Valor: Fairy tale comic anthology about courageous heroines



Valor is a comic anthology with fairy tales plenty of female heroines. Tales have been re-imagined or scripted from zero. The aim is to re-imagine or create brand new stories that are centered in strong leading female characters.

I found this project thrilling, and I decided to back it up (you have time till August 31, 2014). What got me in was not only the artwork, but the potential and the trend that it shows up. It focuses on female leading figures, it re-imagines fairy tales and creates new ones for nowadays audience.

These are not superhero comics, but fairy tale comics based on fairy tales. We are used to listen to traditional fairy tales with different types of female characters. In many instances, female characters are the ones who need the help of male characters. Here, however, females take the lead.

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Project 562 and the Tribes in the US



Matika Wilbur launched her Project 562 to photograph every federally recognized Tribe in the US (566). I found this project in Kickstarter by chance and I decided to back it up because iti s a great way to record a reality of every Tribal Nation in the US through photography. A really nice project that can be a window for anthropologist studies as well.

This is an ongoing project that, I personally find, amazing. You can get news about its project here. If you happen to be in the US you can have the opportunity to attend one of the exhibitions, or be able to, perhaps, meet with the phographer.

Matika sold everything she had and hit the road, and she’s been on the road taking pictures ever since. Her efforts might open the heart toward recognizing US indigenous communities, and open their customs to the rest of the world as well.

The book Matika is making does not only contain photographs but also untold histories from Apaches, Swhinomish, Northern Cheyenne, Lumbee, and other Tribes.

If you want to know more about this project, please visit Matika’s blog.

Superhero partners: Mary Marvel

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Mary Marvel is a female superhero from the 40s, the sister of Captain Marvel, a comic book originally published by Fawcett Comics (now owned by DC). Marc Swayze, the artist, based Mary Marvel’s appearance and personality on Judy Garland, the quintessence of “virtuous” girls during the time (remember that she was Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, 1939). Mary first appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #18. She discovers that she is a long lost twin sister of Billy, Captain Marvel. When Mary uses the magic word “Shazam” she transforms herself into a preteen girl, capturing the essence of Judy Garland, and the stereotype of “a good virtuous girl” in the 40s (again, remember Dorothy). When Billy uses the magic word, he transforms into a grownup man.

Mary Marvel is not a woman: she is a girl. She is not “Lady” (like Lady Luck) nor “Woman” (like Wonder Woman), she even has no rank during the war. She is not voluptuous nor sexy. The target here was to attract girls into read comics, not to appeal males, nor to appeal young ladies. She is only treated as “Mary,” plain and simple. Despite not being treated as a “woman” nor having any ranks and being just a girl without any female sexy attributes, she had her own comic book through Wow Comics during the 40s. Her origins and behavior have changed under the hands of DC, but her origins in Fawcett Comics give us a glimpse of how women were seen and considered within society during the 40s.

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Social Media through comics and anthropology

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How can comics and anthropology help your social media? By reading comics and observing them you can notice certain aspects that can help your social media strategies. The other day I wrote about “Iwojima x Marvel’s Infinity: popular culture subconscious triggers.” In this post I explained how a comic cover could move and trigger certain feelings on the audience in the United States, resulting in sales, while leaving totally cold the Spanish audience, resulting in lots of comics getting dusty on the shelves.

The art of observation and learning through participant observation is what many anthropologists do when researching a culture not their own. You can do participant observation off-line and online and use anthropological techniques to get closer to your audience and avoid getting many issues of “your comics dusty on the shelves.”

Do you know the focal vocabulary of your audience in your social media?

Do you communicate correctly with them?

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Guardians of the Galaxy and Social Media

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So, how big is going to be “Guardians of the Galaxy” earnings pie? Like “Thor the Dark World”? Estimates talked about a pie that might be around $80 million, but the movie is going to blast any previsions since it has produced more than $100 million over the weekend alone. How does social media and the community of Marvelites helped produce another block buster?

Marvel’s social media strategy has been entertaining and thrilling, specially in Facebook, and specially for Marvelites who have helped spread the word. Despite releasing a title plenty of new characters unknown for those who are not used to read the comics, their success might have more to do in some details that might have been overlooked, like triggering childhood memories.

Even though “Guardians of the Galaxy” has been around for quite a long time, those who haven’t read the comics, will be exposed to a new set of new characters. Perhaps, this is why main roles in this new movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) come from the voices and bodies of well-known actors and actress. The cast, the music, the humor and the action in the trailers are engaging enough to persuade the audience to go to the cinema. Not only that, the release of the movie has been just one week after San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), ensuring the film to be fresh for the fans, and also ensuring a big pie in the short term, which is what’s been proven.

So, what has been Marvel doing in its social media and within the film, to ensure a huge pie and a long-term franchise? What are those childhood memories?

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Breaking taboo in Japan



First of all: what is a taboo? A taboo refers to a social norm from a certain community, culture or sub-culture, that is strongly ingrained within the members of the community, culture or sub-culture. It is so strong, that just the mere thought of breaking the taboo revolts the person who is having such thoughts.

Not all cultures have the same taboos, they can be different from culture to culture. What for some culture might be totally acceptable, for another culture it might be an obscenity. Taboos also change through time, so what was a taboo in Ancient Greece, it is not now, to give an example. Taboos do not need to be sexually equal. In fact, taboos are quite unfair and breaking them could have severe consequences: like prison, banishment or even death.

In Japan is a taboo to show feminine genitals in any form in the public sphere. However, it is not so with male genitals. In fact, there is a religious festival called Kanamara Matsuri, or “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” where people pray for fertility while there is a street phallic procession. This is a religious festivity in which attendants, while enjoying a good time, pray for fertility. While this is acceptable, what Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi (nickname Rokudenashiko) was arrested over her vagina art (デコマん、dekoman). She was breaking not only the law, but also “taboo.”

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Iwojima x Marvel’s Infinity: popular culture subconscious triggers

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Click on the image to make it bigger.

Images compel us far more than discourses. Even similar images can trigger our subconscious mind. In it we can find more than just our own tastes, we can also find shared hopes and fears, our shared identity, our shared high and popular cultures. Using shared images, about myths, or remarkable things that have happened in history, is not something new. Darius the Great communicated his power through images: sculptures. He started an artistic revolution in which he combined artistic elements throughout his Empire. Off the main road of Persepolis, he decided to picture himself as a bowman. The bow, for the persians, was a symbol of balance and control, key elements for a good king. Alexander the Great used the political portrait heavily using his image as a human strong leader who could defeat anyone. They presented themselves as heroes, as ultimate kings that would bring the final peace to the land uniting all their peoples.

Throughout history art has been used as means to communicate power but also communicate shared emotions. Ancient Greece created myths so strong, we still care about them today. Images have been used to trigger shared emotions and behaviors making the viewers empathize with the figures in the image, to the point of identifying with them. Shared culture helps trigger those emotions in the viewer. Those viewers who do not share the same culture, might just see an image, but will not emphasize with it. This is what happens with Marvel’s “Infinity” #6 cover and the picture of the Iwojima flag rising.

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Marvel wades in: the new Thor is a woman

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(C) Marvel, the new THOR

In 1999 comics writer Gail Simone posted a list called “Women in Refrigerators,” in which she numbered female lead and supporting characters who had suffered doomed fates in the mainstream superhero comics. She wanted to start a conversation about the trends surrounding the treatment of female characters in mainstream superhero comics, a medium strongly dominated by male characters and theoretically a medium only aiming to appeal a male audience.

She called her list “Women in Refrigerators” because of Green Lantern #54 (1994), an issue where the Green Lantern discovers his girlfriend, cut in small pieces, murdered inside his refrigerator. A tactic used by the villain, Major Force, which aims to force him into battle. Gail Simone was so shocked by this that she decided to investigate what happened with other strong women in mainstream superhero comics. Making her list, she discovered that most of them ended up dead, tortured, crippled or depowered. ( See Duncan & J.Smith, 255-258)

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Focal vocabulary related to Loki’s Army fan fiction

AU: (acronym) alternative universe

Archive: (noun) a website that publishes fan fiction stories from many different authors.

Beta/beta reader: (noun, compound noun) an editor of fan fiction; someone who reads the story before it is released to the main public.

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Bromance: (compound noun, brother + romance) a close relationship between two men, but nonsexual. It can also be a complicated love relationship between two straight men.

Canon: (noun) description of the events that happened in the movies as they happened.

Conventional relationship: (expression) a relationship with two characters that has taken place within the Canon.

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Focal vocabulary related to hipsters in Barcelona

Focal vocabulary related to hipsters in Barcelona, and hipster-wannabe.

Chonindie: (compound noun, mix of Spanish and English) choni (Spanish) + indie (English). “Chonis” are girls with very low cultural level, very poor manners, and who use heavy make up. Usually dress with few clothing and very tight. Adding indie means that there’s a hipster type of “choni” who mixes brands, and might use “cool” words, but in a bad way and with very bad manners.

Cooltureta: (noun, Spanish & Catalan) hipster, pronounced like “cultureta” in Spanish.

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