Monday, May 14, 2007
EDILW gets existential over the concept of entitlement among superhero fans/comics bloggers
Not quite as outrageous as Package-gate nor as linked-to as Johannagate comes Comiquette-gate, the latest disturbance in the blogosphere.
Eisner-nominated Comics Journal curmudgeon, superhero-bashing blogger and all-around EDILW favorite Dirk Deppey weighed in with today’s Journalista entry, in one of the occasional thought-provoking essays couched in his linkage.
In addition to repeating a point Kevin Church hit on a few months regarding energy spent getting Batman to put a Robin IV or Spoiler case in the Batcave, Deppey says this:
“So why the big freakout over a harmless statuette? I’d say it had to do with the earlier point raised: the fangirl’s inflated sense of entitlement, and the unwillingness of the rest of the world to feed it. It’s no different than the complaints that fanboys lodge over the perceived injustices of the funnybook world, of course, though they usually don’t waste time trying to wrap their enormous self-involvement in pseudo-ethical trappings…
“Women don’t buy superhero comics in sufficient numbers to make DC Comics pay attention to their demands. Like Marvel, they have an audience that buys their wares: adult male fanboys. Lacking financial motivation, there’s no reason to pay heed to Project Girl Wonder’s demand for fan fiction written to their specifications.”
Which got me thinking. Not necessarily about the fact that those who find the Mary Jane “comiquette” offensive are getting upset over nothing (It’s certainly not hard to see how it could irritate some; I don’t find it morally repellant personally, but at the same time I’d be mortified to have it on my mantle). But rather that last phrase above, which I’ve emboldened: “Fan fiction written to their specifications.”
It got me thinking because I wonder how much of the stuff I expend so much energy on here could be dismissed by saying that what I really want is just fan fiction written to my own personal specifications?
And then there’s Deppey’s solution—“they’re going to have to make the fucking comics first.”
Now that makes sense. If what female super-comics fans want is to see female superheroes and supporting characters treated with an equal amount of respect to male superheroes and supporting characters, then, yeah, they may have to make those comics themselves.
If what they want is Batman to erect a Stephanie Brown shrine or Power Girl to get a new costume, well, they’re not going to be able affect those particular changes…not without getting jobs working as writers, artists and editors for DC comics, and thus gaining access to the DCU (The first step of which is probably also to make their own fucking comics, too).
Anyway, after reading Deppey’s piece earlier in the day, I spent some time this afternoon wondering if EDILW is nothing but a waste of energy, spent on a misguided quest for fan fiction written to my specifications, wherein Cassandra Cain isn’t made a villain for no reason and Martian Manhunter gets to kick a little ass once in a while.
Shouldn’t I spend more time inking Caleb's Incomplete Self-Published Comicbook #1? Does online kvetching about the way the DC and Marvel universes are run really ever accomplish anything?
And then I saw this announcement on Newsarama.com.
According to the brief story, DC has announced a new miniseries in the Tales of the Unexpected/Mystery in Space featuring Animal Man, Adam Strange and Starfire, which will be entitled Countdown to Adventure (Yeah, that’s a stupid title), to be written by Adam Beechen.
The spin of the announcement/story goes like this: “Beechen’s move to the new miniseries does come with a cost – he had to give up Teen Titans, where he was recently named as the series’ new writer, stepping in for the departing Geoff Johns. Moving over to that series will be another member of the Countdown team, Sean McKeever.”
Which sounds like a more positive way of saying that DC belated realized that Beechen is actually a pretty awful comics writer whom too few fans are willing to put up with, and they snatched Titans away from him, giving him Countdown to Adventure as a sort of consolation prize. (Certainly the trio of C-Listers in Countdown to Adventure aren’t as high profile as a title starring Robin, and the latter is less likely to earn more money for Beechen than the former.)
What’s interesting about the announcement, and its timing, is that Beechen literally just started working on Titans. He co-plotted and co-wrote much of the last arc of the series, and the very last issue, #46, was his first issue of this run solo. It was also the worst goddam DC comic I’ve read in a good, long time. I’m hard-pressed to even think of a worse written DC comic. Maybe something from Erik Larsen’s Aquaman? Or Extreme Justice?
I’m not the only one who noticed, and loudly complained that this fan fiction was not living up to my specifications. I can’t recall hearing a single person issuing any sort of praise for Beechen's solo issue of Titans; the most positive reaction among Newsarama.com posters following a “Best Shots” thread that week seemed to be, “Yeah, it was bad, but I’ve read worse, so I’ll give it another four issues to improve before I drop it.”
Now obviously DC editorial didn’t see a problem with it. The script came across someone’s desk, they read it, approved it and handed it over to the artists (who also did a shitty job) to draw, and then they printed and shipped the damn thing. So it wasn’t until after the blogosphere panned it that they decided maybe it wasn’t so good and that someone else should write the title from now on.
The lesson? Well, maybe online bitching does accomplish change in those superhero universes once in a while after all (For another example, see World War III which, while badly bungled, seemed plotted entirely in response to Newsarama.com posters’ questions about “One Year Later” changes).
So maybe EDILW isn't a complete waste of time. But I probably should get some inking done tonight too.
A final note on Deppey’s piece: Johanna Draper Carlson linked to it as, I don’t know, Round Three of her “superheroes aren’t for girls” coverage of the last week. I honestly didn’t think of Deppey covering the same ground as Carlson until she pointed it out herself, but she says, “It’ll be interesting to see if he receives the same level of outrage I did. I suspect not, for several reasons: the first blush of venom has already been expended; he’s known for being outrageous (working for Fantagraphics gets you that rep); and he’s not female, which I suspect played into the kind of attacks I received. (I think both men and women see females as easier targets online, and I could be considered more of a betrayer to my gender, thus raising more of an emotional response.)”
So if you think Deppey’s full of shit, be sure to tell him so in the comments section at Journalista.
Otherwise, you hate women.
Did things get a little too heavy this post? Yeah, maybe. So let's take a deep breath, and cleanse our souls by contemplating this image, which, like the MJ comiquette, combines elements guaranteed to stimulate male interest—a pretty young woman, sports and a gorilla.
Is it demeaning to women because Wonder Woman is portrayed as prone and forced to play sports against a sub-human opponent, as if she isn't even worthy of playing against men?
Or is it a pro-feminist image because she seems to have outrun the throw and be sliding into home safe, winning at a man's game?