Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"There Is Another Hellmouth in Cleveland"

I think my final word on the topic "women in comics" couldn't be better than this:

Sometimes I get so worked up over the topic that the stress it gives me makes me fear I'm going to get a stroke.

I'm not kidding, True Believer!

I am so colossally mad at the situation of women both behind-the-scenes and on the pages of mainstream comic books.

It is so colossally f**ked-up.

It is colossally f**ked up that men sexually harass women in this industry and just walk away from it lalalalala...

It is colossally fucked up that mainstream female creators -- the whole handful of them -- can be categorized in one of two groups. 1) "Nice" & 2) "Career-Suiciders"

It is colossally f**ked up that at any given "indy" comic festival roughly half the writers & artists are women -- yet DC, a branch of one of the biggest entertainment mega-companies, can't hire an editor who has the vision to hire one of them for "Supergirl."

It is colossally f**ked up that it is 2007 and my gender hasn't produced an Alan Moore or Grant Morrison yet.

It is colossally f**ked up that there probably are the female Moores and Morrisons hidden about -- but that anyone with that level of talent and innovation is bound to be opinionated and contrarian. And opinionated & contrarian women are "career suiciders."

And it is colossally f**ked up that comics are still largely the same white, male, straight institution that it was over fifty years ago. Keeping up with the times much? No.

Finally, it is colossally f**ked up that some women feel the need to shout out to the comics world: "I'm ok! You don't offend me! I'm cool! I'm not with them (pointing to "career suiciders")." And it is colossally f**ked up that I have found myself in that boat. By boat, do I mean "career suicider" or "brown-noser?" Both. I've been a lady of many hats, as they say.

But really, honestly -- the stress it takes to maintain this level of snark and outrage on a daily basis is sorta killing my arteries. I'm 33 years old, I've been through the equivalent of 20 years of crisis in just four years. I'm tired. Writing all this, getting angry -- it was one method of healing. Now I want to try some others.

And so I'll be changing the blog a bit and will be largely discontinuing the opinion pieces and calls for general revolution. This leg of the "war" is pretty much done for me.

I feel that on the topic of "women in comics," I have pretty much said everything I could possibly say. And to keep saying more daily is rather like banging my head against the wall.

Because really -- without women in significant positions of power in this industry, nothing will really change.

Without women in significant positions of power in this industry, nothing will really change.

One female editor in a department full of male editors is not power. It's called "being outnumbered."

Yes, the head of Vertigo is a woman. And that's great.

A woman is finally writing "Wonder Woman." And that's great.

Will women in the mainstream industry finally feel that it's ok to be contrarian?

Are the doors busting open for female creators?

Not that I can see.

Not that I can see.

Then there are other factors I have to consider. And let's leave those factors at that. Okay, I found the head of a dead racehorse in my bed along with a note with the DC "swirl" printed on it. No, really, I'm kidding. HUMOR, folks!

After some regrouping, what I would like to maybe do is turn the blog into a place for interviews, news, feature pieces, and light snark. I would like to promote books and things that, as they say, "r gud." As opposed to concentrating on teh sucky. This may or may not mean that teh Technorati rating will go down, that the hits will recede -- I think it's up to me in that regard, what I do with this thing. And I'm not totally opposed to the opinion thing in the future -- just not right now.

If there is anything you, the reader, would like to see in this regard, please let me know. Give me feedback how I can use this site as a tool for something good that doesn't involve chest pains.

And also, I want to express my deep appreciation for everybody who have supported me when I "got all up in the face" of The Powers That Be with one post or another.

Fact is, and I don't have to tell you this -- there are plenty of sites and bloggers and writers who do what I did. Who raise hell. Or are elegant about it. Or who elegantly raise hell.

I'm happy that "Goodbye To Comics" is still being read; that, according to my statcounter, people still continue to discover it, even translate it. How do you say "rape pages" in Italian?

I'm happy that with "G.T.C." I got a chance to do what others before me couldn't. I sort of paid a price for that; but I think sometimes you have to pay the price.

Oh, well. Next chapter.

And Rachel -- the art is in the mail.

(excuse the Buffy clip---I'm a nerd, remember?)


  1. "I would like to promote books and things that, as they say, 'r gud.'"

    Personally, I'm greatly looking forward to it. So much of comics commentary on the web seems to come out of so much bile and anger (some very much so deserved, some not so much) that it's honestly hard to see why anybody bothers any more. Quality sites talking up comics worth a damn are few and far between, and I think this is a great transition. Certainly a move that'll be less stressful for you.

    So hooray growth, and hooray tackling things from fresh perspectives. Nice one, you.

  2. I think Phoebe Gloeckner and Renee French, to name two, have created works as good or better than anything Moore or Morrison have done. But I agree that it's a glaring disgrace that no woman creator has risen through the ranks of corporate comics to create works of similar quality and quantity. It speaks volumes about the entrenched sexism of the system. Keep on talking about it, this is a subject that calls for discussion and action.

  3. You write with a clarity and passion that is quite infectious. I may be mammarily challenged, but I believe in your cause. It's the new fucking millennium for shit's sake and comics is still a good ol' boy's club. Lame.

    Looking forward to what you come up with next. Good on ya!

  4. From my (brief) exposure to your blog, I like your writing style and your points of view. I look forward to whatever you intend to do next, but I certainly understand the hate and bile as well.

    I'm an optomist and I believe we can affect change and you can do that personally by promoting comics and writers and artists that you think should be supported.

  5. I hear you completely. Just be forewarned, me & my buddy Eli started our blog as a forum for us to talk about the good things we liked in comics. Too often is it for us to get caught up in the BS that enrages us as fans.

    Regarding the lack of women creators in mainstream books: I honestly believe that there are a lot of women creators out there who are closet SPANDEX fans, but are scared away from those jobs by the f'ed up environment of institutionalized sexism. I'm of the opinion that these creators are better off without the backing of said companies. I think we can all take a page from Dwayne McDuffie's book and start our own universes with our own characters, but then again, look how that wound up.

    It's exhausting.

  6. I definitely want to continue to see lots and lots of pop culture snark from you; it's one of the things you do best. But really, you should write whatever the heck you want to. Just don't do Silly Sites, that's my gig. ;)

  7. Anonymous4:18 PM

    "Because really -- without women in significant positions of power in this industry, nothing will really change."

    What is the level of "change" you'd be satisfied with? Not to say the industry doesn't need change, but...what....52% of editors need to have ovaries? 54%? What?

  8. Don't always agree with you, but I do far often enough. Plus, you've got a nice mix of snark, passion, and cutesy (though enough with the Dawson)!!!!!

    I like the Buffy clip, but I think the better moment comes before the slayer and slayer-potentials descend into the hellmouth. The quiet moment in the hall with B, Xander, Willow, and Giles discussing what they'll be doing the next day. Giles exits first, then (I think?) Willow, and finally X and B part. A mirror-image of the premiere in some ways, and the moment that makes it clear that everything is going to be alright for the core.

  9. this somewhat feels like the end of braveheart. just not with the gory stuff and musical score making people weep. i wouldn't say that you should drop the flag of revolution altogether. but its your choice..i'll be willing to carry that flag in my vitrolic rants against the hive penis comic industry. so i'm kind of like an extra dorky yet tough robert the bruce looking to in some fashion try to live up to the example you've set. while i am a guy i am in touch with things and will fight the cause till my dying breath. hopefully i can make some fans. possibly a living. though i have always walked the career suicide path.

    i wish you much luck with the format shift...kick all sorts of ass...and remember to like be nice when i send you my books. i'm very sensitive..i cry like dawson.

  10. don't be afraid to change direction, be excited. people will still read. people will still listen.

    there's too many people writing anger and nihilism. not enough people are promoting the positive. but that doesn't mean the audience doesn't want it.

  11. Anonymous11:07 PM

    The Buffy clip is the perfect ending to the post, and I guess in a way, the blog.

    I'm looking forward to what you have in store for us. I'll be along for the ride.


  12. I don't know if you will think it is good or bad, but you inspired me to write a blog entry. It comes from my heart and the fact that I appreciate your site here.

    I will continue to read whatever you write here. :-)

    Take care! I understand your decision from a stress perspective to be sure.

  13. You're not going to delete the old stuff, right?

  14. I tried to write a reply, but ended up with a manifesto. I'll try posting this monstrosity on the boards, but the censor is going to plotz all over it...

  15. Awww crap.

    Now I feel like a total downer linking to this...

    Feel free to ignore, if you don't want to deal, I guess...


    = ?

  16. "What is the level of "change" you'd be satisfied with? Not to say the industry doesn't need change, but...what....52% of editors need to have ovaries? 54%? What?"

    If you are the only full female editor in your department and you are offended by a certain comic or want to speak out, it is you against everyone. You see the offense, nobody else sees it, so you back down. But if you have two female editors on staff, you still might not get any back-up from the Powers that Be but at least you have a bud to go have coffee with afterwards and kvetch about it. See, that's progress.

  17. "You're not going to delete the old stuff, right?"

    -- As far as "Goodbye To Comics" goes, there are times I would like to retire it for a while, but with spam-blogging porn sites cut-and-pasting parts of it to boost their keyword count, I can rest assured that the series will remain immortal.

  18. OS -- Well, why don't you get a new blog address and just retire this entire blog? There is a lot of stuff linked here that people would still like to read.

  19. Woman, your gender has produced writers equal to Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, & Neil Gaiman. Really.

    The boys' own publishers don't trumpet them, but please read the works of the following before you gripe about your gender's failings:

    Ann Nocenti (read her Spider-Man stuff, it's amazing).
    T(eri) S(ue) Wood (who's leaving comics I still am angry about).
    Carla Speed McNeil (Finder).
    Sarah Byam gets an honorable mention (mainly for Billi 99 but I love her Black Canary.)
    (Mary) Jo Duffy.
    And of course, my all-time favorite, Takahashi Rumiko. (No, really! read her short works!)

  20. Or, I could read one more paragraph before posting.

    But still, I have to mention my influences.

    Who are women.

  21. *hugs* :) Stress is bad. :( You need to do what makes you happy or at least what makes you not unhappy :)

  22. I have enjoyed your blog, both the snark and the non-snark. And I do know that always trying to explain and rant about the same stuff over and over can give one a headache, especially when it seems to fall on deaf ears.

    My feeling is still that while complaining gets the word out, being active gets the job done. That's why I started P.O.W.E.R. in Comics. We're just a fledgling network, but I hope that encouraging people to do small, grass roots things in their own communities will help to improve the comic book industry in the long run. It won't happen overnight, but I think it can happen.

  23. Thanks for your good work, Val. I hope that you won't give up on women in comics altogether, but I respect that it's incredibly wearing to see the same things and say the same things over and over again.

    Good luck with the new direction; I'll be reading with interest.

  24. Val,

    It is f**ked up and broken. But--and I know I've said it before--it is changing.

    At the publisher where I work, the ratio of male to female senior editors is very high. The ratio of male to female associate editors is slightly lower. And the majority of assistant editors--who are explicitly being groomed to some day be at the top--are female. We've spoken up against sexism and misogyny in our publications and been heard. We don't always win, but we are gradually gaining the high ground.

    And I think part of that is because of you--because the experience you described in "Goodbye to Comics" is something no one should have to go through, and because despite (and because) of that, you've continued to speak up. You've gotten us to question abuses we once were expected to take for granted, and, to a great extent, you've inspired us to organize and begin to hold the industry accountable.

    And that matters. It matters to me, and to the women I work with, and to women across the comics industry.

    And if you are tired and need to rest, we will keep the fires burning.

    Thank you for everything.


    The art arrived today, safe and sound. Thank you again for that, too.

  25. I think that your future articles, interviews, and reviews are going to explicitly or implicitly touch on these issues.

    Feminism is not a hive vagina; you're just taking a different road now in exploring the topic.

    I hope it's a rewarding journey.

  26. Have you read Alex De Campi's "Smoke"?

    She's at least amongst the peeps who are looking like the next Moore/Morrison. So.

    De Campi plugs in this Monday's LITG.