Over 10 years ago, I created an Aztec-themed villain in search of a hero. That hero would use a ring to power up his suit of armor, giving him agility not unlike that of a certain spidery fellow, and he would be the first Mexican superhero ever. Clearly, I hadn’t done my homework on the Mexican part, but it didn’t matter. I still wanted to add my guy to the relatively new pantheon of Mexican characters who didn’t wear ponchos or sombreros.
OK, at some point my character does wear a sombrero. A very big sombrero. It gets hot in the desert, what can I say?
It’s been a LONG time since high school. Since then the character that would have been a villain continued to evolve, and soon he turned into a hero in search of a villain. But the one thing I came to realize was that more than anything, was that my hero needed a purpose. A drive. Something for him to fight for. In short, a story. I wish I’d learned this stuff sooner, but hey, even Albert Einstein once thought the universe was Euclidean. And how old was he before he did that thing with the relativity and the E=MC squares and what not?
God, I hope I can finish this book before I’m THAT old. At any rate, if you’re reading this, you are among the very first to hear news about this project. I’ve kept it under wraps for over a decade, after several reincarnations and numerous false starts. Now it’s official – I’m getting it done. It’s coming soon. If this all sounds vague, it’s intentional. This is only a teaser. Xochitl isn’t even the main character, but she’s certainly the sexiest. Some of you have even seen the hero on my main page, but rest assured, he has also been a victim of my revisionary nightmare. Expect a new look for him.
So stay on the look out, follow me on Twitter, Facebook me, and if you’ve got a copy of the stickers I’m handing out, hold on to them. Collector’s item.
I for one welcome the growing crowdsourcing trend. Many artists in my position loathe the idea because it’s unethical and threatens their own livelihoods. I happen to agree – crowdsourcing spells ruin for the art of design, and pretty much any other discipline that can and will be turned over to the masses for a buck or two, or none.
But there is always opportunity to be found. Not in crowdsourcing, mind you; the risk to the artist is too great to participate in a crowdsourcing project – so don’t waste your time. The practice of crowdsourcing is based on greed and the idea that design is not worth anyone’s time and money. Logos are small, simple images that anybody with Adobe Illustrator can just crank out…at least that’s the prevailing attitude – why pay possibly thousands of dollars for a logo, illustration, or web site when you can make starving artists fight for the “opportunity” to GIVE you more free work to choose from than you can handle?
The truth is that many people will leave the design and illustration industry because of crowdsourcing – not to mention the already damning effects of stock houses. There is, however, the part about crowdsourcing that few people like to thing about and the way you will be able to capitalize on it. A glaring flaw in crowdsourcing is the unprofessional veneer that it gives anybody who promotes or participates in it.
Therefore, I think that if you have the nerve to withstand the assault and not quit, then you can effectively market yourself as a professional. That word is too often taken for granted, I think, because there’s too many professionals out there. Everybody’s a pro nowadays; anybody who can draw can design, and anybody who can design is a professional. What people expect from crowdsourcing is the insight of hundreds of professionals; what they get, on the other hand, wouldn’t pass for a C grade at a community college.
Make your professionalism a selling point and it will set you apart from what I believe is a growing trend that will in all likelihood never go away. But that’s good – finally, it looks as if you don’t have as many professionals to compete with. Hell, you might even be able to charge more, seeing as design pros are harder and harder to come by every day. Compare your work to those of crowdsource houses and it’ll be like comparing a pint of Guinness to that stale shit your toothless cousin makes in the bathtub. Crowdsourcing does as much for the artists as it does for the client – you know which clients to avoid working for in the future; they’re not professionals. Forbes magazine writes an article proclaiming the virtues of crowdsourced design? They must not be professionals – don’t bother with them. Is there a company holding a “logo contest”? They must not be professionals either – why would you fuck with them in the first place? Non-pros don’t know the value of your work and may not even pay you for it either. Non-pros are sloppy and half ass Mickey Mouse outfits – you ain’t got time for all that.
Of course, if you’re not actually in the business it’s OK to be a non-pro. Last week the corner store around my house held a mascot contest in which kids from around my neighborhood submitted their designs. They were swamped with tons of cute picture of animals, and aliens, and monsters. But I don’t expect the corner store to hire a graphic designer for a mascot to go on a banner; why would I? They’re not art directors. They work hard for a living doing their own thing. But would any professional bother submitting a design for a mom and pops logo contest when there’s paying work to be had? Let the small fries submit their pictures of Mickey and Goofy; let them worry about “crowdsourcing” – the rest of us got grown man shit to do.
It’s not that crowdsourcers are bad people; they just don’t know any better. You don’t have time to educate them – work with pros.
A professional logo is worth at least $1000 to anybody with a reputable business. But what do you expect out of a business that runs a logo contest? You may not be aware that logo design contests are unethical and insulting. You say you had 134 entries; that’s 133 chumps who worked for free. The idea is for designers to each spend time and resources to develop designs. They then sit back with baited breath hoping they are chosen the “winner”. After all, it’d be disappointing to have put in all that work for no pay, right? But only the winner receives any compensation for the work he just put in. What other profession do you know of where you can run a contest wherein the “lucky” winner basically does work for free unless he is “chosen” the winner? Writers? Plumbers? Dentists?
And to the designer: you’ve come up with a rather pedestrian logo. Does not say anything about the company other than it’s generic – and cheap. What part of that logo tells me anything about the company you just gave away your work to? Had you taken into account the way the text reads from a business card, or the color palette you use on your page – for starters – you’d have done your job right. As a matter of fact, who ARE you? Not a name to your credit? Not even a link to your page? So much for “exposure”. That’s what you get when you enter a logo design contest. I hope the paltry sum of money you were awarded was good for you. Should cover about half your rent; you DO live in a basement, don’t you?
One thing is for certain – neither you nor the company who “hired you” can be considered professionals. Just say no to spec.
The Disneyverse expands, swallows the Marvel Universe.
Like the constant threat of Galactus: Devourer of Worlds, the “Disneyworld” has finally made good on its own threat to consume the Marvel Universe.
SAN FRANCISCO (Inebriated Press) Marvelites awoke to a shocking discovery early Sunday morning when science experts announced that their world had been gobbled up by the corporate entity known as the “Disneyworld”. Inhabited by anthropomorphic talking mice, ducks, dogs, most living under utopian conditions within sovereign kingdoms ruled over by doe-eyed princesses, the Disneyworld was discovered by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four years ago during one of his experiments on interdimensional travel.
“What appears to be triggering the event is as yet unknown to me”, says Richards, “but I can tell you that based on experience that these things are usually the result of backroom deals struck by multinational corporations seeking to expand. What this means for us is that a corporate entity now owns every person place and thing in the Marvel Universe. And if what I hear about the suits leading the charge is any indication, we may be entering a universal dark age.”
Spider-man, a cultural icon and local Queens resident, welcomed the merger.
“I for one think it’s about time. Things were getting pretty hairy around here, I mean, what with Captain America getting capped and everything. Everyone’s been so depressed, and I can’t even make it through the day without my happy pills. Hard to be a friendly neighboorhood Spider-man these days. These guys oughta bring some cheer and sunshine into our lives…like the good ol’ days!”
He expressed a few reservations, however, in regards to the future of his valuable name brand.
“I’m just worried about their track record in terms of films, you know? I’ve got a billion dollar movie franchise going and let’s just say I hope they don’t expect me to put out a musical or anything.”
After being told that plans for a Spider-musical were already on the way, Spidey’s chipper mood turned sour.
“Oh, crap”, replied the web-slinger.
Not everybody in the Marvel Universe was exactly thrilled with the merger. Members of the superhero community expressed some of their concerns. Heroes such as Daredevil, the blind guardian of Hell’s Kitchen, was taken aback by some of the subtle changes occurring around them.
“F*ck do you mean I’m wearing mouse ears?”, he replied when asked about his company-mandated new digs.
Impact on the Mutant World
“We welcome all sentient creatures into our fold”, said Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and the most visible activist in the struggle for mutant rights. “It is my sincere hope that all of their citizens will be treated with utmost respect and mutual understanding as we seek to increase the dialogue between mutants, humans, and talking animals alike.”
In a response to Xavier’s address this morning, the mutant terrorist known as Magneto put out a new video, condemning the invasion as a human-engineered ploy to enslave and exploit mutants even as he reached out to the fairy-tale inhabitants of the Disneyworld.
“Beware the treachery of homo sapiens, my new brothers. They are a petty race prone to hatred and evil; they will grow to envy and spite you.”
He then added, “Join us, or die”.
Welcome to Latveria, the…HAPPIEST place on Earth?
Princess Cinderella had expressed her desire to own a piece of prime real estate in Latveria, and as a senior stock holder in Disney Enterprises she was granted the parcel of land belonging to none other than Victor Von Doom. Dr. Doom, the feared monarch of the tiny nation of Latveria, expressed scorn and disdain at the thought of sharing “his” world with “undesirables”. His scorn turned to strongly worded outrage upon being told that at a shareholder conference earlier today, Disney corporate announced at that as part of the deal they would open a Disneyworld on Doom’s homeland, and even discussed plans to remodel his home and headquarters, the ominous Castle Von Doom, into Cinderella’s Castle.
“Foul, cretinous vermin! Despicable witlings! Microcephallic troglodytes! How DARE they presume upon the land of Doom! Loathsome pigs, feeding upon a trough of their masters’ refuse, blissfully ignorant of the horrors they now face at the hands of Doom! Pigs I say, mired in their own filth, and so shall they suffer a pig’s fate! For their many insults to the throne of Latveria, they shall henceforth owe a blood debt to Doom that even their wretched grandchildren will continue to pay! A copremesis pox on your families and a thousand curses upon their putrid souls! So speaks Doom!”
Widespread violence breaks out, entire cities overrun by magical woodland creatures.
As a result of the merger, major clashes have been reported throughout the day. Hours after Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) spoke to the press he was involved in an altercation with Mr. Incredible in Central Park that ended in a literal tangle when Elastigirl jumped into the fray. Together they ended up looking like the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine. By the time the Fantastic Four and the Incredibles were finished, Central Park was a crater. The argument stemmed from a long-standing feud over their respective feature film franchises. The Fantastic Four maintain that they were blatantly ripped off.
“Your movies still sucked ass”, yelled the young speedster Dash of the Incredibles, referring to the series of live action films based on the Fantastic Four. The fight was called off when a giant tsunami struck the entire eastern seaboard. The tsunami was the result of a fight between Namor the Submariner and King Triton, both claiming sovereignty of the mythical underwater kingdom of Atlantis.
Elsewhere, Cain Marko – the Juggernaut – was seen fending off an attack from Buzz Lightyear at around noon. The Space Ranger was pronounced dead at 12:04 PM. When pressed for comment, Marko replied, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”. A Hulk vs. Bambi match ended on a similar note.
On the other side of the country, a ho down ended in a bar room brawl that left dozens seriously injured, including a drunken Disneyman named Gaston who was found with clawmarks across his buttocks. According to witnesses, a man identified only as “Logan” started the fight when Gaston broke into song and eventually made his way to Logan’s side of the room and began singing in his ear. The man was reported as saying, “Does it look like I care about how many eggs you ate as a lad? Get lost, bub”.
One of the most touching moments occurred as long lost relatives were reunited, and old wounds healed. Howard the Duck met with representatives of the Donald Duck family in a tearful reunion after years of being stranded by an inter-dimensional cross-rip. Quickly taking to their uncle’s dirty habit, Huey, Dewey, and Louie enjoyed a Cuban cigar while Howard took a dive in Scrooge McDuck’s swimming pool.
But even as new friends were made, many more decried the events leading up to the Great Acquisition as the end of an era. They worry about Disney’s intentions in the Marvel universe. But ultimately, they mourn the loss of independence, and the fact that the integrity of the Marvel Universe is now subject to the uncaring whims of a faceless corporate giant.
They sold us out is what they did”, says Ben Grimm, popularly known as the blue eyed, ever-loving “Thing” of the Fantastic Four. “What a rotten development”.
In related news, the naked body of Frank Castle, AKA “The Punisher”, was found in a Bronx motel at around 9PM this evening. Unconfirmed reports state that he was found with a massive gunshot wound to the head. Three empty bottles of Everclear, Oxycontin, and a .50 caliber Desert Eagle were found alongside the body; the cause of death was ruled a suicide.
Cap was always one of the more noble characters in the Marvel Universe. He was the All-American patriot: apple pie, baseball, liberty, Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving Dinner, World War II, and most importantly, the true meaning of freedom. Of all those things, only the last one remains relevant. Steve Rogers personified that idea as Captain America: the Sentinel of Liberty.
Steve Rogers fought the NAZIs in World War II; he fought for America. Then, he was frozen in a sheet of ice and woken up some 60 years later to a culture shock that would severely put into perspective all that he has believed about this country and about himself. Without the luxury of at least a decade’s time in which to absorb the march of progressive change, Steve Rogers had a lot of soul searching ahead of him. What would a man born some time in the 1920’s have thought about gay marriage? African-American suffrage? Abortion? The War in Iraq? The war in Vietnam? MTV? A culture of consumption and commercial excess devoid of intellect and critical thought? After all that had changed, did he believe our America was still worth donning a pair of blue tights over?
Above all else, Steve Rogers was an idealist. For years during World War II he had fought for freedom, but for whom? America? His idea of America was limited to the straight, white, Protestant faces living in Pleasantville with the white picket fence and the shiny new Ford parked right outside. Eventually, however, his motivation would transcend geography and his previously narrow-minded vision of an America that never existed; borders change – people change. But ideas remain the same. His own idealism about freedom would make him come to realize that the notion of “fighting for one’s country” is second only to the noble principles this country is supposed to stand for. His notion of America would come to be inclusive of blacks, migrant workers, homosexuals, Muslims, Atheists, hippies, and single unwed mothers and yet he didn’t even see us in terms of the divisive labels we’ve come to place upon ourselves because his idealism would also open his eyes to our common humanity. Sharing a common humanity he was stripped of all prejudice; only a fierce passion for human rights remained. All that remained was his belief that ALL people are endowed with certain inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Life – He did his superhero thing, stomping ass all over the Red Skull’s henchmen, slapping the shit out of Baron Zemo, kicking Doctor Doom in the nuts.
Liberty – Perhaps no other chapter in his life more clearly defined what Captain America stood for than when he had to stand up to other heroes, former allies turned bitter enemies, to defend liberty. No other chapter demonstrated his principles than when the United States government forced him to stand trial for defending the very ideals America was supposed to stand for. Others may have sacrificed liberty in exchange for the illusion of security, but not Cap. I’d also like to think that he resented the way the word “freedom” was thrown around by neo-cons who only used that word in the economic sense, as if free trade was the same thing as liberty. Steve Rogers was a noble hero; he wouldn’t have bought the idea of selling out our country to corporate interests to line their pockets. He was Ralph Nader-ly that way – uncompromising in his ideals to the point of seeming archaic and irrelevant. But he never lost his conviction. His dedication to the promise of freedom cost him his very life.
The Pursuit of Happiness: In trying to come to grips with the way his country has changed and the way it is being run to the ground, he tried to find personal happiness by learning, slowly, to separate his job from his life – a task that was far easier said than done for somebody so zealous about his country.
What is a world without Captain America like? Only hard core comic book geeks will be pondering that question. Everyone else need only look around. WE don’t have a Captain America. We have prejudice, poverty, cynicism, apathy, despair, intellectual bankruptcy, ignorance, and fear. Sure it’d be nice to have a Captain America around to solve our problems but the truth is we have to be our own Cap. Can we learn to overcome prejudice and embrace new idea, new cultures, a new world – even fight for it? Can we recognize injustice and speak out against it – even if we’re the ones responsible? Can we transcend mere nationalism and embrace the greater idea of liberty for all? Captain America may have been just a fictional comic book character. He may have started out as propaganda, but by the end of his “life” he became a more complex character, making readers re-evaluate what freedom truly means. He personified the virtues of humanism (life, liberty, etc.) and the conviction to stand up for it. Aren’t those ideas just as real?