Girl-Wonder.org Announces New Treasurer

Due to time constraints and issues of compatibility, Rachel Edidin has stepped down from her position as treasurer, and the board is happy to announce that Leslie Caribou has been elected to replace her. Leslie’s previous management experience will help greatly in preparing Girl-Wonder.org for incorporation.

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On Stephanie Brown’s return

Project Girl-Wonder curator, Mary Borsellino, responded to the return of Stephanie Brown:

If DC Comics is, in fact, choosing to resurrect Stephanie Brown, this shows that they — like lots of other people — see the valuable story potential that strong, interesting female characters offer. And maybe, just maybe, we’re approaching an era when Stephanie will be a symbol of what superhero comics get right with female heroes, rather than an example of how they get it wrong.

Join the team: Volunteer wanted

Job Title: Volunteer Coordinator

Job Description: Match volunteers to available positions, taking into account volunteer’s skills and availability, as well as job requirements and demands. Pro-actively seek out new volunteers, and
maintain contact with existing volunteers.

Reports To: Secretary

Skills Required: 
The ideal candidate is outgoing, personable, and enjoys working with people. Preference will be given to people who are organized, and who demonstrate inter-personal skills and
problem-solving ability.

Estimated Time Commitment/Length of Commitment: 1-3 hours per week.
We are asking for a minimum one year commitment.

Application Process: 
Please email submissions@girl-wonder.org

Please include the following information:

  • Your name or pseud
  • Your email address
  • Relevant experience and credentials

Deadline for Application: March 30

All applicants will receive an email confirming their application has been received within 24 hours of close of deadline for this job. If you do not receive an email, please contact us.

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Girl-Wonder.org President and Blogger Karen Healey responds

Girl-Wonder.org President and Blogger Karen Healey responds to a recent op-ed piece by Dirk Deppey of Journalista.

For reasons of space, I have responded to Mr Deppey’s editorial in sections, and have excised much of his material in order to concentrate on what I see as the most important points. You may read his full editorial at Journalista. I am not so much interested in arguing with his opinions of Girl-Wonder.org, which seem clear, and to which he is entitled, but his factual errors in presenting his argument.

1) The “Girl Wonder crowd”.

I wish to first correct what I see as Mr Deppey’s most erroneous misconception, which is the continual reference to something he dubs the “Girl Wonder crowd”. For example:

It’s possible to feel some sympathy for this state of affairs, and had the debate been framed along these lines, it’d be easier to discuss the subject without the resulting fanboy backlash. Alas, “Give something to the existing female fanbase, too” is an argument that doesn’t offer the Girl Wonder crowd much in the way of bargaining power, nor will it, so as long as they keep buying the comics regardless of their perceived offensive content.

Mr Deppey links to a number of items by different Girl-Wonder.org members, but he also, bafflingly, includes links to posts by DevilDolland Pink Raygun without differentiating them and associates this “Girl Wonder crowd” with Lisa Lobacinki of P.O.W.E.R in Comics in his footnotes. I have read and enjoyed material by these authors, but their sites are in no way associated with Girl-Wonder.org.

Indeed, while Girl-Wonder.org’s volunteers are proud of the site and its accomplishments, I do object to the characterization of a “Girl Wonder crowd”, wherein, it seems, we may lump in any female-written cybertext which has the temerity to protest the depiction of female characters in a fashion that Mr Deppey finds objectionable or comments on things that he finds trivial. Girl-Wonder.org is a site with plenty of variety and contains many viewpoints, but it does not pretend to speak in one voice, nor to represent the feminist comics movement in all its vital, factional glory.

As a brief perusal of our official media page would reveal, we strive to emphasise this point even within the organisation: “There cannot be said to be any single viewpoint or opinion which all participants have in common beyond the site’s core goal of fairer treatment for women and girls in mainstream comics.”

Mr Deppey persists in maintaining the existence of an easily demonised “Girl Wonder crowd” throughout his piece; both his comments and my responses should be read with this in mind.

2) Project Girl Wonder

Into this breach steps the Girl Wonder crowd and the utterly demented campaign that bears their collective name. Project Girl Wonder aims for nothing less than the lofty goal of… getting a display cabinet. In the Batcave. For a minor character. Who briefly and ineptly served as Robin in DC’s comics. Oh, and have I mentioned that they’re framing this as a feminist cause?

Since the male Robin II (Jason Todd) died and was remembered, and the female Robin IV (Stephanie Brown) died and was not, and the infliction of the wounds that lead to her death were furthermore depicted in a manner reminiscent of torture porn, the maintainer of Project Girl Wonder – which does not constitute the whole of Girl-Wonder.org, nor ever has – regards the lack of memorial as gender discrimination.

Gender discrimination is certainly a feminist concern. Mr Deppey may disagree as to whether discrimination took place here, but if one accepts the basic premises of Project Girl Wonder’s objection – as its creator does – then one may certainly view it as a feminist cause.

3) The “movement” is uninterested in outreach or support.

Given the astonishing number of problems facing the Direct Market and its inability to appeal to women in any significant way, why is this — or the production of a limited-edition statue unrelated to the comics themselves, or the painting of a nude model as Wonder Woman in a men’s magazine unrelated to the comics themselves — one of the central campaigns of this movement?

Simple: Because it isn’t about making the New York City corporate-comics industry a better or more equitable place for female creators, and it isn’t about attracting new and younger female readers into the scene.

By “this movement” I assume Mr Deppey refers to the feminist comics movement, so my response draws from the projects of that movement. I do not here seek to argue the offense or lack thereof of the items he mentions, since those arguments have been well-made elsewhere, but merely to refute the implication that the supposed “Girl Wonder crowd” is uninterested in supporting female creators or attracting new readers. I have limited myself to a sample of organizations, rather than individuals:

Girl-Wonder.org currently hosts three webcomics, which are created or co-created by women. Girl-Wonder.org representatives recommends comics for young readers at conventions and on the message boards. Girl-Wonder.org members speak at convention panels, from the audience and from the dais, in support of female characters and creators and addressing the issues of making comics more friendly to female creators and readers alike.

Sequential Heart (run by Girl-Wonder.org treasurer Rachel Edidin with artist and board contributor Dean Trippe) donates comics to homeless young people.

Women’s Work is a collective of women who work in and around the visual and literary industries. They declare, “We are creators and storytellers. Art before housework.”

The long-established Friends of Lulu, dedicated to the development of women in comics, has published How to Get Girls (Into Your Store)a book available in pdf form that “includes helpful hints for attracting and keeping new customers, as well as tips for choosing products that appeal to women and children, presenting comics and other products, working within your community to build good relationships, and retailer networking.” It provides an email mentoring programme for those who wish to become comics professionals. FoL’s New York chapter, among other projects, “[holds] discussions featuring prominent female writers and artists in the NY area, [and maintains] a continued presence at local comic book and related media conventions.”

P.O.W.E.R. in Comics lists comic shops run by women and minorities. It is a community “of sharing, where creators can help those looking to become creators attain their goals and where artists and writers can find each other and team up; also where creators can come to promote their works. Here blogers can post links to their blogs dealing with issues important to POWER members. Here artists and writers can post samples and get opinions. Here podcasters and video makers can post segments to get reviews, opinions, and support.”

The Ormes Society
 provides networking for black female comics creators and includes a Useful Resources section in their forums, and its Livejournal community Torchbearers spotlights black female characters in comics/manga, collects links on the topic of race in sequential art and provides news on the doing of Ormes Society members.

And female-run Sequential Tart, of course, monthly publishes a webzine with the mandate to “increase the visibility and raise the awareness of the participation of women in comics as both creators and fans.”

If we assume a lack of mendacity, either Mr Deppey feels these efforts are not sufficient (for which Girl-Wonder.org and, I imagine, other organizations can only plead limited time or resources) or he was unaware of these contributions to comics culture.

4) Market forces render feminist protest meaningless.

Currently, female readers would seem to make up ten percent of the current marketplace at most, and even if they all rose up and boycotted Marvel and DC’s product at once, it wouldn’t seriously affect either company’s bottom line. Remember, publishing makes up a relatively small fraction of their respective bottom lines, and the big income-earning division — licensing — isn’t affected by the comics’ actual content in the slightest, since nobody but the hardcore fans are reading them to begin with.

My personal position, and one shared by several others on the Girl-Wonder.org team, is that Marvel and DC should refrain from sexism, not because such restraint might reward them financially, but because sexism is wrong. I suspect Mr Deppey agrees that sexism is wrong; I suspect also that he might substantially disagree on what, precisely, might constitute sexist material in modern superhero comics culture. That being a matter of opinion, I shall merely note that we are not obliged to take market considerations into account when considering the ethical content of a work.

5) The “Girl-Wonder crowd” objects to all sexual content.

Moreover, while the smarter, more rational Funnybook Feminists are careful to frame their arguments in such a way as to reassure their male compatriots that they’re not trying to “take away the sexy” — they just want to make things more equitable and see more books targeted toward their tastes rather than an exclusive diet of the Tits Ahoy superhero baseline — the vision posed by the Girl Wonder crowd and allied adherents is less compromising, and more absolutist. As the statue and Playboy skirmishes demonstrate, they aren’t merely interested in discouraging the production by Marvel and DC of anything containing an excessively sexual component, but a thorough cleansing of the fan culture created by and for the genre’s hardcore adult-male fanbase in its entirety, and anything that might ever intersect with said culture.

While again, I cannot speak for the whole of Girl-Wonder.org, nor does Girl-Wonder.org speak for the feminist comics movement (or “allied adherents”), I cannot comprehend how a site that includes a section for pornography in its recommendation section, a thread dedicated to the appreciation of sexual imagery, another considering Jenna Jameson’s Shadow Hunter, another debating the sexiest female characters in comics, and, most recently, a favourable review of Garth Ennis’ The Pro could reasonably be considered to espouse an uncompromising and absolutist aim of “taking the sexy away”.

I do not, personally, object to sexual content in my comics. I object strongly to objectification, misogyny, misandry and the lazy repetition of narrative and visual tropes that degrade women and minorities. To these things, I certainly hope that my opposition is absolute and uncompromising.

6) The “Girl Wonder crowd” claims that they want to make superhero comics safe for 13-year-old girls, but this claim is a hypocritical disguise for fan entitlement.

If the Girl Wonder crowd were really concerned with making superhero comics safe for 13-year-old girls, they’d be arguing over far, far more than statues, Playboy, or Stephanie Brown. They’d be arguing that their favorite comics should again be written exclusively for children. They’d demand a return to (and stricter enforcement of) the Comics Code Authority, that a sharper line of demarcation be drawn between kiddie comics and those for the existing fanbase, and that virtually all of Marvel and DC’s main line of product be placed firmly on the children’s side of the line. They’d demand an end to decades of continuity, so as to allow new readers every opportunity to jump onboard. They’d demand more female comics creators and more women in management, and assurances that women have a voice on the board of directors for the CCA. In other words, if “think of the children” really were at the core of this argument, an authentic feminist agenda would be centered around actually thinking of the children, and not their own tastes and inclinations.

Outside the specific recommendation list created for their hopeful enjoyment, Girl-Wonder.org has never claimed a particular concern for the children, and I am baffled as to how Mr Deppey could have come to the conclusion that we have. We include the children in our wider aims of criticising sexism in comics and encouraging the depiction of well-rounded female characters; we believe that the children will also benefit from a world with less misogyny and misandry and with more female characters portrayed as persons instead of objects, in comics as in all media. We are happy to let the children think for themselves.

Perhaps Mr Deppey is referring to someone else.

I speak, as ever, as a fan, as a feminist, and for myself. Like every fan, I certainly do want comics made for my own tastes and inclinations. I also want comics that do not casually endorse sexism, because I believe that sexist material does not merely cater to a taste I do not share, but is ethically reprehensible. I cannot recall ever claiming otherwise.

In conclusion, then, Girl-Wonder.org does not represent feminist comics fandom, nor are its participants homogeneous in their own positions. Project Girl Wonder, nor various objections to misogynistic imagery, do not constitute anything close to the entirety of feminist fandom’s projects. I acknowledge that Mr Deppey’s views on what comprises sexism may not accord with mine, nor with those of any other person, but marvel at his assumption that I or others might be primarily motivated by market concerns. Girl-Wonder.org largely objects to objectification, not pornography per se, and Girl-Wonder.org does not hypocritically claim to be championing the children.

Mr Deppey’s opinions regarding Girl-Wonder.org’s projects (and, it appears, the projects of other sites not associated with Girl-Wonder.org) are uniquely his own, and I am not especially interested in debating them. His factual errors, however, I hope I have here clarified.

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Girl-Wonder.org announces newly elected board

In further pursuit of Girl-Wonder.org’s commitment to women in comics, the organization has officially begun the process of establishing itself as a non-profit. As such, Girl-wonder.org is proud to announce its newly elected board. In the upcoming year the board hopes to establish a greater convention presence and begin work on several publishing and merchandising ventures.

Karen Healey, President

A PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Karen is presently writing her dissertation on superhero comics and fandom and blogs on women in comics at Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed). In May 2006 she presented a paper entitled “The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones: The Feminist Anti-Superhero in Brian Michael Bendis’s “Alias”” at WisCon 30.

Elena Kamenetzky, Secretary

Elena has long been involved in social and political activism and currently teaches in Japan.

Rachel Edidin, Treasurer

Rachel works as an assistant editor at a major comics publisher and blogs at InsideOut. In May 2007, she presented a paper titled “‘Wait And See What I Become’: Gender and Performativity in James Robinson’s Starman” at WisCon31.

Hannah Dame, Board Member

Hannah currently serves as Press and Media Coordinator for Girl-Wonder.org, handling all press releases and press communication. She also produces and co-hosts the podcast Four Color Heroines.

Elizabeth Maxson, Board Member

A long-time contributor, Elizabeth is the current Girl-Wonder.org web master and technical advisor. She manages two guest-blogs, The League of Substitute Superheroes, and (Love) Letters Page. Her formal training is in social work and economic development.

Jenn Fang, Board Member

Jenn blogs at reappropriate.com, an Asian American feminist political and pop culture blog. She also manages Outsiders: Asian/Asian American Characters in Comics , a comprehensive listing of Asian and Asian-American characters in Marvel and DC. Jenn has previously worked in an organizational capacity with a number of grassroots activist groups, focusing primarily on race and gender.

Leslie Caribou, Board Member

Leslie currently serves as a forum moderator and media spokesperson for Girl-Wonder.org. She previously spent three years as a volunteer event coordinator for the now-defunct nonprofit organization National Iguana Awareness Day. Leslie’s senior thesis was a feminist analysis of superhero comics which dealt with the problematic imagery of women and violence in comics, “Women in Refrigerators: Female Superheroes as Victims of Violence.”

Jessica Plummer, Board Member

Jessica created and maintains the Girl-Wonder.Org subsite, Super. Girl. Both of Jessica’s undergraduate theses on comics: the first a feminist exploration of Supergirl; the second an analysis of the development and genderedness of comic book cities, specifically Gotham and Metropolis.

Volunteer Opportunities

Girl-Wonder is currently seeking volunteers to fill the positions of web/tech person and Girl-Wonder blogger. If you are interested in these positions, please read more!

If you are interested in a position not advertised here, please contact submissions @ girl-wonder.org with your proposal.

Job Title: Blogger

Reports To: President, Board of Directors

Job Description: 
Write and publish a twice-monthly column of 300-1000words, pertaining to sequential art, and feminism. The column should be written in an informal, informed style, with a professional polish. If blogger wishes for their column to have a sub-forum, he or she will be responsible for moderating it.

Skills Required:

  • Self motivated, and capable of working independently.
  • Excellent communication skills, particularly in written English
  • Excellent textual analysis skills
  • Some familiarity with the principles of feminist theory and critical methodology
  • Familiarity with WordPress would be an asset.
  • Basic HTML skills would be an asset.

Estimated Time Commitment/Length of Commitment: We are asking for a one-year commitment, to be re-evaluated by both parties at the end of the year. Bloggers are asked to meet a minimum of two posts per month, and if unable to meet this requirement, either make arrangements for a substitute blogger, or arrange a leave of absence. Time required will vary, but may be estimated at an hour per week.

Application Process:
 Send an email to submissions@girl-wonder.org with the subject heading ‘volunteer position: blogger.’ Please write in the body of the email a brief (300-500 words) description of what will make your blog unique, and the readership you intend to target. Attach or link to a substantial body of writing which demonstrates you meet the required skills. If relevant, you may include no more than1000 words on your personal interest and involvement in comics and
feminism.

Please do not neglect to include the following information:

  • Your name or the pseudonym under which you write.
  • The email address at which you wish to be contacted.

Please Note: Girl-Wonder is committed to diversifying the voices coming from our website. To this end, if you consider yourself a voice from the margin, optionally identify yourself as such.

All applicants will receive an email confirming their application has been received within 24 hours of receipt of application for this job. If you do not receive an email, please contact us.


Job Title: Junior Web/Tech Person
Reports To: Webmistress

Job Description: Junior Web/Tech Person works with webmistress to ensure that a technician is available in case of emergency. Junior Web/Tech Person may share workload, or operate independently on their own projects. For further info on job description, please enquire.

Skills Required: FTP, HTML, CSS a must, javascript, MySQL, SSH, PHP, experience with Apache beneficial.

Estimated Time Commitment/Length of Commitment: Likely not more than fifteen minutes per week, although may be called on for much greater commitment in the event of emergencies.

Application Process: Please apply by email to admin@girl-wonder.org before January 15.

Please include the following information:

Your name or pseud
Your email address
Your timezone in hours +- UST (Zulu)
Relevant experience and credentials

All applicants will receive an email confirming their application has been received within 48 hours of receipt. If you do not receive an email, please contact us.

Thank you!

The numbers have come in! Net count for the auction: $3183.94. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved: donors, bidders, and everyone who publicized Art Etcetera. Each person was invaluable to making it a success, and we’ll be unveiling the returns for their efforts over the next year.

In the coming months, the auction funds will be used to cover the costs of incorporation and filing as a non-profit. After incorporation is completed Girl-Wonder.org’s financial documentation will be available upon request.

Ross Campbell: Kind of a big deal

Attention: These items were originally described as prints when in fact many of them are originals.  Prices and lots have been adjusted accordingly.

Ross Campbell is one of those artists whose work I’ve been gaping at for years–first, when he started illustrating for WhiteWolf games, and later as he brought his exquisite painted figure work to comics–Hopeless SavagesWet Moon, and his upcoming Minx book, Water Baby. He draws some of the most interesting, sexiest, strongest, and most all-around-awesome women I’ve ever seen, and the scope of his work–from superheroes, to college students, to monsters–never ceases to impress me: I won’t be the least bit surprised if someday he’s generally accepted as one of the modern masters of dynamic pin-up art. If you haven’t checked out his art before, now is a great chance, as Ross has given us a small army’s worth of both original pieces and prints.

The following are pieces of Ross Cambell original art:

From Wet Moon:

Cleo

Cleo

Audrey

Audrey

Myrtle

From The Abandoned:
Rylie

From X-Men:
Storm

U-Go-Girl

Penance

Marrow

Emma Frost

Angel II

From Exalted:
Demon of the Third Circle

Metal Storm

The starting bid for each of these original pieces will be U.S. $30.
The following are original prints. Because there are so many, these will be sold in sets of two.
Wet Moon Set 1: Cleo and Mara

Wet Moon Set 2: Cleo and Audrey

Wet Moon Set 3: Audrey and Fall

Wet Moon Set 4: Mara and Natalie

Mixed Set: Mara (Wet Moon) and Rylie (The Abandoned)
[Image not currently available]
The starting bid for each set of two prints will be U.S. $10.
You’ll be able to bid on these and other items in the Girl-Wonder Art Et Cetera Auction, from October 7-14, 2007.