Saturday, April 12, 2008

Guardian: Brilliantly Drawn Girls

Matthew Badham passed me a piece from the Guardian entitled: Brilliantly Drawn Girls.

Go and have a look and report back here.


Number 1: Brilliantly drawn girls? girls?
Number 2: The byline - Comics never used to be much fun for their rare female characters, but with more women in the industry, kick-ass heroines are taking over. No, that's just not true. See below.
Number 3: In an article about women in comics does the first and only image have to be a shot of a glammed up Wonder Woman?
Number 4: Is it just me or could the article be summed up as a love-in for Gail Simone tied up in a suitably relevant issue piece?

Surely this is just rubbish:
"Simone is perhaps the most public face of the revolution - a highly popular voice, she has been appointed by comics giant DC as the first female ongoing writer for Wonder Woman"
No. Simone is merely one woman writer at DC who happens to be on a highly iconic character. But the most public face of the revolution?
No. That has to go to Manga as a whole. Or maybe Marjane Satrapi or Alison Bechdel. But they get barely a mention later on and when they do it's with this context:
And beyond the comics mainstream, some of the most groundbreaking and exciting graphic novels of the past few years have been written - and devoured - by women, including Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.
Of course women read and write comics "beyond the comics mainstream". That's because the comics mainstream wears bright stupid costumes, has superpowers and tends to be about as likely to appeal to women as Mills and Boon do to men.

And before I get complaints, I'm merely using the Mills and Boon as a simple example. Generally Mills and Boon is written for and read by women. It is the mainstream of romantic fiction. And it's about as likely to get men reading fiction as superhero comics as the comic mainstream is likely to get women reading comics.

Manga is incredibly popular to women. Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel are very public faces of women in comics. The article just brushes this aside and misses the fundamental point. If women are getting into comics and thankfully, years of experience in and around comics shows me that they are, then they certainly aren't coming into it because Gail Simone is leading the way in writing "Kick-Ass heroines".

To it's credit the article then goes on to talk about DCs Minx line and has the ever interesting Trina Robbins talking intelligently about the changes we're seeing.

But perhaps the most shocking thing: In a Guardian article there was not a single mention of Posey Simmonds. Women in Comics in the Mainstream. But no Posey. Terrible.

Oh well. At least the thing didn't start with "Biff Bam Pow, comics aren't just for boys anymore".


  1. At the risk of sounding like a complete fucker...

    Jeremy Dennis, Cliodhna Lyons, Sally-Anne Hickman, Sasha Mardou, Ellen Linder, Willie Hewes...

    Just off the top of my head.

    Women make comics that are for the most much more interesting to look at than than the comics men make. Sweeping broad generalisation.

    I've probably read something by Gail Simone, but I don't remember.

    This is probably related to women not having a sizeable percentage representation in this art form and the boost they bring in is one thats been missing. If Gail Simone were as good a writer as say even Peter David, I think I would have heard of it by now. Shes certainly not of the standard of Whedon.

    As I wrote in my email there are certain economic class aspects to Simone's promotion within this story that are not being picked up on. Its good that theres a female writer on Wonder Woman, but theres half a dozen above who are easily better qualified. And huge more of varying degrees of being known.

  2. Ah, right...Women In Refridgerators Gail Simone.

    And comedy action stylings.

    As ever, re-assesses were time is free.

  3. Not the whole 'women read manga' argument thing again. Sure manga is popular to many but they're not all women and to be honest I'm sick of people using that in any women + comics argument.
    Sure I agree with you that Gail Simone isn't going to revolutionise the comics world with her writing but for many women in comics like myself she does represent a woman in comics - which I'm sure is another large factor for her popularity. For women to be in the spotlight in the comics world is very rare and I hope it happens more often.

  4. Joe S. Walker4:02 PM

    That Guardian piece is just an extension of the advertising with which it was written to run alongside: its purpose being to tickle the ego of a favoured demographic. Note the bit about "Men leading reluctant girlfriends from stall to stall? That fog of adolescent boy stench..." - a favourite trick of advertisers, to flatter your target audience by abusing some bunch of people whose money you're not chasing (this time out, anyway).

  5. Just to answer Cassandra and her annoyance at "the whole women read manga thing?"

    But they do.
    They also read superheroes, crime, fiction, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, humour and every other genre of comics.

    That wasn't my point.
    My point was that to say that telling me that Gail Simone and superhero comics were going to attract a large number of female readers into the medium was ridiculous fallacy

    My point was to say that superheroes are about as likely to get a large female audience as Mills and Boon are likely to get a large male audience.
    But other genres of comics are far more likely to attract female readers. Specifically Manga in the last few years and intelligent, well written REAL mainstream works like Neil Gaiman's fantasy or Marjane Satrapi's work.

    The piece wasn't meant to be just a women read manga thing and, reading back on it, I don't think it was.
    At no point did I infer or state that manga was only popular to women. Far from it.
    But I did state, quite explicitly that Manga has a far greater appeal than superheroes. And part of that greater appeal is that it does appeal to women in a way that superhero comics just don't.