Filed under Comics

Crossing the Threshold: A Vote for Girls in Comic Shops

I feel like today is comics day.

Over at ComicsBulletain, Kate Leth discusses how she lives in a pretty rad world of comic geeks where being a lady-type isn’t that rare and kind of taken for granted. And then she recognizes the uniqueness of that:

My shop, though, is a bit of an exception. I tend to forget it until I travel, until I wander into a badly-lit basement outlet with one guy behind the counter who talks to exactly nobody. Until moments like the time I went into a store that sold magic cards and the staff completely refused to believe that I worked in comics. ‘So these are the places they’re talking about,’ I think to myself, before the fifth time I try and get someone’s help locating an item.

But then, she talks about solutions which makes me happy because I’m all about solutions.

Now, if you’re a comics retailer, what can you do so that girls aren’t so scared of you? Ladies’ Nights are a great idea – ours run about two hours, are staffed by women, and aim to create a comfortable environment where anything can be talked about with a room full of like-minded individuals. It shows that it’s important to your shop to be open to everyone. After that, a lot of it comes down to promotion. Girls who aren’t already regulars won’t see signs in the store, but they will see social media, newspaper ads, etc. Bring in female artists. Our most successful signing since I began working was Kate Beaton’s, and she had a lineup outside and around the block for the entire duration of her visit.

I hope LCS see this and take note!

DC New 52: Blue Beetle

I literally found out on Saturday that in the company-wide reboot, DC was bringing Jaime back. On his own.

One the one hand– ugh. I’d had enough of DC before DiDio’s blow-ups at NYCC, the hugely problematic reboots of several female characters (in particular the Bat-family rewrites to erase all the female Robins and retconning Barbara Gordon from Oracle back into Batgirl), and, to be totally frank, the hideous new costumes and in-story attitudes that screamed of mid-nineties teachers straddling chairs and putting baseball caps on backwards, because they could straight-up relate, yo! “Hip! New! Cool!!” I would mind being pandered to less if the changes made actually were hip, new, or cool, but looking for an excuse to make a crappy industry-wide situation worse is not going to fly with me.

But on the other hand– it’s Jaime Reyes. So, I checked it out.

…I should not have checked it out.

DC New 52: Blue Beetle, by Gena.

And I still can’t forget that awesome panel at SDCC 2011:

Audience Member: So, are you guys planning on having any heroes who are people of color?

DC: Well, there’s Blue Beetle.

Oh, sigh.

Comics are a Man’s World, a comic by Faith Erin Hicks

Comics are a Man's World, a comic by Faith Erin Hicks

sauce. I like this one because, well, yeah. We’re going along, enjoying our geek, minding our business, and then someone jumps in our faces and reminds us this isn’t for you. And it’s frustrating. It breaks up my fun with bullshit. I just want to have fun!

Oh Brother: Comics and Supposed Target Demographics

I like this post.

[My younter brother has] been into superheroes for about a decade now – about as long as I have. (That’s not a coincidence – who do you think got him into them?) And as a white, straight, cisgendered, sort-of-Christian, middle-class dude just shy of 18, he’s part of that oh-so-coveted demographic (usually expressed as just “males 18-34,” but come on now) that comic book companies love to target.

So for the past 10 years, I’ve observed his engagement with superheroes, and the companies that own them. See, even though I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and thousands of words on comics, DC and Marvel have made it pretty clear that they don’t particularly care whether I’m their customer or not. But Little Brother is fertile ground, as far as they’re concerned, or at least will be in about six months. So it’s interesting to me to see how they target, or fail to target, Mr. Prime Demographic over here.

Emphasis mine. I like this because it isn’t a “Why aren’t comics paying attention to audiences that aren’t 18-34 year old straight white cis dudes?” but more of a “Why does comics think so little of 18-34 year old straight white cis dudes?”

Me: I think I’m out of Blue Beetle trades to give you. Hmm… how would you feel about something with a female lead? Like Batgirl or something? Or would you rather read about a dude?

Little Brother: Sure, I’d read that. If it’s a good comic, I don’t care who it’s about.

Werd.

Static Shock: What Went Wrong

Static Shock

DC Women Kicking Ass writes about the recent drop of Static Shock. They note that while the first issue started out strong, but after that it very quickly went downhill.

John Rozum, the writer:

I went into Static Shock with a lot of high hopes. Among them was showing that Static wasn’t simply an A-list character, but one of the most powerful in the DCnU. I really wanted this series to be fun and exciting and to bring the same degree of creativity to it that I put into Xombi balanced with making Virgil’s personal life at least as engaging as his superhero life. I also saw Static Shock as an excellent gateway through which to pull the rest of the Milestone characters into the DCnU.

I quickly learned that none of these plans were going to see fruition. I wound up being shunted to the sidelines as the writer while Scott McDaniel’s “high concept” criminal syndicate made up of Power Rangers and a big monosyllabic thug took center stage and Harvey’s ideas of the 2 Sharon’s and slicing off Static’s arm were implemented as desperate means of trying to draw attention to the book.

I tried my best to keep it from being a total turd, but as I said, I was completely sidelined. My main contributions were the Pale Man character, Guillotina, naming the school after Dwayne McDuffie, and including Hardware, along with random lines of dialogue. I decided it was unethical to stick with a title that a) I thought was garbage b) that people were buying because of my involvement, due to Xombi, when really I had nothing to do with it c) because I wasn’t being utilized on the title.

Frankly, Static deserved a lot better.

However, DCWKA opens by noting that many comics have succeeded despite mediocre-to-bad writing. Why did Static Shock fail where others have succeeded?

There are plenty of books that suffer from poor writing that sell a ton of copies. I think the bigger issue was that while DC committed to publishing the book, they didn’t commit to change their marketing to make the book a success.

And now, dollars to donuts, someone in the future will say “We tried to give you a comic with a black hero, and look! It didn’t sell! Obviously nobody wants black heroes!” You may laugh and think this is hyperbole, but no, it’s happened this exact way before, and it’ll happen this exact way again.

Oh, sigh.

UPDATE

Just updating to add two links, one from DC Women Kicking Ass and one from ComicsAlliance.

GLAAD Nominates Comic Books in Annual Media Awards

In its 23rd Annual Media Awards, among other categories, GLAAD has listed five comic books:

Outstanding Comic Book

  • Avengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg, Marvel
  • Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, DC Comics
  • Secret Six by Gail Simone, DC Comics
  • Veronica Presents: Kevin Keller by Dan Parent, Archie Comics
  • X-Factor by Peter David, Marvel Comics

Women in Comics: A Reading List

One of the questions that most often crops up in my e-mail inbox is, “so what comics created by women do you know of?”, followed shortly by, “where can I find a list of all the comics created by women?”. The internet, being the vast procrastination device that is, has plenty of such lists but none of them really seem to cover everything.

It’s seriously a massive fucking list. Organized by category. With blurbs. Liek, zomg.

Wonderella Nails It

Wonderella was first brought to my attention by a friend who described it as “You, if you had superpowers.” And it totally nails it in a recent comic: The Kong and Short of It.

Wonderella: The Kong and Short of It [excerpt]

Go read the full comic.

Girls, Geeks, Sexualization and How It Starts So Young

Anime Mania

Corrina Lawson of Geek Mom writes about the differences between how men and women are portrayed in comics, and how this isn’t just limited to grown-up comics. Even instructional books aimed at younger audiences already start in with these differences.

Recently, my twelve-year-old son has taken up drawing in a manga style and he’s putting together a web comic. He’s been going through art instruction books, both for children and adults, at a fast clip. Most of them are great and have been very helpful.

But there are some problems and he found them and pointed them out to me.

I recommend reading what she has to say, and how her son pointed out these differences, the latter of which gives me such gleeful hope.

(As an aside, I mean, sheesh, look at the cover. We have the broken-spine boobs-and-ass shot right there. Like it was going to improve. This makes me want to Kickstarter a book of drawing women in combat positions, with female martial artists and soldiers from all of the world posing for it, both still and action shots.)

(Oh man, I’d totally buy that book for every artist I know.)