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Women in Comics

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I know there was a firestorm of comment over Occasional Superheroine, and the harrowing story of Valerie D’Orazio, former DC and Valiant assistant editor. I’m still digesting it all, and Val’s story, which is very, very difficult to read. I worked with Val, and she’s kind, smart, creative and definitely a quirky individualist. She’s also someone with something to say. I have a lot of thoughts about this, but for now I’ll leave you with two images.

0220 1 Women in Comics

WW 3 Women in Comics

Comments

  1. I don’t get it.

    -Steve!

  2. You’re pro first image, right? Because the second image… eh, it just doesn’t seem edgy enough. I mean, Wonder Woman ought to be killing people and really close to naked, right? I mean, who’d want to read about women who weren’t almost naked?

  3. Andrew W. Laubacher says:

    Seeing the manga page, I kinda wish DC would actually publish a manga WONDER WOMAN–as a one-shot, if nothing else.

  4. I’m not sure I dig the squashed word balloons – a verisimilitude too far that wrecks the flow of the text – but Tintin’s pages are bosting.

    Shame it wasn’t picked up.

    //Oo/\

  5. Juho Salo says:

    From where is that comicpage from?

  6. And there isn’t a WW manga RIGHT NOW precisely why?

    Or AMETHYST or SUPERGIRL or…?

  7. The Tintin art was from a proposal to DC for a manga-style Wonder Woman. Apparently it wasn’t picked up, and that’s DC’s loss. Tintin is an exciting newer artist who deserves more recognition than she’s had so far.

  8. It’s a pity that DC passed on Pantoja’s “Wonder Woman” pitch. Giving this venerable superheroine the manga treatment seems like a great way to introduce legions of younger female readers to superhero comics in a visual language they appreciate. I’d rather see DC invest their money in “Princess of Paradise” than their newly-launched Minx line. (Oy, oy, oy… don’t get me started about that one. The name alone set feminism back a few years.) And let’s face it–image #1 looks like it came out of a special bondage issue of the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Image #2 has a lot more appeal for female fans of InuYasha, Bleach, Shaolin Sisters, Naruto, etc.

  9. dan abel says:

    I got excited for a minute, seeing those manga style pages, that there might be something interesting and new to read.

  10. William G. Gruff says:

    I’m with dan. That manga page is everything I’d love WW to be.

  11. P.C. Prigg says:

    Wonder Woman was created as a SEXUAL FANTASY FIGURE. Get over it. And why does mediocre work by a female “creator” deserve automatic credibility, not to mention drooling adulation?

  12. The Beat says:

    I like how you put “creator” in quotes. It really gives it that je ne sais quoi.

  13. Tintin’s pages actually moved me to write to both Paul Levitz and Shelley Bond at DC and say, “You really need to do this. You really could do a comics line for girls, with your characters, and I’d be willing to work in ‘mainstream’ comics again for that.”

    Paul wrote me back every time and pointed me to Shelley. I never heard from Shelley.

  14. Yo, PC. No one is trying to steal your male adolescent fantasies. The other 99.99% of the population would like something that appeals to them though. You can keep the “By Fanboys For Fanboys” version. DC and Marvel should wake up the the fact that there are other audiences for the characters they’ve created. They have some great universally appealing characters that are being held back by targeting a tiny fraction of the buying public.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Those two pictures increase that exponentially.

  15. In the 80s I read Wonder Woman in a German translation. For some reason — maybe because it rolled easier off non-English language children and teenagers — DC’s German publisher (Ehapa) called Wonder Woman Wonder Girl. Now you may wonder (ha!) how Donna Troy was called. She morphed into…Wonder Teen. What I’m aiming at — besides finding an excuse to tell this little anecdote — is that back then Wonder Woman seemed at lot more harmless and innocent. I suppose there are two main factors at work: Drawing styles in superhero comics have changed, and not necessarily for better — I admit to having a bias against this strange quasi-Alex Ross “realism” depicted in the above cover — and the demographics of US mainstream comics are different, too: On average, readers are older (or so I’ve been hearing). Now why the latter leads to unmotivated, stale hyper-eroticism and not to genuine mature themes is anybody’s guess and ties nicely into what previous posters on this entry have written.

    I always like referring to Dave Fiore’s (sadly quasi-defunct) “Motime Like The Present” blog…I hope some of you find interesting what he wrote on Carmine Infantino’s “Daring New Adventures of Supergirl”: http://ynot.motime.com/post/242383

  16. Tintin a “mediocre” creator? I dunno. I’ve seen more polished manga style art, I suppose. But I’ve seen plenty of traditional style mainstream American superhero art that was less accomplished coming out of the two major houses over the last 15 years. So I don’t think its necessarily a matter of it not being up to snuff.

    Of course, these two images do not create a perfect comparison, in that one is a cover image and the other a page of comics. They have different goals. Still it was enough for Heidi to make her point.

    Tintin’s pitch does whet an appetite for a manga WW. Possibly she is not the creator to pull it off, for reasons not apparent in this one page. I assume she submitted a little more then just this…

    And is Shelley Bond the only DC editor who can approve this? Surely there are others with some vision?

  17. Dave Miller-Lad says:

    I have a daughter a reading Valerie’s blog *WAS* difficult.

  18. Wonder Woman was created as a SEXUAL FANTASY FIGURE. Get over it.

    Actually, no. There are a wealth of excellent articles about WW’s creators, the husband-and-wife team of William and Elizabeth Marston. In an oft-quoted article from the Winter 1943-44 issue of The American Scholar, Marston explained his rationale for creating WW:

    “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

    While not all of his ideas awould pass muster today, it’s clear that his intent was to create a role model for girls, not a sexual fantasty figure for boys.

    And why does mediocre work by a female “creatorâ€? deserve automatic credibility, not to mention drooling adulation?

    What I liked about Pantoja’s proposal was that she made the story appealing to the kind of girl who identifies with the spunky, athletic heroines found in many shonen and shojo titles. Pantoja’s work reminds me of CLAMP and Ai Yazawa’s, neither of whom are considered sub-par talents by the manga world. Moreover, her proposal wasn’t just a crass attempt to win over little girls by “manga-fying” a classic heroine; it was an interesting take on WW done by an artist who actually likes the character and knows a thing or two about shojo. So I’m not just heaping “drooling adulation” on Pantoja’s proposal because she’s female–I’m praising her for the quality of her art and the integrity of her project.

  19. Sphinx Magoo says:

    I really think DC should look into doing Tintin’s version of Wonder Woman. Someone might actually, you know, BUY IT!!

    If Batman can have 15 bazillion books out, with Elseworld versions, 60’s versions, Neal Adams versions, Frank Miller versions, stupid antisocial unpleasnt to read versions,etc. etc. etc., … grrrr!!! Why can’t Wonder Woman have one cool manga version that I can buy for my daughters? I’d feel way less apprehensive about showing them Tintin’s version than the current DC continuity version.

    STOP TRYING TO SELL MY FAMILY A UNIVERSE OF BOOKS!! One steady book is all we’d need, thank you very much.

  20. SRegan says:

    Speaking as a male comics fan and would-be writer, the first picture makes me cringe and the second is something I might actually be interested in reading. Is there really still a market for the sexualised Neanderthal trash Marvel and DC turn out? If P.C. Prigg represents the majority of the comics-buying public, I might as well just stick my head in the toilet now, as they aren’t likely to be interested in anything I would want to produce.

  21. Delamar says:

    Well, I have been trying to make a go of it and blogging my brains out, but I certainly have to give you credit. That was excellently done. I don’t always make such clear points and a lot of blogs I read are poorly written and leave wondering just what were they trying to say.

    I find it so hard to come up with new ideas and rewritting someone else’s work can backfire. Particularly if you don’t know whether they are truly an expert in their field. The longer I work on the internet the more I wonder about most of the content. However, to be fair their are many aurthors in the print media out there that espouse their ideas as fact when they are clearly questionable. It is almost as easy to have a book published as an ebook.

    Anyway, thanks for the great blog.

Trackbacks

  1. […] In two posted images, Heidi MacDonald sums up the gulf between how male and female comics creators depict women better than anything I’ve heard anyone say to date. […]

  2. […] Finally, Heidi MacDonald at The Beat comments on this story obliquely and visually, by contrasting the way that DC actually depicts Wonder Woman with an really excellent-looking approach that DC rejected. I’m skeptical about Johanna’s “very sick as children or had absent fathers” observation. No doubt she’s right about the particular men she worked with. But is it a real pattern, or just a coincidence in the guys she ran into? For what it’s worth, I’ve also run into a lot of bitter misogynistic male fannish types over the years, and the ones I’ve known haven’t been unusually likely to have a background of sickness or absent fathers. (back) […]

  3. […] I’ve been reading this amazingly thorough (maybe TOO thorough as I tend to skim) blog of the comics industry: Journalista!. Lots of great stuff, including comics-related events across the country — very many in NYC.Yesterday’s entry had a lot about comics created by women for women, inspired by DC Comic’s announcement of their Minx line. Talking about “men vs. women” in any creative field is a drag, but comics’ male-to-female ratio makes Fortune 500 CEOs seem practically co-ed, so I think it’s worth talking about. Heidi McDonald has a good essay about it, and she separately posts a hilarious pair of Wonder Woman drawings — one by a man, one by a woman. […]

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