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BlacKkKlansman Film Review: “All power to all the people!”

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Picture source: collider.com

Spike Lee’s fascinating and timely cinematic hit, BlacKkKlansman, has earned a whopping 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The reviews are all very similar. You may be able to imagine that one guy’s voiceover on almost all movie trailers, “entertaining, witty, funny, intelligent, and thought-provoking.” All of these may be true but it is important to realize that BlacKkKlansman is one of the most crucial films of our times. The film highlights the history of racism and bigotry in America. It asks you to take into consideration how America was more than five decades ago, and what you see happening today.

Before we get into that, here is a brief synopsis. In 1978, Ron Stallworth is recruited to be the first ever black police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As Ron is searching through newspaper ads, one ad in particular catches his eye: a listing for the Ku Klux Klan. He dials their number directly, not realizing that one phone call would embark a series of events that would remain one of the most outrageous and radical stories of all time.

His mission becomes to convince the members of the KKK that he is interested in becoming a member. He spews out racial slurs and states how his sister had fallen for a black man and that he just can’t stand thinking about his black hands touching her “pure white skin”. The whole scene is carried out quite comically. Surprisingly, the Klan becomes supremely intrigued by Ron and how he would contribute to their “organization.” His colleague, who (in the film) is named Flip Zimmerman, goes undercover impersonating Ron, meeting face-to-face with the Klan to befriend its members and gain intelligence on their schemes and conspiracies. Ron, on his end, has conversations with the Klan on the phone and forms a surprisingly cordial relationship with the grand wizard of the KKK, David Duke. Ron and Flip’s mission is to unveil the KKK and orchestrate it’s downfall.

The objective of BlacKkKlansman is to wake us up to the realities of American racism. Spike Lee does a tremendous job of illustrating how racism and classism are as existent now as they were then. The circumstances are different, but the effect is still the same. This film’s intent is to outrage us so that we will want to contribute to making the future, unlike those times. It’s telling us that it is imperative to not remain stagnant, not standing by watching as things happen. Before we did not have a choice. Black people and those who stood for and by black people would be lynched. Lee urges us to recognize that there is nothing holding us back now from standing up for those who are broken, other than our own fears or neglectfulness. We all have some sort of privilege. As Goucher students, higher education is our privilege. I encourage you to think about how to use that privilege, and to use that education to do something powerful, and life-altering with it.

BlacKkKlansman highlights that the Klan’s agenda was to show the world that the white race was the superior race. It exemplifies how an “us versus them” mentality will only return us back to racial and class segregation. In one scene a parallel is made between the deadly protests in Charlottesville, VA just a year ago to images when black people were ostracized in public decades earlier, proving that not only has racial violence like this happened in the past, but that it is happening now. This film was not solely intended for an all-black audience. It’s intended for viewers of different backgrounds and identities to get a glimpse of the history of racism in America. That being said, this national dilemma is not a “blacks only” problem. It is a human rights problem. Being human means standing up for what is right. Racism in America will not end unless we stand for peace and not tolerate or uplift those who contribute to violence and racial hatred.

All in all, BlacKkKlansman provides a small amount of insight into the horrific truth of what it means to be alive as a black person in the 1970s and dating back centuries before that. It begs us to remember that black people did not choose to be enslaved or choose to be discriminated against. Slavery is not over. Slavery is not something that we as a nation, as a community can forget about. Especially not since black people are still being dragged and killed in the streets. American colonization initiated centuries of oppression, genocide, racism, slavery, that of which if one didn’t live, survive, though, that cannot begin to imagine or understand. This movie was made for the audience to become knowledgeable of these events and tragedies that took place, so they are neither ignorant nor complacent.

This film truly is magnificent in persuading viewers to rethink their current biases and opinions. I encourage you to see this movie because you will have a new outlook on life, in general, if you watch carefully. The end scene displays an American flag that fades into black and white until it completely disappears. Take away from that what you will.

A Night at Joe Squared

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Joe Squared is a pizza place, bar, and music venue located in Station North. It is a small, intimate space. The walls are yellow and blue and covered with tiny rainbow flags. The lights shining on the stage are purple and golden. Fleetwood Mac plays between sets as patrons sing and laugh with each other. On Sunday, September 16, 2018, it served as the backdrop for four acts from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C.

The first act was Alice, also known as Borderless State. She is a member of the Baltimore-based ethereal folk metal band Gingerwitch and is currently working on a solo album. Her acoustic set, though short, explored many different sounds and emotions. The quick and tense song “Smooth Mud” was about dealing with crushing anxiety, while the final song of her set was about her mother, who was in the audience. Alice’s voice was expressive and full, soft when it needed to be, and always compelling.

The second act was an indie rock band called Buster. The 4-piece is from Philadelphia, and their show at Joe Squared was their first time playing in Baltimore. They played their latest EP Kupo!, as well as two other songs, one old and one new. The youthful, unreleased tune “Theme Song” had bouncy vocals, and “Growing Old” was a perfect song for the end of summer.

The Zells are an energetic basement punk band from Pittsburgh. They are currently touring (with Buster) in support of their debut album, Failure to Slide, which was released September 7, 2018, on Crafted Sounds. Like Buster, this show also marked their first time playing in Baltimore. The five members took turns singing lead vocals, and even switched instruments, with drummer Tyler playing the guitar, and singing halfway through the show. Though technical difficulties cut the band’s set short, they were good sports and still played a fantastic and fun set.

The Zells. Photo by August Skylar Napolitano.

The last act was Saturday Night, an indie pop band from Washington D.C. Their show at Joe Squared was the last stop on their tour supporting their self-titled album, released August 17, 2018, on Gentle Reminder Records. The band’s sound revolves around bright melodies and prominent baselines. Their set was at the end of the night, but they effortlessly kept the audience dancing and singing along the entire time.

One of the most charming parts of the Saturday Night’s set was the band’s interactions with a fan in the front row, who sang into the microphone during the band’s final song, “Saturday Night.” This interaction is just a testament to the intimacy of Joe Squared. There is little separation between audience and stage, which helps make shows like this so special.

Part of the magic of indie and DIY shows is this lack of distinction between performer and audience, and the comforting humanization of the performers, who were all down to earth, friendly, and approachable. Between sets, Alek from Buster talked about the band’s relationship with The Zells (who they’ve known for some time), and Phil of The Zells talked about life on tour (for example, the difficulties of finding a place to sleep on the road).

At only $5, this show was an amazing way to not only hear great music and discover new favorites but also make wonderful and talented friends, as well. Upcoming events can be found on the Joe Squared Facebook page. Joe Squared is located at 33 W. North Ave., Baltimore, MD, 21201.

Book Review: The Art of Starving

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Picture source: www.blackgate.com

Sam J. Miller’s, The Art of Starving, follows the story of a young man who believes that through starvation he will acquire special powers. The less he eats, the more his senses sharpen. Miller’s protagonist, Matt, is a queer, high school junior living in a poor, rural town in upstate New York. Matt’s first-person narrative begins in late autumn, and the cold, repressive weather mirrors the outset of the story. Matt’s sister, Maya, has recently skipped town without explanation. Maya’s character is tough and independent. She likes rock and roll and claims that she left to record her band’s first album in Providence. But Matt feels that something must have happened to her, that someone must have hurt her to make her leave without being entirely honest with him. And he thinks he knows who did. There is a boy, Tariq, who Matt suspects Maya had been seeing before she left. Matt believes that Tariq and his friends know something about or had something to do with Maya’s disappearance.

As Matt deprives his body of food, he begins to cultivate his senses. He can smell, associating heightened, pungent scents with people or feelings; see sharp, dream-like visions of his sister and estranged father; and hear, somehow perceiving the internal sentiments that his classmates and mother are the least likely to divulge. Matt’s mother works at a local pig slaughterhouse cleaving massive chunks of meat and bone with heavy machinery. When she comes home from work her hands smell of pig’s blood. The factory provides the family’s source of income, as well as being the town’s primary place of employment. However, with the rising economic pressure to outsource factory work, the plant may be in danger of employee cuts or, worse yet, permanent closure.

Matt empathizes with the acute stress his mother feels as a community leader in their small town and as a single parent. Her husband left when the children were little. In one passage Matt recalls how in childhood he imagined that his father was a king, a villain, a sensitive artist, yet he knows that what he truly wishes for is a parental figure who he can relate to intellectually as well as emotionally. As the book progresses, Matt’s relationship with his mother is perhaps one of the most touching arcs of the text. Miller’s depiction of an imperfect, deeply loving parent-child relationship illustrates his aptitude for writing with emotional sensibility while portraying genuinely caring, flawed characters.

Matt is dedicated to practicing The Art of Starving because he imagines that through hunger he will be able to magically manipulate his senses and surroundings. He believes that this cultivated power will place him at the helm of his tumultuous life. However, Miller shows his readers that when bodily denial becomes obsessive, it is often indicative of more than simply the food itself. There are many ways in which we can deny ourselves sustenance.

Although the narrative in Miller’s story is beautifully rendered, it does not glamorize mental illness or anorexia. As Matt comes to terms with what his body hungers for and desires, his sexuality and eating disorder become intertwined: “Your body’s hungers are simple. It’s the mind that makes things complex, spinning a web of stories and fantasies and prejudices around something as basic as love, until we crave the stories more than the love itself” (Miller, 2017).

Miller understands that there is no simple cure for mental illness. Unlike many young adult novels that spin fanciful tales of recovery around a romantic partnership, The Art of Starving, evades this trope. The relationship that grows between Matt and another character in the story does not act as a panacea.  Miller’s writing is sparse, yet the narrative he weaves is as absurdly magical as a Grimm’s fairy tale.

The author’s debut novel is a tender story about what we all hunger for, be that food, sex, love, power, respect, acceptance, or internal serenity. The Art of Starving reminds us that, ultimately, we alone can heal ourselves. And moreover, that healing may be the most spellbinding, gratifying special power that one can practice and hone with care over time.

The Art of Starving (HarperTeen) is currently on the ballot for the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. Sam J. Miller will be at the Baltimore Book Festival, which takes place the weekend of September 28th-30th, as part of the tour for his latest novel, Blackfish City (Ecco Press; Orbit). He will be participating in panels on LGBTQIA science fiction, futuristic cities in fiction, and the politics of resistance in speculative fiction. To learn more about all of the authors coming to Baltimore for the event visit: baltimorebookfestival.com

No Spectators: Renwick’s Unique Art Experience

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Marco Cochrane, Truth is Beauty sculpture. Picture taken by Emily C. Scheppegrell.

Renwick Gallery, a free art museum in Washington, D.C., provides a unique and fascinating look into the infamous Burning Man festival in Nevada. Every year, 70,000 humans fill the empty, sandy desert of Black Rock, Nevada, constructing a temporary city. Art installations, steampunk costumes, and innovative futuristic vehicles fill the desert with radical self-expression as far as the eye can see. Burning Man is a celebration of human innovation, creativity, and genius, a once-in-a-lifetime experience one could only achieve by traveling thousands of miles to Nevada in August – until now.

Renwick Gallery offers a look into this riveting cultural phenomenon for anyone with a few hours in D.C. . Even better, they offer it for free, a great option for college students who can’t afford a pricey museum ticket. The downstairs portion of the gallery takes you through various art creations made and featured in the festival in previous years, from ornate, science fiction aesthetic costumes to massive sculptures and vehicles. A time-lapse features the entire Burning Man experience, from the music and festivities to the grand finale of burning several wooden sculptures in a grand celebration of freedom and renewal. A miniature theater shows silent, black and white movies, while the next room asks museum-goers what they want to do before they die. Various answers include “travel the world,” “have a family,” “go sky-diving,” and my personal favorite, “go full yeet”.

The upstairs area of the museum is a collection of rooms, starting off with the large recreation of a temple from Burning Man. While the other installations demonstrate creativity and celebration, the temple is a more serious place, created to honor grief and remembrance of those we have lost. The quiet atmosphere in the dimly-lit, elaborate temple is broken only by the scratching of pens on wooden tiles; visitors can write on a tile in honor of someone they have lost or an experience they have had, and then place it somewhere in the room. This ties into the theme of “No Spectators”. Visitors to Burning Man aren’t simply visiting, they are participating, and adding to the culture. The same goes for visitors to the Renwick Gallery’s art show.

The next rooms include dynamic, massive glowing mushrooms that rise and fall based on visitor interaction, paper-lantern-esque creations visitors can climb inside, and a psychedelic art screen on the ceiling that visitors watch from a lying position on the floor.

If you’re not one for typical art museums with halls upon halls of landscape and portrait paintings, don’t rule out the Renwick – the gallery is extremely interactive and really does require museum-goers to interact with exhibits instead of merely walk through. The exhibit will remain open until January and is an easy, cheap adventure for Goucher students. Students can utilize the college shuttle to reach the train station for free, and then buy the MARC train ticket to D.C. for only $8. From there, it’s around a twenty-minute walk to the gallery. Have fun, and remember, no spectators, everyone is part of the experience.

Crazy Rich Asians Review

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Photo Credit: IMDb.com

Crazy Rich Asians is an absolute must-see for the beginning semester. Set in modern day, it starts with the life of Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who lives in New York. She has happily been in a relationship with her boyfriend, a dashing young man who is known by the name of Nick Young. When Nick receives an invitation for his best friend’s wedding back in Singapore, Rachel takes the chance to finally meet his family. Much to her surprise, the mild-mannered and sweet boy she met is the firstborn heir to his family’s vast fortune. The movie follows Rachel as she tries to navigate falling head first into the world of the vastly wealthy and her relationship with Asia’s most eligible bachelor.

Going into the picture, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I knew it had good reviews and a promising premise since it had been based on a book, but other than that, nothing. What I watched was a beautifully executed love story that would warm the heart of any romantic.  Overall, I thought some parts felt a bit self-indulgent. Without getting too far into spoilers, the way the family shows off wealth is potentially off-putting for some people. However, I found it sort of like a breath of fresh air. As the perpetual fear of student loans and god only knows how many other financial troubles await me, it was nice to see someone who just didn’t have to worry about it. It was nice to watch someone who seemed to be a genuinely likable person sit in the lap of luxury, even if she did have to fight for it. Another thing that I appreciated was just how dedicated to the culture the movie was. Admittedly, I knew nothing about Singapore or the culture that it has, but that too was like a breath of fresh air for me. Seeing Rachel speak with English subtitles underneath her just felt so genuine, and I can’t quite recall the last time I’ve seen a Hollywood movie do that before (except for maybe Star Wars, but alien tongues don’t count in my book). Not to mention that the movie wasn’t afraid to be a little ridiculous. Sure, the comedic relief was a bit over the top, but I liked that about them. They are the type of people we wish we could be for our friends, completely unbound by social norms and unafraid to shout into the streets looking like a crazy person just to show support for those you care about. I like that about those characters. Also, I won’t ruin the ending, but the movie ends on a truly touching note that I found to be very sweet.

Overall, if you aren’t a big fan of rom-coms, this movie probably isn’t for you. However, if you want something that will brighten up your weekend a little bit more, I say why not give it a go with an open mind.

Movie Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Photo Credit: IMDb.com

We all go through crushes. Since according to zodiac signs I am a Cancer, when I develop a crush, it can become quite an emotional experience for me. If only I had thought about writing a letter to all the boys who had unknowingly stolen my heart! “Liking” someone can be an overwhelming experience for some: constant butterflies in the stomach, nervous to be around the person they admire, and also being afraid to say how they feel due to fear of possible rejection. For others, having feelings for someone does not have this effect; it is just an extra amount of liking for them versus their “regular” friends. Lara Jean Covey (portrayed by Lana Condor), however, falls into the first category of people who have crushes.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, originally a book written by author Jenny Han, was directed by female director Susan Johnson and premiered on August 17, 2018, on Netflix. The movie follows the life of a teenage Asian-American girl, named Lara Jean. Lara Jean wrote five letters to five different boys who she had developed a large crush on. Somehow, the letters get out and are sent to the five guys. Peter Kavinsky, the boy with the beautiful smile and starry eyes (portrayed by Noah Centino), addresses Lara Jean about his letter, which later, much, much later, turns into a happy ending for the both of them.

Throughout the film, Lara Jean is able to talk to the other four boys about the letters and all of them are understanding, well, except Josh, but that’s another story. Peter and Lara Jean decide to “date” to make his ex-girlfriend, Gen, jealous. Slowly but surely, and quite obviously, Lara Jean begins to develop real feelings for Peter, and little does she know that he feels the same way. She continues to tell herself and him that it is all fake due to not wanting to get hurt by him. After the big ski trip, Lara Jean and Peter make themselves official, but it only lasts about ten minutes because, of course, Gen ruins things when they get off the bus. SPOILER ALERT: In the end, Lara Jean and Peter end up together, and the audience and fans now must wait until it is confirmed that there will be a sequel to the movie to see how everything really ends.

This movie did a great job of casting the perfect actors for the roles that they had. Lana Condor fits the role of Lara Jean in every single way imaginable. She is sweet, kind, genuine, but also very strong and knows how to stand up for herself. Noah Centino, whose big debut was on the Freeform show The Fosters, had everyone’s heart throbbing throughout the movie. His talent shone throughout the movie, proving to fans that he knew all the right ways to play with the camera and his emotions. This movie felt very relatable for me, and I am sure others feel the same way. Twitter and Instagram went crazy once the movie was released on Netflix, and all actors immediately rose to fame (if they hadn’t already) due to the roles they had in the film. If this movie has taught me anything, it is to not be afraid to tell someone how you feel in-person, even if you don’t end up with a happy ending like Peter and Lara Jean had.

 

Edit on 9/17/18: The second sentence of the article was changed for clarity.

It’s More than the Title – Crazy Rich Asians

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For the first time in a quarter of a century, Hollywood has made a rom-com movie with an all Asian cast entitled Crazy Rich Asians. Starring Constance Wu, Harry Shum Jr, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Remmy Tan, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and so many more, the lineup is breaking grounds. This book turned movie is hitting the big screen on August 17, 2018 and is one of the few blockbuster films starring Asians in lead roles (but the only one with a full Asian cast) this summer. Backed by Warner Brothers and directed by Jon M. Chu, known for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Step Up and Now You See Me 2, the trailer for the highly anticipated movie dropped on April 23 on The Ellen Show.

Now, for some, the plot may seem a bit too generic. Rich man falls in love with a poor woman, decides to introduce her to his family, his mother doesn’t think the woman is good enough, and hilarity/drama ensues. But for the Asian American community, this is a huge deal. For, in Hollywood, Asian American representation is not very common since the practice of whitewashing of roles in major films is very frequent. With the most publicized of these being Emma Stone in Aloha, Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in a Shell, basically the whole cast of The Last Airbender, and Matt Smith in The Great Wall. Even Crazy Rich Asians and the soon to be made, live-action Mulan, almost became the victim of whitewashing too. And so, while YouTube creators like Wong Fu Productions, Anna Akana, and Domics produce lots of stories about the Asian American/mundane experiences of life, and television shows like Fresh Off the Boat, My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Dr. Kim and Master of None fill in some of the gaps with regards to representation for Asian Americans, the impact is not the same.

However, with all the fanfare around this film, it should be noted that the movie does not represent every Asian American experience. I mean, how could it? It’s an hour to two-hour long film! But if anyone wants to hear more about this topic, the YouTube channel FUNG BROS did a video called CRAZY RICH ASIANS – WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WATCH IT AND WHY YOU SHOULD.

This conversation about what the movie means is only a small part of a much larger discussion. No matter how one spins it, Crazy Rich Asians is a step forward towards representation in the media for Asians and Asian Americans.

Photo Credit: Google Images

The Webcomics Vacuum

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The Webcomics Vacuum

Webcomics are amazing medium, filled will all sorts of experimentation, talent and a diversity of stories, people, and topics that make it wholly unlike any other sector of comics. These comics, though, are severely underrepresented in the wider comic journalism world. Webcomics just aren’t given the space alongside their print counterparts on sites such as IGN, CBR, or the site I work for, Multiversity Comics. The question remains then, why?

Well, that’s what I’m going to try to talk about in this article. Before I try to tackle that, I want to give you an idea of what the webcomic review landscape actually looks like instead of making broad, seemingly baseless claims.

(My Best Approximation of) The State of the Industry

Regardless of what my prior statements may have implied, webcomics are not invisible to comic review sites, as evidenced by the multitude of “best of” webcomic/digital comic lists, and even a category on NPR’s yearly summer series, “Let’s Get Graphic: 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels.” Yet, once the award season has come and gone, they disappear into the ether, with nary a discussion to be see. We hear all about the fantastic in blurbs and yet we come away knowing only a title, a small description and the knowledge that it has caught the attention of enough people. Where is the breakdown, the lengthier analysis of what makes them award worthy? For those that aren’t on the lists but are no less good, where are the highlights of these? Where is the coverage of the new, the strange, the historic?

On sites with recognizable names? Nowhere. Or, more specifically, nowhere prominent or dedicated. Gizmodo has a webcomics tag but it’s sparsely populated. One of its sister sites, Kotaku, has one as well, although it hasn’t had an article since 2016. Newsarama had a column called “The Wild World of Webcomics” which only ran for one, possibly two, years (2011-12), according to the tag on their site. The most recent, and most consistent, webcomics column is from The Beat, though even that one is inconsistent in its updates, with last year being an obvious push to cover more webcomics than in previous years as a part of the site’s “A Year of Free Comics” series. While it seems to have shifted to a bi-weekly schedule since the start of the new year instead of the wildly ambitious attempt at DAILY REVIEWS FOR A YEAR – an attempted feat to be commended – this still isn’t close to the coverage that “regular” comics get.

There are, however, a few dedicated webcomic review sites. These sites tend to be lone blogs run by one person or, in rarer cases, a small team of people. Some are now defunct, such as Wild Webcomic Review, while others, like The Webcomic Overlook, are still alive and kicking. These are also examples of blogs that take a broad, general look at webcomics while there are others take a more specific look. For example, the blog Yes Homo boosts and talks about webcomics that contain positive representation of queer characters.

The only problem here? As is the case with every other site I’ve highlighted, their output isn’t exactly consistent or wide reaching. This shouldn’t be surprising, as they are run by one individual, in their spare time; one cannot expect a single person to be able to comprehensively and consistently review webcomics. The methodology with which these blogs approach webcomics plays into this as well but that is a topic for another day.

As with everything on the internet, I’m sure this doesn’t even come close to touching on the wide variety of smaller blogs that look at webcomics or the scattered posts among other comic review sites. That being said, this is it. These are the biggest, the most comprehensive, the most…well, professional places to find webcomic reviews/analysis on the internet. Again, it’s always possible I’ve missed something but in terms of widespread coverage, there ain’t much.

So, What’s the Deal Here?

My best guesses, and yes, these are just educated guesses, are that there are five major reasons for this lack of coverage. One is that webcomics are a tough medium to review in any sort of regular capacity due to a lack of consistent methodology. Do you review it one chapter at a time? What happens if a chapter is hundreds of pages long? Do you do it by month? Or by number of pages? If something updates frequently, does that mean it gets reviewed more? These questions, and so many more, have to be asked by each reviewer and picking one changes the frequency one can review a webcomic or set of webcomics.

The second is that due to the nature of the medium – lone creators working in their free time on passion projects instead of professionals with an editorial staff – there is a resistance to taking a critical eye to these projects and rightly so. It’s one thing to critique a professionally published DC or Marvel or Image comic and it’s another to critique a single page of a new artist who may or may not be young and just messing around in the internet age.

Third, webcomics are the new kids on the block. They’ve been around in their “modern” form since the publication of Scott McCloud’s fascinating, divisive, and wildly, hilariously outdated yet still relevant book Reinventing Comics in 2001, according to The Comic Journal’s article “The History of Webcomics.” I do realize this article is from 2011 making it, much like Reinventing Comics, wildly and hilariously outdated near the end but it still gives a good, brief look into the webcomic world as seen from over half a decade ago.

But I digress. Webcomics, despite being new, have found their ways in my and many other internet denizens’ lives. Yet they are still fairly niche, more so than “regular” comics. This is in spite of having been around in a similar format for nearly a century and currently seeing a golden age in the public consciousness. The market for reviews of a niche part of a niche medium isn’t exactly a large one.

Hell, even indie comics, as in unconnected to a named publisher like Black Mask or Aftershock, have a hard time finding space alongside the other “floppies” on review sites. You have to have a big name – Terry Moore, Jeff Smith, Carla Speed McNeil – to even be considered for the list.

Fourth, due to the lack of centralization I touched on earlier, finding webcomics, especially new webcomics, is a difficult task. There are, as far as I’m aware, nothing like the Diamond previews for webcomics. If a new series begins, you have to know someone who knows that creator in order to find out or be trawling through the web/hosting platform to find it.

There is also no list of past, published titles that can be easily searched. It’s all disseminated via word of mouth on the part of the reader, the creator or the collective/platform these comics are a part of. Each webcomic is its own world, sometimes a part of a stellar system comprised of many other worlds, other times all alone in the vacuum of space. Travel between worlds only works if you can see the other planets or take a long, hard look at the stars in the sky. Otherwise, you’ll never quite know what’s out there.

And, finally, it could simply be these sites just don’t have the desire to or the staff to cover a wide variety of webcomics. Here is my most speculative point. I do not know the staff numbers of other sites nor do I know the readership numbers on the sites I have cited in this article. However, based on the volume of articles and the number of different contributor names I’ve seen, I can make an educated guess as to the size of the various, non-webcomic focused sites.

Some sites have a small staff. Keeping up with news, “regular” comics and other content such as comics-adjacent TV & Movie reviews takes a lot of work and there may not be enough time in the day to cover them. Additionally, I’m sure a lot of these sites don’t make a lot of money, what with advertising and the way ads work on the internet being what it is, and so, unlike a newspaper/newspaper site, keeping staff members on retainer that work all day isn’t feasible. Again, this is just an educated guess. I don’t know how much money these sites make nor who is full-time nor who gets paid per post.

So, if a site doesn’t have the staff to spare to diversify their content to cover a notoriously tricky, decentralized and niche piece of a market, it stands to reason that there isn’t any desire to push for any consistent or comprehensive – an impossibility, I know – or critical webcomic representation. It isn’t worth it to delve into the history of anything webcomic related or do a retrospective on something like “Digger” or “8-bit Theater.”

If it sounds like I’m being too harsh on these sites, believe me I’m not trying to be harsh or critical of them. This is just the reality of the situation. I could also be wrong about these reasons, although I suspect that some combination of these factors is the truth. Motivations are a complicated and many times subconscious thing, guessing at them is a shot in the dark. Do not think ill of them for their mistakes, they are only human.

Photo credit: Google Images

Goucher Poet: Rowan Youngs

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As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing sponsored an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems. This issue features a poem by senior American Studies major Rowan Youngs.

Lamp in Three Parts
1.
My friend was born with a lamp for a head.
She has lost the ability to discern between people who truly care about her and those who simply need the light.
It gets worse during the winter months—she’s almost no fun at all.

2.
First and foremost: you are not valuable in isolation. It’s important that you learn this now, so that later when the sadness arrives it can operate un-impinged. Confusion clouds the waters, muddies that which is and that which could be. It’s important that you know this now, before you start to get any bright ideas haha, because the truth is that it can’t. Be, that is.

Without the detritus of the life you cast yourself upon there is simply no need. The necessity for your illumination comes with a qualifier, and it is everything aside from you. See the photo, strangled behind warped glass? See the plastic cup of milk, the lavender handkerchief it kisses and the spot on the couch where the cigarette fell between bare thighs? See the bird? That is the family bird. It is the color of bone marrow and it is loved. It must be seen, too.

You are the silent sentinel.
Function and form, at least theoretically. You specifically have not gotten any younger.
More than anything you are provider of choice. Choice. The moment they are not yet ready for the dark—That is your time. You are never to cry (you can’t) but if you have to (it’s not possible), don’t.

You will be positioned inconveniently. Behind a couch, at an oblique angle, half hidden behind the perennially desiccated ficus. You will be installed beneath a draft or by the bedside table of lovers gone sour. As they fuck, tangled in the stained periwinkle quilt she sewed over long nights in a desperate bid for wholeness you will mourn the loss of something vital and unspoken and you will not look away. You can’t look away, but more importantly, don’t turn from them. Never turn from them. After he wilts he will fix his eyes on the oil painting of a little boy, a little boy in a little house with a large dog and he will howl in the space that you yourself brighten. Isn’t that special? Isn’t that wonderful, how needed you are in this moment and all moments to come?

3.
It came on in the night
Some dark summoning
Probably a test
I’ve heard of these things
Happening somewhere else but
Never here.

The next morning, foggy, slide tomatoes and sea salt down my ripe gullet whole.
Gird yourself for the battle
Fall for your queen so that we might rise
Whorled pads against chilled glass
I begin to unscrew, one turn, two
Turn and turn and turn
Days pass and I look around.
Joints ache
There is dust at the corners of my eyes, tiny drifts like
Fallen snow.
Faded curtains hang open
I hope no one has seen me at work.

The Poetry Corner Part Two

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As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing is sponsoring an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems along with poetry recommendations. Here are student poets Sebastian Bronson Broddie, ‘20, and Thalia Richter, ‘20 on poets whose work they appreciate.

Sebastian’s Poet Recommendation: Gwendolyn Brooks is well known for crafting powerful poems about racial identity and many hold evidence of her engagement in politics, from when she worked with the NAACP in college. What I most love about Gwendolyn Brooks’s work is her ability to make me feel a great deal more like who I am supposed to be, or to feel a greater appreciation for who I am right now. I always feel like she knows exactly who I am when I read her poems, and that who I am is to be celebrated. Her subjects…sometimes seem to leap right off the page and envelop you in a warm, soft, comforting light.

Thalia’s Poet Recommendation: My favorite book of [Maggie Nelson] is Bluets, which is written as a cross between poetry and prose, ruminating on depression, loneliness, and love through the lens of the color blue. The book begins, “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession.” Nelson’s obsession with the color blue bleeds into her discussions of depression, sometimes eliding the two, so that emotion gains literal visibility. Loneliness is blue, and perhaps parts of love are red, but no matter what, Nelson made me believe in the tangibility and physical realities of these emotions…Her poetry depicts love and heartbreak side-by-side, as though the latter is inevitable, but worth it for the sake of the former…by articulating her loneliness, Nelson creates a sense of shared sadness, and perhaps that can help lessen the burden.

To read the work of Sebstian and Thalia, look here.

Featured Image: Gwendolyn Brooks. Photo Credit: The Poetry Foundation

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