Tagged: Men in Comics

Mindy Newell: On The Road Again

Denver Comic ConMy parents were not the types to do “stay-cations.” In their lives together they travelled around the country and the globe by car, by cruise ship, or by jet, although they never did make it to China or India as a couple. My mom wanted to go there, because, I think, my dad had been stationed in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater of operations during WWII, and he would claim he had had enough of Chinese food to last him the rest of his life. This explains why we are the only Jewish family I’ve ever met who never went to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas, but actually I think it was because he didn’t want to dredge up old memories, the rotten kind.

Anyway, I don’t remember where they were, but on one vacation they met Muhammad Ali, who was gracious enough to take a photo with them. (I wish I had that photo to post, but I have no idea where it is these days.) This was sometime in the early 70s, and the country was not yet out of Vietnam, so I was a bit surprised to find out that they admired Ali not just for his boxing, but for his stand against the war. This was because at that time I was still a rather bratty kid who thought her parents were two of those middle-aged “love it or leave it” types who swallowed every lie coming out of Washington.

That picture was my first inkling that my father and my mother were individuals, intelligent people able to see past the bullshit and form their own opinions. Did this mean they were going to go out and march against the war? No, they weren’t that radical. But that war sure pissed them off. (A decade later, I first learned of Eisenhower’s warning about this country’s “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address to Congress in a conversation with my dad shortly after they returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they went to the newly opened Vietnam Memorial.)

Speaking of traveling, this weekend, Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19, I’ll be a guest at the Denver Comic Con, put on by the Pop Culture Classroom, a non-profit organization that was founded in 2010 as the Comic Book Classroom. Their aim is to enhance kids’ education and reading ability through the use of comic books and related media.

I really, really love their mission; I know it’s hard to believe for many of the younger fans, but once upon a time reading comics was not considered by any standard to be “cool.” If anything, it was generally thought of as being a sign of moronic ability, of the very opposite of intelligence, of an early-warning system to detect juvenile delinquency and a future that would definitely include time in the Big House. I know that my own parents, although proud of my early reading skills, were worried enough to consult with my “Uncle” Max – he wasn’t really my uncle, but our families were that close to warrant the moniker – who was a principal in the then-noted New York Public Schools System (yeah, hard to believe, huh?) and who told them not to worry, “the important thing was that I was reading, not only reading, but developing a real love of the written word.” And besides, how many 5-year olds could tell you that the Earth was “93,000,000 miles away” (thanks for those Editor’s Notes, Julie [Schwartz]) or could tell what the word invulnerable meant? Or that Metropolis and Gotham were actually synonyms for the word “city.” (I remember puzzling that out and then thinking it was funny and weird that Superman’s hometown was really just called “City” and that Batman’s turf was actually named “City City.”)

So come look for me in Denver – home to Peyton, brother of Eli – and say hi. I’ll have a table in Artist’s Alley (which is kind of surprising to me, to be honest, because I’m definitely not an artist; stick figures is what you’ll get from me, and not even good stick figures) and I’m on a bunch of panels, including one dedicated to Wonder Woman, who’s celebrating her 75th anniversary this year – damn, she looks good for her age! – and one called “Superstars of the 70s, 80s, & ‘90s.” which made me laugh, because I never thought of myself as a “superstar,” and then made me look in the mirror and wonder about a facelift – or at least Botox. And five more, including “Women in the Industry Today.”

Which is kind of sad, in a way, because at my very first convention, in Chicago, which is where I met BFF Kim Yale and her hubby, Johnny O., I was on a panel about “Women in Comics,” and that was 30 years ago. As pal Martha Thomases says, when is there going to be a panel about “Men in Comics?”

But don’t worry. I still have a lot to say.

Don’t I always?

Martha Thomases: Leap of Faith

Sadie Hawkins Day

Monday is Leap Year Day, an otherwise insignificant marker of the passage of time except that our calendar is weird. Because time, its measurements and our perception of it have always fascinated me, I am enthralled by the way we react to this “extra” day.

As we established a few weeks ago, I’m old. I’m so old that, when I was a kid, there was no feminist movement – at least not one that extended to Youngstown, Ohio. So I learned that girls didn’t ask boys out on dates, or propose, or do anything but wait to be noticed. The ideal woman, I was told, was beautiful, thin, blonde, busty, demure, sexy and, perhaps most of all, quiet and undemanding.

The only exception was on Leap Year Day. On the day, girls could propose marriage.

(By the way, for a look at these ideas that show how completely screwed up they are, you can’t beat the movie musical Li’l Abner, based on the Broadway show that was based on the Al Capp newspaper strip. Really, the family relationships and social contracts portrayed in it are completely fucked up, but as a film, I have fun every time I see it.)

In any case, this thinking, which assumes that our only function as women is to love a man and have “his” children, is, thankfully, a dying remnant of a doomed mindset. Still, I hate to lose a perfectly good holiday, especially one that gives me “special rights” (i.e. I get to do the same things that straight white men expect to be able to do every single day).

Especially for women in comics.

Here are a few things I suggest we all do on Monday.

  • Go to our local comic book store, the one with the semi-nude brokeback posed statues in the window, and question to sincerity of the guys looking through the books. Ask them how long they’ve been reading comics, or if they just come to the store to meet girls.
  • Grab the ass of male con-goers dressed as their favorite superhero. When they complain, ask them what they expected if they walk around like that.
  • Organize a “Men in Comics” panel for the local comic convention. Put only one man on it, the husband of an established female creator. Explain that you couldn’t have any more than that because you asked Scott Snyder to come, but he was busy.
  • After the convention shuts down for the day, go to the bar at the host hotel and explain that the male creator of that hot new book only got the job because he slept with the editor. And the new artist on the best-selling series was only hired because the publisher has to be “politically correct.”
  • Relax and read a comic book where the main character looks like you, shares your assumptions about reality and generally makes you feel like you are an active player in the universe. Since that could actually happen, please make your suggestions in the comments.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to propose to Tom Hiddleston.

Martha Thomases: Comics Read Women?


Sunday is the longest day of the year. If the rain holds off, we will enjoy the most sunlight possible.

I was thinking about this when I read a few recent news stories about our beloved comic book industry. The most amazing was a group of articles in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday New York Times, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly. From the front-page placement in the section to the double-spread jump (including this profile of D&Q’s greatest and most promising creators, it was the most attention to the graphic story-telling medium I can remember in the so-called “newspaper of record.”

The reason the Times thought the publisher had survived and thrived? By publishing works that appeal to women readers, including books by women.

In other news …

Comixology is using San Diego Comic-Con exclusives to promote comics to women readers.

And because subscription boxes are apparently a thing (I have one for my cat) another company is using SDCC to draw in female customers.

When I started to work in comics, I would never have been able to imagine a time when women would make up so much of the comics industry, nor could I imagine we would be courted to become more. Twenty years ago, when we started Friends of Lulu, I don’t think any of us thought this day would come. Both Marvel and DC trumpet their still tentative attempts at inclusion.

At this rate, any day now we’ll see panels on conventions on the topic of “Men in Comics.” Audience members will ask panelists how they juggle work with home life, and panelists will complain that others presume their success comes from the way they strut around in revealing outfits, or because the women editors they’re sleeping with give them work..

Because I’m a Jewish New Yorker, I find myself unable to completely enjoy this moment. I worry it can’t last. I’m afraid that any dip in the market will be blamed on the new female audience. Already, among the more paranoid fanboys, there is the suggestion that women are only getting work because of some feminist mafia that controls American capitalism.

The way we’re going to get more books that appeal to women is to buy more books that appeal to women. Fortunately, that isn’t just one kind of book. Women have as many different favorite books as men do. Sometimes they are even the same.

Next week, it will start to get dark again. Be sure to start storing comics for the later. Winter is coming.