Opinion

Ghostbusters Fancast

Transcribed from 2/3/16 episode of Screen Heroes: Episode 7 “Would You Watch It?”

Every once in a while, we recast, or fancast, films.  This time, we each chose to cast a Ghostbusters film we want to watch. We all take different approaches and three really fun movies emerge. Which one would you most like to see?

Ryan:

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Sequel: Ghostbusters 3, The Boogie Man Cometh

Directed by Edgar Wright

Ghostbusters:
Nick Frost – particle physicist
Kristen Schaal – straight man, Venkman-like character
Terry Crews – the humor, big guy who idolized the Ghostbusters as a kid and grew up to be one
Milla Jovovich – the action hero

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Michael Fassbender – Receptionist
Bruce Campbell – Lawyer, Rick Moranis character
Doug Jones (body)/Tim Curry – Boogie Man

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Plot revolves around the lingering Boogie Man, who haunted Spengler as a kid. The original Ghostbusters train the new ones

Ecto: Dodge Magnum

Rae:

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Sequel, Ghostbusters: The Krakening

Directed by Peyton Reed

Ghostbusters:
Simon Pegg – leader of the team, chemical engineer, weapon-smith
Ellie Kemper – daughter of Simon Pegg’s character, grew up in this business, not sure if she’ll follow
Jessica Williams – smartest person on team, many PhDs, always serious
Bill Hader – womanizer, Venkman without charm

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TJ Miller – receptionist, love interest to Ellie Kemper
Ricky Gervais – human antagonist
Morgan Freeman – Daegon

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Ecto: Mini Cooper Ectos, everyone gets their own little car

Set in Portland, Oregon in a former haunted tavern

Ricky Gervais and Simon Pegg’s characters move over from England to start their own Ghostbuster franchise. Gervais’s character believed he could use some ghosts to help fight other ghosts and was fired for involving himself in black arts and releasing previously captured ghosts.

Final battle in the sea facing a giant Kraken-like version of Morgan Freeman

Derreck:

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Reboot, recast of original characters

Directed by  James Gunn

Ghostbusters:
Michael B. Jordan – “Winston”
Emma Watson – “Spengler”
Grant Gustin – “Stantz”
Paul Giammati – “Venkman”

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Mila Kunis – Receptionist

Brent Spiner – Walter Peck

Justin Timberlake – Louis Tully

Emma Stone – Dana

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In place of a the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, a giant Funko Pop Vinyl attacks New York. Resembles an innocent object that would never hurt you.

What do you think of our movies? Would you watch any of them? Let us know what you think and to hear the original pitches in their full detail, catch the original episode, click here.

Ghostbusters Fancast

Justice League Dark Pitch

Transcribed from Screen Heroes S1, E18, “Would you watch it: Justice League Dark”.

Dedicated to the death of a live action Justice League Dark film, the three of us at Screen Heroes pitch what we would like to see if one ever hit the big screen.

Ryan:

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Directed by Sam Raimi

Constantine: Matt Ryan
Zatanna: Lauren Cohan/Amber Heard
Swamp Thing: Ron Perlman/Alexander Skaarsgard
Deadman: Zachary Quinto/Sam Rockwell
Madame Xanadu: Monica Bellucci
Doctor Fate: Karl Urban/Hugh Laurie
Abby Arcane: Anna Paquin
Frankenstein: Nathan Jones

Lex Luthor buys his way out of jail and invests in a new virus that will affect metahumans and aliens alike.  He infects the Justice League, turning them rabid and unable to control their actions.  It is up to the Justice League Dark to stop them and put an end to Lex.

 

Derreck:

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Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Constantine: Matt Ryan
Zatanna: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Swamp Thing: Matt Lauria
Deadman: Joseph Gordon Levitt
Madame Xanadu: Catherine Zeta-Jones

Doctor Fate: Nicholas Hoult/Hugo Weaving

The Justice League Dark hears rumors of Nobu’s helmet falling into evil hands and gathers to stop Doctor Fate from being manipulated by an unknown source.

 

Rae:

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Directed by: George Miller

Constantine: Tom Hardy
Zatanna: Olivia Wilde
Swamp Thing: Andy Serkis
Deadman: Joseph Gordon Levitt
Madame Xanadu: Monica Bellucci
Amethyst: January Jones
Doctor Fate: Idris Elba

Klarion the Witch Boy: Freddie Highmore
Felix Faust: Robert Carlyle

In an attempt to control the souls of the powerful Zatara family, Felix Faust and Klarion the Witch Boy join forces while the rest of the Justice League Dark try to rescue their team leader.

What do you think of our pitches? Would you watch any of these? Who would you cast? Let us know in the comments.

For the original episode, go here and don’t forget to subscribe to Screen Heroes on iTunes for our latest episodes!

Justice League Dark Pitch

Top 5 Mobile Games

Last week, Gamer Heroes discussed mobile gaming, the good, the bad, the standard. We talked a bit about some bigger games like Pokemon Go and Clash and Clans as well as some personal favorites. We also noted some to stay away from unless you want freemium fever. But as promised, we’ve put together our Top 5 Mobile Games.

Each of us put together our own list, in alphabetical order. Check them out and then let us know your favorite mobile games!

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David’s Top 5 Mobile Games

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Jon’s Top 5 Mobile Games

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Derreck’s Top 5 Mobile Games

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Prices and game availability based on original publication date of article.

Top 5 Mobile Games

Our Most Anticipated Movies of 2017

As the host of a movie-centric podcast, I’m constantly looking toward the horizon. I am capable of anticipating movies with more vigor than I do food. Food! Sustenance. The stuff that keeps me alive is less appealing to me than films. That’s how much I look forward to films. As such, 2017 is packing a huge punch that has me salivating! Here is my list of the Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017!

10. Kong: Skull Island

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It’s a great year when I get to see exaggerated monsters kill puny humans. Morbid, I know, but what are ya gonna do? Throw in industry favorites like Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman and you have me hooked. The trailer is stunning from start to finish, using a combination of adventure and horror imagery to create what looks like it’s going to be a great film. And if it’s not, fingers crossed puny humans still die.

9. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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The first film in this franchise exploded, shattering all kinds of records and expectations.  Featuring the talent of Colin Firth and Michael Caine in all of their Britishy goodness, the film oozed charm and gore.  It even introduced us to the likes of Sofia Boutella and Taron Egerton, both of whom had a fantastic 2016.  The second installment is likely to bring us the same unexpected viewing pleasures, bringing the cast to America  and adding in Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges to the mix.

8. Coco
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Cars 3 may be the obvious money maker for Pixar in 2017, but it’s Coco that has me excited. Featuring a young Latin boy with a guitar and the sweetest looking grandma ever, the film will draw attention to the beloved Dia de los Muertos. While Book of Life did a magnificent job showcasing the beauty of the aforementioned holiday, it has been often looked over or lumped in with Halloween movies. One can only hope that Coco can achieve the recognition the holiday deserves as well as give me the Pixar treatment of entertainment and soul.

7. Thor: Ragnarok
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There are a lot of reasons to look forward to the MCU next year, the very worthy Thor being one of them. The super hottie with the sexy accent is finally back, fulfilling that blackening void that’s eaten away at us since Avengers: Age of Ultron. Seriously, there’s been three other movies in the timeline since we last saw Thor. But I digress. The title of Ragnarok promises epic war across multiple realms, a cast that includes both the Hulk and Hel, and explanations to Thor’s mystery bath time in Avengers: AoU. Fingers crossed there’s more shirtless scenes.

6. Beauty and the Beast
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Disney is just killing this list! While lightsabers and capes can excite anyone, fairy tales are near and dear to me too. This being my favorite Disney film of all time, you just know I’ll be first in the metaphorical line to see this film. The live action adaptation has been a massive undertaking, creating visual spectacles never seen before and featuring one of the most talented casts in a musical to date. That’s right; it’s a musical. I guess Christopher Walken didn’t ruin it for everyone with The Jungle Book.

5. Star Wars Episode VIII
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It’s difficult not to be excited about this next Star Wars installment. The Force Awakens managed to both wrap up loose ends and create a plethora of questions that we are just dying to have answered. Who are Rey’s parents? Will Luke train her? Who is Snoke? Will Kylo ever find true love? So. Many. Questions! I can’t promise I won’t shed a tear when I see General Organa on the screen for what may be the last time. The passing of Carrie Fisher was painful for many and this should serve as a tribute to the beautiful legacy she left behind.

4. Justice League
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2016 was a rough year for DC. Fans everywhere hit them hard with criticisms, ranging from completely justified to grossly asinine. But this is what it’s all been building toward and we’re gonna see the payoff so soon, I can feel it. The pressure has been on Warner Bros and DC from the beginning and they sure are feeling it. I believe, though, that they’ve taken their hits, they’ve fixed what’s broken, highlighted what’s amazing, and will make 2017 their year. Remember, boys and girls, there’s enough fandom love for all superheroes.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
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Speaking of fandom love, this franchise can do no wrong. This film seemed to up the cuteness factor by giving everyone more of what they wanted: EFFING BABY GROOT. We were all dying for cute tree time and we got it. You could sit there and literally forget the awesome introduction of Mantis, the inclusion of Yondu on the team, the awkward exchanges between Drax and Star-Lord, and focus solely on Groot pushing the doom button and still think it’s the best movie to ever exist. And it will probably get very close. That’s not hyperbole. That’s fact.

2. Power Rangers
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I know, an odd choice for number 2. But I can’t help it. Power Rangers has been one of my favorite franchises since I was super teeny tiny kid child thing.  I loved everything about it and the trailers for the new film make me love it even more. I do not care one bit that the redesigns are weird looking or that it’s basically The Breakfast Club with super powers. Those things make it awesome. I’m so eager to see where they’re able to take this that I don’t care one bit if it bombs or doesn’t live up to the hype. Go back, watch the original film and tell me it’s a great representation of American cinema. Great representation of color-coordinated jammies, sure. But film? Hell no. This movie is going to be pure fun and if you’re expecting more, then you should probably re-prioritize before viewing.

1.Wonder Woman
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What else could number 1 be? Every time I see this trailer, I tear up a little. Do you know what it’s like to see your childhood hero come to life for the first time in your lifetime? It’s exhilarating.  It’s a warm, glowing feeling that starts in your stomach and catches in your throat. It’s the feeling of your hopes and dreams realized. To some, this is going to be an epic cinematic feature. To others, it will be a necessary stepping stone to get to the Justice LeagueTo me, this will be an emotional 2 hours where I’ll be moved beyond measure. This is a film featuring a woman I’ve always looked up to, always emulated, always dreamed of being.

We left a lot off our list. What movies are you looking forward to? Did we leave your favorite movies off the list? Yell at me in the comments. You know you want to!

Our Most Anticipated Movies of 2017

Carrie Fisher, Our Princess, Passes

Like many of you, I am in mourning today.  The world lost an idol and seems a little dimmer for it.  Carrie Fisher was royalty.  Her iconic role of Princess Leia carried over into our reality, acting as a beacon of hope when, at times, there wasn’t any. Her sheer honesty and courage could shine through any amounts of darkness, uplifting those lucky enough to witness it. But I don’t have to tell you all what she meant to the world. I want to tell you what she meant to me.

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I was not a Star Wars fan until I was an adult. It was the recent additions of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that really pushed me into the fandom. They featured remarkable stories of courageous women caught in the fray of epic wartime. It took me awhile to realize that the original trilogy, as well as the prequels, also accomplished that.  But I digress.

I was, however, always a Princess Leia fan. She was a freaking warrior princess. How could you not love her? She had sass and charm and went after what she wanted but always did the right thing. That’s insane. Women don’t do that! I mean, seriously, we still have films today, almost 40 years later, that can’t properly convey women being as multi-faceted as Leia.

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Carrie Fisher was intense behind the scenes of Star Wars as well.  She has been quoted as standing up to Hollywood sexism that still plagues films today.  One of my favorite quotes came from 2008’s Wishful Drinking, her one-woman show she later adapted into a book, discussing with George Lucas why there’s no underwear in space.

George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes one look at the dress and says, “You can’t wear a bra under that dress.”

So, I say, “Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”

And he says, “Because. . . there’s no underwear in space.”

What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t—so you get strangled by your own bra.

Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit—so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.

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If that’s not the cheesiest explanation to see boobs, I don’t know what is.

As an adult who is both a writer and a mentally depressed person, I have been able to appreciate and sympathize with Fisher on a deeper level than I ever thought possible. She has been bravely public about her struggles with addiction and depression, something that I, too, try to do.  When you have a disease where your mind wants to live, but your body wants to die, it’s comforting to see others overcome their struggles. Watching Carrie in anything always gave me hope.

I feel I need to talk just a little more about Star Wars, because it wasn’t until recently I recognized just how pivotal Fisher’s character was to the entire franchise. It may go without saying, but Leia is by far the overshadowed hero of Star Wars. She begins the story as an adopted princess given a life jeopardizing mission that she takes without hesitation. She loses her adopted parents and her planet, yet takes charge during her own rescue and saves herself.  She gets taken captive and made a slave by what can only be described as the most disgusting allegory for sexism ever and KILLS HER CAPTOR BY CHOKING HIM WITH THE SAME CHAINS THAT BOUND HER. She rises through the ranks of the rebellion, becoming a trusted strategist and ally until she is their leader. She is looked upon as hope for the galaxy. She stays with the fight while both Luke and Han had abandoned it (this may or may not be true later, but as far as Episode VII goes, it sure looks like it to me). From princess to rebel to general, Leia is the reason the fight is alive. I will be ever grateful for her portrayal of this woman who could do it all.

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Carrie Fisher and her embodiment of Leia are the symbols of survival that we so often need. She struggled and persevered. She offered humor during times of sadness. Her talent changed the world of both fiction and non-fiction as we know it. She made 44 movies, appeared in 46 TV shows, authored 7 books, wrote and starred in 4 stage productions, doctored numerous scripts including Sister Act and Last Action Hero, and dedicated much of her time to educating masses on mental health. While the stunning Carrie Fisher may be gone from this world, she’ll always be regarded as a pioneer across many platforms.

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May the Force be with you, Carrie Fisher. Yours will always be with me.

Carrie Fisher, Our Princess, Passes

Screen Heroes Awards: First Annual

Welcome to the First Annual Screen Heroes Awards!

That’s right! We’re hosting our first awards show, celebrating the most fun in media this year.  And you get to be a part of it! We’ve been releasing new categories for you to vote on so we can choose the winners!

But that’s not all! Every time you’ve voted, you’ve actually been entering yourself in a Screen Heroes Awards Contest too! For every category, a lucky winner will be selected to receive a prize related to that category’s winner!

Prizes Include:

Comic books!
Charms!
Movie Posters!
Grid Daily Apparel!
FUNKO Pops!
And more…!

Have you missed the previous categories? Never fear! Listed below are the released categories with your chance to pick your winners in the comments!

Remember, you must pick from one of the picture nominees. We know not every film or actor was nominated but just like the Academy Awards, we had to narrow things down a bit.

First Annual Screen Heroes Awards Nominees

Best Female Superhero in a Film

Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow)

Best Film (Super)hero FemaleBest Male Superhero in a Film

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Henry Cavill (Superman), Chris Evans (Captain America), Will Smith (Deadshot), Ben Affleck (Batman)

Best Film (Super)Hero Male

Best Superhero TV Series

Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Daredevil, Luke Cage

Best Super Hero Show

Best Sci-Fi TV Series

Orphan Black, Stranger Things, Wayward Pines, Mr. Robot, The X-Files

Best SciFi TV Show

Best Fantasy TV Series

Game of Thrones, Outlander, Galavant, Once Upon a Time, The Shannara Chronicles

Best Fantasy TV Show

Best Horror TV Series

Lucifer, Supernatural, American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful, The Walking Dead

Best Horror TV Show

Best TV Villain in a Superhero Series

Cameron Monaghan (Jerome Valeska\Joker),  Casper Crump (Vandal Savage), Teddy Sears (Jay Garrick), Neal McDonough (Damien Darhk), Erik LaRay Harvey (Diamondback), Mahershala Ali (Cottonmouth)

Best TV Villain

Best TV Supporting Character in a Superhero Series

Jon Bertnthal (Frank Castle), Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple), Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold), Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon), Simone Missick (Misty Knight)

Best TV Supporting Character

Best Female Superhero in a TV Series

Melissa Benoist (Supergirl), Caity Lotz (Sara Lance\White Canary), Chloe Bennet (Daisy Skye Johnson), Willa Holland (Thea Queen\Speedy), Elodie Yung (Elektra)

Best TV (Super)hero Female

Best Male Superhero in a TV Series

Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock\Daredevil), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Grant Gustin (Barry Allen\Flash), Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer\The Atom), Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen\Green Arrow)

Best TV (Super)Hero Male

Best Villain in a Superhero Film

Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor Jr.), Oscar Isaac (Apocalypse), Ed Skrein (Ajax\Francis), Cara Delevingne (June Moone\Enchantress)

Best Film Villain

Best Supporting Character in a Superhero Film

Tom Holland (Peter Parker\Spider-Man), Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa\Black Panther), Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Jay Hernandez (Diablo), Sophie Turner (Jean Grey)

Best Supporting Film Character

Best Superhero Film

Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Sqaud

Best Comic Book Movie

Best Horror Film

The Purge: Election Year, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The VVitch, Pride Prejudice and Zombies, The Conjuring 2

Best Horror Film

Best Fantasy Film

BFG, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Warcraft, Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book

Best Fantasy Film

Best Science Fiction Film

Star Trek Beyond, Independence Day: Resurgence, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, The 5th Wave

Best Sci-Fi FIlm

Best Animated Film

Pets, Zootopia, Kubo, Finding Dory, Kung Fu Panda 3

Best Animated Film

 

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more news and don’t forget to join us live for the official awards ceremony! You can catch the Screen Heroes Awards live December 6th at 8:00 pm Central on twitch.tv\heroespodcasts!

Entries into the contest are limited to the number of categories released. Only one winner will be chosen per category. No repeat winners will be chosen.

Questions? Comments? Hit us on on Facebook or Twitter!

Screen Heroes Awards: First Annual

Billie Rides onto Kickstarter

The Grid Daily continues to show its support for all things geeky and cool. That’s why we’re honored to have our new western comic, Billie, featured right here.

Billie, launched on Kickstarter October 12, 2016, and hasn’t looked back. The graphic novel follows Billie, a young woman who saw her parents murdered right in front of her eyes outside Dodge City as a child. Her neighbor, Victor, took her in and taught her how to stand on her own. Now she’s joined by her new friends, Jayne and Gordon, taking on the Drask Gang down in the New Mexico border towns.

It’s always been a dream of mine to write comics and here I am doing it. After founding Project-Nerd more than four years ago, I finally built up the courage to launch Project-Nerd Publishing. We have met so many amazing publishers, creators, artists, writers, and industry insiders that pushed us and taught us. Project-Nerd Publishing became a reality and one year later; my first solo writing project is here, and receiving great feedback.

Billie is a character who has been growing on paper for more than five years. She’s a character that sets the record straight and exhibits how not all cowboys were white men. Billie, Jayne, and Gordon all break the stereotype of what you see in comics and popular western media while Drask and his team, will define a new era of western gangs.

Billie Perks

The 60-page story is a complete arc featuring Billie’s arrival in Aspen, New Mexico and kickoff the new war that will wage between her and Drask. It’s a story that’s been reviewed and praised by anyone who can get their hands on it. And it still has plenty to offer in follow up graphic novels.

As much as Billie means to me and was born from my mind, the team isn’t just me. I am joined by a pair of artists who are unmatched. Zack Rezendes is handling the pencils and inks. He has an amazing ability to take my script and transform it into the images I had in my head. The look he gave the main characters is exactly what I was expecting and his artistic style lends incredibly well to the story we are telling.

Billie Creative Team

Once Zack finishes the inks, Michaela Patton comes in and handles color. Her abilities are only matched by her desire to get it right, spending time researching the era, adjusting colors to fit the scene, and keeping a consistent color palette throughout.

The team is truly fantastic and deserves the recognition for helping this dream come true.

Please support us on Kickstarter by click here!

Follow us at Project-Nerd Publishing.

Billie is written and lettered by Iggy Michniacki, with pencils and inks by Zack Rezendes, and color by Michaela Patton.

Billie Rides onto Kickstarter

Why Your Fandom Isn’t Better Than Mine (and Admittedly Vice-Versa)

Welcome to 2016. A year that feels as if it has been written by some of the greatest and most disliked fiction writers of our time.

If you haven’t been paying attention, 2016 has taken some of our most beloved media treasures from us. It has given us countless important news stories and opportunities that have been ignored by the media while they further drive their agendas on top of a division between classes and race. The year is actually giving us an election that features a billionaire evil villain against an emotionless un-convicted criminal that everybody seems to be settling with. We even have killer (maybe) clowns roaming the streets all across the country. And of course, an unlikely hero in a gorilla named Harambe who, well, really did nothing but die to earn this awkward heroic status.

When Nick Diener tweeted this is the year we desperately need Batman, he wasn’t lying:

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So, as like in every election year, 2016 presents us everything as either Side-A or Side-B, black or white, 0 or 1, gorilla or no gorilla. And if you’re getting ahead of me and starting to guess where I’m going with this article, I’m going to have to ask you to take a step back and not assume my gender… I mean direction.

My point? With all of this pick-a-side controversy, why is a community that once stood so firm together now arguing over whose fandom is better?

For me, I’ve made no secrets in my fandom choices. Although I’ll take an independent or small press comic over the big  guys any day, Batman has always been my hero of choice. Alan Moore could not, and probably still cannot, write no wrong, DC or Marvel, the book over the movie when it came to A History of Violence, and the movie over the book when it comes to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and so forth and so forth.

But before I carry on sharing my opinion, I am certain many of you reading this are ready to tell me that you disagree and more importantly the very reasons why.

But what makes my fandoms superior in my mind are the very same things that make your fandoms superior in yours. Mostly, it’s what we were raised on or maybe it was how we experienced it for the first or best time. Having a friend pop your Doctor Who cherry is amazing, no matter if it was decades ago or more recently when the ever-popular David Tennant was caught up in that wibbily-wobbly timey-wimey ball of a series.

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Most of all, our fandoms are our favorites because they are what helps us escape some realities and have allowed us to unite with others that have a deep love for something. Why do we turn to science fiction? Because even the grimmest of tales is less scary then what is really happening to the planet. Why do we continue to watch that same series over and over again? Most likely because you’re introducing it to a new friend the same way you were, or you’re sharing it over and over again with somebody important in your life.

But escaping in fandom doesn’t mean we’re running away from our problems. It doesn’t mean we’ve buried our head in the sand and pretended nothing is happening. In fact, the nerds and geeks of the world are the ones that have been saving it for generations, the ones that have given us not only all these fandoms, but all these technological channels to enjoy them. But as we try to share our enjoyment, or even sometimes our dislike, as geekdom grows so does the chance for an argument. The arguments grow louder and louder and a once united front of individuals that so often stood on the outside looking in now stand divided even though we hold the key to the entertainment universe. We quit introducing our friends to a fandom in such an intimate way and now just enjoy these things alone and share our strong willed opinions over the internet.

Let’s stop arguing about David Tennant or Matt Smith. Let’s stop arguing about DC Expanded Universe vs the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather, let’s rejoice in the fact that Doctor Who came back and has given us four amazing and different actors to portray the lovable Time Lord. Let’s be pleased in the fact we have comic book movies coming out every quarter, if not more frequently. Let’s not complain about race when watching an amazing series Netflix recently released.

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Who cares if you know Jessica Jones and Luke Cage eventually get to the baby making stage of the relationship or not. Let’s welcome our different opinions and new members of the nerd alliance with open arms.

More importantly, let’s enjoy those now argument free times with loved ones, whether new or old. Let’s introduce a new generation to Wolverine, even if only through Hugh Jackman’s portrayal. Let’s walk away from something and appreciate the fact it was there giving us time away from this crazy world and a short window of time shared with somebody we care about.

In fact, next time somebody speaks positively about a fandom you dislike, why don’t you enjoy the fact that there are so many geeky things out there for people to enjoy that there’s no way every individual will like every single one.

Let’s stop fighting over trivial geeky things. Besides, we have more important things to argue about…. You know, like what’s for dinner?

Why Your Fandom Isn’t Better Than Mine (and Admittedly Vice-Versa)

Wonder Woman and the Importance of Representation

It makes sense. Wonder Woman is from Themyscira, an island inhabited entirely by women, unvisited by man. The origin of the occupants vary somewhat, as any central location in comics 75 years running would, but in general, it’s decidedly a paradise for Amazon women who have removed themselves from the company of the evil men of ancient Greece. Post-Crisis, it was established that they were the reincarnated souls who had been killed unjustly at the hands of men. Current Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka recently confirmed that the character is “queer,” by his definition, “involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender.” In other words, they do not define their sexuality by the hetero-normative confines of a “man’s world.” This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Themysciran women would struggle to be attracted to something they have never seen, or at least met, before. The easy joke is that they are constantly surrounded, raised, and nurtured by beautiful, strong, ageless women.  The rumor of Wonder Woman’s possible affinity for both sexes is roughly as long-running as jokes about Batman and the Boy Wonder sharing a sleeping space. Rucka’s admission places this rumor in canon. This isn’t without precedence. In her earlier writing, the character is shown as implying a woman could benefit from the company of a partner of the same sex. She has mentioned she has neither a boyfriend nor a girlfriend when speaking publicly about herself, as well as officiated a wedding between two women.

Wonder Woman Comic

He also tackles the issues of objectification and labels. Wonder Woman’s documented relation to the fetish and BDSM community often places her in more of a place of stimulation and representation. “This is inherently the problem with Diana: we’ve had a long history of people – for a variety of reasons, including sometimes pure titillation, which I think is the worst reason – say, ‘Ooo. Look. It’s the Amazons. They’re gay!'” However, he claims that a place like Themyscira, much like the ancient Greek culture they derive from, wouldn’t have such labels. Sexual interest is fluid. Rather than it be an issue or point of conflict, Rucka suggests, “It is what it is. This is how the Amazons live.”

No matter how reasonable and logical it is to some, there will always be detractors when giving minority groups more visibility in fiction. Ranging from “who cares?” to “the death of the majority,” comments have flooded forums and social media, none of which I will dignify with re-posting. Instead, I spoke with some Wonder Woman fans who cosplay the character to get their opinion.

“I think it’s a fantastic move on the writer’s part. Wonder Woman is one of the first ever female superheroes, and to openly confirm her sexual orientation is fantastic,” says Carrie Marie.  “Wonder Woman’s sexuality is not something that I’ve ever actively thought about. However when it was announced, I had one of those, ‘oh, hmm, well duh, that makes sense now that I think about it’ moments,” said Suzanne Lo. She went on to say that, as Wonder Woman and the inhabitants of Themyscira aren’t depicted as asexual or living an austere lifestyle, often depicted sexually with men, then it should only be logical that she and the others may be bisexual.

Wonder Woman - 1

(Photo: Suzanne Lo)

“As a bisexual (straight passing, as I’m currently in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man) woman, yes I do (feel representation is important). If someone had told me “look, Wonder Woman likes boys and girls, so there’s nothing wrong with you” when I was much younger, I would have been a much happier child. I adored Wonder Woman as a girl. I still do. When the media still portrays bisexuals as “greedy” or “slutty” or “indecisive”, when characters in media are obviously bisexual but coyly refuse to define their orientation or just have it skipped over entirely, there’s a problem. We can name plenty of gay couples and characters on TV, but try to think of one bisexual character you’ve seen in media. If it took you way too long to remember that Annalise Keating from How To Get Away With Murder is bisexual, I don’t blame you, because they never actually say it. Her female lover only ever says “we’re just friends having fun.” Only 14 characters on prime time TV right now are bisexual and all of them are pretty much stereotypes, according to a study by GLAAD,” says Marie. “There are societal norms that discourage minorities of any type from a whole range of possibilities,” says Lo. Without representation, we would be unable to counter the outdated concepts about people being confined by their label. “It’s someone telling a girl she shouldn’t play sports because it’s not ladylike. It’s a teacher telling a girl in a STEM class that it’s ok if she doesn’t understand the topic because it won’t matter. Having a counter to that sort of everyday messaging is extremely important.” If anyone can speak to the capabilities of a woman in fiction, a self-reliant, intelligent, and physically capable character like Wonder Woman does.

Wonder Woman - 2(Photo: Carrie Marie)

This difference in representation is important to note.  A [2015 study](http://www.advocate.com/bisexuality/2015/08/20/study-1-3-american-young-adults-identify-bisexual-spectrum) found that 1 in 3 young adults in the US identify as on a bisexual spectrum. Other sources suggest different, lower, numbers based on the rigid definition used for sexuality, which is why I chose not to include those: we are discussing representation based on a culture where rigid sexuality titles have no purpose. A [recent study](http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/07/health/bisexuality-on-the-rise/) found that bisexuality statistics are going up, as well. [Others](http://www.advocate.com/bisexuality/2015/08/26/study-women-are-more-likely-be-bisexual-men) have found that women are more likely to identify as bisexual than men, and many attribute that to a culture in which women being affectionate with other women is not criticized, while male affection would be. There are a few homosexual superhero characters in DC canon, including Kate Kane and Renee Montoya, as well as female villains that have used their sexuality as a tool to control men and suggested relationships with other women to be more genuine. Harley Quinn recently was confirmed as being romantically connected to Poison Ivy, to similar reaction as the announcement of Diana Prince. The primary difference is cultural, and because of that, there’s really no reason to be surprised by her lack of conformity. “When wonder woman’s character was created our society was not ready to accept bisexual preferences, however that has changed a lot,” said Allure Cosplay. “We have evolved in being more accepting of one another and since the character has been around so long it makes sense for her to evolve as well.”

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(Photo: Allure Cosplay)

“If anything, DC is taking this step to speak to its readers, who obviously want more diversity in their media. Nothing about Wonder Woman’s character can be “taken away” from majority audiences because they confirmed what’s been implied for years–she likes girls in addition to men,” said Marie. “The automatic suspicion is that the motivation of the creators is ‘catering,’ which is nonsense. Content creators have always catered to a certain audience, because the characters are so often heterosexual, white, and male. Now all of the sudden ‘catering’ is a bad thing when it’s not catering to you,” said Lo. Despite the long standing belief that comics are general read by men, research says that more than [46%](http://www.comicsbeat.com/market-research-says-46-female-comic-fans/) of comic audiences are women, and comic convention attendance even closer is a 50/50 between genders.

Wonder Woman - 4(Photo: Suzanne Lo)

Wonder Woman has spoken to female readers for three-quarters of a century. “Wonder Woman is the Superman of females. She is easy to relate to and has inspired thousands of women over the years to fight for whats right and stand up to injustice in their every day life,” said Allure Cosplay. As a straight guy, I will let someone speaking for her own group close out this piece. Marie told us, “I would like more people to consider treating bisexual people with the respect we deserve as human beings and not a punchline or a money grab. We are not more “likely to cheat on a partner” than any other orientation. We are not jokes, we are not stereotypes. We are not women who are “secretly straight” and just kissing girls for attention; we are not guys who are “really just gay and in denial”. We are people who deserve to be seen. We are your daughters, your sons, your aunts and uncles, probably even your parents. And we are now the coolest, most badass female superhero of all time.”

Wonder Woman - 5(Photo: Carrie Marie)

Who is Wonder Woman to you? Has she inspired you? Comment below!

Wonder Woman and the Importance of Representation

NYCC 2016 Is A Mess

New York Comic Con, also known as NYCC, was possibly the largest convention in the US in 2015, by some accounts beating it’s closest competition in San Diego. Crowds aside, the biggest complaint about the event is ticketing. Prices run high from the start, the highest this writer has ever spent on a US convention, and they sell out fast. As in, within 2 hours after the digital sale begins, 3-day, 4-day, and Saturday tickets are sold out. The most problematic symptom of this demand is scalpers, who attendees will see selling tickets on the street during the event for inflated prices. Passes and tickets can also be found online on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and ticket-specific venues for triple or more the original price.

NYCC claimed they were seeking to remedy the issue of resales by creating “Fan Verification.” Basically, to-be attendees, fill out a basic profile with a few vague personalized questions about their interest in the con. A window opens for a few weeks for potential customers to register for fan verification. The window closes and a few weeks after that tickets go on sale as usual. Each customer can purchase up to four passes or four sets of tickets. A few weeks after that, customers who were able to get tickets must insert their registered email into the purchased tickets, and any over-purchased or otherwise unverified purchases will be refunded. Sound conflated? It is! Here’s a flow chart, because this sloppy concept requires the use of a flow chart.

NYCC Chart 1

However, this creates an issue. Because people are permitted to purchase up to four tickets for each day, it means there will inevitably be duplicate purchases. This means tickets sell out faster. It also means that many of those tickets will later go unverified and unsold. Here’s an example:

Say I have three friends (probably an accurate count). Two of them are able to purchase tickets, the third can’t sit online for more than two hours waiting or was unable to get them prior to selling out. I was able to get them. We all purchase the maximum tickets because there is no downside; we will be refunded if they aren’t assigned. We offer the tickets to each other, finding only one of us need a ticket. That’s 3×4=12 tickets purchased, and 4 assigned, creating 8 unused and unsold.

This creates two problems.

  1. People are upset that they couldn’t attend.
  2. NYCC has excess tickets.

I doubt, based on their treatment of attendees, NYCC cares about the former as much as the latter.

So, fan verification was reopened. When tickets were unsold, they were made available without verification, but only single day tickets were available. Since many passes likely went unsold, it seems that only selling individual day passes was done to increase profit generated. Here’s a second chart to include this new layer of insanity.

NYCC Chart 2

This frustrated many attendees, and despite the effort, didn’t seem to stop scalpers. Why would it? It simply added additional work and effort for everyone, not making it more difficult for people who didn’t plan to attend to purchase many tickets. For a scalper, all it required was additional time and email addresses. It didn’t mean any extra work than a normal attendee needed to put in to simply attend a convention.

Having received my pass in the mail, I can say two things: The Walking Dead has been featured for the sixth year, and there is another step in using your pass. Passes must be registered online before use. While only mildly irritating, it doesn’t benefit anyone outside of NYCC and their affiliated corporations by collecting data from participants, as it asks for a name, phone number, and email (which isn’t on your physical pass meaning it won’t deter resale or limited misuse). What it does do, however, is opt users in for Audible, something that must be unchecked during registration. Come on.

NYCC Badge Activation

As many struggle to find specific days, NYCC has an abundance of Thursday passes. They create a video posted on Twitter to promote Thursday attendance. Basically, the message was “stuff happens on Thursday.” It is filled with cosplayers, as cosplay is a draw for many, and for a visual ad, cosplay is a cheap way to produce good images. A few days later, the con posts their updated prop policy. Based on this new information, much of the cosplay in the promotion would not be allowed. Keep in mind, this is a month before the event, and as one of the largest cosplay-oriented conventions in the country, some people have been building their props months ahead of time and putting a good amount of cash into the effort. The announcement is almost casual, but the information is a strict change to the previous policy: no props made from anything but cardboard and foam will be permitted.

NYCC Weapons Policy

Outrage was immediate. In less than a day, NYCC posted an updated update to the policy. It is now at the discretion of the person at the door.

NYCC Weapons Policy Response

Having attended the event last year, this is similar to the previous guidelines. While there are some hard rules, much of the decision is up to the person at the door, and the confusion resulted in props that fit within the guidelines being thrown away in bins outside and weapons that might be questionable being inside. Personally, I was told my prop wasn’t permitted as I was leaving, having carried it all day. Discretion isn’t a great idea when the policies are somewhat vague, the staff is untrained, and authority inflates importance.  The concept of leaving a prop you spent time and money on outside is difficult to accept for many. It’s even more frustrating when vendors inside are selling swords, knives, and other actually dangerous items that would definitely not be permitted at the door while plastic toys are being taken away.

NYCC Trashed Props

Many attendees are saying that this will be their last New York Comic Con, while others are still struggling to get tickets. With an event this large, you would think that getting inside wouldn’t be so difficult, and the planning and regulations would be worked out. A 16-hour drive away, DragonCon 2016 went smoothly. Incredible props and costumes were tagged and made safe, getting a ticket took less than ten minutes, and no one was stabbed with a mechanical pencil.

What has your experience been for some major conventions? Have you attended NYCC, SDCC, Emerald City, or DragonCon? Let us know your experience in the comments.

NYCC 2016 Is A Mess

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 3


In today’s installment, we collect our thoughts and round up the final remarks in our series on fictional abuse and it’s significance for real cosplayers. Last week, we asked about the health of Harley Quinn’s relationship.

“I’d say it’s unhealthy that she used to keep going back even though Joker would do these terrible things to her, but it’s not just that she’s the victim, every now and then she’ll take a shot at him for whatever reason, and I think that it adds a lot of character to them both because at the end of the day they’re both bats**t crazy,” said James Longstaff, also known as Love That Joker. Manipulation, something Harley is no stranger to, is a reoccurring theme in domestic abuse; many abusers convince their partners to stay through promises of violence not happening again. The likelihood that violence will continue is extremely high: between 30 -40% of abusers will do so again, regardless of incarceration or counseling. Becca Payne said, “Why do we do that? Because we have hope.” Offenders also will attempt to keep their significant others close by threatening self-harm, a stunt the Joker is no stranger to.

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To many, that’s the appeal of the character: she is a normal person. She has no powers, no super origin, no scars, mental or physical ,that made her choose to become what she is (at least not prior to the New 52). Harleen was a woman who chose to become Harley Quinn to appeal to the man she loved and that real turn in her character is what makes her more relatable to many when compared to other female characters like Wonder Woman or Zatanna, people who harness the power of Gods and other worlds.

This has brought criticism so specific that it is difficult to counter due to it’s extreme nature.

In no unclear words, if you don’t have experience personally with abuse from a partner, this relationship is not something you can enjoy. Of our interviews who do have a history of abuse on some level, here are some reactions:

“And I think their relationship can be enjoyed by anyone,” said Longstaff.

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“You don’t have to be abused to enjoy observing a fictional abusive relationship that leads to rich storytelling,” said Andrew Arkham Cosplay.

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“I’d say, that’s your opinion. But they also have to realize that it’s a fictional relationship in a controlled environment. Yes, these kinds of things do happen in real life, but this isn’t real life. People are allowed to enjoy whatever they choose and others can mind their own business. The comics and characters can be appreciated by everyone, but I don’t think that people who haven’t been through the situations that the characters have can fully grasp the concept or gravity of what they’re going through,” said Anderson.

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“That just seems foolish to me? It’s not a matter of privilege,” said Harley Quinnsane.

So, if someone feels that Joker and Harley are “cute,” despite their well-documented groundings in violence and poor treatment, how can you counter that? Is someone misjudging that relationship or are these fans simply imbalanced themselves? Are they teenagers who don’t understand relationships? The answers we received were somewhere between.

Andrew Arkham Cosplay feels these readers are either misguided, or not readers at all. “The kids don’t acknowledge the abuse, they just like the visual of a not-so-normal relationship like Jack and Sally, Morticia and Gomez, and let’s face it: in the cartoon/comic world, there aren’t a lot like that besides those two. They are very misinformed on what’s truly going on between the characters and/or refuse to acknowledge the abusive undertones and are simply enamored by just the visual.” He feels this also isn’t the first time young readers have misrepresented the toxicity of a relationship and turned it into something desirable. “Twilight can also be seen as a manipulative relationship, yet it is still desired just because of one thing: it’s different.”

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Harley Quinnsane connected the romanticization of the relationship to 50 Shades of Grey, which has had a very established backlash from the BDSM community for it’s depiction of what is supposed to be a safe environment for would-be questionable activity. “It’s a complete misunderstanding. Joker is abusive. That’s it, that’s all. And Harley has her episodes too. It’s not a kink – it’s dangerous and unhealthy. But we, especially cosplayers, have to remember that these are cartoon super-villains and their relationship should be in no way mimicked or accepted in real life.”

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Shauna Lynn may have the best connection to the young audience that is usually both marketed to and worried about when it comes to making this sick relationship seem ideal. It didn’t work on her. “I feel that girls now are looking at her as an icon and thinking that her and the Joker are so cute together because of physical appearance having no knowledge of their past. I feel that some young people are a bit uneducated on them.”

“Read a Joker/Harley comic book,” said Longstaff.

All of this discussion of the abuse from Joker is currently moot in DC’s current stories. Crazy Clover Cosplay says, “Harley is her own person now and has her own comic series without the Joker! Her character found the strength to leave and that can encourage others who might be in a bad situation to leave as well. In the end though, it is all make believe and fun.” Most fans will tell you that the Joker doesn’t stay dead for long, though, and if the majority of readers do enjoy stories of Joker and Harley, they probably won’t stay divided for long, either. However, Quinn is currently shacked up and in an open relationship with an old friend.  “Well, Poison Ivy and Harley are pretty cute,” said Shauna Lynn.

While stories of abuse can be important, stories of progress, with it’s struggles, are what draw many to these grounded characters. “In a silly sort of way, seeing Harley doing her own thing in her current comic story lines, gives me a sense of hope and inspiration. Sure, she still has her own issues to sort out, like PTSD, anger, and being bats**t bonkers, but she’s getting by,” says Taka. “Harley is a sort of a bleeding heart and has a soft spot for animals and those who can’t help themselves.” Fiction is often the help that those who believe they can’t help themselves need to motivate them to do so.

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The future of the character’s status as a role model and sort of “patron saint” of women struggling with a cycle of abuse is up for debate. Her current comics solo run by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti has been lauded by many like Taka, who see her as a character getting by and making her own way from day-to-day amid slapstick adventures and has been very successful with several spin-off titles including Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys and Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book. But the title also shows Harley participating in acts of violence that are almost brutal in nature. She is more consistently violent in this comic than any other portrayal, including the violence towards her former partner, Joker, from whom she is estranged in the story. There is also the critique that she appears to be more unbalanced and at times “dumbed down” for comedic value. She is also featured as a player in the well-received DC Comics Bombshells title, recently applauded for openly featuring a kiss between Poison Ivy and Harley amid a large cast of female leads taking place during WWII. The Suicide Squad film is also likely to have a huge impact on the character, with rumors of future solo films or female team-ups flying in every direction. The film dials back the abuse presumably for the purpose of marketing: no one can complain about romanticizing abuse through selling cute merch if the abuse isn’t in the film. However, some still complain about the abuse even when it isn’t presented, especially fans who so strongly relate to her metamorphosis. There is a heavy focus on the male gaze pointed towards Harley, which may only contribute to further over sexualization and romanticization of the character and pairing as a whole in the future considering the success of the movie.

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With the popularity of Suicide Squad, fans will be flocking to the girl in motley. Whether fans of her classic Dini and Timm-era antics beside her Mistah J or finding inspiration through her more modern comic incarnations like the series mentioned above, it’s clear that people are drawn to her as a tragic figure, as a source of inspiration, or simply as a smart and sassy clown with the on-again, off-again gangster beau. There is just something about Harley, but maybe the joke’s on us.

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 3

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 2

You can find Part 1 of this series here.

In last week’s installment, we discussed Harley Quinn’s history, and her deep connection with abuse. This week, we speak to cosplayers about their connections to the character. Trigger warning: this article discusses abuse specifically.

“I do have a history with an abusive boyfriend,” cosplayer Misses J Quinn told us. “I feel very connected to Harley because of this. It is not a healthy relationship. I think no one deserves to experience an abusive relationship.” She wasn’t alone.

Cosplayer Zoe Anderson said, “It goes all the way back to living at home and watching my parents do the same thing that I would see repeated. You might say I had become desensitized or, perhaps even blind to what was considered abuse. I’d let my boyfriend smack me around, blame things on me, cheat on me, and more.” Her understanding of the connection between her and the character wasn’t obvious to her. “As I saw glimpses of her past home life and then looking in at my personal relationships I could definitely see it. The more I looked at it, the more the two seemed to blend together, and I was desperate for a way to express this.” For Anderson, that expression was cosplay. “Cosplay has definitely given me a way to healthily express myself. It is something that helps my mental well-being and it does make me feel pretty damn good all around. All you get is compliments.”

This sentiment was echoed by several cosplayers, including Becca Payne, who told us, “Cosplaying makes me feel like who I am on the inside and to me, that is healthy.” Savannah Kelly said, “I think that cosplay should be judgment free and should include everyone who is willing to put the effort into cosplaying.”

Becka Taka Cosplay tells us cosplay was important to her ability to manage her depression, and Harley Quinn was a part of it. “I was months into the worst depressive period of my life. There was a cosplay function being held in the area on my birthday and I forced myself to attend. I ran around as a princess, then later (a few drinks later) changed into a cute Harley themed dress, complete with mismatched shoes, mask and poofy pigtailed wig. I think my extreme love for her was born then. I mean how can you NOT have a good time dressed as her?”

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Taka’s story echo’s many of the elements of the 1994 Mad Love story. “I immediately felt a connection, like the world stopped for a moment when I met him. He was more than a little shy but we could talk for hours. He was damaged. He had led a hard life and it was like I came into his for a reason. Like the idiot empath I am, I felt his pain. I wanted to heal him. I foolishly thought ‘He just needs someone to love him.’ I honestly thought I was that person. The rest was a whirlwind of passion, late nights talking, him needing me, me needing to be needed… It has been said that when you look at the world(or a lover) with rose tinted glasses, that all the red flags look like just… flags. Nothing, could be closer to the truth. I was warned by friends. I was begged to stop what I was doing. But I was under his spell and it was a powerful one at that.”

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“The day we signed the lease, was almost exactly the day he changed into a monster. You see, he had gotten exactly what he wanted. He lived in a shitty room, in a shitty part of town and wanted nothing more than to get out. I was also desperate for a place to live and either intentionally, or not, I was made into his victim.”

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What followed was also similar to Harleen’s story, one of first mental and emotional control that became abuse, and then abuse that became physical. “I absolutely feel a connection to Harley because of my past. Here you have a character who is at the pinnacle of her career, beautiful, athletic(she was a gymnast) and getting the opportunity to study one of Gotham’s most notorious criminals at the Arkham Asylum. Before I met the man that brought my life to a screeching halt, I was confident, at a healthy weight, and planning a career in either Vegas or Atlanta. After he got in my head, I was driven to near madness. I completely lost sight of the well adjusted person I once was before I met my abuser, yet much like Harley, kept coming back again and again for more abuse.”

While disturbing, Taka’s history is not unusual. Of the cosplayers we interviewed, 90% said that they had some history of abuse, be it physical, emotional, or mental. Our interviews were 80% female, 20% male. These numbers have little to do with cosplay, and instead mirror national statistics. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, approximately 7 million women in the U.S. are assaulted or raped by a current or former partner each year. Love is Respect reports 43% of dating college women and 28% of men reported experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors in a relationship.

“I was a stupid teenager that fell in love for dumb reasons and let myself get caught up in that relationship because it was there and I’ve always had self-confidence issues when it comes to feeling wanted and loved,” said Crazy Clover Cosplay. “I’ll admit that I have felt a closer connection to Harley after going through what I did, though my past relationships could never hold a candle to what many others have gone through in their lives. It isn’t even close to Harley and the Joker.” So, is fiction, and by extension playing out your favorite fictional character, a danger or catharsis?

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The idea that abuse survivors could find familiarity and strength in a character like Harley Quinn is not new, and it is often the opposing response to criticism of the popularity of the character and her portrayal. Harley Quinnsane, a cosplayer and roller derby girl, says, “She brought me into the cosplaying world. She helped me find an identifier.” Shauna Lynn, the youngest of our interviews, would probably be placed in the demographic that romanticized merchandise is geared to. She said, “The main thing that appealed to me is that Harley Quinn is such a sweet girl who is over her head over someone who abuses her. I feel like I can relate to her because all people ever want is to be loved and I feel that Harley learns she needs to be strong for herself.”

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The fall of Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn may seem familiar to some victims. “I adore both Harley and Joker purely for the fact I feel they are the way real love is portrayed. And no I don’t mean with the physical abuse or even the mental, I mean in the sense that you take this innocent woman, a woman who was going to accomplish good things until she fell in love,” said Becca Payne. “You have all these fairy-tales and stories that push the fact that true love conquers all, that it’s the most amazing and great feeling in the world and once you have it, you have it forever. Their love isn’t the type of love you grew up reading about, they didn’t push the fact that love is your happy ending.”

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The debate between fictional violence creating real violence has been going on forever, and we aren’t about to start digging into that. We also aren’t going to get into a discussion about whether or not the Joker genuinely loves Harley; it’s an entire conversation to itself and has been handled with plenty of panels and screenshots before. What can be said is that domestic violence in fiction has been said to provide understanding about domestic abuse in everyday life.

Crazy Clover Cosplay tells us, “it gives us a look into a world that we might not ever know, but I believe that by appreciating stories that involve these kinds of things and growing to love the characters in them, we can learn greater compassion and love and appreciation for those in the real world that have experienced these things.”

Becky Taka Cosplay believes it can provide a way for others to understand abuse in relationships. “While sometimes it seems that the Joker actually cares for Harley, a true sociopath is not able to express empathy, and that fact is unfortunately very frightening because it is very real. Even if someone hasn’t experienced an abusive relationship firsthand, maybe reading or watching the situations that arise between the two characters, could serve to help raise awareness of those issues.” These characters may be garish and do ridiculous, completely unreal things; they literally dress like clowns. However, that doesn’t mean that their relationship can’t feel real, and their actions don’t mirror real life violence on a human level.

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Next week, we continue our three part series on cosplay and fictional abuse. Stay tuned.

Psycho Killers and the Women Who Love Them: Harley Quinn, Abuse, and Cosplay Pt 2