Committed: The More You Know…
Do we want to hear about a director who used violent hate language to talk about women and homosexuals?
Do we want to hear about the departure of one of the most visible, powerful women in alternative comic books from a mainstream company (while everyone tip toes around the fact that this coincides with their decision to publish more and more books aimed at little boys)?
Do we need to see male superheroes depicted as seductive female superheroes, or debate what the definition of the “female gaze” means?
Do we benefit from poking at the occasional incidents of isolated, middle-aged men freaking out on social networks in obvious cries for help?
What do comic book readers get out of going behind the scenes of the toilet-end of the comic book industry? Is this ruining comic books for us? We live in a world where equality means drawing men in stupid “broke back” poses, as if shitting on men because women get shit on will make us equal. Instead we all get stuck in the shit. Calling for the head of whatever villain of the week is acting out online just turns us all into violent, vindictive assholes. Are we ignoring the fact that a major publisher doesn’t publish a single book that I can get on board with because they’ve been clear about not wanting money from the adult female demographic?
Don’t we all just want to go to the store and pick up the books we love? It is a small, beautiful, luxurious indulgence of fiction that we can enjoy at the end of a hard day in the ‘real’ world. Has it become too difficult to block out the noise behind major comic book publishers trying to sell us what they think we want.
Has the feedback loop from reader to publisher back to reader become corrupted?
Years ago, when I started writing about comic books it never occurred to me that doing this would change my perception of the medium in such fundamental ways. I never thought that it could cut into my enjoyment of them. When I started working on the comic books themselves, I rationalized that as a designer I still wasn’t deep enough in the “business” that it would impact my understanding of comic books. Now I look back and I see how much more I know about the ins and outs of the industry and I have a new “appreciation” of the entire thing. Even if I walked away now, my view of the comic book industry and the quiet men and women who make them would have been irreparably damaged. The best thing I can think to do is strive to do something better, to try to keep talking about the parts we love, and the comic books which inspire us.
Last week I got an email from a reader despairing over the sexist state of new and upcoming comic books, asking what we could do. At the time I advised to vote with your wallet and buy the good stuff, talk about and propagate the good comic books, ignoring the bad. I feel like this week I did bad job of that myself. I couldn’t filter out all of the negativity and misery, and it created a completely jaundiced, depressing view of comic books for me. All I can think to do in future is to try harder to focus on the good stuff and talk about what I love from superheroes and comic books. After all, wasn’t this meant to be fun for all of us?