Is boycott of Orson Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’ good policy or free publicity?

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It’s not that I’m sympathetic toward him, but Orson Scott Card can’t catch a break with the gay fanboys lately.

The Mormon sci-fi author and anti-gay activist wrote a book, Ender’s Game, in 1984 that was well-received among sci-fi folks. Then around 1990, he started speaking out against homosexuality. His vocal opposition to same-sex marriage drew more criticism — all of it, let’s say outright, completely justified. He’s even on the board (still) of the National Organization for Marriage.

Earlier this year, when DC Comics announced Card would be authoring the Superman Anthology, gay comic bookstore owners like Dallas’ Richard Neal drew a bright line, saying if the homophobic Card was allowed to write it, stores like Zeus would refuse to carry it. The artist hired to draw the serial pulled out as well.

Now Card is in the news again. Oscar nominees Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld have completed principal photography on the film version of Ender’s Game, due out in November from Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood. Readying for San Diego’s Comic-Con next week, the studio began rolling out the stars to promote the movie; Ford and co-star Asa Butterfield are even on an Entertainment Weekly cover.

And here stands the new controversy. Card is credited as author of the source material as well as serving as producer on the film, and so a boycott had been brewing, with organizers from New York-based Geeks Out asking folks to sign a pledge denying “support” to the film (which, we assume, means buying a ticket).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Artist pulls out of Superman comic, cites Card controversy

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Richard Neal

Local comic book store owner Richard Neal has been one of those at the forefront criticizing DC Comics for tapping virulent homophobe Orson Scott Card to pen a Superman story for them; Neal announced his Zeus Comics wouldn’t carry it when it was released.

Well, he will have to wait even longer until that day comes. Chris Sprouse, the artist hired to draw the comic, has pulled out of the assignment, citing the Card controversy.

That doesn’t mean the comic is dead, however; DC says it will hire another artist — a fact that distresses Neal.

“In the same week Carly Rae Jepsen and Train cancel a Boy Scouts of America concert appearance by standing up for LGBT equality, we get this from DC,” Neal sighs. “I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen, but I know what I was hoping to happen. However there will be no parade, no victory celebration for equality. DC relied on the artists to make the decision for them. If there is any victory, it’s in the meaningful conversations held in comic shops across the country about LGBT [rights] and marriage equality. The victory is in the community we create with each other.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Zeus’ Neal gets national attention for opposing anti-gay Superman scribe

Variants castDallas retailer Richard Neal, owner of Zeus Comics, has become the go-to guy on why DC Comics is being bone-headed about choosing anti-gay activist Orson Scott Card to write its Adventures of Superman trilogy, which the superhero-loving Neal has refused to carry in his store.

Neal, center, is now the subject of a two-part interview on the website ComicsAlliance about the controversy. You can read it here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movember gets a little gay

I’ve never officially participated in Movember — the annual month-long event to draw attention to men’s health, that entails growing out a moustache all month long while raising money for charity — because, as you can see, I do not really need to grow out a ‘stache, as I’ve been a burly beardy since my 20s. But I believe in the cause, and wanted to give some props to other gays who bothered to go hirsute for loot.

Here are some of the locals who allowed their upper lip to shout “’70s porn actor” rather than shave for a month. You can even still contribute to each of them — the event continues through Nov. 30. You can probably expect some to razor off the ol’ pushbroom after that. Me? I’m sticking with it. At least until the next time I slip and take out a chunk and have to start over … which, to be honest, is a few times a year.

Hey, having facial hair doesn’t make you coordinated.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Marvel’s Northstar is marrying his boyfriend

Anyone who has been reading Marvel Comics for the better part of two decades, knows that mutant superhero Northstar bats for our team. But the big news this morning is that not only is he gay, he’s also off the market — or soon will be.

Marvel announced on The View what Richard Neal at Zues Comics on Lemmon has known for a while: That in issue no. 50 of Astonishing X-Men, out tomorrow, Northstar finally pops the question to longtime boyfriend Kyle. That makes Northstar the first major gay comic book hero to marry his same-sex partner.

Maybe if you don’t follow comics, that’s no big deal. But if you do, it’s huge.

“It makes me so happy to unite my community and my passion like this,” says Neal, who is gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Zeus Comics mixer tonight at Dallas Eagle

Comic appeal

Bond over Marvel team-ups or Archie love triangles when Zeus Comics owner Richard Neal hosts The Return of the Mighty Zeus LGBT Mixer. The new Leap Year tradition features special guest Tim Fish, the out cartoonist behind such queer comic tomes like Cavalcade of Boys and Young Bottoms in Love. He’ll sign copies of his work at Zeus, but at least buy him a thank-you drink at the mixer.

DEETS: Signing at Zeus Comics, 4411 Lemmon Ave. Ste. 105. 5:30 p.m., mixer at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 7 p.m. ZeusComics.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best Bets • 02.24.12

Friday 02.24

Up close and personal
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien struck a chord with the LGBT community in her 2010 special Gay in America following up on her Latino and African-American coverage. She comes to Arlington giving a lecture on “Diversity in America.”

DEETS:
Texas Hall
701 S. Nedderman Drive (on UT Arlington campus).
7:30 p.m. Free.
UTA.edu/MaverickSpeakers.

………………..

Saturday 02.25

Raise your glass
The Toast To Life Gala brings together culinary delights and luxury auctions together for a dazzling night of fundraising. The annual event celebrates 14 years with all proceeds from the night benefiting Resource Center Dallas. Who doesn’t like a night to dress up fancy like while raising a toast to the years of work the Center has done?

DEETS: Fashion Industry Gallery
1807 Ross Ave.
8 p.m.
$100–$150.
ToastToLife.org.

………………..

Wednesday 02.29

Comic appeal
Bond over Marvel team-ups or Archie love triangles when Zeus Comics owner Richard Neal hosts The Return of the Mighty Zeus LGBT Mixer. The new Leap Year tradition features special guest Tim Fish, the out cartoonist behind such queer comic tomes like Cavalcade of Boys and Young Bottoms in Love. He’ll sign copies of his work, but at least buy him a thank you drink.

DEETS:
Dallas Eagle
5740 Maple Ave.
5:30 p.m.
ZeusComics.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

She’s a wonder!

For drag diva Celeste Martinez, Wonder Woman isn’t an act — she’s a way of life

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

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CELESTE MARTINEZ
The Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. July 1­3. Shows begin at approximately 11 p.m. and midnight. Caven. com.

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When Michael was a boy, his parents divorced and he went to live with dad, who worked all the time and was seldom home. So little Michael found a role model on TV.

“That’s when Wonder Woman came on television,” he recalls, referring to the CBS series starring Lynda Carter. “Wonder Woman was a second mother to me, one who taught me right from wrong in a way. She stood for something. Plus she was so statuesque and feminine and graceful, but still stern and strong. I watched that show religiously and as soon as the episode was over, I was back outside, reenacting what had just happened.”

The series ended in 1979, but by the time Michael had grown into drag diva Celeste Martinez, the Amazonian princess was still a powerful force. Since 1993, appearing as Wonder Woman has been the hallmark of Martinez’s drag act.

It’s not just a passing fancy, either. Martinez has every single Wonder Woman comic book since 1983. “When I got my first job, the first thing I did with my paycheck was get a subscription to Wonder Woman,” she says.

Martinez’s devotion has also made her a regular at Zeus Comics, the gay-run superhero store on Lemmon. Such a fixture is she there, Martinez even appears in the next episode of The Variants, the web-based comedy series set at Zeus. (See sidebar.)

“I’ve known [store owner] Richard Neal for years,” she gushes. “They are a fun group.”

But before her debut as a Web star, Martinez will show her patriotism this Independence Day weekend with a series of shows at the Rose Room — all in the guise of her hero, whom she sincerely tries to evoke onstage in spirit as much as appearance.

Martinez’s costume — golden lasso, bullet-deflecting bracelets, tiara, cape, boots and star-spangled panties, all in the colors of the America flag — is familiar to fans of the classic character as well as the TV series, but maybe not so much the new generation of comic readers. That’s intentional.

“With issue no. 600 [of Wonder Woman], they were trying to get a bigger audience so they updated her look, but the real Wonder Woman fans were not happy,” Martinez explains. “They are about to do another reboot with all of DC Comics characters, so as to make the original Wonder Woman fans happy.”

The timing of the show is fortuitous: Wonder Woman is a perfect image for the Fourth of July, Martinez affirms.

“She represents the best of humanity in the sense she’s non-judgmental and sees the best in everyone. She’s gracious and empowers strength and the best in all of us,” she says. “And she does it in red, white and blue.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Promo trailer for ‘The Variants’ is pretty brill’

As Zeus owner Richard Neal kept tweeting about his Crossfit training, it wasn’t a surprise to see him buffed and shirtless in the trailer promo for season two of his web show The Variants. But if the vid is a hint of things to come, season two could be hella hilarioius. The Spice Girls editing is enough to get me to watch. But the question posed is what will Neal, the character, do after all that transpired in season one? Hard to say, but it looks like fun getting there.

Season two premieres May 4.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Gay Archie Comics character gets a spinoff

A year ago, Archie Comics introduced its first gay character in the pages of Veronica. Remember? As it turns out, Kevin Keller was such a hit that he’s getting his own spinoff. GLAAD posted this piece on the new comic that’s slated for a June release.

Of course, whenever we hear about comics and gay, we always run to Zeus’ Richard Neal for his thoughts. And why not? He’s clearly the go-to gay for all things within those comic book universes. When asked what he thought about the spin-off, Neal had this to say via Twitter (but not all at once):

Making a political statement for press and sales is common. Writer Dan Parent however has made openly gay Kevin a very real part of the fun, comedic and kid-friendly Archie Universe. Kevin’s own storyline about his struggles at school and coming out to his parents proves Archie Comics commitment to being relevant to today’s youth readership.


—  Rich Lopez