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FUCK COMICS: The One with Alan Moore

I'm going to say this, and I may regret it, but I'm going to say it. I resented the shit out of Heidi Mac saying about me "I'd hate to see her tremendous talents lost in a sea of victimhood" and I especially resent it this morning when I read Heidi's intro to her interview with Alan Moore:
"...it becomes clear that the situation with his work at DC and in Hollywood causes him a lot of very real pain. As you can see from the transcript, you can disagree with some of his actions, but not with the real passion and love of comics that motivates them."

I see. I quit mainstream comics, and seeking work in the field, and my tremendous talents [will be] lost in a sea of victimhood. Alan Moore is in "very real pain."

I trust you can work out for yourselves the very different ways Heidi describes the disgust with the state of comics when it comes from me, a woman, and when it comes from Alan Moore, a man.

Am I putting my disgust with the comics business on a par with Alan Moore's? Fuck yeah, I am. It's an inadvertently perfect illustration of the entrenched sexism of the business that Heidi approaches mine and Alan Moore's twinned disappointment so differently.

I resented that the article that statement came in was illustrated with work (very nice work), exclusively from younger artists. Subtextually, the message is, to me, young artists are where it's at, the ONLY place where it's at. I am name-dropped and used as an example in an article that doesn't even feature a single piece of my work. It doesn't mention the names of the women whose art was used, either, until the last paragraph.

Pfah.

Onward, now that I've registered my disgust, to the meat of the interview: Alan Moore talks about how he lost the rights to "V for Vendetta" and "Watchmen", which is by trusting that DC would do right by him, much the way TPop creators are saying TPop will do right by them.

Moore on getting the VfV books he said he did not want: "And so where I'm at, at the moment, it was heartbreak. When I got that package of books I took them straight out to the garage and threw them straight into a skid. I didn't even want to recycle them. That night at 4 in the morning I woke up and I had black thunder rolling in my heart. I could not sleep, I was just lying there thinking well, they're just going to ignore everything I say. It’s not my book. It's their book, but the only reason they've my name on that book is it sells more copies, and it gives them a certain amount of integrity and credibility that I don't think they would otherwise have had."

I'm perhaps overstating my case here a bit, but I think I lent an awful lot of literary and intellectual credibility to the American comics business and to the comics business in general when I entered it. I don't feel the same way about comics any more, I really don’t. I never loved the comic industry. I used to love the comics medium. I still do love the comics medium in its pure platonic, essential form, but the comics medium as it stands seems to me to have been allowed to become a cucumber patch for producing new movie franchise."


I'm glad it's not just me.
Oh, Kevin Smith, what happened after Dogma?
Oh, Joe Quesada, what about oversight?
Oh, editor of SM&BC, whose name I can't find, what were you thinking?
Oh, Terry Dodson, what a waste of your lovely art.

From Michael Pullman's (an editor/writer working in publishing in the Bronx, NY) Tales to Mildy Astonish: "Issue 3 ended with Klum perched over a paralyzed Cat, undoing his pants."

This is me going AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH.

(Found via When Fangirls Attack.
Ragnell of When Fangirls Attack, writes in her own blog, Written World, about rape and comics characters.

"And it really bugs me that these writers find the only way they can emphasize a female character's strength is by giving her a past sexual trauma to overcome. As though this is the only trial fit for a woman."

And she's talking about right now. Not Red Sonja. Not Cassandra-the-Batgirl (who has an unoriginal-yet-oogy origin as a childhood victim of horrifying abuse). Not gut-shot and probably raped and paraplegic-in-a-world-where-Batman-breaks-his-back-and-isn't Barbara Gordon from The Killing Joke.

The comments are enlightening, too.
Heidi McDonald's first published piece ever, in The Comics Journal ca. 1982 (and I remember the review, and didn't know it was Heidi) was of "Marada the She-Wolf" (by Chris Claremont and John Bolton, I believe), where the title character is...wait for it...motivated for revenge by being raped.

In 1990, I had a conversation with Gerard Jones at Wondercon about it seeming like rape was the only form of actualization for heroic female characters. Not do-gooding. Not for adventure. Not for fun, even. That conversation was what started me writing Rumble Girls: SWT. To mock the shit out of creators and companies whose ideas for storylines for female adventurers will sooner or later turn to rape.

As Lisa Jonte (arcana_j) puts it:
"Sweet baby Jeebus, I have to wonder why we even bother asking if a female character in "mainstream" comics has been raped or not. It’s pretty much become a given anymore that at some point, sometime, somewhere every one of them has been, or will be. I’m beginning to think that a female character can’t get a union card without proving her horrific-past street cred."

Me too.
I see a comic in my head! A BAD BAD COMIC IN MY HEAD!

Read This: Pam Noles' SHAME

"Those Hollywood People took all of the key heroic players and shifted them down into the paler end of the spectrum. And they were obvious about it. Yes, they knew enough about the rules to keep at least one Magical Negro around to help the newly blond haired, blue eyed surfer Ged through his Journey Of Transformation To Save The World, because lord knows white boys can't do something like that on their own.

What is that? That's spit. Gobbed right between the eyes and dribbling down."

Pam Noles on Color, and a lack thereof, in science fiction, fantasy, and Earthsea.

QUIT COMICS: Fightin' Words!

Just so we're real, REAL clear on the concept here:
YOUR COMFORT ZONE: is not this blog. If it bothers you, ask youself why, don't tell me to shut up, or even tone it down.
BITCH: I am, and I get to.
WHY: I'm not doing this so I can sell books. I'm doing this because it needs to be done, it's needed doing for a long time, and there's no reason why I shouldn't.
BADLY: is I will take any well-intended advice to "calm down", "move on", "let it go".
VICTIM: Is what I'd be if I was still in comics and saying all this stuff.
SMACK UPSIDE DEH HEAD: Is what I give myself for trying to convince Paul Riddell to go back to writing. I had no business doing that, I was a jackass. I plead good intentions. I'm glad he's forgiven me.

Onward.
I have been in a pissy mood since a same-day registrant without a real name posted to the comments thread of What a Girl Wants #15:
"...and yet here you are, further propogating the falsehoods by NOT taking down everything you wrote, or retracting (which someone on Colleen's blog suggested you do) but by remaining silent...which leads people to believe that you are still correct about all this, when you aren't. [Lea here to point out Ronee has information Colleen doesn't.] So unless you want to point out things that Colleen said that you feel are wrong, thereby pointing everyone FURTHER into the direction of who this person is and what really happened, and jeopardizing the whole entire case, now is a good time to be quiet, thinks I."

Man, that honked me off.

Scott Beiser, someone I used to share studio space with back in teh EIGHTIES, and have known off and on since then, said in the comments thread of What a Girl Wants #15 at Buzzscope:

"Lea's [strategy] seems to be to withdraw, partially anyway, from the comics community, so as to avoid the things which offend her. This might be the best strategy for Lea, but maybe not for some/many/most other women."

You misreprent my strategy as avoiding what offends me. Your phrasing, in fact, offends the shit out of me.

It's beyond not reading books that aren't for me, or passing on conventions because I'm tired of traveling to what Carla Speed McNeil calls the "world's largest optical migraine", or staying out of shitty retail stores. I tried all that shit.

The comics culture as it is doesn't just offend.
It demeans, depresses, and annoys the shit out of. The dominant culture in my avocation, comics, is one of "boy's club." The ads on comics sites, the news coverage, the magazines, they ignore women.

Women's work is undervalued, even if she can, like Ginger, dance backwards in high heels until her feet bleed. Award nominations and award wins show this. (And this is from someone who's won one and been nominated individually and as a contributor.) Guest lists for cons demonstrate this. Observe the tokenism in those lists. it looks as if most cons would rather have a grade z male artist before a popular female who's main sin is being a webcartoonist. (I'm not talking about myself, thanks.)
"Best of" lists remind of this. Comics "news" coverage applauds the man who creates the soap opera, and ignores the woman who did. The man who does something new will be the first who did it, regadless of how many women beat him to it.
Even in tangentally-related comics coverage, take a look at a list of "comics chicks will like". Good luck finding a woman-created comic in most of those articles. You'll see a lot cape titles, and the balance made of of the Usual Suspects, all male.

In the Boy's Club, there is only the Only Girl in the Room. If you're that girl, it's great. You begin to believe there's parity, until you're turfed for the new Only Girl in the Room. Then you believe your sisters again, too bad you pissed them off so bad by not getting what they were telling you because you didn't want to believe your reign was finite. Then, though, you can say they all turned their backs on you. That always sounds better than admitting you might have, maybe, dismissed them as jealous or unimportant. I am reminded of the Robin Williams joke "I clawed my way to the middle, and fucked it back down."

Then there's physical gropings, face-to-face dismissals, having male (and female) professionals repeatedly stand you up for apointments at shows, having dudes suggest a man could really help make your work accessible, having the men side up with each other (even when you have PROOF one of them had sided with you at one point), the dismissal of ideas as "girly", and a thousand small cruel cuts that add up to an awful gut wound you're holding the edges of with both hands and antidepressants.

That's NOT fucking avoiding offense.
I can just walk through San Diego blindfolded for that, avoid most online comics sites, and stay out of 99% of comics shops. What you said is like telling some biddy with a political agenda who doesn't like "Desperate Housewives" to turn off her fucking TV. But she doesn't need her TV to make a living in what she was trained for.
I needed comics, because that's what I trained for. And now I don't.

That's not avoidance. It's survival. You wouldn't tell a gal being abused to stay with the shithead because lots of women are abused, happens all the time, some women get killed even, what about the children (books) and what will you do if there's no male presence in your life?

And, Scott, since I'm in a fightin' mood, who are you to say what some/many/most women need?

What if half the women working in comics just...walked away? Bye-bye to comics' top colorists, writers, and artists. Bye-bye to editors, competent assistants, and bookkeepers. Bye to the lady who fills orders, the gals who run the exceptional comics stores.

Comics would be at home alone with a frozen TV dinner and no idea how to microwave it. (Comics doesn't know the instructions are on the end flap.) After a few hours of Spike TV, and some quality time in the square office with Miss February, it'd get pretty damn old.

And I'd laugh.

EDIT: Original comment at Buzzscope deleted.

Quit Comics: The One With the Ass Grab

Ronee Garcia Bourgeois is the VP of Friends of Lulu, and columnist at Buzzscope. Two weeks ago, "What a Girl Wants" was about a young female comics professional who was assaulted by a male professional. After reading that, I wrote to Ronee for particulars, and agreed to talk about my own experiences for this week's WaGW.

Also talking to Ronee were Colleen Doran and Beatrix Kyle.

Let the fan hit the shit.

A side note: I thought everyone this week would be naming names. I look like the sucker who stood there staring into the sun while everyone else took a step back after the request for volunteers to take a step forward. That's okay, though. This is part of why I quit.

"A Pretend Crusade"

EDIT: Comments are frozen due to drive-by assholes.

I'd like to thank Birds of Prey writer (and Killer Princesses co-creator) Gail Simone for stopping by and contributing to the If You Can Just..." comments thread.

In response to my question,
"In your opinion, is [the term "fanservice"] always bullshit self-hating, even when applied correctly? Is it always applied awkwardly?
Me, I don't think it's a "bullshit self-hating term", I think it describes something for the fans, whether it's a character's catchphrase that drives a studio audience wild, or a sudden explosion of Victoria's Secret in Batman."

Gail says,
"It assumes motivation in a juvenile way, for one thing. Me, I don't care so much what other people find sexy, and I'd prefer not having others tell me what I should feel is hot.
But that's just me, I'm not on a pretend crusade."

To paraphrase Jon Stewart responding to Bill O'Reilly:

"If Gail Simone needs to have an enemy, needs to feel persecuted, you know what? Here's my Wondercon gift to her. Are you ready? All right. I'm your enemy. Make me your enemy. I, Lea Hernandez, hate comics, comics professionals, the direct market, DC, Marvel, and fans and I will not rest until every year comics readers gather to spend a long weekend in July or August together at Wertham's homo-bitteroldwoman-manga-and-"real" books-fanserviceporium."

So What's Different?

Scott Beiser asks:

"What exactly is it that you're NOT going to do going forward that you WERE doing previously?"

-Seeing sexist crap and saying little or nothing because I was afraid of losing work (even from companies that didn't publish what I was criticizing), or being seen as a bitter old woman. I don't care. I didn't like it when I was young, either, but I said nothing.

-Going to comic conventions, at least for a couple years. I'm tired of going at my own expense to a stadium where I can be smacked repeatedly upside the head with images that tell me (me personally, your MMV), that I have little value to comics unless I am young, thin, and have big boobies. And there's plenty of attitude to go with the images that says the same.

-Pursuing work from comics companies, any comic company. No. Not gonna do it. Done with that. Besides now freeing myself from trying to be a pleaser for a fat (or miniscule) paycheck, that leaves me free to speak my mind. I'm free from "silence is assent." I'm free from not being "nice."

-I'm also free from worrying that I'm going to discomfit people who choose to continue on their career path, or their fandom, and ignore the huge problems that afflict most of the comics business, sexism being the biggest and worst, because I want to stay "friends" with the first and possibly sell books to the latter. As my UU minister was fond of saying, "Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."

-And if I don't work for the big companies, I don't have to deal with their frequently ass-backward editing and accounting. Some writers and artists can deal with ass-backward editing shit, they can deal with an editor or that editor's higher-up decision that a book needs a story element they find repulsive, or chopping a book's run in half, or promising they'll defend the creator and then folding on them.
I choose not to.

This is all for me, understand. This is how I choose to make comics and talk about them. I'm not saying anyone else has to be this way. I'm also keenly aware there's sexism "everywhere." That doesn't mean I have to continue pretending that it's normal, acceptable behavior.

If You WANT the Change, BE the Change

Greetings to the new people who've found their way here via The Best, When Fangirls Attack, Zeus Comics Blogger, and countless others who are welcome to pimp themselves here.

More than once in the past week, the question's been asked "What can I do?" I'm going to make some suggestions, since you asked, and you're listening.

1. Buy my books. That's right. You want to support someone with the nerve to strike out on her own, BUY MY BOOKS. Walk, meet talk. Go to Divalea's Webcomics Nation Emporium and buy a book or four. Buy a shirt. Commission a maquette.

2. I'm going to self-publish something this year. Commit now to supporting that. I'm going to do it Janer-style: raise the dough for printing by having people order in advance. You'll get a great book, signed and with a sketch in it, a piece of art of some sort, and you'll be a charter member of Atelier DivaLea Books. There'll even be a button saying so, that you may wear.

3. Read my comics online, they're at www.girlamatic.com and at Webcomicsnation.com. Tell your friends about them. Review them. Blog about them.

4. DO NOT BE SILENT. Silence about sexism in comics has become a normal behavior. Make silence abnormal. Make noise. As people speak out, behavior will be amended, the shitweasels will be driven away, and women who call out bad behavior will be supported, instead of ostracized.

5. MAKE COMICS.

6. HURT COMICS. And hurt those fuckers GOOD.

7. If you WANT the change, BE the change.

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roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
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Lea Hernandez-DivaLea
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