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February 23, 2013
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So, last week a new web-comic was launched. Creator/writer Will Brooker seemingly -at some point- walked into a comic store, and after seeing all the comic covers with boobs and women with their clothes falling off (his words) he understood instantly why girls would never set foot in a comic store (again his words). So he decided to do something about it. He started writing a comic targeted especially at young women, starring "Cat", our 'strong female lead'. Sounds really noble right.

They put up 22 pages, and already they have gotten a huge amount of attention. They've got a big fat list of loving reviews (like.. really really loving), after being live for about a week or so now. It must be good then. Right? Right.

I've read their first issue.. and to be fair, it wasn't terrible. I enjoyed it ok enough, but it certainly wasn't "[..]really, really goddamn good.", "Impressive!" and "The one we've been waiting for! It's so good I want to weep.", as the website would like us to believe (really these quotes and reviews are all over the place). The art is solid (kinda liked that) but the writing was a little cheesy and there where some weird phasing problems. I found the characters a little boring and forgettable so far.

So what's going on here? Why is this a thing? Well. Mr Brooker is cleverly marketing his comic as "the only comic for girls" and making a huge deal out of it. It's a bit as if he thinks he reinvented the wheel. As if he truly believes there is nothing out there for us (although maybe I'm a bit to old to be his target audience, but hell I've read books for teenagers and appreciated them). The website describes him as an " international academic expert on media and popular narrative" , but I really wonder if any of his knowledge actually extends into the comic scene. Or, if it does, I wonder why he chooses to ignore a large part of the industries.

My guess is that he noticed that there is in-fact a large female audience out there, who think the whole over-sexualization is a bit of a (sad-gotten out of hand kind of) joke (with things like the hawk-eye initiative getting massive exposure) and he's simply using our "anger" about this for marketing purpose.

The irritating thing is, what he writes is exactly the opposite of what the answer to the problem is. Sure, I appreciate his effort to create a story about a smart girl (she calls her intelligence is a 'super power' btw.. because you know, normally we girls don't have intelligence - ok that one was cheap.. sorry XD). But with his whole "comics, now also available for women" project he's promoting -further segregation-, instead of proving to the whole audience that female characters in "normal comics" can also be interesting characters. And everybody seems to be cheering about it...

(ps, I'm not including the link to the comic because they are getting more then enough free exposure of their agenda, but if you insist on reading it, just google for the title in this journal.)
</rant>

And now, to restore balance in the world after my 'negative-nancy' rant, have a funny:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmPmpU…
  • Mood: Anger
  • Listening to: My SO playing League of Legends
  • Reading: The Hobbit (in Dutch.. jikes)
  • Watching: Adventure time, Person of Interest
  • Playing: Trine 2
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:iconcrivens322:
Crivens322 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013
Can't men and women just be into different things? There are not a bunch of men out there demanding a version of Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray for themselves.
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:iconelsakroese:
ElsaKroese Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Professional General Artist
Just in case, not all girls are into twilight/50 shades of Grey (far from it). I'm also sure there's guys out there that do like these books (although maybe they won't easily admit it). They don't need to demand a 'guys' version because they like the normal one. Telling a gender what they are supposed to be into, is dumb.
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:iconcrivens322:
Crivens322 Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013
I re-read the post, as I can tangent very easily from the original point and end up making no sense.

From they way you put it, this guys sounds like he is trying to profit off an angry female target audience, by putting in as little effort as possible. Sadly, him turning a profit will most likely turn more girls away from comics, especially if he is their first exposure.

Though, I am not sure what you mean by "normal comics". Do you mean ones that lack sexism, or ones with normal people?

I enjoy reading comics, but for me the big selling point isn't about how many women are in it, but how good the story is.In the new 52, the Cat Woman comic is pretty horrible. There was a lack of plot, and her chest was stupidly big. I stopped getting it. Than on the other hand, there is Dial H. The main characters are some 30s something male who is over weight, and a woman who has to be in her 50s. Neither could be considered attractive, but the comic itself has a wacky and interesting story line, and it is one of the ones I continue to get.

Granted, there are a lot of comics out there that could do with a good slap on the hand, especially anything with Emma Frost.
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:iconelsakroese:
ElsaKroese Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Professional General Artist
I put "normal comics" in quotations on purpose because I don't -really- think there's such a thing. But for the purpose of the argument, when I said normal comics, I meant pretty much any comics that your average comic store would sell, who aren't this obvious about their gender agenda :).

The recent Catwoman series was pretty horrible indeed. I don't really mind Emma Frost being very sexual, because for her character it makes perfect sense to make use of her sexuality and do things like wearing next to nothing. She's a vixen and she's near invincible anyway. When Wonder women or Rogue is posing like a centaur women or have 'broken' zippers in their suits to show extra cleavage (often while flying, which is the most ridiculous hype of last year), it just looks like she's acting dumb and at that point the character loses all credibility to me.
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:iconcrivens322:
Crivens322 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013
Yeah, unnecessary cleavage is a bit awkward for everyone involved.
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:iconphantomteacup:
PhantomTeacup Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013
I don't think he bothered to investigate the webcomic scene at all... it's clear from the site design alone, and the claims he's making just enforce it-- there are plenty of webcomics out there with female leads who are far more interesting than his is. (And if he actually was into webcomics he would know not to put a big 'give us money!' on the front page while making the comic take several clicks to find.)

I found the comic itself to be bland and poorly paced, with flat characters.... And what does the main character actually DO in the comic? She wanders around town talking to herself and reminiscing, watches a subway station get blown up and hides in an alley, moves into a new apartment, and goes to a concert with her new housemates where she makes an awkward attempt at flirting. The monologue is infodumpy and contradicts itself (does she have a superpower or not?)
At the end of the issue I had no idea what the plot was going to be about-- if it's supposed to be about the subway station thing, they should have spent more pages on that instead of infodumping about how she got accused of plagiarism as a kid.
To use the 'star wars test', what I have retained about her character is that.... she's an unreliable narrator who claims to be smart and have a perfect memory, but she can't seem to remember her own name.

I think the concept could be interesting if it was better written and had a character who felt like a real person. (And if the creator had done the research; the plagiarism flashbacks are unrealistic.)
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:iconartisteri:
artisteri Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I feel like the academic world is about 20 years behind the actual world, especially when it comes to modern media, and internet media in particular. People/university teachers/the like with job titles like "Media expert"or how they describe this author usually says to me they spend time "studying" the internet 10 years ago and think they are experts when they haven't caught on to any changes that happened in recent times.

Like the fact that webcomics have always been around, ridiculously fast evolving since you get direct interaction with fans and if they don't like what you make, you always get to hear about it. All of my favorite webcomics (and this is a coincidence, I had to sit and think about it for a minute) are written by women, and that's not why I read them. I read them because they're good (like Spindrift!). There are plenty of comics "for girls" out there, by authors both male and female, and this guy does sound like he's just using a cheap marketing gimmic to sell something that otherwise didn't catch anyone's attention (hello, you do that with good characters of ANY gender, and a good story :P).

Sorry, I ranted in response to your rant :P But I agree with you, I think it's silly, and I think for the most part the comic will be ignored if it isn't interesting. If it's interesting, it will be popular for that reason, not because it's for any gender whatsoever.

But those foolish marketers will never stop with that kind of thing ("comics" for girls, "video games" for girls... like girls can't play regular video games). Ah well...
Reply
:iconkazumiakai:
KazumiAkai Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, you have a strong point and i totally agree with it. Targeting comics to girls isn't the answer. In fact, i would dare to say your own comic 'Spindrift' is a gem because of all the nice female characters you've put in the story, with none of them over-sexualized, with each one of them having different personalities, and i have failed to see you have fallen into any trope we've usually seen on comics and media in general. :)
That's why i love your comic, so keep up the great job girl!

And that guy probably was really trying to make a difference...but he fell on the extreme other side of the problem, maybe because he's seeing it from a male point of view ..
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:iconelsakroese:
ElsaKroese Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Professional General Artist
I think so too. And thank you ^__^
Reply
:iconkaydreamer:
Kaydreamer Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't know what kind of rock he's been living under, but there are already THOUSANDS of comics out there marketed at girls. Has he glanced at the manga section lately? Sheesh. And there are Western comics which are pretty inclusive as well.

Some Japanese authors do a very good job of writing for a neutral gender. Full Metal Alchemist is a freaking amazing example. It has male leads but amazing female support characters, the drawings are not sexualised and it has an amazing story to tell, filled with adventure and mystery and suspense and emotion. You don't need to pander to women in order to get us liking something, just don't exclude us. Weak female characters and over-sexualised drawings of women are why so many of us feel excluded by mainstream Western comics. Doesn't stop us from READING them because hey, superheroes and magic and cool shit, YAY, but every time I pick one up it seems obvious to me that I'm not the reader they had in mind. It's pandering to men with the sexualisation. Which, frankly, if I were a man I would be insulted by.

Don't change the stories, don't change the heroes and heroines, don't change what the comics are about because as a female reader those things are all what makes me love them. But for the love of god, start treating the female characters just as you would the male ones, both in terms of character depth AND artistic treatment. Do that, and I can guarantee the female readership will shoot up. We like these stories! We just don't like picking up a book and being slapped in the face with art which is obviously meant for a boys club.
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