Welcome back to the blog, all! I hope you had a fun two weeks while we were on our summer vacation; I spent the days doing Pokémon raids and surfing random webcomics online, trying to find a replacement for my dearly departed Always Human. There’s a lot of stuff out there, much of it diverse and much of it superbly creative. The one I found myself most interested in is called The Substitutes, a reality-bending fantasy by games artist Myisha Haynes.
We’ve recommended a lot of online web series in this column through the years, but not all of them have been fully accessible to people with disabilities. For example, audio description of what’s happening on the screen is important for blind or low vision people, while captions are important for the d/Deaf or hard of hearing. Yet neither of those things are often found on independent web series (ie, series which aren’t made by big companies like Netflix or Hulu). While a lot of the things we’ve recced here do have captions, a lot more of them don’t have any. Many online creators either don’t think they’re necessary, don’t know how to add them, or just don’t think about them at all, leaving their fans to subtitle things for them or even put together their own collection of transcripts for other fans. Today’s web crush focuses specifically on captions for web series. Captioned Web TV spotlights web series and YouTubers who feature closed captions on all their videos.
Through whatever machinations of fate and luck, sometimes I manage to hop onto a big thing before it becomes big. While sometimes that thing is a little more niche (like a mysterious little dating sim for mobile devices), making it that much more surprising when it does become huge, this time it felt inevitable that this YouTube channel would rise up in the ratings and take the internet cooking world by storm. If you’ve checked out the front page of YouTube at any point in the last year and glanced at the trending videos, then I’m sure you’ve seen a link to the show Binging With Babish. If you’ve avoided them because trending videos are typically trash and not indicative of what’s actually good on YouTube, then I’m here to tell you that you need to watch at least one episode immediately. I’ll even let you pick.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Tee Franklin when we both attended a Gail Simone comics signing. I had no idea who she was at the time, but when Gail greeted her with an excited exclamation, I figured they might know each other through the comics business. (As it turns out, they did both work on the Love is Love anthology, which raised money to support victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.) After learning who she was, I also found out that Tee was definitely doing some important work for comics: she is the author of the delightful-sounding graphic novella Bingo Love.
I took home a postcard advertising the story and looked it up right away when I got home — and immediately decided this was something I needed to get my hands on. To let Tee describe it:
Bingo Love is an 80 page graphic novella that revolves around Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, two thirteen year old Black girls who, in no time, become the best of friends. As their relationship grows, they discover their deep love for one another, but the timing couldn’t be worse. Two girls in love are bound to be star-crossed in 1963, and their families forbid them from seeing each other again.
Not only do the young women have to endure the pain of separation, but they’re also both married off to men they don’t love. They seem destined to live apart, permanently cut off from one another, but fate — and bingo — have another plan for them. Nearly fifty years later, Hazel and Mari once again see each other across a bingo hall, and all their feelings come flooding back.(x)
So you can see why I might be hooked.
A pervasive problem within the dating sim genre is representation. If you’re looking for a dating sim that stars attractive, thin, white or East Asian people, you’re pretty much set, but if you’re looking for anything else, you may have to look a bit harder. Recently, with games like Hustle Cat and Women of Xal, it seems like the indie dating sim scene is stepping up its game with adding more and more representation to the genre. Today’s web crush is a project that finally gives the limelight to one group of people who have been denied romantic representation in these games for too long: fat girls.
After catching up with They Call Us Bruce last month, I found out that They Call Us Bruce is actually part of the Potluck Podcast Collective, a network of Asian-American-hosted podcasts that discuss both serious and more comedic Asian-American issues. Starved as I was for Asian-American content, I decided to check out the other podcasts and eventually settled on #GoodMuslimBadMuslim, a podcast about American Muslim issues hosted by Bengali-American Tanzila Ahmed and Iranian-American Zahra Noorbakhsh. I found it to be a funny and informative look into both current events and American Muslim concerns about said events.
I’ve been on quite the podcast binge lately; between Revolutions, The Adventure Zone, The Black Tapes, and my ongoing attempt to listen to every episode of Stuff You Should Know. That said, I’m not quite sure how I stumbled onto this week’s web crush—maybe a mention on my Tumblr dash?—but I’m glad I did. The Bright Sessions is a fascinating podcast about a woman—Dr. Bright—who specializes in therapy for atypicals, people with various powers. The show is a great blend of X-Men-like powers, teen drama, conspiracies, secrets, and complex moral issues, alongside a positive portrayal of mental healthcare and therapeutic coping mechanisms.
Minor spoilers for the show below the jump!