Monday, February 26, 2018

On Basic Income and the game of Monopoly

I said on Facebook,
Crusaders against things that people do when they're desperate--theft, sex work, abortion--should support #BasicIncome.
Alex Ugur commented,
Even the archetypical model of capitalism, the game of Monopoly, has basic income (when you pass Go) as the main driver. It's like the fuel in the car that makes the engine go! Unfortunately, even that isn't enough: invariably the game collapses, because the wealth has migrated to one person, leaving everyone else destitute. I think we can safely say that the same goes for the entire capitalist order, as now it's down to only 8 people holding the same wealth as the poorer half of the entire global population (last year, it was around 60 people holding that kind of wealth, so the game is indeed speeding up and nearing its conclusion, whatever ills that might bestow on us).

Basic income is great and I support it wholeheartedly, but it won't solve capitalism's problems -or socialism's for that matter-, as it doesn't do away with the injustices of debt or ownership, two social tools that make possible the ownership and control of both people and our natural habitat.
The last point is why capitalists should support Basic Income—it does nothing to threaten their position at the top of the pyramid. It only makes the game at the bottom a bit more fair.

That's also why socialists should support it. Eleanor Marx, speaking about bourgeois feminism, said, "...has not the Communist Manifesto taught us that it is our duty to support any progressive movement that benefits the workers’ cause, even if this movement is not our own?"

Earlier: How to play Monopoly, American-style

Possibly of interest: Monopoly’s Inventor: The Progressive Who Didn’t Pass ‘Go’ - The New York Times

And here's a short video of Penn Jillette giving the Libertarian argument for Basic Income:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Nighthawks at the Diner - the nerdiest comics thing I've ever made

Anyone who recognizes all three should be treated with awe or fear, because the third is extremely obscure. I'll identify them from right to left:

1. In the cowboy hat: Nighthawk (DC Comics)

2. In the yellow mask: Nighthawk (Marvel Comics)

3. In the green trunks: Night Hawk (Chesler) | Public Domain Super Heroes

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Red Son Superman versus Sovietman! plus their suits for Poser and DAZ

I read Superman: Red Son too long ago to remember why it disappointed me. I suspect I wanted to either read a fun story in an alternate world or a profound commentary on capitalism, communism, libertarianism, and authoritarianism, and I didn't get either.

When I decided to recreate the character's costume, I realized something else. While I admire the Red Son Superman's design, I know it reflects US propaganda in the most heavy-handed way. The color scheme is more appropriate for Hitler's Germany than Stalin's Russia. If the Soviets had designed a superhero costume that suggested authority, they would've chosen their military colors, green and red. But what's most likely is they would've used the colors of their flag.

So I've made two costumes for the free Uzilite Super Hero for Poser and DAZ's Michael 4. The first is for the Red Son Superman, which, I am sure, is thoroughly trademarked by DC. The second is for a character I call Sovietman, who I am placing in the public domain for anyone to use. The logo is my creation, but DC's lawyers could claim the design is too close to Superman's because of its shield shape, so use it at your own risk.

At ShareCG: Red Son Superman & Sovietman for Uzilite M4 Suit

At Renderosity: Red Son Superman and Sovietman for Uzilite M4 Suit

Waku, Prince of the Bantu, Marvel's first major black hero

I've noted often that in the 1960s, Marvel was better with race and DC was better with gender. Marvel was better with race in the 1950s too. Their first black character to win cover status and an on-going series was Waku, who appeared in Jungle Tales:
One regular feature in Jungle Tales, "Waku, Prince of the Bantu", starred an African chieftain in Africa, with no regularly featured Caucasian characters. Marvel Comics' first Black feature star,[3] he was created by writer Don Rico and artist Ogden Whitney, succeeded by artist John Romita Sr. Waku, who predated mainstream comics' first black superhero, Marvel's Black Panther, by nearly a dozen years, headlined one of four regular features in each issue. It would take a decade for the first African-American series star, the Western character Lobo, to appear, and nearly two decades before the likes of the Black Panther, Luke Cage, and the Falcon would star in solo series.
Image via Eric Wilkinson-Gilyard 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

On the public domain Superman, plus a free Fleischer Superman for Poser and DAZ

Max Fleischer made Superman fly—literally. Before his Superman cartoons, Superman was limited to running faster than a speeding locomotive and leaping tall buildings with a single bound. But animating a jumping character requires a lot of drawings, so Fleischer chose to make him fly, and the comic books imitated him.

After the cartoon rights reverted, DC Comics failed to renew the copyright. The Fleischer cartoons are now in the public domain, which is why many companies sell them on VHS and DVD.

But Superman’s trademarks are still owned by DC Comics. If you try to use the Fleischer Superman commercially, DC’s lawyers will use trademark law to come after you.

And the only person who can defeat a superhero is a lawyer.

The Superman suit for Poser and DAZ's Michael 4: Uzilite Super Hero.

My Fleischer variation at ShareCG: Superman - Fleischer - for free Uzilite M4 Suit. And at Renderosity: Superman - Fleischer - for free Uzilite M4 Suit.

Credit for the Max Fleischer Superman logo that I used: MachSabre on DeviantArt.



Superman, Superdad, and the Limits of a Trademark Parody Defense |

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Are Mickey Mouse's spats and gloves racist? The argument against.

I love Ty Templeton's comics, but I think he and the people he's siding with are wrong about Mickey Mouse's spats and gloves coming from the minstrel tradition.

Here's the comic: The Gloves are Off Bun Toons!

And here's the condensed version of my argument in the comments:

1. Mickey Mouse was created in 1928. One year earlier, Cole Porter wrote Puttin' On the Ritz, which opens:
Have you seen the well-to-do, up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare, with their noses in the air
High hats and Arrow collars, white spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime, for a wonderful time
Spats were popular for a decade after Mickey was created.

2. When Mickey first appeared, he did not wear shoes or gloves. Walt Disney claims,
We didn’t want him to have mouse hands, because he was supposed to be more human. So we gave him gloves. Five Fingers looked like too much on such a little figure, so we took one away. That was just one less finger to animate.
Now, it's possible Disney was revising his past when he said that. The man was antisemitic, he refused to hire women for years, and the kindest thing you can say about Song of the South is that it has some great songs and a remarkably clueless approach to the portrayal of black folks.

But if you look at the earliest appearances of Mickey in black and white films, you should notice that his hands are less distinct than in the later ones with the white gloves. Once the gloves were established, the studio kept them.

You can see how Mickey evolved at Mickey Mouse Through the Years.

3. I haven't found Mickey's first appearance in spats. He only seems to wear them when he has an occasion to dress up. But I can say this: if Mickey was created to make fun of black people, the problem is greater than gloves and spats.


4. In early cartoons, black characters spoke in an extreme southern black dialect. Mickey Mouse did not.

5. Mickey, from his first appearance, was remarkably scrappy and clever. If he was intended to be black, he should be seen as more admirable, not less.


From Walt Disney, Ub Iwerks. Steamboat Willie. 1928 | MoMA:
So strong was the audience demand for Steamboat Willie that two weeks after its premiere Disney re-released it at the largest theater in the world, the Roxy in New York City. Critics came to see in Mickey Mouse a blend of Charlie Chaplin in his championing of the underdog, Douglas Fairbanks in his rascally adventurous spirit, and Fred Astaire in his grace and freedom from gravity's laws.

Steamboat Willie

Fred Astaire - Puttin' On The Ritz from Evgeny Demchenko on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Four and a half Golden Age female superheroes in modest costumes

The most famous female superhero of the Golden Age of comics, Wonder Woman, shows a bit of skin. Perhaps the next most famous, the Phantom Lady, shows even more. But just as costumes for men ranged from Namor's speedos to Batman's almost full-concealment, so did those for women.

The Woman In Red could be the superhero for any very conservative religion:

Nelvana was fully covered and had a skirt for a little extra modesty:

Miss America took the same approach:

Liberty Belle rocked jodhpurs:

And the Black Orchid started off modestly:

Though she tended to lose clothes as she fought:

Related: Power Girl vs. the Slut-shamers of Skiffydom: on cosplay and feminist pulchriphobia:

Friday, February 2, 2018

More Asian and Native American public domain heroes: the Green Turtle, Fu Chang, Dr. Fung, Mantoka—plus villains!

Two villains who could be revived as villains or heroes

The Great Question

Great Question: "The Great Question was a member of the Council of Seven at the lamasery in Tibet where Amazing Man was raised and trained. He was the lama in charge of interrogations. With his incredible telepathic powers he could project his thoughts across the world and hypnotize all but the strongest mind. Great Question was able to use his resources and abilities to create a world-spanning criminal organization."

Nang Tu

Nang Tu: "Nang Tu was a sorceress and high priestess who guarded "The All Seeing Eye," a fist sized diamond on the forehead of the giant Khotan Buddah statue, located in the hidden "Temple of the Man-Eating Spider," somewhere in the Himalayas, a few days climb from Kathmandu. Nang Tu appeared to be killed in personal combat with Merlin when he came looking for the All Seeing Eye. The extent of Nang-Tu's power is unclear, but she was immune to Merlin's magical spells, and Merlin was forced to call upon the strength of 10 men in order to subdue her in combat. She had razor sharp claws and fangs, and carried a double pointed metal spear. She commanded a team of female archer warriors. She may have also controlled the giant spider Angor."


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Butterfly is the first black female superhero—but don't ignore Torchy Brown, Mummy Begum, Merciless, or Bubbles the Dew Dilly

Bubbles the Dew Dilly

All-Negro Comics mostly has male characters, but Eric Wilkinson-Gilyard pointed out the potential for a female:
She was a "Dew Dillie", a type of mythical, elusive being.
Specifically, she's a water-dwelling, mermaid-like spite, and is related to all water-dwelling creatures. She doesn't have a costume, but can breathe underwater as well as exist (seemingly for extended periods) on land.

Mummy Begum

Mummy Begum comes close to qualifying as a superhero: she has a stage name and the ability to see into the future.
Torchy Brown

Torchy Brown appeared in newspapers with black audiences in 1937. She wasn't an action hero—she was a black woman who went to Harlem to perform at the Cotton Club—but she should be known to anyone interested in black women and comics.

And you have to love her name.



Voodah: the first black jungle hero and another candidate for first black superhero