You may remember that, at the end of June, I mentioned that Deb Aoki, editor and writer of manga.about.com, had spearheaded a program to make the point that women and girls not only read and buy, but also make comics, after a particularly bad media backlash about female fans of the Twilight series “invading” San Diego Comic-Con.
There are two entirely different issues being addressed by people writing articles on both sides of this discussion. Most of the women seem to be saying that, Twilight and the fans are not the issue – the issue is the serial dismissal that female comics fans have always gotten from the male fans. Partly because of social and emotional retardation and partly because men simply dis women so unconsciously that when women point it out, we’re being over-sensitive. Male writers seem to be saying that they aren’t dissing “women” in general, just the not “real” fans, the Janie-come-latelys, who they perceive as being only into one thing – obsessed with the mainstream media and not the “real” media (i.e., books or comics.)
I’m not sure either side is really listening to or cares about the other. I’m with Deb – let’s stop the discussion and make the point. Twilight is not the issue. Women who are fans of comic books are “real” fans. They always have been. There are already women in the comics industry, the comics press, the movie industry and, in case you haven’t noticed, in the audience for Iron Man as well as Twilight. I do not care at ALL what you say, no one is ever going to convince me that Robert Downey Jr. is considered to be a hunk. It’s not his abs that convinced people to watch that movie. It was his armor. It was the chance to see Tony Stark, THE Tony Stark, come to life.
Seriously, do you think I was born a manga fan? I have a tremendous collection of early Marvel – because I am older than most of you and was collecting Avengers when those comics were coming out. lol I’m a Marvel girl, the wife collected DC and between us, we have a collection that would make any “real” comics fan cry with envy.
Because we *are* “real” comics fans. As are many women.
So, Deb decided to find a creative, fun and rewarding way to make that statement. She created the “Women Make Comics” project. Which has now launched on Cafepress. To the credit of all the folks involved, there are t-shirts in many colors and sizes, including, I am happy to note, sizes for women which are actually for women.
Proceeds from sales will go to charities such as Friends of Lulu, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. Because all of those support women in comics and you don’t catch folks at MoCCA bitching about being “invaded” by females. (Or media coverage assuming that women “only” go to MoCCA for some other reason than comics.)
This will not solve the problem. At the very heart of it, there *problem* is that there are just some people who will dis anything women are into precisely because those things appeal to women. I get this all the time, when guys write me telling me – arguing, insisting – that Yuri is not for women and I should butt the hell out. Yes, seriously. Still. Not everyone. Not every guy. But some will, yes.
We need to recognize that there are going to be some genres out there that are not for us – that are not something we like. But that does not mean they are any less valid. OL comics are not for me – but the art is not deficient just because I find the content repulsive. Nor are “girl’s” comics any less sophisticated than “boy’s”. I’ll put Yazawa Ai (who I do not like) up against Alex Robinson (who I also do not like) any day. Hands down, Yazawa wins as the better technical artist. So, which is more of a valid art form? Neither. Both are art.
Look around pictures of SDCC, of Otakon, of Nascar for pity’s sake. Look at the wonderful, diverse mix of people. Ages, genders, ethnicity.
The real point here is that women and comics are already established law. There is no conversation to be had about what, if any, our place is in the field. We’re here, we’ve been here, we will be here.
Let’s take a deep breath, wear our Women Make Comics t-shirts proudly, and know that with every step forward that we take, we’re still trailblazing through this wilderness of fandom. :-)