- Posted by Johanna on January 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
Bless ComicsGirl! She wrote a post about a subject that has long been a pet peeve of mine: well-meaning male fans who think that if you’re female and interested in graphic novels, you must want to read Sandman or Strangers in Paradise. Those are fine works (although I don’t care as much for them as other readers do), but
a) they came out over a decade ago
b) many women may want to read something with less violence, in another genre, or maybe even something recommended with their specific tastes in mind
c) they’re, as ComicsGirl puts it, “incredibly lazy recommendations and basically say to me ‘I stopped paying attention to what comics women may like about 10 years ago because we only need those two.’”
Note, also, that availability is a huge factor. As Faith Erin Hicks recently wrote, in a charming history of how she started reading comics, she began by checking out graphic novels from the library, because she could try a lot of material without a financial commitment. Then she found the right kind of store:
an easily accessible, female-friendly comic book store with a knowledgable staff is so, so important for reaching out to those who are interested in comics, but unsure of their particular entry point into the medium.
Plus, manga, “because unfortunately the comic book industry, even though it has made great strides, has not caught up with Japan in providing the depth of diversity required to get someone like me reading.”
Speaking of manga, sometimes it’s tough to be a commentator — if you express distaste at stories that pointlessly wallow in poop, for example, the editor of the book you’re evaluating might respond based on your gender instead of your points. (Although apparently he’s thought better of it and removed his comments.)
Kate Dacey has an excellent answer to those who find such criticism prudish:
Call me a fuddy-duddy, a neo-classicist, or a pain in the ass if you must, but I’m a big believer in craft. I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction against avant garde material, but I often find that there’s a big gap between conception and execution. … the ones I liked best were the ones that actually had something to say, that were more than just phantasmagorias of excrement and sex and crudely-drawn bodies. … that’s exactly what’s missing from some of the stories in AX: they’re all shock value and noise, manga’s own answer to punk rock. I can appreciate their raw energy and urgency, but they have all the staying power of a tuneless, two-chord song.
It’s about what the story says and how well-done it is. Pointing out something is trying to be shocking for its own sake, and how immature that approach is, isn’t a female response, it’s a grown-up one. Melinda Beasi puts it more succinctly: “I’m over forty. I’ve seen it all. You can’t shock me with your content. But there’s an excellent chance that you’ll bore me if you don’t have something more to offer.”