Tagged: Flo Steinberg

Mindy Newell: Why D’ya Think?

From Martha Thomases’s column of August 4: Last week Heather Antos, an editor at Marvel, went out with a bunch of her colleagues for milkshakes at a nearby Ben & Jerry’s and posted a selfie on Twitter. She said “It’s the Marvel milkshake crew! #FabulousFlo.” The hashtag refers to Flo Steinberg, who had just died.

So, you know, a Friday after a long week, Heather and a group of her pals went out to remember a woman who was their friend and mentor. They didn’t go to a bar. They went for ice cream. They posted a photo on Twitter because that’s what the kids do these days. I don’t know what could be more wholesome.

Naturally, there was an upset. To some, this photo represented everything that was wrong with Marvel today. Women and people of color in editorial offices apparently is a menacing concept to them, and they menaced back. Ms. Antos received threats of rape and other kinds of physical violence. Others chimed in to say these women weren’t attractive enough to rape.

Fuck them.

Uh-oh. Mindy’s on a rant. Duck and cover.

Who the fuck gave these maggots permission to insult and threaten anyone who lives outside their minuscule, ignorant bubbles?

I’ll tell you who.

The liar. The bully. The malignant narcissist. The “Baby-Man.” Or, as I call him, Il Tweetci The Mad.

On June 29, Self magazine writer Nina Bahader listed 22 sexist comments made by the man who sits in the Oval Office. Here are some of them:

  • In tweets sent out earlier today, (June 29) Trump referred to Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed she visited Mar-a-Lago while “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
  • He tweeted that sexual assault in the military is simply what happens when men and women work together.
  • He wrote that women are inherently manipulative. In his book Trump: The Art of the Comeback (1997), he wrote: “Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye—or perhaps another body part.”
  • He referred to women as “pieces of ass.” In an interview with Esquire in 1991, he said: “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
  • He implied that unbelievably beautiful supermodel [and television host and entrepreneur] Heidi Klum was “no longer a 10” simply because she’d dared to age. During aNew York Times interview with Maureen Dowd, [he] mused: “Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.”
  • He said that women with small busts are not attractive. During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, he told Stern: “A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”
  • He told a lawyer she was “disgusting” for pumping breast milk. In 2011, Trump was testifying in a lawsuit when lawyer Elizabeth Beck asked for a break from the proceedings so she could pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter. “He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there,” Beck told CNN. The New York Times reports that Trump’s lawyer does not dispute that he made this comment.
  • He credited women’s professional successes to their looks. “It’s certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on The Apprentice were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal,” Trump wrote in his 2004 book, How to Get Rich.

A leopard doesn’t change his spots. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. During the campaign, he tweeted: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” and said, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.” And he attacked her with this: “The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman’s card,” he said in April 2016. “She’s got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.” He said of Carly Fiorina, his opponent during the Republican primary season: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?!’ and “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really folks, come on. Are we serious?”

He called Megyn Kelley a “bimbo,and then told CNN when asked about her questions during the debate, that You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

He has tweeted warnings to Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska about getting in step with the agenda.

He calls women he doesn’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs.”

His actions have led to abusive behavior by members of the Republican Party. The Washington Post reported that Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas said of Republican Susan Collins of Maine after her “No” vote in the health care debate that if she were a “guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.” In an interview with Ali Velshi of MSNBC, Georgia Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter said that “someone should go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass” a phrase that means to hit someone as punishment. And after Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also voted “No” on the bill, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the Senator that her vote had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.

And you wonder why the maggots feel empowered?


Martha Thomases: Of Milkshakes and Men

This column is not for the lactose-intolerant. Or for the anything-intolerant.

Last week Heather Antos, an editor at Marvel, went out with a bunch of her colleagues for milkshakes at a nearby Ben & Jerry’s and posted a selfie on Twitter. She said, “It’s the Marvel milkshake crew! #FabulousFlo.” The hashtag refers to Flo Steinberg, who had just died.

So, you know, a Friday after a long week, Heather and a group of her pals went out to remember a woman who was their friend and mentor. They didn’t go to a bar. They went for ice cream. They posted a photo on Twitter because that’s what the kids do these days. I don’t know what could be more wholesome.

Naturally, there was an upset. To some, this photo represented everything that was wrong with Marvel today. Women and people of color in editorial offices apparently is a menacing concept to them, and they menaced back. Ms. Antos received threats of rape and other kinds of physical violence. Others chimed in to say these women weren’t attractive enough to rape.

I feel like this shouldn’t be necessary, but I’ll say it anyway: The photograph does not contain any comic book images. It supports no candidate nor ideology. It is a group of women affectionately remembering their friend.

(In the 1990s, there were a group of us at DC who used to go to women’s night at the Russian Baths in the East Village to sauna and steam. I’m very glad that the Internet wasn’t a thing yet, or we would have probably made it nuke itself.)

The comic book community rallied in support, which makes me so happy. We are, in general, thoughtful folk, and we are frequently very funny about it. The hashtag#MakeMineMilkshake was trending all weekend.

I’m still entirely gobsmacked that this happened. I know we are a polarized country today, and a lot of us feel scared and threatened by people with whom we disagree. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good when things change, especially when these are things we love. We want someone to blame so we don’t have to take responsibility ourselves. I get this. Really. I’m still pissed that the Carnegie Deli is gone.

My inner two-year old wants to scream and yell and break things when the world doesn’t do what I want. Over the decades, I’ve learned that when I scream and yell and break things, nothing gets better and sometimes change so that I like it even less. It’s much more effective to use my words (and, when appropriate, my money) to try to change minds to agree with me, or at least take my feelings into consideration. That’s not what happened to Heather Antos. Instead, a bunch of two-year olds screamed and yelled and threatened to break things. We can disagree with each other without all this other dribble-dribble.

Writer Mike Baron

Mike Baron and Kyle Chapman announced they were making an alt-right comic and somehow, I have managed to control myself enough so that I haven’t publicly appraised their physical appearance or whether I think they should be stabbable.

I’ve been part of some horrified private conversations among people who disagree with Baron and Chapman. These are just that – private. No one taking part in these conversations said anything about committing physical violence against any of the creative talent. We mostly just said that the book didn’t sound like anything we would want to read.

Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe Chapman and Baron will create the next Maus and we’ll all be knocked out by their insight and artistry. I don’t think they will, but that’s my bias and I would love to be proven wrong.

And if they want to post a picture to Twitter of them having a milkshake or even (horrors!) a beer, I’m cool with that. I bet Heather Antos is, too.

Martha Thomases: Winners

The Eisner Awards were handed out last Friday, and I have to say, I’m feeling just a little bit smug.

No, I didn’t win anything.  There is no Eisner Award for the Best Procrastinating by a Writer.  However, quite a few of the prizes went to people and projects that I championed as an Eisner judge this year, selecting the nominees.

I’m not going to tell you which ones I’m talking about because to do so implies that I met with resistance.  (You’ll have to get me drunk the next time we’re together.)  As I said before, talking about the selection process the committee used, “I can say that none of us got all of our first choices, but all of us got some of them.” In other words, we had different tastes and different criteria, and that is as it should be.  We talked, calmly and respectfully, about why we liked the things that we liked.  We worked it out.  You should send us all to Congress.

But a lot of my tastes and criteria meshed with those of the people who voted for the final awards.  And that makes me feel like I have my finger on the pulse of Pop Culture Fandom.

Yay, me!

So many different kinds of books won awards.  Some of this is a result of the categories because a superhero story isn’t going to win a best nonfiction award, nor will DC or Marvel win an award for Best U. S. Edition of International Material.  The inclusion of several different categories for younger readers means that there will be prize-winning books for children.

Although I might not know you, Constant Reader, I feel confident in saying that there is at least one book on this list that you’ll enjoy.

This expansion in the audience for graphic story-telling is a wonderful thing, decades in the making.  It should be an opportunity for all sorts of publishers.  You would think that DC and Marvel are in the best position to take advantage of this since they own characters known to the entire world.  They should be, but, according to this, at least one of them does not.  The link describes a panel at SDCC with DC’s Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, talking about how they plan to navigate the future of comics.

They say a few things with which I agree.  There should be excellent graphic novels about the characters that customers might know from the movie.  These books should contain stories that are accessible to new readers, people unfamiliar with decades of continuity.  I’ve been arguing such a position for decades, so I’m glad to see that there is at least lip service in that direction.

However, when DC actually publishes a book like that, Jill Thompson’s Eisner-winning Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, there is very little promotion when it first comes out, and it isn’t included in the ads that tied into the movie release.

Lee and DiDio also think that resurrecting the Watchmen universe and integrating it into the DCU will draw in newcomers.  Leaving aside the morality of this (given series co-creator Alan Moore’s resistance), and only talking about it in marketing terms, I still think this is a terrible idea.  The movie is nearly a decade old and does not seem to have been successful enough to earn out.  The characters require a lot of explaining, which is only a disadvantage if you’re trying to sell them to people who don’t read a lot of comics.

If I had been a new comics reader today, I’d have problems wading into the Big Two waters.  It would be much more appealing to me to check out Valiant or Lion Forge if I wanted a connected universe because I wouldn’t have so much to catch up.

I still think the way to draw in audiences who want to sample comics after seeing the movies and television shows is to create multiple imprints.  There can be a line for geeks like me, who’ve been reading comics since the Fifties, and a line for younger readers and a line of self-contained short stories.  There can be all sorts of other lines that I haven’t yet imagined.  These can be tested through digital sales, to keep development costs down, and then published in paper if there is demand.

And, yes please, a line of Super-Pets.

•     •     •     •     •

Flo Steinberg died this week.  She was part of the original Marvel Bullpen, Stan Lee’s assistant back in the days when that was the best job a woman can get in comics.

I met her soon after I moved to New York in the late 1970s, and since I wasn’t a big Marvel fan, I didn’t know enough about her to be intimidated.  To me, she was the kind of kooky New York character I’d moved to New York to meet.  She had a funky cadence to the way she spoke (at least, to this Ohio girl), and she was outgoing and enthusiastic in a manner discouraged by the prep school I attended.  Flo was one of the best people you could invite to a party.

My two favorite Flo stories don’t have much to do with comics.

1)  When I worked in the events department of a New York department store, I had to hire extra people to be entertainers during the holiday season.  One job was to dress up like a Teddy bear.  The costume was really hot and smelled after a while, but the job paid $20 an hour, a fortune back then.  I was able to hire Flo for this gig a few times, and from her, I learned how many children like to punch costumed characters in the chest.  Also, we called her “Flo Bear,” the kind of joke Ivory Tower elitist East Coasters love.

2)  A few years later, I had another job, and I was telling her about a place I would go to get lunch.  They had a salad bar, and every day, I would stare at the barbecued spare-ribs, tempted by their dripping sauce, but too worried about the fat and calories.  Really, I would dream about these ribs.  Finally, one day, I ate one.  Later, talking to Flo, I confessed my sin.  It went like this:

Me:  So I finally ate one of the spare-ribs.  It wasn’t very good.  Definitely not worth it.

Flo:  Well, at least you tried it.

Because that is who she was.  She didn’t talk about life in terms of denial and defensiveness.  She talked about life as something worth trying.

Dennis O’Neil: Gathering of the Tribes

Was that a sigh of relief I just heard? That means you’re back. All you San Diego Comicon pilgrims. Bags stuffed with loot and a different kind of bag under your eyes because the lack of sleep will do that to you. Knees sore from being forced into space obviously meant for a Lilliputian? An autograph bestowed by your favorite demigod while you actually stood there in front of him breathing the same air!

You’re home now.

I’ve gone to a lot of these shows, probably somewhere north of 20 and my feelings are mixed, as they often are. At best these San Diego affairs are a grand gathering of the tribes, a place to re-meet professional colleagues and fellow hobbyists, folks who may not live on the same continent as you do but who share your zeitgeist and are nice people, besides.

At worst…oh my. Too much! Noise and crowds and frantic scurrying to get a glimpse of an admired celebrity before said celeb vanishes whatever alternate universe the convention organizers must make available to these Big Names to hide in between appearances… And if one of them actually speaks to you, well… oh, my! It happened to Marifran a few years ago and she might tell you about it if you ask sweetly.

For some conventioneers, it’s business. They’re looking for work and will settle for a civilized conversation with an editor, and no complaints here. And there are the editors themselves who are looking for… talent, I guess. I never actively searched for possible contributors when I attended cons wearing the ol’ editorial guise but if I found someone whose portfolio had exactly what I needed or knew that I was going to need soon, I didn’t shoo the person away.

So, some seek employment, some want to network, some might be searching for congenial company, and for some, the bigger cons – and San Diego is the biggest in the country – are a chance to don bizarre finery and compete in costume contests or be happy just to rove around looking cool. I’ve enjoyed myself just sitting in hotel lobbies watching the passing parade.

Everyone should have the San Diego Experience once. Maybe once will be enough, unless you have a fondness for heat and noise and traffic or you’re looking to buy stuff – a Star Trek uniform, anyone? – you might have trouble finding elsewhere, in which case, get yourself to the edge of the continent, live long and prosper.

I didn’t go this year. The convention staff has treated me particularly well in recent years, and there is fun to be had. But the crowds, the noise, that stuff… I can pass unless there’s a compelling reason not to.

This year, I’m particularly glad I skipped the trip because I would have returned to sad news. Flo Steinberg, a woman I met when she was Stan Lee’s assistant and whom I’ve known and cherished for a half-century, died of cancer. Maybe I’ll write about her sometimes, or maybe I’ll be satisfied with memories.