Silent No More - I try to imagine the government coming to my house one morning and taking my five year old daughter and eight year old son away to a boarding school hundreds of kilometres away. I try to imagine that at this school, my children’s hair will be cut, their dastars (turbans) and kakkars (article of faith)will be removed and they will be forcibly baptized as Christians. I try to imagine that they will be beaten for speaking Panjabi, reading Bani (Sikh scripture) or trying to maintain their religious and cultural traditions. I try to imagine that even their basic health needs will not be looked after and they may well die from treatable infections and diseases. And then, I must admit, I am not able to imagine the rest; I can not bear to imagine them being abused, assaulted, beaten and raped.
That is what occurred in this country for one hundred years as the Canadian government, along with government sanctioned church groups, kidnapped First Nations children from their homes and took them to residential schools where unspeakable horrors were committed on them. Of course the history of colonization in the Americas does not begin with the Residential School system but is in fact a legacy going back centuries. It is estimated that 90 to 95% of all indigenous people living in the Americas were killed by smallpox within the first century after European first contact in the late 1400’s. It is difficult to fathom death at that scale. Those that remained had their land stolen and were forced onto reservations to live as non-citizens in their own lands.
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GO SUPPORT THIS BECAUSE BOLD RILEY IS THE GODDAMN BEES’ KNEES
Go support this because then the artists, including ME, get paid! I mean you can also just support it because of the terrific books and original art you can get, but if you do, I also get paid!
Is there any advice you can give to an aspiring writing, any suggestions on breaking into the industry? What is you're creative process for coming up with story ideas and then turning those ideas into script?
Honestly, everyone seems to break into the industry differently. Everyone also seems to have a different idea of what “breaking in” means. I was making and self-publishing comics for nearly two decades before I managed to land a publishing deal. For me, that was “breaking in”. I wanted to have someone have enough faith in my work that they would publish it. I wanted to just focus on the writing.
My advice is mostly this: just make comics. Stop talking, start doing. Write scripts and find artists. Start small, with 5 or 10 page stories. Set a deadline and stick to it. Get a few of those done before trying to move on to anything larger. Short stories give you the experience of the collaborative process without having to make a large commitment. Finding artists for short projects is also infinitely easier than finding someone for a 5-6 issue miniseries — especially when you are an unknown commodity. Additionally, with shorts, you get that gratification that comes with completing a project more easily. That’s important when you’re starting out — knowing that you can do it. It also allows you to evaluate and work on weaknesses without having to worry about it disrupting a larger story.
If you have some sort of 200 issue epic you want to do, put it on the shelf. It will likely NEVER happen. I meet too many aspiring writers stuck on a grand, long term idea, who refuse to do anything but that one idea. If the idea is good, it’ll keep. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to have to be able to write more than one thing, so don’t get hung up on one idea. Be fluid. Put yourself in a position where you can move on to something else if one idea isn’t working.
Once you start completing stories, my advice is to put them online for all to read. Put them there for free. Don’t worry about making money at this point — there’s barely any to be made, you’re chasing nickels and dimes when you start out. Better to have your comic available to as large an audience as possible than it is to keep it closed off for what might be pizza money. What you’re after early in the game is exposure. You want people to see your work.
Once you start to get your work out there — and providing it’s any good — you’ll start to meet other like-minded folks. Knowing people and making those connections is an important part of “breaking in”. Creators will often recommend other creators that they like when they have the opportunity. I’ve done it myself - pointed publishers in the direction of an artist or writer whose work I really enjoy. It’s important to note that the work MUST be good though — I’m not going to recommend a hack artist or writer just because they’re a friend.
As for how to turn a story idea into a script… man, that’s a tough one. I find that a lot of writers have different methods. My advice would be to check out some comic scripts. Compare them to the final product. Take them and break them down into scenes. Where are the beats? How are scenes broken down? How many panels per page? Does the panel count vary? Why? Work backwards from the comic and create an outline for it so you can get a sense of how much story you can fit into an issue, into a page. You can find a bunch of scripts here: http://www.comicbookscriptarchive.com/archive/
Read books on writing. A lot of people shit all over books on writing, but most of those same people have read a metric ton of them. Books like “Save The Cat” by Blake Snyder is a screenwriting book that promotes the worst sort of Hollywood dreck that I absolutely hate, but it still has some solid advice. Understanding how other people approach writing a story, be it novel, film or comics, will better inform how you approach it. There are always tips and tricks to be learned. Take what you need, leave what you don’t.
My challenge to you (and anyone else reading). Set a deadline for 1 week from today. Write a 5-10 page short comic script. No excuses. No delays. I don’t care if you’re feeling ill or if family dropped in unexpectedly. If you can’t do that, just 5-10 pages in 7 days, then you don’t have what it takes to be a comic writer. It doesn’t have to be amazing, it doesn’t have to be award winning, it just has to be done. Beginning, middle and end.
If you send me a message when it’s done, I’ll even read it for you. Give you my thoughts.
“Bitcoin was, of course, created in part to cater to libertarian dreams – to provide a way to store your wealth where governments can’t steal it through taxation or currency debasement. And it’s true! Thanks to Bitcoin, you can instead have your wealth stolen by private hackers.”—Economist Paul Krugman on Bitcoin (via sickeningliberal)
Everyone who thinks you can have “wealth” independent of a society collectively agreeing on the relative value of your stuff. #eyeroll
A List of “Men’s Rights” Issues That Feminism Is Already Working On
Feminists do not want you to lose custody of your children. The assumption that women are naturally better caregivers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not like commercials in which bumbling dads mess up the laundry and competent wives have to bustle in and fix it. The assumption that women are naturally better housekeepers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to make alimony payments. Alimony is set up to combat the fact that women have been historically expected to prioritize domestic duties over professional goals, thus minimizing their earning potential if their “traditional” marriages end. The assumption that wives should make babies instead of money is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to get raped in prison. Permissiveness and jokes about prison rape are part of rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to be falsely accused of rape. False rape accusations discredit rape victims, which reinforces rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be lonely and we do not hate “nice guys.” The idea that certain people are inherently more valuable than other people because of superficial physical attributes is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to pay for dinner. We want the opportunity to achieve financial success on par with men in any field we choose (and are qualified for), and the fact that we currently don’t is part of patriarchy. The idea that men should coddle and provide for women, and/or purchase their affections in romantic contexts, is condescending and damaging and part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be maimed or killed in industrial accidents, or toil in coal mines while we do cushy secretarial work and various yarn-themed activities. The fact that women have long been shut out of dangerous industrial jobs (by men, by the way) is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to commit suicide. Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of any gender are part of patriarchy. The fact that depression is characterized as an effeminate weakness, making men less likely to seek treatment, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be viewed with suspicion when you take your child to the park (men frequently insist that this is a serious issue, so I will take them at their word). The assumption that men are insatiable sexual animals, combined with the idea that it’s unnatural for men to care for children, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be drafted and then die in a war while we stay home and iron stuff. The idea that women are too weak to fight or too delicate to function in a military setting is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want women to escape prosecution on legitimate domestic violence charges, nor do we want men to be ridiculed for being raped or abused. The idea that women are naturally gentle and compliant and that victimhood is inherently feminine is part of patriarchy.
Feminists hate patriarchy. We do not hate you.
If you really care about those issues as passionately as you say you do, you should be thanking feminists, because feminism is a social movement actively dedicated to dismantling every single one of them. The fact that you blame feminists—your allies—for problems against which they have been struggling for decades suggests that supporting men isn’t nearly as important to you as resenting women. We care about your problems a lot. Could you try caring about ours?
Excerpt from If I Admit That Hating Men is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning it Into a Self-fulfilling Prophecy?, by Lindy West (via lilac-time)
And you and all of your friends each want to get the top. From the base of the mountain, the top looks really small and it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be enough room for everyone. Even if it is big enough, you aren’t sure that all of your friends are going to make it all the way up. You…
I think a lot of people believe that the most successful people are these lone-wolf types but that is far from the truth.
The ones who have the best time up the mountain are the ones who have found a team to support and get supported in turn.
And the best part of this process has been the friends I’ve been privileged to make, and I’m proud to count Joel among them. Their successes bring me more joy than my own.
Also worth adding- if you want to be friends with people at the top of the mountain, the best way to do it is take the friends you’ve got, and go to the top with them. You might also make friends with some of those original people eventually. But don’t stress if you don’t. Travelling up mountains together makes the best friendships.
Hello, I am making a list of cartoonists who live and/or have studios in the Mount Pleasant/Main Street area of Vancouver for a blog posting. I’m claiming that the Mount Pleasant/Main Street area has the highest concentration of cartoonists in Canada. If you are a cartoonist, pro or small press, mini or web comics or you know of one please let me know who they are and any major works you/they have done. Thanks!
My sincere thanks for the thoughtful and extensive response and the additional links (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is on my to read list). Of course your remark regarding cesgender has me thinking, I feel that there's a certain discouragement towards representing groups not your own at risk of orientalizing but that at the same time this also leads to said other groups being marginalized. How does one address? - E
If you are a good writer, you need to be able to learn to put yourself in the shoes of and empathize with people who are not like you. Understand that this is a skill. It takes work. Intention is a starting point: it is not enough on its own.
See that Junot Diaz quote? DO THAT. First, recognize your ignorance and preconceptions. There’s a tendency, especially when you’re in a majority / powerful group, to see yourself as a sort of demographic tabula rasa; take a long hard look at the way the things you take for granted about yourself shape your interactions with yourself and the rest of the world. That I’m white, that I’m from a family that’s educated middle-class for generations back, that I speak American Standard English without an identifiable regional accent, mediate my experience of the world as much as, say, being female or queer—but because they’re signifiers of privilege, they’re treated as blank defaults by most of the culture around me, and shaking that off takes active and deliberate effort.
Then, you’re gonna do due diligence and then some. Do a whole, whole lot of research, and a whole, whole lot of listening; and when you think you’re ready, seek criticism humbly and take it gracefully. Don’t get defensive. Recognize other people as the experts on their own lived experience, and find ways to learn from that that don’t involve demanding that they teach you.
Yes, exoticizing is a problem. Know how to get away from that? Learn what it is and don’t fucking do it.
Look for books that members of the group you want to represent recommend as Doing It Right. Look for books about and for and, most critically, by whomever you want to write about; nonfiction and memoir as well as fiction. Be a fly on every wall. You can also find a LOT of resources online—a large number of writers and readers have written a large number of very, very good essays and lists and resource guides for people interested in writing characters whose diversity extends beyond their own default frames of reference. (Off the top of my head, YA novelists Karen Healey and Sara Ryan have both written some really good stuff with regards to their own processes and considerations. There are a lot of others, too, but they might be good jumping-off points.)
And know that you will fuck up, and people will get angry, and they will call you out on it. And when they do, suck it up and be a grown-up. Listen. Apologize. Don’t qualify. Take steps to right what you can and prevent yourself from making those mistakes again. And then try again.
Oscar Wao fucking wrecked me. I envy you the experience of reading it for the first time: it is a breathtakingly beautiful hammer-blow to the chest.
I didn’t even know about this until a friend found this months-old video and pointed it out to me, but apparently some dumb tweet of mine, under my Twitter semi-pseudonym, was quoted by the Huffington Post. In the tweet I congratulated the German Olympic team for their pretty terrific choice of rainbow-coloured uniforms in anti-gay Russia. Good job, Germany.
So. We now live in a world where my greatest work is a quickly jotted tweet in support of the LGBTQ community in a country I’ve never visited. So be it. This, not my comics or the education of my students, is my legacy.
In that spirit, let me offer you an additional idea for activism during the Olympics. The Russian government, in typically blind fashion, is selling these… fabulous… mittens with the Olympic logo on them. By simply applying some coloured marker or fabric paint to the Russian flag on the palm, you can end up with mittens that are even MORE fabulous:
I highly recommend this fun and totally innocent use of rainbow colours. But keep in mind, this is only really an effective form of protest if you plan on being IN Russia during the games. If you’re not risking arrest, deportation, other legal consequences, or at least the chance to gay-high-five a Russian athlete, activist, or government official, painting mittens is about as useless a form of activism as posting messages on Tumblr to your friends.
Well yeah, g***y is a slur, but how else is Disney supposed to explain what Esmeralda is? Nobody knows what g***ies call themselves. If you say to a kid, ‘oh, it’s a g***y,’ they’ll know what you’re talking about. It’s just the way things are.
I’ve encountered this also, people who believe that Romany are entirely fictional, like elves or fairies; or that Disney created them; or that G— is a neutral term or one made up by hippies or something. Or that it just means “nomad” or “artist” or “vagabond” or wev.
(FWIW, it’s a word that I personally use BECAUSE I KNOW PEOPLE OF THAT ETHNICITY WHO PREFER IT. But it’s not a neutral term and for crying out LOUD if you use it CAPITALIZE IT it’s a PROPER NOUN.)
Here’s an idea. Because “talking about it with your students” is only possible if you HAVE students, and know to talk about it with them. Let’s pretend for a minute that it’s 1995 or so and someone at Disney was foolish enough to hire me on as a staff writer for their new version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, and that rather than burn down the company from the inside, I’ve decided to mostly be a team player. Let’s also pretend that the way Esmerelda and the other Romani in the script are played is totally above-board, that they are well-rounded characters free of too many stereotypes. I’m sure in actuality the script is kind of a mixed bag, but it’s been a long time since I saw this movie, so I don’t want to quibble. We’re mostly talking about names here.
Alright so we’re assuming that the bulk of the movie’s audience “doesn’t know what Gypsies call themselves” and in fact knows almost nothing about them. They might think they’re as fictional as hobbits. Why CAN’T we still call Esmerelda a Romani? Our mainstream audience won’t learn anything about Gypsies, but if we write this script properly, maybe they WILL learn a thing or two about the Romani, and then later in life if and when they ever run into any real Romani, they’ll make the connection directly to that Disney movie they saw as a kid, whether or not they realize right away that Romani and Gypsies are the same thing. Just as important, some of our audience IS familiar with the Romani. We’re selling this movie in Europe, right? For that audience, it’s very important that we get this right. We’re Disney, we’ve used up our racism card LONG since. Let’s start getting these things right NOW, yeah? We’ve got less than two decades to go before Tumblr is invented.
“And that no one may wonder that this sex laboured at warfare, I will make a brief digression, in order to give a short account of the estate and character of such women. There were once women among the Danes who dressed themselves to look like men, and devoted almost every instant of their lives to the pursuit of war, that they might not suffer their valour to be unstrung or dulled by the infection of luxury. For they abhorred all dainty living, and used to harden their minds and bodies with toil and endurance. They put away all the softness and lightmindedness of women, and inured their womanish spirit to masculine ruthlessness. They sought, moreover, so zealously to be skilled in warfare, that they might have been thought to have unsexed themselves. Those especially, who had either force of character or tall and comely persons, used to enter on this kind of life. These women, therefore (just as if they had forgotten their natural estate, and preferred sternness to soft words), offered war rather than kisses, and would rather taste blood than busses, and went about the business of arms more than that of amours. They devoted those hands to the lance which they should rather have applied to the loom. They assailed men with their spears whom they could have melted with their looks, they thought of death and not of dalliance.”—THE DANISH HISTORY,
(“Saxo the Learned”) fl. Late 12th - Early 13th Century A.D.
“Men’s rights activists don’t organize marches; they don’t build shelters or raise funds for abused men; they don’t organize prostate cancer-awareness events or campaign against prison rape. What they actually do, when they’re not simply carping in comments online, is target and harass women—from feminist writers and professors to activists—in an attempt to silence them.”—
And why is their only agenda, their only campaign, their only form of activism to take things away from women? Because they fear losing power, or fear that they’ve already lost power. Because their entire being is built around the idea that SHARING power means GIVING SOMETHING UP.
It does not.
Giving up power over other people IS freedom. Power structures trap both the oppressor and the oppressed. No one wants to be the one with the boot on their neck. But frick, who wants to be the one who has to keep their foot in that boot? Not me.
Down with boots. Get rid of them. If you see someone giving someone else the boot, help them both- take that boot away.
china has 56 different ethnic groups and none of them eat chop suey
Oh look. An excuse to repost my comic about the origin of chop suey, which, while invented by Chinese (or possibly Chinese American) cooks, was invented in the US for Western tastes. There are, apparently, several conflicting versions of the origin of chop suey. All that can be said for sure is that soon after ambassador Li Hongzhang made his official visit to the United States, “chop suey” restaurants started popping up everywhere.
I must confess, since hearing this tale for the first time, I’ve taken to distinguishing between “chop suey” restaurants and Chinese restaurants in conversation. It seems like a more descriptive term in some cases.
Tess Gerritsen sent a few new links after my last post, which quoted from a blog post she wrote in 2005 about not writing Asian American characters. In 2011 she released a new book which featured an Asian American protagonist for the first time:
Tess Gerritsen: You know, I have hidden my…
Considering the subject of my last repost, I would be a poor pseudo-journalist if I didn’t also repost this one.
As for why I write about mainstream characters, and not Asians, I must make a confession here: I’m a commercial writer. I support my family with my writing. Some years ago, I spoke candidly with an…
Keep in mind that my opinion is that of someone who doesn’t make a living as a commercial writer (yet), and who hasn’t done any “market research” or spent a lot of time talking to publishers, but in my opinion, THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T GIVE THEM A CHOICE. Don’t ask publishers if they would prefer a white protagonist. Don’t ask readers, either. Give them one version of your main character only, the one with the non- “mainstream” protagonist, and that’s it. If they ASK you to change your protagonist’s identity, respond like you would if they were asking you not to hire a real person for a job. Shrug and say, that’s just the race they are. I’m sorry, but this person here is the one with the best qualifications for the job, and I already said they had the part, so it’s them or nobody.
Of course there are a lot of white readers who will feel more comfortable reading stories about white people. THAT’S THE PROBLEM. Don’t LET them be comfortable. As a writer, their comfort is not your job. On the surface, sure, your job is to make money selling books so you can eat and pay rent and then make some more books. But come, on. You and I both know that your REAL job is to make them think. To trick them into thinking while taking their money and handing them something they think will be an easy summer read.
They’ll get over their discomfort at having to read a book with someone not white on the cover. And maybe, woops, they’ll have slightly less discomfort the next time they have to talk to a real person who looks like your protagonist.
Oh NOW you find something you're not allowed to do.
This was meant to be a response to a post but apparently Tumblr App doesn’t want me to repost anything. Instead all you get is the response with no context.
I’m tired of the idea that white people “aren’t allowed” to write non-white characters. Have you ever met a non-white person who’s stated this as a flat out rule? I haven’t. And I’ve been doing this for a while.
Here’s the bottom line. It comes in three parts.
There are not enough non-white characters in fiction, especially in big budget high profile fiction (including animated movies). There are also not enough non-white creators working in these industries. These are related phenomena. But they are not the same phenomenon. That’s part one.
It’s true that non-white creators will always be better qualified to write characters and stories that match their own lived experiences and historical and family experiences than any white creator attempting the same story. I don’t know what it’s like to be black. Someone else does. But, part two is important- a black creator can write the story that they want to write. They don’t owe it to anybody to write The Black Experience. They probably know white people pretty well, as well as any white person does, and if they are inspired to write a story with a white protagonist, that is the story this hypothetical creator needs to write. This means that even if the gainfully employed writers in every industry match perfectly to the racial demographics of their audience, you will still have slightly more white characters than makes sense.
Part three drives the point home. You are a writer. So write! Being a writer means writing characters who are not yourself. It means climbing inside the heads of fictional people and moving them around through a landscape. A good writer does their research. Do yours. Read some books by the authors from part two. A good writer doesn’t NEED to write characters exactly like themselves, they can write ANYONE. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. The writer in part two has an easier job than you (for once). Do your job regardless. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to consider things like misappropriation, misrepresentation, and stereotyping. If you’re worried about these things, GOOD. You should be. They’re kind of a big deal. You will make mistakes. You will occasionally offend people in ways you didn’t mean to. Learn from your mistakes. Fess up to them. That, already, is more than anyone in Hollywood has ever done. Listen to people. Get better at your job. If you’re too scared to write characters who aren’t white, learn enough that you’re not scared. It’s in the job description. Or get out of the way and let someone else do it.