An Open Letter From A Pinay Comicbook Writer

open-letter-comics

Open Letter to A Certain Screenwriter from a Local TV Station

I’d like to tell you a story. In the spirit of local telenovela flavor, let’s start with a lengthy “childhood” flashback that predicts 90% of the storyline. We’ll call this context.

Back in 2008, while mulling over which college I wanted to attend, I decided I’d do something I haven’t done before: attend a comic book convention. I wanted to go to this magical place where comic book fans could just hang out and be with other fans before I took the jump into semi-adulthood.

On October 2008, I met up for the first time with some longtime online friends – one of them, the co-writer and editor of the comic book for which we won the Indie Grassroots Comic Award for the following year.

open letter comics

See, I’m a comic artist. I’m a struggling local comic artist, and I have some pretty strong words to say to A Certain Screenwriter From A Local TV Station.

I get it. Original ideas are hard to come by. The comic book we wrote was part college project (for Rika Sioson, my dearest friend and co-writer) and part dare (for me). It was about a sullen young adult (I know) who is the designated Chosen One (yep, I know) and deciding factor to a generations-long war (yep) plaguing a fantasy land (if it sounds like YA urban fantasy bingo, that’s because it kind of is).

We had already finished the comic weeks before Komikon, and when I brought up that I planned to attend the convention, we thought: “Why not take up a table at Indie Alley? What’s the worst that could happen?”

open letter comics

We didn’t really know there was going to be a contest for the participating artists and titles. We didn’t expect to make it to the final round of voting. When we looked at the titles we were up against and saw that the highly esteemed and ground-breaking local series Trese (by Kajo Baldisimo and Budgette Tan) was in the running, we were just happy for the honor of being on the same list as them.

And then we won.

On October 2009, our little urban fantasy comic had won a small but precious thing.

open letter comics

Flash forward to present day: A Certain Screenwriter From A Local TV Station, in light of being criticized of the utter unoriginality (bordering on sheer and blatant plagiarism) of a project, went and posted this at the start of this month:

open letter comics

Dear Jerald Uy,

My post’s heading is clear – unless you’re blind, son?

POPULAR LITERATURE TOPICS (comics and soap opera) so what’s clear about this (sic)? That comics and soap (sic) belong to Literature (which is extensive) but — under POPULAR literature (This is better because back in the 70’s up to the 90s and even to this day, the snob (sic) and elite call these PULP or CHEAP!)

What does this mean?
That comics and soap (sic) belong to one box (popular literature) as a branch of literature. This isn’t (sic) “high art” (fine, it doesn’t belong to the category of Shakespearean writings and the other god (sic) and goddess (sic) in literature (that I’m suggesting you read, okay?) (sic for punctuation)

Comics are part of literature?
Yes. As part of POPULAR LIT.
Coined word or term as a gentle recognition for us working in popular culture..at least it’s ok, right? Because before we were called, along with Filipino comic writers (like Ravelo, Caparas, Gilda Olvidado— not the bourgoisie and expensive imported comics that people buy and worship like the creations of Stan Lee), as cheap and pulp and never acknowledged as part of literature except now (sic) so good, right?).

Is this clear my boy?

Or do you want me to give you a lecture about the state and struggle of Filipino comics (and soap opera) writers in the Philippines?

Sigh.
For another day..

PS. I’m avoiding swearing for you..

open letter comics

Many are saying Hey, wait, COMICS are considered part of Literature. People have won Pulitzers for it.
Yes. True. In America. In other countries.

Those comics are elitist (expensive). The masses can’t afford them.
(They’re) In English too. Hence, you can’t really call them pulp. Only the well-off can buy them. I mentioned other comics, loves 🙂

The struggle of Filipino comics writers is different (not the Filipino comics writers who work for Marvel or DC Okay and I don’t know anything about their world)..which is why I cited the names of Caparas, Ravelo, Gildo Olvidado etc. Do you know them? (Carlo Caparas yes, maybe Ravelo).

Here in the Philippines, comics are much maligned from the beginning until it died. It is called pulp, “common”, cheap (like soap opera). When it disappeared in the 90’s (when you were kids) and that’s only when it became known as part of Literature (sic) which is why we have what we call POPULAR LIT (sic).

 

 

 

First off: you don’t know the first thing about what you’re talking about.

Second: for the love of all things creative, sit the heck down.

Comics aren’t “elitista”. I can personally tell you that. Comics aren’t reserved for a certain class of person, or a particular economic bracket. Anyone can get into it, and anyone can make it. More importantly, shame on you too for assigning class distinctions to the universal value of literary and visual entertainment. Were the creators of Zsazsa Zaturnnah, Trese, and good ol’ Darna being elitist when they first published their stories?

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Image courtesy of Comicvine.

Zsazsa Zaturnnah  – winner of the National Book Award in 2003 – was a fresh, creative, and respectful new spin to the Dakilang Bakla trope that has been endlessly pillaged ad nauseam in many local TV shows (including projects of yours, Certain Screenwriter From A Local TV Station). It was lauded by near-everyone, nearly everywhere, for the irreverently funny story it told despite (and because of) the protagonist’s orientation; any introductory must-read list for Filipino comics wouldn’t be complete without this title on it. It was even doing zombie apocalypse-style comedy before it became fashionable with the popular collective.

Trese – awarded the National Book Award for Graphic Literature in 2009 and 2011 by the National Book Development Board, and is required reading for public schools as of 2015 – brought the lore and mythology of Filipino beasts and monsters to the forefront of the general reading public. Go to any National Bookstore branch, you’ll find at least one volume there if they haven’t sold out (and they do, by the gods do they sell like hotcakes). Trese made childhood bedtime horror stories cool, transporting the tikbalangs and kapres out of the province and into the city. If you want a more informed opinion, you could even ask local actor Bianca King, who has been a very vocal fan of the series for years.

open letter comics

Trese, art by Kajo Baldisimo. Image courtesy of the official Trese blog.

And Darna – did you think the phrase “Ding, ang bato!” would come to be if there hadn’t been a comic book basis for the Vilma Santos movie? We were doing comic book movies arguably ahead of the curve. Darna is one of most relatable heroes of the “masa”; she wasn’t the “anak mayaman” heroine that populates the general landscape of local television, and she never will be. On top of discounting the value of comic artists and comics in general, you’re insulting one of the biggest feminist pop culture icons we have that we can truly call our own. (And didn’t Local Network adapt this story at least twice?)

open letter comics

Image courtesy of PinoyExchange.com

This isn’t even covering the rich history of our newspaper comic strips. There are so many we could name, but let’s talk about two prominent titles: Pugad Baboy by Pol Medina, Jr., and Kikomachine by Manix Abrera. If you’re thinking “the who?” about these people, let me personally remind you that not only are these widely recognized titles, containing some widely recognized characters and art styles, by widely recognized artists – they’re also all published by your sister company through The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

To quote one of Michael V’s many characters from Bubble Gang: Mahiya naman ako sa ‘yo.

Patutchada aside, though – how can you say that comics are “for the rich”, and then in a later post differentiate “local komikeros” from the “western” comic artists?

Stephen Jorge Segovia lives in the Philippines; he’s as local as you can get. Who is he? He’s only worked on The Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine, The Young Avengers, Red Hood and The Outlaws, Deadpool, Superman: Lois & Clark, and Green Lantern – just to name a few. He’s a longstanding stalwart of the local comics industry.

Whilce Portacio is a legend in both Marvel and DC fans, having worked on so many titles and impacted the industry so much (he was one of the founders of Image Comics) that he has his own wikipedia page.

Gerry Alanguilan (who I’ve had the honor of meeting) didn’t just spend a good few decades banging out top-shelf work for Marvel and DC – he also wrote the phenomenal and controversial graphic novel Wasted, which is set in the syncopated landscapes of the Philippines and reads like a ‘90s Manila era action movie poured onto paper, and the bittersweet short comic Where Bold Stars Go to Die, which is about falling in love with a torero genre actress in the twilight of her career.

I bite my thumb at you, Certain Screenwriter From A Local TV Station, from the bottom of my heart as a creator who doesn’t have the force of a multi-million corporation’s various bank accounts to waste on rehashed and regurgitated “plots”. For insulting the very medium that you’ve recently and blatantly ripped off in hopes of riding the comicbook adaptation trend while hoping no one will notice. For calling yourself a creator when you haven’t created anything good in over a decade, nor have you tried, if your recent projects are any indication. I bite my thumb at you for riding the nostalgia of that One Good Show you had all the way to a protracted creative death, but hey, that’s your call.

I don’t have to like it. I don’t like it.

As a comic book artist, at heart if not by day job, I very much don’t like what you’re doing at all. And as a viewer, I feel that I deserve not to be insulted if I’m going to spend my precious time on your creative product. I deserve better. We all deserve better. Not just in comics, not just in TV, but in terms of mutual respect.

Really, that’s all we want.


GGG would like to credit the edited featured image, which is taken from Green Arrow Volume 4, art by Joshua Middleton.

Editor’s Note: We would like to thank Dana for translating Ms. Doctolero’s posts literally as per AP style guides for our international readers.

#PitchAShowToGMA – More Than Just A Meme

pitchashowtogma

Unless you didn’t have internet access in the last 48 hours, you would have likely caught #PitchAShowToGMA trending. The meme caught on and offered much to laugh about. When I say laugh though, I mean that a good part of that was “this is so hilarious but so uncomfortably true.”

 

I don’t watch Arrow anymore. I’m bored with the plot and critical of its direction. I used to follow it because it was engaging. It got me invested in its cast, its depiction of “lesser known” DC characters, and its take as an adaptation.

So when I saw actor Stephen Amell’s official Facebook page share a trailer clip from the up and coming show Alyas Robin Hood with a single, ambivalent emoticon, I did not just facepalm. I honestly wrestled with massive secondhand embarrassment.

There are people who will say (or have already said) that in instances such as this, I should just shut off the TV and leave it at that. If local spins on a “popular thing” are not my cup of tea, why vent about it. Hell, it’s easy: change the channel, move onto something else.

And I could. I really could. But I’m tired of hearing that this is the norm, accept it. I’m tired of getting told that because I’m NOT the market, my take on this issue is irrelevant.

I’m not going to just shut up and somehow get over my very real discomfort. I don’t want to quiet my opinions, and I will voice my criticism and dismay. We should be able to call out lazy attempts to ride on a trend as they are.

I’m tired of local television treating their audiences with the assumption that these people can’t possibly want better quality on primetime. That it’s okay to not have the least bit of creative integrity.

Naturally, whining in retaliation to the popularity of the #PitchAShowToGMA meme didn’t take too long to rear it’s head. People expressed being “offended” that the hashtag wasn’t a legit gimmick to drum up “legitimate ideas”. More than a number of folks cried foul about how the hashtag promotes negativity. Social media feeds now circulate posts about how we (read: the internet) shouldn’t be making fun. “Don’t be bunch of trolls,” they say. “You’re just butthurt elitist fans,” they go.

But are we, really?

The reach of the hashtag speaks for itself. This wasn’t just one small demographic of fans. This was all over, regardless of age, gender, or fandom of choice.

People pitched in witty (and occasionally sarcastic) takes. Some of the more serious ones even expressed their own wishes for shows that they would LIKE to see, but probably won’t get.

So don’t give me that “you’re not the market” bullshit, when there’s clearly a clamor for better, more diverse material.

I confess I’m “so goddamned salty” over this because just last weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Malaysian comic book artist Billy Tan.

Tan, who spoke so openly about his own aspirations to build a universe that would be relatable to Asian fans, touched on creating characters whose origins would be immersed with local flavor and provide representation. Coming from something as awesome as that to greet this week with the sight of Yet Another CW Rip-off has left a bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t even want to talk about the legal ramifications covering copyright infringement and intellectual property. That’s a whole different mess altogether. But just because I don’t want to go into that does not take away the ugly truth that this has been going on as a perfectly acceptable practice.

It’s one thing to take inspiration from another source, it’s quite another to present promotional materials that are, quite bluntly, frame-by-frame knock-offs. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s exhausting to think that our creatives are reduced to hearing people ask: “Okay, which show did so-and-so network rip off this time?”

My heart honestly goes out to the people down the industry food chain. People who dream about bringing new, possibly great stories to audiences. Audiences that I’m pretty sure are looking for these stories and are wondering why the same old way-to-beat-a-deader-than-dead-horse formula keeps coming back.

Audiences aren’t dumb. They deserve something to chew on. Acknowledge that they have the capacity to appreciate ideas that don’t necessarily follow “hype”.

Finally, when people offer criticism, consider that it’s not always a personal attack. People need to acknowledge that.

APCCPH 2016 Day Two Highlights!

asiapop comic con day 2

This article features contributions from What’s a Geek writers Khan, Emile, and Rhenn! If you want to check our wrap for Day One, head down here!


Day Two was off to a busy start! The lines started filling up as early as 9 AM. Once the doors opened, everyone hit the ground running.

Toy creators Simone Legno (tokidoki) and Shinichiro Kitai (DEVILROBOTS) kicked off the day’s panels. Their Toy Panel session showcased some of their most iconic creations, with Legno and Kitai introducing the crowd to the genius (and sometimes silly) inspirations to their works.

Legno’s tokidoki came to life from the extensive Japanese influence in his childhood and his environment. He recalled Italy had a similar “Voltes V” phase with the Philippines, and that his mother knew everything about iconic characters like Doraemon just because. Legno gave tokidoki a shot and has been giving his Oriental-slash-cartoon gritty mix to some of the most notable pop culture icons. He has worked with Disney, Blizzard, and other notable companies for their art.

Kitai’s DEVILROBOTS is evidently influenced by his fascination with robots. He creates and draws cartoon robots with various knick-knacks and features for his clients. He sometimes transforms iconic pop culture icons to robots or into his other favorite original piece, Tofu Oyaki. The tofu-headed figures are “fragile,” given their heads are made of tofu. Tofu Oyaki has appeared in various forms, with Kitai creating Tofu Oyaki works out of cultural appreciation.

Kitai served as an inspiration of sorts to Legno. Kitai and Legno’s appreciation for robots led to some collaborative projects in the past. And while others fear that great minds may come to a standstill with a clash of ideas, their mutual respect and admiration led to quite a separation (and eventually, an intense and fitting mix) of ideas.

Legno reminded aspiring artists to always allot time and dedication to the craft, and to never stop being genuine about their works. Meanwhile Kitai told aspiring graphic designers to don’t stop making works of art – because, hey, they might collaborate soon.

Meanwhile, in the green room, media partners were invited for a sit-down with actor Nicholas Hoult, who is best known for his roles as Hank McCoy/Beast (X-Men), War Boy Nux (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Tony Stonem from British television series Skins, among others.

Hoult gamely answered during the Q&A, expressing appreciation for the warm reception he received from fans and con-goers, also shared that yes, he has not been immune to the Pokemon Go craze (Team Mystic, guys!). He also shared a little bit about what it was like for him on Mad Max, saying that working with Charlize Theron on the film was an amazing experience and that characters like Furiosa is something he’d like to see more of in movies. View the video we took of the first half of the interview over here

Comic book fans rejoice! A fan film is about to give their own answer to the perennial (controversial, friendship-breaking, comic book store ravaging) Avengers versus Justice League debate – with iconic Filipino stars and models taking the mantle of the superheroes themselves.

Eric Ejercito of E/J Studios joins stars Will Devaugn, Roxanne Barcelo, Ivan Carapiet, Jerico Estregan, Madeleine Humphries, and Noel Blanco in perhaps the biggest, star-studded fan film about the ever-discussed debate. Fans at the panel were given the first exclusive sneak preview of some never-before seen shots from the film.

The film, affectionately titled Avengers vs. Justice League: Death of a Hero, is directed and edited by Jeff Centauri. Although the premise is still bleak at best, the stars promise a better comics-aligned story to the cause of the big rumble. Expect heroes such as the Vision and Scarlet Witch battle Wonder Woman and the Flash. Superman’s heat vision will try to test the power of Vision’s Mind Gem (or is it?), with Captain America deflecting batarangs off the world’s greatest detective.

Maria Ozawa even cameos as the Phoenix Force – although her exact role in the film is yet to be announced. The film drops on September 10, 2016.

Today, eSports by Inquirer kicked off the first ever Overwatch tournament in the Philippines. The inaugural event had several bumps in the road from spotty internet connections to power outages that led to unfortunate delays. The finals boiled down to the best teams at the APCCPH 2016 – Mineski and Imperium Pro Team (IPT). The action was so exciting that even a wandering Reaper sat down to watch the digital carnage.

Filipino and Singaporean commentators added insights on the respective teams with colorful commentary, bless Harambe. Mineski’s communication held its own against IPT’s coordination. Rounds would swing back and forth until a well timed team wipe guaranteed a successful objective. It was a wonder to see tanks know exactly when to block and when to go for the kill or the ultimate and it was frustrating to see McCrees miss their High Noon. The finals ran the whole nine yards with the round 5 being contested in Hanamura. Unfortunately, the delays caught up to the tournament, going well over the APCC closing time. Mineski and IPT decided to settle the final match online for the $10,000 prize money at https://www.twitch.tv/esportsinq.

TBA (Tuko Films, Buchi Boy Entertainment, and Artikulo Uno Productions) gave the fans of local cinema at APCCPH 2016 a special treat. A new superhero-inspired trailer of Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo,  dropped before introducing the young stars of the movie. They invited con-goers to check out the prequel book, with exclusive signings with creators Rob Cham, Mich Cervantes, and Carlorozy Clemente. Even though they were born into the age of the internet and video games, the lead stars enjoyed playing the classic game, learning perseverance and honesty. Catch Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo  on October 5, 2016!

John Arcilla, Mon Confiado, and other stars of Heneral Luna graced the stage with Heneral Luna cosplayers shortly afterwards. They shared their thoughts on what Heroism is. Some said to do good, whether it’s for the environment or for something bigger than yourself. One didn’t need to die to be a hero, merely to have respect for everybody. Additionally, they all reminded us to learn and remember our history, as Rizal once said. Look forward to catching the movie’s own sequel about Filipino Hero Gregorio Del Pilar, Goyong.

Comic book artist Whilce Portacio gave tips to both aspiring and veteran artists about the perks of going digital. The session started and ended with Portacio drawing and shading a portrait of a man, with quick tips. He emphasized on the careful usage of light and greys in ensuring the feeling of “correctness” when it comes to shading.

He also gave tricks to quick drawing – emphasizing on the importance of using lines and symmetry in getting human anatomy right. The 53-year old comic book artist worked on various X-Men titles, and had Bishop (obviously) and Storm as his favorites.

Backstage in the Media Lounge, Malaysian comic book artist Billy Tan (Uncanny X-Men, Green Lantern) sat down with to talk a little about his work and shared some details about his newly founded company, Tan Comics. While he didn’t reveal any specific details of any of the characters he has in mind, he hopes to create a comic universe that reflects the different cultures of Asia, particularly China. He also got to talk a little about his experience working on X-23, his first work under Marvel Comics, and how it was a creative challenge to express Laura Kinney’s emotions visually.

In the afternoon, Star Wars fans were treated to a Lightsaber Walk from members of the Philippine Lightsaber Guild, followed by an amazing fight choreography from Fightsaber Philippines. The 15-minute show featured everyone’s favorite sith lord, Darth Vader.

APCCPH 2016 continued to make its mark in the cosplay community with the Open Category Finals of  Cosplay Authority Global Challenge (CAGE) 2016! The winners of the contest will receive a whopping $10,000. Esteemed judges included Alodia Gosiengfiao, Ani Mia, Lindze Merrit, Myrtle Sarrosa, Riki Lecotey, and Yugana Senshi Uon. Out of hundreds of local cosplayers, only twenty-two made the final cut in the pre-screenings and it’s easy to see why.  Veteran cosplayers came out in costumes like Final Fantasy’s Ultima Weapon and Lich. The Philippines’ premier female mech cosplayer made her debut in a Zoids suit for the open category, after dominating the kid’s category. Popular MOBAs were well represented from DOTA’s Tinkerer to LoL’s Popstar Ahri. Entertaining routines brought smiles to the audience, like the fantastic Vegeta, who bravely persevered through stage difficulties. The grand winners will be announced on Day 3 of APCCPH 2016. Stay tuned!

One of the most awaited panels  for today was Millie Bobby Brown at the Main Stage. Radio personality Delamar Arias facilitated the panel with the Stranger Things star. Brown recounted how she was taken by surprise when she landed the role of Eleven in Netflix’s hit series. She also mentioned how close she had gotten with the rest of the cast, especially the boys of Stranger Things. When prompted about her singing videos, she tells the audience that while acting is important to her right now, she’d promised her father that she would focus on singing once she reaches sixteen. Her energetic fans cheered when Brown did Eleven’s signature glare, especially when she walked down the stage and on the catwalk as Eleven.

Another exciting panel that took place at the Main Stage was with Claire Holt, known for her roles as Rebekah (The Vampire Diaries and The Originals) and Samara (Pretty Little Liars). She and host Justin Quirino ambled through a fun conversation about Australian actors and vegemite, balut, her families in the casts of TVD and The Originals, more food (she takes her coffee black, by the way), and then some. When fans took it upon themselves to Ask The Important Questions, Holt confirmed two things: Ian Somerhalder is one of the most caring guys she’s ever met, and future casting in a superhero movie isn’t exactly up to her. Also, just in case you all didn’t know this already, Clare and Milly are apparently good friends!

Meanwhile, Gendry from House Baratheon is back. Sort of. Joe Dempsie greeted his fans with startling revelations. His acclaimed execution of intense roles (Gendry from harsh Westeros, and emotionally-damaged Chris of Skins, to name a few) were a result of his “imagining” the series’ universe as his own reality. However, deep inside he’s a Red Ranger fan. He’s also a huge fan of Kanye West. Unfortunately, he did say Gendry may not have a favorite song.

He was glad Gendry did not die. If he did, he wanted it to be an epic battle. Dempsie emphasized it would be extremely embarrassing if, for instance, he died by tripping over a chicken and snapping his neck.

J-Rock fans got a huge treat with Hiroshi Kidatani of the immensely popular JAM Project. He brought their trademark high energy, causing many to scream at the top of their lungs. He made great effort to communicate in English and was visibly amused when the audience enthusiastically replied in Japanese. His six song set ranged from anisongs to JAM Project’s own singles. Get a glimpse of his performance over at What’s a Geek’s Facebook Page, and stay tuned for our article on the one-on-one interview we had with Kidatani which will follow. It’s not too late to catch another show on Day 3 of APCCPH 2016!

Harley Quinn and Joker #RelationshipGoals? You Must Be Joking

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In light of the recently released and distressingly mediocre Suicide Squad, there’s been a lot of talk about Harley Quinn’s relationship to The Joker. (To, rather than with, I should note.) People have gone so far as to say that it’s some form of #RelationshipGoals because on the outside – it looks fun.

Suicide Squad has gone to great lengths to show this relationship as some kind of wild adrenaline ride where two people get to be nihilistically crazy with one another. They get to do bad things together. The Joker showers Harley with attention and gifts, while she on the other hand gives him her entire being – what a completely balanced and fair relationship that is!

The movie takes great pains to show the disparity in the ways that Harley and Joker view their relationship. Joker spends most of the movie behaving like someone’s taken his favourite toy and throws temper tantrums when anyone other than himself is playing with her. Meanwhile, Harley’s view is covered in a saccharine gloss as if to hide from the actual reality – she dearly wishes to be her Puddin’s housewife (complete with child) in a dream sequence after Enchantress promises her whatever her heart desires. She wears a choker with PUDDIN in heavy gold letters which she holds dear, and it is the same with her iconic harlequin suit, which was no doubt a gift from The Joker as well.

Harley Quinn

Image courtesy of Screenrant.com

This contrasts with the matter-of-fact way that their initial relationship is portrayed – with a very impressionable Dr. Harleen Quinzel jumping at the opportunity to break the Joker out of Arkham Asylum. He repays her, by subjecting her to electric shocks straight to her temples and making her jump into a vat of acid. Yet he’ll go and pick her up from said vat of acid, remove the chip implanted in her and break her out of prison.

This is the cycle of abuse that The Joker perpetuates to keep Harley in his grasp. He establishes their power imbalance off the bat, mistreats her and then shows her enough attention so that she will continue to seek it from him. Harley on the other hand, will willingly do anything for that attention and “love.”

This isn’t just some crazy love story, it’s downright manipulative behaviour from a scumbag.

I’m not asking anyone to rewrite The Joker or Harley because this is the essence of their characters: they’re both criminally insane, if decades of Batman media is to be believed. Their relationship is meant to be abusive and all sorts of wrong, because neither of them are capable of empathy or building meaningful relations with other people.

I am asking people to stop idolising this kind of relationship, because it is not #RelationshipGoals in the slightest. In fact, it should be #RelationshipWarningSigns. Being showered with attention and gifts from a psychopath is no substitution for a relationship built on trust and respect. If you want actual relationship goals from DC, it’s Batman and Catwoman. Equally as crazy as the thievery > capture > escape cycle is their form of foreplay in light of Bruce Wayne’s neuroses, but they both recognise each other as equals and respect each other’s skills.

It’s a shame that Suicide Squad has now set the standard for Harley Quinn in popular media because after the drama that was the Nu 52 DC Reboot, Harley Quinn has a pretty successful solo comic which takes her to a wholly different place. One of the goals of the new comic was to establish her character away from Batman and Joker – two male characters who have steadfastly defined her own. It had taken some great steps such as making her self sufficient as a landlord on Coney Island and her slowly easing back into psychiatry and her civilian identity as Harleen Quinzel, but nothing beats her emancipation from her previous relationship with The Joker.

In Harley Quinn Issue 25, Harley is tasked with breaking out her current boyfriend Mason Macabre. But just as luck has it, Mason is kept near a cell with You Know Who inside of it.

Harley Quinn
Here we have Harley recognising how messed up her relationship with The Joker was but also her acknowledging that her bad habits are hard to break because of how good he is at manipulating her.

The comic is a good read and completely worth picking up from your local comic book store or a download from Comixology. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner navigate this thorny area with a deftness that doesn’t romanticise the abuse or flanderises anybody’s characters – least of all Harley’s and it brings out that yes, she’s ultimately better off without him.

Harley Quinn
And boy, is she really better off without him. Surrounded by an environment where she can put herself to good use, people who make her feel valued rather than simply using her and a lot of blood and violence on her own terms, Harley comes full circle into being herself and not simply The Joker’s Girlfriend. In fact, DC has gone so far to say that monogamy isn’t really Harley’s style.

Harley Quinn

Now that’s #RelationshipGoals.

Hopefully the movies catch up to the comics, because a Harley who recognises The Joker is a piece of shit is the kind of Harley I’d love to see Margot Robbie play. Jared Leto’s Joker has the world’s most punchable face, and it would mean the world to me if Harley were the one who got first dibs to punching it into the ground.

Five Things I Hope For Bruce Banner

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I remember watching the 2003 Hulk movie with my cousins when it first came out. Back then, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was something that nobody could even fathom happening and superhero movies were nothing as grand as they are today.

Although I was only eleven years old at that point (and my memories of being eleven are now spotty at best) there are still scenes in my head that stick out. In a way, it was at that point where I first gained an interest in the character of Bruce Banner and his alter ego, though it wasn’t prominent and existed as more of an afterthought at the back of my mind.

Cut to 2008, when Edward Norton played the role and the MCU was becoming a plausible concept. I remember watching this movie more for entertainment purposes than anything else. It was a decent movie, no doubt, but as with other people I was more hyped up with the post-credits scene where Tony Stark appears and makes the MCU so much more tangible.

Then came 2012 and Marvel’s Avengers where Mark Ruffalo took the world by surprise with his fresh portrayal of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Critics praised his performance and millions of people found themselves in love with the Hulk for the first time ever, including myself. Four years later, I remain an avid fan of Bruce Banner as I had been when the character truly clicked with me, due to Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of him in the Avengers (even now I’m wearing a Bruce Banner/Hulk t-shirt as I write this piece).

Since the Avengers, Bruce Banner has taken a more prominent role in the MCU: a cameo in Iron Man 3, a return in Age of Ultron, and now taking on a bigger role in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.

It’s a testament to how much the fans love the character. I’m not ashamed to admit how much I really love this current version and portrayal of Bruce Banner. Like any fan, I have my own wishes on where he’ll go. That said, I’d like to take this time to talk about the Five Things I Hope For Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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Geek Word Wednesdays: Girls Got Game Defines “Feminism”

Art by Aeron Mundell

Trusting in Girl Gamers

TrustinginGG

You’ve probably already read headlines about a pro-player named Gegury. In case you haven’t, Gegury is the alias of a 17-year old Korean girl who happens to be really good at Overwatch. Rather than celebrate her prowess in tournament play, many instead accused her of cheating. Two pro players were so certain that they swore to leave the Overwatch scene altogether if they were proven wrong. Overwatch developer Blizzard looked into the issue, and now two less players compete in the tournament.

Some of you might give these skeptics the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just thought a win-loss ratio of 4:1 was too good to be true. The problem with that thinking is that win-loss ratios like that aren’t unusual. No force in the universe dictates that a gamer should have a win-loss ratio closer to 50:50. There’s also the fact that the constantly-evolving meta will always favor certain characters and styles of play more than others. My point is that we have no reason to question this level of play, and in fact most people probably wouldn’t have thought twice had a male gamer achieved such a high win rate. That’s the problem: a lot of people still question the idea that a girl gamer can be this good.

The Girl Gamer Meta

This doubt remains one of the great paradoxes of our geek culture. We constantly insist that anyone can be a geek, that anyone can be gamer, yet at the same time reinforce a status quo. We have no problem with girls picking up the controller and playing some games; in fact we celebrate it. Yet we find it unthinkable that they can reach or even surpass the skill level of the tried-and-true guy gamer, as if there is a skill ceiling that girl gamers cannot surpass.

The truth of the matter is that if we allow girls to play a video game, they will eventually get good at it. There is nothing mystical about this. Skill in a video game requires brainpower and commitment, things that are not tied to gender. The more of both you commit, the better you’ll be at the game, simple.

girl gamers

The reason why guys have dominated the competitive scene for so long is because most competitive games target guys, and it’s mostly the guys who are willing to commit to the game to raise their skill level. This is slowly starting to change, however. Girls are starting to take interest in competitive games like LoL or DotA. There’s enough of them committing that there are now women’s leagues for these games. This is a welcome change from a few years back, but notice that we are still separating the girl gamers from the boys. Having two separate leagues for each gender reinforces the assumption that there is a difference in skill level between genders, an assumption that is shattered by girl gamers such as Gegury.

A Competition of Brains Rather Than Brawns

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that girl gamers can compete with the best of their male counterparts. Since video games are more about mental skill, they are more similar to spelling bees or debates than sports. Notice that both genders compete in the same spelling bee or debate competition, and nobody raises an eyebrow when a girl wins. With these competitions we’ve learned to accept that male and female brains are equally competitive. The problem is gaming culture hasn’t caught up to this idea. That is why it’s so much of a culture shock when you get examples like Gegury.

girl gamers

What we have to realize as a gaming community is that gamers like Gegury aren’t the exception. They are inevitable. There is an incoming wave of girl gamers with mad gaming skills, and they will go toe-to-toe with the establishment. When that happens we shouldn’t be skeptical of them. Video game tournaments are becoming the spelling bees of the 21st century, so expect female presence there to become normal with time.

I do hope that we eventually come to a point when competitive games drop the idea of women’s leagues altogether. It reinforces a culture of difference and dominance, and that just isn’t the case anymore.

Heroes Above: A Promising Take on Squad Games

Heroes Above

Beyond doing reviews of whatever catches our attention, Girls Got Game is also open to reviewing your products! Contact us at girlsgotgame.media@gmail.com if you’re interested.


I was fortunate enough to be able to test Heroes Above, and I must say: it’s an interesting take on squad-based games. I believe that with the right advertising, this game can be a contender in this digital world.

 

Character Management

Heroes Above is set on a world where each player manages a floating island filled with heroes and flying ships. These heroes then engage in epic air battles against other players for supremacy of the skies. This is what every island looks like:

Heroes Above Screenshots - 1

Each player manages a group of characters with different abilities. Those familiar with role playing games will immediately recognize Barbarians being melee fighters, Archers are ranged fighters, and Clerics heal fighters. Characters can be improved via the island’s training facilities. They can increase their stats, and also be upgraded to more powerful forms during multiplayer battles. You can also build ships with different abilities that can give you a distinct advantage in every battle.

As with every squad management game, you need resources to upgrade your characters and structures. However, what makes upgrades interesting in Heroes Above is that you don’t just need to have specific resources. You need prestige, which is something that you can only earn by winning battles against other players. This adds a layer of challenge to the game, as it encourages players to keep fighting against other players. I personally think will get people to play more and will be treated to an interesting take on multiplayer battles.

 

Combat

Heroes Above Screenshots - 2

Multiplayer battles in Heroes Above are a combination of tower defense, real-time strategy, and resource management. The goal is to destroy the opponent’s crystal on their ship before they do the same to your crystal. Of course given that you have to use your ship to get to theirs you have to time when use your boosters to charge and start attacking.

All actions during battles are dependent on your management of mana. This is similar to Clash Royale where you ask yourself when to start deploying your characters and when to hold back. These game elements put together add a layer of complexity which should make for exciting battles for players.

Heroes Above is a solid game. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to play something new in the multitude of mobile games out there.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Heroes Above was developed by Unlibox Ltd. It’s available in the Apple Store.

You’re Sorry About Filipino Gamer Behavior? That’s Cute.

gamebehavior

 

Remembering Old Friends: Yoshi

Yoshi from Super Mario Bros

Welcome to “Remembering Old Friends,” a column where the writers of Girls Got Game do spotlights on video game characters that have rocked their worlds. Join us in our feelings!


Yoshi Super Mario Bros

Yoshi, quite possibly the most kick-ass dinosaur in video games. Also likely the reason why some of us look for lizard or dragon mounts in other titles. (I know I do.)

The question we should all be asking at this point is who DOESN’T love Yoshi? This funny little dinosaur (lizard… thing) is as iconic as the Mario Brothers themselves. He’s a fan favorite across several titles, and his own games were always a treat to play.

If the story of my relationship with Chun-Li is about finding a hero, my story with Yoshi is a family story. My younger brother and I were kids when we returned to the Philippines. Imagine two Canadian kids at 10 and 4 slugging it out in tropical heat, isolated from the rest because we spoke English. Most everything on TV was in Filipino or too boring to watch. Our parents were busy trying to settle our roots back into our ACTUAL home country; our brothers were grieving the loss of their “home.” We became each other’s playmates in order to feel less like strangers in a strange land.

Things got significantly better when our favorite cousins moved back to the Philippines. These brothers and their baby sister were like second family to us Punzalans. Back when we were still based in Vancouver, my family would make the occasional road trip down to Los Angeles. The Estebans were always the ones who hosted us. Our usual routine involved flopping around in the pool, spinning dumbass kid stories. It also included playing video games and watching movies.

This was the time of my huge thing for "The Little Mermaid". JP, if you're reading this, you might get why I had to plug this in the article.

That was the time of my huge thing for “The Little Mermaid”. JP, if you’re reading this, you might get why I had to plug this in the article. Yes, the reason is embarrassing.

This did not change once we were all stuck in Manila together. My brother spent most of his middle school and some of his high school years sleeping over at their place. Whenever life wasn’t so weird, I’d tag along. We’d all eat pizza (or their yaya’s grilled cheese and ham sandwiches), and I was going through my cousin’s Pokémon comics, they’d hit the consoles (and later: the computers) again.

Nearly all of my generation’s “classics” – Sonic the Hedgehog, Bomberman, Crash Bandicoot, Ragnarok Online, Starcraft, Battle Realms, Guild Wars – were games that my cousins introduced me to. We either played them together, watched each other do a run, or took turns on the controller. My strongest video game associations with them, however, is anything Bomberman and Super Mario.

While I love all three of my cousins very much, I’m the closest to JP, the eldest of the Esteban bunch. He’s only a few years younger than me, and we’ve always shared a lot of common interests. If I’m getting this right, Yoshi became his favorite character in the Marioverse the moment Super Mario World was out. He became mine too, both because my cousin showed me how cool he was, and because I’ve always had a thing for big lizards.

Many a Yoshi from Super Mario Bros

LOOK AT ALL OF THEM. THEY’RE SO CUTE.

Our next big trip was Mario Kart, where Yoshi was EVERYONE’s favorite. Mario Kart was our ultimate time sink, our quick friend in the midst of school stress and the sort of boredom that only kids could afford to have. It’s also the only racing game that I ever liked, and about 50% of the reason behind that is Yoshi.

Super Smash Brothers is the last big Nintendo franchise that we got into together, and of course it has Yoshi in it. I did not play the game much, but I REALLY enjoyed watching the craziness unfold. And Yoshi has been a badass in that game since the very start, rivaled only by Link and Kirby for me.

Yoshi is already one of Nintendo’s greatest creations. His awesomeness, in my eyes, is simply compounded by all the good memories. I still look for him whenever I see folks doing a round of Super Smash Brothers.


Do you guys have an all-time favorite from Nintendo on your own? Let us know in the comments!

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