Transformation of (or by) comic culture

Prince Robotiv

Mainstream superheroes with decades of history (Superman, Batman, SpiderMan, the various Avengers) are flying off comic book pages onto the big screen, in an increasing number of blockbuster comic-films enabled by advances in CGI. Interesting to consider how the concept of the superhero has seeped more deeply into our culture as a result of this and other manifestations of comic book culture – to the extent that we probably wouldn’t be surprised to see all manner of people wearing capes, bending steel, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. The line between fantasy and reality is blurry as hell these days.

As comic culture evolves, so does the entrepreneurial culture of superhero development. The New York Times has a piece about the a creative renaissance at Image Comics, a smaller comic publisher with 5% of market share vs Marvel’s 37%. Image is getting a lot of buzz, though, and has one major success, “The Walking Dead,” basis for AMC’s zombie series (no superheroes there, only frail humans vs ravenous zombies).

Also noting how big a deal Comic-Con’s become, no longer a comic book convention but an increasingly important convergence event. A swirl of comic geek and sci-fi geek subcultures mediated by new technologies is emerging. I’m not quite sure how to reconcile this accelerating fantasy culture with the very real dysfunctions and failures of puny humans – will a commitment to a culture of comic book heroes save us by inspiring a real sense of superhumanity? Or distract us from our state of collapse until it’s too late to go home?

“…the heroic myth helps counter feelings of powerlessness within the family structure. Which is why little boys can’t get enough of superheroes. It lets them imagine themselves as instruments of their own will — instead of subjugated weaklings, in tiny bodies, who lack all agency.” ~ “Meeting Our Cultural Overlords at Comic-Con”

Code Across America ATX: A Civic Innovation Hackathon

ATX Codeathon

Google-funded Code for America was in Austin Saturday for a codeathon using data accessible via the city’s data portal. I dropped by the geek chic coworking facility Conjunctured, where the codeathon was happening, and hung out long enough to get a sense of the projects the ~40 coders were tackling. Those included a Bike Accident and Route Safety app, an app for finding miscellaneous stuff around town, and a “garden dating” app (to help people who want a community garden find a space). What was missing? For at least one project (Find It), there were fewer sources of data than the developers would’ve liked. I realized that it’s not enough to bring coders together to create apps – we should also be cultivating data sources. A project to build databases and facilitate citizen input would be a logical complement to the various codeathons.

The quintessential geek couple, completely and inalterably married-for-life

Our friends and sometimes houseguests, Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic, are facing an immigration hassle. Says Bruce, “We have no joint bank account, no insurance accounts and no joint children. The authorities therefore suspect that our marriage is a phony ‘Green Card marriage,’ and they would like to have Jasmina deported from the USA.”

Note to the harried couple: send INS our way, we can certainly verify your persistent, more or less blissful marital status…