New Worlds Comics

The best stories. The best art.

New Worlds Comics - The best stories. The best art.

Nudity as Social Commentary in Our Comics

In the upcoming two months, we’re going to do something we’ve never done before. Two different titles just happen to have female nudity in them, where before there was no nudity in our titles.

Let’s have a grown-up discussion about that.

In my previous post, I talked about the empowering use of nudity in the upcoming title Time Warriors #1. This time, let’s talk about Wynter #4 and use it to take a wider look at the do’s and don’ts of nudity as art in comics.

 

How Nudity Shouldn’t Be Used

Here’s a list what nudity shouldn’t be.

  • Nudity shouldn’t be used for titillation in a story that’s meant to be honest. When a writer uses nudity because s/he knows it’ll bring more readers rather than because it fits the story, the story is less honest. Wynter is being FedEx-ed from my gut to yours. Considerations of popularity shouldn’t interfere with that.
  • Nudity shouldn’t be used to give an unrealistic view of the human body. Girls shouldn’t be made to feel bad because they don’t have unrealistic bodies. Boys shouldn’t learn to expect unrealistic bodies in girls. And vice versa.
  • Nudity shouldn’t be used in a way that steals the show. Nudity is such a focus taker that it’s hard to put anything before it or after it that won’t be forgotten. You have to be able to tame its effects and limit them or they’ll take over your story.
  • Nudity shouldn’t be used to cheapen our perception of the body. It’s so easy to go from “Whoa” to “Been there, seen that,” to “Borrring. How can we take that to the next step”. That last statement there is a slippery slope, and many teenagers can easily fall into an emotional place that cheapens the human body.

 

How Nudity Should Be Used

When you’re trying to empower people or, at the very least, not disempower or cheapen them, these are the various uses of nudity:

  • Make nudity empowering. Have you seen the film The Full Monty? If not, watch it now, I’ll wait. It doesn’t have full frontal nudity, but it’s the ideal movie on the subject. You can’t watch it without at the end feeling good about your body. That’s a great use of showing skin!
  • Use nudity to teach people something about themselves. In a TV show I’d written a long time ago (it did not get produced) I used the horror genre and nudity to show to the men in the audience that there’s a beast inside them all. I showed nudity in a titillating way only when the bad guys did something bad to the women. So whenever you, the man watching this, felt titillated and wanted what you were seeing, you were identifying with the animal part of the bad guy. So hopefully you would have realized that there is something of that beast in you.
  • Use nudity as social commentary. Case in point: Wynter #4. Our series, Wynter, shows us what the logical future of apps, iPhones, internet, and social media takes us, for good or bad. One example: Google Glass is just the beginning. In the future, we’ll all be recording everything all the time, from our eyes, and we’ll be able to post it immediately. So how often do you think pictures of nude or half nude girls/women will be posted on the web without them even knowing about it? That happens to our heroine in Wynter #4. And when it does, you don’t feel titillated, you feel violated. Because you’ve already identified with Liz Wynter, our heroine, and you know what a violation that is for her.

Here’s part of it:

Violated

Violated

 

Why Are We Having This Conversation?

I want to have a grown-up conversation about this.

I want you to have a look behind the curtain of New Worlds Comics.

I want you to know how seriously I take every decision and direction made by New Worlds Comics, and how deeply we consider things.

I want you to learn who we are, deep in our DNA.

And now I want to learn who you are. What do you think?

How to Make Nudity in Comics Empowering

Through a coincidence, two of our upcoming comic books, Time Warriors #1 and Wynter #4, have short scenes of female nudity in them.

Since New Worlds Comics is about giving girls and women stories and characters that empower them (as well as about giving boys and men stories those types of characters and plots) – I thought I’d talk to you about this.

So this post, and the next few ones, will explore this subject.

Let’s start with Time Warriors #1.

 

Why Is There Nudity in Time Warriors #1

Without spoiling the story, many of the characters in Time Warriors #1 get a chance to do whatever they want and then reverse time and take it back. Once they take it back, no one knows it ever happened except them. They retain the memory of the event, and no one else does.

One of the characters, Allison, is super shy. You know the type. What she chooses to do in those few hours is to walk naked in the street. She then gets to take it back – it never happened, except in her memory – and see what it felt like.

For that (and for another reason I won’t spoil) she needs to be seen naked in two of the pages in a series that is not at all about nudity, but about exploring yourself and who you are.

Sketch for Time Warriors #1, page 6

Sketch for Time Warriors #1, page 6

 

How to Make Nudity Empowering

First of all, the story has to be truthful. It has to be about real feeling and real emotions. Check out the sketch for this situation above. You can’t help but feel what she feels, and identify with her emotions.

It’s not about being titillating, it’s about being emotionally truthful, and being with the character and about the character’s emotional state.

So many comic books today draw female bodies to titillate. They give their females huge breasts, unrealistic bodies, and make them walk around half naked, quarter naked, eighth naked, and even one-sixteenth naked.

It translates to cash, after all. Young teens (and older, sure,) will be drawn to these and it will certainly increase sales.

The bad side of this is that it raises unrealistic expectations on the boys’ sides and it raises bad feelings on the girls’ sides because they can’t live up to those standards.

 

Realistic Bodies

Truth in story and emotion is one criteria. The second criteria is realistic bodies.

Here are the instructions I gave the artist before he drew the concept art:

 

“In New Worlds Comics I’m really trying to stay away from unrealistic bodies of both men and women. I’m trying to stay away from things that make teenagers, male and female, feel bad about themselves. So I don’t do the big breasts, which are very popular today, or the perfect, unrealistic women bodies. Not everyone is thin, not everyone has perfect proportions, and everyone has realistic breasts of different sizes. And in males I want to stay away from the unrealistically muscular men, the kind that you can only get if you work out many hours a day. Again, people need to be realistic, so that our audience can look at it and identify rather than feel bad. “

Here is the concept art he sent. As you can see, all the bodies are realistic. All the bodies are truthul. And Allison is naked in the concept art (something I’ve never seen before) because the artist, Juan Manuel Almirón, wanted to prove to me that he will remain true to real bodies and not draw bodies the way they are drawn.

And prove it he did.

Time Warriors concept art

Time Warriors concept art

Time Warriors concept art

Time Warriors concept art

Time Warriors concept art

Time Warriors concept art

See? Only realistic breasts, realistic bodies (for both the male and the female characters). That’s what we’re about.

 

Comic books should grow the hell up and talk to people honestly!

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about nudity or female bodies in comics?

A New Series Is Coming!

Ready to fall in love with new chracters? A new series is coming.

We’re not going to tell you what it is yet. We’re not going to tell you who’s in it and what’s it about. We’re not even going to tell you its name…

For now, here are original concept art of some of the main characters. Can you guess who you’ll fall in love with?

Meet the team!

Meet the team!

Artist: Juan Manuel Almirón

Impressions from the Con #4: Autograph Stories

So. I had skipped cons for a couple of years. I was out of practice signing books, what with my last book being published digitally and all.

And now I was back, selling the Goof TPB, and I knew I had to re-remember how to sign copies. The experience brought back past traumas, ridiculous autographs, suggestive autographs, some funny autographs, and the con itself ended with my favorite autograph of all time.

Here’s the full story.

Goof TPB Cover

Goof TPB Cover

 

The First Year Trauma

My first year signing copies was horrible.

My first book had come out, and I wanted to make each time I signed the book to be perfect. It had to fit the person I was talking to, even is s/he was a stranger. It had to be witty, from the heart, and it had to be short.

No problem, right?

It literally took me 10 to 30 minutes to sign a book during those first months. I had to talk to the person, find something out about his/her personal life, and then spend a few more minutes staring into space, thinking of exactly the right thing to say.

Fortunately, there was no signing event during that first con, and no one had ever heard about me yet so I signed in dribs and drabs. By the second con, when there was actually a signing event, I had gotten my act together and could sign a book like a reasonable human being.

But that was just the beginning.

 

The Asimov Autograph

There was one autograph I was dying to try.

In his autobiography (the longer, earlier one) Isaac Asimov tells a story about how one time a young woman waiting in a line to have their books signed, along with her girl friend. Like everyone else in the line, he had never seen her before. He signed something along the lines of: “In memory of the wonderful night we spent together.”

The young women went away, giggling at the joke.

In that first year, I wanted to sign at least one book in that way. Except, of course, that there was always the fear that the woman would hit me over the head with the book and return it.

In one signing event, with my publisher present, I told him about the Asimov signature. I told him I was dying to sign at least one book that way. But he agreed that I just couldn’t do it.

Towards the end of the event, I saw him take aside one of the readers and whisper something to her. Turns out he told her the story and asked her if it was okay that I sign her book that way. She said it was. And I did.

Thirteen years have passed, and I’ve never signed another book that way again. But I still remember it and am proud I did it.

Mission accomplished!

 

The Autograph Trilogy

One of my most memorable autographs was for a fellow author.

For my first book, I signed it the regular way, while talking about something specific to her. For the second book, however, I added something new.

I signed her book, declaring this autograph was the first in a trilogy, and that “what I wanted to say to you was–TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT BOOK!”

My next book had the second part of the autograph trilogy, with the main mystery (what I wanted to tell her) still unresolved. I may finish the autograph in my next book. But then again, I may decide to pull a George R.R.R.R. Martin on her and draw it out for a few more books.

Making her squirm and enjoy it? Mission accomplished!

When we weren't signing, we were sword-fighting.

When we weren’t signing, we were sword-fighting.

 

The Double Autograph

A few years later, I was walking out of an event with a fellow author when a fan caught us.

He had one two books in his hands: One of mine and one of the author’s who was with me. He wanted both signed.

We of course agreed, each stepping aside to sign his own book.

When we were finished, we compared notes. His autograph said that his autograph was so much better than mine. My autograph said that my autograph is so much much better than his.

The fan was ecstatically happy and so were we. Mission accomplished!

 

The Student’s Autograph

And now we get back to this latest con and to a signature I didn’t write.

As I was walking the booths to see what else was going on, someone called my name. I stopped, and a young man behind a booth identified himself.

I didn’t recognize his name. So he told me his internet nickname, and then I recognized him. A few years ago, he was 16 or 17 when I gave some writing exercises in an SF&F young writer’s forum for a few months, and then again a few years later for another few months. He was young but very talented and really wanted to learn.

Turns out that now he has his first book out. Of course I had to buy it, and I had him sign it for me.

It was a very touching autograph about the beginning of his path and my support of it. It was heartwarming.

 

The Spooky Autograph

Then came my most favorite autograph that I had written. After 3 days of signing Goof, this was not a Goof autograph.

In the last few minutes of the last day of the con, with the booth already packed and gone, I was walking out of the con when somebody called my name.

It was a fan I had met a couple of days ago, walking with his friend. He was now equipped with a book that was published 10 years ago, a YA SF adventure. He wanted me to sign it for his kids.

“Sure,” I said. “How old are they?”

“One and three,” he said.

His friend said, “They’re too young, aren’t they?”

The fan said, “No, it’s for when they grow up. You don’t think I’m going to let them grow up without reading your books, do you?”

That was touching by itself. But before I tell you what I signed, let me give you a little background on the book. It was called ‘Life: the Video Game’ and in it a 15-year-old Joel Strickland accidentally activates an alien video game intended for alien teens. That game takes over reality in a certain radius (the town) and reconstructs an entire SF settings in it, using real people as players. The game uses real life to teach you about real life, and it quite often blurs the lines between the game and life.

Which is why I usually signed it, “Hope you enjoy the game!” (as if the book was the game, which it was).

But for his kids, I signed it: “Enjoy the game! It’s been waiting for you since before you were born.”

And I was thinking how spooky and cool it would be for them to read a book that’s been laying around since before they were born (their father bought it years ago) and have inside it a game of self-exploration that tell them it’s been waiting for them all this time.

Of all the autographs I have given so far, I enjoyed this one the most.

It was the perfect end to the con, and I left with a smile on my face. Mission accomplished!

 

The Goof TPB

The Goof TPB

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impressions from the Con #3: Nerd Pride

So there we were, sitting in our booth, selling, among other things, the Goof TBP, and the whole wide roster of visitors paraded in front of our eyes for three days.

There are things you notice only when sitting down and looking at something long enough.

Cobra Commaner posing for the camera

Cobra Commander posing for the camera

First, it looks like a crowd of people. In the morning of the first day, it was all teenagers, most of them awkward. I sat there thinking how different this was from my first con, 13 years ago. Back then I didn’t know anyone else who liked SF & F. The cons were full of people, usually outsiders, that found SF & F during their childhood or teen years. You couldn’t help think how much more popular the cons are today. And how perhaps the facts that geeks are popular in TV and film makes outsiders explore SF & F as a place that might make them cool.

Towards evening, the grownups came. There were also costumes, all the time, from morning till evening. And every person with a costume who was approached by someone wanting to take a picture immediately posed for it. Okay, this is at least somewhat about getting attention. At least for the cosplayers I saw.

The next day the stream of people continued, but patterns hadn’t really begun to form in my eyes.

I spoke to a fellow author about my idea about why cons are more popular today. She said it’s just the opposite. “Look around,” she says. “Teenagers come the first day. But now there are tons of grownups. And they’re bringing their kids.”

“Look around,” she said again. “It’s not just outsiders you see. It’s also a lot of cool kids, or ‘regular’ kids.”

I looked around. She was right.

Nerd pride, baby!

Nerd pride, baby!

She explained, “It’s all because of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. They opened up fantasy and science fiction for everyone. Everyone. Regular kids are brining their friends here to enjoy themselves. Grownups like us are bringing their kids here and they’re bringing their friends, too. Everything’s changed.”

She was right. I think maybe we’re both right at the same time.

The third day came.

Sword fight over the Goof TPB

Sword fight over the Goof TPB

And as I was watching the hordes move past and past and past, it all came together: The bright colors, the feeling of celebration, the dancing, the sword-fights, the games – it was almost exactly like a gay pride parade! (Okay, no sword-fights in a gay pride parade.) And it occurred to me that the con today, the one I was in, and perhaps most of the others have turned into Nerd Pride, where nerds (I am one, I’m not using that word in a negative manner,) wear their nerdom proudly and celebrate it.

And so it was decreed: From this day on thou shalt no longer be called a Con, thou shalt be called Nerd Pride! 

 

Impressions from the Con #2: What Is a Comic Book Worth?

I’m used to going to cons as a guest or a speaker (in my previous and current career as an SF author), and sometimes just as a fan. This was my first con in which I had a booth, in which we sold, among other things, our first trade paperback, Goof TPB #1.

It was a chance to get to see how people make decisions about buying comic books. This next one surprised me.

What Is a Comic Book Worth?

People choose to buy comic books because they’re worth something to them. How do you think they measure that worth?

How much is this page worth to you?

How much is this page worth to you? (Wynter #2, page #4)

From my own limited point of view as creator, I assumed that the ‘worth’ of a comic book comes in the experience it gave you, the reader: Did it excite you? Make you sweat? Make you laugh? Make you want to read it ten times over? Did it blow your mind? Did it touch something deep inside you?

Those are the things I am searching for, but apparently different people are looking for different things. The decision to buy a comic book seems to be based on many standards, many of which I’ve never thought of.

Here’s the one that most amazed me.

A lot of people look at graphic novels, check the price, and then check the number of pages. They divide the price by the number of pages in order to see how much they’re paying per page. Is it 13 cents a page? 15 cents a page? 20 cents a page?

They then decide if they’re getting their money’s worth by how little they’re paying per page. If it’s 13 cents a page, for example, then the comic book is a good deal and they should buy it. If it’s more, then they’re getting screwed and they’ll buy a different graphic novel that is 13 cents a page.

The price-per-page never occured to me as the deciding factor of how much a comic book is worth. For me, the length of the experience of a comic book lasts determines how much it’s worth: Will I come back to it? Will I think about it later? Will it stay as part of my emotional experience? Will I talk about it to other people?

Live and learn.

Impressions from the Con #1: The Kid Who Wanted Goof

We just got back from our first convention, in which we had a booth and sold our first trade paperback ever, the Goof TBP.

Over the next week, I’ll share with you some of the thoughts and experiences we had at the con.

One of the most touching moments came from an 11-year-old kid.

The Kid Who Wanted Goof

In the morning of our first day there, a young kid, probably 11 years old, came to the booth, and checked out Goof. He flipped through a few pages, and was hooked. He said, “I want to buy this.”

Goof TPB Cover

Goof TPB Cover

He then pulled out his wallet and saw that he didn’t have enough money. He said, “I’ll come back later with more money,” and went away.

After lunch he came back.

He pulled out his wallet, spread out all his coins and bills and counted them. They weren’t much, and it wasn’t enough.

He said, “I’ll come back later.”

Evening came, and it was almost time to go home, when he came back with his father.

He told his father, “I want this one.” And you could see in his eyes and in his tone: he so desperately wanted Goof.

His father picked it up, completely humorless. He flipped through the pages, and you could see on his face he didn’t understand what the hell comics were all about. He asked his kid, “Are you sure you want this?”

“I’m sure.”

I told the father that his kid would get a signed copy, and I volunteered to explain what Goof was about. The father nodded. And as I started explaining, I could see the father’s eyes completely glaze over. He was not the right audience.

“Are you sure you want this?” the father asked again four times, and each time the kid said “I want this.”

“Are you sure?” the father asked again. “Because there’s this other thing you want. And you can only have one.”

Death also visited our booth

Death also visited our booth

“I want this,” the kid said for what seemed like the thousandth time, and his eyes were always looking down.

Looking at them, it seemed to me this was not the first time they had that kind of conversation. It had taken place many times and for many different reasons.

The father hemmed and hawed, and couldn’t make up his mind.

The two weren’t native English-speakers. I told the father of my experience when I was a teenager. “As a guy who really liked comic books when he was that age,” I told the father, “I can tell you first that you don’t just read it once. You read it over and over and over again. And because this is in English, you learn English. Comic books help you learn English.”

And that was it. An argument the father could relate to.

The father said “Okay.” He made sure one last time that this is what the kid wanted, and he bought the comic. I signed it, the father took it, put it in his bag, and headed into the crowd. The kid followed him, looking down the entire time.

That incident left a deep impression on me. I remember what it was like to connect with a comic book that fast, to know that what’s inside is what you need. I remembered how deeply I wanted certain comic books and certain books, and how at that age we are at the mercy of our parents who control the money.

That feeling the kid had? That’s why I’m writing. That’s why I created New Worlds Comics. It’s why I create the comic books I create.

Do you remember being like that?

I won’t forget that kid.

Wynter Wiki: App – Subversive

The Wynter wiki continues.

App: Subversive

The mysterious app ‘Subversive’ is hacktech created by an unknown agency. Its mission seems to be either to bring about the downfall of the government or to prevent it. It has access to intimate knowledge of all citizens of the galaxy. The app uses this knowledge on subversive people and subversive groups to reliably predict the effect of said people or groups years into the future: Will the subversives infect more people, more planets, or not?

The Subversive app was brought to our attention after Shane Tucker stole it from a passerby and shared it with Liz Wynter.

The Subversive app

The Subversive app

You liked Wynter and want to talk about it with your friends?

Tell them they get a special offer!

Wynter Is Hot: Yet Another Fantastic Review!

The Florida Geek Scene just published an amazing review of Wynter #3.

Here are some of the things they said:

“Graphically, Aron Elekes puts many books from major publishers to shame.”

“Story-wise it blows its contemporaries out of the water.”

“Wynter is among the finest books this comic book reviewer has read in a very, very long time.”

You always knew Wynter was that good, right? Here’s your chance to tell your friends. Tell them them there’s a special deal for them.

Wynter #3 Cover

Wynter #3 Cover

 

How I Wrote the Wynter TV Pilot Script

So you’re all reading Wynter, the comic book series.

Well, it’s time for a different perspective. As part of certain dealings with a Hollywood production company, I entrusted with the task of writing the first version of the Wynter TV pilot and to plan the series’ first season.

To write Wynter as a TV show, after and while still writing the comic book series, demanded a serious change in the way I looked at Wynter.

While every comic book has 22-23 pages, a TV episode has 45-50 minutes. The depth you can cover in TV is so much greater. You have to deal with more plots, greater depth of character, more background, more details, and more twists.

In planning the first season, I added more characters, different plot twists, a cliffhanger for the first season that I would never do in the comic book, and, oh, yes, – I planned a completely different ending to the series than the comic book.

Want a glimpse of the changes? Compare the issues you’ve read to the events in the pilot script. Below you’ll find the first two pages that include a brand new character. (And if you’ve read the series, it’ll mess with your head.)

The rest of the script is now being serialized in the New Worlds Comics Twitter account. A new page is posted every day. And when it’s all done and published, I may erase all script pages. So enjoy it while it’s there.

For now, here’s me messing with your heads:

Wynter TV Pilot Script, Page #1

Wynter TV Pilot Script, Page #1

Wynter TV Pilot Script, Page #2

Wynter TV Pilot Script, Page #2