Category Archives: Politics

NYCC 2019: Tiananmen 1989 Explores Shattered Hope

Tiananmen 1989

At New York Comic Con, IDW Publishing revealed Tiananmen 1989 from first-hand witness Lun Zhang, French journalist and Asia specialist Adrien Gombeaud, and artist Ameziane.

Slated for release in July 2020, Tiananmen 1989 is Zhang’s first-hand account of the June Fourth Incident, also known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Tens of thousands of Chinese citizens took to the streets demanding political reform not knowing what to expect. Chinese authorities fired on protestors and bystanders shattering the hopes of a generation. The announcement comes as protestors in Hong Kong raise their voices and head to the streets against the same authoritarian government and also are facing a brutal response.

Many voices and viewpoints are covered, not just Zhang’s. From Western journalists to Chinese administrators, they tell what happened and a key moment in modern China’s history.

Art Spiegelman’s Essay Too Political for Marvel

Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949 was to feature Art Spiegelman's essay

Marvel has refused to publish Art Spiegelman‘s essay due to a dig within it at President Trump where he calls him “Orange Skull Trump.”

Spiegelman, the creator of the graphic novel Maus, says he was asked to remove a dig at President Trump from an upcoming book by Marvel and Folio Society. Spiegelman was asked to write the introduction to Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949 which is out in September and was announced this past week.

Spiegelman’s essay touched upon how the young Jewish creators of the first superheroes created mythic, godlike, secular saviors to address the issues of the time such as the Great Depression and World War II. Spiegelman ended the essay with:

In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.

That was too much for Marvel who said they were trying to stay “apolitical,” and “is not allowing its publications to take a political stance.”

Spiegelman says he was asked to remove the sentence about the Red Skull or the essay would not be published. He chose to pull the essay. Marvel editor Roy Thomas will instead be writing the introduction.

Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac (Ike) Perlmutter is a longtime friend of Donald Trump, one of the largest donors to his Presidential campaign, and an advisor to the President on Veteran’s affairs.

(via The Guardian)

AMC’s The Walking Dead Fined $104,000 for Using the Emergency Alert System

The Walking Dead

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reached settlements this week with a handful of media outlets after they were found to have misused the emergency alert system (EAS) tone.

There’s a rule against using the tone outside of actual emergencies to “protect the integrity” of the system. The idea is that listeners won’t mistake the real tone for ones from television shows and vice versa.

The agency found that ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, AMC’s The Walking Dead, Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law, and Meruelo Radio Holdings all misused the EAS tone. The companies have agreed to pay more than $600,000 in civil penalties for the violations.

AMC’s The Walking Dead used the tone twice in the “Omega Episode” of the program in February 2019. The playing happened during eight instances. AMC will pay a $104,000 civil penalty and agreed to a compliance plan.

White Nationalism is the Issue. Video Games and Media Don’t Cause Violence

video games controller

With recent tragedies on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooters and perpetrators of the recent terrorist attacks in Dayton and El Paso. Unfortunately, some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content, even more, won’t solve the issue.

Christopher J. Ferguson, the chair of the Texas A&M International University’s department of psychology and communication, among others including federally funded studies, have shown there’s no link between violent video games and real-world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression. There’s no need for more federal studies, when there’s been federal studies completed. Past research has been mixed, at best, and often weakened by substantial methodological flaws.

It’s clear that real-world statistics don’t back up the coordinated rhetoric championed by the Republican party and elected officials. It’s a coordinated deflection from the true cause of attacks, white nationalism, and loose gun laws. That’s the true threat to America, not video games.

The facts also back up no connection. While video game sales have increased, according to the FBI’s own statistics, violent crime has been steadily decreasing. In 2011, violent crimes nationwide decreased by 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, it’s decreased by 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales. Other nations play the same video games and don’t see the violence and shooting that we see here in the United States.

While Trump also blames mental health, video games have been shown they can be used in therapy including for treating mental health issues.

The reality is President Trump’s own rhetoric fuels the violence and terrorist attacks. When an individual joked about shooting immigrants at a rally, Trump laughed. Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes. Both Trump and the El Paso White Nationalist used the term “invasion” when describing immigrants.

Hate crimes in the country increased by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017, marking the third straight year of a spike in hate crimes, according to an FBI report released last November.

At the same time, federal courts – including the Supreme Court – have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional.  Funding more studies – or passing laws that then get fought out in courts – costs taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s money better spent on treating the mentally ill or shoring up and improving background checks for weapons purchases.

We’ve seen these same conversations before. In the 1950s comic books were blamed for truancy, violence, and homosexuality in youth. This lead to hearings in the United States Senate. We look back on this piece of history and laugh out how ludicrous this claim was then. It’s just as ludicrous today when the conversation turns to video games and their effects.

There’s no easy solution to prevent violence like these events. But focusing on the wrong things isn’t the answer. Make your voice heard today.

A St. Louis Police Union Rallies Around the Punisher Logo to Show Support for Cops Under Investigation

An investigation is underway by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police department regarding officers who published “concerning” images and statements on social media. A police union has asked its members to post the “blue lives Punisher logo” to show support for those officers.

The Punisher logo has been embraced by law enforcement as a symbol of “the war against those who hate law enforcement” according to Ed Clark, the president of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association.

Clark seems to ignore the fact the Punisher is a vigilante who works outside of law enforcement and unlike police officers tries not to kill innocent individuals. In the comics, the character is a vet whose family is killed by the mob for witnessing a crime. He then seeks revenge in a one man war against crime.

The St. Louis Police Police Chief John Hayden released a memo that indicates he has a better understanding of the character. In it, he states the logo “does not coincide” with the department’s “mission to protect life and property and achieve a peaceful society.”

A project cross-referenced police officers with their social media posts uncovering racist and anti-Muslim posts implicating 22 officers. The city’s chief prosecutor has added those officers to a list the officer won’t take cases from.

The Punisher’s creator Gerry Conway has spoken out on the subject:

Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol.

The Punisher himself addressed the issue in a recent comic:

Marvel has been silent over the use of their intellectual property.

North Carolina Denies the Lack of Grant Rebates are the Cause of Swamp Thing’s Cancellation

DC Universe's Swamp Thing

Early this week we ran a story that DC Universe‘s Swamp Thing‘s cancellation was possibly due in part of issues arising from tax grants in North Carolina.

Speculation ran rampant that the production was promised $40 million but only received a fraction of that, a claim that was easily debunked and we did exactly that.

We originally wrote:

The show is eligible for up to $12 million. That money has been set aside until an audit is completed. They had originally requested $16.3 million for the 13-episode season.

In reality, the production received what it requested, $12 million for the season (the maximum amount one can receive) and $4.9 for the pilot episode. We were correct on the $12 million and misunderstood the $4.9 million part. Pilot episodes are counted as their own series, hence the separate amounts. Closer to reality than any other reporting.

Since the budget for the grant program for the year is $31 million and a production can get up to 25% back, the speculated $40 million funding other sites reported wasn’t in any reality or close to it.

Guy Gaster, the Director of the North Carolina Film Office released a statement concerning the situation:

The production team for Swamp Thing knew before production began that North Carolina would offer up to $4.9M in rebates for their pilot episode and $12M for the remainder of season one. They accepted said offer and even signed a contract with the state with those figures. Per state legislation, the NC Film and Entertainment grant can only award up to $12M per season for a series. Per the program’s guidelines, pilot episodes are counted as their own series. In total, the program only receives $31M annually.

But, what Gaster doesn’t address is the still murky future of tax grants in North Carolina which is what our reporting was really focused on and a possible reason for the show’s initial cancellation. Rumors are it’s being shopped around to channels such as The CW and HBO.

From our original article:

In the 2019-2020 state budget, $31 million was to be removed from the fund due to it having a little over $67 million remaining. That money though was already promised. The future of the fund remains up in the air.

Elected officials seem to be disagreeing as to whether the incentives should exist at all. While the money has been restored in the budget proposed by the House, it hasn’t made it in to the Senate’s proposed budget. Budget negotiations are ongoing ahead of the fiscal year’s close on June 30.

This confusion by elected officials has likely lead to miscommunication and disruption and most likely made production not worth it and a logistical issue. The unknown nature of future incentives also makes planning for future production difficult.

Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) wrote in a post:

Because of miscommunication with the State Commerce Department, the chief House Appropriation Chairs were led to believe that there was $67,380,519 of unused funds in the Film Grant Fund, so an additional $31,000,000 was not necessary in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. This resulted in that amount being cut from the proposed Budget for the upcoming fiscal and was to be used for other things.

As explained above, due to a misunderstanding the 2019 budget in the North Carolina House and Senate removed future funding for their film and television grant program. The program currently has money available but that money is already promised. $31 million in future funding was in doubt, and still is.

The funding was replaced in the House budget proposal. Reconciliation between the House and Senate, and a possible veto from the Governor for the overall budget, future funding is still up in the air.

Wilmington Biz agrees with the assessment that film officials and studios are waiting to see how this allocation plays out for future budgets before making decisions and committing to film in the state.

Film officials and studios are waiting to see how film incentive allocations for fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-21 fare in the budget reconciliation process.

Since production planning for a second season would begin relatively soon it’d be silly to continue if you don’t know if 20% of your budget won’t be present for future seasons. The amateur egg on face removal of the funding from proposed initial budget, plus a questionable future, is enough for a production to pull out, especially one with a budget around $85 million. The grant application form for Swamp Thing, filed with the N.C. Department of Commerce, estimates the production’s spending at $65 million in the state. Another $20 million was spent on its pilot. Crew numbers were estimated at 597.

So, while this year’s commitment was paid it’s the future of funding for the industry that’s up in the air.

Swamp Thing Cancelled After One Season, Possibly Due to North Carolina’s Broken Promises

DC Universe Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing debuted on DC Universe last week, and after one episode, the series will not be getting a second. The remainder of the show’s run will play out as normal on the streaming service but won’t return after that.

The season was cut short going from 13 episodes to 10 episodes and while some have said it was due to creative differences or a shift in Warner‘s streaming plans, but the reason might be much simpler, money.

It seems North Carolina is a bit confused on their promised millions of dollars in film grants and future funding for such grants are up in the air. The show is eligible for up to $12 million. That money has been set aside until an audit is completed. They had originally requested $16.3 million for the 13-episode season.

Tax rebates and grants are a way for states to draw production to them and $12 million is a good chunk of the season’s reported $85 million budget. Productions are eligible for up to 25% rebate on qualifying expenses. The money is paid out after production is completed and an audit happens. This can take up to three years after production.

In the 2019-2020 state budget, $31 million was to be removed from the fund due to it having a little over $67 million remaining. That money though was already promised. The future of the fund remains up in the air.

Elected officials seem to be disagreeing as to whether the incentives should exist at all. While the money has been restored in the budget proposed by the House, it hasn’t made it in to the Senate’s proposed budget. Budget negotiations are ongoing ahead of the fiscal year’s close on June 30.

This confusion by elected officials has likely lead to miscommunication and disruption and most likely made production not worth it and a logistical issue. The unknown nature of future incentives also makes planning for future production difficult.

The state had a tax rebate program which was then switched to a grant program. Legislation has been put forth to reinstate the tax incentive program.

Swamp Thing and the film Uncle Frank generated $75 million in in-state spending and created over 1,500 jobs.

Since all entertainment in the end is a spreadsheet, the likely reason for the cancellation is that the series wasn’t worth producing without these tax incentives and the overall cost to produce was too high to justify going forward.

U.S. Senate Candidate Jaime Harrison Embraces Comics in His First Campaign Video

Jaime Harrison is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in South Carolina. In his first campaign video entitled “Character” Harrison talks about comics and uses panel visuals to tell his story.

In the 3 minute video, he recounts how comics were how he learned to read before going in to his “origin story.”

The video uses comic panels, and other visual styles, to tell his personal history and then go after his possible opponent Senator Lindsay Graham.

It’s an amazing use of comic visuals to tell a personal story.

« Older Entries