Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Occasional Morning Show

picture from Global Graphica

Quick Bits:

Comics Worth Reading takes a look at the sales numbers for Archie Comics

Progressive Ruin has a review of the (apparently kinda violent) animated Turok DVD

Here is a strange post finding a metaphor for Scientology in the Green Lantern Corps (does he have a field day with L-Ron from Giffen's JLA? Oh yes he does).

Firefly's Nathan Fillion will voice Steve Trevor on the Wonder Woman animated film, so geek out.

Angry Zen Master wonders if the Oscars might be a little racist... any rate, the awards show seems to have been a bit anti-Brad Renfro

A commenter yesterday reminded me of the phenomena in parts of the comic book industry and fandom of qualifying a female comic creator's success -- having the need to "explain" or attach an addendum to a woman's comics career, not letting them stand on their own merit.

During the course of my comics career, I've heard others "qualify" the accomplishments of many female comics professionals in one of three ways:

1. She slept her way to the top.

2. She got in through the business through a boyfriend or husband, not because she was talented.

3. She is a lesbian.

Let's take a look at each of these qualifiers briefly.

"She is a slut" is popularly bandied about even to this day, especially concerning women with high degrees of success. In the use of this qualifier, all the female's accomplishments mean nothing because of a supposed affair or series of affairs.

Sometimes a woman's success in the comics industry will be qualified with "well, she was just the wife or girlfriend of so-and-so," as if the person in question really didn't possess any talent and any achievements she made are really no more than "favors" the company paid to the boyfriend or husband in question.

When all else fails, the qualifier "oh, she's a lesbian" might be used. I used to hear this one about older women in the field a lot. While fine when the woman in question is actually a lesbian, there are a number of non-lesbian women this qualifier has been applied to. I suppose the motivation of this qualifier is two-fold: the speaker means some sort of derogatory connotation (a result of their own homophobia), and there is also the need to explain away the female's success as the result of something "different" about them.

All three qualifiers, ultimately, are meant to distract from the woman's actual work and have them judged by factors other than their comic creating/editing skills -- whether those factors are real or, more often, imagined.

Complicating matters are people in the industry who really do hold out to women as an opportunity for advancement a sexual option, and people in the industry who simply end up in romantic situations with their co-workers and hires as the result of a more-or-less innocent day-to-day familiarity (as opposed to an exploitative agenda).

At any rate, perhaps the sex lives of women in comics is none of our business, unless they themselves wish to make it so.

The third annual Glyph Comics Awards -- honoring the best in black comics and creators -- were announced over the weekend. Multiple nominations went to Fabian Nicieza for JSA CLASSIFIED #28, Jeremy Love for Zuda's BAYOU, MF Grimm for Vertigo's SENTENCES, Dwayne McDuffie for his run on FANTASTIC FOUR, and Kyle Baker for NAT TURNER: REVOLUTION and SPECIAL FORCES.

An interesting note in terms of the nominees for best character in both the male and female categories -- while Luke Cage and Amanda Waller received nods, DC's "Legacy" characters, with the exception of David Lapham & Eric Battle's The Spectre in Tales of The Unexpected, did not.

Perhaps, as in the case of Nicieza on the Jakeem Thunder story for JSA CLASSIFIED, it is all a matter of getting talented and sensitive writers who approach diversity in the comics they write as something organic to the story.

Why isn't Nicieza writing JSA??


  1. About your successful woman/ qualifier careful who you stand up for. Sometimes a lemon's a lemon no matter how you slice it. Most successful women become successful on their own merits, no question, but to pretend like none slept their way into success is just naive.

    I remember a girl on my staff I managed a few years back. She was cute and *very* nice, but dumb as a rock. I was talking to her one day about her performance because I was trying to find something for her to do within her capabilities. While talking to her, she came right out and told me that the other manager she was sleeping with promised her if she just stuck around and didn't get fired, she'd be promoted. She was only 1 or 3 women on my staff out of 12 people, but she had slept her way in and was trying to sleep her way up.

    It swings both ways, too. I worked for a guy who was only a manager because he had married the CEO's daughter. He would also tell anyone who would listen he didn't love his wife, he only married her for the job.

    Long story short, the world is full of people who use sex to advance their careers. To pretend otherwise is being naive.

  2. Cause, when Geoff Johns writes the book, it's pretty much DC's best selling title, even though it doesn't have any of the Big 3 on a regular basis.

    Fabian is cool and all, and I love his stuff but he's one of those guys who doesn't really kill sales.

    Shoot, Fabian would probably tell you he rather have Johns write it.

    As for the glyphs, the nomination list had very few superhero nominations at all. I don't get your hatred of DC Legacy characters and then bigging up the nomination of legacy character Jakeem Thunder. Either way 1 out of the 3 characters that were superheroes are legacy. The same ratio as black characters. No female superheroes were nominated on the Marvel side and several of them were involved in team books or had higher profile roles.

    Sometimes I think this more of issue you have with Geoff Johns than the validity of Black Legacy characters.

  3. Also, not to double post,

    But this is the first time in years that we have seen OGN by a Black writer and a Black artist with a black protagonist. Kyle Baker finally got around to release alot of his work that was getting held back by his self publishing efforts.

    Also, last year Firestorm got nominated in numerous categories and Steel got a nomination for a cover.

  4. But in both of the cases you cite, Kenny -- *they* brought it up. There's a big difference between that and yesterday's insinuations.

  5. I don't want to seem like I'm taking a serious issue lightly, but the lesbian one is easily the funniest qualifier on the list. "Well you know lesbians...they have that special writing gene. It's an unfair advantage, I tell ya!" I've heard that one too (in a different field), and it's the only one bereft of even a bigot's logic.

    W/ regard to the superhero thing, I don't think that DC particularly focused on characters of color in the last year, which may explain the lack of nominations. The only one I could think of off-hand (that wasn't nominated) was Mr. Teriffic in Rucka's Checkmate. Other than that, Black Lightning is a marginal character in JLA, Jakeem/Amazing Man weren't in JSA until recently, and I don't really know what Milligan's doing with Steel. I think that may play a part in the lack of nominations for DC.

    Unlike Pedro, I think Johns is a hack, but it's hard to compare JSA Classified (which focuses on individual characters) to JSA regarding this issue. It's a lot easier to do a sensitive nuanced portrayal when Jakeem Thunder is central to the book. When he has a line or too, it's hard to do nuance.

  6. For those of us who missed it, what exactly happened yesterday to bring this up? What accusations were thrown about and to who?

  7. Rob S,

    I thought it was self-evident, and probably because I was there first hand, that in both cases, the parties had been suspected of sleeping their way into their jobs. With the girl on my staff, people used to warn me to be careful to not make her look bad because she was sleeping with a manager higher up the food chain and I'd get fired by him if I put her in a position to look bad. I got along fine with her, her attitude and work ethic were great even though she was incompetent, so I had no problem with trying to find work she could do well. But it's not like I wasn't already told by everyone around me before her confession that she was sleeping with someone pretty far up the managerial food chain.

    My point is to make a blanket defense and say it's out of order to acknowledge when people sleep their way into positions is naive. There's no harm in calling a lemon a lemon if you know you have a lemon on your hands. However, if it's an accusation with no first hand knowledge, then yes, that's bad.

  8. Oh, and I'm not defending yesterday's insinuations. I didn't even see them, so I have no way of knowing whether they had merit or not.

    I don't know Devin Grayson and I don't know whether she slept her way into any jobs or not. All I know of Devin Grayson is she's a spectacularly bad writer. Would it surprise me to here she slept her way into writing for DC? No, but it would not surprise me if I heard Judd Winick slept his way into his job, either. It doesn't make it right in either case to start throwing out baseless accusations concerning either person.

  9. Johns' JSA relaunch has been superb. Why anyone would suggest Nicieza of all people should take up the book is terribly vexing.

    Nicieza's Nightwing was dreadful.

  10. Isn't the real question why Jason Aaron and Brian Wood aren't writing Green Lantern Corps and Birds of Prey?

  11. I agree with Kenny. I don't care about Devin Grayson's sex life, but I have absolutely no interest in ever reading anything else she's written. I did enjoy some of her Catwoman run and the first few issues of Gotham Knights, but everything I read after that was just astoundingly bad. I don't read everything DC publishes, by any means, but near the end of Grayson's run it was my opinion that she was the worst of the writers whose work I had read.

    (And that includes Winick, who despite his flaws is capable of cranking out a Barry Ween or a Caper every so often.)

  12. When I worked at DC, there were a lot of snide insinuations about how certain women got jobs. I even heard one about myself, which is fairly hilarious. It's a shame that, 10 years later, this is still going on.

  13. Chris, do you think Brian Wood would *want* to write BoP? I get the impression he's pretty content doing non-superhero books that he owns.

  14. I hope Amanda Waller wins because she is the best character, male, female, Black or otherwise.
    There are some Black characters from DC that I would have loved to see nominated. But just because they were not nominated does not make them bad characters just that the five who were nominated are better. Otherwise there were only 5 good actors this Oscar season. That said I have to ask, why is Luke Cage in there over John Doran from Stormwatch PHD?

  15. While he has put out some quite impressive JSA stories on his own, some of Geoff Johns' best JSA has come when he has worked with a collaborator/co-writer (such as David Goyer).

    Johns current run on JSA has been good but not great IMHO—not from a lack of interest because you can tell he has a deep love of this team—but because he is starting to stretch pretty thin.

    The latest problem of Johns making is that he has enough characters for two books in JSA while JSA Classified has been churning out forgettable solo stories (of the same 4 JSAers) by junior varsity writers and artists.

    In other words, DC cares enough about the JSA to put out a second JSA monthly book but it doesn’t seem to care enough to ensure that it is any good.

    One of the sole exceptions was the one-shot J.J. Thunder story by Fabian Nicieza.

    That one issue gave us more depth character than all of his appearances in the main JSA book combined. That story is what a book like Classified SHOULD be doing.

    My suggestion—DC should appoint Fabian Nicieza as co-plotter of JSA and head writer of JSA Classified so Classified and the main JSA book can work hand in glove telling quality stories of the Justice Society twice a month.


  16. A female comics creator with more than one relationship with a male comics creator = She slept her way to the top.

    An FCC with one relationship with an MCC = She's so-and-so's wife/girlfriend.

    An FCC with no relationship with an MCC = She's a lesbian.

    That covers everyone, doesn't it?

  17. Wow, a lot of love for that Jakeem Thunder story. I'll have to see if Hanley's still has a copy.

  18. Kenny, I've heard this accusation about women sleeping their way to the top so often, and I'm just tired of it.

    If there is truly suspected foul play going on within a company, and you feel a woman has gotten a promotion because she had sex with her boss, then acquire solid proof and make an official complaint with HR. Build a case.

    If a woman is so troubled that she feels she needs to sleep with men that she truly has no feelings for in order to simply get promoted, then I STILL don't want to tear her down through bitching about it with other people. Because I don't want to beat down somebody who is already emotionally wounded. It's better for me to at least see if there is anything good she is doing in her position -- and if there isn't, to just shut up about it.

    I'm not naive nor am I a Pollyanna. I am not free in my life of discussing rumors with people. I have just recently received a moment of clarity about this issue in which I have decided that I don't want to participate in this anymore.

    And I and women I have known have been the subjects of these rumors as well, when those rumors were not true. And it sucks.

  19. Lewis, I had a situation on my Batwoman post yesterday where a commenter said really nasty things about a female freelancer. I had to end up deleting this guy's comments like ten times because he just wouldn't stop. And frankly, it was very disturbing.

  20. Pedro, I grew up in the late 70s/early 80s where efforts to add diversity to the cartoons and television shows I watched were in many cases rather stilted and uninspired. The only shows that really did this right, in my opinion, were on public television -- Sesame Street, The Electric Company.

    On shows like Happy Days, they would introduce an African-American character once, do an episode on racism, and you'd hardly ever hear from him or her again. Or they would introduce a character of color, but that character didn't have a lot to do or wasn't fully developed. That's what I think of when I read some attempts to include diversity in comics.

    People like Nicieza have an organic touch to diversity in his comics -- racial diversity & gender diversity. He promoted the same feeling when he was president of Acclaim Comics, and it was a philosophy that ran through his books.

    He would make a fine JSA writer, or the writer of any ongoing title. I know he's doing backups for Trinity or something like that, but he really should be writing a team book full-time.

    Or what about John Ostrander & Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad? John should write an ongoing for DC, too.

  21. "Lewis, I had a situation on my Batwoman post yesterday where a commenter said really nasty things about a female freelancer. I had to end up deleting this guy's comments like ten times because he just wouldn't stop. And frankly, it was very disturbing."

    As I discovered upon more investigation. Frightening when someone can be so utterly irrational. It does make me wonder if it wouldn't be wise to find some new way of moderating posts here on OS, but that of course is your perogative.

    Here Be Dragons - your point about female comics creators and their relationships to male creators has reminded me of ONE thing that I dislike about Johns' current JSA run - his characterization of Jesse Quick. Now, I did enjoy her solo issue, but I continue to intensely dislike her marriage to Hourman and how she was suddenly marriage crazy during the Lightning Saga. And this is, believe it or not, because of Devin Grayson.

    See, as I've mentioned before, Devin's Titans series is what got me into comics, so I love it. During the second issue, Jesse Quick has a conversation with the Flash about how she doesn't want to have a relationship because she doesn't want to become "so-and-so's girlfriend or wife" as opposed to her own person and I LOVED that characterization. She took charge and knew what she wanted in her life, and to suddenly see that characterization thrown out the window just makes me shake my head (I'm ignoring what happened later in the series when a later writer shoehorned a stupid romance triangle and affair with her mother's fiance into the book. Nope. Didn't happen). Now, I never read any of Jesse's stuff when she was in the Flash, but it's how I know the character.

  22. Why would anyone want Fabian writing JSA instead of Johns? Because Johns' work without Goyer or, more particularly, Robinson, reads more like fanfic than actual well thought-out stories. He tends to start out okay but then does something that just steers it into lousy territory. Examples:

    Sinestro starting his own Corps? Great. The Anti-Monitor, Cyborg Superman and Superboy Prime being movers and shakers behind it? Stupid.

    Expanding the JSA? Interesting idea. Bringing in Superman from Kingdom Come and giving Wildcat a kid who just so happens to have a power to turn into a cat-being? What comic-shop backroom Magic the Gathering tournament did he think that one up at?

    Fabian would tell actual STORIES that would stem naturally from what had come before without injecting it with a "kewl" factor. Stories that made sense without throwing whatever else he could think of in to make it more "summer blockbuster" like (or at least what his version of a summer blockbuster is).

    Ultimately, Fabian is a writer of substance while Johns is a writer of style.

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  25. Valerie,

    If you have been accused of sleeping your way into a job, then that's just wrong. I can understand why you'd be sensitive about it. I'll drop any further discussion on it, too.

  26. Well, it was more like "if she's working day-to-day for this person, there must be a relationship there." Like two people of different genders can't work together and not be "involved." And that was annoying.

    I think it's worse when a woman is in an actual higher position and it's said that she got there by sleeping with people. If you worked your way up the ladder by hard work and you hear something like that, it must feel awful. But then, I hear things like this so often, I think if you're a woman in a high position you have to develop a toughness about it.

  27. Given your inability to tell the difference between the people of color in the DCU, I don't think you're qualified to say who should write for JSA.

  28. Oh, give it a fucking rest.