Congratulations to Our Facebook Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Warren Newsom on winning the contest to design our new Facebook banner! You can see Warren’s fantastic work here. And check out more of his art, including costume redesigns of fan-favorite superheroines, at his DeviantArt page: http://heroid.deviantart.com/

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll be showing you all the other fantastic submissions we received. And remember, you can keep up-to-date on Girl-Wonder.Org’s latest news, recs, and blogposts by following us on Facebook or Twitter!

Superhero comics have come a long way

Superhero comics have come a long way. The range of female superheroes, vigilantes, and villains has broadened considerably since earlier times. There’s a lot more on offer for feminist fans of mainstream comics.

But today’s fans face a whole new set of stumbling blocks: objectifying, inappropriately sexualised art styles; gruesome deaths designed only to forward a male character’s story; and a generally held public opinion that superhero comics are the domain of boys and men and therefore have no need to be female-friendly.

movie downloadWe love comics. We want to see them remain a vital, energetic, engaging, popular art form enjoyed by a range of audience groups. If this objective is to remain viable, comics have to pick up their game. We’re here to see that they do.

One of Girl-Wonder.org’s primary aims is to get comics fans talking to each other in an environment where everyone feels equally free to express their opinions. Toward this end, visitors are strongly encouraged to make use of the forums.

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December: Avengers Academy, by Christos Gage

Avengers Academy is possibly the best book Marvel is currently publishing. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by a number of fantastic artists (including Mike McKone, Sean Chen, Tom Raney, and soon Tom Grummett), Avengers Academy tells the tale of 6 new teenage superhumans who share a history of capture and torture at the hands of H.A.M.M.E.R. director Norman Osborn. In the wake of Norman Osborn’s fall from grace, these troubled teens (Veil, Striker, Mettle, Finesse, Hazmat, and Reptil) have been taken under the Avengers’ wing to become the inaugural class of Avengers Academy. But, as the kids very quickly discover, they weren’t chosen because they have the best potential to become heroes – they were chosen because the Avengers fear that, without guidance, they might turn into villains.

What separates this book from the dozens of other teen superhero books that have passed through comic shop shelves over the years? The answer is Christos Gage, a writer who has rapidly risen to become one of Marvel’s brightest stars. Gage’s work deals with consequences at a level that few other superhero writers are willing to tackle. No canon, no matter how old, is irrelevant for Gage. He expertly weaves the past and the present (without, it should be noted, relying on fans’ assumed knowledge of past stories) to illustrate the ways that past experiences and actions shape the lives and futures of all human beings. The Avengers Academy faculty includes characters like Hank Pym and Pietro Maximoff, characters who have made their fair share of mistakes and want to pass along the lessons they’ve learned to the next generation. The lives of superheroes are difficult and messy, and this book addresses that fact with a rare honesty.

Yet the book is far from glum and gloomy. Ultimately Avengers Academy is a story of hope, of adults trying to help kids and kids trying to help themselves and each other. The kids have their problems, but they’re still very much kids – they even have a prom! – and their interpersonal relationships are bright spots amid the stresses of battle. They have successes to match their failures, and the book is frequently quite funny. I rarely finish an issue without a smile on my face.

For those whose interest has been piqued, I highly recommend picking up all the trade paperbacks of the series so far. But for those looking to dip their toes in, the book’s recent status quo change – moving the school to the old West Coast Avengers headquarters and adding new characters – is a perfect jumping-on point. Pick up last month’s issue 21 and see what the fuss is all about.

Violence: This is a superhero comic, so there’s plenty of fighting of all kinds, including violence that ends in death (though not for our protagonists). Given the premise, all of the characters also have some kind of torture in their backstories. But violence in this book is rarely graphic or gory.

Sexualized Violence: There are references to the past sexualized attack on faculty member Tigra (which happened in another book) and one of the male characters is implied to have been molested as a child. Sexualized violence is never graphic or cast in a positive light, however.

Gender: Half of the original team was female, and more recently two more regular female students have been added, in addition to a number of part-time students (including former solo title stars Spider-Girl, the Savage She-Hulk, and X-23). The girls come from a variety of backgrounds and have distinct personalities, and gendered plots and dialogue are extremely rare. The girls are both as heroic and as screwed-up as their male counterparts.

The Bechdel-Wallace Test: Since the gender-balanced cast spends most of its conversations talking to each other about their powers, fights, and education, I doubt any issue has failed to pass the test, though I don’t have specific figures.

Minorities: From its inception, this book has made a conscious attempt to include diversity in its cast. Reptil is Latino, Hazmat is half-white/half-Japanese-American, and Mettle in flashbacks appears to be at least half Native Hawaiian (he’s also half-Jewish). The new cast includes a white queer character (Julie Power) and a Puerto Rican female character (the new White Tiger, taking up the mantle from wholesale jeans, Hector Ayala), and recent writer comments have hinted that one of the original team may be gay. The teaching staff, relying as it does on older characters, is totally white and straight (and mostly male), but that could change at any point as the cast shifts. In addition, the new part-time students come from a variety of backgrounds.

Parents May Wish to Be Aware: I would rate this book at least PG-13; it is definitely aimed at teens and adults, and the level of violence and implied sexuality is probably too high for younger kids. But compared to some superhero comics, this book tends to be less graphic and grim-and-gritty; the costumes and art are not sexualized and there is a strong moral center to the story. Teenagers should be fine.

Review by Jennifer Margret Smith

How to Draw off Jogger Jeans in the Office

Let’s face it — if you had a choice to wear sweatpants to work, you would do it; so do most of your colleagues. Fortunately, you can now pull off the office version of denim jogging pants, the “cooler cousin” of sweatpants. You just need to know and follow the ground rules of the office to do this with aplomb. To learn more, read on.
The last day of the work week is a time to wear a new fashion trend in the office. Give it a test, maybe once a month, and push the envelope. If there’s no resistance, make it a casual Friday staple. Add a jacket, a professional shirt (preferably with buttons) and dress shoes, and see if your boss notices. If you get caught, you can excuse yourself for not knowing the “casual fridays” rule. You also may want to have a second outfit ready to go in your vehicle.
Jacket makes everything and everyone look a little more professional, even college professors. By pairing your navy blue jean joggers with a customized jeans, you are hiding the fact that you are pulling off wearing sweatpants to work.
If you’re convinced that a shirt makes the whole outfit look more formal, it can also cover up a lot of mistakes. Choose muted colors and patterns. Make sure your button-down shirt matches your jogger and it is as professional as possible.
There is a plan to test out your blue and black joggers on a day where you will spend most of your time sitting at your desk. Until you’ve mainstreamed to wear joggers to work, you shouldn’t wear them on a day when you have to give a big presentation to your boss. By planning to wear them on a down day at the office, you can minimize your exposure to the office and thus make it less noticeable.
Give your joggers a polished look with twill or other professional-looking wholesale jeans. Don’t wear patterns because they draw attention to you. Match them with an all-business jacket, shirt, and shoes, and you will be able to pull it off with ease.
Jean joggers are basically sweatpants that, when paired properly, can be worn in the office. The key is the pairing and the timing.
Jeans jogging pants are basically sweatpants that you can wear in the office with the right combination. The key is pairing and timing.

Episode 7: 101 on Sorcery 101

In this episode we discuss webcomics, webcomic demographics, webcomics we like, and answer two stupid questions: ‘How can The Thing have sex safely? Does he ejaculate?’ and ‘What’s your favorite sound effect?’ See Wally Wood’s comic here. This month’s guest is Kel McDonald, writer and artist of Sorcery 101. Unfortunately, due to a technical mishap a large section of our discussion with Kel was lost to the ether of the internet. I’ve attempted to reconstruct as much as I can.
Kel’s recommendations: Bayou, Dark Horse Presents, Dice Box, Family Man, GunnerKrigg Court, Kukuburi, Nobody Scores
Hannah’s recommendations: I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space, The Tower, The Non-Adventures of Wonderella (which I forgot to mention during the show, but is a witty, topical, and hysterical parody on superhero comics)
Kate’s recommendations: Sugarshock, Penny Arcade
Kim’s recommendations: General Protection Fault, PvP, Planet Karen

Episode 5: When Podcasters Attack in Streaming Audio II

In this episode we discuss When Fangirls Attack!, the women in comics linkblog, artists’ depiction of women (link to the page mentioned), the imaginative scope of Green Lanterns, and answer two stupid questions: ‘How many Bat mites does it take to screw in a lightbulb?’ and ‘How did Marvel Comics mercenary Razorfist dress himself, or go to the bathroom?’ This month’s guest is Lisa Fortuner, also known as Ragnell of the Written World, Blog@Newsarama, and When Fangirls Attack!
Look for the continuation of our discussion with Lisa on religion in comics and our favorite holiday specials later this month!
Let us know who you would pay to screw in your lightbulbs.

Episode 4: Twinkies in Your Bat-Pouch

This (late) month’s episode focuses on the New Avengers Tigra Fight, Rob Liefeld’s thoughts on Alan Moore, and Benel R. Germosen’s Stupid Question: Why don’t superheroes just offer supervillains Hostess fruit pies like they do in the ads? Our guest is Kadorienne, who has presented panels at Anime USA on the Takarazuka Revue and Joho Manga.
Give us your reason why they’ve not yet revived the Hostess ad for a new generation of readers.

Ma, Can I Be a Feminist and Still Like Men?*

*With apologies to Nicole Hollander.
Yes. You can even be a queer feminist who likes, loves, and fucks men, because being a feminist and queer activist is all about fighting for the right to be who you are and love whom you love without apology or shame. On the same premise, you can be a queer feminist geek who spends her queer feminist comics column writing about her very favorite straight guy in the whole world.
Which is what I’m going to do right now. I was going to write about the whole mess with the Buffy PDF, but I’ve already ranted my rants about that, and I’d kind of like to take a break from righteous indignation and write about something that makes me happy. So, today, I’m going to write about Miles.
Miles is going to turn twenty-five on Wednesday. He looks a whole lot like the prayer-card-style illustrations of Jesus, but with darker hair. He’s a radical feminist, a die-hard gamer, and a big damn geek. He’s also indirectly responsible for my career, because he’s the guy who got me into comics.
It’s not so much that Miles got me into comics as that he got me into superheroes. I had grown up reading Tintin and Sylvia (I love my liberal academic parents); by the time I was sixteen, I had worked my way through half of the Vertigo lineup (one of the advantages of being a teenage geek in the nineties was that it was all relatively newI read Sandman before they sold Death shirts at Hot Topic and then got to feel smug when it became a fad). But I was also a pretentious, artsy bitch, and superhero comics were well outside the very narrow scope of my fandom.
Miles had grown up reading his father’s collection of silver-age Marvel: Alpha Flight, X-Men, The Mighty Thor. His mom’s refrigerator was papered with drawings of Cyclops and Iceman. In junior high, we had bonded over Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper; early in high school, we had done the awkward-kids-dating thing, which mostly involved holding hands in movies and carefully ignoring my boobs. In the following years, we awkwardly split, became friends again, and eventually tumbled first into bed, and then into another, more nebulous relationship. By our second semester of college, we were living together, and the next summer, he brought his longboxes back from Florida.
Miles got me into superheroes by being into superheroes (people wondering how to get your partners into comicshere’s where you’ll want to take some notes). The comics he lent me weren’t the ones he thought would be most girl-friendly; they were the ones he loved most. I broke my teeth on Walt Simonson’s run of Thor; on The Age of Apocalypse and The Raven Banner and the Sienkewicz era of The New Mutants. We chased down backissues of Excalibur and the Longshot special. And even if superheroes weren’t my first love, Miles’s enthusiasm was contagious. By the end of college, I could recite the Summers/Grey continuity and genealogy and had occasionally been known to yell ‘KRACKADOOM!’ upon completing a particularly sticky term paper.
So, dude, this one’s for you. Because it’s your birthday this week, and because you were okay with putting a picture of Rogue and Gambit’s first kiss on the fronts of our wedding programs and because you are proud to be married to a dykey punk chick and moved cross-country so I could make comics for a living, and most of all because you know better than to fuck with my action figures.
Click here to discuss my love life.
March 5th, 2007
Categories: Uncategorized . Author: Rachel Edidin

Be Vewwy, Vewwy QuietWe’re Hunting Wimmins!

I didn’t go to New York Comicon, so I didn’t get to see the panel on ‘Capturing the Female Reader.’ It’s probably just as well that I wasn’t there: it would have been awfully hard to resist making a loud, snarky comment about bear traps (I mean, seriouslycould they have given it a sillier title if they’d tried?).
But I did read the synopsis on Newsarama, and I have to admit that it leaves me a little cold.
According to the Comicon panel, what women want are comics with pretty pictures and sympathetic characters. Stories should focus on character interaction and relationships. We’re more interested in story than in action, and we like stories with male casts because it eliminates the competition (other girls) and allows us to focus on the details of friendships. Wendy Pini observed that ‘Girls don’t just like cotton candy or foo-foo or fluff.’ How insightful.
Yes, it’s nice to see the industry acknowledge female readers. And I agree with many of the points the panelists made. But with all their generalizations about what women and girls read and why, I have to wonder how many of them have bothered to listen to what actual female readers are saying.
Of the panelists, I think that Karen Berger came closest to the point when she noted that most teenage girls ‘read up’that is, they seek out fiction that’s written for older readers. It’s true, and there’s a reason: the stuff written for teen girls is often the worst sort of contentless tripe focused on shopping or fashion, with characters who are scarcely shy of stereotypes.
And that’s where I see one of the biggest holes in the net these companies are casting. They’re relying on the same set of stereotypes that prevented them from focusing on women before.
Here’s my advice on Capturing Female Readers:

  1. We’re not a hive mind. Your best bet isn’t going to be chasing an ethereal Platonic Ideal of the Female Reader; it’s going to be publishing a range of material that we can choose from. Sort of like you do now, only with higher BMIs and a little less rape.
  2. Avoid the trap of making comics specifically for women. This further stigmatizes and separates them from male readers, and it reinforces the message that mainstream comics aren’t for girls. Instead, try making comics universally good: hold them to the same standards as literary fiction and art. An awful lot of women read Richard Russo, not because he writes ‘for women,’ but because he’s really damn good. Take a cue from successful independent publishers like Dark Horse, Image, and Top Shelf, and shift away from tired clichés; don’t be afraid of change and evolution.
  3. Instead of marginalizing women further by creating a comics-line ghetto of ‘girls’ books,’ try making mainstream comics more female-friendly. Maybe if rape wasn’t a universal part of superheroines’ backstories, or if you treated female characters as more than a superficially scripted set of tits, women would be more interested in your books.
  4. Same goes for comics shops. Yeah, a lot of women avoid comics shops because a lot of comics shops are really damn creepy, and owners and patrons can be really, really misogynistic. But wait! I’ve seen some comics shops* with great selections and staffs that weren’t creepy and misogynistic, and guess what? They had a lot of female customers!
  5. LISTEN. For fuck’s sake, people, there are a lot of female comics fans who are GIVING you their ideas, requests, and preferences. You don’t even have to organize a focus group: you can just do a few Google searches! These are intelligent women and girls who are already comics fans; they can give you a really damn clear overview of what they feel does and doesn’t work for women in mainstream comics and what they’d like to see publishers do to address female readers. You may be surprised.
  6. Find existing comics with large female readerships and figure out what they’re doing right. Let’s try a case study:
    I don’t know about the actual stats, but based on both the letters we get and the discussion at the official message board, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. have a whole lot of female fans. Why? Well, they have really, really good stories, with a good balance of action, exposition, and character development. The art style is interesting and fits the story well, and the characters are well-realized. In general, it’s a really damn good book.
    The protagonist of Hellboy isn’t female (thus, y’know, Hellboy), and while B.P.R.D. is a team book, the majority of the main characters are male. But it’s not a big deal, because gender isn’t a defining characteristic of any of those characters: they’re people first, and men and women second. The female characters are strong, smart and well-realized; they’re neither tokens nor cheesecake. And while neither Mike Mignola or Guy Davis is notorious for his sexxxy babes or pinup art, both are great at drawing women who look like people: Liz and Kate are hot because they’re competent and interesting (I couldand probably willwrite a whole column about how much I adore Mike and Guy, and how they make awesome, feminist books, but that’s not really the topic at hand).
    There are other, similar books out there: Vertigo books get a lot of female readers because they’re good comics. Transmetropolitan, which has a male protagonist, is outrageously and quite graphically violent and obscene. It also has a huge female fanbase, because it’s a fucking brilliant comic.
  7. Bear traps.
    *I want to take this opportunity to send a shout-out to the awesome folks at The Sword and the Grail, my now-and-forever favorite comics shopI miss you guys like crazy. Check ‘em out if you’re ever in the Asheville area, and be sure to give Alex a hug for me.
    Capture some discussion!
    February 25th, 2007
    Categories: Uncategorized . Author: Rachel Edidin

Well, we edit stuff, I guess…

Last week, I asked you, my four or five loyal readers, to tell me what you wanted to know. In addition to those of you who wrote to express your doubt that there’s actually more than one queer woman working in comics or your disappointment that I do not, in fact, look just like my forum avatar, several people asked what, exactly, a comics editor does.
I know for a fact that the answer to the first question is ‘Yeah, there is,’ and the discrepancy between myself and my avatar should be pretty obvious, in that my avatar is ‘Girl’ of Cat and Girl (one of my favorite webcomics), and I have a nose (Ha! Take that, Roald Dahl!).
As for the third question, I’ll do my best to answer it here. I would guess that the details of this stuff vary from editor to editor and publisher to publisher, so please don’t make major career decisions based on the information below. I’m going to go into some of these in more detail in weeks to come, but for now, here’s an overview of what comics editors do while the rest of you are earning your money the old-fashioned way:
Editors choose projects.
They don’t choose projects unilaterally, and they don’t choose all of the projects they work on, but editors have a lot of say in what projects publishers pick up. As a rule, the more experience and seniority an editor has, the more influence she will have on whether a book makes it to press.
Editors choose creators.
On ongoing series, editors are often responsible for selecting, soliciting, and hiring the creative team. Again, they rarely act unilaterally here; often, licensors or series creators will have approval rights. But it’s generally up to the editor to assemble a comic’s creative team, and even when licensors and series creators have input, the editors are often the ones who make the final decisions.
Editors maintain continuity.
This is probably a bigger deal at publishers with shared universes, but it’s up to editors to be intimately familiar with the world and continuity of their comics and to make sure that those remain consistent from issue to issue and story to story. Sometimes, this is as prosaic as double-checking dates; sometimes, it’s as abstract as requesting a script rewrite because a character is presented in a way that the editor believes conflicts with a previous portrayal of the character. For licensed comics and comics based on other media, the editors also need to be conversant with the original material.
Editors are also responsible for making sure that creators have all of the visual and factual reference material they need, from backissues of a given series, to photo references, to factual material.
Editors organize and coordinate.
Editors connect and balance creative and practical concerns. They coordinate creation, marketing, production, and design; they’re responsible for generating and maintaining the creative budgets and creative and publication schedules. They track and maintain licensor approvals, supervise creator contracts, and make sure that vouchers are submitted and paid. They create and maintain comp lists, write work orders and indicia, and request reference material. On books with more than one creator, editors are responsible for coordinating and maintaining communication with the creative team.
Editors listen.
It’s the responsibility of an editor to pay close attention to media and fan responses to the comics she edits and to track sales. She gauges public reaction, which in turn influences her editorial decisions. Depending on the publisher for which she works, she may also interact more directly with her audience, via both private correspondence and public forums such as letter columns and online communities.
Editors write.
Most editors have some creative experience, and those who don’t when they begin to edit will likely accumulate creative credits before their careers end. If an editor can’t find a writer for a series, he will often step in and provide fill-in issues or even ongoing scripts himself. Even when they’re not credited as writers, editors can have tremendous impact on story decisions. On a more pragmatic front, they also write credits, indicia, ‘story so far’ blurbs, and solicitation copy.
And finally, editors edit.
When material comes in, from pitches, to scripts, to artwork, the editor is the first one who sees it. She is responsible for evaluating and responding to material: requesting revisions, making corrections, and communicating constantly with creators. Editors fix grammar and tweak syntax; they make sure that the artwork and the script mesh, and that the dialogue fits in each panel. The editor’s desk is often the first point of intersection between word and image.
A bonus fact about editors:
Editors are fans.
The comics industry is not a glamorous place to work. The hours are long, they pay is notoriously low, and outside of the comics community, we don’t have much standing or prestige. Many of the people I work with have advanced degrees; many are skilled writers and artists in their own rights. We work in comics because we love comics; because we know how lucky we are to be part of the process of creating them. Even the most knuckleheaded editorial decisions are usually made with genuinely good intentions.
Of course, that’s no reason not to take us to task when we screw up. We may be fans ourselves, but we know we have to answer to the rest of you, too.
Speaking of taking editors to task, please keep the questions and feedback coming. I’m still finding my footing here, and hearing what you’d like to get out of thiswhat questions you have, what you’d like me to address, and what you think of what you’ve seen so faris a huge help!
February 19th, 2007
Categories: Editing, Questions . Author: Rachel Edidin

Candy Is Good For You

By Noah Brand
Because Rachel Edidin is unable to post this week, she arranged a guest columnist. Noah Brand generously agreed to help her out. — Ed.
There’s a lot to love about the original William Moulton Marston run on Wonder Woman. Especially if you like bondage and discipline. For me, though, the awesomest part of those strange, didactic old stories isn’t Wonder Woman at all; it’s her sidekick, Etta Candy. Etta, unlike most Golden Age sidekicks, wasn’t a miniature Wonder Woman in looks or personality. She was her own person, more feminist in many ways than Diana herself, and unlike any character before or since.
Etta Candy was a student at the fictitious Holliday College, where she was the leader of the Holliday Girls, a combination sorority/band/commando unit that she would bring in whenever Wonder Woman needed help. How many sidekicks are sufficiently badass to have their own team of sidekicks?
Here’s her first appearance, along with the Holliday Girls (Yes, she later went from being a blonde to a redhead. Lots of girls do that in college.):
ettafirst.jpgLet’s take a moment to look at her body and her attitude about it. Etta is short, and she’s fat. Not a little plump, not fake Hollywood Janeane-Garofalo faux-fat, actually fat. And she’s surrounded by all these girls who are a clear foot taller than her, with figures like Wonder Woman’s. Does Etta look embarrassed to you? Does she look self-conscious, ashamed, any of the things a girl who looks like her is expected to be? Hell no. And it’s not just those five panels; go over every page Etta’s ever appeared on, and look for a single moment when she apologizes for or is ashamed of how she looks. You won’t find one. While you’re at it, find me another female character with the same body and the same attitude about it. Check the 40s, check the present. No, go ahead, keep checking. I’ll wait.
Here’s Etta in a duplicate of Wonder Woman’s body, for the usual plot-related reasons:
ettaskinny.jpg
Etta likes her body. She’s aware that some other people don’t; the villains are especially prone to calling her rude names. She does not, however, feel obliged to give a damn about anyone else’s opinion.
She’s also frankly sexual; look at her intro panels again. She likes men; likes ‘em plenty, and so do all her friends. Even Wonder Woman was stuck in her chaste-longing deal with Steve Trevor, but Etta and the Holliday Girls got to just plain like men. Indeed, when Etta would get herself in trouble, it was usually over a handsome face. She doesn’t want to land a man, isn’t dreaming of being a housewife or a helpmeet; she just enjoys them. More than any other female character of her time, Etta is able to want men without needing them. She feels as much shame about this attitude as she does about her big round butt. And why? Because Etta Candy is utterly without fear—social or physical.
ettawoo.jpg

ettalasso.jpg

ettapunch.jpg
She throws herself right into whatever kind of trouble is going on without even a second’s hesitation. Fighting Nazis, going to Atlantis, astrally projecting herself to Mars (seriously), whenever Wonder Woman needed backup, Etta was there. Even Robin, second-best sidekick of the era, would occasionally express reservations, lines like ‘But Batman, how can we defeat all of them?’ Etta, never. She would throw down with anyone from Axis agents to actual deities without a moment’s hesitation, and it always worked. Well, usually. Generally speaking. A solid majority of the time, it worked.
Actuallyand again in sharp contrast to her contemporaries like Robin and BuckyEtta didn’t get beaten and captured that often. Indeed, most of the time it was Wonder Woman who was imprisoned (gotta have some reason for her to be tied up, after all) and Etta and the girls who came riding in to help her out.

ettatable.jpg
The manner of the Holliday Girls’ arrival was always memorable. Generally they’d show up playing instruments and singing, as in this scene where they’re busting into a U.S. military base:

ettaband.jpg
Even when they’re captured and ticked-off at Etta, they give her a hard time in song form.

ettasong.jpg
By now the alert reader will have noticed the most common emotional state for Etta and her friends: joie de vivre. They go on these adventures with Wonder Woman not because of some oath of vengeance, not because of an ideology, but just because going on adventures is freakin’ awesome. They’re young and fearless and tough, and they find it enormously fun to go get captured and sing at people and get in fights. This isn’t just subtextual, by the wayit’s explicitly their in-story motivation.
ettafun.jpg
Throughout Marston’s Wonder Woman, there’s constant strong messages of female empowerment. Not in some abstract sense, either; Marston gives us page after page of explicit statements that women can make themselves stronger, take control of their lives, and be their own heroes. Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls are the strongest manifestation of that message. Through nothing more than shaking off societal expectations, Etta made her college cohorts a team of heroines able to take on any challenge and have a hell of a time doing it. Her ethos was also theirs: don’t be afraid of who you are, and do what you can do without stopping to ask permission. Every hero expresses a different philosophy, but Etta’s was better than most, and damn near revolutionary in the context of her time.
Etta’s mostly forgotten now, retconned out decades ago as too silly and fat, retooled as a military officer with a couple extra pounds, made safe and acceptable and nonthreatening. But for me, she will always be the short, fat, crazy-ass college girl diving headfirst into adventure because nobody gets to tell her what she’s not allowed to do.
Discuss this column here.
Noah Brand blogs a bit at noahbrand.blogspot.com
September 10th, 2007
Categories: Guest Column, characters . Author: admin

ettasong.jpg

Burning Questions

This week, I answer your questions! Because I know stuff! Some, anyway…
Linkara asks: What do you feel Dark Horse’s primary market is? I.E. Marvel and DC are primarily superhero stories, Image is a mixture of superheroes plus various other genres usually related to scifi or crime.
One of my favorite things about Dark Horse is how hard our books are to pigeonhole as a group. They cover a tremendous range of genres, styles, and formats, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose a single one that defines us in the way that DC or Marvel is identified with superheroes. So, our primary markets vary widely from line to line and title to title.
I do think our market is widened substantially by the volume of cross-medium and licensed material we’re involve in: for example, titles like Buffy bring people to comicsand, by extension, other Dark Horse comicswho wouldn’t otherwise seek them out. So, we both rely on and practice a lot of cross-fertilization between comics, movies, prose fiction, art, video games, toys, and other mediums I’m probably forgetting.
The other area Dark Horse has always focused on in both publication and marketing is creator-owned properties (i.e. Hellboy, Concrete, The Goon, Sock Monkey, etc.). And creators’ rights are a pretty big deal in terms of how we market ourselves to writers and artists whose work we want to publish.
amyreads asks: If you could put together a Dream Team of Writer(s) and Artist(s) on a Dream Superhero Title, who would your Dream Team be, and what would the Dream Storyline be?
Can I have more than one?
I would love to see an Arkham Asylum story with script and covers by David Mack and painted interiors by Bill Sienkewicz.
A Li’l Avengers story, Little Endless Storybook style, written and painted by Jill Thompson. MADE OF CUTE AND WONDERFUL!
Speaking of cute, I want more X-Men backup stories by Colleen Coover.
And I would kill small, defenseless…well, anyway, I’d pay a lot of money to see a Starman miniseries written by Joshua Dysart and drawn by Mike Mignola.
CEOIII says: 3 words: REWRITE CIVIL WAR. Any way you wish, any ending you wish. Cap just giving up is still jammed deep in my craw.
Ever seen the movie Baseketball? Remember when they have the big fight, and then they finally make up, and—
Oh, C’mon! You know Iron Man + Cap = OTP! And I’m not even into slash!
Okay, sorry. I’ll give it a serious try. Bear in mind, however, that I haven’t actually read much of Civil War, so I may be breaking continuity pretty hard.
First of all, I’d frame it such that Iron Man wasn’t set up as the villain. Instead, it’d be clear that he and Cap are both basically right: each has a different, totally defensible stance on a really loaded, subjective issue. So, while the conflict would escalate, it would be a case of conflicting beliefs, not Evil Authoritarian Iron Man beating down on Sympathetic, Freedom-Loving Cap.
I would retcon such that Iron Man and Cap had worked together to fake Cap’s death so that Cap could continue to operate clandestinely and help some anti-registration heroes and people whom registration would actively harm get to Canada / protect their identities. Which I think Tony Stark would be willing to leave to Cap’s judgment, because Tony’s always been all about bending the rules for the greater good.
And then they’d make out.
Fox In The Stars says: Maybe like ‘what can a male character do’, talk about ways of handling male characters that would be woman-friendly and feminist.
I’m gonna hold off on this, ’cause it could be a column by itself…
Hazel says: A feature on male writers and artists who do good stuff with female characters would be nice. Also, novels or other media who you think would make good comics spin-offs.
Y’know what? Most of the well-writen and well-drawn women in comics are coming from male creators, simply because the field is so dramatically gender-imbalanced. For now, though, I’ll just rattle off a short list of male comics creators who I’ve seen portray women particularly well (in my highly subjective opinion):
Kyle Baker
Matt Bayne
Ross Campbell
Guy Davis
Frank Frazetta
Neil Gaiman
Renato Guedes
Brian Maruca
Lawrence Marvit
Dave McKean
Mike Mignola
Alan Moore
Jim Rugg
Greg Ruth
Stephen Seagle
Dean Trippe
Joss Whedon
Tad Williams
Bryan Vaughn
I’m iffy on the reworking of other media as comics, for many of the same reasons that I’m uncertain about the adaptation of most comics and books into movies. Spinoffs, on the other hand, could be fair game if doing them as comics would genuinely add something to them.
Here are a couple characters and properties that I think could rock the comics:

  • V.I. Warshawski, who could rock her own ongoing series. Badass, practical female PIs are FAR too rare. Bonus: female creator, too!
  • Otherland, which also has the dual advantages of tremendously rich imagery and an author who we know can write some damn fine comics.
    A straight adaptation that I think would be really damn cool would be Davita’s Harp, by Chaim Potok. It’s a bit unlikely for a comic, and it would have to be the right creative team, but it could be pretty rad.
    knastymike asks: Any chance of a comic book based on the life of Anne Bonny?
    As it just so happens, my good friend Noah is hard at work on just such a series. It’s still in an embryonic stage, but when it’s done, it’s gonna rock you so hard your whole family will feel it.
    Caribou23 asks: In your opinion, who is the most awesome comics creator working in the field today who doesn’t get acknowledged as often as you think that they deserve? And where I can I find their work?
    Ooh, hard one. Really hard one, because what if it’s someone I haven’t heard of because they don’t get that acknowledgement, andOH, NOES!
    So, instead, I’m just going to write about one awesome comics creator out of many who aren’t getting acknowledged as much as I’d like.
    And that’s Matt Bayne (whose name you can also find in the above list of men who write / draw women particularly well). You can find his comic, Knights of the Shroud, here. In a just world, this would be getting about ten times the press it has thus far, and Matt would be . It’s quirky and not without its flaws, but it’s also really, really, really, really awesome and promises to grow even more so.
    Discuss this column here.
    August 28th, 2007
    Categories: Books, characters, Creators, fandom, Personal, Publishing, Questions . Author: Rachel Edidin

Notes from the Underground

I am writing this communiqué from deep inside enemy territory. I have scaled barbed wire fences and tunneled under stone walls. My hands are raw, my glasses are cracked, and I can’t feel my toes.
I am, as they say, ‘in the industry.’ I make comic books for a living.
Okay, I edit comic books for a living. Assistant edit, if you want to be picky. But I do get paid for it. I even have health insurance.
I’m one of those people whose names you skim over on the inside front cover of your comic books. I tug balloons into place and fix syntax and call creators on their birthdays; I sneak between borders and leave my invisible footprints all over the panels. I’m in the know. I’m in on the secrets. I’ve got the door code.
If you couldn’t see my name, you’d never even guess that I was a girl. And even then, you’d miss the part where I’m queer. The purple hair, tattoos, and facial piercings are just icing on the cupcake.
Poe’s ‘I’m Not A Virgin Anymore’ just came on the stereo. How appropriate.
I’m out of the closet, out of the longbox, and out of the mainstream. And I’m putting my voice out here because as I stand on one side of comics with my nose pressed against the newsprint, I have to believe that someone’s out there on the other side, pressing right back.
Go here to discuss this column.
February 5th, 2007
Categories: Uncategorized . Author: Rachel Edidin