Once again it is Friday, and you are about to have two days where you can do whatever you want with no boss hovering over you. So how will you fill all of this free time? Well, thankfully our staff is back with a list of things to check out to help you recharge over the weekend. So, without further ado, we present the Rogues Portal Staff Picks.
My pick this week is PanelxPanel. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is the editor of this fantastic and beautiful magazine about the medium we all love and cherish: comics. Each month they dedicate half an issue to one particular comic. The pieces are detailed essays about storytelling, artwork, and how every single part of a comic can work together in different ways. Also included are interviews with the creators.
Additionally, you will find reviews and essays on various topics. So far I have only read two of the available eleven issues, but I’ve already learned a lot. If you are interested in how comics are made and how they work, this is the magazine for you. I love to read things that take comics to a meta-level and analyze them. It helps me write better, more analytical reviews and articles. And maybe, someday, contribute to PanelxPanel myself. And the best part? It is only $2.50, so PanelxPanel is probably cheaper than your monthly comic book. It is a digital magazine, and you can find out everything about it on their website: http://panelxpanel.com
Steven Universe is, in my opinion, the most important cartoon on television, and it’s certainly one of my favorites, so I would be remiss if I didn’t choose it as my staff pick after last week’s exciting new episodes, “Can’t Go Back” and “A Single Pale Rose.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it if you haven’t seen them yet! But these episodes did contain a big reveal, the kind of reveal that makes you rethink everything that has happened in the series so far.
And since they came out, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing! The new episodes were excellent but I’ve also really been enjoying going back and revisiting old episodes, gasping at moments that seem so clear now in the light of all the new things we’ve learned. But more than that, I’m also getting to revisit what I’ve always loved about Steven Universe in the first place — all of the beautiful art, the small, charming moments, and the genuinely touching relationships between the characters, characters who are profoundly flawed but still trying their hardest to be there for each other. So this week I’m applauding the creative team behind this show for making something that’s so special to me — and for being able to keep their mouths shut on their big secrets for so long!!
I recently re-read the six Martha Washington graphic novel collections. Published by Dark Horse Comics in the 1990s and early 2000s, this coming-of-age story is set in a futuristic America in which the main character, a young African-American woman, escapes from a poor housing project to become a soldier and action hero. Written by Frank Miller, this dystopian fantasy includes robot clones, nuclear weapons, psychics, space wars, assassinations, civil war, a utopian community, freedom fighters, and ghosts. Dave Gibbon’s artwork is kinetic, and the graphic novel collections are filled with colorful and dramatic splash pages that remind you of what it was like to read a comic book during the 1990s.
Martha Washington was unusual for her time, a realistically drawn and intelligent African-American woman who remains calm and determined in the face of adversity. She is all the more interesting because she was created by a comic book writer (Miller) who has acquired a reputation over the years for sexism and racism. There were rumors a while ago of a Martha Washington movie, with Roasario Dawson in the lead. Perhaps now, with the success of Black Panther, we will finally see her on the big screen.
You can pick up the entire Martha Washington epic in The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century. The collection is reasonably priced, contains commentary and other reflections from Miller and Gibbon, and includes discarded roughs and other tidbits about the creation of this fun and unusual political satire.
I have been a huge fan of Hari Kondabolu since he performed at my college back in 2013. I listened to his album Waiting for 2042 obsessively during finals weeks when I was feeling stressed and depressed, and I listened to Mainstream American Comic immediately following the 2016 election when I was feeling gutted. Hari Kondabolu is insightful and incisive but never cruel. I love that he is relentlessly outspoken, and when he is provocative it is always from an ethical place– consider his documentary, The Problem with Apu, which questions and criticizes a racist caricature on the Simpsons and has been getting a vitriolic response from those who are unwilling to view media with a critical eye. I deeply admire Hari Kondabolu’s work and am thrilled that he is getting more mainstream recognition. (Other projects include The Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Project, a podcast with his brother Ashok, and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.)
Black Sails is nominally a prequel to Treasure Island, following the adventures of a young John Silver. More than just your average high seas adventure, Black Sails deftly navigates politics, vengeance, love, lust, betrayal, fear, and anguish. I found the story of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) to be particularly riveting– he first appears to be yet another Walter White/Don Draper/Tony Soprano, white male amoral anti-hero. He is a murderous pirate, but as the narrative progresses, the chip on his shoulder becomes a deeply personal vendetta that is resolved in the most beautiful and satisfying way. The flashbacks to his life in England are arrestingly revealed, and his love story is one of the most compelling I have seen on television.