Kirby, Girls, Avengers—one woman's guide

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Some rambling thoughts that have been rumbling around my head this week. Don’t expect it to make any sense.

TCJ has been running a roundtable this week focusing on Jack Kirby and Charles Hatfield’s new book on the same, with critics including

Jeet Heer, Jonathan Lethem (novelist and comic book writer), Glen Gold (novelist and comic art collector), Sarah Boxer (cartoonist and critic), Doug Harvey (art critic), Dan Nadel (co-editor of The Comics Journal website), and Robert Fiore (comics critic).

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

As you may have noticed, this is a 1998 home run derby level lineup of comics critics. But unlike other such critical conclaves, it’s not a total sausage fest by virtue of Boxer’s inclusion. But, it turns out….she’s not exactly in the Kirby cheering section:

I’ve been watching the Kirby lovefest from the sidelines — not with envy, but with a kind of fascination. Why I can’t I dive in? Why does my son want to? (I see a superhero comics fan in the making and I am horrified but interested too.) There must be a reason. Hatfield’s chapter “How Kirby Changed the Superhero” speaks to the point. And it also seems to explain my physical revulsion for almost all of the Kirby superheroes except, perhaps, the Silver Surfer, a giant phallus on a surfboard.


BURN. Yeah, why DON’T girls like Jack Kirby, huh?

500x voltron girl Kirby, Girls, Avengers—one woman's guide

Oh wait, they do.

Okay okay that’s the Power Rangers Voltron, but still…

Anyway, even if women aren’t writing their scholarly tomes on Devil Dinosaur, Moviefone got an incredible amount of heat for a dumb piece that was originally entitled GIRL’S GUIDE TO ‘THE AVENGERS that was so sexist and condescending that they had to post a disclaimer:

[Editor’s Note: As you can see, we’ve gotten a lot of heat for this article. It was meant to be a satirical piece, and obviously, it did not come across that way. There are plenty of female superhero fans, and our intent was not to make them feel marginalized. We’ve changed the headline to reflect the focus as we originally intended it (but did not communicate as well): One woman’s perspective on the Avengers]


This after, for instance, a 13-year-old girl (or someone purporting to be one) posted this:

I am only thirteen and I find this offensive. If you seriously believe you did something wrong, take it down. It doesn’t read as satire. And yes my dumb female mind knows what that is. It presents an unfair stereotyped view of the female sex. Now, I know some people might need a refresher. In that case I suggest the internet. It is an awesome resource for things like this. The Internet and sites like comicvine helped me understand comics when I started reading a year ago. It isn’t really all that hard to figure out what is going on.


The Discriminating Fangirl, aka Pamela, spoke out for the legion of empowered female genre entertaiment fans with this:

WOMEN LIKE ALL KINDS OF THINGS.

There’s not a contract that we sign at birth stating that we can only like stuff with glitter and princesses and romance. Guess what? We DO like stuff with glitter and princesses and romance, and we also like stuff with badass superheroes, aliens, and ass-kicking. So stop writing about genre films as if women haven’t the faintest clue that superheroes exist, and they need a cutesy little nudge in the right direction so they can please their boyfriends. Stop perpetuating the misogynistic stereotype, okay?


Hm, but what does Sarah Boxer think of all this?

In my own, admittedly narrow, empirical research, while at the local Duane Reade to get some diet Dr. Pepper the cute female cashier with the multi-colored hair volunteered “I can’t wait to see that!” when she saw the Avengers tie-in on the bottle. Although she then sheepishly added, “Even though I’m a DC fangirl.” We chatted about New York Comic-Con, Robin, and a few other topics. Even though she might not be able to hold her own on a scholarly roundtable, I feel my Duane Reade cashier would, at least on an enthusiasm level, be able to stand up very well for Jack Kirby’s work.

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And speaking of Jack Kirby…both girls and boys must deal with the dilemma of seeing THE AVENGERS while still supporting Jack.

Confession time: we’re seeing THE AVENGERS tonight at midnight. And we couldn’t be more excited. Is it wrong? Maybe. Is the fact that Stan is everywhere as the father of the Avengers when Captain America, at the very least was demonstrably a Simon/Kirby creation rather demoralizing? Yes.

For those of us conflicted about seeing this movie, Jon Morris has suggested giving a donation equal to the ticket price to the Hero Initiative, a splendid alternative which we’ll be putting into action.

On a more pragmatic note, it would be totally cool of Disney to give a tithe of the gabillion dollars this movie will make to the Hero Initiative, but to do so would invalidate some of their current legal actions, so don’t expect that to happen. A boycott is unlikely to have a financial impact, but shining light on the inequities in an embarrassing way is more likely to yield results…some day.

So yeah, fight on, girls and boys. And GIVE to the Hero Initiative.

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