The Fabulous Art of: Emma Rios

Emma Rios Maneiro is a comic book artist and illustrator based in Spain. Her first work in the U.S. market was for the BOOM! Studios title Hexed.  Rios has gone on to illustrate several Marvel Comics titles, including Strange (a 2010 miniseries featuring Dr. Strange), which was my introduction to her work. Below is some of her delightful artwork:

A convention sketch for Callum Wilson.

You can check out more of Emma Rios’ work on her Flickr page.

The Fabulous Art of: Emma Rios

Shattering unconscious biases

More than once in my life I’ve had someone remark “I didn’t know you were gay” or “There’s nothing gay about you. I’d have never guessed.” Statements of that nature reflect the biases about gay people held by that individual. There is no visual characteristic defining all gay people. We’re not a monolithic entity all acting the same. We are human beings with a diverse background and beliefs who express their sexuality in a variety of ways (with some choosing not to express their sexuality). Being surprised that I’m gay or saying there’s nothing gay about me is saying “Your expression of sexuality does not comport with how I think gay people act” (it’s also treating heterosexuality as the default). It’s that thinking right there that needs to be challenged. Gay people don’t “act” in any specific way that would allow someone to recognize their sexuality (just to be clear, I’m talking about engaging in everyday activities like going to the gym, the grocery store, or interacting with employees on the job. I’m not talking about holding hands with a significant other, kissing them, or otherwise acting in a way that signals one’s sexuality).

I’ve also had some personal experience with implicit racial biases. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told “You’re so well-spoken” or “You are eloquent”. Rarely have I heard those words directed at others, so what made me so special? For years, that question lingered at the back of my mind. Then I learned that many people hold unconscious beliefs about black people, and one of those beliefs is that African-Americans don’t speak correctly. While I’m not entirely sure what speaking correctly means, I know it involves enunciating words and speaking clearly (to be honest, I suspect it’s a criticism of black people for not speaking like white people). Here’s the thing though:  all black people don’t speak the same.  Shocker, I know.

It’s implicit biases like those above that need to be shattered so that people can come to view TBGL people, women, and People of Color as people, rather than a collection of stereotypes. In a recent post, I wrote about the importance of diversity initiatives in combating racial stereotypes. One of the suggestions I had was for Hollywood to cast more PoC in non-stereotypical leading or supporting roles. Whether a live-action movie or television show or an animated series, presenting People of Color in a positive role can help shatter unconscious racial stereotypes. What type of positive role?

How about a wealthy globe-trotting black woman who becomes a superhero after acquiring a mystical amulet that allows her to channel the abilities of any animal on the planet?

It looks like DC’s team of TV heroes is growing by one more: Vixen. According to KSiteTV CW a Vixen animated series which will debut this fall on its digital-only channel was announced by the CW at the Television Critics Association event Sunday. The project is being headed up by Arrow‘s Marc Guggenheim, and will reportedly be tied into the DC television continuity shared by Arrow and The Flash.

Originally created back in 1978 by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner, Vixen is primarily known as a team member of books like Justice League and Suicide Squad. In current comics continuity, she has been a member of both Justice League International and the main Justice League team. She’s made several appearances in various DC animated shows, from Justice League Unlimited to Batman: The Brave and the Bold and even a cameo in Teen Titans Go!.

Guggenheim explained to CBR that the series is initially planned for six episodes, and will be set in Detroit as a homage to the Justice League in the 1980s. The writer/producer said Vixen will be an origin story with heavy magical elements, in constrast to Arrow being crime-based and The Flash being science-based. Arrow writers Brian Ford Sullivan and Keto Shimizu will be joining Guggenheim on Vixen, but said the voice-casting of the title character hasn’t been finalized. Guggenheim did say that The Flash‘s Grant Gustin and Arrow‘s Stephen Amell would voice their own characters in the animated series.

While I envisioned more roles for People of Color on the big or small screen rather than digital (I worry that a digital-only series won’t reach many viewers, but I really don’t have anything to base this feeling on), this is still a step in the right direction.

Shattering unconscious biases

Feminist Link Round Up 1.14.15

Despite what many make think, as creators and fans, women have been part of the comic book world from the beginning. A new documentary, She Makes Comics, interviews several industry creators as it traces the history of women in the world of comic books.

I’d like to see this doc.

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 Florida man allegedly sold his pregnant girlfriend 

Trigger Warning

The Miami Herald reports that Justin Robert Muoio forced his 23-year-old girlfriend to advertise herself as a sex worker for “fetish clientele” and demanded that she have sex with them for two months while she was pregnant in 2013.

Prior to that, the woman alleges that since 2009, Muoio had “physically forced her” to work as a sex worker for an agency called VIP Escort Services, where “she would average 8 to 10 dates a day,” six days a week, according to court documents.

Muoio was arrested back in August during a domestic dispute with the woman, which the police reported as a “heated altercation … related to infidelity.” When the woman tried to escape, Muoio tried to escape, Muoio dead-bolted the door and refused to allow her to leave. She eventually escaped by climbing out of a window while Muoio was talking to his mother.

It gets even worse: Muoio’s mother, Louise Henig-Muoio, 66, an “independent real estate professional” in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, was allegedly also involved, with cops saying she threatened the woman and refused to allow her to leave. Henig-Muoio has been arrested and charged with false imprisonment.

* * * *

 Fraternities at UVA must have ‘sober monitors’ at every party

[Fr]aternities wanting to throw parties at the University of Virginia will have to get three members to stay “sober and lucid” to monitor behavior and bedrooms, under new rules imposed after a media report of a gang rape at one of the gatherings.

The student houses will also have to post a guard at the front door and ban pre-mixed drinks, according to the safety regulations the university announced on Tuesday.

At least one of the sober monitors will have to be posted on the staircase leading to bedrooms and have access to every room in the house, the university said.

UVA banned all social events at fraternities and sororities after Rolling Stone magazine published an article in November detailing an alleged rape at a party in September 2012, and accusations that the university failed to respond.

Rolling Stone later said there were editorial mistakes in its story and asked Columbia University’s journalism school to review the coverage.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan said the ban would be lifted, as long as the organizations signed onto the new regulations meant to guard against excessive drinking and the risk of sexual violence.

“I believe the new safety measures recommended by the student leaders in the Greek community (the fraternities and sororities) will help provide a safer environment for their members and guests,” Sullivan said.

* * * *

Pay transparency.

That’s one of the positive aspects of the recent Sony hack.

Charlize Theron had to negotiate to get paid as much as her male co-star

Leaked documents showed that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were getting a smaller cut of the profits than their male costars for appearing in American Hustle. And that has led movie studios to take a hard look at how they compensate women.

So when Charlize Theron signed on to film a sequel to the 2012 blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman, she apparently wouldn’t settle until she got what she was worth. According to Page Six, she insisted she be paid as much as costar, Chris Hemsworth, and her persistence paid off. She’ll reportedly be making more than $10 million – just as much as Thor himself.

* * * *

Take a good look at this picture:

Now look at this one:

The first image was taken at a Charlie Hebdo photo-op of various world leaders and you’ll notice the presence of several female heads of state.  The second image however? An ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper photoshopped the female leaders out of the image.

[Th]e march was to express solidarity between nations and included leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Anne Hidalgo, the current Mayor of Paris, among a majority of male leaders from around the world. Later in the day all the world leaders posed for a picture together.

But you wouldn’t know that any women were in attendance according to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper, The Announcer, which removed the ladies from the photo and ran the shopped picture on the front page of the publication.

Feminist Link Round Up 1.14.15

That Ant-Man teaser

For the sake of the movie, I hope the actual trailer is more interesting than this. While the central idea is clear-a convicted criminal is given a second chance and an opportunity to turn his life around-it’s presented So. Damn. Boringly.  That voiceover didn’t help matters either.

That Ant-Man teaser

Comic Book News 12.24.14

Who’s going to be ‘The Wall’?

Viola Davis has been all-but cast as Amanda Waller in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. Along with Oprah Winfrey and Octavia Spencer, the star of How To Get Away With Murder was on the short list of actresses up for the role of Waller.

According to sources, the lovely Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) has bagged the role of major DC Comics villain and Prison Warden Amanda Waller in David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad. In the comics, Amanda Waller is a former congressional aide and government agent often placed in charge of the Suicide Squad, a semi-secret government-run group of former supervillains working in return for amnesty.

Now, the key here is that the role is hers provided that the filmmakers can work out her TV schedule, which will be no small feat considering how big of a hit How To Get Away With Murder is. If it works out she will be joining Jared Leto as the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Tom Hardy as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Boomerang (or Captain Boomerang), and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress.

I wrote previously that I really wanted a plus-sized black woman cast in the role bc Waller’s size is an important part of her character (I just had a nightmare flash of the role going to a white woman…shudder). At least it was prior to the 2011 reboot when DC decided to make the Wall slimmer and sexier (which was at odds with the intent of her creator, John Ostrander). Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that a black woman has been cast in such an important role (remember, Waller is one of the most badass characters in the DC Universe), especially since Hollywood is nowhere near as diverse as it ought to be. But still…

* * * *

USA Today has revealed that after 37 years, Jessica Drew will finally receive a costume overhaul (she’s tweaked her costume a little over the years, but nothing significant). Debuting today in the playable mobile game ‘Spider-Man Unlimited’, the new Kris Anka-designed costume will debut in Spider-Woman’s ongoing book in March.

“As much as I’m a fan of spandex and it has its time and place, I felt Jess as a character could move away from that for a good long while,” says Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe.

And series writer Dennis Hopeless hopes both changes cement her as one of Marvel’s A-list personalities. “You’ve seen her as a superspy and Avenger and soldier. Now let’s see this person as an old-school hero.”

Spider-Woman, Spider-Man and other various Spider-centric characters are currently embroiled in dimension-hopping battles in Marvel’s Spider-Verse crossover, and in a bit of synergy between the publishing and game sides, the expansive story is a part of Spider-Man Unlimited, an “endless runner” game published by Gameloft for iOS, Android and Windows platforms with more than 30 million downloads since its September launch.

Spider-Woman’s appearance also arrives with an in-game event that features her new wardrobe in action for the first time.

Instead of head-to-toe spandex, Jessica Drew’s do-gooder couture now includes a lot more leather, black pants, two-toned gloves and a jacket that goes from streetwear to spider-bedecked superhero gear in just a few snaps.

“As a woman myself who loves games and comics, I love to see that functional, cool stylish look. It’s like a jacket I would want to wear daily,” says Tatiana Nahai, product manager for Gameloft.

“She’s sexy but not in a spandex way — in a modern, unique way.”

There are a few throwbacks to the old costume she first wore in 1977 — the familiar triangles are there as well as large spider-eyes, though now they’re yellow-lens glasses that become a facemask when one click. Spider-Woman also has the same type of web gliders that spread out under her arms — to slow a fall or swoop in on a bad guy — though the new ones are engaged from the back of her jacket.

Since Lowe took over the Spider-Man titles as group editor in February, he says he had been planning a new Spider-Woman solo series — her first was in 1978 and ran 50 issues — and also a more contemporary outfit since “frankly I don’t love the classic one.” (The new design was already well underway when Marvel came under fire in August for a variant Spider-Woman cover by artist Milo Manarathat was deemed too hyper-sexualized by many in the comic community.)

Working with Hopeless and Anka, Lowe wanted a costume that walked the line between superhero-ready and something a woman would wear in the real world. “But for the most part,” he says, “they’re clothes to kick ass in.”

They also make sense for Hopeless’ plans for Jessica Drew in the comic, according to the writer.

In recent years, she’s led a notably insane life, even for a Marvel superhero — Secret Invasion revealed that she’d been replaced for years by a shape-shifting alien Skrull, she’s gone through a number of crazy superspy missions, Infinity threw her and the rest of the Avengers into an intergalactic battle to save Earth, and in Spider-Verse, the character’s been tasked with keeping various newbies safe in the middle of a conflict involving several parallel universes.

However, Hopeless says, “she’s just fed up with it: ‘I have nothing normal and I’m risking my life all the time to do stuff that’s so crazy I can’t even explain it to people.’ “

I’m quickly warming to the new costume (which will see an in-story reason for its debut). Here is Anka’s redesigned Spider-Woman costume:

I like that creators are making an attempt to create unique, functional costumes for comic book characters (as seen in the new designs for DC’s Batgirl and Marvel’s Captain Marvel). I grew up on superheroes. I’ve loved the spandex set all my life, but I have no problem with the idea of redesigning superhero costumes. The idea seems to be to retain the superhero elements while creating a costume that’s practical for a person to wear.  Oh, and boy oh boy is this new Spider-Woman costume perfect for cosplaying (for men and women-this isn’t a gendered costume)! Fan art featuring Jessica Drew’s new costume is sure to be forthcoming, and in fact, has already begun:

Fan art by Jeremy Treece

* * * *

 The men of the Justice League express their sexuality

In the comic book world, sexual objectification and sexualization of women is common. It’s a rare day when fictional male characters are sexualized, so it’s noteworthy that DC Comics has produced an alternate Justice League cover featuring the (all-white) guys in a Magic Mike inspired image (apparently DC is releasing a swath of movie inspired cover variants on their March shipping titles).

When progressives talk about how women are sexualized in comics, this is what they’re talking about. On a regular basis, readers are invited to view female characters in a sexual light (the cisgender, heterosexual male gaze), but so rarely are male characters presented in a similar manner.  This is a welcome sight bc it is clearly marketed to women and gay men.  An added plus is that the image presents the heroes in a sexualized manner that makes sense (i.e. the JLAers are stand-ins for the Magic Mike strippers-they’re supposed to be sexualized).

* * * *

DC Comics publishes a straight up sexist kids book

Super Heroes Book of Opposites is a kids book aimed at teaching kids about opposites such as right/left, up/down, and over/under.  Important concepts for kids to learn of course.  There’s another lesson the book imparts and it ain’t pretty.

Notice anything?

The male characters are portrayed heroically while feminist icon Wonder Woman is presented in a maternal role…a role that is gender essentialist as all get out. Because obviously there were no other images they could use to show Wonder Woman pushing something. Hell, they could have flipped Superman and Wonder Woman. This is one of the insidious ways that socially approved gender roles are reinforced on children. On his Facebook page, writer Micah Ian Wright expresses his displeasure:

Wonder Woman doing that heroic stuff that the Patriarchy allows female heroes to do. Ever wonder why we’ve never seen a Wonder Woman film? You’re looking at what this company thinks of their own character.

If I’m not mistaken, the art is by José Luis García-López.  The characters look like images DC used back in the 70s and 80s for licensing purposes. There’s nothing wrong with repurposing those images, but it looks like DC didn’t stop to think about what message this sends to kids.

(hat tip Bleeding Cool)

* * * *

 Netflix has found their Luke Cage

In a deal with Marvel Comics, Netflix is bringing the Defenders to the small screen in a few years.  Before that however, they will produce four series highlighting the members of this upcoming team. With production on the Daredevil series having begun, the hunt was on to find an actor to portray Luke Cage. Lo and behold, they’ve found one:

Mike Colter will be Luke Cage in Netflix’s upcoming miniseries.
Comic Book News 12.24.14

The Fabulous Art of Steve Rude

You can check out more art from Steve Rude on his Facebook page.

The Fabulous Art of Steve Rude

A silent night in Gotham

Over the last few years, artist Mike Maihack has written and drawn a series of comic strips involving Batgirl and Supergirl.  Apparently, this one is the last for a while. I haz a sad.

Look at that. Bats is a big ole softy.

A silent night in Gotham

The Fabulous art of Reilly Brown

I only include this image bc the art is really good. I really don’t like Deadpool any longer. I think he’s massively overused and pretty one-note as a character.  At one time I liked reading his exploits, but that was back when Joe Kelly wrote his book, and later, when Gail Simone wrote it.

Hyperion (this piece reminds me of Rick Leonardi’s art)

These are just the tip of the iceberg.  You can check out more of Reilly Brown’s astounding artwork here.

The Fabulous art of Reilly Brown

The Fabulous art of Kevin Wada

DC’s Captain Marvel (or Shazam as they call him now). He looks more like Captain Marvel Jr. to me though.

You can check out more of Kevin Wada’s excellent art at his Tumblr.

The Fabulous art of Kevin Wada

Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.7.14

I have fond memories of playing Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario 2, and even Super Mario 3 (though I never beat that game; wish I still had it).  In my Internet wandering today, I stumbled upon this site by illustrator and designer Christopher Lee.  Lee has created a 5-print series based on the world of the Mario Brothers as seen in aforementioned games, as well as Super Mario World and Super Mario Land 2:  Six Golden Coins (neither of which have I ever played).  The prints look really nifty:

These prints (and more) can be purchased here.

* * * *

In comic book movie news, DC Comics’ Suicide Squad will be getting the live-action treatment in 2016 as part of Warner Brothers’ efforts to expand its cinematic universe.

Variety is reporting that the cast for Warner Bros / DC Entertainment film Suicide Squad has been set. Jared Leto will play the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Boomerang and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress.

The film will be directed by David Ayer, produced by Charles Roven and will begin shooting next April in Toronto. The film is set to open August 5, 2016.

The role of Amanda Waller has yet to be cast but it’s said the studio is considering Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Oprah Winfrey for the part. Also, speculation is that Jesse Eisenbergwill reprise his role as Lex Luthor from Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice but that has yet to be confirmed.

To the best of my knowledge, the Joker was never a member of the Squad in the comics (not that the movies have to follow the history of the comics), and he seems really out-of-place here bc he’s such a wild card.  Perhaps that will lead to some movie magic. We’ll see.

For those unfamiliar with the Suicide Squad, here’s some backstory:

The title was resurrected by writer John Ostrander following the success of DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event and subsequent soft-relaunch (The new Squad made their debut in a mini-series titled Legends, which also introduced new takes on the Flash, Wonder Woman and the Justice League). Keeping the name and little else, Ostrander introduced the concept of “Task Force X,” a secret government agency headed by Amanda Waller, a character who remains almost unique in superhero comics: a black woman in a position of authority whose morality is murky at best, but whose ability to get things done is unparalleled (Following her introduction, Waller quickly assumed a position of power throughout the entire DC line, and was often portrayed as an equal to Batman in the badass stakes, to give you an impression of how powerful she was).

Task Force X was a program that worked on the simple understanding that there are some missions that are too dangerous for even the most capable spies or soldiers — and so they should be carried out by convicted supervillains instead, because (a) they have superpowers, and (b) it’s not a big deal if they end up getting killed in the process. Even if they get captured, Waller figured, it wouldn’t be a problem because in the unlikely possibility that someone would believe anything a supervillain had to say, all of them were fitted with remote control explosive devices that could kill them at the flick of a switch. Win-win, surely…?

I’m sure the racist bigots of the Internet have already gotten into a tizzy over the casting of Will Smith as Deadshot (he’s white in the comics, but as with so many characters in comic books, his race is not so innately tied to his character that it can’t be changed).  My only issue with that casting bit?  So not a fan of Will Smith.

One thing I really, really hope they get right is Amanda Waller.  She is a bad-ass black woman.  She’s also one of the few female characters in comics who has traditionally been plus-sized (her nickname ‘The Wall’ stems from that somewhat, but also the fact that she’s tough and unyielding–you pretty much have to be to stand up to Batman). I say traditionally because Amanda Waller used to look like this:

In 2011, the DC Universe was rebooted (you may have read of my disdain for the reboot more than once).  One of the changes they made was to Amanda Waller. She looks like this now:

See anything different?  When it comes to representation in comics, plus-sized people are among those groups who are least represented.  The world is not made up of thin super models.  Comic book readers have been demanding better representation of minority groups, and the comics industry has been making strides. While I think Marvel is doing better than DC, the latter has made a few good moves.  Since the reboot, DC has introduced Cree superhero Equinox, Arab-American Simon Baz (Earth’s newest Green Lantern), and Brazilian ally of Aquaman, Ya’Wara. Despite this welcome influx of diversity, it saddens me that DC decided to change Amanda Waller from short and stout to tall, thin, and sexy.  We see enough of the latter in comics already. For those of us interested in more diverse comic book characters, characters who represent the diversity inherent in the human race, the change to a sexualized Amanda Waller is a huge step backwards (along with eliminating Barbara Gordon as Oracle, this was one of the biggest alterations that I, and other readers, disliked).  Here’s hoping the Suicide Squad movie sticks to the original intent of her creator, John Ostrander.

(speaking of Ostrander, he penned a column in which he expressed his disappointment at the changes to Amanda Waller)

* * * *


And now the Gal Gadot starring Wonder Woman movie has a director–Michelle MacLaren:

According to insiders, MacLaren will work with the project’s writers, who remain unnamed at this stage, to lasso together a script for the movie, which would star Gal Gadot. The actress will make her debut as the heroine in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Charles Roven, Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder are among those producing the Wonder Woman movie, which is set for a 2017 release.

MacLaren was a top choice for the project due to her muscular work on Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, although she is perhaps most associated with her directing and executive producing work on the much-loved Breaking Bad.

MacLaren’s signing caps off a director search that began in the summer, and her deal culminates an on-and-off-again dance with the Amazonian princess.

  * * * *

I think this would be the perfect Xmas present for Two-Face

This is who to thank if your next phone has two screens

I can’t seem to copy/paste the article, so click the above link for more info on this two-faced phone.

* * * *

I’m sure I was the only person who, as a kid was curious about fire.  Yep. Only men.  Seriously though, I liked doing so, though I wasn’t a pyro.  It was stuff like lighting napkins or straws on fire using the stove top burner.  As I got older sometimes I’d burn two straws together in a restaurant while waiting for my food to arrive (this was in the days when smoking was allowed in restaurants; I’d burn straws over an ashtray). Burning stuff is just cool you know (I ain’t talking about people, animals, private property or anything like that though).  In light of that (see what I did there), the following is just beyond bad-ass:

The wristband that turns you into PYRO: Gadget lets you shoot fireballs from your hands like the superhero

From balloon-popping lasers to Wolverine-style claws, there are numerous concept and protoype weapons designed by wannabe superhero inventors.

But, a magician has not only created a wristband that turns the wearer into Pyro from the Marvel comics, he is selling it for $174 (£111) online.

Named after the comic book mutant, the Pyro band features four chambers that fires four fireballs, and it can be controlled from the wrist or remotely. 

Its inventor, Adam Wilber explained: ‘Fire. Since the dawn of time it has been the reward at the end of man’s quest. Both creator and destroyer, it has historically been the element hardest to control.

‘Until now. Your quest is over. The power of fire in the palm of your hand. That’s the power of Pyro.’

It is available from the Ellusionist site, and ships internationally.

The band resembles a watch and can be concealed under a sleeve.

Pressing a button on the device shoots the fireballs, or a remote control can be used to fire them from a distance of up to 30ft (nine metres) away.

It uses so-called Flash Cotton, or Flash Paper that fits inside the barrels.

A heater coil then ignites the material when the button is pressed, forcing the flame to fire from the chambers.

The pack contains enough of this material for up to 50 uses.

Refills then start at $8 (£4).

Flash material is used by magicians to create fast burning flames for tricks.

Mr Wilber describes Pryo as a ‘badass professional device’, and as a result only over 18s are allowed to purchase or use the fire shooter.

The site ships internationally, but a disclaimer stresses that the device ‘contains dangerous elements’ that are governed by the laws of the country in which is it bought.

Buyers have to agree to the terms and conditions, and watch an instructional safety video by Adam Wilber, before buying the device.

It is recommended, and has been built for, magicians.

Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.7.14