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HURT COMICS: San Diego Rantifesto

RITUAL DISCLAIMER: Understand, my male friends, acquaintances, and peers, I am pleased for you. Proceed with that understanding.

You're shittin' me? You invited men making comics about women, but not a single woman making comics? You're shittin' me.

Got my pro reg pack for Comic Con International today. It is already binned, as I haven't changed my plans to not go this year. But there'd be another reason; it's repellent. It makes me ill to look at it, as it does many years. It's depressing to look at it and think things like, "What? Fucking Harry Knowles was a better guest than a woman?"
There is not ONE FEMALE SPECIAL GUEST this year. NOT ONE. Not even the token female they usually have. What? Rosario Dawson was busy? Gail Simone's not done enough yet? Someone's first webcomic trumps five years of Marvel and DC work? You're shittin' me.
And sure, I'll include myself: my career speaks for itself.* I'll put my contributions to the comics art form and business against anyone's career than spans the same period. Harry Knowles' boil on the ass of the web trumps me or even the 100 least productive women making comics? YOU'RE SHITTIN' ME.

I'd be really impressed if the featued men commented on this from their position as guests. "I'm pleased to be invited, I sure wish the convention felt my female colleagues, many of whom are as accomplished as any of us male guest, merited the same acclaim." I double-dog dare you. Impress me. Impress your female colleagues.

One of them, Brian Fries, is a guest on the strength of his first work, Mom's Cancer. I'm not missing the irony that a man making a comic about the near-death of inarguably the most important woman in his life is invited, and there's not a single woman making comics who is. It's not lost on me, either, that three of the male guests, Brian Fries, James Kolchaka, and Roger Langridge, make webcomics, which previously could not even be invited to draw a dogfight.
It's good to know webcomics now have the San Diego Testosterony Seal o' Approval.

One might think, from San Diego's (and many other cons) guest lists that comics were, as arcana_j published on snow and printed with piss ink. Because that's certainly how it looks: that the gender who can write largest with their genitals is the one worthy of recognition. Even though women making comics have figured out how to do it backwards and in high heels, making comics in a squat, without even looking.

The first year I went to CCI, it was still called San Diego Comic-Con, and I could count the other female pros attending on one hand. The next year, on slightly less than two. Looking at this year's guest list, there are, apparently, NO women working in comics twenty years on. I wouldn't have to expend myself to raise a single dainty digit (for example, the middle one) to count them.
WHAT does it SAY when one of the most visible public faces of comics ignores its women? For shame, CCI. FOR SHAME.

How could I possibly support this, even in my 1 person in 100,000 or one pro of hundreds or one female pro of HUNDREDS way? It's not much, but it's all mine.


* In case you're late to the party: twenty years and within that I was a pioneer in the manga and anime business in this country, pioneered OEL and $10. price points for GNs with Cathedral Child, Clockwork Angels, and Rumble Girls. (Yes, that would be me and Jim Valentino, not TP.) I am a webcomics pioneer, which meant creating (with Joey Manley) and hiring creators for GirlAMAtic.com: MANY contributors to the FLIGHT anthologies BEFORE those anthologies, Svetlana Chmakova, who has made the best OEL so far from TokyoPop, and Raina Telgemeier, who did the art for the gn adaptation of the insanely popular BABYSITTER'S CLUB.
Before that, I was an original contributor to Modern Tales, the first successful webcomics subscription site. I walked away from Image Comics and made Rumble Girls a print-to-web comic, before GIRL GENIUS or FINDER.

Then I had the ovaries to tell the mainstream to go fuck itself. Yeah, I'd say I'm all that.


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
I promise to do some hurtin' on your behalf at ACen this year!

(Whose Japanese guest list consists of 2 female japanese comics artists and an all-girl punk band, by the by. So at least females are somewhere...)
May. 1st, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
"At least somewhere" is not good enough.
The female comic guests had to be imported, and a band is not comics.

I do appreciate the hurtin' on my behalf, take care that the hurtin' isn't along the lines of "but ACen doesn't suck." We're not talking about ACen, here.

May. 1st, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I totally agree. I'm annoyed at the CCI thing, and importing guests isn't good enough. Women here need that honor, too.

What I meant, and totally didn't say correctly, was that I'm happy that this time around, there will be lots of strong female role models giving panels and signing autographs.

Now if only there were strong American female role models getting as much air time, I would be very excited.

So it's a start, just a small one.
May. 2nd, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
It does hurt when all the comic creators invited are Japanese. We have great female comic creators in America, too! I am always supspicious that some conventions may exhibit slight favoritism as far as race goes. I know many, many American males who have "Japanese girl" fetishes. Of course, not all men are like that. To suggest such would be a sweeping generalization on my behalf. But, you have to acknowledge that such thoughts could be at work, even on a subconcious level.

It's rather disgusting to even imagine that some creators might be brought over here just to be objectified.
May. 1st, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
That's the thing. The Japanese market has MORE THAN proven that comics have plenty of appeal to not just girls, but grown women.

However, here, it's marginalized by the American mainstream and packaged as "manga", so the comics industry doesn't seem to want to acknowledge it as synonymous as "comics".

Seriously, manga is just the Japanese word for comics, and I have this little dream that folks can publish whatever the hell they want without having to use a Japanese word to sell it. That you don't need qualifiers like OEL or Amerimanga or whatnot to sell "girly stories" in comic book stores.

It's kinda like taking a Honda Civic and saying it's not a real car because it's not an SUV, and then subsequently selling all compact cars as kuruma. So why do we do this to comics again?

Sorry, longwinded again. ^_^

*the student body president steps off the podium*
May. 1st, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC)
... Buh?

The Good Old Boys Club strikes again. *sigh*

From this viewpoint, the American comics industry continues to look like a treehouse with a [NO GIRLS ALLOWED] sign pasted on the side, with the boys sticking their tongues out.

This would, in fact, make a splendid political comic, but I haven't the patience or talent to execute this. ^_^

May. 2nd, 2006 06:37 am (UTC)
I remmember, some ten years ago Heidi MacDonald doing a piece for The Comics Journal #200 entitled "You Guys Need to Get Laid." It was breathtakingly blunt. I wanted to be that blunt.

May. 2nd, 2006 06:52 am (UTC)
Those guys?

I wouldn't touch 'em even if I were omnisexual and on Spanish Fly.

What they really need is to stop thinking with the heads below their belts.
May. 1st, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
You know I was recently told that there is no sexism in the industry by 3 unnamed MALE comic artists. That all the women they talked to said they didn’t have any problems. I scoffed. I still scoff, I'm so warmed to see that the industry treats women like any other man and by any other man I mean ignoring them and down playing their work.
May. 1st, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
Wow, the sampling of three men invalidates sexism.

Who knew it was so easy?
May. 2nd, 2006 06:38 am (UTC)
I need to add, I'd be interested in exactly HOW the guys said this.
It's be easy to take "I don't know anyone" and get "I don't personally know anyone" but also "I don't know anyone, therefore the problem has solved itself."
May. 2nd, 2006 07:06 am (UTC)
Someone asked "if they thought comics were a level playing field for women" they responded in saying they felt it was, as women they knew said they didnt have any problems. Not the most offense thing ever, but then I dont like being told by men things are awesome cus the ladies told them so.

It feels to much like saying "I know black people, see? Bobs black!"
May. 1st, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
I hate to say it, but you're expecting anything else from Cat Piss Man Central? Truth be told, the only surprise in anything you related was that Harry "Ain't I a Whoring Slob" Knowles isn't at A-Kon as well: from what I understand, he still has one hell of an advance to pay back from that autobiography of his that only sold to the staff at Film Threat. (The worst part is that the San Diego crew probably paid to haul his corpulent carcass out from Texas: after all, open-air cattle cars and biohazard teams to deal with that much cat piss are expensive.)
May. 1st, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
NO, not really. The difference is, this year I 'm not worried about being "nice", so I'll say out loud it sucks ass.

May. 1st, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)
I'm con-ignorant, so please forgive my question, but...

Is CCI an industry convention, or a fan convention? Because I want to know if comics need hurting, or comics fans.

Also, fuck Harry Knowles. Fuck him right in the ear.
May. 1st, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
It's both, and hurt them all.
May. 2nd, 2006 01:45 am (UTC)
y'know, with not one woman being named to the Master's List (there's a nice response about that at ST) and this, and the Frank Miller cover, and now this, is there a case of the STUPID breaking out in the industry?

Several years ago, TCJ put the industry on trial during a hillarious (and barbed) panel.

Perhaps it's time for another panel, provided deadlines for suggestions haven't closed.

May. 2nd, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
The Master's List is bullshit. There, I said it.

May. 2nd, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)

Well, geez. I'm glad Roger Langridge has finally been bumped up to Guest status, after years of getting shunted into far corners of the convention hall and sleeping on cockroach-infested hotel floors. But otherwise, my decision to skip Comic-Con this year is looking smarter and smarter. (I'm sorry I won't get to see Yoshihiro Tatsumi, though.)

It's not like it's hard to find major female comics creators these days. What about Svetlana Chmakova, Raina Telgemeier, Hope Larson? Carol Lay's got a book to pimp. Alison Bechdel's graphic-novel autobiography comes out this summer. Arrgh... I give up.
May. 2nd, 2006 06:28 am (UTC)
REMEMBER the disclaimer.
I'm not saying Roger didn't deserve that recognition, nor James. (I'll be honest in saying I think it's rather soon to be honoring Brian Fries, but that's me.)

I'm saying all the rest of that stuff I said.

There are plenty of women, both relatively new and seasoned alike (it's important to include the women who paved and are STILL paving the way), who would make excellent guests.

But perish forbid girls have visible role models at the biggest comic show in the country.
May. 2nd, 2006 07:09 am (UTC)
But perish forbid girls have visible role models at the biggest comic show in the country.

That is actually one of the reasons I tried to escape comics for so many years. :/
May. 2nd, 2006 02:34 am (UTC)
If they had a grain of sense they'd be begging you to come and tell them in public to go fuck themselves - think of the fabulous publicity.

May. 2nd, 2006 06:29 am (UTC)
It worked great when Frank Miller gave a speech about how much things in comics sucked punctuated by tearing up a copy of Wizard magazine.

It was a beautiful thing. Pity.
May. 2nd, 2006 01:48 pm (UTC)
That's some really concentrated stupid right there. And then the industry wonders why it continues to hemmorage readers like a hemophiliac in a razor blade factory.

Yes, it looks like you've made the right decision this year. But instead of CCI, have you ever considered trying Anime Expo? Yeah, they're a different style of retarded on display, but at least they appreciate women as creators.
May. 2nd, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
Ax? Not in my experience. Although it was ten years ago, I was treated so fucking shitty by the staff (and it wasn't the first, second or even THIRD time), I decided I could afford to never return.

In fact, I foudn ALL California anime cons to be uniformly the province of chudmonkeys.
May. 3rd, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)
From the 2-3 years I've been going to CA anime cons, you're not worth the time of day unless you're Japanese (or a voice actor).

The way things work socially are way different at AnimeCons and it took me a while to kinda grok to that.
May. 2nd, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
I'm really curious about how this played out behind the scenes, and we'll probably never know. Did CCI just not invite any female creators this year, or did they ask and get turned down? Both lead to the same visible result, but depending on which way it went, it does say different things about the state of the industry. If CCI is so unwelcoming that they're having trouble getting female guests, that may actually be worse than if they just didn't ask. On the other hand, it would be nice to think that female creators are feeling like they can blow off the worst aspects of the industry without crippling themselves, but that may be too optimistic.
May. 2nd, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
My soon-to-be-15-year-old niece and I will be attending CCI this year as usual. We'll miss you Lea, but understand and applaud your reasons. Sure, there are couple of hyped Special Guests I really hope to see, such as Daniel Clowes & Jim Mooney & John Romita Sr., but the vast majority of our time will be spent in the indy & small press areas. There are many female pros to be found at CCI-- they're apparently just not worthy of advertisement nor paid expenses from CCI. :-(

BTW, every year there are two Comic-Con Talkback panels, one on Thursday and one on Sunday. From CCI's 2005 website:

Thursday: Got a complaint? Got a compliment? Here's your chance to tell us what you think about Comic-Con 2005. Representatives from Comic-Con's Board of Directors will be on hand to field your questions.

Sunday: Here's your last chance to tell us what we're doing right, wrong, good, and/or bad. Members from the Board of Directors of Comic-Con will be standing by to answer your questions and listen to your comments.

I apologize in advance for my propensity for asking questions nicely.... :-)

May. 2nd, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
You tell them!
May. 2nd, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
Fight the power! A female breaking into the comic business and I think it stinks.
May. 2nd, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
One thing about San Diego's "Special Guests"; a fair number of them are chosen by companies (or even a fan group or two; I believe it's AAAC that brings in a Golden/Silver Age creator each year) rather than the con itself, and their "special" status essentially amounts to being a creator a company wants to promote and for who they pay their travel/lodging expenses for the con.

Looking at the website bios for this year's special guests, it's more difficult than I recall to tell who's a con invite and who's a company invite (I recall "so-an-so is sponsored by Foo Books" line in the past), but I'd be willing to guess that anyone whose status as "special guest" has me scratching my head at it or wondering why I've never even heard of this person who has (maybe) one book out and "is making their first appearance at Comic-Con" is company sponsored. A few years ago, Del Rey Books brought in about 2-3 first novelists as "special guests", something I felt devalued the term and effectively insulted the folk who should really be honored.

So, yeah, there should be female representation, but I don't think there's quite as much of a monolithic decision as you imply. I'd guess the con proper is only responsible for 1/3-1/2 of the guests listed, but that is just a guess. The others were company/group selected by a number of places.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )


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