women in comics Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Retailing | Hastings Entertainment, which operates a chain of 149 stores that sells books, comics, video games and more, has announced a $21.4 million agreement to merge with two companies owned by Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association; Weinshanker already holds 12 percent of Hastings’ outstanding shares.
“NECA is a significant supplier of movie, book and video game merchandise and collectibles to the Hastings superstores, and we’ve had a close and growing business relationship with Mr. Weinshanker over the last decade,” John H. Marmaduke, Hastings’ chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Mr. Weinshanker, through his affiliation with the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, and his company’s management of Graceland, is one of the leading drivers of the lifestyle industry, and we believe Hastings’ business will continue to benefit from our relationship with him and NECA.” Marmaduke will retire with a $1.5 million cash payout once the merger is approved. The announcement was followed by press releases from two New York City law firms that say they’re investigating the plan on behalf of Hastings shareholders. [press release]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe admitted Thursday in Tokyo District Court to sending hundreds of threatening letters to bookstores, convenience stores and convention centers associated with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The motive, the 35-year-old man said, was jealousy of Fujimaki’s success; Watanabe reasoned that, “If I somehow managed to harass and depress him, I could drag him into my suicide journey.” Watanabe added that he had been abused by his parents and bullied as a child, and had “homosexual tendencies.” He attempted suicide before he sent the threat letters and would do so again after he was freed, he told the court: “That way, society can rest assured that I won’t do anything stupid again.” [Anime News Network]
Legal | Attorney Marc H. Greenberg revisits the lawsuit brought by musicians Johnny and Edgar Winter against DC Comics over a 1995 storyline in Jonah Hex that portrayed two evil brothers, Johnny and Edgar Autumn. [Print]
Graphic novels | Marvel and DC Comics may dominate the direct market but the bookstore channel is another story: As ICv2 points out, neither publisher landed a title on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the 20 top-selling graphic novels in February. Instead, here’s what it looked like: six volumes of The Walking Dead, six volumes of Attack on Titan, two volumes of Saga, and single volumes of some well-established titles Locke & Key, Bleach, Naruto, Adventure Time and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the adaptation of the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. That makes Image Comics the winner of the month, followed by Kodansha Comics, and the list is heavy on books with tween and teen appeal. [ICv2]
“There’s always room for more; there’s always room for further diversity. Whether it’s more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters — you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you’re not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they’re probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics. It’s tough from a sales perspective, because all of the characters that are still the bedrock, firmament characters tend to be guys that were created in the 1960s if not earlier, at a time when comic books were predominantly, if not exclusively, white. While it’s nice that we’ve made some steps — we have more female-led books than ever before — that doesn’t mean we should stop coming up with them. Just because we have a few books that have Hispanic characters, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for more opportunities to do more there. The same thing is true with every demographic that you can speak to. No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it’s never mission accomplished. It’s always, ‘What’s next?’ There’s always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, discussing the titles introduced as part of the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative
Creators | Frannie Jackson talks with a handful of prominent creator couples — Mike Allred and Laura Allred, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin — about sexism within the comics industry. “I’m occasionally invited to participate in panel discussions about ‘women in comics,’” Coover says. “I’m usually emotionally torn by those invitations, because, yeah, I want women in comics to thrive and be seen as thriving, but I’d much rather be part of a discussion about ‘awesome creators in comics’ that’s stacked with awesome women and men.” [Paste]
Retailing | Andrew Wyrich visits several comics shops in the North Jersey area and finds they rely on a friendly atmosphere and incentive programs to keep customers coming back. “People who buy comics tend to have a $40 weekly budget,” said Len Katz, co-owner of The Joker’s Child in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. “We hear of people who love comics, but eventually just hit a wall with expenses. The key for us is to get customers coming back. The reality is we are not a necessary item; we aren’t milk, bread or cheese.” [The Record]
Sequart, the folks behind Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a film celebrating female comics creators and fans.
Directed by Marisa Stotter, She Makes Comics “intends to emphasize the valuable contributions women have made since the Golden Age of comics,” combining an oral history told by many of the key figures with commentary from industry observers. Production began late last year — interviews have already been shot with the likes of Karen Berger, Joan Hilty, Chris Claremont and Joyce Farmer — but funding is still needed to cover additional travel and interviews, as well as more than 800 hours of editing.
To help reach its $41,500, the campaign is offering some unique incentives, ranging from original art from Jill Thompson and Colleen Doran (they’ll draw you into a page illustrating the history of women in comics) to a script review to a certificate for a custom corset. The campaign ends March 7.
“While we don’t have any market research, the eyes don’t lie. If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.”
– Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, discussing comics’ shifting demographics
Where is the line? When is an image empowering, and when is it too risque? While the case of the contested variant cover of The Powerpuff Girls #6 has a lot of silly aspects, its core speaks to larger issues the comic book industry has been wrestling with of late, and may find itself wrestling with even more. The questions it raises aren’t always easy to answer — as is so often the case, the devil is in the details.
All-ages comics have a larger presence now than they have in decades. Every month, tie-ins to popular kids’ shows and original books suitable for readers are released in high enough numbers that you could open a comic book store that’s just for kids. Many stores have increased their kids sections, and with events like Free Comic Book Day, it’s easier for those shops to prove themselves to parents as a safe place. Meanwhile, awareness of the industry’s female readership has never been higher; in October, digital comics platform comiXology released some startlingly specific data: Its average female reader is “17-26 years old, college-educated, lives in the suburbs, and is new to comics. She prefers Tumblr to Reddit. She may have never even picked up a print comic.” In six years, female readership on comiXology increased from less than 5 percent to 20 percent.
“No one gets to have their cake and eat it too. So I don’t get to talk about the problems with the lack of diversity in both the books we put out and the creators behind them, I don’t get to speak up about that and then not have my gender brought up as an issue as well. … People will often apologize when they ask me about feminist issues in the industry, and it’s tough. I don’t want them to apologize. These are things that need to be discussed. … My husband’s [comics writer Matt Fraction] gender never comes up in an interview. I think it’s a thing that, if we want it to get better, we have to talk about it. It’s on the table whether we like it or not, so let’s go ahead and – if it’s there, let’s sit down and feast.
I’ve been accused of putting forth sort of an agenda in Captain Marvel, which I actually don’t think I’m doing at all. I think I’ve been very true to what the character was created for, the roots of the character that I had nothing to do with. I was 7 years old when that character’s first book came out under Ms. Marvel. I’ve been accused of putting forth an agenda and so on and so forth. There’s a certain part of me that’s just like, ‘If I’m going to take the heat for it, well … let’s do it then. Let’s steer into the curve.’”
– writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, discussing Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel and feminism
Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
MariNaomi’s first-person testimony of being sexually harassed onstage during a convention panel made the rounds of the comics blogsphere Thursday like lightning. Heidi MacDonald wrote about it at The Beat, and shortly afterward veteran writer Scott Lobdell outed himself as the person MariNaomi was talking about and publicly apologized. Usually when Heidi speaks on an issue like this, I don’t have much to add, but what struck me about the incident is that it’s a textbook case of something that happens to women all the time, and that many men, even those of good will, don’t always understand.
Sexual harassment is a difficult topic, and sometimes we tie ourselves up in knots trying to define and discuss it. But in MariNaomi’s account of the panel, it was very clear: Her harasser wasn’t just making some crude sexual jokes, he was ignoring what MariNaomi was saying and drawing attention away from it by focusing on her sexuality as a woman. He was denying everything about her except one aspect, her sexual attractiveness. That’s what sexual harassment is about.
It’s not necessarily about trying to pick up someone; that happens between consenting adults all the time. It’s not about dirty jokes, either. In context, with the right people, those can be fine.
It’s about not regarding women as full, complete people on an equal footing with men. It’s about not listening to what a woman has to say and focusing instead on her physical attributes. Pickup lines and dirty jokes are just the tools a sexual harasser uses to do the real job: belittling the other person.
“It surprised me that outdated norms like those could still persist — especially in the cartooning world, since I think of cartoonists (at least the ones I know!) as exceptionally nice, sensitive people. I suspect there may be big-picture reasons for it — entrenched theories about what the comic book fan market is looking for, or maybe mainstream publishing houses still dominated by people or attitudes from an older era. But it’s hard to imagine that a concerted effort to make the comics world’s female characters more substantive and realistic wouldn’t pay off for male and female readers alike, making for richer, more interesting stories, and ultimately benefiting publishers’ bottom lines.”
— Sage Stossel, talking with Hero Complex about her new graphic novel Starling.
Stossel wrote the story because she was interested in the double-life aspect of being a superhero; her lead character is a working woman who has to deal with real-life problems in addition to fighting crime. After the first draft was done, Stossel, who was not a regular superhero comics reader, started researching other comics to see how her story would fit into the market. “It was at that point that I became keenly aware both of how two-dimensionally, and often demeaningly, women are depicted in many mainstream comics, and also of growing efforts on the part of some fans and creators to reverse those tendencies,” she said. In the graphic novel, Starling chooses a practical uniform, dismissing the other choices with “Who’s your costume designer? A 13-year-old boy?”
Last year, Ryan Estrada came up with a cool idea: a pay-what-you-want Kickstarter. Anyone who pledged at least a dollar received the winter 2013 edition of The Whole Story, a bundle of four digital comics, each of which was a complete story. It went over pretty well, blasting right past its initial goal of $2,500 to a total of more than $40,000 — including 750 backers at that $1 or more level. (Estrada, being no fool, did add some enticements to pledge at higher levels.)
Now he’s back with another Kickstarter with an even cooler concept: Broken Telephone, a series of 18 independent yet interconnected comics. Here, let’s let Estrada explain:
“There was a very fine line to walk, though. To create a book that Comic Book Guy could enjoy because wa-hey, boobies and gore … but that also as a female writer (and a feminist) I could be OK with. Most people won’t notice that the gaze in the book towards the female characters is not predatory — the women are complicit, and in fact usually in charge. It’s a gossamer thing, this manipulation of gaze, this slight change, this look awry — but it makes a huge difference to how the book feels when you read it. The book makes people really happy. And, you know, for the horror crowd, the little changes in having a woman write it so some of the invasive, penetrative horror happens to men — well, it makes for more effective and unexpected horror.”
– writer Alex de Campi, talking with ThinkProgress about her new series Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, a gleefully trashy exploitation comic the describes “straight-up tits and gore, the way nature (and Russ Meyer) intended.”
Nonetheless, De Campi, whose work ranges from the action thriller Ashes to the all-ages Kat and Mouse and My Little Pony, approaches her work in a thoughtful way. In the same interview, she discusses how changing the point of view of a rape scene radically alters it. De Campi’s work illustrates the point that bringing diversity into comics can greatly improve the stories, by introducing fresh and original perspectives — and even surprising the reader.
Conventions | Brian Howe looks at the rivalry between Comic Book City Con, which debuted two weekends ago in Greensboro, North Carolina, and NC Comicon, which returns Saturday in Durham. The latter, which is now co-owned by artist Tommy Lee Edwards, drew 4,000 attendees last year (its first at the Durham Convention Center), and this year doubled its exhibit space and ramped up its programming. The conflict, which manifested in a flier for Comic Book City Con that one party considers playful but the other calls “bullying,” seems to be rooted in the proximity of the dates and a perceived lack of communication. However, it’s not simply a rivalry between nearby conventions; it’s one between retailers: Durham’s Ultimate Comics organizes NC Comicon, while Greensboro’s Acme Comics operates Comic Book City Con. [Indy Week]