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Archive for June, 2009

I drew a picture!

I guess I can kind of see why most mainstream comics are so unappealing these days, at least to me: coloring things on the computer is fun!

carlins 3D

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Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved superhero comics – not so much for the action and adventure as for the drama and romantic angst. (The X-Men have always been especially good in this department.) One of my favorites was a 12-issue limited series of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, which was basically a Laurie Colwin novel about a mutant and an android – they were newlyweds, and the series culminated in the birth of their twin sons. This series also included one of the most hilarious panels in comics history, in which everyone is taken aback to find that the Scarlet Witch’s father, the sometimes-evil Magneto, has dropped by for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a big splash page of all these guests in tights standing around eating canapes, while Magneto announces, “Men call me … MAGNETO!” He is holding a sweet potato casserole.

(Okay, I made that last part up.)

Anyway, I’ve always wondered who bought this series (besides my dad), since it’s a little too mushy and domestic to hold much appeal for your average teenage boy. But it may well have been aimed at the elusive female reader – every once in awhile the major houses make a half-assed attempt to expand their markets by targeting the ladies. The latest such is a Marvel title called Marvel Divas, which is being pitched as a Sex in the City-style narrative about four female friends with super powers: the Black Cat, Hellcat, Firestar, and Photon.

The only one of these ladies I’ve ever heard of is Firestar, who had her own mini-series in the mid-80’s. I enjoyed this series as a kid*, enough to feel a mild personal interest in the character. So I was … interested, let’s say, to hear that she has breast cancer. Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Fans do not seem to be pleased by this development. I can see why – if they Women in Refrigerators Firestar it will be a damn shame. In real life, of course, most women with breast cancer do not end up in refrigerators, but in comic books things tend to go down differently. Female superheroes are prone to death (Supergirl), de-powerment (Storm), and dismemberment (Batgirl). There are lots of examples. What’s more, female superheroes are much less likely to die on the battlefield, and their deaths are often used as an excuse to make the male superheroes more emo (as when Spiderman killed MJ with his radioactive sperm.) (This is a very good article on the WiR phenomenon.)

People are also, predictably, concerned about the whole notion of comic books for women, written by men, drawn as cheesecake. I share these concerns, but this post is already long enough without my getting into all of that. (I will say, however, that I am consoled not a whit by the writer’s statement that he’s not interested in writing misogynist stories, because so few people seem to understand what misogyny even is.)

So I can see why fans are concerned about Firestar; there’s little reason to hope that Marvel will handle this with the kind of sensitivity I’d like to see, and every reason to expect a fiasco. Plus, though the art I’ve seen so far is kind of pretty, it’ll presumably end up computerized and over-shaded which, my new header notwithstanding, I hate. Yet I am curious enough that I might give Marvel Divas a shot anyway. After all, I like the idea of sitting in the infusion center at my oncologist’s office and reading about someone else who’s in my shoes, and who happens to have super powers.  I can’t control what Marvel does; I expect they’ll disappoint me yet again. But just the idea of a superhero getting breast cancer and dealing with it and moving on makes me feel a little inspired. And after all, I do love angst.

*Obviously, I am not old enough to have read these comics when they were coming out originally. My dad bought them and saved them, and I devoured them ten years later. So even though I was born in 1985, the mid-to-late ’80s are my period of comic book expertise. Such as it is.

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Jam

Here’s what Mum and I did this weekend:dscn1408Strawberry-rhubarb jam and spiced peach butter! The strawberry-rhubarb jam came from my Simply in Season cookbook; we used 2 cups strawberries, 4 cups rhubarb, and 2 1/4 cups sugar. The peach butter was seasoned with nutmeg, cloves, allspice, pepper, and ginger, plus a little lime juice to brighten the flavors. I really like preserving (I like doing for fun what Laura Ingalls Wilder did out of necessity) and I didn’t think I’d get to do anything this summer, but it’s so much easier with two people.

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New Masthead!

As you may notice, I’ve changed my masthead. I hope this one is as popular as the bow. I’m pretty pleased with it; I’m not much good with Photoshop or color in general, really, but I think it came out okay. If you can’t see the masthead, here’s the image I used:

3D kickingNote the port, in red, on my chest. Yeah, this is basically how I spend my time these days.

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Awesome.

I don’t know who this is with Kanye West, but I like her style.

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Weekend update

Sorry for the radio silence; I took it on myself to downgrade my laptop from Vista to XP, possibly a really stupid idea, and have been spending hours at a time trying to find the drivers I need for it to run properly. I finally managed to get internet, so I’m psyched about that, but I still haven’t suceeded in getting sound. Hopefully soon.

My mom is in town, and although we’re keeping it low-key, we’re having a very nice visit. We went to the Farmers’ Market, made strawberry-rhubarb jam, and today we’re making peach butter. Tonight we might go play miniature golf. Unfortunately, my mom decided to break the Volvo, so now she’s trapped here. I think it’s probably karmic debt for when I was first diagnosed and we kidnapped Josh and took him to Buffalo for ten days. (My dad should bring matches the next time he gets on a plane, because he’ll probably crash on an island somewhere like Brian in Hatchet.)

Now that I have XP, I’m going to take the advice of several commentors and get myself a time-wasty game, probably the Sims 2, which I invented: when I was little, maybe seven or eight, I designed what I thought would be the perfect video game – essentially doll house, i.e. the Sims. I drew tons of pictures, representing screen caps, and when I was a little older I checked out books from the library on how to write computer programs so I could make my dream come true. Unfortunately we still didn’t have the appropriate technology; Sims 2 in DOS is not very entertaining at all.

>Do you want to check the mail? (Y/N)

I figure there may never be another time in my life when I will be justified in wasting huge stretches of time (at least I hope not), when I’m too sick to work and too tired to move, my vision is too blurred to read and my hands are too shaky to draw. Now is the time to play Sims! I’m excited about it.

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According to this article in today’s Times, the grant system used to fund cancer research leads to a lot of relatively trivial studies getting funding while more ambitious projects languish, since they are less likely to succeed. Apparently the guy who discovered how to use herceptin to treat HER2 positive breast cancer patients (like me) couldn’t get funding and was eventually given money by Revlon of all people. This is staggering to me because herceptin is an amazing thing – HER2 positive patients used to have among the worst prognoses of breast cancer patients, and now they have among the best. After 3 treatments, herceptin has noticably shrunk my tumor – I can barely feel it now, and it used to feel like a golf ball.

I’m always a little skeptical of things like Walk-a-thons and the stupid baby-pink sugar cookies, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, and who knows what that I see everywhere I go. But maybe that’s actually a helpful way of getting funds to actually help find a cure. (But please, don’t ever buy me any of that stuff; I will hate that color for the rest of my life.)

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