Haven’t been able to write a blog post lately, because I feel like one ought to comment on the political situation, but nothing I could say would be adequate to the task. I support the protests. They’re exciting. Hearts and minds seem to be changing, which is incredible.
On a personal level, life is great. Have been focusing entirely on my novel for adults, The Lonely Years. Have been working on it since January of 2018, something on the order of two and a half years, and I’m a day or two from finishing the fifth full rewrite. Feeling very happy with it. Not sure if there’ll still be a publishing industry when this is over, but the novel will get out somehow.
Other than that, I’m just a baby-having individual. She’s gurgling and making her “urrr-ahhh” sounds next to me right now. Such a cute little silly baby.
Let’s be honest, writing takes like two or three hours a day. The rest of the time I’m just doing whatev, watching TV, playing video games, reading, and maybe combining one or more of the above with holding and rocking the baby. In terms of media my major find has been a DC Universe original TV show: Harley Quinn. This show is amazing. It’s like a drug to me.
As background, something you might not know is that I’ve got a shocking fondness for the DC Universe. I cannot blame this on some sort of childhood nostalgia. Like all right-thinking millennials, I preferred Marvel as a kid. The X-men is really too powerful a story for children. Just the idea of a group of teens who are hated because they are TOO SPECIAL was too much for my tiny brain.
As an adult, I sometimes tried to get into superhero comics—always Marvel comics—but found that I just didn’t like the art. Marvel comics tend to be extremely busy, on a panel level, with way too much detail, way too much linework, way too much articulation of the body. They also use kind of a washed-out color palette (aside from Spiderman, which mostly avoids this sin) that makes them boring to look at. These aren’t universal issues, just general problems I had with many of the comics.
Then at some point I was reading through recommendations for best comics, and I found a blog post recommending Batgirl of Burnside, which is Cameron Fletcher’s run as the writer of Batgirl. Basically she moves into Gotham’s version of Brooklyn (Burnside) and becomes a total hipster and also fights crime. The art style was way more stylized, with brighter, more interesting colors (it strongly reminded me of Scott Pilgrim, which was one of my first comic book loves). From there, I got into All-Star Superman (Grant Morrison’s incredible year-long superman story), and I dunno, I just started liking DC comics. Not all of them. Not even most of them. But here and there I found some really worthwhile ones.
In the process, I subscribed to DC Universe, which is DC’s subscription service that gives you basically unlimited access, on the ipad, to their entire comics library. And there are also TV shows! Now, I didn’t watch the TV show, because superhero TV shows are silly, and I figured it’d all just be Smallville or Arrow or stuff like that. But I finally, with the shutdown, ended up checking out the Harley Quinn show for some reason—oh yeah, it was because I loved Birds of Prey so much. It’s not a movie for the ages, but it’s a good, entertaining, non-stupid movie, and that’s a bar not many superhero movies meet!
The long story short, Harley Quinn is incredible. It really captures the core of superhero stories, which is…they are soap operas. They are about relationships. Obviously there’s villain-fighting, but even that only works when the villain and the hero have a long-term relationship.
The backbone of Harley Quinn is the titular hero’s relationship with Poison Ivy, who helps break her out of Arkham and helps her break up with the Joker. These two are so much fun! It’s a classic odd couple scenario. Poison Ivy is more sensible, a bit of a loner, much more powerful, while Harley Quinn is impetuous and gets into scrapes that Ivy is always rescuing her from. The two of them are best friends! It’s like Broad City, but with superheroes.
The tone of the show is broadly satirical, similar to Lego Batman or Space Ghost Coast To Coast. It makes a lot of hay from being able to reach deep into the DC canon and make subtle allusions to the characters’ past while also updating or subverting them. For instance, Dr. Psycho, Wonder Woman’s antagonist, is, in the comics, something of a misogynist. In the show, he gets expelled from the Legion of Doom after he calls Wonder Woman a misogynistic slur on TV during a fight.
The heroes largely don’t play a role in the show. It’s mostly Harley fighting with other villains, engaging in hijinx. Some of the supporting cast pops out more than others. King Shark and Clayface join Harley’s crew (in addition to Doctor Psycho), and the two of them are just darling. They are so sweet and nice. King Shark is a nerdy computer hacker who disdains violence and is relentlessly positive, while Clayface is a hammy wannabe actor who adds a mock Shakespearean intonation to all of his characters, no matter how inappropriate (for instance, when playing a college student “My NAME…is Stephanie. And I WANT to see Chad and to KNOW if he is right FOR ME.”)
It’s really the family dynamics that keep one watching the show, and it’s actually reinvigorated my interest in superheroes as a whole. Oh, and the show is R-rated I guess and has blood and swearing and people getting murdered right and left. Strong recommend.