A real super-heroine: a review of The She-Hulk Diaries

The She-Hulk DiariesEarlier this year, I expressed skepticism toward The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch — specifically, about authors scribbling down superhero adventures without the pretty pictures to match and, more importantly, with what seemed like a “romantic” spin (that turned out to be false).

I love comics, and removing their visual element would be like neutering them. The physical prowess of female superheroes, especially, is what grabs your attention; it’s the artist’s job to convey that. Then the writer steps in and uses that moment to communicate their emotional and mental strength as well. These three traits complement one another. I wondered if a novel could properly re-create that power. Since so much of a superhero’s identity is rooted in action and visuals — perhaps even more than words — would these characters even translate well into novel protagonists? Or would She-Hulk and Rogue become shallow versions of themselves?

The answer is different than what I expected — at least in She-Hulk’s case (I have yet to get around to Rogue). After reading Marta Acosta’s fun and very juicy The She-Hulk Diaries (out today), I decided that a) yes, superheroes have enough thoughts buzzing around in their heads to fill a novel but b) the whole superhero action thing is what comes across poorly.

Continue reading “A real super-heroine: a review of The She-Hulk Diaries”

This depiction of women makes me extremely uncomfortable

Dragon's Crown AmazonTake a look at the image here. What do you think when you see it?

To me, there’s something horribly wrong with it, and it’s not because women aren’t supposed to have a ton of muscle mass — although I’m not sure quite that much is natural.

I’m more appalled by how oppressive it is.

This is the Amazon character from an upcoming game called Dragon’s Crown, made by Japanese developer Vanillaware, which is well respected for its beautiful visual style. I’ve played one of its other games, Odin Sphere, and witnessed how the art seems to “breathe” onscreen.

But the context is perhaps irrelevant. My question is, what is this image saying — not just in its lines and colors but about us?

The Penny-Arcade Report and Kotaku, which discussed several relevant issues, pointed out the petite face that seems so strange on her body. She’s still passive — submissive — even though she’s supposed to be “strong” physically.

I’m not even sure she’s that. Her gargantuan breasts, her massive thighs and butt — she’s barely wearing anything, yet there’s so much of her. She’s clearly designed as a plaything for male gaze, which is cruel enough. The designer seems to have cared little about the implications: how walking around so hugely disproportioned would be tremendously painful. She must forge into battle regardless.

However, the meanest aspect is the question of whether she’s pleasing the typical heterosexual male at all. She’s trapped under her own body weight, which makes her more of a prisoner than her oversexualized female parts alone, but it’s almost a joke. I don’t believe — based on preferred depictions of women in both American and Japanese cultures — that the target audience would find her desirable. They would reject her. In turn, she loses her only intended purpose: to arouse.

That’s disturbing. It’s unsettling. It makes me feel really bad in the pit of my stomach.

Is this a new low in how we view women, or have I just not been paying close enough attention?

To kick off the discussion, here are a few tweets from my fellow gamers on Twitter:

@WanyoDos: I feel like the characters are meant to be so over-the-top that it’s hyper unrealistic to the point where it’s not really attractive

@empuska: It’s disturbing in “Too closet to make it actual porn, but trying to make it absurd with same assumption”-way.

@SnakeLinkSonic: I can’t see it appealing aesthetically to any audience other than a niche there.

Awesome book cover Friday: Sense and Sensibility

This week’s pick was inspired by the wonderful blogger Tara, who featured a fantastic illustrated cover of Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility on her blog. I’m not sure where she found that version, but I did dig up a couple other good ones.

First, a blue cover illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard. And second, a more girly pink edition that’s sadly out of print.

Which one is your favorite? Do you have an awesome cover of Sense and Sensibility that I didn’t include? Please share!

Have you read this book? Let us know why you love it so much!

Women in games: Buffy Summers vs. Juliet Starling

I wrote another piece for GamesBeat — this time questioning who the real Slayer is, Buffy Summers or Juliet Starling. I interviewed Lollipop Chainsaw story writer James Gunn, voice actress Tara Strong, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer enthusiast Lily Rothman (she contributed to Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion, which I reviewed awhile ago). The article deals with misogyny and the quality of lead female characters in video games.

Let me know what you think. I hope everyone had a fantastic 4th of July!

My first blog award!

Thank you so much to Amy Marie, who runs a wonderful and very helpful writing blog called The Literary Mom, for giving me the Liebster Blog Award! As someone who greatly enjoys writing and building relationships with readers and fellow bloggers, this is an honor, and one that I deeply value. So thank you again, Amy! :D

The Liebster Award (as stated on Amy’s page):

The guidelines for the Liebster Blog Award are:

  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  • Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving them a comment on their blog.
  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere – other bloggers.
  • Most of all – have fun and spread the karma.

I’m extremely excited about the chance to point out some of my favorite blogs! If Amy hadn’t just received the award, I would definitely nominate her. (PS: She’s also critiquing the first twenty or so pages of my novel, so she’s twice as awesome.) Anyway, be sure to follow her and these other amazing bloggers:

1. Sarah’s Place: Embracing life in the northern lattitudes – No other blogger has welcomed me to the WordPress.com blogosphere quite like Sarah, and for that I owe her a great deal of thanks and appreciation. Not only that, but her blog is fantastic! She has (in my humble opinion) one of the best cooking sites on the net. I’m pretty picky about recipes—they can’t involve an excess of rare, needless ingredients or be too difficult to make—but Sarah consistently provides ones (complete with personality and great step-by-step pictures) that are easy to understand and make and look absolutely delicious. Keep up the great work, Sarah. No pressure or anything. Just keep being you! :)

2. Yo Mama: ‘Cause there ain’t no yo daddy jokes – My favorite women’s advocate and gender blogger who—brownie points for her—also has me listed on her blogroll (she’s also listed in mine, see the sidebar). She’s one of the smartest and most talented bloggers around.

(FYI, I’m totally open to blogroll exchanges, if anyone’s ever interested. Just send an email to wita [dot] blog [at] gmail [dot] com.)

3. The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say “Shhh” – Oh my goodness, I could say oodles about how wonderful Miss Anderson is. She has one of the most fun book blogs out there, and she adds layers (I’m talking Shrek layers, like an onion, only more awesome) of personality and charm to everything she writes. Plus, she doles out letter grades to the books she reads. Nice!

4. Sometimes Bailey: A non-fiction writer’s blog about making a literary life while balancing work and family – I haven’t pinned down Veronica yet—her blog entries are always refreshingly varied in my feed. Her posts about literature, life, and writing are always a pleasure to read.

5. Kristen Lamb’s Blog – Kristen is an author and a social media and publishing whiz, and her posts constantly brim with wise and insightful advice. Check it out!