Friday, May 09, 2008

Fangirl Fridays: You've Come A Long Way, Baby?

Comics: No Longer A Second-Class Citizen?

"Will one day I really be a real respectable entertainment medium,
Blue Fairy?"

"Only if your movie breaks a hundred mil."

Sometimes I get the impression that comics are to the rest of the entertainment industry the way women are to comics -- or at least, that's the way the media perceives it. Let me explain.

A common post in the comics blogosphere is the "look, a major newspaper/magazine/television show recognizes comics exist." I've done these sorts of posts myself. The posts are well-meaning and informative, but somewhat patronizing. The movie industry blogs don't make posts saying "oh look, Time Magazine paid attention to us. That's significant!" But we do.

The same thing sometimes happens in reporting women in comics stories. "Oh, they're paying attention to us! We're legitimate!" The very fact that women figure somewhere in the coverage, either as the subject of a comic book or as a comic creator, is highlighted. Because it's a woman. It's a "see how far we've grown!" type sentiment. The same type of sentiment I see from the comics newso/blogosphere for the mainstream comics coverage.

I'm not saying that we should stop posting this way. I'm just saying that I feel both comics and women in comics have reached a certain level of success where the fact that they're covered by major media shouldn't be such a shock. "Iron Man" is an over $100 million dollar movie. Don't worry. The media is "on" to us. They're almost going to phase out the "Biff! Pow!" phrases in the articles. It's been over 40 years, but seriously, they're going to stop.

Why I Hate "You've Come A Long Way, Baby"

She's come a long way, baby --
she can wear a man's suit with a baby-pink jacket that doesn't match.
Thank you for 30 years of irony and lung cancer, Virginia Slims

Do we need all-women comic con panels and all-women comic link-dumps? Do we need an organization like Friends of Lulu? I've always envisioned Friends of Lulu as 1) A place to celebrate the achievements of women in comics, 2) A place for women in comics to network with and find support from their peers, and 3) A place to provide young women mentorship in comics creation. Within all that there is another component of promoting all-ages comic book material. But I never saw it as a "You've Come A Long Way, Baby!" Virginia Slims type thing. "You've Come A Long Way Baby" patronizes the hell out of me. I don't need to be told how far I've come. I f**king know how far I've come. I was there!

Glamourpuss #1 Review

I was going to just draw my review by tracing panels from old issues of Cerebus and then putting my review in the word balloons, but I decided against it.

Glamourpuss #1 has two components: 1) A meditation on photo realism in comics and Alex Raymond, and 2) Some fashion model s**t. The former is interesting, the latter is flat. Models are shallow, models have eating disorders, models wear too-expensive clothes that are impractical -- there is nothing new here, at least in terms of how this material has been traditionally presented before. This is coupled with the preconceptions going in based on Glamourpuss creator Dave Sim's reputation.

Yes, I know I shouldn't go into an artist's work with preconceptions based on their reputation. But I see these lifeless pictures of the models, I see how they're presented as empty-eyed self-absorbed materialistic cyphers, I read about "Skanko," and in all honesty I have to wonder what Sim is trying to say about women in all this.

And this page differs from what Greg Land does how???

But then I contrast that with all the reconstructed Alex Raymond panels in the book which also feature women. Most of those women are sympathetic, and ironically have more life in them than the actual real-life women Sim used to draw the models from.

I guess the biggest question I have regarding Glamourpuss -- and the answer would have an impact on how I ultimately review it -- is how much irony did Dave Sim intend for it to have? How much he expected us to laugh at things like sore feet and Skanko and how much did he intended for these things to be ironic would make a difference to me. It would mean the difference between the book being an avant-garde work of art and just an overly-hyped trip through one artist's psyche.