Category Archives: Spotlight

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook – European Edition

Each month I run demographic data of comic “fans” based on data mined from Facebook. Due to popular demand, I have split out and launched a “European edition” that runs on the 15th of every month!

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Also, with this being online/technology, due to laws and restrictions, those under the age of 13 are likely underrepresented. Europe also has some other data restrictions that will be discussed below.

Facebook Population: Over 44,000,000 in Europe

After a decrease for a few months, this month’s results remain steady with no change. But, that’s still 7 million more individuals compared to what I reported for the United States in the beginning of the month. Worldwide, there’s an estimated 282,456,070 individuals interested in comics. That’s an increase of 9 million compared to last month.

Gender and Age

In December women accounted for 45.45% while men accounted for 54.55%. This month men saw some gains but things generally remained steady. Men account for 54.55% while women account for 45.45%.

With only a few changes, the below graph is similar to last month.

Relationship Status

There’s been some shift since last month. “In Relationship,” “Married” and “Civil Union” all increased a bit from the previous month.

Education

Things haven’t shifted here much compared to last month.

Gender Interest

And here’s where data privacy differs. In some European nations this information can’t be reported which means either removing those countries or just not reporting on this. I chose the latter for now.

And come back next month for a new look at the data and the first comparison of just Europe!

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Take Part in the 2016 Freelance Comic Creator Survey

I’m proudly partnering with Heidi MacDonald of The Beat to launch a yearly survey to find out freelance rates for those in the comic book industry. This project launched after discussions with comic freelancers and we worked with them for a comprehensive survey that will yield actual information that we can make conclusions about.

The survey is COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS and absolutely no individual information will be shared.

The hope is to find real information that helps benefit creators as spotlighting information like this and bringing it into the public helps. Keeping it secret only benefits publishers.

You can fill out the survey below or through this link. Please only fill it out once (it’ll ask it if you want to take it again and that’s because otherwise it wouldn’t be anonymous!).

In an age of fake news and opinion, help us report actual facts that benefits the industry!

The Comics Are All Right: Marvel, Diversity and the Comic Market Part 2

I kicked off what will be at least a three-part series looking at the state of comics and a shift to more diverse characters, stories, and creators. The first part looked at 2016 as a whole for the comic market.

On a macro level more units were shipped with a lower average cover price resulting in an overall loss in dollars. Since we just have estimated numbers from diamond we don’t know sell through at the store level. These numbers also include some sales through services like Loot Crate which doesn’t benefit stores. It’s flawed, but the best we have.

I felt before moving on to individual series to really look at trends it was good to take one step down and explore shipped units and sales by month from 2015 to 2017.

When we look at the trends since January 2015 we see the overall volume has increased slightly, but generally has remained steady with some increases which we’ll discuss.

On average 7,361,111 comics have shipped for the top 300 while 8,147,778 for all comics shipped by Diamond.

What the above clearly shows is the sharp increase and hard crash in the comic cycle primarily due to major launches or events.

  • April 2015 – Star Wars from Marvel and Convergence by DC Comics launch
  • July 2015 – Secret Wars launches from Marvel
  • November 2015 to December 2015 – Secret Wars wraps launching new first issues for Marvel, Dark Knight III launches from DC Comics
  • June 2016 to November 2016 – Civil War II plus new first issue series for Marvel, DC Comics launches Rebirth

While I don’t want to call the above launches “stunts” we can see events and series launches boost sales creating an artificial bubble of sorts that eventually crashes. April 2015’s high was followed by a loss of about 33% for a September 2015 low. December 2015’s high also sees about 33% loss for a March 2016 low. With 2016’s “stunts” taking place over a longer period we should be about in the low from that event’s high just in time for upcoming events in April.

There is the issue of overships for Marvel which in December could have been in the 100s of thousands of issues. Even when taken into account, the amount shipped is equal to year’s past. So, volume is higher (we can quibble on overships), so again lets look at the cover price during the same time period.

In June 2016 we begin to see a drop of weighted average cover price of comics with lows through much of the rest of the year. These lows for cover price are the lowest since before 2015 and that dime an issue adds up. In Marvel’s interview with ICv2 they said October 2016 is when they heard/saw issues beginning. That’d be after four months of weighted cover prices dropping. So while comics were being sold, more needed to be sold and when it comes to shops with a physical space, that changes a lot of math as to dollars earned per square feet of retail space.

There’s clearly volatility looking at the monthly numbers driven by the ebbs and flows of events and relaunches and add in a decreased average cover price being sold. All of that together creates an uncertain time, but can we chalk up that volitility to any one publisher?

Below I took the reported top 300 units shipped and top 300 percentage of the market as reported by Comichron for each month.

We see Marvel on a decline since June 2016 with some of their lowest months in February and March 2017. When Marvel says they see sales diminishing, this could be what they’re discussing and again look at the massive drop for them from June 2016 to September 2016. That’s a decrease of about 1.8 million units.

Compare that to DC Comics increase which begins to spike in June 2016 before things stop from falling in December 2016. Though DC is doing better in the latter part of 2016 than at any point since this data from January 2015 it’s still not enough to make up for the Marvel freefall. Remember DC’s cover prices have been $2.99 compared to Marvel’s $3.99 so again units being sold for an average cover price that has decreased impacts perceptions.

And we’re not seeing other publishers picking up the market. Most remain pretty steady with spikes here and there due to one comic with a solid release (an example being the recent The Walking Dead 25 cent promotion for Image).

But what about dollars? Below is a rough estimated of what the above equals in dollars.

From the highs of June 2016 from Marvel and DC each publisher has dropped about $8 million and $4 million by the time March 2017 has rolled around. We see a decrease in units resulting in a decrease in dollars.

So, while the big picture for 2016 looks mixed, we can see from the above that the latter half of 2016 has seen the bubble pop resulting in a sharp slide to where we are in 2017.

But what isn’t working? For that we need to look at each individual series. We’ll explore that in part 3!

Underrated: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition.


 

Batman v Superman Dawn of JusticeLet’s not beat around the bush here: the theatrical cut of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice wasn’t the greatest superhero movie of last year and while it wasn’t the worst comic book movie of the year, it was perhaps one of the most disappointing – for me at least. I had expected so much from the movie, because it was fucking Batman and Superman on the big screen together. And… well we got an average movie. There were parts that were great (Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot), and parts that were pretty good (Henry Cavil), and… some less than savoury parts. I left the theatre feeling quite unsure of how I felt; did the good outweigh the bad, or did it balance it out? What didn’t click for me? Could the movie had been better?

Shortly after seeing the movie I found out that there would be an R rated extended cut of the film released for home media, and I wondered whether that would do anything to set the film right.

As it turns out, it did.

Almost every problem I had with the pacing, plot and direction of the movie was made better by the extended cut. I still wasn’t happy that the entire movie had effectively been told in short form in the trailers, but there wasn’t much I could do about that other than not watching the trailer in the first palace. Since that wasn’t an option…

Look, I get that Warner Brothers probably had concerns about audiences sitting for an extended period of time… I mean the near two and a half hour run time of the theatrical cut was the longest movie in recent memory, and understandably Warner’s were concerned about audiences attention spans. It’s not like we’d ever sit patiently during Lord Of The Rings, or binge watch five hours of Daredevil in one sitting. That’s just not who we are. And to think we’d rather have  a great long movie longer than a slightly shorter average one would never cross their minds. 

It’s okay, though.

Whether it’s thanks to the success of Deadpool, or the critical slamming early on, or both, the Extended cut of the movie is a much better story in every way. The plot holes that resulted from the opening sequence are fixed because of the additional footage showing the soldiers using flame throwers to incinerate bodies to mimic Superman’s heat vision, if you wrote the movie off based on the theatrical cut then you’re missing one of the better superhero movies of last year.

Yeah, I said it.

The Extended edition is a better move than Civil War is, but because the real version of the film was never released in theaters, the movie as a whole got quite an unfair reputation – albeit fairly earned based on the expectations people had for this supposed juggernaut of a film, and what was initially delivered. If you’ve only seen the theatrical cut of the movie, then give the Extended edition a shot. The additional scenes add significantly to the overall experience, delivering a much better experience than anything you’d have expected from the theatrical experience.

The Comics Are All Right: Marvel, Diversity and the Comic Market Part 1

Much has been discussed these last few days about diversity and comic sales. In an interview with ICv2, Marvel‘s David Gabriel discussed the last year and the perception that there’s been a shift in the comic market and sales are lagging. Though clickbait articles have spun Gabriel’s comments into “Marvel blames diversity” or “Marvel blames comic buyers” he said nothing of the sort. Here’s the actual exchange with an emphasis added:

Now the million-dollar question.  Why did those tastes change?
I don’t know if that’s a question for me.  I think that’s a better question for retailers who are seeing all publishers.  What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity.  They didn’t want female characters out there.  That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.  I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.

Gabriel was just repeating “what he heard” from retailers and if you read the full interview you’ll see that his thoughts on the subject are much more wishy-washy without much of an answer. This isn’t about defending Gabriel, this is about answers and reality.

The comic industry absolutely needs to do a better job of inclusion in creators, content, and engaging audiences. Publishers are dominated by hetero-white male creators. Other industries have recognized this and found success. Fox (yes Fox) has acknowledged this. Jordan Peele’s Get Out has so far made $167.6 million worldwide on a $4.5 million budget, a 37.24 multiplier (so far). There’s an audience hungry for diverse entertainment from diverse voices. And all of that is being planned to be discussed in the second part (and third, fourth, etc. if needed).

We’re not about clickbait here, so lets discuss the reality of the comic market, Marvel’s sales, and diversity in 2016 using facts and the data we have. First up, lets look at the industry as a whole.

Here’s the reality according to the numbers.

Fact: 2016 had more UNITS shipped by Diamond than 2015

Fact: 2016 had less revenue in due to an average lower cover price (ie the hold the line at $2.99 dropped the average). The industry lost roughly $9 million or about $3000-$4000 per shop.

Fact: January 2017 had the most units shipped for a January in 20 years.

Fact: February 2017 was 5% more units shipped than February 2016. If the end of 2016 sucked you’d see a big downturn in units shipped about now. That’s not happening.

All of this data is based on the excellent reporting of ComiChron based on Diamond’s estimated shipping numbers. Now, what’s shipped isn’t what’s sold, far from it. But, you’d think stores are smart enough to order about what they can sell and if a series begins to tank orders will adjust over time and we’d see a rapid decline eventually.

What’s reported so far is Diamond Comic Distributor’s estimated sales. Diamond is the primary distributor for comic shops, so this is some of the prime data that we’d want to look at to see the “health” of how shops are doing. Again, I stress as I always do that this data is estimates and not perfect in any way.

diamond-data-2016

But what’s the year to year like? Below we see the gains and losses for 2015 and 2016.

diamond-data-2016-year-to-year

That’s a bunch of red in 2016 compared to 2015.

  • All comic sales are down in dollars
  • The Top 300 is down in dollars
  • The combined top 300 comics and TPBs are down in dollars
  • The average price of the top 300 weighted by orders is down

It’s not all bad though.

Comics not in the top 300 increased compared to 2015 selling 820,000 units more. Trade paperbacks too saw a massive increase in dollar sales.

Unit sales have increased as well.

  • All comics increased by 1 million units from 2015
  • Top 300 comics increased by 180,000 units

Trade paperback sales are up. Non top 300 comic sales are up.

The problem is pretty clear from the data, even though there’s more comics being sold, they’re returning fewer dollars, and there are two data points that back that up.

Dollar sales for the top 300 comics is down nearly $9 million and add in the 11 cent decrease in cover price the picture is obvious. More is being sold at a lower price which is causing a pinch of dollars.

If I sell 1,000 units at $3.96 I make $3,960 but if I sell 1,025 units at $3.85 I make $3,946.25. Even though I sold MORE comics, I’m making LESS money.

It’s unknown exactly how many shops there are in the United States but estimates has it between 2,000 and 3,000 shops. $9 million split that way equals some serious dollars.

shops-loss

To emphasize how big of a shift just 11 cents a cover makes. If 2016 sales had 2015’s cover price the dollars sold would have increased $15.871 million in 2016 compared to 2015.

That’s a lot of money per local comic shop that’s vanished. Take into account some shops are doing well, that means there’s potentially a bigger loss for other shops. Those numbers above represent a month’s rent at least for some shops gone. Even with margins, these numbers show shops absolutely should be feeling a money pinch compared to 2015 and that there’s something that needs to be corrected.

It’s pretty clear cover prices are a major problem for the 2016 comic market. But what about the myth that diversity is the problem? We’ll discuss that in the next article. Stay tuned for part 2!

 

The Comics Are All Right is a regular featured column looking at the positive and negative in the comic industry using data and measurable statistics.

Listen to Graphic Policy Radio Discuss Legion with Guest Leonardo Faierman on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

Legion is the latest comic book character to come to television. The first season introduced David Haller, the powerful mutant who may or may not be schizophrenic. The series recently wrapped up its eight-episode first season not just delivering trippy visuals but an intriguing story that weaved in elements of the comic series and classic character.

Guest Leonardo Faierman is joining Graphic Policy Radio’s hosts Brett and Elana to discuss the series.

Leonardo Faierman was born in Buenos Aires, raised in Queens, on the playground was where he planned most of his schemes. He writes video game, music, comic, and movie reviews at BlackGirlNerds and other websites. He also writes a comic book and co-hosts the podcast #BlackComicsChat, live on Twitter every other Friday.

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook – US Edition

Each month I run demographic data of comic “fans” based on data mined from Facebook.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Also, with this being online/technology, due to laws and restrictions, those under the age of 13 are likely underrepresented.

Facebook Population: Over 37,000,000 in the United States

That holds steady from the previous month. Worldwide, the estimate is 282,456,070 which is a decrease of about 1,400,000 compared to last month.

The Spanish-speaking population last month was 14.32%, and this month the population has increased to 16.22%.

Gender and Age

Last month men accounted for 51.35% and women were 48.65%. Things remained steady this month. Women account for 48.65% while men account for 51.35%.

Men remained the same population wise while women gained 1 million individuals.

comics-facebook-gender-3-1-17

Women continue to be the majority of fans under the age of 18 and eventually become the majority of fans as age increases.

Relationship Status

Compared to last month, relationship status has remained pretty steady. “In Relationship,” and “unspecified” both increased a bit.

Education

Things shift a little here and there compared to last month, but generally like the overall population this has remained steady.

Gender Interest

This too remained relatively steady compared to last month.

Ethnicity

African-Americans made some gains from the previous month while Asian Americans and Hispanics both saw drops.

Generation

Baby Boomers dropped a little bit compared to last month, but things again remained steady.

And come back next month for a new look at the data! And on February 15th we’ll have the next report of Europe’s data!

Underrated: Graphic Novel Biographies

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Graphic Novel Biographies.


 

Biographies aren’t always the first thing you think  of when you think of graphic novels, and vice versa. But the thing is a graphic novel is a fantastic way to tell a person’s life story, or a portion there of, that isn’t often used as much as it could be. Graphic novel biographies are a wonderfully unique way of telling a story that you really can’t capture the same way with a prose book. By utilizing the graphic novel format, the creative team have the opportunity to bring the story to life with picture, or temper  the harshness of what the biography’s subject went through so that the reader can take more of the story in (seriously, imagine the first entry with realistic artwork). Or the artwork can tell give you a subtlety that’s missing in other mediums as you’re more readily able to spend time pouring over the images in front of you. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I think graphic novels are an underrated method of telling a biographical story.

So I present to you here a short list of graphic novel biographies. 

A few things before we start; firstly, these biographies are all told primarily in the graphic novel format, but they my not encapsulate  the entirety of the subjects life. Secondly, because I’ve got eclectic taste these selections may not be for everybody so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Lastly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

mausMaus (Pengiun)
Lets’s be honest here, Maus is far from underrated as a comic book. It’s one of the prime examples of excellence in the medium, and for good reason; this is a book that tackles the harsh realities of life in a concentration camp, and is still every bit as relevant now as it it ever was. So its far from underrated as a comic, but as a biography? It’s not often thought of in that way, especially by non comics fans.  Granted, this book takes a spot in this weeks Underrated simply because it’s a graphic novel that really exemplifies the mediums power, but also because when those outside of comics think of a biographical tale seldom does a graphic novel crop up. It’s for this reason that Maus is on the list.

Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven (IDW)
You don’t need to be a wrestling fan to appreciate this story, but I won’t deny that it helps. I am not a wrestling fan any more (though I still appreciate the talent these men and women have to do what they do), but I found Closer To Heaven is an incredibly touching tribute to a great man. A giant who entertained millions of people around the world, while suffering an incredible amount of pain because of his gigantism. Andre is a truly inspiring figure, and this is a fantastic way to honour his story. It’s not the only biography of Andre released in graphic novel form, but it is the only one that I have read.

BillTheBoyWonderFrBill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman (Charlesbridge)
Perhaps the most powerful book on this list that isn’t Maus, Bill The Boy Wonder tells the story of Bill Finger, and his integral role in creating Batman that went largely known know, and entirely uncredited, until last year. This is a must read for any fans of Batman who want to know the true origin story of the caped crusader, and for those who want to read the book that helped Bill Finger get the recognition he deserves.

Dark Night:  A True Batman Story (Vertigo)
Telling the story of the night that legendary Batman writer Paul Dini was mugged, this book is honestly hard to read at times thanks to it’s frank and honest depiction of one man’s struggle to overcome one of the mot traumatic nights of his life, and how Batman inspired him to get back up.

TS_March_cvrMarch (Top Shelf Productions)
This is a bit of a cheat because March is actually a three volume graphic  novel that tells the story of congressman John Lewis, a congressman in the state of Georgia. Each volume in this series is amazing, and delivers to an incredible reading experience about an American icon. Brett has an incredible series of reviews on this modern classic that can all be found within the first paragraph here, so if you want to know why you should read these books then read those.

 


 


 

There we have it – some of the best of the graphic novel biographies. Not all are underrated in the typical sense as relates to this column, (Mausfor example is one of the most respected graphic novels around), but all are worth reading. There are without a doubt other graphic novel biographies that I missed, so there’s a good chance there will be a second (or third) part to this list eventually.

In the meantime, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

While We Talk “Power Rangers” Breaking Down Barriers, How About Haim Saban’s Islamophobia?

With the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers film opening up this weekend, the full court press is on to show the film is updated and fresh with one Ranger being autistic and another figuring out their sexuality. While the changes have been met with glowing articles, the reality is they overlook the darker side of the Power Rangers. I’m not talking about the on-set homophobia experienced by actor David Yost (the original Blue Ranger) during the original Power Rangers show; my focus is a bit different.

If you look at the logo of the 2017 big budget film reboot of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers you’ll see the word “Saban’s” is subtly located in the advertising including television and posters. “Saban” is a reference to Haim Saban, the individual credited with bringing the popular kids show to the United States after coming across the concept during a trip to Japan. Saban was able to make billions off of it all and has parlayed that into political capital.

“I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

Saban is the Israeli-American who is one of the largest donors to Democratic causes and campaigns. He not only runs an entertainment empire but also is a very politically influential individual who is able to shape policy. It was in a letter to Saban that Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Her opposition wasn’t a surprise, the fact she did so in a letter to her biggest donor instead of a press release or speech was and suggests Saban’s influence within political circles and the parts of the Jewish community.

Saban vehemently describes himself as a one-issue person, and that issue is Israel, where he has shifted from a more left-leaning view a decade ago to more of a hardline right-wing hawkish view today. That view also includes disturbing statements about Muslims.

As reported by Haaretz, Saban is quoted as saying in November 2015:

“I’m not suggesting we put Muslims through some kind of torture room to get them to admit they are or they’re not terrorists,” he is quoted as telling The Wrap in a story posted Wednesday, “but I am saying we should have more scrutiny.” Suggesting that some civil liberties may need to be suspended in the face of security threats, he asked rhetorically: “You want to be free and dead? I’d rather be not free and alive.”

He later walked back some of those statements, but doubled down on the threats to civil liberties and opinions on policy that eerily echo President Trump’s logic for his Executive Order regarding immigration.

“I believe that all refugees coming from Syria – a war-torn country that ISIS calls home – regardless of religion require additional scrutiny before entering the United States. At this moment in time, with hundreds killed in Paris and thousands more around the world, freedom as we know it is under existential threat. And while in contradiction to our country’s principles in time of peace, I’m comfortable with the government taking additional measures, including increased surveillance of individuals they deem suspicious. Our first priority is to protect the lives of our citizens and no liberty is more valuable than our safety. I regret making a religious distinction as opposed to a geographical one: it’s about scrutinizing every single individual coming from a country with ISIS strongholds.”

Saban was also a leader in the organized effort to smear Congressman Keith Ellison during his recent bid to be the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison is a Muslim Congressman who has criticized the foreign assistance to Israel when some of their actions make peace difficult and run counter to requests made by the United States.

During the Brooking Institution’s Saban Forum, an annual gathering, Saban unprompted called Ellison an anti-Semite saying:

“If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual,” the Israeli-American said Friday about the Minnesota lawmaker. “Words matter and actions matter more. Keith Ellison would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.”

What Saban, and other Democratic Jewish donors like Alan Dershowitz, were hinting at is donations. This was a veiled threat to pull vital dollars that’d otherwise be donated to candidates and the party if Ellison became chair.

When CNN researched claims against Ellison, they turned up nothing. As CNN acknowledged when digging up old Ellison quotes:

“None of the records reviewed found examples of Ellison making any anti-Semitic comments himself.”

The attacks on Ellison led to numerous Jewish organizations and individuals such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, J Street, and Senator Chuck Schumer to defend Ellison. In a statement, J Street said:

“It is time to retire the playbook that aims to silence any American official seeking high office who has dared to criticize certain Israeli government policies.”

In reality, Ellison is a pretty average liberal Democrat supporting a two-state solution and advocating for peace. But, the damage was done, the toxicity thrown towards Ellison was a factor in his loss as DNC chair.

But this wielding of influence shouldn’t be a surprise. At a Saban Forum event, Saban laid out his three-pronged approach to influence American politics: fund political campaigns, bankroll think tanks (Saban is the founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, a foreign policy think tank that’s part of the Brookings Institution and a supporter of the conservative pro-Israel organization AIPAC with their Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar), and control the media (as part of a group of investor Saban Capital Group is a partial owner of Univision).

Interestingly, Saban was rebuked during the DNC chair race. When asked if Saban should apologize, those running generally agreed he should.

“There were some fireworks. When asked whether billionaire Democratic donor Haim Saban should apologize for smearing Ellison as an anti-Semite, everyone on stage but Ellison and Greene agreed ― a rare rebuke from political aspirants directed toward a deep-pocketed supporter.”

Greene felt the question was a “gotcha” moment attempting to divide the party from its donors, showing where Greene’s loyalty lies. Turning the other cheek, Ellison said the following:

“I just think everybody should know that Haim and I did have a phone call, I won’t disclose what we talked about, but it was amicable, and we’re going to get together and build on our relationship. So I don’t want everybody to think that that was the last word, it wasn’t. And I think we’re on the road to recovery in that regard. So I just wanted people to know that.”

Keep in mind, the DNC chair is a leadership and management role, it doesn’t decide on policy. But, the damage was done with Saban sending one of the loudest messages. Ellison’s bid was sunk… because he’s Muslim and due to Islamophobia.

So while all the article praise the Power Rangers update they overlook a disturbing few recent years where an ugliness has reared its head. As seen in the DNC chair race and the President Trump’s actions, Islamophobia is alive and well. The advocating for profiling, the support of curtailing civil liberties, and unfounded attacks on a Muslim Congressman who wants to serve his party and nation, all in the “support of Israel.” For someone whose show espouses teamwork and bringing together individuals of varying backgrounds as a team, Saban’s statements and actions are divisive and refutes the lessons the show teaches. Go go Power Rangers?

From the Comics to the Streets: Join #PopPoliticsChat Weds 8:30pm EDT

Fans and activists are alike in that we’re all advocates. We promote characters who’ve empowered us and recruit people to join our causes. Sometimes that effort is one and the same.

When a tyrant comes to power by dehumanizing Muslims and Latinx people, telling stories with Muslim and Latinx heroes is essential.

While Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, and Ms. America, America Chavez are punching Hitler and stretching the boundaries of whose superpowered stories are told, real life Muslim women, latinas, and other Queer People of Color are leading mass mobilizations in their communities.

What makes this imagery so powerful? How are these stories both real and imagined changing pop culture and politics?

On Wednesday, March 22, we’re inviting twitter users to dive in and discuss, 8:30 EDT to  9:30pm by visiting #PopPoliticsChat on Twitter.

#PopPoliticsChat, is a hosted online conversation series between pop culture fans/influencers and social movement leaders discussing a topical theme in pop culture and politics.

Our first topic is Marvel ComicsMs. Marvel series, and the newly released America comic, starring former Young Avenger and leader of The Ultimates, America Chavez. Kamala Khan and America Chavez’s powers make them immune to border walls and bathroom laws. Both characters are explicitly American and heroic in their stories, and useful vehicles for considering what patriotism and heroism means when Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ people are being targeted by the government (and when Captain America Steve Rogers is revealed to be a Nazi Hydra Agent).

We’ll also discuss how to engage in Marvel fandom while remaining critical of problematic issues, including Marvel/Disney’s participation in Trump’s Economic Advisory board, and a lack of support for creators of color and women.

Our goals are to bring together pop culture fans, social movement community members, creatives, and more in a fun and inspiring conversation, and to connect them to new ideas and opportunities to take action. We hope you’ll spread the word about the event and participate with us!

Go to Twitter, visit #PopPoliticsChat and join our featured tweeters for the conversation:

  • Desiree Rodriguez (@boricuadesiree) is a columnist and Editorial Assistant for Lion Forge Comics’ Catalyst Prime. Desiree also writes for The Nerds of Color and Women Write About Comics.
  • Nelini Stamp (@NelStamp) National Membership Director @WorkingFamilies. Lover of sci-fi & wizards. Troublemaker with @ResistHere, #ResistTrumpTuesdays.
  • Ardo Omer (@ArdoOmer)  is a senior editor at Women Write About Comics and a contributing writer at Book Riot. She has bylines at Comics Bulletin, Hyperallergic and Slate. Batman goes to her for advice.

And I, @elana_brooklyn will be moderating the conversation, coming to this from the perspective of someone who is a comics fan and critic, but also works for an immigrant-lead community organization whose members and leaders are leading the resistance against immigration raids, over-policing, and other forms of systemic oppression (and have been since long before Trump).

See you then! And if you are Tumblr share it there!


Cultural Pulse (an initiative of the Culture Lab) connects social justice movements to pop culture stories, trends and fan organizing efforts to help them more deeply engage with the stories and people that are changing hearts and minds.

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