Congratulations to Our Facebook Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Warren Newsom on winning the contest to design our new Facebook banner! You can see Warren’s fantastic work here. And check out more of his art, including costume redesigns of fan-favorite superheroines, at his DeviantArt page:

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll be showing you all the other fantastic submissions we received. And remember, you can keep up-to-date on Girl-Wonder.Org’s latest news, recs, and blogposts by following us on Facebook or Twitter!

Superhero comics have come a long way

Superhero comics have come a long way. The range of female superheroes, vigilantes, and villains has broadened considerably since earlier times. There’s a lot more on offer for feminist fans of mainstream comics.

But today’s fans face a whole new set of stumbling blocks: objectifying, inappropriately sexualised art styles; gruesome deaths designed only to forward a male character’s story; and a generally held public opinion that superhero comics are the domain of boys and men and therefore have no need to be female-friendly.

movie downloadWe love comics. We want to see them remain a vital, energetic, engaging, popular art form enjoyed by a range of audience groups. If this objective is to remain viable, comics have to pick up their game. We’re here to see that they do.

One of’s primary aims is to get comics fans talking to each other in an environment where everyone feels equally free to express their opinions. Toward this end, visitors are strongly encouraged to make use of the forums.

We Can Do It! shirtThe store features a range of t-shirt designs. You can multi-task: promote the site and look fabulous, all in one fell swoop! received a Tartie from Sequential Tart, in the fifth annual Tartie Awards! was Yahoo’s Pick of the Day on June 20, 2006!

Submissions for proposed websites or columns can be sent to

December: Avengers Academy, by Christos Gage

Avengers Academy is possibly the best book Marvel is currently publishing. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by a number of fantastic artists (including Mike McKone, Sean Chen, Tom Raney, and soon Tom Grummett), Avengers Academy tells the tale of 6 new teenage superhumans who share a history of capture and torture at the hands of H.A.M.M.E.R. director Norman Osborn. In the wake of Norman Osborn’s fall from grace, these troubled teens (Veil, Striker, Mettle, Finesse, Hazmat, and Reptil) have been taken under the Avengers’ wing to become the inaugural class of Avengers Academy. But, as the kids very quickly discover, they weren’t chosen because they have the best potential to become heroes – they were chosen because the Avengers fear that, without guidance, they might turn into villains.

What separates this book from the dozens of other teen superhero books that have passed through comic shop shelves over the years? The answer is Christos Gage, a writer who has rapidly risen to become one of Marvel’s brightest stars. Gage’s work deals with consequences at a level that few other superhero writers are willing to tackle. No canon, no matter how old, is irrelevant for Gage. He expertly weaves the past and the present (without, it should be noted, relying on fans’ assumed knowledge of past stories) to illustrate the ways that past experiences and actions shape the lives and futures of all human beings. The Avengers Academy faculty includes characters like Hank Pym and Pietro Maximoff, characters who have made their fair share of mistakes and want to pass along the lessons they’ve learned to the next generation. The lives of superheroes are difficult and messy, and this book addresses that fact with a rare honesty.

Yet the book is far from glum and gloomy. Ultimately Avengers Academy is a story of hope, of adults trying to help kids and kids trying to help themselves and each other. The kids have their problems, but they’re still very much kids – they even have a prom! – and their interpersonal relationships are bright spots amid the stresses of battle. They have successes to match their failures, and the book is frequently quite funny. I rarely finish an issue without a smile on my face.

For those whose interest has been piqued, I highly recommend picking up all the trade paperbacks of the series so far. But for those looking to dip their toes in, the book’s recent status quo change – moving the school to the old West Coast Avengers headquarters and adding new characters – is a perfect jumping-on point. Pick up last month’s issue 21 and see what the fuss is all about.

Violence: This is a superhero comic, so there’s plenty of fighting of all kinds, including violence that ends in death (though not for our protagonists). Given the premise, all of the characters also have some kind of torture in their backstories. But violence in this book is rarely graphic or gory.

Sexualized Violence: There are references to the past sexualized attack on faculty member Tigra (which happened in another book) and one of the male characters is implied to have been molested as a child. Sexualized violence is never graphic or cast in a positive light, however.

Gender: Half of the original team was female, and more recently two more regular female students have been added, in addition to a number of part-time students (including former solo title stars Spider-Girl, the Savage She-Hulk, and X-23). The girls come from a variety of backgrounds and have distinct personalities, and gendered plots and dialogue are extremely rare. The girls are both as heroic and as screwed-up as their male counterparts.

The Bechdel-Wallace Test: Since the gender-balanced cast spends most of its conversations talking to each other about their powers, fights, and education, I doubt any issue has failed to pass the test, though I don’t have specific figures.

Minorities: From its inception, this book has made a conscious attempt to include diversity in its cast. Reptil is Latino, Hazmat is half-white/half-Japanese-American, and Mettle in flashbacks appears to be at least half Native Hawaiian (he’s also half-Jewish). The new cast includes a white queer character (Julie Power) and a Puerto Rican female character (the new White Tiger, taking up the mantle from wholesale jeans, Hector Ayala), and recent writer comments have hinted that one of the original team may be gay. The teaching staff, relying as it does on older characters, is totally white and straight (and mostly male), but that could change at any point as the cast shifts. In addition, the new part-time students come from a variety of backgrounds.

Parents May Wish to Be Aware: I would rate this book at least PG-13; it is definitely aimed at teens and adults, and the level of violence and implied sexuality is probably too high for younger kids. But compared to some superhero comics, this book tends to be less graphic and grim-and-gritty; the costumes and art are not sexualized and there is a strong moral center to the story. Teenagers should be fine.

Review by Jennifer Margret Smith

How to Draw off Jogger Jeans in the Office

Let’s face it — if you had a choice to wear sweatpants to work, you would do it; so do most of your colleagues. Fortunately, you can now pull off the office version of denim jogging pants, the “cooler cousin” of sweatpants. You just need to know and follow the ground rules of the office to do this with aplomb. To learn more, read on.
The last day of the work week is a time to wear a new fashion trend in the office. Give it a test, maybe once a month, and push the envelope. If there’s no resistance, make it a casual Friday staple. Add a jacket, a professional shirt (preferably with buttons) and dress shoes, and see if your boss notices. If you get caught, you can excuse yourself for not knowing the “casual fridays” rule. You also may want to have a second outfit ready to go in your vehicle.
Jacket makes everything and everyone look a little more professional, even college professors. By pairing your navy blue jean joggers with a customized jeans, you are hiding the fact that you are pulling off wearing sweatpants to work.
If you’re convinced that a shirt makes the whole outfit look more formal, it can also cover up a lot of mistakes. Choose muted colors and patterns. Make sure your button-down shirt matches your jogger and it is as professional as possible.
There is a plan to test out your blue and black joggers on a day where you will spend most of your time sitting at your desk. Until you’ve mainstreamed to wear joggers to work, you shouldn’t wear them on a day when you have to give a big presentation to your boss. By planning to wear them on a down day at the office, you can minimize your exposure to the office and thus make it less noticeable.
Give your joggers a polished look with twill or other professional-looking wholesale jeans. Don’t wear patterns because they draw attention to you. Match them with an all-business jacket, shirt, and shoes, and you will be able to pull it off with ease.
Jean joggers are basically sweatpants that, when paired properly, can be worn in the office. The key is the pairing and the timing.
Jeans jogging pants are basically sweatpants that you can wear in the office with the right combination. The key is pairing and timing.

Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman” – bezel CU

Even a closer look reveals the excellent finish, such as the color transition on the bezel.
The second problem was achieving the desired red color for the blue-red Pepsi bezel, as there were no mineral-based pigments capable of producing a rich red color. After years of research, Rolex replica came to rely on a ceramic-based ceramic with the addition of chromium oxide, magnesium oxide, and rare earth oxides to produce the red portion of the ceramic bezel. To obtain the blue color, half of the bezel was again saturated with a metallic salt solution before being sintered.
The bezels of Batman and Pepsi are based on different ceramic substances, namely zirconium oxide and aluminum oxide, which explains why the blue color of the two bezels looks so different. On our test fake watch, the blue color looks much brighter than on the new Pepsi model. However, incident light plays a major role in our perception of color and, as usual, there are subtle differences between the Pepsi bezels.
Both materials used to form the track condense and shrink during the sintering process and must be worked to exact dimensions using diamond tools. To ensure that the numerals remain perfectly clear, the entire ring is coated with platinum using a PVD process and then carefully polished to leave the precious metal in the recessed dots and numerals. Both processes are proprietary to Rolex. In addition to being scratch-resistant, ceramic bezels have the added advantage of being UV-resistant and will not fade.
Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman”&”Pepsi” watches – flat
The shades of blue on the bezels of Batman and Pepsi are distinctly different. And it’s no wonder: they are based on different ceramics.
Extended Power Reserve
Like Pepsi, the updated Batman features the new time zone Caliber 3285. All Rolex self-winding replica watches, with the exception of the chronograph, are powered by either the Caliber 31xx (the old version) or the new Caliber 32xx, which has a 70-hour power reserve instead of 48 hours. Unlike the Caliber 3186, the new movement has a ball-bearing rotor. The proprietary Paraflex shock absorber is designed to improve performance in the event of a shock. But the biggest benefit for the wearer is the increased power reserve – instead of two days, the watch now offers almost three full days of power, largely due to the more efficient Chronergy escapement. The geometry of the pallet fork and escapement wheel has been optimized, and through the LIGA plating process, copy Rolex was able to create cut parts that are lighter in weight. The escapement is made of nickel-phosphorus alloy and is not affected by magnetic fields.
The well-known features of a Rolex movement remain unchanged: the extremely robust balance cock (instead of a unilateral balance chuck), the free spring with an overcoil made of paramagnetic niobium-zirconium alloy, and the fine regulator with a Microstella weight on the balance. The movement can be adjusted using a special tool without removing the movement from the case.
Rolex has improved the movement in terms of its core virtues of accuracy, longevity, and robustness. The decoration includes a sunburst motif. Hand engraving is not present and does not have the desired effect. The new movement can be easily identified by a small detail on the dial: a small Rolex crown has been inserted between the words “Swiss Made”.

Luxury Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN Green GMT-Hand

Rolex GMT-Master IIThe movement inside the 116710 replaced the previous generation Cal. 3185, which had been in use since the late 1980s, and in fact, the two movements are almost identical. The main reason for the change in movement numbering is a slight update of the jumping mechanism and the introduction of Rolex’s proprietary blue Parachrom hairspring, replacing the Nivarox version in Cal. 3185. 3185. Parachrom, an alloy of zirconium and niobium with a blue oxide coating, is touted as being completely antimagnetic and virtually impervious to temperature changes, while also being about 10 times more resistant to shocks. It first appeared in the current line of Daytona’s 4130 calibers and has now been extended to almost the entire replica Rolex movement range, the only exceptions being some smaller movements with Syloxi hairsprings.
Another distinctive feature of the 3186 movements is that the wheels of its drive train have been moved closer together. This eliminates the tiny wobble you could see in the older GMT hands when adjusting the main hour hand, leaving the entire system completely intact compared to the Cal. 3185. The core construction of both movements is based on the legendary Cal. 3135 which is the longest-running and most widely used movement ever made by Rolex.
Another change, and one that is sometimes overlooked, is the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN with its modernized bracelet. The model was released on a three-link Oyster strap – the sportiest and least formal of Rolex’s various metal strap options. However, the Ref. 116710LN was created at a time when fake Rolex was striving to improve the overall quality of its bracelets, an area in which it had been mildly criticized in the past.
Featuring links with highly polished centers, the Oyster bracelet is now entirely solid, thus ensuring solid weight and resilience, and the new design also introduces the patented Easylink extension on the clasp. Rolex’s Easylink system allows for a 5 mm extension that is completely at your disposal and requires no tools. This means that the bracelet can be adjusted throughout the day to compensate for natural fluctuations in wrist size caused by factors such as ambient temperature and humidity.
The Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN is the last example of Rolex’s legendary pilot’s watch to be released with a single color bezel. As such, the ref. 116710LN is one of the most attractive targets for collectors today, who are attracted not only by its rugged, understated aesthetics or its truly useful complications but also by its future investment potential. With its all-black Cerachrom bezel and green GMT hand, the 116710LN doesn’t look like any other GMT-Master II replica watch, and that’s exactly why it could be the next big thing.

Amazing Rolex watches at the Masters’ Golf Tournament

The Rolex Submariner Date Reference 116613LB is two-tone stainless steel and 18k yellow version of Rolex’s iconic dive watch with a blue dial and matching blue Cerachrom bezel. Produced from 2009 until 2020, the Ref. 116613LB is the first two-tone stainless steel and 18K yellow version of Rolex’s iconic dive watch. 116613LB is the first two-tone Submariner with a ceramic bezel insert and the last Rolex dive watch with a case diameter of 40 mm before updating the entire Submariner collection to a 41 mm case. While blue has a long history of appearing on various models in the replica Rolex Submariner collection, it has only appeared on two-tone and solid gold references, and two-tone Submariner watches with blue dials are often nicknamed “Bluesy” in some collector circles. Rolex watches
Rolesor is the iconic Rolex term for the use of both stainless steel and gold components on a single watch, and the Yellow Rolesor is the variety that pairs stainless steel with 18k gold. In addition to the stainless steel and solid gold versions of the Submariner, Rolex also produces the Rolesor version, which has been a cornerstone product of the brand’s catalog since the mid-1980s. Two-tone watches have been present in the Rolex catalog since the 1930s, and many consider the two-tone aesthetic to be a symbol of the Rolex brand.
With its Maxi dial, Cerachrom bezel, solid link Oyster bracelet, and updated case proportions, the Reference 116613LB is a completely modern watch that could easily be mistaken for a current production model. However, the movement inside is the older Caliber 3135, which first appeared in the late 1980s and has been used to drive the date display on countless Rolex replica models over the years.
Like all modern Rolex Submariner fake watches, the 116613LB features a depth rating of 300 meters, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the brand’s signature Cyclops magnifying glass above the date window at 3 o’clock. In addition, like the current production model, the Rolex Submariner ref. 116613LB features an Oyster bracelet with solid links. It allows instant adjustment of the bracelet length in 2 mm increments up to 20 mm without the use of tools.
Although the official case diameter measurement for the 116613LB is 40 mm, the 116613LB’s official case diameter is 40 mm, but its “super case” design with substantially thicker lugs and the crown guard gives the watch an overall look and feel more similar to the 41 mm case currently in production.

Hottest Denim Trends for Men This Season

Denim is always in – the question is which styles are more fashionable than others this season. Brands always offer different denim, especially this season, so you can mix up your look with something as simple and impactful, as you know, a pair of jeans. One of the designers that always incorporate denim into their creations is DSquared 2, which you can see in their latest collection, available at stores like Luisaviaroma. They are a stylish brand, but here are some of the hottest men’s denim trends for this season.
What was once a fashion crime (in the early 2000s) is now a fashion trend. Double up denim in a fashionable way and you can create a look that really works. The key is to mix and match different, contrasting shades of denim together, as Katie Holmes chose to do with this look. Think light denim with black jeans, or cream denim with dark or black jeans. You can also opt for a monochromatic denim look, especially black denim. Pair it with a black denim jacket, black tea, black custom-made jeans, and white sneakers for an effortless look.
Back in the ’90s, we saw the stone-cold trend and now it’s back. Especially if you’re someone who likes to keep it casual, this trend is for you. Keep your light wash jeans slim and add a pair of chukkas or desert boots and a plain t-shirt.
Denim started as a blue-collar worker’s uniform and practical application. Playing up this inspiration and style is something we’ve been seeing, cycling back into the denim trend, and we’re no strangers to the hammered loops and patches on denim. Whether it’s classic jeans like Levi’s or a denim jacket paired with trousers and work boots, you can play with workwear inspiration to create your own personal style. wholesale jeans
‘Dad’ inspired fashions have been well incorporated into fashion trends lately, especially in the last two years with dad shoes.’ Dad’s jeans have been labeled as those loose-fitting jeans. Pair them with other loose-fitting outfits and casual wear for an easy day look.
We’ve seen over-sized jeans and skinny jeans already, but slim jeans are a timeless fit that should (hopefully) already be part of your rotation. With a slim taper at the leg, this style of wholesale jeans looks great because they don’t drown out your figure, but also look more polished in general. Slim jeans don’t need to be uncomfortable or rigid, and when you find the right cut, this cut is a snug and comfortable fit. Paired with other fitted clothes, you can really mix and match them however you want. The dark wash makes it easy to pair with button-ups and sneakers, but you can also add a t-shirt, hoodie, and boots for a casual and sophisticated look.
These trends give you a baseline to get creative and try different styles of jeans. Jeans are classic, but wearing the same style all the time can get a little boring. So get creative and play around with some denim trends that fit your style!

How To Wear Denim On Denim

You may remember the article I wrote a few months ago on how to wear double denim, but one thing I didn’t cover too extensively in it was triple denim or denim multiple times. Now that fall is here, triple denim is going to be worn everywhere because people just want to incorporate more and more denim into their wardrobe. A lot of people still think that double denim is a no too, but a lot of people are starting to accept that, and hopefully, you’ll enjoy triple denim too!
I recently wore this triple denim outfit (above and below) and I couldn’t be more in love with it! Being the denim addict that I am, the more opportunities I get to wear jeans, the more I jump on them! So, with that being said, how do you wear multiple pairs of jeans on top of each other to make them look chic without looking dull? The key is in the shade of denim you choose and of course, the styling! Find out my fall/winter as well as spring/summer rocking tips and boys, don’t worry, this isn’t just an article for the ladies, I’ve styled multiple jeans for you too!
One of the ways I personally like to wear jeans is with really dark indigo blue jeans (in this case, I had on the James Jeans Twiggy Dancer, which you can get here) or a pair of jet black, and then I like to opt for a mid-blue denim shirt to wear over my upper body and tie a light blue denim shirt around my waist. The contrast of the three different shades of denim really compliments each other and doesn’t look too over the top.
So, the key to creating an outfit that is stylish and versatile without being too denim-heavy is to choose three very different shades of blue. I even added blue accessories to mine just to add some blue elements that aren’t denim and keep it subtle. I’ve found that this look works for both Fall and Spring because it uses various shades of blue, depending on what climate you live in of course.
This look on Micah Gianelli’s top is one of my favorites! She’s always so fashionable and stylish and I love her combo of black skinny jeans, a medium blue shirt, and then a similar denim jacket to layer over the top. I love her combo of black skinny jeans, a mid-blue shirt, and then layering a similar denim jacket over a top. In my opinion, if you’re going to wear all three pieces (instead of tying one of them around your waist), then you could pair the top two pieces, like the shirt and jacket, in the same color since they’re so close together. That will do it.
A lot of fashion bloggers like to do jeans with boyfriend jeans, but beautify them by wearing heels. It’s really important to do this because wearing so many jeans can really drown out your body, especially if it’s baggy, so heels help elongate your legs.
Since these are a triple denim look for fall, I also recommend wearing boots with your skinny jeans! I like to keep the same shade as my jeans, though, to really help lengthen your legs and keep your outfit looking smarter, rather than sloppy. If you want to dress a little more casual, you have a pair of light jeans and some beige or light brown boots that will work too. You can get most of the pieces you need here at Shopbop, Revolve, and ASOS.
Now in spring/summer, triple jeans change a little bit and can be more creative because you’re wearing fewer jeans! The same rule applies from above, about choosing a different shade of blue, but you can switch the wholesale jeans out for denim shorts or a denim skirt and you can change the jacket for a sleeveless version! I find that sticking to a lighter color palette in general though can really work, so try opting for white, twill, and bleached denim instead of dark blue and black.
You can even throw in short denim overalls here too! Layer them over a denim shirt, and then why not tie another denim shirt or jacket around your waist? It’s definitely a cool look that I see a lot in the summer, especially at festivals.
Cut and tie front denim shirts are also a big hit during the warmer months, creating a skin tone gap between the two shades of denim. This gives you more room to be less fussy about your denim shades, which means you can even choose two similar colors as they won’t clash too much! Just make sure that your third choice is completely different, although you don’t want three of the same. It’s starting to get into the realm of denim suits, think Justin and Britney.
Another amazing thing about denim on denim in summer is the accessories. Why not try a double denim look but then finish it off with a denim clutch or bag? Or even better, why not tie a denim headband with a bow in your hair to create a triple denim look that isn’t too heavy if it’s too warm outside. You can get most of the pieces you need here at Shopbop, Revolve, and ASOS.

  • Which of these looks is your favorite? And do you prefer to wear triple jeans in the warm or cold season?

The End

In my haste to make an exit, I realised I had not brought this blog to a conclusion. I hope you will forgive me.
This blog was started at the beginning of 2008, and it has been a great place to get a lot of stuff out for me regarding manga, anime and other comics with regards to feminism and gender analysis. It’s been over six months since my last post, and while the staff at Girl-Wonder knew of my decision, I had yet to inform my readers. Again, I apologise.
I haven’t stopped writing, of course. It was just hard to write for this blog, when I felt there weren’t many reading. I am starting a new blog, Something Fishy, as part of my personal page, I’ve written for numerous publications, including The Skinny (Scotland), RAG (Ireland) and, soon, BoLT (Ireland too). I have to thank this blog for helping me get my writing mojo, honing my pop culture critique. I also have to thank you, my few but very dear readers.
However, this blog has ended, and will only remain here as an archive. If you want to follow more of my adventures, make sure to check back on in the coming weeks. Also! There’s my video blog on youtube, username is platypusofdoubt.
Thank you for reading, this is me signing off x

Planetes: When anime gets it right.

Greetings, readers! How are you? Come inside, and sit down. We’ve got a lot to discuss. Would you like a cup of tea? I’ll switch on the kettle. Yes, yes, I know I’m a week and a half late. I blame exhaustion, plus Int’l Women’s Day, which kept me mad busy (and entertained and inspired) and away from my computer. (Next article will be up on Friday, though!)
I hope you’re comfortable, because today I’ll be telling you about an anime series called Planetes, released around five years ago. I’m still beating myself up for taking so long to get around to it, having now seen it in its entirety. If you’ve never watched anime, and you’re looking for something mature, not exploitative, intelligent and insightful to get you started, this series would be it. After watching it, you can always settle for the crushing disappointment that is 90% of the anime and manga world.
Now, let me preface by saying two things. One, as you may know, in most cases it is very difficult to figure out authorial intent in anime and manga. This is because most interviews and source material are in Japanese, and only few people have the skills/time/inclination to translate them. Add this to the fact that I don’t read anime magazines, and what you have is that I am a bit misinformed regarding the background of certain works. I am not the only one, either. Read anime blogs and you’ll find, time after time, deconstructions of the work with little to no reference to the authors and producers, unless they’re crazy famous. I also want to point out I have yet to read the manga, but since it is a separate production, I’m fine with that.
Two, is that I recommend Planetes because it hits all the right buttons in my head. My buttons mightn’t be everyone else’s, which is only a good thing of course. And yet… it deals with space exploration as well as the concept of privilege, international relations as well as love, the conflicting views of a capitalism for the few versus the needs of the many… In short, it’s not for everyone. But enough gushing, on with the article.
In the near future, year 2075, humanity has started colonising space. There are two small cities in the moon, and numerous orbiting stations which are like small floating cities (though nothing like the mammoth colonies of Gundam). Because of the spike in development, the issue of space debris has become crucial to the expansion of this new frontier. Its collection is entrusted to the space development companies themselves. We are put in the midst of Technora’s Debris Section, which despite its huge importance is seen as a bunch of failures and losers by the rest of the company. The story begins as Tanabe Ai, a graduate fresh from college, enlists with Technora and is assigned to the Debris section. Despite their unkempt, unprofessional look, these people are actually adept professionals, and soon Tanabe is part and parcel of the ragtag team.
What sets Planetes apart is its execution. The key word here is realism. Realistic science, realistic characters, and a realistic world. Many science fiction series touch on the problems humanity faces, but the viewer bears witness to these only fleetingly. Planetes, however, meets these head-on. The main themes are the meaning of space exploration, as well as its harsh realities: loneliness, disease… and privilege.
I’m not going to go into the scientific realism of the setting. This has been praised elsewhere, and while it is noteworthy, it isn’t unique. Planetes treatment of international privilege is one of its defining characteristics. That’s right, much like the more recent (and less realistic) Gundam 00, Planetes deals with the issue of international privilege head on. As episodes transpire, we slowly realise that this is not a bright new future for mankind, but rather the future of the world we live in. Disease and poverty are still widespread, with Third World nations falling behind drastically as they are denied access to the benefits of exploiting Space.
This isn’t an afterthought. The characters are actually affected by this reality. Two secondary characters come from the Third World, and they start seeing little by little what the reality is for them, being ‘others’. Their bitterness at the privilege others enjoy is portrayed perfectly, as well as the frustration with the biggest privilege of all: being unaware one is privileged. I’ll go as far as saying my only gripe with these two characters is that their home nations are fictional, although they are rather obvious stand-ins for Brazil and Conflict-Rife Middle Eastern Nation #32. I have seen this done in anime numerous times, and it feels like a bit of a ‘get out of jail free card’ for ignorance about particular national sensitivities, but still allowing the use of a specific national characteristic. Still, the characters are treated with such respect, and their motivations are so well-developed, that they are truly humanised despite the renaming of their very real nations of origin.
The other triumph of Planetes is in its characters. Admittedly, I was not impressed with Tanabe. She is not given much of a character arc, and comes across as excessively naive. However, despite being quite passive, she is shown as being a very capable individual, making her own choices. Hachimaki, like Tanabe, also comes from a cliché archetype (Tanabe is the shy short girl, Hachimaki is the rude antisocial boy). However, his development shows us a complex person with a deep anguish hidden behind his contrary behaviour.
Genderwise, though, the kudos goes to the characterisation of Fee Carmichael, an experienced astronaut who takes the astronauts of Debris Section out on their missions. Fee’s story has ended by the time the series starts, so she gets no arc, only what we can piece together. Regardless, she’s very well fleshed-out. Fee is married, happily so, and working away from home most of the time. She is not objectified, she is not chastised as being a bad mother for prioritising work over family, and she is highly, no, make that incredibly good at what she does. It is a common anime trope to depict tough women as being soft and weak on the inside, just waiting for the right man to come along and pry them out of their shell. Another common trope is that strong, capable women are somehow incomplete, due to their independence. Fee’s characterisation combats this stereotype quite beautifully.
What else? Well, fans of space exploration will get their due. The show is mega-realistic, as I’ve mentioned, with all the technology looking very plausible. However, the point of international privilege vs disadvantage is driven home quite frequently. This may make space exploration advocates think about what kind of world we would be exporting into the cosmos should we choose to do so. And yes, there is no sound in space, something used very well as a tool for dramatic tension.
Planetes didn’t happen in a vacuum. While it is a recent series, the 1980s fostered a new kind of science fiction anime, focused on realistic environments and realistic, mature characterisation. Planetes, thus, follows in their steps, proudly so. It’s well-written, it contains realistic female characters, and it explores privilege in a way no other anime is doing right now.
Planetes is available on DVD in both Regions 1 and 2. The manga is published in the United States by TOKYOPOP.

Mafalda: From Viral Marketing Stunt to National Icon of Protest

[Before we start today, I wanted to quickly link again to the comment thread for my last post. In a surprising turn of events, Kenny Penman, owner of Forbidden Planet Dublin, which I mentioned in my rant. Kenny argues some of my points, and sheds lights on others. While at the end we disagree, the discussion remains civil throughout, and I believe his contributions are a really important complement to my column. Please check it out! I also want to thank Journalista and When Fangirls Attack for linking to my Sailor Moon article! Welcome, Journalista and WFA readers!]
Mafalda: From Viral Marketing to National Icon
Look! That’s the world, you see? You know why this world is lovely? Because it’s only a model. The real one is a disaster! -Mafalda showing her doll a mapamundi.
I must admit, it’s difficult to make a concise blog post about Mafalda. It’s the kind of comic (or rather comic strip) that has had entire doctoral theses devoted to its analysis. Yet, despite its fame throughout Latin America and continental Europe, it has largely been ignored in the anglophone world. This is a great shame, I find, and a great loss to those readers not fortunate enough to experience the joy of encountering Mafalda. It was my first comic strip and still one of my favourites. Hopefully this post will tell you why, and make you curious enough to track down the collections in English (they do exist!).
Whenever I used to talk to people about Mafalda, I didn’t know what point of reference to compare it to in the anglophone world. Peanuts comparisons are easy, but they are quite inaccurate. Mafalda is a much more intricate work, more mature and deep, as well as being deeply subversive. I recently encountered Calvin and Hobbes for the first time, and my dilemma was solved. Mafalda is like Calvin and Hobbes, only with a cast of seven kids instead of two or three. It has the same imaginary childhood escapism, the same analogies with real world events, and a similar take on kids and parenthood. However, Mafalda is at times more brutal in its honesty, more depressing in its outlook and, crucially, much more interesting from a feminist perspective. This has made Mafalda an icon (and character) of protest throughout nations like its native Argentina, Uruguay, Italy and Spain (where the Franco regime forced a ‘For Adults Only’ label on the Mafalda books).
Mafalda is born out of the mind of Joaquín Salvador Lavado, a.k.a ‘Quino’, an Argentinian cartoonist who creates the character as part of an undercover marketing campaign (which we would now call ‘Viral Marketing’) for an electric appliances company. The deal fell through, thank God, and thus the strip proceeded to find its home in several publications. At this point, a look at the genesis of the comic may be timely, but fortunately that area has been covered, and I can move on to look at what makes Mafalda timeless for me.
With the background out of the way, just what is Mafalda, exactly? The premise is very simple: with no on-going storyline, Mafalda recounts the daily lives of Mafalda, a 7 year-old middle-class child living in Buenos Aires, as well as her friends and parents. As time goes by, more and more characters are added to the strip, each providing something unique in their personality which serves as a foil for Mafalda as for each other. Despite having very little character evolution, each of Quino’s creation has a life of their own, a personality that comes through in vastly different situations.
Let’s start with the protagonist. Mafalda is a child who doesn’t take no for an answer. As soon as she learns to read, she is immersed in newspapers half of the time, pondering on the problems of humankind. She comments on them with her friends, from the unique perspective a child can have on, issues such as the women’s rights movement, Vietnam, and Israel.
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Aside from her, the rest of the characters are easy to summarise in few words. Felipe is imaginative but depressed by school and homework. Manolito is greedy and ignorant, symbolising the shallow material obsession of capitalism. Miguelito is a selfish dreamer yet, unlike Felipe, he is more selfish than anything else. Mafalda’s baby brother Guille, is quite like Mafalda in many ways only younger and more demanding. Mafalda’s overworked father tries to answer his daughter’s tough questions while, at the same time, enduring a mid-life crisis.
Felipe and Mafalda
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Manolito and Mafalda:
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Miguelito’s take on life:
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Baby Guille and his Dad:
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The female side of the cast, however, proves infinitely interesting from a feminist perspective. Her mother Raquel, who dropped out of university to get married, provides a critique to the traditional view of women remaining at home. Her choices are often questioned by Mafalda, who is growing up in the midst of second-wave Feminism, and strongly believes it is time for women to take part in public life in a major way.
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Another hugely important female character in the comic is Susanita. She is often a foil and counterpoint to Mafalda. While the protagonist of the strip often ponders the great problems that face humankind, Susanita has but one aim: to become a high society lady, get married to a prestigious man, and have kids. Susanita is in fact obsessed with this, and considers alternatives to be unimportant or irrelevant. Indeed, she represents a certain conservative cynicism, and is based on the stereotype of the gossip-peddling housewife. Her confrontations with Mafalda often revolve around their drastically different outlooks.
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Finally, near the end of the comic’s life, Libertad (‘Freedom’) is introduced; her tiny size a symbol of the concept she is named after. She is a small girl who is, basically, a more radical version of Mafalda. The daughter of a couple of idealist young intellectuals, Libertad is constantly awaiting the impending social revolution which will bring justice to the oppressed masses. However, she lacks Mafalda’s healthy skepticism, naively regurgitating her parents’ ideas without much thought regarding their complexities.
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The characters are very uniform and their personalities do not evolve or change, but this is quite irrelevant, as Quino is a master of the ‘gag’ strip. Oftentimes, one can see the same basic joke presented in over a dozen strips, yet the presentation and delivery are so different that, despite having the same punchline (Manolito is ignorant, Susanita is shallow, Felipe is depressive), still manage to surprise and amuse.
The strip is made timeless due to the fact that many of the problems that concern the characters have endured: Vietnam’s ghost is now ever-present with Iraq; Israel and its neighbouring nations are still in conflict; women’s liberation hasn’t been achieved. And, of course, the more innocent side of the comic is also timeless: everyone hated school at some point, or knew a very selfish boy or girl. Many generations of Argentinian children grew up with the imagery of these kids, often trying to see where our personality ‘fit’ with these archetypes. Myself, I was somewhere between Mafalda’s inappropriate questions, Felipe’s escapist fantasies, and Miguelito’s unabated selfishness.
For Argentinians, there is another timelessness feature of Mafalda: the representation of cultural features of our society which remain largely unchanged. The ghost of militarism is ever-present, with the 1966-1970 period seeing the comic become slightly less overtly political due to the dictatorship of General Juan Carlos Onganía. Free market capitalism is still a huge concern, as is U.S. imperialism. Many women in Argentinian society still aspire to little other than being a wife and a mother because of society’s pressures. Indeed, in Buenos Aires it is common to say of women obsessed with these trappings ‘she is such a Susanita’. Other characters are synonymous with personality quirks (Mafalda=contrariness; Manolito=greed; Miguelito = selfishness; Felipe=idealism with bouts of depression).
For this column, I’ve been re-reading my Mafalda collections. Every time I return to it, I find something new that draws me in. As a child, I was amused by the adventures of kids like me. In my adolescence and college years, the politicisation I experienced was reflected in the comic, and I finally got all those jokes I was too young to understand before. Now, I see the strip was incredibly subversive in feminist terms (though perhaps not in gender terms).
At the time, comics in Argentina (and largely, all over the world) did not feature female characters who were more than a relative or love interest of the hero of the story. It is very interesting to me that, over 20 years before its creation, Mafalda stands up to Bechdel’s Test much better than hundreds of comics that came afterwards. Not only that, but what fascinated me is that Mafalda actually… subverts Bechdel’s Test.
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See, Bechdel’s Test (though originally applied only to films) requires three points: 1. Two or more women who 2. Speak to each other about 3. Something besides a man. The point of this is that in film and many media, women have been unfairly depicted exclusively in supporting roles of the main male characters. In Mafalda, a regular gag involves Susanita talknig about her future husband and home life, but this is subverted by Mafalda’s frequent observations that these are superficial ambitions. Mafalda tells Susanita that a woman ought to see past these limited horizons set by society. The conversation thus ceases to be about a man, and becomes one about how and why women may hold these limited ambitions.
I guess you can see now why I consider Mafalda to be one of my favourite comics, perhaps the best I’ve ever encountered. Here is where I have to tell you its flaws, and sadly I have come to realise they do exist. The first flaw that comes to mind is subtle racism. Let’s clear something up first: Mafalda herself declares often her distaste with racism, her disgust with anyone that can dehumanise another human being in such a manner. She often calls for human understanding and world peace. However, at the time the comic began, Mao’s declaration were a source of grave concern for many in the West, who feared a Third World War if the two Communist colossi united their forces to invade. This is reflected in many comics in which the characters are scared of the Chinese people due to their massive numbers.
Moreover, Manolito is, though relatively harmless, a slightly racist stereotype. In Argentina, it is common to call a Spaniard ‘Galician’, this being a strong cultural stereotype. These stereotyped features and attitudes include: large thick eyebrows, lack of education and outright ignorance, as well as greed. The stereotype of the ‘Galician’ is exactly what Manolito represents: brutish and ignorant, with a materialist mentality that is only concerned with money. Thankfully, Quino’s writing allows Manolito to rise above the stereotype as a character, becoming more a critique of a very Argentinian kind of greed.
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Finally, and this is a personal issue of mine, Mafalda often displays a rather naive nationalism, the kind that is promoted to children. It’s very hard to form an opinion regarding this, because the Argentina of 2008 is not the same nation as 44 years ago. Indeed, three years after Mafalda ceased publication, my country endured the most bloody dictatorship of its history, which murdered over 20,000 of its own citizens. A ‘Western Catholic Capitalist’ oppressive regime, it was intrinsically nationalistic, ending with the lamentable Falklands War. After that, nationalism in Argentina has never meant the same thing. Perhaps foreseeing this, Quino stopped the strip quite suddenly in 1973, as the nation began spiralling into violence, which would culminate in the aforementioned regime.
As a final critique, while traditional gender roles are questioned very often throughout, gender identity is seldom an issue. It only comes into play when, by accident, someone preys on the fears of the ‘older generation’, and this is very infrequent. Generally, Quino uses this as a tool to display the conservative attitudes of previous generations. What may appear so normal as to be ignored by youth may be perceived as ‘depraved’ by an older character (usually a passers-by).
Closing thoughts? I don’t have many. Mafalda is the best kind of comic strip, in my honest opinion. It is funny, it is endearing, but it can also challenge the outside world, and has little pretense and a lot of hope for humankind. It’s a fantastic second-wave feminism comic strip while, at the same time, being much broader in scope. It offers a complex image of children very much at odds with the traditional view of a child as an innocent angel. And it is always, always, insightful, shallow, depressing, hilarious, thoughtful and profound. Often all at once.
Now, for a useful tidbit, I’ve tried to track down English-language editions of Mafalda. This is difficult: an old British edition of the books is lost to the mists of time, and to this day there is no U.S. edition (U.S. publishers rejected the strip in 2004 saying it was too complex for children). Regardless, Mafalda has been finding an audience in English, thanks to its publication by the Argentinian publisher of the collections, Ediciones de la Flor, which still sell by the thousands. The translations aren’t always 100%, after all a few strips rely on wordplay that is untranslatable cultural lingo or slang. But for what is possible, it is an appropriate adaptation (I own 3 of the 5 collections in English). Here are some sites that stock the collections in English. For now, only 5 out of the 10 books have been published so far. If you want to search for it yourself, the books are published as Mafalda and Friends.
Amazon UK
Finally, if you’re a Spanish speaker, I recommend Toda Mafalda. It is a coffee-table sized book which includes all the ten collections, as well as extra strips and illustrations made by Quino of his characters down the years. It includes tributes by artists and cartoonists as well.

Sailor Moon: Queerness in the Queerless ’90s

And so we begin regular updates! I know I’m excited, so let’s get right to it!
For my first column, I wanted to talk about one of the shows that got me (and many people) into anime in the first place: Sailor Moon, and how it impacted on my queerness as well as many people of my generation. In looking for references for this column, I stumbled across this interesting article regarding queerness and attitudes to sexuality and gender in anime.
If you were coming of age in mid-’90s Argentina, and you sensed you were, let’s say, ‘different’ from your peers with regards to your sexual identity, there weren’t a lot of readily available images for you to begin to understand yourself more. Media images influence us: they contribute to defining how we see ourselves, and may sometimes even help contribute to our development by giving us positive role models. This is particularly important if one is part of a minority, one which doesn’t get a lot of airtime or attention. And as we know, queerness is something that gets silenced in many societies.
In Argentina, there weren’t really many role models at all if you were a coming-of-age young queer. Indeed, queerness was relegated to homosexuality and cross-dressing as a source of comedy, the best exponent of which was Antonio Gasalla. A TV presenter with his own sketch show, the late Gasalla was as intelligent and witty as he was problematic. For all his groundbreaking, anti-establishment comedy, Gasalla still played up to certain stereotypes of camp which were deemed acceptable by mainstream Argentinian society. So we can file him under ‘mixed blessing’ at best. Apart from him, there wasn’t much else on TV or film, you had the stereotypical ‘tragic gay’ here and there in arthouse films and that was it. Argentinian society really didn’t have room for much more (for added context: sexual ‘minorities’ were denied the vote in the city of Buenos Aires until the year 1990).
The year 1995 marked the beginning of the ’second wave’ of anime in Argentina. The first wave had been very light, consisting of Astro Boy, Mazinger Z and other old time classics, as well as Robotech, being aired. The second wave provided more authentic, less altered content. The spearheads of anime were three shows in particular: Sailor Moon, Saint Seiya, and Dragon Ball.
They all stood out in their own ways, but as far as different ways of doing an adventure show, Sailor Moon was quite groundbreaking for many of us, accustomed to getting our animation/comic fix from American derivates. First of all, it was a show about a group of girls. While they may have their loves and relationships (and on further analysis many of these were troubled in the way they were presented), each of them was their own person, with their own lives, and no male ally or villain ever really stole the spotlight. The first season of the show already featured a queer romance, that between villains Zoycite and Kunzyte, yet the dub for that season, the only one based on the U.S. one (though without blatant censorship for the most part), portrayed Zoycite as a woman. Many, myself included, took little notice, after all his facial features matched those of the women in the show, and few people were used to anime portrayals of feminine men.
Still, a while later Sailor Moon S came along, one of the heights of plotting and drama for the series. And there you had it: Haruka and Michiru. Haruka was a woman, identified as such, but used a low voice when in ‘civilian’ guise, and dressed as a man. At first sight, most of the main characters were attracted to her. Oh, but Haruka was going out with the very feminine Michiru. They rarely did more than hold hands, but the normality with which their relationship was presented was a clincher for those of us in the audience. After that, whenever queer characters showed up, they were treated with the same normality in the narrative: Fish-Eye’s trans sensitivities were not played for laughs, it was just another feature of the character. Later on, we get the more protagonic Sailor Star Lights who, for the unitiated, were men in their civilian identity but transformed into women when changing into Sailor Scouts. Once more, the characters seemed at home with either gender, which was quite unique at a time when all other trans people on Argentinian TV were part of cop dramas, usually involved in sordid tales of prostitution.
In hindsight, the relationship is not without problematics, of course. Haruka and Michiru suscribe to the butch-femme binary to the letter, a common misinterpretation of identity in homosexual relationships (that is to say, the idea that that is ‘the way’ in which they occur). Also, they are both tragic characters, their destiny is considered by both of them to be doomed, which may put them in the category of the ‘tragic gay couple’, one that is not seldom found in shoujo manga. Furthermore, I remember clearly back then, in the budding fandom that sprung up around the aforementioned anime shows, many people started to spread the misconception that, somehow, Japan was an advanced society in which being gay or trans was perfectly acceptable and a-okay. In the pre-internet world, with only anime to gauge it, it may have indeed seemed to be the case.
In opposition to this, I link to the aforementioned article, as well as this interesting essay entitled Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Japan. Both look into queerness in manga, particularly shoujo (manga ‘for girls’), a classification Sailor Moon and most of its companions in the ‘magical girl’ genre fall within. While the second article focuses on male homosexuality, it points out how, for a lot of Japanese gay men, homosexual imagery in shoujo manga isn’t a plus, but rather it is a burden due to stereotyping. I can imagine Japanese lesbians may feel the same way about the very idealised relationship between Haruka and Michiru. However, it is interesting how for a large part of it, the main concern is that sexual activity, or the indication of it, remain behind closed doors. This social taboo against public sexual conduct appears to be more of a concern in Japanese society rather than which sexuality it is that is practiced.
Back to the main topic, I’d say the issue here is one of perception, visibility versus stereotyping. When we first encounter queerness in the West, often visibility is enough to start with. If this happens through anime, since the stereotypes emanate from the ignorance (or desires) of another culture, we are often unaware of their actual problematics. We have to remember that Sailor Moon, and its iconisation by queer anime fans happens in the context of that barren land known as the pre-Internet world. Before MySpace, before MMOs, before big-name shows like Queer as Folk or The L Word (with all their problems), back when the web was neither massive nor well-known, and our access to different portrayals of sexual identity were exceedingly limited.
As such, with its problems (and it has many), I’m not ready to dismiss Sailor Moon. Its portrayal of female characters at the center of the narrative was extremely important in how I came to perceive superhero stories (which is what Sailor Moon is at its core), for one. And its normalisation of queer characters was important as part of the self-acceptance process. For indeed, stories make us reflect on ourselves, if they are compelling and well-written, even if they can be infantile and feature men wearing tights fighting crime, or girls in Sailor outfits fighting aliens. It’s the beauty of fiction that we can allow such indulgences for the stories, and characters, that lie beneath.

Shining Gundam, the first Trans robot?

(In a spot of guerrilla blogging to keep Trouble afloat, our fearless protagonist finds herself blogging from a queer coffee shop somewhere in southeast Berlin!)
SPOILER NOTICE: This post has spoilers for Mobile Fighter G Gundam, around episodes 23-25. You’ve been warned.
So, robot genders, again. We’ve been down this road before here at Prepare For Trouble HQ, and being a fan of giant robots as I am, it’s one I can’t resist but come back to.
So I’m watching G Gundam, which some of you may know. It takes after Shounen archetypes to a tee, down to not having many female characters, and those who are there are at the service of the male characters, generally as love interests (of note, however, is Natasha, the officer from Neo Russia, who has a degree in badass while not being romantically linked to anyone. But they also show her nude gratuituously, because we can’t have a strong woman without some of that huh?)
Anyway, our post today is about the fact that G Gundam has something we’ve all been waiting for but may have been too scared to truly see: the very first transgender robot. Of course, Gundams don’t seem to have genitalia as far as we know, so we can only tell this from our good friend, Doctor Gender Cues.
See, in episode 24, protagonist Domon Kasshu obtains his new robot, the God Gundam. However, he cannot operate it and needs the data from his previous robot, the Shining Gundam. To accomplish this, his operator and implied romantic interest, Rain Mikamura, remotely controls the Shining Gundam in the middle of a heated battle.
Here is where it becomes interesting. Up to now, Domon’s Shining Gundam has been powerful and almost undefeated, strong and commanding. (Once in a previous episode, Rain had controlled it, but to little effect since we all know Girls Are Weak). Anyway, Rain starts controlling Shining Gundam, and instantly its entire body language changes, something you have to watch the episode to understand I’m afraid.
To wit, the damaged Gundam makes its way to Domon, crawling in a submissive way that belies the female = submissive gender cue. See, G Gundam tends to equate a robot with its pilot, as the robots follow exactly the pilot’s movement. So when Rain, a woman, is controlling it, Shining cannot help BUT be submissive, as a woman ought to be. In its gender, then, the previously powerful (=male) Shining Gundam is now the weak, submissive one in the face of the new powerful (=male) God Gundam. The Gundams join hands to transmit data, and in a touching scene, almost kiss, and then proceed to hold hands. It’s a good thing that they spent the previous minute making the Shining Gundam crawl over in a submissive femmy way, because otherwise, considering how we’ve read the robot so far, the scene would’ve looked very genderfucky, and we cannot have any of that. As it is, it looks heteronormative.
Until you realise the gendered actions of the Shining have changed from Stereotypically Male to Stereotypically Female. Say it with me, Shining Gundam, the first Trans Gundam. Certainly not the last. As a finishing touch, the God Gundam holds the Shining Gundam in its arms, the Shining in a pose that almost looks like both Gundams are newlyweds about to step over the threshold. Yeah! The manly God Gundam with its weak femme partner, the Shining Gundam.
I know you were trying to make us forget the Shining Gundam was masculine only five minutes prior, G Gundam writers. But we trans people, we have longer memories than that. And we know one of our own when we see hir.