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.

We Can Do It! shirtThe Girl-Wonder.org store features a range of t-shirt designs. You can multi-task: promote the site and look fabulous, all in one fell swoop!

Girl-Wonder.org received a Tartie from Sequential Tart, in the fifth annual Tartie Awards!

Girl-Wonder.org was Yahoo’s Pick of the Day on June 20, 2006!

Submissions for proposed websites or columns can be sent to submissions@girl-wonder.org

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.

Selling with the Sexy

I’ve been looking over the sales figures for Marvel, and I have to admit, I’ve been wrong about the sales power of sexy.
Right now, there’s a scantily clad sales machine with slender hips, massive torso, clad in a loin cloth skirt and very very little else. This semi naked sales machine has doubled, and I mean DOUBLED the sales figures of one of the tie in comics.
This sales bombshell is none other than….

Oh that chest and those legs and that tiny skirt

The Incredibly Sexy Hulk.
World War Hulk is #1 on the comic book box office, and the Hulk’s impact on the Heroes for Hire franchise has not been missed.
08/06 Heroes for Hire #01 84,006
09/06 Heroes for Hire #02 66,949 (-20.3%)
10/06 Heroes for Hire #03 60,770 ( -9.2%)
11/06 Heroes for Hire #04 38,070 (-37.4%)
12/06 Heroes for Hire #05 31,318 (-17.7%)
01/07 Heroes for Hire #06 27,513 (-12.1%)
02/07 Heroes for Hire #07 24,476 (-11.0%)
03/07 Heroes for Hire #08 22,563 ( -7.8%)
04/07 Heroes for Hire #09 21,444 ( -5.0%)
06/07 Heroes for Hire #10 -20,503
06/07 Heroes for Hire #11 41,298 WWH related
06/07 Heroes for Hire #12 41,229 WWH related
09/07 Heroes for Hire #13 40,086 WWH related
00/07 Heroes for Hire #14 Part 4 of WWH content
00/07 Heroes for Hire #14 Part 5 of WWH storyline
You want to sell comics in this modern day market place? Strip down one of the big boys and put him in the crossovers.
Half Naked Hulk sells comics. Big bulging semi-naked men sell comics. It’s just economics, so DC, pants those eras, buff those pecs and show me some Batmanflesh for that sales bonanza.
It’s what the market wants isn’t it?

Oh that chest and those legs and that tiny skirt

The Campaign for Change in Comics: Shouting loudly is fast tracking the change

‘You can get much further with a kind word and a gun batarang than you can with a kind word alone.

  • Al Capone Some Goddamn Batman
    My Background: I’ve read Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Kotler and Roberto’s Social Marketing, and I’ve written Competitive Marketing Strategy (along with Strategic Internet Marketing). I’ve got a bit of a background in marketing, lecturing, social marketing, politics, lobbying and selling expensive commercial product to an unwilling market. I have a PhD where I developed a new theoretical model to describe how people deal with the hypernew products and the key factors involved in getting the really new stuff out of beta and into people’s hands via their hip pocket.
    My role: I’m a mercenary civilian contractor. Trained as a marketer, employed as a marketing educator, and working as a columnist and military adviser consultant to Girl-Wonder and the Project Girl Wonder, my self anointed part in this process is to aggravate, agitate and educate.
    Aggravate
    It’s easy to dismiss complaints about sexist portrayal of women in comics if it’s just coming from female readers. All the usual dismissal methods roll out and get thrown around. Throw in the complaints from men, and it makes it harder to pull the wholesale dismissal. Being an aggravating male with a propensity to snipe on topic areas where I can pull out the heavy artillery as required means I can get under the skins of certain bloggers, draw some heat, and make the sockpuppets dance.
    Agitate
    It’s called stirring. I do it well. For example, to agitate the crowd, I could put forth my hypothesis that the desire for overwrought caricatures of women that are distorted, impossiby proportioned and unattainable figures could be the result of overcompensation to mask other latent desires and needs. Similarly, being able to start fights, point out flaws, raise counterpoints and every now and then stand on the rooftops and shout at the top of my lungs is a valuable part of the change movement. Gandhi was the last saint like figure to bust out a completely passive move set for victory. The rest of us get along by being much more human and flawed.
    Somedays, at the end of it all, you just can’t avoid the fact Dan DiDio has a tendency to be a dick (not as in Grayson). He’ll never accept such a judgement of himself, but when you’re looking at the things he does accept, it’s worth being in the category of wrong in that man’s head. That said, is it counter productive to call him a dick? Probably not since a huge chunk of recent rounds of problematic content to come from DC have had his fingerprints on it, letting him (and the successors to his title) know that his actions are tarnishing his reputation will help in the long haul. If people thought he was a respected figure for the decision that’ve been made, statements said, and general dickishness, then it’ll be a cold shower moment of ‘Wait…do I want that for me?’ for the next in line to consider when planning how they’d deal with the situation if they were the editor
    Educate
    One of the things about this sort of change campaigning activity is that our internet addicted TV stained minds have been taught by by a news media with weekly ratings battles that any sort of long term activity beyond 18 months is a failure. Compare this with the fact it takes 10 to 12 years to get someone through school, another 3 to 5 years to get through college/university, and the entire Harry Potter franchise took 10 years to from releasing the first book to releasing the last book. Changing the way a comic book industry works in 18 months? Sure,it’s possible, but I heartly recommend fire and nuking from orbit if you want to be that quick. Otherwise, take some time and schedule it for generational change.
    My view on the comics book change movement: Are the various campaigns making headway? Hell to the yes. Are we all doing it the hard way? Yes, because there isn’t an easy way. This is generational change that I’m talking about in aiming for the reform of the comic book industry. I’m talking about keeping the fires burning for the people starting out into the game now as much as trying to persuade those at the top to reconsider their position and standards. When the DCU and Marvel replace the current editor, that editor will still have been shaped by coming through the same sort of system that created the current mindsets. Within a few editors, and a couple of generations of writers, artists and in-house staff changes, then you’ll start to see people implementing the sort of changes that are being blogged about here and now.
    I’ll speak solely for Girl-Wonder (there are other groups who can speak for themselves). People have heard of the site, the associated causes, and the Robin-in-a-jar project. I was looking at this sort of recognition around three to five years in, and certainly nothing of the level we’re at right now we’re on the radar of the majors and that’s rapid fire success.
    The Framework: In social change, there’s this wonderful little model we use to demonstrate how social causes take effect.
    Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model
    Stage Characteristics
    Pre contemplation Potential targets are unaware of issue
    Contemplation Targets become aware of the issue and start to consider it in light of their lives
    Preparation Targets determine what they need to know or do to change their behaviour
    Action Targets trial the alternate behaviour
    Maintenance Targets adopt the alternative behaviour long term as their ‘normal’ behaviour
    In my opinion, Girl-Wonder is somewhere in Precontemplation to Contemplation for the vast bulk of the comic book fandom, industry, readership and creator base. To get to Action and Maintenance will take time, and the implementation of an additional array of strategies which will come into play in Preparation and Action. That’s the time and place for negotiations, creating alternative products for creators, making exchanges and trade offs.
    Right now? There’s a need to raise the roof, start the fires and let the world know that there is an issue, the issue is important enough to require addressing, and that girls read comics and they’re pissed.
    You’d be surprised how much this is an under realised issue in the business. Even the fact that girls read comics wasn’t something the mother of a girl standing in the comic store in front of me was 100% onboard with despite the fact her daughter was selecting comics to purchase. There’s some light on the subject, but there needs to be more light. Perhaps a large bonfire with a huge plume of smoke so people can see that yes, there’s smoke, there’s fire and there’s something afoot here worth investigating (and it’s a worthy sacrifice for the rum to make).
    So right now, on the generational change for the betterment of comics project timeline, this whole damn thing is running way ahead of schedule because ass is being kicked, attention is being raised, dialogue is being opened with people who are saying or thinking ‘Look, I know so and so is a tool about this, but I don’t want to be one myself, what can I do?’ and a bunch of very pissed off people are getting to shout loudly, stomp and do all the sort of frustration venting moves that are par for the course in any other environment seeking long term change.
    Once the foothold is established in contemplation, and the advance scouts hit the beachhead of Preparation, then it’ll be time to look at options, alternatives and talking quietly in deal making situations. Right now, this movement has some attention to raise, and one of the many ways it’s being done is by shouting loudly and being visible.
    DS
    PS: Project Girl Wonder is in currently in dual win situation either DCU relents and matches Jason ‘Not Dead’ Todd’s Case with Stephanie ‘Still Dead’ Brown’s case, and the balance is redressed, or DCU continues to provide a clear example of how a dead female Robin is treated with less respect than a dead-and-got-better male Robin. DCU can prove a point about gender in comics, or correct an editorial oversight.
    PPS: For those wondering about time frames and comparative success look at how long it took for comics and tradepaperbacks to move from ‘Funnybooks for kids’ to being sold in mainstream book stores and reviewed in mainstream newspapers. (Don’t forget to check when the last ‘Comic books aren’t just for kids’ story ran as well)
    References
    Prochaska, J.O., DiClemente, C.C. & Norcross, J.C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47(9), 1102-1114.

Green Arrow, Black Canary, and the Wedding Issue: AKA Let’s destroy the viability of this franchise!

Dear DC
Why are you systematically trying to destroy the Green Arrow and Black Canary franchise? Why must you insist on adding Deathstroke the Uninteresting into the mix? Deathstork hates Ollie. We get that. We got it the last 3 times, and the time before that and over in JLA and would you just get a new schtick here? Oh, look Deathstrokinghimself has pointed his big sword at Canary again… twice or three times now? CANARY CRY? No. Canary whimper.
That’s okay, it’s not like Canary wouldn’t be able to hold her own against a human oppone… oh forget I said anything.
Plus, for the record, as a man who has been hit by their partner (said partner is an ex-partner), no, it doesn’t lead to hot sex and lasting marriage. It leads to damage, confidence loss, feelings of betrayal and a shit load of other problems with later relationships, trust and friendships. It’s abuse, it’s violence and that whole fight to slap sequence is serious domestic abuse from both sides. Why did you turn the Canar/Arrow relationship of sheer joy at being reunited after the OYL absence into something so destructive?
So, fuck you DC. If you wanted me to quit a franchise, next time, send a fucking e-mail. I’m out. It’s only a matter of issues before Mia and Roy and Connor are trainwrecked as well. I’d rather remember the Black Canary of Birds of Prey, and the Green Arrow of Quiver than this mess.
Disappointed Sidekick
PS: Why don’t you go commission a movie where you take GA out of the costume, confiscate his arrows and bow and stick him in a super villain prison just to finish off the franchise?
PPS: Go read Karen’s take on the comic.
PPPS: Thus far, I’ve seen one positive review of the comic. If you liked it, that’s your choice, and I’ll respect that so long as you respect my choice to dislike it. Agreeing to disagree is part of the way the world works.

Designated Survey 01: What are your priorities for art, character and costume in comics?

Missing Attachment
There’s a lot of assumptions in comic book fandom about what’s important, what other people like, who reads what and what priorities people put on different factors.
Me? I like a little bit of numbers with my speculation. So with that in mind, I’d like to introduce to you all…
Designated Survey

Designated Survey


Click Here to take survey
This debut issue of the Designated Survey is asking you to put some preferences down on what you want in a comic book, what’s important in comic book characters, and what makes a superhero outfit more than just a fancy dress costume?
Plus a couple of questions of what really matters when it comes to parting with money for four colour stories.
Links for spreading the survey around the place after the cut.

For those of you who wish to pass the survey around, copy and paste the link

or
Click Here to take the Designated Sidekick Designated Survey

When worlds collide: X-Bratz?

Arad, the man behind the ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ franchises, raised eyebrows in Hollywood when he switched gears from his comic book safety zone to produce the tween-empowerment movie inspired by the freakish dolls with enormous heads. In explaining the move, he insisted that Bratz are ‘X-Men for girls’ — it’s just that their superpowers are singing, fashion, soccer and cheerleading.
http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1565635/20070726/story.jhtml
Oh. My. PLEASE? PRETTY PLEASE? Can we have X-4 be just that?
Wolverine singing cabaret numbers?
Cyclops shopping for brand name glasses?
Soccer with Nightcrawler? and with Colossus in a little cheerleader outfit cheering his beloved Nightcrawler on?
Professor X’s Magic Makeover Party!
Iceman’s and Pyro arguing over who has the prettiest scrapbook (then making up and making out)
Angel being all angsty and writing poetry and standing on the roof of … damn, is this X-men or Buffy? Um, Warren being all pretty and winged and trying to find a salon that styles feathers.
Please? It’d be like ‘Bratz for Boys!’. A sure fire winner!

The paper mirror

I didn’t see myself reflected in the same panels which tekanji used, which itself is the nature of the paper mirror. What I did see in these two frames was something I’d taken for granted. Something Willow E pointed out…
… I want to see myself reflected in our modern myths, in these powerful tales of courage and wit, bravery, sacrifice and determination. I want my own heroes (those just like me through appearances, background or ethnicity) to be weaved into the general tapestry. I want the lessons learned and encouragements given to apply to me (and other women like me). I want to see aspects of my dreamings.

  • Willow E of Seeking Avalon guest blogging on GRC …
    I have to admit to being both clueless and getting the point in parallel. It’s not an acheivement, it’s a mistake of assumption that because I read that as a post from a fan of comics, so would everbody else. We’d all pick up the column, see that point, get that point, and go ‘Yes, this is what comic creators need to think about. Telling stories that resonate with the readers through characters they can identify with in their own lives’ . After all… back in January, I was after the same thing
    Some of those more and more readers might actually want to see characters that speak to their lives, their desires, their hopes and their dreams. When I was in high school, having Oliver Queen and Dick Grayson was to have characters who I could identify with, and to use to pin my fantasied reality of an ideal world to my reality. I wanted to be Oliver Queen, muckraking journalist by day, costumed crime fighter by night. I had that character, and the white male middle class entitled and privileged costumed hero to call my own.
    For me, Ollie Queen wasn’t about being deniably ambiguous. He was about being identifiable and unambiguous.What’s wrong with wanting the rest of the place to have characters they can call their own without having to permanently wear a shadow of deniability?
    There’s something about the paper mirror that I’d forgotten. Something, that by virtue of my position in society, I’d overlooked. I’m used to seeing the reflection, to seeing the character that’s about me, for me, by people who want to tell stories to me. I talk a lot about identifying with Green Arrow as my paper reflection, as many people have noticed. In the last couple of days, I realised something.
    Green Lantern, 76
    I may want to be Green Arrow, but I’m Green Lantern. I’m white, I’ve got authority and power, I’ve got privilege, and I’ve been blind to race. I never addressed race because I never thought of it because I’m part of the crew that benefits from the invisibility of others. When Willow E talks of identity, it’s identity of race. When I talk of identity, it’s for gender or sexual orientation, because I have unambiguously white characters to call my own. I can identify with Dick Grayson or Oliver Queen or hundreds of other white characters. This option isn’t there for everyone, and I never noticed that.
    Since Willow’s post, I’ve been facing up to that realisation that I never dealt with an issue so ingrained to the treatment of people as people, not little categories of [Us][Sort of like us]and[Other]. Part of facing up to that fact has been that I have not wanted to willingly accept the responsibility for missing this, or taking it on in the future.
    I wanted to say ‘Hey, look, having enough trouble holding it together on the whole feminism front, so, uh, I’ll take a pass on the race issue’. Here I am sitting in my nice safe suburb, with my nice safe career in my nice safe established comfort zone thinking about conceptual paradigms of ‘mission creep’ to justify ignoring racial issues.
    I want this to be very clear. I wanted to not tackle this, and I wanted to justify my way out of dealing with the issues and excuse myself from room and slink off to a comfort zone.
    It’s one thing to be blind.
    It’s another to close your eyes tightly and claim not to be able to see.
    So, the way I see it is this I have a choice.
    I can open my eyes, and start down the path to doing something positive to address the issue of race in the DS column, and in my life.
    I can keep my eyes closed and say ‘I benefit from this, I wish for it to continue’.
    I could mount an argument against getting involved, I could justify my way out of it, and I’d be able to point to all sorts of justifications and probably even some citations and references. I’d be talking complete bullshit though, I didn’t tackle race before because I didn’t see it. Now it’s been pointed out to me, I don’t have that excuse.
    To be bluntly honest, I ran through a bunch of thought processes.
    ‘I don’t want to have to deal with this’ (What? I think everyone else wants to?)
    ‘But I’m just a white guy with privilege, what use can I be?’ (this stopped me with feminism?)
    What do I know about race?’ (what did I know about marketing before I started studying it?)
    ‘I’ve been a big enough class traitor over feminism*’ (seriously, see the footnote for explanation)
    I spared myself the embarrassment of dredging the truly inane squares on the bingo card, but I figure 3 squares and the freebie before I hit the brakes on shy of calling out ‘HOUSE’.
    For a few days, I have given the idea of keeping my eyes closed serious consideration. This is an unpleasant truth to consider, for me to say and perhaps for you to read. But it is a necessary truth for me to have to realise for a period of time, knowing that there was a problem, I wanted to not get involved. I ain’t no saint, I ain’t looking for pats on the back (or the metaphorical cookie). Just a record of the realisation that I had a choice here, and I had to think about that choice, and when I made that decision, it was just that a decision. It wasn’t innate, it wasn’t automatic and for anyone else who finds themselves in my position, understand that the temptation to look the other way was strong.
    I want to open my eyes. The light’s gonna hurt like hell, but I ain’t doing this because I want to feel better about myself. I’m doing this because closing my eyes and wishing for it to go away is to support making people invisible. To perpetuate something that is wrong, and to support with actions what I oppose with words.
    Individual responsibility means fronting up and making the personal changes. It means saying ‘I’ a lot, and doing things by myself but not necessarily for myself.I have a lot of work to do to in this area, and I will make mistakes, and I run the risk of backsliding and not addressing any race issues over time. But I know as well, I’m not doing this alone, and I know that I have access to a truly amazing community of people, both within Girl-Wonder, and across the broader internet.
    Year Two of operation ain’t gonna be easy.
    Count me in.
    Designated Sidekick
    *I do want to put an explanation on this point: This is a surprisingly recurrent issue in my head. I know that I was raised by the patriarchal system and attending an all male Christian Brothers school under the patronage of Saint Joseph is pretty much the pinnacle patriarchy factory. Some days, I can’t stop the thought that I am actually a traitor to my class from popping into my head. There’s some deep code that runs under the surface and I know it’s there. That’s doesn’t stop the code from running, it just helps identify the source of the pop-up windows in my mind, and knowing what’s my thoughts, and what’s a residue from the system that was meant to keep me in line.
    Discuss the post here in the comments, or down yonder on the G-W Message Boards
Green Lantern, 76

The Cover for Heroes for Hire #13. DO NOT WANT. [Bonus, open challenge to the defenders of this cover art]

I am a male. I read comics. If this cover of powerful female comic book figures tied up, helpless, suits zipped down to expose the maximum flesh without revealing a nipple is designed for the arousal of the male reader, then I’m going to be blunt
You fail. It is not arousing. I do not want. I am not excited or titillated by the prospect of this cover. Further, I’d be embarassed to walk out of a comic store with this in my hand. One glance from the average punter, and I’m some freakshow. Ordinary punters thought the Mary Jane statue was bad. What the hell are they going to make of this? It’s reinforcing the stereotype of comic book readers as strange individuals who lack social skills, haven’t met a real female in their lives, and have immense forearm stamina.
Thanks Marvel. Way to help show comic books aren’t just for kids, they’re for perverts.
Thank god this is a Max title, and won’t make it to a really broad audience.
HEROES FOR HIRE #13
The Story: The Heroes for Hire find themselves in the middle of World War Hulk when their mission to Hulk’s stoneship leaves them on the Warbound’s death list! It’s divide-and-conquer as each hero is hunted by a member of the Jade Giant’s band of alien soldiers.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
MARVEL RATING SYSTEM
ALL AGES
Appropriate for readers of all ages.
T+
9+ years old Appropriate for most readers, parents are advised they may want to read before or with younger children.
OH SHIT. What where you thinking? Wait. I remember, Marvel isn’t misogynistic! The chief editor of Marvel has a daughter. I bet he’ll sit there and read this comic with his daughter. That’ll make it all fine.
Breaking out the details
This is my personal shortlist of issues I have with the cover.
The cover is sexualised violence. The women have bared breasts without the shot of an unclothed nipple. Shaded nipples are acceptable. So are erect nipples through the cloth of their costumes. Sure, defeated, semi conscious, captured by aliens, but sexually aroused by the moment. They may be about to suffer painful torture, but they’ve got hard nipples about it. (No, I ain’t screen capping that. It’s creepy, and it’s a demonstration that the artist painted the costumes over a naked female form. I suspect porn tracing) Could you imagine a cover with Spiderman and Wolverine and Cyclops strung up, each sporting obvious erections about what will happen next? (Yo! Alex Ross! Buddy, do it. It’ll be worth the lolz)
The hands are also important here the female characters are in signs of defeat and submission, and the one set of male hands are in active resisting poses (I’m assuming that’s Shang-Chi from what I’ve read around the place)
Male handsFemale hands
Hai! A GUY! GUYS ARE LEIK ACTIVE AND STUFF!
It’s freaking Bratz Porn. The eyes that set it off.
Bratz Porn
Finally, remember, even if you’ve been fighting your way through an alien strong hold, lip gloss is important.
Faces of Defeat
So, I want to make this clear. This is a cover that has women portrayed at passive sexualised objects in the name of selling comics.
It is sexist.
It is reinforcing the misogynist view point that women are to portrayed as passive sexual objects to be acted upon by men, in this case, the male viewer of the comic.
It is offensive to consider this cover art for a series that is considered suitable to be read with children as young as nine, or read by children as young as nine.
OPEN CHALLENGE
If you want to persuade me that this cover isn’t sexist, because men are drawn in similar poses, then I’m up for the challenge. If you can find me a cover with up to three men, all drawn in passive poses, with demonstrable hardness of the nipples or penis, sad faces, and the female hero (for what little of her is seen) being active, you can tell me that this cover isn’t sexist because stuff happens to guys as well. Especially on the cover of T+ rate comics.
Checklist for you
Up to three males. I’m not even looking for parity of numbers (there are four women on the cover of Heroes for Hire).
Some obvious arousal at their situation (erection of nipples or penis is fine). If this is missing, then no dice. Harden those man parts up or go home.
Some costume change/ removal of costume. Preference is for removed pants/trousers, will settle for opened shirts (even though that’s not the same level of sexualised posing. Pecs != Breasts for sexual connotation otherwise men would own bikini tops). There has to be some evidence of interference with the uniforms of the men. I’ll accept torn (bonus for tears with bleeding cuts under them), cut, removed or opened (Nightwing’s chest to ceiling mid 80s open V won’t count unless it’s been obvious interfered with by a third party. I’m looking for parity with the white jump suit, not Black Cat’s costume)
Passive/defeated demeanor. No struggling resistance against the bonds. They need to be defeated AND enjoying it.
BONUS POINTS: An active female hero presence, doing something active about the dramatic situation that the men have accepted.
Prove me wrong with evidence. I’m not even asking for a one to one swap on most points.
Show me that the Heroes for Hire #13 cover is simply a gender reversal of existing cover art. Show me that there’s no sexism, because this has happened to men before.

Questions for male comic book bloggers who wrote about the MJ statue

I’m interested in talking to male bloggers who posted criticism or negative reviews about the Mary-Jane Watson statue, and the responses they received to their posts. I’d like to hear/read your opinion of how people reacted to what you had to say, types of commentary/feedback you received, and volume of commentary/feedback on the issue. If you have links to the posts you’d like to contribute that’d be helpful as well.
Drop me a line at designatedsidekick@gmail.com if you want confidentiality or post up to the comments.
This is a rapid fire, non scientific approach for me to get some shared experience from fellow male comic book bloggers. From one male blogger to another, I want to swap notes on the incident, and people’s responses to your posts.

Hey Fanlib An open letter from a marketer watching yet another fan connected company self harm

Dude. Mimbo, dude.
After the Mary Jane saga, I thought Sideshow’s inept approach to marketing couldn’t be beaten. Thanks for proving that was undue optimism. Chris, look, fanfic ain’t my thing, and this is a comics book blog, but I can’t watch a wounded company suffer.
In summary: Your marketing sucks.
Your site? I can’t say either way since I don’t write fanfic (if you exclude that Dr Seuss/marketing crossover one, and the Ice/Rogue/Pyro one). What I do know is marketing. You, despite your match practice at Yahoo! seemed to have forgotten a bit. The bit that starts with the words ‘the customer’.
Here’s a couple of freebies to remind you.
Do not attack the community you’re trying to recruit from ever. You want to set up a commercial fanfic archive? You need fic readers and fic writers. Don’t hurt yourself by alienating them.
Do not spam LJs. Especially when you’ve got a reputation that’s ankle-locked on the LJ base. Dude, seriously, don’t jeopardise 6A and LJ by being a jerk over another project. You’ll regret the brand damage in the morning.
Take criticism from the people who are doing what you’re setting out to do. If the fanfic community is reacting badly, then you have a problem that they are identifying for you. For free. If your lawyers and expensive people couldn’t see those problems, you hired the wrong expensive people. Ask for a refund
Accept criticism. See if there’s a valid point. If there isn’t, don’t give the critic a valid point by being a jerk (or appearing like one, or whining in LJ posts). You’re tired? Tough. Cowboy the fuck up son. This is business, you’re in a gorram startup. Start acting like the leader of the company and lead from the front. Long hours? Don’t complain to the internet about long hours chances are, we’re working crappy shifts and pulling overtime to get by. Then we get home and do this internet stuff in our limited spare time.
Above all, yes, you’re doing this for the money. NOBODY CARES HOW MANY HOURS YOU HAVE TO WORK FOR YOUR MONEY. Shut up, front up, and work for the pay cheque. Or do it for the love. Just don’t whine. Nobody likes an emo CEO with a pay cheque, options and an aversion to long hours.
Dude, seriously, you seem to be freaking because your beta test uncovered problems. That’s what a beta test and market test is about test marketing to see where the errors are, finding bugs and patching systems. You have problems, you have unresolved bugs. Shouting ‘LA LA LA HOBBITS’ won’t help.
If you’re serious about providing a decent service, start with being a decent company. Do that by listening to the market you so very much are trying to emulate. Work with them, not against them.
Above all, if you’re planning on converting a large rich mine of freely devoted time, effort and love into something that gives you financial reward don’t piss off the people who are providing the resource you’re trying to tap.
Yours Sincerely
Designated Sidekick

Money talks II: The Mary Jane Statue sells all 900 copies (Boromir sold 2000 copies without a g-string in sight)

Well, the news is in.
All 900 copies of the Mary Jane statuette have sold out. So, 900 sales are out there.
The New York Post slagged the MJ statue. Dunno what their readership looks like, but I think it’s more than 900.
Boingboing covered the negative response to the statue. Their readership? Over 95,000 unique users per day.
Feministe and Pandagon carried coverage. Their readerships? Probably more than 900.
In summary Sideshow sold 900 x $125 statues and received $112,500 for their effort
What’s the dollar value on the negative publicity? (more marketing thoughts after the cut)
Since this is a Marvel related issue, let’s bust a Stan Lee move, and present a ‘What if’
What if Slideshow had said
‘Okay, look, this product we make has made you pretty damn unhappy. Can we make something else that you’d buy? We need to replace $112500 of revenue to make this thing go away without suffering a financial hit. What can we do?’
How many suggestions would they have received? What if they engaged with the market that had arrived at the gates and said ‘We made this because we saw economic gain in exploiting women. We’re seeing an error in judgement here. What can we do different?’
Because Sideshow also happens to sell more than just this one piece. They sell products in the lines of
Aliens, Anime / manga, Buffy, Famous persons, Hellboy, James bond, Legendary musicians, Lord of the rings, Marvel, Military, Morpheus, New line horror, Planet of the apes, Predator, Scarface, Star wars, Terminator, Vintage monsters and X-files. Products that attracted a fair level of internet based interest, and internet support.
Sideshow was faced with an unhappy crowd and they choice to wall up the kingdom, delete posts and send back ‘Not thine’ level responses. How many messages did they receive? How many very unhappy people did they send to the wilderness?
In marketing, one of the things we have as a rule of thumb is that one happy customer tells three people, and one unhappy customer tells ten. When the unhappy customer tells you, that’s when you have a chance to perform service recovery, and potentially convert the unhappy person into a loyal customer.
What if II : Regaining ground
What if Sideshow responds personally now to each of the people who wrote to them?
What if they write back to everyone who wrote to them, and post on the board and apologised for having been in idiots about it and for dismissing their responses.
What if they asking for buy-in, and for suggestions? About what could do have done differently? About how to do things differently for next time?
We do this in marketing. It’s called responding to customer feedback. Ask Seth Godin about it sometime. He’d say that right now, Sideshow have created an ideavirus. The ideavirus being that they don’t like women, and don’t listen to customers. That’s an idea virus that’s spread to the New York Post and to Boingboing. Boingboing, which is a major metafilter point for online influencers. Online influencers who probably liked something in the Sideshow extended product catalog and won’t touch the ‘the creepy mary jane guys’.
So maybe the people who complained weren’t customers. Now they’re definitely never going to be customers because their complaints were dismissed and deleted. Which, even if you don’t like what they had to say, tells you, the Sideshow paying customer that Sideshow likes you when you give them money, and don’t give a damn if you have a problem.
For me, that’s one unexpected bit of news out of this I was going to buy some Sideshow products actually. Lord of the Rings figures to be precise. Boromir to be exact. I was going to join the backorder queue for one of the next 2000 statues.
Right now, unless I see Sideshow front up and take some ownership in this situation, I won’t feel safe putting my money in their hands, because they’ve demonstrated they don’t respond to feedback, delete complaints off the bulletin boards and those aren’t the features of a company I want to spend my money supporting.
Which also is contributing to why I’m quite so bloody annoyed I want that Boromir statue.
Sideshow, why don’t you want my custom?
Dr Stephen Dann