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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Culture, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 648
1. Event: SF’s The Isotope Brings Roberta Gregory, Donna Barr, & JH Williams III to the Fans

By Victor Van Scoit The San Francisco Bay Area has some fantastic comic book shops, with each having its own take for hosting creator events. One such store known for their intimate signings and creative shindigs is The Isotope. They’re hosting two upcoming events this November that, should you live anywhere in Northern California, are worth checking out. […]

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2. “Challenging change” – extract from A Foot in the River

We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way we live - our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values - seems to be changing at an ever accelerating pace. The effects can be dislocating, baffling, sometimes terrifying. Why is this?

The post “Challenging change” – extract from A Foot in the River appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on “Challenging change” – extract from A Foot in the River as of 11/2/2015 8:48:00 AM
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3. NYCC and SDCC ’15: Portraying Mental Health in Comics

Mental illness has been a trope in comics-related properties ranging from Peanuts to Gotham, but do new sensitivities to mental health issues mean that it’s time for this to change? At this year’s San Diego and New York Comic-Cons, I had the privilege of moderating a couple of panels on the portrayal of mental illness […]

0 Comments on NYCC and SDCC ’15: Portraying Mental Health in Comics as of 10/21/2015 11:03:00 PM
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4. ZombiCon Shooting – 1 Dead, 4 Wounded

Gunfire at the Ft. Myers charitable event created a real-life running zombie herd, but the organizers’ security safeguards may have helped prevent further harm. Shootings have become a depressing fact of life here in the U.S. — and for those of you who spent a fair amount of time in New York and other large […]

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5. “It’s Not Dead” Punk Rock’s Version of Comic-Con

Punk Rock Comic-Con

1 Comments on “It’s Not Dead” Punk Rock’s Version of Comic-Con, last added: 10/15/2015
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6. NYCC ’15: Cosplay Meltdown!!!

NYCC ’15 has come and gone, but the photos The Stately Beat Manor took are here to stay.  We had a number of fantastic journalists on the scene, taking pictures of the events happening at the Javits Center as well as the great cosplays attendees wore.  Here are a few favorites:

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7. NYCC ’15: Cosplay Fabrics Announces New Line at Jo-Ann’s

     As cosplay flies from niche to mainstream, so too goes the market for the material used to create it. Quality cosplay is a combination of craft and components – even the most ingenious designer and tailor can find themselves frustrated by poor quality material. One sign of the demand for good cosplay goods: […]

1 Comments on NYCC ’15: Cosplay Fabrics Announces New Line at Jo-Ann’s, last added: 10/12/2015
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8. NYCC ’15: Diversity Sells Out

Diversity is a recurring theme in panels at this year’s New York Comic-Con, mirroring a trend in fandom nationwide. Race, gender, physical ability, mental health, even geeks as an emerging protected class – amidst the how-to’s and PR announcements, programming about diversity is filling rooms and getting headlines. The power of this theme is something […]

4 Comments on NYCC ’15: Diversity Sells Out, last added: 10/13/2015
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9. ‘Us’ and ‘Them': Can we define national identity?

Surveys show that a high percentage of British citizens "feel British." But what exactly do people have in mind when they say this? People may think differently about this question, and perhaps it is also British to give various meanings to British identity. Still, can we define what it is to "feel" British? Or even what is un-British—be it a pattern of behavior, a belief, or a way of doing things?

The post ‘Us’ and ‘Them': Can we define national identity? appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Introducing psychoanalysis

Daniel Pick, author of Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction, introduces psychoanalysis, discusses its role within history and culture and tells us how psychoanalysis is used today. How has psychoanalysis developed from the late nineteenth century?

The post Introducing psychoanalysis appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. INTERVIEW: Don’t Call it a Porno, Nik Guerra Takes On Mystery and Sensuality in “Magenta: Noir Fatale” [NSFW]

by Alex Dueben At a time when many comics are criticized for their approach to female characters, it’s interesting to read a comic which is about fetish models.  Moreover, it’s wonderful to discover that the comic is far less exploitive and sensational than many mainstream comics. In NBM’s new graphic novel,Magenta: Noir Fatale, Italian writer and […]

2 Comments on INTERVIEW: Don’t Call it a Porno, Nik Guerra Takes On Mystery and Sensuality in “Magenta: Noir Fatale” [NSFW], last added: 8/15/2015
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12. Unassuming Barber Shop: In Search of the Fantastic Four

On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin became the first human being to achieve Earth orbit, effectively winning the space race. At NASA, scientists sighed, poured more coffee, and redoubled their efforts. In New York, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four. With a new FF movie coming out, readers and fans […]

3 Comments on Unassuming Barber Shop: In Search of the Fantastic Four, last added: 8/7/2015
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13. If You Were Me and Lived in … China: A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around the World | Dedicated Review

If You Were Me and Lived In … China is an easy read and a fun way to introduce the People’s Republic of China to children.

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14. New Black Lightning Archive: DC, Tony Isabella Reconcile

Black Lightning 4“Dogs and cats, living together!” – that’s what immediately popped into my mind yesterday when I read Tony Isabella praising DC on Facebook for how it was treating him in regard to Black Lightning.I’ve never seen the original contract between DC and Isabella in regard to Black Lightning so I have nothing to say of substance in regard to the property’s legal status, but as anyone who has followed Tony’s online writing over the years can tell you, Isabella’s statements about DC’s treatment of him and his landmark creation have not exactly been complimentary. That changed, however, yesterday, when Isabella called attention to an Amazon listing of the April 2016 release of Black Lightning, volume 1, the first of what could be a series of collections featuring DC’s first African-American superhero to star in an an eponymous book.

According to Isabella, the rapprochement is the result of outreach by Dan Didio and Geoff Johns, and Isabella is confident that DC will treat him fairly in regard to the payment of royalties. He also raised the possibility of doing more work for DC given sufficient reader demand; the prospect of Isabella working with, say, the creators of the revived Milestone line on a multi-generational crossover is particularly intriguing, given certain thematic resonances with Milestone’s nuanced reflections on creative identity.

To say that Isabella’s announcement is the most unexpected Facebook post of the year is an understatement — it’s one of the most dramatic turnarounds I’ve seen in decades of reading about comics-related disputes, and kudos to all involved for bringing about what I hope will be a truly lasting peace in our time.

3 Comments on New Black Lightning Archive: DC, Tony Isabella Reconcile, last added: 7/25/2015
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15. SDCC ’15 Photo Essay – Cosplay Culture

IMG_3070If you’re into cosplay, Saturday night is made for fighting the lines to get into the annual masquerade contest. Here are a few backstage pics from the show, along with a few other shots.

If you attended any of the panels I moderated, you know that my themes this year were community and personal connection. The above candid of what appear to be a mother and son is probably my favorite scene of the show.

As you know, guys have a proclivity toward taking pictures of cosplaying women in revealing garb, with little regard for who these women are as people. A pic I didn’t get: a young woman in an artful Poison Ivy costume who explained her costume to the photographer with a rather revealing statement: “I’d rather wear this every day than be slinging coffee.”


Captain America stopped by lunch on Saturday afternoon, and judging by the detail on the costume he wasn’t a cosplayer but the real Captain America.


The good folks at Comic-Con let me join the lucky few Jimmy Olsens and Peter Parkers who get to go backstage the shoot posed photos after each entry performs their routine. Before the show, however, cosplayers who aren’t part of the contest can have their photos taken as well. Harley Quinn dazzled the photographers with an array of poses …


… and afterward she handed out business cards – turns out she’s a talented seamstress, designer and costume fabricator. This is the case more often than one might guess — cosplay is often a marketing tool as much as a form of self-expression, an aspect of the culture that your typical “babes of cosplay” photo essay tends to miss.


The daughter of Batman and Poison Ivy enchants the photographers. Kids open the annual cosplay masquerade contest.


Princess Anna of Arendelle. This is where being in the photographer area was rather illustrative vis a vis the real culture of cosplay. The cosplayers weren’t told to strike a sexy pose — the repeated requests were for them to show the fabric details, construction, and in many cases, lighting and other tech that didn’t show up all that well on my iPhone under bright lights.


Fabric on display – cosplayers are asked to pose front, back, side to side, in angles highlighting key details, and finally, in whatever pose happens to be their favorite.


This looked great, but when the head came off it looked like the costume had almost killed the wearer. These things are hot and heavy.


The Transformers Bumblebee cosplay was a technological marvel to behold – and so tall that it couldn’t fit in the photographer staging area. As a result, we could photograph only the folks who made it work.


Minecraft 3D.


This costume was clever and funny – the Barbie doll was a fantastic touch. After the photographers called out for poses highlighting particular aspects of the design, one called out, “Show us your teeth!” — to which the cosplayer deadpanned: “I don’t have interesting teeth.”


There were a number of other costumes worth highlighting, but like most of the other folks I know here, I’m beat.

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16. SDCC ’15 – Comic Book People at Comic-Con

FullSizeRenderWant to know what comic-cons are really about? Get these books.

In my previous post I talked about the importance of community — it is central to proper understanding of ethics, and as such it is essential to a fan life well-lived. As an influx of new people explore the comics universe, the risk of losing sight of what connects us beyond passive viewing increases and the importance of learning from our history only grows.

That’s why Jackie Estrada’s Comic Book People is so vital – and if you’re at San Diego Comic-Con, you can get the hot-off-the-Kickstarter second volume at the Exhibit A Press booth, #1909 (aisle 1900, near the Lobby B2 entrance).

If you’re new to comic-cons there might be a temptation to think that books filled with photos of people from the ’70s and ’80s (vol. 1) and ’90s (vol. 2) are just for people who went to conventions back then, but as Don Draper would say, this isn’t nostalgia; it’s a time machine. The genius of these books is that you are in many ways their target audience — in addition to names and photos, Comic Book People explains who these people are and why they are important. Not only will this help you discover stories you might have otherwise missed, but they show you a world-shaping network as it grows. These folks built a global pop-culture empire that made billions and changed lives, inspiring an intensity of personal connection that rivals if not transcends that found in other art. Know them and you’ll understand the world you’ve just entered; follow their example and you’ll create a world that today exists only in dreams.

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17. Closing Time: Anthony Desiato’s ‘My Comic Shop History’ Chronicles the Life, Death, and Legacy of His Local Comic Shop


In the end, memories are what make us who we are.  Although they slip away so easily, these small fragments of past inform our future decisions and influence us every moment we’re alive.  For most of us comic book readers, a formative moment in our personal histories is the first time we step into a comic shop.  The pulpy smell of fresh floppies stacked in Diamond stamped boxes.  The glistening translucent cases filled with TCG singles at exorbitant prices.  The stern and booming voices of people arguing Batman chronology in the back by the trades.

The places individual comics fans make these universal memories shape their lives.  For Director and Comics Historian Anthony Desiato and many other comics luminaries from upstate New York such as Rocket Girl writer Brandon Montclare, these formative experiences took place at Alternate Realities, which is going out of business after nearly a quarter of a century.

Desiato has made it his mission to chronicle the store’s final days through his podcast, My Comic Shop History.  The last episode of this audio series comes out today, and in honor of his intriguing work and Alternate Realities’ storied history, we sat down with him to talk about the legacy of the store.


Alex Lu: So for those unfamiliar with Alternate Realities, can you give us a brief overview of your store’s history and what makes it special?

Anthony Desiato: Alternate Realities is (soon-to-be “was,” sadly) a comic book store in Scarsdale, NY, that is closing up shop for good after 23 years.

The store is the subject of my independent film, My Comic Shop DocumentARy, and my current podcast, My Comic Shop History.

The podcast is a 12-episode exploration of the store & its closing from the perspective of past and present owners, customers, and employees. We’ve been peeling back the curtain on the retail side of the comic book industry as we discuss the store’s inner-workings and comic shop culture generally.


What makes the store special—and the reason I’ve found it such a source of inspiration—is the community.

We count among our ranks a customer who worked at T.G.I. Friday’s but claimed to have killed 25 people in the line of duty as a secret agent; our resident curmudgeon, a former flea market vendor who condemns modern society with language that would make a sailor blush; and the store’s owner, Steve Oto, who traded his legal career for a life behind the counter and a very love-hate relationship with his clientele.

Lu: What’s your role in the store and how long have you been involved?

Desiato: Heroes World (a long-defunct store in White Plains) was my first comic shop, and when it abruptly closed on me during elementary school, Alternate Realities became my new go-to place. For the first few years of my patronage there, I was just the shy kid who would pick up my books every week while my mother waited in the car.

In high school, Steve offered me a summer job, and that was my entry into a whole new world. Throughout high school and college, both my level of responsibility at the store as well as my friendships with the guys who shopped & worked there would grow.

It wasn’t until the end of my employment there (during law school) that I began to take on my current role of—for lack of a better term—“store chronicler.” That new path gave birth to my film about the store, its spinoff (By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story), and now the podcast.

Lu: What do you think drove the decision to close the store?

Desiato: If you believe Steve’s closing announcement, he’s closing in large part “because of those customers who have left me in the lurch” by not buying the items they ordered. However, if you truly analyze the situation, as we’ve been doing over the course of My Comic Shop History, it becomes clear that the stated reason for closing is perhaps a bit disingenuous.

If customers are reneging on their orders, there are steps a store can take to at least try to remedy the situation first. Closing the store is the nuclear option! It’s not really a proportionate response to address what’s ultimately a small group of delinquent customers.


What we all realize is that Steve’s complaints are really just symptomatic of a growing frustration and fatigue with running the business.

In Episode 7 (“Comic Shop Business School”), I spoke with the owner of The Spider’s Web, a relatively new comic shop in Yonkers. That owner is two years in and still has his passion for the business and the hobby.

After 23 years of the grind of running a small business, Steve simply doesn’t have that anymore. As he has said many, many times over the years—in person, on Facebook, in My Comic Shop DocumentARy, and in My Comic Shop History—he’s tired. And I don’t think anyone would dispute that he’s earned his rest.

Lu: How has the community responded to the store’s closing?

Desiato: That’s really what the podcast is all about and why I wanted to do it in the first place.

Aside from the friendship we share, what I hope listeners take away from this show is how much we all care about “The Store.”


Everyone who has participated in the podcast has worked, owned, or volunteered at Alternate Realities at some point. We’ve all invested time and effort and wanted the store to be as strong as possible.

To see the store end in this way has been very bittersweet. Not to speak for the entire community, but for myself and many of the people I spoke to on the podcast, I feel there’s a sense of sadness that it came to this, acceptance that it’s the right move for Steve, and, most importantly, appreciation for everything the store has meant to us. It’s been our clubhouse, truly.

Lu: Given that Alternate Realities has such a long and storied history, those who have been there have had the unique perspective of having seen the comics reading audience grow exponentially and the industry dramatically change. How would you compare comics at the store’s opening to comics now, at the store’s close?

Desiato: Well, seeing as how I was 5 when the store opened, I’m not sure I can really give a full answer to that question! Interestingly, though, the store opened the same year that “The Death of Superman” (my first comic) came out. That was arguably the beginning of “event” storytelling as we know it today, and the store is closing amidst Convergence and Secret Wars, two huge events from the Big Two. So, in a way, maybe not that much has changed!


To answer your question more specifically: Based on the time that I’ve been affiliated with Alternate Realities, I would argue that we have not seen huge shifts the way you might expect. For example, the rise of comic book movies didn’t necessarily drive hordes of new customers to the store. At the same time, the advent of digital comics did not erode our customer base too much, either.

Lu: What do you think is the next big thing for the industry?

On the retail side, one of the things we talk about on the podcast (we do a “Comic Shop Business School” series-within-a-series across a number of episodes) is how comic shops need to be a “destination” in order to survive these days. Areas to hang out, events, signings–things like that.

Lu: What new projects are the Alternate Realities crew heading off to pursue?

To find out what the store’s owner, Steve Oto, is up to next, I encourage folks to listen to the finale of the podcast, out today! Up next for me is a new documentary and, hopefully, more podcasting in the future! As for our group, we plan to continue the friendships we forged at Alternate Realities. The store may be gone, but the community lives on.

RENT My Comic Shop DocumentARy and By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story on Vimeo!

SUBSCRIBE to My Comic Shop History on iTunes!

LIKE My Comic Shop History on Facebook!


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18. Two Nerdlebrity duos launch competing crowdfunded comic-con TV shows

Seems like everyone had the same great idea at the same time: with comic-cons proliferating, and nerdlebrities making a circuit out of it, wouldn’t this be fine fodder for a realityish TV show/webisode of some kind? And wouldn’t actors who had starred in TV shows that had insanely fanatic fanbases but who didn’t get much airtime outside of that be the perfect  people to do it?

It seems both Firefly’s Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion and Supernatural’s Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr had the same idea. And both have turned to Indiegogo to bring these ideas to fruition.


The Tudyk/Fillion effort launched first. It’s called Con Man and it’s already a go, with $2,386,241 raised, a bit more than the $425,000 they were going for. This is a scripted adventure about nerdlebrities who go to cons starring…nerdlebrities who go to cons.

Wray Nerely (Alan Tudyk-Me!) was a co-star on Spectrum, a sci-fi series which was canceled -Too Soon- yet became a cult classic. Wray’s good friend, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion) starred in the series and has gone on to become a major movie star. While Jack enjoys the life of an A-lister, Wray tours the sci-fi circuit as a guest of conventions, comic book stores, and lots of pop culture events.  The show will feature all the weird and crazy things that happen to Wray along the way to these events.

Galaxy Quest without the galaxy, then. Okay maybe a little Galaxy.


In an interview with EW, the pair expanded on the idea::

Fillion and Tudyk are hoping to raise $425,000 to finance the show’s first three 10 minute-long episodes. But Tudyk says that he has written 10 scripts in all so far and that at least one later show will indeed see both actors back on a spaceship. “There’s a lost episode of Spectrum that gets released within the show,” he says. “That’s done in a funny way—but there are actual scenes of me flying a spaceship and Nathan captaining.”

Guest stars will include more Firefly alumni, Sean Maher and Gina Torres, and othr nerdlebirty royalty including Amy Acker , Seth Green, Felicia Day, and director James Gunn. Easy to see why this has raised so much money. The initial budget was for three 10-minute shorts, but I guess there will be more than that.


Meanwhile, the Supernatural effort is more of a “reality-based” show set within the world of Supernatural fandom. It too was once called “Con Man” but now it’s called Kings of Con and here’s the pitch:

$100,000 will cover production costs for the first three to five episodes, and Benedict says 10 have already been “roughly written and mapped out,” with a 10-minute teaser/pilot previously filmed. According to Benedict, “Our idea is that every episode will be a new city that we’re in — or rather, the suburb outside of that city where our hotel is! We’ve shot in our actual conventions too, so you’ll get a POV of the view from the stage during karaoke, and a bird’s-eye view of the merchandise room, the lines, the crowds, the energy… in a utopian world, we want to continue to capture all that in each episode.”



This effort has already raised $57,000 of the $100,000 requested..in fact it raised about $7k while I was writing this post, so I think this will hit its target as well. It only launched yesterday and they are aware of the rival show:

While Benedict and Speight acknowledge that the concept sounds similar to another crowdfunded comedy series inspired by two genre actors’ convention experiences (Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s “Con Man”), their series has been in development for over a year, and is wholly inspired by their “real life exploits within this ‘Supernatural’ convention world — with our own creative, fictional spin,” Benedict tells Variety. “While it is nowhere near reality TV, it will be shot naturalistic and play on our relationship with each other and others through scripted and semi-scripted dialogue. Rich and I have developed quite a rapport over these few years, and quite a unique, combustable and comical relationship. We’ve been to the front lines, so to speak, and have been in the thick of it, all around the world, together. Really, this show is about Rob and Rich, and the conventions will serve as a unique backdrop for that quirky relationship.”

These are not the first efforts in the “nerdlebrity goes to a con” genre. The trailblazer in this regard is Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie in which he portrays Donald Swan, a documentary filmmaker who goes to Comic-Con and meets a lot of weird people. Made in 2004, this features the state of the art autograph circuit of the day, such as Stan Lee, Chase Masterson, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Smith in cameos.

Then there was Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con IV: A Fan’s Hope, the 2012 actual documentary about people who go to Comic-Con. Actually, I think Bruce Campbell also made a short film about fans and fandom, but no one has ever seen it.

Huh well whaddaya know.

I have my own idea for a movie set at a comic-con, but it’s so explosive that I can’t even talk about it here. I’ll just give you the elevator pitch: Clue + Comic-Con. Interested parties can contact my agent.

1 Comments on Two Nerdlebrity duos launch competing crowdfunded comic-con TV shows, last added: 3/30/2015
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19. Tonight @ Society of Illustrators: Is That Art?

Yoe-is-that-artThis exhibit of works from Craig Yoe’s original art collection has already garnered stellar accolades – tonight you can see why. And that’s not all …

I had the good fortune of seeing an early preview of Is That Art? at the Society of Illustrators a few weeks ago, and it’s a must-see for anyone who wants to connect with the magic and the power of creative design. The exhibit covers much of the first century of comics & cartoon art, and the work is displayed in ways that highlight deep connections and spark new ideas. A original Spark Plug parallel to a Peanuts strip where Snoopy is dismissed as a dog; a landmark portrait of Superman for Siegel-and-Shuster’s syndicate chief near a reflection on a woman’s dual identity by Fay King; the first Pogo newspaper strip; the original Fin-Fang-Foom-awakes page, signed by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers ….


I could go on, but I’ll leave you to discover all the wonders for yourself. The exhibit’s official opening is tonight from 5pm – 10pm at the Society of Illustrators, 128 E. 63rd St. in New York City. If you can’t make it this evening (or at all, alas), you can find some consolation in the extensive Yoe! Books library, which includes lavish and faithful restorations of material ranging from kitsch to classics. One place to start: the latest Yoe! Books/IDW publication, Milt Gross’ New York, which has been receiving impressive reviews.


If you can make it to the Society of Illustrators, don’t miss its other must-see exhibits. The original art from Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream is up through tomorrow (April 9), and seeing it at full size reminded me of seeing the original art for Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis at the Hammer Museum – a revelation. As for the exhibit on Alt-Weekly Comics curated by Warren Bernard and Bill Kartalopoulos, well, that too deserves a book of its own – this exhibit is important not just for chronicling an influential, if under-appreciated genre within North American comics, but for helping us understand the world today.


1 Comments on Tonight @ Society of Illustrators: Is That Art?, last added: 4/9/2015
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20. If You Were Me and Lived In … Scotland, by Carole P. Roman | Series Giveaway

The Children’s Book Review | April 17, 2015 Enter to win a complete autographed set of the If You Were Me series, by award-winning author Carole P. Roman; including If You Were Me and Lived in … Scotland: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World! One (1) winner receives the grand prize: An autographed set of Carole P. Roman’s If […]

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21. Batman in Dior

There is more to Batman 47 than Joe ChillGirl in Dior has been getting great press worldwide for its depiction of one of the most influential premiere collections in fashion history, but there are a couple of classic superhero connections as well.

Sixty-eight year old fashion spoiler alert!

Protesting long skirts

As Girl in Dior aptly depicts, the designer’s debut collection split the fashion world. For some, the longer length of the skirts in Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947 was a step backward, but what ultimately won the day was a sense that Dior had tapped into deeper, more vital currents in the post-war West. Besides changing the course of fashion for a generation and, along the way, mentoring his successor in innovation, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior inspired a description that immediately became synonymous with his designs and, over time, any revolutionary break from existing style: the New Look.

Girl in Dior beautifully depicts the entry of this phrase into the fashion lexicon. After noting the presence of legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in the front row, author Annie Goetzinger lavishly recreates the moment when, following the show, Snow uttered the phrase that solidified Dior’s place in fashion history.


If you’re reading this site, though, chances are that you’re already thinking that the New Look sounds mighty familiar.

Check out this house ad and more on Dial B for Blog

It was, of course, the name famously — and not coincidentally — given to the modernization of Batman's appearance in 1964.

But that wasn’t the first time Dior’s New Look appeared in Batman comics – there’s also a reference contemporaneous with Dior’s early work.

Dior’s New Look garnered a lot of press in the U.S., from the revolutionary collections in the late ’40s to the Dior-mania of the subsequent decade and more. For our purposes, two articles in particular stand out: a January 1948 New York Times piece headlined “New Look to Stay, Expert Asserts” and Life Magazine‘s coverage of Dior’s latest “New Look” collection in February 1948.

FullSizeRender (1)

To see how such stories influenced comics, we can turn to the June 1948 of Batman, which re-tells Batman’s origin and includes his epic encounter with his father’s murderer, Joe Chill. However, that’s not the only story in this book, which deserves a digital restoration in full on Comixology (hint, hint).

The landmark Batman #47 actually opens with a Catwoman story called “Fashions in Crime.” The tale begins with Catwoman breaking out of jail, only to hear herself mocked by other women as she walks down the street while wearing her civilian clothes:

“Hmmph! She’s wearing a short skirt! She doesn’t have the NEW LOOK!”

As the women go on to ridicule her for not reading the latest fashion magazines, Catwoman makes the painful realization that “since [she’s] been in prison, the style has changed.” But this also gives her an entrepreneurial idea: she creates her own fashion magazine, Damsel, along with a Damsel fashion TV program.

Months later Damsel is the hottest media empire in the fashion world, and the scene shifts to an older socialite, who, wearing an elaborate hat, notes that Catwoman-turned-Damsel-publisher-Madame-Moderne’s latest designer favorite is “a gown by Millie Karnalee.” Karnalee’s name seems odd, but at the time it would have made sense as a pun on the popular American designer Hattie Carnegie, the subject of the January 1948 New York Times piece. Carnegie, besides, ahem, adapting (i.e. copying) Dior’s “New Look” at a lower price for the U.S. market, also made a point of condemning the predilection of younger women not to wear hats.

And despite a nifty later scene wear Batman cracks the case thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion illustration technique, that’s where the story begins to diverge from the world of Girl in Dior.

Apparently the writers weren’t aware of the free samples and ample cashflow that would have been accrued to the publisher of the world’s hottest fashion magazine, because Catwoman proceeds to use her newfound high-society access to steal clothes and rob women at an exclusive fashion show. Not surprisingly, the scene at Catwoman’s show is rather different from the more modest Parisian runways of the time — in true 1940s Batman fashion, it features “giant needles … scissors … thimbles … and a huge sewing machine!”

Girl in Dior might not end with a fight on oversized designer props, but it is nonetheless a most enlightening read. I could go on, but I’ll leave that to an actual reviewer – ceci n’est pas une critique de Jeune fille en Dior.

Girl in Dior

4 Comments on Batman in Dior, last added: 4/28/2015
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22. The Book Review Club - My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante

After a string of Australian books both adult and children's, I was beginning to feel like a serial Aussie reader and decided to get out from down under if only to vary my reading.

So, I went to Italy. I've been craving gelato and chianti ever since.

There is a significant difference between old-world writing and stories from the "colonies", penal and otherwise. The old-world has, not always, but very often, a very melancholy feel to it, whereas "newbies" from the colonies seem to have been able to free themselves somewhat from that melacholy. Their more upbeat feel may be what's so alluring to me. Or the accent. These have all been audio books. 

Nevertheless, a little melancholia isn't a bad thing. What's more, My Brilliant Friend is jam-packed with writing tricks. But first, a synopsis:

My Brilliant Friend is the story of two young Neapolitan girls growing up in the harsh conditions of a very working class, poor neighborhood, their dreams, the diversions those dreams have to take due to economic hardship - one girl gets to go on to school, while her smarter friend is forced to quit school and try to marry up - and the successful, but flawed, women the girls become.

What is the absolute, most brilliant aspect of My Brilliant Friend, is its final line and how it ties the entire book together and then rips it apart, much like the last line of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's last sentence to One Hundred Years of Solitude deconstructs and erases the entire story that has gone before with one slash of the pen. Ferrante is brilliant in her alteration of this trick, to tie and deconstruct her story at the same time - all was for nothing - or so it seems since this is the first in a series of books called the Neapolitan Novels. However, I didn't know that as I listened to the last line and actually stopped my car from the force of that line. It made me think, reponder, rethink, re-reflect. It's that brilliant.

It's usually first lines that are so mesmerizing, pulling the reader in, hooking her, and making her want more. But if the last line snags in a reader's heart, it really never lets go. It haunts the reader, challenging her to think and think and think. It's an amazing writer tool I can't wait to use.

For more great reads, cinco de mayo your way over to Barrie Summy's website!

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23. #708 – National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 by Nat. Geo Society & Nat. Geo Kids Magazine

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016
National Geographic Society & National Geographic Kids Magazine
National Geographic Society        5/12/2015
352 pages         Age 8—12

“This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include a special section on animal friends; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; a new “Dino Myths Busted” feature; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “15 Facts” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more! And, this is the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features that allow kids to access National Geographic videos, photo galleries, and games.” [publisher]

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016—Wow, where do I start? Color blasts out from every page. The photography is as spectacular as National Geographic photography has always been—brilliant, intimately detailed, knock-you-off-your-feet fantabulous. Divided into ten sections, the Kids Almanac 2016 begins with a section on interesting things happening in 2016, and then it explores the usual topics of history, culture, science, geography, nature, and animals. The almanac also includes a section on green technology and its effect on Earth, and a section about exploration and survival. Most likely, a favorite for kids will be the section on games. Actually, the Kids Almanac 2016 contains a game throughout the entire 350 pages. In each chapter is a clue. Find all ten clues and you can open up digital extras.

dino mythsIn reading the Kids Almanac 2016, I think National Geographic has covered all the subjects kids will find interesting and all those they need to know about. Adults can get a lot out of this almanac as well. There is a tremendous amount of information in this relatively small book. I loved the animal topics, of which there are many. Kids interested in dinosaurs will find a prehistoric timeline, nine “Bet you didn’t know” facts, and myths. Each section ends with a quiz on that section’s subject. When you cannot get to a place, or want to know what is happening in different places around the world, the Kids Almanac 2016 is a tremendous aid. Kids can also dig a little deeper in subjects they love and learn about subjects they never thought about or thought were dull. There is not one tedious word or picture in the Kids Almanac 2016. Here are a few subjects I found to be amazing:

“Secrets of the Blue Holes”
Animal photography and how to get the shot.
“The Wonders of Nature: the Oceans”

Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“16 Cool Facts about Coral Reefs”
The jokes and comics in Fun and Games
Orangutan to the Rescue (Survival Story)”

What would a National Geographic book be without its gorgeous maps? The Kids Almanac 2016 has plenty of maps and flags. I think the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is a must read, if not a must have, for kids, especially middle graders who will learn a lot without realizing they are learning. The Kids Almanac 2016 is fun, exciting, and interesting. The pages are colorful, the photographs and images extremely detailed, and the subject matter is diverse.

volcanosThough kids are just now beginning to enjoy their summer school breaks, the Kids Almanac 2016 will keep them reading through the summer, which will help kids during their next school year, make them more informed about their world. Parents concerned about the books their kids read will have not one worry about this almanac. Every word, every subject, and every article is kid-friendly. The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is an interesting read that will keep kids hooked long past summer vacation.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2016. Text and images copyright © 2015 by National Geographic Society. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, National Geographic Society in partnership with National Geographic Kids Magazine, Washington DC.

Purchase National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 at AmazonBook DepositoryNational Geographic.

Kids! Join the National Geographic Kids Book Club HERE!
Teachers and Librarians can find additional information at: http://www.ngchildrensbooks.org
National Geographic Educational site is HERE.

Learn more about National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 HERE.
Check out the National Geographic Society website: http://www.nationalgeographic.com
Find other National Geographic books at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/books
Learn more about the National Geographic Kids Magazine at the website: http://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com

Kids Almanac 2015 
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 496

nat geo kids almanac 2016

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: and animals, culture, fun, games, geography, going green, history, liss instructive information, maps, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016, National Geographic Kids Magazine, National Geographic Society, nature, science

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24. Jurassic World is #1: you got what you deserved

landscape-1434391992-jurassic-world-box-officeJurassic World’s ascent to the biggest box office opening of all time has everyone flustered. It’s take of $208.8 million in its first weekend beat even The Avengers which made a mere $207.4 million. (It’s still ahead adjusted for inflation but Gone With the Wind is still the biggest by that metric.) The opening shattered analysts’ projections, leading to a particularly befuddled take by Deadline:

Tracking typically wears the dunce caps in these off-kilter prediction scenarios. However, distrib chiefs sincerely swear NRG, Screen Engine and Marketcast’s systems aren’t broken, and as one forecasting insider asserts: “We’re not paid to predict box office, rather identify pockets of strength, threats and opportunities in the marketplace for the studio. … It’s a five-week journey with daily phone calls.”

Okay so you had a….threat pocket? This wonk talk is Onion worthy.

So as various execs and and analysts around Hollywood drew their own estimates, what truly happened with Jurassic World is that it became a beast unto itself. That’s when the film started over-indexing and beating everyone’s expectations. And the catalyst for the WOM heatwave can be pinned squarely to social media — which, unlike tracking, captured auds’ need-to-see vibe. Adds another Universal insider: “When you go into the weekend, you are armed with your expectations based on historical data, relying on movies released during the same time period as well as assessing different variables in the marketplace. But when the film gets a chance to be itself and grows through the weekend, you lose your historical data.”

While some are still reeling from the over-indexing, Variety had a more sensible deduction: CHRIS PRATT.

“He’s the modern action hero,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “He’s funny, he’s charming, he’s self-deprecating. I call him Jimmy Stewart in a leather vest. He just has the perfect sensibility for today’s audiences.”

Also…dinosaurs. People like dinosaurs. Bold, I know.

Jurassic World toppling the Avengers is the first blow for a world where superheroes aren’t everything, and makes the generally blah reaction to Avengers 2 look a little more serious. But Jurassic World is still a pretty bland film, as the above still suggests. I know it’s hard to act scared of a screen piece of wall, but look at the kids in that photo. I couldn’t tell if Nick Robinson as the teen heartthrob was supposed to be generally insensate to any outside stimulus, or just no one could take the time to prod him with a stick.

I pretty much agreed with everything that Beat critic Hannah Lodge said about this film. It’s got an awful script, lethargic acting, some nice dinos, and a troubling obsession with running in high heels. Like Lodge, all I could think of during the second half of the movie was whether Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire was STILL running around in high heels. It turns out Howard made a point of learning how to do it and insisted on wearing them while she was running away from dinosaurs. I knows it’s a fantasy.,.but you can’t run away from dinosaurs in high heels. And there was no internal logic. At one point Pratt’s Owen even mocks her shoes, which YOU’D THINK would set up a scene where she ditches them. I kept expecting her to find some running shoes in the old compound from Jurassic Park but no such luck. She just kept running and running. A line without a payoff…that pretty much sums up the entire Jurassic World  script. The one clever thing it did was to combine the predictable roles of Feisty Girl Lead and Annoying Corporate Wonk into one role! Innovative!

Even with that, as a movie, Jurassic World, was on its own fairly low terms, a better film than Avengers 2. I hadn’t memorized the trailer for JW, so when I saw the movie at a screening, I went in thinking “This is going to be a dumb CGI fest but I’m just going to let go, let God, and give in.” I appreciated how the movie had ONE big menace, and all the action was built around a confrontation with that menace, instead of branching off to go to Wakanda to pick up some vibranium and set up three spin-offs—and perhaps audiences did as well. OTOH, if you did memorize the trailer then you pretty much saw everything cool in the movie. But that didn’t stop anyone from going to the theater. It also hit the sweet spot of millennial 90s nostalgia. All we need in the sequel when Dr. Wu pulls out his bag of Indominus Furiosa babys and sets them loose is a cameo for Dr. Ian Malcolm.

As usual the bombastic success of a film with a lackluster storyline has led to lamenting how Hollywood’s hands are tied when it comes to making anything good as Matt Patches writes for Esquire:

This is not just an issue with Trevorrow or his blockbuster. Hollywood’s cynicism is hitting peak levels and continues to trickle into our multiplexes. Movie studio executives would love to greenlight to discover the next Spielberg or nurture a moderately-sized thrill ride into a big-budget classic. But they also want to make money. There are movies that challenge the balancing act with whirlwind intensity; Christopher Nolan’s Inception takes the frustration of imagining and executing action movies and turns it into an action movie. That subtlety is hard to come by. With change and reversion seemingly out of the question, creative types feel compelled to boo and hiss in their movies. Trevorrow employs Jake Johnson to spit his fire. Last month’s Tomorrowland lectured audiences in the dangers of apocalyptic disaster movies. And on the Oscar campaign trail for last year’s Hollywood satire, Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu just came out and say what the film danced around: superhero movies are “cultural genocide.” A few months later, when Birdman won the Academy Award for Best Picture, voters could pat themselves on the back for recognizing great filmmaking. They could make Birdman—isn’t that real cinema? And then the next morning, most of the voters returned to their movie studio jobs and pushed sequels, reboots, and $150 million toy adaptions through the pipeline.

I can’t refrain from adding to the laments however, as I peruse the box office total of Mad Max Fury Road after five weeks: a relatively moderate $138.6 million. It’s made more worldwide, but set against that $200 million budget it’s still not a big moneymaker. HOW! How can this galvanizing, senses-shattering, mind-expanding masterpiece of heart and magic have made only this much when twaddle like Jurassic World is setting records? Why, oh lord, why?

Yes yes, I know, MMFR was R-rated. Meanwhile parents were secretly eager to go see JW with their kids.

Will the religious fervor for the church of George Miller pave the way for an actual sequel? Hard to tell, but I doubt we’ll see Miller allowed to spend money on that level again, alas.

In my previous inquiry into the actual reason that people found the practical effects of Mad Max Fury Road so profoundly affecting compared to CGI spectacle, I didn’t find much from a psychological viewpoint, but several people pointed me towards this Cracked piece from a few months ago, 6 Reasons Modern Movie CGI Looks Surprisingly Crappy by David Christopher Bell. This piece sums  up  some technical reasons for the affectlessness of CGI, using shots from the Jurassic World trailer as examples. Digital grading, unrealistic camera angles, bad physics, and things our minds just reject. For instance this shot of a helicopter falling into a dinosaur:


Sure, that looks pretty awesome, but destruction on that scale should blow our fucking minds. The response to dinosaurs wrecking a helicopter should be nothing short of paralysis, but this scene has no sense of gravity or consequence. There’s no scale to it. There’s even going to be a scene where (minor spoilers) a Pteranodon picks up a woman and literally drops her into the mouth of the Mosasaurus. It doesn’t matter how real the CGI looks, because that scene belongs in a fucking Sharknado movie. It’s an absurd cartoon orgy.

There’s some more technical discussion at a site that offers AfterEffects plug ins of all places, 10 Reason Why CGI is Getting Worse Not Better, which lays out most of the same arguments as the Cracked piece, with some more scolding over the orange-and-blue digital grading that every movie is saturated with these days, and also “ratcheting up the sequel-itis:”

The CGI in every sequel has a major goal: it has to be more impressive, complex, and crazier than its predecessor. The stakes have to be higher. Filmmakers try to create engagement with more explosions rather than letting story, plot, and character development produce interest.

Another huge issue is that in a world of endless sequels, we no longer have to worry about our main character’s well-being. We don’t need to be invested in the characters because there’s no chance they’ll die. They aren’t in any real peril. The actors have already signed up for two sequels! James Cameron is working on three Avatar sequels simultaneously! What’s happening now is that filmmakers are making scenes more and more extravagant to offset this sequel fatigue. They keep pushing the limits to keep us saying ‘well surely they can’t survive this’ until it gets utterly ridiculous.

So true. I actually felt that JW was a little moderate in its uses of CGI, but how many big bad dino-hybrids do you think will be in the sequel?

For one little moment, it seemed the rapturous response to Mad Max Fury Road might have Hollywood thinking that more is not better. The unexpected success of Jurassic World has laid that idea to rest, just like you knew it would. It would be nice to think that MMFR might influence some filmmakers to take more chances in that direction, and I don’t doubt that we’ll see endless allusions to it as we did after The Matrix and 300 came out. But given the way Hollywood plucks indie directors out of the schoolyard and gives them huge blockbusters to direct while the SFX unit handles all the action—JW’s Colin Trevorrow had directed one movie previously, and nothing in the film shows the slightest hint of style—it’s not very likely the next generation of action filmmakers will be making waves or demands. These days moviemaking is just too expensive and leviathan to take chances.


And you know, Chris Pratt on a motorcycle and his henchdinos. That’s one things CGi is good for.

18 Comments on Jurassic World is #1: you got what you deserved, last added: 6/16/2015
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25. Rhodesia and American Paramilitary Culture

When the suspect in the attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina was identified, the authorities circulated a photograph of him wearing a jacket adorned with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and post-UDI Rhodesia.

The symbolism isn't subtle. Like the confederate flag that flies over the South Carolina capitol, these are flags of explicitly white supremacist governments.

Rhodesia plays a particular role within right-wing American militia culture, linking anti-communism and white supremacy. The downfall of white Rhodesia has its own sort of lost cause mythic power not just for avowed white supremacists, but for the paramilitarist wing of gun culture generally.

The power of Rhodesia for paramilitarists is evident throughout the history of Soldier of Fortune magazine, a magazine that in the 1980s especially achieved real prominence. The first issue of SoF was published in the summer of 1975, and its cover story, titled "American Mercenaries in Africa", was publisher Robert K. Brown's tale of his visit to Rhodesia in the spring of 1974. (You can see the whole issue here on Scribd. Warning: There's a gruesome and disturbing picture of a corpse with a head wound accompanying the article.) For Brown's perspective on his time in Rhodesia, see this post at Ammoland.

SoF continued to publish articles on Rhodesia throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s. They also published articles about South Africa. Here's a two-page spread from the August 1985 anniversary issue (click to enlarge):

The introduction to the first article states:
SOF made quite a reputation in the early years of publication for fearless, firsthand reporting from the bloody battlefields of Rhodesia. Our efforts in that ill-fated African nation and our support of the Rhodesian government in operations against communist insurgents gained us two unfortunate, undeserved labels: racists and mercenaries. We are neither. On the other hand, we have never avoided consorting with genuine mercs to insure readers get the look and feel of Third World battlefields.
It's true that anti-communism was the primary ideology of SoF in the 1970s and 1980s and that they would take the side of anyone they considered anti-communist regardless of their race or nationality — they published countless articles supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan, the Karen rebels in Burma (heroes of Rambo 4), and the contras in Nicaragua. (Ronald Reagan, he of the Iran-Contra scandal, supported white Rhodesia even longer than Henry Kissinger, causing them to have their first public disagreement. See Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge pp. 671-673.) But the kind of anti-communism that supported Ian Smith's Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa was an anti-communism that supported white supremacist government.

The second page there begins an article written by a veteran of the South African anti-insurgency campaigns, and it sings the praises of the brutal Koevoet (crowbar) unit in Namibia. Here's a passage from the next page: "It doesn't pay to play insurgency games with Koevoet. SWAPO had felt the force of the crowbar designed to pry them out of Ovamboland."

It's no great mystery why such campaigns would appeal to white supremacist groups, and why white supremacists would use the examples of Rhodesia and South Africa to stoke the fears and passions of their followers.

Consider the Greensboro massacre of November 1979. Tensions between the Communist Workers Party and the Ku Klux Klan led to the Klan and the American Nazi Party killing 5 activists. The neo-Nazi and Klan members accused of the crimes were acquitted. The head of the North Carolina chapter of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party of America in 1979 was Harold Covington, who was implicated in the massacre but never faced criminal charges. Covington loved to brag that he'd been a mercenary in Rhodesia, though his brother claimed that wasn't quite accurate:
I suppose he wanted to move someplace where everything was white and bright, so after a yearlong stint at the Nazi Party headquarters, he wound up going to Rhodesia, and he joined the Rhodesian Army. In different blogs and writings, he was always bragging, "Oh, I was a mercenary in Rhodesia and I went out and did all this fighting." But to the best of my knowledge, according to the letters he wrote to my parents, he was a file clerk. He certainly never fired a shot in anger. He started agitating over there, and the [white-led] Ian Smith government said, "We have problems enough without this nutcase," and they bounced him.
The myth of the lost white land of Rhodesia has proved resilient for the paramilitary right. It plays into macho adventure fantasies as well as terror fantasies of black hordes wiping out virtuous white minorities. Rhodesia sits comfortably among the other icons of militia culture, as James William Gibson showed in his 1994 book Warrior Dreams, in which he described a visit to a Soldier of Fortune convention:
All the T-shirts had their poster equivalent, but much else was available, too. John Wayne showed up in poses ranging from his Western classics to The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and The Green Berets (1968). Robocop and Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry decorated many a vendor's stall. An old Rhodesian Army recruiting poster with the invitation "Be a Man Among Men" hung alongside a "combat art" poster showing a helicopter door gunner whose wolf eyes stared out from under his helmet; heavy body armor and twin machine gun mounts hid his mortal flesh. (157-158)
Anti-communism doesn't have much resonance these days, and so the support of Rhodesia or apartheid South Africa can no longer be couched in any terms other than ones of white supremacy — terms that were previously always at least in the shadows. Militarism, machismo, and white supremacy have no objection to hanging out together, and the result of their association is often deadly.

See also: "The connection between terrorist Dylann Roof and white-supremacist regimes in Africa runs through the heart of US conservatism" from Africa as a Country.

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