fandom

REVIEW: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Best friends Charlie, Taylor and Jamie are heading to SupaCon! Charlie is a blogger and actress promoting her first film at SupaCon and it’s her chance to show the fans she’s completely over her breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When she meets super famous online personality Alyssa, Charlie begins to think her long-time crush isn’t as one sided as she thought. Taylor’s more reserved than Charlie. Her brain is wired differently making social situations often terrifying and a fear of change makes her constantly re-evaluate what she wants from her best guy friend Jamie. But when she enters a fan contest to meet her favourite author, Taylor begins to rethink her lifelong goal of always playing it safe.

Queens of Geek is a super quick read, I flew through it. It’s all set during one weekend at a fan convention called SupaCon so there are a lot of geeky references to comics, cosplay and fandom in general. It’s kind of a love letter to fandom, and how people can find safety and comfort in fandom and the TV shows/films/books that people can bond over. It’s a nice looking into the world of comic cons and how they can be very overwhelming but also be a place to meet likeminded people and make new friends.

The story is told in alternate perspectives, Taylor and Charlie’s. Taylor has anxiety and Asperger’s and it’s insightful hearing her explain how she feels in certain situations and about life in general. She’s almost constantly struggling but still loves her friends and her fandom. Taylor is bisexual and has had a past relationship with a boy and during her time at SupaCon gets to know Alyssa. Their romance is really sweet and they both talk about how their past relationships have affected them and what they’re looking for going forward.

The amount of communication between Taylor, Jamie, Charlie, and Alyssa (and all combinations of thereof) was extraordinary. Any misunderstandings are more likely to last a couple of paragraphs than a couple of chapters. It’s both great to see a solid group of friends or a potential love interest be so open about their thoughts, feelings and fears with one another, but also a bit disconcerting as it’s something that is (unfortunately) so unusual in fiction, and often in real life as well. So often one character gave an encouraging speech to another character that it felt unrealistic.

Queens of Geek is definitely a character driven book. There’s not really any plot twists or big moments, instead it highlights various important diverse topics like sexuality, mental health, body image and unhealthy relationships. All these topics are handled well but the story sometimes felt like it had been put on the backburner in order for a character to say their piece about a certain topic.

Queens of Geek is a cute, quick read with some great characters who really support one another. Jamie, Charlie and Taylor have a solid friendship and each of their personalities shines through. However, it’s not a memorable read for me as it felt like it was trying so often to tick as many important, diversity boxes as possible that it didn’t end up grounded in reality. 3/5.

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REVIEW: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

In her everyday life Eliza Mirk is shy, awkward and hates school, but in the online world she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of mega popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine ever enjoying the real world as much as the online one so she never really bothers to try. That is until Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction author, transfers to Eliza’s school and, believing Eliza is just another fan, he begins to draw her out of her shell. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally revealed everything in her life is thrown into turmoil, her relationship with Wallace, her art and even her sanity.

I loved this book. I’ve been wary of books about fandom because I’ve always kind of felt that the first rule of fandom, is that you don’t talk about fandom. But I’m so happy that Eliza and Her Monsters showed me that there can be great books about fandom that respects and understands it.

Eliza and Her Monsters is a mix-media novel, it includes panels from Monstrous Sea as well as emails, letters and instant messages. This, plus the fact the book is great, helps make Eliza and Her Monsters a really quick read. I loved how the extracts from Monstrous Sea often mirrored the situations Eliza found herself in, giving you an extra insight as to where her mind is at. The Monstrous Sea story was just as interesting as Eliza’s story and the book did a great job of explaining the plot of the webcomic enough that when characters discussed who their favourite characters were, you had a good idea who they were talking about.

Eliza’s two best friends are Max and Emmie and they’ve never met face to face. I love how Eliza and Her Monsters shows how people behind a computer screen can be, and often are, just as important a connection as those you see in the flesh. The three of them are all great friends who not only share the fandom stuff but their real-life events too. I also liked how Eliza realises and apologises when she does sometimes takes Max and Emmie for granted, she’s a flawed, ordinary person who mistakes and I loved reading about her.

I was on edge as the story progressed as I could tell that Eliza’s internet identity would come out and everything she had with Wallace would be put in jeopardy. I hate confrontation, both in real life and in fiction, and had grown so attached to Eliza that I didn’t want to see her hurt.

I loved Eliza and Her Monsters. I loved how various characters grew on me as the story progressed, how I could relate to Eliza but still get frustrated with her sometimes, the complexities of online and offline personas – it was all so great. Eliza and Her Monsters made me cry because it hit me right in the feels and that hasn’t happened with a book for a long time. 5/5.

Thoughts on… FanFiction

Fanfiction (or fanfic) is defined on Wikipedia as “is fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator.” It’s all over the internet, and just about every show, film and book out there will have some people who loved it or hated it enough to write fanfic about it.

Fans write fanfic for a number of reasons. To “fix” storylines that went a way they didn’t like, to give characters more in-depth backstories, to get those character who they love together romantically or just to have some fun in a fictional world they love.

I’ve read fanfiction, in fact I go through stages of reading nothing but it in various fandoms to not reading any of it for months. I’ve read it based on soap operas, films and even some TV shows that I only know the basics about. I’ve even written fanfiction in the past – no I’m not going to link to it! While I don’t think I’m ashamed of it, sometimes I feel like fanfiction is a bit like fight club and you’re not supposed to talk about it in the wider world. (more…)

The Hashtag Campaign for a Black Widow Movie

On Tuesday Marvel announced its future film slate up till 2019. Of the nine films there’s two that really excited me (and a large portion of the internet) Black Panther and Captain Marvel. I’ve been wanting a Black Panther movie since I first met the character in the Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes animated series – one of the best animated series ever and I miss it terribly. I’ve been all for a female led superhero movie for ages and Captain Carol Danvers is a pretty great character for connecting the real world of The Avengers and the space-elements of Guardians of the Galaxy.

I still can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that Marvel have no plans to make a Black Widow movie though. Yes there’s talk that she’s going to have a major role in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and in other future team-up movies, but she deserves to be so much more than the sidekick.

I loved Black Widow’s role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I would love her to have her own movie so we could properly see her develop away from other characters like Cap and so we could find out about her backstory.

On Tumblr TheBeckyFord called for a Black Widow offensive before Marvel’s announcements were made. The plan is simple:

“On an agreed day (maybe a week from today, Sunday 2nd November to allow for awareness) everyone in support of a black widow movie tweets marvelentertainment using the hashtag #BlackWidowMovie demonstrating the wide fan base in favour of it. It’s a small gesture to be sure, but who knows. Encouragement doesn’t hurt. And mentioning that DC have female and people of colour led movies in the works can’t hurt either.”

The plan is still going ahead even though Marvel has now announced a female led movie and a person of colour led one. Just because Marvel is making one female-led movie it doesn’t mean ‘one’ suddenly means ‘equality’ what with all the other male (and more than likely white male) led films Marvel has announced are in production.

Just because Captain Marvel is having her own movie – why can’t Black Widow have her own film? It shouldn’t be a case of either/or. We should be able to get both movies.

both is good

So on Sunday I will be tweeting Marvel asking about a Black Widow movie and I hope you will be too – and don’t forget the hashtag #BlackWidowMovie

Here’s all the social media accounts you could possibly need:
@Marvel
@MarvelUK – there are also many other country specific Twitter accounts for Marvel but the Marvel Entertainment one is the most important
Marvel’s Facebook page
Marvel’s Tumblr page

Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange? Not for me thanks

I shall start this by saying I’m a Marvel fan. From the animated X-Men cartoon in the 1990‘s to the films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I’m now branching out into the comic books. Also my two dissertations have been on comic book movies and one was specifically all about Marvel and how it became an independent film studio to a subsidiary of Disney. So besides from being a fan, I also have at least a vague knowledge of how Hollywood studios work and how Marvel has worked for the past decade.

So now onto why I’m writing this post – Doctor Strange and why I’m not particularly happy.

Yesterday it was reported that Benedict Cumberbatch was in talks to play Doctor Stephen Strange. His was a name rumoured for the role for weeks and other names floating around were Joaquin Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto – though to be honest, just about every white, middle-aged actor in Hollywood has been rumoured to be up for the role at some point or another.

Now talks of a Doctor Strange movie has been going around for a while but it especially kicked off when the name was dropped during Captain America: The Winter Solider. Fans were choosing who’d be their pick and mine was (and is) Oded Fehr from The Mummy. Fehr along with Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) turned out to be a popular choice among fans. A popular post on Tumblr of Doctor Strange fancasts include Fehr, Pascal, Alexander Siddig, Naveen Andrews and Godfrey Gao. One thing all these actors have in common is that they are not white.

Doctor Strange vs Oded Fehr - the similarities are astounding. Courtesy of @BlackGirlNerds

Doctor Strange & Oded Fehr – the similarities are astounding. Courtesy of @BlackGirlNerds

One problem that the MCU (and Hollywood blockbusters in general) has is that all its leads in its franchises are white men. Yes, The Avengers was an ensemble cast but of the six major leads, only Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow was the only female character and she has yet to get her own movie. The lack of a female led film in the MCU is a discussion for another time.

Doctor Strange (like the Guardians of the Galaxy before the film came out) is more of an unknown character, this would then allow the filmmakers to do something different with it. So why not cast a person of colour as the lead? Also, why does the actor have to be someone who is so well known – both in the world of fandom and in the industry? Benedict Cumberbatch is part of some major franchises with Sherlock, The Hobbit and Star Trek under his belt, if Thor taught us anything, casting two relatively unknown actors as the leads can work out really well. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have both gone on to be well loved by fans and critics alike. Casting unknowns can be a cheaper way to make a movie and not detract from the character with their “star power”.

In short my dislike of Benedict Cumberbatch being Doctor Strange (a character I know pretty much nothing about bar the animated movie) comes down to two things. Over exposure to him as an actor and him being white. There are too many white male leads in the MCU and I’d love to see more diversity in the superhero comic book movie genre.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw also wrote a great piece about why there’s such a backlash towards Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting.

As I was finishing writing this, Marvel has announced that there will be a Captain Marvel film in 2018 and a Black Panther film in 2017 and I’m excited about both (Black Panther especially) but I’m still a bit upset that there’s no Black Widow movie though there’s still no definite announcement about Doctor Strange. Who knows, maybe Benedict Cumberbatch won’t sign on to it and there will be fresh hope for a person of colour to play Doctor Strange once again?

L is for: Livejournal

I signed up to Livejournal in July 2007 – I was 15. Livejournal was where all the fandom stuff was happening back then, it was where you could find great discussions, theories and the more creative side of fandom including fanvid’s and fanficiton. To start with I didn’t really use my LJ for much besides commenting on other people’s posts and generally lurking about the Doctor Who/Torchwood fandom. It wasn’t until May 2008 that I started using my own Livejournal more than just for meme’s and ramblings about the latest episode of Doctor Who.

From mid-2008 my Livejournal became my online diary and through that diary, and the subsequent other people’s LJ’s that I met through fandom, I made friends online. There is a bit of a stigma or fear (especially from parents and in some way’s it’s justified) about meeting people online and having online friends. But the people I’ve met through LJ are wonderful.

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