News of the Fictional


Just because they're fictional doesn't mean they can't change.

Updates and Comments to

The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived

Fictional characters are just like real people: they grow, they change, often in response to the rest of us. We don't want you to think that just because what we wrote has been printed, we aren't aware of the continuous evolution of these characters. We live in a very dynamic world.

So here are some of the things some of our characters have been up to.


Barbie 2017

In the end of January 2016 (see below), news media reported that Mattel was making a change for Barbie.  No longer would the doll appear exclusively as the impossibly proportioned tall, thin-waisted ideal.  Her trademark body type was joined by three other dolls, all sold under the same name.  The new Barbies were intended to be more realistic: one each in tall, petite, curvy.  The "curvy" type seems to have gotten the most press, but she doesn't have the hourglass shape you might expect from that description.  We'll call her "Pudgy."  She's got a figure many girls can actually achieve--given enough cheeseburgers.

For better or worse, there were more options available than three new body types.  These were reported to be as many as thirty hair colors, and at least twenty-two hairstyles, seven skin tones, fourteen face shapes, and eighteen eye colors.  Wait.  Aren't there only seven eye colors?  Did they add red, tawny, chartreuse, maroon, periwinkle, sand pebble, beige, cornflower, squash blossom, pinkeye, and bloodshot?  There could be easily over a million possible Barbies, and more if they add body types to match Whoopie Goldberg, Marilyn Monroe, Linda Hunt, and Mother Theresa.

While we're thinking about form, what happened to the original Barbie, the saucy Parisian with her sleek black hair and zebra-stripe swimsuit--can't they bring her back?

Is it time they offered the Zombie BrideTM Barbie® to kids?  We'll assume that Mattel isn't ready to go with gray-skinned Walking Dead Barbie yet, complete with rotting detachable limbs.  Vampirella® Barbie seems a bit much, as would Golda Meir Barbie.  Maybe Angela Merkel.

There was also the question of the video series and its side characters.  We'd counted at least thirty Barbie videos by 2016.  Would those all be remade, and with how many of the new Barbies?  What would happen to the Fairies, Mermaids, and Princesses of these videos?  And the more ordinary characters in Barbie's world.  How about Skipper?  And Chelsea, Stacie, Camilla, Laureen, Midge, Blaine, and of course, Ken?

We'd wondered about Ken, that clean-cut suburban white kid, her on-and-off boyfriend.  How long would it be before he had a similar makeover?  We expected several new body types, including ones that look like John Cleese, Ben Kingsley, Al Roker, and Alfred Hitchcock.  In June 2017, our wait ended with the announcement of fifteen new Kens with nine hair styles, eight hair colors, two additional body types, an undisclosed number of eye colors, and from what we've seen pictured, perhaps nine skin tones.  A mere ten thousand or so possibilities.  Poor neglected Ken.  They should at least add a Shaquille O'Neal version, and Dwayne Johnson, Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Jackie Chan, and Michael J Fox.  And we dare them to make a Woody Allen.

Barbie 2016

On January 28, 2016, Mattel -- Barbie's marketing vehicle -- announced that she's undergoing a thorough makeover. The news made headlines the world over, of course. In an effort to keep up with her audience, Barbie's going to appear with different shapes and different skin tones -- just like real people. One size and color hardly fits all. Last year's Fashionistas™ line will be further enhanced. So here are some of the variations on the Barbie theme:

  • Original, tall, curvy and petite body shapes, for a total of 4 body styles
  • Several skin tones, for a total of 7
  • A few different eye colors (colours in Britain), for a total of 22 (the BBC says 30, but in any case it's going to be a lot more varied than simply blue or brown)
  • Some new hair styles, for a total of 24
  • New face shapes, for a total of 14

There could be as many as 8 Million possible Barbies -- but only 33 are planned to actual production so far.

The new Barbies are expected to be in showrooms in Spring 2016. (She's probably still going to be banned in Saudi Arabia.) We think that what we wrote in 2006 -- "The trailer-park Barbie with three menial jobs and a dozen kids is not one you’re going to find" -- will continue to be true for a while. But in the fictional world, nothing is certain.

What real people do you think were the models for the three new body types? What do you think they should have chosen? Will you join a Twitter campaign to add more?

Barbie 2015

When we wrote on Barbie, we found only a couple of videos starring her. In 2015 there were more than two dozen videos, such as "Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus," and picture books, too. You might find only one or two videos, but check or Amazon, and it's amazing. We saw Barbie picture books and a few $8-$12 dolls in two New Jersey supermarkets. What stores don't have a Barbie item now? OK, maybe not at Napa Auto Parts stores.


Superman and Batman 2016

In 2016, DC Comics launched a reworking of their storylines, covering anything from Action Comics to Wonder Woman, and the revisions will probably be rolled out over the next several months.  The heroes of this new series seem to be the recognizable ones we're used to, but a good many details may be different. 

After an overall "Rebirth" issue, applicable to their entire universe, each affected hero has a "rebirth" #1 issue as a prologue, then a series of issues with the "R-" word after the hero's name, starting with a second #1.  

(Superman's second venue, Action Comics, seems immune to the numbering chaos -- so far: the "first" issue is #958--got that?)

The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived


News Page last updated July 2, 2017