Cartoonist Ronnie Richie has a great piece up at Everyday Feminism that explains what makes a portrayal of a woman empowering versus objectifying. It seems like there should be an easy answer to this question, and Richie offers one, but they also make clear that creators and consumers still really need to think seriously about individual portrayals and depictions in order to understand the distinction. There's no one-size-fits-all answer to what makes something empowering rather than objectifying, because there's an eternally shifting dynamic in each situation: who has the power.
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You may have missed it, but last week Frank Cho posted an image he'd drawn on a sketch cover of Spider-Gwen in a pose reminiscent of the Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover that drew a lot of negative attention. Many people were grossed out by Cho's drawing, including Spider-Gwen artist Robbi Rodriguez, while others jumped to Cho's defense, like J. Scott Campbell and Rob Liefeld. What began as not that big of a deal turned into the latest hot mess to preoccupy the industry, so let's talk about outrage and complacency in comics.
Rachel Dukes is a cartoonist who has a diverse body of work, including contributions to the Subcultures and Beyond anthologies and a Steven Universe comic, as well as her own self-published Frankie Comics about her cat. Dukes has her first graphic novel, Let Me Walk You Home, coming out through Abrams in the fall.
Aatmaja Pandya is a cartoonist who specializes in doing minicomics and zines as well as webcomics. Some of her past projects include The Bell Blues, Baker’s Dozen, and Travelogue, which is the webcomic she's currently working on.
Hire This Woman is a recurring feature on ComicsAlliance that shines a spotlight on female comics creators, whether they're relative newcomers or experienced pros who are ready to break out. In an overwhelmingly male business, we want to draw your attention to these creators --- and to raise their profile with editors and industry gatekeepers.
Cartoonist E.K. Weaver produced her webcomic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal for five years and it is currently being collected in an omnibus that's being Kickstarted by Iron Circus Comics. She's also done things as varied as erotica for Smut Peddler and covers for Adventure Time.
Things got interesting over the past few days for comics folks who keep their ear to online skirmishes over how welcoming comics is or isn't --- and how welcoming comics should be in the first place. Between the new Killing Joke-inspired and tonally jarring cover to Batgirl #41 (which was just pulled at artist Rafael Albuquerque's request, and in line with the creative team's wishes) and Erik Larsen going on a Twitter rant about comics pandering to a "vocal minority" that in his mind wanted superheroines covered up, it would be easy for readers interested in the new world order of "comics for everyone" to feel discouraged. After all, if some of the decision-makers at DC and one of the owners of Image Comics don't get it, how can we expect everyone else to get it? The answer is easy: we move on without them.
Editor Hazel Newlevant is running a Kickstarter campaign for a comics anthology titled Chainmail Bikini, in which women cartoonists create stories about gaming. Given the current environment of the gaming community, this project is a welcome move away from death threats and pathetic anti-"SJW" rhetoric towards a pure expression of love for the medium of games.
A lot of writers, when asked for advice on how to write better women characters, respond "treat them like people." While that's good advice, and sadly not obvious to everyone, it also misses some of the nuances that make up individuals. Writers who just write any character like they were a man miss a big part of the point. We live in an age where works with female leads are increasingly financially lucrative and thus attractive to publishers, so it's important that writers learn how to write a gender-diverse cast, even if their motive is profit rather than progress.
Hire This Woman is a recurring feature on ComicsAlliance that shines a spotlight on female comics pros, whether they're relative newcomers or experienced pros who are ready to break out. In an overwhelmingly male business, we want to draw your attention to these creators --- and to raise their profile with editors and industry gatekeepers.
Cartoonist Maria-Elisa Heg does a bit of everything including writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, and singing. She's primarily worked on anthologies, educational comics, and auto-bio comics. She's also co-head of Zinefest Houston. Just like last week's featured person, C.M. Bratton, you can see her in person at the Hire This Woman panel at STAPLE! in Austin, Texas, on March 7th.
Brian Hibbs has put up his great yearly analysis of the Bookscan numbers over at Comic Book Resources, and they reflect a change that's slowly dawning on many people in comics right now: books for women and children are where the money is. Nine of the top twenty books sold and tracked by Bookscan last year were by women, and twelve of the top twenty were books for kids.