Strong Talks Merging "Super-Cute" with "Super-Psycho" for "Arkham Knight's" Harley Quinn
Video Games, Comic Books, TV, Film
Chris Sims, announced last week as the writer of Marvel’s X-Men ’92 digital-first series, publicly apologized Tuesday to Valerie D’Orazio after the blogger and former DC Comics editor called him out for years-old online harassment.
“I was wrong, and in every way the bad guy,” he acknowledged on his personal blog.
D’Orazio, a writer who rose to online prominence in late 2006 with “Goodbye to Comics,” a memoir that shone a harsh light on comics culture and her experiences as an assistant editor at DC, took to Twitter early Tuesday to criticize both Marvel and Sims. “Because of the actions of this person — who is now writing the X-Men for Marvel Comics — I have been diagnosed with PTSD from cyberbulling [sic],” she tweeted.
In a subsequent blog post, D’Orazio stated she was bullied online between 2007 and 2010, and claims Sims “ring-led the harassment” against her at the time of the March 2010 release of her Punisher MAX: Butterfly one-shot.
Eleven-year-old Rowan Hansen attracted a lot of attention online last month for her letter asking DC Entertainment to “please do something” about the lack of comics, movies and toys featuring female superheroes. The publisher responded, tweeting, “We agree, we’re working hard to create more superhero fun for girls!.”
However, DC didn’t leave it at that.
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
Eleven-year-old Rowan has the same complaint that a lot of fans do — that there simply aren’t enough comics, movies and toys featuring female superheroes. So she wrote a letter to DC Comics, saying, “Please do something about this. Girls read comics too and they care.”
Today, DC answered.
The letter, posted Wednesday this week on the blog of family friend David M. Perry, garnered a lot of attention on Twitter. “I love superheroes and have been reading comics and watching superhero cartoons and movies since I was very young,” Rowan writes. “I’m a girl, and I’m upset because there aren’t very many girl superheroes or movies and comics from DC.”
The goes on to point out the disparity between the number of toys based on male heroes and those based on female heroes, not to mention the lack of a Wonder Woman television series. “Marvel Comics made a movie about a talking tree and raccoon awesome,” she notes, “but you haven’t made a movie with Wonder Woman.”
Creators | Garry Trudeau has some straight talk for those who criticized him for basing Sunday’s Doonesbury on the controversial Rolling Stone expose of the University of Virginia’s handling of rape cases — or thought maybe the strip was submitted before a number of commentators cast doubt on the lead anecdote in that article. The cartoonist insists that’s not the point: “We had some internal discussion about whether the flaws in the [Rolling Stone] reporting mattered here, and we concluded they didn’t. UVA is only used as setup to get the reader to consider the larger problem of institutions prioritizing their reputations over the welfare of those they’re charged with safeguarding.” [Comic Riffs]
The winners of the third annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. Two of the four awards went to titles published by Image Comics; all four of the winning works are readily available in the United States. Here are the winners:
Best Comic: The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
Best Book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)
Young People’s Comic Award: Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
Emerging Talent: Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and “Shadows” from the In The Dark anthology (IDW Publishing)
Hall of Fame: Posy Simmonds
Two years ago, when the first awards were announced, there was some discussion about the gender balance of both the committee that chose the books and the nominations themselves. Last year’s awards all went to men. This year, there were more women on the committee and more women on the shortlist, and the awards were split, with Simmonds giving the women the edge.
Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]
Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]
Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
Cosplay | Visiting New York Comic Con, Andrea Romano takes a look at the world of cosplay, the issue of sexual harassment — one person notes it’s certainly not exclusive to cosplay, observing, “There’s harassment when a woman is just wearing a crop top on the street” — and efforts being made to stop it. Convention organizers placed their new anti-harassment policy front and center this year, and it seems to have helped: There were just eight reported incidents of sexual harassment during the four-day event. [Mashable]
Conventions | Fensterman talks at greater length about NYCC’s anti-harassment measures in this article, which contrasts the comics scene with what’s going on in the gaming world. [Time]
Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]
Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]
Two licensed T-shirts featuring DC Comics’ Trinity have sparked accusations of sexism among online fans.
The first shirt, as reported at DC Women Kicking Ass and spotted by CBR contributor Tamara Brooks this past weekend at Long Beach Comic Con, depicts Superman and Wonder Woman in a passionate embrace with the caption, “Score! Superman Does It Again!” As takedowns of that shirt began to circulate on social media, another one, bearing the phrase “I’m Training to Be Batman’s Wife,” was brought into the discussion.
Both shirts present undeniably sexist messages: The former positions the most prominent female superhero as a prize to be won, stripping away the character’s 75 years of nuance and feminist themes. The latter would be perfectly acceptable if it had only stopped before that final word; the assumption that the goal of any woman’s training would be to become someone’s wife is antiquated at best.
“What we are learning is that the traditional idea of done-in-one stories not selling in comics just doesn’t apply to the new audience buying the books, and believe me, most of that new audience are female. I think the problem right now is we have some people running the companies that just aren’t going out and trying new comics or interacting with the next wave of readers and keep pushing things the traditional way they did years ago. The retailers themselves are seeing this happening daily now and I feel it’s the reason Image Comics will continue to grow and eventually outsell the big two, unless they start thinking outside the box and just make superheroes a PART of their publishing plan and not the entire thing and start looking at the different ways a superhero type of book can be done. Harley is one example, Hawkeye is another. The traditional graphics people associate comics with have been changing for years now and the market is embracing different looks and styles that are outside the house style and its pretty cool to see.”
Publishing | Admitting that “I don’t think men are as sexualized as women” in Marvel comics, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says the publisher is moving toward including more types of female characters: “We believe there’s an audience of women out there who are hungry for this and we want to make sure they get it. This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.” Later he states, “I challenge you to find in Ms. Marvel anything that resembles the Playboy model standard. But I don’t want to be Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. We’re creating stories. I don’t want to say there’s no room for stuff that’s not just fun. Then you’re censoring yourself. I want to make sure I have books like Ms. Marvel and Black Widow that I’m proud about and could give to my daughter. But at the same time I don’t want to be the PC police and say you can’t be naughty; you can’t be fun.” [The Telegraph]
“I dislike the phrase ‘strong female character.’ Perhaps it began as a way to applaud the few realistic and complex female characters among the flat ones that merely play a role (mother, love interest, damsel in distress) in a hero’s story. But we never hear ‘strong male character’ because that idea is default. Almost as if the idea that a female character could be strong is so unusual, so unexpected, that it’s noteworthy. It’s also become a way to justify that lack of female characters in stories. ‘Yeah, there’s only one female character in this show/comic/book, but she’s STRONG!’ Variety, diversity, complexity are more important than ‘strength,’ whatever that word means.”
— Shannon Hale, co-creator of the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and author of the novel Dangerous and the children’s book Princess in Black, in an interview before her appearance at Salt Lake Comic Con. Growing up, Hale was a fan of the Wonder Woman television series, but she never read comics because, she says, “I thought they weren’t for girls and simply didn’t have access to them.”
Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]
Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]