A Last-Minute Adventure at Chicago’s Comic Con

I had approximately 24 hours to assemble a Black Widow costume. Black leotard from Forever 21? Check. Black leggings and multiple black hip belts? Check and check. 90s-style high heeled boots from Goodwill? Check. Handmade Black Window insignia? Check.

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When you find out last minute that Chicago, a mere 2 hours away, is hosting its annual Wizard World Comic Con, you must pull out all the stops to get there. And get there I did. This was actually (can you believe it?) my first con, so I’d like to share a few words of advice:

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Go to Artists’ Alley. Chat with the artists and writers. Buy a creator-owned comic book and have them sign it for you. Exchange business cards.

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Don’t be shy. Ask everyone is a decent costume to take a photo with you. Drop everything and pose when someone asks you to take a photo with them.

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See the costume contest. Cheer like a maniac when Wolverine takes his shirt off.

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Next time, blackmail all your friends into coming with you. Dress as the Avengers.

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Ending Abuse Through Art

How has abuse (in all its various forms: domestic, sexual, financial, emotional) affected your life? Stop and think, and you will realize that everyone is somehow affected by abuse.

But there is hope! Together—through the power of art and entrepreneurship—we can work to empower those who have suffered from abuse. Abuse survivors are courageous, powerful, and amazing individuals who deserve to be recognized for their artistic creations. The Uncovered Artistry Project, a nonprofit online gallery that features the work of domestic and sexual abuse survivors, is hosting An Art Show to End Abuse.

Please consider donating (even as little as a dollar) to our Kickstarter campaign to help fund the event. This event can only happen with your help! Seriously, your donation will make a huge difference for this little nonprofit.

And please consider submitting your work to the event:

Art Work Submission Guidelines for The Uncovered Artistry Project: An Art Show to End Abuse

The Project is accepting all forms of art and fine crafts, including (but not limited to), painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry, and ceramics. All work must be a reflection on or a response to the following themes: Domestic and Sexual Abuse, Breaking the Cycle of Abuse, and The Empowerment of Art.

Work may be listed for sale at the event, but 50% of the sale price will be donated to the Uncovered Artistry Project. The submission deadline is April 15th.

All submissions must include: Name (anonymous is okay), title of work, artist statement (optional), sale price (optional). Contact me (angiespoto@mail.com) to arrange pick up/shipping.

Thank you loyal followers for you support!

Best,

Angie Spoto

Editor of Ms.Comix

Founder of The Uncovered Artistry Project

I Saw Gloria Steinem and It Made Me Feel…

A 77 year-old woman was standing before me, and my heart was practically beating out of my chest. She had the air of a much, much younger woman, impeccable style, and gesticulations so sharp and sincere, you’d have to be Wonder Woman not to feel her words. Yet, I’m sure Wonder Woman would be in just as much in awe as I was when I heard Gloria Steinem speak. 

Yes, I saw Gloria Steinem speak, and it made me feel empowered, frustrated, empathetic, concerned, surprised, thrilled, and joyous all at the same time.

Empowered because I was sitting amongst a large group of women and men who each believed that some things—many things—in society weren’t right yet. And we were here together to find a way to make change.

Frustrated because although today’s society is more accepting of women who act like men, it is still against men who act like women. Frustrated because society says it’s okay for a little girl to like Batman, but a little boy can’t like Tinker Bell.

Empathetic because all the movements—women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights, environmental, and others—are all connected. We have more in common that we ever thought. If we help each other, we can all take steps toward achieving a more equal, clean, and friendly world.

Concerned because sex trafficking still exists. Prostitution is glorified by the media in such movies as Pretty Woman. Rape is still a taboo topic, even though it needs to be brought in the open and discussed honestly.

Surprised because we take the power of words for granted every day. Would you really call a young man a “boy” like you call the young women in the office “girls?” Why do we have to add adjectives when talking about women? Why say “chick lit” and “chick flicks,” when you don’t say “men’s books” and “prick flicks?” Why say female doctor and women writer, when you don’t say male doctor and men writer?

Thrilled because there is hope that one day we will no longer categorize ourselves. Someday, we’ll all just be human.

And joyous because I have the chance to make change. Like Ms. Steinem said, “change is like building a house. You start from the bottom up, not from the top down.”

What Books Did You Read in 2011?

As the New Year begins, lists are a common sight. I’m not one to follow a list of books deemed to be “the best of fill-in-the-blank” nor do I even read the New York Times Bestseller list. But this year, I took the time to write down all the books I read in 2011. I’m a guilty reader (or rather, non-reader). I buy books I never read. I ask friends what books they’d recommend but never get around to anything suggested. I build stacks of unread books on my desk as if to compound my guilt. It’s a guilt I’ve come to learn that others feel, too. A fellow English major once told me that he felt guilty that he wasn’t more well read (this coming from someone whose favorite book was written by Thomas Hardy).

This guilty feeling led me to create my list (and I should note, I’ve included some books I’ve simply started…and honestly never intend to finish).  My list includes all the books I can remember reading this year and what I learned from each one of them. I recommend creating your own list. You’ll probably be surprised at how many books you’ve read and new things you’ve learned this year. Perhaps it will assuage some of your reader’s guilt, as it did mine.

1. Eat ,Pray, Love. I bought this book at a train station in Austria and was willing to pay far too many Euros for it. I was starved to read something

—anything—in English after (naïvely) packing zero books for my four month stay in Salzburg. Here’s the lessons learned from this book. A). Always travel with a novel in your native tongue. B). Save Eat, Pray, Love for when you’re desperate. Then, it’s actually quite a good read.

2. The &Now Awards. The book that inspired me to publish my innovative writing. I learned that there was, in fact, a market for the bizarre.

3. Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels. Pretty self-explanatory.

4. Wolverine Origin. Wolverine is awesome, quite simply. And he may be one of Marvel’s greatest heroes precisely because he so often fails to act like one.

5.  Rogue: Going Rogue. Women can be superheroes, too. Rogue is my favorite female superhero.  Her power debatably trumps all, she is fiercely independent, and she can really rock a trench coat.

6. Captain America: The Chosen. This graphic novel pumped me up for the movie that came out this summer. It also proved to be handy as I began work on my first graphic novel script; this was the author’s first graphic novel, which is greatly inspiring, and he included sample script pages in the back.

7.  Wolves. A short comic written and drawn by Becky Cloonan. It taught me to set aside my

prejudice against self-published work. Wolves proves that “self-published” should not be equated with “crap publishers won’t pick up.” Wolves is simple, stunning, and top-notch work.

8. The Name of the Wind. Okay, I didn’t finish this one because, well, it’s really long and honestly I keep thinking about how I wish there were more female characters. I love the vivid fantasy world and the unique story telling of this novel, but it’s lacking somehow. My personal belief is that this novel submits to cliché too easily, mostly because the main protagonist is a man…and all the female characters are love interests.

9. Game of Thrones.  I’m an avid fantasy reader, so I thought this novel would be perfect for me. Not quite. I got through maybe three chapters. I learned that I really have lost interest in fantasy worlds that perpetuate society’s patriarchal tendencies. My though is, if you have the chance to create a whole new world, why be bound by social gender norms?

10. Shortcomings. My first foray into the world of independent comic books. Shortcomings is simple and, to some, perhaps boring. But I found it to truthfully represent the struggles of identity, relationships, and loneliness we all face. I learned that independent comic books are worth taking a closer look at.

11. Anita Blake: Guilty Pleasures. Anita Blake was no doubt my guilty pleasure of the year. My dad bought me a bunch of the Guilty Pleasures comics from Goodwill because he knew I was looking to read more comics about women written by women. I read these comics voraciously during finals and learned that there’s nothing better than a good comic book to perpetuate your procrastination.

12. Jane Eyre. I first read Jane Eyre in an English literature class my sophomore year of college. Honestly, I couldn’t finish. St. John was so boring that I skipped the chapters about him so I could get back to reading about the compelling Mr. Rochester. Well, I’m giving Jane Eyre another go, and I have to say that it’s, for whatever reason, much more riveting the second time around. Although Jane lives in a creepy gothic mansion with an even creepier crazy woman and a strange, self-pitying man twice her age, she certainly has a lot in common with today’s woman. She’s independent, strives for justice and equality, and believes that sacrificing one’s identity and morals for a man is a self-damning decision.

My “There Should Be More Female Protagonists in Children’s Movies” Rant

I went to see the Muppets Movie yesterday (I’d recommend it, by the way), and as I watched previews before the show I couldn’t help giving my sister my usual “if only there were more female protagonists rants.” Take a moment and think about all the children’s movies that feature a little boy going on a great adventure. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hugo, and TinTin come to my mind. Now think of a movie that features a little girl going on an equally grand adventure. I can name…none. (And, my God, Twilight doesn’t count!). 

This is a problem.

When little girls watch movies almost exclusively about little boys going on adventures, they being to believe that little girls just simply aren’t that exciting. They begin to believe that little girls cannot go on grand adventures.

WAIT, WHAT?!

Little girls can go on great adventures, too! And women are just as interesting as men! So let’s support (financially and through word-of-mouth) movies with strong female leads. The next movie I want to see: Brave.

What movie with a strong female lead would you recommend?