A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Gene Yang "Levels Up," Named Library of Congress Ambassador For Young People's Literature

Yang, pictured here with Level Up co-creator  Thien Pham, is
a long-time advocate of Asian American voices in comics and
other literatures. The multi-talented comics creator now adds
Ambassador as an *official* title, adding to a distinguished career.
Gene Yang is celebrated for his comics, his commitment to responsible diversity within them, and -- of special import to this blog -- his teaching. Yang has K12- and college-level teaching experience and gets the comics-and-literacy connections. I am so pleased he has been granted this honor and opportunity. He's the perfect person to help the rest of the comics-and-education community fight *prejudices* and bigotries associated with oppressive notions of favoritism regarding so many things, the tyranny of the printed word among them. Learn more about his new position *here*.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

No Female Action Figures? No Problem! (Sort Of). Is 3D Printing a Maker-Space Solution?

Notice anything interesting about these toy sets? Go ahead, scroll on down for a bit.

They feature characters from blockbuster movie and comics chains, but where are the women characters? There is no Black Widow in the Marvel set, and no Leia in the Star Wars sets. Vision makes it into the Avengers toys, but not Scarlet Witch. If and when The Force Awakens sets are released, will they include Phasma and Rey? You won't find Rey in the new Star Wars Monopoly either, nor in several other toy sets.

Perhaps the toys are on the way, but if they aren't, is there a 21st-century solution waiting to become reality in the realm of maker spaces?

While having the toy companies decide on their own to release female figures would be great, could someone take matters into their own hands and draft some custom parts for the Mashers series via 3D printing?

 I'll bet there's a market for such parts, akin to the market for special-made LEGO sets. And if someone made such plans and wanted to distribute them for free, I am sure the internet hive-mind would approve.

I come from a tradition of unsanctioned action figure customization. Before there were viable X-Men action figures, I would use acrylic paint and markers to turn my wrestling action figures into X-Men. Larry Zybysko made a heck of a Banshee, let me tell you!One of the Fabulous Freebirds had curly hair perfect for Nightcrawler, and I even had a Colossus covered in chrome model car paint, though I do not recall whom I customized to make him. My heroes were mine, of course. I didn't have the means or desire to make them for other kids, and it took some tolerance from the adults in my life to let me mess up my toys with costumes and accessories "no one" had even heard of (yet!).

Surely if I could scrounge materials to make the heroes the toy companies weren't interested in yet, today's savvy makers can help solve the gender problem in action figure sets until some of the toy lines become more inclusive. 

(Thanks to my Facebook friend J.A. for helping this idea long via his posts on gender exclusion in toy sets!)

The right paint and cloth for the "wings" was all
it took for me to have a Banshee action figure!