Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye To Comics #7: “We Need A Rape”

Goodbye To Comics #7:
“We Need A Rape”

My theoretical comic company, which, for the theoretical purposes of my theoretical memoir, I’ll call Gilgongo! Comix, was tired of being “pushed around” in the sales wars and in the court of fanboy opinion (such as it was). So with all the red-nosed gumption and determination of Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” Gilgongo! Comix decided to go badass.

They needed a rape. Because there’s nothing quite so badass as rape, lets face it. And the victim couldn’t been from the usual suspects: “The Black Raven” (done that already plus ovaries ripped out), “Bondage Queen” (wasn’t she raped like every issue--at least mentally?), “Demon-Girl” (she was already paralyzed from the last pseudo-raping and that provided all sorts of logistical nightmares for the artist).

No, they had to find the most innocent, virginal, good-natured “nice” character they could find and ravage her not once but twice.

Theoretically, this character’s name was Vicki Victim.

A whole groundbreaking limited series would be built around Vicki Victim’s rape and murder.

This made me nervous. In the office, I was known as being innocent, virginal, good-natured, and “nice”. I was kidded on it on a regular basis, as well as being told it was exactly those qualities that were “holding me back.”

Of course, it was silly to identify with a dumb old comic character.

Vicki Victim’s fate was sealed in a Gilgongo! Comics confab in which we explored how we could change our comics to be more “badass.” It was decided that the reason we were trailing in sales was because we were “too good-natured and nice.” This would have to stop. Our books needed a grittier edge. We needed a grittier edge.

So our books changed. There was rape, and murder, torture, death, and mutiliation. Superheroes did amoral or outright evil things and the line between good and bad was blurred.

And you know what?

Our sales improved. And this is a fact.

But it all started with Vicki Victim, and she has to be given credit.

To be fair to the ultimate writer that was assigned to the Vicki Victim Story, he was specifically told to include sensationalistic “adult” themes in the story. But when we got the scripts in I was still kind of shocked. Perhaps I was so affected not simply because of my fannish defense of Vicki Victim’s “purity” as a beloved character. Perhaps I was dealing with my own issues.

Let’s back up.

Do you know what a syzygy is?

That’s when all the planets align in such a manner that crazy shit happens.

In my time at Gilgongo! Comics I experienced several of what can only be described as “syzygies.”

One was an incident where one of my bosses set out to rid me of my “niceness” once and for all. It involved a freelancer who had a habit of delaying handing in his work because he was such a damned perfectionist. I was told to go into my office, close the door, and scream at this freelancer until he cried. I wasn’t told to simply “be firm.” I was told to scream at him until he cried and scare the living shit out of him. And believe me, he would have cried. And he did. I screeched like a maniac at the poor devil, threatening and berating. Right beyond my nearly closed door, I could see my boss listening with glee.

Tears rolled down my cheeks -- not out of pity for my prey, but because the sheer shock to my system turned me bright red and sent my blood pressure through the roof. I thought I was going to have a heart-attack. On the other end of the line, the freelancer was stuttering, crying, freaking out.

I couldn’t stop shaking, even minutes after I hung up. What had just happened was so unnatural to me, so vile. And it served no purpose anyway. Because soon after the lights flickered and my computer began to whine like a little baby, and soon all the power was out. Everywhere.


But this wasn’t the crucial syzygy that began the chain of events that ended my career. That particular incident had to do with your dead friend and mine, Vicki Victim.

It started with my associate editor running gleefully into our boss’s office, several boards of art in his hand.

“The rape pages are in!”


  1. It's funny; the big reason I have stopped collecting comics is that the characters are no longer recognizable to me, because they are too brutal. I've been a long time reader of Marvel comics. This whole Civil War business rewrites beloved characters who may have always been flawed but heroic into outright villains. Even before that I was ready to leave.

    JMS wrote a story a couple years back that had Gwen Stacy sleeping with the Green Goblin. This absolute sullying of a character dead for over twenty years (if one can sully a fictional character) was abominable to me. Someone speculated this would allow Peter to move on from her and finally realize that MJ has always been right for him, not Gwen. I find this incredibly silly. Any man who finds out the woman he has idolized for years slept with his worst enemy is not going to move past anything. That's going to stay with him. It's a terrible mischaracterization of Gwen.

    The Scarlet Witch going crazy was the last straw. These grim stories are destroying everything good about these characters and the stories. There is nothing left which is heroic, only horrifying, nothing uplifting, only depressing. So I stopped. And how can I buy Gilongo comics when they are just as bad?

  2. Yeah, I am not pleased with A Certain Comics company for killing off my favorite character, Blue Beetle.

  3. “The rape pages are in!”

    This, on the other hand, I am 100% certain is true.

  4. Maybe I've just been too disinterested in comics in general for too long, but for the life of me I can't figure out who Vicki Victim is, or whar company we're talking about.



  5. There was a sold couple of years at DC and Marvel both where the premise and resolution to every storyline was "Bitchez be crazy."

    Further reason to say goodbye to all this soap opera garbage.

  6. Blakeney7:04 PM

    Thank you so much for telling it like it is - I used to be an avid Marvel and occassional DC reader but grew steadily disgusted by the objectification of women.

    The final straw was whn I picked up a Spider-Man graphic novel from the library. I had mostly given up on the comics by this time, but wanted to read this one as I understood Pete and MJ were reuniting after their breakup.

    In the middle of the story Pete and MJ are in bed. My problem with this is that MJ is depicted asleep, lying on her side with her top off and the blanket at waist level. The only thing preserving her modesty is an arm held in front of her which narrowly covers a small section of her pulchritudinous bosom.

    That was it. I haven't picked up a comic since. PS - when I was stacking this with the other books I was returning to the library a paper bookmark fell out, advertising other graphic novels - kept in the children's section. Stop the planet - I wanna get off. But I grateful that a comic book insider would be gutsy enough to disagree with the status quo.

  7. @Blakeney

    That's strange I actually just read that story last week and thought it was one of the most beautiful depictions of a woman in comics that I had seen. They are a married couple that scene shouldn't have been shocking and also wasn't suppose to be in any way sexual