- Posted by Johanna on January 30, 2007 at 8:07 pm
- Category: Comic News
Lots of people have already talked about Eddie Berganza begging women to read Supergirl (DC Nation link no longer available). I can’t help thinking that Dirk Deppey had the best take on things, even though he was talking about manga, not this topic:
Do you think that perhaps they’re succeeding where we fail because they seem to be more concerned with the market that actually exists, rather than the market they’d like to exist?
That’s why girls buy manga instead of superheroes: they’re buying what they want, instead of what long-established boy-targeted superhero publishers think they should want. Don’t try to argue women into reading your comic because you think they should like it — figure out what they want first and give it to them. The factors you think are important may not be what they prioritize. Like the “hero’s journey”? Not for me. I want a kick-butt girl hero who doesn’t tie herself into knots over boys or her place in the universe. A strong woman who can hold her own. That means I’m clearly not going to be interested in their “she’s a real teenager” approach.
(I can’t help thinking that’s a bad idea. There are plenty of more realistic teenagers throughout manga and graphic novels for girls. Supergirl, by definition, is a flying alien blonde — that’s not necessarily fertile ground for “realism”.)
I know people like Eddie mean well. They truly believe that by asking, say, one woman whose paycheck depends on keeping them happy “what do women want?”, they’re attempting to address the issue. It’s hard, though, to approach situations like this with a truly receptive ear. The problem comes when they don’t want to hear the honest answers, or when they haven’t prepared themselves for true responses.
And there have been plenty of them. (Thus also demonstrating that no one woman speaks for us all. We are not a monolith.) Dean Trippe does a good job of summing up my issues with the title. To paraphrase, ditch the slutty costume, cut the DCU ties, and focus on her, not her supporting characters.
We complain about sexism. The answer is not in trying to create a boy-slut (who’s a pale shadow of how gratuitously the women are portrayed). Equal opportunity exploitation just drags everyone into the mud.
Treat her as a character first, a girl second — but don’t forget she is a girl. Write from her perspective as a person, instead of an object to be stared at. Hard, I know, but maybe it’d be easier if you didn’t keep looking at the same small pool of people to work on her. And maybe you could even hire a woman to work on the title!
Another site looks at the context of this request, blaming falling sales figures for the need to climb the soapbox. But you know, Eddie accomplished a lot with his column. He got people thinking of Supergirl as a book for girls. He got people riled up, which brings more coverage than you can buy. Here’s one example of the rage (iagainstcomics.blogspot.com link no longer available), bringing in a bigger perspective than just one title:
Notice how Berganza doesn’t mention DC’s eliminating sexist portrayals of any of their other female characters, or that they’re on a company-wide initiative to eliminate cheap sexual come-ons and demeaning costumes and characterizations as a selling point. No, Berganza’s big idea is to somehow balance all of DC’s recent history out… with one “chest window” on a male character’s costume. Here’s a radical idea- How about eliminating bimboness instead of adding “mimboness?” How about writing quality stories with good art? How about eliminating the misogyny and sexism? The relentless negativity?
Can’t argue with that. It’s all about quality. What do women want? Good comics.