Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bitter Is As Bitter Does

Johanna Draper Carlson calls me "bitter" for my words about DC. Hmm...This the same woman who wrote about her own tenure at the publisher:

"You put a bunch of immature men, many of whom were very sick as children or had absent fathers or both, and all of whom escaped into over-muscled power fantasies as a result, in charge of a publishing subgroup with no prestige and little money. Several of them have never worked anywhere else, or if they have, it was at one of the few similar companies in the same industry that behave the same way. They’re still geeks, mentally, with low self-esteem and no success with women, few of whom they actually know in person, but they’re power brokers within their little world, and there are thousands like them who desperately want to be them… and you wonder why it all ends up so twisted?"

Another quote:

"I spent less than a year inside the sausage factory, and I went in knowing I could leave any moment and get a job using the same skills that paid twice as much (which I did)."

DC, a "sausage factory?"

"The people I respected there, those who had a sense of the outside world and were considerate and good to work with, have all since left as well; several of them were forced out. Those left, the ones that come to mind when I bother to think of them, I’m mostly contemptuous of."


"Dealing with them was like dealing with argumentative, impulsive children who had to be constantly reassured of their power and value for fear they’d throw a tantrum."

I've endured this woman's complaints/backhanded compliments regarding Friends of Lulu for over a year in silence. I've had to read about her accusing me of "conflict of interest" while she reviews her stacks and stacks of comp copies. I was so impacted by her words that I was afraid -- afraid! -- to support the comics of my friends and loved ones for fear that "CWR" would call me out on it.

I don't need this type of "comics feminist" supporting me. I don't need "feminists" telling me what I should and should not say on my own damn blog. This sort of mentality is, to me, just as stifling and oppressing as the work environment I wrote about in "Goodbye To Comics."

Honestly! I've lived my life over the last two years "mindful" about what "feminists" might think. Was I a "good feminist?" Was I towing the line? If I made this or that decision, would that "undermine" my "identity" as "the poster child of DC sexism?"

Yeah, I was, for some women, the "the poster child of DC sexism" -- when it was convenient.

I'm not a label. I don't need to answer to a handful of computer jockeys bitching about what a terrible feminist I am. I don't need to justify or spell out every concrete action I've done -- concrete action, not bitching behind a keyboard -- to help women in comics.

Rather than to answer anymore to this bullshit, to respond and let myself be flustered by the crabs in the bucket who snap at my heels, I'll go shake Dan DiDio's hand tomorrow.


  1. "the party line says "no, feminists can't wear fishnets"... what better way to turn people off than to turn ideas for change into one more church that forgets were all human beings" - DK

    Johanna's comment was a cheap shot. I am sure if you pore over her postings you'll find seemingly contradictory statements.

    Also, you should never toe (and it's toe, not tow) any line. You should say what you believe and act in accordance with your beliefs.

    Now, that does not mean you should not be reflective and attempt to reconcile and/or understand apparent contradictions in those beliefs, which may simply result in a more nuanced viewpoint or it may cause you to revise one of your beliefs.

  2. Hehe, "whatever"...

    I find that if your "writing" doesn't get some sort of "feedback", I don't think it is worth writing (personal journals do not need feedback so I take that back.)

    But if your "blog" doesn't elicit some sort of "feedback" then what is the point?

    I am not a regular contibutor to your blog commentary and I don't like or agree with everything you write but I do find you informative and entertaining.

    Your opinions and experiences are your own and when you put them out there then you can expect some sort of response. I will support you as long as you continue this path. It makes for good reading IMHO...

    I can't wait for your Cloak and Dagger book to come out. I'm gonna buy 2 of each cuz I think you are COOL!


  3. Do they sell buckets of crabs at Payless? Or is that a Nine West exclusive? Do softshells offer better arch support than Alaskan King Crab line? Is tartar sauce used instead of polish?

  4. Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one and everyone thinks theirs don't stink.

    Anyone who takes internet slamming seriously outside of a reputable source (like a movie review, although I wouldn't actually call critics REPUTABLE...) needs their head examined. It's like elementary school when someone's big idea of an insult was saying "Your mamma's a ho!"

  5. Oh, just to clairfy, I meant in regards to if you endorsed a friend's project and someone listened to someone like that making your endorsement a hinderance to its sales. I realized the way I left it coulda been taken another way.

  6. Val: There's a recurring theme here, and I want to ask you about it... and despite what you may think, there's zero antagonism to it.

    What is with the fear you keep referencing? I mean, either Johanna has a point, or she doesn't. Either someone like Ragnell has a point, or she doesn't. If they have a point, then listen and learn. If they don't, ignore them. Same applies to me or anyone else with a critique.

    But you keep talking about how this or that comment/critique/perceived view has cowed you into silence. I understand wanting to "get along" for the sake of your career, but no career is worth spending that much time worrying about other folks' opinions of your opinions.

  7. Bitter, party of one!
    I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

  8. The only point I'll make- and I left other comments in the other thread-

    Johanna says you're "bitter" over DC.

    Um...aren't you? And if what? I've had jobs where I'm bitter when I leave for a number of reasons.

    What's wrong with being bitter?
    I could understand the criticism better if you were a comics journalist trying to put out straight news about DC, but you've never portrayed yourself as such.

    Note: I also like Johanna's blog. I've been turned on to a lot of good books by her reviews. I just think that the controversy over being "negative" is hoo-ah.

  9. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Besides the fact that she is a raving hypocrite that writes like I assume you would had your brain been removed and you hated Joss Whedon, I loved how she generalized geeks.

    That was wonderful.

  10. Anonymous4:20 PM

    Oh, btw, I found this more than amusing since Johanna went after Zuda the other day.

  11. Yeah, and this is why feminism gets a bad rap, because it gets co-opted by women who behave no better than the men they criticize. It's the same pack mentality. "Agree with everything I think or I'll mock and shun you!"

    Eh, I kinda agree with the other poster...forget what people think (even me) and just do your thang.

  12. Yep, been there, done that. Jo has a tendency to harp on about everyone else having a 'conflict of interest', but never admits that she won't review anything that hasn't been given to her. She's all smoke and mirrors, and as I've always said, anyone who has a site called 'Comics Worth Reading' and believes that her reviews are the definitive word on things needs to get a serious grip. There's a real case of extreme self-importance going on there.

    Welcome to the 'Attacked By JDC For No Good Reason Except To Deflect Attention Away From Her Own Conflict Of Interest' club. Glad you're on board Valerie. I'd rather be in your company than a suffer a thousand Drapers.

  13. Suggested listening: "I am not my hair" by India Arie.

  14. You're 100% right in one regard: this is your blog, you can write what you want, you can devote it to what you feel is important, and if people agree or don't agree, that's not your concern.

    On one side, I've been reading the criticism of Final Crisis (esp the Batman problem) and agreed with you on it. But my concern was that you were finding fault with DC and its staff for some things that Marvel's done as well, and just as recently. That's not to say Marvel sucks and DC's awesome or vice versa. It's to say there's a serious problem across the board.

    On the other, this is your space to present what you feel is important. So fuck 'em.

  15. I do want to say-- everyone should call themselves a feminist. I'm big on the defense of the term.

  16. I've never thought about this before but people are always Marvel vs. DC like it's Chevy vs. Ford but I don't think the DC supporters have a lot of weight in trying to point the finger back at Marvel. This is just my opinion based on my narrow perception but... growing up reading comics it was my perception that women were equal creators at Marvel. There was never any hype about it. It was just matter of fact. Their names were in the credits just like everyone else's and if they didn't have female names you would never know they were women. Jo Duffy, Mary Severin, Louise Simonson, Ann Noccenti, Cynthia Martin, Roz Kirby all come to mind. It was no big deal. I can name those names from the comics of my youth as fast as I can the Buscemas and the Romitas etc. I can't say the same for DC. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe DC had as many ladies but I can't think of any. What I do remember though is that when Devin Greyson got a gig at DC in the 90's it was a big deal. Why is that? Is that just me? Plenty of women have worked on Vertigo titles and I've never given it a second thought but for some reason when a woman works on a DCU book people are supposed to take notice. So yeah, this may just be my perception and I could be crazy but from my point of view, advantage Marvel.

  17. Well, obviously I'm not a neutral party in all this. But your claim that review copies prejudice the review is blantantly false. Johanna and myself have proven we're not afraid to trash books that publishers provide for free. And just to set the record straight, there's only one comp book I didn't review. The manga was so confusing that I was rendered speechless. I figured if I couldn't understand the book then I shouldn't review it.

  18. You wouldn't happen to be wearing a buzzer on one those hands tomorrow...would ya??

    Being serious for a moment though, making light of someone's negative comments about yourself only gives them more power. I understand that you feel you need to defend yourself but, generally the easiest way to defeat someone's negativity towards you is simply to ignore them. Just a thought though. I could just be overly naive in this thought process.

  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  20. Valerie,

    You make a valid point about the title of her piece but you don't address any of Johanna's issues.

    You may not want to address any of her issues, of course.

  21. Not worth another second of my life.