The Whit by the Numbers

As Journalists, we are unequivocally bound to the principle of objective and fairness. Equal representation is the key to a successful democracy but it also shapes the way people view the mechanics of world.

For Michelle Gunther, an Australian visual artist from Griffin University, the best way to display inequality in the news media was to examine 40 years worth of photography of the newspaper, The Australian. Currently in development, her digital project, Picturing the News: The Australian 1973-2013, seeks to “communicate the under-representation and misrepresentation of women in Australian news imagery to a potential large audience.”

Gunther’s inspiration came from a study from the Global Media Monitoring Project, an international project that surveys a multitude of factors in the development and broadcasting of news media every five years for the study of gender representation. The main findings for their 2010 study of 108 countries, was that only 24 percent of news subjects were women, the other 76 percent were made up of men.

Although the 2015 GMMP study has not been completed and Gunther hasn’t finished her project, we can look close at our own publications to see if the numbers are not only similar, but representative of the make up of our University.

Surveying The Whit

According to a data gathered from the newspaper from Sept. 2014 to the 25th issue in April, an average issue of The Whit contains about 24 articles, spread across five separate sections. On that same issue, one can find about 8 ads — half being paid, the latter being in-house. In that limited space, the paper still manages to fit at least 22 images for the necessary stories.

The more notable findings of the data mining was that amongst the small batches of photos that make it into the limiting print edition, more than half of the subjects tend to be male.


Of the 549 images used within the last year, 307 of them maintained a focus on a male subject. Only 90 images used within the year focused specifically on a female subject. on average, there was 12 pictures of a male centered images in comparison to 4 images centered around a female per issue.

Although there is a 1-4 ratio of women to men, there is no direct correlation between any intentional disparity by issue. Group photos without a direct choice in gender representation were counted in their own category, as were images from third parties such as Flikr or Wikipedia.

Image Make-up by Sections

Image Make-up by Sections

“I am unsure whether this is a problem with women’s inclusion in campus events or if it is my own unconscious bias toward capturing males’ images,” said Photo Editor for The Whit, Robert Oszust. “I’m told to cover events, and I capture what I see at those events.”

Oszust has been a staff member of newspaper for more than two and a half years as a staff photographer but has not seen a trend in one gender being used more than another.

“I’m not sure if I ever really think about it. I’ve taken pictures of all kinds, young and old, women and men, famous and common. My job is to tell a story in a narrative, driven way.”

Oszust described the possibility of more male students being enrolled in the university as being a possible cause of the imbalance yet Rowan’s enrollment for the fall semester displayed that enroll was nearly equal in gender; with more female student enrolled in university by a small margin.

For the last two years, The gender ratio of the organization has been nearly equal. Although more positions that were either previously vacant or were newly created last May increased the amount of male staff members, the newly elected staff for the Fall 2015 semester is even as no assistant positions have been filled.

“In terms of representing the student body, it’s our responsibility to use photos to represent the content that we’re actually covering for such events,” said Kevin Kunzmann, Editor-in-Chief of The Whit. “The discussion with photographers isn’t always, “Get a photo of a man, get a photo of a woman, get a photo of this, get a photo of that” — it’s “Get a photo of the story.”


Kunzmann also spoke on how studies of this nature should be focused on the subject of the articles being written and not simply the images since many article that tackle gender issues do not include any accompanying pictures.

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Kickstarter Video Games Remain an Instable Market

Veteran video game developer Tim Schafer grabbed the gaming world’s attention when he took to Kickstarter in hopes of funding a new old-school adventure game in 2012. Hoping to somehow raise $400,000 within one month, Schafer ended up exceeding his original goal eight times over. In September of the same year, Kickstarter deemed the resulting $30 million sum that successfully-crowdfunded video game projects had raised on their website “The Year of the Game.”

Two and a half years later, the crowdfunded video game market has proven to be far less stable than its rapid emergence would suggest. Looking at the number of games that have received funding by year, as well as how much money those games are raising on average, highlights how the audience-dependent market is having trouble maintaining a consistent presence in the gaming community.

Due in part by the still-evolving intricacies of the crowdfunding business model, focusing on one specific area of the Kickstarter game market and trying to draw a definitive conclusion about its current state is nearly impossible.

As an example, the continuing decline of game projects that manage to reach their funding goals seems like a pretty obvious implication at first glance; there were 89 video game projects that hit their mark in 2013, and a bit more than half of that the following year. With 2015 now four months underway, less than a dozen games have managed to meet their funding goals so far. At this year’s current pace, one game is getting funded for every three that received funding two years ago.

Ryan 1

It’s easy to recognize those numbers as a sign that gamers are losing interest in the unconventional funding platform — and they very well could be. However, Melissa Rosatti, a publisher at Red Lotus Studio Press who has been closely studying a variety of Kickstarter market communities for several years, doesn’t believe the decline signifies a thinning audience.

“It is likely several small, but significant reasons,” she said. “I don’t believe that consumers form much of an attachment to Kickstarter per se. I think they are more attracted to the creators. It is the creators who bring the audience.”

Taking a look at those creators, 2014 onward hasn’t seen a Kickstarter game project that features a “big” name, unlike like the market’s two most successful years. “Mega Man” creator Keiji Inafune raised over $4 million for his Kickstarter campaign to create “Mighty No. 9” — an unofficial spiritual successor to his historic game series — two years ago. Likewise, even after Schafer’s “Broken Age” moved away from Kickstarter and into development, it remained a widely-discussed topic throughout the following year.

With the amount of money that “Broken Age” raised almost matching Kickstarter game projects’ entire 2011 earnings, Schafer’s immediate impact on the market was pretty apparent. On the other hand, despite Inafune’s “Mighty No. 9” being seen as another big success in terms of getting gamers interested in Kickstarter, the title doesn’t seem to have had a notable effect on the number of projects that received funding during the six months following its October 2013 campaign. In fact, six more games managed to secure funding during the half-year leading up to it.

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Though Rosatti believes that consumers get more attached to Kickstarter project creators than the projects themselves, she added that the top-grossing Kickstarter projects are more dependent on captivating their audiences than having a big name behind them.

“The community is all about the relationships and investing the community members in success,” she said. “Looking at the communication strategies used by the most successful campaigns will tell you much more than the top line numbers. It is the emotional resonance that drives the word of mouth and success.”

Comparing the average amount of money that successfully-funded game projects have earned by year not only entertains that idea, but makes it trickier to say whether or not Kickstarter game projects are becoming inherently less successful.

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The figures above still point towards big shifts in the market, but not necessarily towards financial declines. Following the lowest averaging year for successful Kickstarter video game projects since the market’s breakout year, the beginning of 2015 has seen consumers investing more money in fewer game projects compared to last year — largely due to two titles that both raised over $1 million, “Crowfall” and “Shadow Run: Hong Kong.”

If the rest of this year was to follow the same pattern, 2015 would exceed the previous year’s funding total by nearly half — and it would only take half as many funded game projects to accomplish it. However, as the frequently-shifting tides of Kickstarter continue to prove, the likelihood of the market seeing another shift before then is more likely than not.

While many of the market’s contradicting shifts seem to point towards either the rise or fall of consumer interest, one statistic of Kickstarter game funding has remained fairly constant — on average, successful video game projects tend to exceed their original funding goals by over half. Regardless of the recently-declining number of games that receive funding, the ones that do statically raise somewhere between 60% to double what they originally asked for, and have since 2012.

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As the young crowdfunded game market continues to fall in and out of the gaming community’s spotlight, its unique needs make its future as a reliable way for game developers to fund otherwise-impossible projects unsure.

Rosatti’s personal prediction is that Kickstarter may eventually loosen the credentials that a project currently requires in order to combat their emerging competitors — which could bring about some issues of its own.

“The crowdfunding business is maturing; at some point, curating projects is not enough to deliver the spectacular growth of the early days,” she said. “I suspect that Kickstarter, in order to stay ahead of competitors, may not be as strict in its curation criteria as it was in the beginning. Therefore, if you trade quality for volume, there will be an increase in mediocre or failing campaigns.”

Kickstarter was unable to be reached for comment. This story will be updated accordingly if the company can be reached for any statements. 

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How the 2015 Rowan baseball team successfully embraced the philosophy of “small-ball” without sacrificing consistency

by Stephen Pistone

Monday, April 14, 2015


Over the past five years, Rowan’s baseball teams were a hallmark of consistency, specifically on offense. That consistency is what allowed the Profs to win back-to-back NJAC championships in 2013 and 2014 under former head coach Juan Ranero.

Although Ranero has moved on in favor of new head coach Mike Dickson, the team is off to another solid start winning after 18 of their first 25 games in 2015. However, it appears that the offensive production this year is being achieved a little differently from years’ past. According to Ranero, achieving such consistency is achieved at the recruiting stage, where he and his colleagues look for a particular set of skills.

“From a recruiting standpoint, we pretty much were looking for the same things: guys who were going to be able to drive the ball, especially at key positions… That’s kind of what we pinpointed our recruiting on,” said Ranero. “Sometimes we probably suffered a little bit defensively, but we felt the offense would more than make up what we were looking for.”

Driving the ball has certainly not been a problem for the Profs, for they’re currently on pace with their five-year averages in runs and  hits. However, it appears the days of high-octane slugging have given way to more of a “small-ball” approach, which entails manufacturing runs through bunts, steals, hit by pitches, drawing walks, laying sacrifice bunts, and more.

Offensive/Defensive Stat Totals (2010-2015 Seasons) [Part 1 of 2]
Offensive/Defensive Stat Totals (2010-2015 Seasons) [Part 2 of 2]

Interestingly enough, Rowan appears to be right where they want to be and doesn’t seem to be slowing down even though extra-base hits and other power statistics are down from their five-year average. The team’s record the previous five season as of April 13 are as follows: 19-6, 17-9, 19-8, 17-6-1, and 15-8. Of course a team isn’t always exactly what their record indicates, but this team appears to be a legitimate NJAC contender once again.

This article was created by crunching season totals on a multitude of statistics for the 2010-2015 seasons. The numbers for the 2010-2014 season were averaged and used as a benchmark to observe the team’s rate of progress or regress during the 2015 season. Considering the data was collected at what is usually the half-way point of the season for Rowan (the past five seasons averaged 45.4 games, including playoffs), all current statistics were multiplied by two to forecast the pace of those statistics. What the data showed was that Rowan continues to be a highly-efficient offensive team and are right there with the teams of the previous five years even though they’re scoring in different ways. However, some of these projections should be taken with a grain of salt considering how common cold and hot streaks are in baseball. 

During the Profs dominant run between 2010 and 2014, they posted a 155-70 record and won two NJAC tournament championships. Their average win total during this time-frame was 31. Consistency was the name of the game.

While former head coach Juan Ranero chalked the consistency up to recruiting, players like senior third baseman Kevin McMenamin believe the team’s level of personal sacrifice lead to offensive success.

“Year in and year out, we try to focus on what we can do as a team to win games and understand what our strengths and weaknesses are as hitters. We believe in sacrificing ourselves to drive runs in and win games by doing the little things right,” said McMenamin.

The data proves McMenamin’s point of sacrifice to be accurate, considering the data is forecasting a 16% decrease in Extra-Base Hits from the Profs’ five-year average, but a 4.65% increase in sacrifice hits and 82.69% in sacrifice flies.

Also standing out was the projected 102.48% increase in Hit by Pitches, which is the ultimate form of sacrifice in baseball. Perhaps trading bruises for bases has been a point of emphasis for the 2015 Profs.

The fact of the matter is that while Rowan is getting on base, hitting and scoring just as much (and possibly more) as they’ve been the past five years, they’re slugging (hitting for extra bases) less and hitting fewer home runs.

A useful statistic that measures raw power is Isolated Power (ISO). Batting average and slugging percentage are useful statistics, but unless they’re used together, which ISO does, they aren’t very distinguishing.

One of the ways ISO is calculated is ((Doubles) + (2*Triples) + (3*Home Runs)) divided by At-Bats. It is useful because while players can have identical batting averages or slugging percentages, their ISO ratings can be extremely different. Consider the following example:

Player A has a .400 batting average and a .400 slugging percentage with four singles and 0 home runs in 10 at-bats.

Player B has a .100 batting average and also a .400 slugging percentage with zero singles one home run in 10 at-bats.

The first player’s ISO is .000, but the second player’s ISO is .300. In an age of baseball where the “long ball” is often prioritized above all else, it’s understandable why player B would be the more coveted commodity.

Rowan’s decline in power stats is also supported by their .072 ISO in 2015, well down from their five-year average of .095 (UPDATE: Rowan finished the 2015 season with a .083 ISO rating). Their past five ISO ratings are as follows: .110 in 2014, .093 in 2013, .094 in 2012, .068 in 2011, and .111 in 2010.’s ISO scale is as follows (Granted, this scale is intended for Major League Baseball hitters, Rowan’s ratings should be weighted accordingly):

Rating ISO
Excellent 0.250
Great 0.200
Above Average 0.170
Average 0.140
Below Average 0.120
Poor 0.100
Awful 0.080

So, it’s clear that the Profs number of extra bases per at-bat is down considerably from what it has been in previous years. However, hits, runs and most importantly, wins, are not.

Offensive/Defensive Percentages (2010-2015 Seasons)

It’s important for a team to understand it’s identity and always play to its strengths. It appears the Profs have a firm understanding of this.

“From a coaching stand point, you have to mold your strategy within the ability of the team,” said senior first baseman and captain Casey Grimes. “For instance, in the years of the past we’ve had multiple power guys that could hit a double at any given moment, in which case you let that player hit with a man on first or second.  This year, we seem to have a lot more contact guys, in which case they are the players that  work pitcher’s counts and bunt.”

Current head coach Mike Dickson was also reached out to for comment, but could not be reached.

The Profs continue to play to their strengths and find ways to score consistently. One could argue that this team is primed for another NJAC title run considering how teams that usually hit a lot of home runs and “live by the long ball” often fizzle out in the postseason and “die by the long ball” when they can’t find alternate ways to score. The 2015 Profs may not be hitting the cover off the ball, but they have the make-up of a scrappy, tight-knit team that can find multiple ways to score and win.

All data visualized via

Full spreadsheet of data can be found here.

Statistics via

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The Myth of Comic Film as a Fad

It seems almost every year, another comic property lands on TV or the next big summer blockbuster everyone is looking forward to, is led by men or women in tights and spandex. Some believe the entertainment market is saturated with comic related stories, other believe it’s nothing but a fad. In the last two years, the CW has gone from one comic related television show, Arrow. To adding The Flash and iZombie in 2014 and is now adding a third sometime next fall.  Marvel Studios has gone from one film every year, to averaging two or three, with movie plans all the way up until 2028. And this does not include other studios such as FOX, Warner Brothers/DC, Sony or other televisions networks, who all mostly include comic line ups of their own.

Some believe this craze to be a fad, thinking many comic adaptions to be an “uninspired lot”, which has gotten out of hand.  Other felt that the “comic renaissance” was coming to a close, believing movies like X-Men: Days of Future Past to be nothing more than a fan service film and “the straw to break the camel’s back” of comic films.

Another example of this comes from Cracked News in an article written in 2013, sarcastically mocking many of Marvel’s upcoming films before their release at the time, “In the course of these films, Thor is going to fight elves, Captain America is going to fight a cyborg, and there’s going to be a whole movie about the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which, you may not know, look like this,” displaying a picture of Rocket Raccoon, before stating, “Are you seeing the raccoon?” Funny stuff about that Raccoon, his movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” was one of the most successful films of 2014.

JF Sargent, the author of that same piece, begins to then also mock X-Men: Days of Future Past, “Oh, and by the way, the new X-Men movie — called Days of Future Past — revolves around Kitty Pryde sending her brain back in time. So we’re saying that we might just possibly be reaching a tipping point here” And while Days of Future Past was mocked in both cases, it was one of the most successful and well received films of 2014.

These are just a few examples of many that continually bring up this idea, of comic films as a “bubble” ready to burst. This claim goes all the way back to 2003 and yet here we are in 2015, with movies scheduled to 2020. Then there are others, beside myself, who realize comic adaptions are going nowhere.

Comics are engrained in American culture, as much as westerns and cinema itself and they aren’t going away. Comics are the American Pantheon, our own Greek gods and goddesses. Our own mythos of our society, which is finally being recognized by the entertainment industry as something Americans have always known and grown up with.

Comics have been around a lot longer than most realize, but it wasn’t until 1938, with the first issue of Superman in Action Comics 1, when real public demand for them started. It was then again, in 1978, that the American public was introduced to Superman on the large screen, when the American icon was played by Christopher Reeves and was one of the biggest films of its time.

There had been comic movies prior, Dick Tracy and The Lone Ranger came almost 30 years before. However, it was the first time a comic superhero was treated not as a childish cult figure but, as a testament to American history and introduced a comic character to the public, as something mainstream and a cultural icon.  I believe it was at this point, when comics shifted from nothing more than stories for children or a small minority, but as something more and uniquely American in our entertainment.

Following guidelines set out by Flights Tights and Movie Nights. “The main character or characters, has its origins in a comic book or graphic novel published in the US or Europe. The film’s specific story, production design, and/or interpretation of the characters were based on a specific comic book or graphic novel. Ex. 300, Hercules (2014) The character(s) did not originate in: novels, newspaper comic strips, Japanese Manga, mythology or folklore. Though it could still count as a superhero movie (see below). The story is set in the real world and has a heavy focus on comic books, comic book culture, or comic book characters i.e. documentaries. The protagonist originated in a comic book or graphic novel. The hero has powers, abilities, or gadgets beyond normal human capabilities, i.e. superpowers. The hero wears a costume and/or has a hero identity that is separate from his regular identity. Ex.Batman/Bruce Wayne The film takes place in the modern day or the near future. Ex. Judge Dredd The hero and/or villain are very theatrical in their heroics and/or crimes.” There have been over 200 comic related movies since 1978, originating in the United States, not including straight to DVD/VHS movies, and theatrical release alone.

Over 200 films in 37 years, does not sound much like a passing fad or even something related to a relatively small market.  In the last 15 years alone, there have been multiple box office record breakers, all directly related to long-standing comic property.

Spider-Man (2002), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), all of which are in the top highest grossing films of all time. Spider-Man at its peak was the 7th highest grossing film of all time, in a worldwide grossing amount of $821,708,551. While The Avengers, currently number 3, grossed $1,518,594,910 worldwide. Iron Man 3 the current number 7 grossed $1,215,439,994 and The Dark Knight Rises grossed $1,004,558,444 worldwide and currently at 20. While the Transformers films, Dark of the Moon has grossed $1,123,794,079, holding the current 8th highest grossing film of all time spot. And Age of Extinction has grossed $1,091,405,097 worldwide and holds the current 11th spot. Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron hasn’t even released yet and it’s estimated to break 230 million in its opening weekend alone, that’s the biggest opening weekend of all time.

Rank Title Studio Worldwide Domestic / % Overseas / % Year^
1 Avatar Fox $2,788.00 $760.50 27.30% ###### 72.70% 2009^
2 Titanic Par. $2,186.80 $658.70 30.10% ###### 69.90% 1997^
3 Marvel’s The Avengers BV $1,518.60 $623.40 41.00% $895.20 59.00% 2012
4 Furious 7 Uni. $1,429.10 $331.10 23.20% ###### 76.80% 2015
5 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 WB $1,341.50 $381.00 28.40% $960.50 71.60% 2011
6 Frozen BV $1,274.20 $400.70 31.40% $873.50 68.60% 2013
7 Iron Man 3 BV $1,215.40 $409.00 33.70% $806.40 66.30% 2013
8 Transformers: Dark of the Moon P/DW $1,123.80 $352.40 31.40% $771.40 68.60% 2011
9 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King NL $1,119.90 $377.80 33.70% $742.10 66.30% 2003^
10 Skyfall Sony $1,108.60 $304.40 27.50% $804.20 72.50% 2012
11 Transformers: Age of Extinction Par. $1,091.40 $245.40 22.50% $846.00 77.50% 2014
12 The Dark Knight Rises WB $1,084.40 $448.10 41.30% $636.30 58.70% 2012
13 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest BV $1,066.20 $423.30 39.70% $642.90 60.30% 2006
14 Toy Story 3 BV $1,063.20 $415.00 39.00% $648.20 61.00% 2010
15 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides BV $1,045.70 $241.10 23.10% $804.60 76.90% 2011
16 Jurassic Park Uni. $1,029.20 $402.50 39.10% $626.70 60.90% 1993^
17 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace Fox $1,027.00 $474.50 46.20% $552.50 53.80% 1999^
18 Alice in Wonderland (2010) BV $1,025.50 $334.20 32.60% $691.30 67.40% 2010
19 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey WB $1,017.00 $303.00 29.80% $714.00 70.20% 2012
20 The Dark Knight WB $1,004.60 $534.90 53.20% $469.70 46.80% 2008^

Most recently, a comic property on TV, The Walking Dead, broke records for its season finale with a viewership of 17.3 million. The same television show, that beat out Sunday Night Football twice and the Winter Olympics three weeks in a show, becoming the most successful nonsports show on TV. Once again, numbers like these don’t reflect something from a fad, but something Americans want and love.

It would however, be naïve of me to think over the last 10 to 15 years that there has not been a sharp increase in comic films. In 2014, there were 20 comic films, making up about 10% of the total of 200 since 1978 and the peak of 30 plus years altogether. The years with the second most comic related films were 2007, 2008, and 2011 at 11. While, 2013 comes in 3rd with 10 related movies.  There are 36 scheduled movies scheduled from 2015 to 2020, beginning with Age of Ultron, strictly being comic based coming in the future.  With July of 2018, possibly being the peak of superhero films, with four different films, from four different studios in the span of 4 weeks.

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
February 12: Deadpool March 3: Untitled Wolverine sequel March 23: The Flash April 5: Shazam April 3: Cyborg
March 25: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice     May 5: Guardians of the Galaxy 2  May 4: Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 May 3: Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2  June 19: Green Lantern
May 6: Captain America: Civil War June 2: Fantastic Four 2 July 6: Black Panther  June 14: Justice League, Part 2
May 27: X-Men: Apocalypse June 23: Wonder Woman July 13: Untitled Fox Mystery Marvel film July 12: Inhumans
August 5: Suicide Squad July 28: Marvel Studios co-produced Spider-Man film July 20: Spider-Man Animated Feature
October 7: Gambit November 3: Thor: Ragnarok July 27: Aquaman
November 4: Doctor Strange November 17: Justice League, Part 1  November 2: Captain Marvel
Sep 23: The Lego Movie: Ninjago Unscheduled: Bloodshot (Valiant/Sony) TBD: The Lego Movie 2
Jun 3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 TBD: The Lego Movie: Batman
Transformers 5

Those films include Black Panther (July 6), Unknown X-Men film (July 13), an Untitled Spider-Man movie (July 20) and Aquaman (July 27). Rob Patey, writer for Ain’t It Cool News, who reviews under the moniker or pseudo name of Optimus Douche states, “As for delivery to the masses and a superhero summer movie schedule in the foreseeable future, what do you consider that time period to be? The marvel machine is scheduled into the 2020’s. When the X-Wing flies into a portal and crashes eon Graymalkin lane, hell they could go into the 2030’s. Then Warner Brothers needs to do their half-hearted competitive attempt at thwarting that revenue stream. They will throw at least a trilogy into the fray and given their slow dev times, those movies will chug past the teen years of this new millennium.”

So why does it seem like on every channel and in every movie trailer, there are characters originating back to a comic? I believe it’s due to the entertainment industry finally taking notice of an untapped resource of source material, already engrained in the American culture. How many people do you know, who don’t know how Spider-Man got his powers? Or where Superman is from? Or even the name Bruce Wayne. Americans know these characters, like the Greeks knew their gods.

It’s also technologically more feasible for these movies to come to life, with CGI finally being able to encapsulate these stories, in the same way the art does. Or as Optimus Douche for Ain’t It Cool News so eloquently puts it, “Superheroes movies have taken over the cinema, simply because of technology. For years I have tried to make others see a comic book come alive as I did when I was four and bought my first Richie Rich. Panels, words, images flow seamlessly and scream alive in the minds of comic readers; those of us who also read books and see the world come alive.”

Comic films are not the future, nor are they the past. They are as much American, as a western or movies themselves, in our entertainment. To say the bubble would pop, is implying it hasn’t already. It has several times. There have been up and downs in comic film properties and always will, in the same fashion all things do. They are here for the long haul and will see changes along the way, but as far as them leaving, well I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Link to Excel Spreadsheet:

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Marvel and D.C. comics fail at affirmative action

A few months ago I was shopping for a birthday gift for my 11-year-old cousin, Alyssa. She’s always been a bit of a bookworm, so I thought this was the perfect time to expose her to the world of comic books. I knew I wanted her first book to star an awesome female protagonist who didn’t have a tiny waist and bowling ball-sized breasts.

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that (like most sectors of entertainment) the protagonist of most comic books is a white man. Even knowing that going in to my search, I was wholly unprepared for just how limited options were for readers looking for anything other than a white man in tights. I found that fewer than 20% of the comics currently being offered the industry’s “Big Two” — publishers Marvel and D.C. — starred a woman or featured a female-dominated cast. Non-white readers have it even worse, with a whopping 75% of current titles featuring a white person as the leading character.

“Truthfully, the findings align with what I expected,” said Marlene Bonnelly a.k.a “ilikecomicstoo” a YouTube Partner, blogger, and the E.I.C. of tumblr’s official blog. “Mainstream American comics have been primarily produced by and for white males since the ‘Big Two’ took off, and I say that without malice; that’s just the way the market has functioned. Now, however, we’re seeing efforts to embrace different audiences. Female fans and creators have always existed, for example, but there has been a certain push for inclusivity in the last few years that’s made the number of women readers grow and become even more vocal in production.”

The issue of equal representation has been something of a hot-button issue in the world of comic books lately as we see Marvel — who along with D.C. collectively make up over 60% of the comic book marketplace — make public pushes to bring more female and non-white characters into the spotlight. The fact that these stories exist at all is clearly a step in the right direction, but I wanted to look at exactly how “white-male dominated” the industry was as objectively as possible.  

Using the release calendars offered by both Marvel and D.C. I collected every series that’s been published (or planned) from January through June in 2015. From there I collected the gender and ethnicity of the main character(s) using the publisher’s websites and secondary sources like, Wikipedia, and interviews with creators to verify my data.

Ethnic categories were based on the parameters set by the U.S. Census Bureau, with some slight modification. I split people of “Middle Eastern or North African Decent” from the “White” category because it seemed completely at odds with the general societal perception of Middle Eastern peoples. I also added categories for interracial characters, mutated or modified human characters with no discernible ethnicity, and non-humans.

Comics which starred multiple characters were judged based on the diversity of its cast. For example, The Fantastic Four stars three men and one woman, all of whom are (or were) white. As a result FF was categorized as being both white and male dominated. It’s worth noting though that for both publishers “diversity” was often achieved thanks to Humanoid Aliens, Mutated/Modified Humans, or Non-Human characters; meaning not every team labeled as ethnically “Diverse” featured a person of color.

As I mentioned earlier non-white readers are hard-pressed to find a person of color starring in their own solo title or on a team that isn’t predominantly white. Only 25 of the 110 Marvel series surveyed star non-white characters in leading roles (or in non-white dominated casts).


“My initial thought is that 98% of comic characters were created by old, white guys,” said Tim Erwin, manager of The Comic Book Store in Glassboro, New Jersey. “Mostly old, racist white guys (laughs) — at least in my opinion.”

In total, Marvel readers looking for a solo book starring a non-white protagonist had only 19 titles to choose from. Two solo series starred Asian characters, four starred Black characters, two starred the same Hispanic character, two starred a character of mixed race, one starred a character of middle-eastern descent, and the remaining eight starred a character that was a Humanoid Alien, Mutated/Modified Human, or Non-Human character of a fictional race.

Where books starring a team like “The Avengers” were concerned, 31 of the 47 Marvel series with ensemble casts featured white-dominated teams and only 13 passed as diverse. One upcoming series, “E Is for Extinxtion,” didn’t have enough concrete information to judge fairly.

While their numbers are still nothing to brag about, Marvel did have more diverse offerings than D.C., who had only 24 series starring non-white characters (or non-white dominated casts) despite publishing 15 more titles than Marvel did in the same time period.

D.C.’s solo titles are an obvious weak spot where superhero affirmative action is concerned. Like Marvel, eight titles followed a character that was a Humanoid Alien, Mutated/Modified Human, or Non-Human character of a fictional race; but only five starred real-life people of color.

D.C.’s team driven stories lagged just a bit behind Marvel’s offerings with 53 of 64 D.C. series featuring ensemble casts being white-dominated and 16 passing as Diverse (putting them about 2% behind Marvel).

Erwin believes the issue of race representation in comics may be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. He pointed out that many non-white characters rarely get the same kind of character development their white counterparts get and, as a result, never gain the kind of following needed to warrant their own solo book.

“I feel like a lot of [non-white] characters that have been created over the years have been created maybe not with the best intentions,” Erwin said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, here’s this black character or here’s this Hispanic character,’ but they’re just thrown at you to be that ethnicity; not to have any real depth. So a lot of readers reject them more often than not.”

Bonnelly also argued that the key to addressing the problem is by taking the time to develop non-white characters with depth. She believes that while the industry still hasn’t done enough to fix the issue it’s making moves in the right direction, and that’s a good start.

“…but it is trying and I sincerely appreciate that,” Bonnelly said. “Diversifying comics is inherently tricky, because adding minorities in for the sake of adding minorities in can equal tokenism. I, for one, would rather creators take their time in building well developed stories respectful of cultural boundaries than throw in a character who occasionally lapses into Spanish idioms to fulfill a quota. I want the next iconic Latino hero, one that rivals Batman in popularity and depth, not ten Speedy Gonzales caricatures.”

In terms of raw numbers, readers looking to follow female characters have a lot more options, but it should come as no major shock that aren’t nearly as many women in capes.

“I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of the numbers,” Bonnelly said. “As a consumer of the medium, I’ve seen the market change recently. The numbers for female-led titles in both companies seem pitifully low, but it’s significant progress compared to years prior. I expect that continued demand from an expanding readership will bump those numbers up over time.”

Despite the strides being made by books like “Captain Marvel,” the female “Thor,” and the new “Ms. Marvel” just 21 of Marvel’s solo titles were led by a female character…

and four were female-dominated. Another 15 passed as being diverse, and again “E Is for Extinxtion” didn’t offer enough to be fairly considered.

D.C. had the same number of books being fronted by a female character, but again, the numbers are a little skewed because D.C. published 15 more series than Marvel did in the same sample size — all of which were fronted my white males. To put things in perspective  84 D.C. titles were male-dominated compared to Marvel’s 68.

The publishers were almost neck and neck when it came to cast books. D.C. also had four books led by female-dominated teams, and just beat out Marvel with 16 passing as diverse, but once-more the extra 15 white-male dominated titles tipped the scales in Marvel’s favor.

The question remains though, why are we seeing such a small number of female or non-white characters?

Many are quick to turn the debate into a question of chicken or the egg. Critics argue there aren’t more female or non-white characters because females and people of color  don’t read comic books, but more and more research is showing us that’s simply not the case.

“I just think a lot women are reading other books like [Image Comic’s] ‘Saga,’ and ‘Sex Criminals,'” Erwin said. “Those are the books that are appealing to women. Those are the books that we always sell to women. But then again, on the other hand Thor as a female character has sold more now than ‘Thor’ has sold in years.”

The conventional  wisdom has always been that white, male characters sell, and non-white characters don’t, but the critical and financial success of new comics starring characters like the female Thor, Batgirl, and the new(ish) Ms. Marvel, Pakistani American teenager Kamala Khan, are likely changing the way publishers are looking at the market.

“Comics are, above all, a business, and a business that has been doing things the same way for a long time, Bonnelly said. “Changing a winning business strategy is risky, and it doesn’t make sense for companies to venture outside their comfort zone for fear of failing and losing profit. To put it simply: they think non-white, non-male characters in leading roles won’t sell. Thankfully, current trends (‘Captain Marvel,’ ‘Ms. Marvel,’ ‘Batgirl,’ etc.) are chipping away at that fear and encouraging creators to explore more non-traditional outlets for their characters and stories.”

For a full analysis of my data visit:

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Does Rowan’s Booming Enrollment Mean Trouble is on the Horizon?

With Rowan’s enrollment continuing to set record highs for the 7th consecutive year, current and prospective students are left wondering what this could mean for the safety of their beloved university.

Since 2003 Rowan University has seen an explosion in enrollment, with every year exceeding the previous in total enrollees all but once from 2003 to 2013. Contributing to an overall increase of about 38% during that 10-year time period, according to Clery Act and Title IX report statistics compiled by

The Clery Act is a government statute that requires universities to annually publish the crime statistics of their campuses and surrounding area every year. This includes reporting on more serious crimes such as rape and murder to reporting on liquor law violations that the school may handle with internal disciplinary action.

Rowan students, as well as Glassboro residents, are well aware that the university has expansion as a top priority and have already put many of their plans into action. In 2013, Rowan introduced a master plan that included a 280-acre expansion and more than hinted at a projected 20000-student enrollment by the year 2025. This includes 15000 on the university’s Glassboro campus alone. In 2013 there were 13349 students enrolled at the university.

Enrollment Among NJ Public Universities

With these bold and dramatic changes on the horizon many have began to question what will happen to the small town of Glassboro as Rowan continues to bleed into the surrounding community. Statistics of late would suggest a 45% increase in crime from 2010 to 2013, which many could find both suspicious and alarming and the concerns have not gone unheard, according to Reed Layton, senior director of public safety.

“When you bring in more student population to the campus you’re going to have more things arise… bringing in younger students, such as freshman and sophomore, during that time frame a lot of alcohol is involved and contributes to a lot of crimes. If you have more students due to the percentages you’ll have more situations,” said Layton.

It would appear Layton is correct. When comparing long term crime rates against enrollment of New Jersey’s public universities with a similar enrollment there would seem to be less to worry about. Crime at comparable New Jersey universities, those with enrollment between 10000 and 16000 students, as a whole is lower than it has ever been and since 2003 Rowan’s crime rate per thousand students has only increased by .05 crimes a year.

Statistics imply Rowan was prepared for the spike in enrollment it’s been receiving and their campus police department has even set themselves apart from other similar departments over that time period. Rowan is the first university, of any size, in New Jersey to receive accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies and in April they became the first to utilize police body cameras, a hot button issue across the nation as a whole.

“As someone who often is in communication with parents when they help their kids move here their children’s safety is a priority and it’s reassuring that when I tell them it’s safe I can really mean that,” said Mike Wilson, 2 year resident assistant at Rowan University.

Crime for Schools with Enrollment Between 10-20 Thousand

Rowan and Glassboro police departments often work in conjunction, however; according to Layton and Julie Howery, investigator at Glassboro police department, Rowan’s police force responds to all on campus crimes. Making all statistics compiled as part of the Clery Act extremely accurate, as it is handled directly through the university.

Howery, whom is also a Rowan graduate, feels that the university has indeed gotten safer and the crime has decreased noticeably despite what statistics may or may not show.

“If you look back all the way for 10 to 15 years it has been plummeting, which is good,” said Howery.

Rowan’s police force is aware of crime concerns on campus and has been doing their best to cope with the large influx of students according to Layton, who believes that as a whole enforcement of crime on campus is improving due to proactive enforcement.

“A combination of student population and a proactive approach from Public Safety. We are much more proactive than a few years back,” said Layton.

At further examination however, comparing statistics from comparable schools based on crime per 1000 students reveals that Rowan now has a higher crime rate than the four other schools within that criteria. Whereas, in 2003 they were ranked second behind only William Patterson University, which is now, second within the group of schools.

With law enforcement and police conduct becoming such a public and infamous topic in many places, Rowan safety officials claim the school is at the forefront of the fight against crime and that students or prospective students have nothing to fear while attending the university.

“Campus is way more safe than years ago… we always try to think outside of the box and keep campus safe,” said Layton.


Crime Statistics and Enrollment 2003-2013

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An Abysmal Record Against the NHL’s Worst Teams Doomed the Philadelphia Flyers

At the conclusion of the Philadelphia Flyers’ season, fingers were pointed in many different directions as an organization and its fan base coped with missing the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.

The usual scapegoat in today’s National Hockey League took a brunt of the blame, as head coach Craig Berube was relieved of his duties shortly after the final horn of the season had sounded. Still, many questions remain about a team searching for its first Stanley Cup since 1975, and the solutions will have to be provided by a new bench boss in 2015-16.

Is the core of the leadership on the roster strong enough? Are there any ways to solve the salary cap or blueline issues? What’s general manager Ron Hextall’s next move? And, perhaps most perplexingly, why did the Flyers play so well against playoff teams and so bad against teams that weren’t in the hunt down the stretch?

The next head coach of the team, whether it be one of the free agents (Mike Babcock, Detroit; Todd McLellan, San Jose) or a lesser-known asset, has to figure out what exactly went wrong during the most important part of the season.

In all, the Flyers compiled an 11-3-5 record against playoff teams and an abysmal 3-6-6 mark against non-playoff teams after the All-Star Break in 2015. As Sam Carchidi of pointed out in one critical article, “they finished the season winless in their last 11 games against non-playoff teams, yet beat Pittsburgh (twice), Chicago and the Islanders over their final six games.”

The records seem to be telling of their coaching staff and mindset, in that they had the energy and gameplan to beat top opponents, but lost to some of the worst teams in the league. However, while a little shocking, the records don’t tell the whole story of the last leg of the 2014-15 season for the Orange and Black.

When looking at the important underlying statistics from every game after the All-Star Break, you can get a better understanding of just how well the Flyers did or didn’t play as the season wound down.

[SpreedsheetPhiladelphia Flyers Data]

Most of the stats suggest that they played at a similar, if not higher, level against the lower competition, despite the poor record.

Shot Attempts For/Against

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 10.48.08 PM

Shot attempts are the metric closest to gauging possession that we’ve seen in hockey. The stat takes into account all recorded shots on goal, as well as blocked shots and missed shots. It’s commonly referred to as “Corsi” in analytic circles, and is about as accurate as possession measurement can get before the creation of a chip in the puck that gauges time that each time controls the puck.

The Flyers had more shot attempts for (60) and less shot attempts against (57) per game against non-playoff teams than they did against playoff teams (57.9, 60.4, respectively). In layman’s terms; they fired more shots towards the goalie than the other team did in most of those games, despite their poor record.

Looking at how much of the game’s total scoring chances and shot attempts belonged to the Flyers, you get a better feel as to how much of those games they controlled.

Percentage of Shot Attempts/Scoring Chances

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 10.48.46 PM

The numbers again suggest that the level of play was nearly identical against either opponent. Of course, the game isn’t played on paper, and these stats show only a portion of the overall reason behind a win or a loss.

“Underlying stats are just a part of the picture, and they aren’t the end all be all. They show what should happen, but now what will happen,” said Ryan Gilbert, a hockey analytics expert for SB Nation. “[But] over the course of a season, or more, they regress to the mean where a team that is above average in shot attempts/scoring chances will perform better than the rest of the league. The same goes for a below average team.”

The 34 combined games aren’t a really small sample size, so the numbers do hold some merit. But the real teller is the games that the Flyers dominated on the ice, via both the eye test and statistics, and came home with a loss.

One particular loss on February 26th comes to mind, when they dropped a 3-2 contest to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, although it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

The Flyers outshot the Maple Leafs 49-17, and held major advantages in both shot attempts (70.6%) and scoring chances (70%). It was the most shots the Maple Leafs had allowed in a game at that point in the season, yet the end result was less than ideal yet again.

“They should have been a playoff team. They struggled down the stretch, but they outplayed a good amount of their opponents in those losses, including the Toronto, Buffalo, Columbus and Calgary games,” said David Cattai, who covered the NHL Draft and NCAA Frozen Four last year with “When you control the majority of the scoring chances, you should win games.”

Flyers’ writer for Broad Street Buzz and other various sports-centric blogs Tom Foti points out that quality, not quantity, played a big part down the stretch.

“I wonder about the shot quality,” Foti said. “The Flyers definitely shot from the high percentage areas in the slot more often in games against playoff teams.”

A shot from along the boards certainly doesn’t hold as much importance as a shot from the middle of the slot, so quality of shots is certainly something to keep in mind. Another factor could be the lack of a true sniper on the roster.

The Flyers’ team shooting percentage (8.91%, 17th in the NHL) was right at the league average in 2014-15 (8.9%). They couldn’t bury more than the average amount of goals, and that plays a part in them averaging more shots and chances than their opponents, but not being able to capitalize. Losses against Buffalo (5.3%), Columbus (4.6%), and Toronto (4.1%) come to mind.

It seems impossible to pinpoint an exact moment or flaw that determines why the Flyers’ record is split the way it is. What we can determine-through logic, statistics, and sample size- is that the team didn’t really raise or drop their game significantly in either scenario. Either way, it’s tough for a team and its front office to sit back and allow it to happen.

An article by Dave Isaac in the Courier Post detailed the struggle the Flyers’ brass had to deal with watching this unfold. The scene is pained after yet another victory over one of the league’s best squads.

“In some ways, it’s impressive. The Flyers toppled the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 Wednesday night, making it 9-1-4 in the Flyers’ last 14 games against teams that were in the playoffs at the time of the games. If only they could beat the teams they should.”

If only.

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