Thursday, September 18, 2014

A More Diverse Marvel Universe: POC Creators on Marvel Unlimited

Logo for A More Diverse Universe

Marvel Unlimited is a digital comics service that grants subscribers access to back issues galore. I bought a one-month subscription during their SDCC 90% off sale and fell so deeply in love with it that I kept it up after the cheap period ended--a first for me. The selection is enormous, varied, and hella exciting.

It's also more diverse than I expected.

Which isn't to say Marvel is a diversity-minded reader's paradise. White men still account of the bulk of the company's bullpen, so you may need to hunt for exceptions to the rule. Still, I'm continually surprised at the number of POC artists I encounter whenever I Google the creators of each new comic that catches my fancy. POC writers are in much shorter supply than artists, and it's still primarily a white boys' club over there, but with a little effort the dedicated Marvel reader can ensure she doesn't consume a steady diet of comics by white boys. (It's much more difficult to keep from reading primarily boys, full stop--but that's another post.)

Since A More Diverse Universe (aka #Diversiverse) is currently underway, I thought I'd share a few of the results of my hunt for diverse comics on Marvel Unlimited so you, too, can fill your reading list with comics by POC. Let's start with some caveats.

First: this list is far from complete. It's populated with what I've found via my own reading, a handful of recommendations, and some low-level research I intend to convert into high-level research in the coming weeks. I've also erred on the side of caution in many cases; if I couldn't find photos and/or a bio to confirm that someone is a person of colour, I've left them off the list for the time being.

I intend to add to this post as I discover more POC creators, so I'd appreciate it if y'all could recommend some in the comments. I'd especially like to hear about WOC who write or draw for Marvel, as I've only encountered one so far.

Second: it's limited to what's available on Marvel Unlimited as of September 17th, 2014. In some cases, these writers and artists have produced work that's out in paper form or for digital purchase but hasn't yet made it onto Unlimited.

Third: it may contain errors. Marvel Unlimited's search-by-creator function sometimes returns misleading results, particularly where artists are concerned. It doesn't always make it clear if the artist in question is the penciller, the cover artist, or both. Personally, I consider a book diverse if the writer or penciller is POC, but the cover artist alone isn't enough to cut it.

The search function will sometimes place a book under a creator's header if they had anything at all to do with the series in question, regardless of whether they contributed to that particular issue/arc. I've done my best to double check each entry, but there's a lot to sift through and I'm sure I've missed things. You'll want to perform your own check before you count each arc as diverse.

I've also conducted my search on a creator-by-creator basis, rather than a title-by-title basis, so please feel free to point out other POC who've worked on the books listed here. I'll investigate each person's backlist and add an entry for them.

Okay. Let's dive in. I haven't read all these books yet, but the ones I've particularly enjoyed are italicized for anyone who's interested. The links will take you to each series' main page.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Emma by Kaoru Mori

Cover art for Emma, featuring a pale-skinned young maid in a black and white uniform and a pair of glasses. She stands before a row of houses, left hand raised to touch her ear.
This review covers volumes one through seven.

Emma, a lovely maid, is inundated with prospective suitors, but no one catches her eye until she meets William Jones, the young scion of a wealthy family. Their mutual attraction is instantaneous, and it only grows deeper as they come to know one another. Forces are aligned against them, though, and the lovers must choose between the dictates of society and the pull of their own hearts.

Ah, the joys of class-straddling historical romance! EMMA is absolutely gorgeous on every level, my friends. Do yourself a favour: seek it out and devour it.

If you'd like some justification for this course of action, read on.

Kaoru Mori has a profound talent for illuminating the small, telling moments in her characters' lives. Dialogue often takes a back seat to body language and the sense of movement imparted by panels that flow organically into one another. We live each emotion alongside the characters, taking each beat as they process their often complicated feelings.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: September 7th to 13th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I combine the two by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was all the earth-focused stuff that led in to War of Kings.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A dark grey poodle--Murchie--laying on a sheep-shaped pillow. He wears a tank top striped in various shades of blue. His head is at a slight angle to the viewer so he faces the left side of the screen, ears perked and eyes wide. Before him sits Packaging Your Crafts, with a grid of various crafting ideas on its cover.

I received an invitation to return to a craft sale I tabled at last year, then promptly booked another for early October, so I asked Murchie to help me read up on packaging. PACKAGING YOUR CRAFTS by Viola E. Sutanto proved a great resource. While few of the case studies apply to the sort of stuff I make, the many photographs gave me plenty of ideas as to how I could adapt the suggestions to fit my needs. The book also contains some great pointers on developing your brand identity and suchlike. I've already designed and produced some new packaging, and I'm scheming ways to make my table more attractive and unified.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Recipe: Pineapple Iced Cake

A two-layer cake edged with vanilla wafers and topped with dried cranberries and raisins atop a yellow pineapple icing.

My grandmother turned 88 on September 2nd. Accustomed as I am to giving my grandparents food presents, I asked her what kind of cake she'd like me to whip up for her.

"Something with icing," she said. Grandma is good at specifics. "Oh, and not too big."

"What about a few cupcakes?" I asked.

"How many cupcakes?"

"I dunno. Maybe ten?"

She recoiled in horror. "Ten is far too many."

You see why I made her a full-size, two-layer monstrosity.

Okay, I don't see it either.

If you're after the truth, I mostly wanted an excuse to make this delectable-sounding cake from Joyce White's BROWN SUGAR, which is and shall remain my favourite baker's cookbook. Grandma and I used to eat pineapple together when I was tiny, so I was reasonably sure she'd enjoy the flavour. And I relished the thought of baking something entirely new.

Holy crap, was it ever good! Labour intensive, but beyond delicious. It wasn't entirely smooth sailing as my pineapple icing never became thick enough to spread, but I salvaged the situation by using it as a filling/topping and edging the cake in vanilla wafers--another of Grandma's favourites. (I'd have preferred ladyfingers, but I baked it over Labour Day and had to make do with what I could get at Shoppers Drug Mart as all the grocery stores were closed.) Now I have no choice but to share the recipe with y'all, warts and all.

If you like pineapple, you're gonna go crazy over this icing. Promise.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: August 31st to September 6th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog in front of every book I read, barring my Marvel Unlimited consumption. (Last week, that was the tail end of Marvel Cosmic's 2007-2011 run. I'm now in withdrawal, and also mourning.)

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A tiny grey poodle--Murchie--lays on a pillow shaped like a flattened cream-coloured sheep. He faces towards the right side of the frame. Behind him sits a hardcover copy of Landline. The cover depicts an old fashioned yellow phone's handset against a grey background, with pink stripes just barely visible on the spine.

After days and days and days of trying to read Alexis Hall's PROSPERITY, I decided I needed a break. I'd just picked Rainbow Rowell's LANDLINE up from the library, so I put Murchie to bed, cuddled up beside him, and read it until I passed out.

It proved to be exactly what I needed. I didn't love it the way I've loved Rowell's other books, but I enjoyed it very much and got ridiculously emotional over the couple Georgie meets on her journey. Murchie was pleased with the extra snuggle time, too; it's been in shorter supply during this fallow reading period. Win!

As an added bonus, the break gave me the mental energy I needed to finish PROSPERITY. I loved it, and should have a full review for you on its release date in late October.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Conversation: The Angel's Cut by Elizabeth Knox

Cover art for The Angel's Cut, featuring the tip of a white wing that stretches across the entire length of the cover. The title is superimposed over it in purple.
Some months back, the lovely Lynn O'Connacht and I had a marvellous time talking about THE VINTNER'S LUCK by Elizabeth Knox. (If you missed the discussion, here's Part I and Part II.) We had such a good time hashing out our thoughts together that we decided we had to talk about THE ANGEL'S CUT, too.

It took us a little while to get our ducks in order (thanks, Hugo Awards), but we've finally managed the feat. As was the case with THE VINTNER'S LUCK, there will be spoilers below. Lots and lots of spoilers.

If you're all right with spoilers and would like a little summary before you dive into the discussion itself, here's the jacket copy:

Hollywood, 1929. While Conrad Cole is working late on elaborate plans for his aeroplanes and his films, a mysterious stranger appears at his door. Xas soon finds himself caught up in the glamorous and treacherous world of movie-making and entangled with both Cole and a young woman who owes her life to the eccentric director. Both of them are drawn to Xas without knowing his secret - that under his shirt he hides the remnants of great snowy wings that set him apart from humankind, and that he is destined to wander the earth forever, always hearing the beating of feathers behind him, threatening him that his dark brother has found him again.

And if you'd like to know a touch more about Lynn, my partner in crime, she had this to say for herself when we tackled THE VINTNER'S LUCK:

Hi, everyone! I'm Lynn, an indie author, a reader, a gamer, and an occasional watcher of dvds. I met Memory in 2008 or so and she's been one of my blogging inspirations ever since as well as an awesome writer with great taste. It's been wonderful to read THE VINTNER'S LUCK together with Memory. It's a book we both fell in love with the first time we read it and it seemed like a great book to try this buddy reviewing thing out with.

THE ANGEL'S CUT worked just as well, as you'll soon see--though this time around, we were slightly more divided in our opinions...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: August 24th to August 30th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog with every book I read (except the stuff I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that was War of Kings and the beginning of Realm of Kings. Maybe I should do a separate "Here's what I read on Marvel Unlimited" feature...).

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take 'em and appear here in digest form on Sundays.

A small grey poodle with short hair--Murchie--peeks out from a cave made of a folded-over dark red duvet cover with gold piping. Beside him, diagonally across the bottom right hand corner, is an e-reader with The Door in the Mountain displayed on it. The cover depicts a minotaur kneeling before a green-tinged mountain.

Murchie became camera shy again during the week I spent with THE UNCROWNED KING by Michelle West, so I had to corner him nice and early to get this picture. He uses my duvet to make himself a blanket cave every morning of his life. It's frickin' adorable.

Alas, the book itself--THE DOOR IN THE MOUNTAIN by Caitlin Sweet--didn't quite grab me. After I'd spent somewhat more than two days with the first six chapters, I decided to put it aside. It's by no means a bad book, but I suspect I read it at the wrong time. Bookish withdrawal can be a bitch, even when you know you aren't physically or emotionally ready to dive back in.

Which is to say, I desperately needed to read some short, quick books after my week with THE UNCROWNED KING--except I was also desperate to read more Michelle West. These two conflicting desperations ensured I didn't read much of anything last week.