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Maeniel



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:54 pm    Post subject: Women in Comics Reply with quote

So I'm pretty sure this topic would go over swell at Tomgeeks - but I thought I'd post it here.

Article:

The story goes that DC Comics announced that they were firing almost all of their female staff - going from 12% to 1%.

If you can, listen to the clip; below is an overview.

A fan asked "Why did you go from 12% to 1% for women on creative teams?"

The publisher responded: "Who should we be hiring? Tell me right now." I thought he was actually kind of mean about it.

So, fellow fans of a woman-led comic - what are your thoughts? Was DC being genuinely concerned about the numbers, or do you think that they were being sarcastic and belligerent?

EDIT by Tinalles: fixed the links.
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Ravenna



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given that Grant Morrison only made quips about looking good in a dress - this was his contribution - and the obvious agression and privledge-denying coming from other staffers on the panel, I'd say that DC doesn't care. Even though they play home to some fantastic heroines and Gail Simone, they just don't care.

Blogs have been going wild over this material for over a week now, compounded by earlier revelations regarding the retconn of Barbara Gordon as Oracle. As a comic fan and a writer who is female, the boys club attitude and Didio's behaviour horrifies me.

I've signed the petition, and will probably write a more in-depth post after Battle Los Angeles.
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read a few things about it so far.

Part of my mind originally wanted to be "well, they just hire who writes/draws the best, maybe that just happened to be men this time" but then when you get to the part where they're firing all but one of their women staffers... that's when I think they're full of crap.

What, did the female writers not want all the female characters to wear a Vampirella get up? Did they actually want to write a respectable character with a personality instead of just another pin up?

Aside from the fact that someone actually included little ol' me on that list of women they should hire (which is flattering to the extreme), I do care about women being portrayed well in comics (shocking, I'm sure). They're not just token sex symbols to be tossed in there to mix things up a bit.

We need to start exposing young boys to the idea that they can RELATE to a girl character, not just observe her. And comics are a great place to start doing this.
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Signed!

YatesOfYore wrote:
We need to start exposing young boys to the idea that they can RELATE to a girl character, not just observe her. And comics are a great place to start doing this.


Okay, not to put you on the spot, but I'm putting you on the spot. How will you do that?
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By writing comics with females that are either main characters or are characters that are important to the plot in some manner other than being a sexual exploit. And maybe actually wear some clothes too.

OH WAIT I'm already doing that Razz~~~~


(PS yes, I know there are lots of awesome comic ladies out there. They just seem out numbered by the centerfold characters, y'know?)
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Signed this, by the way.

I think that strong female characters are important. There are some recent reinventions of female characters that I heartily approve of. Kitty Pride and Rogue from the X-Men series are far less sex symbol, and far more easy to relate to as people. Not quite on the level that most of the ES Heroines are, though. I think that the industry giants are coming along in that matter, but so long as the people from 40-50 years ago are still the main figureheads, and they're the ones deciding what people want, we're still going to struggle.

From everything I've read from dozens of people close to the comic industry, it's not the most progressive place. Hopefully that will change in the coming years.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“That character’s just there to be eye candy.” Yeah, them and pretty much every other comic book character, regardless of sex.

Most comic book characters have the emotional and intellectual depth of a puddle in a heat wave. The men are muscle bound killers the women are athletic supermodels. Is it a sexualised image? Yes. Both of them. What you think muscles aren’t sexy? Given a choice between the guy with the washboard abs and the fat man from his mother’s basement I wonder which one the female hero would take?... (Not really, I think I know.)

That said, archetypes are not necessarily meant to be direct representations of reality. Many of them are essentially packets of social signalling information, stripped of any real depth or interaction with context. The superhero of the comic books, the gods of certain elder mythologies, the characters of some books. These are not realistic figures with which anyone, I think, really identifies. Boys do not seriously want to be Space Marines when they grow up. All ‘RAR STOMPY ARMOUR AND KILLING HERETICS’? Please.

It is important to have, among your images of women, a sexual one; preferably one that women know you have – so that they can knowingly move in and out of the reference class. Of course it’s not desirable for that to be the ONLY image of women that someone has, the only reference class, but if all your information on women comes from comic books frankly I think your odds of meeting one in real life are fairly remote.... <_<

It’s similar at sporting matches. Take football for instance – if you want to avoid football violence bring a team scarf and a fluffy hat, and preferably your family. Congratulations you’re now a civilian – most violent people will leave you alone, they’re there for a fight, not to harass the civies.

Are strong female characters important? Well, strong, intelligent characters in general are important; female characters being a subset of the human characters of course they are. I don’t believe that extends to essentially an enforced conservative dress code for women in comics - and if that's all people have to talk about when it comes to their portrayal I'm not going to have much time for them....

-shrug-

Basically the state of women in comics is much like the state of men in comics. Rub out Batman and put in Catwoman - rub out Catwoman and put in Batman - has much changed? I think not.

One cookie cutter character wanted for violent leading role: [s/he] delete as appropriate.

The firings themselves do seem to be motivated by prejudice. I doubt very much that they fired the majority of their female staff on the grounds that they were the untalented ones. It's very unlikely. It MIGHT have just happened that way but... even if it did they have to have known how it would look.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comparing Batman and Catwoman is pretty close - they're both agile, rather attractive, but very intelligent characters. Instead compare Batman to Superman, or either of the above two to Spiderman. Peter Parker is kind of a wimp! Razz There are similar lines in female heroes, I'm sure. Jean Grey/Phoenix is pretty highly sexualized, and pretty much every female hero of a Dark Horse comic is all T&A, little clothing. At least all the ones I had read.

Which isn't to say I read a lot of comics, to tell the truth. There are a few artists I follow (Frank Miller being one of them), because they like to explore things that interest me. The Psychology and Philosophy of the superhero is interesting to me. I don't need them to look amazing, grizzled is quite fine. A little pudgy and imperfect is great.

Actually, I tend to not like plot holes. I avoid comics most of the time for that very reason. Too often was a story line written into a dead end, and it all turned out to be a dream, or a simulation, or something a parallel universe or something. That bothers me..

I digress. I would like to see some of the talented female webcomic authors I know given a crack at the big time, regardless of the comic industry's flaws. Lady Yates and Sarah Ellerton, particularly. In my experience, both of them can tell a decent story, and I would love love love love love really awesome stories in comics.
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Ravenna



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Afraid I disagree with you Nem - while male characters are idealised in comics as well, it doesn't erase nor lessen the marginalisation of women as characters and contributors in the comics industry. It's certainly no excuse, and ust derailment of the issue at hand. I've always felt like that this is a very weak defense.

While male supers tend to be ripped, there are plenty of male supers who do not fit this and make the front cover: Spider-Man (who was intended to appear 'weedy'), Mr Fantastic, Professor X, Beast Boy... the list can go on. Even Moira McTaggert and Kavita Rao, who do not regularly make it onto the covers, are dressed and pencilled perfectly and no bigger than a UK 10.

Here's a link to Women in the Refridgerator, a video which looks at how and why female characters get killed off in comics, and other media. I thought I would link to it since it deals mainly with characters from DC comics, although Marvel are also mentioned. It's relevant to this topic in terms of women as characters and how they are portrayed.

Women In The Refridgerator

There is no inappropriate language or explicit material, but it does discuss the violent deaths of some characters, so if you are very sensitive, that is in there.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you see ... I’m not sure how far that’s true anymore, Rav. The representation in the list doesn’t line up with what I remember from comics when I was growing up. I’ve gone through the first 19 or so items on the list and only one of them seems like it has a high probability of having occured within the last ten years. – Even then it’s iffy as to whether the event in question occurred during the last ten years, and the comic was cancelled shortly after the reboot anyway.

Squeamishness warning for following list dump: Iffy things beneath, proceed to next bolded text to skip.

All of Savage Dragon's girlfriends (dead)
IIRWC (If I read wikipedia correctly) he had two, the second of which died in issue #43 which'd put this in ... '97? I think.
0

Alysande Stuart (dead)
'92 Excalibur #55
0

Amethyst (blinded, merged with Gemworld, destroyed in LSH; became a power-hungry witch in Book of Fate)
Cancelled sometime before the 90s anime boom. Not specific on when. Also had a man giving 'birth' to his father and dying .... Yeah.
0

Apparition (one of her three bodies dead, soul bound to boyfriend)
Sometime in the past, not clear on when. Series rebooted in 2005 then cancelled. Neh, we’ll count it – even if it didn’t prove viable in the industry at that time.
1

Aquagirl (dead)
'86 I believe
1

Arisia (dead)
Can't find. Brought back to life in any case.
1

Aurora (Multiple Personality Disorder, depowered)
Powers altered in ‘84. Mind restored in 2007. Can’t find details about when mind was messed up
1

Batgirl I (paralyzed)
I take it it means Barbara Gordon. In which case ’88
1

Batwoman (dead)
’64 I believe.
1

Betty Banner (abused, changed into a harpy, multiple miscarriages, dead)
Didn’t really die, came back as one of them Hulk thingies. Dates on rest difficult to find.
1

Mrs. Brian Banner, Bruce's mother (murdered by her abusive husband)
First appeared in 1982 – secondary character, date of death not available.
1

Black Canary I (dead)
Dunno, I assume earlier than her daughter. Which’d be before ’90
1

Black Canary II (tortured, made infertile, depowered)
‘90
1

Blink (dead)
Resurrected.
1

Bluebird (dead)
‘96
1

Buf from X-Man (crippled)
Only reference I can find is to an Arlee Hicks in a ’96 film, which doesn’t say what happened.
1

Candy Southern (dead)
‘93
1

Captain Marvel II/Photon (depowered, ceded code name to a male hero)
The first one (male) died for her to get the name as I recall. Also repowered later on.
1

Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire (turned into a villain by the Zamarons, possessed by the Predator)
And then de-possessed. Date not available.
1

Celsius (insane, dead, called delusional liar)
‘88
1

End squeamish warning.

I think the full list is about a hundred items so 19 items is probably a fairly representative sample. It's a fair bit of work to keep checking these things in any case. Would have just taken a random sample across the list but then you'd only have my word that it really was random - I could have just picked 19 that agreed with me - whereas you can verify quite easily that those are just the first 19 or so entries.

If the idea is it sucked to be a female character in the 80s through to late 90s – well, yeah. They were doing the 'grim gritty' thing then and often that just turns into a rather trite attempt to abuse issues and characters for some cheap drama.

How far something ten years ago represents the state of the industry today however. -shrug- Lots can change in ten years.

-------

The weedy characters you mention are rather muscle-bound.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BeastboyOYL.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xav-lopr.png

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/52/Spider-Man.jpg

Uh...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Reedr.jpg

O_o Well, anyway, they're the first images on the relevant characters' wikipedia pages.

------

Of course the wrongdoings - as such - against one particular group do not excuse wrongdoings against another, they just make it a more general problem. Whether you want to take that as a defence or not... -shrug- :/

It's certainly not a defence against firing most of your female staff for no readily discernible reason.
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any of you get a defensive sounding email from DC?
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Um, no. Did you write them about the issue?
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I did was sign the petition. I think DC got sent a list of the email addresses of everyone who filled in the form. Or maybe not? Anyway, I got this:

Courtney Simmons of DC Comics wrote:
Thank you for your email, I am responding on behalf of Diane Nelson, Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, John Rood, Bob Harras and all the execs at DC Entertainment.

DC Entertainment takes your comments very seriously and wants you to know that we are listening to the feedback.

However, we also want you to know that not all of the facts are being presented by petition organizers or the press. DC Entertainment is proud that 25 percent of its Editorial team is comprised of wonderfully talented women. We also have women in other key roles within the organization including Digital, Marketing, Sales and Publicity. In addition, we are proud of our female President Diane Nelson and both our female heads of the Legal and Finance departments.

With that said, we realize that not only DCE, but the entire comic book industry, can and should do a better job of sourcing women for creative roles. As demonstrated by the wealth of characters and super heroes featured in our comics, many of whom are women, exploring different points of views is a key facet to our storytelling and we will work harder to ensure the creative forces behind our comics reflect that diversity.

This is a very important topic and we’re actively working on this issue. Just as diversity is important to you, it’s important to DC Entertainment.

Our Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have posted a statement on the topic on THE SOURCE blog which I’m sharing with you below.

Sincerely,

Courtney Simmons

SVP Publicity
DC Entertainment

We hear you

Over the past week we’ve heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously.

We’ve been very fortunate in recent years to have fan favorite creators like Gail Simone, Amy Reeder, Felicia Henderson, Fiona Staples, Amanda Connor, G. Willow Wilson and Nicola Scott write and draw the adventures of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes.

DC Comics is the home of a pantheon of remarkable, iconic women characters like Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman and Supergirl as well as fan favorite characters like Black Canary, Katana, Mera and Starfire. We’re committed to telling diverse stories with a diverse point of view. We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership. Can we improve on that? We always can—and aim to.

We’ll have exciting news about new projects with women creators in the coming months and will be making those announcements closer to publication. Many of the above creators will be working on new projects, as we continue to tell the ongoing adventures of our characters. We know there are dozens of other women creators and we welcome the opportunity to work with them.

Our recent announcements have generated much attention and discussion and we welcome that dialogue.

Best-

Jim Lee & Dan DiDio

DC Entertainment Co-Publishers

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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. And nope, I did not get that email, though I did sign the petition. Perhaps my junk filter ate it.
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Ravenna



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received the rather transparent e-mail as well. It's interesting they don't mention anyone who has worked on a creative team, but only the financial/administrative side!

EDIT: I think there was some kind of option for hiding your details or e-mail address. Perhaps that's why you didn't get one?
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