She Has No Head! Archives - Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources
I love Halloween. It’s easily my favorite holiday. Christmas is a close second thanks to all the nostalgia (my parents do an epic warm Christmas). But there’s so much pressure on Christmas (just like New Years) that it can start to feel like obligation more than celebration and even I grow weary of the music and everything that comes with it which seems to creep into our lives earlier and earlier each year.
But Halloween never gets aggressive or greedy. It just hangs back being awesome. Go out and have the night of your life, or just hang back and eat chocolate and watch scary movies. Both are completely acceptable.
So it bums me out every year, especially the last five or so when superheroes have become so popular and mainstream to see so many lazy superhero costumes and since this is a column about women in comics we’ll focus on the superheroine costumes especially. The “super sexy” versions of costumes (that were already reasonably high on the sexy to begin with) get pretty tedious too, but my beef is not with costumes that are “too sexy” my beef is with costumes that are lazy as all get out or worse, don’t make a lick of goddamn sense (and not in the good way that things sometimes don’t make sense). Here are a few that really ticked me off in my hunt this year…
Counting down the best things for “Women in Comics” to come out of NYCC this weekend!
To be honest, going into a big con week I never know if there’s going be enough material to make a decent post of for She Has No Head. Sometimes I’ve struggled to come up with new announcements to write about, even after a big con. And then there are weeks where it’s hard to whittle your list down to ten items and you come it at well over 3,000 words. Well done, NYCC, well done!
I’ll also say that though I am “con averse” in general and was out of town for most of the festivities anyway, this was the first time I have been following the news (and even more so the tweets) and really felt like I missed out. So many great creators I love were out and force and being recognized for the insanely talented individuals they are and it made me feel so genuinely joyous (though disappointed to have missed out). Also, a huge thanks to all the people that so valiantly brave the con to do such great reporting, you guys are soldiers – soldiers that seemed like you were having an incredible time.
Onward to the list!
The five comic things I’m most excited about for October? Glad you asked!
I’ve read it, it comes out this week (10/1) and it is AWESOME.
That’s right, written by Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher and with some absolutely incredible art by Karl Kerschl (colors by Geyser/Dave McCaig) this is my pick of the week before I even read anything else. No way anything else is coming close to kicking it out of the #1 spot. It’s got some fantastic new female characters in Olive and Maps, the hottest Bruce Wayne this side of…well, anywhere quite frankly, and a rich beautiful take on telling stories in Gotham that only touch Batman lightly. Everything about this feels young and new and smart. It’s the exact breath of fresh air that DC desperately needs. And while I wouldn’t want ALL of the DC books to feel this way (the same way I don’t want them all to feel grim and gritty) I must say it’s a welcome change of pace from what we’ve been seeing from DC. Even though Gotham Academy is a pretty gothic book – it’s set in Gotham after all – it’s not going to be all roses and sunshine – it has a lightness hope about it that just sings.
BONUS: Gotham Academy wonderfully straddles several lines, the first being that it will be effortless for new readers unfamiliar with Gotham (or even cape comics) to jump into, and yet it’s filled with little details that hardcore Batman fans will love. It also straddles that often difficult line of being all-ages friendly – and it is – there isn’t anything worrisome for younger audiences but it’s plenty complex, layered, and nuanced for older audiences. Check out the Becky Cloonan variant cover (right), so pretty!
So, I thought about writing about a few different things this week, maybe a focus on some great books or something, but the state of our industry and sister industry of gaming just has me too damn wound up and frustrated to focus on anything else.
For those playing catch up, gaming has been thrown into absolute chaos as it continues to deal with the growing pains of facing some really long gestating problems with sexism and misogyny in the industry. It’s a problem we here in comics know well. Many of us are “gamers” (or players perhaps is a better word) and even for those of us that don’t play games, there’s still a bond between comics and games – as “geek hobbies” we’re sister industries for good or ill. I guess it makes sense that both our industries are pushing on these boundaries and trying desperately to grow past these limitations at the same time and with some of the same disturbing results, but man has it exposed some truly nasty people and agendas.
So, much to everyone’s shock (I’m guessing), I have very little problem with the Milo Manara Spider-Woman #1 variant cover. Surprising to nobody, I do have some issues with the information we have thus far for the forthcoming Spider-Woman book.
So let’s get into it.
Milo Manara is a well-known creator/writer/artist primarily of porn and erotica, perhaps mostly notably a series called Click! (which, full disclosure, I own). So, when you hire Milo Manara to draw a variant, you are hiring him to get a very specific thing: titillating erotic imagery that is at the very least reminiscent of porn and generally of women.
This is exactly what he delivered. It seems ridiculous to criticize Manara for delivering exactly what he does and what was surely expected of him. Though his response to the Spider-Woman cover controversy is depressing and predictable it’s not particularly surprising. Yes, it’s practically a bingo card of alarming statements we see all the time when people try justify portrayals of women in media: the “there’s other ‘real’ problems in the world to worry about” “all superheroes are basically naked with colors on them anyway” “women are just built this way, I draw what I see” “it’s not my fault this how women are/look” “women wear less than this/are more provocative than this in real life” etc. and of course the artist describing the character/his work as “beautiful, nice, attractive, seductive” all of which have to do only with how Spider-Woman looks to him/should look to him and nothing to do with who she is or what she does. Pretty depressing stuff.
But again, as sad as it is to hear these statements, this is a European (Manara is Italian) man that draws Erotica for a living and has for decades. None of this is terribly surprising and anyone surprised by it is not paying attention. The question shouldn’t be why does Manara draw a Spider-Woman that looks more like a porn star than a superhero, the question also shouldn’t be why didn’t Marvel send Manara back to the drawing board when he turned in his work. The question should be why is this what Marvel wanted in the first place?
Just an hour before my column about the ladies of the Marvel Studio movies went up, a column that in part lamented our lack of announcements on female-led films, we got an announcement about a female-led superhero film being developed.
But that announcement came not from Marvel Studios but Sony.
MUCH MORE RESTRAINED JOY.
It’s not rocket science. While Marvel Studios have been killing it with their films – and they seem to be getting better and better – The Avengers (2012), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) are their three best films (except perhaps Iron Man (2008) which set us off on this incredible superhero resurgence in the first place) – Sony has been kind of the opposite of killing it.
So, obviously this is spurred by Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, which came out last weekend, which demolished all August film openings, which I saw this weekend, and which was, as everyone has already been telling you, pretty much awesome.
But you don’t need another post about that, you’ve seen it all before, there’s nothing new I can tell you. This movie is like pure joy, bottled and delivered directly into your soul. It’s not perfect but it’s fun, funny, and a great example of how super complicated ideas and utterly bizarre characters and concepts can be made “new viewer” friendly and yet still appeal to fans. It’s a success all around.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
How do you top turning a matriarchal female society historically depicted as honorable in your comics into absolute monsters? For starters, you assign creators that either don’t know what feminism means, or worse, do know and are still afraid to use that word to describe the preeminent female hero in the world. In 2012 I thought feminism had been destroyed at DC Comics but I was wrong, because there were further lows to which we could descend.
We have found new depths as a creator (David Finch) assigned to the most important woman in comics doesn’t know what the word feminist means, or much much worse, knows what it means and doesn’t think that Wonder Woman is a feminist, in other words, he doesn’t believe that Wonder Woman believes in equality of the sexes.
You know what I can’t believe? That this kind of thing can still happen in the year 2014.
Four years ago my birthday fell on a Monday and so I decided to make 12 Birthday Wishes…and now every year Sue asks me if I’m doing it again. Though my birthday is not until Saturday, I felt like doing it again this year –apparently I am only interested in doing every two years. Like I did last time I’m going to first recap what I asked for in 2012 and see how we did. Last time the rack up was a pathetic 2.25/12 points…I KNOW we did better this time!
Back in early 2012 I wrote a piece that became easily my most talked about and commented on, in both good and bad ways. It was called “No it’s Not Equal” and it was all about breaking down the ways that visually, women are not presented equally to men in comics. The piece was born of getting very tired of hearing people say ridiculous things related to female representation in superhero comics – stuff like “all superheroes wear skintight clothes, not just women!” and “it’s comics! nobody has realistic bodies!” I wanted to break down why those arguments are so flawed and how the representation is/has been unbalanced when it comes to men and women. It’s been about 28 months since I posted that piece and I started wondering if anything significant had changed when it comes to mainstream superhero comics.
For me the answer is both yes and no, specifically if we look to the big two, who still do lead the pack when it comes to sales and content as well as spreading their IP to larger markets. And as the leaders who SHOULD be leading us, setting a great example and changing the face of comics.
A couple weeks ago, Girls Gone Geek was running a hashtag on twitter called #DreamComics asking people to pitch their character and creative team that would make up their dream comics at DC and Marvel. There were some great suggestions. Because I was a bit busy I simply gave them a link to my Marvel “Dreamy Lady Team Ups” column from late 2013 instead of coming up with new ideas, but it got me thinking about DC books, which I never did a similar piece for. In truth, I never did a “Dreamy Lady Team Ups” piece (or similar) for DC because it’s just a rough place for me right now. There are so many characters I love there, but – as many of you are well aware – it’s just not a very welcoming place to me right now. I find the treatment of female characters to be pretty appalling and even beyond that the tone is incredibly dark and gritty throughout the universe, and honestly, I don’t understand the universe very well anymore – the ages of characters, what was retconned and what was kept, it’s kind of a mess in my head. However, as I was thinking about it, DC not being a great/welcoming places these days is the best possible reason to come up with a list of what I’d love to see. And so here we are.
Ever since DC announced these covers, like many, I’ve had a wary eye on them. It seemed disturbing that all the teasers we saw featured only women but part of me could not believe that in the year 2014 an entire company could be so magnificently tone deaf that they would create sexy variant “bombshell” covers featuring ONLY women.
And yet here we are.
All the covers have been released and all of them are sexy lady covers. Of course they are. Why do I even bother to hope?
This painfully reaffirms – in fact it screams from the rooftops – how DC views both men and women as characters and as people. Their message is clear – men can’t be “sexy bombshells” and women are and MUST be sexy bombshells. Their comics are for straight white males, full stop.
So I wanted to tackle this concept today for three reasons.
1. Because there was an aggressive attempt at a really classic form of silencing early on this comments to the excellent CSBG guest post Let Girls Take The Lead by Barbara Slate.
2. Because I, like many out there, AM working hard to create, and I thought it might be beneficial to some people that don’t create (or don’t yet) to understand exactly what is involved in “creating” and why it’s particularly annoying for people to assume we’re not doing that very thing. And—
3. Because I am swamped with work doing that exact thing (creating/running a business) and so this was a timely moment for me to talk about this issue and I’m too busy to think much about actual comics right now, so this felt right.
This past year with The Walking Dead continuing its ratings domination, the high profile debut of Agents of Shield, and Arrow getting a good deal of praise as it upped its game, it kind of felt like comics were really taking over TV a little bit, especially with all the gossip about books (and concepts) that were being considered and optioned. But if I’m counting correctly in the next year (or so) we’re looking at about
EIGHTEEN NINETEEN ongoing shows adapted from comics (and that doesn’t include three mini-series for Syfy, or the Netflix Defenders mini-series “event”, or the Heroes Reborn nonsense).
That is INSANE. From about three properties to
Wow. So very little is known about most these new shows. We’ve seen a trailer for GOTHAM and we got a trailer for CONSTANTINE this week and we’ve seen casting and teasers for a few more shows. Right now, most are big question marks, but based on what we know, let’s take a look at them. To make things more fun, I’ll rate my interest level via the official* Taco Bell Rating System.
And I mean that title literally. The definition of “five by five” is as follows: Five by five is the best of 25 possible subjective responses used to describe the quality of communications, specifically the signal-to-noise ratio.
Marvel’s “quality of communication” on their interest in female leads right now is FIVE BY FIVE.
It’s also a handy way to talk about the five new female-led books they’ve launched and with the debut of Elektra last week, I can say unequivocally they are all good. And that, is, well, that’s HUGE.