Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Listen Up: Revision Path

Revision Path is one of the best web and graphic design podcasts out there. It was named the Most Inspiring Design Podcast in the very first Creative Market Awards two years ago. Not content to rest on his laurels, web design superstar Maurice Cherry interviews someone in web design every week and also showcases some of the world's best Black web designers, graphic designers, web developers, and more!

Follow along via the Revision Path website or on iTunes via iOS.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Wrestling's Ultimate (Social Justice) Warriors

Honestly, I think the "not my president" t-shirt would have work-
ed even better as a "#notmypresident" shirt but that's nitpicking.
I've been a fan of pro wrestling ever since I was a little kid. And ever since I was a teen, the smaller and indie-er the pro wrestling, the better. While I've posted about pro-wrestling before, Kentucky-based Appalachian Mountain Wrestling seems to have created one of the best heel (that's a "bad guy" character for you non-wrestling fans) characters in ages: The Progressive Liberal.

Deadspin has a little bit about him, including a recap of some of his pre-match promo speech:
“You know what, I think Bernie Sanders would make a great Secretary of State,” Richards said before being jeered. Later on, he tried to persuade the crowd. “I want to exchange your bullets for bullet points. Bullet points of knowledge.”
In another article that goes deeper into the genesis of the character, Deadspin points out that while it's a gimmick that might have a limited shelf life, it is a perfectly-tailor-made hell gimmick that can work to make you want to boo him no matter what side of the aisle you're on politically:
The details really make the gimmick, and they’re not as obvious as the “Not My President” shirt. It’s the way the Progressive Liberal says “Appalachia,” pronouncing the third syllable with a hard A as in “ate,” instead of the flat A preferred by locals. The audience immediately understands that he’s not from here. Richards was originally billed out of Richmond, Virginia, his actual hometown. But he and James realized that when performing in Kentucky, which has a Richmond of its own, the crowd would become confused. So his origin became Washington, D.C. 
The [pro wrestling] industry has always been replete with guys working effete liberal gimmicks, but this is the perfect place and time, and Dan Richards has built a sustainable meal ticket, at least within the limited scope of the indie circuit. Test your mental constitution and imagine for a minute if Hillary had won; this character would still be popular and paying customers would still project their frustrations onto him, for a different reason. 

Commenter semangeloph1 points out that he hasn't even scratched the surface of what sort of heelish things the character could do:
This schtick could be milked for so much. He could challenge the women’s champion to a match because he doesn’t see gender. He could steal the belt and give it to some other heel loser to “redistribute” the wealth. Every time he loses a match, he could appeal it to some fake wrestling governing body and get the match turned over to him... When he wins, he could give the loser gift-certificates to Whole Foods and yoga sessions. He could refuse to fight championship matches unless assured that the ring is carbon neutral. I think if done right, this character could be one of the all-time great heels.
I haven't enjoyed stuff like this since Daniel Bryan cut a hell of a heel promo about how much he loved being vegan:
Of course, if that's not on-the-nose enough for you, there's also a wrestler literally billing himself as a Social Justice Warrior. Meet Leon Scott, the Social Justice Warrior, who wrestles in leagues in Central Florida. I've never wanted to have so much in common with a wrestler before: patches include Eat the Rich and Black Lives Matter, as well as anti-fascist and pro-trans messages. His Twitter account even re-tweets anti-fascist/anti-racist memes of the current administration. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Listen Up: Open Ended

Opened Ended is a weekly podcast hosted by best friends Cher Vincent and James T. Green. Every week, they take a deep dive into the latest technology and computer news, best practices in programming code. But they don't just focus on gadgets and shiny tech in the tech sector, they discuss everything coding to code-switching to gender.

Even though they're best friends, Cher and James don't always agree, and there can be plenty of spirited but respectful debate, which makes for an interesting listen.

Follow them via the Open ended web archive or via iOS on iTunes.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Knowledge Check: D&D Unsung Heroes Were These Women

Writing for Kotaku, Cecillia D'Anastasio has a great longform article on how the early history of Dungeons & Dragons and some of the setting's most iconic features were all thanks to the major contributions from many women, and most of the time the women contributed despite the atmosphere surrounding them:
The countless histories documenting Dungeons & Dragons’ 40-year ascent to the cultural mainstream tend to gloss over the women who made the fantasy role-playing game what it is today. The early D&D heroes we hear about are always big-gutted men with gray beards, who in their basements and at conventions in their name, cultivated the younger men who would carve the game’s legacy in their image. But that’s the lore of D&D, not its story. From the earliest days of D&D, women were shaping its look, its narrative, its affect and its fandom.
This may come as a surprise since, in those nascent years, most women around D&D were tolerant wives and mothers. That’s not because D&D didn’t appeal to women; it had simply inherited the deeply masculine culture of its predecessor—wargaming.
It is a great read and talks with many key TSR employees from Dungeons and Dragons' past. Check it out!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Listen Up: Talk @ Me

Talk @ Me is a weekly podcast hosted by two friends, James & Sydnie. They're both lifelong blerds from Dallas, TX. The podcast covers the week in pop culture and in their lives. Tune in to a podcast any you'll hear them talk about everything from music they've been bumping, TV they've been watching, thoughts on current events, and the quest to find the perfect parking spot.

Some pop culture 'cast swill suggest an album or track of the week, and while Talk @ Me occasionally does that, they also recommend a new cocktail to enjoy every week.

You call listen to Talk @ Me via the Talk At Me Podcast on Stitcher or subscribe on iTunes via iOS .

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Marvel vs. Limits of Diverse Representation

I've written before on the numerous times Marvel comics has tried and failed to grasp just how diversity works. Seriously, just search the marvel tag. However,  the example that sticks out for writer Paige Allen isn't Marvel's continuing mishandling of Captain America. Nor is it Marvel's VP of Sales blaming attempts at diverse casts of superheroes for hurting sales. According to Allen, the most egregious example is the writing of Marvel's Invincible Iron Man. Penned by Brian Michael Bendis, Invincible  that introduced the world to a new Iron Man – a young black teen by the name of Riri Williams. Writing for Geeks of Color, Allen points out that "...some fans were skeptical of Bendis writing the experiences of a young black girl, especially since Marvel had no black women writers on its staff when the series was first announced."

Bendis has also written also wrote about another black teen assuming the mantle of of Marvel franchise powerhouse-- Miles Morales as Spider-Man. Bendis has also talked about the research he's done as an author and the perspective that raising two of his adopted African-American children have given him. Allen points that while Bendis is able to write about the challenges and loss Riri Williams faces as a black girl, his knowledge is reflected in a very narrow focus of the Black experience:
Unfortunately, this knowledge is the overall problem Bendis has in his depiction of Riri Williams. He knows about black pain and the various micro- and macro- aggressions that black people face every day, especially during these particularly fraught times of racial hostility... Basically, Bendis is like your white classmate that took one Africana class and now believes himself to be the purveyor of all knowledge on black life. However, because he acquired his knowledge as an outsider to the culture, the only way he really knows how to depict blackness is through identifiable aspects of The Struggle – all the negative social realities of being black that you see reported on TV, lambasted on Twitter, and through quickly cruising through activist circles in search of easily transferable knowledge about racism without any nuanced understanding of how black people deal with it.

This came to a head when scans from a page of Invincible Iron Man #8 appeared online recently, where it shows Williams in class trying to actively seek out marginalization as a motivator.

Allen reflected:
Never in my wildest nightmares would I imagine a black child seeking out racism to fight against in the pursuit of their dreams. Racism isn’t a Sailor Moon villain that waits for us to level up before trying to kick our ass; we are always aware of it and are always affected by it, but one of the best traits that black people have is our ability to bypass that negativity and live our lives despite it, not to specifically spite it.
This isn't the first time Bendis' writing for a black character has been criticized. The Nerdist pointed out that Bendis and other white writers writing characters of color often come off as tone-deaf and run the risk of alienating the very fans they want to recruit.

As I wrote in an earlier post, the real key is to actually hire diverse creators to write diverse casts. Otherwise we're just slapping a Band-Aid on the issue:
Looking at a diversity initiative as the beginning and end of what's needed to help improve the state of comics is short-sighted and wrong-headed. Instead of just having the same white men tell stories with some characters of color here and there, there should be structure in place for minority writers and artists and creators to tell the stories they want to a mainstream audience. Diversity as the final and only goal is a hollow act that does nothing but reinforce whiteness and the status quo as the default. That's not the world we live in, so why should worlds we get to make up have to be that way? Free your mind, and the audience will follow.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Listen Up: Black Nerd Power

Black Nerd Power is a weekly podcast hosted by Markus Seaberry, Malaika Salaam and Richard Douglas Jones. They discuss the worlds of comics, pop culture, current events, sci fi & fantasy from a black nerd point of view. They are all incisive, witty and laugh out loud hilarious. They were voted Memphis' best podcast last year. Just give an episode a listen and you'll hear why-- the rapport is breezy and chill while also being friendly even when there's some verbal sparring going on. Nerds have never sounded this cool, but Black Nerd Power makes it effortless.

You can listen along via the OAM Network's Black Nerd Power page, or via iOS on iTunes.

Harry Potter and the Tax On The Blind

Image description: tweet by Titanium Cranium (@FelicityTC)
including three screenshots of a Harry potter book in three different formats
on Amazon. Text: “Harry Potter on Amazon - Print: $6.39 Audio: $44.99
Braille: $100.00 #CripTax”
Tumblr user actuallyblind debunks the idea that charging 8 to 10 times more for audio and Braille version of books is just covering the cost of production:
But those defenders of higher prices are reversing the argument to justify fleecing disabled readers.
What do I mean by that? 
Braille is not magic. It is done by taking plain text and feeding it through fairly affordable translation software, creating a document that can easily be printed in braille. All that time and effort and special software? IS NOT FOR THE BRAILLE... 
Printing in braille is cheap; reverse engineering a finished text to print it in braille IS NOT. Same with those audio books. After a book is completed and, often, after it has already been published, the publisher arranges to have the book recorded by a professional voice actor/reader, which usually also involves a recording producer... However: that cost? IS RARELY FACTORED INTO THE BUDGET OF PRINTING A BOOK. 
[The claim that Braille and audio] formats are more expensive to produce so they have to be priced higher is only true if you completely throw out the premise that publishers have an obligation to account for disabled readers when they are actually budgeting for and publishing the book."
In my experience as a designer, I've noticed that the high cost of creating accessible features-- whether it's on a website or a building-- is not due to the features costing anything exorbitant. The actual high cost comes in when there is a lack of considering accessibility issues from the very start and you have to retro-fit those features in. Whenever this approach is a project's primary approach to accessibility, then accessibility seems expensive. The true is expense is a failure to plan.

Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to blame disabled people for wanting accessibility to the same resources as everyone else instead of blaming the designers or publishers or the people responsible for hiring and directing them.

If you're about to say something like "Oh, no one has to read entertainment books, I'm sure it's taken care of in schools, tumblr user inlustris weighs in:
My mom is a textbook braillest. She has the software, fixes the formatting, takes the textbook and makes it translatable into braille. Most of her work ends up becoming rush jobs, because schools always forget about their blind students and the materials that they need. They start semesters without the right textbooks, are provided the materials late, can’t take the tests at the same times, because schools and teachers usually lack the foresight to provide the materials in advance. 
What we need is for more designers, publishers and project design leads to learn about the principles of universal design.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Listen Up: Headshots

Hosted by JosuĂ© Cardona and Kelli Dunlap, Headshots is one of the most fascinating video game podcasts I've listened to in a while. Dunlap & Cardona are both mental health professionals and avid, passionate gamers. It's from that perspective that they approach their podcast on the psychology of video games, technology, geeky stuff and pop culture.

You can listen to the podcast at the Headshots website, via iOS on iTunes or via Google Play.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Listen Up: Not Your Mama's Gamer

Not Your Mama's Gamer has always been a bold, insightful and fun take on video gaming from a diverse, inclusive and feminist perspective. The companion podcast is no exception. Samantha Blackmon and the rest of the NYMG staff hold court each week on the latest industry news, perspectives on favorite games, what they're playing or reading... and drinking.

You can listen along via the Not Your Mamas Gamer website, via  iOS on iTunes, or via stitcher .

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

The Other Kind of DM: Potential & Pitfalls of Eroticism In Gaming

As Katherine Cross writes for Bitch Media, while gaming may use sex to sell, the presence of anything revolving around actual sexuality is thin on the ground in tabletop & online RPGs  :
Most pen-and-paper roleplaying games have hundreds or thousands of pages worth of rules, ideas, story content, and other kinds of errata, but very few devote any of that space to content that addresses issues like consent, sexual diversity or orientation, or the sexual culture of the world one is playing in. In-game, then, one is often subject to depressingly familiar forms of sexual harassment—men having their avatars walk up to yours and awkwardly propositioning you, for instance, or refusing to take “no” for an answer if one rebuffs their entreaties—in or out of character. 
Online roleplaying gaming simply follows the paths of sexuality laid out in the physical world.
In spite of this, sexuality is endemic to the world of RPG and part of its visual culture. Commercials and box art for games are rife with heaving bosoms while pornographic proportions are common background decoration, seen by gamers and non-gamers alike.

Cross' essay goes into how sexual activity and fantasies have been handled in both tabletop roleplaying games and their online counterparts, including how sub-cultures within subcultures have sprung up around it. Speaking personally, I know quite a large number of people that have discovered more about their own sexualities, gender identities and more through online roleplaying everywhere from dedicated serves to IRC chatrooms.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Listen Up: The Co-Op

The Koalition in an indie video game website that has featured the voices of people of color united by a love of hip-hop and video games. They have a companion podcast called The Co-Op that features the Koalition staff talking about recent news and announcements in video games, in-depth reviews and some hip-hop crossover discussion.

You can  check 'em out via The Co-op Podcast section of The Koalition or via iOS on iTunes.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

2017 Game Devs of Color Expo in NYC This Week

After a successful inaugural event last year, the Games Devs of Color Expo returns to New York City this year on June 24th. Createdby developer and industry vet Catt Small, the Game Devs of Color Expo lets people of color in the games industry network with each other, present their work in a professional space, and get feedback directly from consumers. The GDoCExpo will take place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a historic venue that can hold up to 700 people. To keep the expo accessible, student and low-income attendee tickets are $5 while general tickets are $20.

In addition to game demos and exhibitions, GDoC Expo is hosting five educational talks about game development and four panels about various parts of the game development process. In a win for accessibility, all talks and panels will be live-captioned, and the entire event event is wheelchair-accessible. There are 31 free to play games and game demos at the Expo, as well as several "micro talk" 10 minute presentations, industry development panels, and an evening after party at Babycastles gallery.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Thank Yous For May '17

Here's this month's Patron Thank Yous:
  • Cargo, who had nothing to link to, but is a great dude! Thanks, Cargo. 
  • Daphny Drucilla Delight David! Her Patreon is here and her blog is on the blogroll! 
  • Fluffy! Check out their stuff at
  • Hillary Gross
  • Gabriel Gentile, on twitter at GabrielCGentile
This month's free Patron-exclusive download: free high quality versions of my Undertale remixes!

What's The Patreon Stuff About, Anyhow?

The Code is helped by the patrons I just thanked. In addition to geek ephemera and the esoterically nerdy, I use this blog to focus on marginalized voices and perspectives and to advocates for inclusiveness in media fandoms and sub-cultures and boost diverse creators.

I also create experimental electronic music and art prints & apparel under the name lowercase t, perform improvisational readings with the Overly Dramatic Readers.

I also help people! 

  • I co-host several charity fundraisers with The Munchausen Society every year
  • Advocate for strong anti-harassment policies and safe spaces at conventions
  • Organize public relations, media outreach, recorded an audio book & designed the website for a disabled dad's panel on disability for Bronycon; it was so successful he was invited back 2 more times!
  • And More!

I want to keep doing this work, and working with & helping people and also be compensated for my time and effort. My ultimate dream is to be able to offer a bi-monthly podcast along with a blog updated every day of the week. I know times are rough for a lot of people, so I've set this campaign to pay monthly-- no matter what, you'll only be charged the amount you chose once per month.

I have rewards for every single support level I offer, too!

$1 a month:

You'll get: 

  • My thanks & gratitude
  • Your name listed in a special "Thank You" post on The Code every month
  • Access to Patron-only posts and updates
  • One free Patron only exclusive download each month

$3 a month

You'll get:

  • Your name listed in a special Thank You post on The Code
  • Access to Patron-only updates
  • Free Patron only exclusive download every month
  • Monthly link/plug to whatever you want-- your website, a project, your YouTube channel-- you name it!

$5 a month

You'll get:

  • All rewards for previous tiers (named in the monthly thank you post, Patron-only update access, free monthly Patron only download, free plug on The Code)
  • free music download of a track of your choice from lowercase t every month!

$10 a month

You'll get:

  • All rewards for previous tiers 
  • A special Mystery Surprise Care Package made just for you mailed to you EVERY MONTH. It'll be a CARE package stuffed to the brim with fun stuff like novelties, toys, magazines, surprises and a hand-made doodle from me.

$20 a month

You'll get:

  • All previous tier rewards (including the Monthly Mystery Surprise Package)
  • Every month you can request a post on The Code on a topic of your choosing or get a free music track made just for you based on a title you make up!
Click here to find out how you can become a Patron for as little as a dollar a month-- that's 3 cents a day.

If you don't want a monthly commitment but would still like to help out, you can send any amount you choose one time only by going through PayPal here, and you don't even need a paypal account.
Not a fan of PayPal? You can buy me a coffee via Ko-Fi

Listen Up: Fresh Out of Tokens

Fresh Out of Tokens is a bi-weekly podcast that recently celebrated its 2 year anniversary. Hosted by David & Tanya, the podcast focuses on addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, intersectionality and feminism in video games. Tanya and David are lifelong video game enthusiasts, and this podcast is obviously a labor of love. They bring their combined experience and insight to a podcast that has already featured some intense discussions and amazing guest interviews. They're not afraid to ask difficult questions of interview subject or do deep dives into the culture surrounding video game development and video game fandom and culture.

You can follow along via the Fresh out of Tokens  simplcast site, or on iTunes via iOS

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Listen Up: MEGASheen

MEGASheen is hosted by Nick and Viktor, with a focus on queer people of color that identify as geeks or nerds. Nick is a passionate video game and 80s cartoon fan, while Viktor's wheelhouse is comics (he's a graphic novel creator himself as the creative mind between the amazing urban fantasy StrangeLore) politics and pop culture.

MEGASheen has a website, and you can follow the podcast via iTunes on iOS or via soundcloud .  They're on a 3 week hiatus right now, so this is the perfect time to catch up!

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Gotta Go Font: Fan Site Makes Sega Inpired Fonts

Japanese Sonic the Hedgehog fansite Act Select has a really cool resource that any Sega fan, Sonic The Hedgehog fan or budding graphic designer needs in their life: over 30 different fonts recreating title screen letters from everything from Sega consoles to The House of the Dead. Here's what just two of 'em look like:

You can take a look at all the offered fonts here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Listen Up: The Black Geeks Podcast

The Black Geeks website has a companion podcast and it works in concert with the website to report on news geek culture art large from a Black perspective. The Black Geeks lend collective decades' worth of knowledge and passion for all things geeky with the mission to "uplift diverse voices and perspectives into everyday conversations".

Follow along on iOS via iTunes or on soundcloud.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Not Finished Yet: Glacier Mixes Mortal Kombat, Pro Wrestling & Positivity

Ray Lloyd in the pro wrestling persona of Glacier. Photo

Brandon Stroud of UPROXX and its wrestling sub-site With Spandex released a multimedia essay and overview of one of the most ahead-of-his time pro wrestler: Ray Lloyd, aka WCW's Glacier. What made the character both in-the-moment and ahead of his time was the inspiration behind his character-- Mortal Kombat was tearing up arcades in the late 90s.  As Lloyd says, timing is everything:
“Wrestling usually mimics what’s popular in society, what’s out there that is making money for society. Mortal Kombat was a huge thing in the early 90s, going into the mid 90s, and that was really what happened was … Turner saw an opportunity to capitalize on something that they felt was a good risk. And, as you and I were talking earlier I mentioned to you that, [Diamond Dallas Page] has a great saying where he says, ‘Give me talent, give me luck, or give me timing. I’ll take timing every single time.’ And as I look back on it, no one knew then that the timing might’ve needed to be a little bit earlier. But then again, no one knew that nWo was gonna take off the way it did. You can’t predict something like that.”
The article and video goes into the life and times of Glacier and how he's able to use positivity to reach fans both old and new. If you read just one longform article on pro wrestling this year, make it this one. GO. Watch the video! Read the whole thing. Now!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Listen Up: Kugali

Kugali, the companion podcast to the website with the same name, is hosted by four Nigerian men that have been scattered across the globe due to circumstance but happily come together on the podcast to to showcase and discuss television shows, games, comics, animated features and movies created by both Africans and people of African descent in the diaspora as well as anime and pop culture abroad. It's been running since 2015, and the podcast have over 3 seasons so far.

You can listen in on iOS or Google Play or via the podcast section of the Kugali website.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Black, Queer & In Love: "Bingo Love" Comic Coming Soon

Black queer romance is not a common sight in comics.  Tee Franklin, a black queer disabled comic book writer, has set to change that with her graphic novel "Bingo Love". "Bingo Love" centers on two teenage girls, Hazel and Mari, who meet when their grandmothers bring them along to a church bingo night. They become best friends in the 1960s, then fall in love, and then are forbidden to see each other by their families. Over the next couple of decades decades, the two friends reconnect and become closer as they get older.

In an interview with The Root, Franklin said that she felt this graphic novel was important because “...very rarely do we see queer people, women of color and elderly people in comics, so I knew I was taking a risk, but it’s been well worth it,People need to see that you can be LGBTQ and have a partner for life. We are all worthy of that happy ending, too.”

Some of her own life served as inspiration for the characters' struggles. Franklin explains that she was "...once married to a man and wasn’t fully out to my extended family until very recently. I definitely understand that there are black LGBTQ people out there like Hazel and Mari who feel that they have to hide their true selves from the world because of how society views them. I wanted to tell that story.”

Franklin is no stranger to boosting Black-creator comics, as she is the creator of the #BlackComicsMonth hashtag, but she was still overjoyed to see her work supported. "Bingo Love" was successfully crowd-funded via Kickstarter in March and is currently available for pre-order.

"Bingo Love" is written by Tee Franklin and drawn by Jenn St-Onge ("Jem and the Misfits", "Steven Universe", "Rick and Morty") and the art is gorgeous. Here's an a page:

To get the latest news and pre-order the graphic novel, you can visit the "Bingo Love" website.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Listen Up: Nerds of Prey

I first heard of the Nerds of Prey podcast during their guest-host stint on an episode of the Food Fight podcast. The Nerds of Prey podcast debuted earlier this year, and hosts Shannon, CG, Lauren, and Mel already have a great rapport with one another. Four Black nerd women hold court of everything in the geek galaxy- movies, comics, television and gaming. They've managed to score some impressive interviews too, like Executive Producer of Lost, Alias and Fringe Monica Owusu-Breen.

Follow along via the Nerds of Prey Podcast website, via iTunes on iOS or soundcloud.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Glitch In The Narrative: ROM 2064 Missteps With Disability

I loved almost everything about MidBoss' cyberpunk adventure game, Read Only Memories: 2064. The soundtrack was evocative and well put together, the look of the game nailed the classic cyberpunk aesthetic, the writing was by turns affecting and humorous, and nearly all the characters from the protagonist and side NPCs were vibrantly well written. ROM: 2064 is also a game that takes unflinching looks at issues of morality, disability, gender, and mental illness in society, which is why one character's end game story turns out to be so disappointing. I've set up a jump cut to ward off accidental spoilers, so be warned: the rest of this post features spoilers for the endgame of ROM: 2064.

Monday, June 12, 2017

North America's 1st Indigenous Comic Shop Opens In NM

Native Realities, the Albuquerque-based company behind the nation’s only Indigenous Comic Con, is  also opening a storefront in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico later this week. It's called Red Planet Books & Comics and it will be the first indigenous focused and owned comic shop in North America. The store will feature comics, toys, games, children’s books and pop art from Native and indigenous artists, as well as new and used books by indigenous writers from around the world. 
While Red Planet Books & Comics isn't the only store in North America to focus on carrying Indigenous works in a book store (there's Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, Resistencia Books in Austin, Texas and Strong Nations in Nanaimo, Canada)  Red Planet is the only comic shop and will focus on not just books but Indigenous works from all of pop culture.
Here's what a recent profile on Francis and the plans for Red Planet has to say:
“What we're trying to create is a community-based space,” Francis explained, after pointing out that Native Realities requires a physical office location, so why not make that space all the more inclusive by inviting in the community that the small press serves? “It's not just the selling of objects, it's [the invitation] to come on down and play games all afternoon. To just come and nerd out, for Native folks to know there's a place like that. I say Native folks—and that is our focus—but really, anybody.” In a world where you can access literally any title you've been wanting to pick up online, it is essential that bookstores facilitate those kinds of connections—to be a rallying point for people who have a strong cross section of interests that pull them there. Red Planet will pull in people with many identities—comic nerds to Magic the Gathering nerds to bookworms and “Indiginerds” of all stripes, as Francis endearingly refers to himself and others.
“Albuquerque has one of the largest populations of Native folks, and having a specialized storefront adds to the cultural value this population brings to the city,” Lee Francis, owner and CEO of Native Realities, said in a news release. “We want to highlight the amazing work that Native and indigenous folks are doing in and around pop culture.” Lee Francis is from Laguna Pueblo and grew up in New Mexico, is the editor in chief of the Moccasin Telegraph

Listen Up: MisanthroPlay

Pop culture analysis MisanthoPop has a companion video game podcast called, appropriately enough, MisanthroPlay. Hosted by game critics Robert Fenner and Alvin Chua, each episode of MisanthroPlay features two parts. The first part focuses on a different in video games- types of genres, types of narratives, design, or even a series of games itself. In the second half, Alvin and Robert talk about whatever they've been playing that week. The recent podcast going in on the Wonder Boy remake is a delight!

You can browse an episode index here or subscribe via iTunes  here.
Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Listen Up: Black Girl Nerds

Black Girl Nerds is a website devoted to discussing, promoting and celebrating nerdiness among Black women & people of color. They have a regularly produced companion podcast hosted by blogger and writing powerhouse Jamie Broadnax and a stellar rotation of contributors and engaging and flat-out funny special guests (the recent episode with W. Kamau Bell is my personal favorite). You can listen to the podcast via Soundcloudon iTunes or via the main website here.

Listen Up is an ongoing series devoted to shining a spotlight on podcasts by diverse creators. You can check out all the podcasts previously featured here. If you have a podcast you'd like to recommend, post it in the comments or email me at shawnstruck at gmail dot com.

Fanart Friday #2: Ramon Villalobos

Ramon Villalobos is probably best know for his work for Marvel Comics, but he's also a DC fan.Inspired by the huge success of the Wonder Woman live action movie, artist Ramon Villalobos shared some of his own takes of Wonder Woman-- his "favorite Chicano warrior princess" as he likes "drawing her real strong".

He also did one of my favorite takes on Kitty Pride and Lockheed.

You can follow him on instagram, twitter and tumblr.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Listen Up: Geek Soul Brother

Henry, a self-described geek and nerd since the 60’s has a website, Geek Soul Brother, which has a companion podcast. He offers his perspective on everything from horror, sci-fi, comics and cartoons. Aside from bringing an older generation's perspective to something new, he tries to introduce a generation of younger geeks to the geek universe that was around before they were born. He doesn't just spotlight classic stuff though, he also has some really cool interviews with up and black artists and creators. You can follow his podcast on blog talk radio or on iTunes.

Writing Diverse Characters & The Fear Of Doing It Wrong

Prolific author and blogger s.e. smith recently wrote about his thoughts about white people writing diverse characters and settings (smith is white himself), and it's pretty relevant right now. There have been increasing calls for more diverse representation in media. As smith points out, though, that push comes with a fear that many white authors are reluctant to discuss: the fear of getting it wrong, and the fear of being widely criticized. Could that be attributed to a sudden influx of angry fans? Smith says those discussions aren't really anything new:
One consequence of more open discussion about diversity is that nondiverse creators are forced to see that discussion. It’s not like diverse readers and creators just now started criticising works that have huge problems. Rather, those conversations were happening, often in the open, and no one cared or paid attention. Now, there’s enough momentum that they become highly visible, that it’s no longer possible to be insulated from them. Some nondiverse creators appear to be operating under the impression that there’s an army of mean people gearing up to descend on whatever they write to shred it to pieces as soon as it hits the shelves — or before. Often, that comes from a defensive position, because it hurts to hear that you did something wrong, or that something you worked on for months or years has major problems, and the instinctive reaction is to lash out to neutralize the criticism so you can go on with your life.
Smith goes into the difference between the fear of doing it wrong, and the fear of how you'll be perceived, and offers some pretty good advice. Another excellent resource are the annual "Writing The Other" workshops and classes offered by authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Listen Up: Blacker Than Black Times Infinity

While listening to the Those Damn Comic Book Guys podcast, I was really taken with a request guest they'd have on to talk about anime: Prodigy. Prodigy was insightful and funny, and I was delighted to find out he's also one of the hosts of a great ensemble podcast called Blacker Than Black Times Infinity.  Hosted by Prodigy and three of his friends (Stitch, Old Ninja, and Blue Cronus), they talk about everything nerdy: video games, comic books, tv shows, streaming media, anime (they all have been anime fans since they were little kids), and superhero movies from the indie to the AAA blockbusters.

Their facebook is here, and you can listen along on their Soundcloud or via iTunes.

Dragons, Jewish Families & LGBT Romance

Author Shira Glassman recently announced a new republished collection of what she has dubbed her "Mangoverse books", a whimsical fantasy series featuring queer Jewish characters forging their own paths and forming chosen family through the bonds of adventure. Each book has new color cover art a Hebrew and Yiddish glossary, and the series as a whole gets a new tie-in with a collection of short stories called Tales from Perach. Here's some quick and witty summaries of each book:

  • The Second Mango - origin story, in which the gay Queen and hetero demi warrior woman become BFFs
  • Climbing the Date Palm - Queen helps the bi prince from next door rescue his activist boyfriend from Certain Doom
  • A Harvest of Ripe Figs - Queen solving mysteries in her capital city, chiefly the theft of a priceless violin, while raising a baby with her bi partner
  • The Olive Conspiracy - Queen saves her country from a plot to sabotage her country’s agriculture
Glassman's books are breezy and whimsical without coming off as insubstantial. Queen Shulamit carries power and agency and shows that kindness and compassion need not mean weakness or uncertainty, and is probably easily my favorite non-dragon character.

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