Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

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Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Ult_Sm86 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:14 pm

I'm gonna do some Geekin’ Off here on Unacceptable Sexism & Sexual Assault Within the Counterculture

Janelle Assellin, a Guest Contributor of ComicBookResources.com, previously an editor at both DC and Disney comics and currently a project editor for Sideshow Collectibles, is is a very smart, talented, geeky, young woman. Assellin has been a professional in the comic book industry for awhile now, so it was curious (but if you’re aware of this behavior, completely expected) that she came under fire from fans this past week after her piece “Anatamoy of A Bad Cover: DC’s New ‘Teen Titans’ #1” went up April 11th on CBR.

I’ve read Assellin’s piece and not only did I find it completely credible, it was spot-on in its critique of the cover. There are plenty of surface level issues that make the cover insufficient for a brand name as professional as DC (distributors of Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, comics just to name three) but the biggest distraction on the cover is Wonder Girls breasts. They are huge. This girl is 17 at best, (the title is called “Teen Titans”) and these are implants. Assellin breaks down, for any male artists who apparently still don’t understand how to capture realistic bodies, the realism behind depicting teenage breasts, especially those of an action-packed superhero.

Many will be startled at what happens next but if you pay close enough attention to the industry you shouldn’t be that surprised. An unsettling truth is that overnight male comic fans began to pour in hate-tweets and hate-mail towards Assellin. They’re still pouring out, as of this moment on Reddit there’s a new “Open Letter to Janelle Assellin by user NoShadowFist posted not 8 hours ago. This piece is criticizing her pointing out of Ken Rocafort, the artist of the cover, as the man partially to blame for the bombastic boobies. But cheap shots across the bow aside, Assellin started getting it even worse than that.
Fans began to verbally assault her on twitter calling into question her professional career, her credibility as an editor, and making accusations that her gender blinds her from actually being capable of understanding “real art” when she sees it. Because a woman’s optic nerves are attached differently from those of a man’s, right? They called her coffee girl, dismissive, they even accused her of writing the “scandalous article” just to get more attention to women’s rights, which is apparently a cheap thing to do.

Then it got ugly. As it always does in the counter culture. She began to get sexually harassed and even had personalized rape threats direct messaged and e-mailed to her. That’s right, because a woman wrote an article that defended the proper anatomy of a teenage girl, she was given rape threats. It was no longer the “men’s rights” enthusiasts flexing their smallish masculinity. It was dickpicks, insults, sexual innuendoes, and assumptions that she got her job from blowing the right guy. Pretty soon, DC stock artist Bret Booth himself got involved in the discussion and all sorts of hate speech about her began to run from his very fingers to actual fans brewing a stew of misogynistic hate and idiocy.

Thankfully many people came to her defense. Longtime comic enthusiast, writer, and feminist Marjorie Liu, comic creators and husband/wife duo Matt Fraction & Kelly Sue DeConnick, DC’s “Batgirl” writer Gail Simone, and hundreds of fans flocked to her side. It felt great, but as Liu points out - it’s going to happen again. And again, until something changes. In four months we will forget about it, just like we did four months ago when it happened in November. The problem is, especially for men, we keep forgetting women are constantly subjected to this sort of sexism. From the idea that a male white, eurocentric character is the only one capable of being “the Everyman” to female creators being denied spots on panels at conventions because “we already have a female creator spot filled on the panel, that tackles the demographic, it would be too much to add you,” it is quite literally a social conundrum that is deeply entrenched into the counter culture of geeks.

What can we do? As a man, and only a fan (for now), the most I can do is call it when I see it. I call the people out, be it on twitter or in my local comic store, and I politely expose their sexist or violent speech, sometimes ask them to apologize. Seems a bit bossy doesn’t it? But sometimes the only way to make a difference is to be the difference, loudly. Another great way is what Brian Michael Bendis calmly tweeted this weekend during the shitstorm of professional industry people throwing insults back and forth: “no semantics. let’s make it simple: it’s never okay to harass any woman. be the best version of yourself and then be better than that.” I couldn’t agree more.

Let's make an attempt, as comicbook fans, to prevent this from happening again. At least within our own domain here at Nightscrawlers.




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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Angelique » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:10 am

Thank you, thank you thank you, and keep it up.

It's sad to say, but too often, female creators are not in a good position to call out sexual harassment and other vile behaviors, especially when one or more of the perps is also a comic book creator. The comic book industry is insular enough that the perp's going to have friends in high places, and any single accuser will be counterattacked with other accusations and threatened with not getting any more work. (Which is why even I've had difficulty speaking up for myself, and the crap I've faced is- knocking on wood- nowhere near as bad as the garbage heaped on Ms. Asselin.)

But fans outnumber perps and their accomplices, and if enough speak up and get involved, it will become clear that instead of uppity women, it's pervy chauvinism that's unwelcome in the industry.
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Ult_Sm86 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:19 am

Ange, did you see Brian Michael Bendis' post relating to this subject?

Here's a portion:
as I have said on this tumbler I have met women who have admitted to me that they have to pose as men on some higher profile message boards so they can have a decent conversation about comics without being Internet pawwed


There's also his other post, one he keeps in his archives, that he frequently reposts as a response to asks.
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby kladyelf » Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:32 am

DC seems to be putting its foot in its mouth a lot lately re: sexism and inappropriateness. Take the next link for example

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page ... e&id=55907

I'm not even going to go there, as it looks like the product has been condemned (and rightly so, does DC really think people who read comics/enjoy geekdom are solely male?) but what I will say is I immediately thought of 3-4 better T-shirts than the ones displayed in the link - without even thinking about it much (see paragraph below) and I have no formal qualifications in design or art either!

Improved designs
The Superman/Wonderwoman T-shirt
Riff on Classical art, you can reproduce something like Klimt's* or Rodin's works both called "the kiss," with either Superman/Wonderwoman as the one being kissed (the role as kisser and kissed is interchangeable and you can have it either way - or just for fun, sell t-shirts with both)

http://images.fineartamerica.com/images ... ctions.jpg
https://www.google.com/culturalinstitut ... rt-project

The Bat-shirt (I will not dignify it by calling it anything else)

Just have the Bat logo and "in training." There. Boom. Done. Gender neutral and in differing colours if you want. (heck I have a Superman tshirt i love to wear for exercising)
Or alternatively have an imprint of Batgirls new costume on the tee (its just so cute! eee!)

These are just designs from the top of my nerdy brain! And DC employs professionals so I know that they can do better!!

I'm throwing up my hands here, I've grown up with these super-heroes in cartoons and TV shows before I could read, and I have no idea how other people who presumbly have grown up with the same, or similar things have got it so wrong? One of the nice things i like about DC comics are the simple and effective design logos of their heroes and what they represent (heck I even own a few as t-shirts). For example: Superman? the S-shield is bright, iconic and like Supes, hopeful. Green lantern's is simple and effective (it's just a circle and two lines for goodness sake! but it looks good) and is all about willpower. Batman? It's all about drive, justice, determination (similar to willpower i grant you). A simplified bat-silhouette, it doesn't even need a yellow background, its just there and it looks great. Wonder Woman's design (hope, truth, compassion, and again, justice) a little busier but you get the double overlapping W's and you *know* what its about (and my brain is now playing the Wonder Woman theme, dagnabbit).

I can't understand how a modern company with female employees, a corporate identity and a multi-media presence can get something like this so hopelessly wrong?

*breathe breathe*

OK rant over

(*Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-Wonder-Womaaaan!-Wonder-Womaaan! The whole world is waiting for yoouuuuu! And the wonders you can dooooo*)

Edit:
*Case in flippin' point, while I'm at it, I found this!
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.co ... 5-19-4.jpg
Is it not a thing of beauty? I'd have that on a t-shirt
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Ult_Sm86 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:21 pm

mproved designs
The Superman/Wonderwoman T-shirt
Riff on Classical art, you can reproduce something like Klimt's* or Rodin's works both called "the kiss," with either Superman/Wonderwoman as the one being kissed (the role as kisser and kissed is interchangeable and you can have it either way - or just for fun, sell t-shirts with both)


Believe it or not that's actual panel art from the (first?) issue of Superman/Wonder Woman series.
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby kladyelf » Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:30 am

What, even with the text? Either way *cringe*
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Ult_Sm86 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:49 pm

Nope, not the text. Just the image. Unfortunate chance there. Poor artist.
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Majiel » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:22 am

Image
I wonder if the cover artist is a fan of the king of fighters, circa 2003...
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby kladyelf » Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:18 am

heh, just had a thought about the "Batman's wife in training" t-shirt - I'd love someone to make a parody reality show from it;

ie: the Bat-chelor

you would have a dozen women with different tasks/challenges to complete with Bats as both the host (because he can be a bit controlling that way) and the prospective mate.

Detective work:
"for today's task we have to solve this robbery using the evidence around us"

"So do we use the bat-computer?"

"No! only these tweezers and magnifying glass ... I'm Batman"

Fighting crime:
"Riddler, Joker and the Penguin have escaped and are holding the city hostage with cybernetically enhanced ostriches, your task is to save the city!"

"But Bruce, how do we do that?"

"... I'm Batman"

:P
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby HardCider » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:38 am

First of all I am a man and I have been reading comics for 30 years give or take and I would like to say that I feel bad for anyone that gets there skills undercut for any superficial reason like gender or race. Now on a specific topic that this is about I do not see a problem with that cover dose that mean that she deserved the out pore of hate for her opinion of course not, let us not forget that this was just her opinion and not a fact and when you choose to put your opinion out there you are running the risk of negative back lash, so you can stand by your statement and persevere with out sinking to the level of the troll that slighted you, or you could sink to there level, or you could cry about it witch dose not help your case, or finally you don't have to post about it at all.
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby HardCider » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:41 am

Oh ya kladyelf I like your idea of the "Bat-chelor" that would be a fun watch/read
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Angelique » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:54 pm

HardCider wrote: let us not forget that this was just her opinion and not a fact and when you choose to put your opinion out there you are running the risk of negative back lash, so you can stand by your statement and persevere with out sinking to the level of the troll that slighted you, or you could sink to there level, or you could cry about it witch dose not help your case, or finally you don't have to post about it at all.


There's negative backlash, and then there's threatening rape. I honestly don't think the two compare. If somebody shuts up when threatened with rape, it shows others that threats of violence work. Posting about it exposes and appropriately shames people who make such threats- especially if law enforcement can't or won't help.
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Re: Sexism & Violence In the Comic Industry

Postby Ult_Sm86 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:40 pm

There's negative backlash, and then there's threatening rape. I honestly don't think the two compare.


Well, negative backlash for me also includes aggression, unwarranted bullying, and out-of-bounds name calling. Doesn't have to be rape threats to make someone feel bad.

But, thankfully, Janelle Assellin and other women who have faced this have not given up or stopped speaking.

And their strength at least in the comic industry, is only growing. Thank God.
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