Monday, November 29, 2010

Norfolk County Council's ideas for saving money

OK, I've been gearing up to write this for about a month but haven't quite managed it.  The whole task seems rather daunting and somewhat futile as I have no doubt that they will go ahead with the cuts regardless.  On the other hand, I also believe that it's really really important for people to speak up about things that are wrong.  If you do not voice your opinions about the reduction in public services, how are those making the decision going to know how you feel?  We need to tell them so that the decision, so that all responsibility stemming from that, will be on their head.

This a very long post, but please read it through to the end.

All the ideas and plans that the Council have are detailed in these documents here.  About a  month ago I first heard about the proposed cuts and went to a public meeting.  I had assumed the meeting was held for the Deaf community and was going to be focused on the Sensory Support Unit.  It wasn't, it was a general meeting and was dominated by people, both on the panel and in the audience, who were concerned about the job cuts.  Well, losing up to 3000 jobs is bad, there's no way round that.  But removing so much of the support services around vulnerable people in Norfolk is as bad, if not worse.  Most people at the meeting had no idea about the work of the Sensory Support Unit and no idea what the closure of it would mean to it's users.

I came out of the meeting fairly angry and frustrated.  There will be a march on 4th December throughout Norwich to protest against the cuts, but again, I fear the emphasis will be on job cuts, and not on the support services which we will be losing.  I know it isn't entirely the fault of Norfolk Council, the Conservative* government has told them to expect a £155 million gap in funding in order to help reverse the national deficit.  With an ageing population (you know, the service users) growing, the cuts form central government, inflation and a promise not to increase council tax the Council needs to find ways to save money.

How are they going to do this?
They have come up with various suggestions, put them in various documents and called it the Big Conversation.  A lot of it boils down to withdrawing services and expecting the private sector or volunteers to step in and take over.  Getting people to do jobs for free is really ethical, amirite?
  • They are reducing eligibility or services from those with 'substantial' need to those with 'critical' need.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that people categorised as having substantial need could soon move to the critical need list, and that in the long run this will cost them more money.
  • They intend to "provide leadership and influence to ensure Norfolk's voice is heard".  What use is this if you are not serving your constituents?  It's a cop out.
  • "Commissioning efficient, responsive and cost effective services to meet people's needs" - this means outsourcing to private companies who in all likelihood don't or can't give a stuff about the pastoral care of their clients, because they are in it to make a profit.
  • "Supporting, developing & maintain the infrastructure that helps our economy" - How???  Where is the funding for business and employment support that helps boost the economy?  What other services will be lost?
  • Signposting people to the services they need and providing information about the services they need - so, that means outsourcing then.
  • "Helping & enabling others to build and maintain strong, sustainable and caring communities" - relying on volunteers to do the job they used to do.
  • Encouraging people to use their personal budgets to buy care and support for themselves.  These personal budgets are ALREADY being spent on things the recipient needs.  Personal budgets won't increase, so how will it be possible to afford everything?  This seems to me like people are being punished for requiring state aid.
  • "People will be paying more towards the real cost of providing the services they receive or
    receiving help and support from others within their neighbourhoods"  Because vulnerable people are known for being rich aren't they?
There's a particularly disgusting section about the meals on wheels service (emphasis mine)-

"Many community and commercial organisations now provide options that give people a choice they
simply didn’t have before. For example, balanced ready meals are now available widely through
supermarkets with delivery options at a greater choice and lower cost than the council can provide through its more limited Meals on Wheels service.
Similarly, community based leisure options offer a wide choice of daytime activities. Norfolk is blessed with a vibrant community life and voluntary sector, and strong parish and town councils. So we propose to modernise our services to take account of these changes in society and importantly, make sure we are targeting our services to where there is greatest need."

The Meals on Wheels service does not just provide meals.  They provide human contact, help with preparing the food, checking the person is eating enough and social interaction.  The supermarkets will not do this.  Not everyone has a credit or debit card to buy online.  Not everyone has a bank account.  Not everyone has Internet access to order food, or even know how to use the Internet, let alone afford it.

They talk about the cost of support for children coming into council care:
from ‘critical and substantial’, to ‘critical’ only."

Are we expected to believe that £51,000 is too much to spend on a child?  Note that they are reducing the eligibility to critical for adults only - because to reduce that for children would put them in breach of their statutory obligations.

Here are other costs they have quoted:

"Here are some of the costs we face:
· One fire engine costs £27,000 each year to lease.
· A residential care package for one older person can range between £15,000 and £93,000 a year.
· Providing residential care packages for adults with a learning disability can cost between £16,000 and £206,000 for one adult each year – although the average cost of care is £45,000.
· On average it costs the service £17,368 per year to deliver day care for an adult with a learning disability.
· Average cost of foster care for one child is £550 per week.
· Every tonne of waste that householders bring to our recycling centres costs us £91.
· The cost of subsiding Park & Ride journeys currently costs the council 89p per journey."

I mean seriously, what £27,000 is too much for a fire engine?  That saves lives?  £17,368 is too much to spend on day care for adults?  People providing foster care should do it for even less?

Then there's the bit about wanting to cut the rural bus service - with fewer buses, fewer people will use them, meaning the Council will argue that demand is decreased, so more buses will be cut, and so on and so on.  Meanwhile the infrastructure is disappearing from our villages so to access vital services you have to get into the towns or cities, but now you won;t be able to. Great.  Isolation beckons.

They appear to think that volunteers and members of the family will step in as carers.  They forget that not everybody can care for their family.  Not everyone has family.  Not everyone has the mental, physical or financial resources to help their family (or friends).  What happens to these people, these potential carers?  What happens to those needing care?

They intend to produce an Equality Impact Assessment of the proposals and use this to inform their decision.  This just stinks of bullshit - removing the Sensory Support Unit is obviously going to have an adverse impact on those with visual and hearing disabilities, because they are it's target user group.  If the Council was really interested in equality they wouldn't be proposing the closure of the Unit. 

The proposals state that they will "Reduce the scale and capacity of the sensory support service - We propose to scale back this service so that it meets only statutory requirements. It would mean the work of the current sensory support team would cease and statutory services commissioned through other providers."

At the public meeting the staff said they had already been told their jobs were going.  All of their work is a priority.  The Unit funds other vital services in the area.  It's a bloody disgrace (and really require scary) that it;s being considered for the axe.  I see now they have put up an extra document talking specifically about the Unit, go here and click on the documents tab, then consultation document.  Unfortunately it's in word, but if you need to read it and don't have word email me on paicomics [at] yahoo dot co dot uk and I'll get a pdf (or other) version emailed to you.


In the introduction, it states:

"We propose to reduce the level of services offered by our Sensory Support Service. We propose to do this by meeting only the needs of people who are eligible for social care services as set out by the Fair Access to Care (FACs) criterion. At present, we provide specialist support for people who have sensory support needs, but do not necessarily meet the FACs criterion.
If this proposal is agreed and implemented, we would no longer fund the sensory support team. People who are eligible for services under FACs criterion would continue to receive support services, but from their locality team through self directed support and personal budgets.
This proposal would see savings of approximately £1.06m."

Face to face meetings are being held with the user groups affected, some have already been held but I believe that one is due to take place at the Norwich Deaf Centre on 11th December.

The consultation runs from 26th October 2010 to 10th January 2011.  The Council Cabinet will meet on 24th January to decide what to do.  The full, horrific list of what will get axed is to be found here.  I would list them, but I'm too sickened by the proposals to look at it anymore. The next 4 years of this pissing Tory government are going to be hell on toast..

You know what else I'm sick of?  Mentioning this to hearing people and having them say 'yeah well something has got to be lost to save money, so it's the SSU or something else.'  I don't even have the energy to argue with them about it, if you have no empathy or understanding of how lucky you are to be able bodied in a society which does not value disabilities or people with disabilities, you..well, you annoy me.  And by the way, everyone is gonna be fucked over by these proposals.  The elderly, the young, those with mental health issues, learning difficulties, those with HIV/AIDs, the arts, parents and the museum service.

Fuck I'm depressed.

*OK OK, technically it's a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.  I place the blame for these ridiculous economic policies at the Tories feet.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coming out in Comics spreads

I got another article published on Prism Comics.  It's built up around my regular Coming Out in Comics articles I post on here on Pai, but it extrapolates things a bit more.  Go read it here if you're interested.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

From the UN, see here: http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/violence/

It depresses me that we need a day like this.  It depresses me that the media (usually) don't report on it.

You know what also depresses me?  that due to the gender wage gap, from the 2nd November I am effectively working for free.  Eh.  How rubbish is that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ellen Baker

So anyone following me on twitter may have noticed that I read a lot of Animal Man recently.  Not sure if I've mentioned it here or not.  Anyway, upon reading the run I discovered that Ellen Baker is pretty damn cool.  Check some of these scans out:

Upon discovering Mirror Master in her house (issue #8):

Don't mess with her.  She's tough.

She gets annoyed with her husband (issue 51):
Those panels are drawn by the very talented Steve Pugh and coloured by the equally talented Tatjana Wood.  The body language is excellent.  The above scene takes place in the excellent Flesh and Blood storyline (issues 51 to 56) dealing largely with Cliff, Buddy and Ellen's son, being taken away by a crazy uncle.

Then later on in the run, Ellen left her family to join a radical feminist lesbian commune.  This sounds terrible.  It isn't.  It happened naturally and believably and the members of the commune were not caricatures.  Here's a few pages where Ellen's preferences get discussed (from issue 77):




She's an illustrator mostly doing bit part work or hack jobs for other people but she did once get a book deal:

Her son also draws and when she gets a job with a comic writer she notices some similarities between his and her son's work (can't remember the exact issue number, but it's after Flesh and Blood):
Ellen has been blessed with good artists throughout the Animal Run run.  Check out her facial expression in that last panel.

This is a woman who has had her husband die and turn into a humanoid animal thing several times.  Life with Buddy Baker is chaotic.  Yet she retains her sense of humour.  She's sardonic and sarcastic.  She's straightforward and clear.
Those pages are from issues 66 and 79, respectively.  The last one is where Ellen has lost Buddy again.  That's her mum and travelling friend of the Bakers with her, not anyone from the commune.

Ellen's brilliant.   One of the great things about the Animal Man run was the central role that family played, the interactions that were shown within the pages.  Rarely have I seen hoem life relationships depicted with such passion and accuracy.

Coming soon - Ellen's mother, equally kick ass.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aquaman gets some respect

From Animal Man issue 2:

You don't see that happen very often.

I miss Aquaman-as-king.  I know we've got him back in Brightest Day (which I am very pleased about) but I miss his role as King and leader.  As King, he's got a very special niche among superheroes.  The other members of the JLA choose to be responsible for civilians.  They operate outside of the law and they can choose what rules to follow.  Aquaman is different - as leader of a nation he is responsible for his subjects regardless of how he feels about them.  He is bound by law and convention and he is accountable to them.  He cannot just do as he pleases, he has to sit in on councils, pass judgements, carry out redevelopments of broken bits of Atlantis and be the mediator between the surface world had his world.

He must feel pretty disdainful of the rest of the JLA - they choose to put on the tights and fight the good fight, but they don't have the same kind of responsibilities as him.  I guess Diana as a princess comes closest, but even so, she has a very different role to Arthur.  For a start, Princess and King sit differently on the scale of royal hierarchy.  Diana chose to leave Themyscira and go to mans world - Arthur cannot just up and leave his subjects. I know he's been booted out a few times, but that's different to voluntarily leaving.  Back on Paradise Island Diana is not responsible for matters of state. although of course she takes an interest.  Arthur's role is all matters of state.

Then I think that the culture of Atlantis and the Amazons is very different, which means that Arthur and Hippolyta reign differently.  Each country has different requirements and protocols and a different relationship with the rest of the world.

No wonder Arthur gets so pissed off with surface dwellers.  Surface dwellers poison the seas on a daily basis.  At least the Amazons don;t have to deal with that quite so regularly.

Monday, November 22, 2010

She bathed herself in a bath of bleach

Following on from yesterday's inspiring music post, here's another set of lyrics by another favourite band of mine, the Manic Street Preachers.  I've posted about them before.  I saw them again recently, and while they didn't play this song they were still pretty awesome.
This is from their second last album, and I think is about one of the women that the ex lyricist met in a mental hospital, (so, trigger warning for relationship abuse and self harm).

She'd walk on broken glass for love
She thought burnt skin would please her lover
To keep love alive and lust beside
Kind people should never be treated like...

Empty arms and aching heart
The love she sought through faltering thought
Table for two, such a sweet delight
Whispers "I love you my darling" tonight

Love bathed her in a bath of bleach
"I'll brush your hair, no one else will"
don't hurt her anymore, stop now
But salmon pink skinned Mary's still caring...

Empty arms and aching heart
The love she sought through faltering thought
Table for two, such a sweet delight
Whispers "I love you my darling tonight"

Empty arms and aching heart
The love she sought through faltering thought
Table for two, such a sweet delight
Whispers "I love you my darling tonight"

Listen to it here.  I can listen to it over and over and over and over and over.  I love it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In which I understand a metaphor

Right, my twitter followers will have seen me gushing about Animal Man recently.  I finally read Grant Morrion's run, then devoured the other 60 odd issues in that run.  It's awesome.  Especially Morrison's run.

One question tho.  It's about the first few issues in the first trade.  Ellen gets attacked and nearly raped in the woods.  The bad guy kills a cat, but the cat's litter survive.  Ellen and her daughter take them back home and try to nurse them back to health.  Ellen gets very upset when one by one the kitten's die, but then she's then very relieved when one survives.

Now, I don't really pick up on metaphors that often.  I only got the Karolina Dean as a lesbian and a living rainbow thing earlier this year when James Ashelford pointed it out to me.  So, if you think about certain slang terms for lady bits, and a colloquial name for a cat, am I seeing a metaphor in Ellen's predicament where there is none?  Do y'all reckon it was a deliberate metaphor?

And isn't it just a bit crass??

Or is it just me?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

12th International Transgender Day of Rememberance

Is today.  I copy the below text from Helen G's article on The F Word:
Every two days, somewhere in the world, a trans person is murdered.
Candle for Transgender Day of RemembranceAnother year has passed and in the last 12 months my community has lost almost 180 people - that we know of - to acts of transphobic violence. And even though many cis people seem, finally, to be coming to terms with the idea that trans people do exist, it’s a process which is frustratingly slow. Trans people still have a long way to go before we are recognised as the full members of humankind that we know ourselves to be.
While we walk our individual paths through this world, many of us continue to grow, to change, to find ourselves. And many of us may also continue to be marginalised and stigmatised, living on the edges of a society in which we already know we have as much right to take part as any cis person.

Yet so many cis people continue to make snap value judgements about us, to label us outcasts and pariahs, freaks and perverts, less than human in every way they can think. And having made that judgement, many will act on it with a myriad forms of violence, from the everyday microaggressions they inflict on us, the jibes, the slurs, the hate speech, the rapes, the beatings - every form of oppression available to them - and for some, that includes murder.

This is transphobia writ large, the manifestation of cis privilege as an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise do not conform to cultural stereotypes of what is meant by ‘male’ and ‘female’.

One of the effects of living in such beseiged circumstances in cis society is that we learn to survive - assuming, of course, that we are fortunate enough to get through each day in one piece. But each and every attack on us leaves another scar, even if it’s not visible on our physical bodies.

Then there are those of us who don’t make it through another day, another month, another year; those who don’t survive. And it is those people, our trans siblings, our family, our friends, our partners, who we remember and mourn each year on this date.

Around the world today, there are many vigils and memorials taking place - if there is one near you, and you can make it, please go along. Spare a few moments to remember those we have lost, to pay your respects - and to remind yourself and cis society at large that trans people are somebody’s children, somebody’s parents, somebody’s friends, somebody’s neighbours, somebody’s partners, somebody’s lovers.

More than anything else, today and every day, please remember that trans people too are part of the human race - and we’re as entitled to life as any other member of humanity.

A list of events and locations of vigils and memorials for the 12th International Transgender Day Of Remembrance can be found on the TDoR website.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Battle of the Beanfield

There's this band called The Levellers.  They're British, based in Brighton and do political folky -rocky punky sort of songs.  They were moderately successful in the early 90s.  They have a fiddle and a didgeridoo player in their band.  Well, they are touring again, and going to play their album Levelling the Land in it's entirety, with extra bits thrown in at the end.  I've got myself a ticket.

I reckon One Way was their most famous song from that album but the one that affected me the most was Battle of the Beanfield.  It was about real life police brutality towards a group of travellers who wanted to set up near Stonehenge for a festival.  You can read about it on wikipedia here.

The Levellers did a song about it, called Battle of the Beanfield.  I think I first read about these events when I was 14, maybe 15.  I don't recall if it was before or after I'd heard the Levellers song.   I must have read about it in The Guardian newspaper, our family newspaper, and it was probably in the G2 section (the editorial supplement).  I do remember that the article made me very very angry.  I stayed angry about it for months, and I remember the tightly wound black rage that didn't leave me, and I know it was triggered by this article about the battle.

I could not believe the injustice of it and I could not believe the police acted in such a way.  It wasn't my political epiphany - after all, I have a lefty Welsh father and a feminist Irish mother, but it did help explain to me the power relations in our society and the bigotry and hatred that some groups have toward others.  It solidified my thoughts and ideas about the privledged (although I did not use that phrase then) and made me think more about what is rigth and what is wrong.

Here are the lyrics from the Levellers' song.  It's all true.

I thought I heard something calling me
I've seen the pictures on TV
And I made up my mind that I'd go and see
With my own eyes

It didn't take too long to hitch a ride
With a guy going south to start a new life
Past the place where my friend died
Two years ago

Down the 303 at the end of the road
Flashing lights - exclusion zones
And it made me think it's not just the stones
That they're guarding

Hey, hey, now can't you see
There's nothing here that you can call free
They're getting their kicks
They're laughing at you and me

As the sun rose on the beanfield
They came like wolf on the fold
And no, they didn't give a warning
They took their bloody toll

I seen a pregnant woman
Lying in blood of her own
I seen her children crying
As the police tore apart their home

And no they didn't need a reason
It's what your votes condone
It seems they were committing treason
By trying to live on the road

And I say,
Hey, hey, now can't you see
There's nothing here that you can call free
They're getting their kicks
They're laughing at you and me

Hey, hey, now can't you see
There's nothing here that you can call free
They're getting their kicks
They're laughing at you and me

Bastards

Remember what you heard,

Hey, hey, now can't you see
There's nothing here that you can call free
They're getting their kicks
They're laughing at you and me


You can view the video to it here, which also includes footage from a documentary about the battle.

Anyone else know this band?  I reckon a couple of you might do.  Anyone else going to the tour?

Monday, November 15, 2010

In defence of Cry For Justice

Caution - big spoilers ahead.
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I decided to re-read it the other day, for the humour.  And then I realised something, so many bloggers talk about it like it's absolute crap, but that's not a particularly accurate representation of it.

I admit, when I first read it I found the first few issues hilarious.  The dialogue and the narration seemed quite, quite funny, and not intentionally so.  On a re-read, with the benefit of hindsight and having had time to mull it over, I can see more nuances in it that I didn't see before.

Some of the narration in the first couple of issues if pretty dire, especially that around Congorilla and Mik.  The dialogue, on the other hand shows real wit and a deft handling of (some of) the characters.  A lot of it is banter - teasing between friends, mocking each other, being comfortable with each other.  It seems to me to portray a group of people who are comfortable in themselves and with each other and have the confidence within them to speak as they see fit.  A lot of the dialogue is very natural.  It showed to me how Robinson could be really really good, and probably was in Starman.

Ollie's repetition of 'Oh Boy' in issue number 1 seems real, as does Dinah's reaction to him.  What doesn't fit later on is when Ollie tells Dinah 'Pretty bird..you've just turned real ugly' because Dinah told him off for running off with Hal.  I don't think Ollie should be that cruel and petulant.

There are still things I don't like - Ray Palmer using torture, the killing and skinning of the Tasmanian Devil, Roy's maiming and Lian's death (which wasn't fully explored and was, I still feel, dealt with badly).  Ollie and Hal deciding to go on another walkabout also didn't make a lick of sense, especially Ollie.  To reconcile this in my head I think I shall have to believe that Ollie has been pining for the old days and has wanted to do something different and juvenile, so Hal's offer came along at just the right time.

I am pleased by Kara's detective powers in the series, not just as a Kara fan but also because It would seem to complement and back up her science training as seen in her own book.  I am not best pleased by her crying as soon as Hal questioned her motives - that seemed bizarre.  Although possibly it could have been improved with a different artist - imagine her being shown to be crying tears of frustration instead of sorrow.  Compare this with Kara's developing crush on Freddie which was nicely handled.

The other thing which impressed me as much as it did the first time, was Donna saving the day.  Despite being crucified to a wall, despite being shot in the leg with an arrow, the way she barrelled through there and took Prometheus down took my breath away.  That is the single most impressive thing I have seen Donna do, and it was joyous.  It gave me new respect for her as a character.

The last couple of things to mention about the plot (and then I will move onto the art) is that on a re-read, with knowledge of the new Justice League about to be formed, this story makes a lot more sense.  You can see why and how things were set up the way they were and it feels more satisfying when you know where it will lead.

Then there's Ollie killing of Prometheus - I wrote at the time this issue came out that this did seem in character for Ollie.  In his own book he'd been getting darker and more savage for a long time.  I didn't particularly like this new direction, I prefer a happier, confident more carefree Ollie, but we got some good stories out of it and I continued to read and enjoy it.  On re-read, I still think that this is in character for him, as he was being written at the time.

Now, the art.  I think this book would have been very much improved (for myself), with a different artist(s).

Mauro Cascioli does paint some very pretty pictures, but there's not a lot of movement in them.  It's static  - each panel looks like a snapshot.  I prefer my comic art to have an air of movement about it.  He also doesn't always manage to convey expressions or feelings to the same degree that simpler, less complicated pencil lines can do.  For me, this is a negative.  Others may feel differently.  Then there's his tendency to draw women's costumes with really high knicker lines, to the extent that I can tell they've all shaved or waxed to at least a Brazilian standard, if they haven't had it all taken off.  This is purely a political viewpoint of mine, I don't expect everyone else to agree with it.  On the plus side, although he can't draw realistic clothes (in terms of how they hang and fold) the bodies he draws are of a more realistic body shape, which is something that simpler drawings always achieve.

For the last 3 issues we had Scott Clark provide a lot of the art.  It appears that Clark is trying to ape Cascioli's style but he doesn't quite have the ability or finesse to pull it off.   The art isn't detailed enough, there's less character and expression in his subject's faces and the women are even more (and needlessly) sexed up.  There's a particularly bad panel of Speedy, here, where for some reason she appears to be posing on a rooftop with her bow.  It would make more sense if she had an arrow in her hand, but she doesn't.

, fun fluff.  It's not groundbreaking.  The idea of heroes stopping the bad guys before they do something really bad was done in Justice League Elite.  There's lots of bad editorial decisions, but I can see why Robinson has so many fans.  There's a hint of greatness in there that was stifled and overshadowed by many poor events.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Armistice day

Edit - just discovered this hadn't been posted, blogger's scheduling doesn't always work.  It was meant to go live on 11th November.

It's Armistice day today.  No real post, just a quick question - do other countries also use the poppys and do you all observe Armistice Day and the 2 minute silence?

Steph Batgirl action figure!

After a chance sighting in my local comic shop I impulse bought the Steph figure.  I decided to review it  a month ago and finally here is the review..

Colour scheme
Very nice. The purple and yellow are vibrant and complement each other well.  The colours look fairly deep and are nicely put on.

Articulation
This is my first figure that moves at the waist.  She also has articulation at the neck (sideways and up/down), elbows, shoulders, wrists and knees (sing along with me now...). her right hand is much looser than her left so I'm a little concerned it will fall off and I'll have a stumpy Batgirl.  I currently have her in an about to kick someone inna fork pose:
Design
It's pretty faithful to the comic.  She has flat boots (hurrah) and her legs and arms are ribbed (not for anyone's pleasure).  Her leg belt does appear to be inserted into her leg rather than sitting on top of it. Steph has many abilites but shapeshifter she ain't, so that much be quite painful for her.  Her hair has good waves and is nicely defined  The Bat ears are rather tall but it avoids looking daft as it is balanced out by the long hair.  The cape is lovley - flexible and swept off to the side.  Her breasts are of a normal teenage woman size.


Accessories
Baaaaaaaaaaataarrrraaaaang!  Yellow batarang!  And a boshing stick.  No I don't know the real name (baton?) so I call it a boshing stick.  It fits in her belt and the batarang sits in her hand.  Joy.
See?  Accessoried upa nd ready to kick someone inna fork.  While smiling. Steph we love you.

She also has this stupid platform to stand on - it's too small and looks daft.  If you put both legs down they don't fit on the platform.  Daft.

All in all though, I really like this figure.  I want to bring it into work and have her on my desk, but I hotdesk so that's not really feasable.  Maybe in the future when I hopefully can swap between just 2 desks.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Online DC store!

Here.  About bloody time.  The source's blog post says:

"our storefront is powered by comiXology which means if you buy a DC digital comic like the chart-busting Death of Superman on your Mac or PC at home, you can read the very same series on-the-go using your iPhone, iPad or laptop using our DC App without paying any a penny more or creating any new logins.  Or vice versa.
We call it convergence.  You will find it simply easy."

(bold emphasis mine).

I've had it with bullshit management speak.  Convergence my hairy arse.  I've been reading about how Norfolk County Council are planning to decimate the support services in my county and I'm fed up with the bullshit language and phrases that these goons come up with.

Anyway.  I am pleased about a proper storefront.  But the comics should be cheaper.  99cents each please.

What do you all feel about digital comics?  Do you use them? Do you like them? I do like them, I have read lots.  I would rather buy something digital honestly and legally direct from the publisher, so I welcome DC's move into digital comics.  But they should be cheaper, they really should.

Does anyone know if they still have the adverst in them or not?

Monday, November 08, 2010

London Expo

So I went along to London Expo last week - it was good and bad.

We arrived about 12.30, got lunch then went to buy tickets. We queued for about 2 hours.  Next time, I'll be buying my tickets in advance.  I'd forgotten how much I get frustrated by queuing.  And this was a relatively fast moving queue!

Lots of people were in costume, most of them being anime/manga/videogame costumes.  The only other DC characters I saw were 2 other (teenage) Supergirls (both in a store bought modern version of the costume) and one Batgirl who had a very casual costume on - black jeans, yellow bat logo t shirt and an eye mask.  I saw one or two Wonder Woman t-shirts being worn, and 2 Wolverines, 1 Iron Man, 1 Spiderman, a Rorschach and various doctors.  The lack of DC love made me a bit sad.  The crowd was very young - mostly teenagers - who were obviously there for the manga aspects of the show.  Many girls (and a few boys) had free hugs signs, which I found more than a little bizarre.  I declined the offers of free hugs.

Once inside the venue, I realised it was going to be almost exactly like work conferences I'd been to, except with comics and games instead.  It felt like a big shop, selling all the crap you could want, and mostly crap you could get on the internet anyway.  The yaoi/yuri stand could have been interesting but the books being sold weren't really books like I understand them - there was no back blurb, they were all in plastic, all had horrible generic looking covers and there was no way to have a look inside.  If i'm gonna buy porn I want to see what I'm getting.

The independent aisles were mostly selling cutesy, crafty, generic things.  Not really what me and the boyfriend had in mind.

But I did get to meet Bernard Chang!  Which made my day and made the whole trip worthwhile. :)
First I watched him sketch a Sabretooth and Nightcrawler for another lady - that was really interesting, particularly when he added the inks.  He made it look so simple.  Then I asked him to sign my Supergirl issue (#57 that he drew), and we had a chat as I asked him various questions.

First I asked why he wanted to draw Supergirl  - he said he she's fun to draw, he likes what Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle have done with the character, he likes drawing single characters (as opposed to team up books) and he thought he'd enjoy the job.  He wants to continue and build upon what Jamal and Sterling have done.

He doesn't know why the S shield is pink for number 60 or how long it will remain pink for - I get the impression that the artists/writers aren't privy to these decisions.   He did say he has no plans to change the costumer - and he showed me a splash page from number 60 - very nice, and Kara's still got shorts (whew!).  He also had a sketchbook there which had the pencils from #57 and Bizarro JLA in it.  I asked why Arsenal had the cats and he explained, which was nice.  He said it was Sterling's idea to include the cats to homage the Arsenal series and he (Sterling) kept changing his mind about whether to keep them in or not.

I mumbled that I'd facebooked him and he did remember and said that I'd mentioned I'd has some questions.  At which I went even redder and felt like an inquisitor.  I don't like that feeling - I don't want to be all fan entitlement-y at creators.  They're just doing their job, I don't have to like it.
I then said that some net friends wanted to ask if Kara would become a supertorso again (which isn't quite how folks put it, but I don't like and refuse to use slut, so I made boob/hippy shapes with my hands.  I wish more people signed).
He said the Supergirl cover he did (can anyone tell me what number this is?) before was meant to echo Ian Churchill's art inside the book.  He believes the cover should be linked to and represent the art inside the book.

Chang made clear that he is very aware of Supergirl fans' passion for the character.  I mentioned the Supergirl Comic Box Commentary but he hadn't heard of it/been on it.  Sorry Anj.  But I think he's well aware of the internet's reactions to Gates and Igle leaving and I imagine he's probably feeling  a bit apprehensive of fan's reactions to his work.

He also said Nick Spencer might be there at Expo but I couldn't hang around and stalk for him.  Also, I don't know what Spencer looks like, so it could have been very embarrassing.  Last thing I asked was if Kara would stay on the JlA or rejoin the Teen Titans - I then followed this question by saying but I don't suppose you can tell me that.  He can't.

Overall he came over very well, his art was good, he was friendly, respectful and courteous.  I just hope I was too.  Part of the reason int he delay for writing this up is cos I facebooked him again to ask if he minded if I blogged our conversation, to which he said of course he doesn't mind.

Unfortunately we left before I got to meet Andy Diggle or Jock, but to be honest, I was happy enough meeting Chang, having a chat and getting my comic signed.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Here's an interesting thing

Apparently when I'm an overtired zombie I can't tell the difference between Secret Six and Birds of Prey.  Which is how I came out with Secret Six #27 today and now have the title on standing order.  I blame the dinosaur on the front.

It's a very cool looking dinosaur and it's being ridden by Bane.

Spoilers ahead.









So, the Six are in Skataris fighting another bunch of villains, except they're not really fighting them as Scandal is friendly with Jeanette (who turns into the Silver Banshee at one point) and Bane (whom she's stabbed thinking he was her father).  Ragdoll is fighting a giant shark who likes pale white meat and now has one eyeball hanging out, thanks to Ragdoll.  The Six are now forced to quit the fight as they are surrounded by armoured dinosaurs. Catman is turned into the symbol of the resistance and is given a very fetching and beefcakey outfit.  Meanwhile, Spy Smasher is trying to pull a fast on Amanda Waller.  This is not a good idea.

Fuck knows the background to this issue but I quite enjoyed it.


Superboy #1 was a solid opening issue.  We get a supporting cast, ruminations on his life so far, Krypto, the Phantom Stranger being all silver age-y and ominous (Connor is all modern and cut the bullshit-y), Parasite is on a revenge spree and then Poison Ivy turns up very unexpectedly.  Last of all we have a retro 'coming up' page - Ivy and Connor work together, Connor and Bart race, there's some new titans and Connor crosses the multiverse.  Looks like fun!

Brightest Day #13 continued the retcons that we've had so far - nor Geoff Johns is fleshing out the backstory of Chay-era's mother.  It struck me that I probably shouldn't be pissed off at this, because Rebirth was all retcon too and that worked out fine.  Surprisingly, Hath Set appears to have now been killed by Hawkwoman.  There's some fantastic splash pages of Hawkman, and some not so fantastic alpha male-ing of Batman.  I do not want Bruce to be the goddamn White Lantern (altho the Goddamn White Lantern might be fun).  Bruce Wayne is not the answer to fecking everything.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Comics continued!

And now, onto the good ones!  Spoilers ahead for Supergirl annual #2, JLA #50 and Teen Titans #88.
(Short reviews only, I'm writing this really late at night)
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Teen Titans #88
Aww, the lovely Nicola Scott drew this!  Aww it looks so good!  Now, JT Krul did a reasonably good job of this, far better than Green Arrow, so I am cautiously optimistic.  Krul is setting up the new story arc here, explaining why Ravager is back on the team and introducing a new person.  Ravager's reintroduction doesn't make lots of sense when you think about the rest of the issues this year, but it doesn't really matter.  This is much better than a lot of the issues this year.

This TT is fun.  A bit serious, but still fun, with positive emotions.  I don't think Krul will be able to make the TT dark and twisted, Scott's art would rectify a moody script.  Bart is drawn pretty well here, which is nice (I've missed fun Bart!).

There appear to be zombie vampire types in this issue.  And Damian joins the team.  Heh.  This will be fun!

The one thing that disturbed me about this issue was Cassie and Connor wearing their boots in their bedroom.  That's a bit rank and unhygienic..

Supergirl annual #2
Kara returns to the future and teams up with Brainiac.  Then kisses him. :)  Yeah yeah there's some fights and villains involved, but ultimately this issue is about Kara and Brainiac.  It's good. :)

JLA #50
Far better than I expected, some good character stuff and the Crime syndicate from a parallel earth, who I always like.  I may even get the rest of the issues in this story arc.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Comics!

I spent £20 this week.. oops.  Oh well.  Prepare for my thoughts, internet!
Spoilers ahead for: Green Arrow #5, Wonder Woman #604, JLA & the 99 #1, Superman #704.
JLA #50, Teen Titans #88, Supergirl annual #2 come tomorrow.
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Green Arrow #5
I had high hopes for the issue, mostly because of the cover.  I find it dynamic and interesting.
 
But in reality, it just seems that we are retreading the same old ground that the other Brightest Day tagged books have dealt with. It doesn't really move Ollie's story on.   We get given more background on how Ollie's parents died, which looks suspiciously like a(nother) retcon to me.  It's boring.  Ollie is boring and miserable.  Where's his hope?  Where's his joy for life?  He may be a left winger, a snarky grumpy socialist, but he's always enjoyed life.  I know he's had a lot of shit happen recently, but you wouldn't know it from this book. there's no reference to Cry for Justice, there's just miserable, dark Ollie.


Wonder Woman #604
This was just poorly written.  Cliched, hackneyed, boring plot devices.  Terrible dialogue.  Diana gets her lasso, the burnt villain is defeated (by Diana's mother no less), but unfortunately not until after some predictably formatted exposition.


JLA & the 99 #1
This completely threw me because of continuity issues - the 99 are teaming up with the JLA as they haven't been for quite a while, certainly before Cry for Justice but Wonder Woman is in her new costume.  Basically, we've got Bruce!Batman, Superman, this new costumed WW, John Stewart GL, Flash, Atom, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter, Dr Light, Vixen Hawkman and Aquaman.

As an introduction to The 99 it did nothing for me.  The free download from The 99 website got me interested, not this rubbish hastily put together book.  Don;t give up on these superheroes guys, go to their website instead.

Superman #704
Oh christ.  An attempt to look at Lois's motivations and analyse her character.  She declares herself a bad feminist for wanting a family and derides all her journalistic achievements (because BABIES are what's important, right??!!).

Ugh.