Category Archive – Super Fan

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 3: Movies

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to week three of our Pride month recommendations.

This week though, I wanted to talk about movies.  I was wholeheartedly excited to put a list together of teen-friendly flicks that celebrate pride.  In reality, it turned out to be a heck of a lot harder to find those kinds of movies than I thought.  Here I am trying to write up some film options that are a) appropriate for the under-18 crowd and b) would appeal to today’s modern teen.  And… I’m kinda coming up a little empty.  Many of the most acclaimed films of the last year that highlight LGBTQ+ themes (like Moonlight or Call Me By Your Name) are rated R, which doesn’t really help you guys.

So why the dry spell?  Well, I think it’s mostly because while a lot of books and TV shows are starting to get more open about that kind of representation, a lot of mainstream movies are still REALLY hesitant to represent LGBTQ+ characters (here’s a more current assessment).  And like a lot of things in life, the main explanation as to why seems to be money.  Franchises like Star Wars, Marvel and the Wizarding World spend millions upon millions of dollars on their films, and they want to make that money back as well as turn a profit.  This means that the stakes are higher for them then for a TV show or a book, and they have to appeal to the widest audience possible, both at home and globally.  And since LGBTQ+ practices are still pretty darn taboo in a lot of places, many countries will not screen movies that have explicitly gay/lesbian/trans/etc content.  Or in places where they are screened some movie goers will simply not buy a ticket for them.

It’s one of the reasons why we’re not getting any mention of Dumbledore’s sexuality in this year’s Fantastic Beasts movie.

Which is a huge bummer, if you ask me.  Mainstream films are just starting to come around to the idea of including more women and people of color in their casts, but anyone of a different orientation or gender identity is still being left in the closet.  Many filmmakers hint at it (like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok or Antiope in Wonder Woman) but hardly anyone will come out and say it.  It’s beyond frustrating for a lot of people… and for librarians who want to talk about movies for you guys.

So what DO we have?

Well, how about Love, Simon?  Based off the book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this film follows Simon Spier, a teen who’s trying to balance his family, his friends, his school and being gay but not out.  But a couple of people pop up online; one person’s trying to blackmail him by threatening to out him, and another person has caught his romantic interests.  What will Simon do?  Put a hold on the movie and find out!

One I’d really recommend is Easy A.  Though the main character isn’t gay, one of the big characters in the film is, and that kind of sets up the whole story.  Released in 2010, it stars Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast, and since she’s already lied about losing her virginity she’s asked by her friend Brandon to pretend to sleep with him so everyone will think he’s straight and the bullies will leave him alone.  Olive decides to fully embrace her new bad girl image, even stitching a red ‘A’ to her clothes after her class reads The Scarlet Letter.  But, as things often do in these situations, everything gets out of hand.  Funny and smart, Easy A is definitely worth a look.

Anything else?  Well, last year I talked a bit about LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.  It turned out that was a whole lot of nothing, much hinted but not outright stated, but the film is still fun.  There’s also The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Struck by Lightning and Saved.

So yeah, kind of a short list today.  Hopefully that’ll change soon, and more studios, directors and producers will take a chance and tell more stories that represent more people.  Any movies you guys like that I missed?  Post away in the comments section.

One more week to go for Pride Month.  Stay tuned, have a great week and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 2: TV Shows

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Hi again Geeklings!  My apologies for the delayed post, it’s been a wackadoodle week.  But here we are, welcome to week 2 of our Pride Month recommend-a-thon!  (See week 1 here.)  This week I thought we’d look at TV shows, the kind you can binge watch and soak in the happy.  I’ll put down both animated and live-action options here.  The more the merrier.

First, some of my personal faves…

Yuri on ice !!!!Yuri on Ice – It’s a series about figure skating, but it’s about so much more.  It’s about life and love and following your dreams in spite of obstacles.  And it’s just gorgeous, with beautiful animation and skating routines choreographed by skaters.  But this makes the list because of the main character, skater Yuri Katsuki of Japan, and his coach Victor Nikiforov, a world champion skater from Russia.  OK, there’s a bit of debate among fans over whether or not they’re actually a couple (I won’t get into why, ’cause of spoilers), though having watched the show I don’t know where that comes from.  They are clearly a couple, and it’s awesome.  So give it a shot.  It’s the show that finally sold me on anime, so I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Steven UniverseSteven Universe – This show is a bit strange on first watch, but the more you dig into it the more you find a rich mythology and complex characters.  The show centers around Steven, a good-natured boy with unusual parents.  His dad is human, but his mother was a Gem, a race of alien beings with superpowers and gem stone names.  Steven is being raised by his dad and by the Crystal Gems; Garnett, Amethyst and Pearl, who take on the mission of his mother Rose Quartz to fight evil and protect earth.  The interesting thing is that all Gems appear as female, and many of our main characters have romantic histories with each other, bringing up themes of gender and same-sex romance, and it’s all in a sweet and colorful way.  You’ll enjoy going on adventures with these guys… just remember your cheeseburger backpack.

Rick and MortyRick and Morty – This show is not for everyone.  It can be quite profane, violent and the characters can be much less than likable at times.  It’s also really smart, delving into really interesting themes and topics and showing several amazing and diverse worlds through the multiverse.  It can also be downright funny.  It’s going on the list because of the main character Rick Sanchez, who is a sociopathic alcoholic super genius who drags his teenaged grandson Morty on random and often dangerous adventures.  Rick is pansexual, and that’s been confirmed both by the creators and on the show itself.  Pansexuality isn’t often showcased in any medium, so to see it explored a little on a popular TV show is a bit of a deal.

So there are my big three.  Some other ones to try?  How about 13 Reasons Why, Scream Queens, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glee, My Hero Academia, Riverdale, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham, Attack on Titan, Adventure Time or Gravity Falls.  All diverse shows (Sci Fi, Horror, Anime, Adventure, Super Heroes, Drama, Musical, Comedy), and all of them including LGBTQ+ characters.

Keep watching and reading.  Stay tuned for more items the next couple of weeks, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 1: Graphic Novels

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Hi again Geeklings!  Happy June!

And of course, June means Pride Month!  That magical time of rainbows and love and equality and being who you are.  Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, there is something for everyone this month, and plenty to celebrate and to contemplate as we all move forward.

Last year I wrote a few posts about favorite LGBTQ+ characters in fandoms (you can read the posts here, here, here and here).  This year I thought I’d tweak that format a little bit and focus on just recommending the heck out of our collections, because we have A LOT of pride friendly reading, watching and listening materials.  Like, a lot.  So let’s break it down these next few weeks and show you what we’ve got.

This week, let’s start with graphic novels, because they’re awesome.  Graphic novels have often explored people of all colors of the rainbow.  Like other forms of media it can be slow to catch on (hello Comics Code), but unlike others it often doesn’t get quite as much scrutiny as movies or TV shows, so it can take a few risks now and then.

Let me start you off with a few personal favorites…

Jem and the Holograms Jem and the Holograms Vol. 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson – I’m biased on this one, because I’m a kid of the 1980s and I watched the original Jem TV series, so of course I was stoked that they were getting a reboot (the live-action film doesn’t count).  And I was not disappointed with Thompson’s new take.  Smart, funny, oh so colorful, dramatic in all the right ways, and with great characters and family themes.  It was a blast to read.  It makes the list because they did a new take on one of the band members, Kimber, who in this version is gay.  Not only that but she and Stormer, from rival band The Misfits, are crushing on each other.  *gasp*

Jughead Jughead Vol. 1 by Chip Zdarsky – One of the orientations that still hasn’t had a lot of representation (and that’s saying something) is asexuality.  When Archie comics decided to relaunch itself back in 2015 with new series and new takes on characters, Zdarsky officially confirmed that everyone’s favorite burger-loving, crown-wearing sardonic teen was indeed ace.  Honestly, it was obvious throughout the character’s 77 year history that dating is not a priority for him, so it was a natural evolution.  The series is funny, zany and plain fun.  Volume 2 was especially interesting, as we find Jughead unwittingly on a ‘date’ with a certain teenage witch.

Batwoman Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka – Batwoman was always a bit player in DC Comics until the New 52 Relaunch in the mid 2000s, when the new improved Kate Kane was revealed to be a lesbian.  This volume is a great place to start, as it goes over Kate’s history and how she came to be a caped crusader in her own right.  She lost a lot by coming out, but she also gained a lot, and has been cleaning up the streets of Gotham ever since.  Another series to try is DC Bombshells, which has Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (who are both queer themselves) and a whole host of other DC superheroes fighting during WWII.  It’s retro and exciting.

AvengersAvengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg – No list of LGBTQ+ graphic novels would be complete without the Young Avengers.  As their name implies, they’re a group of younger Marvel superheroes.  Two of the biggest standouts in the group are power couple Wiccan and Hulkling, longtime boyfriends and teammates, but their roster soon grows to include America, who is a butt kicking Latina lesbian.  I’m going to recommend The Children’s Crusade as a starting point, because it’s a really interesting story and features a lot of cross over with teams like the Avengers, the X-Men and X-Factor (who also have their own gay couple).

So there are a few personal recommendations, but for a broader look check out the list below…

I really want to read Moonstruck, Nimona, Bingo Love, Midnighter and Apollo and Secret Six.  Time to pull out my summer reading supplies (lawn chair, hat, sunscreen and footrest), I won’t be moving for a while.

Stay tuned all through June for more lists and more great reads and watchables.  Have an awesome month, remember summer break is coming (and the Teen Challenge), and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: A Brief History of Anime Fandom

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Hiya Geekling!  Enjoying the warm weather?  Ready for summer (and by extension, school to be over)?  I know I am.

So I just got back from Anime North this last weekend.  Had a lot of fun, learned some new things, got a little puppet-type critter that I hope will sit on my shoulder during my visits with the public and will delight young and old alike.  Good times.

But one of my favorite things I did this weekend was attend a panel on anime fandom in North America, presented by these guys.  I like fandoms, I like fans, I like history, and I like anime so this was a win win win win.  And in the interests of public service, I thought I’d pass some of the interesting tidbits I learned on to you guys, ’cause I’m nice like that.

So first of all, fandom for Anime on this side of the globe is much older than most people would expect.  A lot people think that it really took off in the early 2000s (or if you’re old like me, you peg it somewhere in the 1990s).  North American fans of anime have been around for about 60 years.  WHAT?!  But one of the reasons most of us may not know that was because being able to access anime was much more difficult back then than it is now.  You basically had to hope it was on broadcast TV or you had to know a guy if you wanted to see it.

One of the big things to kick it all off was a little show called Astro Boy.  It aired on NBC in 1963 and actually beat The New Adventures of Superman in the ratings.  It was followed by Speed Racer in 1968, and then more shows followed, so a lot of Baby Boomers grew up with anime shows.  Funny thing; we had protesters on Sunday convention, but the panelists pointed out that that was nothing new; there were protesters back in the 60s.  TV watch groups wrote a scathing review of Speed Racer back when it first aired.

So there’s that.

In the 1970s you got giant robots coming on the scene with Shogun Warriors.  These were toys that were popular even without a show to back them up.  The first mini festival for anime fans was held in that decade.  The first English language manga, Barefoot Gen, was published.  After Star Wars became huge a lot of related-anime was released, like Battle of the PlanetsGalaxy Express was the first anime movie to get a theatrical release in the US.  The show Star Blazers aired in 1979 and became so popular it spawned it’s own fanzine and it’s own mini cons.  It was during this decade that you got to see the first anime cosplayers at these events (though the term ‘cosplayer‘ didn’t really come into use until 1984) and where you got the first real divide among fans between heavily edited and dubbed English versions and the original Japanese versions of anime.

On to the 1980s.  Now we have Japanese arcade games and laser disc games coming onto the scene, as well as home video in 1984.  Voltron aired that same year.  Yamoto Con was the first official con in North America.  More magazines, model kits and shows came out during this decade.  You could conceivably come home from school and watch an afternoon of anime shows.  The term ‘Japanimation‘ was first coined in the 80s.  Akira was given a theatrical release in 1989 and that was a pivotal moment.  It was a film that made even the staunchest of critics, the ones who insisted all of this was ‘just for kids’, take notice and realize we had a genuine art form on our hands.

Then the 1990s, when things got even more mainstream.  It was rough for the first part of the decade because of changing economics in both the US and Japan, making it more expensive to buy and produce shows.  Some toy stores went out of business during this time, and despite studios attempting to crack down on them, bootlegged VHS tapes, merchandise and fan dubs were pretty rampant.  But when production costs went down things got much better.  Stations like the Sci Fi Channel, Toonami on the Cartoon Network, YTV and Global were all known for airing anime on television.  Sailor Moon and Pokemon came out during this time and exploded in popularity.  We had anime-inspired movies like The Matrix.  It was starting to take off globally too.Image result for anime meme sailor moon

In the 2000s though, pretty much any barrier that had existed to keep you from getting into anime dissolved.  In the early part of the decade you could still watch stuff on TV and in cable packages.  We had new franchises like Cardcaptors and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, which was the #1 show on Cartoon Network across all demographics, even with a Japanese theme song (that hadn’t happened before).  DVDs and Blu Rays changed the game, as they took up less space, were often less expensive and could include both subtitles and dubs.

And then came the internet.  Good heavens, the internet.

That brought anime fans together worldwide, and made it so much easier to promote conventions.  Before we had search engines we had websites like Anime Web Turnpike, which listed all the anime-related sites you could visit (back in the days when the internet was small enough you could list certain sites on one page).  Fansites and webcomics exploded.  From 2000 – 2006 there was a huge spike in peer-to-peer file sharing and fan subs.  There was also an explosion of conventions and memes.

Then from 2007 to 2008 there was an anime crash, due to low-quality and much too expensive DVDs causing certain companies to fold, including Bandai.  But what emerges from that?  Crunchyroll.  We now have other online streaming services like Funimation, Netflix and Amazon Prime, often airing their episodes within a few weeks of them airing in Japan, or sometimes the next day.

And that brings us to now.

WHEW!

OK, that was REALLY fast and short, but you get the idea.  Anime in North America has a long and rich history, not just confined to the last couple of decades.  And the main thing to realize now is how much more accessible everything is; we can now watch and discuss these series as they air, which is really cool.

Anything else I left out?  Post away in the comments.  Have a great week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek Bonus: Geek Pride Day 2018

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Happy Geek Pride Day Geeklings!

I posted last year about this most awesome of days, and now the time has come again to celebrate what we love and who we are.  In honor of the occasion I’ve got some updated lists of geeky books and docs…

And we can read up on the subject by checking out some common types of geeks, and we’ll watch a classic of comedy together.

Thanks Geeklings!  Until next time, End of Line.