ADDED: Here’s another interview with editor Jeanine Schaefer that answers many questions, including the secret origin of the title.
When I posted my little exclusive on GIRL COMICS the other day, I expected there would be the usual twiddle rompus in my comments, but I didn’t expect the full-on blogosphere firestorm of confusion and disparagement that ensued. A deadly gauntlet of clueless sexism and feminist suspicion greeted the announcement of a thing as simple as an anthology of comics. By women. Something the world has seen about a thousand times before. Granted there is always the threat of marginalization in such works, but it ain’t exactly a groundbreaking (or life-threatening) premise.
Yet the outrage! The concern trolling! Before we take a tiny sampling of reaction, I’d like to give another tiny sampling, below the cut, of the comics that the anthology’s announced contributors have written, drawn or edited over the last 30 years or so:
(Okay, I had to throw in a picture of Carla Speed McNeil because when you image google her you get a lot of great pictures.)
Now how on EARTH would anyone object to an anthology by these people, who have created some of the most memorable comics and characters of the past 30 years? It’s utterly ludicrous.
And yes, I understand the folks who are saying “Things won’t change until more women are on monthly books!” But after reading all the drivel people have posted about this anthology here and elsewhere I can see why Marvel (or DC) wouldn’t want to come anywhere near the horrible danger of a non-male working on their precious comics for fear of DESTROYING THE MAN. Take one Newsarama poster (ulp) named Jimalsi for example:
I was ready to buy this until I saw the cover. Another book featuring females that can only highlight them by trashing men or showing them beating men. No equality, just in-your-face stomping on guys. If that cover was the other way around, you could open your window and hear “Misogony! Misogoney!” echoing in the air.
And couldn’t the man being beaten at least be a villain? I’m as 30-year Marvelite who’s is becoming more and more sick of Marvel, to where I now buy more DC comics (not even counting Blackest Night stuff). Everybody likes to call Tony Stark names, but he stood up for Law and Order.
I can’t speak for other New Yorkers, but I often open MY window and hear shouts of “Misogony! Misogoney!” echoing down the steel canyons. Other times I hear “Falafel!” or “You said you’d give me FIVE dollars!” but that is beside the point. Holding up a Newsarama poster who can’t spell for the opposition is a cheap shot, but he’s just the ugliest example of more subtle profiling by people who should know better.
What about the actual creators? What do they have to say? Laura Martin:
Yes, I colored Amanda Conner’s cover for Marvel’s Girl Comics. There’s an interview with editor Jeanine Schaefer over at The Beat. And of course there’s whinging in the comments. But why should we ghettoize girls into their own book? If I’m a dude, can I buy the book? Isn’t the title “Girl Comics” misogynistic and stupid?? OH NOES DRAMAZ!! Whatever, all right? I’m wracking my brain for when I last colored something drawn by a female penciler, and I think it might have been in the late ’90s when Joyce Chin and I paired up on a portrait of 7 of 9 from Star Trek Voyager for a gaming magazine. And that wasn’t even comics. I have colored a few things inked by Rachel Dodson, and I’ve worked with several female writers (most notably Jen Van Meter on Black Lightning), but that’s pretty much it. Why? Because I am in the superhero clubhouse. Not just the superhero clubhouse, but the big-numbers, hot-selling, VERY male-centric super-superhero clubhouse. Women creators do not often cross trajectories with this particular clubhouse, either by choice or circumstance — so hell yeah, I’m *thrilled* to color Amanda Conner. I hope I get to do it again. I hope I get to participate in this project more than just this one cover, because I’d be working with new-to-me artists, and that’s ALWAYS awesome to me.
Colleen Coover went through the annoyance of having people speak for you on her Twitter stream:
Thank god the internet is here to prevent me being patronized by a company that pays me money to do what I love… THE FIENDS!
…which sort of sums it up. You can hear the weariness coming right across the inter-tubes. NOT AGAIN. Yeah ghettoization and marginalization suck, and GIRL COMICS isn’t going to solve anything, but the crazy ass knee jerk reactions to the concept instead of the content is part of what is keeping non-white male creators so marginalized! A NY Times best selling author. A creator who has won the Ignatz and the Eisner ( and a multiple nominee). A creator who has won seven Eisner Awards! All of them defined not by their achievements or talents, but purely by gender. Wouldn’t YOU be sick and tired of that?
There were a few reactions around the blogosphere that seemed to thread the needle. Some fellow named Ryan Day:
But it goes both ways. Marvel may ignore these talented women creators 99% of the time, but so do most of the fans, male and female alike. Most people recognize the talented lineup, but some casual searching suggests few fans would be talking about these women if they weren’t appearing in this anthology or working on a similar title.
A lot of the comments I’ve seen today have predictably talked about reverse sexism, the ghettoization of female creators, that the book’s existence is a somewhat sad fact in that it highlights the need for books like this just to get a bunch of women working on Marvel Comics, or that it would be better news if some of these creators were announced as parts of creative teams of some of Marvel’s regular titles.
I suppose there are arguments to made about some of those charges, but, as a comics fan, what I see when I look at the announcement is a book with some of my favorite creators on it, including several creators from my own personal “I’ll buy anything that this person does” list.
I’m down for anything that has Jill Thompson, Colleen Coover and Amanda Conner involved, for example, or anything that gives Ming Doyle, Molly Crabapple and Carla Speed McNeil access to the Marvel characters to play with.
While this whole tempest will be forgotten as soon as the next pot of tea is brewed, it did raise up a few points that had been rattling around in my brain so, before we all go on holiday break, have a gander:
1) We really, really really need to move beyond Power Girl’s breasts, girls. It’s totally a distraction from actual progress. To the point where one prominent female blogger who blogs about those chachas all the time can’t even praise a female cartoonist without comparing her to a female body part. Isn’t it better just to sneak in mentions of female creators as if they were, y’know, NORMAL? Like I just did today elsewhere on this blog?
2) I wish a lot of people in this terrordome had a better sense of history. The “big breakthrough” always came about 10-15 years before the present day, whether that was a break forwards or backs. It’s absolutely the best time ever for women in comics outside the superhero/Wednesday “mainstream” — between alt.comix, manga and book publishing there are more women making a living at comics than ever before and that is truly awesome. But in the Big Two? And the little six? No better than before. While I was researching the art above I quickly realized that as great as today’s women are, in superhero comics no one could possibly do more than Louise Simonson has already done. And only a tiny handful of writers — Devin Grayson and Gail Simone among them — have matched what Ann Nocenti already did. And not much has improved since the days of Weezy and Ann. There has to be more than one woman writer working regularly at a time!
For instance, only yesterday, PWCW ran a story on IDW’s reissue of STARSTRUCK by Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta. I was the editor who comissioned this story by Stephanie Mangold, having been a big fan of the book when it came out — from a bunch of different publishers – back in the 80s, but reading the article I was amazed at how well the series matched up against anything coming out today. (PS, it really is great and the reissue should get a lot more attention than it has.) Having been pals with Elaine back in the day, I assure you she had to answer every single question that is being asked now back then. Only without the internet so you could do it in one afternoon.
3) There is, generally speaking, a huge amount of discomfort with women — as creators, as characters and as consumers — in Nerd World, and by extension the big media that caters to Nerd World. I don’t know if its the fact that nerds control the internet, or what. One look at the appalling demotion of women in the STAR TREK reboot shows how badly we’ve backslid. (In the OST we had a Vulcan matriarch like T’Pau; in the new one, a 38-year-old plays the mother of a 32 year old — THE HUMAN MOTHER.) It’s like we’re in a huge episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY — women are scary and yet enticing, but one is more than enough.
I was going to bring up the whole Mahnola Dargis/Kathryn Bigelow thing, but Sean T. Collins did it for me. You do have to wonder why Catherine Hardewick launches the biggest new movie franchise in years — and promptly gets fired from it. Or why Kathryn Bigelow directs some of the most stylish (and admired) action films of the last two decades and still has to scramble to line-up jobs. Or why every 10 years the same article about why female directors can’t get a break get written….over and over and over. Nothing improves.
In a comment on the thread, Jennifer De Guzman puts it even more succinctly:
As for movies, the only thing I can contribute is that it seems like whenever someone in Hollywood is interested in one of our books that has a female protagonist, the first question they ask is if she can be changed to a male. It drives me crazy.
In Nerd Movie Culture, women can never have their own agency — they are bystanders and sidekicks. Alien would never star Ripley today.
4) That GIRL COMICS cover by Amanda Conner really is teh awesome. Nuff said.