A confluence of events:

1) The understandable to-do that's arisen over the whole Starfire and Catwoman depictions in the new DC books has put a lot of attention on superhero comics being written and drawn by men for men (or men-children, as the case may be), with little apparent regard for any feminist politics that may be put out of joint.

2) My lovely wife is mentoring a young lady who's just entering her senior year of college. This young lady, a Creative Writing major, is going to write a graphic novel for her senior project — she apparently is recently into comics, and really likes superheroes (primarily Marvel), so wants to go in that direction. Jen, being a good mentor, is picking my brain on creators, comics, and comic-related stuff (podcasts, blogs, local shops, etc.) to point her to.

My various recommendations led Jen to observe, "There really aren't a lot of superhero comics by women, for women, are there?" I'll admit I couldn't think of a lot, and that combined with item one above got me contemplating it. So while I think about the topic myself, I'm putting it out to you, my fellows: what are some comics by women, for women, that fall within the broader genre trappings of superhero-y comics?

Views: 900

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

...A " honky-tonk badonkadonk " ?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So difficult that I've never actually tried, it must be said...

Should add that most super-powered MEN in comics also look grotesque to non-fans, especially the Image-influenced characters with no necks, bulging veins, pinheads and muscles you won't find in any anatomy textbook. The difference is that the male characters presumably aren't intended to turn on the reader sexually.

 

This sort of thing happens in other fields. Former USA Today film critic Mike Clark once said that film buffs accept things that are appalling to what his editor called "real people."

 

As an example, he noted that real people would not believe the graphic, endless rape scene in "Irreversible," an acclaimed French movie from several years back. They would not believe anyone would film such a thing, let alone that people would pay money to see it. But film geeks just wrote about aesthetics and camera angles.

 

I'm afraid that hardcore comics geeks can get densensitized in a similar way. We come to accept things that are more than a little strange to non-geeks.

George said:

The portrayal of most women in comics looks utterly grotesque to most people who aren't regular readers.


That's a gross exaggeration. You could go as far as to say that "many" women in comics look "unrealistic" to people who aren't regular readers, but the same is true of your average model in Vogue or Maxim. "Utterly grotesque" is great for headlines, but untrue, especially since all art is subjective to begin with.

George said:

According to Grant Morrison, a lot of female comics characters are now traced on light boxes by artists who get the images from skin mags and online pornography.


Grant Morrison is wrong. There are a few artists that have used this method, Greg Land being the most obvious, but even then it's usually used for a particular pose. Most artists still do things the old-fashioned way, using photos as references to mimic, not things to trace. I doubt they use "skin mags" either BTW, when the average Cosmo has more standing up or sitting poses than any 100 "skin mags" do.


George said:

As Jill, the Newsarama columnist, points out, the DC reboot is aimed squarely at the 18-34 male demographic. This is the same demographic that Hollywood prizes most dearly; that's why we've had three "Transformers" movies and two "Hangover" movies, with more sure to come. But, she writes, DC ALREADY had that demographic. Why doesn't it try to expand its audience? Has it been selling comics to young males for so long, it no longer knows how to reach anyone else?


Jill is wrong too. Earlier this year, this report came out, and one of the key demographic statistics that it contained said that 25% of comics readership is over 65. Looking at the makeup of my customer base, I feel like that percentage is probably too high, but looking at the makeup of the membership of this board, maybe not as far off as I'd like to think. It's no secret that the readership base of comics has been greying for decades now, and I doubt you'll find anyone who argues otherwise. THAT's why DC went for that 18-34 demo, because they didn't have much penetration into that demo anymore. This initiative IS designed to expand their audience, and based on what I've heard from a lot of other retailers, it's working. They lost the young male demographic years (decades?) ago, and now they're seeking to reclaim it.


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! Comics and Games for Everyone!

I used to listen to WOXY.com; It was the future of rock-n-roll! RIP WOXY


Figserello said:

That's what superhero comics look like to non-fanboys.
No, that's what that one comic looked like to that one reader. I'm glad you picked Civil War as the example though, because comics readers, even after all these years, still disagree about what Civil War was even about.

Was that super-heroine's posterior needed for that scene to work? Without looking it up, I'll assume it's not. Of course, you can find that kind of "unnecessary titillation" factor in every single entertainment medium there is, and rarely does it get a mention, save those few times where it goes over some kind of imaginary "line." There are lots of comics, even lots of super-hero comics, where the titillation factor is subdued or absent altogether.

Figserello said:
Still, I'd guess that it wouldn't be hard to find images of them, or instances from the personal histories which would make a typical non-fan woman feel a little uncomfortable.

On the internet, everything that can be sexualized will be. And some things that can't be too. barf

Seriously though, in comics there has been over the last 80 years a lot of stuff that completely panders to the human male's baser instincts. Focusing just on the negatives exclusively though will only draw more attention to those things and spur sales of them, and cause more to be created just like them. The discussion of things like sexuality of characters, gender parity, sexual identity, racial diversity, and other hot-button topics needs to include the positive as well as the negative, otherwise it's just endless complaining about the same things over and over again.

I'm not saying that we should ignore things like the Cat-on-Bat fan-service at the end of Catwoman #1, we just need to not shine our flashlights on that one thing as an example of "how all comics are," especially when there were other comics, from the same publisher, that came out on the same day, that were the exact opposite in their portrayal of women. This is not an either/or issue. Both sides of the coin need to be looked at, or eventually all we'll see on both sides is a scar.


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! Comics and Games for Everyone!

I used to listen to WOXY.com; It was the future of rock-n-roll! RIP WOXY


Dagwan said: "Grant Morrison is wrong."

 

So a comic shop owner in Tallahassee knows more about how comics are created than Grant Morrison? Whatever!

 

Dagwan said: "Jill is wrong too. Earlier this year, this report came out, and one of the key demographic statistics that it contained said that 25% of comics readership is over 65."

 

You could probably also find a report showing that 25 percent of Tea Party members are African Americans in their 20s, but that doesn't make it so.

 


A woman's perspective on Voodoo #1 You'll have to go to the 4:22 mark on the video to see the review. This is just one person but I thought I'd share it since this particular issue is getting some discussion.
Figserello said:

That's what superhero comics look like to non-fanboys.

No, that's what that one comic looked like to that one reader.

 

C'mon Dagwan.  We all know that women are depicted in comics all the time in ways that would be offensive to non-fan women.  I'm supposed to list them all?  You are way too close to this material!

 

Right, I just googled a set of random Marvel covers from Oct 2011.  Here.  Of the 5 covers there that depict women at all, only Mystique (ironically enough) doesn't have women in revealing costumes/ objectified on the covers.  Even teenaged Hawkeye-girl there would raise an eyebrow of someone not used to the conventions of superhero comics.  (Teenaged, mind you!)

 

Of the first 36 mainstream DC covers for October 2011 here, (including collections) 18 depict women, and I'd classify 10 of those as containing objectifications/overly sexualised images of women.  (Huntress and Batgirl have similar fairly practical crimefighting suits, but I've classed Huntress' depiction with the no-nos and Batgirl with the 'acceptables'.  She is a teenager, too, which might have stayed the artist's hand, as it does with the girls in the Teen Titans collection, who do look more like role models for young female readers than their early 80's counterparts, to be fair.)

 

In both cases that's the majority of women depicted on covers for this month would have raised a embarassed snigger from my female non-fan houseguest.  There's nothing to argue here.

 

Catwoman and Starfire wouldn't have been a problem only they were rightly seen as only the tip of a very large iceberg.

 

I'm not talking prudery here, just the kind of depiction of women that often makes it embarassing to produce superhero comics in intelligent mixed company. 

 

I'm glad you picked Civil War as the example though, because comics readers, even after all these years, still disagree about what Civil War was even about.

 

Huh?  What's that got to do with anything?  Civil War is a good example as any as it was as close to an outwardly looking series as either Marvel or DC has produced in the last decade, with its self-contained storyline, iconic cast, addressing of real-world political concerns, and major marketing push beyond the realms of fanboyana.  If there has to be female butts taking up the frames here, then that says a lot about the whole comics culture these days, and its blindness to its own failings.


Was that super-heroine's posterior needed for that scene to work? Without looking it up, I'll assume it's not. Of course, you can find that kind of "unnecessary titillation" factor in every single entertainment medium there is, and rarely does it get a mention, save those few times where it goes over some kind of imaginary "line."

 

We are talking about how real-world women feel when you put a typical superhero comic in their hand.  You run a comics shop.  We are talking about comics.

 

The 'unessecary titillation factor' as you put it is rife in other mediums, yes, but it's presence is how we seperate quality entertainments from exploitative trash.

 

There are lots of comics, even lots of super-hero comics, where the titillation factor is subdued or absent altogether.

 

Granted, but a few swallows don't make a summer, and the culture as a whole is one that looks on women in a certain way, and is more than comfortable depicting them in a certain way.

Seriously though, in comics there has been over the last 80 years a lot of stuff that completely panders to the human male's baser instincts. Focusing just on the negatives exclusively though will only draw more attention to those things and spur sales of them, and cause more to be created just like them. The discussion of things like sexuality of characters, gender parity, sexual identity, racial diversity, and other hot-button topics needs to include the positive as well as the negative, otherwise it's just endless complaining about the same things over and over again.

I'm not saying that we should ignore things like the Cat-on-Bat fan-service at the end of Catwoman #1, we just need to not shine our flashlights on that one thing as an example of "how all comics are," especially when there were other comics, from the same publisher, that came out on the same day, that were the exact opposite in their portrayal of women. This is not an either/or issue. Both sides of the coin need to be looked at, or eventually all we'll see on both sides is a scar.

The superhero comics culture as a whole does need to be looked at and discussed.  It needs to look at itself.  Starfire and Catwoman are only the tip of the iceberg, and they are merely the most obvious examples of how that culture habitually depicts women.  The vast majority of my posts celebrate what's good about comics, or pick up on other legitimate faults in the books.  I don't see what's different here.

 

I think the kind of holding to account that DC is being put to here, would be good for the industry and how it is perceived if they would show any signs that they understood why they have annoyed so many people, or were at all interested in addressing their concerns.

It's Mystic rather than Mystique, one of the Crossgen legacy titles.

Ah.  I thought that buttoned-up long-skirted outfit was somewhat uncharacteristic for her. 

 

Funnily enough, I did write Mystic at first, but when I checked it before posting, I thought I'd misspelled the mutant's name.

The Return of Doomsday TPB cover was too small to see properly, so I didn't count it amongst the no-nos, but I've just looked at it, and I think Jade or someone is doing a good 'face down in her own blood' 'Woman in a refrigerated environment', whilst teenaged Bad Supergirl is still 'almost showing us her panties' in her short skirt.

 

But don't worry, I'll hold my hand and still keep it off the 'exploitative trash' list.

 

They brought back Bad Supergirl?  I am sad. 

Figs said: "I've classed Huntress' depiction with the no-nos..."

She was over-sexualized in Batman: The Brave and the Bold!

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2019   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service