Mystery postcards highlighting comics gender issues hit mailboxes — SOLVED

2011 06 13 19 09 00 6521 Mystery postcards highlighting comics gender issues hit mailboxes    SOLVED
We’ve heard from some of our pals in the comics industry that they have received two anonymous postcards — both postmarked in Chicago — with various statistics on gender disparity in the comics industry. One highlights problems with the materials:

“Out of 352 titles from 12 major publishers, 829 women were depicted naked or partially nude. Compared to only 486 men.”


  
The other covers behind the scenes:

“Contributors by gender of 350 titles put out by 12 comic book and graphic novel publishers.
  
All titles: 17% female
$20+ titles: 31% female
  
“No matter how you slice it, women are under-represented in the industry.”


So who’s using the postal meter for this campaign? Have you received one of these postcards — or do you know who is sending them?

UPDATE: Well, Tom “Hardy” Spurgeon is the first — because his postcards actually have a web address on them. That’s kind of cheating, to be honest, but anyway, the postcards apepar to be the work of Ladydrawers, an organization based at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; frequent comics essayist Anne Elizabeth Moore is involved and reveals more of their goals and activities:

This season’s LADYDRAWERS course at SAIC investigated gender inequities among freelancers and editors at the top 12 comics publishers in the United States. We then made a series of postcards based on our findings, and if you’ve found this site, it’s probably because we sent you one.

We’ve also got some big news: We’re putting together a book based on this work at Ox-Bow this summer, and, in conjunction with comics artists like MariNaomi and Esther Pearl Watson, I’ll be doing a semimonthly column on gender and comics at Truthout starting in a couple weeks. Watch for it!

Comments

  1. SGeier says:

    Obviously this is a campaign to popularize Yaoi. Lot’s of naked men there …

  2. Sounds like they are taking inspiration from the Guerrilla Girls–25 years later. What took ‘em so long?

  3. Tom Spurgeon says:

    There are at least five postcards, one of which sends you to:

    http://ladydrawers.wordpress.com/

    Not exactly Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slipper Salamander.

  4. Tom Spurgeon says:

    the Slippery Salamander

  5. So this means…. what?

    IF creative female artists and writers are being banned from working in the industry, if specific editors are purposely not hiring female talent then yes, this is a problem.

    IF untalented male artists and writers are being hired over talented creative females specifically because of their sex, then yes needs to be rectified.

    Other than those reasons. I don’t see the point of these postcards.

  6. Of course you don’t, Richard. Please study up on “institutionalized sexism” because it’s really not up to Heidi or any feminist to educate you.

    I wish this sort of thing could have been done in the Friends of Lulu days! Really brilliant campaign.

  7. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Dude, I think the point of the postcards is to get you to go look at these students’ web site and then perhaps engage with the issues they find important. This isn’t like someone built a 25-foot-tall immoveable, obsidian crystal in the middle of the San Diego convention center.

  8. Here’s one I received–about how rapey DC/Vertigo is:

    http://yfrog.com/h85hvddj

  9. Synsidar says:

    The postcards aren’t a bad idea, but the percentages are significant only if there are as many women submitting material to publishers as there are men, with, of course, the quality being the same.

    Publishers can’t be expected to solicit material from female creators specifically unless they see benefits: either an increase in female readership or an increase in readers generally.

    SRS

  10. @Elayne
    So you know for sure, for positive how many female artists and male artists are interviewing for specific jobs? You know for sure that people aren’t being hire purely because of their sex?

    8 years ago, as an Art Director, I had to hire a third artist for our department. At the time there were only two artists in my department, two men. I had 28 artists respond to our ads during our search. Twenty three were men, five were women. So, if I hired a man for that position I’d be working with this “institutionalized sexism” because women would be under represented in this department? Screw what their portfolios looked like or if their talents fit our requirements?

    Really? Talent doesn’t count?

  11. There’s a PDF datadump on the site that shows some crazy crazy skewed methodology — they’re counting Last Gasp, for example, as a “major publisher”, and counting issues of WEIRDO that came out in 1998 or whatever.

    -B

  12. Awesome.

  13. Could someone please send me the comics list that includes the 486 naked or partially nude men in them? Thank you.

    No wait, on second thought, just the issues with the all nude men will do. ;)

  14. Caged Wisdom says:

    Brian – I wondered how on earth they were counting up 12 major publishers. Thanks for the info.

  15. Tom Spurgeon says:

    My favorite Hardy Boys book was that one where Frank, Joe, Tom and Chet Morton get thrown in a French jail and Tom chokes out like 15 dudes before Biff Hooper posts bail.

  16. @Synsidar and Richard:

    http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/06/quote-of-the-day-2-we-have-to-stop-thinking-of-it-as-a-quota-thing-and-think-of-it-as-a-common-sense-thing/

    They’re out there. You might have to work harder to get a perspective that isn’t yet another white male, but it’s worth it and valuable.

  17. Synsidar says:

    Aside from math problems, there are at least two problems with arguing that female comics creators are being discriminated against.

    One is demonstrating that material women submit that is better than the material being published is rejected. Proving that a particular editor rejected women’s material in favor of worse material from men would be an accomplishment, but wouldn’t prove that there was industry-wide discrimination.

    Arguing that that there isn’t enough material published for female readers specifically implies that male and female readers have distinct reading preferences, and that women would be better at satisfying the female readers’ tastes than men would.

    The most practical route has already been tried: Arguing that sexist treatment of women in (superhero) comics is due to a dearth of female creators, and that the solution is to replace the offending male creators and editors with women.

    SRS

  18. Ooh, I got one of these! I was wondering what it was all about. http://flic.kr/p/9T2sQv

    Mine’s a bit convoluted though. Speaking as a female reader (and a female comics creator), NUDITY doesn’t bother me as much as rampant sexualization and objectification. A naked woman in a Top Shelf publication is usually much less alienating to me than a fully clothed Power Girl.

  19. Stephen says:

    What is the exact mechanism by which “institutionalized sexism” works in the mainstream comic book industry?

    I’m not asking about individual anecdotes. To say something is “institutionalized” means it is a relatively stable, enduring, predictable pattern that occurs even without the active participation of biased individuals.

    So what is this pattern and how do individuals unconsciously participating in that pattern recognize it and try to change it?

    Would pro-actively reaching out to and working with female creators to develop proposals be one solution? If so, what if DC (or any other publisher) found out that the comic books that resulted from this outreach effort were not profitable for them? Should female creators’ work be held to a different standard than male creators, if their work doesn’t succeed in the market, even when given an opportunity of outreach and extra assistance in getting their foot in the door?

  20. Synsidar says:

    So what is this pattern and how do individuals unconsciously participating in that pattern recognize it and try to change it?

    There is at least one way to detect that: Have an editor evaluate material without knowing the identity of the creator. If he accepts types of material submitted blindly that he’s rejected in the past, that’s evidence of bias.

    SRS

  21. Thanks for solving the mystery, Heidi! Of course I agree with the postcards (I received 6, BTW) and find it interesting to see how many men are in denial about the postcard’s statements. No, I don’t believe that the mainstream comics publishers are rejecting women because they are women –they are rejecting wome because their comics, which are still aimed at a predominantly male readership, tend not to be the kind of comics that women read, write, or draw. This sorry state of affairs will continue as long as mainstream comics continues to aim their product at guys. So forget about the mainstream! Where you’ll find women is in the indies, the self-published comics, and the graphic novels, lots of graphic novels by women out there! Let the boys have their superheroes.

  22. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I just wish these postcards had been more evenly distributed between male and female recipients.

  23. I’m offended by the use of Comic Sans by an Art Institute-affiliated group. What are they teaching these kids?

  24. Deaf65 says:

    Interesting article. I have to agree with Trina’s comment. I don’t see the industry wide discrimination of female creators but more noticeable by Big Two and few that relies heavily on male driven topics like super heroes on their preference of female ones that focuses on what those aforementioned companies seek. I like to keep my interests broad because, in my opinion, there is a serious glut of superhero genre even thought understandably where the money is… :/

  25. I sometimes wonder if it’s not numbers or quality but rather style that keeps women locked out of the drawing-comics-with-major-publishers loop. A lot of women (Especially those in their 20s and 30s) have styles heavily influenced by Disney movies and Japanese artists like Rumiko Takahashi, Naoko Takeuchi, and CLAMP . . . the kinds of styles that indie publishers aren’t exactly tripping over themselves to publish and the Big Two seem to actively avoid.

  26. Synsidar says:

    No, I don’t believe that the mainstream comics publishers are rejecting women because they are women –they are rejecting wome because their comics, which are still aimed at a predominantly male readership, tend not to be the kind of comics that women read, write, or draw.

    The content issue, though, is separate from the use of formulas and stereotypes in stories which appeal primarily to guys. The success of women in the mystery and fantasy genres indicates that guys interested in quality fiction will read material created by women. If comics publishers were to raise their quality standards for submissions, the gender issue might go away eventually.

    One approach to the problem would be to fund market research which tested reactions to a range of material, and to see whether the sex of a creator makes a difference in purchasing decisions and whether material considered sexist by experienced readers is viewed similarly by inexperienced readers. Any research which indicated that buyers were being turned off by the absence of female creators or by the material published would be helpful.

    SRS

  27. Stephen says:

    “No, I don’t believe that the mainstream comics publishers are rejecting women because they are women –they are rejecting wome because their comics, which are still aimed at a predominantly male readership, tend not to be the kind of comics that women read, write, or draw.”

    Gender essentialism is fascinating. What is it about being born with a vagina that makes women read, write, or draw only certain kinds of comics?

    “This sorry state of affairs will continue as long as mainstream comics continues to aim their product at guys.”

    I wasn’t aware that action/adventure-oriented stories was something only men can enjoy. Even if that is the case, why are comics produced and purchased mostly by men ridiculed but comics produced and purchased mostly by women valorized? Aren’t we always being told to encourage and respect diversity and difference? While we assuredly need more female creators and readers, I don’t see why this needs to be by ridiculing male creators and readers.

  28. What percentage of comic book readers are male? Could a factor be that women are less interested in this art form at any level?

  29. The Beat says:

    To all:

    In the past 10 years — since the manga revolution really, where half of the comics audience is aimed at, read by and created by women — we’ve seen an INCREDIBLE jump in the number of women in the US creating comics, from adventure — The Dreamer, DV8 — to superhero — Ultimate Spider-Man — to every other genre — from Joyce Farmer to Julia Wertz. The recent SVa cartoon class seemed to be mroe than 50% female.

    And yet Marvel and DC, especially, seem to have a very few women working on their comics. you look at the numbers outside the mainstream and the numbers in and wonder what is the factor?

    And just to cut to the chase here, could it possibly be all the comments overheard by myself and other women who worked at mainstream companies about women not being suited to working for the Big Two, that could POSSIBLY have some kind of effect on the number of women actually WORKING at the big two?

    Occam’s razor, people.

  30. The Beat,
    Women’s right are very important to me. However, I have no interest in Manga. DC & Marvel aren’t in the Manga business. Are you saying that there’s a relationship between that genre/medium and female comic book creators?

    I remember studying Philosophy in college. In my first 300 level class, there were only 8 students in the room – only 8 of us who had chosen to pursue the discipline to that level. Our teacher pointed out to us all that NONE of the 8 were women, and asked us why we thought that was. I’m still not sure I know the answer.

  31. Stephen says:

    >Gender essentialism is fascinating. What is it about being born with a vagina that makes women read, write, or draw only certain kinds of comics?

    The same thing that being born with a penis makes a man read, write, or draw certain kinds of comics.

    >“This sorry state of affairs will continue as long as mainstream comics continues to aim their product at guys.”

    >I wasn’t aware that action/adventure-oriented stories was something only men can enjoy.

    Only? You’re not paying attention. The comment was about Mainstream comics being aimed at male readers. This is about content, not genre.

  32. Shannon OLeary says:

    I’m going to stay on the sidelines on this one and keep it light by going BAHAHAHAA to @Aaron Poehler’s comment.

  33. I got one of these cards but, lucky for me, only after having read Tom Spurgeon’s link to this post. So I wasn’t completely confused. I’m glad “Diamond” didn’t go after small publishers but I half expected it.

    I’m also glad that people do things like this. I’d much rather read talk about issues of gender, race, religion, politics, philosophy or anything that is semi-important to humanity at large than read another blog post about how Wonder Woman’s costume is bad or Hulk is going to be red now. Reading the comments on this was actually educational, and interesting.

    I completely agree with Trina on this. For mainstream comics the underlying issue is that all choices made by the majority of the 12 publishers listed (maybe not Gasp or Top Shelf) are fueled by money. But that money is generated by a group of people who have no interest in genuinely expanding the readership of comics. Instead, the same core audience is strip-mined by a group of people who think that only 90,000 people in the world will read comics. I’ve never been a fan of ill-conceived corporate attempts at “girl comics” like Minx. The secret to quality truly lies in diversity not in marketing campaigns.

    We’ve had so many great examples of unconventional approaches to comics working, but the underlying idea never seems to stick. When I read posts by dudes who have been “in comics” for 20,30,40 years and they are saying “there is no problem”, it just seems patently ridiculous. Of course it doesn’t seem like there is a problem to you. You are part of the problem.

    If you own a comic shop, distribution company, publishing house or run a convention, comics site or related business and are wondering why you aren’t making as much money as you used to or why people might not be buying comics any more: this is the kind of thing you should be opening up your mind to. Not closing it to. Debating it is healthy but dismissing it is only hurting yourself. It doesn’t mean that comics are bad because some people see them as gender imbalanced, it means that there is always room for improvement in any business. Especially one that is having problems.

    Ultimately, Trina has it right: “Let the boys have their superheroes.” and support independent comics.

  34. A sociology class might have helped you answer that question, Noah.

    As usual, the comments on the topic of sexism in comics reveal the very institutional sexism that those making the comments are so very clueless about. I keep trying to word this in a way that is less strident, but I am FED UP. It’s one thing to see semi-literate trolls commenting on sexism, but now, to see people who are obviously literate and intelligent to understand the system that keeps women from being represented in this industry disavow that system’s existence — it’s SO FRUSTRATING.

    Look, gents, you’re all people who obviously care about comics as both a medium and an industry. Why not give more than a superficial thought the sexism that is very, very institutionalized in this business? Richard, read Stephen’s definition of what institutionalized sexism is. Noah, take the philosophic blinders off.

    And, Stephen, I don’t like gender essentialism, either, but what Trina pointed out is not gender essentialist. It is not gender essentialist to acknowledge that girls and women tend to have different tastes from men — not because it is inborn necessarily, but because that is how we have been socialized. Personally, I don’t care that I am fulfilling gender stereotypes by loving Jane Austen and unicorns and pretty clothes; to cast off things I like simply because they’re “feminine” is to degrade the female gender in its own way.

    So if girls and women aren’t into male power fantasies, why decide it’s the fault of gender essentialism and write them off, rather than encouraging work that comes from a female point of view and better appeals to girls and women?

  35. Adam Staffaroni says:

    This was a great comics scholarship project, so bravo to the undertakers — it’s a great thing for young creators to really break down and analyze the workings of their chosen industry.

    Though I wish the dissemination of the information had been handled differently. While the undertakers of this project may be energized and inspired to create comics by this, it accentuated the bleaker side of things in a way I hope doesn’t net out as more DIScouraging than ENcouraging to aspiring female creators.

    What about comparing stats from 1990 to 2000 to today? Is there a positive trend? Is progress being made? I want a set of postcards that advertises what’s been done and what can still be done, rather than postcards that come off as angry about things not being the way we want them right at this very second.

    I read the point of these postcards as a criticism that would hopefully encourage activism — let’s see these intrepid students use their heavily-publicized-for-the-moment website to offer a way to get involved.

  36. Steve Miller says:

    If the problem is a shortage of comics which tailor to the tastes of women and you happen to be…oh, I don’t know, say a woman studying art, why not write and draw a comic book rather than a postcard? Because I find 100% of these postcards don’t tailor to men.

    Rather than complaining about the system do the hard work to change it.

  37. Jennifer,

    I’m genuinely not sure what “philosophic blinders are.” Are you suggesting that critical thinking is a hindrance? Or could you use a philosophy class yourself?

    We won’t get anywhere with comments like “A sociology class might have helped you answer that question, Noah.” where an actual sincere attempt at an answer might have been both more polite and brought the conversation forward.

    I want to read about Green Lantern, Swamp-Thing, Aquaman, Batman, Hellboy, Sandman, and the Justice League. When a female artist can draw it better than a male one, I want the female artist. When a female writer can write it better, then I certainly want the female one. I just want good superhero comics!

    The question we faced in my philosophy class and the question we face in our industry may be the same. Why are there so few women involved? Is it that they are discouraged or that they lack interest? If I’m honest, I don’t know which plays the bigger part.

  38. @Steve Miller: Oh, I don’t know, if the goal of the project was to get people talking about gender issues in comics, I think the postcards accomplished that just fine.

  39. bruce says:

    The gay males who fantasize about thier men in tights and underwear find the female creator and female fan a threat,as eventually the female will surpass their once mighty niche audience.
    A big example of this is the big outcry the gay comic book fans have about the new Superman costume. No longer will he wear his underwear on the OUTSIDE of his tights. This has long been a fetish for the gay comic book reader, now DC is marketing Superman for the larger female mainstream crowd. Times are a changing as comics are now going mainstream and trying to please the female crowd.

  40. Nicola Scott says:

    I’m finding this discussion incredibly interesting at the moment.

  41. Why would you presume those women are not writing, drawing and pitching as well, Steve? I understand that most here do not find individual anecdotes to be compelling evidence, but as the illustrator for the latest batch of AEM’s gender stats for a lit magazine (out in a few weeks), I can say that, respectfully, I do not just “complain” (in journalism we tend to call this “critique”) — I write and draw comics full time, and with more support from the female editors I pitch than the male ones, for the most part.

  42. It might be kind of late to respond to Noah’s question about manga, but yes, there /are/ quite a few young women who were introduced to the medium through manga and have since grown attached to Big Two-style superhero comics.

    Nobody’s saying DC or Marvel have to start publishing shojo-style comics for girls (though it would be awesome if they gave it a shot.) But please don’t act like Japanese comics have done absolutely nothing to contribute to the creation or readership of comics in America. That’s exactly the kind of attitude I suspect may be discouraging young female artists from pursuing a career with the Big Two.

  43. Angelica,
    Manga may have a lot to contribute to lots of people. I personally have no interest in reading it. In my mind, I see “Comic books” and “Manga” as fundamentally different, insofar as I’ll look through the comicbook section, but I won’t browse through the Manga.

    Now, please, understand, I’m not judging it in any objective way. I’m not saying, “It Sucks!” I’m saying, “It doesn’t interest me.” I imagine that I may not be alone. There may be a large number of readers in America who enjoy the books I do and do not have an interest in Manga. It isn’t strange that such different style would have different fanbases. Think about how much the audience of Oprah and Dr. Who overlap? Probably not a lot.

  44. No, I am not suggesting that critical thinking is a hindrance. I am suggesting that you may be looking at the question from the wrong perspective. To me the problems underlying this problem are so glaringly obvious that anyone who is intelligent and has an education that HAS encouraged critical thinking and can’t see it must be regarding the question either too simplistically (“flat-footed,” as I think you philosophy majors put it; my master’s degree is in literature) or from a point of view that makes them look past the question at something else.

    However, your question, “Are they discouraged or do they lack interest?” reveals that it’s actually the former problem, rather than the latter. You’re thinking about the “how things are” more than “why things are,” it seems to me. “Why things are” is something that has been ingrained into our society by centuries of what we feminists call “the patriarchy.”

    You say you want the “better” writer or artist, but by what criteria has “better” been judged? In the comics industry, decades of building an audience to have a particular demographic means that “better” is what sells well to young (but rapidly getting older) men. It doesn’t matter if there is a woman writer who could write a well-developed story about Wonder Woman that treats questions of gender, power, and ass-kicking in an innovative, entertaining, and thought-provoking way that resonates with female readers if that’s not what the industry defines as “good.”

    It doesn’t matter if scores of potential new readers descended on Comic-Con (thanks to Twilight or manga or whatever) if the comics “establishment” is actively hostile or dismissive to these young women, making them “the Other” and making it either very clear they’re unwanted or just making it uncomfortable for them, while simultaneously sending the message to formerly neutral people about who belongs and who doesn’t, who deserves respect, and who doesn’t.

    All of us have attitudes that have been inculcated in us by this kind of inactive, institutional sexism. We have to learn how to see it — that’s how we change things.

    I’m sorry that I came off as so dismissive. As Elayne put it, it’s not the job of every feminist to educate every person who is ignorant about institutional sexism. It truly does get frustrating.

  45. “The problems underlying this problem” — Nice one, Jennifer!

  46. Jennifer,

    I appreciate what I can only assume was a sincere attempt to back away from your more belligerent remarks. Are you unaware how belligerent it is to then call me ignorant simply because you and I may not be 100% on the same page? This is how one arranges an argument, not a discussion. I understand your frustration, but please consider how your messages will read to the other people involved.

    What makes art or storytelling “better” to me should be fairly obvious. It means “I like it!” I have certainly enjoyed the work of numerous women in the comicbook industry. Yes, they are a conspicuously small percentage when compared to the men. I would be very happy to read the work of more women comicbook professionals if more work by female comicbook professionals was available and suited my taste.

    What I do not know, and what I have attempted to raise the question of: Is whether the problem is that the industry is denying me this material or if the artists who might have produced it are not interested in producing it. If, for example, they want to draw Manga, then I would say they are not interested in providing the product/art I am interested in.

  47. I think the answer to your question, Noah, is “both,” and I think the more important question is “Why is that so?” I have provided what I think the answer is, but that is not what you seem to be interested in engaging with, so forgive me if I interpret this to mean at least a lack of interest in — if not ignorance of — the deeper problem of sexism.

    But there ARE women who are interested in producing this material. For example, a few women have recently come forward to reveal that they were approached by DC for the relaunch and pitched to them but were rejected. Women who formerly were artists for DC have not been picked up for the relaunch. I don’t know the specific reasons for this, but I do know that because the pool of women creators is smaller, losing just a few female creators often means losing almost ALL female creators.

    I mean, you could spin the DC relaunch story to be “DC fires 95% of female creators!” (or whatever the actual percentage is. So how did the industry become shaped in such a way that this is possible? It’s been a long process. If we only ask “Are there so few women writing and drawing superhero comics because they don’t want to or because the industry doesn’t want them to?” we’re getting closer to the essential question, but we’re still not asking it.

  48. Stephen says:

    >The gay males who fantasize about thier men >in tights and underwear find the female >creator and female fan a threat,as >eventually the female will surpass their >once mighty niche audience.

    Who is “the” female you are referring to? Is it Gail Simone? Because I can tell you that she and her work are much enjoyed by many gay male superhero fans. In fact, I would wager that among male comic book fans, gay male fans are far more likely to purchase mainstream comics created by and featuring women.

    I can assure you that gay men who read comics are in no way threatened by female creators. In fact, I have often argued with my fellow gay comic book fans that having more female creators (including in positions of authority in editorial – we miss you Jennette Kahn!) might actually increase the representation of gay characters in comic books since, sociologically, we know that women tend to be more supportive of sexual diversity than men.

    >A big example of this is the big outcry the >gay comic book fans have about the new >Superman costume. No longer will he wear >his underwear on the OUTSIDE of his tights. >This has long been a fetish for the gay >comic book reader, now DC is marketing >Superman for the larger female mainstream >crowd.

    Jesus Christ, you are like Frederic Wertham redux. If gay male fans are complaining about Superman’s new costume it’s because it looks stupid with those idiotic unnecessary kneepads and it’s an unnecessary refashioning of a classic uniform. It has nothing to do with fetishization.

    And who is “the” gay comic book reader? Is that like “the” black comic book reader?

  49. Also, this — “What makes art or storytelling “better” to me should be fairly obvious. It means ‘I like it!'” — doesn’t help the discussion for me. More to the point would be “What do I like?” and “Why do I like it?”

    I’ve long since figured out, like Trina, that what I like is not what superheroes are best at doing, though I do enjoy superhero stories here and there. My tastes run toward the introspective. I don’t think this is so much “feminine” taste as it is one of personality, but some might interpret it that way. I like the stories about how it *feels* to be a superhero, how it separates one from the rest of humanity while at the same time making one feel a great responsibility to humanity. For me, that’s what is most interesting about the superhero. However, that’s not really what superheroes are *for* — but it doesn’t mean they’re about marginalizing an entire sex by seeing it as standard procedure to degrade, objectify, and brutalize them just because that’s what the genre has developed into.

  50. Stephen says:

    >As Elayne put it, it’s not the job of every >feminist to educate every person who is >ignorant about institutional sexism. It >truly does get frustrating.

    But if you perceive a problem where others don’t, and if you don’t point out why/how the problem is a problem, then you’re helping perpetuate it. Otherwise, those who you think are ignorant will remain so and have no reason to change or perceive things differently.

    It’s pretty much a given that those in a position of social or cultural dominance are oblivious to the institutionalized patterns that maintain their dominance. It’s “just the way things are.”

  51. OtisTFirefly says:

    elayne
    >>>>Of course you don’t, Richard. Please study up on “institutionalized sexism” because it’s really not up to Heidi or any feminist to educate you.

    See, this is why “we get nowhere,” as another poster commented. Can you BE any more condescending?How do you know Richard HASN’T studied up on “institutionalized sexism”? Just because his definition might disagree with yours? Have YOU ever ONCE given any thought to the idea that EVERY piece you’ve ever read about “sexism” or “institutionalized sexism” may be the OPINION of the person that wrote it? And I would guess, from your condescending attitude, that you are from the Dworkin rational (*choke*) school of feminism.

    RICHARD
    >>>Screw what their portfolios looked like or if their talents fit our requirements?
    Really? Talent doesn’t count?

    Sadly, yes that is the case much of the time, isn’t it? I don’t think our friend elayne would ever see it as anything BUT sexism that you didn’t hire a woman. And that is the problem. Sexism IS a problem, and DOES exist, obviously, but again those of a certain kind (*cough*) see it EVERYWHERE that you can possibly plug in gender as a reason something didn’t go your way. Sometimes *gasp* a woman ISN’T the most qualified JUST because she is a woman.

    As for “overhearing comments”… I always go back to a personal experience where I work where a woman who found sexism as the root cause of EVERYTHING saw the owner come talk to our manager, and just KNEW they were badmouthing her because of her work and because she’s a woman. She saw them huddling up and they had looked her direction, so OF COURSE that’s what is was about. What she DID NOT know is that I was retrieving a file off a computer not far from them, and I actually HEARD what they were talking about… nothing to do with her. I told her this, and asked her “Do you ever consider that MAYBE some of the other times you see sexism EVERYWHERE that they case might be JUST LIKE this one?” She actually had to stop and consider that possibility…

    trina
    >>,,, I don’t believe that the mainstream comics publishers are rejecting women because they are women –they are rejecting wome because their comics, which are still aimed at a predominantly male readership, tend not to be the kind of comics that women read, write, or draw. This sorry state of affairs will continue as long as mainstream comics continues to aim their product at guys.

    Well there you go!

    Is there anything wrong with selling superhero “male” fantasy? Of course not. Is this not roughly akin to men bemoaning the fact that most every Harlequin romance is geared towards women? How many studies have there been on how many times the men on the covers have not had a shirt on vs. the women being dressed? Or how many of the men on the covers have been bald? Or overweight? I’d be willing to guess… NONE!!! Because shirtless muscles with long flowing hair is the “female fantasy” they market to.

    STEPHEN
    >>>Gender essentialism is fascinating. What is it about being born with a vagina that makes women read, write, or draw only certain kinds of comics?

    Someone else addressed this, but I’ll second: It sounds like you are making this a female issue… but what is it about the penis that make men ONLY want to read, write or draw superheroes? Well… NOTHING! See Joe Matt, Chester etc etc.

  52. Jennifer,

    Your posting style continues to be so belligerent. It seems you’d rather have someone to fight with than discuss things with. I haven’t anywhere suggested that there are not forces which discourage women (Be they comicbook artists, dogcatchers, or doctors.) There unquestioningly are. I think it is worth looking into the question of whether DC or Marvel or Dark Horse are passing over superior female-authored work. If you were hoping that you’d stumbled upon a woman-hating Hulk fan, I’m afraid I’m not the guy for you. :(

    However, I don’t think it is fair to suggest that the American comic book style is poorly suited to introspection. (Ever read Vertigo? Or New Teen Titans in the 1980s!??!?) My personal preference for the comics I enjoy has nothing to do with any of the suggestions you’re making. The books I am reading amaze me. They grab my imagination! Have you read Swamp Thing? Hellboy? Green Lantern? Batman? Sandman? I haven’t seen anything of the imaginational (To make up a word) depth in the realm of Manga to compare. And frankly, I think the art style in Manga usually looks kinda generic.

    Now to be clear, this is my opinion. You may think Ranma is more fantastic than anything that came out of the days of ABC comics. That’s cool. I respect your right to like what you like. But really, you have to suggest there’s something fundamentally wrong with me for preferring the books I like rather than Manga?

    For what its worth, I enjoyed Gloom Cookie quite a bit, until it lost its focus. If that wasn’t a made for women by women title, I don’t know what would be. But it was A DAMN GOOD ONE.

  53. OtisTFirefly says:

    >>>A sociology class might have helped you answer that question, Noah.

    As usual, the comments on the topic of sexism in comics reveal the very institutional sexism that those making the comments ….>>>

    Again, I’ll second: One reason it’s hard to take the supposed “educational” comments seriously is when they are introduced with unbelievable condescension. Why not just start with “Noah, I know you’re just a dumb uneducated MAN who obviously does not understand that by having a different opinion than me makes you representative of institutional sexism? Try to educate yourself before speaking in public.”

    >>> It’s one thing to see semi-literate trolls commenting on sexism, but now, to see people who are obviously literate and intelligent….

    So… there you go. Perhaps others here ARE literate and intelligent, but might have a different viewpoint to offer on a subject that is not, and cannot, be BLACK and WHITE. Studying institutional sexism is not studying the history of baseball…

    And yes, I know you’ll completely dismiss me as a sexist redneck pig because I dare not tow the hard feminist line. Cheers to you anyway.

    p.s. Who chalked up my capitalizing the mens names in my previous comment and lowercasing the womens to sexism? C’moooonnnnn … raise your hands!

  54. OtisTFirefly says:

    And, if I had my way, Nicola Scott would draw at least HALF of the relaunched DCU.

    Just sayin’.

    (and save the “oh, aren’t you special and advanced for liking a female artist/one artist does not a thinking man make” lines. thank you. Believe it or not I like an artist based on the art, not the gender of the artist. Shall we start up on Rob Liefeld and how HE is getting a book? If someone shows thats because he’s a man I’ll carry the front torch in the line at the DC offices!)

  55. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I guess it was too much to hope for that sexism in the comics industry would be solved as well. Maybe its own post…?

  56. This was a fantastic idea, well executed. Kudos to Ladydrawers.

  57. Well, Noah, as someone who both adores Doctor Who and cried like a little baby at Oprah’s farewell episode . . .

    . . . I’m sure there’s gotta be at least one manga title out there you’d enjoy! “Japanese comics” are not one monolithic block any more than “Non-Japanese comics” are.

    If you like supernatural-tinged thrillers, I recommend Death Note.

    If you like high school romance, I recommend Kimi Ni Todoke.

    If you like dark social satire, I recommend Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.

    If you like military fantasy, I recommend Fullmetal Alchemist.

    If you like baseball and/or coming-of-age stories, I recommend Cross Game.

    Please don’t let a perception of manga as “one block of thing I wouldn’t be interested in” keep you from seeking out a series you might very well enjoy!

  58. Angelica,
    I’m sure I’ll come across SOMETHING in Manga I enjoy at some point. In general, I loathe country music…. but there’s always Johnny Cash….. :)

  59. Seriously, though, is there really a big gay sub-culture that fetishizes Superman’s shorts?

  60. Nicola Scott says:

    Thanks Otis.

    I’d have settled for one decent book though.

  61. Nicola,

    You didn’t get one? :(
    Well you deserve one!

  62. Haha, yeah! I’m sure there’s a “Johnny Cash” manga out there just waiting for you to discover it. :]

    . . . heck, there’s probably a manga /about/ Johnny Cash, somewhere. Or at least there should be. Get drawing, Japanese cartoonists!

  63. Dear women,

    The super hero publishers are a lost cause for you. The Internet is where you can take that fire in your bellies and DIY yourself a better comics medium. Kate Beaton has shown you the way.

    Thank you.

  64. If women can’t or won’t produce work that people are buying, then they won’t get hired. The Big Two are in business to sell books. Period.

    On that note, bruce commented about San Diego Comicon: “The film industry has realized most of the people who go to San Diego Comic Con are either gay or nerds.”

    Then, a ways up this page, he comments: “The gay males who fantasize about thier men in tights and underwear find the female creator and female fan a threat,as eventually the female will surpass their once mighty niche audience.”

    Is this guy really interested in comics, or is he just posting messages like this to get people riled up?

  65. Steve G says:

    Johnny Cash manga? Perhaps not. Johnny Cash graphic novel? Hells to the yes!

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=23761

  66. While I will certainly agree that there be a whole lot of sexism out there, I’m not at all sure (as someone who orders comics for a living) that as a percentage of output that superhero comics are proportionally more sexist than “indy” ones.

    More characters whose sole attribute is “Look! Breasts!” come from non-Marvel and -DC sources, and you tend to find far more images of women falling out of their clothes in Artist’s Alley then you do in the “Big Publisher” sections.

    And manga? I find a tremendous amount of manga is just hyper-crazy sexist in both imagery and depicted gender roles. (But then Japan may be an even more fucked up culture than our own. Maybe.)

    -B

  67. I guess the part that confused me was when female = Japanese…..

    I hadn’t been aware of that one……

  68. Noah and Otis,

    I feel like you are focusing more on me and what you think my motivations are more than on the issue we are discussing. I am discussing something I am passionate about, and that is what is coming across as “belligerent,” I’m afraid. I didn’t expect you to be sexist pigs or Hulk-esque monsters, and I feel uncomfortable talking to people who try to tell me what my own thoughts are. Noah, I’m trying to understand — do you think my first post was addressed entirely to you? I can see how it would seem that way, but really I was addressing Richard’s comments. I should have been more specific.

    To answer your questions, Noah, I’ve read everything that you mentioned except for Green Lantern and 1980s Teen Titans. Sandman was the first comic I really got into. I was referring to mainstream superhero titles when I wrote about introspective stories, and I brought it up in response to Trina’s post about superhero comics perhaps not being the place for female creators to make their marl. Sandman and Hellboy are not what I consider mainstream superhero comics. I don’t particularly like Ranma. I wasn’t the one commenting about manga, which isn’t my area of expertise. However, I have read some great manga with a depth of imagination and execution, with very diverse art styles, like Battle Angel Alita and Uzumaki, and a lot of fun, like Tramps Like Us. Manga encompasses a lot of genres, so it’s a big pool to pick from.

    I started editing GloomCookie in 2002. When I was the primary slush-reader at SLG, I made a point of favoring works that did not retread the same male point-of-view stories, whether the submissions were by men or women. I’m really proud of publishing Faith Erin Hicks and Diana Thung, among other awesome women.

    See, the thing is, comics are a HUGE part of my life. I’ve worked in the industry for a decade; it was the industry I entered out of college. Even though it’s gotten better, I still work in an industry that greatly undervalues the work of my entire sex.

  69. I honestly didn’t realize you were involved with Gloom Cookie. I really enjoyed that book. (Probably my subconscious recognized the name and that’s why I brought it up? It does that…)

    In any case, I feel I raised substantial questions, real questions, and you responded by insulting me and trying to start a fight – insulting my education, the field of Philosophy itself, you seem to have suggested that my comments revealed “institutionalized sexism!” You talked down to me, thought you would be teaching me a new word by bringing up the word “Patriarchy.”

    You called me ignorant, without first checking if that was true.

    AND I understand. Sincerely. This is something you’re upset about. This is something you’re passionate about. You have a right to both of those feelings. But I feel like you were punching allies instead of the enemy today. I hope that the next time we talk, we get along a little better?

    :)

  70. L-Rigby says:

    I’d like to add my ten cents to all of this talk.
    Some of it is very interesting and as some one who actually made one of these postcards that every one is receiving I am glad there’s so much discussion going on.
    As far as just throwing the statistics out there with out any explanation was very intentional. We couldn’t decide what we wanted to say from the data because there was so much to say. So we had to narrow it down to little bits of the whole picture otherwise we never would have finished the project. We said things that were important to each of us about the information we gathered from each of the publishers we researched and from all the publishers as a group.

    And one thing that some one pointed out was that we were doing research without trying to impact the statistics, i.e. making a comic out of them so there would be more lady comics presumably. The card I made was a comic, but I see your point. Which is why starting this coming Sunday we’re taking the data and turning it in to comics which I presume will be available to everyone. This class is really a two part class for me. I did the research with everyone in the first class and myself and several others who love to make comics will turn the research in to comics in the second class.
    And as far as the Indie environment being the only place ladies can truly excel I’m going to call bullshit. Our numbers show that Top Shelf, an Indie publisher of some very good books, had the lowest amount of female contributers at 8%, even Image had higher at 10% and Image is notorious for publishing some very, hmmmm interesting titles.
    I want to throw out there that I love super hero comics. I might have been drafted in to the comics world at large by manga but that by no means stops me from enjoying mainstream super hero comics. I work at a comic book shop and most of the employees there are queer women. We all love comic books and regularly get in to arguments about what our favorite titles are up to. Because what does stop us from enjoying comics is the misogyny, abuse, bigotry, homophobia that seems to be standard ilk for the more edgy and dark comics of the day. When you can’t enjoy a title like Batwoman, which by all counts is an awesome tale of a woman who won’t bow to what society thinks she should be, because you reread it and see how many nipple slips the female artist put in there, there is something very wrong. I could digress more but what I’m really trying to say is there might be all sorts of reasons why women are underrepresented in all kinds of comics but it sure as hell isn’t because we don’t love them. We love to read them, write, and make them. Go to any con and you’ll see the attendees are about 50/50 male to female. So this research was really just a tap on the shoulder to the comics industry because some one needed to do it. We’re here, we love comics, and we’re going to be a part of them, what an exciting time in comics we’re going to live in. :)

  71. The Beat says:

    For everyone here who says that women don’t like superheroes…have you READ the recent writings of Jill Pantozzi, Ragnell, Kalinara, Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass, Kelly Thompson, Maddyfrom When Fangirls Attack, the Beat’s own Kate Fitzsimons and so many others?

    Are they a vocal minority? Maybe. But in an industry where every readers counts…I think every reader counts.

    Has anyone noticed the EXPLOSION of woman-centric nerd media these days? From the raging Tumblr community to The Mary Sue to Geek Girls Con and now these postcards? Outliers or the symbol for a much larger audience? I think the latter.

    I sense a lot of annoyance in this thread — I think the annoyance (my own anyway) is based on all the denial of clear and incontrovertible EVIDENCE. Like the fact that women DO like to read superhero comics. More than that, it’s the sheer lengths to which men — and yes, it is men — go to to avoid anything cootie-related. Things like how few movies can pass the Bechdel Test; the predominance of the Smurfette Effect and so on.

    I think I mentioned this before — probably in the last time a thread like this began — but we’ve been watching Doctor Who (new version) and it’s remarkable how many characters are women. Characters who have important plot functions and are not just eye candy. Not as tokens, or Smurfettes or raging feminist symbols…just as character in fiction. It’s a pleasant change from most of today’s woman-fearing studio output where just having more than one woman on screen at a time is considered a red flag for threatening and/or tedious content.

  72. Noah, seriously, I was meaning to be a little tongue-in-cheek and self-mocking when I said “what we feminists call ‘the patriarchy'”! I do hope we will get on better next time we encounter each other.

    Even the TARDIS is a lady now, Heidi, thanks to Neil Gaiman. Though it’s a situation that can lead to a lot of bad porno-type lines, what with the TARDIS being bigger on the inside and the Doctor needing to be inside of…. I just realized that. Oh dear. I should rest now.

  73. “Heidi?” I thought they established her name was “Sexy?” :)

    Nothing to do with anything, but I saw an interview with the actress who plays River Song last week. She claimed that she was the first companion to kiss the Doctor…. I wondered if she’d heard of, well, the last four, at least? (Including Amy Pond!?!?)

  74. Heck, you want to see women and girls who love superheroes, go to DeviantArt. Superhero art from female artists shows up on the Most Popular page every couple of days, (a lot of it inspired by the Young Justice TV show, lately) and tons more shows up in people’s galleries. Some of it is /really/ good, too – and that’s what they draw for free!

    I can only imagine those artists would bring their A-game if Marvel or DC offered them an official project – maybe a series of “fan showcase” one-shots?

  75. Wow I feel like the denial here is INSANE!!! I can’t even get into the problem with homophobia and queers being represented in the industry. If you are a male and you don’t understand how or why this is a problem honestly you are an uneducated idiot. Please do some fucking reading.

    Obviously this isn’t about talent that’s the dumbest fucking analogy!!! Look at the content of mainstream comics, that alone is hugely sexist. Look at what DC has repeatedly allowed to happen with Wonder Woman despite her VERY feminist orgins. Everything about the comics industry screams females stay away and if you are in the industry and deny that…again you are a MORON!

    I’ve been on the other side alongside very well know mainstream comic artists/editors and creators it’s a FACT everyone knows it. Queers and females have been self-publishing and doing very small press, we are here but there isn’t a place for must of us in mainstream comics. Why would I want to write a wonder woman story, I wouldn’t get to write what I want, so I’m going to write what I want on my own. It is extremely difficult to be a female in this industry just ask the females IN the industry, this is real and it’s time people get in the face of mainstream comics about it.

  76. bad wolf says:

    I always think stunts like this are unnecessary until i read comments like this thread. In all the discussion over Dr Who and manga, Jennifer dG’s point that the New DC has seriously depopulated it’s female creative staff is concerning and disturbing (it’s the ’90s in more ways than one). There have been years of creative team development and for talented creators like Nicola Scott or Amanda Conner to be left hanging when the JT Kruls get multiple books? Ridiculous.

    My own field (natural sciences) has a lot of similar issues of cause/effect of why so few female professors. But at least the percentage is increasing after directed efforts to do so. People didn’t just sit back and say ‘nothing we can do.’ The recent comics industry news is not so encouraging.

  77. Magewolf says:

    Well not Johnny Cash but “Me and the Devil Blues” is about Robert Johnson and is very good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_and_the_Devil_Blues_%28manga%29

  78. Amanda Conner is working on something at D.C. right now, with future work lined up. So you guys and gals know. It just has not been announced yet.

  79. I find it very depressing how many men are on here bending over backward to argue that the number of female creators employed at the Big Two is just fine.

  80. Jonathan Eyler-Werve says:

    Great thread. Congrats to Ladydrawers for rather brilliantly starting a conversation that wasn’t happening last month and lots of people would prefer not to have ever.

    Also, Noah: Dude. Try listening for a while. It helps.

  81. Torsten Adair says:

    No it’s not fine! We need more Colleen Coovers drawing awesome Hydrettes! We need more Gail Simones writing stuff like Secret Six and Welcome to Tranquility! We need at least one female on the next multi-writer event cross-over! We need more “top ten” female writers and artists! Female guests of honor at major conventions!

    Heck… we need a WisCon for comics! (And WisCon 35 just wrapped up… They “got it” back in 1977.)

    Because I’ve got nieces who love comics. They’ve got awesome imaginations, and I want to encourage them.

  82. Synsidar says:

    In case anyone was wondering, there are complaints about sexism in other segments of the publishing industry. Writer Julie Bush is upset about that:

    Playwright Julia Jordan pointed me toward a recent study about perceptions of male and female playwrights that showed that plays with female protagonists were the most devalued in blind readings. “The exact same play that had a female protagonist was rated far higher when the readers thought it had a male author,” Jordan said. “In fact, one of the questions on the blind survey was about the characters ‘likability,’and the exact same female character, same lines, same pagination, when written by a man was exceeding likable, when written by a woman was deemed extremely unlikable.”

    There’s also an absence of hard statistics on sex-based reading preferences:

    Franklin, who was chagrined to find that only 33 percent of the books she reviewed last year were by women, concluded that “magazines are reviewing female authors in something close to the proportion of books by women published each year. The question now becomes why more books by women are not getting published.” [. . .’

    The imbalance in books published is indeed a puzzle; book publishers, like any other business, want to make money, and multiple surveys indicate that women buy and read far more books than men do. (This fact has long been established within the book business, but since some Salon readers have questioned it in the past, please see the National Endowment for the Arts “Reading at Risk” report.) [. . .]

    Conventional wisdom among professionals in the children’s book business is that while girls will read books about either boys or girls, boys only want to read about boys. Could it be that this bias extends into adulthood, with the preference among boys for male characters evolving into the preference among men for male authors? Or it could be that many male readers simply doubt that women have anything interesting to say.

    However, there apparently are searchable statistics on women’s predominance as readers:

    My conclusion from this informal little survey is that women make up between 20 and 34 percent of authors for whom the publishing industry deems it worthy to print, review or advertise. My idiosyncratic sample yields roughly the same gender breakdown among critics and reviewers.

    However, I am certain that these percentages do not obtain when examining the gender breakdown among consumers of literature. A quick check on Google confirms my notions on readership:

    The average American woman reads nine books a year, while the average American man reads only five.
    Women read more books than men in all categories except history and biography.
    For every four women reading fiction, there is only one man.
    The population of book group participants is almost entirely female.

    In my personal experience, the female writers in superhero comics (Duffy, Simonson, Nocenti (by reputation), Immonen) have been at least as good as the vast majority of male writers. Steve Englehart remains the best writer I’ve seen at handling women, because he wrote them as individuals, not as stereotypes. Claremont, during his X-Men heyday, was complimented on his women, but he wrote one stereotype, and just varied her appearance.

    One editorial problem that could hinder improvement is that the characters are much less realistic than they were 35 years ago. Back then, characters could be introspective and have subplots devoted to personal issues. They don’t have subplots now, nor do they think. They talk and act. In MARVEL DIVAS, Aguirre-Sacasa had Firestar deal with cancer, but the other women were written as likable airheads. If current editorial policies and stylistic demands prevent writers from portraying women as individuals, writing them well will be nearly impossible.

    There are situations which can serve as Rorschach tests. Consider a story about a virtual rapist, who uses telepathy to implant memories of having been raped, and of having deserved it for being teases. He’s eventually caught, after another telepath detects what he’s doing, but the damage has been done. Women have been severely injured psychically. What’s the appropriate punishment? Would a lobotomy be too severe? Who would be a better villain: a villainous sociopath or a hero with repressed hatred of women? How a writer approached the material would reveal attitudes. But then, so would describing what makes Wolverine a likable character. I find him repulsive.

    If I were in a position to do so, I’d favor employing women over similarly qualified men, for the sake of improving gender balance and to provide readers with a wider variety of styles and viewpoints. Forcing editors to defend their hiring practices would be very beneficial.

    SRS

  83. @Torsten Were you at WisCon 35? I still need to write that up.

  84. Hannah Rod says:

    I’ve seen a couple comments concerning the nudity statistics, and though the simple fact of a woman being depicted nude doesn’t bother me either, I think looking at numbers that show drastic differences in the number of women depicted nude vs. the number of men, reflect on a very basic level how men and women are treated differently in sexual context. Just because the image of a woman naked may not be overly exploiting or sexual, does not mean it doesn’t show how women here are sexualized.
    The overall question is why is it more acceptable in most visual venues to show female nudity, than it is to show male nudity?

  85. Synsidar says:

    The overall question is why is it more acceptable in most visual venues to show female nudity, than it is to show male nudity?

    The reason I’ve seen cited is that men are more easily aroused by the sight of a beautiful naked woman, or by depictions of heterosexual or lesbian sex. Unless they’re gay, they’re not aroused by depictions of gay sex.

    There’s a popular myth to the effect that a guy thinks about sex every seven seconds. There’s no evidence of that, but if 54 percent of men think about sex once or more per day (per the Kinsey Report), that’s a fair amount of thinking about sex.

    SRS

  86. The Beat says:

    I guess bigmanoncampus’s people have never heard of things called self-control and focus.

  87. The Beat says:

    Big Man — or “Bruce” as you were known earlier in the thread — we dont’ countenance sock puppets here so out with ye.

  88. “And just to cut to the chase here, could it possibly be all the comments overheard by myself and other women who worked at mainstream companies about women not being suited to working for the Big Two, that could POSSIBLY have some kind of effect on the number of women actually WORKING at the big two?”

    Yeah – this blog post should have a “They Hate Us” tag (“Us” being you and those other women, and “They” being those sexist commentators).

  89. Why is it that women have to cover up? Why can’t the young men be more responsible for their own actions? I’ve worked with a number of beautiful, young women over the years and never felt that they should be covered up lest they tempt me so I can’t work.
    I am so sick of this sexist bullshit. Much like racism, I find myself wondering at how anyone could be so blind to sexism. And I say this as a white man. I can’t even imagine what it jmust be like to actually have to face discrimination.
    What ever happened to empathy? Is it so difficult to picture oneself in another’s shoes?

  90. OtisTFirefly says:

    Jennifer>>>>>I feel like you are focusing more on me and what you think my motivations are more than on the issue we are discussing.

    Sorry. When you come out swinging by basically calling someone stupid, it makes it hard not to point out that instead of jumping in constructively with a difference of opinion, you go straight to the condescending ‘read a book you stupid MAN’ personal insult. THEN move on to discuss your point.

    Just saying. But hey, everyone gets passionate about things around here, no? I’m sure sometimes we all mouth off more than we should in ways that might have been expressed in better ways.
    Cheers.

    Katie>>>>Wow I feel like the denial here is INSANE!!! I can’t even get into the problem with homophobia and queers being represented in the industry. If you are a male and you don’t understand how or why this is a problem honestly you are an uneducated idiot. Please do some fucking reading.>>>

    ….well, there you go. “You don’t necessarily agree with ME!!! IDIOT! READ A BOOK YOU MORON!!!”

    Yep. Another rational jump – I’m right, you’re wrong, read MY books and MY studies. End of story. Sorry, end of fucking story.

    <<< Look at the content of mainstream comics, that alone is hugely sexist. Look at what DC has repeatedly allowed to happen with Wonder Woman despite her VERY feminist orgins. Everything about the comics industry screams females stay away and if you are in the industry and deny that…again you are a MORON!

    DC has screwed the pooch 95% of the time on WW since the 40s. I don't disagree with that. However… "EVERYTHING" screams STAY AWAY??? Because the superhero market is predominately male? Because the big 2 are in the business of superhero fantasy? DC actively discourages women from reading superhero books? Just because they don't PUBLISH WHAT YOU WANT and because they can't FORCE FEED superheroes to women… it's THEIR FAULT??? You'd think , from your comments, the damn things are labeled "He-Man Woman Haters Club Members ONLY" in 48 pt. Helvetica Black across the top of every book. What the hell are they supposed to do? Cancel the line, poll women and replace everything with whatever tops the poll? You don't think Vertigo sells to women? You don't think there are women buying the superhero books? You don't think the Minx line was a huge success? (hmmm… marketing to young women… they didn't TURN OUT IN DROVES…. huh. I guess it's because there were so many MEN behind it, like, er, Karen Berger and Shelly Bond… hmmm… you're right. Men are all morons because we don't agree with YOU. Well done.

    NICOLA: I can't believe this sorry state will last very long. This lineup will be shaken in half in 6 months, the appeal to 90s men having failed in large part. (Yes, seriously. There's marketing to the demo and then there's just PLAIN STUPID!!!)
    Perhaps part of the issue with you is that YOU DRAW WELL and understand anatomy…?

  91. OtisTFirefly….well, there you go. “You don’t necessarily agree with ME!!! IDIOT! READ A BOOK YOU MORON!!!”

    Yep. Another rational jump – I’m right, you’re wrong, read MY books and MY studies. End of story. Sorry, end of fucking story.

    A) that’s actually NOT what I said
    B) This isn’t a matter of opinion it’s a FACT.

    Your denial and ignorance to this FACT is the problem, it is NOT a matter of opinion. There is no point arguing with you because you don’t get it and what you have said is ignorant…another FACT.

  92. Also the superhero thing completely NOT what I was talking about, I read super hero comics always have again you are missing the point, you don’t understand because you don’t experience and you don’t WANT to see or understand it.

    Let me just tell you I know a lot of important people in the industry and successful females and this is just a fact it’s been talked about for years. It’s a real problem. And I know what is like to be a woman surrounded by mainstream professionals ok you don’t do you have any idea what it feels like? Do you know what it feels like to be constantly treated like a piece of meat, to walk into a comic book store as a 15 year old girl? You don’t and you don’t care to, you are too busy being ridiculously defensive on a well known fact, sexism is still alive everywhere but shines out big time in certain industries and comics happens to be one of them.

    Tons of women love superhero comics, just not badly written sexist, misogynistic, superhero comics that draw women like inflated plastic surgery nightmares who would realistically snap off at the waist and give themselves major back problems by running around without proper support.

  93. wrong says:

    wonder if women are ever called trolls, especially on this site. This katie k seems trollish to me.

    many of these comments have made me laugh. many have made me shake my head from disbelief.

    I’m too lazy to go through and point out the flaws running rampant in a lot of these arguments…even jennifer de guzman’s, and I don’t really like her much and find a lot of what she has to say to be extremely biased and one-sided.

    what I do want to say is this…the total number of marvel or dc comics i buy is zero. gender politics has nothing to do with this. I find most of them terribly boring or just terrible. Everything is about taste and choice. I don’t like Gail Simone’s writing, but I liked Welcome to Tranquility. Gender is only a small part of anything.

    Next…”facts” or “FACT(s)” as the case may be require proof and not just hearsay or blatant assumption.

    and finally…men aren’t more bare in comics because nobody finds body hair attractive, and women don’t have as much visible body hair as men do so they look better than men when uncovered. Men don’t like it and women don’t like it so you don’t see it. I am not claiming this to be fact. Just throwing it out there for fun.

    I think a major misguided view of this whole topic is that numbers prove something. Numbers don’t prove anything. They’re a basis for theory and investigation and can then be used to support said theory, but until then, numbers are just numbers and proof needs more than just numbers. And as anyone who has taken a Sociology class knows, numbers lie.

  94. “nobody finds body hair attractive”

    Er, speak for yourself, pal.

    Besides, this is comics we’re talking about – want a shirtless man to not have body hair? Draw a shirtless man that doesn’t have body hair!

  95. “Besides, this is comics we’re talking about – want a shirtless man to not have body hair? Draw a shirtless man that doesn’t have body hair!”

    I thought women were against unrealistic body representations in comics.

    Along those lines, most superheroes look like hairless naked people anyway by wearing skintight spandex.

    speak for myself? I shouldn’t have had to say anything what with all those magazine covers and the like saying it already.

    yes yes, everyone is an individual, but when anyone makes a generalization they’re usually speaking to the trend and not the exception.

  96. I know everyone posing in this thread is going to support Saudi women driving day right? Honk those horns!

  97. I’m not a troll I’m just highly irritated at massive ignorance. Lots of people find body hair attractive including myself people shouldn’t have to shave or change the way they look to fit a norm they should do whatever they want.

  98. OtisTFirefly says:

    >>>>A>>>) that’s actually NOT what I said
    B) This isn’t a matter of opinion it’s a FACT.

    OH, well then forgive me. YOU say it’s a fact, therefore, it MUST BE A FACT.>>>

    Why don’t you link us all to some studies done on gender bias in the mainstream comic book industry. NOT a study done by a feminist group, please. Something a little more independent perhaps. If you can find these “facts” that you know.

    >>>>Your denial and ignorance to this FACT is the problem, it is NOT a matter of opinion. There is no point arguing with you because you don’t get it and what you have said is ignorant…another FACT.>>>

    ANNNNNNDDDDDD there it is!!!! WE HAVE A WINNER!!!! There is no point arguing with someone because they “don’t get it” – translation: they don’t share your point of view, or take your point of view or personal life experience as being FACT for all citizens of this country and their life experiences. AGain, where are these FACTS that back up all your talk about women in comics being denied work because they are women? Show me please. Or, just go ahead and try and insult me and tell me I don’t get it and then run away crying.

    >>>>>Let me just tell you I know a lot of important people in the industry and successful females and this is just a fact it’s been talked about for years. It’s a real problem. And I know what is like to be a woman surrounded by mainstream professionals ok you don’t do you have any idea what it feels like?

    OH MY GOD!!!!! Wow, your hubris know no bounds! I”m soooo sorry, I didn’t realize you’re so connected and know so many powerful people – that must mean you know it all… obviously.

    And my all-time favorite: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A WOMAN! You don’t know what it’s like to be surrounded by powerful women! Well, yes I do. And let me share this with you, genius: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A MAN!!!!!!!

    You assume you do, but trust me, you don’t. It’s amazing you know what it’s like to walk in MY FOOTSTEPS apparently, but I have NO IDEA what it’s like in yours. HYPOCRITE, anyone?

    >>>>Do you know what it feels like to be constantly treated like a piece of meat, to walk into a comic book store as a 15 year old girl? You don’t and you don’t care to, you are too busy being ridiculously defensive on a well known fact, sexism is still alive everywhere but shines out big time in certain industries and comics happens to be one of them.>>>

    Oh, you’re 15? Well, then, excuse what I’ve said. You obviously don’t know anything about real life yet. I’m not the least bit damn defensive, no more than you are at least. I’m trying to point out to someone that is at the center of her own universe and knows all about everything and everyone. YES, GENIUS, I KNOW SEXISM STILL EXISTS!! So does racism. So does legal discrimination against white males. I know it, yessir. Do you know what it’s like to be turned down for a job SOLEY because of your sex? Maybe you do, but I damn well guarantee you don’t think I do. GUESS AGAIN sparky. At least you have some recourse in the law if you can prove you are denied employment because of your gender. I don’t get that little bit of heaven, thanks.

    Wow. I’ve seen some egos on these boards, but yours takes the cake. AS someone sooooo smart once said to me, go out and read a damn book… and try some NOT WRITTEN by Andrea Dworkin for a change.

  99. Kim Thompson says:

    Speaking exclusively in terms of non-mainstream comics (because I honestly haven’t given a shit about super-hero comics for over two decades now)…

    I strongly suspect that at this point the percentage of female cartoonists who succeed in getting published is actually somewhat higher than the percentage of male cartoonists who do so. Because most people in the biz, male and female, agree on general principle that it would be great to have more female voices in comics (the best European graphic novel I’ve read in the last five years was by a woman, in fact), and so pretty much all of us in the position to make these determinations have an extra eye out for good work by women.

    BUT so long as the pool of serious aspiring cartoonists remains predominantly occupied by men, achieving any kind of parity is a pipe dream, and indignant waving around of simple numbers highlighting this disparity (suggesting, or indeed flat-out stating, that it is because of some ingrown industry-wide sexism or misogyny — suspenders-wearing white-male plutocrats lighting their cigars with unread rolled-up graphic-novel submissions by women) without addressing the basic fact of who’s TRYING to get published is pretty pointless.

    I’m not sure whether the statistic about how comics created by women cost less per page than comics by men is daffy or fascinating, but I can assure everyone that Gary Groth and I don’t sit around and assign cover prices to books based on the gender of the artist. (Although someone who is not pushing a Those-Bastard-Publishers agenda might speculate that purposefully making comics by women less expensive could be a gesture of SUPPORT for women’s comics by aggressively and selflessly cutting the profit margin to encourage customers to buy them. No? Worth a try…)

  100. The above link has an interesting quote from Ms. Moore:

    “For women and trans creators being offered publishing opportunities? The numbers say no. Women artists that just graduated with comics degrees or have only recently started doing pro work say yes. Those that have been around for longer than five years say no.”

    Are there really a lot of institutions doling out “comics degrees?”

    Maybe “art degrees with a minor in comic books??”

  101. Kim Thompson says:

    I would also like to add that I found Trina’s comment among the most sensible. (If I were a woman I’d be PROUD that my gender, as readers and working cartoonists, was mostly avoiding super-hero comics, and that my cartooning sisters were being judged wrong for the genre by its editors.) Trina, I’d be curious if you think that there is, within the alternative comics publishers, at this point, any significant institutionalized sexism toward female creators, or female-oriented subject matter (to whatever degree there is such a thing)?

  102. I saw dis hyere thread and wrote dis hyere essay ’bout it, with special ref’rence to Miz Robbins:

    http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2011/06/she-ra-man-haters-club.html

  103. As a female teenager, I know quite a lot of people who love comics. My best friend, who is also a girl, especially loves wolverine comics. For her birthday I got her the biggest wolverine book I could find. I didn’t even look at it. The next day she came into school and pointed out how all the girls in the book were wearing the most revealing and trashy leotards. All them came with high-heeled, thigh-high boots.

    So would women draw superheroines like that? I don’t know. I wouldn’t. But would that make me not be able to get hired? Even if I didn’t draw in a manga-like or disney-ish way?

Speak Your Mind

*