Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No Woman, No Cry?

Here's a question I often ask myself when con season rolls around and panel reports start coming in: where the hell are the women? I'm not talking about female creators like Colleen Doran and Gail Simone; I'm talking about women in the audience, women like Ragnell, Kalinara and Karen Healey, who have a lot to say about certain practices by the Big Two. Why is it that when Frank Miller holds court, there are no women with rotten tomatoes handy to show him what they think of Vicki Vale's ass?

It's sort of an extension of what bugs me about WizardWorld con reports, where EIC panels are so banal, so heavily involved in mutual masturbation (Joe Quesada: "Hey, kids! We've got a new 80-part crossover coming!" Audience: "BOOYAH!"), and if someone does step up to the plate, it'll usually be some incoherent fanboy who embarrasses himself by, I don't know, screaming that Brian Vaughan is a racist (based on... what?). In effect, Marvel and DC go unchallenged at the one venue where they're on equal ground with their readers and the comics press. And because there's no backlash, because no one contests the assertion that yes, we really need another weekly series to tie-in to other books that set-up the next crossover, the companies keep doing wrong what they've been doing wrong, and nothing changes.

What's so shocking is that there's an entire blogosphere of intelligent people like Lea Hernandez, Paul O'Brien, Graeme McMillan and Heidi McDonald - people who see the flaws, and can express themselves in a way that can't be ignored or laughed at by company administrators (see above, re: "BKV's a racist!"). So why do we never see such clear-headed individuals at cons, stepping up at a Cup of Joe hype session to announce "Joey, you've gotta lotta s'plainin' to do!"?

You just know that Paul O'Brien would reduce Quesada to tears and possibly seppuku in under five minutes; we'd all be better off.




Great question. They might be fearful that they'd be "booed" or have someone shout at them. I know cons are often full of hung-over fanboys, so gals with opinions might just be afraid of those fanboys.

You should check out our POWER in Comics community. This would be a great question to pose there.



Hey, I know I had a shitload of fun asking Dan DiDio about Spoiler at Wondercon.

And was quite gratified to see that two other women brought the topic back up at Wizard World LA.

Diana Kingston-Gabai


K: See, no offense to the Spoilergirls, because I totally get what they're trying to do... but IMO? It's attacking the symptom rather than the illness.

I mean, at the recent Philly con, a woman interrupted one of Marvel's panels to discuss the recent treatment of Storm. And for a second, I was thinking "Oh GOD, finally, yes, someone's going to call BS on the hackwork they've been inflicting on a major feminist icon." Except she went on to talk about "the disproportionate size of Storm's lips". Which... okay, I suppose there's a bigger point to be made there, but she never even got that far because everyone just scratched their heads and moved on.

It's very, very easy for the bigwigs to play the ignorance card, ie: Joe Quesada's "Tentacle rape? DOES NOT COMPUTE." Whether they're feigning it or they really don't get it is immaterial - the result is the same, polite dismissal.

The problem, IMO, is that we're not thinking big enough. At the end of the day, Spoiler isn't really the bone we have to pick with DiDio - it's the climate and the policies at DC (enforced or coincidental, it doesn't matter) that made Spoiler part of a trend. And yet some critics are making it be "about" Spoiler, which allows DC to play the company line in an endless back-and-forth.

That's really what's bugging me - precious few people are willing (or able) to directly engage DC and Marvel on the issues that lie behind the problematic events. And as of yet, no one's really made a live stand that could compare to some of the well-thought-out essays and commentaries written about these issues.

Diana Kingston-Gabai


Lisa: I thought the POWER In Comics community was wonderful, but I don't seem able to sign up; I keep getting "Cannot find server" after trying to register.

You make an interesting point about the presence of the audience; I hadn't really considered that, but yes, I imagine it'd be enough to discourage anyone, male or female.

That's actually something I've noticed only recently when it comes to the comics fandom - the intellectuals tend to operate in solo endeavors (ie: a blog here, a review website there) while the zombie fanboys just run amok en masse ("Civil War" sales being an excellent example - a victory won more by hype and empty promises than anything included in the actual content).



Okay, I have a challenge: You stand up and challenge them.

Diana Kingston-Gabai


Believe me, hon, when DC and Marvel start holding conventions in the Middle East, I'll be leading the charge.