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She Has No Head! – Two Chicks Talk About Comics And Stuff

Hmm...someone is definitely missing...

There’s been a lot of women in comics related chatter all over the internet the last week or so and most of it is at least a little frustrating.  So I reached out to fellow a fellow blogger – creator of the crazy popular and yet fairly recent DC Women Kicking Ass Tumblr blog, Sue – for a chat.  Sue has made a huge mark for herself in less than six months – becoming a serious resource for images, commentary, and information, especially as it relates to women and superheroes.  As some of this week’s news related directly to Sue’s petition to DC regarding the ridiculous DC 75th Anniversary logo which bizarrely leaves out Wonder Woman, I thought Sue might have some thoughts on this week’s craziness and beyond.  The following is an edited version of our two plus hour conversation on yahoo messenger…

KELLY: So why do you think we keep running into this idea that women shouldn’t read comics, or that nobody cares if they do?  It’s like saying women shouldn’t watch TV or listen to music or read books…it’s strange and I don’t know why comics seems to be the medium that it’s acceptable to say women shouldn’t be a part of.

DCWKA: I think comics changed sometime in the 70’s from a kids medium to a male medium. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But the idea that girls would read comics just evaporated somehow. I think the direct market certainly drove the audience that way.

KELLY: I agree that the direct market is definitely our biggest problem because that leads into access and I also agree that at some point there was a switch, but I just can’t understand the kind of blind fear about women reading comics that I keep running into. It seems to really scare some people (otherwise why such hate?), although in fairness a TON of people (and most especially men in my experience thus far) are really in favor of some change in the industry.

DCWKA: There is a fear. And I find it sad.  I don’t think it reflects the whole readership, but a small vocal part. I meet guys at cons all the time and I rarely run into anyone who isn’t willing to chat and treat me like an equal fan.  I think most fans are smart enough to know the more people reading the better. They love comics and want to pass that love along.

KELLY: I have to say, with no disrespect intended to Brigid Alverson on sister site Robot 6, I was really upset by some things that she said in her posts last week.  I was sorry to see Brigid – a woman, a writer, and a comics fan (even if it’s not superheroes) kind of reinforcing the “superheroes are designed for boys and read by boys” argument this past week.  It feels a bit like a betrayal considering how hard some of us ladies are working to effect small change on this issue.

DCWKA: Yes, I was very disappointed. Very surprising. I spoke with Brigid and told her I didn’t agree. It feeds into old stereotypes best left behind. Like sports are for boys. Brigid’s view was that they played into the old tropes of boys rescuing girls.  And I told her that had changed.

KELLY: But even if superhero comics DO fall into those old tropes (which I think is more rare these days) that doesn’t mean that’s how it HAS to be…even if every single book on the shelves was boys saving girls…does that mean we shouldn’t ask for something better and smarter and with more diversity?  I don’t like the attitude that this is how it is and so this is how it is.  And while I have no interest on piling onto Brigid, there’s something really upsetting about a woman that obviously loves comics, validating the argument that superheroes are for boys, which of course simultaneously invalidates any women that already likes and read superheroes, and also further instills this false idea that continues to make it harder for that genre to make small changes to become more diverse.

Greg Rucka & J.H. Williams III's Batwoman

DCWKA: Change is good and needs to happen. Society changes, readers change. I really felt there were some broad strokes that were off in her post. I’m not sure Brigid has read a superhero book with a female lead in a while. I told her to read Batwoman. I hope she does.

KELLY: We should chip in and send it to her.  In fact, I’ve got the hardcover, maybe I’ll just send her mine.  Brigid…if you’re reading…you want to try it out?

DCWKA: Ha. I was thinking the same.

KELLY: If that’s true – that she hasn’t read a superhero book with a female lead in a while – and I’m not trying to be a jerk, but if that’s true, then why is she talking about superheroes at all? 

DCWKA: I don’t know. Some of it seemed to be “I don’t know where to start”.  But in that regard Batwoman is perfect because issue #0 is out next month.  I think her viewpoint was based on a past impression honestly.  But I feel good about my conversation with her and she seemed open to trying the book, so good for her!  She was willing to listen. That helps. God, I’ve had other conversations with people about comics where I might as well have been speaking to a wall.

KELLY: Agreed – willingness to listen is a huge part of the equation that is too often missing.  But, before we move on from Brigid (unfortunately)…she did another upsetting thing to my mind in her Robot 6 reporting on your tumblr post about the 75th Anniversary Logo…in which she basically alluded in her last paragraph that none of us should care about these things because there are other “real womens’ issues” out there that we should be focusing on.

DCWKA: It was little backhanded maybe?

KELLY: Yes.  It’s an argument I despise and one that gets us nowhere – it’s also an argument that I expect from comic fans on boards and forums, but not by “professional comics reporters/bloggers”.  First this argument assumes that women who care about these “insignificant comic things” do not ALSO care about these other “real issues” and are not active in them in other parts of our lives – which is patently false. And secondly, it undercuts the fact that media IS important.  Especially for young girls, as it shapes their perceptions of the world and what they are allowed and not allowed to do/be/have/etc. while they’re still figuring all of that out.

DCWKA: Yes. I went on a bit of a Twitter rant after that. (which is why I love Twitter). Of course in the scheme of things it IS small, but then again in the scheme of things a publication devoted to writing about comics probably shouldn’t be trying to say something in comics isn’t important in the “big picture”.

KELLY: Exactly.  The article (both hers and yours) are posted on a comics site – devoted to comics news. We’re all here for news about comics, not DADT, or the latest abortion rights issues, or equal pay…we have other sites and programs we go to for those things. 

DCWKA: And specific to the logo – if you have a something that excludes 50% of society that is a problem. It’s not like the analogy of “well football is all guys so don’t be surprised if you see all guys” If you have DC making an investment in female characters like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, BoP, and Batwoman and then don’t include them – that’s not right.

KELLY: It’s also just shooting themselves in the foot.  I mean it makes no sense from an investment standpoint.  Why promote and make these books if you’re not going to continue to promote the characters and the franchising of those characters – which we all know is where the big money is. 

DCWKA: From an investment point of view and business point of view it’s backwards. Think about the whole marketing picture – if you don’t promote the characters then why have them? There’s such an opportunity sitting there ready for the taking – grab it!

KELLY: So do you have any thoughts on the 75th anniversary logo stuff you’d like to share?  I saw a tweet of yours today regarding Didio…

DCWKA: Yes. So apparently someone asked him and he said DC Comics didn’t put out the logo. Which they probably didn’t as Warner Brothers handles licensing and stuff. But it doesn’t really matter if DiDio knew or not but that someone put a logo together that was all men. The logo was developed for joint marketing with an online site for 75th Anniversary swag – you can make you own hat or button or whatever with the logo.  It’s not like the site doesn’t have other stuff with Wonder Woman and, I might add, some awesome Catwoman sneakers, so they know there’s a market for female hero stuff.  It’s just puzzling.

KELLY: Yeah, I find it a little disturbing. Not only because Wonder Woman is the obvious number three in the “DC Trinity”…but the idea that you’d add Flash and Green Lantern and STILL not get Wondy in there…very disturbing to me about their views of what comics…and the last 75 years are all about.

DCWKA: I understand the push behind the Green Lantern, as they have the upcoming movie. But the Flash? Instead of Wonder Woman? I know he’s selling books but this is to celebrate 75 years, not the last 5.  And really this thing can get fixed in about an hour. It’s not like the graphic is that elaborate. Pick four female characters and do it. Man, I’d buy everything with a logo with Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Oracle or someone else. The only stuff you can buy now seems to feature old school Barbara Gordon Batgirl, headband wearing Supergirl and pre-crisis Wonder Woman.

KELLY: Well I would love a ladies 75th Anniversary logo…but I really think they need a Wondy with Bats and Superman…I’m not sure separate but equal would satisfy me here.

DCWKA: Yes, that would be my preference too. Maybe the Trinity plus Green Lantern. But my strategy was not to say “replace it” but “supplement it”. I felt that would work better – if it works at all

KELLY: I was actually pleasantly surprised to see fans’ reactions to Wonder Woman’s absence – and the feeling that it was wrong for her to be left out.  Maybe they need three- one “all boys”, one “all girls”, and one with just the trinity (plus GL if they must). I just bought a Wonder Woman business card holder the other day and I would buy the hell out of another one if it had the “ladies logo” on the front.  Not that I need two business card holders…hell, I barely need one.

DCWKA: Yes, three would be great. Pick your logo! Again the site lets you build you own swag so WB would be ponying up two new graphics, not paying for production.  We’ll see. I was told righteous rage lead nowhere with DC

KELLY: In my experience thus far righteous rage (even with massive hits and comments) leads nowhere with DC or Marvel.

DCWKA: Except for Stephanie Brown.

KELLY: Yeah.  That was the one time it appeared to work. (eta: and getting Wonder Woman her 600th issue!) You love the new Batgirl book, right?

DCWKA: Yeah, I think Batgirl is a terrific book.  I think some of the problem people have with Steph as Batgirl is the treatment of Cass.  And I can see that. It’s too bad you couldn’t have both characters. I hope it changes. Soon.

KELLY: That’s certainly my problem with the book (Steph).  I think Batgirl is…a good book all things considered, and I’m glad it exists and I will continue to support it with my dollars because we need more books with non-sexualized good female roles models…but I definitely don’t think it’s a great book when I compare it to something like the old Batgirl series with Cass. But this idea of – is Batgirl a good book, or a terrific book, or just a book –  dovetails nicely into David Brother’s 4th Letter post about BoP we were talking about.

DCWKA: Right.

KELLY: I think maybe we’re going to disagree a bit but I’d like to hear your thoughts about BoP and David’s post…

DCWKA: I discussed it with David. I am not a fan of Benes. I think he’s not as bad as David says but Benes is just not a favorite of mine. And I’ve been honest. “Benes is the price you pay for BoP” I think the art was okay for me in the first few issue. The coloring I didn’t like but it didn’t overwhelm me as much as say, when he did JLA.  But I wasn’t happy with David’s comment “do you read it because there’s slim pickings for lady comics.”

KELLY: I can see why you didn’t like that comment, but in all honesty, his comment really hit home for me.  Because while I am a huge and well-documented fan of Gail Simone, and I can acknowledge that perhaps I unconsciously hold her to higher standard, I don’t think the book is that good. Even beyond Benes art.

DCWKA:  Yes, I’ve seen you write that.

KELLY: I hate the art.  In fact, if I wasn’t writing this column I would probably not be buying the book on principle to protest the art, even if it meant missing out on Simone and all those characters I like.  But in truth I have had a problems with the book beyond the art – which disappoints me – stuff like the striptease dream scene, a cruel joke in issue #1 that unnecessarily denigrated (I thought) cheerleaders, among a few other more serious things – some of which the internet has been a little wild over. 

DCWKA: I love the characters. I think that she’s a terrific writer. Was the first arc an out of the park home run? No. But I still think its good.  The dream sequence?  I wrote about that. I thought it went on too long.

KELLY: I like the characters too…and nobody else is writing them and so the question is do I buy the book because it’s “all I have”?  I think there’s some sad truth to that.  I love Gail, I believe she’ll turn it around and I don’t want to suggest any writer censor themselves – especially when they’re going for funny, because you have to willing to bend rules when you go there – but what point did that “sexy dream sequence” serve?  The answer is NONE.  It did not add to the book, it didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know, it wasn’t funny, and it didn’t further the plot (if anything it just held it up)…so I don’t see any reason for it to be there except for a chance for crazy out of control cheesecake and to further sexualize characters that are already hyper-sexualized.  And I think Gail’s better than that. And perhaps unfairly, I expect her to be better than that.

Cliff Chiang's take on The Birds Of Prey

DCWKA: I think the dream sequence would have worked better if they hadn’t been in their costumes but looked more like the Cliff Chiang cover. The way it appeared, honestly, I had to read it twice to get the joke.

KELLY: But…I mean…what was the joke?  If there was something funny about it, it’s still lost on me.

DCWKA: I also think the book has had to overcome the art in that they’ve had so many artists. It’s really too bad. I am glad Jamal Igle is joining. I like the characters, and there is still so much story to tell. Do I love Hawk and Dove in there? No, the book is already filled with interesting characters and I want the originals to get more panel time. But when those characters get going and Gail is flying that book is a song – but the first arc was a bit frenetic. I compare it to seeing an old friend for the first time in a while. You both talk so fast to catch up that it leaves you exhausted and not quite sure what was said.

KELLY: That’s a pretty good analogy…but four issues in and no sign of letting up?  Anyway, I love Gail and believe she can turn it around (if someone can make me fall in love with Wonder Woman, that person can do anything as far as I’m concerned) I just don’t think this book is good enough to be a must – which is what I think what David is talking about a little.  Is it the “MUST HAVE female book”…or is it really just “THE female book”?

DCWKA: I didn’t take it that way. I think he was saying “ugh this art is horrible why do you put up with it, because there is nothing else?” And do you do it to support the book?  And I told him no book lasts over 100 issues and sells out multiple times by appealing to a niche.

KELLY: Hmmm…I’ll have to look at it again…but I thought he was more saying “this book – especially the art – just isn’t that good, but everyone’s talking about it and buying it…but is that because it’s the only game in town”…you know?  Regardless, Gail is a powerhouse and I’m not ready to give up on the book – especially with Igle slated to take over on art.

DCWKA: It’s natural I suppose that we want the one female creator at DC to be great.  It’s not like the odds get to be spread across multiple creators!

KELLY: It’s true. It’s a lot of pressure on her.

DCWKA: I’ve said before, Gail isn’t just a comic book writer for some fans. She is THE comic book writer.  She writes strong females and non-stereotyped gays. People see themselves in her characters. That’s a lot to put on one writer.

KELLY: I agree.  I think that’s why I expect more from BoP, and right now…I don’t feel I’m getting it. It may not be fair, but it’s how I feel.

DCWKA: Everybody sees books different ways. But it’s good you’re honest. I am too – I wasn’t crazy about some of her Wonder Woman. There are no true Gods in comic book writing (except for Alan Moore perhaps!).   Well I hope you get there with BoP.  And I am hoping Batwoman is great too. I just reread the trade this week. Honestly the first arc, Elegy, was good – not great.  Except for the art, which was fantastic. But Go was sublime. I hope J.H. Williams can pull it off.

KELLY: You and me both. Go is one of the single best books/arcs I’ve ever read – easily the single best superheroine story I’ve ever read…it’s everything I’d been waiting for in superheroines…but that’s a lot to live up to.  Hey, while we’re here I wanted to ask you about the Women Reading in Public tumblr you did for Read Comics in Public Day this year.

DCWKA: I was thrilled.  There was such passion.  There is such a potential opportunity sitting there for the taking. These women made an effort to be included because they care.  And publishers don’t have to do much to capitalize.

KELLY: I agree, I think the effort and actual change they have to make is very small in the scope of things.

DCWKA: Exactly!  Basically an investment in marketing, awareness outside the direct market would bring them new readers to already existing books. It kills me. I mean, Batgirl is just a huge opportunity. Batwoman huge, HUGE.  Go where the women are. Don’t expect them to find you. My god the Batwoman story is awesome. Why aren’t they having it reviewed in books/ magazines/publications women read?  And modify the pitch – Batwoman is a woman driven to serve after having to leave the army. She’s a detective, a vigilante. She has a great dad. The fact she’s a bat?  Tangent point.  Batgirl – college student by day, crime fighter by night.

KELLY: No, no, I totally agree.  And I think access and pitch are a huge part of the issue and they’re missing the boat.  It might not pay off immediately in the form of huge sales, but eventually it would – and the immediate result will be a change in the perception of comics, which I think is critical – especially with superheroes. There’s this perception I think that superhero comics aren’t for women and I feel it’s a very chicken or the egg thing.  Did women decide that X isn’t for them and now the industry is re-enforcing it?  Or did the industry decide and now women are re-enforcing it?  Maybe a bit of both.

DCWKA: I think women want strong action heroes. Do they want them in skimpy costumes? Probably not.

KELLY: Agreed.  I mean, what was it in 2007 when that studio head – Rubinov I think – said they weren’t going to be making any more films with leading women…and you just have to look at it and say…“you’re doing female leads wrong”. It’s not the female part of that that’s screwing it up…it’s your execution.

DCWKA: But that’s what is so frustrating about a Wonder Woman movie that can’t seem to get made. The thinking seems to be – ‘well Catwoman bombed, Supergirl bombed, Elektra bombed. So let’s not bother trying to get it right – let’s just move on and say women leads don’t work in films’ – meanwhile we’re on our second Hulk movie, which bombed.

KELLY: Yeah, it’s hard to take the “well this bombed therefore we won’t/can’t do that” seriously when The Hulk is out there like this big giant green failure…that spawned a SECOND giant green failure.

DCWKA: Did you see the treatment that was done by Ramon Perez for a potential web comic with Big Barda? Cameron Stewart did one with Zatanna too.

KELLY: I saw the Zatanna one, but not the Barda one.  I loved the art on the Zatanna one, gorgeous, totally something I would get behind and write about on SHNH.

A page from Cameron Stewart's Zatanna Pitch

DCWKA: I posted on the Barda one. It was adorable. I wish they would do these. Now that’s a way to get some female readers on board.

KELLY: Oh wow (I just found it).  That looks great too!

a panel from Ramon Perez's Big Barda and Mr. Miracle webcomic

DCWKA: Yeah, it’s like Wednesday Comics done via digital.

KELLY: Well the idea of Wednesday Comics done digital is a good one – and I’m certainly trying to embrace the digital and how it might hopefully expand the field of potential readers – but part of the beauty of WC was the format…which I ADORED.

DCWKA: Yeah the format was great, but I just mean out of continuity stories that any reader of any age can jump on was key. Give new artists a chance, give new writers a chance.

KELLY: Add to that “give new readers a chance” and I think we’ve got the future slogan of comics all worked out. What a wonderful world it would be.  I’m dying for that freaking Ben Caldwell Wonder Woman.

DCWKA: Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman is like that – I know you and I agree on the one.

KELLY: Yes, I 100% agree on that – and we should probably end there – in 100% agreement.  :)  So thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to talk to me for She Has No Head! Sue, I’d love to have you back sometime.

DCWKA: Thanks for having me – and anytime!

You can follow Sue on her tumblr site DCWOMENKICKINGASS and on her twitter (where she is kicking my sorry ass in followers) at: http://twitter.com/dcwomenkicknass

36 Comments

[…] 13, 2010 in CSBG, DC Comics, comics, comics should be good, she has no head! A new She Has No Head! – a conversation with DCWomenKickingAss blogger Sue about comics and “stuff” […]

Great post as always.

On the DC logo, it really drives home how wrong-headed the marketing efforts are over there. I have never been a huge fan of the Trinity concept, since it forces a comparison between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman that does not do any of those characters any favors. However, the one thing that is valid about the concept is that all three characters have been continuously published since WW2. It seems like that would be the a key consideration for a 75th anniversary logo.

Moreover, female friendliness is one of the few areas that DC has historically had a notable advantage over Marvel. The list of the longest running female starring solo comics is utterly dominated by DC. The Silver Age DC women had careers like lawyer, journalist and business executive at a time when Marvel women were seemingly all either socialites and secretaries. It is a history that DC should have some pride in.

While I somewhat agree Wonder Woman should be on the logo, I disagree that there should be an all-female logo. Oracle is not really an iconic character and Supergirl and Batgirl are just distaff versions of established male heroes.

What I REALLY disagree with is the notion that people are trying to “drive women away” from comics. I’ve gotten women interested in comics by showing them things they might like (including super-heroes), I’ve never seen anyone say “go away, girl, comics aren’t for you.” I cannot believe that is the case. As lovers of comics, we should be increasing the readership so that the industry strengthens and survives and presents a diverse range of stories and material. Women may be “turned off” by the sexist imagery or they may just be intimidated by wading through decades of confusing continuity. But don’t try to tell me women are being chased away from comics. It ain’t so.

An interesting post but I do not and cannot support its main contention.

Patrick, you are assuming someone has to actively and intentionally push female readers away. I don’t think anyone is claiming that anyone is trying to do that. But there are many more ways to push readers away than with cheesecake and continuity, trust me.

Kelly, fun column as always, and I am a fan of both yours and Sue’s, so this was extra entertaining. Sue’s tumblr is worth signing up for Tumbr.com on its own, and there are lots of other great female readers there sharing their thoughts as well.

About this logo thing. Okay, please keep in mind this is PURELY my gut reaction. I have zero percent proof of this at all. But I do have a theory.

First, let me say I am no one’s apologist. No one has thrown more hissy fits over dumb treatments of female in comics than I have, and no one has talked more about Wonder Woman being marginalized and misused.

But my first instinct seeing this logo wasn’t, “Oh, they deliberately left off Wonder Woman.” I didn’t see it through a fan’s eyes (and I mean that with no disrespect, because I AM a fan, and I usually DO see things through a fan’s eyes). I saw it purely as problematic design elements.

My immediate reaction was, “Oh, it’s silhouettes, and Wonder Woman’s costume is in flux.” If they are using this logo all year, and WW should change her outfit in a few months, there’s a problem with using the design for the entire year. And believe me, marketing thinks of stuff like that. They need to know this stuff WAY in advance and they want to use that logo as a key branding element. Because Wonder Woman’s outfit is in a transition period, that means that they either use the old logo, which gives a spoiler AND gives the appearance of not showing faith in the new costume, or they use the new one, which many outsiders are not yet familiar with, and may ultimately be confused by. There’s also the very real possibility that the editorial team asked for Diana to be deliberately left off, since her story clearly is taking place in an altered DC reality for the time being.

In short, the idea that WW isn’t on because she isn’t as important is, I’m sorry, not very likely. I suspect that that logo is going to be branded on a LOT of DC product that will be going out to people who aren’t comics readers. Those people might not recognize WW’s new silhouette in the same way. And believe me, WW still has vastly higher recognition than the Flash to the non-comics-reading audience. Wonder Woman is still a powerhouse marketing brand, far greater than Flash, certainly.

And finally, if, as I suspect, this branding is going to be used for things other than comics, then it makes some sense that four characters who have movies being worked on as we speak are featured, just as Iron Man and Thor are being promoted much more heavily in recent Marvel marketing outside the normal comics reading audience. You can make the case that THAT is some marginalizing of female characters and I would agree with you, but in that case, the problem doesn’t necessarily start with DC, who has wanted to make a WW movie for a long time, but with the perception that female superhero films always fail, which is much more complicated.

My sense was not, “Oh, it’s boy’s club thinking.” I just don’t think there’s enough evidence here. When you look at something as serious as the marketing brand for a 75th anniversary, there’s a lot of thought put into it, a lot of cooks in the broth, as it were. My sense is that they left her off fr a reason, quite possibly one that involves respecting the current storyline and not giving away subtle clues as to how it will end. Over and over, we have seen accidental spoilage of major story points by marketing stuff, completely unintentional and not deliberate, but definitely problematic.

Anyway, as I say, I have no proof. I suppose it’s possible that they just left her off because these are DC’s current best selling solo characters, but the evidence that that is the reason seems pretty slim and unlikely to me.

That said, I’d still like to see her on there, classic outfit or current one (and I happen to like the current one, minus the jacket).

Just throwing in my two cents based on experience with the company and the character, if not the specific situation.

Best wishes!

Gail

@Dean: Thanks – fantastic comment as always! Also, I’ve missed you!

@Patrick: I wish I didn’t believe it to be true Patrick – and as I said in the post – a TON of people – mostly men – have reached out to me in an incredibly positive way about the changes in comics and their hopes for the future in that regard – but all you have to do is take a gander at the comments of my posts (most notably and recently these two: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/05/31/she-has-no-head-interview-with-hope-larson-about-girls-comics/ and http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/08/16/she-has-no-head-is-wonder-woman-a-gateway-drug-could-she-be/) to see that there’s a lot of “I don’t want/care if women read comics” attitudes.

I also believe that women ARE chased off from comics in a lot of ways – some deliberate and some not – from the implied no girls signs on books (and shops), to attitudes in shops, to too much T&A and bad jokes and storylines that denigrate women on a too regular basis.

A lot of people want change and are on board…a lot of others aren’t. In my experience writing this column over the last year, I’d say the audience is actually AHEAD of the creators on this – but it doesn’t mean there aren’t haters. Like I said, take a look at the comments in those posts if you have any doubt.

Thanks for commenting.

Additionally, I should add, if this logo goes out on toys and Halloween costumes and the like, which more than likely will feature Wonder Woman in her classic outfit, putting the sillhouette of her current design, tiara and logo will only make things MORE confusing to the non-comics reader.

Again, have no proof, I am not in that loop.

@Gail. As always, thanks for stopping by. You make some really good points about the logo – and your ability to give them the benefit of the doubt is something I should work on. My only counter point would be that because it’s an “anniversary logo” celebrating 75 years, rather than a logo celebrating some current event or some such, I don’t think it would really be a stretch to include the “classic looks” for these characters. And whether you love or hate the new look…it’s definitely not classic. The old version has been essentially the same – with a few small (and short) exceptions – from an iconic standpoint since inception.

Ooh. I thought of something else. Since it IS a silhouette…sans jacket I’m not sure the costume with just the chest logo in white would look that different between new or old…other than the jacket how would we even know the difference in such a simplified/stylized logo?

That SAID, however, I do really like the activism and positive action Sue and others are taking with this. It’s great to see people making their voice’s heard in a constructive way as they are doing here.

PATRICK RAWLEY “Oracle is not really an iconic character and Supergirl and Batgirl are just distaff versions of established male heroes.”

Full disclosure, I use a wheelchair so maybe I’m biased but this is my take.

WW wasn’t an iconic character in the 50’s was she? It’s only been thru marketing that she has become such an icon. She starred in a tv show. That’s how she became iconic.

Oracle has not had that. She was in a horribly unsuccessful tv show, she’s had all of one action figure (again a crappy one) and she makes one video game appearance that I know of. She’s not on covers as much as she used to be, and the DC/WB loves to ignore her for some reason. If you put her on a t-shirt,coffee mug, and pinback button like DC regularly does with WW,Superman,Batman,Batgirl, Supergirl, etc….who’s to say she won’t be iconic? It’s like in football. You can be freakin’ Joe Montana but if you have no support you aren’t going down the field.

It seems to me that while we’re talking about women being pushed away from comics there is something to be said for ignoring the disabled as well. DC regularly takes opportunity to either treat it’s women and disabled characters badly, or ignore them. And frankly it isn’t helped by a readership that won’t demand any different on a large scale. Heck, for about 2 years there was a constant call online to have Barbara “healed” as if there was something inherently wrong with a wheelchair using crimefighter. Even WB couldn’t let go of the idea in that horrible show.

My point is that if you’re marketing a product you want to invite the widest range of buyers possible. DC is missing an incredible opportunity here. Push Oracle the same as you push Supergirl and I’d be willing to bet she goes just as far.

No worries, Kelly. I’m on the fence here because I love what Sue is doing and want to support it, but I just don’t think, “mean ol’ DC” is accurate in this case. I strongly suspect there was an editorial decision to leave her off for story reasons, but I can’t say for sure, obviously.

But sans jacket, the logo and tiara still don’t match the classic outfit.

You guys could be completely right. But Wonder Woman is a marketing asset of DC’s way beyond Flash. It doesn’t make sense to leave her off unless there’s another reason.

So is this article so suppose to be bringing attention to WW not being included on a LOGO or how much you aren’t feeling Gail Simone’s BOP. Seems like you all should have stuck with bringing attention to one topic. Don’t think this was the time to be critiquing a writer and a book. But you had access to to do it so you took shots.

Rani!

It’s an opinion column! I appreciate the thought, but I follow and admire both these
women very much and don’t take their comments the least bit personally. It’s
in an interview format, of COURSE they are entitled to talk about other topics.

It’s totally, completely fair game, and I think they were completely civil about it.
It’s related to the topics at hand. It’s fair!

Best,

Gail

Gail,

I respect your opionion and your stance.There’s still a time and a place. And if the object is to discuss equal licensing for female characters, WW exclusion, etc…and get that message out, it doesn’t seem like this was the time to be talking about whether or not a writer knocked a book out the park or not. Sometimes a persons spotlight goes to their head. You may know these people, I do not but on first opinions they should have been more thoughtful.

Best wishes,

Rani Raymond

@Rani: The object of the column was “two chicks talking about comics and stuff”, as I thought would be clear from the title. Perhaps you’re confusing this conversation with DCWKA’s petition?

@ Kelly Thompson:

Thanks. It is New Dad syndrome. My comic time has tended to be stuff that can be shared with my older son, so I am reading a lot of Stan Lee on the iPad with the panels blown up to fill the frame. The dialog is absurdly fun to read aloud. Which is a good transition to …

@ Gail Simone:

Speaking for myself, I do not think DC is being mean in the slightest. I think that they are leaving money on the table.

Let me put it this way: why should anyone choose to buy a generic DC comic over a generic Marvel comic? When I was a kid, it was the relatively higher profiles of the DC franchises. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all had live action shows (either new or in reruns). Those three plus Aquaman were in the SUPER-FRIENDS. It was natural that when I found comics that I bought those titles first.

That is not true anymore, nor has it been for a long time. Marvel is the clear market leader. That puts DC in the position of having to make a proactive case for why their comics are better. One thing that they can say in all honesty is that DC has a better history on gender.

There are obviously some very famous and glaring exceptions to that rule. However, it a marketing claim that DC could both make and back up.

This reminded me of an essay I once read analyzing old Kirby FFs and then Mr. Miracle where the writer thought Kirby had intended Sue to be a much more proactive and assertive woman along the lines of Big Barda but Stan kept giving her subservient dialog.

The problem isn’t limited to just the 75th Anniversery logo. My daughter used to watch Justice League on Cartoon Network with me. She loved Hawkgirl and Wonder Wonder Woman. She liked other characters, too, but as a young girl she naturally gravitated toward the “girl heroes.” When shopping for school supplies we found Justice League notebooks, folders, and backpacks, but the girls were left off(and so was the Martian, actually). Superman, Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern featured prominently, but no Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl or J’onn. Did someone decide that the fans only liked human-looking male heroes? I can see not thinking J’onn or Hawkgirl were iconic enough, but Wonder Woman? Seriously?

Needless to say, my daughter passed on the Justice League school supplies in favor of merchandise featuring the Powerpuff Girls, Spongebob Squarepants, and a pink Supergirl lunchbox.

Even if Wonder Woman was left off because of her current state in the DCU, Batman’s “dead” right now too, so that better be Dick Grayson! :P A 75th Anniversary logo should include the characters who got DC to where they are today, not just the ones with a movie coming out soon. Plus, its been clear from the start that Wonder Woman will return to her original state, and there are even images of the classic look in the comic. I’m sorry, that argument just doesn’t hold up for me.

Add me to the list of former BOP readers who cannot endure Benes art, and found it overwhelming Gail’s storytelling.

Damn. I came here hoping for jello wrestling.

I personally loved Ed Benes art and hopes he sticks around as the artist.

My biggest problem with this argument isn’t really about the initial argument at all, but it’s the idea that how dare DC leave out WW she’s part of the Trinitiy. With all due respect no she’s not, though she’s been pushed and pushed and pushed by DC for years she’s never been worth all the promotion she’s gotten. Her books don’t sell at the level to put with Superman and Batman, nor is she universally considered in their league. So while it’s fine to ask for more female representation as part of DC’s anniversay the idea that WW is too important to leave out is wrong. Flash and Green Lantern have alot more right to be in this logo than WW does, just because she’s a female hero doesn’t give her any rights to be involved in promotions over characters who are more popular and bigger icons that her.

a second data point to support Zor-El…my superhero-crazy son (almost 5) was confused and disappointed that Wonder Woman wasn’t on his Justice League underwear. He’s a fan, big time!

@ EJ:

I love, love, love both Flash and Green Lantern. However, Wonder Woman is a more iconic character than either one. Neither Hal Jordan, nor Barry Allen, has starred in 300 issues as a solo act. While both franchises had popular 3rd generation incarnations, it requires some creativity to put either franchise within hailing distance of WW. Moreover, WW has a huge footprint beyond comics (i.e. every kids Halloween costume catalog) that the GL and Flash franchises just don’t.

Now, WW is not Batman and Superman, but then who is?

@EJ: You can say it, but it doesn’t make it true. She is far more recognizable than either the Flash or Green Lantern. Perhaps more importantly, individual comic book sales are fine and dandy, but I guarantee the merchandising sales for Wonder Woman probably outstrip Flash and Green Lantern combined. Wonder Woman, like Superman and Batman, is a cultural icon. Flash and Green Lantern are popular comic book characters. that’s all. To suggest that they are more iconic is sort of laughable. Something that is iconic is so due to its image and name recognition, not only here but abroad. Green Lantern and Flash don’t come close, regardless of their appeal to fanboys or the success of their current books.

I’m not sure what “nor is she universally considered in their league” means since your rubric is unclear. If it is a question of iconic status, though, then the three are indeed a trinity as they are hands down the most well-known superheroes to come out of the American comic book industry.

Even at the level of comic book sales, GL and F are current powerhouses, but that is by no means true for their earlier runs. They have struggled at different moments themselves.

funkygreenjerusalem

September 13, 2010 at 11:03 pm

It is odd there’s no WW, but it’s not that surprising.

Batman and Superman are their most recognizable characters, GL is a big selling book with a movie about to come out – so they all make sense – and Flash is apparently about to attempt a GL type franchise in comics, with an upcoming crossover and new title launch, and is also the next movie planned by DC.
WW on the other hand, doesn’t sell as well as these characters, and doesn’t have a movie coming out.

So I think it’s less an intentional slight, and more someone in marketing wanting to push the characters they are currently pushing, not a character with nothing on the horizon, and book that isn’t doing gangbusters.

So the real question, for me, isn’t why was WW left off a badge, is why isn’t there a WW movie on the horizon?

(If there was a WW movie on horizon, they should just use the animated film as a base, and extended it a bit. I hope that’s what they’ve done with GL – those two animated movies are better than the vast majority of superhero live action films).

I agree with both Gail and Kelly on the 75th anniversary logo. I suspect Wonder Woman’s costume being in flux was a big issue. But a simple female silhouette with a WW on the chest would’ve worked well. It doesn’t have to match the old OR new costume if it’s a stylized version of her. The whole point of an iconic character is that he or she transcends temporary costume changes.

Concerning Wonder Woman not being on the 75th anniversay logo, I think Gail’s explanation makes a ton of sense. Another problem though is that Superman, Batman, GL, and Flash all have symbols that are highly prominant on their costumes. Jim Lee’s redesign really minimizes Wonder Woman’s symbol, making it difficult to really show it off.

There was a scene early in Gail’s Wonder Woman run where Wonder Woman was stepping out of the darkness after an explosion, the focus on her gleaming WW symbol and her silver bracelets, totally dramatic and bad-ass. That wouldn’t be an easy scene to pull of with her new costume… The jacket offers a better silhouette and takes the focus off of her boobs (Though the current artist is still managing to put a ton of focus on them anyway), but there’s nothing there to really grab the eye like an icon should. That makes including her in the logo an even more difficult prospect in my eyes.

@Michael – Wonder Woman is by far a more iconic character than Oracle and indeed was in the 1950s. She is part of DC’s “Trinity” (Jebus, I hate that but what can anyone do?) in a way that Green Lantern, movie or no, is not. The Flash, however, ushered in the Silver Age with Showcase #4 and is arguably more “important” than GL. Neither one was in SUPERFRIENDS and WW was. So it’s Wondy for the win. Oracle was on a show nobody watched that was cancelled years ago and if you asked the average non-comics reader who she was, they’d come up short. “She’s a chick in a wheelchair?” No, she used to be Batgirl. “Wait, what?”

@Dean – “DC is leaving money on the table”. Yep, got it in one. If GL can support more than one book, if there’s five freaking Flashes, if Batman is going to franchise himself, if the Superman universe can have umpteen books a month, then surely Wonder Woman can have another title. “But she’s a perennial low-seller.” And she always has been but an all-ages Wonder Woman book or and All-Star-style book WOULD sell, if the presence and prevalence of “lovers” in the blogosphere is any indication. DC not only does not know what they’re doing now, THEY NEVER DID. Wonder Woman is perhaps the ONLY superheroine with enough name recognition in the general non-comics-reading public to be a viable property. She’s been in cartoons and a live-action tv series. But her cult of fans constantly debates “why isn’t she more popular?”, “why doesn’t she sell?”, “why can’t I get Wonder Woman Underoos?”.

A small anecdote – I used to work in a bookstore and one of the sales reps saw me wearing a Superman tee shirt. She asked me where I got it – “A comic book store.” “Do they have Womder Woman ones?” “I don’t think so,” I said “but there’s a head shop on Yonge Street that has a WW shirt in the window.” (Frankly, I think WW’s been losing steam ever since they got rid of the Eagle but that’s one man’s opinion.)

@Kelly – Haters gonna hate but that means nothing. I still say the slavish devotion to decades of confusing continuity are more off-putting to a female reader than typical fanboy snark. Women dominate fandom in sf, fantasy and other niches of fandom. Why not comics? Faint hearts never won a war, y’know. (T&A are probably very off-putting to female readers. So why do women watch tv or films that’re filled with “fan service”? Are female readers that insecure that a little cheesecake will put them off? Remember, EVERY male superhero has a body that is the pinnacle of muscular perfection but most male readers don’t take offense.)

[…] 14, 2010 in DC Comics, comics, wonder woman I talked about this at length with DC Women Kicking Ass yesterday, and then came across this great ladies version of the DC 75th Anniversary logo today via […]

[…] She Has No Head! – Two Chicks Talk About Comics And Stuff (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

@ Patrick Rawley:

I think that it is pretty obvious what the issues are for WW on the sales side.

First, a fair percentage of the folks within the direct market that are not buying the title are actively hostile toward it. That makes organic growth (i.e. “Did you read the latest arc? It was awesome.”) extremely challenging. There are an increasing number of titles with that problem, but WW was the first and remains the most extreme case. Maybe digital distribution will fix that problem. Looking at the intensity of the reaction to the WW message board that Gail helped to start up on this very site and that does not seem unlikely.

Second, WW was extremely well-conceived and designed to discuss a certain portfolio of issues: gender, sexuality and the tension between the needs of the individual and the community. By contrast, modern comics tend to focus on Black Ops branches of the intelligence community, mercenaries (and the soulless corporations that love them) and spiritual cost of doing the right thing. There is nothing wrong with either subject matter, but it is hard to see much overlap between them.

On the subject of Cheesecake imagery, I think that you are being a bit unfair. Women are half the human population. Three billion people can have a wide range of responses to just about anything. Certain types of cheesecake can have lots of female fans. Where I live, it was not uncommon a few years ago to see women dressed like they are on the nose cone of a B-17. People (of either gender) that are going to be drawn to the faintly disreputable allure of comics are far more likely to be fans of Betty Page than Sarah Palin.

Maybe I am missing something (and I would be happy for Kelly to correct me), but the complaints with which I am familiar are rarely to do with Cheesecake itself. It is more a question of context and the effect of the imagery on the story-telling. When someone points out that a highly trained assassin probably would not be walking across a snowy roof-top in six-inch stilettos and a skin-tight cat-suit unzipped to the navel … well … it is pretty hard to argue with them.

@Patrick/Dean:

From my point of view at least Patrick, Dean is spot on in regard to cheesecake imagery. There’s little I like more on earth than to draw (and have drawn for me) sexy female comic characters…I have sketchbooks full of them – and I suspect a lot of men and women feel similarly…however context to me is everything.

As I’ve said before – and I may just have to bite the bullet and do a full post about this – which will surely earn me TONS of hate – to say that men are idealized and wearing spandex the same way that women are idealized and wearing spandex is a major simplification that misses most of the issues (and dare I say nuance) of female objectification in comics.

For me, beyond context (i.e. as Dean said, why is a spy wearing stilettos and a catsuit unzipped to her nether regions) the issue breaks down thus:

1. Forms. What the idealized forms male and female characters are based on is problematic. i.e. men are drawn as idealized athletes while women are drawn as idealized models/porn stars. These two things (athletes and porn stars) suggest wildly different things – one is natural and fitting to superheroes (athletes), while one is a stretch at best.

2. Posing. The posing of men is also that of athletes – which denotes strength, power, and ability v women who are generally posed as porn stars – which denotes sex, beauty, and too often submissiveness.

3. Clothing. Though both sexes are subjected to fairly reasonable – for their professions – skintight spandex/leather/what have you – women are also regularly subjected to: heels, thongs, swimsuits, thigh highs, bare midriffs, skirts, fishnets, bikinis, unzipped catsuits, seriously plunging necklines, boob holes, and whatever you call that thing Star Sapphire wears. Men rarely suffer any of these things, or any of what might be a male equivalent.

So I really don’t think it’s just as simple as “cheesecake”.

Also, I have to add that I saw a very direct example of T&A driving potential readers away. Months ago I had a some comics with me including an issue of Amanda Conner’s Power Girl with me when I was with some friends. They expressed some interest in my comics so I showed them and everyone of them (all smart, funny, great ladies) was seriously put off by the Power Girl thing. I tried to explain it…but I could see it didn’t matter, they were skeptical and that was the end of their interest…they couldn’t get past it.

Now maybe we don’t need or want them as readers…but I’m just not sure the boob hole is worth the risk…is it?

@ Dean – You make some good points. (there’s a ‘but’ coming …) BUT – First, a fair percentage of the folks within the direct market that are not buying the title are actively hostile toward it.

Really? There are at least two blogs on this very site devoted to all things Wondy. She’s been consistently published, despite chronically low sales, for over sixty five years. I see what you’re saying – it’s the mentality that a female star can’t open a movie strongly. It’s wrong and we all know it. (Angelina Jolie, anyone? Jodie Foster? Sandra Bullock? I could go on.) I think PART of WW’s problem is that she’s the comics’ equivalent of broccoli – she’s good for us, we know she is but she’s awful unless you cook it right or eat it raw. Maybe digital distribution will change that, maybe an all-ages title aimed at girls (so they have their own comic to read) will change that, maybe a game-changing All-Star book will change that. I’d love to see that, I’m as long-time a Wondy fan as anybody but she can be boring and shrill and yes, some fanboys feel threatened by a strong female character.

– Second, WW was extremely well-conceived and designed to discuss a certain portfolio of issues: gender, sexuality and the tension between the needs of the individual and the community.

Indeed. And by a psychologist, no less. That said, when WW was created, Black Ops were largely unknown. Times change. She can change with them.

Re : Cheesecake and Sexy Assassins – Burlesque has made a huge comeback in recent years, the nudge-nudge sexuality, the tease, the give-and-take inherent in gender relations. (Women aren’t as strong as men. However, with a wink and a purr, a woman can make any number of men do whatever she wants, from carrying her luggage to supporting her lifestyle. Men, strong as they might be, can’t really do that.) And as for Sexy Assassins … wouldn’t it make more sense to have a female assassin who looks like a normal woman, even frumpy and dumpy, who nobody would look twice at, rather than a supermodel in a catsuit, who can stop traffic? There’s a knock at the door – “Housekeeping!” Look through the keyhole, it’s a short woman in a uniform, holding a feather duster. You open the door and boom, you dead.

That said, comics and movies are both visual media so the above scenario is highly unlikely, no matter how much we wish it to be different.

But yeah, it’s hard to argue with your last point.

Women and comics is an interesting combination. I don’t have that issue where the other comic fans treat me poorly because I’m a female. Quite the opposite actually. Maybe I have more of a guy’s mentality and I’m ok with the jokes and the cheesecake. I love Ed Benes’ art. I also love Joe Mad, the Kuberts, Jim Lee, David Finch, etc. A fan is a fan. If you know your stuff or you are excited about a character/story/comic, you’ll be accepted.

Comics are a series of story arcs- some good, some bad. I’m an avid X-Men fan and can’t say I loved every single story in 500+ issues of the main series and 200+ of the second series. Some stories I wish could be erased and some of these were written by my favorite writers. Economically, it’s difficult to shell out $3-4 per book if you are feeling mild towards it. Sometimes you have to go with faith. Am I going to read a book because it has a female writer/character/artist? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on whether the material is interesting to me. I might be more inclined to look at it because I think I’ll relate more. Same reason men look for comics with male characters. They relate to them.

Why are all the female centric superhero movies/comics not as popular? I have a few theories. I’m not an Elektra fan and I’m not going to pretend to be one, but my impression is that she’s an assassin. Frankly, I don’t really remember her killing too many people. If what is in the head of the audience doesn’t match what is being put out there then it’s not going to work. Buffy was popular because she was a vampire slayer and every week she (wait for it) slayed vampires.

What about the comics? Marvel has some strong female X-Men characters that are very popular- Rogue, Jean Grey, Storm. The X-Men exploded into popularity with Chris Claremont’s writing. What made Rogue special is not her gallavanting around the South, but her interactions with others. The 1991 series Rogue from the cartoon is what everyone over the age of 16 relates to. She struggled with her powers. She was one of the most powerful mutants and yet she couldn’t get her life under control.

If you want to get more women into comics, put out quality material. Don’t change the character to make them more this or that thinking that’s what women want. There’s an audience for everything and there are women who like action films and not just romantic comedies. Although, we do like a bit of both mixed together at times. Create good characters that aren’t one dimensional and are interesting. They will be popular regardless if they are male or female.

Shouldn’t the title of this post be “Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening to Neu”? :)

Even if WW’s costume is in flux, for her not to appear on the 75 anniversary logo is BS. It’s Wonder freaking Woman, man!

That said, I do think Patrick may have a point with WW being the equivalent of broccoli. But that might mean that DC should try out 3 or 4 or 5 different WW titles and see if ONE of those approaches sticks. The Caldwell thing, Adam Hughes’s All Star version (it was gonna be him, right?), a “kiddie” version, so on so forth. Put enough versions out there (like they do with MALE characters) and one of them will work out.

I think why I personally “don’t care” if women read comics is that I figure any idea that I think would work to bring in female readers is probably not the right idea :) Seriously, I think companies should listen to blogs like this with intelligent women discussing what they do want to see and don’t want to see, because THAT’S THE MARKET THAT THEY’RE FAILING!

A little off topic, but for example, what made the Minx books work or not work for female readers? They got in my local libraries, I think they were in bookstores, so what DIDN’T work with that, and how should companies improve? Should they not try to “pander” to female readers by having female-centric lines like that, or is there something else?

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