George Rohac

The Technology Won't Let me Lie

265 notes

Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage

I’m not scared of desperately uncool cultural reactionaries like Jack Thompson or anti-witchcraft Harry Potter burners. I’m scared of the people who do hold cultural power, who have the loud voice, who are, in fact, the cool kids, but think they’re embattled underdogs. I’m scared of the people who think that because disco was “taking over music” they had the right to “fight back” bullying and attacking disco performers and fans.

I’m scared of people who look at someone like Zoe Quinn, an individual who makes free indie games, or Anita Sarkeesian, an individual who makes free YouTube videos, and honestly think that these women are a powerful “corrupt” force taking away the freedom of the vast mob of angry young male gamers and the billion-dollar industry that endlessly caters to them, and that working to shut them up and drive them out somehow constitutes justice. The dominant demographic voice in some given fandom or scene feeling attacked by an influx of new, different fans and rallying the troops against “oppression” in reaction is not at all unique. It happens everywhere, all the time.

But let’s be honest: It’s usually guys doing it. Our various “culture wars” tend to boil down to one specific culture war, the one about men wanting to feel like Real Men and lashing out at the women who won’t let them. Whenever men feel like masculinity is under attack, men get dangerous. Because that’s exactly what masculinity teaches you to do, what masculinity is about. Defending yourself with disproportionate force against any loss of power? That’s what masculinity is.

(Source: the-full-grohac)

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Comic Creator Pay


Hey folks - I’m doing survey on comics creator pay and I’d really love to have your input! Please fill this out and share!  Link is in the title or you can copy/paste this:

(via the-full-grohac)

Filed under research comics creators

62,665 notes

The problem that needs to be fixed is not kick all the girls out of YA, it’s teach boys that stories featuring female protagonists or written by female authors also apply to them. Boys fall in love. Boys want to be important. Boys have hopes and fears and dreams and ambitions. What boys also have is a sexist society in which they are belittled for “liking girl stuff.” Male is neutral, female is specific.

I heard someone mention that Sarah Rees Brennan’s THE DEMON’S LEXICON would be great for boys, but they’d never read it with that cover. Friends, then the problem is NOT with the book. It’s with the society that’s raising that boy. It’s with the community who inculcated that boy with the idea that he can’t read a book with an attractive guy on the cover.

Here’s how we solve the OMG SO MANY GIRLS IN YA problem: quit treating women like secondary appendages. Quit treating women’s art like it’s a niche, novelty creation only for girls. Quit teaching boys to fear the feminine, quit insisting that it’s a hardship for men to have to relate to anything that doesn’t specifically cater to them.

Because if I can watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and want to grow up to be an archaeologist, there’s no reason at all that a boy shouldn’t be able to read THE DEMON’S LEXICON with its cover on. My friends, sexism doesn’t just hurt women, and our young men’s abysmal rate of attraction to literacy is the proof of it.

If you want to fix the male literary crisis, here’s your solution:

Become a feminist.

The Problem is Not the Books, Saundra Mitchell (via silverstags)

(via lez-brarian)

(Source: becketted, via alliartist)

Filed under queue ya books

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Artists like Steven Tyler, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Dr. Dre, Sting and Danger Mouse, have recently filed comments with the Commerce Department strongly objecting to the notion of creating a compulsory license or expansion of fair use for digital sampling and mash-ups.

Heidi from FYeahCopyright is attending South By Southwest with Anne Jamison to talk about fanworks and transformative use on Tuesday, March 11 at 10 AM. Unfortunately, neither can stay until Thursday morning, when musicians and reps from music publishers have their panel: Love the Art, Fuck the Artist: The Re-emerging Artist Rights Movement?

We’re not surprised that they’re doing this presentation as part of the Music section of SXSW instead of the Interactive session, which ends on the 11th. It’s easier to conflate illegal downloads and the low rates paid for streaming music with completely unrelated copyright issues like fair use when your audience contains fewer people who work with copyrights or in tech. 

We’re actually amused by their session summary, contrasted with SXSW’s “spotlight” writeup. The session summary talks about online distribution services, problems with labels and publishers, and only mentions fans as an aside, then notes that “heir property interest has been significantly devalued and their rights abridged.”

The rates of royalties for streaming audio are definitely something that needs to be resolved, as is the problem with illegal downloads and even the issue of fans uploading tunes - unedited, unchanged, just to listen to - onto YouTube and other video services. 

But that’s shouldn’t be in the same paragraph as complaints about fair use. 

However, the SXSW Spotlight summary about this panel conflates the topics:

Many songwriters and artists … believe there is much wrong with this so called “digital revolution.” 

For artists, touring is harder than ever and their copyright property has been drastically devalued.

[Some s]ongwriters and artists firmly believe that the modern day recording artist/songwriter is under siege.

[A]rtists like Steven Tyler, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Dr. Dre, Sting and Danger Mouse have recently filed comments with the Commerce Department strongly objecting to the notion of creating a compulsory license or expansion of fair use for digital sampling and mash-ups.

Before we get into a discussion of the copyright issues, can someone explain why the “digital revolution” makes touring “harder than ever”? Since tour revenues are actually higher than ever, that doesn’t seem to be an honest statement of the industry overall, although it’s probably the case for some. 

Now for Fair Use. The artists mentioned above filed comments responding to the same IP Green Paper that the OTW, Wattpad, Google and other organizations, individuals and companies filed comments in last fall. Please note, the comment mentions Fair Use only once, but the main focus of the comments is that the individual - or corporation - that holds the copyright in a work should be able to control all usages of that work. Their arguments regarding compulsory licenses are multifaceted, but they mention a distaste for allowing third parties to use their songs to criticize the songs’ themes or the artist. We can see why someone wouldn’t want their song to be used to bully or insult others, or in connection with art they don’t believe in, but compulsory licenses would not necessarily allow for uses in ads. 

Also, the artists in question believe that the perspective of songwriters should be the paramount issue if Congress looks to modify the Copyright Act because “this is an issue that affects artists and songwriters first and foremost.”

But aren’t authors, filmmakers, visual/graphic/3D artists, architects, choreographers and computer code writers also affected as significantly as musical artists and songwriters? Why should the rules that apply to a bar of music also apply to a line of dialogue or a minor character who has one line in a film?

Would songwriters want to have to get a license before mentioning a book or film in their songs? If they want stronger limitations on Fair Use, it will impact the topics they’re even able to write about. “Music is very personal to the creator, so many creators staunchly oppose any derivative creations.” 

Apply that concept, that phrase, globally. 

Derivative creations include using song lyrics on an unrelated screencap (or a related one, frankly), quoting a bit of a song within original story - or even atop a post or article or school paper explaining why the song means something to you. You’re creating a derivative work when you’re videotaped playing a pop song in music class, or a sing along, Karaoke-style. 

Right now, all those derivative works are legal. 

There’s also a lot of songs about stories, people and things. Laurie Anderson, Spin Doctors, REM and Five For Fighting can write songs referring to Superman. But if there are no derivative works of any kind, could they? Could Barenaked Ladies mention X-Files? Would It’s The End of the World As We Know It, You Get What You Give or We Didn’t Start the Fire even exist? And how many songs mention The Wire?

We’re exaggerating here, to make a point. There’s no copyright in a title or the name of a person - at least not under current law - but current law also spells out a number of compulsory licenses and types of fair use. 

Those parameters should not become narrowed.

Strip away legal fair use and critics can’t quote lyrics in album or concert reviews.

Strip away legal fair use and you can’t create parodies, so there’s no more content from How It Should Have Ended. 

Strip away compulsory licenses and schools can’t host concerts with music created in the last century. 

Strip away legal fair use and fanfic, fanart, vids and cosplay come to an end. 

They’re not going to get their way; Congress isn’t looking to strip away fair use or end the practice of compulsory licenses. There are real, serious issues to debate and discuss to balance everyone’s right to be inspired, to create, and to make awesome things, music, stories and art. 

But those debates aren’t going to happen if a small group of super-successful songwriters declare war on their fans. 

Here’s a parallel: authors have known for years - and tv networks, showrunners/producers, movie studios and comic book companies also know - that they find success in working with fans, not suing them and not screaming at them when their creativity is inspired by another’s words. It took a while for companies like WB and Viacom - in 2000 and 2002 they were still fighting fans to hold more rights than the law explicitly gave them, and that’s why the parameters of fair use have been clarified by US courts in ever-broadening terms in the last ten to fifteen years. 

But when songwriters say things like compulsory licenses will “discourage many artists and songwriters from releasing their music in the first place” they’re declaring war on fans. They’re saying that the potential possibility of someone using a song in a way they don’t approve of will keep them from sharing their creativity and works with the general public - even though they know that they can’t control their songs forever. Sting, one of the writers to sign onto the letter, spent 2006 focusing his talents on reinterpriting 16th century lute songs, so maybe they only want to have control for 500 or so years. 

(And as a side-note to the songwriters who signed onto the above-referenced Comment: no, moral rights do not give European artists an absolute right to control derivative works. Such an exageration undermines the arguments they’re trying to make.)

(Source: fyeahcopyright)

Filed under queue copyright fair use

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Pew maps Twitter conversations, finds 6 types


The Pew Research Center, working with the Social Media Research Foundation and using a special software tool, analyzed and mapped millions of public tweets, retweets, hashtags and replies that form the backbone of Twitter chatter.

Here are the other five types of conversations:

- People who talk about well-known brands on Twitter tend to be disconnected from one another, focusing only on the topic at hand and not really interacting with each other. The study calls these “brand clusters.” One graph, that looked at mentions of Apple, found that users didn’t follow, reply to or mention any other person who also tweeted about the company.

- People who tweet from a social media conference, or about another highly specialized topic tend to form tight crowds of people who are connected to one another as followers. There are only a few users who are not connected to at least a few others in the group.

- “Community clusters” happen when several, evenly sized Twitter groups are connected to each other. In a sense, these can be compared “to people clustering in different stalls at a bazaar.” The conversations in this group share a common broader topic, whether that’s Michelle Obama or a tech conference, but each cluster takes a different focus.

- “Broadcast networks” are often media outlets or prominent social media figures with a lot of followers who repeat the messages such outlets send out.

- A Twitter “support network,” is the last major conversation type. These conversations usually involve a large company, such as a bank or airline, that listens and replies to consumer complaints. When mapped, the interactions in these groups tend to look like a bicycle wheel hub with many spokes.

Some of this maps to our own observations on Twitter conversation, the rest of it not so much.

(via kenyatta)

765 notes

Faster comic styles


Just typed out a big email to someone about how to draw comics more quickly, and thought I’d repurpose it into a post because this might be relevant to other ppl:

"…A painterly coloring style looks great, but it will not to allow you to get through the stories you want to tell at a satisfactory pace. Personally, while I admire the amount of effort that goes into painterly comics, I find that the level of rendering on EVERY subject in EVERY panel bogs down the page and makes for a poor reading experience. Comics are about communication, and sometimes that means making the reader’s eye move quickly across the page with very simple panels. In overly-rendered comics, action sequences don’t work very well, because readers have so much to look at…they spend too long digesting each panel and there’s no speed or excitement pulling them forward.

ANYWAY, that’s going off on a different tangent, but what I mean to say is that I’m glad you’re looking into other styles because I think you’ll be happy with the way that more simplified comics read AND how much faster you’ll get through your pages!

Here are some ideas for going faster:

1) Switch to cel shading (ex: Adventure Time)
You can work in a limited color pallet to save time, or go for more complex colors, but if you color with hard edges and don’t get into blending, it’s a huge time-saver.

2) Switch to grayscale

3) Try doing a comic with line-art only
You can always go back and add color later if you decide to.

4) Choose simpler shots for your panels
I highly recommend reading Naoki Urasawa (example) for inspiration. In a story, not every panel needs a character in it. A panel can be one huge spot black! Or a sound effect. Or an inanimate object. Or the sky. It’s actually really nice for the reader to have a variety of shots, from establishing to extreme close-ups to environmental abstractions. Urasawa is amazing at choosing his shots, and he can create effective moods without necessarily drawing the most detailed or difficult things in his panels.

5) Simplify backgrounds with abstractions rather than fully-rendered settings
I recommend reading manga in general and paying attention to how artists do this. It’s great to start with a well-established scene, complete with some rendered background elements, but again, if you draw the background in EVERY panel, it’s overkill and it actually doesn’t work well for the reading experience. Once readers know where we are, it’s unnecessary to spend time on backgrounds unless there’s something in the background they need to be paying attention to. Rather, simplify what you’re drawing as the scene goes on to focus on what readers should be watching. This may feel like laziness, but it’s effective storytelling!

6) You can pencil and ink digitally to save time. I’ve really loved the tools in Manga Studio 5 for that.

7) Try giving yourself a short deadline to make a page (or even an entire comic) and see what happens!  When you’re under pressure to draw quickly, you can surprise yourself and innovate great new ways to make pages quickly.  If you’re up for it, try Hourly Comic Day or a 24-Hour Comic!

Here are some artists I think make beautiful color comics but work in fast styles:

Ben Bates

Ron Chan

And here are a few who work well and quickly in black and white:

Boulet (the comic I linked to was a 24 hour comic)
Ken Niimura
Faith Erin Hicks

Filed under comics drawing

254 notes



February FemFest - F C A W - Female Creators Appreciation Week
                                           Jen Van Meter
     Ms. Van Meter entered into the world of comics following her graduation from Vassar college and the completion of a Masters in Folklore Studies from The University of Oregon.  Her first published works were from Dark Horse comics and an issue of Dark Horse Presents that heralded the first appearance of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in comic book form.  This was followed by work for Oni Press where Ms. Van Meter wrote tales for the short-lived ‘The Blair Witch Chronicles.’  Hugely impressed with her talent, Oni gave Van Meter free reign to create her own series and it was from here that Hopeless Savages was born.  
Hopeless Savages is a book that has meant a lot to me personally.  First published in 2002, It tells the tale of a family of musicians, the parents, veterans from the Punk Rock movement of the 70’s, and their children, seeking to follow their parents’ footsteps while carving out their own paths.   Beautifully illustrated by artist, Christine Norrie (along with periodic fill-ins by Chynna Clugston, Andi Watson, Vera Brosgol, and Bryan Lee O’Malley), Hopeless Savages was something of the middle class suburban version of ‘Love and Rockets' (by The Brothers Hernandez).  It was also one of the first big hit comics to feature a gay main character depicted in a positive and realistic fashion. 
Zero Hopeless-Savage, the youngest of the cast, is my favorite character by far.  I wanted to go out with her, marry her, and be her all at once.  If any of you out there have yet to read Hopeless Savages, get off Tumblr right now, hit up Amazon or your local comic shop, and rectify the situation at once. ‘Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits' collects the entire run (with bonus material) and is not to be missed.
Following the conclusion of Hopeless Savages, Ms. Van Meter went on to work for the big two (DC and Marvel).  For DC, she wrote ‘Black Lightning Year One,’ a Liberty Belle/Hourman back-up feature for ‘JSA Allstars,’ as well as the Western miniseries, ‘Cinnamon: El Ciclo.’  For Marvel, she completed a run on ‘Solo Avengers,’ featuring Hawkeye along with a wonderful Spidey/Black Cat team-up that appeared in the 700th issue of ‘Amazing Spider-Man.’
What’s next for Ms. Van Meter remains to be seen.  Personally, I would’t mind seeing a reunion issue or two for the Hopeless-Savage family…  or perhaps an ongoing Black Cat title at Marvel.  

Thank you, docgold13, for saying such kind things about my work. This femfest event has been really fun to see — some lovely profiles out there.

I just want to say this - Jen Van Meter is one of the main reasons I didn’t abandon print comics all together. Years ago after I had been burnt out by DC/Marvel/McFarlene type comics I happened upon Hopeless Savages and it won me back into the world I’d been distancing myself from. I’d been reading stuff online, but I thought there was no longer things for me at a comic shop. I was overjoyed to find this type of materially and eagerly consumed it and found myself getting back into comics again. 

Filed under jen van meter comics comics market