I still have a few Comic-Con panel write-ups to finish, but in the meantime I’d like to point out some interesting coverage from others about what happened at the DC Comics panels. I read comics occasionally, but I don’t consider myself a fanatic. I am, however, a longtime fan of Wonder Woman and have blogged about the seeming inability of Hollywood to create a respectable television or movie treatment for her character.
More importantly, I’ve been very interested in the developments surrounding the impending DC reboot for two reasons. First, I’ve always felt that reboots are fans – mostly men – trying to make their favorite story or superhero “better.” With the state of the Star Wars Expanded Universe we’re seeing the reboot rally call being raised more these days, and for that reason I think what happens with DC will set the tone for other franchises like Star Wars. Second, the DC reboot is starting to look more and more like a contraction from diversity right when women are proving to be valuable and loyal consumers. Sadly, my gut instinct that this whole DC debacle is basically a couple of fanboys remaking the DC universe into their own male-dominated playground, back to the way it used to be, is growing stronger.
On the Comics Alliance website, Laura Hudson wrote a great opinion piece on a fan question posed to DC co-publisher Dan DiDio and his answer.
“Why did you go from 12% in women [creators] to 1% on your creative teams?”
To which DiDio replied in a startlingly aggressive tone, “What do those numbers mean to you? What do they mean to you? Who should we be hiring? Tell me right now. Who should we be hiring right now? Tell me.”
I think Laura does a really nice job of explaining the failings of that answer (beyond that it’s repetitive and a non-answer in the form of a question), but here’s one thing in particular that caught my eye.
While these individual efforts to better understand and represent the human condition are pretty essential both on a creative and socially responsible level, if you have a staff whose makeup is totally disproportionate to its characters, this kind of imbalance is going to have consequences, both in subtle terms of aesthetics and characterization, and more dramatic terms of straight up exploitation and stereotyping. It’s worth saying again: Women are half of the world, and a significant percentage of the DC Comics character stable, and yet only 1% of their creators.
Additionally, the website DC Women Kicking Ass provided a recounting of various reports coming out of Comic-Con about the woman dressed in the Batgirl costume who took these questions of creative equality straight to the DC bigwigs at their panels. On July 27th, they posted a lengthy interview with Batgirl about her experiences.
DCWKA: Did you have concerns about DC and female characters/creators before the reboot?
I did. Comics have some of the most visible imbalance between males and females in popular media. I cut my teeth on Sailor Moon fandom a long time ago, and I missed the sheer variety of interesting women when I started reading comics. DC has some great female characters, but it doesn’t have nearly enough of them. However, most of the questions I asked at the panels came directly from my experiences at SDCC. It was something I was vaguely aware of, and it wasn’t until I was smacked in the face with the profound dearth of female creators that I decided to ask about them.
For those who would like to hand-wave away women who say they aren’t treated fairly, I can’t find a better example than this one female fan’s experience to prove that this kind of thing very much still happens. At the same time, the Batgirl Who Asked The Important Questions At Comic-Con noted several instances where she received a positive reception from some comic book creators who she thinks merit our support in light of their reactions and responses.
You have to wonder when a major franchise goes against all business logic and dismisses nearly half its customer base out of hand – Are these publishers truly existing in reality? Or are they just trying to create one where they can rule the world?
Update: Late last night DC Entertainment started doing some damage control. Responses came from Courtney Simmons, Senior Vice President for Publicity, and also Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, Co-Publishers. They can be found in the comments section of the Comics Alliance post that I linked to above.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
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