Pacific Northwest Stories, which has expanded to becomePublic Radio Alliance, the same group that creates shows like The Black Tapesand Tanis, has recently come out with a new podcast called Rabbits. The podcast is only four episodes in and it is definitely addictive and interesting, but it also already has several issues that really bug me.
Rebels’s third season wrapped up just a couple weeks ago, and yet the trailer for Season 4 has already dropped. Sadly, as much as I love this show, this is going to be the last season, which is probably for the best. Season 4 should end right around the time Rogue One starts, and unless something drastic happens to Rebels’s main characters, their absence in the original trilogy will be a pretty big plot hole. After all, at no point in time did anyone go up to Luke and say, “hey, here’s a couple other Jedi you might like to meet.”
The major point of fantasy novels is, of course, showing a world that is different from ours, where magic is alive and where people have amazing powers. Despite the fact that I read them to escape my mundane life, I’m often annoyed when fantasy books include people experiencing real-life issues, such as trauma, and then gloss over said issues instead of addressing and dealing with them. Other big offenders are the lack of inclusion of LGBTQ+ people and examination of mental illness. Authors and readers seem to think that you cannot address such topics because you cannot use modern-day vocabulary in a fantasy setting. However, once in a while I find a fantasy series which doesn’t shy away from using its medium to examine issues we deal with in real life. As such, today I want to talk about the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore, and in particular its final book—Bitterblue.
Spoilers for the Graceling trilogy below. Also, content warnings for abuse, mental illness, PTSD, and rape.
I very recently started watching Star vs The Forces of Evil (no spoilers, please!) and was amused by an episode where Star needs to undo a spell she’s cast on Marco. She pulls out the wand’s manual, an ancient, crumbling tome filled with the wisdom of ages of wand users to consult, only to realize that all of their notes are so cryptic and poorly organized that it will take her ages to make any sense of them. This got me thinking about magical journals in general. A common staple of fantasy fiction is a magical guide to the world in question, typically in the form of some kind of handwritten diary or log. Sometimes a book is just a book; I can’t imagine, for example, that Newt’s finished version of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them will be anything but a basic bestiary. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, these books are often most compelling when they serve a greater purpose than simply as a how-to or a reference of some kind. By including these books in a layered way, we can add additional complexity to the stories we tell.
Happy Easter everyone! By the time you read this, I will probably be done with church and knee deep in vegan chocolate. I admit that I struggled a lot with today’s post, because there aren’t exactly many things about Easter in pop culture. I think that’s because Easter is either viewed as silly (bunnies delivering eggs) or “too religious” by our secular culture. But other than resurrection motifs, which we have already talked about, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which we have also already talked about, there really isn’t much about Easter in our pop culture. However, one movie does discuss Easter to some extent, and that is Rise of the Guardians. While no reference to Jesus is made in the movie, it still discusses the important religious elements of hope and belief.
One of the hottest comics when I got into the medium was Locke & Key, written by horror author Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. At the time (about four years ago now), it was far enough along in its run that it would have been silly verging on impossible to attempt to find single issues, so when I came into a gift card, I bought the first trade. From the slew of awards it had won or at least been nominated for, and the strong recommendations from both friends and comics personalities whose opinions I trusted, I started to read it expecting to have my socks knocked clean off… and never finished it. This week, it caught my eye from between my Sandmans and my DC Bombshells on the shelf, and I figured, welp, might as well try again.
Time and distance, apparently, do not make the heart grow fonder. Maybe I have bad taste in comics, but I have no idea how this won an Eisner or anything else. Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft did absolutely nothing for me.
The other week, I went to Steel City Con, the Pittsburgh Area’s valiant attempt at a comic con. Lots of vendors, bunch of B- and C-list TV celebs, usually two or three A-listers (last year I got autographs from Shannen Doherty AND Holly Marie Combs!!!), and of course: tons of passionate, weird, lovable pop culture junkies, God love ’em. As I went through through my loot, I realized I had had a gay ol’ time. My two biggest gems? Action figures of Willow and Tara, and All New X-Men #17: aka newly-out Iceman’s first, big (I’m talking full-page panel) gay kiss. This is exceptional, you guys: Iceman has been part of the X-Verse since its very beginnings in 1963, one of the original five X-Men. So how did we get to this place 54 years later? It’s the long line of the quirkiest comic team family expanding its inherent diversity. Let’s take a look.
From my personal collection. After searching all the comic vendors at Steel City Con, my efforts were rewarded. Makes my gay, mutant-loving heart so happy!