Hear me roar…

‘Of course women have equal power. If a girl applies — ’
‘You just switched to girl.’
‘I… well, yes, but it doesn’t offend me, it — ’
‘It matters what you call people.’
Why, yes, yes it does. Thank you, professor and student, for giving me such an apt lead-in.
Superman. Supergirl. Power Girl. Batman. Batgirl. Batwoman.
‘And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’’ (Gen 2:23, KJV).
Ever noticed that most female heroes pick up the name they use because of a male hero?
(There are exceptions. Storm, Black Canary, Oracle, Spoiler, Vixen, Big Barda, Misfit, Huntress, Fire, Rogue, Marrow, Ice.) Most of these exceptions also have gender-neutral names.
But have you ever noticed that when female heroes do take male names, it tends to be lessened? ‘Man’ is higher in status than ‘boy’. ‘Woman’ is higher in staus than ‘girl’.
How many -woman can you think off of the top of your head? Go on, I’ll wait.
Done yet? Here’s mine. Invisible Woman, Batwoman — stabbed off-panel, currently inactive — and Wonder Woman. Now, I am sure there’s more, but off the top of my head that’s three.
How many -man?
Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Hawkman, Sandman.
How many -girl? Top of your head, keep in mind. No cheating.
Marvel Girl — old, but still valid. Spider-Girl. Batgirl. Supergirl. Power Girl. Wonder Girl. Stargirl. Aquagirl. Hawkgirl.
And that’s nine. I am sure here, too, that there are more, but that’s all I thought of in ten seconds.
Now, admittedly, most of these characters are girls. Kids. Wonder Girl is seventeen, Stargirl is about that age, Batgirl is about that age, Supergirl is sixteen, Marvel Girl switched to Phoenix a while back, Spider-Girl is probably still in her mid-teens.
Power Girl? Mid-thirties, easily. She is not a girl. She is a woman. Hawkgirl? Also not in the first flush of youth.
How many -boy?
Power Boy. One. That’s it, that’s all I can think of, and he’s an abusive jerk who doesn’t actually have any relation to the name he’s hijacking.

  1. a female child, from birth to full growth.
  2. a young, immature woman, esp. formerly, an unmarried one.
  3. a daughter: My wife and I have two girls.
  4. Informal: Sometimes Offensive. a grown woman, esp. when referred to familiarly: She’s having the girls over for bridge next week.
  5. girlfriend; sweetheart.
  6. Often Offensive. a female servant.
  7. Usually Offensive. a female employee.
  8. a female who is from or native to a given place: She’s a Missouri girl.
    Young. Immature. A child.
    Is that really Power Girl? is that really Hawkgirl? Is it really?
    It matters what you call people. Even fictional ones. Because if you think a woman is a girl — with that attendant youth, that attendant foolishness, that attendant childishness — in ink, what’s your problem with women being girls in flesh and blood?

I go where I feel welcome

I remember three comic shops located in the same city. For the most part, they carried the same merchandise — mainstream comics, toys, and posters with a decent mix of independent titles — but they did have some variations. Particularly, they provided very different experiences for this female consumer.
I went to Shop A — which also offered computer gaming and sold game figurines — with a man and alone. When I went with a man, I was ignored and the shopkeepers kept trying to help the man, until he made it clear to the shopkeepers that he had no interest in the comics and that I was the customer. Only then did they begrudgingly offer me assistance. When I went alone, I could not get assistance, though the shop was not busy. Though I got the merchandise I wanted to the register, I left in disgust, without buying anything, due to how ignored I was. Yes, I was even ignored while at the register, with money in hand.
I went to The Comic Book Shop — which carried primarily the comics, toys, and posters and had information for comic conventions — with a man and alone. When I went with the man, I had no problem receiving assistance. I was not treated as a second-rate customer compared to the man; we were both greeted politely and offered help, and when I expressed interest, I received assistance. I enjoyed great rapport with the shopkeepers and bought more than I had planned, because I liked the atmosphere. When I went alone, I received a similar experience, reinforcing the positive feel at the shop.
I went to Shop C — which mostly offered collectible comics in addition to current titles, plus some toys and posters — only once, with a man and another woman. All three of us received varying levels of attention, from none to hostile glares. I found some interesting titles that I had difficulty locating elsewhere, but felt too unwelcome to bother spending my money there. I left and never returned.
Out of those three stores in that same city, The Comic Book Shop saw the most of my business and my enthusiastic recommendations. As a consumer, I go to where I feel welcome.
Overall, mainstream super-hero comics do not make women feel welcome… as consumers or as creators. One flip through almost any issue will show the few women presented in the comic as objects of lust, fragile ornaments of beauty, or helpless victims to be rescued more than as interesting characters. They can be almost-but-not-quite-as clever as the men and must either submit to the men’s decisions or be portrayed as unattractively strong- and wrong-headed. Their costumes are decidedly more revealing than the men’s costumes (which takes work when everyone is wearing skin-tight spandex, but the women do get a lot less of it). Aside from the costumes and hair, they look alike with the same impossible builds and faces. A quick scan of the creators’ names listed on the various titles will show an overwhelming presence of men.
Just as in my experiences in Shop A, my gender is being treated as second-rate while the other is being attacked with not-entirely desired service. As in Shop C, neither gender is getting an exactly positive feeling.
Comic editors may argue that women are not interested in comics, but some women want to read or create comics. We just have difficulty finding content friendly to us and finding places that make us feel welcome. I go to where I feel welcome, and mainstream super-hero comics do not give me that feeling.

Episode 2: A Question of Possibility

We interview Carly (Obsessive0514 at the Girl-Wonder forums) about her experience at the DC Nation panel, discuss new developments on the state of Steph, Countdown Arena, the new Johnny DC lineup, Supergirl, answer the newest Stupid Question, and recommend our Favorite Books of the Month.
Discuss this podcast here.

Episode 1: Nips, Tucks, and An Impossible Stretch

Topics of the day for Episode 1 include the Citizen Steel Neutering and our first Stupid Question of the Day: Plastic Man versus Deadpool. See an up-close Citizen Steel crotch comparison.
There are some audio kinks to this episode, due to sound file issues. However, this shouldn’t be a problem with following episodes as I get more used to the finer details and keep better backups. Kimberly had to perform a last-minute save with the second half of the podcast, which I’m very grateful to her for.
If you feel the sound level is too quiet or loud, please leave a comment to let me know.

Why Sometimes It’s Okay to Kill the Radio Star

It can be assumed most people have read one of those media navel-gazing articles in traditional news media on the ‘new media:’ blogs and podcasts. They can be dismissive or supportive, treat the topic as serious or frivolous.
But one distinction I feel they often forget is how blogs and podcasts represent different sections of the new media spectrum.
A blog is, by and large, one person. Each post is a person’s expression and opinion, their filtered perspective on a topic. A blog can be interesting or boring based on the writer’s talent with the written word. Spoken eloquence is immaterial.
A podcast takes multiple people. It takes topics and expresses them with sound. There are laughs, sighs, the changing pitch of the human voice. Where humor has to be translated through text, one can hear everything in a podcast. Confusion of tone is eliminated by the reality of audio. Podcasts take the written expression of opinion and make it tangible.
A podcast is not a blog.
And Four Color Heroines will not be a blog. It will not be like reading Karen, Rachel, or Stephen. There will be several people, each with their own viewpoint and experiences. It will be a combination of specialties. It’s going to be interesting, hopefully funny, definitely enlightening, and maybe a bit rough in the beginning.
But most importantly, it will be different.
But that doesn’t mean that the quality you’ve come to expect from a Girl-Wonder hosted blog won’t be a part of Four Color Heroines.
One of my biggest commitments is to quality interviews that treat topics with the seriousness they may (or may not) deserve. Interviews on Four Color Heroines will not solely be individualized public relations trips to advertise a creator’s next project. Nor will they be fifteen minutes of four people agreeing on a topic. Interviewees will be challenged without being attacked, and given a chance to respond to criticisms they might face. Possibly sensitive topics will not be steered away from.
It’s going to be journalism. The real kind.
So, if you’re interested in these things, feel you’ve got the commitment, put in an application. Try out audio for a change. You may find you like it.
For the Episode 0 of Four Color Heroines, I’ve got a little rant I put together concerning Joe Quesada: Still an Idiot in Public, Only This Time He’s Dismissing Female Fans To Their Faces. The Ian Churcill art that sparks my ire can be found here.

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