I’m in love with Garnet (and Steven Universe!)

Yes, you have already heard about my addiction to Steven Universe if you read my Storify list (Steven Universe: The Best Little Show You Aren’t Watching) but the last two or three episodes just blew my mind; The Return (S1-E48), Jailbreak (S1-E49) and Full Disclosure (S1-E50), wrapped up the first season of Steven Universe in a way that left me crazy craving for more. There is so much to be said about this show. It pretends to be a program for children but there are many adult ideas and themes scattered everywhere.

The quantum mechanics of Garnet’s “future vision”, the existentialism of time traveling Steven and his need to “die” to understand what was important, Pearl’s anger and frustration at being limited to Earth since the Gems ability to travel galaxy-wide has been cut off, the tension between Pearl and Amethyst who are emotionally diametrically-opposed, the Deva-fusions, the mystery of Lion and what he represents, the wonders are endless.

Give the show a chance. Yes, there is a bit of singing in every other episode but it is usually brief and remarkably good, so it is an idiosyncracy I can live with (and occasionally the tunes are catchy…”A Giant Woman” stuck with me for days…)

Of all the surprises the show had for me, I have taken a particular liking to the Crystal Gem called Garnet. Beautiful, mysterious, fiercely loyal, powerful, gentle and loving, she is the epitome of what a good Black woman is. Garnet is shown over the run of the series as the den mother, coordinator, leader, top fighter, and bad-ass of the Crystal gems. She is very reserved most of the time, but when she emotes, particularly when she is pleased about something, it just tickles the hell out of me.

I am hoping there won’t be any question about giving this show a second season. I want more gems, more questions, more challenges, more Steven Universe! Rather than have me gush over Steven Universe and further embarrass myself I will instead share with you an AMA with Rebecca Sugar who will answer all of your questions you might not have yet (because you have not had a chance to become addicted) but once you do, you will be able to come back and peer into the mind that created arguably one of Cartoon Network’s finest shows.

I know there are Adventure Time people out there who would have my head for saying such blasphemy but like Garnet might say: Bring it.

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An AMA with Rebecca Sugar (the creator of Steven Universe)

Rebecca Sugar (born July 9, 1987) is an American artist, composer and director who is best known for being a writer and storyboard artist on the animated television series Adventure Time as well as being the creator of the series Steven Universe, which debuted on Cartoon Network in November 2013. This made her the first woman to create a show for Cartoon Network. She also did a few storyboards on the Sony Pictures Animation film Hotel Transylvania.

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Influences

Q: Musically, who do you consider your influences?
A: Aimee Mann is a huge influence for me!

Q: I’m a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda, and I wondered if you were too? The reason I’m asking this is because I noticed a lot of similarities between some of my favourite elements of Zelda and Steven Universe: most notably, Opal. I was wondering, was Opal deliberately based on Nabooru and the Gerudo from Ocarina of Time, or was it a coincedence?
A: I am a massive Ocarina of Time fan… And I love Nabooru! My brother (the real Steven) and I played a whole run of OOT with the name “Nabooru” just to see if she’d make fun of her own name! Opal may be even more like Twinrova– she’s basically a fusion, right? I always loved the Gerudos. Connie is kind of a Gerudo too.

Q: Where do you get your inspirations from? Do you have any muses?
A: I have tons of muses, they are my crew!!! I am so inspired by my crew every day! They keep me going and make me want to be better at drawing!

Q: Is there any inspiration behind Pearl? She’s my hero.
A: I’ve been told that when I pitch Pearl, I do the same voice I do when I do an impression of my mother– makes sense I guess! Pearl is very much me at work. (Amethyst is me at home.)

Q: When creating the show, what was one thing that you DIDN’T want to happen with it?
A: I didn’t want the show to ever be mean, or sarcastic, or ironic. I wanted it to feel good!

Q: Would you be interested to know that your characters near-perfectly depict stages of human emotional development?
A: This was absolutely on purpose!!! Thank you for noticing!!!

Q: Which character do you relate with the most? Are there any characters in the show directly inspired by you?
A: All of the Gems are some version of me… neurotic, lazy, decisive… Sadie is based on how I was at the start of college.

Q: What inspires you to teach which lessons and which Gems or supporting characters to help best convey them to Steven or the others?
A: I try to think of what I needed to hear, when I was a certain age, and cartoons were my escape. Cartoons are great for that. I want to hide some legit good info in there, for the kids who are looking for that escape.

Q: Are any of your characters based on you or your friends?
A: Amethyst is loosely based on my friend Valerie Ang. We went to college together and I used to draw her all the time.

Q: How’d you come up with the idea for Steven Universe?
A: I came up with Steven cause I wanted to mix the feeling of hanging out with my brother (the real Steven,) with the kind of stuff we were watching and games we were playing, fantasy stuff. I put it all together into one thing that felt like our childhood.

Q: I see Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl as serving as almost parental figures to Steven. They all have very different personalities. Do these characters have real-life counterparts?
A: Yes! Steven is based off my brother Steven, and Garnet Amethyst and Pearl are all ways I act around Steven… sometimes I’m overprotective, sometimes I don’t have to care what he thinks… I always want to be like Garnet, but I probably am never that cool.

Q: Is the way the characters are named inspired by Dragon Ball in anyway? (Onion, Sour Cream, the Pizzas etc. are all named after food). What inspired the cartooniness in the animation?
A: Yes! We on Steven love Dragon Ball, and cartooniness! I want cartooniness in all my cartoons!!!

Q: What are the inspirations behind Garnet and Amethyst’s dance styles?
A: Garnet’s dancing is based on waacking. Lots of very fast hand and arm motions. Also I always look to Estelle’s dancing. Amethyst’s is dancehall and club dancing, pretty freeform, we’re pretty loose with it! She does whatever feels right!

Q: What comics are big influences on Steven Universe? Steven’s relationship with Lion seems very reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes.
A: I LOVE—The Goon BPRD Hellboy One Piece Tank Girl And tons of others, gosh I can’t even think of them all, Aleth Romanillos boarded a lot of Steven’s Lion and he’s a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, also Lamar Abrams boarded that episode too, and his comics are amazing!

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Q: Did you take any influence from Sym-bionic titan? Some of the characters remind me greatly of the show.
A: I am a huge fan of Sym-Bionic Titan! We used to share the floor with the Sym-Bionic crew when I was on AT! I had the chance to work with Genndy Tartakovsky soon after, on Hotel Transylvania, and I learned ton from him in a very short amount of time! I was storyboarding, and he went over a lot of my boards and showed me how to make simpler, clearer decisions. He also gave me a lot of fantastic advice and a ton of really helpful critique on my early Steven Universe ideas, because I was just starting to work on it at that time! Genndy also directed the animation in the Steven Universe Pilot! So yes I was very influenced by him!!!

Q: Who was your inspiration for Connie?
A: Kat Morris, who boarded Bubble Buddies with Aleth Romanillos, really created Connie’s character! I always look to Kat when it comes to Connie.

Q: What inspired you to name the characters Amethyst, Pearl, and Garnet?
A: Tom Herpich actually named Pearl! I wanted their Gems to parallel their personalities. Pearls being automatically smooth and perfect, Amethyst is coarse and rough, and I love how raw Garnets are mysterious with just a little bit of red peeking through hidden inside.

Q: Did you have particular inspiration when you made the dogcopter trailer?
A: I would have to ask Jeff Liu, who boarded that! But that scene always reminded me a lot of Jeff’s film that I LOVE! http://vimeo.com/23889349

Q: Any chance you can talk about how Tom got involved?
A: I am a huge Best Show Fan!!! I contacted him, and he said he’d be interested! Also he gave me a lot of great advice about running a show, which I still think about all the time. Tom is the best!

Q: The color palettes for the backgrounds are really great. It reminds me a lot of Kirby’s Adventure on the NES. (Was that an influence?)
A: Kirby was a very big influence! So was Yoshi’s Island. I love the color in that game.

Q: What other shows had some of the biggest influences on Steven Universe?
A: Future Boy Conan, Revolutionary Girl Utena, the Simpsons!

Q: How do you come up with ideas for episodes and songs?
A: I suppose I come up with ideas by doodling and thinking and spacing out, playing music until something comes together, drawing until something comes together.

Q: I really appreciate Mr. UNIVERSE! Was he inspired by anyone or thing in particular?
A: I made him specifically for his voice actor Tom Scharpling, host of the Best Show on WFMU! But he’s a little inspired by my dad, too!

Q: I was wondering who your biggest influences were when you began drawing?
A: I grew up on Looney Tunes, Totoro, lots of Canadian animation… then in high school I got into comics, Tank Girl and Hellboy and One Piece were big for me…

Advice

Q: What advice would you get for someone who has long since lost inspiration for creating, art, and creating art?
A: The only way to get back into drawing is to get back into drawing!! When I get stuck, I print out a ton of art that I feel is truly good, and just stare at it a LOT, and then draw until I like something. Force yourself, until you don’t have to anymore!

Q: I go to SVA, I saw you and Peter Browngardt when you came to the theater last year and you guys were really helpful with all the advice you gave and I just wanted to thank you for that. Also, any classes you reccomend?
A: If Connie Beckley is still teaching a Music and Art class, take that! I loved that! Or Bill Beckley’s Uncontrollable Beauty class about the sublime! Get into the humanities and let it inform your cartoons! Get into contemporary art!!! Don’t be one of those ‘this isn’t art!’ people!

Q: When it comes to making art, how do you keep going and avoid “freezing up” and getting overwhelmed?
A: It cannot be avoided!! I freeze up and get overwhelmed all the time, you just gotta push through it! Draw without fear of it coming out bad, throw out what you don’t like, draw a lot!
Q: What tips do you have for breaking into that field? Where are good places to start? Are there jobs for those who aren’t very artistically inclined?
A: Draw comics! Everyone is artistically inclined, your drawings don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be ideas! If you want to work in animation but would rather not draw, maybe seek a job in production!

Q: What advice would you give to writers that aspire to have a show of their own on television one day?
A: I would say, make LOTS of stuff, don’t wait to have a show! I recommend comics, I learned so much from drawing comics, you can explore so many stories that way. Comics and short films. Just make TONS of stuff.

Q: How do you develop your own drawing style?
A: You just do! However you draw is your drawing style, the more you think about it, the more you might even get in your own way! The best thing to do is to draw from life. Draw your friends, your family, the room you’re sitting in. You will make choices– this is how many lines I need, to make this nose look like your nose. To make eyes that look like your eyes! Those choices become your drawing style!

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Q: Do you have any advice for someone whose trying to get their television dream a reality? Do you have any dos and don’ts?
A: I would say make a lot of comics and short films– make projects you can finish on your own, instead of pitches. Do it for yourself, and finish your projects, 100%, show people what you’re about! The pitches can come later, and you’ll already have lots of finished work under your belt, and you’ll really know yourself as an artist and writer, which is the most important thing. You’ll realize what you want to do, the stories you keep coming back to, especially if you do lots of different kinds of things, then you’ll see the patterns, man I always really like doing this… even when I’m trying to do something else, I come back to this… You’ll know yourself but people will start knowing you too, through your work! You might not even have to go to them to pitch, they’ll come to you, wanting what you already do!

Q: I’m a comic artist who is looking to get into storyboarding. Are there any storyboard positions available on SU (or any show)? if so, who do I contact about taking a storyboard test for it?
A: Look up Cartoon Network Studios address on google, and send a letter and a copy of your portfolio, care of Brooke Keesling!

Q: Where did you go to art school? Do you know where the rest of your crew went to school? (CalArts, I bet.) What are your tips for creating an effective portfolio?
A: You don’t have to go to Calarts! I didn’t, and neither did IanJQ! What you do have to do is draw a LOT! Don’t just work on a portfolio, do lots of comics, make lots of films, make so much stuff it could never all fit in a portfolio. Then grab a few of your best things off your desk and pop them in a folder, that’s a good portfolio!

Q: Do you have any advice or tips on entering the television animation industry for a writer and/or artist?
A: Lots of personal projects! If you have ideas, just get them out of you and don’t wait for permission! Draw so much! No fear!

Q: Would you suggest storyboarding to someone who loves cartoons?
A: Yes, storyboarding for a board driven show is a real dream come true if you love cartoons.

Q: Do you have any tips for someone aspiring to make a fantasy-based cartoon?
A: Even if it’s fantasy, it’s still all about the characters– something about it still needs to be real! Push and pull reality! Think about characters first before lore, and then intertwine it!

Q: I’m currently almost 19 years old, and my art still isn’t exactly great. It’s okay, barely passable maybe, but I want to improve, but I don’t know if it’s too late and I’ve missed my time. Do you think it’s ever too late for someone to start improving their art if they want to do something with it someday?
A: YOU HAVE NOT MISSED YOUR TIME!!! Go go go! Draw every day! It is NEVER too late! Here are books I used to improve, when I was 19.
Andrew Loomis: ‘Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth’, David Chelsea, ‘Perspective for Comic Book Artists’
Draw the people around you! Study perspective, draw people STANDING ON THE GROUND, that is so important! Draw with no fear! Print out the kinds of drawings you like, and try to figure out why you like them, there must be a reason, and whatever it is, learn to do it! Don’t be afraid to do bad drawings, they have no power over you, you can just throw them out!

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring animators?
A: My advice is, make your own stuff! Draw every day! Make comics, tons of comics, and films. The only way to learn is to do it, so start doing it right this second!

Q: What would be your advice for us college-age folks that want to get in the industry?
A: Make comics!!! Or a web cartoon! Don’t wait, just do your idea NOW! That will GIVE you that experience, and open doors for you!

Adventure Time

Q: Do you like working on Steven Universe or Adventure Time better?
A: Working on Steven is very different than working on Adventure Time, I loved storyboarding, but I also love working with the Steven crew.

Q: I have one question: who thought up and OK’ed that Circle of Life episode?
A: That was a long exciting story, how that came to be! One of the AT designers, Michelle Xin, was in a chat room with the incredible animator legend Masaaki Yuasa, while he was answering questions about Kick Heart! She mentioned Adventure Time, and he mentioned liking it! It was a total coincidence, but so many members of the Adventure Time crew are such huge fans of his, and so he ended up storyboarding and animating the Adventure Time episode “Food Chain!” He was even here at the studio with us for a bit, which was truly amazing!

Q: Between Adventure Time and Steven Universe, which studio would you prefer to work with if you were to make a full length animated film?
A: I would love to make a movie independently!

Q: What tidbits of knowledge did you learn from Pen Ward and/or Thurop Van Orman while working on Adventure Time, which has helped you while working on Steven Universe?
A: I learned from Pen that the crew makes the show! He always gave me freedom to express myself inside of AT! So going into Steven, I tried to make sure it was flexible enough so that the crew could make the show what they wanted it to be, and we could build it together.

Q: Do you miss working on Adventure Time?
A: I do! I miss it a lot, but this is a whole different experience and I love it. I’m learning a lot.

Q: I saw that you were credited with developing the story for “Be More”. How much did it change from when it was originally being pitched during AT’s third season, to when it finally aired during its fifth?
A: A lot! But a lot of ideas float around like that and change over time– like the one about Jake seeing his death was a really really early idea, that didn’t end up as an episode until way later! Sometimes these seeds just take a while to grow!

Q: This is a very “typical” sort of question, but as you worked on “What Was Missing” what are your thoughts on the relationship between PB and Marceline?
A: At the time, what I had to go on, was Marceline’s snide “hello Bonnibel,” which Tom Herpich had put in an earlier episode! Now that they were actually going to spend time together, I was excited to explore their relationship. I wanted it to be very complicated.

Q: Who was your favorite character to write songs for on adventure time, and why?
A: Marceline! Olivia’s voice is amazing!

Q: If Steven Universe ever ends at some point in the future and Adventure Time is still airing, would you consider coming back to the show? The show is still enjoyable, but it just isn’t the same without you.
A: I miss AT a lot, and would love to draw for it again if I could… I would love to work with Adam Muto again.

Q: What was it like working with Penn Ward back when Adventure Time was just starting?
A: It was amazing, I learned so much. He pushed me to be really honest and to write cartoons like they’re poetry.

Q: Any comments about the recent revelation between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, and their shared history?
A: Doesn’t seem recent to me!

Production

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Q: How was it working with Nicki Minaj as Sugilite?
A: It was AMAZING working with Nicki!!! I REALLY wanted Nicki Minaj, I’m a huge fan, I was so happy to work with her on this.

Q: Who came up with the line, “If every porkchop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hotdogs!”?
A: It was our writers, Ben Levin and Matt Burnett! They wrote a whole page of potential one liners like that!

Q: I loved Ian JQ’s storyboarding in Cheeseburger Backpack, I think his art style makes the characters look different, but in a fun way, and was hoping if he will be in any future episodes as a boarder.
A: Ian JQ works on every single episode! His boards pop up as often as mine do, every once in a while, you’ll see our drawings! Can you spot them?

Q: Will there ever be any sorts of interactions with your fans through the show? Like, will you ever canonize a fan character?
A: The reality of the show is pretty locked– I don’t think we could take in fan characters– but I want to inspire a lot of them! And also I love the fan theories– some of them are dead on. But I can’t say which!

Q: What parts of the animation are done on paper and what is done digitally? What software do you use? And how are the backgrounds painted?
A: The actual animation is done on paper, and inked on paper. That’s scanned, and then the color is dropped in digitally. The backgrounds are painted in photoshop.

Q: How did you pick the voice of Steven?
A: Zach auditioned for Steven, and he was perfect! From the moment I heard his audition I wanted it to be him. He was really young at the time, but already more professional than me.

Q: Who writes the Steven Universe comics?
A: Jeremy Sorese!

Q: Do you have any other OCs?
A: I have a ton of characters, but now I’m mostly making characters for this. Lars and Sadie were old characters of mine, from college!

Q: How’s your process of character writing like?
A: I think, would they do this? Then I write what I think they would do! Once you’ve done this a lot, the character begins to take shape, and then you just know! They really do write themselves!

Q: Were there any plot lines/ideas in the original Steven Universe pitch that never made it to TV?
A: We’re still seeing through plans I made way back before the pilot… we try to turn every idea into something good if we can! It’s all in flux, it all evolves! But very early core thoughts are still being elaborated on.

Q: Do you think the show has a good balance between the Gems and Steven?
A: The show is always from Steven’s point of view! But the Gems are everything to him! So I think that keeps it balanced!

Q: What is it like working with Ian Jones-Quartey?
A: ITS THE BEST

Q: How did you make the transition from storyboard artist/songwriter to having your own show? Was it a casual “hey I had this idea” kind of thing?
A: I was asked to pitch something! So I pulled together a lot of elements from projects I’d wanted to do. I had to pitch to a lot of people and really stand behind my idea, which was very intense, but I believed in it strongly, and I still do!

Q: How is technology changing the way you do animation?
A: We use computers for pre-production, but Steven Universe is animated ON PAPER! It’s colored digitally, but it’s still ink on paper!

Q: Do you ever get frustrated by the network trying to dumb down your shows for a younger audience, or is CN pretty chill about it?
A: CN gives us a LOT of freedom! An amazing amount. I feel very lucky.

Q: Now I know the gems don’t really have an ethnicity, but it seems Garnet and Amethyst resemble people of color. Along Connie and other characters SU is very diverse. Do you think this representation helps develop the show as a whole?
A: This is not a matter of helping or hurting the show, it is just the truth! People hang out with people who are different races! It’s just reality!

Q: Why do the artist draw Amethyst’s lips so big? They should draw them the way they looked in Tiger Millionaire. http://imgur.com/4EGu3ZM
A: The character designs are flexible, they look different depending on which board artist draws them. This was drawn by Raven Molisee! I’ll tell her you liked it! But what on earth is wrong with big lips?

Q: In the episode ‘Steven and the Sword Fighter’, there was a reference for the figurines of Cloud, Sanic and such others. What was the reason behind it to place them within that episode?
A: That’s a question for storyboarder Jeff Liu! He did that section. I know he loves Gitaroo Man.

Q: I love Steven Universe! The characters and art are so amazing! I saw the designs changed from the pilot – what was the thought process behind that? Why did Pearl’s design change so much from the pilot while Steven and Amethyst stayed mostly the same?
A: I wanted to make the characters more specific, simpler, and more flexible, so different artists could draw them different ways and they would still look like themselves! I was the least satisfied with Pearl’s pilot design. I wanted her to be much more specific, especially her face.

Q: Do you have a concept of how do you want to end the story of SU, or is it still evolving while making it?
A: Yes, I know how I want it to end! But I try to leave room for it to evolve also, both things are true!

Q: I notice you don’t have writing credits for a lot of the SU episodes, do you still work closely on every episode or are there episodes left to the rest of the team?
A: I work very closely on every episode! But my credit is Executive Producer so I’m working on every part, art, animation, sound… I’m definitely the most hands on at boarding stage, I work closely with the writers and boarders on every episode.

Q: Who was the one that made the puns for Cat Fingers?
A: The cat puns were a group effort!

Q: What is the scope for Steven Universe? Some shows develop large, epic plots while others have smaller self-contained plots. Where does SU fit in this spectrum?
A: It’s one large epic plot made out of a ton of smaller self-contained plots! Each episode is a puzzle piece. It is a challenge to write, which is what I like about it!

Q: What I noticed is that when you draw scenes, your style feels very much like I am watching a play – there is a focus on character dialogue and voice acting, you use lighting, expressions, and body language to your advantage. I wanted to ask you, did you ever take any drama classes? Or have playwrights been an inspiration to your work? Because I find this style pretty unique in the animation world.
A: We try to be very cinematic on Steven! I think I actually learned a lot of that from comics, because you have to get a lot out of a still image, I would try to get as much information about how you should feel from the angles and setting and framing of characters in panels.

Q: It seems like lots of cartoons have their creator voicing one of the characters. Any chance you’ll voice a SU character in the future?
A: My actors are SO GOOD! I’d rather not. I like being on the other side of the booth!

Q: Are there any plans to dub Steven Universe into other languages? Or has it already and I’m just way behind?
A: Yes, it’s already in a bunch of languages! I love checking on Laser Light in other languages to see if they decided Greg was or wasn’t a good singer, haha!

Q: I see in your work a high degree of sensitivity and emotional depth brought to and expressed through the characters. Where do you think this comes from in you?
A: I always loved cartoons and took them very personally! Read into them too much, wanted them to be real. So I want to make cartoons that are meant to be read that way, overanalyzed, and taken personally because they really are meaningful, that’s my dream!

Q: How do you think up the designs of the Gem Fusions?
A: The Gem Fusions are fun to think about and design because they’re completely new people, they’re living relationships- they combine the features of the Gems involved, but they are also different, depending on what they’re exacerbating in each other.

Q: Were there any working titles that you had for the show or did you have your heart set on Steven Universe from the outset?
A: Steven Universe was a working title that I could not unstick!

Music

Q: Do you regularly collaborate with anyone on your music?
A: I collaborate with Ben Levin and Jeff Liu, and always with my composers Aivi and Surasshu for Steven songs!

Q: Do you ever write a song before you have an episode in mind?
A: I actually wrote a melody for Rose, before I wrote “Bad Little Boy” for AT. The tune is very similar! You’ll hear it in an episode coming up.

Q: Who writes the BGM? I swear it’s some of the best I’ve ever heard, especially “Atop the Sea Spire” and “Dance of Swords.”
A: The music for the show is written by Aivi and Surasshu, they are BRILLIANT

Q: What’s your song writing process?
A: I just keep playing around until things sound right! I usually try to think of lyrics and music at the same time, and just keep noodling until it sounds good. But if I get stuck sometimes I’ll just sing until I have a better idea of what I want something to sound like, and then I’ll go try and pick it out on the uke after.

Q: Do you ever get tired of singing the same songs when you make appearances?
A: I haven’t done it that much, making appearances and singing, maybe I will if I do it more! It’s pretty fun though!

Q: What are some of the things that influence you when you’re writing music?
A: I suppose, whatever music I’m listening to a lot at the time, also life and love and whatever is going on!

Q: I notice a trend in how each character has a specific instrument that coincides with them and their theme and the way it interacts with other bgms in the background. I am definitely aware that Pearl’s is a piano and Amethyst is maybe the drums thanks to the song “Amalgam” but I was wondering about all the other characters specific themed instruments are?
A: That’s a great question for Aivi and Surasshu! They track all the themes for all the characters and weave them together, they are amazing.

Q: I love the songs you write and love it even more when you preform them yourself. Have you ever considered doing an acoustic album or something collecting the songs you’ve done so your fans don’t have to scrounge around youtube for them?
A: Maybe I’ll make a soundcloud or something!

Q: How did Aivi & Surasshu become the main composers for the show? Did you personally picked them out or did the entire production team go through a selection process?
A: Jeff Liu knew of Aivi’s work and showed it to me! They did a music test and it was incredible.

About Gems

Q: Did Garnet lost both of her parents is that why she has two gemstones? Or why is she the only one that has two of them?
A: Gems don’t have parents
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Q: Is there any particular reason the Gems use feminine pronouns if gender is irrelevant to them? I would understand if it were just more convenient.
A: There’s a 50 50 chance to use some pronoun on Earth, so why not feminine ones– it’s as convenient as it is arbitrary!

Q: Is Steven the first half Crystal Gem/Human?
A: Steven IS the first half human half Gem to exist!

Q: Do Gems’ style changes when they are seriously injured, like Pearl when she was injured by her sword fighting simulation?
A: They have a permanent form that they keep all the time– but if that form takes too much damage they have to regenerate a new one. That’s when they have a chance to reinvent, if they want!

Q: Do Gems have their own language or writing system?
A: We’ve seen some gem writing in Pearl’s arena in the sky!

Q: Why don’t the other gems utilize their shape shifting abilities like Amethyst?
A: Amethyst is the most comfortable with shapeshifting. She plays fast and loose with her form. It’s a skill and it’s one she’s got an affinity for, Pearl on the other hand has an affinity for projecting images from her gem. Garnet shapeshifts too, you’ll see.. but in a different way.

Q: Do Gems have a soft and warm skin like humans do?
A: They can if they want to!

Q: Did the Crystal Gems live in ancient Rome? Also, how did they react to the world wars?
A: The Gems have been around for a long time, but generally try to stay out of human affairs, unless they really have to step in. Prime directive, yo

Q: Do Gems reproduce? And does that always mean they give up their own Gem?
A: Gems do NOT reproduce. (not naturally) What Rose did was EXTREMELY unusual.

Q: So… The crystal gems seem to be coded as women of color (excluding steven), I was wondering if there is any particular races each girl is suppose to be based off/represent?
A: This is a very deliberately gray area. The Gems are Gems, they are not human, but they all look fairly human, and have characteristics that humans have. So why not have different human characteristics that different humans have? Steven too– he’s not excluded!

Q: Will we ever get an explanation in the show why Gems have the form of human females? If not, could you explain why?
A: Why not look like human females? That’s just what Gems happen to look like!

Q: I’m curious about the Gadsden Flag styled snake that shows up in the background from time to time, like on a dollar or on a “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” screen on an arcade machine. What’s the significance? Also, the head on the Quarters/Nickels bare a resemblance to Pearl. What’s up with that?
A: This is an alternate America.
This is an alternate timeline for Earth, one that involves Gems in it’s history.
Things are slightly different. Delmarva is one state.

Q: How did you decide to kill off Steven’s mom?
A: IS she dead?

Q: Do the Crystal Gems have a closer connection with the monsters they fight than we previously thought?
A: They very well might.

Q: Assuming there are gems we haven’t seen yet, will they be female as well?
A: Steven is the first and only male Gem, because he is half human! Technically, there are no female Gems! There are only Gems!

Q: How much does the populous know about the gems, or other magical things?
A: The Earth in the show is an alternate timeline for Earth, with a history that involves Gems… people have a different relationship to supernatural things, they’re vaguely aware, but they keep their distance…When our Gems do their job right, people don’t have to know anything is wrong… Our Gems interacting with people is a recent development that has everything to do with Steven.

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Headcanons

Q: What kind of music would the Gems’ playlists include?
A: Pearl– Sunmi 24 hours, William Bolcom Graceful Ghost Rag
Amethyst– the Jet Set radio soundtrack
Garnet– ESTELLE!

Q: What would the Gems be doing right now if they were just normal human beings?
A: Hm, I suppose they’d still be raising Steven…

Q: What’s something non-spoilery you can tell us about Rose?
A: She is /much/ taller than Greg.

Q: Is Steven home schooled by the gems? Steven has never been shown going to a standard human school after all.
A: Yes. Steven is totally homeschooled by the Gems.

Q: Can you comment on how you intended Steven and Rose’s (apparent) race to be interpreted?
A: The cartoon Steven is not exactly my brother… Steven is very literally mixed! He is meant to be read as mixed. He is half human half Gem! Me and Steven are too though! We’re both half Jewish.

Q: Do the Gems have preferences for fashion, besides their normal outfits?
A: The Gems don’t know from fashion, they’ve picked up ideas over the years though…

Q: Can you tell us some extra stuff about Sadie and Lars?
A: Sadie loves oyster crackers
Lars is banned from the local video game store

Q: If Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl were to engage in a fight, who would win?
A: Garnet, no contest.

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Personal

Q: Mystery Science Theater 3000 question: Joel or Mike?
A: JOEL!!!!!!!!

Q: If you composed a Broadway musical, what would it be about?
A: I really really would want to do a Betty Boop musical. With Koko and Bimbo in it.

Q: Where do you see yourself & the show in 5 years?
A: In 5 years I just hope that I’ll be better at drawing, smarter, and still be working all my amazing crew members that inspire me every day.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about making cartoons?
A: AH! That is such a hard question! My favorite thing about making cartoons is the feeling when you do a really good drawing, one you didn’t know you had in you until you got it out.

Q: Steven Universe has gotten me to take a few trips to the Rehoboth Boardwalk, inspiration for Beach City’s boardwalk. Do you plan on making an appearance there anytime soon for either a signing or maybe a local con?
A: I’d love to go back! I love it there. We used to go almost every summer!

Q: I know you love One Piece. Have you been keeping up with the manga or anime? If so, how do you feel about recent events in the series in general?
A: I am so behind!!! I need to catch up. A lot of my crew members keep up. They keep telling me to catch up.

Q: Aside from One Piece, what’s works of animation you like?
A: Future Boy Conan.

Q: How do you deal with the pressures of workload vs. the rest of life?
A: Rest of life? What is that??? I love working. I love working so much. I feel awful when I’m not working. So this is great for me.

Q: Of all of them, which one of the crystal gem’s rooms would you want the most?
A: Amethyst’s …is the closest to my actual lifestyle

Q: Who’s your favorite character in Utena?
A: Anthy.

Q: What’s your favorite fan pairing?
A: They are ALL my favorite pairing, please pair everyone with everyone else, don’t stop 0_0

Q: What was your first job (in the cartoon field) and how did you come across it?
A: My first full time animation job was storyboard revisionist on Adventure Time! I got it because the lead character designer, Phil Rynda, knew my comic books and short films, and so I was sent a storyboard test. I got the job based on my test!

Q: Who is your favorite character to write for and why?
A: Steven and the Gems together! They all bounce off each other, they’re one big unit!

Q: Ukulele or Banjolele?
A: I like the Banjolele a lot.

Q: Does it feel like you have fulfilled your dream?
A: It feels great to be doing this, but I still want to get better at drawing, make better episodes, be a better boss, I want to learn as much as I can from this!

Q: I’ve seen interviews where you said you like cons. Do you have a favorite cosplay or genre?
A: I was Luffy once.

Q: How long have you been playing the ukulele?
A: I have been playing the ukulele since high school!

Q: If you were a Gem what would your Gem name be?
A: I think I’d be a Ruby!

Q: Who is your favorite One Piece character?
A: USOPP!

Q: I’m half Japanese so I’ve always watched animes in Jap. Do you or any of the crewniverse watch in Jap, subbed, or dubbed?
A. Subbed.

Q: What’s your opinion on the gemsonas? (People recreating themselves as crystal gems/Crystal Gem Fan Characters)
A: I love them. I love them! Please make them, and fuse them with each other!

Q: What is your favorite ice cream topping?

A: That chocolate syrup that hardens like on chocolate dipped cones!

Q: Have you seen Neon Genesis Evangelion?
A: Steven and I watched all of Eva in 2 days which is a very bad idea.

Q: Do you own any pets?
A: Yes, I have a cat, named LION!

Q: What are your personal favorite Cartoon Network shows?
A: Adventure Time, Gumball… Sym-Bionic Titan, Dexter, Samurai Jack… I mean I love Genndy!!

Q: What bands are you currently listening to?
A: Director Sang from our overseas partner Sunmin Studios just brought us a bunch of Kpop and I’ve been listening to it a TON. Exo, AKMU, Lim Kim, Infinite. And Shannon and the Clams. And a lot of Estelle!

Q: Are you still a /co/mrade?
A: I’m Scraps.

Q: Who are your favorite fan artists?
A: We love all the fan art, all the fan artists…

Q: What’s your fav episode of Steven Universe?
A: My fav eps haven’t aired yet!

Q: What were your first impressions when working at Cartoon Network?
A: On my first day there, I met Tom Herpich, and I was delirious. He is my hero!

Q: Do you ever write music outside of show tunes?
A: I write little songs for myself! I don’t usually record them. Sometimes I turn them into something that ends up on the show, when I have some tune in my back pocket.

Q: When thinking of backgrounds or character designs, do you have any particular brainstorm exercises you like to do?
A: I love to draw to music, when it comes to characters. It helps me get into a different state of mind, if I’m stuck. Also it’s really fun.

Q: What’s your favorite song by Oingo Boingo?
A: UHHH– Gosh I don’t know– I love the theme to Forbidden Zone!

Q: Favorite Best Show on WFMU moment? Favorite Jon Wurster character? Will Jon ever appear as a voice?
A: Oh my goodness.. the feltdown, the Gorch, and maybe!!!

Q: Did you ever dream as a kid to make your own cartoon?
A: Yes, I have always dreamed of doing this!

Q: As a Marylander myself, how does Silver Spring compare to California?
A: I miss rain!!!

Q: What’s it like working with your brother? Do you ever have bro/sis spats?
A: It’s wonderful, no we don’t have spats! I’ve been pretty stressed, and he’s always there for me. Steven is the best.

Q: Which do you prefer? Dogcopter the movie or the book?
A: Connie’s right, the book is better. Well, the book is always better.

Q: What is your favorite newspaper comic strip? is it Dilbert?
A: I used to love the strip Liberty Meadows, by Frank Cho, our local comic hero back when I was growing up in Maryland!

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Things to come

Q: Can we expect more singing from Pearl/the rest of the gems?
A: Yes, there will be more singing!

Q: I noticed that in Arcade Mania, Garnet used electricity to turn back on the machine. Can the other Gems use elements like Garnet did?
A: Not any of the Gems you know… no spoilers

Q: I was wondering if Garnet and Pearl will ever fuse together in the show without Amethyst?
A: Wouldn’t that be something! KEEP WATCHING!

Q: So Ian tweeted about the writer’s room and encouraged fans to shine like the crazy diamonds we are. Any chance you can let slip on what the weirdest idea that’s been talked about?
A: The weirdest ideas are IN the show. Just WAIT!

Q: Will the Gems have their styles changed later seasons? I mean like hair, shoes, and the outfits they wear.
A: Only if they die! No spoilers! *_<

Q: At the end of the first fusion episode it was referenced that Steven can fuse as well, does this mean he can fuse with Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl?
A: Ohhhhh just wait and see! Keep watching!

Q: Most episodes seem very Steven-centric, will there be any from the Gems’ POV in the future?
A: The show is always from Steven’s POV, and the Gems are keeping him sheltered from a lot of things– he’ll learn more about what’s going on with them when they think he’s ready…

Q: Are Sour Cream and Onion related?
A: Maaaybee!

Q: Where do you see Amethyst’s character going?
A: The real question is, where has Amethyst’s character BEEN

Q: Do you think we’ll ever be able to meet other kinds of Gems?
A: Maybe… no spoilers!

Q: What do you think is going to happen with Steven Universe in the context of LGBT representation (especially the T!)? I know it is a kid’s cartoon, but obviously gay people and definitely transgender people can exist with a PG rating!

A: What I love about writing for this show is that we can tackle very sensitive issues through fantasy–that’s always been the best use of fantasy! And I want that to be available to people that haven’t had it before. The weird fun cartoon doesn’t stop to talk about this, it just is this, in the safe space of fantasy. It’s very important to me that this show makes people feel represented. I want everyone to have cartoon fantasy they can relate to!

Q: Will we get more insight on Rose and her role as one of the gems?
A: Yes you will! OH yes!

Q: Will there ever be an episode about how Greg and Rose met?
A: Yes there will be lots of Rose and Greg backstory!!! Get ready! It may or may not be like what you think!

Q: Will we see Sour Cream again in any more episodes?
A: Yes, you’ll see Sour Cream again!

Q: Do you ever plan on referencing One Piece in an episode of Steven Universe?
A: It’s all a One Piece reference in my heart. They’re all nakama.

Q: Have you ever considered releasing a soundtrack for the show of both the original songs and score?
A: I would love to! There are so many songs coming up though, that I’d want to be on there! Maybe after next season!

Q: Will there ever be an episode with a laugh track?
A: Yes.

Q: As Steven matures throughout the show, will he still keep his features like being optimistic, making puns, and loving everything?
A: Stevens optimism is going to be put to the testttttt!!!

Q: Does Lion have anything to do with Rose?
A: That is a very good question! NO SPOILERS! Thanks for watching!!!!

Q: Are we ever gonna learn more about the gem wars and junk?
A: You’ll learn more when Steven learns more… there are things you don’t tell a kid his age…

Q: How deep does Steven’s story go?
A: Steven’s story goes REALLY deep- there is a lot about himself that he does not know. Get ready!!!

Q: Will anything ever be revealed about the crystal gem race or each gems’ past?
A: YES

Q: In the episode, “Serious Steven”, Rose Quartz is shown to be fighting someone. Will that person ever be mentioned in a future episode?
A: No spoilers!!! Please keep watching!

Q: Will we ever get an episode where Steven meets Connie’s parents and/or Connie meets Greg?
A: Yes, they will take on the law together in a thrilling episode called “Fusion Crime”.
Really though, no spoilers!

Q: Thoughts on the relationships that people ship together? Like Garnet and Pearl.
A: The Gems all have very specific relationships with each other, and I really enjoy fan speculation, but when it comes to love… I can’t give spoilers…

Q: The entrance door to the gems’ rooms is in the shape of a star, with a blue spot in one of the tips, with no blue gem seen… is there a fifth gem?
A: Keep watching…!!!

Q: Can you use a six word story to describe the unaired episodes?
A: Spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers

Q: Are we going to see more gem fusions later on in the season?
A: No spoilers… !

Q: Are you going to do more with the larger world? I don’t mean ‘world’ literally, but I’ve always wanted to see more about the underpinnings of the universe.

A: Yes. The larger world is there, even now– the show is from Steven’s point of view, and you may have already noticed more than he has. There are things going on that the Gems don’t feel Steven can handle. That is gonna change. It’s going to have to change. GET READY

Q: In the shows future, are we ever going to see Steven as a more developed gem, as teenager or young adult?
A: Yes! He’s developing all the time, in real time…

Q: Will there be any episodes in the future focusing on more minor characters like Lars and Sadie or the Fryman family?
A: Yes! OH yes!

Q: Will we ever get a flash back episode where we get to see Rose Quartz in action with the other gems?
A: That would be pretty sweet wouldn’t it!!!!!!

Q: Do we get to hear any more rock classics from Greg in the future?
A: YES you will hear Greg rock! His past will be very explored… I want to explore it… a lot…

Q: I was wondering if we’re going to learn more about the history of the Gems, and find out things like where the gems come from, and if the gems had (dare I say) rebellious teen years?

A: Yes you’ll definitely learn more about the Gems!
but they were never “teens,” not in the human sense!!!

Q: Are there any plans to incorporate any sort of recurring villains or threats into the series?
A: noooo spooooilerssss….! Keep waaaatching…

Q: I want to know if you’re going to age the cast as the show goes on?
I liked the episode where Steven got older, but sighed when I saw that he never got fit or didn’t look like an adventurer.

A: Those were just the ages he felt at the time–
It’s unknown how Steven will really age, seeing as he’s half Gem half human…

Q: How did the relationship between the gems start?
A: No spoilers.

Q: The art in this show is so fantastic and inspiring that maybe it could make an art book sometime? I know there’s going to be an art book for Adventure Time and this show should as well.
A: I would LOVE to have an art book! Maybe some day!

Q: Do you have any plans for Kate Micucci (the voice of Sadie) to sing or write any music on the show in the future? Personally I like her music and think it would go great with the show.
A: I would love that too!!!

Q: I was wondering if we will be seeing the pilot as a revised episode, or would it be with the old character designs.
A: Ideas from the pilot have been worked into several episodes, but the pilot itself is not canon. An upcoming episode, Steven and the Stevens, has some elements from the pilot! Hope you’ll like it!

Misc.

Q: You should stop by /r/stevenuniverse sometime, because we’re awesome.
A: All of us on the show lurk the subreddit!

Q: If you had to choose one character to be in a CN fighting game to represent SU, what character would you pick and why?
A: Steven! Because all the other Gems would show up and help him!

Q: If there is going to be a Steven Universe video game what is it going to be like?
A: I would want it to be an RPG!!!

Q: Why did you take down “Don’t Cry For Me, I’m Already Dead?”
A: My site just died is all! I’d love to put it back up sometime!

Q: When is the Pug Davis animated series going to arrive? Tomorrow, right?
A: Ha! That would be awesome but I’m pretty busy! I’d love to do more Pug!

Q: Are there any plans to make Golf Quest Mini into a real game?
A: That would be awesome.

Q: How do you see the animation world changing as creators like Pendleton Ward, Natasha Allegri, and yourself are being given the chance to do basically whatever you want?
A: Cartoonists having the freedom to make cartoons the way they want has always been the way the best cartoons are made, since the art form was created! It’s the best!

Q: I’ve read some rumors that you and possibly other members of the Crewniverse might have participated in a Steven Universe flockdraw session at some point in the last few months. Is there any truth to this? Was that really you?
A: Really? What did I draw? Greg kissing Opal?

Q: If you could pick a live action cast for Steven Universe, who would be on it?
A: It would be our cast!!! Man that would be great! Zach is really tall now though, taller than Deedee and Michaela and Estelle!

Q: Steven Universe is waaaaaaay better than Adventure Time.
A: Aw c’mon, AT is my hometown, man.

Q: Did you and the crew hear about the gemsona week/gem fusions that happened earlier this spring??
A: I did hear about it and I LOVED it!!! Technically, officially, we couldn’t endorse it or get involved… but we were really excited about it.


After the interview, I have found an “All about Garnet” TVtropes exclusive created by Windy -REDACTED-, a YouTube enthusiast and fellow Garnet lover…

0:00 ~ Afro Asskicker: She’s the unofficial leader of the Crystal Gems, has a pair of magical gauntlets at her disposal, and her hair is a cube-shaped, curly afro!
0:17 ~ Badass: Fighting monsters, having razor sharp reflexes, and being able to destroy buildings in one punch most definitely qualifies her.
0:33 ~ Comically Serious: Silly things sometimes happen to/around her, and she never stops being serious.
0:48 ~ Cool Shades: Ones that take up half her face, effectively concealing her third eye.
0:57 ~ Made of Iron: Garnet shakes off all that should hurt of incapacitate her, even molten lava.
1:12 ~ Power Fist: Her Weapon of Choice, summoned from the gems in her hands.
1:28 ~ The Quiet One: She rarely speaks at all. When she does, she almost never uses more words than absolutely necessary to get her point across.
2:07 ~ Super Strength: Appears to be the physically strongest of the Gems; she’s able to hold back a mother centipeetle’s tail and chuck Amethyst hundreds of feet away, neither of which required using her weapon.
2:35 ~ Team Mom: She is always very kind to, and very supportive of Steven and his feelings. Also throw in the fact that she picks up Pearl and Amethyst up by the scruffs of their necks and carries them off for messing with his funky flow.
3:14 ~ The Stoic: Garnet always keeps her cool.

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Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

A Question from

Quora Logo

Answered by Martin Schneider:

Keep in mind that anime follows a complex visual language, where seemingly innocuous elements carry deeper meaning. And hair color is among the first and foremost, especially when dealing with female characters.

Meaning that in most cases, the color of an anime character’s hair does not reflect some natural hair color or a racial stereotype – instead, it is supposed to be a hint towards their personality and their role in the plot.

I guess it’s high time for yet another crash course in anime hair color symbolism… take a seat.


Yellow hair:

The most widespread meaning is simply “someone special”. This holds especially true for shoujo (for girls) manga/anime titles, where you can pretty safely bet that the most important female lead will be blonde. Occasionally, it can also signify “the rude/inconsiderate foreigner”, for example a non-Japanese character with an abrasive or rude personality – but that’s more of an exception than the rule.

Blue hair:

…typically signifies a quiet, softspoken, intellectual, sometimes even introverted character – albeit often one with a surprisingly strong will. In addition, such characters tend to get portrayed as refined, tradition-oriented and feminine, quite often even as examples of the Yamato Nadeshiko ideal.

Red hair:

…strongly suggests a tomboyish, inconsiderate, loud, often headstrong, “leader” archetype. This character will often charge ahead and/or speak her mind without holding back. In the extreme case, this behavior will go all the way to the point of acting rash or even stupid. Also tend to have voracious appetites.
Note: agressive shades of orange pretty much fall into the same category.

(Bright) Green hair:

Mostly extinct these days – but bright green hair is most often the sign of the “genki girl”, another comedy-oriented character archetype. Such a character is chipper, upbeat, active, sports-minded and energetic. However, unlike a redhead, this character is more feminine and less prone to blindly rushing ahead – and usually displays normal or above-average levels of intelligence.
Note: darker shades of green typically carry similar connotations as “blue”.

Purple hair:

Also near-extinct – at least when it comes to intense shades of purple. What is still somewhat common, however, is characters with lighter/paler shades of purple. These almost always come with long, flowing hair and typically signify some sort of detached, noble, cultured, dainty, often even mysterious, “fantasy princess” archetype.

Pink hair:

Ah yes, pink. The one color that has undergone the strongest shift since the beginning of my anime career. Originally, this color was rare, and reserved for a select few childlike characters. But then… the moe phenomenon happened. And made this color the industry standard for dozens of “cutesy-moe-female-leads”. Today pink hair is pretty much everywhere… yet some of the attributes have carried over. Even today, pink characters still tend to be not very bright, somewhat innocent, naive – and often idealistic to the point of being silly.

Brown hair:

Brown stands for “warm+friendly normal” and is the most common “day-to-day-life side character” haircolor. Similar to black, the underlying message is not very strong – still, brown is most popular for longtime childhood friends, or all sorts of “safe/reliable” love-interests. Characters with this hair color tend to play some role in the plot, and be close friends of the leads, but they still represent normality and following social expectations… sometimes to the point of being boring.

Black hair:

Being the most widespread Japanese hair color, this does not nearly carry a meaning as strongly predefined as most others – in fact, it can simply mean “the everybody”. However, in cases when the character has long, flowing black hair, it can be intended as a shorthand for “noble lady / Japanese princess / idol of the whole school” characters. In that respect, it sometimes once again overlaps with the Yamato Nadeshiko notion.


Surprised that you didn’t find “white” in the list, yet? Well, that is because luminance/brightness is typically on an orthogonal scale to the various colors above…

Simply put, the brightness of a character’s hair communicates how down-to-earth<–>otherworldly a character is. The darker a color, the more that character lives in the here and now – and the brighter, the more esoteric, distant, magical and surreal he/she is…

With the extreme version of that trope, signifying “utter otherworldliness”, being plain white:


Disclaimer: The archetypes listed here describe the stereotypical expectations that characters of a certain hair color will incite in an experienced audience of anime viewers. But guess what, sometimes the industry dares to *gasp* subvert expectations. In other words, these are strong, recurring patterns – but not hard-and-fast, immutable rules.


TL;DR:
Hair color in anime carries an intended meaning – and that meaning will typically easily override any sort of “normal” coloring that you would expect in terms of “realism”. As such, in most cases, it is futile to try to interpret any anime hair color as being a representative of some real-world race/hair color.

Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

Civilization is a FRAUD – What’s so civilized about it?

 

‘The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.’  —James Baldwin

POVERTY IS A TOOL

It is in this writer’s opinion poverty, poverty as we know it in the modern world and in the modern sense, does not need to exist.

It is a byproduct of lifestyles, of policies, of politics, of psychologies driven through conscious and unconscious selections. But in recent centuries, the means to abolish poverty came to mean it was possible for humanity to share the wealth among its members, producing an age where poverty did not exist. Despite the occasional protestations about the end of the world or the world’s inability to support growing populations, Humanity continued to exist and grow. And grow more unequal.

Instead of growing more equal and egalitarian, society took a subtle but unpleasant turn toward selfishness, toward personal gain, toward greed and instead of abolishing poverty, poverty was embraced and recognized as a tool by those in control.

Poverty has been weaponized in modern society.

  • Debt is the ultimate expression of power in this, our capitalist-focused pretense of a civilization;
  • Fantastic (as in imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality, definition) personal wealth has become the ultimate billy club, the ultimate expression of force, more powerful than any legal system.
  • The creation of socialized debt and poverty manufacture has become more enabling than any political power. More subtle than the quietly offered bribe and more invasive. More influential than any kind of charismatic leadership.
  • Money has become the ultimate aphrodisiac, lubricant, and problem-solver as long as the problem requires lots of money to be thrown at it, in perpetuity, with subsidies for all (who deserve them and know how to lobby to get them).

Combine the use of weaponized poverty by the fantastically rich who use their wealth to create opportunities of social imbalance:

  • Creating a “need” for education in the workforce while at the same time “providing” the resource at an exorbitant price, driving everyone into debt to participate due to the inescapable “requirement” for a degree to be had by everyone, even if you’re just serving fries across a counter in a fast-food franchise.
  • Altering a police structure from a “protect and serve” environment of civil service to a “fee collection service” managed by local government in place to offset taxes no longer collected against the wealthy and now subsidized instead by taking even more from the already cash-strapped lower-class citizens of major metropolises already struggling to just stay in the rat race.
  • Driving people to homelessness with any interaction with the civil system from a parking ticket to a speeding ticket. Any time a citizen in one of these cities meets a cop, there is a fee involved that will take away anywhere from a day to a week’s worth of pay in one interaction.
  • With most people living just a paycheck from homelessness, to meet the police may be to greet your harbinger to homelessness or even outright criminality as you are forced to choose between feeding your family or paying a fine to avoid getting a bench warrant which will eventually end in your arrest.
  • Creating a medical and health system so imbalanced that millions of people will go into debt through no fault of their own because the medical industry cannot be bothered with tracking and regulating itself so that people can find themselves in debt without even knowing it after a visit to the hospital that might have been thought to be covered by insurers.
  • Meanwhile entire food industries are enriched by the creation of food-like products from industrial food processes which create and exacerbate health problems in societies across the world, shortening lifespans, reducing quality of life and driving people into the arms of a corrupt medical-industrial complex only too happy to capitalize on the dying while making no efforts to change the systems which create these sicknesses in the first place.
  • The medical industry is little more than an accomplice in this orgy of food-product devastation across the planet.

People starve in lands of plenty, eating food that isn’t food, creating lives which end sooner, with a poorer quality of life. If the Sword of Damocles could be asked, it would be embarrassed by abundance of the damned dancing beneath it’s ominous shadow.

A PAUCITY OF JUSTICE

We have the dual justice system adding insult to injury in the lives of those not rich enough to buy JUSTICE and instead are forced to mutter beneath their breaths when the issue of the who the punitive aspects of our legal system are for.

They can reply unequivocally, “just us”.

Everyone who is worth less than a million dollars can agree, just as easily as the news media parades a multitude of cases before you, showing how the wealthy pay a fine when involved in atrocities that destroy the lives of millions and how the poor, even when they are engaged in non-violent, non-lethal crimes can find themselves arrested for upwards of three decades.

They are slaved out to corporate farms, fire-fighting teams, industrial widget builders and thralls-for-hire. Even when the murderer is clearly in the wrong for an act poorer men have hung for, somehow, an excuse, a malady real or imagined (i.e. affluenza) will excuse the wealthy from the punishments assigned to the rest of us.

Being poor in America is having a greater and greater meaning as the systems once used to bring prosperity to the masses creating a middle-class are dismantled under the guise of “de-regulation” when those regulations were put in place to protect all of us from the greed of capitalism run amok, unregulated, unconcerned with the effects of its rapacious growth on the environment, society, and ultimately upon itself as it strip-mines the people whom it needs to buy its products and services.

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‘The man most likely to want to lead government, such as it is, the man most likely to believe government has to do more with what’s in his pocket than in is heart or head, also tends to be the least fit to do so. This delusion should be satisfied by electing such folk as dog walkers, given a collection of various animals according to their nature and ushered out to perform a civic duty they are so aptly suited for.’ —Mark Twain (he didn’t say this, but I think he would have!)

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Is the final goal of this engine of capitalism to leave nothing but the scorched earth behind it as it absorbs the fruits and the bodies of its laborers toiling in conditions just shy of legally-sanction criminality, under the guise of double-digit corporate growth?

Is the goal to leave no natural rain forest unmolested, no oil-bearing shale deposit unmined, no natural resource unexploited for the sake of the next billion-unit gadget being sold to help folks masturbate virtually?

Is the goal to say “we are so wealthy, the environment doesn’t matter, burning carbon doesn’t matter, clean oceans bereft of all life, doesn’t matter; human lives where people have dignity, respect, education, a sense of worth and belonging to viable communities, doesn’t matter?”

Is the goal to remind us that all of the things we see in the media exist to serve the capitalist agenda of selling products, moving goods and ultimately pandering to created needs using propaganda, commercials and social manipulation of memes until people are willing to go into debt for the latest iGadget, no matter how many times a year it’s upgraded.

Is the goal really to say to everyone involved in this grand experiment of humanity to say “fuck you if you weren’t born wealthy or aren’t ruthless enough to sell your fellow humans up the river for your personal benefit?”

Is this why Pope Francis pisses everyone off? Because he has the temerity to point out to everyone who uses the teachings of the church as a cover for their cultural duplicity that he, as the titular head of that church, will not sit idly by and provide cover for their reprehensible behavior?

The Pope reminds us:

  • Climate change is bad and we know it. We can lie and say “we’re not sure, but we truly already know its bad and saying anything but that is disingenuous at best.
  • Punishing the poor for being poor, throwing them in jail, pushing them out of their homes is not Christian. Hell no it’s not. Nor is bringing back debtor’s prisons or redlining, or the prison-industrial complex. Making people poor and then arresting them for being poor is criminal.
  • Hydraulic fracturing? How do you square the circle of saying we would rather have oil than water, when there are already millions around the world without enough water?
  • Aren’t there corporations with no problem risking fresh water for millions of people deeming their lives less important than the billions of dollars to be made by using that water to get access to fossil fuels we could, if we were forward thinking, be putting aside for something better, using renewable energies instead.

THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU

This part is for my Sisters and Brothers out there who I trust have figured it out by now. America’s amble bosom does not provide equal nurturing for all her citizens. “With Liberty and Justice” for those who are properly connected and doing what the established system of inequality deems is your place to be.

People say its because the dominant subculture doesn’t take People of Color seriously and that is why they ignore us in the media.

While I use the term People of Color, I realize it is more inclusive to say anyone who isn’t part of the lucky sperm club. If you weren’t born rich, you are the problem and the system does take you seriously.

You are not necessarily a problem individually. After all, you are an individual without much in the way of resources, it’s only when you are part of a larger movement do they acknowledge you. But they have figured out how to keep those movements from happening. See: Occupy.

You see, they take us quite seriously and we are a far greater threat than we realize to them. You don’t marginalize an enemy that doesn’t matter.

You ignore him.

When you systematically make an effort to undermine a particular enemy, demonize him, incarcerate him, kill him, destroy his family, take his women, undermine his way of life, this is how you get rid of an enemy you fear.

If the system is doing that to YOU or someone in the public sphere, they fear them. They fear their power, their influence, their ability to generate a viral idea which might unseat them.

Their fear is of a Black Planet. Genetically speaking we are already a Black Planet since all life started in Africa but what they fear is the visual confirmation of something that already exists and will only continue from this point forward, unless in their minds, they do something about it.

Part of this article came about because of the deaths in Nigeria and why they haven’t managed to draw the attention of the deaths of the cartoonists in France this week.

They didn’t pay attention to Black deaths because, to them, they don’t matter. They never have. Likely, if current trends remain constant, they never will.

Since the end of “chattel slavery” the dominant subculture has done everything possible to attempt to return to the days of free labor. All of its “engines of progress” are simply other ways finding new ways to reduce the cost of labor which can be 50% of all costs for a business.

In other words, how can we make people work for less?

Slavery was the most effective means of wealth-building the United States and the world has ever known. And though it isn’t talked about in polite company, know organizations around the world are trying to find new ways of exploiting a worldwide workforce, without paying for it. See: “TransPacific Partnership”.

“Respectability politics” has never meant anything to the dominant subculture. Even when People of Color were self-supporting and maintained our own separate but equal facilities, towns, places we could call our own, they were never content to leave us in peace.

The bottom line is simple and few of us want to accept it. Racism is an economic ploy, not just a social one. It has allowed entire industries to blossom on the backs of bigotry, hatred and cultural appropriation and destruction.

Note the recent police “slowdown” in New York City where with the reduced activity of the police in across the city, our people are spending less time being arrested, harassed and cited, being forced to spend our already weakened dollars on fines, fees and defenses against a city using the poorest members to fill its coffers.

Adding insult to injury a recent news article by Reuters reports that lawyers and bail bondsmen are experiencing “economic hardship” because the police were funding their “industry” with arrests from our community. (http://www.reuters.com/…/us-usa-police-arrests...) What happened to the question of whether there should be as many of these services in the first place?

What needs to be understood is this: Poverty is a weapon. When you can control what a man earns and how he spends it, you can control all aspects of his life, his future and direct it in whatever fashion you want.

If we want to be more independent of this negative cultural control, we must find a way to free ourselves from the economic hegemony being exercised on our backs. Our children need to step away from the TV and get back to the basics.

Mastery of skills, mastery of self, preparation for the future, first by being educated and second by avoiding the media engine designed to undermine self-esteem, self-worth and self-determination.

Unless we can shake off our generations of “induced poverty” and “media-mentality” we have no chance of making effective strides in this society. If you wonder why nothing appears to change, that is the reason. There’s no profit in treating you as a person, with dignity, respect and a sense of individual purpose and wealth.

You are much more valuable as a brain-damaged, suffering, emotional wreck, barely able to pay your bills, willing to get into debt across the entire span of your life. Early in your life, with college debt, with a house in your middle years (if you’re lucky) and with numerous organ transplants or cancer treatments when you’re old.

They want to make money on you from the cradle to the grave.

Would you like fries with that?

Banned books? People Still Read?

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The Written Word

The most powerful invention created by humanity right after fire, agriculture and the thrown rock (though not necessarily in that order).

The written word allows us to share information across time and space. To store ideas frozen for generations for new thinkers to review, revise, and even renew. Writing connects us with our past and with the future. From the Rosetta Stone to the Gutenberg Bible, writing consistently proved its value to Humanity again and again, allowing ideas, even forbidden ones, social and cultural taboos, their chance at immortality.

If they can get by the censors. For as long as we’ve been writing, there has been someone to say: Oh my god! You can’t write that! What if <insert sheltered group here> were to see this?

Censoring knowledge, hiding the written word is not new. Books can go from being literature to being banned in less than a generation. The Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath incited rage and banning soon after its release. Today, it is taught as a classic work of early American literature. Want to see a southern sixth grade teacher foam at the mouth? Mention teaching Huckleberry Finn and watch the foam fly. America’s on again, off again love of what is arguably an American classic, Huckleberry Finn, one of Mark Twain’s most famous works, falls into and out of grace like clockwork. The list of authors who have been banned might astound you. I happened to stumble upon this excellent infographic and wanted to share it with anyone who can appreciate just how good you have to be, to be considered BAD for post-literate America.

Post-literacy is the concept of a society where almost everyone is taught to read and no one feels compelled to actually engage in reading. An unfortunate part of the recent anti-intellectualism sweeping the nation. If even one book on this list makes you curious, READ IT. I have read most of them simply because I had a more diverse education than is taught in school today. But all of these books are still available and if someone deemed it worthy of banning, you should read it just because they don’t want you to.

And because TV is lowering your IQ just by being on when you’re in the same room with it.

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Banned Book image by http://www.printerinks.com/

Book censorship in the United States.” Wikipedia.org. N.p. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org> 

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Poster design is ©Paul Sizer/Sizer Design + Illustration

The Standard Script Given to the Grieving Mother Whose Black Child Has Been Murdered by Police

Tamir Rice

by B. Sharise Moore

1.

Dress as you would for Sunday morning communion.
Black women appear least aggressive with heads bowed,
while kneeling.
Black rage does not photograph well.

2.

Quote I Corinthians, every grandmother’s go to book.
Call on Jesus.
Even as your stomach knots, restricts to a rawness that numbs,
convince them that this is His will, and that His will shall be done.

3.

Plead for the peace your child was unworthy of while alive.
Pause deliberately.
Denounce. Distance yourself from the riotous fires
that have done more to honor him than this law has.

4.

Quote an out of context syllogism,
preferably“I Have a Dream.”
After all, you are grieving
and no one has studied it anyway.

5.

Tell them they must vote.
This will not happen if they simply vote
…more.
often.
They can move Forward with their Obamas and Holders
on their shoulders. Tell them he cannot really speak for you.
He is not the President of Black America.

6.

Make it plain you’ve raised all of your children to be color blind.
in church.
You are Christians in spite of your dead son’s
Kindergarten suspension.

7.

Call for faith in a system that has failed you for 400 hundred years.
Tell them justice must run the same course
as the too many bullets that splintered your child’s temple,
opened up his abdomen like some twisted Cracker Jack prize.

8.

Mention the good police.
Not all bad. Not all vigilante.
Not all trigger happy. Not all racist.
Yet all more alive and well than your child.

9.

Be respectable. Remind them of Black on Black crime.
Tell them the police kill them because they kill themselves.
Tell them that they are responsible for the smashed skulls
of their own daughters and sons
with their sagging pants, poverty,
and murderous rhymes that malign collective progress.

10.

Repeat:
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
Repeat as you watch yet another mother fold her tears in her already bulging purse.
Watch while she strains to push her child back inside the safety of her womb.
Stare as she leans over a son who looks oddly like your own:
Dead and stiff and indicted and tried more than his murderer.

11.

Repeat:
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
Remind them of Black on Black crime.
Of Black on Black Crime.
Of Black on Black crime.
“This is not about race.”

12.

Convince her it is necessary
that she believes it too.

Taking the Battle to the Trolls; Rhetorically, of Course

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Logical or Rhetological Fallacies

With Internet troll-dom at an all-time high, with bloggers being paid to dishonestly haunt comments areas of well-trafficked websites to undermine and dispute perspectives they are paid to torpedo, it has become incumbent upon decent citizens of the Internet to be able to fight back using reason and logical thought. But what if you discover a perspective you do not understand or an argument which posits an idea you cannot mentally parse?

Odds are, it may contain logical fallacies which make the point without actually explaining how it got there. Logical fallacies undermine arguments by using a form of rhetorical shorthand which, to the unaware, seem to make logical assertions without the intervening logical steps being shown. Kind of like when you were a kid and your teacher would ask you to “show your work” on the math assignment you were given. Rhetorical fallacies skip over the work, by slight of hand, and leave you to present your case to the person while trying to handle their cognitively dissonant statements in your own head.

Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in your own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.

I arm you with this chart because of its beautiful simplicity, providing the name of the fallacy, what it means and a simple example of the fallacy. The types of fallacies are broken into sections: Appeal to the Mind, Appeal to Emotions, Faulty Deduction, Manipulating Content, Garbled Cause and Effect and On the Attack. I enjoyed the simple graphical icons associated with each, helping to further cement them into your subconsciousness. These fallacies are worth remembering particularly if you spend any time on the Internet or watching modern media.

Our thanks goes out to Informationisbeautiful.net and the charts creator, David McCanless. Kudos, sir!

As an exercise, take them to your favorite newscast and play “Spot the Fallacy” while you watch. Don’t make this a beer game unless your goal is to become very, very intoxicated…

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What are the shiny circles on Thor’s costume?

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Asgardian Fashion 101

Writing for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange, I came across a question about the Mighty Thor that has piqued my interest only in that I had never seriously considered the classic Thor costume and its design. What are those circles on his costume supposed to be? <empty stares; looks of confusion>

I left the question alone for a few days while other writers on the site tackled the problem. My writing calendar was full and I was sure some of the site’s capable admins and moderators would find some worldly wisdom that I, even with all of my superhero history, did not have an instant answer for.

You know what they came up with? Nothing. Fan rumors. Suspicions. European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit, from Earth 1610’s Ultimate Thor.

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I was compelled to intervene. Here I was a Thor aficionado and I didn’t know the answer but I knew the European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit wasn’t it.

Here is what I discovered. <cue fanfare> Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Bupkiss.

My Official Answer

“There is little in the way of historical references in Marvel canon for the circles on Thor’s chest tunic. He has had this costume since his first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83 (1952).

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If you know anything about me, you know that wasn’t going to be enough. I did a cursory scan of the Journey into Mystery series and the early Thor comics with no results. Then I knew I would have to go meta.

What follows is my research and speculation about those circles. If you know something more concrete, please share it with me through the comments below.

Can history be our guide?

With that said, we can look perhaps into history and see if we can determine what the artist Jack Kirby was hoping to show in this costume design. If we can assume this design was inspired by Thor being an ancient god of war, then perhaps it would be considered a stylized armor design. Since Thor is a superhuman being, he might have little use for armor in his day to day life, but might want to remind his enemies of his valor with a costume that resembled an armor he may have worn at one time. It was a good idea but nothing in my historical rummaging in Journey into Mystery or early issues of Thor, showed this.

Case in point: Here is a picture from Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101. In it young Thor is seen wearing his costume as we knew it from the classic Kirby era. Since he is wearing it into battle, it is safe to assume it must double as armor for the young godling. Everyone else is festooned in armor that looks like armor, though they resemble classic Earth Vikings wearing platemail instead of chainmail.

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Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101

If his costume is indeed supposed to be armor, then perhaps what we should look for is an example of an armor with similar properties. Having a bit of history under my belt I remembered an armor accessory I thought might be a match. It was called the Lauersfort Phaelara.

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A closeup of the Lauersfort Phalera, Burg Linn Museum Center, Krefeld, Germany

One of the first and earliest potential armor designs which bears more than a passing resemblance would be the 120 AD, Legionary Roman armor. The phalerae medallions, the large shiny metal disks share a similar placement (though not exact) on the Roman armor. The disk were usually covered with the faces of prominent leaders or mythical beasts denoting bravery or skill in battle. Legion armies also carried them on their banners as group awards for the regiment.

Roman Legionary

From the Augustan period, both infantrymen and cavalry men received the same award when an opponent was killed and his equipment seized: a series of nine phalerae which gravestone reliefs show were worn on leather straps on the upper torso. Once again, these decorations were intended for soldiers up to the rank of centurions. –Armed Batavarians: Use and Significance of Weaponry and Horse Gear, by Johan Nicolay; Amsterdam University Press.

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Turkish, Antique char-aina, (chainmail with mirror plates), Russian Zertsalo (Ottoman inspired)

The phalerae medallions were not unique to the Romans. The Celts wore similar devices for religious reasons and similarities could be found in ancient Mongolian, Chinese, Russian, Ottoman and Japanese armors, often designated mirror armors for their shiny appearance.

Art Imitates Life

Thor has had many different costume designs, many actually resembling armor rather than the cloth or leather of his early designs. These later designs were more inclined to use actual armor plates to depict the circles in his early costume designs, strengthening the appearance to phalerae medallions, even including ornate designs in some of them. I suspect this was a design issue that came about when later versions of Thor’s costume were reimagined by new artists.

I am willing to be one of those artists knew what phalerae were and decided to incorporate that design element into the armor. We don’t know that Kirby wasn’t influenced by phalerae but some of these on the newer armors are too similar to miss.

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Conclusion

While we have no definitive proof the circles on Thor’s early costume were indeed a representation of phalerae medallions, it is at least historically possible the original design may have been inspired by early armors from the Roman, Ottoman and Persian armor designs which incorporated similar elements.

Note: While Vikings did wear armor into battle, it has not been shown to be an integral part of the armor designs to wear phaelara into battle. Most vikings wore leather furs, cuirboilli (boiled hardened leather) or chainmail tunics with shields into battle.

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A fairly realistic depiction of Viking armor and weapons circa the 5th century AD.

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Asgardians, warlike yet fashionable.