The phrase “Comics Aren’t Just For Boys Anymore” is hardly revolutionary. If you’re a female comic’s fan or creator, you’re probably saying, “Duh, obviously. We’ve known that for thirty years.”
Here’s the thing. It would seem that not everybody in geekdom has gotten the memo. In fact, if recent events are anything to go by, the memo is still in the “Out” box. One of the recent events I refer to is a critique of a comic book cover that Janelle Asselin – a former comic’s editor – wrote called “Anatomy of a Bad Cover”. Asselin was an editor and associate editor on such DC titles as Batman, Batwoman, and Detective Comics, amongst many others. So, we’re talking the big leagues here. The cover she wrote about was this:
This is the cover of the first issue of the new Teen Titans comic. You don’t need to be Brainiac to figure out what one of Asselin’s main gripes with this cover was. Yes, that would be the outrageously anatomically incorrect proportions on the young lady to the fore (Power Girl). Her problem was not just that these are quite obviously breast implants, but that they are breast implants on a 17-year-old girl. She also made the point that – according to research – 50% of the audience of the original “Teen Titans” animated series are girls aged 15-23 with the bulk being 17. She rightly suggests that a clever marketing strategy would be to aim this new comic at that demographic but goes on to note that, “This is not a cover you run if you’re trying to appeal to teenagers, and it’s especially not going to appeal to teen girls.”
Andy Khouri in an excellent blog post entitled “Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment” describes what happened next:
Subsequently, Janelle reported that a number of men had called her a “whiny bitch,” a “feminazi,” a “feminist bitch,” and a “bitter c*nt.” And then, the online misogynist’s finishing move, the rape threats.
Yes. Rape threats. This woman received rape threats because she had the audacity to criticise the cover art on a comic book. Now, there have been a number of blog posts written – including Khouri’s – condemning this behaviour and suggesting ways in which it might be stopped. (You would think all of this was self-explanatory but as a female friend of mine put it when I told her the story: “I wish that was surprising and unusual.”) One thing that struck me though when I was reading them all was that there was another point being missed here. So if I could address the “men” in question here for a moment.
You sad sacks of shit who make these rape threats are under the mistaken impression that comics fandom is the sole preserve of you and your saddo friends, and that women have no place in it. Well, that was true once upon a time. And what was also true about that time was that comics were regarded as being for kids. There were very few superhero movies or TV shows, very few science fiction or fantasy TV shows and certainly none approaching anywhere near the kind of quality that exists today. Do you guys honestly think that the movie and TV studios are making these shows solely for you? Do you honestly think you would have the Batman and Iron Man and Avengers movies, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Supernatural, etc, etc, if it wasn’t for the female fanbase in comics?
There was a sea change in the ‘90s with comics like Sandman and TV shows like Buffy when suddenly young girls and women started to read these comics and watch these TV shows. And as the female audience grew, so did the output of superhero and fantasy product from the studios. Can you misogynist assholes seriously not see the correlation here?
I’m really sorry to break it to you guys but – not only do you have to put up with women in comics – but without them, you and your comics can go crawl back into the dark corner from whence you came and forget about ever watching another major studio superhero movie or HBO show with major Hollywood stars ever again.
(Click on the pics for links)