Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mother Of All Rants

Yesterday, I did a series of tongue-in-cheek posts regarding the Zuda competition. It has been brought to my attention that there are some people who didn't get the joke. I was going to post an Andy Kaufman clip as a response, but I was afraid there would be a series of posts in response entitled "Valerie Posts Clip Of Crazy Man On Bongos." And of course, we don't want that.

Every day I check over 300 blogs across three feed readers. I do this for my job, my personal blogs, and my entertainment. I have the blogs separated out in every category you can think of: environment, politics, movies, music, arts and design, etc.

As time passes, my number of comic book feeds get smaller and smaller. I look at them less and less. Not because I hate comics. Not because I don't think comic books are relevant as a topic of discourse and news.

But take for example the "news" story yesterday regarding a "women in comics roundtable."

All over my comics feed were posts about this women in comics thing.

And I think to myself: well, this must be this intriguing thing!

But what is it really?

The same questions, and very similar answers, as most of these women in comics roundtables.

Hey, I thought the women in comics panel Friends of Lulu had was great. I mean that -- it was a truly magical time.

But how many times can you read/listen to/answer the same questions and the same answers?

It's banal, already. Surely a female in comics has more interesting insights to espouse than why they think there aren't enough women in the biz. Like about their art, for instance.

I'd love to go on one of those panels and just give unexpected answers:

"Who is your favorite female mainstream comics writer?"
"Brian Michael Bendis."

See? Unexpected.

"Do you think there is sexism in the comic book industry?"
"Well, I certainly think there is a lot of sex in the comic book industry. Broom closets, on top of conference room tables..."

But then you would get a post like

"Occasional Superheroine Degrades Legitimate Concerns About Sexism"

And everything I said would be scrutinized and parsed and quoted, a passel of remarks spanning from the anal-retentive to the snarky to the flat-out bitchy.

"Occasional Superheroine Uses Sexist Term Bitchy"

Other headlines:

"Gail Simone Named Most Popular Female Superhero Writer With A Regular Paycheck."

That's like saying

"Valerie D'Orazio Named Most Popular Italian-Brazilian Comic Book Blogger Who Wears Size 4 Pants and Has A Flaw Under Her Right Eye."

What's comic book news? That I chose to moderate my comments? That certain segments of the comic book blogosphere were so utterly lacking in anything interesting to write about that they actually did posts on that topic, as if this was their version of Meet The Press, the best they could do?

Comics Blogosphere Hot Topic: Val moderates comments
Environmental Blogosphere Hot Topic: Extinction of polar bear

Really, anybody with the time on their hands to go take this or that post I've made and turn it into their little cause du jour -- God bless you. Get it out of your system. Make this blogosphere that much more insular and self-referential. I do not give a shit anymore. There comes a point where it's like -- this shit is beneath me.

"Occasional Superheroine Says This Shit Is Beneath Her; Hates Comics"

I'm not interested in insularity and in-jokes -- I'm interested in how to present comics in a way that people outside the niche can appreciate. The f**king inbreeding in all facets of comics -- from the books themselves to the media who covers them -- has to end (and trust me -- it's ending whether you like it or not. The mainstream publishers aren't as clueless as you think). I have no interest in the inbred facets of the comic book maelstrom anymore. I'm not interested in reading about the one billionth generic "women in comics" interview. Sometimes I'm not even interested about discussing sexism in comics anymore, because it's like repeating the same old story of woe over and over again:

"Then he said he liked fat girls...and looked at Me!"

How many times do we need to tell this story? Isn't it archived on the Internet already? Can't we do a Google search on "Occasional Superheroine + F**king Sexist Pig" and get everything I've ever spoken on the subject?

I want to f**king move on, man! I gotta hear this "oh, he called you out on his blog" shit, like I am in f**king high-school. Like I'm supposed to respond, like I'm supposed to meet up with them after school and reenact the switchblade scene from "Rebel Without A Cause."

"She slashed your tires, man!"
"Now I've got to walk home from the observatory! F**k!"

I am 34 years old. I help create blogs and online social networks. I write comics (and I can't wait for the bitching to start on that -- that's going to be good). I'm interested in spirituality, politics, and environmental issues. I have an academic background in American Literature, focusing on Mark Twain, and Shakespeare. I buy about 3-5 comic books a week. My current favorite comic creators are Kevin Huizenga, Eric Powell, and anybody who reminds me of Kevin Huizenga (whether they're legitimately reminiscent of Huizenga or not).

Between my job, my personal interests, my writing, and being the President of Friends Of Lulu, I don't have a lot of free time. I've had to scale the blogging back. I'll blog what I want -- it's my dime.

I don't have the time anymore for the self-referential snark orgy that this here blog thing seems to ensnare me in. Honestly, if it's not from an associate, a friend, a fan or somebody with an offer to help me make more money so I can feel financially secure enough to have a child before my ovaries turn into eggshells: I do not give a shit.

So ends Mother Of All Rants. Copyright 2008. For your signed copy of Mother Of All Rants, printed on lovely cardstock suitable for framing, contact me.


  1. Forget it, Jake. It's the internet.

    I avoid newsarama like most people avoid Pauly Shore movies for just the reasons you've mentioned. The insular, bitchy infighting and constant playground "oh snap!" behavior. It's tiresome beyond all belief.

    P.S. That Soap Opera book looks intriguing.

  2. Anonymous12:21 PM


    I want to see a crazy man with bongos!

  3. We still love ya, Val.

    And I don't give a shit either!

  4. Oh shit Val this would have been the best time in the world for you to end a blog post with the words 'up yours cocksucker'

    man that would have been sweet as hell

  5. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Wonderful rant!

    I love comics, always have, but I have always hated the insular thing of which you scream. It turned me off for a long, long time. Some fans are so jaded, the sense of wonder is sometimes missing.

    All my comics writing, which first appears in the newspaper I work for and then later my blog, is aimed towards non-comics fans and the graphic novel reviews are mixed up with regular book reviews. On my blog, I have plenty of other stuff to reflect my diversity of interests because if anyone cares to read me, I hope it's folks with curiosity about the diversity of interests I sometimes touch on . . . not just comics people. Thankfully, I think I'm too much of an outsider to really interest jaded insiders.

    In that spirit, I think OS should focus on Valerie, with comics, as you well point out, only being a portion of what makes up OS, just as they are only a portion of what makes up Valerie.

    You're a good writer, why not go crazy with your subject matter and have more fun?

  6. When I first figured out that there were comics blogs I was pretty excited, but it does get old. Even blogs I used to read all of the time I tend to skim now. I tend to read reviews mostly of things I'm reading, I tend to comment almost never.

    It definitely gets old, especially I imagine, if there are fights, endless arguments, etc.

    I remember when you posted about changing the tone of this blog a while back, to pointing out positive stories instead of calling out shady companies, people, statues, etc. Maybe you should revisit that? Seems like there has been some good things going on, like a new female writer writing Huntress and the Spanish Blue Beetle issue you touched on. I'm sure there's more.

  7. There are three blogs I check everyday. The Comics Reporter, Journalista and Occasional Superheroine. In short, don't go changin'.

  8. You know, as a security researcher I write about hackers / kiddy pr0n makers / virus writers and all sorts of horrible characters, then get them shut down.

    I frequently get death threats, hate mail and promises of mangled bones and a smashed up face.

    I also used to write about comics a lot. I actually woke up one morning and realised I preferred the death threats to the comic related asshole-o-grams I used to get.

    There's a lesson in there somewhere, and its vaguely depressing.

  9. Here, here.

    I really should just stop reading most of the comic news sites too. I've figured out that a lot of people don't actually enjoy reading comics so much as enjoy complaining about comics. And it's annoying as hell.

    I also would have liked to see the crazy man with bongos.

  10. Damn straight, Val!

    I think your blog is very forward looking and you've done a great job highlighting things you like about comics with the patented OS flair.

    So go the hell on! It's your blog and as long as you're writing, I'm a reading.

  11. This is basically the only comics blog I read.

    Reason? Because you are a very good writer.

    Don't let the bastards get you down.

  12. As Billy Joel says at the end of every concert: "Don't take any shit from anybody." Keep following your muse and your conscience. Let other people do what they have to do to feel good about themselves.

  13. Anonymous2:43 PM

    Fuck yes. More people need to say this.

  14. Anonymous2:58 PM

    I have read your entry and all I have to say is...flaw under your right eye? Whats up with that? My brother has one, he fell on a sissors when he was 4. Whats your story!

  15. You have my erstwhile empathy, oh Occasional One. Is it nobler in time to suffer the stings and arrows of outlandish fortune or take arms against a sea of bubbles? Or something like that. I forget. But the point is, tell me about it. Just stick to your guns (if I may be forgiven the machismo), and keep doing what you do. To thine own self be true. That's what Grandma Lieber used to tell me, anyways!


  16. Since you've answered the same questions over and over, might I suggest a "best of" type link heading on the right-hand toolbar? A few of your favourite/most read posts that cover the topics that you are asked about repeatedly would be great for reference.

    Aside from that suggestion, please continue to blog about whatever it is you want to. So many blogs die out as the writers get tired of having to slap down the same ideas again and again; the result is only those with infinite patience or a borderline compulsive disorder survive (both types can be great writers, of course).

    If you want to riff on non-comic topics, or just ignore the "issue du jour" in the comics blog-o-sphere, that's great. I don't read many other comics blogs, and certainly won't feel like I'm missing anything.

  17. ... er... but what did you think about the opening issue of Batman R.I.P.?

    -from someone who never blogs about comics even a tiny bit, except for that one time I made fun of a group of Islamic Scholars for mixing up who the "great Avenger" is.

  18. Ey, u change the colour of letter´s blog!

    Now is a Ocassional Superheroine in a forest.


  19. "comic related asshole-o-grams"

    That brings an extremely unwelcome visual to my brain. :P

  20. You wear size 4 pants?! The best I get these days is a 6, and that's not very often.

  21. I think a lot of us haven't been happy with the discourse at sites like Newsarama. Lots of negativity and lots of people not interested in having real conversations that might, heaven forbid, change their minds about something.

    People tend not to recognize conversation... words... as a tool they can use to improve themselves. There are two things that, above all others, have driven me away from most message boards: a lack of respect for others, and a lack of respect for words.

    Words affect people, and when you're on a message board, it's people that you're dealing with. And I have seen very little evidence that they understand either concept. People just want to say what they want to say and be right and move on. But there are others who want to think and grow and become better people through online discourse. To accomplish that, we have to come to blogs like this one.

  22. I don't get it. Are people leaving you nasty e-mails and comments on your blog, or are they being jerks on their own blogs? I haven't seen the negativity here, which I suppose shows you're doing things right.

    Maybe it's because I'm a casual (but regular) comics reader and so I don't really care about the internal politics, so I'd be less inclined to give those screeds weight. But if they're not bringing it here, cant you just ignore them? I think there's something I'm not grasping.

    Anyway, I enjoy your blog. Keep it up.

  23. Hi Valerie,

    As the host of the "Women In Comics" panel, I thought I would respond.

    First of all, great post. I'm a huge fan of your blog. I think your honesty is great. That's what blogs are all about. And I completely agree one hundred percent that the comics industry needs to grow out of the inbreeding and present itself as a subject appealing to everyone. (Maybe you can give me some tips on this.)

    With the internet, there are infinite audiences & infinite opinions. I felt that the "issue" (whether it IS an issue or not is something that we discussed with some surprising answers - for me at least) of women in comics is something without a definite answer. It is still on the discussion table. For yourself, you've experienced, I'm sure, hundreds of very similar interviews, but you aren't representative of everyone.

    Case in point, one of the "panel members" Amy Reeder Hadley's main audience is young, manga-reading girls and many of them have checked out the article. For a young girl to see young female creators talking about what it means to be a successful woman in the comics industry is empowering.

    You're correct. This is not "news." and you have every right to your opinion and every right to skip over articles you deem redundant. The truth is though, maybe the article wasn't for you.

    And... no need to respond with a switchblade. :) Thanks!

  24. Anonymous6:25 PM

    What's the flaw under your right eye?

  25. Summing up my basic response in one sentence: "Yeah, that's pretty much been my eventual response to every online 'community' I've ever gotten involved with."

    I don't know why, but it always seems like there's a certain percentage of people who thrive on drama. The community, be it a message board, a forum, a blogging network, whatever, is pretty much the only social outlet they have, and so everything in it becomes magnified in importance. And because it's so important, they treat every utterance as though it's life-or-death.

    Ultimately, you just need to disengage to whatever degree needed to keep your sanity. I rarely read the comments on Newsarama anymore, unless I'm actually in the mood to watch a train wreck for some reason. I only read the dev posts on the CoH boards. Really, I've just gotten to the point where, as you put it, I do not give a shit. :)

  26. *standing ovation*

    your right, its your life, its your blog.

    I remember a quote from Daria.

    "I am good and that is it and everyone else is full of, full of Sh!t."

    have fun, we'll read when you blog.

  27. Don't stop writing. Please. You are part of my routine everyday.

    I only consult 2 comics book related blog/forum: yours and the one of John Byrne (yep, I am a "Byrne victim" and proud to be!).

    Don't give a dam for those who can't get a joke right! Just try to enjoy what you write.

  28. Woo-hoo, a meta-post about meta-posts!

    Thing one: I'll stop blogging about sexism in comics (and in life) when said sexism is no more.

    Thing two: Blog when you want to; you're not getting paid for this. It's supposed to be FUN.

    Thing three: If you (general "you," not specific) want to see more comics blogging about stuff other than the same old thing, nothing is stopping you (again, general "you") from creating that content.

  29. So, Val, do you think there should be more women in comics? ^_~

    *Ducks to avoid the rocks.*

    That seems to me the problem is you're not reading the right blogs. I say mix it up a bit - get more stuff like the Invincible Super Blog that celebrates some of the most insanely awesome things in comics or, I don't know, humorous blogs that comment on ridiculously bad comics *CoughAtoptheFourthWallCough*. ^_~

    Also, I'm in agreement with Kaligula: the green is fugly, sorry to say.

  30. Val:

    Your rant here reminded me of some very sage words from a well-known "philosopher," and I thought I;d share them with you (that is, if you don't mind):

    "I'm tired of all the talk they're talkin' all this town

    I'm tired of all the negativity that's goin' round

    We focus all our energy on things that bring us down

    Let's put our voices altogether and make a joyful sound"

    (kudos points to whoever can guess the "philosopher" in question here. :))

  31. I came to this blog because of the provocative talk about sexism in comics, which I was largely blind to, and it profoundly affected me as a reader and a writer.

    I stayed as this evolved into an-all-purpose comics blog because the writing was and continues to be superb. And all this was before I got to know Val, who is as cool as they come.

    Do whatever you need to maintain your sanity...but the comics world would be that much poorer without your words.

  32. Good rant, extremely funny. You make some extremely good points in it.

    The way to deal with things that are beneath you is to remain above them.

    I enjoy your blog. It is one of a handful that I look to first.

  33. It does seem like everytime one of these h'yar comic controversies or whatnot breaks out, it's the same 5 or 6 people going to war with each other. One post begets another then another, most of them repeating the same pro-con arguments and then come the inevitable "you said/I said!" snit fits that just suck everyone dry of dignity.

    That's why I've pretty much quit addressing any of that stuff in my own blog. Plus, I'm in Japan, so by the time I hear about whatever we're supposed to be in a tizzy about this week it's already old news and I'd just be repeating someone else's viewpoint.

    Of course you're a much more visible, plugged-in blogger and you've got real world input the others can only dream about. It stands to reason you're going to draw fire for the least little thing from people who enjoy shooting, who shoot from reflex.

    So much of it seems just joyless. Joyless sniping, joyless self-vindication, joyless defeat, joyless victory.

    The anger, the irritation. Some of it is definitely justified, but at the same time I really want to shake some of these people and say, "STOP READING COMICS! WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? THEY'RE DESTROYING YOUR HAPPINESS!"

    Or at least, stop reading the comics that piss them off. There are so many more to choose from. If mainstream comics went away, comics in general would still survive. It might even be a good thing- people who still wanted to tell sequential stories would still do it, unburdened by corporate decisions. Maybe the system would change to reflect book publishing.

    Hell, I don't know. I just know there are days when the relentless negativity- even when it's justified- makes me not even want to look at another comic, much less write about it.

  34. I've noticed that some of the things you're complaining about in your (very accurate) rant are true across the blogosphere. I also am someone with diverse interests and find myself in different blogs with different topics, and find the snark and the attacks to be overwhelming.

    Just check out CNN and their politics site. The hatred between the Obama and Clinton supporters is horrible there and when you read it, you end up thinking that this represents the reality around us, which I'm not sure it does.

    One thing I've noticed, though, on my own blog, is that some people come into a conversation to have a conversation and others come into it to be heard. These others are dangerous. They want to make their point and they want to "get you" and that's it for them.

    Some of us tend to lurk much more than anything else because we don't want to become those people. Perhaps there is a silent majority out there who reads the blogs and finds something useful in them and leaves it at that. Just like there used to be a silent majority in comics who read comics but never wrote in to the letters page. (Gosh, I'm not a fan of using the term "silent majority". It harkens back to some horrible political rhetoric.)

    Anyway. It is probably worthwhile to remember that the format of blogs makes attacks easier and it brings out some of the worst in our conversational skills. It tends to allow people to become very self-serving and allows them to pretend that their thoughts are better and more important than anyone elses.

    But there's good stuff out there too, really, I think.

  35. Conversations about comics haven't advanced much in the twenty or so years since I started following them. You just have to find the good ones.

    (I want to know how you follow 300 blogs and get paid. C'mon, I'll kick in a finder's fee for such a job! Hook a brother up!)

  36. I am 34 years old.

    This is one of the many reasons you do not need to keep reasserting that you will write whatever you want, darnit, ON YOUR OWN BLOG.

    We get it.

  37. "Comics Blogosphere Hot Topic: Val moderates comments
    Environmental Blogosphere Hot Topic: Extinction of polar bear"

    That made me laugh out loud. Except as others have suggested, and knowing what I do about the blogosphere as a whole, I'm guessing that "Environmental Blogosphere Hot Topic: Megan moderates comments" would probably be just as accurate. People are ludicrous.