women and comics
For quite some time, a jerk on Twitter has been harassing females int he comics community, from Kelly Sue DeConnick to Jill Pantozzi. He uses various Twitter handles like @MisterE2009 and @JonVeee to post some very vulgar, nasty, threatening, over-the-top stuff.
I should warn you that his Twitter pages are not safe for work (NSFW), both in terms of what he’s posted and the images he has displayed; if you’re curious to see some of his tweets, Bleeding Cool has rounded up a bunch of them. Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass has said she’s been harassed by this guy for a couple of years now. “He’s been harassing women for two years using male and female names. I have them all and if anyone wants the list I have it.”
So I’m asking you guys a favour. I’ve managed to secure this guy’s name and address, but he’s stateside and I’m unsure what the next step should be. In the UK, he would be charged by the police under the Malicious Communications act, but we have a lot of smart cookies on here and I know there’s several US attorneys who post here regularly. If we have his details and copies of his communication, how can he be prosecuted? If any of the pros who have been attacked here would like to make a case against him I’ll personally cover the legal costs. Twitter, I would imagine, can confirm his IP address if the artists make a formal complaint to the police.
What if Brave and The Hunger Games are the top grossing movies this year? Will girl-lead adventure movies become less like unicorns? Maybe we’ll actually get that one female-lead superhero movie? HAHAHAHAHA. Oh, I kill me.
Do you think that the time is ripe for a superhero movie starring a woman? Are we over Elektra and Catwoman enough that Hollywood could consider Black Widow or – finally – Wonder Woman? If female-led films become extremely profitable, what other female superheroes are ready for the big screen?
Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]
Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]
• Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass lists 2011’s 10 best issues of DC Comics for female characters, highlighting issues of Secret Six, the pre-relaunch Batgirl and post-relaunch Wonder Woman: “…Enter Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. From the first pages it was clear this run was going to be different. Stunning art and an unforgivingly aggressive storyline unafraid to shake up the status quo made Wonder Woman one of the two top selling female led books of the new 52 and a top 20 comic for the first time in years. Wonder Woman is back on top and all is right with the world.”
• ComicsAlliance compiles their complete best of 2011 list, which includes Atomic Robo, Criminal: Last of the Innocent and Batman: The Black Mirror.
• Josh and Elizabeth from Things From Another World count down their favorite comics of the year in video form.
• Ed Sizemore lists his top manga of the year, including Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and Wandering Son.
• Kelly Thompson at Comics Should Be Good! shares her bests, and a few worsts, of 2011. Her bests include Princeless, Detective Comics and Uncanny X-Force.
• Ben Morse posts a gift-getting guide, or a “helpful guide to some of the good stuff that came out in the 12 months prior either already or soon to be available in collected form that you can use to divest yourselves of those newly acquired gift cards or wads of cash.”
• read/RANT list their 10 best of the year, including Paying For It and Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man.
• And finally, the year in Squirrel Girl.
With only a couple days left in 2011, here are a few more “best of 2011″ lists from the past few days:
• iFanboy has chosen DC Comics as their publisher of the year. They’ve also listed their best collections of the year, including Infinite Kung Fu, Mr. Murder is Dead, Bone 20th Anniversary Full Color Edition and the Walt Simonson Thor Omnibus.
• ComicsAlliance finished up their countdown of their top comics of the year, with Daredevil and Love and Rockets New Stories Volume 4 taking the top two positions.
• The A.V. Club has posted two separate lists–one focused on superhero and mainstream comics, the second on “graphic novels and art comics.” The mainstream list includes a separate “Best of” section that includes categories like best new characters, best one-shot and “best fix.”
• Kelly Thompson lists 13 “fantastic female creators” for 2011 on Jezebel, which is a companion piece to previous lists she’s done (i.e. no repeats). This year’s list includes Marjorie Liu, Carla Speed McNeil, Renae De Liz and Kelly Sue DeConnick, among others.
Legal | Cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was arrested last month while covering Occupy Oakland, says she has been cleared of all charges by the Oakland Police Department. The Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to the Oakland police condemning the arrest, which ultimately assisted in getting the charges dropped. The letter called out the department’s crowd management policy, which says, “Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made, unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.” [Fishbowl LA]
Conventions | San Diego City Council approved a plan to have San Diego hotels pay for a $520 million convention center expansion. The plan moves to a second hearing in January and requires a vote of two-thirds of the hotels that cast ballots for approval. [NBC San Diego]
Womanthology, the charity anthology of comics by female creators that’s using Kickstarter to raise money for publishing expenses, crossed the finish line just 18-and-a-half hours into their fundraising efforts. The crew behind the anthology raised $25,000 in less than a day, and as of this morning they’re raised more than double that — currently their total is at $51,844, but I’m sure it’ll go up even more before I post this.
“WOW! I am amazed, grateful, shocked, awed, astounded, baffled, flabbergasted and a whole fistful of other emotions!” wrote Renae De Liz, who organized the project, in an update on Kickstarter. “I mean, I had high hopes that we would make our goal, I had confidence in our book & all of our contributors and their abilities to help make this happen, but this completely blew me away at how it seemed the whole world came together to help! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!”
De Liz says she will use the extra money to fund a larger print run for the current book and fund a second book that “that will include both men and women, and promote more opportunities for people to be published and work with their favorite creators.”
You can still donate to the project and qualify for some of the rewards; head over to Kickstarter to check it out.
My son is 10 and a romantic, as all 10-year-olds surely have the right to be. How then do I speak to him of this world’s masterminds who render you a supporting actor in your own story? How do I speak of the Sentinels whose eyes melt history, until the world forgets that in 1962, the quintessential mutants of America were black?
—from a New York Times op-ed piece on Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class by Atlantic contributor Ta-Nehisi Coates. In the piece, Coates praises the film as “the most thrilling movie of the summer…narratively lean, beautifully acted and, at all the right moments, visually stunning” — and at the same time finds the makeup of the film’s mutant heroes and anti-heroes an unintentionally revealing glimpse into the American psyche. “Here is a period piece for our postracial times — in the era of Ella Baker and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most powerful adversaries of spectacular apartheid are a team of enlightened white dudes.”
Coates elaborates on both points, and more besides, on his blog. “It is easily one of my top five comic book movies ever, and significantly better than any of the other X-movies to date,” he writes, even after comparing it unfavorably to the racially homogeneous but racially aware Mad Men and calling it “a period piece blind to its own period.” He also offers a quick take on the pros and cons of the film’s treatment of women, a point examined in depth by The Mary Sue’s Susana Polo.
Elsewhere on the “sociopolitical examinations of the latest X-movie” beat, ThinkProgress’ Matthew Yglesias agrees with a point of Polo’s and argues (twice) that Magneto’s out-and-proud Brotherhood of Mutants has a far more appealing message than Xavier’s accommodationist group; Ezra Klein disagrees, pointing out that Magneto’s agenda is a supremacist one, and wondering if the real dividing line between rival mutant camps would be one between those who could profit monetarily from their abilities (eg. Storm selling her rainmaking services to agribusiness conglomerates and drought-stricken nations) and those who couldn’t; and Adam Serwer connects the film with Avatar‘s enlightened-colonizer-goes-native storyline as “another example of the way the quest for racial innocence so permeates American culture that it’s almost unrecognizable.”
Let me start by saying that I am supremely unqualified to speak about what women or girls want from superhero comics. In this respect I am probably pretty similar to former DC publisher Paul Levitz, who (as you might have heard) told the Comics Journal:
I think the whole myth of superheroes is that they simply aren’t appealing to women as they are to men. I’d like to think I had a pretty good track record on that myself as a writer, as the Legion historically had a pretty good number of female readers, Chris Claremont on his years on the X-Men had a tremendous number of female readers, and there may be any number of other superhero titles that had a fair balance. But overall it would surprise me at any point if you started to have a title that was both a traditional superhero and a majority female audience.
What strikes me about Mr. Levitz’s comments (not just those but others in the article) is the apparent indifference they betray to the prospect of a big female readership. He seems to suggest that while he wouldn’t turn one down, it’s not something DC has particularly pursued. Many more men than women read superhero comics, so DC has focused more on the guys. Even when Sandman appeals to women, that ends up proving his point, because Sandman and Vertigo aren’t superheroes.
Again, at this point I am neither well-equipped nor especially interested in evaluating Mr. Levitz’s arguments. Nevertheless, the attitude that “we don’t need to go this way because it’s never panned out before” sounds rather short-sighted. In the current publishing climate, DC simply can’t afford to ignore women and girls. It needs all the readers it can get.
With all that in mind, I’d now like to talk about Mary Marvel.
At Publishers Weekly, Jennifer de Guzman tells one of those creeps-in-a-comics-store stories that are familiar to so many of us female types, and she wonders why, in this day and age, so many women still feel uncomfortable in comics stores.
I have had a few of those experiences myself—in fact, I quit buying comics in 1986 because I was fed up with the way I was treated in my local comics store, and I didn’t go back for almost 20 years. But I also know it doesn’t have to be that way—I am fortunate to live close to two excellent, and very female-friendly, comics stores, Comicopia and Hub Comics, both of which come close to the ideal I sketch out below. So I’m not here to complain.
No, I’m here to dream. It’s one thing to have a comics store where women feel welcome; it’s another to design one with them in mind. Well, OK, maybe just with me in mind, but I’m guessing I’m fairly typical. Here’s what my ideal woman-friendly comics store would be like:
A clean, well-lighted place: You can tell most comics stores (and liquor stores, for that matter) are guy hangouts by the utter lack of comfort. Fluorescent lights, wire shelves, grey indoor-outdoor carpet, cinderblock walls. We women like things nice: Real wallboard on the walls, natural light, eye-pleasing colors, somewhere to sit. Maybe even a plant or two. And…
Comics publishers often think they know what girls like, but once we get out of Disney Princess territory, it’s harder than it looks. DC had a good try with their Minx line, but they made a lot of missteps; they totally ignored the popularity of manga and produced a first round of books that were like the graphic novel equivalents of Afterschool Specials. They got better, but by then it was too late. It’s very, very hard to connect with teenagers.
Rather than sit in a air-conditioned office and think about it, creator Hope Larson (Chiggers, Mercury) did something original: She asked the girls what they like—actually, she polled 198 women who reported having read comics in their teens and tweens.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the way online discussions usually go on this topic, superheroes emerged as the favorite genre, although manga was a close second (yes, I know manga is a medium not a genre, but I didn’t write the survey). X-Men was the most popular series, followed by Sandman, Batman, Rumiko Takahashi’s manga (Ranma ½, Inu Yasha), Spiderman, Sailor Moon, and comics by Alan Moore and CLAMP. And this:
On Friday, DC released the “Brightest Day” solicitations for August, revealing the return of an old Green Lantern character. “BRIGHTEST DAY continues as what readers have been asking for finally arrives: a male Star Sapphire in the form of the Predator,” reads the solicitation text for Green Lantern #57. “But how is this entity unlike the others? And what does it want with Carol Ferris? Meanwhile, the White Lantern is defended by an unlikely hero …”
Debuting in 1984, I believe, the Predator was a manifestation of Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire’s subconscious. I’m not sure if those stories are still part of DC’s continuity, but that character looked like the one in the image above, at any rate (read more about him here).
Current Green Lantern readers, however, probably know the name “The Predator” as the sentient embodiment of love, the Star Sapphire’s equivalent of Parallax, the bug-looking creature that’s the embodiment of fear, or Ion, the giant fish/whale thing that’s the manifestation of willpower. Both have been known to take a host from time to time, as we saw when Kyle Rayner became Ion and, more notoriously, when Jordan was possessed by Parallax. Based on the solicitation text, I’m guessing the “unlike any others” part refers to the fact that the Predator is also the host of the love entity … kind of a mash-up, I’m guessing, of the two concepts.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Flashlight Worthy blog asked ten bloggers (male and female) to nominate their favorite comics by and about women. The range and quality of the list is a reminder that talent knows no gender—or genre: the nominations include Jessica Abel’s La Perdida, Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting, Alison Bechdel’s The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, and Fumi Yoshinaga’s All My Darling Daughters.
If you’re reading this column, you’re probably hip enough to know that all manga does not feature big, sparkly eyes, but in case you missed that memot, Paul Gravett has an explanation and lists six worthy series that don’t have a sparkly eye in the bunch.
Sean Gordon Murphy sets snobbery aside to look at the good points of house styles.
Suzette Chan explains how Faith Erin Hicks tweaks the tropes of boarding-school stories in The War at Ellesmere.
Kate Dacey mulls over the dilemma of being a feminist and a yaoi fan in her review of Hinako Takanaga’s Little Butterfly.
Carlo Santos takes the second volume of Alice in the Country of Hearts as seriously as anybody is going to, and he does some nice analysis of how the book relates to its inspiration, Alice in Wonderland.
According to blogger Erin Polgreen, the answer is yes. Making the case at (of all places) Spencer Ackerman’s national-security blog at the progressive website FireDogLake, Polgreen alleges that in books ranging from Superman: Red Son to Wanted to Kick-Ass, Millar portrays even strong female characters like Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and Hit Girl as inveterate second bananas to their books’ male protagonists. She also gets some shots in at what she sees as the dubious racial politics at play in Wanted and Kick-Ass, where the ethnicity of various non-white minor characters is played as a punchline.
It’s interesting to see an argument against Millar’s treatment of “minority” groups (women are, of course, the majority, but you wouldn’t know it from comics) hinging on something as comparatively innocuous as his female heroes not proving as heroic as his male ones, given the far more violent and ignominious fates he frequently doles out to his characters. For example, if I were in one of his comics, I’d take out a big fat life insurance policy on any gay and/or black people I knew in-universe the second he came aboard. And with regards to women specifically, you’d think the treatment of rape in books like Wanted and Ultimate Comics Avengers would have at least raised Polgreen’s eyebrows, if not her ire. But hey, we report, you decide.
As you can see in the comments section for my original post, there’s been a mixed reaction to the project, particularly because of its title. You can also find even more commentary on it over in The Beat’s comment section, where they story broke.
So where exactly did that title come from? Well, as Douglas Wolk pointed out in the Beat comments section, it seems to stem from an old Atlas comic that was published from 1949-1952 (before its name was changed to the even more unfortunate Girl Confessions). Atlas, of course, is the company that eventually evolved into Marvel Comics and also published Strange Tales — which you may recognize as the name of another recent Marvel anthology. So there’s some symmetry there, and you have to wonder if they’ll be using any other old Atlas titles in the future (I vote for Bible Tales for Young Folk; you can find a complete list of titles Atlas published on Wikipedia).