Grand Theft Auto VI: Vice grip.

Grand Theft Auto VIThe Grand Theft Auto series prides itself on repetition more than innovation. It’s not known for bringing us new worlds and concepts, but brilliantly mimicking and skewering the ones we already live in. It’s no secret that I adore the series, but I also consider it to be flawed in lamentable ways. What would I like to see in Grand Theft Auto VI?

Character: I would love for the GTA series to buck the trend and provide us with a female lead. Have we seen an epic amount of grousing when someone floats the possibility? Yes! However, reactionary fans also heavily protested the introduction of the series’ first black lead as well—a move that did not harm the success of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the least. Given the rise of women in criminal organizations as madams, scammers, and drug mules it is only reasonable that a female character would eventually take point in a story arc. Moreover, we’ve already seen aggressive and powerful women such Elizabeta and Catalina as supporting characters.

And yet the truth is that the lead character of GTA VI will more than likely be male. Again, the series loves repetition, not only in its settings but its lead characters as well. Both Claude and Niko illustrate the plight of the bewildered transplant to the big city. CJ and Franklin are both young black men from West Coast ghettos on the fringes of gang life. With Michael we see the coda to Tommy Vercetti’s life—a career-criminal living comfortably off of his ill-gotten gains in a new world of excess and celebrity. Luis and Victor are family-oriented Dominican men trying their best to remain legitimate while their associates drag them further into the muck. And Johnny and Trevor are poorly adjusted individuals cast aside as “white trash” by mainstream society.

Which leaves us with Toni Cipriani. He is the only lead character of the Grand Theft Auto series that is without a counterpart. And I believe he will be given one in Grand Theft Auto VI. I predict the lead of the new series will be a man in his early thirties who—like Toni—is firmly entrenched as a low-ranking member in a criminal organization. However, I do not believe the mafia will be at play here, but a powerful cartel instead. Given what I expect the location of Grand Theft Auto VI to be, the lead will more than likely be a Caribbean Latino instead of white like Cipriani. But unlike Luis and Victor, the character will be able to pass for Mediterranean or southern European.

Location: And what of the location? I would prefer that the game be set in the American south in an ethnically and racially diverse city with extreme wealth disparity, gang activity, a thriving and lucrative entertainment industry, and both rural and urban architecture. I am personally biased towards Atlanta and would love to see a city that apes it called Meleager, but given Rockstar’s predictable habits the game will likely be set in the fictional Miami of Vice City. It’s a choice I certainly can’t find fault with. Miami has all the attributes and flaws of Atlanta with the addition of a beautiful beach landscape. It’s Atlanta with the added benefit of boat missions!

And yet given Rockstar’s penchant for repeating itself, we might get something even more wondrous than a return to Vice City—three cities in one. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gave us Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). Since that game gave us three western cities, would Rockstar be ambitious enough to provide us with three southern ones—Vice City (Miami), Meleager (Atlanta), and New Bougival (New Orleans)? Rockstar has never been content to rest on its laurels, which it would be doing by merely providing players with a chance to return to Liberty City and Los Santos. Graphics have not advanced enough for a return to those cities to seem fresh and exciting. And while tossing three cities that differ so wildly into one state requires too far a suspension of one’s belief, placing three cities in different states and using a fade-to-black cut scene while driving along the interstate or running through the woods is certainly feasible.

Oh, and more interiors, please! Safe houses! Nightclubs! Trap houses! Restaurants! Give players places to spend (or launder) all of that virtual money. And more importantly, give them places to rob to get more of it.

Theme: A satirical look at American culture, crime, and capitalism has always been the main focus of the Grand Theft Auto series. However, in 2017 the aggressively juvenile humor and “ironic” bigotry championed in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto V is dull and dated. A more mature approach akin to Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City is required. Female characters and characters from marginalized groups weren’t reduced to one-note jokes but were carefully fleshed out. Ethnic subcultures were not lampooned but had their positive and negative aspects highlighted.

“Ironic” bigotry is useless when in the real world young American men glorify Nazis and protest the existence of feminism. It neither shocks one into realization nor pushes the envelope, but reinforces the hate already in existence. And depictions of sexuality in the series have been so repressed and mean-spirited one would think the jokes had been written by and for thirteen-year-old boys. Given that the series is at heart a crime drama, healthy depictions are not expected—but accurate ones are. For far too long Rockstar has leaned on stereotypes and dick jokes. I’d love to see a more sophisticated level of humor. And I’d love to once again see women as powerful and shrewd criminals instead of shrill idiots—especially if the criminal elements of the sex industry are to be highlighted (and they should be). When series such as The Witcher and Mass Effect—as far from “edgy” as one could possibly get—are more open about sexuality, there is clearly a problem. I also think Rockstar should give players the option of making the lead character straight, gay, bisexual, or asexual depending on which romanceable characters they decide to approach. It would not take much to add back the dating system from earlier incarnations.

Allies and Enemies: I want a dog. And yes, it is important enough to deserve its own section! Jokes aside, I would love to see a return of notable characters from Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Or if not a return, Easter eggs would be nice (for example, a brief mention of President Donald Love on the evening news).

Grand theft autonomy.

“I loved gaming when I was younger, but as I got older I learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t a world that loved me back.”

Laura Beck

I can’t find fault with Laura Beck’s statement. In fact, it is a statement I have made myself in regards to other mediums where race is concerned. But I feel that Beck’s exasperation with the three male leads in Grand Theft Auto V is misplaced. Michael, Franklin, and Trevor exist, not because Rockstar is fearful of a female lead, but because Rockstar Games is determined to retell the cherished stories of GTA’s past. Grand Theft Auto V is not about innovation, but renovation—replicating the very same characters and situations that brought the company its previous success. Michael is Tommy Vercetti, Franklin is Carl Johnson, and Trevor is Phil Cassidy. Niko of course, is a modern-day Claude Speed, which is why he was chosen as a stand-alone character to launch Grand Theft Auto IV in the same manner that Claude, and Claude alone, championed the new sandbox version of the Grand Theft Auto franchise we have all come to love with Grand Theft Auto III.

I’ve discussed this at length before, but a quick summary is in order: Claude and Niko represent the poor white immigrant’s journey through New York City’s underworld; Michael and Tommy are symbols of established and firmly entrenched organized crime; C. J. and Franklin represent wayward but hopeful youth trapped in inner-city black communities decimated by the emergence of crack cocaine. The comparisons between lead characters can be taken even further, playing upon the similarities between Victor and Luis, young Latino men with family obligations thrust into a world of debauchery and excess, and Johnny Klebitz and Toni Cipriani, low men on the totem pole in criminal organizations chock full of duplicity and double-crossing.

Rockstar brings nothing new to the table, but what is brought is so comforting and satisfying that the complaints are few. That said, there are clear issues regarding gender within the GTA franchise. I hope, just as the time between Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto IV allowed Rockstar to fix the glaring racial stereotypes found within the franchise, so will the time between Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V allow Rockstar to rectify its skewed depiction of women. However, clues to Rockstar’s enlightenment will not be found in Grand Theft Auto V‘s lead characters, but in its NPCs. Specifically? Its sex workers.

The obvious omission of male prostitutes from Grand Theft Auto IV proved that Rockstar’s desire for an element of realism was not to be had at the expense of alienating sexist players who could not handle seeing men placed in a sexually submissive role. Male hustlers are an obvious fact of life in New York City—and in Los Angeles. Should their presence be lacking in Grand Theft Auto V, kowtowing to bigoted players will likely be to blame. And I will certainly not be sticking around for the next installment of the series.

But unlike Beck, I feel that Rockstar is laying the groundwork for a new female lead character. After all, they have almost run out of characters to recycle! I believe that in a year or two we will all be lining up to purchase Grand Theft Auto: The Legend of Packie McReary, featuring Patrick, a Korean protagonist clearly reminiscent of Huang Lee, and a female drug runner and madam of Mexican descent. After all, to have a story set in a city suggestive of Los Angeles that does not feature Latino and Asian communities is criminally stupid—just as it is to have a story focused on crime that does not involve women. Women are notorious for being drug mules and participating in illegal sex work, and have been a part of Los Angeles’ street gangs for decades. Plus, the addition of female thieves to be used in heists in Grand Theft Auto V is likely Rockstar’s attempt to ease bigoted fans into a more progressive and inclusive stance regarding female protagonists.

But the question is not whether fans will purchase a game starring a female lead. We know they will. Lara Croft is a testament to that. The question is whether the boys’ club at Rockstar Games can provide a female lead that is well-rounded, well-written, and fun to play. A female lead will need to focus more on stealth, speed, and firepower instead of street-brawling skills demanding of upper-body strength. Will Rockstar make the adjustments necessary to accommodate this? Plus, given the mockery of trans women (the deep voices of the prostitutes Niko frequented were inserted for amusement) and the flat, stereotypical depiction of women in Grand Theft Auto IV, I’m not confident a female lead would be given the fleshed-out personality provided to male leads. The Grand Theft Auto franchise is populated with shrill harpies and dim-witted party girls. We really haven’t come that far from Catalina and Maria, and the blame can be laid squarely on Rockstar’s writers for that.

It can also be laid on the writers that inspire Rockstar’s writers. After all, the Grand Theft Auto series borrows heavily from America’s most beloved crime dramas, dated dramas that focus on the lives of men. If Rockstar wishes to venture into the uncharted waters of a female GTA protagonist, it will need new source material. Celebrity, technology, and changing social mores have revolutionized the roles of women in criminal enterprises. Twitter, Instagram, and reality television allow high-end call girls to discretely advertise to wealthy clientele—and contraband can easily be shipped right along with the woman a lovelorn musician, CEO, or athlete has unwittingly paid to transit. Finally, all one needs is a pretty girl and an iPhone to obtain the layout of a mansion for a later armed robbery. Three crimes for the price of one—and one hell of a fun GTA side mission!

Unlike Beck, I will be purchasing Grand Theft Auto V—and I will be closely examining how the game lays the groundwork for the next GTA installment—an installment that hopefully makes Beck and her peers finally feel welcome.

Payned reactions.

Max Payne 3Lord knows, you can love a work and yet find it immensely problematic. Though I enjoyed Max Payne 3, Rockstar’s latest release in the Max Payne franchise, I have to admit that concerning matters of race, I find the work unsettling. A white hero slaughters endless waves of black and Latino men, his only allies a fair-weather friend who is on the take and a cop who is too cowardly to effect any change in a society he admits is riddled with corruption. He asks Max to act in his stead, essentially begging a white man to do his work for him.

As I said, problematic.

Of course, we do not expect Raul Passos to save the day in a game titled Max Payne 3. However, I think the work provides a classic example of a larger problem in video games and in geek culture in general where race is concerned. For the most part, men and women of color are sidekicks, not heroes. And yet in regards to villainy? That is the moment when it seems all too easy to include us in droves—as zombies, as faceless military grunts, as gang members, as savages.

Balance is needed. I am reluctant to set aside Max Payne 3 as an example of the problem when Rockstar Games has done such a credible job in the past of bringing racial balance to its selection of heroes—Luis Lopez, Carl “C. J.” Johnson, Huang Lee. Though, to be fair, I have just listed a selection of criminals, criminals placed in a positive light, but criminals nonetheless.

Other companies, such as Ubisoft and Valve, have followed Rockstar’s lead and should be commended. However, I generally identify Rockstar as a trailblazer in regards to race due to their selection of lead characters that cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be identified or classified as white. For even when protagonists of color are presented to fandom, skin colors are lightened and features are often “softened” to ease race past more bigoted consumers. Yet the problem does not merely reside with the maker of the game but with the player as well. I clearly remember fan requests for “white” player skins in order to cloak the blackness that racist players apparently felt was too offensive or jarring to endure while playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

And yet I see no demands for brown or tan skins for Max Payne.

Perhaps the “shock and awe” method enacted by Rockstar is the best method to push change? “Here’s our lead. He’s black. Deal with it.” Of course, making said change is a lot easier when done from the safe cocoon of a lucrative franchise. It’s something to think about—not only in blogs, but in boardrooms as well.

Auto motives.

For those who bemoan the fact that characters from the Grand Theft Auto III era have not and will not appear in Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, I present to you the fact that they have appeared and will appear—simply in different incarnations. Rockstar Games has once again presented to its fans the world it built during the Grand Theft Auto III era. Yes, there is a new engine. Yes, the graphics have improved. However, the stories? The stories are the same.

This is far from a complaint. I was lamenting the lack of a female protagonist when I realized why we were not provided with one. Adding a lead character of a different gender would be a deviation from the pattern previously set forth. Rockstar Games has done an astounding job of updating the stories we all once gravitated to for this new era. And technology has advanced enough that providing an old story in a new way makes the story itself seem novel as well.

However, we still have a hard, quiet man of action struggling to make sense of the big, Northeastern American city. Claude’s story is Niko’s story—that of a young newcomer wading through the refuse of Liberty City’s underworld. We see them both form friendships that cross cultures, discover rich patrons, and bounce back from the duplicitous actions of former tentative allies—all in all, the immigrant’s rise to riches, the outsider made good.

Grand Theft Auto V brings us newer versions of Tommy Vercetti and Carl Johnson. The names and decades have changed; however, the premise remains the same. C.J. and Franklin are both young black men living in Los Santos and engaged in small-time criminal activity. They will both likely provide a bridge connecting the worlds of inner-city poverty and wealthy celebrity. Finally, Tommy and Michael are both men who were deeply enmeshed in the world of organized crime and had to take drastic measures to sever ties. Both were successful and managed to benefit financially afterwards.

The characters even resemble each other physically to the point where fans questioned if they were actually seeing a return of the characters they once loved.

For the most part? They are.

Raiding the fridge.

Ah, poor Ron Rosenberg, executive producer of the upcoming and latest game in the Tomb Raider franchise. His words have been dissected, examined, and strewn across the blogosphere. And I, like many others, slide in hand, have decided to take my turn at the microscope.

“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character.”

Ron Rosenberg

The problem with Rosenburg’s statement is that Rosenburg refers to people when he actually means men. Women, such as myself, who have played multiple games in the Tomb Raider franchise can and do identify with the lead character—even when the similarities are as minor as being the same gender as the heroine. To believe otherwise is to underestimate the audience, something that has been done frequently and consistently in the gaming industry. This underestimation results in a staleness that stems from the refusal of many companies to explore new worlds, new cultures, and new stories. However, there are a handful of companies willing to buck the trend. These companies are often rewarded for their risks with success—Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) and Valve (Left 4 Dead) being two that spring to mind. Though grumbling initially occurred, and the grumbling was quite vocal and widespread, fans did welcome protagonists such as CJ and Louis. Still, let us set aside the slight moral growth of fandom for a moment and assume that though men can accept a protagonist of a different race and “project themselves into” that character (which men of color have been doing since the development of video games), playing as a character of a different gender simply obliterates said projection. What if we accept what Rosenberg says as true?

“They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ … When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”

Ron Rosenberg

That you? Once again, male. And yet, men are not the only purchasers of video games. Men are not the only purchasers of action adventures. I have purchased and played multiple games featuring a fearless and headstrong Lara Croft. I’ve enjoyed that incarnation of the character. Others, female and male, have as well. However, the desires of these individuals are not as important as the need to cater to the chauvinism of a certain subset of men who cannot fathom the idea of a woman, even a pixelated one, as a heroic and powerful lead. And I truly believe kowtowing to the sexist urge to “protect the little lady” will make for a slightly less enjoyable game.

Had I wanted to protect Niko Bellic, a character I adored but did not identify with—and yet still had no problem “projecting myself into”—I would have simply refused to begin the story provided by the developer. I would have taken the character on an endless array of bowling excursions and shopping trips. I would have played Grand Theft Auto IV as I play The Sims 2. Luckily, I do not play action adventure games to protect the protagonist with whom I have allied myself. I play them (1) to be privy to a great story and (2) to amass as much power for the protagonist as possible. I am a calculating strategist and a voyeur, not a caretaker. And I do not think I am alone in being that type of gamer.

“[W]e’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”

Ron Rosenberg

I want to delve further into the goal of amassing power. Not only do action adventures provide gamers with a great story, they also provide a form of escapism—a power fantasy to mitigate the stress and tedium of everyday life. I play games because within them, vicariously through the characters I play, I can accomplish things I will never have the chance to even attempt in my lifetime. I can explore alien planets, ram the driver who cut me off on the freeway, and brazenly breeze through shoot-outs with ease. I can be immensely powerful.

“Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She’ll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her.”

Jason Schreier

It has often been said that rape is about power, not sex. It is the removal of one’s power and agency through a sexual act. Ergo, it is the last act to which the lead character of a power fantasy should fall victim. And this rule is closely followed—when the character is male.

It is interesting to note that in Grand Theft Auto IV, one learns about two horrific rapes by playing side missions. The lead character, Niko Bellic, admits that he has kept the news of his aunt being brutally raped and murdered from his cousin. Later, a supporting character, Packie, admits that he and his brothers were molested by his father as young children. However, Niko is adamant that he has not been raped during his stint in prison and snidely makes a comment concerning the difference between European prisons and their American counterparts. In a later sequel to the popular game, lead character Luis Lopez, also an ex-con, clearly indicates that he was not raped in prison and was able to fend off all attacks. We do not want to see the protagonist, our vessel for the adventure, as weak or vulnerable. The protagonist acts; he is not acted upon. Why should this outlook change due to a change in gender? Does such a simple switch make the vessel unsuitable?

If so, perhaps the problem is with the player, not the game.

Yes! And a request.

Oh, GTA modders. How I love you. Oh, how I love you. But why has no one created the most obvious mod of all? Grand Theft Auto III on the Grand Theft Auto IV engine! No remapping necessary. Just update a few of the buildings to fit Grand Theft Auto III. Honkers and the Triangle Club become Luigi properties. Brucie’s place becomes Joey’s garage. The Majestic is repurposed as Kenji’s swanky hotel and casino. Maria gets high in an unnamed Hercules every night. Fix up Salvatore’s place out in Alderny so that it’s shiny and new. Pull all the old audio files over (as well as some from Liberty City Stories) and film new cut scenes.

Yeah, it’d be a bit of work, but it’d be worth it. Taking Maria out for dinner? Bowling with 8 Ball? Popping online to read the latest from the Liberty Tree? Storming through Kenji’s casino in order to take him out? I’d probably set the mod in 2006 to keep from having to update the pedestrians and cars too much though. Actually, given Rockstar’s new foray into DLC, why haven’t they issued a remixed Grand Theft Auto III on the Grand Theft Auto IV engine? It gives PC gamers something to tide them over until the Grand Theft Auto V port and is a nice way to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the franchise.

I can’t be the only one who thinks of stuff like this!

Ten for eleven.

Who got that dollar share? DC got that dollar share! Who got that dollar share? DC got that dollar share!

Festivities aside, now would be a good time to talk about how to keep that momentum going, no? And so I bring you…the ten things I want from DC Comics in 2011.

Cassandra Cain as Batgirl—in comics and out. So many people have blogged about this that I am not even going to bother delving into it here. Long story short, this character needs a comeback.

A Tales from the Multiverse series. I know what you’re thinking. Why the hell would we need a book like that? You need it for the times when that writer you so desperately want to keep happy has an idea for a prominent DC character that is brilliant but will surely destroy the brand that you have spent decades cultivating. That’s why. Toss it in another universe and publish it. You’re happy, the writer is happy, and that fan out in Topeka who is a supreme stickler for continuity will be happy. However, this title is not just a place for you to churn out stories pulled from some dusty pitch pile. This book ain’t for everybody. Only the sexy famous people. The title should be exclusive—top tier writers and artists only. Let them know exactly how special they are. If Neil Gaiman has a story about Wonder Woman in the Victorian era? It goes here. William Gibson thinks it might be fun to write a Batgirl one-shot? Bingo. This is not the book for Fill-in Schlub #453 (although Fill-in Schlub #453 can be very important to a company when a book is late). I see the book as a series of miniseries, not an ongoing series. In fact, you could even collect shorter stories from various creators in one book as a theme (noir, good girl, horror). And with all those popular creators, themes, and self-contained stories, the material would be just perfect to release in big, expensive hardcover trades, no?

A new Young Justice series penned by Adam Warren. We’ve talked about this, but I’m bringing it up again because…well, I really want this, damn it. Plus, I think it’s important to rebuild the popularity of neglected characters like Static, Batgirl, and Blue Beetle in a team ongoing with a strong writer who has a great ear/eye for youth culture. There’s strength in numbers. You can’t just toss these characters back out into the solo spotlight without a little nurturing (though it seems like that’s exactly what you plan to do). A strong, consistent team book can provide that nurturing. And given how poisoned and erratic the Titans brand has been of late, it’s best to use a title that can provide these characters with a fresh start while capitalizing a bit on nostalgia and stealing a wee bit of shine from the competition (Young Avengers).

A little less Blonde Ambition. Are you not embarrassed by the fact that nearly all of your prominent young heroines look and act the same? Are you not embarrassed to be embracing the most obvious of Mattel’s failures by placing all of your eggs in one genetic basket? You need to fix this. Now. Let me make it easy for you. Cassandra replaces Steph as the main Batgirl of the DC universe. One down. But I’d still dye Cassandra’s hair red and give her a cute Rihannaesque cut as a fun counter to the adorable nostalgic images of Babs all over t-shirts and other memorabilia. America will happily accept an Asian Batgirl, but my guess is that it still expects its Batgirl to be a redhead. (Keeping the red hair color will help make the rebranding process a bit easier.) Mia is slowly morphed into a nice strawberry blonde. Supergirl is kept the same. Don’t muck about with icons. Wonder Girl goes brunette and very short to keep her from looking like a clone of Donna. And for the love of God, put some of your non-white heroines front and center. If you don’t have enough, make up some!

Logos for your ladies—and the second tier. People I know who don’t even read comics still own and wear Batman and Superman t-shirts. The symbol stands for a myth that is widely known. The symbol becomes a substitute for an archetype. DC has more recognizable symbols than Marvel and this is something that you really need to capitalize on and strengthen when it comes to second-tier characters. By the time the Wonder Woman television show rolls around I hope that DC will finally decide on a decent Wonder Woman logo and push it heavily as a symbol of female empowerment. In fact, the following characters should have easily identifiable symbols associated with them: Wonder Woman (female empowerment), Power Girl (cheesecake with a big helping of irony), Black Lightning (nostalgic Blaxploitation), and Batgirl (the cutting digital edge). I’m just picking random themes, but you should really hold a meeting about this and decide what would be profitable and popular for the long term. And not only should these characters have symbols, but those symbols should stand for something. With enough repetition in a particular context it should conjure up an image or feeling in the viewer’s mind. Logos are important. Take your time with them and make sure that they are distinct.

Expand upon your houses. I’ve always seen the Marvel universe as a group of friends and the DC universe as a group of families. Unfortunately, only two families get any real attention—which leads to a universe that feels very bland and repetitive. What has been done with the Green Lantern characters needs to be repeated on a smaller scale with other sectors of the DC universe. Other families need to be fleshed out. The House of Adam (Black Adam). The House of Wonder (Wonder Woman). The House of Lightning (Black Lightning). Develop stories to make these houses a cohesive unit. You don’t need a plethora of miniseries. The ground work can be done within existing books through character interaction and development.

A Grand Theft Auto miniseries. I know that Wildstorm was once the place for comics starring IPs from popular games. Wildstorm is gone now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sneak one last comic in. GTA V, a guaranteed moneymaker, is coming down the pike. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a one-shot that could be pushed right along with it in stores? Perhaps a comic by the same artist doing the artwork for the promotional material? And wouldn’t it be fun to have cheat codes (phone numbers) hidden right within the stories?

DC characters embedded in different forms of entertainment. My friend, who is way more of a basketball fan than he is a comic fan, showed me the promotional work Marvel did a while back for ESPN. What a wonderful and sneaky way to get your characters in front of a new audience! Contact Glamour about doing a fun Power Girl photoshoot. Get a custom Batman cycle made by American Chopper. Get one of your youngbloods on MTV’s True Life: I’m an Intern. Have a cake made for some character’s anniversary and showcase it on the Food Network. Get out there!

Popular entertainers embedded in DC Comics. This is pretty much the inverse of the preceding category. Create a vanity project for a famous singer before Bluewater can churn out of crappy one. Let a famous actor co-write an issue of a comic that could use a small sales boost. Do a one-shot set to the lyrics of famous rap songs.

Romance. Look, I need romantic angst and scandalous affairs. Now, I can easily get that from General Hospital. However, watching General Hospital (which I started doing around the same time I stopped reading most comics) and tweeting about this show with Kalinara (also occurring about the same time I stopped reading most comics) isn’t making you one bit of money or helping to keep the names of your characters circulating in nerd circles. A romance one-shot might be a nice way to reach out to the fans who need to see a kiss or two after every three kicks to the face. Start off with mainstream superhero characters to test the waters and try a straight up romance anthology later on. How much could two comics hurt your bottom line? If it doesn’t pan out? No harm, no foul.

Next up? I’ll try and list the ten things I’d like from Marvel. No promises though.

Hey, Dark Horse!

You know what would be nice? A Grand Theft Auto comic series. I would buy those comics. You should start making them. I’d ask Wildstorm, but…you know. And where’s my Venture Bros. graphic novel? Get to work!