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STORIES OF SUICIDE: MYTHS, RISKS, AND HELP-SEEKING IN THE CREATIVE COMMUNITY

By Dr. Andrea Letamendi

September 8–14 is National Suicide Prevention Week, an annual campaign sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology that recognizes suicide as a major public health concern and promotes the message that suicide deaths can be preventable. In the U.S. alone, nearly 40,000 people take their own lives each year. That’s an average of 105 deaths per day. Yet, unlike the campaigns focused on the 9 other leading causes of death, suicide prevention isn’t just about raising funds and improving treatment. Suicide is associated with stigma and misconceptions that often close the dialogue and prevent us from learning how we can overcome this epidemic. We don’t talk about it. We are scared to ask about it. We simply don’t know what to do.

It is undeniable that all of us are thinking about suicide. We thought about it when Hank Pym (Ant-Man) contemplated ending his life after years of stress on his constantly-morphing body. We thought about it when Roy Harper (Red Arrow) was tormented by his phantom limb pain and overdosed on painkillers. We thought about it when Bruce Banner confessed that he could no longer withstand the internal destruction caused by the Hulk, but when he put a bullet in his mouth, “the other guy spit it out.” Everyone who’s read Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman can stand up. You’ve thought about it, too. Constantine. Deadshot. Mr. Terrific. Rorschach. Nearly every character in The Walking Dead. The list of narratives goes on, some more explicit than others.

Fiction is one of the most common ways we openly explore suicidality and connect with feelings of hopelessness, despair, and depression. Comics allow us to participate in the subversive in a way that is culturally acceptable. We break that rule and seem to enter a place of insecurity and isolation when we begin admitting our own feelings of anguish and thoughts of self-harm.

Misconceptions About Suicide

When actor and comedian Robin Williams died by suicide on August 11, 2014, the creative community was momentarily paralyzed. Questions poured out of us as we experienced a strange combination of feeling shocked, yet unsurprised.

What went wrong? I thought he was doing better. He didn’t look depressed. I thought only those who were depressed commit suicide.

For those of us in the mental health field, these questions aren’t new. We know, for instance, that people who are not clinically depressed attempt suicide (dealing with chronic pain, drug and alcohol dependence, anxiety disorders, and other mental health problems can also lead to suicidality). We know that some people take their own lives in periods of happiness. We know that people contemplate suicide in euphoric states. We also know that people die while in our care. Half of individuals who die by suicide had seen a medical doctor within the last month. Over a third of people who die by suicide had seen a mental health professional — yes, a person who should be qualified to recognize warning signs — within the last 30 days.

If you’re already feeling frustrated and confused, you should be. Every time we lose someone to suicide, I’m asked, “Why aren’t officials in the mental health system doing something about this?” The truth is, they are.

In June, I was invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in something called the Zero Suicide Academy. Launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, the Academy was created to enhance the national infrastructure for suicide prevention. Scientists-practitioners and mental health professionals were gathered from all over the country to learn strategies and interventions. It was like the Hogwarts for suicide prevention, only instead of learning magic we were learning how to save lives.

The word “zero” is a firm response to a deeply held belief in our society that we cannot save everyone, that suicide “will inevitably happen.”  Some even believe, ”If someone wants to die, who are we to stop them?” I can understand that this question stems from a culture that values free will, individualism, choice. The problem is that the person contemplating suicide and deciding that ending their life is an option may not know about other options available to them that can also end their pain. The Bridge, a film project that explored suicide attempts at the Golden Gate Bridge revealed that the few survivors of the near-fatal fall never tried to kill themselves again. The goal of zero suicides, therefore, supports the idea that everyone who considers suicide fundamentally wants to live. Something inside of us wants to spit that bullet out.


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If you or someone you know is suicidal, contact a mental health professional or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Police officer Carol Howard v the Met: ‘I was absolutely humiliated’

tomewing:

A reminder - if needed - of how institutionally corrupt, racist and misogynist the British police can be. One of those stories which gets more disgusting in every paragraph. All credit to Carol Howard for fighting her corner in the face of absolutely vile treatment.

Anonymous

Anonymous asked:

Her there, Mr. Gillen. In Über #17's afterward, you mentioned panel structure. Something that, coincidentally, I first noticed through Garth Ennis's use of mostly five panel pages. My question is this: How do you determine the amount of panels a page requires? I used to think something like that would vary wildly, but that can't be the case. Not when there's this much routine.

kierongillen:

Okay, this became a bit of an essay, so I’m going to put most of it beneath a cut. It’s all really off the top of my head, so apologies for rambling, typos, etc.

Worth noting that before I write anything else here, there’s a lot of implicit assumptions behind what sort of comic I’m describing, and the effect you’re looking for.

The standard rule of deciding on panels is that there’s one action per panel. Some people would add “per character” to that. Use those math to work out the panel count.

Also worth noting that not all writers call number of panels, but even if they don’t tell the artist it, they’re doing that sort of internal math to work out how much they can fit on a page.

The trick is doing maths on choosing what that action is, and what actions are actually necessary. There’s an exercise that Tony Lee once told me - which I believe he got from JMS - which involves telling an artist or writer how long a set bit of story is. The story is, roughly…

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For example, someone recently and bafflingly tried to hack into my email and phone contacts. This is all very frightening to write, and so I must disclose that I am biased, insofar as I am terrified. I have worked in this industry for most of the last nine – not always perfect – years and I have never professed to be a perfect person. However, my values, my belief that abuse must not, cannot become “normal”, “acceptable” or “expected” is at odds with oh, God, please, why are they doing this, what’s the point, don’t let it be me, don’t let it be me.
Critic Jenn Frank.  After she wrote this, “criticism and threats flooded her Twitter” the point where she has now ultimately quit her career as a game critic altogether.  Frank was also the 2013 winner of the Games Journalism Prize. (via twiststreet)

Preview - Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #2!

chucksuffel:

Preview – Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #2!

Preview - Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #2!Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #2
STORY BY: Al Ewing
ART BY: Simon Fraser, Gary Caldwell
REGULAR COVER BY: Alice X Zhang
1:10 VARIANT BY: Simon Fraser
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
COVER PRICE: $3.99
PAGE-COUNT: 32
RELEASE DATE: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SYNOPSIS
THE ALL-NEW ADVENTURES OF THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR CONTINUE, AS TERROR STRIKES A RECESSION-HIT PARADISE!

When the Doctor last visited…

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I have met some of the most amazing women I have ever known through the game industry. Larger-than-life, funny, warm, sweet, razor-sharp, overeducated women, the kind who laugh too loudly in quiet rooms. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard most of them laugh. One of them IMed me today about how she was leaving the industry and she couldn’t handle the idea of disappointing me but she just couldn’t take it any more, and I told her it was okay, it’s fine, self-care is so important, because it is.

The truth is that after our conversation ended, I put my head in my hands and cried.

I could tell you stories about the voices we’ve lost, the women we’ve scarred, the people we’ve left behind. I want to, but I’m not sure you’d get it. I tweeted earlier today, We should have a war memorial for all of the women we have lost to this. We should lay flowers and grieve and see our reflections in stone. And I meant it. I wish there were a way to honor the people our industry has wronged, and a way to visualize the enormity of what we have lost because of it— some representation of the gap between what games are and what they can be, and the pieces of the bridge between that have fallen away.

Elizabeth Sampat writes on women in the games industry, spinning off Zoe Quinn’s situation. Read the whole thing. It’s a shotgun blast of a piece. The last line of the whole thing is my takeaway from the last few weeks. (via kierongillen)

'Doctor Who' Exclusive Comic Preview Teases Vacation Plans Gone Wrong

Here’s a sneaky peek at Dr Who: The 11th Doctor #2, with art by Simon Fraser. Out next Wednesday!

fandom thoughts

naamahdarling:

fozmeadows:

therisingtithes:

fozmeadows:

So, here’s a thought:

The types of fandom that are most often considered traditional and acceptable, and which are often either male-dominated or coded as masculine, tend to be acquisitive, whether in terms of knowledge (obscure trivia) or merchandise (collectibles). Whereas, by contrast, the types of fandom most often considered insincere, non-serious or “unreal”, and which are often either female-dominated or coded as feminine, tend to be creative, such as making costumes, writing fanfic and drawing fanart

Which is arguably an interesting expression of gender dynamics within fandom, in the sense of being a direct response to gender representation within the canon of particular franchises: namely, that because men, and particularly straight white cismen, are so ubiquitous within popular narrative(s), they have less need to create personal fan interpretations in order to see themselves represented, or to correct/ameliorate stereotypical portrayals; whereas women - and, indeed, members of any other group likely to suffer from poor representation - do.

Which isn’t to say that it’s impossible to be both an acquisitive and a creative fan - not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor am I trying to say that the only reason someone might be an acquisitive fan is because they’re complacent about issues of bias and representation, or that the only reason someone might be a creative fan is because they want to address an issue in the canon. Some people like to collect, some like to make, and some like both, or neither. It’s fine! But I do think that, when it comes to conversations about Fake Geek Girls and what being a “real fan” means - conversations which tend to be strongly gendered - the split between acquisition/creation tends to follow gender lines, too: that guys who know All The Facts and buy All The Merch are the REAL fans, whereas girls who just dress up and tell silly headcanon stories aren’t, and that maybe, there’s an interesting reason for why this might be. 

[bolded for emphasis]

This is interesting. Especially because an extrapolation from that is that the ‘orthodox’, ‘traditional’ mode of interacting with a work - knowing, staying close to the first interpretation, valuing the refusal to budge from those first interpretations over being inclusive and fluid - is therefore masculine-coded, but it’s feminine-coded to be canonically fluid, intensely metacritical, artistically motivated, and to encourage creative deconstruction and reconstruction

Where 'MascFandom' is a kind of Canon Literalism, 'FemFandom' by comparison is Canon Exegesis

Which is probably a sliver of the backlash that grows into the Fake Geek Girl conversation - that people think the ‘text’ of their fandom ‘faith’ shouldn’t be tampered with or recontextualized, whereas other people insist that it has to evolve to meet the needs of the people who it serves? 

I’m not sure how it accommodates for works like Welcome to Night Vale (a really good place, I think to discuss fandoms and their interactions with media), where the literalism of its canon is the establishment that blanks are required to be filled in by the audience. Fan-created artwork of any type, arguably, is as valuable a ‘history’ of Night Vale as Cecil’s radio show, because so many details are up in the air anyway, and have to be informed by the information you do still have (e.g. nothing says Cecil can’t be a blob, so what would it mean if he were a blob?).

This is absolutely fascinating to me now, and will surely make up a large part of actual notes I have about what I can now call ‘exegetical fandom theory’ and how people interact with and alter media.

Reblogging for commentary, and because the divide between literalism/exegesis is another fascinating lens through which to examine both fandom generally, and its gender dynamics. 

Freaking READ THIS.

I am afraid my commentary cannot possibly match the excellence above, but I have to add, extensive knowledge of canon is required for transformative works.  It’s not that non-acquisitive fans don’t know their stuff, which is a pretty common accusation (having to “back up” their creations with source material).  It’s that acquisitive fans (or a subset of them) sometimes don’t seem to understand the urge to take “fact”/canon and expand upon it.

 It has often seemed to me like some sort of context: who can take everything the most literally, and least critically?

This is why stars and creators who embrace fan creations fill me with such joy.  These are people who understands that when the work is done, it belongs to the fans.  Not in a mean financial sense, but in an overarching becoming part of their lives sense.  I think some people have a hard time understanding the importance of that.  I think some particularly difficult people know that some fans feel like they should be free to interact with the world on their own time and in their own freeform way, and they do not respect it at all.  I used to be one of them.

Thankfully, I pulled my head out of my ass.

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