Misogyny

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Kelly Thompson over at Comic Book Resources blog She Has No Head talks Marvel’s newly announced series Girl Comics with Mariah Huehner!  Fascinating conversation about women in the industry and the minefield they face in trying to create good comics.

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Girl Comics

girlcomics

So there is a huge uproar right now over Marvel’s recent announcement of the Girl Comics mini starting in March. For the full skinny on this check out this story at The Beat. I have been following comments at Comic Book Resources blogs Robot 6 and She Has No Head.

Girl Comics will be a wholly female created book.  Writers, pencilers, inkers, editors, everyone who touches this thing pre-press will be female.  Reaction is mixed, to say the least.  Some of the commentors are out right “no girls allowed” about the whole thing.”  Some of them are more even handed, but still offer arguments against this thing even existing.   I have some opinions of my own on the matter. ( Aren’t you surprised!)

First and formost, I think this is an awesome idea.  There is a wonderful assemblage of talent on this project, and I think it has the potential to turn out some really great stories.  This will go onto my pull list as soon as I have a previews code for it.  That said, here are some of the points people are making:

The name is stupid! Ok, fair enough.  The name isn’t the best.  But take a peek at my top banner.  I called my website “Girls Don’t Read Comics”  because of the crap I get from morons who think I shouldn’t be behind the counter at the shop.  More than once, I have had someone ask if we were hiring, and then when I said “no,”  they’ve said something like , “But they hired you, they must need someone!” So my blog name is a mild “F U” to people like that. I feel like the name Girl Comics sort works for me in the same way.  Sort of as an ironic smirk to the masses. A statement that yes, comics can be for, and in this case, by girls.  So while something subtler might have made it blend on the shelf, I don’t think that was the point.

Why does this book need to exist? I just had this conversation with my husband.  He argues that he has been reading comics by women for a long time.  He read Y the Last Man and the Flight books.  He just doesn’t see why women need to be singled out and given a separate space .  Why should all these women get together for a project like this?  My answer to that comes in 2 forms.  First is “why not?”  The second is a little  more complex.  I feel like the more women working in the industry, the more likely I am to continue to find books that I like.  It’s not that I won’t read comics by men.  Check my pull list.  But there is something to be said for including different life experiences into the creative process.  I feel the same way about any under-represented group.  More diversity leads to more interesting stories.  And as a woman, I feel like I am more likely to see work that resembles my life experience if there are women somewhere in the creative mix.  Also, I know that because of the relative scarcity of women in the field, this opportunity to work together is rare.  It sounds like it would be fun to do.

This book creates a ghetto for women creators! As a bookseller, I have run into the problem of genre ghettoization.  Chick lit and “urban” lit, are the two that stick out in my mind right now. Books that would file under “fiction” if their author was a white man, get stuck somewhere weird in their own section.  This limits exposure for a title drastically.  I don’t feel that this book will suffer from that problem.  I certainly won’t in my store.  Editor Jeanine Shaefer tells The Beat that this series will deal with standard Marvel Universe characters, and that as a whole they will not be focusing on just female characters.  This feels like just a regular mini series, with a strange collaborative team.  Now if it were to start a whole trend of comics created by women with lipstick tubes and shoes on the covers, then I  would worry about ghettoization.  The closest thing I have to that is my Manga section, where i file the MPD Psycho on the same shelf as the Meru Puri and no one has any trouble finding anything.

Most of the comments are sort of rinse and repeat, and I’m choosing to ignore a whole lot of jerks acting like trolls.  Let’s just say I know a lot of guys that behave like this, and they are all single.   I’m personally pretty excited about the potential of this series.  Based on the people working on it, it could be pretty stellar.  With that said, I am going to approach it as a comic.  Not as a feminist statement.  Not as a some affirmative action move by Marvel.  For me to recommend it, it will need to stand on it’s own as a work. Until then I am hopeful, and waiting for a chance to get my mitts on it.

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Hey again. The weather is beautiful this week, and I am healthy again, so no weird “how fast can I get it recorded?” show this week. I’m posting this a little early because I get to go back out to the store and see if I can swap out the cash register computer for one that actually works. If you are one of my regulars, odds are that you have been in while it was doing its update thing. Everyday, usually around 2ish, the computer does a virus scan update, but the scheduler is locked behind a password that no-one seems to be sure of. So we have to wait while it eats up all the system resources and grinds sales to a halt. This happened recently at a really bad time. There were a couple of guys standing near the register and having a loud conversation about how much they hate the government, and what they’d like to… um…. do about it. In sort of graphic terms. This poor woman came in and just wanted to buy some Wonder Woman stuff for a present, and the computer seizes up. She’s standing there, looking more and more uncomfortable, and I’m trying to just appear calm and competent with all the loud nonsense coming from right behind her. Pretty quickly I gave up on the computer, and did the transaction by hand with a calculator. I told her if she needed her receipt she could come back for it. She looked me in the eyes, and said with desperate sincerity, ” I don’t need a receipt. I just need to GO“. So it’s time to do the computer switcheroo.

Dead Boys Detective Cover
New Release

Sandman Presents: Dead Boys Detectives Written by Ed Brubaker; Cover by Dave McKean; Art by Bryan Talbot and Steve Leialoha

Yes, I know. More Sandman stuff. It’s good though, I promise. This one came out in singles in 2001, and is just coming out collected this week. I really enjoyed this one with all it’s creepy darkness. There’s just something nice about ghost detectives that have play sword fights while dressed as Sherlock Holmes.

New Avengers Cover

Marvel

New Avengers Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Ok, so I kind of read the entire run of New Avengers this week. I was just going to pick one up, read it, review it, and get on with my day. Instead, I read volume after volume until I got to the end of Vol 7 and realized that now I am caught up with where I started reading the singles with Secret Invasion. So obviously I really liked it, but there’s a little too much ground to cover to easly sum up what I read. I will say that I really like the team dynamic that we see with Captain America, Iron Man and Luke Cage feeling like the core power structure. I also really liked the ongoing drama around Spider Woman. And I now have a total comic crush on Luke Cage. So. Yeah. I hit this one hard this week, and really liked it a lot.

Conan Cover
Dark Horse

Conan Vol 01 The Frost Giants Daughter & Other Stories Written by Kurt Busiek ; Art by Cary Nord & Thomas Yeates

Hmmm. So parts of this I really liked. And parts of it made me uncomfortable. It is a great story in the barbarian tradition. The art is gorgeous and easy to follow. Unfortunately, all the women are either throw away plot objects, coniving devil women, or harem girl slaves. Conan even tries to rape one of them. So, while I thought the book was beautiful, and the stories well told, I kept getting squicked by the sort of misogynistic use of women in the story. I will probably read the next volume just to see where the story goes, but right now, I don’t think I would recommend it to most of my female customers. Men: sure, ladies: not so much.

Black Cat Cover

Viz

Black Cat Vol 01 Art and Story by Kentaro Yabuki

This one is not really a fair review, because it’s the first volume in a 20 book series (13 so far in US). I intend to continue this one, so we will talk about it again. I was pleasantly surprised with how serious the story was. Having just flipped through it before it looked sort of silly, but having now read the whole book, I find that it has some really human characters with complex histories and motivations. The bounty hunter plotline makes the part of me that loves Cowboy Bebop happy. I do think the anatomy of the male characters is a little strange, giving them grown-up looking bodies, but sort of tiny, kid proportioned heads. I got used to it after awhile though.

Alright. Wish me luck on the computers. I’m giving it about 50/50 odds that I’ll be able to get it done with no major deal-breaking hang-ups.

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