Anatomy Of A Bad Cover

cover-lowrestrimCover art has been on my mind a lot lately. As previously mentioned in this blog, I rather agonized over the cover concept for Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women; I noted the conceptual similarities between the covers of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (by my artist Tricia Lupien) and the forthcoming issue of Ms. Marvel (by Annie Wu); and my buddy J.M Aucoin recently unveiled the cover art for his upcoming Jake Hawking omnibus (which, I add, I am looking forward to, since I am not a big e-book reader).

Cover art is a pretty critical element of the final novel package, and an element that a lot of novice authors overlook or ignore. Pop over to Lousy Book Covers and you’ll see how wrong covers can go, and I think that will serve as enough of an explanation as to why good covers are important. I mean, would you pick up any of those books?

Comic Book Resources recently posted a harsh, but dead-on, analysis of the cover for the newest relaunch of DC Comics’ Teen Titans. At first glance, the artwork (by Kenneth Rocafort) looks pretty damn cool, but CBR delves into its flaws in terms of concept, composition, and how it presents its characters — in particular Wonder Girl, who CBR maintains is sexualized to a ridiculous degree. It’s hard to disagree.

Teen Titans CoverThe background clearly suggests a high school setting is involved, and the book is called Teen Titans, so it’s not unreasonable to assume we’re looking at a teenage girl — and teenage girls do not look like that (not without the benefit of no small amount of plastic surgery).

It’s easy to dismiss criticism of Wonder Girl’s look as pointless fretting over sexed-up comic book females because that’s what comic book females look like, they’re idealized versions of real women, so shut up already and enjoy the book for what it is, but chances are, the people saying that are all guys who like their super-heroines to look like Victoria’s Secret models, but that’s one reason why such representations are so subversive: they send a message to readers that this is the norm for female characters.

This cover is the latest misstep for DC Comics’ “New 52” relaunch, which also shrank Starfire’s already skimpy costume, reimagined Harley Quinn as a pole dancer, and turned Amanda Waller, one of DC’s best characters, period, from a big, middle-aged African-American woman into a young, skinny, sexy African-American woman, because reasons.

Someone needs to show DC the memo that girls and women read comics too. Better yet, they need to show them Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel and show them how to do a character redesign right.


Sharing The Love: Stage Combat

Today’s an editing day, which suits me fine, because Christ, am I sore.

This past weekend was weekend one of the annual stage combat seminars I attend, and it was the first time in several months I’d picked up my weapons — or engaged in anything resembling strenuous physical activity. Even though I’ve been an active stage combat performer for 12 years now, I like to keep my basic skills sharp, and learn whatever new tricks the instructors — my friends Rob and Cliff — might have to throw at me.

I regularly extol the virtues of stage combat to my theatrically inclined friends who have never before dabbled in the craft. I tell them, even if they’re not interested in swordfighting, there are a lot of non-weapons-based techniques that are great for any actor, if for no other reason than to keep them safe. You’d be astounded how many stage actors injure themselves (or their castmates) through badly executed face slaps or arm grabs.

Originally published in Renaissance Magazine #60 (2008) as Stage Combat: The Art of Illusion
Originally published in Renaissance Magazine #60 (2008) as Stage Combat: The Art of Illusion

A few years back, I wrote about stage combat’s role in the New England renaissance faire circuit for Renaissance Magazine. The final article was chopped down quite a bit, so I made a point of re-posting the entire, unedited article on this website as part of its launch content. It’s one of my more satisfying pieces of non-fiction writing.