November 2001 Archives

War games

There was an article in today's New York Times about an Internet artist who is using 3D game graphics to display information about the war in Afghanistan. He is one of several artists using art to highlight the lack of information coming out of Afghanistan due to U.S. government interventions. I tried visiting the artist's web site to view the installation, however, the piece runs on a java applet that is incompatible with Mac OS 9, so I was out of luck.

Queen Sappho reigns

I recently read a review of the PC/Mac/Playstation 2 game Giants: Citizen Kabuto that intrigued me, as it includes an island-dwelling all-female race. The game heroine turns out to be the daughter of the island's evil monarch, Queen Sappho. I'm betting there's a high camp factor here, as various game reviews have mentioned the snappy comic dialogue that persists throughout the game. I tried to find some screenshots of the evil Sappho, but alas, came up empty-handed. Apparently one gets to play good and bad sides in this game, so I may have to snatch this one up for the pleasure of playing the queen's minion.

Thanksgiving flash

Let us give thanks. And by all means, let us play a game of Papal Bowling.

Vamping women

I was feeling kinda sad that the Vampirella site I linked to earlier this week disappeared on me when I stumbled across an article called I am a Feminist. I like Vampirella at the e-zine "Sequential Tart." It inspired me to surf for more info on the title--from what I could find, it sounds like there is something of a "Vampirella" renaissance going on now, with the series featuring particularly strong stories and writers. I think any lead character who has a nemesis named Hemorrhage is worth giving time too.

Following Devin Grayson

I was so pleased by my recent experience reading "User" (see posts below) that I went out and bought a copy of "Gotham Knights" #22 because I knew Devin Grayson wrote the story. Now CBR News reports that Grayson is moving from "Gotham Knights" over to "Nightwing"--so I guess I'll pick up a copy once she starts.

Female inspiration in Love and Rockets

I found a lot of food for thought in an interview with the Hernandez Brothers, Jaime and Gilbert, regarding their most popular comic creation, "Love and Rockets." I never knew that it was their mother, a rabid comic book reader, that instilled in them a love for comics. So often, comics readers are referred to as one homogenous group: "teenage boys." Although the bulk of readers may fall into this category, I wish there was more recognition of female readers of various ethnicities, sexual preferences, and age groups.
The brothers amusingly discuss the difficulties they encountered when they began to draw women--how they initially misunderstood female bodily proportions relative to male figures. Eventually, they came to love drawing women and discuss how their own desires and the women in their lives--relatives, mostly--have affected the way they represent female characters.
Gilbert also talks about what it was like for them to be Chicanos involved in L.A.'s punk culture--which I loved because I was going to clubs in L.A. at that time and listening to Chicano punk bands like the Plugz and the Brat and it was cool to hear about it from another perspective. Jaime also surprised me by remarking about his popular "Love and Rockets" character Hopey, "It's hard to imagine a sexier character than a 21-year-old punk rock chick." I'm not going to argue with that.

Read the book, missed the movie

I tried, I tried, I really, really tried to see "Ghost World" while it was in theaters. But alas, despite my best efforts, it somehow eluded my grasp. But I guess that's what DVD players are made for.
I even took the precaution of reading the graphic novel "Ghost World" by Daniel Clowes well in advance of the appearance of the movie, assuming I would in fact see the movie in theaters and wanting to have the experience of reading the original work in a pure, untouched state. I think I should probably start a reading group for people like me--people who anxiously read books just in advance of their appearance as Hollywood films.
In conjunction with the appearance of the movie, there have been several essays in the mainstream press giving writer/artist Dan Clowes the recognition he deserves for his work. One of my favorite pieces appeared in "The New Yorker," which included a quote from comedian Margaret Cho, who apparently wrote Clowes a mash note that gushed, "I love your work almost as much as I hate myself." Can there be any higher praise?


Note: I had to disable the link to "Vampirella" since I first posted this because the link has gone bad for some reason or another.
I found a cool link to a gallery of "Vampirella" pictures through a newletter I receive from Backwash. I can still recall seeing "Vampirella" in the newsstand racks when I was a child--back when my favorite comics were Harvey titles like "Hot Stuff" and "Spooky"--and being intrigued enough by its fleshpot covers to pick up a copy and leaf through its pages. However, I've never been a "Vampirella" reader--mostly because my threshold for blood and gore has always been pretty low--but I'm definitely curious about it and wouldn't mind hearing from anyone who reads and knows this title.

Lesbian press on comics and games

The latest issue of the lesbian magazine "Curve" is carrying several stories of interest. First, a short piece on the Playstation game "Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix"--previously mentioned in this weblog--encouraging gay girls to check out the title's lesbian leads, Hana and Rain. They're a little late to the party on that one, but if it creates more gaming dykes then I can't complain.
Next, "Curve" runs a long interview with comic writer Devin Grayson, mentioned here just this past week in a post about "User." Grayson, an out bisexual, mostly talks about how she came to write for DC's Batman franchise. What interested me most about the interview was a comment she made about what first attracted her to Batman. She mentioned being fascinated by the relationship between Batman and Robin--how Robin is always depicted as this very carefree, light-hearted character compared to Batman's brooding, serious personality, and how Robin is the only one who can get close to Batman and provide him with some needed levity in his life.
I was struck by how much Grayson's description of Batman and Robin's relationship paralleled that between lesbian dynamic duo Xena and Gabrielle, both in the TV series and in fan fiction. Brooding, troubled lead figure, driven by inner demons to fight evil, attracted to lonely yet chipper youngster, eager to learn from his/her mentor. I think part of Xena's success with fans is not just that she is a female hero, but that she hews so closely to Batman's heroic profile. Like Batman, she has no superpowers, but is instead seen as resourceful warrior who has honed her special skills through extensive training.
I am very curious about the similarities between Batman/Robin and Xena/Gabrielle because it suggests to me that a certain type of cross-generational mentor relationship might be an archtypal couple relationship for both gay men and women. This is significant because gay men and lesbians are often thought of as being very different in terms of how they choose to pursue relationships, and also because this type of pairing provides a distinctly gay model for romantic relationships.
I know what you're probably thinking--"But Batman and Robin aren't gay." No, they're not--at least not in the DC World, though certainly the potential is there, as many before me have remarked upon. It's just a hypothetical for reflection's sake. It's important because if we had more models of what an ideal gay romance might look like (not that Xena and Gabrielle's or Batman and Robin's relationships are all one big bed of roses), maybe gay people wouldn't feel it was necessary to put quite so much energy into pursuing marriage rights, and could get back to some of the things we used to care about before we all wanted to join the military and register for crystal.
But I digress. Lastly, "Curve" mentions "Xena" actress Lucy Lawless in its rumors section, noting her guest role on the "X-files," which begins this month.

Education in strategy

This morning my girlfriend spotted the headline "The Sims Take on Al Qaeda" on the front page of the "L.A. Times" and happily called it to my attention. The article discusses a computer simulation game, called "GI Agent Editor" that is being used by the Navy to generate potential terrorist scenarios and simulate potential counter-responses.
The game combines aspects of military strategy simulations, such as the terrain modeling and organizational behaviors found in "Civilization" and "Age of Empires," along with the more chaotic artificial character intelligence used in "the Sims," which is used to model terrorists' unconventional tactics and individual personality traits.
The harnassing of consumer game technology for the current war brings to my mind the widespread use of animation--specifically Disney-produced animation--for educational purposes in World War II. It had been discovered that people retain more information when they view information in animated form than when they read it on paper, so the military at the time adopted the use of animated films to train the troops in various tasks. I suppose one could see the animation in "GI Agent Editor" as an extension of that prior effort.

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