I just thought of a way that sexism in comics HAS lessened in the last 15-20 years! It used to be that when there was an article on “women in comics” it was about women CHARACTERS, not women CREATORS. Any comics creators interviewed were male, and women interviewed were token female fans, props to “prove” that girls didn’t have a problem with female characters dressed only in 1.5 sticking plasters.
FUCK YEAH new CBR community: “For those of you who were there only to be disruptive, abusive and ugly: Go away.”
(Lea Hernandez here, adding this line in so I don’t have my words screencapped and hijacked to enrich someone else’s tumblr. Carry on.)
Jonah Weiland has decided that Comic Book Resources forums are a disaster and is rectifying it by closing the old ones and opening a new community. I find myself pretty emotional about Jonah telling bad citizens to go pound sand. Like this could be the beginning of comics culture unfucking its brutally dysfunctional self.
There’s already grumbling about praising Jonah for pulling the car off the road and telling the people throwing their poop to get the fuck out. Here’s why Comic Book Resources’ policy change is a Big Deal: Jonah said he was WRONG, he APOLOGIZED & he FIXED IT. No “if I offended” shit. No “but where will the weirdos go let’s be groovy” shit. No defining inclusiveness as entertaining steakfuckers.
Comic Book resources has become a Good Place to be for comics fans of all sorts, instead of the loudest and ugliest.
I SELDOM post things about feminism, women in comics, sexism without steeling myself for hurtful and abusive responses. I’ve especially grown accustomed to (though I never liked it) having no recourse or backup if people got ugly. Imagine my surprise when I joined BoingBoing as a cartoonist and found out that not only was I taken seriously when I said I had a problem with commenters who made sexist remarks, but that remarks were removed before I reported them!
Which big comics company will be first to make a statement about how they do not agree with the hateful views, threats, and attacks that their worst fans level at other people, women in particular?
The short, practical answer: Most business is conducted entirely over email. Your editors may hire you, work with you for years, and if you don’t post selfies or attend conventions, they may never know what you look like. Even if they do know what you look like, editors care more about your quality of work, your timeliness and your professionalism, than any selfie. Be fearless, do the work, make connections online, and of course you can flourish!
The long, twisted answer: Yes. We’re women, it’s inevitable that we’ll be judged, coveted, and derided purely on the basis of our looks, our age, our perceived sexual availability. These judgments crash against us at every turn in life. They’re inescapable, and yes, explicitly or implicitly, from men and from women, you will confront these judgments and many more during your professional career.
If you choose to make your gender public knowledge, some readers will be cruel to you. They’ll seem to single your art out more loudly and consistently than any equivalently accomplished male counterpart’s for pillorying. They’ll call your lines ugly, and in the comments section they will call you ugly. Or, they’ll be too kind to you. It won’t matter how unattractive you may think you are, they’ll speak to you too long at conventions, they’ll stare and say you’re even prettier than your art, and that will be worse, because if you can be the target of such bombastic, lecherous praise, then maybe your art is actually just as bad as you’ve been made to feel.
If you choose to make your gender public knowledge, some readers will support you. They’ll support you unfailingly, they’ll class you as a “woman creator” and they’ll ask you to provide sound bites that speak for all women, though of course that’s impossible. They’ll put you on a “Women in Comics” panel at every show, and often that will be the only panel you’re ever on. They’ll buy your work because you’re a woman, just because you’re a woman.
Have I gotten more or less work because of the way I look? Like you, I bear all the lifelong mental wounds of growing up in this society and consider myself “far from what most would consider attractive.” I think a lot of women do. But when I was first breaking in, I encountered my fair share of sexually charged interest and dismissal, in equal turns. I’ve escaped from gross situations with professionals and never worked with them, but also never spoken publically about those intimidating experiences. I’ve been hired to be in multiple woman-themed anthologies exclusively because I was a woman. I’ve been in an Asian-themed anthology because I’m Asian. Almost any review of my work from the first five years of my career begins, “Drawn by the lovely/beautiful/hot/exotic and talented Ming Doyle…”
Whatever you are in this life, however you look or identify or are identified, it’s going to impact you professionally and personally. Attractive, unattractive, majority, minority, there’s no getting out untouched. And if that sounds grossly generalizing and invasive, that’s because that’s what a lot of these experiences are like.
But remember what I said way back up there in the short answer, about being fearless? Do that. Yes, there’s a host of adversities attached to embarking upon any endeavor as a woman, and comics come with their own unique and prickly set. But if you love what you do, if you’re good at it and you can persevere, if you can access the core of who you are as a person and align that with what you want to accomplish as an artist and hold that knowledge as a shield in front of everything you do, you can make it! And I hope you will, because I want to see you here. For all the awful people who may make the journey rough or unpleasant for you, there is a large number of people who want to employ you and want to stand with you professionally.
Thank you. And please, even after I’ve said all that, GO FOR IT! It’s not going to be easy, but it was never going to be. The secret is that it’s not easy for anyone, and in the end that’s what’s going to make you a goddamn warrior.
GODDAMN WARRIORS! That is what you’ll be!
My “The Cost of Women Working in Comics" post here on tumblr got screencapped and was being shared here on tumblr and on twitter without credit to me.
I guess I’ve arrived, if I’m being filched from. The person who screencapped it uses a Cintiq 22HD on a mac.
Anyway, if you shared that screencap, would you please tumbl my original post?
I hope you’ll also delete the post where you shared the screencap or edit it to give me credit.
This is a good time to remind people to use Google images before posting unsourced images!