Jan 30

Fantasy Artist Dave Wilkins Interview

profile_dave_wilkins-d6v0xdk-1IN THIS EPISODE:

Fantasy artist Dave Wilkins has worked for DC Comics, Dark Horse, IDW, Marvel, Warner Brothers Entertainment, Capcom, and recently did a cover for Heavy Metal Magazine #265 that featured the first woman of African decent.  We were honored to have him on the show.  It was a great interview and Dave is a great person to know.  You can find Dave’s artwork at his Deviant Art Page dave-wilkins.deviantart.com.

  • Heavy Metal 265How Dave started and taught himself art?

  • Who were his major influences?

  • What advice he had for beginning artists that want to teach themselves?

 

GSB-Logo-Blogtalk-300x

GEEK SOUL BROTHER AND THE 5 NERDY VENOMS airs live on Tuesdays at 10pm at TALKSHOE.COM.  We feature News of a Nerdy kind, Movie and Television reviews, and commentary about Geek Culture.  Join my nerdy friends and I, and special guest for a great conversation.   Make sure you subscribe to the Talkshoe page so you can get emails on upcoming shows.  And you can find us in ITUNES HERE.

Jan 21

Afro Commentary: My Niece Deserves Better (Female Characters)

GSB_Editorial-Women-Characters

I have a dilemma. As an uncle to a 5 year-old girl who will not only break a lot of hearts when she gets older, but is intelligent, creative and fiercely independent, I find it will be difficult to introduce her to geek things as easily as it was with her older brother. There are no “gateway” characters that are a positive enough influence for her that would not take a lot of explanation or draw a degree of ire from her parents. In fact – when you come right down to it – truly well written female characters that are a positive influence have become somewhat of a mixed bag in a post-feminist era, with a lot of blame (and some praise) to go around.

Princess Leia - Star Wars

Princess Leia – Star Wars

I am sure many of you are already going “You’re full of crap, Private! You have Wonder Woman, Princess Leia…” and others I am sure you are rattling off the top of your head, and to an extent I agree with you. However, I want to point out a couple of subtle, yet very distinct issues with these two examples. Despite Wonder Woman being a positive influence overall, in the last 15 years her character, books and appearances have given her such a rewrite that she has become extremely one dimensional (i.e. a man-hating, battle hungry bitch). Not exactly a role model for a girl under 12, or any girl for that matter. With Princess Leia, although she was given a no-nonsense attitude with matching blaster, she is ultimately relegated to being the damsel in distress and a love interest for the heroes (which would have been awkward if she ended up with Luke.) These are just two of the many examples of the now cliché concept of a “strong women.”

“What the hell is wrong with that” you are probably asking, and here is my problem with it. The text-book “strong female” character has boiled down to this: A typical (i.e. not well developed) female character with an extraordinary trait or two that makes them more appealing to men while appeasing the female audience because she can stand toe-to-toe with the males. The character either hates men, is extremely bitchy and/or doesn’t take no for an answer; however the conclusion of her storyline is either she dies, ends up a damsel in distress or a love interest for a male character, or just fades into the background. No real progression in her character nor any real involvement in the plot, other than showing how bad ass she can be. Ever since it was rumored that Wonder Woman was to be in Man of Steel 2 (I refuse to call it Batman vs Superman because of the ridiculousness of the title), I was afraid she would be treated similarly to how she is now. Among all the information that has come out since Gal Gadot was announced to play the Amazon princess, it has been disheartening to learn that she may not even play a significant role in the film. Even worse, it appears she will be written in the usual 1-dimensionally fashion (we are talking about Zack Snyder afterall.)

“So what are you looking for in a female character” you are probably asking. Simple: One that is well written and developed. Thats it. A character that is developed just as well as male ones, whose actions and input matter just as much as others. It’s cool if she can kick a lot of ass or tote a gun like a sharpshooter, but she needs something more. She needs to be like every other real woman; she needs to have flaws, faults and adversity. She needs to have a personality with all its nuances and complexity. She needs to be real. You may think that exists already and you are partially right, when you take into consideration of many genres and mediums of media.

It is important to make a distinction between a “strong” female character and one that is well-written and positive, since there are not many examples in the genres of science fiction or fantasy. Even though the 1970’s promised a new era of women’s liberation, we do not find nearly as many well written females in properties as there should be. That is disconcerting, considering over 50% of the general population of North America, Europe and Japan – where the majority, if not all, of the geek media we consume comes from – are female. The female fanbase in geek culture has risen considerably since the 1980’s. Women are no longer “outsiders” to the culture as they were once viewed as, but as equals in it. Should there not be an amount of characters that reflect such a shift in paradigm?

Ripley and Newt - Aliens

Ripley and Newt – Aliens

It’s really a shame, because in the instances where we have well-written females they have been all well received. From Ripley – which was a happy accident considering she was originally supposed to be a he – to Buffy, Brienne of Tarth to Sarah Manning, Storm to Batgirl, all of these characters have been memorable. They may be strong willed, have powers or at the peak of physical prowess, but these traits are not what make them interesting. They have depth, emotions and complexity like any person. They have made mistakes as well as being the best at what they do. That is what made Wonder Woman an interesting character until after Kingdom Come was released. Yes, she was a bad ass fighting Amazon princess, but she was also compassionate, clever and the voice of peace. Her identity was not her sword and shield or her lasso, but that of a woman who meant the bridge a gap between cultures. Her identity was, ultimately, the embodiment of what it means to be a woman. Kingdom Come changed this, where she was written to be more of a stereotypical “strong” woman (with a rare, but welcomed reprieve by Gail Simone’s run). The New 52 replaced her origin story – which symbolized her femininity and the connection with her fellow Amazons – and replaced it with a cheap knockoff where Zeus is her father. She is not the only one who was significantly changed in the DC universe during the New 52, with characters like Catwoman, Black Canary and Starfire becoming husks of their former selves. As I have commented in the past, this is most likely due to DC’s infinitely collective “intelligent” decision making process of having their characters “edgy” and “not being able to be happy” as heroes. What a way to be the model of modern storytelling there, guys.

So, where do we direct an angry mob of pitchforks and torches at for this lack of well-written female characters in the science fiction and fantasy genres? It goes without saying there is a considerable amount of sexism involved in the development of media. Paul Dini’s recent comments regarding his stint on Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast shed a light on such discrimination. His experience dealing with Cartoon Network on these shows when it comes to action animation – and I am going to pull a Kanye, here – media execs do not care about girls watching their shows. They prefer their female audience to watch My Little Pony and shows that would “appeal” to them, while dumbing down content for the boys. The execs worried more about dumbing down characters and throwing in more action and stupid jokes to sell toys than focusing on developing their characters in YJ. Characters that included several females that were interesting in that series. Still, I don’t think this reasoning alone can be the blanket answer for the deficit.

Emma Swan - Once Upon a Time

Emma Swan – Once Upon a Time

A good portion of the blame can also be shared with the lack of female creatives and producers of these geek properties. Yes, there have been strides made in Hollywood and in comics to include women writers, artists and producers, with many of them giving us such great stories. I am a big fan of Gail Simone’s work on various DC titles and Jane Espenson has written and produced for such great shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood: Miracle Day and Once Upon a Time. Julie Plec (along with Kevin Williamson) has created The Vampire Diaries, which has become one of the CW’s highest watched shows. These three, among others, have developed stories which have not only strong females, but females that are very well written.

Yet, within geekdom there is still a severe lack of women creators and creatives. The blog Culturally Disorientated did a statistical analysis back in May of last year of the 26 top watched geek shows from the prior season, and their findings were sad but not surprising. Out of the 26 shows, 77% were run by males while only 11.5% were run by females. Couple this with the recent Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s annual “Celluloid Ceiling” report – which gauges the amount of women employed in the top film productions for the year – found the amount of women working on movies in 2013 dropped to 16%, which is below 1998 totals. There is a certain untapped potential of characters and stories that more female creatives could bring to the table.

Despite the sexism and lack of female creatives, I feel there is something more that needs to be addressed when it comes to developing well-written female characters. Specifically, there is a lack of perspective that many writers fail to realize when it comes to writing women. During an interview with Neil Gaiman on the anniversary for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he responded to a question on how he would write the daughter of the titular character. “I always feel like the wrong person to be asked that question” he began, “because people say ‘well how do you write such good female characters?’ And I go ‘Well, I write people.’” This quote struck a chord with me, since I approach writing characters the very same way. Many writers approach developing characters for their stories and not people. There are personalities to consider when developing characters. There is psychology involved. I feel most truly successful creators – whether it is conscious or not – do not just tell a great story, but treat their characters as if they are people. This is what I feel is an underlying issue when it comes to developing well written, positive female characters. And it is not difficult for male creatives to do, as Gaiman, Joss Whedon and others have demonstrated.

Korra - Avatar: The Legend of Korra

Korra – Avatar: The Legend of Korra

However difficult it is to find well-written female characters in geek genres that I could potentially introduce to my niece, it is not impossible. Marvel has developed some rather positive role models that are well developed, from Storm, Black Widow and Spider-Woman to Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers) and the newly introduced Ms. Marvel. DC still does have Wonder Woman – how can I not introduce her, really – as well as Supergirl, Power Girl, Batgirl and Batwoman (even though her parents may not appreciate the last one). There is Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls, Korra from Avatar: The Legend of Korra and Merida from Brave as well. And as she grows older, there are countless books with well written female characters, as well as Buffy, the girls of Firefly, Aeryn Sun of Farscape, Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica and the clone club that makes up Orphan Black. However, until she reaches an older age I will have to settle for her watching My Little Pony, getting her into Adventure Time and Brave when I can, while buying her the Goldie Blox sets.

My wish though, is that when my niece gets older she will have a more diverse range of female characters to enjoy, that are more well-written than what is offered today. That these stories captivate her and give her characters she can look up to or identify with. Hopefully a change will come within the major conglomerates, so that the media we consume reflects a more fulfilling experience we should be getting. Is that too much to ask? I personally feel it’s not.

Jan 02

Top Ten New / Returning Sci-Fi and Fantasy TV Shows – Winter 2014

Helix Promo

Happy New Year Everyone!! Got your resolutions written down?  Do I have mine written down?  Of course not! Geek Soul Brother was too busy writing down the New and Returning Science Fiction and Fantasy TV shows I’m looking forward to.  Some of the last ones I listed for your benefit.  I might catch the first few episodes, but they don’t look like they will hold my attention. On with the Lists.

 

TEN NEW SHOWS THIS WINTER/SPRING

1. Helix – Syfy, Fri. Jan 10th – From the guy that brought you the unforgettable re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica.  It looks very intriguing.  Like a mix of 28 Days and The Thing.

2. Space Dandy – Toonami, Sat. Jan 3rd – This is also a new production from some talented guys that gave us Cowboy Bebop and Full Metal Alchemist.

 

3. Intelligence – CBS, Tue. Jan. 7th 9pm – The Dude from LOST (no, the scruffy one) comes back with a chip in his head that lets him connect to the global network, internet, satellites and other coded networks.

http://youtu.be/qSLarYlJF-Y

4. Black Sails – Starz, Sat. Jan 25th 9pm – Take Game Of Thrones and drop it into the 1700s Caribbian seas. Yeah, that’s pretty much worth seeing.

http://youtu.be/Qh19hCkvVLw

5. Resurrection – ABC, Sun. March 9th 9pm (After Once Upon A Time) – based on a novel called The Returned by Jason Mott (blerd alert).  It looks good, but the Sundance Channel also recently produced a series that sounds the same.  Even the same title as the novel.  Hmmmmm.

6. Bitten – Syfy, Mon. Jan 13th – Remember the space daughter from the new V? Well, she’s been ‘Bitten’ by a werewolf and now she has her own show with a cast of other wolves and what nots.  I think this is a direct ‘in-your-face’ move to MTV’s Teen Wolf, being that they are on the same day and time.

7. The Strain – FX, July – Still waiting on some word as to what date this Guillermo del Toro series is suppose to air.

8. The 100 – CW, Wed. Mar. 19th 9pm – I think this is CW’s attempt to catch some of that ‘fire’ from the Hunger Games.  It might have been initially conceived as a Battle Royal type show.  But now it looks like it will be a teen survivalist romance drama. Well, they know their audience.

9. Star Crossed – CW, Mon. Feb 17th 8pm – Many of you will probably remember the show Roswell back in the day.  This looks about the same, but the aliens have to deal with High School angst instead of government test labs.

10. Opposite Worlds – Syfy, Tue. Jan 21st. 10pm – Now this is the least interesting of the new Sci-fi-ish stuff.

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TEN RETURNING SHOWS THIS WINTER/SPRING

1. Arrow – Wed. Jan 15th 8pm – Every comic superhero show should be this good.

2. Orphan Black – Sat. Apr 19th 9pm – Absolutely favorite new show of last year. Can’t wait.

3. American Horror Story: Coven – Wed. Jan 8th 10pm – Only 4 more episodes left in this season.

4. Once Upon a Time – Sun. Mar. 9th 8pm – I’m just as surprised as you are that I’m still watching this, but it’s good.

5. Grimm – Fri. Jan 3rd 9pm – Followed by Dracula at 10pm – The first half of season two was a setup for some crazy stuff.

6. Walking Dead – Sun. Feb 9th 9pm – I liked the first half, but they have to step it up some how.  Or I might be a walking fan.

7. Agents of Shield – Tue. Jan 7th 8pm – As our honorary Nerdy Venom reminds me of my saying… “’til the wheels fall off!”  I just want to see where this train-wreck goes.

8. Sleepy Hollow – Mon. Jan. 13th 9pm – Great show and a great cast.

9. The Neighbors – Fri. Jan 10th 8:30pm – Not enough people are watching this zany suburban alien comedy.

10. Almost Human – Mon. Jan. 6th 8pm – It’s a great cop-buddy show.  They just have to get deeper with the over all plots as Scifigasm was tweeting me one day.

And here are some honorable mentions.

Being Human – Mon. Jan 13th 9pm – I’m kind of here and there on this one.  I like it, but there’s so much on right now.  It might get pushed to the ‘Watch next day’ slot.

http://youtu.be/dHryXPyYWV4#aid=P-42VzGkoO0

Teen Wolf – Good show but missed Fall season.

Vampire Diaries – Never really got into it.

The Originals – Haven’t seen any.

Supernatural – Still have to watch from the beginning.

Face/Off – Didn’t get into last season.

Lost Girl – Definitely a guilty pleasure, but I have to catch up to a few episodes.

The Tomorrow People – Smh. I’ll leave it for the younger audiences.

Atlantis – Starts back up Jan. 4th. I’ve only watched episode 1. Not bad.

Dec 28

Funky Q' Review – STRANDED (2013)

Stranded-2013-Movie-PosterWhy Christian Slater insists on making these b-movies when he seems to have some life on TV I cannot guess.  I believe I remember this coming out for a very limited release earlier this year.  Or at least it was supposed to.  Now you can stream it on Netflix, but only if you like low-budget. badly acted Sci-fi horrors.  To the film’s credit, it wasn’t the worst that I’ve seen this past year.  If I was a kid, this probably would have been a great reason to stay up late and watch TV… in the 80s.

Slater plays head honcho Col. Gerard Brauchman in a slightly futuristic moon drilling base.  A meteor shower damages the base that he and 3 other military workers manage.  But that’s not all.  The meteors have spores on them, and these spores grow at an incredible rate.  You can probably see where this is going.  But maybe not, because the story didn’t really make much sense.  What does in a cheap space monster movie?  There was a mutant breast-suckling space baby, an evil clone of sorts, and actors dramatically shining flashlights into each other’s faces .   I’ll save the rest for you to enjoy if you decide to amuse yourself with Slater constantly telling his crew they have to ‘stick to the rules’.  I won’t say it was boring, just bad on so many levels.

To his credit also, I think Slater is a pretty good actor.  Check out My Own Worst Enemy if you get a chance.  Also, I’m curious about his new TV show coming in 2014 – Mind Games.  This though, you can probably live without.

Dec 24

Trailer Jive: 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014)

Artemisia Eva Green

You know, my fellow host of the ‘Geek Soul Brother and the 5 Nerdy Venoms’ podcast – Toby Wan Kenobi – said he was looking forward to seeing this.  I have to admit, even thought it still has those cool slo-mo visuals, I’m not impressed yet.  I don’t get the feeling they gave us a really good story to balance out the graphics.  But I might be wrong… it might be as good as the first. Maybe Better.  300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE should be coming out March 7th of Next year.  At least in this one it seems that not ALL of the bad guys are people of Color! There’s one white girl that’s kicking ass and taking no names – Artemisia played by Eva Green.

 

image source: facebook.com/300Movie

Dec 21

Trailer Jive: TRANSCENDENCE (2014)

Transcendence shot 2

For some reason, I wish Morgan Freeman was the Artificial Intelligence that was liable to take over the world instead of Johnny Depp.  But I always love a good A.I. story. whether they are good A.I. (rare) or bad A.I. (too common). If you watch the trailer, you’ll see Depp play a scientist that is developing an A.I. system.  He gets shot, but his partner is able to upload his consciousness to the system.  But is it him? Or just a digital version of him? Or are we already just digital versions of ourselves in a bio-computer called the brain?  Lot of questions including – Will this be a good film?  Hopefully better the one where Depp played a Native American… because  you know there’s  terrible shortage of Native American actors.   TRANSCENDENCE premieres April 18th of next year.  But I’ll give you some homework to prepare for this one.  Go watch Demon Seed and Colossus: The Forbin Project.

Dec 21

GSB Flashback: THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988)

Serpentandtherainbow

Thanks to Graveyard Shift Sisters and Black Girl Nerds for hosting a #FridayNightHorror Live Tweet of The Serpent and the Rainbow, or else I probably wouldn’t have revisited this under-rated Wes Craven classic for who knows how long.

Bill Pullman plays Dennis Alan, who hears about a ritual in Haiti that turns people into Zombies.  It’s shrouded in magic, but he believes the substance used is the key to anesthesia in the operating room without gas or chemicals .  He sets out to find the secret but ends up getting into more than he bargained for.  One thing I’m sure he was happy with was meeting Marielle Duchamp played by beautiful Cathy Tyson.

As I had mentioned in the Live Tweet, one of the things I admired about the film back in the day was the cast of black actors and actresses.  And that it had the backdrop of the country of Haiti and its political strife.  It was especially uncommon to see a person of African decent play the villain, and Zakes Mokae as Dargent Peytraud played it so well.  I had also noticed that it didn’t include any of the camp that Craven was known for in other films, before or since.  Seems he took the story and the culture more seriously as a filmmaker.

The film had great horrific dream sequences, and nightmarish scenarios.  I think it may have suffered a little towards the end.  But looking back, Serpent was a great piece of horror work, with what looked like genuine Caribbean culture mixed in (as genuine as Hollywood can get).  it’s streaming for now on Netflix if you want to check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6ouV3jzGpI

Dec 20

Trailer Jive: WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (2014)

Welcome to Yesterday Time Machine

Although this time-travel dilemma film doesn’t star Tom Cruise like the trailer I posted a few days ago, it still looks interesting. Maybe it gave a little too much of the film away. I don’t know, but it grabbed my attention.  I definitely feel the spirit of Chronicle seeping through the found-footage style.  It also reminds me of the Project X film of 2012 with the out of control party theme. Hits theaters February 28th 2014.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uxkonazc4I

Dec 19

Trailer Jive: GODZILLA (2014)

I forgot to post this the other day. It’s the end of the year, and so many good trailers are coming out.  Even though the 1998 Godzilla film tarnished the brand, this 2014 version actually might have some promise from the looks of this…

 

Come May 16th of next year I guess we will see if they dropped the ball again or redeemed the King of All Monsters.

Dec 11

Trailer Jive: EDGE OF TOMORROW

Edge of Tomorrow Poster

I love time-loop or time travel films. Also, some futuristic Halo-like military fighting does a film better.  And lastly, Emily Blunt is one of my screen crushes.  So with all of this mixed together, and hopefully a good performance by Tom Cruise, will make EDGE OF TOMORROW a treat to watch next year.

The Plot? It seems that a soldier is caught in a time-loop where he experiences the last day of a future battle over and over.  But with each loop, I think he’s learning how to survive.  Sounds like Groundhog’s Day meets Saving Private Ryan, where Ryan is saving his own butt…. and his hottie fellow soldier.  Look for it in June of 2014.

 

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