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The issue of why there are so few permanently bad female characters in comics is one that has been discussed before and it is an interesting one that came up as recently as the revamp that Gamora received in Guardians of the Galaxy.
But there was a time when there a lot of women who were bad to the bone in comics and a new book provides a fun and thoughtful overview. Vixens, Vamps and Vipers is the newest book from comic historian Mike Madrid. Madrid is the author of the must have guide to female characters in the early and mid-years of comics as well the look at female heroes of the golden age Divas, Dames and Daredevils. I spoke to Madrid when the latter book was published and he’s back to chat about his latest.
Read what he has to say about the book and how you can win a copy.
Today kicks off New York Comic Con which seems grow in size and importance every year. Too bad it is still hosted at the armpit known as the Javits Center.
This year? Read on.
If you need to buy a gift for someone who likes women in comics or if you are looking to spend some holiday gift money here’s a list of some books that I have read and can recommend.
Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics by Mike Madrid
There was a time when there were more female comic book characters than Wonder Woman who kicked ass. You can read the full review here but this is fun, breezy and informative look at comic history.
Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor.
The PBS Documentary on Superheroes was a delight. The companion book has much more content including a chapter that looks at the treatment of women in comics. You can read my full review here and you can purchase it here.
Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—the Creators of Superman by Brad Ricca
Earlier this year the author did a guest post where he discussed his research into the origins of Lois Lane. So while this book is ostensibly about the authors of the book it also discusses the influence of the women in their lives and how the inspired the characters. It is also a great read.
But if you want to learn more about Lois Lane, the longest continusouly appearing female character in DC Comics I recommend the new Lois Lane 75th Anniversary book
Pretty in Ink by Trina Robbins
Robbins is the definitive historian when it comes to women in comics and this volume, which Robbins says is her last, is another fascinating look at female comic creators.
I’ll post a longer review soon, but based on the PDF reviewers copy this is must have for anyone who is interested in the rarely discussed contributions of women to comics and the much discussed controversies including the Flashpoint of SDCC in 2011.You can puchase it here.
The Best American Comics of 2013 edited by Jeff Smith, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.
I write mostly about superhero comics as you know there is much more to comics than that genre and this book is an excellent sampler of what’s beyond the spandex. The cover you’ll probably note is by Kate Beaton. She’s inside too as are Faith Erin Hicks, Alison Bechdel, Colleen Doran, Gabrielle Bell and others. I highly recommend this and you can puchase it here.
You can purchase all of these books and much more through my Amazon store. You pay Amazon prices and help defray costs of the blog.
Like a lot of folks, I’ve been saying for years that the Hollywood has been slinging bullshit for years about women and films.
Here’s what I said in an interview last year:
Well that’s Hollywood right? They have these beliefs, and even when there’s proof that they just might be wrong, there’s an excuse. First, you know who goes to movies more, men or women? The answer is WOMEN! What about the belief that only men will see a movie multiples times, but not women? They said that over and over again, until Titanic became one of the biggest grossing films ever. And then you get the line that women can’t open movies. Oh wait, Hunger Games. Snap. Or Twilight. Snap. Comedies starring women can’t open big. Whoops, Sex and the City and Bridesmaids. Black people can’t open moves. Um, sorry Tyler Perry, we can’t hear you. We can’t hear you. It goes on and on.
But Hollywood still stuffs money into films because … DUDES. And yet we saw this year The Lone Ranger (which, let’s face it, was a huge WTF of a movie to begin with) get its ass handed to it by The Heat. And Gravity breaking records at the box office. And this past weekend the double shot of Frozen and Catching Fire.
Of course when you say this stuff you get the pushback from the dudebros who mansplain you and tell you that it just doesn’t work that way.
Well yesterday the NY Times editorial board weighed in (bold is mine)
There’s a tendency in the film world to conclude that if a female-led movie failed, it’s because it was female-led. When Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” fell short of expectations in 2009, it resurrected the cliché that boys won’t see “girl” movies. This summer an emailwent around from a Legendary Pictures representative that described “the presence of a female action hero” as a “tough sell.” The email cited “Sucker Punch,” a 2011 fantasy action movie, which starred a woman and underperformed in ticket sales. (It also received poor reviews.)
Yet before “Sucker Punch” there was “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Alien,” and the “Kill Bill” movies. And before “The Princess and the Frog” there was “Pocahontas” and “The Little Mermaid.” “Frozen” and “Catching Fire” add to the long list of films showing that there’s no market-based excuse for the dearth of female leads.
Make sure you read the whole thing.
Will this change anything? I hope so but there are still issues. Just this week we just learned that Wonder Woman has to get on the big screen in Superman movie rather than her own film.
But I think you can only keep saying women don’t open at the box office or women don’t like action movies or female leads so many times when even the NY Times is calling you on your bullshit.
I’ll know I’ll be copying and pasting those paragraphs in a lot of places around the internet for a long time.
Once again Marvel has had a “Women of Marvel” panel at NYCC and as usual the room was packed with fans ( I attended last year and if this year was like last year I’m sure the energy was amazing.
The panel is put together by the women in editorial at Marvel including Jeanine Schaefer. This year’s panel featured creators Sara Pichelli, Stephanie Hans and Kelly Sue DeConnick. You can go read an overview of the panel at BC but I wanted to pull this quote out about female representation in comics.
During the Q&A some asked the following:
"My friend, who happens to be female, and I, argue that I make too much of a big deal over female representation in comics"
Here is DeConnick’s answer:
"She’s wrong! It is a big deal. I am willing to make people uncomfortable so that my daughter doesn’t have to! I was Smurfette on the Avengers panel yesterday and NO! That’s not good enough. I appreciate and I am proud of the progress that’s being made and I don’t want to sweep it under the table. But this job ain’t done. Nobody sit down!"
As I’ve said the past few years, it would be great to see DC do a panel like this one.
For the past three and half years I’ve contended that change will come to the comic industry via digital. I’ve said in interview such as that at the link and in too many episodes of “3 Chicks Review Comics” to count.
My belief was that new readers outside the traditional, white male demographic would take advantage of digital distribution to consume comics.
That’s why I wasn’t really surprised when DC Comics and Nielsen showed such a huge discrepancy of the count of female readers from their Wednesday, in-store surveys and their self-selected surveys done online. (7% female readers vs. 23% female readers)
This belief has, of course, been met with some scorn. Of course. It’s comics and anything that might threaten the cootie free world that some comics fans prefer was threatening.
But guess what? I was right.
Comixology has been revealing some information about its readers. GeekMom has the story and here’s the important take-away. The core customer is still males between 27-36, “But a new customer is emerging female, age 17-26, Newer to comcs with many reading comics for the first time digitally.”
But wait there’s more!
Of buyers new to ComiXology in the last three months, 20% are women. That’s up from less than 5% when they started the app, and it’s a number that [CEO David] Steinberger says is changing rapidly. Comic book publishers, take note. The survey also found that of the readers who were reading their first comic digitally, many went on to buy comics in print. Again, comic book publishers, take note.
Again, I’m not surprised.
I go to cons and see women. I look at the Tumblr comic tag and see women posting. I get notes every single day from women who want to get into comics.
Change is coming. Let’s hope the publishers are smart enough to realize it.
This Tuesday, August 28, is Read Comics in Public Day and once again I am going to do concurrent event called “Women Read Comics in Public, Again!” Thanks to the shoutouts from Wired, The Mary Sue, Bleeding Cool, Newsarama and some helpful retweeting from some fabulous folks like Gail Simone, Action Chick and After Ellen I’m hoping for a good turnout.
But you can help too! Post about it to your Facebook, tell your friends and Tweet and retweet.
If you identify as a woman and you love comics send in a picture. If it’s a DC or Marvel comic all the better. And if you happen to want to tell the world how much you spend per month on your comics that would great, too. And send pictures of daughters and sisters and girl friends and who ever else gives you permission!
And guys if you like to read comics about women there’s a site for you too. So check it out and submit there as well.
I hope to see you Tuesday! (Or Wednesday or Thursday, this year it’s a week long event!)
My friend and co-hostess Kelly Thompson (she of the amazing kickstarter that raised 300% of her goal) has given herself over to Tumblr. This, of course, means I win in our ongoing competition to convert the other to nerdy things because I have yet to become a Buffy fan! BWAH HA HA HA. (Though she did pull that stunt on my vacation …)
Anyway, her Tumblr is called "There’s the Door Spaceman" which refers to the panel in The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke:
The Tumblr it is focused on unconventional superhero art and “to bring to light what an antiquated and alien thought process it is to say that female comics characters can only look like perfect Sports Illustrated specimens.”
So don’t expect a lot of broke backs and butts/boob contortions.
Please go read and submit; it needs SBFF Supergirl!
The carnival is about to open for business so if you haven’t yet written something, drawn something or even recorded something, the time is now.
The topic is Women in Refrigerators 13 years later. What does it mean? Is it still relevant? Are there any changes to the description? What are some of the most recent examples? Any and all topics are welcome.
This is not your ticket to admission, but still kinda thematic and awesome.
Someday we will be perhaps be in a place where the idea of needing a panel like “Women of Marvel” will seem archaic but not today. And let’s fact it, it’s great that Marvel has enough women to have a panel at NYCC. DC removed Amy Reeder from their Batman panel. But luckily they had incredible timing in naming Ann Nocenti as the new Green Arrow writer just in time for the last big con of the year. She even joked, "Obviously, when you look around the room, I’m the token female." when brought out at the Justice League panel.
But the women of Marvel panel was filled with good creators including Majorie Liu, Colleen Coover, Sara Pichelli, Emma Rios and last but not least, Kelly Sue DeConnick who was. on. fire. Here via Newsarama:
DeConnick started the panel by asking any female aspiring characters to stand up, and for the crowd to give them some applause — and then said the fact that those women are at a Marvel panel was evidence that females do indeed read superhero comics.
And then when the question was asked if there was a “problem” in comics for women she said:
"I don’t believe there are people going, ‘Don’t go Kelly Sue that job, she’s a chick. She’s going to try to write it with her vagina,’" DeConnick answered. "But I do think that sociologically and historically, this genre in particular has grown up in such a way that I can only count two women in the last 15 to 20 years who I would consider having made it to A-list writer status. I would have trouble finding women at A-list artist status. And I think that is beyond curious. We are 50 percent of the population. I don’t think we have a shortage of talent.
"There is nothing inherently masculine about the pulp aesthetic," DeConnick continued. "There is nothing inherently masculine about heroism."
There’s more at Newsarama so give it a read.
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