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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why superhero women don’t sell Part 2

I read a lot of comics featuring superheroines. And from my years of research I began to figure out why most aren’t popular with readers.

Some would think it’s the gratuitous cheesecake panels that turns off readers, or the misogynistic violence like women in refrigerators. But for the most part what keeps superheroines from selling in their solo books is the fact that their stories are ABSOLUTELY AWFUL. If one looks at a superheroine’s comic they’ll notice the same pattern of missing story elements such as:

No Supporting cast. Most male comics feature big supporting casts. Iconic characters who we can pick out of the background and know they are integral to that character’s story and history. Batman has Alfred and Comissioner Gordon. Superman has Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.

Batgirl has in her supporting cast….And She Hulk has in her supporting cast…. And Ms Marvel has in her supporting cast….Crap, I can’t think of anyone. And I’ve been reading comics since I was four years old.

No Best Friend. Almost every woman in the world has a Best Friend or a circle of friends. Heck, even an antisocial misfit like Daria Morgendorffer hung out with Jane Lane at Lawndale High.

But superheroines…for some strange reason seem to avoid contact with other women. Seriously, name one superheroine who has a best friend. Only one I can think of is Etta Candy from old Golden Age Wonder Woman stories. The rest…tend to drift having occasional acquaintances or they spend most of their time hanging with the fellas at the Batcave or the Hall of Justice. This is the primary why girls don’t relate to superhero women or identify with them, they don’t do the things real women do like spending time with their friends.

Comic writers need to understand relationships are important to women if they want to reach female readers. Women love to hang out together. They love spending time with each other. And they have lasting friendships that go on for years, if not decades. If comics featured superheroines doing more things with their best friends, they’d probably attract more female readers.

Poorly defined powers. Yeah, most superheroines have powers. But they don’t use them in ways that make them stand out to the reader.

Any character can have flight, super strength, and invulnerability. They can have a utility belt full of cool gadgets. But it’s how they use them that make them interesting to readers.

For example, Jean Grey had a set of kickass cosmic powers as the Phoenix, up there with Marvel’s Silver Surfer, Thanos and Michael Korvac. But because writers didn’t know how to use those powers in creative ways with her, she became a boring character whose primary function was to go crazy, die, or be a deus ex Machina to end an X-men story that got stuck on the ending.

When a writer takes the time to define how a character uses their powers it makes them stand out from the crowd. It’s these kinds of moments that make readers remember a character and make comic book history.

No Archenemies. The core of a comic book is the rivalry between the hero and the villain. The villain needs a reason to hate the hero, and the hero needs a reason to protect people from the villain. In most comics featuring female superheroes there is no archenemy, a woman you love to hate.

I always found that odd considering how some women can look at another woman and literally hate her for no absolute reason. I’d think comic writers would capitalize on that one fact of life for a story or two

When it comes to YA and Women’s fiction relationships are paramount to the story, and the relationship between the protagonist and antagonist drives the story to its conclusion. Readers see that woman who hates another woman for absolutely no reason. And finding out why she hates her is integral to the plot. But in superheroine comics, relationships between women often take a backseat. I’ve never seen a truly great feud between a superheroine and her arch nemesis, where the two characters have fantastic chemistry and literally bring out the very best in each other.

Craptastic Rogues Galleries. When it comes to bad guys, Superhero women don’t get their own A-list bad guys with the A-list powers. No, they get to take on the fifth stringers the guys don’t have time to fight.

Reading a comic with a superheroine in the lead is like watching an old school WWF wrestling show from 1985. In one corner you have the brand name heroine, Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Woman and in the other corner you have some no-name jobber in overalls and a rainbow wig who is just here for the heroine to beat up on and show readers how powerful they are. No story, no challenge, no character relationship, no character development, and no real reason to care about what you just read. Which is why most superheroine stories just aren't memorable to casual readers.

Not building that rogues gallery is what holds back most superheroines and keeps them from getting a following of readers. What gets readers both male and female into comics is the relationships between the characters. And the rivalry between the heroine and the villain(ness) is paramount to telling compelling stories. I’d love to see a superheroine have a truly great assortment of bad guys all her own who felt like credible threats to feud with.

Absolutely horrible storylines. Most comics featuring superheroines have next to no story. Stuff kind of happens and the story ends on a flat note. Reading most superheroine comics, especially the older ones, story is an afterthought. There’s nothing compelling in them to keep you reading or to make you a fan of the character except the cheesecake.

To really get readers excited, a story has to have ENERGY. It has to make you CARE about what’s going on. I’ve only read a handful of superheroine adventures that excite me, like AC Comics’ Femforce, Marvel’s Spider-Girl and DC’s Huntress and Birds of Prey. In those comics there’s a huge focus on plot and on character relationships. But for the most part women get the sort end of the story stick in comics. If only superheroines got the storylines and premises their YA Fiction contemporaries had, their adventures would be flying off the shelf.

Doing weird shit. I remember reading Old Spider Woman comics where she’d be lounging around the house naked. And some of those Golden Age Woman stories I read online were just…CREEPY.

If you have a comic with an attractive woman in it, the last thing the reader wants to see is her doing weird ass shit like getting a moon tan, swimming home buck naked after losing her costume in  a fight (saw both of these events in Spider-Woman comics) or Amazon women dressing up like does, being hunted,  tied up and pretending to baked in a pie. (saw this in a Golden Age Wonder Woman comic) Or the unused panels of a Catwoman comic where Selina hops the fence of Wayne Manor and strips out of her costume and stands on the lawn.

I mean, I’m one of those guys who likes to share his comics with his male and female friends and family, many of which are non comic fans. And there’s nothing like a panel or two of characters like Spider-Woman doing weird shit like just being naked for no reason or any Golden Age Wonder Woman story to make them uncomfortable about the hobby.  I'd rather read about Batgirl and Huntress in the feminine Hygiene section deciding  between buying Always and Tampax talking about having to fight crime during their time of the month than of the skin crawling shit I just described here.

Gratuitious Nudity/Underwear/Cheesecake Panels. Most readers can understand a cheesecake panel or two, a shower scene after an intense battle, a bathtub scene or a battle ravaged costume. Heck, they can even understand Storm or Starfire’s casual nudity because it relates to their culture and their characters. But some writers and artists tend to go overboard on the nudity when it comes to female characters in solo books. Some of these creative teams don’t understand how to put their content in a context where these kinds of scenes are appropriate and move the story forward. They’re just there to titlate the 12-year-old boy in grown men.

Again, This is the kind of stuff that creeps casual readers out and makes them think comic fans are weirdos. And it keeps them from sharing a superheroine’s comics with their friends and keeps their adventures from selling and building a following

Always going insane. Ever since the Dark Phoenix saga Almost every superheroine has to have a story or series of where she goes CrAzY. And most comic writers think making the heroine have a psychotic episode will add depth to their character.

No, it just shows a writer is out of ideas. And has no idea how to write a good story with women characters. So they cop out and bring in this hackneyed plot device.

Seriously, comic book writers need to give this LAME misogynistic plot device a rest. It’s been done to death. Crazy does not make for interesting storytelling. If anything, it shows how desperate a writer is to make a deadline.

No personality. When I read most male superheroes there’s a clear personality from the first page. Superman is a boyscout. Batman is grim. Hawkeye is a wiseguy. Beast is an intellectual.

Most female characters…are just kind of there. For every Lois Lane, Patsy Walker, Rogue, Jubilee, Sue Dibney, and Pepper from Josie, we get eight female characters who have dialogue that can be interchanged with another background character and literally sound the same. And sadly today, most of the cardboard females are the ones who get to headline a comic while the women who have all the personality and charisma remain supporting characters in the background of male heroes’ comic.

Absolutely Perfect. Yeah, I know superhero are supposed to be attractive. But beautiful women are BORING.  I'd love to see a comic writer write  a story where it's just a ponytail and pajamas kind of nigh for a heroine. Heck, I'd love to write it like I did here.

Whenever I write a female character in a stories like the Isis series, I make an effort to give them flaws. And I found when I gave them flaws, I had a lot more FUN writing them. All the pressure was off to make the character perfect, and the rough edges I gave them  made them more interesting.  In those rough edges I found a woman's inner beauty, like her personality, her charisma, her intelligence and a sense of humor, The way I see it, if writers played up a superheroines their internal flaws instead of their external beauty it'd give them a bit more depth and make them more relatable to both male and female readers.

Boring Secret Identity. Barbara Gordon was a librarian. She-Hulk is a lawyer. Everyone else is…just an “adventurer”. What the heck is that? And how does it pay the bills?

How does a superheroine pay for her costumes when they get ripped up in a fight? I mean, adventurer is a volunteer job. And replacing suits made out of expensive stuff like unstable molecules costs money. If anything, the lack of a day job for a superheroine always seemed like a cop out to me.

It’s not that hard to think of some jobs that women work at that a superheroine could do. Things like college professor, artist, and event planner have lots of downtime so a heroine could suit up and go into action to take on the bad guys.

Day jobs are integral to a characters’ backstory. They’re a major part of a person’s identity in real life and in storytelling. That day job or lack of one, is how a writer moves a plot forward. They’re how a writer sets up a storyline. Stuff happens at the Daily Planet, Daily Bugle, Wayne Enterprises, or Stark Industries.

I’d love to see the heroines alter egos in careers like Science, IT, and Engineering. Career paths girls need to see other women getting into so they can think about pursuing them in real life.

Boring social life. What do most superheroines do on Saturday night? Sit at home Saturday night by themselves washing their costumes? Or is every night a never-ending patrol for the bad guys? Rarely do we get a glimpse of a superheorines’ alter ego at work, play, or engaged in their favorite social activities like we do with the guys.

Seriously, when it’s time to wind down what are a superheroines’ hobbies? What are her interests? What’s her favorite food or her favorite color? Why did she choose the career she got into? All of these questions are rarely answered in a comic book with a superheroine lead. If writers took the time to answer some of them, many of their characters would have a bit more depth and dimension and more readers could get into their adventures.

No “voice”. In good comics the characters “speak” to the reader. In most comics featuring superhero women readers hear…nothing. And when the characters do “speak” to the reader it’s not in a distinct “voice” that makes them stand out from all the characters.

I’ve read lots of superhero women over the years. Phantom Lady, Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, Black Cat, She Hulk, Rogue Storm, And out of all of them only a handful like Marvel’Comics’ Rogue, Storm, Fox’s Phantom Lady, Harvey’s Black Cat and AC’s FemForce “spoke to me. The rest I could probably interchange their dialogue with another character and it’d sound the same.

Ripping off the guys. Most Superheroines are just copyright and trademark placeholders. A way to keep other companies from making female versions of their popular male characters. Rarely do companies make an effort to create an original superheroine. When they do, they barely make an effort to put a story or a character around them readers can get excited about. A shame.

WACK Costumes. Most Superheroine costumes these days lack that “POP” that catches the readers eye. Lately there’s been this focus on drab dark colors and awkward designs no woman would be caught dead in. Has anyone seen the New 52 Wonder Woman costume? Bland Or the New 52 Supergirl Costume? Horrid. Or the Uncanny Avengers Rogue costume? Boring. No woman would be caught dead in outfits like that. They have absolutely no style and no fashion sense.

Any fashion designer will tell you a great ouftits’ purpose is to draw the attention to the person’s face. And most superheroine outfits today unfortunately are so overdesignedwith lines, ornaments, and seams that they don’t draw the readers’ attention to where the real action is: The face of the man character. In a business where the storytelling medium is visually based a bad costume design often keeps a female character from becoming a fan favorite.

Superheroines could probably sell as well as the guys if comic publishers made an effort to write them a story with some of the missing story elements I listed here. There are some great superheroines out there and if someone took the time to give them a halfway decent story maybe both guys and girls would start picking up their comics and following their adventures on a regular basis. If the comic book industry made a serious effort to court girls and women, there could be as many female comic fans as there are female YA and fantasy readers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Comics are NOT Supposed To Grow Up With You Part 3

Some people out here want their favorite superheroes to grow up with them. That’s bad for the comic book  medium. And bad for the comic book industry long-term.

I know there are a lot of moms and dads that want to share superhero comics with their kids. I talk to them on Facebook and Twitter every day. I see them at comicons with their kids in costumes, and sharing pictures of themselves sharing their toys and old comics with their kids on social media. I read their comments on this blog, on comic articles and on message boards like and They’re eager to make comics a family affair and pass their favorite characters on to the next generation.

What’s stopping them? The overly violent content filled with gory violence and overly sexualized content. The skimpy barely there costumes on women. The misogynistic violence against women in comics like Batman: The killing Joke and Identity Crisis. And storylines that take hundreds of issues to finish.

Many parents fear handing a four or a six year old a comic book these days due to the content these days. No mom or dad wants to give their 8, 9 or even a 10 or 11-year old comics depicting decaptiations and mutilations. Nor should they ever have to experience comic panels featuring characters in sexual situations or gratuitous nudity.

The 32-page comic book since its inception in the late 1800’s has always primarily been a medium for children. And a child should be able to pick up a single issue of a comic and just see their favorite superhero like Batman in action taking on the bad guys, not have to deal with four or five issues filled with expository sequences of “prep time” or be told what book will be entry point to a characters’series.

As a writer, I’d love to publish the kinds of comics I grew up with featuring PG and PG-13 style content, easy access points, and short story arcs that end in two or three issues.

But people who work in comics like Dan Didio call these kinds of comics childish and say that kind of content belong in books like Scooby Doo. And sadly, some comic fans call them childish too.

Seriously, the 32-page comic book is NOT the great American novel. And characters like Superman and Batman are not supposed to be as complex as Anna Karenina. If readers want that epic stories filled with all sorts of complex literary elements they shouldn’t be reading 32-page comic books featuring superheroes.

Over the 1980’s and 1990’s Baby Boomers and Gen-X comic book creators decided that their favorite characters needed to grow up with them. And there’s been this desperate need to turn superheroes into literature that relates to the current station of their adult lives and their present-day experiences instead of crafting stories that relates to the children of the generation that are coming after them. This is why kids haven’t been able to get into comics over the last 20 years, they just don’t relate to any of the characters or their experiences.

Whenever someone crafts something that kids get into comics like Static Shock, Teen Titans, Batman: Brave and The Bold, Young Justice, or Superhero Squad, older Comic fans lose it. And the industry loses a generation of new readers.

Yeah, these versions are different. But from what I’ve seen, they stay true to the source material of the originals. They show children classic characters having their experiences in their world. And when kids watch them in action they get to see what’s great about superheroes. That’s how these legendary characters get passed on to the next generation. Kids learn the life lessons from those characters stories and then when they become adults and outgrow them, they share them with their kids so they can learn from their stories too.

Yeah, comics are a storytelling medium. And I’d like to believe there’s room for everyone to enjoy superheroes. There’s a place for the complex storytelling that was featured in comic epics like Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and Kingdom Come: The Graphic Novel. That kind of complex storytelling older readers want and adult content can be featured there in one volume that’s accessible for older readers.

But the pages of a 32-page comic aren’t for 45-year olds. They’re for 7, 8, 9 and 10-year olds so they can discover the gateway to reading. And the industry’s primary focus should be making comics a family affair so moms and dads can pass their favorite characters onto to the next generation of readers. There’s 20 million kids out there who want to get into comics. But until most of the baby boomers and Gen-Xers realize that comic books aren’t supposed to grow up with you, they can’t start enjoying what’s great about superheroes.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Only Two weeks to Donate To The Isis Series Kickstarter! I need to raise $389!

Time is winding down on the Isis series #Kickstarter!  There are less than 14 days to go!  Currently There have been $121 raised! I need another $389 to meet the goal of raising $500 so I can pay a professional comic artist to turn my concept art for Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess into a professional cover.  

For a $20 donation a pledger will receive an autographed  copy of the finished book Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess in paperback.

And for a $100 donation to the Isis series Kickstarter! a pledger will recieve ALL of the paperback books in the Isis series pictured below!

If the Kickstarter does go through I plan on letting donors of what's going on with their money.  I'll be posting progress reports on the blog, YouTube and Facebook.

So far I've been contacting artists and asking what their rates are to turn my drawing into a cover for the paperback and the eBook. But unitl I have the funds I can't pay them to start work. So I'm asking everyone to help out.

This project isn't just about improving the quality of my books, but to show African-Americans the power of Group Economics and how it directly impacts Black-owned businesses. I'm hoping once brothers and sisters start SEEING how their money can make a difference in a Black-owned business, they'll start making more efforts to invest in one in their community.  Every dollar you invest in the Kickstarter will be used to finance the cover of this book. And if the Kickstarter goes through every donor will get their copy of Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess. If you donate $100, you will get ALL the books in the Isis series! Your books will be brand new from the printer.

I want to see this project get off the ground. And I can only do that with your help. If $389 people donatte $1 a piece or $2 a o piece It'll help me meet my goal and get this project kickstarted!.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Who’s "Voice" Do You hear When You Read A Shawn James Story?

I hear voices in my head. Well, character voices.

When I’m writing a story oftentimes characters talk to me. And each character has their own “Voice” when they speak.

Where do those “voices” in my head come from? Some come from my imagination. I hear a character speaking to me and then I just start writing them.

Colleen Anderson from The Thetas always sounds like Robin Givens when I write her prose and dialogue. I never intended for her to sound like that, but that’s how she speaks to me. And Cassandra Lee always sounds like a 1960’s actress. Again, I never intended for her to sound like that, but that’s how she speaks to me when I write her.

Other “voices I use come from actors. One of the things I learned how to do early on when I first started writing was to capture the “voice” of an actor by studying their speech patterns when I watched a movie or a TV show. Then I would take that speech pattern and turn it into prose and dialogue for my novels.

It would often make me smile when a reader would tell me Osiris from Isis sounded like Samuel L. Jackson or E’steem sounded just like Salli Richardson-Whitfield. That meant I got the “voice” right, that I effectively copied the speech patterns of the actors and turned it into prose and dialogue.

Sometimes a characters’ “voice” changes. When a character evolves, sometimes the original “voice” I was using no longer fits, and a new character “voice” is needed to fit who they are now.

I wound up changing Queen Isis’ “voice” starting in Isis: Trial of The Goddess. The original Angela Bassett “voice” I had her speaking in wasn’t telling the story of Trial. So I switched to a softer, gentler one telling the story.

And Marilyn Marie’s “voice” changed when I wrote her in Isis: All About The Goddess. Originally it was a bit of a sultry, mellow “voice” in the screenplay, All About Marilyn but in the Isis novelette, I started hearing actress Persia White’s “voice” as Marilyn’s when I was telling the story. And she started sounding more like a Cali surfer chick. Hence all the “dude” references.

Lately Isis has been sounding like Cree Summer in some stories and Tia Mowry in others. Her speech pattern and personality are the same but as her character has been changing in the Isis series stories, I’ve been hearing different “voices” when I write her.

Of course who the reader hears when they read the story will be totally different than what I imagine when I’m writing it. When I write stories, I see scenes playing in my head like a movie. And I try to have the characters describe the action just like it’s playing in my head in their own “Voices”.

In some ways when I’m writing, I’m like an actor playing all the parts of a movie. Each character becomes their own person, and I have to feel all their emotions to convey them to paper. To make the story come alive. To get the reader to hear the “voices” of the characters so the story feels real.

These are some of the “voices I hear when I’m writing. Who’s voice do you hear when you read a Shawn James story?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Lady Think Like a Man is Garbage

I’m reading Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Lady Think Like a Man as part of my research for my Why 70 Percent of Black Women are Single book. And I’m finding everything in this book to be complete and utter garbage. Lies, Damn lies and Bullshit written to pander to Black women and not offer them any constructive solutions to why they’re still single.

I find the title of this book to be absolutely irksome. Why? Because God did not make women to think like men. If anything the main reason why so many Black women are single is because they believe they can think like men. I find it odd how Steve never mentions anything about feminism and the impact of single parent homes in his book and how women growing up learning these dysfunctional concepts in these toxic environments have led to so many women today being single. But I guess he didn’t want to offend his core audience.

I also find it strange how he constantly talks about men having to deal with a single woman’s kids. Like a Real Man would want to date a single mother. Most of the book seems to be written towards women believing men will get involved with a single mother and having a relationship with her.

Seriously, what guy is going to do this? What dude is going to put up with baby daddies? Kids that hate him? And What man is going to even consider a single mom now that there’s a possibility of him being forced to pay Child Support for kids that he never even fathered?

I love how he constantly talks about men talking to baby daddies and ex-boyfriends. What man is going to play Captain-Save-A-Hoe to a woman and try to solve her problems? If she’s having issues with an ex or a baby daddy, that’s HER problem to SOLVE. If she doesn’t want to talk to these guys she won’t talk to them. And if she’s still in contact with these guys, it’s a reason why a man shouldn’t get involved with her.

Then there’s the90-day-rule. I pretty much laughed at this chapter. Only a SIMP would come up with this idiotic concept. Who’s going to wait 90 days spending money on dinner and drinks for the possibility of getting sex?

Most women know if they want to have sex with a man within five seconds of looking at him. And they’re not going to wait 90 days to get with a man they’re attracted to. They’re going to find a way to get with that man on his terms.

What Steve Harvey doesn’t understand is that any woman using his 90 day rule is sleeping with a dozen different guys while stringing him along for dinner and drinks. Then on the 90th day after stringing Mr. SIMP along, she decides to tell him “it’s not working out” and drops him for all the thugs and bad boys she was sleeping with prior.

Steve Harvey’s big problem on the 90-day-rule is that he thinks that relationships are a one-way street. That’s a concept based on ideas from a man who was raised in a single mother household.

This is why Steve also believes that a woman’s vagina has power. And that a man will wait for sex.

I’d have to say Steve is truly strung out on pussy. Vagina does not have power. Vagina only has power over a SIMP. And Simps become Tricks because they believe they have to pay for the possibility of getting sex from a woman.

Here’s the deal: Women are not that special. Women do not have the power to make a man wait for her. Today, there are four women for every one man. And if she’s not showing him she’s bringing anything to the table other than sex, he has every right to entertain offers from other women. Until both parties agree to be exclusive to one another there is no relationship.

The 90-day-rule is where Steve Harvey’s book falls apart. The man does not have to prove himself to the woman. The woman has to prove himself to the man. The woman may choose the man she dates. But it’s the man who has to choose to offer her a marriage proposal. She has to show HIM she is worth of being asked to wear his engagement ring.

Only a SIMP would believe that he has prove something to a woman. If anything, the woman has to show him what she brings to HIS table for him to make a commitment to her.

I find it interesting how everything in Steve Harvey’s book is all about women making men react.

Men are not emotional. Men are logical. Real Men do not react to a woman, they respond to them.

The only men who react to a woman are those who are raised in single mother households. Men from two-parent homes THINK before they speak and THINK even more before they act.

For all the talk about God, Steve Harvey forgets one tenet of the Bible: The Man is the leader. And the woman is the help meet. She has to show how she fits into his program and how she’ll be a part of God’s natural order.

And the big problem with Steve’s book is he follows the Mangina concept that Men were made for Women. In Steve Harvey’s world the man has to find a way to fits into the woman’s program.

When this is a dysfunctional way of thinking. God made Women for Men. And Women follow the lead of men.

This is why I call his book garbage. It’s shallow, half-hearted and like the Pimp Pastors in the Black Church panders to Black women’s emotions to get at their wallets. Any woman who reads this book will wind up still single and with her wallet $20 lighter afterward.

For me, Steve Harvey’s book doesn’t dig deep enough into the real reasons why Black women are single. This slickly packaged snake oil in paperback barely skims the surface on why Black women are single and don’t go in depth about the numerous economic, political, psychological and sociological reasons why Black women have such a hard time maintaining a relationship with a Black man today.

The truth is so-called relationship experts like Steve Harvey don’t want to offer solutions to Black women. If anything they profit from keeping Black women single. It’s the only way they can keep selling books, movies and DVDs to the masses of Black women in the Matriarchy that controls the Black community.

Yeah, I’m writing my own book on why Black women are single. But I’d like to think I’d offer more solutions in one chapter than what Steve Harvey offers in his entire book. My research comes from historical sources like the Bible, American history, psychologists, mental health counselors, and most importantly Black men. I find it odd that for all the talk about the issue of Black women being single not a single sista has ever talked to Black men about why they don’t want to marry them. Maybe if we started talking to each other instead of through intermediaries we’d start healing the fractured Black community.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Contenders To Barbie's Throne- WARNING! LOTS OF DOLL NUDITY!

If you are offended by Doll nudity, please click out of this blog! Another Article will be up later this week that will be LESS OFFENSIVE

My sister was cleaning out her closets and gave me some of her old toys. Before I posted them up on eBay, I decided to do a feature on the Contenders to Barbie's throne. For over 50 years Barbie was the best selling doll in the world. And it was the dream of many a toy executive to say they created the product to dethrone her. 

Sure there have been many Barbie Challengers like Candie and Sandie, but, I didn't get those in the bag of toys my sister gave me. SO for this blog I'll be focusing on the dolls I did get, the 1980s forgotten Jems from Hasbro and 2000s Girl Force. 

In 1985, Hasbro brought out its first serious contender to Barbie's throne. Her name was Jem, She was a truly outrageous punk rock star and she sang with a band called the Holograms and had a rivalry with a band called the Misfits. My sister had the entire band of dolls including Danse and Video, but for now we'll just focus on Jem. 

Jem was about 12.5 inches tall (a whole inch taller than Barbie) and had some halfway realistic proportions. Her earrings light up (not anymore cause the batteries are DEAD).  She also had MUCH better articulation above the waist than most of the STIFF Barbies at the time. The ball shoulders wrists, and clicky elbows allow her to get in some rockin poses for a 1980s toy! Plus she has some great proportions. Hasbro made a cartoon around the toys that was a tad soapy, but overall was fun for the time. 

Each of these came with a tape with songs from the show, stand and accessories like drums, guitars, and Being the lead singer Jem here came with a microphone. 

Jem  sold fairly well and still has a pretty decent following to this day. Unfortunately, not well enough to keep her from getting her ass handed to her by Barbie. Jem sales fell off in 1987 and never came back 

Towards the end of the Jem Line in 1987 came a spin-off featuring the Girls of the Starlight Orphanage which Jem's alter ego Jerrica Benton owned. Saw this Starlight Girl  in 1988 at Grand Juvenille on Fordham Road here in The Bronx (It's Still there after 35 years!) for the low, low price of $8 and picked it up. 

I'm guessing Hasbro was trying to ape a Skipper/Jem hybrid with this body. I find it odd she has ball jointed hips and bendy knees but no ball jointed arms. and no bendy arms. Oh well, the probably didn't cost out. 

With the failure of Jem for Hasbro, Came a new contender for Barbie's fashion doll throne  in 1988. Her name was Maxie.  I think she came from Australia   She was a hybrid of sorts between Skipper and Barbie She got her ass handed to her around 1990 and was never seen in the U.S. Again. 

As you can see, this is another Skipper type"teen" body. Not much in the way of articulation, the focus was more on fashion and interchangable clothes with this doll. I'll have to say this, the proportions on Maxie are a bit more natural looking than Barbie. 

Poor Maxie. She never stood a chance. She came in at the WRONG time here in America. Most of the girls of Generation X were growing up and out of toys. And the Gen Y girls were just gleams in their daddies' eyes. 

After 1990, Hasbro conceded defeat and NEVER tried to challenge Mattel in the Fashion doll marketplace. Well, as far as I know. I was too busy trying to finish High school and collecting comics at the time. 

Around 2000, Came a line from JAKKS Pacific called G.I.R.L Force. These were on a rubber skinned body with a skeleton frame. These bodies were used in a Josie and the PussyCats doll line Sis saw these in a bodega for $8. and she had to pick them up.

These have some fairly decent proportions and a more natural look to the body. Kinda tallish like Jem at 13.5 inches. And JAKKS was nice enough to give their girl a pair of molded on panties! 

These were some nice looking dolls. Unfortunately, they came in at the wrong time. Around 2003 Bratz came along and FINALLY handed Barbie her ass. But Mattel like DC Comics didn't like the fact that they were being OUTSOLD for once and sued MGA Entertainment saying that the creator of Bratz made them while working at Mattel and that the designs were their property. Mattel Won the lawsuit, but after several years, Bratz are still being sold by MGA Entertainment. 

Mattell's got Monster High now. And currently Monster High is outselling Barbie. So the Queen has finally been knocked off her throne. Only by another doll line from Mattel. 

I'll have all of these on eBay soon, so if you're a collector and want a good deal on some used dolls, check them out. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shawn's Thoughts On Christianity

 A few weeks ago, a commenter said that I should walk away from the Christian religion.

 I’ve seen God do great works in my life since I was seven years old. And that’s why I won’t leave Him.

Now I know a lot of Brothers and Sisters out there are practicing agnostics these days. And their reasons for being agnostic probably have to do with what they’ve seen from so-called Christians in their lives. The kinds of hypocrites who preach one gospel and practice another.

It’s these kinds of who believe that they’re saints.

When God Himself said every man was born in sin. And there was only one man who was ever perfect, Jesus Christ.

It’s these kinds of arrogant self-righteous people who have discouraged people from pursuing a relationship with God by acting like they’re infallible.

When in actuality our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God. In his eyes we’ve all done wrong.

It’s these kinds of religious bullies who use shaming tactics to impose their brand of Christianity onto the masses as the true Word of God. Who use God as an enforcer to force cowardly and superstitious people to submit to their will.

Sure these bullies can read a bible. But oftentimes they misinterpret it. Wilfully and intentionally with malice of forethought.  

Personally I can’t stand these kinds of Christians. Like the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, these are the kinds of scumbags who alienate people and make them turn away from the Word of God and a true relationship with God.

God is not directly connected to any organized religion such as Catholicism or Pseudo Christianity. There is only one way to a direct relationship with God and that’s through Jesus Christ.

When Jesus walked the Earth he never bullied anyone into following Him. He never shamed anyone into following Him. He treated everyone with respect because he loved the world. And the people willingly followed him because they loved him. It was a relationship based on mutual trust.

Yes he called out hypocrites like the scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. But he called them out because he loved people enough to tell them the truth. How these corrupt individuals were using His Word to for political and economic gain so they could exploit the masses just like today’s pimp pastors do. These people knew better, but instead of teaching the masses the True Word of God, they decided to remain silent.

You do not need a Church to have a relationship with God. And I wouldn’t advise going to one these days. Most of these organized religions and these religious institutions are monuments of failure because they’re man-made institutions that have been compromised by men who seek to please themselves instead of God. They give you their subjective interpretation of the Word of God, and that changes to appease the masses.

The true Word of God is unchanging and unyielding. When we give our lives to Christ we change for it. It doesn’t change for us. We become more like Christ.

In the Black community churchgoers only know what the pastor tells them. Their misinterpretation of the Word of God. And the Word of God Black people receive from the pastor in the pulpit is not the same as what is written in their Bibles.

The best place to hide something from Black people is in between the pages of a book. And the true Word of God has been hidden from the Negro plain sight for over 400 years.

The best way to get to know God is to read the Bible for yourself. That way the Holy Spirit can teach you.

The whole point of reading the Bible is to get to know God. So you can have a personal relationship with Him. When one reads the Bible they see how God has worked in people’s lives throughout history and understand why Jesus came to Earth to pay for the sins of all mankind.

What you believe is what you practice, not what you preach. And I do my best to live like the Word of God says. But even I know that’s not possible on my own.  God has to live through me. I understand it’s only when He puts his spirit within me that I can be Christ-like.

I gave my life to Christ when I was 16. And while I have had my experiences with dysfunctional Christians even in my own family over the last 24 years, I won’t let it discourage me from my fellowship with God.

They have nothing to do with my relationship with God. I’m accountable to Him for what I do and how I live. I’m not a perfect person, and I know God will forgive me when I screw up. 

This is why my relationship with God has nothing to do with organized religion. Again for me the Word of God is something I try to practice, not something I preach. For me, the Word of God is about being ACTIVE and taking ACTION. The way I see it, God only makes things happen when I do WORK. Because in his word He says Faith without works is dead. One has to APPLY the word of God to their lives, not just tell people about God. They have to SHOW an example of Christ in their lives.

Brothers and Sisters, don’t let your bad experiences with a dysfunctional Christian discourage you from a relationship with God. God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He wants you to get to know him. I urge you to read the Bible for yourself and see how great a relationship with God is .