Over the weekend writer Ally Monroe found the We Are Comics campaign and we were wondering what it was about and stumbled into the controversy surrounding the comic reviewer (Janelle Asselin) who posted a well deserved scathing critique over on CBR of the new Teen Titans #1 cover from DC Comics. (Seriously, what is up with that tiny door under Red Robin??) The idea that ridiculously sexists comic covers like this exist is not news to anyone, but what is terrible is that Janelle ended up receiving rape threats and people trashing her for her critique. She has the full story over in her XOJANE article.
The over sexualization of women in comics has bothered me ever since I was teenager. You would think a teenage boy would have LOVED going to look at boobs and scantily clad ladies, but the thought of someone getting a boner to a comic drawing was really gross to me. And I knew those types of boys and I always thought they were sad. Who knew they may have grown up to possibly rant rape threats to anyone who dared take their brokeback lady poses away.
The solution? We need a time machine to travel back to the early 90s. Terminator style.
In all seriousness though, while overly sexualized women have been in comics a long time, it was in the early 90s when things got REALLY out of hand. (Lady Death anyone??) What’s worse? It’s how young artists were taught that their women needed to be drawn. By editors. At portfolio reviews. Now that I think about it, I recall several “portfolio reviews” when I was 16 or 17 where whatever douche was behind the table would say “draw sexier women” because that’s what sells. It always creeped me out. Probably because my Dad raised me to respect women. I’m sure I’ve drawn some pinup material. But I’ve always resisted drawing cheesecake or brokeback junk.
Even when I was making a name for myself with Hero By Night, I drew the first 4 issues without any scantily clad women, and boy did I hear about it. From fans. From editors. From colleagues. It was always “when are you going to have a sexy chick character” and I’d groan. Who knows, maybe it would have sold better. But I never caved.
I always felt it helped alienate female readership for comics. I imagined a teenage girl walking into a comic shop and feeling out of place and that always bugged me.
But then again,Â today’s GOD CHILD page has two women embraced in a kiss on it. It could be said that I’m aiming to the lowest common denominator that I’m writing against… but in Maggie and Grace’s case, they are lovers. And the idea is that God has such a sense of humor that he puts the second coming inside of a Lesbian just to make some points of his (or her) own. They are normal girls, as best as I can draw them. And I’ve been proud to make a book with strong female lead characters. I hate male fantasies. I brought on writer Ally Monroe help make sure these female characters are believable. I can’t pretend to think like a woman or what they go through. Just as I can’t pretend to be a minority.
None of these issues are NEW in the comics industry. They’ve just been swept under the rug for a very long time. The internet has a great way of bringing these things to light, warts and all. Here’s hoping we see some positive change. Remember, bad things keep happening only because good people don’t stand up to them.