Strip Talk #23: Animated Mario has wins, losses over the years

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineCartoons, to me, fall in the same sphere as anime and comic books. If you tell a good story, I don’t care what medium you choose to tell it in. If it happens to be about something I love, chances are I’m even more for it. So it goes with Mario. I have loved the portly plumber since 1988, the first time I played Super Mario Bros. and died on the first goomba on the first level.
With that love of Mario cemented, I started looking for other avenues in which to pursue my affection. I found them in the only animated Mario show out at the time: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.
Super Show was fantastic in the fact that Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells really were Mario and Luigi for the live-action segments, and the animated portion of the show was really well done. Super Show got a lot of things Mario right, despite the combination of the then-unheard of Japanese version of Mario 2, Mario 2 USA and the first game. But, while I loved Super Show, the fever pitch in America for Super Mario Bros. 3 began and it was then that I truly fell in love with animated Mario.
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of my favorite Nintendo-themed properties.
First of all, it was based on Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the greatest games ever made and one of the few The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 games that lived up to the hype that preceded it. Second, the animation was great and really made you think about things from the perspective of the world Mario was in. Sure, I didn’t like the references to the real world because I associate Mario with fantasy and the Mushroom Kingdom, but I could kind of look past all of that so long as it didn’t happen that often. What Adventures did was take the concept of Mario the game to Mario the cash cow, meaning Mario was everywhere at this point. It didn’t hurt that McDonald’s had toys based on the game and TV show in their Happy Meals at this point, either.
After the hype of Adventures died down, though, there wasn’t much animated that I really cared for. Super Mario World’s cartoon didn’t do it for me and it didn’t seem to have the same magic that the previous cartoons captured from the games.
The brief cornucopia of Mario animated brilliance came to an end, and there haven’t been any replacements since. At least the game was fun while it lasted.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #22: No fat-shaming allowed of any kind

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineLet’s be real for a moment: I am what you would call a fat girl. I’ve been fairly overweight for a large portion of my adult life. It’s nothing I don’t already know and it’s nothing that I haven’t tried to fix. That doesn’t seem to stop my surviving parent from attempting to fat shame me every time I call him out for being a jerkhole. That glimpse inside my hectic and drama-filled home life should let you know how I feel about others fat-shaming others. And, let’s get down to the nitty gritty about things: I can’t stand women downgrading and fat-shaming each other.

Universally, I can’t stand women going against each other. Real talk: We don’t exactly have the best standing in the species, whether it’s from the original sin still being used against us (really, though? It’s been eons upon eons. Some folks really need to let things go), or that it’s still assumed that we’re dumb and can’t fend for ourselves when we clearly have intelligence, there’s still a stigma attached to being a woman. So, really, we need all the help we can get starting with our own side of the species stepping up to support each other. But what do we get? “She looks like a beached whale.” “She shouldn’t be into that weird stuff like cosplaying.” “She’s way too weird for any man to really get involved with her.”

Having heard the majority of that foolishness from my own side of things, and specifically from black women, you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. It never ceases to amaze me how many people — especially black people — will throw stones and not get the full extent of being different. I was born different. The moment I came into the world, I was expected to utilize my intelligence, and leverage the fact that I could do whatever I wanted and be whatever I wanted. I was encouraged to have different interests and to not be so isolated and into my own self. So, when I developed an interest in other cultures besides my own (I do still have nationalistic black pride, by the way), it came as no shock to anyone who knew me well. I know better than to ever fat shame anyone, let alone other cosplayers and let alone women. It doesn’t matter if you’re a big girl like me or rail thin; do you and keep it moving.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #21: Don’t let outside opinion sway your film loves

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineListen, there comes a time in the entertainment business that things (i.e. songs, movies, art) will be remade. And we will have to live with it. Just because something is a classic, that doesn’t mean it’s sacred and off limits. No, this is Hollywood. Land of the movie stars, mega rich and lack of creativity so distinct that it is often duplicated and imitated worldwide. Hollywood knows nothing about creativity and originality so, inevitably, there will be a remake or reboot of a franchise where multiple people have played the same role over the course of several movies. Let’s take, for example, Batman. The Caped Crusader has been played by numerous people yet remains popular. So, with the passing of the torch by the latest to step into the iconic tights — Christian Bale to Ben Affleck — there’s been a frenzy of criticism surrounding the casting. Justified and unjustified, you might say.

I’ll admit, I’m not exactly seeing Affleck in the dual role. I get his sex appeal and his acting chops. He’s got all of that and then some to spare, but he doesn’t exactly jump out at me as the perfect Bruce Wayne and Batman. But, in fact, history shows that the first actor to bring Batman to life — Michael Keaton — faced the same sort of scrutiny. And what do you know? He just happened to weigh in on the situation:

My guess is he’s a smart guy. I don’t know Ben, but he’s been around long enough to see all this stuff happen,” Keaton said. “My guess is he’s laughing [at the criticism], he’s laughing and I hope he’s going, ‘Shut up!'”

And that about sums up my feelings on the matter.

Now, full disclosure, I love Keaton as an actor. I really do, and I loved him as Batman. I’m just old enough to remember the hype surrounding the original movie and to remember not being allowed to see it without an adult present. But I don’t remember the criticism Keaton received, and from what I know, there was plenty of it. I read about it and my initial thought was, who cares? My next thought was, Keaton made an excellent Batman/Bruce Wayne so I guess he proved quite a few folks wrong, didn’t he? My third thought on the matter, after reading the interview with Keaton on Affleck as a choice, was, why did they ask Keaton? Is he in charge of casting, because if he is, that’s news to me. He doesn’t care and, yet, someone felt they had to go there as if it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about. No one is talking about it because it’s a non-issue. Not important. Next.

Here’s my main point: What does it matter what anyone thinks, outside of Affleck and studio executives? He’s the one getting paid for putting on the cowl and cape. They’re the ones risking two franchises with casting (remember, Superman and Batman are affected by the next film). All of the critics in the world aren’t necessarily the end-all, be-all for a movie. And, you should never listen to a film critic, anyhow. It’s all subjective in the first place and how someone feels about a movie could change with the next human over. This is what I want you, the reader, to take from this: Make up your own mind and don’t rely on someone else’s thoughts to determine what you like and don’t like. Because, as I like to say all of the time, you aren’t the one cutting the check or depositing it, either.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #20: When obnoxious behavior leaks into comic books

Lyndsey-101612-cutoutI’ve read quite a bit in the past several months about this ridiculousness where women in comics and games are harassed by men in the same industry, and I have but one word to that effect: Stop. No one deserves harassment of any kind, let alone by colleagues in an industry that is still trying to evolve beyond the caveman antics that engineered its very existence.

Yes, I get it that men were the forebearers of this great thing called comic books. There’s plenty of congratulations to go around for the creation of our favorite superheroes by the other side of the population that has XY chromosomes. But can we stop for a second? Just a second to firmly put this out there: No one likes a man that has obvious insecurities. No woman is going to want to deal with you on a professional level, let alone a personal level, after she discovers that every time you open your mouth to speak, insane things that come off as verbal throw-her-over-your-shoulders-and-carry-her-off-sneak-attacks bombard her face and senses.

And, look, there goes that word again: Sense. Why would any woman find attractive a thoughtless individual who spews stupidity forth? That’s like asking me to bed and you’re simultaneously spewing gas from both ends. It lacks sense.

And much like those who would do things like expel gas as they’re propositioning me, please take a dose of much needed medicine, sit down and SHUT. THE. HELL. UP. As a woman who is interested in comics, knows more about the history of the X-Men and Marvel than most normal average Joes on the planet, and one who is involved in the gaming industry, I can speak with impunity when I say that not only does your pitiful attempt at impressing me fail, but also I will never think positively of you in any way, shape or form ever again if you get in my face with nonsense in the form of a joke meant to embarrass me and my gender.

You see, my side of the population already has a built-in bias that rears its ugly head in every thing that we do. We can’t just be smart. No, we have to be smart and pretty. Sexy yet keep modesty up to code. Accomplish all of those things while working at a job that pays inherently significantly less for the same amount of and type of work. Go home and deal with an emasculated individual who hasn’t gone out and done his fair share of the work but wants to complain about us making all of the decisions. And, after all that is said and done, sit down to read or watch something that’s going to tell its decision-makers that it “isn’t for the women. They won’t get this anyway. Women don’t get it.”

So, forgive me if I have just a little bit of outrage when I hear of male industry luminaries outright harassing and making jackasses of themselves in an attempt to keep interest going in their work. You’ve created the glass ceiling. How about you let the other side see how you live for a change? In peace.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #19: Sometimes it’s OK to reserve judgment

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineBefore we even get started, let’s not even question my TMNT legitimacy, OK? I am what you would call a superfan. Check my credentials: I have most of the 1987 cartoon seasons on DVD, have had the theme song of said show memorized since the beginning of 1988, had loads of merchandise and wrote a freaking play about Leonardo falling in love with April. Oh, and that 2011 GI issue devoted to TMNT? My idea. So, when I render a verdict on this new contraption that Michael Bay has dared introduce, you can best believe I do know what I am talking about. Except … that’s just it: I haven’t rendered a verdict and I’m not going to. At least, not just yet.

Yes, I’ve seen the epic original trailer (and I use that term loosely here), and no, I don’t have much to say about the overall film. The trailer is just that: a trailer. You can’t just go around supposing anything from a trailer. From what I saw, it’s supposed to be a retelling of the origin story of the four turtles and their first meeting with Ms. O’Neil. Beyond that, I’m not really expecting much other than the rumbling that I’ve heard over the hills that the Turtles are supposed to be aliens this time around. Not so fast there, Bay. That isn’t canon and that one change? Yep, you guessed it: The fanbase isn’t buying it. At all.

There comes a time, though, when everyone needs to step back and keep a clear head about things. This is one of those magical times. Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the boys in green, even agreed with that righteous statement from Bay. Keep in mind, however, that Eastman isn’t even directly involved with the rights to the Turtles anymore and has only recently gotten back into the Turtle game. So take it for what it’s worth. Meanwhile, other co-creator Peter Laird is telling anyone who’ll listen that the concept is being watered down and probably will hurt the standing of the franchise. My reaction: As if the third movie, subsequent 80 million series after the 1987 cartoon and rampant merchandising didn’t already do that? I mean, let’s not forget that at the height of the series’ popularity, you could find the Green Machine on everything from bookmarks to toilet paper practically. So, what’s another movie to potentially push the franchise again to a newer generation of kids that don’t know the black-and-white history of the Turtles?

I’m no Bay defender or apologist but all of the knee-jerk reactions to the trailer need to descend right back down to the sewers whence the third movie came from.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #18: Days of Future Past isn’t a reality fast enough


Photo by Brandon Beatty/Gaming Insurrection GI recently took a field trip to the movies. Editor-in-chief Lyndsey Hicks stands with the X-Men: Days of Future Past promotional poster.
Photo by Brandon Beatty/Gaming Insurrection
GI recently took a field trip to the movies. Editor-in-chief Lyndsey Hicks stands with the X-Men: Days of Future Past promotional poster.

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineIt’s no secret that I favor Marvel over DC in the grand scheme of comic book things. I always have: I began watching X-Men: The Animated Series almost as soon as the show began airing, and I’m far more knowledgeable about Marvel’s characters for several reasons. One of those reasons is because I find the writing in Marvel properties to be far more tight and logically sound, even with some of the more preposterous plots roaming around the Marvel universe. And one more reason is because the X-Men: Days of Future Past arc is my all-time favorite of any comic book series.

Partially because of the introduction of Bishop and the fact that Sentinels finally get their moment in the spotlight, Days of Future Past is pretty fun to watch and read. I’ve seen the entire Animated Series adaptation and I have to say it’s my favorite. Yes, I’m well aware that Kitty Pryde is the original person to travel back in time in the comics, but I love Bishop in that role. It was possible to believe that Bishop would find a way back and become a catalyst in the future changing, or shifting, if you believe that parallel universes replace each other.

And the best part about the entire saga? For me, the lack of Summers overexposure. I can even deal with the pushing of Wolverine here if it means that I won’t have to deal with the combined might of Jean and Scott at the forefront. Yes, we get a little bit of that “Summers magic” with Rachel Summers but it’s a small price to pay for the relative comfort of knowing that neither Jean nor Scott are hoarding the spotlight yet again. Though, my problem with the tale is who the hell is Rachel Summers exactly? If you don’t do some advanced reading and figure out who she is on your own, you might never figure it out.

Despite some loopy alternate universe travel and sketchy explanations for Summers’ involvement, the tale is solid. I liken it on the same level as Age of Apocalypse in that there’s a plot involving villains who manage to take over the world through their own nefarious means and misguided extremism. Except in this case, the plan backfires and everyone — mutant and human — suffer the consequences. You can’t get more “X-Men” than that.

With a movie adaptation coming in about two months (May 23, as a matter of fact), you can be rest assured that I will be there on opening day more than likely. I’ve been awaiting this newest installment of the X-Men movie franchise ever since the Last Stand debacle since I don’t consider X-Men: First Class a true sequel to Last Stand; it’s a reboot, albeit a good one. I’m ready to jump back into the world of the X-Men, and what better way than to leap into the arms of my favorite arc on the big screen?

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #17: When the X-Men ruled the weekend

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineI grew up in a household where Saturdays were prized affairs of laziness and doing absolutely as little as possible. Mostly, we sat around reading romance novels (my mom), playing cards or board games or doing a little housework well before noon so that the rest of the day was free to be leisurely. As a child with a little disposable income in the form of an allowance, I indulged in simple pleasures such as comic books, visits to Red Wing Rollerway (RIP), and movie and arcade trips. These were all to be done on my days off from school. They stayed my trivial pursuits throughout my teenage years, but a new rule was put into place in 1992, the year I entered sixth grade: Under absolutely no circumstances could I be out of the house between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon. X-Men the Animated Series was on.

I created that rule after the first time that I watched an episode in that first season. I was prone to sleeping late to start with, but I woke up one Saturday morning to realize that there were X-Men on TV. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across it other than there was a small child in our household who also loved Saturday morning cartoons. The problem was that she didn’t consistently watch the same things every week, so I was at the mercy of a toddler who didn’t know Cyclops from Havok. I quickly explained the situation to mama, who understood the importance of my comic book love — she, once upon a time, was a devoted reader of Spider-Man. That weekend, I formulated a plan to watch the show from her bedroom — where I spent most of my time playing video games anyway — and made sure she knew what time and channel to turn to once I was up for the morning. I still, however, had to get her to warm up to not scheduling events and trips out too early before the show. I wanted to immerse myself in the world of the X-Men, not be out of the house tooling around JC Penney for a shirt that I would probably never wear.

The show was mesmerizing and drew me in to follow the greatest group of superheroes to have ever been created. The storylines were mature, and with great voice acting, I came to immensely enjoy the exploits of Marvel’s merry band of mutants. After two seasons, we moved into an apartment of our own and I was free to watch the show in the privacy of my own bedroom. Sadly, it wasn’t the same, though I still enjoyed the show.

In the days before DVR and Internet, there was no way to catch up on a broadcast if I missed it and no one recorded it on VHS. Slowly but surely, I fell out of getting up to watch the show. But that year of waking for X-Men has stuck around with me. Those were the days of mutant magnificence in animated form.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at

Strip Talk #16: Too many villains plague some comic films

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineNearly every year that I’ve been alive and conscious enough to know what’s going on in the world, there’s been a comic book movie released. And I take great pride in having seen the majority of the offerings out there. Sure, there’s some modern stuff that I haven’t watched, but that’s mostly because I’m on a journalist’s salary and one can’t just blow into a movie theater on that kind of cash. Made of money, I ain’t. But when I do manage to watch a comic book-based property, I look for a few things. The first and foremost is the ratio of villains to heroes. Some of my least favorite films have fallen prey to the darker and over-numerical side of things.

The first film that I can recall where I fell in love with the concept of hero/villain balance is Batman Returns. I was a lad, no more than 11, dying to go with the grown folks (read: an older cousin and my older brother) to see the sequel to Batman’s big screen outing. I was a child in love with Michael Keaton, and I was especially excited because 1. Tim Burton was at the helm of everything; and 2. I was allowed to stay out extra late with older folks related to me who understood my love of movies.

Mr. Burton, whose style I still love to this day, didn’t disappoint in the aesthetics department. But where I found fault a little later after some discussion with my fellow movie-goers and genius parent was the fact that Batman played second fiddle to just about everyone and everything. Make no mistake, I loved the Penguin and Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer was and still is iconic in the role of one Ms. Selina Kyle. But, seriously? Did we really need that many villains? And let me point something out here: Keaton is badass and will always be Batman for me. But the man was severely shortchanged in his screen time as the Bat. Despite the immersion in the world of Gotham, I felt the pangs of longing for every moment that Batman wasn’t on screen yet dealt with three villains. Burton could have killed off Christopher Walken’s Max Schreck and we would have all been OK.

Let’s skip a few years and come upon my time as an adult moviegoer. My dollars are more precious — now on that aforementioned journalist’s salary — and my time a little more wisely spent paying attention to story and plot connectivity to the comic book the movie’s going to be based on. Spider-Man had become a major player in the comic movie world, and Tobey MacGuire’s adorable take on the friendly neighborhood wallcrawler was particularly decent at drawing in the must-see crowd. But you see, even the most adorable Peter Parker couldn’t save the particularly mundane and not-quite-up-to-par third outing for Spider-Man. Why? Because he had too many foes just waiting to make that spider sense tingle. Spider-Man 3 suffered from the same problem that Batman Returns encountered: too many villains. There was absolutely no need to have Harry Osbourne (Hobgoblin), Sandman AND Venom. And to make matters far worse than Batman Returns, Venom was poorly done. That was a blow to my heart as a Venom fan. His origin is handled correctly, but his overall look is terrible. Also, as a matter of record, Venom deserves his own movie as a major Spider-Man foe. It was obvious that Venom’s resolution was crammed in at the last moment, and the film suffered mightily for it.

I’m a purist at heart, so when I sit through your overlong film and I walk away thinking there wasn’t enough of the hero, there’s a problem. Two villains are enough for the protagonist — and the viewing audience — to handle. Movie directors should take a cue from doctors on too many villains syndrome: Physicians heal thy self.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at



Strip Talk #15: I’ve learned a few lessons from cosplaying

Lyndsey-101612-cutoutI had a reason to cosplay once again. I usually only have the urge to dress up and take on different characters once a year, and that’s because I’m going to NashiCon. My first and only anime convention to date, I popped my NashiCon cherry in 2009 with an attempt to dress up as Akuma. The next year, I went as Afro from Afro Samurai. I managed to miss 2011 and 2012 for various reasons, but I made a special trip to the convention this year. NashiCon is held every year in my hometown of Columbia, S.C., so I have every reason to go and celebrate anime.

For reasons known only to myself, I decided that I would attempt to cover NashiCon 2013 for GI. You may have even seen our coverage on the front page of Next year will be different, I promise, because I’ve got a mission to uphold. Next year involves a new character to cosplay from any of the various anime that I’ve finished and all-day photography from the minute the doors open on both days.

This year, as I wandered through the halls of the convention and escaped outside for a little while, I took note of the elaborate work needed to pull off some characters. Cosplaying is hard work, something to put dedication and efficiency into to make complete. And to my surprise, there were so many different series represented that I knew. I have never regarded myself as particularly knowledgeable about anime, but this year I recognized so many characters from series new and old that I finally felt anime smart. That has always been step No. 1 in improving my cosplay technique and efficiency.

Step No. 2 will come in the form of preparation. This year taught me a good lesson: Having a plan in place if you’re going to cosplay is a good idea. Also, it’s fine to cosplay by yourself. You don’t have to cosplay in a group and trying to coordinate costumes is all fine and well, but it’s not always feasible. One of the pitfalls of the weekend was the fact that I couldn’t attend both days with fellow GI member Brandon. Add to that the problem that when we did make it there the second day, it was near the end. I also ran into the problem of not being able to visit more of the panels that I had planned to see. If I’d stuck to my original plan, things might have turned out better. Planning is everyone’s friend.

The final step is dedication. I have realized that in recreating a character there has to be a high level of dedication to seeing it through until the end, the end being when I walk out of the convention hall for the final time. There were people who were completely in character, perfect down to the strands of hair placed correctly. That takes work folks. A lot of work. But if you’re going to do something such as dress as a completely ridiculous character, be prepared to go all the way or go home.

So, with my steps in mind, next year’s issue will be ready well ahead of time, and I’ll have all the time in the world to enjoy dressing up as some inane comic book or anime character I’ve only dreamed of being.

Lyndsey Hicks is the editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached at

Strip Talk #14: My love of anime began with comics

Lyndsey-101612-cutoutMany a time, my origins as a comic book nerd has come up in this column. And it’s no surprise, given that I spend a lot of time researching my favorite franchises and characters as well as playing various video games involving superheroes and villains teaming up. But what’s a little less well-known about me is my love for anime.

True, you can see some of that fervor spilling over in the Anime Lounge, the newest addition to The Strip. As I’ve pointed out before, I watched a lot of anime when I was in college and didn’t really pick it up again until after the end of my marriage. But, my love for anime really began with comic books. I loved to imagine my favorite characters in cartoon form and what better way than to read manga or watch anime? As it turns out, I preferred my adventures in animated motion form so I stuck with anime mostly, but I have been known to read a little manga in my day.

Comic books paved the way for my love, though, because it was printed material and I loved to read. I still do. Believe it or not, I parlayed my love for samurai and their history into a love for the X-Men that still stands today. That love of the X-Men turned into a need to watch the legendary Fox animated series, which in turn lead me to other series that became anime in the form of Cartoon Network’s Toonami. The long, convoluted chain of like breeding love actually got its start even further back because I originally got into comic books through Archie Comics and the printed tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So you see, this relationship with comics and roundabout relationship with anime merely began with a simple exposure to mutated amphibians, mutated people with special powers and kids living in Riverdale. How I managed to move from samurai to the X-Men, I’m not sure, but I do know that I equated the group with samurai being farmed out on retainer from a lord — that’d be Charles Xavier — who wanted his interests respected and protected in the world. My fondness of the romance between Archie, Betty and Veronica led directly to my preference for romantic comedy anime and just about any anime dealing with the start of relationships.

It’s amazing how young love can shape future viewing habits.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at