Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Come See Me At Hal-Con This Weekend, Table B1-3!

October 22, 2018

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It’s almost time for my local convention, Hal-Con, and I will be returning to the show this year, albeit with a slight caveat. I’m sharing Table B1-3 with my excellent writer pal Nicola R. White (she’ll have copies of her wonderful comic Wild Rose for sale!) but while the show runs from Friday to Sunday, I will only be at the show on Friday.

I’ve got another commitment that’s taken up the rest of my weekend, and I’m really sorry to be missing the show. But a) I’m very excited to be there on Friday, and b) Nicola will be at our table all weekend long with autographed copies of my books for sale. While you might not see me, you can get a copy of a book about your favourite superheroine at least.

Here’s some info for you! Hal-Con is at the new Halifax Convention Centre this year, which is very exciting. The vendor floor is open at these times:

 

  • Friday: 12:00PM – 7:00PM
  • Saturday: 10:00AM – 7:00PM
  • Sunday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM

 

And we’re on the fifth floor, with all of the vendors and autograph spots and such. Here is a handy map:

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I’ll have copies of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, and The Many Lives of Catwoman for sale, along with free bookmarks for everyone who stops by. The books will be $20 each, or all three for $50, which is a pretty swell deal. Cash is great, but credit cards should be doable, depending on what the reception is like at the new place.

So yeah, come on by! If you’re at the show Friday, I look forward to seeing you. If you’re coming Saturday or Sunday, I’m sorry to miss you but be sure to stop by the table and scope out our wares. It should be a great show this year! It always is. Hal-Con does it right.

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Read My Article on Comic Book Letter Columns in Gender and the Superhero Narrative, Available Now!

October 19, 2018

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Today I got my copy of Gender and the Superhero Narrative, pictured above with a Funko of Diana Prince enjoying an ice cream cone, and I’m very excited to tell you all about this book. First off, I’m in it! That’s the main reason I’m telling you about it. I’ve written an article called “The Evolution of Female Readership: Letter Columns in Superhero Comics” and it is a DEEP dive.

I looked at over three thousand comic books for this study, and longtime readers may remember me asking for help tracking down some issues a couple of years back. Thanks to all of you (and especially thanks to Johanna Draper Carlson, KC Carlson, and their EPIC comic book collection) I got all of the letter columns I needed for this project, and the end results turned out very interesting.

I tabulated the folks who got published in letter columns at DC and Marvel by gender from their rise in the 1960s to the start of their decline in the 1990s. First, I established a baseline, with forty years of letter columns from Batman, Justice League, and Superman at DC and Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, and Fantastic Four at Marvel. These numbers alone showed some fascinating trends, including the steady decline of female readers getting letters printed in superhero books.

But that was just step one. I averaged out these numbers and then compared them to a female-led series from each decade. At DC, we had Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane in the 60s, Wonder Woman in the 70s, Supergirl in the 80s, and Catwoman in the 90s. The choices were fewer at Marvel, but we had Millie the Model in the 60s, Ms. Marvel in the 70s, Dazzler in the 80s, and a combination of Sensational She-Hulk and Silver Sable and the Wild Pack in the 90s.

Needless to say, this article’s got charts on charts, which shouldn’t surprise any of you who are familiar with my work. And there’s some compelling information therein. I won’t tell you everything I found, because you should go read this book. But here’s a fun tidbit: The average female readership for each female-led series was ALWAYS higher than the baseline average of the other titles. Every year, for forty years, across ten different series. There’s various ways to interpret that, but a key takeaway is: Girls will read comics when girls are in comics.

Anyway, it’s a jam packed article with all sorts of fun information, some great letter column quotes, and, like I said, all of the charts. It was very fun to put together, and I had a great time working with the editors Michael Goodrum, Tara Prescott, and Philip Smith. It’s an academic book and I am not an academic, but they kindly invited me to be a part of the project anyway. And now it’s published by the University Press of Mississippi, which is kind of amazing for a comics history nerd like me. I cite their great books on comics all the time in my research, so to actually be in one is very cool.

And, of course, I’m just one of several contributors (here’s a flyer for the whole works: Gender and the Superhero Narrative). If you like letter columns, my article will be your jam, but the book covers so much. It’s got pieces on Batwoman, Bitch Planet, Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, and more. Plus an introduction from Ryan North! Everyone loves Ryan North. He is as smart and delightful as he is tall, and he is very, very tall.

I hope you’ll check out Gender and the Superhero Narrative! It’s available now from the University Press of Mississippi or via most bookselling sites. And it’s only $30 US, which is pretty dang good for an academic book like this. These things can get pricey. Anyway, I’m really proud of my piece, and I love that so many readers helped me find the comics I needed to finish the research for it. Good group effort, gang! I think it turned out really well. Go pick up the fruits of our combined labours today!

Come See Me at Hal-Con This Weekend, September 22-24!

September 20, 2017

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The biggest comics/sci-fi/general nerdery convention in my hometown is this weekend, September 22-24, and I am honoured to be a guest this year! Hal-Con is a great show held in downtown Halifax, and they’ve got a very cool lineup of guests, panels, and activities this year. The convention organizers always go all out to try to provide a cool experience for attendees, and they’ve done another excellent job this time around! I’m so excited to be a part of it.

So here’s where I’ll be this weekend:

My Table, A7: All Weekend Long!

I’ll be set up in the Scotiabank Centre for the entirety of the convention, at Table A7 in the guests area (between Gerhard and Ryan North, which is an A+ spot). Just look for my bright banner and the Wonder Woman table cloth! Here is a handy map:

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I’ll have copies of all three of my books for sale: Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, and The Many Lives of Catwoman, all for as reasonable a price as I can make them without losing money. And hopefully I’ll be set up for credit cards, if this new card reader thing I bought for my phone works, but cash is always good too. I’ll sign everything with my fancy book plates, of course. Plus, I’ll have free bookmarks to give away even if you don’t want to buy anything! The vendor area is open from 12-8pm on Friday, 9am-8pm on Saturday, and 9am-6pm on Sunday, and I’ll be at my table during those hours apart from events that follow.

Chat/Livestream at Extra Life HFX Booth: Gaming Floor, Friday 4pm

My pal Austin is part of this super cool gaming group that raises money for children’s hospitals, and I’ll be stopping by their booth to chat and be part of their livestream. Should be a good time! And maybe they’ll let me play video games. I wonder if they’ve got Mario Kart? Are folks even streaming Super Nintendo games? That may be too retro.

Panel, Getting Over Creative Hurdles: Room 302, Friday 4:45-5:30pm

Join me and novelist Margarita Gakis as we chat about what to do when you’ve written yourself into a corner or are otherwise stuck at any stage of a project. With Margarita doing fiction and me doing non-fiction, this should be a really fun chat with different perspectives and tips that are hopefully useful on both sides. We’ll be answering questions as well!

Panel, Women in Media: Room 301, Saturday 1-1:45pm

It’s me and Margarita Gakis again, talking about the role of women in media, how things have changed, and how far we have to go. Should be a cool conversation with lots to talk about! I’ll try not to blather on for too long about how amazing the Wonder Woman movie was, but I can’t guarantee I won’t.

Stargazer Soiree: Delta Halifax, Saturday 7-9pm

This is an event with all of the Hal-Con guests and staff and I’m guessing convention attendees as well? I’m not sure of the mechanisms through which convention attendees get in, but I’m pretty sure there is a way. Perhaps a Golden Ticket? I don’t know. Anyway, we’ll all be there are there’s drinks and snacks and such, so that’s fun.

Panel, Author Writing Tips: Room 302, Sunday 1:45-2:30pm

Join me, Margarita Gakis once more (I don’t know her at all, but by this point we should be fast friends! Or maybe mortal enemies? Time will tell. It should be an interesting dynamic either way), and Nicola R. White as we talk about writing, publishing, and general advice for getting involved in the world of books. There’ll be lots of audience questions for this too, which I’m looking forward to. I love Hal-Con’s commitment to these writing panels! So great.

So yeah, that’s my weekend. Should be busy but very fun. Come say hi, grab some books if you are so inclined, and check out the website for more great activities so that you can enjoy this wonderful show!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo is Out TODAY! Go Get It!

August 29, 2017

warbringer

Today is a big day if you’re a Wonder Woman enthusiast. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film is available digitally today (it’ll be a couple of more weeks until the DVD and Blu-ray are out) and, if you’re jonesing for a new Wonder Woman adventure, Leigh Bardugo’s YA novel Wonder Woman: Warbringer hits the shelves today as well. I am so excited for this book, gang. I haven’t even read it yet but I feel very confident in telling you all that you’re going to want to pick this one up. Leigh Bardugo is a fantastic writer, and I this book is going to be a blast.

Here’s the official synopsis; the book exists within its own continuity, and the story involves a teen Diana interacting with the outside world for the first time:

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

So that sounds super fun. A young Diana teaming up with a gal who’s meant to bring war and battling against fate itself to prevent it is definitely a tale worthy of the Amazon princess’ first outing.

We got a closer look at the cast a little while back via posters drawn by Jen Bartel. Sidenote: You know a project is going to be cool when they’ve brought in Jen Bartel to do some artwork. Here are the core characters:

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Diana is Diana, of course, the future Wonder Woman. Alia is the Warbringer, while Jason is her brother. I haven’t seen much about Theo or Nim yet, but from their individual promo posters it looks like Theo might be connected to the villains and Nim may be a friend or ally of the girls. Also, I love the diversity of this cast! I think that every Wonder Woman property should be a true reflection of the world around her, and Bardugo has definitely accomplished that with these characters.

My copy is due to arrive today, and I am so looking forward to digging into it! When this book was first announced, I checked out Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, her latest book at the time, and absolutely loved it. So much so that I immediately got Crooked Kingdom, the second book of the duology, and devoured that as well. Bardugo has a knack for unique, compelling characters and an impressive ability to mix action and heart with some exciting twists and turns. Diana is in very capable hands with her at the helm, and I can’t wait to see what Bardugo does with her.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is out today, and you should definitely check it out in stores, online, digitally, or any other way you can get your hands on it. The book is the first in DC’s new Icon YA line, and will be followed by YA novels starring Batman, Superman, and most excitingly, Catwoman. It should be a cool line with lots of great writers in the mix, and DC’s certainly done right by their characters in the YA market before, most notably with Gwenda Bond’s stellar Lois Lane series. I love that they’re starting this new line with Wonder Woman; Diana is the perfect character to get things rolling, and with Leigh Bardugo writing her it should be a great read!

Read My Essay in Riverdale Avenue Books’ New Anthology, 1984 in the 21st Century

April 4, 2017

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George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984 has been resonating with the world since its publication in 1949, and it’s become increasingly relevant these days with “alternative facts” and the bizarre doublethink that characterizations the current American presidential administration. To explore the impact and legacy of 1984 in these tumultuous times,  today Riverdale Avenue Books is publishing 1984 in the 21st Century, a new anthology with contributions from a variety of great writers, and I’m very excited to be a part of it. Most of the pieces in the book are thoughtful and compellin, and delve into important, serious issues of the day in fascinating ways.

My piece, meanwhile, is about an Archie comic book. I am nothing if not perpetually on brand.

I picked up 1984 as a young teenager because of an Archie comic. The story was “It’s 1984 at Riverdale High” and it centered on Mr. Weatherbee installing a new video security system in the school that allowed him to closely monitor all of his students and employees. Archie sensed Orwellian overtones, and took a stand against the system. Luckily for him, Mr. Weatherbee had purchased it on the cheap and the system didn’t last for long.

Archie mentioned Orwell’s novel repeatedly throughout the story, so when I saw 1984 at a bookstore a little while later, I decided to check it out. I figured if Archie liked it, it must be fun and cool and definitely appropriate for readers my age. It was not any of those things. But I loved it all the same, and the book was both illuminating and served as a gateway for me into more serious literature.

My essay digs into the original Archie comic that got me into 1984 as well as how such an Archie story was both an absolutely bizarre and extremely fitting avenue for Orwell’s dystopian themes. I also talk about the adaptability of the novel, and how it’s evergreen quality has kept it in the public discourse for decades. I hope you’ll check it out, as well as the rest of the excellent pieces in the book.

The e-book is available today through the Riverdale Avenue Books page as well as Amazon; the publication date corresponds with the day that Winston Smith began his illicit journal in the novel. And today only, you can get a free digital copy of the book on the Riverdale Avenue Books site by entering the code 1984FREE. A print  version of the book is coming soon, too. Please enjoy my weird little Archie story!

Check Out New Book, Wonder Woman Psychology, And My Essay On Marston and Wertham!

March 28, 2017

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There’s a fascinating new book about Wonder Woman set to hit stores next week (though Amazon seems to be shipping it out already in America), and I’m very honoured to be a part of it. Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth is edited by Travis Langley and Mara Wood, and examines Wonder Woman from a psychological perspective through a series of essays, all of them with unique viewpoints and insightful thoughts on the Amazon princess. Travis is a pro at this style of book, having written or edited similar volumes on Batman, Doctor Who, Games of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and more. The psychological angle is an interesting lens through which to view these properties, and one that’s especially fitting for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman was created by a psychologist, William Moulton Marston, to be “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” and my essay in Wonder Woman Psychology compares and contrasts Marston’s optimistic approach to comic books with Dr. Fredric Wertham’s pessimistic view of the medium. Wertham famously decried the comic book industry in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, and was especially hard on Wonder Woman, accusing her of being a lesbian (no minor allegation in the 1950s) and calling her a “morbid ideal” for young girls.

And yet, despite their very different views on Wonder Woman, the two men had a lot in common. They both believed that psychological principles could make the world a better place, and shared progressive views on many issues. They also agreed that comic books had a powerful potential to influence the youth of America. Their major divergence was their reaction to the medium; Marston sought to harness that potential for good and influence young readers while Wertham sought to protect young readers from dangerous messages that could lead them to juvenile delinquency. Both men are fascinating figures and key players in the history of Wonder Woman, and it was a lot of fun to dig into their histories and discuss them in such a close comparison.

Travis Langley co-wrote the piece with me, which was great. I’m a historian first and foremost, and psychology is not my area of expertise, so I provided all of the history and researched the psychological work of both men as best I could, and then Travis took the baton to the finish line. I was very glad to have someone with his impressive psychological knowledge on board, both to check my own work and add to the piece. It was a fun, easy partnership and I’m really pleased with how the essay turned out.

You can order Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth now, or ask for it at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it ordered already, I’m sure they can get it for you; the series is popular and well known. I heartily recommend picking it up if you’re a fan of Wonder Woman, and not just because of my own part in it! There are lots of great writers delving into interesting components of the character, and there’s even an old biographical piece by Elizabeth Holloway Marston, William’s wife and a key player in the creation of Wonder Woman, which is ridiculously cool and worth the price of admission alone for any hardcore Wonder Woman enthusiast. You’re in for a great read across the board!

Cover Reveal For My New Book: The Many Lives of Catwoman, Coming In Summer 2017!

September 1, 2016

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There was a big reveal on the Chicago Review Press Instagram account yesterday: The cover of my new book! I’ve now written a trilogy! And the third book is The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale, due out in Summer 2017.

The book was an absolute blast to write. Catwoman is a fantastic and fascinating character with so many distinct incarnations over the past 75 years, and digging into all of the comics, shows, and movies was so much fun. Apart from the Halle Berry movie, I suppose. That sucked pretty bad, but so much so that it eventually became kind of hilarious, and I ended up writing an entire chapter on what went wrong with the movie and how it influenced the superhero film boom of the past decade. Plus I got to watch the good stuff too, like the old Batman show and Batman Returns, both of which are amazing in completely different ways.

And the comics! I had a rough idea of Catwoman’s comic book history before I started the book, but her journey over the decades was even more intriguing than I’d imagined. From her transition from small time cat burglar to supervillain to reformed citizen in the Golden Age to her disappearance in the Silver Age to her often dark and twisted romantic stories in the Bronze Age, the old comics were spectacularly interesting. And her more modern incarnations were just as compelling, from unpacking the sexualization and objectification of “Year One” and the 1990s series to exploring her renaissance in the 2000s. Catwoman’s always had something fascinating going on in her adventures; there was little in the way of flat, boring stories.

Ultimately, the book is an examination of the superhero genre from the perspective of a female villain, and the ups and downs of empowerment and exploitation that come with being a part of this world over the past 75 years. After doing two books on outright heroines, it was  fun to dig into the morally ambiguous world of Catwoman and see how the trends of the genre impacted her depictions in new and different ways.

The book’s not out for a while yet; it’s scheduled for July 2017 right now, so we’re ten months out. It’s not even available for pre-order yet, though you can be sure I’ll let you know when it is. But it’s written and it’s happening and it’s got a cover and I couldn’t be happier about it all. I’m really excited for you all to get to check it out, and I hope you’re looking forward to some Catwoman-centric fun as we ramp up to the book’s release starting early in the new year!


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