GWOG

June 27, 2011

One More Insult

It’s this week’s links, and the big story is DC’s explicit confirmation that the “target audience” for their giant relaunch is “men age 18 to 34″. You’ll hear much more from Girl Wonder on this – we are still co-ordinating our response, but this is exactly the sort of problem we face in mainstream comics today. A round-up of good responses:

-thegeekifiedgirl drops some stats and backs them up with a solid argument.
-It’s interesting to look at which books CBR’s readers are actually interested in buying.
-… and Johanna at Comics Worth Reading’s personal take on the new titles from earlier this month also merit a read.
-Maid of Might highlights the fact that this relaunch (like most other relaunches?) was allegedly meant to bring in new readers rather than the same-old gradually shrinking group DC had been catering to for years. She and DC Women Kicking Ass both remember getting male friends and partners into comics.

More on this issue soon. In the mean-time, keep sending in your suggestions for links!

June 12, 2011

Linkspam!

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the decision by DC, in the upcoming reboot, to make Barbara Gordon Batgirl again instead of Oracle, taking her out of her wheelchair in the process and removing one of the only high-profile disabled superheroes. Here’s a round-up of some of the best writing on this:

-Jill Pantozzi’s personal account of her reaction really brings home how important Babs is, and her interview with Gail Simone (writing the new book) about the reboot is essential reading.
-Andy Khouri’s ComicsAlliance editorial provides a look back over what makes Barbara Gordon so iconic.
-The ever-brilliant DC Women Kicking Ass recaps previous attempts to get her walking again.
-And finally the Oracle Create-A-Thon, a tumblr set up in response to DC’s decision, collecting fanart of Oracle “to support visibility for disabled characters in mainstream comics, and comics in general”. Some amazing stuff in there.

And a couple of non-Oracle links to round you off:

-I just found this handy illustration, from last year, of a particularly irritating sexist trope.
-And I fell in love with Cliff Chiang’s rendition of Wondy as Joan Jett, with Black Canary, Zatanna and Batgirl backing her up.

I doubt this will be the last from GW on Barbara Gordon’s reboot – watch this space. And if you’ve got anything for us on this, just send it to submissions@girl-wonder.org.

May 29, 2011

Return of the Revenge of the Bride of Gwog

Gwog rises once more from the deep! With our new Board in place, we are returning Gwog to its old status of a weekly roundup of Links Of Interest, with ad hoc guest posts by the mysterious Directors. If you have any links you want us to publicise, or anything else you’d like to contribute to Gwog, send it to us: submissions@girl-wonder.org. Our operators are waiting for your call.

This week’s links, first the comics-related:

- Colin Smith’s detailed and engaging essay on FLASHPOINT #1.
- More FLASHPOINT fail: DC should really consider how this shit looks.
- Laura Hudson, Blair Butler, Heidi MacDonald and Jill Pantozzi form a roundtable on the “Geek Girl Phenomenon”.

And the non-comics:

- A pair of insightful posts by ginmar on rape culture and the myth of false rape accusations.
- The reprehensible decision by the equally reprehensible New York Post to publicise an alleged rape victim’s alleged HIV+ status.
- An Open Letter to Nice Guys of the World.

December 12, 2010

OUT/THERE: Sex & Gender In This Month In 2000 AD & Judge Dredd Megazine

Filed under: Comics,Criticism and Commentary,Gender — CharlesRB @ 10:35 am

A guest column by Colin Smith

-

And things were going so well.

We weren’t halfway through September and there were strong women to be found everywhere in both 2000 ad and The Megazine. Lily Mackenzie, Judge Anderson and Judge Inaba were headlining characters in the latter, while Rowan Morrigan was the lead in “Age Of Wolf” in the former. Elsewhere in both comics, female characters were occupying substantial support roles, as in “Low-Life” and “Nikolai Dante”, and carrying the protagonist’s responsibilities in short stories such as “A Judge’s First Duty”.

It may or may not have been a deliberate policy on the part of Tharg’s staff, but editor Matt Smith certainly recognised an opportunity to use the matter of gender to score points off of Mark Millar’s newly minted “Clint”, a new monthly aimed squarely at an audience of utterly unreconstructed adolescent blokes. 2000 ad and the Megazine were apparently, he announced, welcoming comic books for right-thinking women as much as long-reading fan-males everywhere.

It wasn’t entirely true, of course, but there were undeniably positive aspects to the strips being published at that time where representations of gender were concerned. The women were brave and strong, comfortable with authority and secure in their own worth. They weren’t reliant on men saving the day, trying to prove themselves to daddy, or running away from their destiny as housewives and mothers. Most importantly, they weren’t functioning solely, or even significantly, as sex objects.

Things were undoubtedly looking up, and yet there was a still a very real sense that the most difficult challenges were still ahead. Of all of the female characters on show, only the splendidly self-possessed and decidedly life-worn Judge Thora, the fearsomely matriarchal Madame Dante and the stern Judge Leland weren’t notably youthful, slim-hipped and alluring. The idea that a woman’s body might be represented as something other than fatless, hairless, boy-hipped, and beautifully symmetrical clearly hadn’t taken hold across the range of creators, although in places even characters which appeared to have been designed merely to be alluring revealed unexpected qualities. Simon Fraser’s “Lily Mackenzie”, for example, began in the Megazine with a series of stories that strayed at times towards cheesecake, and yet, over the passing months, the eponymous heroine was revealed to be bright, determined, and more than capable of looking after herself; her looks quickly and thankfully ceased to define her. And Boo Cook’s artwork for Judge Anderson at times showed the heroine originally modelled on a 30-something Debbie Harry aging gracefully into someone still beautiful, but at times stoically mature. If the reader still wasn’t being given women whose appearance reflected even the breadth of types that a typical TV soap might offer, there was without doubt some significant movement forward.

It hasn’t lasted. Strips starring female characters have been blinking out of sight since October and their replacements have been far less representative of anything other than blokes. 2000 ad carried not a single strip starring a female lead in November, and, most worrying, those women who have appeared in the comic have been often confined to some very traditional roles indeed. In prog 1713, for example, there are women as youthful lures, clothes-makers, old lovers, and beguiling if vengeful ghosts. Considered in isolation, none of these various characters can be considered as offensive in the slightest way, and many were examples of impressive work. But when the presence of women in a comic-book exists only as a string of slight and stereotypical roles, then it’s the cumulative effect which counts.

This week’s 2000 ad brings us little relief either. No female leads at all. An apparently helpless girl-woman about to be executed in “Slaine” before the anti-hero’s gaze. And in both “SinisterDexter” and “Dandridge”, women act as beautiful dispatchers while the men engage in the business of daring deeds and grand explosions. These women are bright and impressive and powerful, but it’s still the men who do the fighting and dominate the majority of the panel-time, while the women serve behind the lines. As said above, this doesn’t make these characters offensive in the slightest way, but what it does do is highlight the pressing need for 2000 ad to be carrying more female leads in its more recent pages.

It’s a shame to find a year closing in such a fashion when in places it’s been producing such promising fare. Perhaps it might be more productive to end with a mention of some of those characters which have to a greater or less degree both defied the prevailing comic-book stereotypes of women while standing as entertaining characters in their own right. And so, in no particular order, may I present to you my votes for Women Of The Year in 2000ad and the Megazine;

1. Judge Thora, from “Low-Life” by Rob Williams and D’israeli

It took me a while to warm to Judge Thora as a character, mainly because Mr William’s script for “Low-Life” was based on the assumption that all his readers would be familiar with the characters at hand, and this reader wasn’t. Yet, like a champion who’s stumbled out of the starting gate and yet raced past the finish line well ahead of the field, “Low-Life” soon established its pedigree and justified its form. In Judge Thora, writer Mr Williams presented us with a portrait of a woman obsessed with staring hard choices straight in the eye while being egotistical and determined enough to betray most every principle and colleague she had in doing so. It’s the type of role which comic-book fictions rarely grant to women, and at every stage of their story, Mr Williams and Mr D’Israeli ensured that their depiction of Thora was both quite individual and entirely free of traditionally sexist tropes. Chief of the undercover “Wally Squad” in the “Low-Life”, and so responsible for policing one of the roughest slums in the future city of Mega-City One, Thora could never be mistaken for a standard-issue, deeply-caring matriarch. Looking as old and worn and yet indomitable as the neighbourhood she felt she represented, Thora was neither mother, lover, victim or child, and her assassination at the end of “Low-Life” was a source of some considerable regret to this reader. Yet so strong was her character, and so significant the menace she’d presented, that her murder never felt like that traditionally dealt out to uppity women. Thora was shot because she was too formidable and corrupt to be allowed to live, and that’s a very different matter indeed.

2. Lily Mackenzie, by Simon Fraser

I’d never have imagined presenting Lily as a character worthy of the reader’s attention and respect after her first few appearances, as discussed above. But as the months have passed, Mr Fraser has achieved a remarkable feat, in that he’s confounded initial presumptions through the gently-paced establishing of Lily as a bright, intelligent and determined lead for his strip. A highly-competent young woman searching for her lost brother in a mundane outer-space setting, Lily’s adventures are distinguished by a focus on the everyday practicalities of surviving a future entirely free of alien monsters and ray guns. And from the scenes in which Lily expresses her joyful and practical command of the biological sciences on the surface of Charybdis, to those in which she reluctantly uses her army brat’s skill with a gun to defend friend and family from a fearsome assault, Mr Fraser’s work has established his heroine as an individual and not a type, as a well-rounded character and not merely a pleasant and attractive lead, and that’s a process well worthy of respect.

3. June Akiwara, from “Damnation Station” by Al Ewing, Simon Davis and Boo Cook

One of the advantages of the presence of women who occupy the space usually dominated by male heroes is that other female characters can be shown in more traditional roles without seeming to argue that being, for example, a wife and mother is all that a woman can ever be. Yet even considering that, the arc of June Akiwara’s life, from her cheerful and competent first appearance to her final scene as the slaughtered victim of a “terrorist” attack, might in the hands of a less able writer than Al Ewing seem hopelessly retrograde. A mother traumatised by the loss of her child, and vulnerable to despair and self-harm if she suspects she’s hurt anyone else she’s responsible for, June might once have seemed to represent the fate of women who try to rise above their traditional place in life. But in ”Damnation Station”, she stands not for female weakness, but for the misdirection of humanity’s empathy, for the way in which we damage ourselves and others by unthinkingly serving causes which exploit rather than assist our fellows. In Al Ewing’s tale of humanity fighting on the wrong side in a galactic war, all of June’s attempts to serve with competency and care are doomed to fall woefully short despite her very best efforts because she’s simply serving the wrong cause. In such a context, June’s collapse from apparently-competent legionnaire to drug-dulled, broken-hearted victim of a terrorist attack stands not as an example of fundamental feminine weakness, but of what happens to human beings when they’re perverted into serving apparently-laudable, but entirely-corrupt leaders. In a sense, for the utter corruption of the moral order in “Damnation Station” to be fully established, the most decent and wounded of all the characters there had to be shown being obliterated, and that was June Akiwara. Bad things happen to ordinary folks unwittingly serving anti-social ends, Damnation Station argues, and it’s a point that couldn’t be so movingly established without such a genuinely tragic loss.

It’s notable, however, that two of my three choices for “Female Character Of The Year” ended up dead in 2010. Let’s hope for better times, and where appropriate, longer lives, for the women of 2000 ad and the Megazine in 2011.

Colin Smith blogs regularly at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics

November 29, 2010

Young Justboys. I mean, Justice.

Filed under: animation,Comics,Criticism and Commentary,Gender — Poison Ivory @ 9:05 pm

Last weekend Young Justice, DC’s latest venture into television animation, premiered on Cartoon Network in a special hour-long pilot. The show proper won’t be airing until January, but this early pilot was intended, presumably, to give people a sample of what the show will be like, and hopefully get viewers interested in tuning in later on.

Based just on this pilot, I won’t be one of those returning viewers for long.

Warning: minor spoilers follow.

I loved the Young Justice comic. It’s one of my favorite series of all time. But it’s pretty clear that the cartoon is Young Justice in name only; the main cast retains only one member of the original team, and the light, playful tone of the comic is gone. They’ve traded Bart Allen (one of my all time favorite characters) for Wally West, and Tim Drake for Dick Grayson – though like the Dick Grayson of the Teen Titans cartoon, who was more like then-current Robin Tim than Dick, this Dick Grayson seems more like a less-sociopathic Damian Wayne (in one of Tim’s costumes) than Dick. Wonder Girl, Arrowette (another favorite), Secret, and Empress are all gone, replaced with the new Aqualad, Miss Martian, and “Artemis,” a female archer in a green costume. Superboy, the only member who remains constant, is being written with a completely different personality. So no, being a fan of Young Justice the comic book is no real reason to watch Young Justice the cartoon.

Once I realized that, I tried hard to evaluate the show on its own merits. I found the animation somewhat stiff and awkward – but was that because I was missing the grace of Bruce Timm’s extended DCAU designs, or the frenetic motion of Teen Titans? (In the show’s defense, the fight scenes were superb.) I was unimpressed by the cast, who seemed, again, stiff and awkward – but was that because every Batman who isn’t Kevin Conroy still sounds wrong to me, as does every speedster who isn’t Michael Rosenbaum? I didn’t really enjoy the show, but I don’t know if that’s because it’s not for me, or because I’m watching it and wanting it to be something that it’s not. I suspect the true answer is somewhere in the middle.

But one thing I can say the pilot definitely failed at was gender diversity. Only one female character – Miss Martian – had a speaking role, and it consisted of three lines at the very end – two of which were “Hi” and “I like your shirt.” Killer Frost and Cadmus scientist Dr. Spence were permitted to grunt. Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and Black Canary didn’t speak – and, incidentally, were the only female members shown in the Justice League, as opposed to twelve male members. (As an aside, can I ask why we get Zatara instead of his much more A-list daughter Zatanna? Seriously? Zatara?) We didn’t even get to see Artemis, though all four male leads were featured throughout.

Here’s the thing: this episode was about young heroes being independent and striking out on their own. So why was it only male characters who got to make those decisions, while Miss Martian docilely accepted her assignment onto the team at the end (and wasn’t even permitted on the tour of Justice League headquarters in the beginning)? This isn’t the story of six teenagers forming their own team – it’s four boys forming a team, and a girl showing up at the end as eye candy. (Oh, of course she’s immediately ogled by all four boys. What else would she be there for?) I realize that the boys founded the team in the comic, but this is nothing like the comic, so why bother retaining that aspect?

And why were only the female characters considered replaceable in the first place? And why did we lose a girl and gain a boy? I applaud the decision to include a minority – and found Aqualad to be the most enjoyable character in the pilot – but couldn’t we have included Empress? Or Latina Aquagirl Lorena Marquez? Or both? Hell, if we can create a black Aqualad for the cartoon, why not a black Robin? Or Kid Flash? Or even Superboy? It’s not like the show is holding fast to the Robin/Impulse/Superboy dynamic of the comic, since we’ve already established that the first two are different characters entirely and the third might as well be. Was it really that important to retain three white male faces in the center of this six-person team? And throw in Roy Harper’s epic hissy fit – which could have been handled by any member of the actual team – and those twelve male Justice Leaguers? (And yes, as usual, John Stewart was the only minority. Unless you count Martian Manhunter and Red Tornado, which I do not.)

As I mentioned before, I did like Aqualad, and I thought the interaction between Superman and Superboy was done well. I’m interested to see just who Artemis is, and I would like to see more of Miss Martian. I’m going to give this show another chance. But I was disappointed in the pilot both as an adaptation of something I loved and as an original story, and left with a lot of angry questions. You better knock my socks off come January, Young Justice.

July 19, 2010

Boom! (Kids) Could Be Dynamite

Filed under: Comics,Criticism and Commentary,Women in comics — Poison Ivory @ 6:25 pm

You know what’s great? The kids line from Boom! Studios is great. Since last year they’ve been publishing a fleet of comic books based on various Disney and Disney-affiliated properties, and every book I’ve picked up under this line has been golden. The Muppet Show has somehow managed to take a variety show with puppets and translate it beautifully to the page, with all the heart and all the excruciating puns. The comics featuring the classic Disney characters (like Donald Duck and Friends, Mickey Mouse and Friends, and Uncle Scrooge) have brought translations of popular European tales to America for the first time in an accessible and affordable way. I haven’t read much of the Pixar-based comics like Cars, The Incredibles, and Toy Story, but what I’ve seen has looked great. And one issue in at the time of this writing, Darkwing Duck is already the best comic I’ve read all year.

But there’s one big problem with the Boom! Kids line: there’s not a single female protagonist in the bunch.

Boom is currently publishing 12 ongoing titles for kids, plus a string of four-issue Muppet parodies of famous stories (Muppet Robin Hood, Muppet Snow White, etc.), and a couple of completed Pixar minis (Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo). Of the 13, The Incredibles probably does the best on the female character front, with the kickass and competent Helen (Mrs. Incredible) starring in an upcoming arc (check out this gorgeous cover featuring her and Mirage! I am so getting this), and just generally being a prominent character in the series, as is her daughter Violet.

Beyond that, female characters tend to consist of The Girlfriend (Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck) or That One Girl in the Cast (Miss Piggy, Jessie from Toy Story). Sometimes The Villain. Or The Daughter.

Never The Star.

This isn’t really surprising, given the franchises Boom is working with, all of which are boys’ clubs. Pixar has already taken heat for this; in 11 movies they haven’t had a single female protagonist, so how can a comic based on a Pixar movie provide one? The Duck and Mouse books are working from the 1950s tradition of Disney comics, where women exist only as girlfriends who will hector you into adventures and then require saving.

And the Muppets basically have Miss Piggy, who is a glorious character, but can’t represent the gender all on her lonesome. It seemed Boom! was balancing the gender ratio slightly when they introduced an adult Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister from Muppet Babies, but she was written out again a few issues later. Meanwhile, the Muppet minis go through agonized contortions, trying to find enough female characters to make their parodies work, and settling for B-listers like Janice and Camilla the Chicken (or appalling new character “Spamela Hamderson,” who plays Snow White to Piggy’s Evil Queen in the currently-running Muppet Snow White).

It doesn’t have to be this way. Jessie was marketed as if she was the third protagonist in Toy Story 3, when in fact she wound up being a damsel in distress who existed only to engineer conflict for Buzz. Why not rectify that by giving her an arc in the comic?

Or, hey, Minnie Mouse has been around for 82 years. I think she can carry her own comic book by now, especially considering the vast network of friends and relatives she has in the comic book universe. I’m awfully tired of seeing her as Mickey’s wilting flower. And while we’re at it, can we see less of Daisy the vain, selfish nag, and more of Daisy the plucky career woman from the otherwise-awful 90s cartoon Quack Pack? Mickey and Donald have always contained multitudes, to allow them to play whatever role necessary for the story; Minnie and Daisy can too.

But if none of those work, well, it’s not like Disney doesn’t have a wealth of properties designed with little girls in mind. There are the princesses, of course, and the Tinkerbell line; ordinary little girls like Alice and Lilo; live action properties like Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana. It’s a little past its prime, but Kim Possible would’ve made a wonderful comic book. Disney is not exactly starved for female protagonists, if you catch my drift.

Because here’s the thing: there are exactly as many little girls out there as there are little boys. Statistically, they read more, and they spend more (or their parents do). And they want to see themselves as main characters, too. So it’s not just right to include female protagonists, but it opens up a whole new potential stream of revenue. Sure, not a lot of little girls read comic books now. I bet a lot more would if they started seeing girls on the cover. (And hey, maybe a boy might read a comic about a girl! Just like girls read comics about boys all the damn time.)

I’ll say it again: Boom! Kids is great. I’ve enjoyed every single comic I’ve picked up from them. But I’d enjoy them a whole lot more if I knew Boom! was telling stories about both halves of the population.

June 21, 2010

Heroines, Assemble!

Filed under: Comics,Criticism and Commentary,Gender,Women in comics — SeanTheSean @ 10:33 am

Welcome to the new GWOG! It will be updated each Monday by a member of the Gworg Board of Directors, on a rotating schedule whose particulars are a closely-guarded secret. I have the honour of the first post of the new regime.

Like lots of fans, I’ve been enjoying the new BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD animated series. It’s campy and fun without being overly knowing or self-referential, accessible to everyone while still being clever. One problem keeps hitting me, though: the lack of female superheroes*.

If you’ve never seen it, there are two notable features of the show’s set-up. First, the few minutes before the title sequence are usually used for a mini-adventure unrelated to the main episode (although they are sometimes used to set up the episode’s backstory, or to further the overarching plot of the season). Second, and most fundamentally, the theme of the show is team-ups. Batman is never alone, always coming together with at least one fellow hero to beat up baddies.

Which makes it quite striking that no female hero has had the full BatB team-up treatment, a one-on-one team-up with Bats in the main episode. Only once has a woman – Black Canary – been in such a team-up, and that was in a pre-title sequence. Every other super-heroine appearance has been alongside other male supers. So far** only five female superheroes have put in an appearance in their professional capacity, and only three have appeared more than once. Let’s go through them – spoilers abound past this point.

Katana in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold"

Katana has made three appearances as one-third of the Outsiders (with Black Lightning and Metamorpho). Katana is, as you’d expect, Japanese, and carries a lot of stereotypes – she wears a schoolgirl uniform, her powers are skills with katana and shuriken (she has a magic sword in the comics, but it’s not put in an appearance yet in the cartoon), and in her first episode, “Enter the Outsiders!”, she’s silent, speaking only to tell her fellow Outsiders how to perform a sort of super-CPR on an incapacitated Wildcat. Her silence means the other two get more limelight, and she remains quiet during a pre-title sequence with the Outsiders being trained by Batman. This is somewhat made up for by “Inside the Outsiders!”, in which Psycho Pirate has trapped the three in nightmares, and Batman has to save them. Each of the Outsiders gets some meaty psychological stuff, but only Katana gets backstory – the death of her sensei in her native Japan. She speaks a lot during her dream sequence (in a strong Japanese accent which she didn’t have in her first appearance) and we learn that her silence is in honour of her master, so at least it’s a stereotype they’ve taken the trouble to justify. In the end, most of Katana’s character is defined by her ethnicity, and she can be crowded out by the other Outsiders quite easily, but she’s still good to watch and they do seem intent on doing something interesting with her team.

Huntress in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold"

Which is more, really, than can be said for Huntress, probably this show’s greatest disappointment for me as I’m a big fan of hers. Huntress gets two main-episode appearances, one as part of a big ensemble in “Death Race to Oblivion!” where she’s rather overshadowed by Green Arrow, Guy Gardner and Plastic Man, and one alongside Blue Beetle in “Night of the Huntress!”***. Huntress’s whole thing in this episode is “sexpot” – her tooling-up sequence mostly consists of her letting her hair down and applying lipstick, and the main thrust of this episode is Jaime’s crush on sexy Helena. She flirts constantly, with lots of double-entendres. The writers just don’t seem to see much of her character beyond her sexiness (she’s also somewhat more violent, although Batman doesn’t seem to be bothered by this).

Black Canary in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold"

Black Canary is another favourite of mine, and the best woman in the series. She’s the only female hero to get a straight team-up in a pre-title beatdown on Solomon Grundy. There are still wrong notes in her portrayal, though – her unrequited love for Batman feels a bit forced and uninteresting. In one of her episodes, the musical “Mayhem of the Music Meister!”, she’s largely passive, apparently under the Music Meister’s mind-control for most of the episode, and though her Canary Cry saves the day Batman has to goad her into using it. Her best episode is “The Golden Age of Justice!”, in which she and Batman are still being treated like sidekicks by an ageing Justice League (of the Flash, Doctor Mid-Nite, Wildcat, Hawkman and Hourman). It’s another ensemble episode, but most of the spotlight is on Canary and she swings the climactic fight. Best of all, nothing is made of her Bat-crush.

Two other heroines have minor appearances – Fire cameos in a Plastic Man pre-title adventure, and one of the Metal Men, Platinum, is really a Metal Woman – but that’s it for woman as heroes in BatB. And over thirty-four episodes, that’s not great.

Part of the underlying problem is revealed by looking at the treatment of women as wives. In the pre-title sequence to “Last Bat on Earth!”, Batman and Mister Miracle escape a death-trap for charity, following which Big Barda hectors Miracle for not cleaning out the garage – Batman chuckles and tells him, “That’s one trap you can’t get out of”. In “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!”, Aquaman’s wife insists that he take her and their son on a vacation rather than fight evildoers. In “Long Arm of the Law!”, Plastic Man’s wife Ramona insists on him watching the baby rather than going out and fighting crime. It’s a time-honoured position for the wives of male superheroes, from Mystery Men to The Incredibles – a dogmatic insistence that their husband give up that silly crimefighting and concentrate on his family. It’s all part of the general stereotype that men put their time and effort into Big Important Projects, whereas women are concerned above all else with their homes and children.

It’s also a genre problem. BatB is trying to recapture an element of light-hearted, old-fashioned fun. Like a cargo cult, they do it by replicating elements from the original purveyors of that fun. And when you do that without some discretion, you replicate the flaws of what you’re making an homage to. With luck, they’ll learn to take what they need from the past and leave behind the unnecessary baggage.

*Which is not to say that this is BatB’s only problem; it’s just the problem I’m talking about here.

**I’m up to episode 34, “Sidekicks Assemble!” – but from the episode list, I don’t think there’s been an uptick in female representation in the episodes I haven’t seen yet. There is apparently a Birds of Prey episode coming up, which should be fun.

***My least favourite episode so far, I think. Not only is it ill-treatment of Huntress, there’s also the awful Mrs. Man-face as a villain.

April 23, 2008

The Open Source Boob Project

Filed under: conventions,Criticism and Commentary,Fandom,Gender — Caribou23 @ 10:18 am

The original post can be found here, although it’s a bit convoluted with all of the edits. Basically, here is the gist of it:

At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, “YES, you may” and a red button that said “NO, you may not.” And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask:

“Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?”

AHEM.
This comment rather sums up my feelings on this particular proposal:

“My body does not exist in the binary of SOME GUY’S ACCESS TO IT.”

Here is a brilliant satire of the initial proposal
And here is a round-up of links that have documented the responses.

April 4, 2008

Comic strip meta commentary

Filed under: comic strips,Criticism and Commentary,Gender — Tags: — Arion Hunter @ 5:43 am

Most Rhymes With Orange strips can be a little too grating or cute for my tastes, but sometimes Hilary Price gets it right on the nose.

Same goes for Get Fuzzy, which is funny but rarely incisive. And then occasionally it will make a comment worth listening to.

March 27, 2008

Unimpressed.

Filed under: Comics,Criticism and Commentary,Women in comics — Tags: — Caribou23 @ 8:30 pm

With this:

Ahem.
Let’s get the facts out.
It’s not a weird lighting issue in the image.
It’s not a coloring error.
Vixen is not a freakin’ white woman.

Found via Racialicious.

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