Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”
The latest round of conversation about women in comics was sparked by Adam P. Knave’s piece bemoaning the lack of women creators in the comics field (which he defines as monthly comics, obviously dominated by superheroes). Adam believes the root cause is that superhero comics have made themselves unattractive to women by portraying women solely as sex objects or targets of abuse. This led Heidi MacDonald to point out that there are plenty of women in the rest of comics, just not at DC and Marvel. And they are doing quite well, too.
Danielle Corsetto, for example. The Girls with Slingshots creator was interviewed by Carl Watkins of Guerilla Geek, and he asked her if she thought it was easier for women to break into webcomics than “traditional” comics. Her answer is revealing:
Yes, although I think it has more to do with the genre than the medium. Most comic books are aimed at boys, are serious, and have a focus on superpowers. Most popular webcomics are character-driven and have to do with the characters’ lifestyles, or observations about science or philosophy, and almost all of them could be clumped into the broad category of “humor.” While I know plenty of women who genuinely love to read about superheroes, I think that, generally, most women prefer to read (and write) about how characters interact with one another, and not how they’re gonna pulverize each other.
So perhaps it’s not just the terrible portrayals of women but also the type of story that’s being told? Saying “women like this, men like that” is a sure way to get yourself called an idiot on the Internet, and certainly there are plenty of women superhero fans, but I can see her point. There’s a coldness to superhero comics that I find off-putting, and they often bore me in the same way battle-action manga do. That sounds like a value judgment, but it isn’t: The people who read Twilight and Vampire Knight are mostly female, so it cuts both ways.
On the other hand, perhaps if more women were writing superhero comics, there would be more superhero comics that women would want to read.
Shaenon Garrity Tweeted yesterday that her webcomic Skin Horse is starting a new story arc, making this an excellent time to jump on board, if you’re not reading it already. Co-written with Jeffrey C. Wells and illustrated by Garrity, Skin Horse is about a ragtag government agency whose mission is to help and protect “nonhuman sapients,” such as robots, zombies and talking centipedes. The staff includes a human, a zombie, a talking dog, and a swarm of bees. As I noted in my review of the first print volume, the comic, done in gag-a-day format, starts with an implausible premise and just keeps piling on until you are helpless with laughter. The new arc is an opportunity to get on board and sample a new story before going deep into the archives.
Bonus content: Garrity and Wells just did a cute gag strip based on Dirk Tiede’s Paradigm Shift, a police procedural with a supernatural plot twist, and another webcomic that’s definitely worth bookmarking.
Politics | Warren Ellis joins the list of creators who want nothing to do with Heavy Ink after Travis Corcoran’s inflammatory remarks. At The Daily Cartoonist, Ted Rall pushes back on the outrage, saying, “If I only bought from companies and individuals whose political beliefs I agreed with, I wouldn’t be buying much.” [Warren Ellis, The Daily Cartoonist]
Conventions | Now there’s even more of Fan Expo Canada to love: The self-proclaimed “largest combined gaming, horror, comic, science fiction and anime event in the country” is expanding from three to four days, Aug. 25-28, 2011. [Convention Scene]
Manga | A Chinese artist named Xiao Bai is this year’s winner of the Japanese government’s International Manga Award. The prizewinning entry, Si loin et si proche (So near and so far), was published in Belgium last year. [Monsters and Critics]
Shaenon Garrity is not just a perceptive commentator on the comics scene, she’s also a comics creator herself. Her Skin Horse has been getting a lot of good reviews, and now she is bringing back one of her earlier webcomics, Li’l Mell, with a new story arc and updates every Wednesday. Garrity writes the strip, and Cameron Nielson will be handling the art.
Shaenon Garrity digs up some of the original Little Lulu comics from the pre-John Stanley days. It turns out that creator Marge Henderson’s vision was a little bit darker and definitely of her time; as Shaenon says,
I admit to being a sucker for 1930s-1940s magazine cartooning, whether it’s the inhuman crispness of Gluyas Williams or the funky scribblings of William Steig–or Marge’s style, which is somewhere in between. I can see why Seth and those guys want to draw like this, but honestly, you can’t fake it with a modern line. It’s about more than men in walrus mustaches and matronly women with triangular noses; you’ve got to capture that understated wit that says, “It’s the Depression, people–we can’t waste a single ounce of comedy. Also, we will be very grey.”