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Me reading an old Wonder Woman comic

What I Learned from Writing 1,000 Comic Book Reviews

I wrote my 1,000th comic book review during the background noise of the ongoing harassment campaign known as Comicsgate. Comicsgate coopts the internet hate mob tactics of Gamergate and has been targeting trans people, queer people, people of color, and women — especially those at the intersections of those identities — for well over a year.

What the mob "wants" is the same: only allowing cisgender allosexual straight white able-bodied men to create comics or discussions around comic books. See Jim Jeffries taking Comicsgate's "leader" down.

Sometimes I think I'm lucky that I haven't been a target of the hate mob. My privilege both as a white and cis person certainly plays into this. I've certainly spoken out against them.

But I've learned over the 11+ years of publishing comic book reviews which asshole creators to actively avoid reading or reviewing their work. I know which ones search for themselves on Google or Twitter and like to call out their critics. I know which ones try to sweep away everything from failed political campaigns to pretending to be Japanese to get writing gigs to throwing women of color under the bus. Turns out that these creators, many of them are the ones supporting Comicsgate, or who've been incredibly silent.

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." — Maya Angelou

My reviews don't get a ton of traffic. Over the years, I've considered shutting down or stopping reviewing comic books. When you're trained as a marketer, my comic book review blog looks like a failure. Reviews take a lot of time. I get behind on reading — and I'm never reviewing the books that just came out — because reviewing takes time, and I do all of it by myself.

However, what brings me joy is not my Google Analytics report. It's when friends tell me they picked up books because I recommended them. It's the power to amplify great writing and artistry — and yes, sometimes, be critical of something I do love.

Keeping a mental list of 'awful creators to avoid' is tiresome. But it narrows down book lists. It's made me let go of reading books I wasn't enjoying, try new creators, and certainly stopped me from being blanket loyal to Marvel and DC titles.

As reviewing comic book isn't my job, I'm not forced to review books I otherwise wouldn't read. My time and money — as with the exception of one or two indie comic books, I'm paying for my books — isn't worth a hate read. I don't believe there are certain books every comic book fan must read. (Same goes for those books without pictures.)

But I do believe comic book needs to grow up when it comes to criticism. Social media makes lines blurry between creators, critics, and fans — but reviews are not for creators, they are for readers. If a creator asked me for critical feedback on their book, it would look very different than my review for readers. Likewise, it's not the place for critics to send authors their made-for-readers reviews.

Intentions mean little to nothing when it comes how someone reacts to what you write. That's the great responsibility that comes with great power.

I will always try to use my responsibility to readers enjoying my reviews to share the books that are worth it, and try to keep the hate reads to a minimum. What I will not do is stop loving comics, or stop reviewing, or stop being part of the conversation because of a hate mob. And I won't let them take my love of comics and my tiny fandom sitting room.

Bookworm corner

The Ice Princess (Fjällbacka #1) by Camilla Läckberg 3/5 stars

An easy and entertaining read. I'd figured out some of the mystery elements very early in, but took a while to figure out who done it. Didn't hurt that the main character is named Erica.

Would've been four stars, but there's some dieting and weight observations that are yucky, which Läckberg tries to Bridget Jones and fails. Lady, you got a murder mystery to solve, who cares about pants that don't fit.

Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom #1) by Devon Monk 3/5 stars

There were some great threads here like the interesting takes on magic. But there were some puzzling choices, including my general not a fan of memory loss in female characters. There's also one point where they drive back from Burns, OR to Portland, OR on the wrong highway. For cat fans, spoiler, the kitten lives.

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg 3/5 stars

This book took me a while to get into it and care about. Paper magic was interesting in concept, and the world is a bit more compelling than the characters. Ending was a bit neat for book with sequels.

The She-Hulk Diaries by Marta Acosta 2/5 stars

Another book that borrowed too much from Bridget Jones, which is an updated Pride and Prejudice. Though at least, when you turn into a Hulk, you care less about weight. However, the writing is incredibly inconsistent, and the lawyer stuff was highly unbelievable to me, someone who largely learned about the law from detective and lawyer TV shows. Compared to the comics, it's a mid-range story with large allowances in characterization.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West 3/5 stars

A quick read as West's conversational writing style is engaging and easy to digest. My favorite essays were refined versions of those I'd read previously as a fan of her work. I'd hoped for more new stories. There are also a couple of instances where this book has already badly aged. Twitter's CEO changed and abuse hasn't; and the Seattle mayor she mentioned turned out to have several people come forward about him sexually assaulting them. Nothing her fault obviously, but a little jarring in context.

Things I wrote recently

On my blog:

The Many Lives of Nichelle Nichols in Beyond Uhura
Nichols is an incredible person. Full stop. I’m so glad I read this book, and I recommend it to anyone who’s a Star Trek fan, interested in Nichols’ life, or generally curious about Hollywood and performing from the late 1950s to the early 1990s.

Rural Queer Girls in the Miseducation of Cameron Post
I have to stop reading books that remind me too much of my childhood. This story centered around Cameron, a tween/teenager growing up queer in rural Montana in the late 80s/early 90s.

Finding Your Power — a Book Review for Ruin and Rising
Last books in a series that leave me with a strong emotional impact always tend to get higher ratings. I’m not sure if Ruin and Rising is a 5-star read, but it absorbed me.

The Color of Money Is a Must-Read — a Book Review
The Color of Money should be required reading. Certainly, for anyone in economics, social justice, or who really wants to understand the mechanisms of money in America, particularly for black Americans.

On Patron:

Other places:

[Video] How to Grow Your Community: A Chat with CMX Summit Speaker Anuj Adhiya
I chat with Anuj about how he grows his online community, GrowHackers.

The Return on Investment at CMX Summit: What You Get and Where Your Money Goes

I've been all about conference budget sharing these days. I break down what a ticket costs to a professional conference and where the funds go to.

Reviews on my comics blog:

Political days

1) Make sure you're registered to vote, and get ready to vote. Put November 6th on your calendar. Get your friends to vote. Show them those small margins politicians won by, and how more voters didn't vote in 2016 than voted.

2) Call your Senators to oppose Brent Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. SCOTUS is a lifetime appointment. Kavanaugh is not only a bad candidate — who considers Roe v. Wade "unsettled law" and lied to Senator Collins (R-Maine) about it, doesn't think Presidents should have to follow the law, said birth control causes abortion (fun unfactual mansplain!), and has said some shady things about racial profiling — but he's being pushed through by a POTUS who's currently be named as a participant in 2 felonies where the other party has pleaded guilty. If your Senators are against him, call them to thank them!

3) Unappointed, unelected, and VC first son-in-law Kusher is teaming up with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu to level up the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East by starving and killing Palestinians. Remember, how human pustule Steve Bannon rallied for a religious war in the Middle East? Kusher and Netanyahu may pull it off.

Green thumb update

The garden is at full maturity. I'm finally getting ripened tomatoes. 🍅

Otherwise, it's fall prep time. I've decided to let my garden rest over the winter and put some compost on top for the rain and cold to do its work. But I'm planning on wintering my jalapeños and Anaheim peppers inside again and setting up an indoor herb garden. I'll also put my artichoke in a bigger container, dig up my kale, and make a lettuce bowl, all of which will winter on my porch just fine due to Seattle's milder climate. And I'll be experimenting with releasing good insects inside my house for pest insect control!

North garden bed
South garden bed

Other Things

[SEXUALITY] The Day I Learned I Wasn’t Broken: On Finding Asexuality and Reclaiming my Narrative by Tawny Rose Case — my amazing friend Tawny shares about her discovery of her asexual identity and how it changed how she viewed herself, in a positive way.

[FASHION] You aren't imagining it: women's jean pockets are incredibly small!

Women's vs Men's pockets: on average, the pockets in women's jeans are 48% shorter and 6.5% narrower than men's pockets.

[COMICS] How White Feminism Drove Me Out of the Valkyries by Jazmine Joyner. The Valkyries have since responded — by blaming women of color for not stepping up to volunteer moderate and fix their community — and are closing up shop. They deleted their problematic tweet statement about this, and apparently didn't even consult their community on its closing!

Friends, you got this! 💪


Erica McGillivray

Copyright © 2018 Erica McGillivray, All rights reserved.

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