the wrestling fans out there… Sting appears at the WWE panel. [No, not the musician.]

Is this bigger than JR Jr. working for DC?

 * SYNERGY!

Well, yes; corporate synergy is another explanation—ESPN, like Marvel, is owned by Disney. The three spots feature former SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne introducing Marvel’s latest super team as new ESPN employees brought in to ensure the safety of the new SportsCenter set.

How soon before we see “ESPN: The Sports Comic Magazine”?  What?  Sports fans are geeks, too!  T-shirts, who-would-win fantasy leagues, arcane statistics and knowledge, objectified athletes and cheerleaders…

 * This year’s economic profile of Comic-Con.

 *  We discover Stan Lee’s one weakness…  Get well soon, Stan!   

*  OH NOES!  Girls are ruining Peanuts too!

“With their youthful, ingenious, and fashion-savvy sensibility, Snoopy and Belle are a perfect fit with the We Heart It community, and we’re looking forward to a terrifically successful partnership,” said Dave Williams, President of We Heart It. “Peanuts has always offered a fresh and original world view, which is exactly what We Heart It fans crave. This will provide an outstanding opportunity for our fans to find inspiration and engagement with this legendary brand.”

It’s like an electronic greeting card.  You can like and share pictures online.

* A Comic-Con Virgin, from Japan:

* The Boston Herald profiles how Wired used their “Wired Café” to best effect.

* Reed Elsevier, owner of NYCC, announces earnings.

 * Some Star Wars VII tidbits.

Movie Wars

DC wins on a quiet day (so far, as of 7 PM EDT/4 PM PDT), getting great publicity for their “All Hat, No Battle” Batsuit reveal. 

* MTV plots how DC can beat Marvel in Hall H.

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39. SDCC 14: #comicsbeat


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40. SDCC ’14: Fashion Shows on Trend

imageThis year there are several high-profile fashion-related events and product launches at Comic-Con, which at the very least reflects how much the comics industry’s awareness of fashion has grown since the days when Batgirl was baffled by hemlines.

As some of you may know, part of my work as an attorney involves assisting fashion businesses, from emerging designers to multinational companies, and I also work with the pioneering Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School. Cosplay and such branded merch as t-shirts have long been part of the Comic-Con scene, but in recent years we’ve seen intriguing growth in geek-and-nerd couture. With that, of course, comes a host of legal concerns, including copyright, trademark and depending on the garment or beauty product, even design and utility patents.

Tonight I’m looking forward to attending the first Her Universe Geek Couture Fashion Show, which starts at 6pm at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The show, which is co-sponsored by Hot Topic and Nerdist Industries, will feature the work of 36 designers, two of whom will be selected to design a special Her Universe fashion collection. The founder of Her Universe, Ashley Eckstein, has brought on board an impressive array of licensed properties for her line, including Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead.

Tomorrow night brings another much anticipated show: the launch of the co-branded collection by GeekNation and COZDAY Clothing. COZDAY, by Leetal Platt Designs, features work inspired by pop culture, and GeekNation is the burgeoning media empire founded by actress Clare Kramer and producer Brian Keathley.

The Saturday-night Masquerade has been an established part of SDCC for years, and I’ll be covering that in more detail in a future post — for now, I’ll just note that one of the things that I’ve found particularly interesting about cosplay culture in San Diego is that for a number of cosplayers it as been a springboard for their careers, including movie makeup, film prosthetics and costume design.

The above list is hardly exhaustive. The Marge Simpsons MAC cosmetic line, the DC Comics x Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Fall 2014 line, roughly a bazillion TARDIS products: Comic Con is looking to be a productive platform for the fashion community — and, of course, its lawyers.

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41. Comixology Goes DRM-Free On Selected Publishers

comics_by_comixology_logo_black_textIf you look at the history of digital music, the combination of a standardized format, moderate pricing (compared to CDs) and DRM-free files were what sparked sales.  Comics still doesn’t have a standardized format or a lower pricing tier for new issues, but DRM-free just turned up.  Comixology has announced they’re going to be having DRM-free “back-up” copies available for select publishers.

This new feature allows you to download and store local copies of books in PDF and CBZ format.

For our launch, participating publishers include Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. In addition, our Submit creators and small publishers are now able to choose to make their books available DRM-free.

Traditionally, Hollywood-based licenses have had DRM baked into the licensing agreements for comics.  It’s no surprise that DC (Warner), Marvel (Disney) and IDW (a lot of licensed books from places like Hasbro) aren’t on that list.  I’m also curious if Dynamite’s entire line is there or just part of the line, since they do a lot of licensed books.

SLG and Image started the DRM-free comics movement.  Comixology just picked up the ball in a big way.  Don’t be too surprised if ePub 3 gets added to the format list in the near future, too.

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42. SDCC ’14: Comixology announces DRM-free backups for Image, Top Shelf, Dynamite, Monkeybran, Thrillbent

With a line up of publishers yet unknown, Comixology has announced that from now on publishers will be able to choose a DRM-free option for their comics downloads. It’s both an acknowledgement of the reality of technology and a pretty forward facing move for a company that faces some skepticism since being acquired by Amazon. From now on when you download it, you own it. Simple as can be,

Not as simple. Whose on board? The original announcement included no names of publishers. Image, already DRM free would seem to be a natural, and perhaps other creator owned titles? Developing throughout the hour.

And the publishers have been announced:

“We’re excited to make this DRM-free backup option available to our customers and publishers today,” said comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger. “Our customers can keep a copy locally and continue to do their reading on comiXology in our industry-changing Guided View.”

“For those out there who have not joined the comic reading community because of DRM – you have no excuse now,” said co-founder and Director of ComiXology Submit John D. Roberts. “We’re excited about the launch of DRM-free backups today and look forward to announcing more innovative features as we move ahead with our mission of making everyone on the face of the planet a comic book fan!”

To obtain the DRM-free backups of their books, customers can go to the “My Books” section of comixology.com on their desktop computers and click the button that appears next to their books. Books and series from participating publishers will be available for backup starting today. Backups are available in high definition PDF and CBZ.

Customers will continue to enjoy all of their purchases – whether available as a DRM-free backup or not – on the comiXology platform in comiXology’s exclusive cinematic Guided View reading experience, anytime and anywhere.

With over 50,000 comics and graphic novels from more than 75 publishers, comiXology offers the widest selection of digital comics in the world. ComiXology’s immense catalog and cinematic Guided View reading experience makes it the best digital platform for comic and graphic novel fans worldwide.

Find your favorite comics and graphic novels at comixology.com and try the comiXology app available on all major mobile platforms.

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43. Transformers are going to get “Angry”

I'm pretty sure these Transformers would like some noms too.

I’m pretty sure these Transformers would like some noms too.

“Mom, what’s for breakfast?”

“Well honey, we have pancakes, bacon, potatoes, Decepiticons…”

If you were a kid from the 80’s, 90’s, or still a kid at heart, then you’re most likely familiar with Transformers. You know, “Transformers: More than meets the eye.” In honor of the franchise’s 30th anniversary, Hasbro Toys treated some eager reporters and fans to a breakfast this morning at Southpaw in San Diego’s Downtown Gaslamp area. I’ve heard of character breakfasts, but never one that dealt with robots.

All throughout the bar/restaurant, we were treated to Transformer toy splendor. Arranged along the bar area was private transformers collection that included some originals from the 80’s, Beastwars, and even some rocker themed ones I’ve never seen before (all posed on a 1984 “Planet Cybertron” poster). On the outside dining tables was a selection of the larger ones that transformer as you spin their parts. And there was even a buffet style “Mashem’s” table. Transformers Mashem’s are figures that allow the appendages to be swapped with other robots, allowing for some pretty creative robot making.

What I was most excited about were the videogames that Hasbro has in store for the Transformers brand. A few things are in the works, one of which is an online MMO called Transformers Universe. The computer based game features opened world areas that you can explore either as Autobots or Decepticons that are unique to the game. You can go hunting for Energon, fight wild Terracons, or even participate in 4 versus 4 pvp in either a death match mode, or a modified capture the flag. But instead of capturing flags, you try to steal the opposite team’s Energon.

To add another layer to the game, players can use Energon to craft items, or collect items by defeating enemies. The items can do various things, like boost stats for a continuous duration of time. The game is free to play, but if you are feeling a little impatient and don’t want to wait out the time it takes for your items to be made, you can purchase relics. Relics are in game currencies that are available as pickup items, so you can go throughout the duration of it without having to spend a dime. But like I said, if you’ve got better things to wait on, then they are purchasable with real world money. Currently Transformers Universe is in open beta. There is no set date yet for the actual release. Visit www.transformersuniverse.com to check it out for yourself.

Even bigger for the video gaming market is the crossover in the works. Transformers will be pairing up with the widely popular, widely recognized Angry Birds franchise. Unlike other Angry Birds games, this won’t be the typical drag and launch game featuring different themes. Angry Birds: Transformers will be a side scrolling shooter where the transforming birds and pigs have to fight enemies along the way. Another interesting addition is the cars that will be available for purchase. These transforming vehicles can be photographed, and then downloaded for use in the video game. The toys themselves will also have physical tracks available for them, so there will be more for them than just as downloads for the game. No release date is yet set for Angry Birds: Transformers.

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44. An Interview with Toby Ball

Toby Ball is the critically acclaimed author of THE VAULTS and SCORCH CITY. INVISIBLE STREETS, available July 24, is the third in the thriller series. This is your third novel, and it follows some of the same characters as the first two. Was it challenging to write a book that stood alone from The Vaults and Scorch City but would also please fans of the first two books? Spacing the

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45. The month that changed the world: Friday, 24 July 1914

July 1914 was the month that changed the world. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and just five weeks later the Great Powers of Europe were at war. But how did it all happen? Historian Gordon Martel, author of The Month That Changed The World: July 1914, is blogging regularly for us over the next few weeks, giving us a week-by-week and day-by-day account of the events that led up to the First World War.

By Gordon Martel


By mid-day Friday heads of state, heads of government, foreign ministers, and ambassadors learned the terms of the Austrian ultimatum. A preamble to the demands asserted that a ‘subversive movement’ to ‘disjoin’ parts of Austria-Hungary had grown ‘under the eyes’ of the Serbian government. This had led to terrorism, murder, and attempted murder. Austria’s investigation of the assassination of the archduke revealed that Serbian military officers and government officials were implicated in the crime.

A list of ten demands followed, the most important of which were: Serbia was to suppress all forms of propaganda aimed at Austria-Hungary; the Narodna odbrana was to be dissolved, along with all other subversive societies; officers and officials who had participated in propaganda were to be dismissed; Austrian officials were to participate in suppressing the subversive movements in Serbia and in a judicial inquiry into the assassination.

When Sazonov saw the terms he concluded that Austria wanted war: ‘You are setting fire to Europe!’ If Serbia were to comply with the demands it would mean the end of its sovereignty. ‘What you want is war, and you have burnt your bridges behind you’. He advised the tsar that Serbia could not possibly comply, that Austria knew this and would not have presented the ultimatum without the promise of Germany’s support. He told the British and French ambassadors that war was imminent unless they acted together.

Sergey Sazonov, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Sergey Sazonov, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

But would they? With the French president and premier now at sea in the Baltic, and with wireless telegraphy problematic, foreign policy was in the hands of Bienvenu-Martin, the inexperienced minister of justice. He believed that Austria was within its rights to demand the punishment of those implicated in the crime and he shared Germany’s wish to localize the dispute. Serbia could not be expected to agree to demands that impinged upon its sovereignty, but perhaps it could agree to punish those involved in the assassination and to suppress propaganda aimed at Austria-Hungary.

Sir Edward Grey was shocked by the extent of the demands. He had never before seen ‘one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character.’ The demand that Austria-Hungary be given the right to appoint officials who would have authority within the frontiers of Serbia could not be consistent with Serbia’s sovereignty. But the British government had no interest in the merits of the dispute between Austria and Serbia; its only concern was the peace of Europe. He proposed that the four ‘disinterested powers’ (Britain, Germany, France and Italy) act together at Vienna and St Petersburg to resolve the dispute. After Grey briefed the cabinet that afternoon, the prime minister concluded that although a ‘real Armaggedon’ was within sight, ‘there seems…no reason why we should be more than spectators’.

Nothing that the Austrians or the Germans heard in London or Paris on Friday caused them to reconsider their course. In fact, their general impression was that the Entente Powers wished to localize the dispute. Even from St Petersburg the German ambassador reported that Sazonov’s reference to Austria’s ‘devouring’ of Serbia meant that Russia would take up arms only if Austria seized Serbian territory and that his wish to ‘Europeanize’ the dispute indicated that Russia’s ‘immediate intervention’ need not be anticipated.

Berchtold made his position clear in Vienna that afternoon: ‘the very existence of Austria-Hungary as a Great Power’ was at stake; Austria-Hungary must give proof of its stature as a Great Power ‘by an outright coup de force’. When the Russian chargé d’affaires asked him how Austria would respond if the time limit were to expire without a satisfactory answer from Serbia, Berchtold replied that the Austrian minister and his staff had been instructed in such circumstances to leave Belgrade and return to Austria. Prince Kudashev, after reflecting on this, exclaimed ‘Alors c’est la guerre!

Gordon Martel is a leading authority on war, empire, and diplomacy in the modern age. His numerous publications include studies of the origins of the first and second world wars, modern imperialism, and the nature of diplomacy. A founding editor of The International History Review, he has taught at a number of Canadian universities, and has been a visiting professor or fellow in England, Ireland and Australia. Editor-in-chief of the five-volume Encyclopedia of War, he is also joint editor of the longstanding Seminar Studies in History series. His new book is The Month That Changed The World: July 1914.

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46. Polygamous wives who helped settle the west

By Paula Kelly Harline


Happy Pioneer Day! The morning of 24 July in downtown Salt Lake City, thousands of Westerners watch the “Days of ’47” parade celebrating the 1847 arrival of Mormon pioneers; in the afternoon, they attend a rodeo or take picnics to the canyons; at night they launch as many fireworks as they did for Fourth of July.

What may be less known than the role of Brigham Young in all this is the contribution made by polygamous women. When Brigham Young parceled out Salt Lake City land plots, he allowed polygamous husbands to draw a lot for each of their wives, and this pattern continued exponentially as polygamous wives sometimes moved without their husbands to settlements in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, supporting themselves as teachers, hat-makers, landlords, post mistresses, boarding house proprietors, laundresses, venders, and farmers.

Photo of Martha Heywood

Martha Heywood. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

For example, in 1850 not long after 39-year-old Martha Spence Heywood arrived in Salt Lake City, she became the third wife of the 35-year-old captain of her wagon train. After a few months of living in the family’s Salt Lake house, Martha moved 90 miles south to the new settlement of Nephi where she had the first of two babies in a wagon with one Church sister attending. She tried to establish herself as a teacher but wrote in her diary that there were “considerably hard feelings” against her “as a school teacher,” maybe because she was sometimes sick or maybe because townspeople resented her husband who did not live in Nephi but had a supervisory role in their struggling settlement. Along with teaching, Martha made hats that her husband advertised in the Salt Lake Deseret News. After a few years in Nephi, she moved to southern Utah and claimed a vacant “good adobe” house. Once again taking up school teaching, she even accepted produce as payment so that any child could attend school and, over the years, established herself as a legendary school teacher. The Heywood family owned homes in three towns.

Photo of Mary Ann Hafen

Mary Ann Hafen. Courtesy of International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

Starting in 1890, Mormons no longer officially sanctioned new polygamous marriages, but those who were already married like second wife Mary Ann Hafen carried on until the polygamous generation died out. In 1891, she moved 50 miles away from her “general merchant” husband John (who lived in Santa Clara, Utah, with his first wife) to Bunkerville, Nevada, where they could get cheaper land. Mary Ann wrote in her autobiography that in the “first year” when she and her children were “just getting started” in Bunkerville, her husband came down from Santa Clara “frequently” and “helped [them] a good deal.” But as time went on, “he had his hands full taking care of his other [three] families,” so she cared “for her seven children mostly by [her]self” because, as she explained, “I did not want to be a burden on my husband, but tried with my family to be self-supporting.” John had provided them with “a house, lot, and land and furnished some supplies.” Mary Ann rented out her twenty-five-acre farm up the road—the 1900 census listed her as a “landlord.” Sometimes she and her children used the farm to grow cotton and sorghum cane that she could exchange at mills for cloth and sorghum sweetener. She sewed the family’s clothing on the White sewing machine she saved up for. They preserved peaches and green tomatoes and ate from their large garden, and they kept a couple of pigs, a cow, and some chickens.

Photo of David and Lydia Ann Brinkerhoff Family

David and Lydia Ann Brinkerhoff Family. Courtesy of Joanne Hadden, family descendant.

In yet another example, first wife Lydia Brinkerhoff settled in the town of Holbrook, Arizona, while the second wife Vina and their husband settled on farmland outside town—the two locations multiplied the family’s financial prospects. In town, Lydia took in boarders, did laundry for hotels, sold vegetables from the farm, and managed the town’s mail contract.

Settling new land was not easy, and, in general, frontier women worked hard sewing linens and clothing, churning butter, making cheese, raising chickens, planting vegetable gardens, preserving jams and jellies, curing meat, cooking, producing soap and candles, and washing clothes. Mormon polygamous wives also took seriously their responsibility to nurture their children into their faith.

During the historical reflection that accompanies Pioneer Day, we can see how polygamous wives also participated in the Western American dreams of independence and expanding land ownership.

Paula Kelly Harline has been teaching college writing for over 20 years for the University of Idaho, Brigham Young University, and Utah Valley University. She has also worked as a freelance writer and artist. She currently lives with her husband, Craig, in Provo, Utah. She is the author of The Polygamous Wives Writing Club: From the Diaries of Mormon Pioneer Women.

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47. Echoes of Billie Holiday in Fancy Free

When Leonard Bernstein first arrived in New York, he was unknown, much like the artists he worked with at the time, who would also gain international recognition. Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War looks at the early days of Bernstein’s career during World War II, and is centered around the debut in 1944 of the Broadway musical On the Town and the ballet Fancy Free. This excerpt from the book describes the opening night of Fancy Free.

When the curtain rose on the first production of Fancy Free, the audience at the old Metropolitan Opera House did not hear a pit orchestra, which would have followed a long-established norm in ballet. Rather, a recorded vocal blues wafted from the stage. Those attending must have been caught by surprise, as they were drawn into a contemporary sound world. The song was “Big Stuff,” with music and lyrics by Bernstein. It had been conceived with the African American jazz singer Billie Holiday in mind, even though it ended up being recorded for the production by Bernstein’s sister, Shirley. At that early point in Bernstein’s career, he lacked the cultural and fiscal capital to hire anyone as famous as Holiday. The melody and piano accompaniment for “Big Stuff” contained bent notes and lilting rhythms basic to urban blues, and the lyrics summoned up the blues as an animate force, following a standard rhetorical mode for the genre:

So you cry, “What’s it about, Baby?”
You ask why the blues had to go and pick you.

Talk of going “down to the shore” vaguely referred to the sailors of Fancy Free, as the lyrics became sexually explicit:

So you go down to the shore, kid stuff.
Don’t you know there’s honey in store for you, Big Stuff?
Let’s take a ride in my gravy train;
The door’s open wide,
Come in from out of the rain.

“Big Stuff” spoke to youth in the audience by alluding to contemporary popular culture. It boldly injected an African American commercial idiom into a predominantly white high-art performance sphere, and its raunchiness enhanced the sexual provocations of Fancy Free. “Big Stuff” also blurred distinctions between acoustic and recorded sound. It marked Bernstein as a crossover composer, with the talent to write a pop song and the temerity to unveil it within a high-art context.

Billie Holiday by William P. Gottlieb. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Billie Holiday by William P. Gottlieb, c. February 1947. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Billie Holiday was “one of [Bernstein’s] idols,” according to Humphrey Burton. He admired her brilliance as a performer, and he was also sympathetic to her progressive politics. In 1939, Holiday first recorded “Strange Fruit,” a song about a lynching that became one of her signatures. With biracial and left-leaning roots, “Strange Fruit” was written by the white teacher and social activist Abel Meeropol. Holiday performed “Strange Fruit” nightly at Café Society, a club that enforced a progressive desegregationist agenda both onstage and in the audience. Those performances marked “the beginning of the civil rights movement,” recalled the famed record producer Ahmet Ertegun (founder of Atlantic Records). Barney Josephson, who ran Café Society, famously declared, “I wanted a club where blacks and whites worked together behind the footlights and sat together out front.”

Bernstein had experience on both sides of Café Society’s footlights. In the early 1940s, he performed there occasionally with The Revuers, and he played excerpts from The Cradle Will Rock in at least one evening session with Marc Blitzstein. Bernstein also hung out at the club with friends, including Judy Tuvim, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green, listening to the jazz pianist Teddy Wilson and boogie-woogie pianists Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons. Thus Bernstein had ample opportunities to witness the intentional “blurring of cultural categories, genres, and ethnic groups” that historian David Stowe has called the “dominant theme” of Café Society.

Robbins also had an affinity for the work of Billie Holiday. In the summer of 1940, he choreographed Holiday’s recording of “Strange Fruit” and performed it with the dancer Anita Alvarez at Camp Tamiment. “Strange Fruit was one of the most dramatic and heart-breaking dances I have ever seen—a masterpiece,” remembered Dorothy Bird, a dancer there that summer.

As a result of these experiences, the music of Billie Holiday had crossed the paths of both Robbins and Bernstein before “Big Stuff” opened their first ballet. While Billie Holiday’s voice was not heard the evening of Fancy Free’s premiere, only seven months passed before she recorded “Big Stuff” with the Toots Camarata Orchestra on November 8, 1944. The fact that Holiday made this recording so soon after the premiere of Fancy Free bore witness to the rapid rise of Bernstein’s clout within the music industry. Over the next two years, Holiday made six more recordings of “Big Stuff,” and when Bernstein issued the first recording of Fancy Free with the Ballet Theatre Orchestra in 1946, Holiday’s rendition of “Big Stuff” opened the disc. Both she and Bernstein recorded for the Decca label. Holiday recorded her final three takes of “Big Stuff” for Decca on March 13, 1946, and that label released Fancy Free the same year.

Musically, “Big Stuff” links closely to the worlds of George Gershwin and Harold Arlen, whose songs drew on African American idioms. Like some of the most beloved songs by these composers — whether Arlen’s “Stormy Weather” of 1933 or Gershwin’s “Summertime” of 1935 from Porgy and Bess – “Big Stuff” used a standard thirty-two-bar song form. With a tempo indication of “slow & blue,” “Big Stuff” has a lilting one-bar riff in the bass, a classic formulation for a jazzbased popular song of the day. The riff retains its shape throughout, as is also typical, while its internal pitch structure shifts in relation to the harmonic motion. Both the accompaniment and melody are drenched with signifiers of the blues, especially with chromatically altered third, fourth, sixth, and seventh scale degrees, and the overall downward motion of the melody is also characteristic of the blues, with a weighted sense of being ultimately earthbound.

Carol J. Oja is William Powell Mason Professor of Music and American Studies at Harvard University. She is author of Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War and Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s (2000), winner of the Irving Lowens Book Award from the Society for American Music.

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48. peoplewithcats: Dolly Parton, 1960.



peoplewithcats:

Dolly Parton, 1960.



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49. Comic Con: Beyond the Panels

By Hannah Lodge

For some, the real glamour of San Diego Comic Con lies beyond the confines of the convention center. For four days, the Gaslamp quarter is transformed into an outdoor festival, with parties, guest appearances, live music, free food, and entertainment happening in parallel of the announcements and panels held behind closed doors. Here’s our line-up of unofficial events happening outside of the convention center halls.

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Thursday and/or ongoing

Gotham Zip lining: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday until Sunday, fans will have the opportunity to channel their inner batman and zip line (130 feet long, 30 feet high) through Gotham-esque landscape. Souvenir photos will also be available, and the event will take place between the convention center and the Hilton Bayfront. If the experience leaves you too exhausted to walk home, Uber will also be featuring Gotham-themed cars to pick passengers up for free rides. To hitch a ride, select the Gotham PD under the Uber slider in the app or follow uber_sd on twitter.

Nintendo Gaming Lounge: From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, the Marriott Marquis and Marina Ballroom will feature the Nintendo Gaming Lounge. Featured games include 3DS features like Super Smash Bros, Sonic Book and Siesta Fiesta and Wii U titles like Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad, Sonic Book and Skylanders Trap Team. Admission is free and no badge is required.

BioWare Development Team & Dragon Age Inquisition: From 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Thursday, Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry Lounge at 379 4th Ave (Jolt N’ Joes) will host coffee & donuts with the BioWare Development team and will demo the newest installment in the Dragon Age Series, Inquisition, which releases this fall. Demos will continue throughout the weekend. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Borderlands Laser Tag: From 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nerdist and 2K Games team up to bring Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel laser tag to Petco Park. The event will also feature an oxygen bar and live events. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Adult Swim Fun House & Dome Experience: Starting 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Adult Swim will feature interactive experiences at Petco Park parking lot. The Fun House is a giant castle that will force guests to crawl, side, and sing their way through. The Meatwad Dome Experience features a two-story, 40-foot Meatwad planetarium with animated content that requires a “this event has loud music, flashing lights, and  images that could trigger seizures” caution on the label. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Jay & Silent Bob Podcast: At 5 p.m. Thursday, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes will perform a live podcast to celebrate the release of their new book. The event takes place at the American Comedy Co. at 818 B 6th Ave. Tickets are $35 and include a signed copy of the book.

MTV Fan Fest & Fandom Awards: At 5 p.m. Thursday, Linkin Park will perform at Petco Park for MTV’s Fandom Awards. Entrance is free but requires a Comic Con badge.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Welcome Party: From 8 -11 p.m. Thursday, the CBLDF party will feature exclusive comics and a chance to mingle with creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Scott Snyder, Chris Burnham, Nick Dragotta, Nick Pitarra. The party will also feature original artwork and an alchemy/fragrance lab from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Suggested donations of $10-$20 at the door.

NerdHQ Fan Party: Starting at 9 p.m., the annual Nerd HQ will kick off with a fan party at Petco Park. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Friday

Cape/Cowl/Create: From 12 -7 p.m. Friday, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment will celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary with an art exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel. The exhibit will include the unveiling of life-size recreations of The Dark Knight’s cowl headpiece and cape from the upcoming video game as well as talent appearances, including Zack Snyder, Will Arnett, Mister Cartoon, and Buff Monster.  Some of the art pieces will be auctioned for charity. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Boxtrolls Food Truck: Though the truck will be available throughout the Con, at 1 p.m. the truck will be at the Petco Park Interactive Zone to feature Bug Chef David George Gordon, who will demonstrate his edible insect creations. Event is free and no badge is required.

Appleseed Alpha Screening: At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sony will screen the animated movie Appleseed Alpha, from the author Masamune Shirow (creator of Ghost in the Shell). The event is free but first-come-first-serve (RSVP on EventBrite recommended) and will take place at Reading Cinemas.

Danny Elfman Concert: At 8 p.m. Friday, composer Danny Elfman will perform in a concert featuring the scores from Tim Burton movies. Highlights include Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Big Fish, and The Corpse Bride. Tickets are between $28 – $90 and the event takes place at the Embarcadero Marina, directly behind the convention center.

Adam Savage Incognito: At 9 p.m. Friday, Tested.com is throwing a celebration for cosplayers, featuring Mythbusters star Adam Savage. Savage will demonstrate some of his most memorable cosplay and will reveal a meticulous replica of one of his favorite movie props of all time.  The event is 21+ and will be held at Side Bar, 536 Market St.

Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Jammy Party: Adult Swim’s Tim & Eric will feature a first look at their new series, Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories, from 11 pm – midnight on Friday. The screening will take place at Petco Park’s parking lot (at the bottom of the pedestrian bridge) and requires pajamas and a free RSVP (RSVP on Adult Swim’s Comic Con page).

 

Saturday

Enhance Cosplay with Greg Nicotero: From 12 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Walking Dead special FX designer Greg Nicotero will demonstrate custom make-up designs for fans at the Super Hero HQ cosplay lab, located at the Courtyard by Marriott (100 Park Blvd). Free make-up touch-ups will also be available through the convention at the lab.  The event is free and open to the public.

George R.R. Martin Q&A: From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, George R.R. Martin will conduct a public Q&A at the Super Hero HQ at the Courtyard by Marriott. The event is free and open to the public.

Heroes Brew Craft Beer Festival: From 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, beer aficionados will gather at the Embarcadero Marina Park North to sample from more than 40 breweries. The event will also feature food trucks, a costume contest and live music. Tickets are $45 ($20 for designated drivers).

ZombieWalk: Returning for its 8th year at Comic Con, the Zombiewalk will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday and starts at Children’s Park (corner of Island & 1st Ave). The event is free and open to the public.

Norma Reedus Q&A: From 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Norma Reedus (a.k.a. Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead) will do a live Q&A at Super Hero HQ in the Courtyard by Marriott. Reedus will also judge cosplay costumes and select and crown the King and Queen of Cosplay.  The event is free and open to the public.

The Walking Dead Escape: From 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Walking Dead fans can purchase tickets for the survival-driven event, which forces Survivors and Walkers to climb, crawl, slide and hide through brutal scenarios, to either live or become infected.  Tickets are $95 or walkers and $50 for survivors and the event takes place at Petco Park.

Doctor Who Comic Creators Signing: From 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, writer Nick Abadzis, artist Elena Casagrande, cover artist Alice X Zhang and editor Andrew James will be on-hand at the Comickaze store, 5517 AB Clairemont Mesa Blvd. In addition to signings, the event will feature quizzes and a Doctor Who costume contest.

Thrilling Adventure Hour & Welcome to Night Vale Cross-Over Show: TAH & Welcome to Night Vale will be teaming up at 8 p.m. Saturday at Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway. The event will feature Marc Evan Jackson, Craig Cackowski, Hal Lublin, Mark Gagliardi, and show creators Ben Blacker & Ben Acker. Tickets range from $24 – $122.

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50. SDCC ’14: ‘All-New Captain America: Fear Him’ Digital Comic

The first Marvel announcement from SDCC came today at their ‘House of Ideas’ panel, as the creative team of Dennis Hopeless and Szymon Kudranski will put together a six-issue digital series featuring Sam Wilson, the new Captain America.

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These six issues will all be released at the same time, telling the first adventure of the character as he moves out of the red feathers and puts on the red white and blue suit. This’ll be set during between, to be exact, Captain America #25 and All-New Captain America #1.

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Marvel have also announced, possibly before in fact, that Marvel Unlimited will now also feature the Infinite Comics that the publisher have put out over the last few years. SDCC!

0 Comments on SDCC ’14: ‘All-New Captain America: Fear Him’ Digital Comic as of 7/25/2014 12:56:00 AM
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