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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:








THESE TRUTHS I HOLD TO BE SELF-EVIDENT 1

Not every AISLE SEAT will be something like last issue’s Red Sonja retrospective. So let’s get into the different, shall we? This time around, I have a couple of things on my mind- some truths I’d like to share, if you will. So let’s dig in.

THE FUTURAMA MOVIE WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE SIMPSONS MOVIE THAT IT SHOULD EMBARRASS MATT GROENING AND CO.

I’ll be blunt: I haven’t been able to watch THE SIMPSONS television show in almost ten years. I just can’t get past the sense of déjà vu I feel in watching new episodes. Nothing I’ve seen in any recent attempt even remotely matches up to the glory days of the series. So to say I was dubious about the film would be an understatement. Still, they put years of work into it, and I kinda hoped that maybe they’d kept all their “A”-level material in reserve for it. So when it hit DVD, I stepped up to check it out. And what did I see?

Homer screws up and puts the town in danger. Bart flirts with leaving the family. Lisa gets another forgettable boyfriend. Marge frets about Homer’s irresponsible behavior.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

For fuck’s sake, really? The exact same plot of about 248 of the series’ 400+ episodes. And in the DVD commentary they mention going through over a hundred drafts of the script! This is the best they could do? That’s not something the brag about- that’s an embarrassment.

The pathetic results of the SIMPSONS MOVIE were only magnified by watching it shortly after watching the first direct-to-DVD FUTURAMA film, BENDER’S BIG SCORE.

I had become much more of a FUTURAMA fan very early in the sci-fi series’ airings. All the imagination THE SIMPSONS had begun to lack was evident all over the adventures of Fry, Leela, Bender, and friends. The show was brilliantly written, had a stunning level of thought-out continuity, and had the best animation on TV. Then, of course, it got screwed over by Fox and made an early exit from the airwaves.

However, the devotion of its fans (and DVD buyers) kept it alive, and it gained a huge following on the Cartoon Network, much as FAMILY GUY did. Smarter heads were hired at Fox, and now the series is returning in four DVD movies.

BENDER’S BIG SCORE isn’t a perfect film, by any stretch, but it is a damned good one. The number of things it does right is impressive: it reintroduces the characters in way that’s familiar to those who knew the series well, but also immediately makes them accessible to new viewers; it immerses the viewer in a complex plot that pays off very, very well; it presents some of the best animation in recent memory and looks better in almost every shot than THE SIMPSONS; and oh, yeah, it’s genuinely damned funny. SCORE exhilarates and whets the appetite for more, and by listening to the commentary, you also can see the seeds of the nest three films to come. Even firing at 80% of power, it’s simply a superior effort when compared to its big brother.

I don’t know if Bart and Homer deserved better or the viewer did. Fry and Leela are the answer, though- and that’s the truth.

THERE’S A DIRTY LITTLE SECRET ABOUT WONDER WOMAN

Lost in the recent hullabaloo about Tiffany Fallon’s PLAYBOY cover adventures as Wonder Woman is a much-needed discussion about a quiet relationship between the comics fanbase and various practiced forms of sexuality. Specifically, the fetish community.

The majority of superhero costumes, frankly, are fetish wear. Leather, latex, vinyl, spandex… anything that hugs the skin that tight, that’s what our artists draw on the heroes, male or female. And the footwear superheroes wear- again male or female- the boots and heels aren’t exactly what you buy at Target. So when Fallon wears a body paint Wonder Woman costume, I don’t see that as some sort of anti-feminist statement, or an unusual sexualization of an icon- not in the slightest. In certain ways, you could see it as an unusually calm expression of the character as compared to some.

If you do some exploring (and I took the hit for you- you can thank me later- the things I do to prove I love you all), you’ll notice that a large number of fetish models, fetish photographers, and fetish artists in the business have more than a passing familiarity with comics. They read them. They’re inspired by them. And why shouldn’t they be? Comics provide a look and example that those in the scene are trying to achieve. Marvel and DC could genuinely be considered to be the leading fetish publishers in North America.

Take it a bit further- is participating in cosplay that much different than modeling for a magazine specializing in people wearing liquid latex bodysuits? If you’re 25 and dressed as Sailor Moon at Comic-Con and don’t think you’re a fetish model, you’re fucking kidding yourself. Vice versa, if you’re an adult wandering around Comic-Con bare-chested and in Johnny Depp pirate makeup, you’re part of The Scene, too.

But will either of those examples admit it? Probably not. Denial is a powerful force. Yet every mainstream comics site runs a photo parade of costumes from every major convention, just to show off those who wanted to… show off. Think about it: why is that okay and Fallon a travesty?

Gotta be the venue, right? A magazine associated with sex appropriating the character, right? If that’s true, then it simply shows comics fans to be hypocrites and more deeply repressed than I can imagine. Take for a minute the most popular spectator sport in North America: the NFL. This is a sport, mind you, that has a fanbase much more demographically mixed (40% women by some surveys) than comics could dream of. And every year in the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT ISSUE, a mainstream publication of some repute, nude supermodels appear only in body paint versions of NFL teams’ uniforms. But you never hear a blogosphere outcry from football fans about how they’re corrupting a sport that children play, do you? No one calls the Miami Dolphins’ headquarters and demands a statement about how they feel in having Adriana Lima representing their franchise in such a manner. But God forbid comics fans show the common sense the rest of our society displays.

Wonder Woman being sexualized by PLAYBOY isn’t really the point, anymore than it would be if a young male model appeared on the cover of PLAYGIRL dressed as a body painted Batman or Superman. Princess Leia in the gold bikini; anime girls; Wolverine; Captain Jack Sparrow; Catwoman; the list goes on, and you can see them every time you set foot in your local convention center. People dress as those characters because of how they feel walking in their shoes (sometimes literally)- they feel strong, powerful, cool… but most of all they feel attractive and sexy. Bet your last dollar on it. Why do you think they stop for all those pictures? Not because they’re feeling fat and bloated, for damned sure. They want to be noticed- it’s exhibitionism gone colorful. Another piece of our personal kink, and no one is getting hurt. By what right do we condemn anyone who expresses themselves in this way?

We’re all part of the fetish scene, male and female fans both. Comics characters are leather and latex fantasies, on paper or on film. We want to be them; we want to have sex with them. Ask a comics reader, and they’ll tell you their first crush and erotic response to someone else was likely a comic character, cartoon character, or character from a sci-fi film. Ultimately, comics fans are amongst the most the most sexual and imaginative people in our society, and the sooner they openly embrace their personal kinks and fetishes, and admit that they share something in common with a larger community out there, the better. We’re dirty, dirty people (in the best possible way) and we should love ourselves for it, rather than look for new and annoying ways to repress ourselves. Let’s save the outrage for more egregious examples of publisher stupidity (say, the HEROES FOR HENTAI cover) and enjoy an actual thrill when one of our fetishes get a public airing, shall we?

Being honest about our sexuality, and exploring it more in-depth, would go a long way towards making comics, and the discourse amongst the comics community, a better and happier place; and that, my friends, is the truth.

See you in two weeks!

Marc Mason

 



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