Representation in Comics: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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I think its come to that point where you have to ask yourself what you’re willing to do when you see a problem with representation in comics. Personally I find that feminists hurt their own cause while they try to make a “statement”.

Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane are now in the line of fire because of a statement that comics aren’t for women. Now while I wouldn’t say it so blunt because I do have female friends who read comics I will say this. Comics aren’t for women that believe they are entitled to everything comics have to offer. The same way they are think they are entitled to everything else and that it’s a travesty if they are denied that. That is the problem, there are already strides to make females as much of a dominant force in comics. And even then, it’s not enough. Even if they were serious about that statement, it’s being backed into a wall by extremists that force these kind of abrasive response.

It’s not their fault that comics mirror society. It’s not their fault that every other form of media does the same. If you don’t want comics to mirror society, then you go out and change society. Actions speak louder than words and when all you have is words, and nothing constructive to contribute? Then you are just complaining for the sake of it. Feminists that find problem in these comics aren’t the people going out to integrate themselves into the comic community. They aren’t trying to make a comic starring a respectable female to set a standard, and they aren’t trying to press the matter to those that need to hear it without sounding like they’re attacking. These people they are trying to reach aren’t going to listen to ranting, they are listening to competency.

Marvel alone has made strides to show the equality female heroes share in the Marvel Universe. Captain Marvel, Fearless Defenders, Red She-Hulk, Journey Into Mystery, X-Men, Uncanny X-Force, heck even FF is composed of majority female heroes. On DC’s end, Wonder Woman at this moment blows away even Batman’s books. All quality books, and guess what? Some of them are getting cancelled because of low sales. Guess who’s to blame? Those feminists out there complaining instead of picking these books up. They should be the ones reading these books and supporting them to show that they are for this new change in direction. But that just isn’t the case.

You really want to talk about feel misrepresented? Last I checked it has been acknowledged and even the equality of minorities and sexual orientations as well. Ultimate Spider-Man, Mighty Avengers, Astonishing X-Men, and many other books which show a diverse cast have represented the larger cast of heroes that Marvel has at their disposal. Now were they forced to do this? Not at all. Were minorities or those of a different sexual orientation banging on writer’s doors to make these changes? No, not at all. So what makes these feminists think they deserve so much more? What makes them believe that with the doors that have already been open, that it isn’t enough for them? I see a sense of entitlement in which they want change for the sake of it. They are doing nothing but hurting what they want changed. If those like MyDearPeabody, want to sit in front of a computer screen and call comics a lesser form of storytelling for this, then they don’t have the right to demand things go their way.

Like I said, actions speak louder than words because while there were issues and some which are still being addressed, there’s no need for unnecessary attacks.

Jideobi is the Comic Editor at Analog Addiction where he writes all things comics and comic related(especially if X-Men). Also follow him on Twitter @Siphen0.

Jideobi Odunze Author

Editor for Geeked Out Nation/Beyond The Panel. Everything is permitted. #TeamCyke l #Reclaimer l #LARPer l Fantasy Geek Follow me on Twitter @Jideobi0. Email at siphen_x@yahoo.com

Comments

    xmenxpert

    (August 12, 2013 - 9:32 am)

    I can’t really agree.

    Diversity in comics is a serious problem. The Big Two make some token efforts, but not nearly enough. Marvel had three female writers, though I have no clue if Kathryn Immonen or Marjorie Liu will get any more work with them any time soon. But they were stuck on books that already had mediocre sales, and they weren’t given much of a push. Even DeConnick’s books could get much more of a push than they have so far.

    Beyond that, there’s the simple problem that most writers really aren’t making books that women could read. Mark Millar is a prime example: The guy loves throwing in rape. His books have a horribly misogynistic feeling to them. A lot of books do. The first issue of Fearless Defenders had so much fanservice that it’s coloured the perception people have of the entire series. (It also doesn’t help that the art is bland.) New Avengers has only a single female character, and she’s a plot device. Captain Marvel has had numerous people complain about the art, and much as I love Andrade’s style, I do have to wonder where its sales would be with someone like Stuart Immonen, Olivier Coipel,or another A-list artist. (Or Emma Rios. But I just love Emma Rios’ art.)

    And speaking of art and misogyny: The Hawkeye Initiative shows how women are represented in comics. There’s still a tendency to draw women with unrealistic bodies and poses. Especially on covers – you know, the thing people first see when looking at a book. Do you remember the controversy over the first issue of Catwoman? That was exactly the opposite of what should be done – it was a cover meant to attract teenage boys, not mature men and women. How about Marvel Divas a few years ago? The story inside made no difference, because the cover was the absolute worst sort of cheesecake.

    I think Marvel and DC try. But I also think they need to do far, FAR better. Not just with women, but with minority characters, too. And a part of that means putting female writers and artists on major books. Jason Aaron’s going to be writing Amazing X-Men soon; why not let Marjorie Liu take over on Wolverine and the X-Men? It’s a high-selling, important book, so why not let Liu write it? Why not let Kelly Sue DeConnick do a few issues of Uncanny Avengers? (Remender’s clearly not going to allow fun anywhere near that title, so let DeConnick do something that’ll give readers a breather between bouts of increasing misery and grimdarkness.) Why not get Kathryn Immonen to take over Fearless Defenders? (And why not see if Stephanie Hans would agree to take over the full-time art duties on that book. I would seriously pay $5 per issue if she’s doing it, because it’s that damned gorgeous.) Or stick her on Wolverine. Instead of sticking women on books that people wouldn’t really care about anyway, why not let them do major books with significant built-in fanbases? Books that Marvel knows will do well, regardless of the writer.

    Right now, women have no real reason to support anything put out by Marvel or DC. Even the female books are too-often aimed at boys, rather than at mature adults.

      Jideobi Odunze

      (August 12, 2013 - 10:43 am)

      See but a lot of that is past issues. Things that people found problems with pre-2013. Going into this year things have gotten better and it shows that they notice this. The fanservice of Fearless Defenders is something I just barely had heard of. Most that I hear of it praise the book, especially the past few issues which had stunning art. Even the tie-in to Age of Ultron was one of the best stories to come of it. Then New Avengers, it’s about the Illuminati. Black Swan’s part, big or small, is just her being a part of the supporting cast. I picked up that book not expecting anyone other than the Illuminati members to be that important. I mean I would love to support something “similar” to the Hawkeye Initiative, but that also reflects society and society should be checked before that.

      The problem I find is that given the progress there’s always going to never be enough. The way that many like me see it is that no matter how much good you do for that audience, they will still never feel satisfied and it basically has to be perfect or it’s just not enough. If they want books that are aimed towards them, which I think many of the books from Marvel NOW! are, then they’d buy them and show them that these books they need to press on and mold them into something innovative.

        xmenxpert

        (August 12, 2013 - 11:46 am)

        Well, they never SHOULD be satisfied, until we get true equality. We’re a long, long way from that. And it’s all fine and good to say that things improved this year, but history didn’t start with 2013. Comic books have a long history of misogyny to live down. It’s great that things are improving. It really is. I give Marvel credit for trying. But of all the female-led titles Marvel has, X-Men is the only one with an A-list team. Fearless Defenders has a team that will never be big-league. Captain Marvel has an artist that a lot of people hate. Journey Into Mystery . . . that one actually should have done far better than it did, and it reflects poorly on Marvel’s audience that it sold so poorly. It was a fantastic book in every way. Red She-Hulk wasn’t A-list, Astonishing X-Men isn’t A-list . . . X-Men is the only female-led book that has an A-list creative team. It’s the only one that was really made to succeed. All the others were made to last maybe a year before getting canceled. It actually wouldn’t be a stretch for someone to accuse Marvel of designing these books for failure, so they could justify not putting out more female-led titles. “Hey, look, we tried!”

        I mean, Marvel could put out a new Black Widow series and pat themselves on the back for giving another female solo title a chance, but if it has Greg Land porn covers, Steve Dillon’s pencils, and Daniel Way writing, then of course it’s going to fail. And historically, that’s what Marvel’s usually done with female titles. So of course female readers are wary – they’ve been burned almost every damned time they’re gotten their hopes up.

        Jideobi Odunze

        (August 12, 2013 - 5:28 pm)

        Yet there will never be true equality, that is the point I’m trying make.As much as people push towards it, it will never be a perfect representation for them. History didn’t start at 2013, but 2013 is when you saw the good that could come of progress made towards better representation of female heroes. They don’t have to be A-Listers either. A-list never equals automatic success or popularity. They just need quality stories that don’t force the idea that they have to be Avengers or save the entire world in order to be at the top. If people judging the Captain Marvel book solely on the art, then it’s sadly their fault because it doesn’t diminish that characters importance in that story or the context of the story. Overall these readers shouldn’t be getting their hopes up and suffer from failure, if that is the case then they need to do something. Rallying and ranting has gained them no success, so they need to be proactive and “do” something about it because those sitting at home screaming at their computer screens aren’t helping their cause.

        xmenxpert

        (August 12, 2013 - 6:21 pm)

        Just because full equality won’t come doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for.

        2013 may or may not go down as the start of a real movement towards better treatment of women in comics. But the long history of women being treated poorly means a lot of women are wary. It’s much the same problem faced by teen characters: There’s a perception that they get killed off too often, and that they almost never come back, which leaves a lot of readers reluctant to support new teen heroes. Female characters have a history of being treated poorly, so women are reluctant to support female characters for fear of being burned yet again.

        And A-list creators don’t always mean success, but it helps. X-Men has an A-list creative team, and is a huge success. Guardians of the Galaxy is doing far better now than it did in the DnA days. Attaching top talent is an indication that they want the book to succeed. If they did a Black Widow series by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley, with covers by Stephanie Hans (because dammit, Marvel should do everything they possibly can with her), and a Skottie Young variant cover, and it still sold poorly, then fine, that’s on the audience. If they do a Black Widow series written by Jimmy Palmiotti, drawn by Will Sliney, with covers by Greg Land . . . then that’s on Marvel.

        And actually, speaking of variant covers: Why didn’t Captain Marvel get a good variant? Why didn’t JiM get variants? Or Liu’s run on Astonishing X-Men? It’s true that some male-led books didn’t get variants, either, but it’s still irksome that so few female titles get them. X-Men and Fearless Defenders both got (amazing) Baby variants, but that’s it. Again, those variants would show more support for the books.

        And in a visual medium, the visuals absolutely matter. I’ve had difficulty enjoying plenty of books simply because the art distracted me.

        As for what the people can do, in the end, yes, they should be supporting the titles that they feel do what they want to be done. And I think most female comic readers do that. And then McFarlane comes along and makes a jackassed comment about comics not being for women. Millar comes along and writes rape into half the comics he writes. Land comes along and makes tons of money tracing porn. DC fires their only female writer and then immediately rehires her two days later. The Avengers makes over a billion dollars and gets immense praise for its use of the Black Widow, and Marvel doesn’t bother launching a new volume of Black Widow – instead, they give Hawkeye a book, when people were making jokes about how useless he was in the movie. DC can’t even get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground. None of Marvel’s top titles are being written or drawn by women. There aren’t even any female artists doing permanent work for Marvel (I have no idea if DC has any). Who was that jackass who went on an idiotic rant a few months ago about girls doing cosplay? The comic book industry is still misogynistic. It still treats women as an audience it doesn’t even want.

        If Marvel wants to really show how dedicated it is to making female readers happy, then Marjorie Liu would take over Wolverine and the X-Men, Kathryn Immonen would write Spider-Man, Emma Rios would have a permanent job with Marvel, Captain Marvel would have Stuart Immonen on art and would get a Skottie Young variant.

        I’d almost bet money that none of those things, or anything similar, will happen within the next decade.

        xmenxpert

        (August 13, 2013 - 5:54 am)

        This comic sums it up pretty well: http://www.shortpacked.com/

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