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Saturday, October 10, 2015 

B. Clay Moore blew it apologizing for PC costuming

Back in March, the writer B. Clay Moore wrote a piece defending the lean towards practical outfits for women in superhero comics. Unfortunately, he fails to complain about all the vapid scriptwriting that was the real culprit in many of the examples he alludes to. No mention is even made here of how, when Bob Harras and Joe Quesada were editors for Marvel, they put the artists a degree above the writers, all at the expense of the latter, or, they hired writers based solely on their appeal to their own personal fanbase that had no interest in the books they were hired to write if specific writer wasn't assigned (eg- J. Michael Straczynski). His commentary includes:
As an example, Batgirl was designed by DC and the producers of the “Batman” TV show as a way to bring female viewers into a male-dominated viewing audience. She was basically forgotten by the time Alan Moore shot her in the spine, but that act did allow for the creation of Oracle, which was a very positive step forward in mainstream genre comics. In a sense, the character has always been a pioneer of sorts (and is now again).

In the ’70s, Marvel introduced Ms. Marvel (no matter how clumsily) as a nod to the rising feminist movement, even borrowing part of the character’s name from Gloria Steinem’s quite liberal and explicitly feminist Ms. magazine. An earlier, less successful (in terms of longevity), but equally earnest Marvel effort was “The Cat,” featuring a female creative team. Both of these books were primarily designed to attract the attention of female readers.
Only the female audience? What if it was to boost their male audience count as well? Don't jump to conclusions only boys and men watched the show, and at the same time, don't conclude it was only to get more of a girl audience.

Interesting Moore brought up Steinem, because she had no issues whatsoever with the classic Wonder Woman costume, and in 1971, when the magazine was launching, she made the case for going back to it along with her official superpowers, as the company simplified the direction to more of a spy-based angle when Denny O'Neil wrote WW circa 1969-73.
In any event, with the shrinking of the broader demographic, and with comics moving primarily into comic book shops, publishers (and creators) started shifting the focus to pandering to a male-dominated readership, and that’s when costumes and drawings of women really started to become over-the-top sales pitches to raging boners. (And when impossibly huge guns that shot impossibly huge bullets became in vogue.)
Technically, this is true to some extent. However, what really happened was that writing became incredibly poor, with emphasis on sexuality serving as a poor substitute for meaty scripting. Which Moore didn't really comment on, even though he himself is a writer. It's also worth noting that there were women who worked in the medium in the 1990s, and to be sure, an audience as well, and sexuality was hardly the issue for them so much as it was the story merits.

I'll say that when Jeph Loeb launched the 2005 Supergirl series, it did - at least initially - suffer from an angle where Kara Zor-El was overly sexualized - certainly on some of the issue covers - and I'm sure it was deliberate. So there's one standout example of the editors turning the material into a joke by using T&A effects as a ridiculous way of compensating for stories that either had no meaning, or were just plain screwed up with missed potential (they didn't even try to establish a secret ID for Kara, unlike the Silver/Bronze Age tales, which did). But there's other examples out there where the T&A wasn't that forced, and only the lack of in-depth storytelling undermined everything.
What we’re seeing now is a return to the idea that it’s possible to bring in (or appeal to) a broader readership. One that includes and embraces women.
I'm afraid not. Do most women want to waste their hard earned money on stories that are editorially mandated and wind up consumed by crossovers? I think not, and even now, sales pretty much reflect that. Also, let's consider the still dominant editorial mandate at Marvel dictating that Mary Jane Watson can no longer be Peter Parker's paramour could be turning off potential female readership for Spider-Man, ditto Dan Slott's awful writing. The same mentality's also prevailing at DC, where they decided Lois Lane can't be Clark Kent's paramour anymore either. How come that doesn't register here? Don't co-stars count?

But now, here's where Moore really screwed up:
So you can whine about losing boob windows and hot pants and drawings of women where both boobs and an entire ass are visible, but what’s happening now is a good thing for comics, because it’s a return to the idea that the medium doesn’t exist for the enjoyment of a single, narrow demographic.

And if you’ve decided you’re not going to read a comic book because it depicts female characters with dignity as a consideration, I doubt anyone will mourn your absence.
Whoa, what's this? Is he implying that everyone who dares complain about their succumbing to a "moral panic" is nothing more than a filthy pervert who should go to hell? Tsk tsk. I'm somebody who likes Spider-Woman Jessica Drew's original red-and-yellow costume from the Bronze Age, and even the original Batgirl costume, and I sure don't complain about those. But then, why must Moore imply that WW's costume is a shameful creation, or even some of She-Hulk's outfits? Why must he indirectly imply Stan Lee was wrong to conceive of Jennifer Walters as a sexpot? Why must he even suggest the wacky angles Joe Staton had for Power Girl in the Bronze Age are literally some kind of abomination?

Moore may not think so, but here's an interesting thought to ponder: he's insulted the manhood of many Black and Latino readers out there. Many SJWs like to claim the crowd they despise is all "white and straight". But years ago, when my family would go visit our place of birth back in Philadelphia a few times during the 1990s, we'd sometimes go to the Franklin Mills shopping mall, and go into a restaurant/entertainment center called "Jillian's", where there were all sorts of video games that even Black thrill-seekers liked to try out. And if there's Blacks out there who enjoy computer games, then you can be sure there's long been Blacks and Latinos who like to read comics, superhero and otherwise, too. And he has the gall to to villify them? The shame. It goes without saying he's insulted quite a few women too.

Not only that, Moore wrote off quite a few artists with more respect than he'll ever have as "dirty", all the way back to Joe Shuster, who turned out some pretty flattering drawings of Lois Lane and other such women in the Golden Age. He's even insulted artists like Steve Rude, J. Scott Campbell, Trina Robbins, Frank Cho and George Perez. Just think: under the now ensuing mentality, if Perez were starting his career today, he'd be rejected and certainly wouldn't be allowed to draw Scarlet Witch with the bare midriff costume he drew for her in the late 90s. Dave Cockrum wouldn't be allowed to draw the second Ms. Marvel outfit that wasn't even the most revealing you could find out there. Moore's stupid little bash was throughly inconsiderate of all the past geniuses who helped shape the medium, and may have led to some of the recent attacks on all those artists with better manners than he has. If he'd really wanted to make a difference, he would've said it's a shame if people let the costume designs determine everything instead of the writing efforts. But this is not the kind of person who's worried about the state of modern superhero writing, or else he would've acknowledged all the mainstream mistakes as well. Some of the commentors, if not all, saw where he was headed, and one said:
Contrary to what was printed above, Batgirl was not “basically forgotten” by the time Alan Moore shot her in the spine.

Soon after her 1967 debut, she had a regular back-up series in Detective Comics for several years. After guest-starring in Superman and Superman Family, she became the co-lead (with Robin) in the Batman Family series for the mid-late ’70s and into the ’80s when it merged with Detective Comics. When the Batman Family concept ended, she remained the backup series in Detective Comics for a few years (eventually being replaced by Green Arrow). She appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths, giving new depth to her friendship with Supergirl when she gave the eulogy at Kara’s funeral. She was given Batgirl Special #1 and a Secret Origins story a couple of years into the Post-COIE world…and then was crippled in a story that wasn’t supposed to be part of DC continuity.

She’d had some years with more appearances than others, but she was hardly “almost forgotten.” Let’s be accurate.
Yes, I thought there was something rather off about his take on Babs Gordon. Just another guy who doesn't care for a sizable library of potential escapist fare from the Bronze Age that works better than today's offerings. Another said:
That’s quite the straw man. What exactly was wrong with Batgirl’s original costume? Or Ms. Marvel’s? Or Spider-Woman’s? No, the other Spider-Woman. No, the other one. Seriously? If you recolored male character’s suits to flesh tones they’d look buck naked.

So let’s drop that argument because it doesn’t work. Batgirl was less exposed than Robin for most of her history. It’s got nothing to do with the suit and everything to do with how the artist draws her.

I totally agree female characters were created to appeal to female readers. But the changes happening now aren’t to appeal to female readers; they’re to appeal to internet feminists. Talk about pandering to a single, narrow demographic. What about the women who liked the old designs? Do their opinions not count?

Let’s just be real about it: this is just a rehash of what happened in the 50s and the policing of content. The only difference is who’s doing it.
Indeed, Fredric Wertham had positions similar to what these SJWs and feminists are espousing now, so why does Moore's ilk, supposedly resentful of the doctor's sloppy research, suddenly want to agree with him now? In fact, how long has it been since it was discovered Wertham faked or plagiarized a few topics? At least 2 years, and now you strangely don't hear about him anymore. I guess all those leftarded idiots decided that since Wertham was a "progressive", there was no need to criticize him for being so selfish, and so changed their positions and are now avoiding the subject because they know it could make a mockery out of their current stance. That's also why they make such an effort to obscure the voices of women who don't see their way. Another one said:
The idea that every female character is created specifically to diversify the audience is outright incorrect. It really comes down to a case by case basis. Batwoman, for example, was created specifically to show that Batman and Robin weren’t gay lovers after such accusations from Fredrick Wertham.

I’m also of the opinion that anyone outright against women being portrayed in an even slightly sexual manner are doing little more than slut shaming characters who are written to be femme fatales, like Catwoman, or comfortable with their sexuality.
Batman already had a couple civilian girlfriends, so the claim Batwoman was created to offset accusations is moot. But the second part is right; Moore and the bunch he's speaking for are doing little more than body-shaming. And another guy had this rebuttal to Moore's embarrassing line at the end of his post:
This was incredibly pretentious and threw everything positive you were saying out the window. The publishers will mourn them, no one wants to lose any customers if they can help it. Helping people understand why growth in the market should be key not telling them don’t let the door hit them in the ass.

That’s the biggest problem with this whole movement, there’s so much positive change coming from it, but so many of the people have a get on board or get out of the way attitude that makes you no better than the people crying they don’t want things to change. This should be everyone’s medium, it should be welcoming and inviting to all walks of life. True diversity comes from having a place for everyone, not homogenizing the genre. You homogenize it you risk making it stale.

This is such a creative medium and it just kills me to see people who love it at each others throats, instead of trying to carve a middle ground and specialized corners for everyone. It really seems like people want it one way or another, as you proved with your closing quote.
And it also shows complete disdain and disregard for the whole purpose of superhero comics, even those coming from Marvel - they were not intended to be 100 percent realistic, and were intended to offer surreal fantasy as a form of escapism. Yet we now have a problem with some biased dummies out there who think surrealism is a criminal offense, selectively or otherwise, and should be obliterated from the face of the earth. And the worst part is that only sexuality is truly their issue, not jarring violence like we've seen coming from Mark Millar or Geoff Johns's writings. Then, another says:
I agree, I feel the changes to women’s costumes appeal to a certain “afraid of sex” demographic. Which includes a bizarre cross-section: “Male conservatives”, “Male liberals who feel they need to be ultra PC”, and “women conservatives”, and “Women liberals/uber-feminists” Basically, extremists of all sorts, who each have reasons to be afraid of/overly concerned with expression of sexuality. Of course these are broad terms, and if they apply to you and you aren’t afraid of sexual expression: Good for you!

Now, I do agree that EXPLOITATION of sexuality is wrong, but sex is a human motivating factor. One among many, of course. Should sex, nudity, sensuality be in all books: of course not. Should all characters be sexually aggressive or suggestive. No. Some should, some shouldn’t. Emma Frost- sure, have her running around in lingerie, and using sexuality as a weapon. Batgirl- no way.

The author, of course, is being overly hostile. I detect a puritanitanical streak or, perhaps “I must be the defender of all women!” streak here. Which I find amusing. Carry on.
Interestingly, a few decades ago, it may have been conservatives who complained about sex in entertainment, though plenty did object to violence as well. Now, bizarrely enough, it's liberals doing the complaining, yet not many seem so worried about graphic violence in superhero comics once considered optimistic, IMO. If they're not confident in themselves to write stories involving female sexuality, they're not fit to be storytellers.

This was all just a month before the attacks on artists, and maybe Moore's since cut out his foolish attack. Yet if no apology was ever issued, then it's unlikely he's sorry. Now that the video game industry's been fighting back against censorship of women's outfits and such, it's possible that maybe the comics industry will eventually come to their senses and quit placating SJWs on such petty issues. But for all we know, they might not, and it'll only hurt them more. You can't say escapism-seekers are perverts and then expect them all to forgive you for slapping them in the face. Whatever PC steps are being taken now, they're certainly not helping sales since the SJWs have no interest in them to begin with.

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