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Wednesday, April 26, 2017 

Fayetteville Observer's sloppy look at women in the medium

The Fayetteville Observer published an article taken from the Chicago Tribune covering the C2E2, about comics allegedly becoming increasingly female. When they bring up mainstream superhero products, however, that's where their news definitely collapses. First, here's some comments made by writer Amy Chu:
“We’re two women, just walking around this convention, and one of our first experiences is checking out the artists area and getting asked by guys if we’d model,” Chu said. “It was way worse than Wall Street — nobody on Wall Street ever asked me to model. And you’d get mansplained all the time, on everything. Nobody cared about a Harvard MBA.”
I'm not sure what's wrong with being asked to model for artists; I'm sure it's happened as far back as the Golden Age, recalling that the wife of either Jerry Siegel or Joe Shuster provided inspiration for Lois Lane's character design. Actually, what's really annoying is Chu's citation of "mansplaining", which is just liberal gibberish.
“I wouldn’t say it’s great now for women in comics,” she said. “It’s no advantage. People still question your professional credibility all the time. But we are getting closer to parity.”

Indeed, when C2E2 2017 begins Friday at McCormick Place, the comic book publishing industry will look much more female than it has been in decades, from the crime fighters leaping across its pages, to the writers and artists and editors who created them. The notable characters represented at C2E2 this year by a writer or artist include the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Batwoman, Spider-Gwen, Supergirl, Batgirl and a newly female Thor; among the several female creators attending are Chu, Jordie Bellaire (“Dr. Strange”) and Kate Leth (“Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!!”), who started an online forum named Beware the Valkyries exclusively for female comic book store employees.
So, no questions raised as to whether turning Dr. Jane Foster into a female Thor - but with a male name - of all things, was an auspicuous idea to start with? They may not admit it, but it was otherwise a financial failure laced with political motivations, and one of the reasons why Marvel was losing audiences. Chu's right though, that this isn't the great time for women in comicdom the mainstream press would have you believe it was.
Marvel and DC, historically the largest comic book publishers, won’t release customer demographics, but the past couple of years have seen several studies, from among others Publishers Weekly and Amazon’s popular Comixology hub for online comics, that suggest between 30 and 50 percent of new comic book readers in recent years have been female. “This is certainly the strongest moment in ages for women, in terms of representation for creators and characters,” said Hope Nicholson, author of a new history, “The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen.” “In the 1940s, in the golden age of comics, female readership was on par with male. Torchy Brown, one of the first female characters in comics, was made by a black woman, who kept the merchandising rights! In the 1930s! Only now is it returning to anything like parity, and I think that’s because women have a million new entry points now, like social media and web comics.”
If we're talking about non-superhero comics and non-corporate products, yes, you could call it a strong moment. But anybody who thinks it's a great time in the world of costumed crimefighters should get a reality check; everything they're doing is at the expense of established characters, and they're not creating any new ones. And now, here's where the article takes a turn for the worse:
Owner Patrick Brower said he was, in a way, also being practical: “Without question, the majority of new customers we get now are women. And that’s because there’s more representation, and not just of gender but sexuality, religion. I’m a middle-class white guy who grew up with white superheroes, and I never thought, ‘This is for me,’ because of course it was. But when you get a Ms. Marvel, who is a female Muslim teenage hero? That’s an industry holding up a mirror to its audience.”
What, is he saying today's audience - and even yesterday's - is Muslim by and large? Wow, is that hilarious. And no Armenians are given mention. If there was a sizable audience of them, he probably wouldn't say anything. And is there more representation of religions today, or, is he just hinting at Islam?
Ms. Marvel, among the creative watermarks for comics recently, was a breakthrough. Now there’s a Chinese Superman, a black Captain America. Thor is a woman. Batwoman is a lesbian. Independent publishers have been even stronger with strong female characters: The best-reviewed, most popular indie titles in recent years are either written, drawn and starring women (“Bitch Planet,” “Monstress”), or written by men featuring strong females, in particular Brian K. Vaughan’s “Saga” and “Paper Girls.”
I'll give them some credit for pointing out independent publishers being a leading force for books with female leads and writers, but how sad they're perpetuating the support for the liberal garbage that ruined much of Marvel these past years, and DC too. Predictably, not a word about how successful or not the finished products were artistically. And that's why the newspapers are as much of a joke as the publishers whose work they're fawning over.

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