Friday, July 21, 2017

Fanart Friday #3: Danielle Sanfilippo

I met Danielle Sanfilippo this year during a fan-run Undertale tabletop-themed game at Dexcon 20 in Morristown, NJ. Aside from being a top-notch Undyne player, she also showed generous spirit when, after the game session was finished, she gifted each player a little chibi version of the character they played. That was my gateway to doing a deeper dive into her artwork and character design work.

So in the 3rd edition of Fanart Friday, I present to you a selection of the works of illustrator Danielle "Danimagining" Sanfilippo. You can find out how to follow Danimaging at the end of the post, and there's a bonus bit of silly art based on the Dexcon Undertale game session under the jump (since it's slightly spoilerish for Undertale).

First up, above is her take on Overwatch's fighter and competitive gamer, D. Va.


She also has a great take on Zootopia's Nick Wilde.

You don't often find fan art of locations in a game, and here you have a fan landscape of the Waterfall area in Undertale, complete with echo flowers.



Sanfilippo also works in traditional media. In addition to animation and character concept design work, she's also made artwork based on adventures and encounters for the Knight Realms LARP group.

You can find her work under the Danimagining name across pretty much every social media platform you can think of. Her facebook is www.facebook.com/danimagining and she's on instagram as danimagining. You can also even wear her artwork. Her fandom stuff is available at  www.teepublic.com/user/danimagining (I want that Tracer tee so badly, you have no idea) and her original artwork is up on redbubble at www.redbubble.com/people/danimagining .

Fanart Friday is an ongoing series where The Code looks to spotlight fanworks created by and 
for POC, LGBT artists. If you know of any work you think should be given a boost, send me an email at shawnstruck@gmail.com or comment below!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

5 Easy Ways To Find Diverse Summer Reading For Kids

Photo courtesy of The Book Trust via Creative Commons
If you're a parent, caregiver for kids, youth activity leader, or tutor, then you know that Summer vacation for kids usually come with some required reading over the summer, too. As a conscientious caregiver, finding diverse stories to share with kids can seem difficult. But it doesn't have to be. Writing for Huffpost, Nancy Traversy, Co-Founder of Barefoot Books shares a few tips.  For example, don't just stick with stuff you remember from when you were a kid! Branch out a bit:

[T]here are many other exceptional books out there that represent a wide range of experiences. To find them, look for book awards lists that honor creators of specific identities and backgrounds and best-of-class publishing. For example, the Coretta Scott King Award honors African-American authors and illustrators, while the Stonewall Awardcelebrates books with positive LGBTQ representation and the Foreword INDIES Book Awards recognizes the best of independent, innovative publishing. Share these stories with your children, and you’ll not only keep their book diet diverse - you’ll also inspire them with some of the very best children’s literature available.

Another great, and overlooked resource? Your local librarians:
Ask them to recommend books by a wide range of authors and illustrators that are appropriate for your child’s reading level. Many libraries run free literacy programs over the summer, so ask them if they have events or activities that feature diverse books. Your librarians may also be able to point you to local readings and events that celebrate authors and illustrators from a range of cultures or religions. Borrow as many diverse books as you can carry and encourage your child to read them all.

There are three more tips Travesy gives that are simple, effective and easy to start doing right now, so go read the article to get the rest!

Readers, do you have any tips you'd like to share? Post 'em in the comments below!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Listen Up: Wizard Team, A Harry Potter Podcast



#WizardTeam is a podcast that's a spin-off from the blog "Black Girls Nerd Out," where hosts Robyn and Bayana discuss the Harry Potter books, in order, one chapter at a time!

It's updated semi-regularly, so the best way to keep up is via  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.

Vidders: History, Heroes Of Media Fandom & How To Be One Too


In what's one of the more novel uses of github I've seen in a while, lim, a fan artist whose work was recently shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery has released one of the definitive histories of early media fandom: Videlicet.. Like much of early media fandom in sci-fi and fantasy, its early pioneers were women. Not only does the zine look back at the past with profiles of prominent vidders, it also helps forward the future by presenting a DIY guide for your own fanvids.

Let's back up a bit. What is vidding? Vidding began in the mid-70s, after the original Star trek series went off the ait. Trekker Kandy Fong synced Star Trek stills sold to collectors, projected them on a slide projector, and synced the stills with music from a cassette player. This was the earliest version of fan-made music videos, called "vids", and vidding was often done live. For years, vids were only shown at fan conventions. While the VCR's widespread use made vidding more accessible, it still required extensive technical skill, often requiring daisy chaining VCRs together, splicing in footage and audio from many different source on-the-fly and as you needed it. Even with the rise of broadband connections and media sharing sites like YouTube, vidding still remains grounded in smaller communities, curated experiences, and smaller, more intimate exhibitions.

Videlicet covers a LOT of ground, so while I encourage a deep dive, I want to share two of my favorite parts of this zine:
It’s the soundwork that emphasizes their physicality of the characters, reminding us of the opening lyric of flesh and bone; we are cued not to think of these superheroes as 2-D comic book cutouts but as real three-dimensional bodies. The sounds of human effort are layered into the music with perfect synchronicity, so that we hear grunting, the crunch of bone, the crack of gunshots – things that mark the collision of people and things in a way that makes the fighting feel real; we can feel it in our teeth.

Dissecting lyrical interpretation is making the brushstrokes visible. Picasso did not paint the world as he saw it. He painted it as he processed it in the same way that vidders do. Vidding is a lie that makes people see the truth. When working through a lyrical interpretation of a vidsong, aim to make choices that strengthens that truth you are trying to vid and let that drive the lyrical interpretations.
Readers, do you have any favorite fanvids? What was your favorite part of Videlicet? Have a fanvid you'd like to promote? Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Listen Up: Black Media Minute

The Black Media Minute is a podcast that dives into the ins and outs of the media business with Black creatives and industry professionals. The show features interviews and analysis of books, movies and television. It's hosted by Kimberly Foster, who was named one of Forbes' "30 Under 30" last year. Every episode is packed full of probing interviews and insightful conversations with  people who shape the media landscape.

You can follow along at the Black Media Minute with Kimberly Foster website or via 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.

#SurvivedAndPunished: Free Toolkit For Marginalized & Criminalized Survivors


A collaboration between Love and Protect and Survived and Punished has resulted in a new, free downloadable toolkit aimed at survivors of violence, sexual assault and abuse. Titled "#SurvivedAndPunished: Survivor Defense As Abolitionist Praxis", the toolkit is the work of over two dozen creatives, activists and writers. It was created because for many women who are survivors of violence and assualt, once the ordeal is survived they find themselves at the mercy of a criminal justice system that ends of punishing them even further. The aim of the toolkit per the project's statement is to offer an accessible, practical, and visible:
...collection of tools, tips, lessons and resources developed through our own experiences. It is also an effort to document and reflect on our own movement work. It is important for us to document especially because our organizing work has been led by Black women, women of color, immigrants and queer/trans people, who are so often erased from history. We hope to preserve some of these histories, build solidarity, and share hope as we continue our collective struggle.
You can read the toolkit online, or download your own copy, for free at the Survived And Punished website here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Listen Up: Better Than The Movie


Better Than the Movie is a monthly podcast for people who are passionate about books. Each episode covers book news and issues related to literature and popular culture. The goal of each episode is th "encourage listeners and readers to look beyond the Best Sellers lists and discover new voices and stories", and they have had a number of interesting interviews with many authors of color.

You can listen along o the Better Than The Movie website, via 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.

Ballroom Glitz: Analysis of Feminine Game Design Via "Princess Debut"

Writing for Mammon Machine's ZEAL project, Alex Roberts looks at what she says is a prime example of "feminine game design" that she feels was overlooked: "Princess Debut" for the Nintendo DS:
Princess Debut is a rhythm game and dating sim released, to mild commercial success and critical disinterest, in 2008 for the Nintendo DS. It stars a teenage girl who, after trading places with her princess doppelganger in a parallel universe, learns ballroom dancing and wins the heart of at least one handsome prince with the help of her feisty talking animal companion. She finds magical accessories that transform into elaborate outfits. She spends perpetually sunny days in gardens and beaches with cute boys who are all interested in her. Princess Debut could only be girlier if her dance instructor was a horse instead of an anthropomorphic rabbit. (But that would mean striking a crucial Alice in Wonderland reference.) 
What makes Princess Debut feminine, though, is not its pink menus, delicate soundtrack, or shoujo manga-inspired character designs. Rather, those external aesthetics are genuinely representative of an internal structure that whose priorities and techniques are expressly feminine. Its cover art — a petite teenage girl, gasping with delight, eyes wide as dinner plates, hair in a perfect up-do — is wonderful in itself, but what makes Princess Debut worth writing about almost a decade later is the way it delivers on the promises that happy face is making.
Roberts does a deep dive into the aesthetics of "Princess Debut", comparing and contrasting it with another rhythm-action game, "Elite Beat Agents". She examines why one was a critical darling, one was met with critical indifference, and the difference between feminine game design and pinkwashing. It's a great read and has me so interested, I'm gonna be tracking down a copy of "Princess Debut" as soon as I can.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Announcing BLERD CITY Con

Via Black Girl Nerds, the following awesome announcement:

WHAT:
The first annual BLERD CITY Con will hit New York City’s historic neighborhood and Silicon Valley East, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.) Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30, 2017.

BLERD CITY’s mission is to provide the Black community with substantial connections to talented and cutting-edge professionals in the craft of positive image making. BLERD CITY comes from Black + Nerd = Blerd, a conference dedicated to showcasing the complexity and multi-dimension of NERDiness through Art, Science, Film, Literature, and Technology.  The conference includes panels, workshops, film screenings, and a marketplace. The BLERD CITY marketplace will feature a mixture of curated gaming and comic books, and a children’s area for science and technology exploration.

BLERD CITY panels and workshops announced so far include: Women In Comics, Martial Arts and the Urban Landscape, Afropast and Afrofuture, Cosplay Interaction, SciFi/Fantasy/Horror Film Screenings, an L.A. Banks Tribute and more. Guests announced include:Tim Fielder, graphic artist, cartoonist, and animator, Afrofuturism The Next Generation; Nicole Franklin, CBS Sunday Morning Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Award winning editor, filmmaker, and co-producer and co-moderator of the weekly Monday night Twitter series #BlerdDating, Warrington Hudlin, and Regine Sawyer.

WHERE:

The Dumbo Spot, 160 Water Street​
Green Desk, 155 Water Street
Creative Chaos, 28 Jay Street
Automatic Studios, 52 Bridge Street
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Empire Fulton Ferry (Near Main Street)

Visit the official website for more information about BLERD CITY or to register for the convention.

Black Is Beautiful, So Why Do Video Games Lag Behind?

Yusef Cole and Tanya DePass, writing for Vice Waypoint, talk about the challenges black gamers and other gamers of color have in finding characters that look like them being rendered as well as their white counterparts-- if they're rendered at all. In looking at the challenges of bringing black player characters to the small screen they found the problem's roots in the silver screen in "Black Skin Is Still A Radical Concept In Video Games":

As we begin to see more characters in games who resemble us and more developers taking the time to think about us, a question worth asking is: How well do games visually represent black people and others with darker skin tones? The clues to begin answering this are situated in the history of film, a medium to which games owe much of their visual aesthetic.
Stretching back to the earliest instances of film photography, capturing darker skin tones has rarely been prioritized or even much considered... To this day, many black actors are underlit, even on big-budget movies and TV shows.
The film industry did not-- and still fails to-- prioritize taking care in rendering and lighting and considering how darker skin will look like in different scenes and environments. Video game development has a similar story, especially when it comes to 3-D rendering. But are technology limitations really to blame?
"I don't think technology is holding us back at all," [Shareef Jackson] posits. "We accomplish things with each generation. You can have hair and clothes flapping in the wind if you want. So if companies wanted to get it right, they prioritize it. Unless they have people on the team willing to call them out on it as well, it won't change." 
For Robert Yang, a game designer and professor at NYU Game Center, this prioritization is a natural outcome of the unchecked biases that lie behind the 3D technology that powers modern gaming. "When 3D artists test their new skin shaders, they often use a 3D head scan of a white guy named Lee Perry-Smith," he notes. "What does it mean if we're all judging the quality of our skin shader solutions by seeing who can make the best rendered white guy?" 
...Mainstream games with well-lit black protagonists like Mafia 3 and Watch Dogs 2 are proof that the technology necessary for lighting black skin is already there. Meanwhile, indie developers of color are forging their own path forward when it comes to depicting black characters of all shades in games. "People that are not black don't think about the different shades of blackness or browness," says Allen, "That's a problem."
Cole and DePass also spotlight game developers of color working to broaden video games' palette both literally and figurative and doesn't shy away from issues like colorism and developer forethought, either. It's a fascinating read, go go check out the whole thing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thank Yous For June '17 & How You Can Get Free Custom Stuff

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 beesbuzz.biz
  • Hillary Gross
  • Gabriel Gentile, on twitter at GabrielCGentile
This month's free Patron-exclusive download will be online this Friday.

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:
TIP JAR 

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
CUP OF COFFEE

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
LUNCH TIME


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
SURPRISE MYSTERY CARE PACKAGE


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
PIZZA TIME


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!

It Came From YouTube: The Guild of Ambience

Working alone in a home office can be kind of isolating. Falling asleep to silence can be difficult. Finding just the right level of audio background sounds for a tabletop gaming session can be a chore. Luckily, there's a YouTube channel I came across recently than can solve all three of those scenarios and then some: The Guild of Ambience . The youtube channel is a passion project of a graphic and sound designer from Australia that focuses on fantasy-influenced environmental soundscapes for mood, sleep and relaxation.

For expample, if you're a Game Master wanting to give your players a little more immersion while everyone's in Ye Olde Tavern waiting for the adventure to begin, you could queue up this video:



 Or if some gentle nature sounds with the occasional village ambiance is your thing, you can try this:




 My favorite is this video here-- a gentle soundscape with an hour of original music that presents a gentle shifting of moods:

You can also follow along on Facebook or buy Guild Apparel here on redbubble.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Listen Up: The Young n Creative


The Young n Creative is a podcast dedicated giving people of color working as creatives across a wide variety of media a wider platform with which to share their passion. Every week the website focuses on a new "creative of the week" and the podcast covers up and coming and established artists of all kinds, from designers to disc jockeys give their perspective on what it means to be "young n creative".

You can follow along on The Young n Creative website, on iOS via 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.

Looking For Group: Gamers of Color Sticking Together

Image description: A tweet from twitter user sourcedumal that reads "when
there are 47 long flowing hair options in character creator but 3 natural hair
options: afros, cornrows, dreads. And they all look terrible."
Writing for Endgadget, Jessica Condit gave us "Gaming While Black: From Casual Racism to Cautious Optimism", and detailed how many gamers of color have either banded together or not engaged in voice chat just to be able to keep enjoying a hobby and form of entertainment important to them because social pressures and racial harassment follow them everywhere:
“The stories Allen could tell probably wouldn't surprise Dr. Kishonna Gray. Dr. Gray is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University's School of Justice Studies, and the founder and director of EKU's Critical Gaming Lab, a hub for researching the immersive online environments within console gaming. She studies gaming and harassment from the player's point of view. "Most gamers of color have isolated themselves into private parties, private chats, or just don't engage verbally at all," Dr. Gray said. "And that's sad because they can't take full advantage of the gaming experience that they paid for. So what's happening is a virtual ghettoization of minority gamers. [...] Because a person's identity is automatically revealed when a person speaks, they are targeted. I call it linguistic profiling. As soon as someone hears how you sound, they engage in this practice. They hear how you sound and react based on that. So a lot of black gamers are called derogatory terms because of how they sound. They don't have to do anything but sound black."”
While thre are still some that would cling to the dismissive response of video games and online game not being a part of the real world, Dr. Gray disagrees:
"Gaming culture is a direct reflection of our society," she said. "The only reason racism and sexism run rampant in gaming is because racism and sexism run rampant in society. But in physical spaces, mostly, it's not overt. It's subtle. It's covert. So, yes, these issues manifest in a similar manner in gaming, but I contend that they present themselves worse. It's not subtle. It's in-your-face racism. A black person may not be called a [n word] to their face, but they can almost guarantee it will happen in virtuality."
Although the article was written in 2015, not much has changed. The entire article is a fascinating read, so go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spider-Man YA Novel Swings Into Action Next Month


I just found out something really cool. The Disney-owned Hyperion imprint is publishing a new young adult novel about the newest (and I'd say the best) Spider-Man, Miles Morales. Even better, it's being written by Jason Reynolds, a talented Black author. Reynolds is no stranger to quality storytelling, either-- last year his book "As Brave As You" won the Kirkus Prize last year and he's a previous winner of the Coretta Scott-King Award.

Seriously. This is a book you want to read. Pre-order it at your local indie bookstore or at Amazon. Request it at your local library. Get it in the hands of a teen you know. I got an advance reader copy and was blown away.

Reynolds' Spider-Man novel deals head-on with issues of race and class in Brooklyn, being a young biracial kid on scholarship, and how these influences shape his life as he also struggles to be a superhero. Even more so than in the comics, Miles Morales' Puerto Rican and Black backgrounds are implicitly referenced in the text and made important. It examines not just what being Miles Morales means for Spider-Man, but what being Spider-Man means for Miles Morales. It's been getting rave review from everyone from Kirkus Book Reviews to the co-creator of Miles Morales himself, Brian Michael Bendis.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

AFK: What I'll Be Up To The Rest of the Week

BRB: Goin' AFK!

Hey all. There will be a pause with The Code this week as I'll be attending Dexcon 20  as part Kitsune Entertainment to help run three events (and maybe get in a little gaming on my own time too). Here are the interactive adventures I'll be running:

On Friday, I'll be co-running 2 Vampire: The Masquerade Events back to back. Here are the descriptions:

Event code: L0030
Friday 8 PM to Midnight. All Materials Offered. Knowledge Necessary; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.

Vampire: The Masquerade; "Dark Ages: Vying for the Crown" by Kitsune Entertainment. The Prince of London must vacate their position. Now those in a position of power are making their bid for Prince known to the entire Domain. Which Clan will rise to the top in this, the ultimate grab for power? Players may contact us to build their own characters (subject to certain character creation rules), or they may take a character at the door.

Event code: L0031
Saturday Midnight to 4 AM. All Materials Offered. Knowledge Necessary; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.

Vampire: The Masquerade; "Victorian Age: The Peace Accords" by Kitsune Entertainment. The Prince of London has made an unprecedented move: Invite the Sabbat to an Elysium to try and heal the rift between the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Is peace possible, or will the Kindred on both sides resist? Players may contact us to build their own characters (subject to certain character creation rules), or they may take a character at the door.

I'll also be helping run an escape the room meets clue event Saturday at 9 AM.

Event code: L0034
Saturday, 9:00AM - 11:00AM;  All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.

Clue, the LARP; "In the Cold of the Night" by Kitsune Entertainment. At the South Pole is the Boddy Institute's Antarctic research station. Things are going as they should when a violent explosion rocks the station. Now the inhabitants are trapped in the various rooms of the station with no chance of rescue. Can they get the facility back up and running before the unforgiving environment claims their lives? Only time will tell. The classic characters of Clue come together in another scenario where murder is the order of the day.

I'll be back next week with Patreon udpates, the usual array or articles and showcase and more. Be excellent to each other, people!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Listen Up: Artistic State of Mind

Juliana and Stephen are brother and sister, but don't think the debates they get into are just another form of sibling rivalry. They are both passionate hosts that really give listeners a deeper dive into the world of theater, acting, music and film. In-between the regularly updated podcast, they're both quite involved in the UK music and stage scene and do lots of work on initiatives to celebrate and uplift diverse artists.

They just recently wrapped up Season 2, so now's the perfect time to catch up. You can follow along on the Artistic State of Mind website, on iTunes via iOS or check out the podcast's dedicated 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.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Listen Up: Spawn On Me

Spawn On Me is a lively video game podcast that puts gamers of color front and center and features some great insider analysis of the gaming industry, both from its hosts and its guests. Hosted by Kahlief Adams (Spawn Point Blog) of Brooklyn and Cicero Holmes of Chicago (or as the hosts put it "coming at you from Brookago!") "Spawn On Me" don't just discuss the usual gamin news, previews and reviews...  Spawn On Me looks at how games and gaming culture affect and shape the world.

The list of guests Spawn On Me has had is very impressive, and each episode is funny, fascinating and insightful. You can follow along via the Spawn On Me website archive 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.

LiveJournal's Mascot Returns With Artistic Rebellion...

Image description: Cartoon of an adult man with black hair, full beard, glasses
and a pencil stuck behind his ear. A speech bubble reads: "Hi! I’ m Ryan. A decade ago,
I worked with LiveJournal to create a comic based on their mascot Frank the Goat. When LJ
was sold to a russian company that I didn’t know how to get in touch with, it seemed like a good
place to end the comic. Over the years, I heard vague things about the site going on to ban political
& pro-lgbtq content but I didn’t really know the extent of what had happened until I heard the
latest episode of the Reply All podcast which alleges that moving the servers to Russia was part
of a violent, sustained campaign by the Russian government to silence and punish critics and
 journalists. While listening, I realized that since I had quit the comic myself, the contract
that allowed me to make frank comics had never actually been cancelled. Which means I have
the authority and login credentials to do this...
Over ten years ago, LiveJournal was the premier place to host online journals-- usually for spaces and accounts that were too personal or niche to be labled as blogs. Like many web properties run by nerds with goofy senses of humor, LiveJournal had a mascot: Frank the Goat. LiveJournal hired comics artist Ryan Estrada to write and draw a webcomic starring Frank the Goat that continued on for a few years before finally coming to an end in late 2008. In 2007, LiveJournal's parent company was sold to a Russian media group, SUP Media. Company operations were still based out of a California office, until 2016 when there was a sudden move of all of the site's servers to servers physically located in Russia. Not long afterwards, the terms of service for LiveJournal were updated to "comply with Russian law".

The new terms of service stated that all users are subject to Article 10.2 of the Federal Act of the Russian Federation No. 149, which dictates that blogs with more than 3000 daily visitors are classified as media outlets and may not be published anonymously, are responsible for the dissemination of unverified information, and are restricted from posting obscene language, or "extremist materials" and are subject to Russia's anti-gay laws. After Estrada listened to a Reply All podcast that put forth the case that SUP Media was doing this in order to help the Russian government crack down on reporters and critics of the government, he remembered that he still had the login credentials for the Frank the Goat Comic account. Even better, they still worked.

So he created and uploaded this comic to the official mascot comic account here, which as of this morning is still live on LiveJournal's site. You can listen to the Reply All podcast in question here.

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