A Winkle in Time graphic novel

Free Comic Books For Everyone Not Just The Guy Dressed Like Spawn

Saturday, May 3 is Free Comic Book Day, and my family will be heading to Velocity Comics to celebrate FREE! and COMIC BOOK! This is why…

I have a strange relationship with comic books. It’s similar to my sorted past with sci-fi/fantasy books, television and movies. I like what I like (Star Wars books, Star Trek and Spawn television series, almost every movie with an Avenger), but I am not married to any canon or author or artist or producer. I have huge gaps in my knowledge base even if my bookshelves rock (or don’t. I have no idea):

Watchmen & Superman
Do I dare point out I read Watchmen long before the movie? Of course, I do!
A Winkle in Time graphic novel
My husband pre-ordered this graphic novel version for me, and my son and I both loved it.
Sandman Series
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is so dear to my heart that I can’t even let friends borrow them.

I love the people and places and art which comics have introduced into my world, but I’ve wondered if I belong in a comic book store. Will I wander around aimlessly and ignored? Will my questions be mocked? Will I buy something I hate because the artist can’t even draw boobs right? I already know I could never go head-to-head with a comic book aficionado, but I would appreciate his recommendations without condescension. (I’m thinking of start the Constantine series. What do you think?)

So I’ve mostly avoided comic book stores unless I had a very specific comic to find or (later on in the Internet world) I couldn’t buy online. However, my 7-year-old son shares my love of graphic novels and comics, and I’m softly encouraging my 5-year-old daughter to do the same. But I feel even more ill-equipped to help them find age-appropriate comics that won’t disappoint. We’ve gotten a few from the library and my son read a few off my shelf (I think he’s read every one of my Calvin and Hobbes books and I own them all), but I want my children to feel like a comic book store is their stomping ground, too, no matter what questions they have or series they love.

Comic books changed the way I saw the world by introducing me to characters and plot lines which gave voice and beauty to my confusion and struggles as a teenager and young adult. They continue to make me think and discuss and think again on who I am, what the world is like and what it should be like. I want everyone, whether they’ve read their parent’s extensive comic book collection or only enjoy Superman movies, to experience the wonder and shock which only a comic book can offer.

Velocity Comics Logo

This year Velocity Comics Free Comic Book Event isn’t geared towards the usual 18-44 male that I envision yelling at me for not understanding Batman. They are focusing on younger readers and embracing the expanding all-ages (and all-sexes) market. So many cool kids comics will be available from Hello Kitty! to Avatar: The Last Airbender and more.

WHEN: Saturday May 3rd from 10am to 7pm
WHERE: 819 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220

So bring the family and expand your world.

PS. It should be noted that no one has ever yelled at me about Batman, but I’m sure they’re waiting in a dark alley to strike.

PPS. If you don’t live in Richmond, find out where in your town free comic books are waiting by click here.

Disclaimer: Velocity Comics reached out to me about their event probably because I’m cool, and I was happy to partner with them because I love the genre. Although they did imply if I was paid, it would be comic books, I wrote this hoping to encourage a new generation of young readers, and some hesitant adults, into this amazing world of stories and art.

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Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Died And It Should Matter To You

Net Neutrality
Image from Wikipedia

Net neutrality is no more. At least for the foreseeable future. A ruling by a federal appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) 2010 rules to protect the openness of the Internet by ruling in favor of Verizon Communications. (source)

Now, Verizon or any internet provider (except for Comcast*) can control, slowdown or block a website. Say they didn’t like my piece on the destructive force this will be on the Internet. They could keep all Verizon FIOS users from accessing my site. Or they could make Late Enough load so slow that people would give up.

Some background:

In 2010 the FCC implemented Open Internet rules which have three main points (taken from the FCC webpage):

1. Transparency: Broadband providers must disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and the commercial terms of their broadband services;

2. No Blocking: Fixed broadband providers (such as DSL, cable modem or fixed wireless providers) may not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices. Mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services;

3. No Unreasonable Discrimination: Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service. The no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination rules are subject to limited exceptions for “reasonable network management.” View the Open Internet Report and Order.

In 2011, Verizon Communication said its First Amendment rights were being violated by the Open Internet rules (corporations really are people!) as well as arguing that the FCC doesn’t have the right to implement these rules.

In 2014, the District of Columbia Appeals Court ruled 2-1 that the FCC doesn’t have the right to enforce these specific mandates (#2 and #3) but can still regulate broadband. (thank goodness!)

Now, large players on the Internet will be able to pay broadband companies for priority speed and traffic, while small players will, well, be slow and small. Broadband companies state that this priority system will keep broadband cheap because they’ll make money from charging, for example, Netflix to stream movies and TV shows and can pass on this savings to consumers. But why wouldn’t Netflix increase the price for consumers to use its product to offset these new costs? They will so the consumers still pay more and the telecommunication companies still make more money. And if consumers won’t pay? Everyone can just stream shows through Verizon. How convenient! For Verizon!

There isn’t even competition in many areas to keep companies from doing whatever they want. I can choose between Comcast and Verizon FIOS in Richmond, but not everyone even has two choices. Plus, Comcast has the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced, but now, Verizon can take away my favorite websites. That’s not really much of a choice.

And what about the small, creative work on the web? The level playing field that allows everyone a glimpse of fame, fortune, genius or just LOLfun. The Internet makes knowledge and ideas much more accessible and therefore, equal. Good ideas, bad ideas, change-the-world ideas are all at our fingertips whether we use those hands to search for them or create them. Now, consumers can be cutoff from an up-and-coming site that competes with the many interests companies like Verizon or AT&T have or just because they aren’t in the “Internet package deal.” Consumers, who are also innovators, can even be cutoff from their own work.

Net neutrality is a fundamental aspect of the Internet. Without it, the Internet becomes like a cable company where we are forced to buy eight-five channels we don’t care about for the five we do and pay extra for the five we also want except in the Internet’s case, there could be millions of channel we are missing out on. I haven’t had cable in nearly a decade because I was tired of paying too much for channels I didn’t care about and having the ones I did arbitrarily removed, and I wasn’t even a television show or channel creator. Now, the other ways I access TV and movies can be taken away as well as anything else. Any of us can be targeted. Who’s to say yours, my, or the next world-altering idea isn’t next?


*In 2007, Comcast was caught slowing down legal, basic websites, some of which competed with their own streaming sites, and the FCC censured them. The FCC lost the case in appeals in 2010. However, when Comcast merged with NBCUniversal that same year, it agreed to follow the Open Internet rules for 7 years even if the courts modified them because of Congress’ fear of it being a monopoly so it will not be affected by 2014 ruling for another few years. (source)

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