Polinarchy pointed me to this, and it is most certainly relevant to my wiki adventures.
The number one reason why I launched my own Women in Comics wiki, rather than focusing on building up their presence on Wikipedia, is because I had dealt with those neckbeards on WikiProject Comics before.
A few years ago, I was first branching out into the comics blogosphere (at the same time as my feminism was maturing). It was around the same time as Laundrygate and the Heroes for Hire tentacle rape cover. This being the first time I had really been faced with overwhelming sexism (I don’t know if I had just been lucky or oblivious up till then), I had no idea what to do with myself. So I did what I always did in those situations: find proof that what I cared about mattered and load up my mental arsenal with it. The way I figured I would do this was to go around Wikipedia and find all the awesome and important things female superheroes had done and hence why they deserved respect.
I went to Wikipedia to find the Category of female superheroes, only to find that it didn’t exist. So I went around to at least 200 different articles adding the Category:Female_superheroes tag. In one day. I woke up the next morning, all excited to continue my project.
The Category I had just created was gone.
The Talkpage is still around if you want to see how the discussion went (I’m Lexid523), but there are two comments that are the most telling:
"There are many reasons why those of us in the WikiProject Comics did not already have this cateogry. Please respect our preferences."
“Note: Most WikiProject Comics contributors posting comments above have voted to delete while most of those voting to oppose are not WikiProject Comics members”
There’s the main problem with Wikipedia. It’s not only the encyclopedia that “anyone can edit”, but also the place where anyone can set up a clique and go on a real power-trip. Every reason given in favor of deleting the Category was “Too broad” (and they didn’t even intend a pun). The reasons in favor of keeping the Category were varied and on point about the gender of superheroes being “culturally significant”, and the fact that many other categories were similar, and even broader (e.g. “Superheroes”).
It was deleted all the same, and I felt I had no recourse, no appeals or Supreme Court I could petition to give an objective look at the facts and decide for us, to allow me to make my argument to someone who didn’t care how entrenched those other guys were. That I, a new person, could possibly have a good idea and stick up for it— well, that opportunity didn’t exist.
And the fact that I was in there trying to make a stand against pop cultural sexism, only to come up against a bastion of male self-appointed experts? Don’t think I didn’t realize the bitter irony of that.
And so, I have never contributed to a comics-themed article on Wikipedia since. Nearly four years ago. And my credentials as a comics expert have only grown since then (and hopefully by this summer I will have some published proof of it *makes note to prod a certain editor about that*).
So when it came time that I had a whole comics research project I wanted to crowdsource and wikify? Wikipedia was my last choice. If not for Wikia, I probably would have forgotten the whole thing.
“When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?”—
(Sandi Toksvig is the one who pointed out to me that the Bayeaux Tapestry was made by women. She is incredibly awesome.)
“It’s hard not to be horrified that your early work is available for public consumption. It’s part of the illusion of being an artist that, most of the time, you want readers or viewers to imagine that you sprung to life, instantly able to create your best work. But because I so love to look at earlier work of artists I admire, I understand the importance of showing where you’ve come from. I’m not a self-taught artist - I took after-school drawing classes all through elementary and high school, then went to art school and comics grad school. I have had a lot of development and learning, and I think it’s important to respect those stages, even if they are embarrassing. Because my work is mostly autobiographical, I have to have a buffer between me and the self I project in my work, or I’d go insane. To look at a comic I made in high school, it’s automatic for me to cringe! “I was such a little shit!” but at the same time I see my students make work about their lives and it’s amazing and wonderful and important to their development as an artist, and I was there to see this part of them developing! So cool.”—
I have been a fan of Lucy’s since she was still an undergrad at the Art Institute of Chicago and we crossed paths in the LiveJournal fandoms of Oscar Wilde and Jeeves & Wooster where she would post drawings and comics of those chaps (she also wrote some of the hottest J/W slash this side of Teleny). I have been following her career with such glee at her success.
I’ve been going back and forth about this all month, and I feel like the only way to address it is to get some opinions from the audience.
I’ve been at this blog for almost three months now. In that time, I have profiled 11 women, 10.5 of them have been white (Marjorie Liu being the half-Asian)….
Personally, I feel these creators should be integrated along the way with special emphasis on Months pertaining to their history. I believe months like Black History, etc. are important to acknowledge what has happened and what is still happening. I also don’t think it should be ending there. Every day should be a celebration of minorities. If you only highlight minority creators during special heritage months/days, what kind of message is that sending across? ‘Of course we care, look!’ but then the next ### days are spent focusing on white, cis female creators as if it’s the default/normal.
Most reactions to my original post were about the same as this, and I do agree wholeheartedly with it (Though I would point out that I have ProFiled one transwoman and include their work in the Market lists).
I suppose I was also thinking that since the Tournament is made up almost entirely of white women, and since February is upon us, the synchronicity was perfect to draw attention to black women creators and launch an initiative to bring more balance to this blog.
For another thing, what with the wiki now, ProFile Fridays are going to change. Right now I’m focusing on Golden Age creators because I figured that most people would be more interested in adding modern, high-profile creators; since I’ve taken on the work of researching obscure creators as it is, I kind of want to show off. And this shift will also be perfect for featuring obscure and rising stars of all ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, and identities.
So I think February will still be Black History Month on LMC (and I’m formulating some different features specifically for it), and I will keep tabs on other History/Heritagemonths, but overall I will make a concerted effort to feature lady-creators from all walks of life. Of course, it would make it a lot easier if people send me suggestions— or even better, write some wiki articles! Thank you everyone for your input.
Like, Steph, she is such a feminist and so strong and calls out sexism and doesn’t let anyone screw with her, but yet she gets compared to Bella Swan.
And then these totally inspiring books that have heavy feminist themes and exploration of alternative sexuality and examination of historical society and heavy, correct use of mythology get compared to Twilight and it makes no sense.
I mean what.
THERE IS FEMINISM AND THERE IS ANTI FEMINISM YOU CAN’T PUT THEM TOGETHER.
STOP TRYING INTERNET, YOU’RE JUST MAKING YOURSELF LOOK STUPID.
I feel the same way when any comic or movie or TV show that has women who are friends (i.e. not backstabbing Mean Girls faux friends) who have conversations that largely do not (though occasionally do) involve men is “like Sex In the City.”
BECAUSE AS WE ALL KNOW, AS IN MOST MOVIES, WOMEN IN REAL LIFE DO NOT LIKE EACH OTHER OR TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT THINGS OTHER THAN THE MEN IN THEIR LIVES.
I’ve been going back and forth about this all month, and I feel like the only way to address it is to get some opinions from the audience.
I’ve been at this blog for almost three months now. In that time, I have profiled 11 women, 10.5 of them have been white (Marjorie Liu being the half-Asian). I’ve profiled 12 webcomics (13 if you count sporadic Kate Beaton references) and as far as I can tell, all of their creators are white. The Tournament? Yeah, that’s a lot of white women— not all, but most.
Especially since I started the wiki, and in my defense of the Tournament, with all of my rhetoric about promoting the unsung/underappreciated female talent in comics, I really have to face that I’ve been doing my own share of marginalization. Not intentionally, of course, but it rarely is, isn’t it?
That brings me to Part II of my conundrum. Tuesday is the first day of February, and as all Americans know, it’s Black History Month. Yeah, I know, they get the shortest month of the year, and the average white American gets their warm feeling of Not Being Racist for 28 days, and then their lives resume as usual. ”Please for the love of god, just integrate more women of color (and not just blacks either) into your usual rotation and don’t tokenize us for a month.”
Well that was one of my reactions. Another of my reactions was to go to Wikipedia and look up which months the other minorities get (and if they didn’t have one, to pick one). Bear with me now.
I decided to look into how this might work for the group of people that I thought would be staggeringly hard to find 4-5 female creators, and 4-5 webcomics made by different female creators than the ones to be ProFiled. I refer to the group of people that a staggering 70% of Americans think are extinct: Native Americans (or First Nations, if you prefer). I figured if I could find 8-10 Native women creators, it would be a persuasive tick mark in the “go for it” column.
I found them.
I found more.
And of course—getting back to Black History Month here—just browsing the Ormes Society website has shown me enough Black women that this Tumblr could celebrate a Black History Next Few Years.
What I’m getting at here is, if I do this month by month this year, for the rest of the years (which I cross my fingers that this blog will go on for), I will have found dozens, if not hundreds of lady-creators of color. Furthermore, I’ll know where to find them. And I’ll have whole batches of women to put on the wiki!
Here’s where the poll comes in.
Do I have a genuinely good idea, or am I yet another white girl trying too hard while Still Not Getting It (if the reply box is too short, feel free to Ask or Submit me a longer reply)?
so what's the point of voting on women who make comics?
Mostly? It’s fun.
Other comics themed Tumblrs have had tournaments about favorite female superheroes, favorite couples, and memorable moments, and a reader suggested to me that LMC should do one about the real life women who actually help create the worlds we enjoy.
Also, many commentators have remarked upon how many female creators came into their own last year. Not even counting Girl Comics and Marvel’s “Year of the Woman”, we saw Amanda Conner (always a fan favorite) become a major player. Amy Reeder rocketed to fame (and from the sound of one interview, even she is bewildered as to how it happened), finishing Madame Xanadu and moving on to the highly-anticipated Batwoman. Sara Pichelli (a recent ‘discovery’) placed on a major Spider-Man event. Even in the world of webcomics—Kate Beaton (overwhelmingly popular with women as well as men) signed a deal with Drawn and Quarterly and got several cartoons published in the New Yorker.
However, both CBR and Newsarama had tournaments and polls at the end of 2010 about favorite creators and comics of 2010 and of all time. Women were sorely underrepresented in both. By having our own tournament, we’re drawing attention to creators and comics that are often overlooked on the mainstream comics news sites, but who really deserve attention. At the end of the day, I see the tournament as a celebration of all of the women in comics, even if they don’t “win”.
Since DC has brought back letter columns (and Tumblr is talking about that today), I figure it’s time to post this letter column excerpt that I’ve had in my drafts for a while.
I was leafing through my longboxes and I pulled out the 1993 Zatanna miniseries, written by Lee Marrs and edited by Kim Yale (this was also under Jenette Kahn’s watch as President and EiC). In the letters column of issue 2, a male fan wrote in applauding DC for their own Year of the Woman (17 years before Marvel’s) and commenting on the struggles for both female creators and female characters to get ahead in comics. Yale responded:
…[Y]ou have clearly elucidated how the status of women in our society is reflected in one aspect of its pop culture—the difficulty of female characters surviving in any viable and commercial form…and alluded to the concrete ceiling that exists in the field women keep bashing their heads against as they valiantly try to get work and express themselves creatively. You are absolutely correct in saying that comics with female lead characters need to work harder and be written and drawn in such a fashion that won’t insult a woman’s intelligence….
And how do we make this ongoing? By talking in the way all businesses comprehend— the wallet and the pocketbook. Tell your comic-book store manager that you’re willing to back and buy books by women in front of and behind the 4-color page. At conventions, chat with editors and the folks in marketing; during panels, ask why aren’t there more working in the field. Challenge questions and support those of us out here on the point on the drag. If enough people do that, then perhaps every year will become the Year of the Woman.
The first round of the Ladies Making Comics is over! Some results I pretty much expected, but there were definitely some surprises.
Writers: Gail Simone v. Marjorie Liu
Yep, Gail won, but Marjorie had a strong early lead— I think I figured out who my Tumblr-addict followers prefer!
Artists: Nicola Scott v. Amy Reeder
This one was tight! Amy Reeder beat Nicola Scott by 12 votes. I’m just glad I decided not to vote in the tournament, because I wouldn’t have been able to choose!
Cartoonists: Alison Bechdel v. Posy Simmonds
I guess I didn’t promote around enough British-heavy boards, but Alison Bechdel won quite handily over Posy Simmonds.
Webcomics: Kate Beaton v. Megan Rose Gedris
Megan Rose Gedris was disconcerted when she saw she was up against Kate Beaton, and while Kate Beaton ultimately prevailed, I think Megan should be proud of her support. (As I pointed out to her last week, she actually got more nominations!)
Colorists: Laura Martin v. Christina Strain
Yet another contest I wouldn’t be able to choose on, but Colorista Laura Martin reigns supreme!
We’ll get back to these winners later, but we’ve got seven more rounds to get through first. The next one will be up later today!
some classic quotes attributed to men were actually said by women.
Whoa. Some of these I knew were misattributed, some I had no idea. (And for anyone not sure if they should bother clicking the link: some of these are seriously famous quotes. For example, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”)
Working on the Golden Age part of the wiki really makes me appreciate this article even more. There are 120 women on that list. Some of them were CO-OWNERS of the publishers they edited or wrote for. Bernie Krigstein’s WIFE Natalie wrote romance comics. Louise Altson, cover artist for Timely/Atlas, went on to become a famous portrait artist who painted George H.W. and Barbara Bush.
No one talks about them. No one talks about how the Bayeaux Tapestry was made by women. No one even thinks about the fact that women have been around for a while and maybe did more for the first 9800 years of humanity besides birthing babies. And yet we still get asshats who try to stop us from talking about them. Well, I’m talking now.