The Importance of Steven Universe

When I am not rehearsing or working on a piece, I have a lot of time to myself to watch Netflix, play video games or read comics. I’ve gotten back into watching cartoons lately and my latest choice has been the incredible stylings of Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar, on Cartoon Network.

Steven Universe is a cartoon about a young boy, named Steven Universe, who is raised by three female, magic aliens known as Gems. The Gems (Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl) were close friends of Steven’s mother, Rose Quartz, who led an uprising against invading Gems from the Gem homeworld who wanted to destroy Earth and use the planet as an incubator for new Gems. Rose and the Crystal Gems won the war and stayed on Earth as its defenders. Rose fell in love with a human and gave birth to Steven, but it is impossible for a Gem and their offspring to occupy the same space so Steven’s care was passed to the other three Crystal Gems. The four main characters go on missions to defend Earth and preserve humankind from dangerous Gem artifacts and other gems that invade the Earth.

In all, the show is incredibly creative and relatively groundbreaking. It is the first show on Cartoon Network to be created exclusively by a female producer. Rebecca Sugar did work on other shows, like Adventure Time, before starting Steven Universe but since has focused mostly on this popular cartoon.

This show is one of the most important cartoons to-date.

Not only was it created by a woman, it features strong, female characters that are warriors and mentors for Steven. These characters are flawed and face challenges and even though they are magical aliens they face real problems and teach children valuable lessons to make a better world. Steven is a kind and caring soul who looks out for his friends and the people he loves; Garnet speaks very little but is the fierce leader of the Crystal Gems; Amethyst struggles with her upbringing and the fact that she was one of the gems incubated on Earth and never knew the Gem homeworld; and Pearl acts as the voice of structure in the team while struggling with the loss of her fearless leader and confidante, Rose. These characters are multi-faceted and bring depth and ingenuity to the show.

The lessons in Steven Universe outweigh many of the stories. Lessons like consent in a relationship, what it actually means to be in love with another person, dealing with loss, the need for identity and independence and the importance of family, even when the family presented is a non-traditional one. The show also sports a canon lesbian relationship through Garnet, who is a fusion of two gems, Ruby and Sapphire, that cannot stand to be apart from each other so they stay fused together.

This show has wonderful writing, incredible characters and an intriguing story. The importance of this show is more than just one-sided; more cartoons like this one could make a significant impact on the younger generations for the better.

The Balance of a Freelance and Acting Career

I’m currently living in a cabin in northern Iowa and performing in a production of To Kill a Mockingbird. I also currently write for a feminist geek magazine and I recently took on a job with an airport trade magazine.

The balancing act for these parallel career paths I have chosen for myself is one of the more tricky parts of my life right now. Writing for Fangirl is an easy job, as I have mostly been focusing on writing reviews on comic books that I am following. I can generally do this in about an hour (which includes reading the comic book and writing a complete review). The work for the airport trade magazine has been a bit trickier as I have to conduct interviews and research which can be tricky to maneuver around rehearsal schedules and performances. Below is a typical week in my balancing act:

Monday
I wake up pretty late on Mondays due to the fact that we have changeover at the theatre on Sunday nights. This means that we tear down the old set of the show that closed on Sunday and put up the new set for the show opening on Tuesday. We generally are up until 2 or 3 in the morning but sometimes we will be there until 4 or 5. When I wake up, I generally go straight to eat either a late breakfast or lunch. Depending on whether or not I have tech rehearsal that evening, I will try to get some basic work done for a piece I am writing.

Tuesday
This is my other day off during the week, unless I am in the show performing that week. It can be a lot of work in 72 hours but it all culminates in opening night so it’s pretty much worth the effort that gets put in to the process. Not much writing gets done on Tuesdays if I am in a show.

Wednesday-Friday
I will generally have the rest of the week off if I don’t go into rehearsal for a show (this week I don’t have day rehearsals). When I don’t have rehearsal, I will pick up my comics on Comixology, write my reviews, read blogs, catch up on research and other writing and take some time to myself to watch Netflix, Steven Universe or learn lines and music. If I am in rehearsal, I will be working for six hours every day with an hour break for lunch and the day ending at 5:30 pm. Depending on whether or not I am in a show, I will either perform that night or hang around and wait for the show to end.

Saturday
Rehearsals happen all morning until 2:30 pm. This is our longest work day of the week and I don’t get much writing work done because I will generally be in rehearsal during the morning and working in the afternoon.

Sunday
We get the mornings off to galavant around town and be off the lot. Since this is my only real day off, I don’t focus on any writing work until I am back on the theatre lot at the end of the day. The evenings are taken over by changeover which, as I mentioned, last well into the night.

There hasn’t been much balance due to the hectic schedule that I live by up here. Once I enter a different show process the balance will be a bit easier to hold onto.

Marvel/ESPN Team-Up!

Marvel and ESPN got together this past month to work on a special insert for the ESPN Magazine’s annual Body Issue. The magazine hit newsstands today and readers found inside renderings of popular superheroes to celebrate their athletic physique and prowess. ESPN also released a digital booklet that showed the artist’s renderings along with their inspiration and thoughts on the drawings. The heroes showcased included She-Hulk and Captain Marvel, two of my personal favorites. You can read about ESPN’s work on this issue and their recent dabble into the world of eSports on Fangirl Magazine!

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ESPN and Marvel team up for a different take on annual Body Issue

Marvel Titles That I Can’t Freaking Wait For

Marvel’s fall lineup has finally been released. I am personally very excited because I’ve been playing catch up with the Marvel Universe since I stopped reading comics last year. Now that I’m back in as part of my work with Fangirl Magazine, the Secret Wars event has been a fantastic way for me to get back into things. But now that the Marvel Universe has been announced, I’ve been pouring over the titles to find out which ones I am definitely putting on my pull.

A-Force #1
W: G. Willow Wilson CA: Victor Ibanez
“A-Force to be reckoned with…”

All-New All-Different Avengers #1
W: Mark Waid A: Adam Kubert, Mahmud Asrar CA: Alex Ross
“Earth’s mightiest most dedicated heroes.”

New Avengers #1
W: Al Ewing A: Gerardo Sandoval
“Avengers Idea Mechanics. We A.I.M. To Help.”

Doctor Strange #1
W: Jason Aaron A: Chris Bachalo
“Some surgery requires a scalpel – some, an axe.”

Captain Marvel #1
W: Tara Butters & Michele Fazekas A: Kris Anka
“Captain Marvel rises.”

Scarlet Witch #1
W: James Robinson A: Kevin Wada
“Seeing red…”

Hawkeye #1
W: Jeff Lemire A: Ramon Perez
“Hawkeye vs. Hawkeye”

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
W: Brian Michael Bendis A: Valerio Schiti
“The raccoon’s in charge.”

All-New X-Men
W: Dennis Hopeless A: Mark Bagley
“On a mission to make their own future”

With these titles included on my pull, I would be at a total of 18 books that I pick up monthly. In total, that would amount to close to $60 a month or $720 a year on comic books. This doesn’t include trades or special issues/annuals that can tend to be a bit more than the average book. Many of these books won’t stay on my pull, as that kind of financial habit isn’t the most sound but it’s definitely worth picking up each of these to find out what potential they have.

10 Comics that Feature LGBTQ Characters

As a celebration of the ruling by the Supreme Court yesterday, I put together a list of comic books that feature LGBTQ characters heavily or are LGBTQ centric! With such a short list, it was incredibly easy to miss some important titles and I want to be as inclusive as possible. If you have any favorite comic books or webcomics that feature LGBTQ characters and have excellent representation of this community, please share them with me in the comments and I will compile a new list. In the meantime, you can read my story at Fangirl the Magazine.

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10 Comics that Feature LGBTQ Characters

Starting My Freelance Career

When I first entered college, I was convinced that I was going to work for a specific publication and eventually move my way up the ladder to become an editor at a large, consumer magazine. I had my eyes set on GQ for the longest time, and I had convinced myself I would be the Anna Wintour of GQ. Freelancing had never even occurred to me to be a viable option as a career.

Four years later with a diploma in my hand, I am doing everything in my power to create a freelance writing and editing career for myself. By the time I was graduating I figured that if I were going to freelance, now would be the time. I have little overhead, the only bills I absolutely have to pay are my student loans and it’s a career that allows me to be a little more mobile and flexible when I need to focus on other career ventures. I thought that I would be fine with just applying for jobs as a freelancer and pitching sites with my ideas and everything would fall into place simply but, as with most things in life, I was totally wrong.

Freelancing is hard.

I’m already used to rejection. Life as an actor has taught me a lot about the word “no.” At this point, however, I thought that I would have found something. Most of the work that I have been doing, and enjoying immensely, has been for free or very little pay. I have been able to write for sites such as Elite Daily, Thought Catalog and The Green Room on topics that I love to write. But no income is coming in from this kind of work and my student loans are coming. Six months is going to go by quickly.

I do my best to learn about what it takes to be a freelance writer. This is definitely not something that I learned in the j-school, but we were so focused on working in newsrooms it never occurred to me to ask anyone how to do it. So I pour over writing blogs, freelance websites and books that talk about how to break into specific niches. I try to set up a business so I can succeed, but I still need to work on focusing my pitches, finding websites that I want to work for and honing my craft as a writer.

The freelance career, much like the acting career, is a marathon, not a sprint. So I’m going to buckle in, hold on tight and get this project going. With some hard work, maybe I’ll have my first client very soon.