FanX SLC on Gender Double Standards in Comics

This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours traversing the geekily decked out halls of the Salt Palace for FanX. There is nothing quite as wonderful as getting on the trax and seeing Princess Peach a mere few seats away. And it’s even better when a kid who seemed positively enchanted by this princess character ends up in conversation with Princess Peach.

Overall, my experience at FanX was absolutely fantastic. I’m still fairly new to the full embrace of nerd culture that pervades at FanX and Comic Con, and the last few times I’ve wandered the halls, it’s been with a sense of overwhelming anxiety at how many people are there and how many things and I can’t even process everything at once.

But this time I was actually able to breathe, deal with the crowds, and I even got to check out a few panels: a new achievement in my geekdom!

The panel I was most excited about (to the surprise of no one, I hope): Gender in Comics: Is There a Double Standard?

I am relatively new to the comic book world. The increasing internet conversations about Wonder Woman and Black Widow have had me wanting to get into a medium previously untapped by me, and let me tell you: the spiral has started. From web comic turned book The Adventures of Superhero Girl to Toe Tag Riot to Secret Six….I can’t stop. The conversations about comics and the representation of women in comics have been around me even before I really dove into the books, and now that I’m starting to read and immerse myself in the culture of comics, the gender disparity is obvious.

In seeing that this panel would happen, I built up my expectations. What I was hoping for was a conversation with data, with historical context, with thought as well as passion, and maybe a little advice on continuing the trend toward change in the industry.

What I actually got was unfocused conversation, with a dude who was overly happy to play devil’s advocate, with audience members who came prepared with their thoughts ready to throw at the panel right as the actual discussion started, throwing the panel completely off guard.

Okay. Let me back up. So to catch you up: The panelists included professional SLC Geeks Rebecca Frost and  Danielle  Über Alles–both can be found discussing pop culture and comics on the Hello, Sweetie! Podcast. The panel also included JM Bell, host of SLC’s The Left Show, which covers science, politics, culture, and much more. The moderator of the group was Rich Bonaduce, the VP of the Utah Film Critics Association.

As soon as Frost and  Über Alles introduced themselves and the moderator tried to get things started (he decided the first thing to do was show a slide with the definition of double standard and read it to the audience. Because cliches work?) two ladies in the audience tried throwing their own questions at the panel. They’d come in early and immediately went straight for the front row. Their questions, while interesting for an open circle conversation, derailed both Frost and  Über Alles, and initially they did their best to respond, and finally–after Bell’s late arrival–were able to open the conversation to other questions.

Unfortunately, the tone was set. The panel itself had interesting points, but seemed to focus only on the art for most of the time given. Which while worth noting, only hints at part of the problem when we’re talking about double standards. It’s not JUST how s/he’s drawn, it’s how they are represented overall. Especially when comics are just one of the facets of the double standard of representation of women across media. And the moderator seemed to want to hammer into the audience the idea of “LOOK! Dudes are drawn unrealistically too!” Throughout the panel he kept changing the images on the slide show to fit the unrealistic drawings, which while interesting at first, eventually became distracting.

The good things that came out of the panel: This issue isn’t done being fought. More and more people are getting into comics and more people have the option of buying the stories that they love. So buy the comics by artists/writers you enjoy. Buy the comics with artists/writers/teams who are well known to show women and trans* characters realistically. Don’t waste your money on teams that have been known to draw/write sexist/racist story lines.

Even if you don’t read the comics by writers/artists you’re supporting and they end up living on your shelves collecting dust: at least you’re supporting these stories. And in an industry driven by profit, like any other, that MATTERS. If you can’t afford new comic books (because buying serial comics adds up. I am beginning to see that myself. eep), that’s not the end of the story. Borrow them from friends. Talk ’em up to your fellow nerds. Encourage people to buy more copies. And use your social media to talk about what you’re loving. More and more we have the ability to call out artists/writers and creative teams in comics when they do something wrong. Twitter allows us to get closer than ever to the source of publication. (Always try to be respectful when possible. RAGE for rage’s sake will accomplish little unless backed up by a lot of other similar rage-fueled consumers. Respect may not win over a publisher, but you could easily win supporters in your line of thinking who’ll continue to call out the publisher and build up that momentum.) The industry has the potential to change partially because we have the ability to help direct it in that way.

Additionally, the panel has convinced me that a thought I’d been considering for a while is something I want to make happen. Officially. Comics are awesome. And this conversation is incredibly important. So, Salt Lake City and surrounding neighborhoods. The time is now. Let’s create a feminist comic book group, where our monthly meetings will include conversations about current comics, as well as focused discussions on a monthly comic choice! This way we can keep the comic love and feminist discourse going so we’ll be prepped in September when Comic Con SLC rolls back around.

Questions? Wanna get involved? Find me on twitter or email me at rebelgrrrl.theblog

Final note: Check out Hello, Sweetie podcast and the Left Show, because they are worth supporting. And as unfocused as the conversation was this time around, they each had good reason to be there and are doing great things for the geek community in Salt Lake and beyond.

Final, Final Note (I promise!) Definitely look forward to more comic book related posts here. I’m enjoying them far too much for me not to start writing about them!

Posted in comics, feminism, Feminism & the Media, gender, pop culture, Salt Lake City | Leave a comment

Cheers to 2015!

I don’t know about ya’ll, but thank the gods 2014 is over.

Musically, 2014 was awesome. I’m still listening to White Lung, the Coathangers, and Tacocat on heavy rotation. Sleater-Kinney has reunited, the Muffs are performing, and L7 has teased the possibility of a reunion. Whaaaa….?

In terms of the day -to-day: 2014 has been taxing at best. Like any year, there have been a lot of great moments. A feminist drinking party, a book club with amazing people, evenings beyond compare at the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mics. Oh yeah: and I made a trip to the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls-PDX happen. It’s unquestionably one of the BEST organizations to volunteer for.

But in terms of goals and accomplishments…there haven’t been a lot. So this year, despite the fact that everyone knows that resolutions are tough to stick, I’m going to try to make some. Things I want to see in 2015 include more content here on this page, a commitment to keeping the events tab here up to date so those of ya’ll in Salt Lake have an easy resource for rad events to keep you excited about this incredible community. In addition to creating more content here, I’d like to make some more real world events happen. Features at When She Speaks from the creative community, more feminist-inspired get-togethers, record night parties, and more events designed to highlight the women musicians in the Salt Lake community.

A few of the places you can follow me on the internets:



and Facebook. There’s also a group page for When She Speaks where you can talk feminism, grrrl-fueled music, and talk with other like minded peeps. You can find us here.

Anyway–Welcome to a new year. The best way to deal with a new year is similar to the best way to deal with a new day: make it the best. Enough from me. Here’s to a great new year featuring awesome new music and music discoveries, events, and wonderful people. Please feel free to get in touch with me rebelgrrrl.theblog at gmail[dot]com or via any of the aforementioned sites.

(I’m including this video because the 2014 My Brightest Diamond release was one of my favorites of the year. And seeing Shara Worden live was inspirational. And any opportunity I have, I will share the MBD love.) 


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RSD Recap and Rebuilding Collections

Apparently this year’s Record Store Day was one of the most successful yet. I’m happy to say that this year, I participated in the madness and visited all of the record stores that I mentioned in the previous post.

And it was FANTASTIC.

Photo by Shauna Brock

Photo by Shauna Brock

I missed out on quite a few of the Record Store Day exclusives (The Garbage/Brodie Dale exclusive was gone by the time I left the house, as was the Dresden Dolls debut album), but it was still impossible for me to walk out of any of the stores I visited without buying something.

My girlfriend and I started at Graywhale (where I found three must-have RSD exclusives), then headed over to Raunch, then Randy’s and finally the Heavy Metal Shop. Out of these stops, Raunch was far and away my favorite. The prices on used albums were completely affordable and the whole time we were in the shop, I found myself wondering what music was playing. The music that was playing overhead when we walked in left such an impression that I ended up walking out of the store with two of the band’s 7″ 45s.

Ultimately, the day was one of discovery and rebuilding.

I recently decided to give into vinyl. The decision wasn’t made overnight, by any means. It was partly pushed by my curiosity as to whether there really are audible differences between what I’d hear on a turntable and what I hear from my phone. In addition to that, there’s the fact that it’s easy for me to relegate music to the background, which is something I have a love/hate relationship with. Over the years, my relationship to music has changed drastically. I find that when it comes to really appreciating something, I either need to be there (live music!), or at least be able to see it, which is why I love spending time on youtube watching bands like Pink Martini perform in Paris. The purchase of the turntable was made partly to reinforce the music as an experience idea.

I ordered a turntable, and while I was exploring Salt Lake’s various record stores, I had yet to receive my package. The knowledge that I had a new medium with which to play with music gave me a very curious sensation, and one I really haven’t felt for a long time.

I realized: I have the opportunity to rebuild my collection.

My current music collection spans years. Decades. It’s not as carefully curated as it could be, because I’ve found and lost music, I’ve acquired music from friends, from mix cds from music mags and I have far too much music that I haven’t spent any time with. This gives me an opportunity to select what I want. I have the opportunity to build the best collection ever. Which is kind of a powerful feeling.

Anyway. So what does rebuilding a collection look like?

It looks like whatever you want it to, ultimately. For me, it consisted of getting lucky enough to find a few RSD exclusives that I couldn’t imagine leaving without, it involved finding some really surprising things, and it involved some basics.

I was going to list the breakdown here, but the turntable I ordered finally showed up on my doorstep. The records I bought on RSD can finally be listened to. So watch out, dear readers: what you’ll find on this blog in the coming days will be a summary of the records I bought and why I felt they were important to add to my collection.

I’ll end this note with a reminder: local record stores are awesome. Visit them often.

Photo by Shauna Brock

Photo by Shauna Brock



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Record Store Day 2014!

It is almost that time again.

Next Sunday, April 19th, music lovers and hipsters (not mutually exclusive) will descend upon their favorite indie record stores and buy all of the things! Well, perhaps not all of the things, after all, we want to keep our stores in business, and not have them closed for a few days due to lack of inventory (although I don’t think the stores would mind too much. They’d probably love knowing they had that much love from their local communities).

But seriously though: Record Store Day is one of my all time favorite days of the year. Music has always been part of my life and that passion has only grown as the years have gone by. This year I’m doing the full music geek thing and I’m going to love every moment of it. I ordered a retro turntable via the interwebs, where one can buy many of such products, and I am absolutely planning on visiting at least two of Salt Lake’s indie record stores: Graywhale and Randy’s Records. After all, what is a turntable without records to play? (The actual excitement I have about this whole thing cannot be transmitted properly through the interwebs)

A few of the things I am looking forward to seeing and maybe (if I’m really, really lucky) buying:

  • Garbage – Girls Talk (featuring a duet with Brody Dalle. HOLY SHIT. This is how I know I exist in the rigGarbage with Brody Dalleht time.)
  • Black Prairie – Fortune
  • Big Mama Thornton – Sassy Mama
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – remaster of Dip-Dappin’
  • The Dresden Dolls – The Dresden Dolls. I would so dig owning this on vinyl.


For the music geeks out there: What’s your relationship with Record Store Day? Do you love it? Question its existence? How often do you find what you want? How often do you walk out the record store horribly disappointed? Do you have any other traditions you observe on this, the holiest of “keep indie music/culture alive” days? Do you have other music holidays that you alone observe and think that they should be as big as Record Store Day? Share your thoughts in the comments!

And before I end this post entirely:

Salt Lake City, indie music stores may not be as popular as our coffee shops, but we do have quite a few options for buying new music! So please support your local record stores!

Graywhale | This shop has several locations, so even if you’re not in Salt Lake proper, there may well be one in your area! Check the website to find your nearest location!

Randy’s Records | This is a must visit location for the serious lovers of vinyl. Randy’s has been around since 1978 and has Utah’s largest collection of used and new vinyl. Even if you don’t find the Special Record Store Day release that you’re super stoked about, you will find something equally if not more awesome and unexpected.

Heavy Metal Shop | The Heavy Metal Shop is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Despite being tucked inside a small alley in downtown Salt Lake, it has a reputation that goes far outside of Utah’s borders*. The shop has been around since 1987 and is a great place to go for those who love their music heavy.

Raunch Records | This is the BEST stop for punk rock albums that you don’t already have in your collection. In addition to a crazy awesome selection of punk/hardcore and more–it also has a great staff who are happy to answer questions. Oh! and zines! GO BUY ZINES BECAUSE THEY’RE AWESOME.

*Hey, that hoodie Derek Miller of Sleigh Bells is wearing sure looks familiar….Oh! That’s because it’s from the Heavy Metal Shop based in Salt Lake! Whoa!


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February + Music = LOVE

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the things I’ve been listening to. I frequently post single links to facebook and tumblr but it is rare these days for me to give you a rundown on all of the things I’ve been listening to.

That’s partly because the internet is a vast place. We all know this.

Personally, I savor those periods where I get sucked into the internet’s musical vortexes. Whether I’m finding new artists via spotify’s “related artists” tab or watching random NPR Live videos of artists I’m not familiar with, the outcome is always the same: I find new stuff. Lots of new stuff. Some of it gets lost in the wayside. I’m the first one to admit that I can get fiercely excited about an artist, a song and then a month or two later that artist or song has dropped completely off of the radar. But there are songs that stick. Artists that I could–and do–listen to on repeat.

This blog was primarily started as a place to highlight musicians that I’ve discovered or fallen in love with. Music is a beautiful art form. It has the ability to bring us to to higher places, it has the ability to connect us as humans and remind us that we’re not alone. It helps us remember that our lives are best spent dancing. And those are just a few things.

So keeping that in mind: Here’s a post of the music that I can’t get enough of.

Sarah Kirkland Snider (composer) | Shara Worden (singer) | Ellen McLaughlin (lyrics) | Song: Circe & the Hanged Man.
Album: Penelope: A Song Cycle

While I prefer posting songs that have accompanying music videos, I had to share this particular song. I had the fortune of seeing Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond) accompany The Utah Philharmonia for a special performance of the entire song cycle. The experience itself was absolutely incredible. The musicians themselves were brilliant and Shara Worden’s voice is just beautiful. If you’re familiar with My Brightest Diamond, then you know this. If you’re not familiar with them, you should fix that. Between the brilliant orchestrations, emotionally charged lyrics, and Worden’s voice–it’s a piece that is guaranteed to make you believe in the power of music and storytelling. You will feel deeply with this album.

The story itself is simple. The narrator is a woman whose husband went away for some unnamed war. He shows up at the door 20 years later with brain damage and no memory of who he is/was. In order to help her husband heal and rediscover himself, the wife reads to him passages of the Odyssey. The track I’m sharing here veers from classical to more indie rock territory, and the lyrics here are especially poignant. Before I saw the Utah Philharmonia with Shara Worden, I tried to familiarize myself with the album, but didn’t get the whole way through. When I reached this song–I felt the lyrics strike a chord. When I saw the song performed live: I couldn’t keep the tears at bay.

Artist: Gabby Young & Other Animals | Song: Open
Album: The Band Called Out For More

There’s something magical about the combination of elements that Gabby Young & Other Animals bring together with their music. Big Band jazz/swing/cabaret and pure joy are all to be found here. The band has been on my radar for some, but it wasn’t till this week that I truly fell in love. The band is led by a flame-haired enchantress with a bewitching voice and incredible style. The 7-piece band includes the basics (guitar, drum, etc) but goes further with violins and brass instruments. The music is as varied as the instrumentation: sometimes you’ll find tracks that are so haunting, they’ll crawl under your skin and stay there. Sometimes you’ll find songs so saucy you’ll find yourself impressed by their boldness. There’s a sense of glee in the art of experimentation and new combinations, and they are able to pull the songs off so well that it’s hard not to fall in love with them.

The great thing about this band is that they have tons of music videos that are worthy of being shared–including their brand new music video for the irresistibly catchy song “I’ve Improved” which was unveiled 6 days ago, on Feb. 14. I’m once again going to deviate from the singles (all of which are wonderful) and share my favorite track. The reason it’s one of my favorites is simple. With this band, you know you’re going to get some very upbeat/sassy music. This song goes along with the catchy rhythms and adds on a positive message, and one that’s worth keeping in mind.

Artist: Agnes Obel | Song: Just So
Album: Philharmonics

I am fully, 100% behind the mantra that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. That said, occasionally when I’m roaming the massive collection of albums at the Salt Lake City Public Library, a cover will catch my attention. And since I believe in the fun of experimentation (I discovered my love for Sia and the Noisettes by taking a chance on covers that caught my interest–and the Sia album was nothing like what I expected based on the cover), I checked out Philharmonics. From beginning to end, the album is beautiful, and captivating. On the surface, much of the music seems simple. But when you combine the gorgeous music with the lyrics, it becomes something else entirely. Albums like this are why one should believe in the power of experimentation. The reviews in Rolling Stone and on NPR other such sites have their place, but sometimes your favorite new band/musician is just a matter of luck.

With that, dear reader, I leave you to listen to the music here, check out the links provided, or perhaps go on your own musical journey. Wherever your wanderings take you, may they be be fruitful and fully enjoyable.

Posted in feminism, music, pop culture | Leave a comment

Why pay bands when you can have them for free?

Apparently musicians aren’t worthwhile.

At least, that’s what the Super Bowl seems to think. Time Business released an article noting that Bruno Mars has been added to the list of musicians that have played Super Bowl half time. For FREE.

“We’re putting someone up there for 12 and a half minutes in front of the largest audience that any television program garners in the United States,” NFL Director of Programming Lawrence Randall, told TIME last year. “It’s a pretty good deal. It’s the famous win-win for both parties.” (TIME)

On the surface: Sure. Playing the Super Bowl can lead to an increase in an artist’s sales and add to exposure.

But this whole situation is indicative of a bigger problem.

First of all–if you’re a musician/band that has been selected to play a gig like the Super Bowl then you’re probably pretty well known. And if you’re a musician/band that is already well known, the chances are that you’ve spent most of your life honing your talents, and working your way up centimeter by centimeter, inch by inch

The road to making a living off of art is not an easy path, and it’s fraught with people who Don’t Get It.

Bands just getting started deal with the free gigs more often than they get paid ones. Writers freelance for little to no money and hope that maybe, just maybe, this submission will get them somewhere. Artists find themselves in gallery receptions where they hear the double edged sword of compliments, “Wow, this is so beautiful, but why is it so expensive?”  It’s like somewhere in between the idea of a piece and the final product, the work of creating gets lost on the larger public. Creating is work. It involves time. It involves tools. Just like any other job.

The music industry has made it a priority to stamp out pirating. Buy the albums! Support the artists! Don’t steal music! But then you’ve got moments like these, where musicians are basically being robbed. The NFL argues that the show is only 12 and a half minutes and they’ll grant great exposure. Okay. Fine. So does that mean that if I’m a super famous celebrity and I suddenly have a health issue,  I can go into a hospital and demand the doctor to treat me but not get paid? “Oh it’ll only be an hour of your time, and you’ll have the honor of working on me. Oh and I’ll tell all of my friends.”

Ummm….Not so great. Just like doctors have spent years of their lives studying and working to get to their professional level, so have musicians. For the NFL to discount that fact is abhorrent. Let’s not forget that the musicians that play the Super Bowl put in way more than 12 minutes. They’re going to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse some more. They’re going to make sure that they have everything in place and ready to go. There’s travel. They need to make sure they’ve got the equipment they need and they need to get them from point A to point B. This is time. This is energy. This is travel. And they deserve to be compensated like any other professional field.

The attitude of the NFL and their continued practice of this policy is dangerous because it affects far more than Bruno Mars, Madonna, and other big name musicians. This attitude can easily be translated on a local level where popular venues or festivals can use similar logic to damn aspiring musicians. In some cases, it can be taken so far that the venue/promoter demands musicians to pay for the honor of playing their venue. This is a thing. And this is problematic.

I unfortunately don’t have the ins and outs to help fix this problem. But what I can encourage everyone to do–including myself–is to remember to really appreciate art. Appreciate the work and energy that went into the art/music/writings that you enjoy. Remember that the work of creating is difficult and time consuming. And  support the art that matters to you. Buy their albums. Go to shows. Buy their sweaters and posters and stickers. If you’re an artist of any medium, do your best work and make sure you’re getting recognized for it.

On that note, I’m going to stop talking and share the internet meme that has gone around. It’s more eloquent and succinct than I am, and should be shared.

So please share it.




Posted in art, music, pop culture | 1 Comment

A New Year, a New Day

Well. I am not sorry that 2013 is over. It’s been a good year, with a lot of wonderful highlights, but it has also been stressful and a bit exhausting. I am not expecting this year to be magically amazing. A year is just like a day, it is what we make of it. And while I am not making any New Year’s Resolutions as such, I do have plans for this year. Plans which still need to be drawn up in concrete terms, but they are there.

A few highlights of 2013:

Gogol Bordello. Seeing them live was incredible. The energy. The madness. It’s a moment that I could never, ever again recapture which is both beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Starting a book club. Yep. That’s right. I gave into my nerd and started a book group with some coworkers. It’s great because it’s open to novels, non-fiction, and pretty much everything else. And selection is done by a new person each month, meaning it’s easy to end up in a situation where I get to read stuff outside of my normal literary comfort zone. And you know what? THAT IS AWESOME. Reading is great. But you should always go above and beyond.

There are so many more things, but my concept of time is pretty unique (read: exceptionally bad) and it is harder to put events and moments in linear order.

Musical Highlights:

2013 was survived mostly with the help of Mojo Juju, The Great Malarkey,Black Prairie,  and a continuation of the Amanda Palmer Down Under album on repeat. Without these artists, I’m not sure I would’ve made it.

Goals for 2014:

Write more.

Go to more shows.

Listen to more music.

Keep being awesome.

I think those are good goals.

And on that note, I’ll cut this entry short. No, I’m not making a list form of my musical highlights of 2013, but I’m happy to give you a few music videos should you want to enjoy some good music. Happy 2014! Make it wonderful!

Posted in music, on life, pop culture | Leave a comment