What is Caitlin reading? Sept 1 2017

It has been A Week for a variety of reasons, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

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  1. I finished Princess Jellyfish Volume 5 from last week!  It was good!  It always is.  
  2. I read Mage: The Hero Denied #1 and did a full review over at the A.V. Club.  It was bad, and you should definitely not bother.
  3. Clueless: Senior Year by Amber Benson, Sarah Kuhn, and Siobhan Keenan.  This was freaking cute as hell, in the same way Princess Jellyfish is.  I love books where people are, at the heart of things, supportive and loving, and not afraid to show that.  Having met Amber and Sarah (they're both adorable and kind and charming!) I'm not surprised I loved this book.  But maybe maybe more importantly, this book addresses some of the things that annoyed me in the movie (there are LGBTQ+ couples!) and is beautiful to boot.  It did make me miss Brittany Murphy a bunch, and miss my own innocence when I didn't know anything about Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash as people.  Go buy it immediately.  Then go buy Sarah's Heroine Complex and Heroine Worship because they're both awesome.
  4. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi.  Technically I listened to the audiobook (narrated by Zachary Quinto, who does a good job) of this novella this week in an attempt to avoid the news for a little while.  It's a good speculative fiction story set in Chicago, and unlike a lot of books it actually feels like it.  The "what if" is a fascinating one, and I don't feel like I can say much without spoiling it, but it's a solid little mystery with a compelling core idea.
  5. Jonesy Vol 1-3 by Sam Humphries, Caitlin Rose Boyle, and Brittany Peer.  This was actually a re-read because I've been buying the individual issues of Jonesy as they come out but the arrival of the trade paperbacks made me crave it.  Another bright, poppy story about a young woman and female friendship and embracing your weird.  Clearly I was on a roll this week, between this, Clueless, and Princess Jellyfish.  Sam is awesome and knows how to write flawed characters that are still sympathetic.  Caitlin's art is fun and evokes all sorts of zine memories for me.  And Brittany (who participated in Ladies' Night Anthology years ago) makes the whole book pop off the page.  I really love this book and I'm so glad I have extra copies to lend out now.
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Full disclosure, I did get the copies of Clueless and Jonesy from BOOM!, but honestly I was planning on buying them.

Let's talk about how 16 year old me would be horrified by what I read this week, and how 32 year old me really does not give a crap and would tell 16 year old me to lighten up and have fun sometimes.

I started compiling a list of all the webcomics I read regularly and honestly ever 45 minutes I was only about half done.  I wanted to make sure every single one had a working link in it and also 1-2 sentences describing it, and hopefully I'll be able to finish up soon...I read a lot of webcomics, folks.

What is Caitlin reading?

So I won an Eisner.  That's a thing that happened.  And, as with many life events that are both hugely impactful and also really do nothing to change my day to day life (e.g. getting married) this win made me kinda thinky for a bit.

One of the things that I wonder about a lot is what critics and reviewers read in their spare time, when they're not getting paid to read.  I don't know about anybody else, but I have pretty specific tactics when it comes to stuff I write reviews on: I don't care if it's popular or well known, but I do care if I think it's well made.  I've reviewed plenty of stuff that didn't align with my personal tastes, but it was well executed enough that I could give an honest review of it.  I don't like giving reviews of stuff I just plain don't like.  I have an easier time articulating the good parts of something in a mostly objective way...but if I dislike something, I struggle to not say just that.

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So, a few days ago I put up a Twitter poll asking what folks might want to read from me...and the results were a bit surprising? (At least to me they were.)  Given people's responses to "how do you keep up with webcomics?" I thought more folks would be interested in how I keep up with print comics (hint: I don't).

But! This does mean I have some insight into something I can try to maintain for a while.  I'm notoriously bad at personal blogging, and have been for...well, since I made my first Livejournal in college.  I'm just not consistent with writing unless it's a job, I guess.

So!  New semi-regular feature!  What is Caitlin reading right now?

This week I read a couple of TPBs and stared balefully at the three (3!!) short boxes of floppies I have waiting for me to read them.  (Told you I don't keep up.)

  Dead Letters  #2 by Ron Wimberly

Dead Letters #2 by Ron Wimberly

  1. Dead Inside (Vol 1) by John Arcudi, Toni Fejzula, and Andre May (Dark Horse).  So I'm addicted to police procedural shows and one of the things I never really considered or even occurred to me that there are cops that specialize in investigating crimes inside prisons and jails.  Like...wow.  Idea.  This is a really interesting story with an interesting, nuanced main female character and lot of interpersonal drama.  There's several POC characters that are just as nuanced, and it doesn't feel like anyone lacks agency.  It's a bit like Orange is the New Black plus Happy Valley (both are on Netflix, Happy Valley is must-watch).  
  2. Dead Letters (Vol 1) by Christopher Sabela and Chris Visions.  I'm pretty sure I got this from Oliver at some point?  Who knows.  My home is like a leaky ship filling with books.  It's good!  There are a lot of "what happens after you die" stories out there (please go watch The Good Place) but this one is different in tone and scope, which is nice.  It's closer to the Vertigo's version of Lucifer talking about people punishing themselves in hell than most other comics about the afterlife.  The characters are clearly based in some tried and true tropes, but they've got enough depth to start to break away.  The art is very...messy?  In a good way?  It often felt claustrophobic and completely overwhelming, with some moments of "Jesus where am I even supposed to be looking right now?" thrown in, but that was very fitting given the situation the main character is in.  I'm bummed I missed out on the floppies of these, Ron Wimberly's covers (which are in the back of the trade) are fantastic, as always.
  3. Princess Jellyfish (Vol 5) by Akiko Higashimura (Kodansha).  I fucking love this book so much.  I fell in love with the show when it was on Netflix and have been gobbling up the English translations of the manga as they come out.  Haven't finished this volume (and weirdly, it starts on page 6?) but I can say with no qualms if you like silly love triangles and gender fuckery and fashion you should definitely read this.

I'm also reading a prose novel called The Club Dumas which according to a blurb on the front "It's like Umberto Eco meets Anne Rice."  It certainly is obsessed enough with appearance and clothes to be Anne Rice, but it's very thick and pretty dense and these days I want to watch a lot of cartoons so I haven't made it very far.

That's it!  That's the first "What's Caitlin reading?" which hopefully will be a regular thing if I don't completely forget.  I'll make a completely separate post about what's on my pull list and what webcomics I read because honestly they're both long enough to warrant that.

How to never miss a webcomic update again (not guaranteed)

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My most excellent colleague J. A. Micheline tweeted what I thought to be a pretty straightforward question today, which led me to believe that I organize my online comics reading a little bit differently than most folks.  After sharing some screenshots on Twitter, I've decided that I'm gonna make a couple posts about how I keep my books in order, avoid buying duplicates, and do my best to not miss updates online.

I do use RSS feeds, Tumblr and Tapastic for a couple of webcomics: RSS feeds for those that update very intermittently and Tumblr or Tapastic for comics that live on those platforms comfortably.  Check, Please! is a great example of a Tumblr webcomic, and thankfully it's popular enough that I'm not likely to miss an update, but I do still have it my bookmarks folder.

For the past seven or eight years (maybe longer?), I've used a bookmarks folder to make sure I don't miss updates from my favorite webcomics.  I use Chrome despite the issues with it, so keep in mind your buttons might be in different spots, but the general principle is universal.

I've got nine webcomic bookmark folders, one for each day of the week, one for comics I want to start reading but haven't yet, and one for comics that have ended or are on long term pause.  I create new bookmarks for each URL and put them in the folder that corresponds to what day they update.  For example, Dumbing of Age updates every weekday, so it's in all five of those folders.  There's a bunch of comics that don't update on a set schedule, I chose to put them all in the Monday folder so that I check once a week to see if it's been updated.

<--- Here's what that looks like in the Bookmarks Manager.  Feel free to judge me based on what I read.

I won't lie: this will probably take you a while.  Remember that you can copy and paste bookmarks into those folders, so you shouldn't have to create a new bookmark for every folder it belongs in.  But once you have your system set up, adjusting things when a posting schedule changes or adding new comics is really easy!  Organize them however you want.  I happen to alphabetize them, because that's the way I roll.  I worship spreadsheets.  (If you're using Chrome, click on that little "Organize" button and the Bookmarks Manager can automatically alphabetize them for you.)

So first thing every day when I sit at my computer, I open the comics folder, right click on the day of the week, and click "Open all bookmarks."  And voila!  Every comic that updates that day is open, ready for me to read at my leisure.  I'm one of those bonkers people that always has a bunch of tabs open, so if you're like me you might prefer "Open all bookmarks in new window".

So, now you know how I manage to not miss any webcomic updates.  I'm moving next week, so as I get the storage set up in my new place I'll probably have some posts about how I organize my physical books and make sure I don't end up with four copies of the same book, because that used to happen way more than I'm comfortable admitting.

Bonus glimpse into just how far I take this organization thing: You may have noticed up there that I have a "GIFs" folder.  I have 500+ GIFs bookmarked in that folder.  They are all labelled with the same naming convention and alphabetized.  I'm that person.  There's like 25 Don Cheadle GIFs in there.

2017 Eisner Award Nominations

This year's Eisner Award nominations were posted today and, much to my surprise, the Comics Panel team at the A.V. Club was nominated in the category of Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism.  A huge kudos must go to our fearless leader Oliver Sava, as well as my colleagues Tegan O'Neil and Shea Hennum, not to mention our amazing editor Caity Penzey-Moog, who has been our champion all along.

We're up against some seriously stiff competition, especially Zainab Akhtar's Critical Chips zine, and Women Write About Comics which is edited by Megan Purdy and Claire Napier.  All of the amazing voices and minds featured in those works are incredibly smart and they love comics just as much as I do.  I'm honored to be included in the same field.

On an even happier note, several of my favorite comics were nominated this year, including Princess Jellyfish (READ IT NOW) and Deja Brew.  Tankea Stotts and Sara Duvall created Deja Brew, which has been posting on the Stela comic app, and it's so sweet and beautiful.  The worldbuilding is just stellar, and I can say without hesitation Taneka is one of my favorite folks in comics right now.

Even better, the Eisners actually implemented a suggestion that I wrote about in my very first piece for Paste Magazine last year.  I doubt that my words were the thing that prompted the change, but I'm happy to see that webcomics and digital comics have their own categories this year, given the issues with combining them.

So yeah.  Pretty great Tuesday.

C2E2 Panels to Check Out

So all of a sudden C2E2 is this week.  The month of April completely disappeared on me.  But I wanted to make sure to share a couple of panels I think folks should check out this year.  (If you want to know where I'll be, it's on stage for three panels myself, or in the audience of a bunch of these.)

FRIDAY

Professional Geek: How to Turn Your Passion into A Career

  • April 21, 2017, 5:15 PM - 6:15 PM, S503
  • A panel of professional geeks from various industries, including video games, music composers, producers, podcasters, and journalists offer the audience sage advice for how to break into your chosen industry, and tell some funny stories of how they got into the jobs they’re in now. Includes a discussion on the different ways that being a geek can help you become a better professional, and advice on everything from copyright law to networking and turning your favorite thing into your career. (Keisha Howard, Devin Delaney, Mark Beers, Blare (Kleeman) Knight-Graves, Majdi Badri, and Keidra Chaney.)

You Have Died From Exposure: The Importance Of Compensating Geeky Marginalized Creators

  • April 21, 2017, 6:45 PM - 7:45 PM, S405a
  • “Do It for the Exposure!” “Aren’t you just grateful to have this opportunity?” Too often, marginalized creators are thrown these adages as compensation for their hard work and creativity in lieu of financial redress like their privileged counterparts. We will be discussing the importance of equal compensation for equal work, the benefit of outreach, and how it’s led to opening the geek culture markets for creators & consumers who don't look like or think in "mainstream". (Tanya DePass, Charlie Hawkins, Michi Trota, Suzanne Walker, and Jennifer Cross.)

More Than a Sidekick: Expanding Visibility for Asian American Characters and Creators in Comics

  • April 21 2017, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm, S405a
  • Asian Americans are often relegated to the role of sidekicks in comics, but new generations of creators and characters are changing that narrative. This panel will examine the evolution of Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in comics - both on and behind the page - and how these characters and their AAPI creators are fighting for wider recognition and opportunities in the industry. This panel is co-sponsored in part by Chicago Nerd Social Club. #MoreThanSidekicks. (Mary Anne Mohanraj, Draven Katayama, Mark Martell, Michi Trota, Natalia Roxas, and Gene Ha.)

 

SATURDAY

Geek Girls Unite: Finding Your Space in Fandom

  • April 22, 2017, 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM, S405a
  • Join some of your favorite women for a discussion on how to create your own space in geekdom – be that a book club, geek girl brunch, craft circle, or online group. This panel will address how female-identifying fans can find welcoming space in a convention setting and make the most of networking and making friends while there. Learn how fangirls find each other and inspire each other to create new media geared towards nerdy women. (Ashley Poston, Ivy Weir, and Christina Stewart.)

Racebending.com Presents Diverse Means for Diverse Works

  • April 22, 2017, 1:45 PM - 2:45 PM, S403
  • Racebending.com has assembled a mixture of independent publishers and creators who saw a lack of diverse content in their fields and began publishing to provide a home for those stories. We will tackle the issues and opportunities that independent publishing presents for creators and fans who support diverse representation and storytelling in comics. (Gabrial Canada, C. Spike Trotman, Professor Turtel Onli, Michi Trota, and Mary Anne Mohanraj.)

Behind The Parable And The Power: A Celebration Of The Black Women Creators Of The ‘Verse

  • April 22, 2017, 4:15 PM - 5:15 PM, S405a
  • The ladies from A Black Nerd Girl’s Journey and More Than Warriors And Weather Witches are back! This year, we’re going to celebrate the black women behind the pages and productions of our favorite stories from the ‘Verse. We will laud the history of their influence, analyze how far we still need to go, and hopefully hear from the audience how their favorite black women creators have inspired them to pursue their own geeky paths. (Tanya DePass, Jennifer Cross, Mikki Kendall, and Keidra Chaney.)

 

SUNDAY

Creating Kickass Characters

  • April 23, 2017, 1:15 PM -2:15 PM, S405a
  • Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel - how have female comics characters changed over the years and why? We analyze some of our favorite and not so favorite old character makeovers, and celebrate some new ones. Amy Chu (Poison Ivy, Red Sonja), Shawna Benson and Julie Benson (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, The 100), and Joelle Jones (Lady Killer, Mockingbird) talk about the trends in comic character development and where we are headed. (Shawna & Julie Benson, Amy Chu, and Joelle Jones.)

Reblog, Retweet, Resist! Hashtag Movement and Fan Activism presented by Racebending.com

  • April 23, 2017, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM, S405b
  • You reblog, retweet and resist! Social media has transformed pop culture fans into popular movements through fan activism and Hashtag campaigns(Gabrial Canada, Tanya DePass, Michi Trota, Mikki Kendall, and Mary Anne Mohanraj.)

Crosberg at C2E2

It's that time of year again!  Thankfully, C2E2 has moved back to late April, instead of mid-March like it was in 2016, and they've just posted the panel schedule.  I'll be doing three panels this year, which is about the max I'd want to do, honestly.  More than that and you run the risk of missing out on fun stuff.  Here's a picture from last year (that's me eating the burger dog toy in the back).

Without further ado:

Gender Identity: Understanding Through Art

  • April 22, 2017, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, S405b
  • At the forefront of modern social debate is the nature of gender identity and how we move forward culturally with new understanding of the diversity within. Many contemporary graphic novels directly and indirectly address this debate by providing fictional and non-fictional representations of individuals expressing and explaining how the definitions of both identity and gender have evolved. This panel will gather artists and critics to discuss the value of these texts to the conversation. (Bilal ShelbyCaitlin RosbergJeff PastiakKatie Schenkel, organized by the Comics Education Offensive.)

The Representation Book Shelf: Building a More Diverse Comics Classroom

  • April 23, 2017, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM, S503
  • Building a 21st century graphic novel library in your classroom is a daunting task. A library which appeals to the diverse nature of your student body can make this challenging. This panel will gather teachers and creators together to discuss the importance of diverse titles in classroom libraries as well as suggestions for titles to fill that shelf. (Adan AlvaradoBilal ShelbyCaitlin RosbergRonell WhitakerDr. Katie MonninKatie Schenkel, organized by the Comics Education Offensive.)

Pitches and Portfolios: How to Get the Attention of Editors and Get Into Anthologies

  • April 23, 2017, 3:45 PM - 4:45 PM, S503
  • Have you been pitching publishers, or do you want to? Do you know the most common reasons why pitches get rejected? (Do you know that editors talk to each other?) Come pick the brains of multiple editors from the US and the UK and learn what you can do to make your pitch or portfolio rise to the top of the stack, learn what to avoid, and go into your next submission with a better understanding of how to succeed. (Caitlin RosbergMegan ByrdSummer SparacinLauren Burke, Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen, Zach Lehner, organized by Ladies' Night Anthology.)

In the coming weeks, I'll also post a list of panels you should check out.

This week in Kickstarters...

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One of my New Year's resolutions for 2016 was to spend less money on Kickstarters.

I failed.  Spectacularly.

I had a completely different set of resolutions this year, but I realized that I haven't done a great job of plugging projects that I like and believe in that are looking for funding, so...introducing a new semi-regular feature: This week in Kickstarters.  My goal is to pick a couple projects from comics creators that might be of interest to the folks that follow my writing.

First up is Eisegesis: Kings + Queens from the Sun Bros Studios.

Eisegesis: Kings + Queens is a full-color, all-ages comics anthology written by the Sun Bros and illustrated by Ali Cantarella, exploring the thin boundary between our everyday interactions and the unexpected inner worlds we inhabit.
A royal couple quarrels while their kingdom falls under siege by monsters. A lonely old shopkeeper rules his gift shop with an iron fist. A late night chance encounter leads to an unlikely journey across rooftops and donuts.
These tales dare us to infuse our own perspective into each of them. They're not meant to teach us lessons. Instead, they simply invite us to wonder.

Wes, one of the two brothers that make up the Sun Bros, and Cantarella are both local to Chicago and pretty involved in the independent comics community.  They're great folks, and super talented, so seeing them work together (with Brad) is really exciting to me.  I love the David Lynch-ian sensibility that a lot of the Sun Bros books have, twisting and psychedelic with a wry sense of humor, and it'll be neat to see that translated into an all ages book.  As of the time of writing, they were less than $100 away from their goal.

Next is Simon Says: Nazi Hunter.

I'll be honest: I'm super motivated to punch Nazis in the face right now, so this book is speaking to my lizard brain is all the right ways.

From the creators:

The comic is inspired by the true story of the famed Nazi Hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. Written by Andre Frattino and Illustrated by Jesse Lee, this comic is intended to be the prototype first issue for a potential graphic novel. 
Wiesenthal was an Austrian architect who survived the Holocaust thanks partly to his artistic skills (he was spared from execution when he was employed to paint swastikas on train cars). After the war, he discovered that he and his wife lost over 80 members of their family. Wiesenthal dedicated the rest of his life to hunting down notorious war criminals including Adolf Eichmann (a chief orchestrator of Hitler's "Final Solution to the Jewish Question") and Joseph Mengele (a.k.a. "The Angel of Death" who conducted horrifying experiments on his subjects).  
While Simon Says: Nazi Hunter #1 is inspired by Simon Wiesenthal, it is not merely a dramatization of his experiences alone. The story takes from many aspects of various Nazi Hunter stories following the war. The tone of the comic is a mixture of noir and pulp fiction which was prevalent in the 1950s and 60s. Other influences include Ian Fleming's James Bond Series as well as such films as Schindler's ListInglorious Bastards and TV series like Sherlock and Man in the High Castle.

The team is now close to twice their goal, with a deadline of the end of February.

Hugo Eligibility

It's the time of year where my friends (mostly the incredible Michi Trota) remind everyone to pipe up and let people know if anything I worked on this year is eligible to be nominated for a Hugo Award.

Category: Best Fanzine

I've been participating in Ladies' Night Anthology since it launched in early 2013 as an editor, later as a participant, and as the treasurer/webmaster/inventory clerk ever since we've had inventory to clerk.  I can't really articulate what an amazing group of women this is.  Over 60 women from all around the world have been involved over the course of the last four years, most of them making comics for the very first time.  LNA is all about teaching people the process of creative collaboration, and I'm proud to say that several women have leveraged their experiences with LNA to get paying jobs as inkers, colorists, artists, writers, and storyboarders.  For more information, check out our website.

In 2016, LNA published Volume 3: How to Magic.  We received 60 pitches to fill just 10 slots.  Over twenty women were paired up and created an anthology of unique, never before seen comics, all based on the theme of magic.  I'm biased, but I love it, and I think it's like nothing else out there.  Please contact me if you'd like a PDF copy to check it out for nominations.

Category: Best Fan Writer

I'm going to be perfectly upfront: between global, national, and personal (I got married!) events, 2016 had a lot less long form writing than 2015, which is something I'd like to change this year.  I did contribute to several pieces that I think do showcase what my work and I are all about.  (Please note my work for The Learned Fangirl qualifies for this category, I'm including these pieces from The A.V. Club to show more examples.) You can find my other work here.

January 2016 The Learned Fangirl: We’re Just Getting Started: Merely Existing in Comics Isn’t the Same as Being Represented 

May 2016 The Learned FangirlReview - The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics

August 2016 The A.V. Club: Akira kicked open the door for manga’s rise to popularity in the U.S.

November 2016 The A.V. Club15 years ago, the prescient X-Force used mutants to explore the dangers of fame

Thanks so much for your consideration!  For my recommendations for other categories, please check out this post.