Friday, September 29, 2017

FRIDAY FIVE: Five Comics that Changed My Reading Life

I've had some issues lately with people driving a wedge between what they see as "important" research, information, and culture and the things I like and try to bring focus to. That's vague, I know, but what I'm trying to say is in reaction to being implicitly told that comics are juvenile, I'm writing this blog post to explore some of the reasons I enjoy them so much. So, here are five comics that have changed my reading life.

Pride and Prejudice
Getting into comics was daunting for me. Part of it was because the history of superheroes is so long that I didn't know where to start, but a lot of it had to do with being a girl. It was hard because every time I'd walk into the comic shop that was down the street from my college, I was always the only woman in there. That took some getting used to, but one way I did it was by finding something I really wanted to read. I've been a nerd for 19th-century lit since I was a teenager, so Jane Austen was a natural entry point into comics for me. Haven't read this one in a while, but it taught me that comics aren't all superheroes. There are lots of different stories for lots of different readers.

DC's Bombshells
I love the idea of superheroes, but I never knew where to start with reading them and it was hard for me to find any female superheroes outside of Wonder Woman and Supergirl (not that I don't like them--I love them--but it's nice to have more than two characters). Then a friend recommended this, and it combines so many things I love, namely history and a good number of women from the DC universe. This series plops them down in WWII. It jumps around to different story lines to introduce you to more characters and let you take a look at how the war affects different people in different places. And, obviously, I love the amount of girl power in this one.

Morning Glories
My feelings about Nick Spencer aside, this title sucked me in. I picked up volume one at the comic shop on a whim. By the time I finished it, I was itching to get my hands on the next volume. (And I'm currently contemplating reading it all again.) Like Pride and Prejudice, this isn't a superhero comic, though people have strange powers and there are unexplained phenomena. The approach to storytelling in this series is interesting and roundabout--a lot of secrets and questions and little answers that get you reading in hopes of bigger answers. It makes for a fast read. While ultimately, I was disappointed in the lack of resolution, I'm still hanging on and waiting for the day Summer Vacation #1 drops because Casey remains one of my favorite comic characters.

The Legend of Wonder Woman: Origins
By now, I've read a good number of Wonder Woman comics, and, honestly, they don't thrill me too much. I hardly ever get beyond volume one. But this one is heads and shoulders above the rest. The art is gorgeous, the storytelling is lovely, and de Liz makes great use of Etta Candy. The story makes use of Diana's long history while still making it feel fresh and exciting. This is just a joy to read and demonstrates that comics can be accessible to a wide audience.

Listen. I can't even explain this comic. It is so. good. The art is stunning. Stunning, people! (And yes, I love this so much that I can't really be coherent.) But the characters? Also stunning! They're complex and move through a richly detailed world, and Maika is one of my favorite kinds of characters--damaged and prickly and in possession of a big heart. Kippa and Master Ren are also standouts for me. Just . . . I can't even explain what this is about. Please just go read it. The next issue comes out in January, and I think I'm going to start reading them issue-by-issue because I can't wait. I cannot wait.

In conclusion, I believe value is what you make of it. I've learned things--about comics and about fiction writing and about life--from each of these titles and from many more. Popular culture is valuable even when it's not being studied simply because people enjoy it, and that's that. But if you want me to prove it with a twenty-page paper, I will for sure do it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

FRIDAY FIVE: Dark Matter

A few weeks ago, the last episode of Dark Matter's third season aired on Syfy. A day or two later, SyFy canceled it. Since then, there's been a fan-led movement on Twitter to persuade Netflix to pick up the show for two more seasons so the story can be finished. To contribute to that (and because I haven't done a Friday Five in a while), here are my five biggest reasons I'd love to see this show renewed.

1. The characters
The six main characters (not including the Android) wake up on a spaceship with no memory of who they are. Because of this, they start out more as archetypes than characters. Then they find out that five of the six are wanted criminals, and they have to decide who they want to be--good guys or bad guys. It's a fantastic setup, especially because it allows for some phenomenal character growth. Even the Android gets in on it, going from a machine who thinks she has a glitch to a fully realized individual who accepts her glitches. And with her badassery and big heart, Two has become one of my favorite characters of all time.
2. The relationships
Remember when a wounded Three tried to get Five to leave him behind by telling her he didn't care about her? Yeah, I'm crying, too. I've loved watching the relationship between all the characters grow in different ways. Six and Five love each other like siblings, and I was sobbing right along with Five when he left in the third season finale. I love the friendship between Two and Three, who are always kind of annoyed with each other but actually work well together. Also, Two is the boss and everyone respects that. Because she's awesome. The found family trope is one of my favorites, and this one takes place in space!

3. The sci-fi silliness 
Season three alone featured a time loop episode that saw Three learning French from the Android and singing with her while playing the ukulele as well as an episode where they go into "the past," A.K.A. our present day. But throughout all the seasons, we've experienced jumps into alternate dimensions, alternate versions of the characters, the Android cooking with love and discovering hot chocolate, and all kinds of craziness. I have a fondness for shows that can balance serious questions with humor.

4. The potential
Each season has expanded the universe, but there's still so much more to explore! Will Five find her sister? Did Six survive the season finale? (I hope so!) What's going on with Sarah? Will Two decided to try to find the daughter she forgot she had? What's up with the black ships? Will the Android get a new outfit? I'd love to have these questions and more answered in the final two seasons.

5. The big questions
For me, great sci-fi deals with the big questions of life and morality, and the central axis around this show is built is the question of what it means to be human? All the characters struggle in the first season with who they are, who they learn they were, and who they want to be. Then you throw sentient androids into the mix, and the question deepens into what makes a human? Is it flesh and blood, or is it consciousness? With Zairon at war and the galaxy being run by corporations, it also questions the nature of war and freedom.

In conclusion, I'd love to see this show saved--by Netflix or something else!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Exclusive Bonus Content

I'm trying out something new! 

At the end of each of my e-books, I've put a password that will unlock a bonus, unrelated short story. For now, I'm hosting them on a WordPress sister site. You can find one for The Dying of the Golden Day, The Stroke of Thirteen, and "Where You Can See the Stars."

For those who have previously purchased the e-books, tweet/email/send me a picture of the book on your device, and I'll message you with the password!

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Road to Book Two--Part 1

I've gotten a number of questions, especially in the past week, about the release date for The Heartfriends Book Two, so I'm starting a multi-part blog series to talk about updates! This will be semi-regular and discuss how close to finishing a draft I am, what goes into finishing drafts, and my writing process in general.