GamerGate may damage video games so badly, that they’ll end up like comic books?

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Chris Suellentrop, of the New York Times, wrote an interesting piece concerning GamerGame, the online movement that seeks to bring about better ethics in video game journalism by intimidating and harassing female video game designers and critics. I think Suellentrop makes some valid points, but not when he compares video games to comics.

From the New York Times:

If this continues, the medium I love could go backward into its roots as a pastime for children. Instead of being a mainstream form of entertainment, it could end up being something like comic books, a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (“Maus,” or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.

Grand_Theft_Auto_VRoots, or more like its present form? I ask because it certainly seems to me that video games, as a medium, perpetuate male power fantasies a lot more than comic books. Look no further than the so-called mainstream, top-selling video games. If the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto franchises aren’t about power fantasies, especially alpha-male power fantasies, I don’t know what is. It doesn’t matter what your male fantasy is, killing Nazi soldiers in 1944 with a Russian sniper rifle or murdering prostitutes with your bare hands in the streets of fake Los Angeles; video games have got you covered. And not just weird, hard-to-find video games that have to be ordered out of the back of a fetish magazine. These alpha-male power fantasy video games are sold at Wal-Mart and Target in special displays at the front of the store, and routinely make more money than Hollywood blockbusters. Within 24 hours of its release, Grand Theft Auto V made $800 million in worldwide revenue.

Video games are were pro-GamerGate pretend-alpha-males go to feel good about themselves, to feel powerful. They aren’t turning to comic books.

If mainstream video games currently enjoy a better reputation then mainstream comic books, then it’s a reputation undeserved and not based on fact. If you don’t believe me, go ask a murdered prostitute from Grand Theft Auto V.

Of course you can’t do that. She’s dead and she was never real in the first place, but you get the gist.

EDIT: My opinion on GamerGate has evolved, mostly because I’ve become much more familiar with the actual facts involving the movement. What I wrote about GamerGate on October 26, does not necessarily represent what I currently thing about GamerGate.

British man convicted of possessing sexualized Japanese cartoon images of children

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A 39-year-old man in the UK was sentenced to nine months in prison for possessing Japanese Manga images, cartoons, depicting young girls, some in school uniforms, exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity. Robul Hoque, of Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to ten counts of of possessing prohibited images of children. Judge Tony Briggs suspended the prison sentence as long as he doesn’t break the law for the next two years.

Good luck with that. This isn’t the first time Hoque has gotten in trouble for pervy images of children on his computer. Six years ago he was convicted by a jury on six counts of making “indecent pseudo-photographs” of children. He was given community service and ordered into sex offender treatment.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that treatment didn’t work.

Though I’m a fan of comics, manga, and anime, I have nothing in common with people like Robul Hoque. The material I enjoy buying, reading, or watching doesn’t sexually objectify children. I don’t care if the material involves photographs, video, computer generation, or just lines on paper, if it involves sexually objectifying children, I want no part of it.

Children should not be the object of anyone’s sexual fantasies.

Manga-is-not-a-crime-300x300When groups like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund tell people like me that I need to help defend people like Hoque because we both enjoy art created with the same medium, it makes me cringe. If deviants like Hoque need defending, get other like-mind pedophiles to do it, not mainstream comic book nerds like me. Implying that I have anything in common with people like Hoque just because I enjoy Batman and X-Men comic books, seems more than a little silly to me.

New York Comic Con is now bigger than San Diego Comic-Con

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The New York Comic Con was held this past weekend, and thanks to Thursday now being a full-day, they were able to sell tickets to 151,000 unique individuals. This makes the New York Comic Con the largest, most attended comic convention in all of North America. The San Diego Comic-Con is now the second largest comic convention in all of North America with its attendance capped out at around 131,000 nerds.

The New York Comic Con is number one. The San Diego Comic-Con is number two.

The New York Comic Con is run by ReedPOP, a division of Reed Exhibitions, which in turn is a division of Reed Elsevier, a publically traded company based in the UK. The San Diego Comic-Con is run by Comic-Con International, a non-profit “educational” corporation. Even though the two organizations, ReedPOP and Comic-Con International, do the same exact thing, one pays taxes on its profits, and the other does not. One pays its fair share for local fees, the other does not.

Pretending to be a charity and getting out of paying taxes allows them to save a lot of money, allowing them to have the economic resources to engage in frivolous lawsuits.

Comic-Con International is legally classified as a charity, even though it’s no more a charity than ReedPOP or Wizard World.

Marvel Comics is killing Wolverine!

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I haven’t been following the story lines in mainstream superhero comics lately, so it came somewhat of a surprise to me when I learned that Marvel Comics is killing off its most popular character, Wolverine.

It’s going to happen in a four-issue mini-series by writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven aptly titled, Death of Wolverine.

I don’t know what I find more ridiculous, that they would kill off their most beloved character or that they would spoil the ending by telegraphing what is going to happen. It’s a very comic bookish thing to do, to spoil the ending of a story in the book’s title.

One of the things I’m worried about with this story line is how it will effect our neighbors to the north, the people of Canada. Most people probably don’t realize it, but Wolverine is Canadian. People in Canada don’t have much to be proud about. Even though Wolverine is a fictitious comic book character, he’s one of the most respected and admired individuals by the Canadian people. He’s a Canadian role model. He’s right up there with Justin Bieber and that fat dude who helped open the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics with his slam poetry. When Wolverine is dead, that’s one less hero Canadians will have to look up to. When Wolverine is dead, I’m worried many Canadians will spiral out of control. The death of Wolverine might cause even more Canadians to sit all day at Tim Hortons eating donuts, drinking bad coffee, and smoking crack.

I remember when DC Comics killed of Superman. I was in the Air Force and stationed in upstate New York, near Syracuse. The week Superman #75, the issue where Superman was killed, came out, an area comic book shop was selling the comic for $100.

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I don’t know if any of the issues were sold at that price, but needless to say, the book can be purchased for a lot less these days. Mostly that’s because Superman isn’t dead anymore. It turned out, he didn’t stay dead for very long. That too is a very comic bookish thing to do. when a hero dies in the pages of a funny book, he or she doesn’t stay dead for very long.

I fully expect the same thing will happen with Wolverine.

The economic reality of comic book conventions

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Denise Dorman, wife of illustrator Dave Dorman, wrote a blog post about how attending comic book conventions as an industry professional is a money losing endeavor. According to Denise, people go to comic book conventions not to see artists like her husband and buy some of their work, but to see cosplayers, folks who dress up as characters from comics, movies, and anime.

From Comic Book Wife:

I have slowly come realize that in this selfie-obsessed, Instagram Era, COSPLAY is the new focus of these conventions–seeing and being seen, like some giant masquerade party. Conventions are no longer shows about commerce, product launches, and celebrating the people who created this genre in the first place. I’ve seen it first-hand–the uber-famous artist who traveled all of the way from Japan, sitting at Comic-Con, drawing as no one even paid attention to him, while the cosplayers held up floor traffic and fans surround the cosplayers–rather than the famed industry household name–to pose for selfies.

The hard-working artists and creators who are the very foundation of this industry…the reason there even is an industry….those creatives who have busted their asses and spent money they perhaps didn’t have to spare in order to be there exhibiting for–and accessible to–the fans…have been reduced to being the background wallpaper against which the cosplayers pose in their selfies. At what point do you start to wonder if–other than your faithful, loyal regulars who are like family and who find you every time–the general fandom population even gives a shit about the creators more than they care about their Instagram profiles?

I agree with her, to a degree. Comic book conventions are no longer about buying stuff. That function is now being better served by Internet-based entities like Amazon or eBay. That’s been the case for a long time now.

We were planning on going to the Baltimore Comic-Con a few weeks ago, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I looked at the schedule of panels and quickly realized that none of them interested me. That meant if I went to the Baltimore Comic-Con, my main focus of interest would have to have been the dealer’s room. I did the math and realized that two one-day admission tickets, along with parking near the convention, it was going to cost us $70 just to walk in the door, and that didn’t include the price of gas going from Hagerstown to Baltimore and then back again. That meant anything I ended up buying in the dealer room was essentially coming with an immediate $70 surcharge.

Going to the Baltimore Comic-Con made no economic sense to me.

Denise Dorman is right about cosplayers now being the focus at comic book conventions. I think that’s because unlike everything else offered at a typical comic book convention, cosplayers offer the only true thing that cannot be found elsewhere. You can buy books on Amazon. You can buy back-issues and collectibles on eBay. You can listen to interviews on podcasts or watch them on YouTube. The only place you can get your picture taken with people dressed up as a Stormtrooper or a character from an anime series, is a convention.

Cosplayers offer the lone remaining unique thing available at a comic book convention. Do I personally find what they have to offer worth the cost of attending a con? No, but it should be no surprise to anyone that cosplay is stealing the focus from everything else.

Photo: Dork Dimension