Four Small Thoughts and One Big One.

Favorite webcomic quote of the day: “Our children are the future! Not those guys from the actual future.

Current storyline that has me most interested in how things will play out: Bad Haze.

Strangest task I accomplished today: Teaching myself how to make origami cranes – for the specific purpose of enhancing my D&D gaming.

Best joke that remains good despite being used by Tatsuya Ishida many, many times before: I Can’t Quit You.

Most provocative post that completely misses the point: Between the cocoon and the Comics Code Authority.

…and I should probably expand at least a little bit on that last point.

Dirk Deppey has never really pretended to be impressed with fangirl activism in the comics community, and this is hardly the first time he has attempted to take them to task for waging whatever wars they choose to wage. And, to be fair, there are things he says that are reasonable, and there have been times when his disdain may have been justified – fans are fans, whether boy or girl, and it is a very, very, very fine line between legitimate outrage and fannish entitlement.

But the thing that bugs me in Dirk’s latest post is that he seems to be saying that the fine folks over at Girl Wonder shouldn’t be wasting their time complaining about the problems of sexism and misogyny that they see in the industry; they shouldn’t be trying to make the industry more friendly towards female fans. Instead, they should be focusing on convincing Marvel and DC to revitalize their lines in full. They should be convincing them to wipe out continuity entirely, to return to the use of the Comics Code Authority, and to write comics entirely focused at children.

Which, ok, I can see the argument – but are you seriously saying that there isn’t a place for mature, well-written comics that adults of both genders can equally enjoy? Look – I don’t like the current DC environment and the bizarre fetish it has with death and despair. But that isn’t because I don’t believe in serious stories – it is because all the petty drama going around is just that – shallow and mindless.

I don’t want a return to silver age comics. Sorry – that wouldn’t interest me. I want stories with character development and progression. I want stories where the heroes usually triumph, sure – but also ones that involve them overcoming challenging adversaries. I want stories where they are pushed to the limit – and then overcome it. I want stories that are fun and enjoyable while also keeping me engaged in the plot.

They are certainly out there – Blue Beetle from DC, the Immortal Iron Fist with Marvel. Ultimate Spiderman has been succeeding at it for years, and Invincible seems to have a good handle on the concept.

Is it something that can be kept up for decade after decade with the same title and one writer after another? No idea. But clearly quality comics are possible, and I think this is the drive behind Girl Wonder and similar groups – they might focus on little details, because that is really the only way to make progress in this sort of battle. And is it really fair to say it is a ridiculous fight to try and make comics more palatable for 10% of the readership? 10% might not be the whole crowd, but that is not an insignificant amount of people.

And, yes, I think there are others out there that could be and would be reading print comics if they overcame the flaws they are currently afflicted by. I don’t know the actual numbers with, say, webcomics – but this does seem to clearly be a field with a phenomenal number of female creators and readers. And webcomics, let me tell you, are hardly written solely for the benefit of children.

Look, finding a way to save the industry is certainly a good thing. I’m all for it. But saying that you can’t complain about any of the industry’s flaws without dedicating yourself to bringing about that salvation in every way possible… well, it’s a damn silly argument. There are clearly things that need fixing, and even if there are times when elements are blown out of proportion, that doesn’t invalidate the entire movement.

And I think there are goals that can be worked towards that don’t involve dumbing comics down into nothing more than childish fancies. I think there is a place for quality comics with a solid mix of humor and serious issues – and that manages to tell a story without degenerating into softcore porn.

Is that really so outrageous a goal?

2 responses

  1. I don’t like most of the well-known webcomics. And I will happily tell you that they’re crap if you ask.

    I, however, will not demand that they change themselves to suit my particular worldview.

    And this is VERY important: Since I don’t like them, I don’t read them.

    The young ladies Dirk regularly takes to task continue to forget these options exist for them.

    Dirk is right when he calls it fannish entitlement pretending to be a political cause. And his essay there laid it out pretty clearly.

    Also, if you go digging through the archives at Comixtalk, back before it became a collection of press releases, you may be able to find the “women” issue.

    In it, there was an informal breakdown of webcomic creators by gender. It seemed to close to a 50-50 split.

  2. From what I understand, Girl Wonder’s point of view is that the sexualization of women devalues female characters and, possibly, could have broader social repercussions outside of the world of comics.

    Deppey, on the other hand, seems to be suggesting that there’s some universal template for comics in which general offensiveness can be reduced and the merits of the books themselves will appeal to a wider (younger, richer) audience. I’m not sure what he expects to achieve from this type of self-censorship – has he forgotten that the majority of comics at the start of the CCA-era were toothless, campy jokes, and the stories we tend to remember are those that came out after the publishers realized that no one actually cared about the CCA enough to enforce it if they avoided the really gritty stuff?

    Sex, drug use, strong language, violence, and trauma are all found in adult life; the extent depends on the person and what that person wants out of life. Most adult-specific comics will reflect this; almost all kid-friendly comics will not. I think what Deppey should be asking is whether sales of comics depend SPECIFICALLY on sex, drug use, etc. If they do, then he’s right in that changes need to be made because the comics aren’t selling because they are comic books but because… well, there’s an entire other industry responsible for that type of publication. But if this is the case, he’s also proved Girl Wonder right because they’ve been fighting against this same problem all along.

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