Go/No-Go: Life Debt

nasa-mission-control-3Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: Star Wars: Life Debt.  The second in our first post-Return of the Jedi trilogy, it’s a book that’s certain to get a lot of chatter over the next few months.  We here at Tosche Station all rather enjoyed Chuck Wendig’s first Aftermath book but how do we feel about the second?  To mission control for the verdict!

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Tosche Station Book Club #4: The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

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Welcome back to the Tosche Station Book Club! This month, host Nanci is joined by guests (and members of the Goodreads book club group) Diana and Maia to discuss The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel.

Tune in next month for a review of The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel!

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon!  If you like what you hear, you can subscribe to the Tosche Station Book Club on iTunes or you can subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Megafeed for all of our great Star Wars and geek culture content. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Broaden Your Diversity Horizons

Insisting that only women/creators of color should write women/characters of color is part of the problem.

It’s an inevitable protestation brought up every time a comic company announces a new comic about a character that’s not a white guy. Most recently, the internet is all aflutter because Brian Bendis (who happens to be white) is writing Riri Williams, the black teenage girl who’s going to be the new Iron Man. Some parts of the internet want to see a WOC on the book instead. While I can most certainly appreciate the sentiment behind the movement, I find it to be a little more harmful than helpful for two very big reasons.

First, it sends the message that only women should write women or POCs should write POCs. For some books, having creators who have had the same life experiences as the characters is absolutely invaluable. Very few people would disagree that the life experiences of Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson do not play a fundamental role in creating Kamala Khan. Ta-Nehisi Coates also brings a unique point of view to his Black Panther book. So yes, there are absolutely some books that require a creative team with that intimate knowledge and strongly benefit from it. Every book doesn’t. In a way, it’s almost insulting to those everyone involved. Writers are supposed to have imaginations. If they only wrote about things they specifically experienced, fiction would be terribly boring.

Second, I truly believe that it actively discourages white male writers from creating characters of color. Bendis and artist Stefano Caselli get credit for creating Riri and hey, this is hardly the first time Bendis has created a young black character to take over the mantel of a white guy… Miles Morales anyone? Objectively speaking, why would someone want to create a diverse character when they know they’re just going to be faced with backlash for wanting to write a character they’ve made? I’m not saying we need to give white guys a gold star for making diverse characters but maybe a little credit or a nod of appreciation wouldn’t hurt.

The solution isn’t to stop asking for more women and minorities to get jobs creating comics (and everything else) we love so much. Instead, the solution is to ask for it more broadly and praise it when it happens. We should celebrate the work of Marjorie Liu on Han Solo and Becky Cloonan on Punisher a hell of a lot more than we do. To me, assignments like those are more groundbreaking than if Liu had been asked to write a Rey book or Cloonan a Wasp book (although I would not object to either of those.) Start bringing up the names of female and POC creators on your wish lists for books like Batman and Wolverine and not just Wonder Woman and Spider-Woman. And yes. I hope that in fifteen years, there’s going to be a young black woman writing the adventures of Riri because the character inspired her as a kid.

But (and this is a big but) let’s not pigeonhole or discourage writers from writing diverse experiences. We should absolutely continue to make our voices be heard in asking for more diversity amongst both the characters and creators. Change happens because people speak up and show that there is a demand for a certain type of story or character. Hold companies accountable but do so broadly and not just in a narrow lane.

Review: Poe Dameron #4

The egg is hatched and now Black Squadron is in prison.  Yep, that about sums it up.

It’s really neat how Marvel is tying not just their same-era books together but also their Original and Sequel Trilogy era books.  First seen back in the main Star Wars book, Grakkus the Hutt makes his return in a storyline that feels very organic while also being a wink to those of us who read all the books.

There’s a lot that goes on in this issue–so much that it feels like it was double sized.  The prison arc gets set up and started and I’m enjoying it for so many reasons so far but what really struck me were the squadron focused bits.  One of the appeals of the Poe Dameron book was how we’d get to know the pilots from The Force Awakens a little better.  Pilots are fan favorites not just because they’re flashy flyboys and flygirls but because of how creators flesh them out further in the expanded universe.  Jess, Snap, and Karé are already starting to feel more real even though we’ve only seen them in a few issues.  Heck, I’m already on board with Snap/Karé as a ship!  Marvel really couldn’t have picked a better group of characters to focus on in this era.

On the art front… yeah look: you already know how I feel about Phil Noto’s work.  I don’t need to repeat myself: he’s fantastic.  But ohhhh baby.  That cover for next issue.  *fans self*  Poe, I’m gonna need you to keep that smolder under control.

Poe Dameron #4: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Han Solo #2

Come on: you didn’t really think that this secret Rebel Alliance mission was just going to involve a high stakes space race, did you? Of course, the Dragon Void race is no mere race. Anakin Skywalker may have won the Boonta but I think even he would have a little trouble here. Marjorie Liu is most certainly committed to making sure that we get more than just the cocky smuggler side of Han Solo; something that more than a few writers have forgotten to do. And sure: Han is definitely cocky and brash but he’s also a pretty smart guy as evidenced by how he figured out the trick to the race’s opening—something that only one other pilot realized.

Something I’m definitely enjoying about this comic is how it’s helping broaden the universe.  Now we’re getting to see folks who don’t quite fall into the Underworld categorization but they’re still from the less civilized part of the galaxy and they’re really excited about this race.  The spectators have such a great ‘normal citizen’ feel and just like so many normal citizens in our world, they want to get autographs!  In the grand scheme of the story, it’s not a very big thing but it’s something that really stuck out to me nonetheless.

Mark Brooks (with some help from Sonia Obark’s colors) continues to be a delight on art. The highlights from this issue would definitely be the costume design for a female Falleen and the more humorous Chewbacca facial expressions.  Chewie can be a tough cookie to crack when it comes to artist renditions but I’m definitely enjoying Brooks’ take.

Han Solo continues to be a really fun book and I can’t wait to see where the Imperial entanglements take us in Issue #3.

Han Solo #2: Marjorie Liu/Writer, Mark Brooks/Artist, Sonia Oback/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Tosche Station Radio #149: Rebar Through the Chest

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This week on Tosche Station Radio, Dunc from Club Jade and Coop from Eleven-ThirtyEight join us to chat about what we’re looking forward to in Aftermath: Life Debt and discuss all things Rogue One. A lot of news dropped thanks to EW last week, so we’re here to break it all down!

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net and a part of Majestic Giraffe Productions. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store and Google Play. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon!

Review: Darth Vader #22

Aphra Watch 2016: Still not dead. Also still smarter than you.

Darth Vader #22 picks up right where Issue #21 left off: with Vader facing off against a cyberanimate rancor. Oh and it all happens on a whale-ship. Honestly, that tells you everything you should need to know about this book because Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca make some crazy magic happen. Science is nothing compared to the power of the Force and the force that is Darth Vader.

Cylo, on the other hand, is proving more resourceful and perhaps a little bit smarter than I’d given him credit for. He’s making very strong forward moves in the ‘take down Emperor and Vader’ direction even if we all know it won’t end well. It’s just a matter of how many other people he can take with him.

In a continuing ode to Doctor Aphra… we may not get very much of her in this issue but what we do get reinforces that she’s still alive (despite working for Vader) because of how damn smart she is and how fast she can think on her feet. Whether it pans out remains to be seen but it’s incredibly awesome to see such a capable woman not just wait around to be rescued… she does something about it.

As a part of the aptly named End of Games arc, Darth Vader #22 continues to raise the stakes and will keep readers on the edge of their seat as we march towards the end of this exciting book.

Darth Vader #22: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Of Dice and Droids Interlude #2: GMing and Character Building 101

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With scheduling conflicts postponing a gameplay session for a little bit, GM Tom checks in with Brian, Nanci, Sho, and Jay to discuss the state of the campaign and dive into discussions on how to build your own adventure and tips on how to GM and build your characters.

If you’ve never roleplayed before but are looking to start your own Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG, be sure to check out the beginner set which contains everything you need to play in the Star Wars universe for the first time.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes to hear all of the adventures! You can also subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio master podcast feed for even more great Star Wars  and geek culture content. 

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes to hear even more adventures! You can also subscribe to the Tosche Station master podcast feed for even more great Star Wars content. 

Western Reaches #8

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This week on Western Reaches, Megan and Saf are joined by guest Mike Audette to talk books, E3, Star Wars, and Pokemon!

You can find Megan on Twitter with the handle @blogfullofwords and you can find Saf with @Wanderlustin. Be sure to subscribe to Western Reaches on iTunes/Google Play and subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Mega Feed for more great shows, discussion, and commentary.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon!

Interview: Jon Klassen

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This Is Not My HatThis past April I attended the first Alaska Robotics Mini-Con and had the opportunity to interview award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Jon Klassen, creator of I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat and illustrator of Lemony Snickett’s The Dark, among many others. Listen to us talk about his time working in animation, visual storytelling, turtles, hats, and Star Wars as a series of moments!

Jon Klassen’s art can be seen at his website here and he can be found on twitter as @burstofbeaden. You can e-mail him at info@jonklassen.com. His upcoming book, We Found A Hat, in which two turtles in a desert find one hat, will be available this October and his other books are available now, wherever fine books are sold.