Robot 6

1975 called, and it wants its sexist author profile back

Isabel Greenberg Encyclopedia of Early EarthPerhaps you’ve heard of Isabel Greenberg: She’s a young (age 25) creator whose first full-length graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, is out this week. Her fellow creators have lots of good things to say about her and her work. She’s off to a good start, and frankly, she deserves better than this condescending profile in the U.K. newspaper Metro:

Isabel Greenberg is the new face of comics. Not just because one look at this petite, pretty blonde confounds the lingering cliché that comics are created by spotty adult males in unwashed Spider-Man T-shirts.

Right there, in the very first paragraph, the writer manages to belittle her subject, insult male creators by calling them pimply and dirty, and insult female creators by acting like they don’t exist. That’s quite a hat trick!

I blame the editor for this, first for assigning the story to someone who obviously knows nothing about comics and then for letting her get away with that introduction and the purple prose that follows. Calling Greenberg a “petite, pretty blonde” is not only sexist, it’s also lazy writing. That sort of thing was common in the 1970s, when every article about a woman had to include a description of her looks and what she was wearing. I thought we had moved on by now, but apparently Metro hasn’t received the memo; I doubt they’d let a writer get away with describing Craig Thompson as “tall, dark and handsome.”

Greenberg herself comes across as intelligent and perceptive, which is why it’s especially painful to read this:

‘I’m super-excited,’ she lights up, perched on the edge of her seat as if poised to flit around the room like Tinkerbell.

Reaction on Twitter was swift and severe. “Shame about the condescension because it is a cracking book,” wrote Jared of OK Comics. Daniel Carpenter called it “Completely insulting to comic creators and fans alike.” And Marc Ellerby really nailed it:

It’s a shame that The Metro thought it would be more interesting to write about how Isabel Greenberg stirs her coffee than her actual work.

Greenberg is a talented creator who deserves better. Her short story Love in a Very Cold Climate won the 2011 Observer Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Prize, and she is on the shortlist for this year’s British Comics Awards in the Emerging Talent category. She has also spoken perceptively in interviews with Paul Gravett and Rob Fred Parker, neither of whom found it necessary to discuss her appearance or coffee-stirring style. Just the fact that so many of her fellow creators took to Twitter to decry the article shows the respect she has already earned within the creative community. This is what comics is all about — creators supporting creators and encouraging new talent, not manic pixie girls defying lazy stereotypes.

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Comments

14 Comments

Can 1975 take the soft-core “Male Gamers Only” ads too?

@Rob M

lmao

Well obviously, the interviewer from the Metro HAD to discuss her looks and coffee-stirring skills. She’s a woman…it’s not like she could actually accomplish something!

Oi vey. Can this just not be real and they pull back and have a real interview?

Sadly, 2013 hasn’t stopped doing this. Think about how often profiles of women, be they authors or CEOs or Secretaries of State, include some condescending remark about hair or clothing. The double standard is widespread.

I’m surprised the lazy writer didn’t throw in the ubiquitous “biff bam pow” crap that most journalist feel the need to add to any comic book story. Like that hasn’t gotten old. And I picture this British “journalist” looking just like the stuffy brits with the big jaws on Family Guy.

Not to defend it, but Metro is a free newspaper. So if you’re looking for insightful, thought provoking articles you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s basically toilet paper with some writing on it.

Are we still trying to ignore the stereotype that people have of us comic collectors/creators? It is not sexist to point out that Mrs. Greenberg breaks the mold of stereotypes. Now, the author of the article should have focused on her work more than her giggles, but that is just sloppy journalism (not misogyny). They do this with Obama – getting excited about what he does rather than his work.

I honestly had never even noticed until my wife pointed it out in article about Hillary Clinton in 2008 but so many writers still spend a disproportionate amount of time describing the appearance of their female subjects. In the Clinton article the journalist spent a whole paragraph describing what she was wearing before even getting to her politics. It’s a very old school mentality, and interesting to see it still pop up from time to time like this.

Wait…you mean someone in the entertainment industry was judged, in part, by their looks?

Getdafuckouddahere!

I live close to London. I often pick up the Metro as it is a free newspaper distributed on the London underground system. I have never read a review in it where the reviewer had the slightest idea about the thing they were reviewing be it a comic, video game, ballet, TV or music all reviewed with the same level of ignorance. This comes as little surprise.

There’s nothing sexist about this. Does the author even know what that word means?

I am so glad this type of offensive and down right idiotic “journalism” is being treat as it should be. With immediate scorn and education. I find this archaic perspective to be both seriously annoying and a clear sign of how far comics have come and journalism has fallen.

What is also a clear sign of how far we have to go is that add. So glad the first comment rightly pointed that out. Not to take anything away from Robot 6 (who has little to do with it, I would guess).

@ Rob. You’re spot on. I pick the Metro up whenever I can because my son loves the Nemi comic strip but the rest of the paper is pretty much awful.

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