Robot 6

Quote of the day | ‘Last year was not banner for the ladies’

“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.

To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.'”

Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”

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Comments

33 Comments

It’s a great piece and well worth reading all the way through.

I remember that last year, as part of ComicsAlliance’s series following the less-than-stellar depiction of women in the New 52, they interviewed him and some other creators and he made a similar “I don’t write good female characters, I write good characters and some of them happen to be female” comment. Unfortunately I think a lot of people misconstrued that to mean he doesn’t believe there’s a problem with sexism in DC/Marvel superhero books. I think this piece makes it clear that no, he absolutely believes there’s a problem with sexism, but that the solution is the same as with any other kind of ignorance — you educate yourself on the subject you’re writing about.

I miss Rucka at DC.

The comic companies put out books that people want to buy featuring characters people want to read about. If they do not do this they go out of business. I know this concept seems ingenious in its simplicity on the surface, and yet I am forced to ask why Greg Rucka and so many other creators and bloggers aim their rage at the companies over this issue when it is clearly the readers’ fault for not buying female books/characters.

Oh please. Just another example of pointing out the few cases and ignoring the multiple times women ARE on the page. Are in the creative field. Are putting out work. And – are happy about it! Get over yourselves.

This quote applies only if you are looking just at the “superhero mainstream” — elsewhere it WAS a banner year for female creators.

Mentioning ‘the multiple times women ARE on the page’ IS ‘pointing out the few cases’.

Sell It Like It Is

May 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

and thus, these comments prove out what Rucka said

Stephen Coughlin

May 23, 2012 at 10:15 am

The only thing I saw that seemed like a step back for women was the issue of the oversexualization of Starfire on Teen Titans. You could counterbalance that though with the success of Womanthology and it’s praise of female creators/artists. Long overdue.

It was a banner year for women in fact. They had their own comic book special projects celebrating women creators (which without any sense of irony fought sexism by being sexist and excluding men in the name of tolerance), the issue was front and centre over and over throughout the year, and contrary to the misinformation spread around about DC not including female creators in September 2011, facts proved that female creatorss and characters have been very invovled in the new 52.

I don’t blame the readers. Readers want a good story and don’t care who does it. Noboday that saw the Avengers movie inquired into the gender ratio in the FX department at the studio that made the film. They just wanted a cracking good movie.

I don’t blame the companies either. It is in their interest to put out the best product possible and to be inclusive. Am I to believe the same companies that routinely employ men from various diverse backgrounds (with Marvel EIC Quesada himself being from a minority background) and whos efastest growing audience is female are hostile to incuding women? Not plausible. More likely is that there are only so many positions available and the overwhelming number of candidates tend to be men. Not to mention that in this economy it’s pretty hard for young talent to get any jobs anywhere since the boomers and their successors are clinging to the jobs they have for dear life. This is not the best time to break into most industries.

If anything I blame the women creators for not being as good as the men. Name me a single current or past top 10 book that is/was written or drawn by a woman. Which gender put out Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Maus, 100 Bullets, Sandman, Preacher, etc? No woman has produced what is considered a seminal run on any major mainstream title that I can think of. Sorry to speak the cold hard truth but the evidence is that the average woman in this industry is not as good as the average man, and there are no superstar women creators at all. Gail Simone has had possibly the most success of any female writer with Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and neither of those books exactly set the sales charts on fire. I love Amanda Conner’s artwork but again she hasn’t illustrated anything that’s been a commercial hit.

I see no evidence of any concerted effort to keep women down. Quite the opposite, it is in the companies’ interests to have a talent pool that reflects its audience. The simple fact is that for every women who wants to be in the comics industry, there are probably 10-15 guys who want that too. It’s like engineering for men or nursing for women. There’s little evidence that either gender is being kept out of the industry, boys and girls happen to have different interests in these cases. You can’t legislate cultural preferences and choices away unless they’re criminal.

Sell It Like It Is

May 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

@Stephen

Guess you missed Catwoman. Pure T&A and overt sexual content purely to be salacious and perhaps sell books.

And no, it was not “empowering” – it was sensationalism for the sake of sales

>>>No woman has produced what is considered a seminal run on any major mainstream title that I can think of.

Ramona Fradon? Sara Pichelli? Louise Simonson? Gail Simone? Anne Nocenti? Jill Thompson? Pia Guerra?

Go **** yourself.

Heidi you just proved my point. What have these women done that was successful or noteworthy. Go educate yourself. And learn how to debate without the juvenile potty mouth.

@Jeff

Nocenti produced the 2nd best run in Daredevil history. Is that noteworthy?

Heidi you just proved my point. What have these women done that was successful or noteworthy. Go educate yourself. And learn how to debate without the juvenile potty mouth.

LOL. Is this comment serious?

Louise Simonson alone probably contributed more to the X-men universe in a single year of the 80’s than any writer in the last 20 years except for Chris Claremont himself. She co-created Apocalypse, who appears in tons of X-men cartoons and videogames. She co-created Power Pack. She wrote one of Superman’s books for years, including being one of the collaborators on the Death of Superman. She co-created Steel and he got a movie…a crappy movie, granted, but most comics writers can’t say they had a character translated to a major motion picture.

It was you who needed the education, brohan, and I just started giving you one.

Heidi you just proved my point. What have these women done that was successful or noteworthy. Go educate yourself. And learn how to debate without the juvenile potty mouth.

Speaking of juvenile, were you born to Mr. and Mrs. 14? And they gave you the middle name “underscore,” spelled” _”…?

And speaking of educating yourself, Simonson and Nocenti were covered above. Jill Thompson drew large chunks of Sandman (in addition to writing and drawing Sandman spin-offs, in addition to all the great work she’s done elsewhere), and Pia Guerra co-created and drew Y: The Last Man…or do those not count as successful or noteworthy, because you’ve never heard of them…? (And how have you managed to never hear of Sandman or Y: The Last Man…? I’m pretty sure CBR has mentioned them in the past).

Pichelli has drawn Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, and was the first artist to draw Miles Morales (which she will do again in the upcoming Spider-Men event series). SURELY you’ve heard of that, right?

And you do realize one of the four people who made The Dark Knight Returns was, in fact, a woman, right?

Jeff: Persepolis and One! Hundred! Demons! are classics, too (just not superhero classics). And I think Karen Berger’s involvement in and facilitation of many of the comics you mentioned really strikes a blow to your argument.

That said, you make a good point of aspiring professionals being mostly male. I assume this is a reflection of the demographics of superhero comic fans.

@Jeff
You crossed the line, pal. I don’t tolerate that. Never make something like that again–THAT’S AN ORDER.

@Heidi
Stand down, soldier. THAT’S AN ORDER. Next time, prove yourself the better person and don’t respond to comments like that. Cold shoulder’em.

Very good examples indeed. The fact that so many of you keep repeating the same ones over and over does back up the math in my argument though. You have but a handful of examples, and none that are in the league of Moore, Claremont, Miller, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, Millar, etc. I have never heard anyone say they can’t wait to get the next Nocenti book. I was curious to see what the best examples would be and if that’s all you have then my point stands. Who of those people has had a book crack the top 50 other than Pichelli (and let’s face it, that book is not in the top 10 for the art – the words Bendis and Morales are responsible for that)?

And the 14 in ny handle refers to my lucky number. If you’re so desperate to flame someone that that’s your best shot you’re really in need of some education. Pathetic

Oh, come on, Jeff, your point (such that it is) doesn’t stand — it changes. Your original comment was:

“No woman has produced what is considered a seminal run on any major mainstream title that I can think of. Sorry to speak the cold hard truth but the evidence is that the average woman in this industry is not as good as the average man, and there are no superstar women creators at all.”

Heidi rattled off a handful of names, to which you responded, “What have these women done that was successful or noteworthy?” The subsequent commenters merely answered your question by elaborating on those creators whose contributions you were apparently ignorant of. For you to now assert that, “The fact that so many of you keep repeating the same ones over and over does back up the math in my argument though” makes you either disingenuous or incredibly obtuse.

You demand, “Name me a single current or past top 10 book that is/was written or drawn by a woman,” and when presented with (for example) Sara Pichelli, you pivot to “Who of those people has had a book crack the top 50 other than Pichelli (and let’s face it, that book is not in the top 10 for the art – the words Bendis and Morales are responsible for that)?”

I’d dare say that The Sandman, Daredevil, X-Factor and Adventure Comics were all Top 50 titles when Thompson, Nocenti, Simonson and Fradon worked on them. And of course Ultimate Comics Spider-Man has already been established (although not, apparently, to your satisfaction).

Clearly there’s no arguing with you, so it’s probably best that you be considered a troll and treated accordingly.

I will grant that women have made a mark in running the comic book industry. Karen Berger and Jeanette Khan being prime examples. That job description is a little different than actually being a creative force on a comic book though. Creative/artistic types in most fields throughout time have been overwhelmingly male: musicians, poets, authors, sculptors, painters, hell even chefs. And this in situations where the audiences for these works have been much more gender balanced than the audience for comics and so you would expect there would be more aspiring female artists, yet that is not the case. As with comics anybody’s short list of the greatest fim score composers would probably not have a single woman on it. Nobody goes into fits about why most of the fim score composers are male.

The only relevant argument for this industry, as with any other industry, is whether or not women have an equal opportunity to participate. I have seen no evidence that women are being denied the opportunity. However equality of opportunity does not guarantee equality of results. For whatever reason women do not gravitate towards comic book creatordom the way they do to teaching, nursing, law, social work, etc. Whereas men do. And just because many more men than women are interested in comics than women does not mean it was not a banner year for women.

Look, you challenged everyone here to name top female creators and top 10 books by female creators. Everyone made you look stupid by giving you a laundry list of both and now you’re rambling about unrelated stuff no one was talking about in a desperate attempt to save face.

You should have just not come back, but I fully expect you to wait until this post is buried and then come back to make one last post so you can convince yourself you got the last word.

Thank god Jeff is here to explain this in the dumbest possible way, this was almost a meaningful discussion!

Jeff, it’s attitudes like yours that are the problem. Why do you say many more men than women are interested in comics? I have had conversations with many women about the fact they don’t read comics precisely because of the way they portray women, overly sexualised for straight male readers.

Can’t you see that the fact that the fact that female writers, while being just as talented as male writers based on the evidence given by other posters, aren’t as well known is a result of sexism?

I love the Joss Whedon quote on this subject (and it’s well worth looking up his full Equality Now award acceptence speech): he is repeatedly asked ‘Why do you write these strong female characters?’ His answer is ‘because you people KEEP ASKING THAT QUESTION’.

mikerattlesnake

May 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

Of course there’s no problem with sexism in the comics industry. You know how I know? Because women are vastly outnumbered by men in the industry (clearly women are inferior), women who do quality work on classic titles can’t sell as many books as men (clearly women are inferior), and women are being portrayed as ojects for men AS A BUSINESS DECISION (what are you women too dumb to understand BUSINESS? geez). See NO SEXISM. QED.

@unitled

So women pick up a comic, see sexism in it, and swear off reading comics. I find that hard to believe

More likely, women just have little interest in seeing Hulk punch Bad Guy #5 in the mouth every month

I think Jeff is a troll…in fact maybe he’s the same troll who always pops up in these arguments and gets everyone all hot and bothered and then calls women obscenities and then gets banned or something.

If he’s not that guy he’s another like him.

So let’s all stand down?

@Heidi

THAT’S more like it. Follow her lead, nothin’ more to see here, people, keep ‘er movin’….

Well, not exactly. He raises some valid points as well. But, I’ve come to never expect a meaningful, well-rounded discussion on the Internet

@Demon Dogs!

Actually, they never get as far as picking up the comic. Seeing the front covers as they walk past the local comic shop is usually enough, as well as the leers and patronisation they often get from staff/customers.

I hear you.

But I think the subject matter in the comics (as well as the girls-in-spandex aspect) has something to do with low female readership

I would be curious to know how many girls read Betty and Veronica – and do they just quit comics when they outgrow Archie

@Demon Dogs!

I’m not about to claim knowledge about comics (I got here from Skepchick.com) but the main reason I don’t read them is in fact because of scantily clad, ridiculous portrayals of women. I actually did read Betty and Veronica when I was a kid, (I didn’t actually like it much, I didn’t get why they were so into Archie) and I’ve read Watchmen, as well as Persepolis and some other stuff, and I’d like to get into comics further, but I don’t want to read anything with a shit ton of over-sexualized women in it. I get enough of that from music videos, commercials, magazines…. -.-

Actually, I’d love some suggestions of where to start, if you don’t mind me derailing the convo a bit :)

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