Thoughts on Recent Headlines
Congratulations to Tim. Diamond has reversed its previous decision and will be offering Comic Foundry magazine. I’m not sure “ok, we’ll drop the price 27 cents” is really, as the headline says, meeting halfway, but the real test will be how many orders it gets. (Readers, will you be ordering the first issue? Does your store order shelf copies for customers to browse projects like this?)
And I do wish Tim wouldn’t say things like “We were considering taking the book to a publisher, but we’re going to stick it out on our own for the first issue. Maybe we’ll reconsider after this issue, maybe not.” It’s good to be flexible, but it’s much more reassuring to feel that the editor-in-chief has a plan that’s more than “I dunno, we’ll see.”
Valerie D’Orazio makes an excellent point (link no longer available):
I think that our quest for excellence in mainstream comics should include acknowledging when the Big Two get it right. Providing positive feedback where it is due. For example, I’ve heard a fair amount of bitching about DC’s “Minx” line. … But there is good stuff in the “Minx” line. There is female-positive stuff. Why not talk about that as well? Why not send a signal to companies like DC that such initiatives are welcomed?
Because you know how it’s perceived on the publisher’s end? The publisher tries to do Something Right. Maybe it’s a little awkward, maybe it’s perceived as too little. But they try. And then they get kicked in the teeth for the effort. And they think, “well it’s much easier to just feed the fans the Wizard Magazine fodder and leave it at that.”
I’ve heard the same thing expressed, the “why should I bother creating a minority character when I can’t make anyone happy?” giving up. I think it’s a result of just how big the gulf is between viewpoints. Some of the guys making these decisions in creative and editorial don’t want to offend, but they’re rather naive and honestly don’t understand the problem. They’ve rarely thought about symbolism or alternative experiences or the lack of diverse viewpoints or what it would really be like to not be a comfortable white guy. Instead of having their “consciousness raised”, they get vilified, and that makes them fearful of trying again.
Yes, they should know better. But some of them don’t, and they won’t ever get there if they’re attacked instead of educated. So, yes. Condemn the negative but support the positive. And maybe reconsider how we’re condemning the negative. Personally, I like the humorous reconceptualization approach over the “swords out, fellow fangirls, we got us some castrating to do!” ride of the Valkyries technique.
And then there’s Nymphet. Since I live in the American South, I’m used to thinking “ok, how will the ‘protect the kiddies at all costs’ folks react to this?” So I’m surprised anyone ever considered importing a manga about a nine-year-old girl sexually propositioning her adult male teacher, even as a comedy.
At the link above (no longer available), Brigid Alverson praises Seven Seas president Jason DeAngelis for explaining the company’s process and reasons for their decisions (first to put the title on hiatus and then to cancel it). I agree, it’s great to see this kind of transparency instead of simply wondering, “hey, whatever happened to that title?” Brigid points out that DeAngelis’ approach makes for more supportive fans, which might help sales. Plus, she says, with scanlations, those who want the series will likely be able to get it one way or another.
Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing (link no longer available) uses the event to analyze the various forces that had an effect on the decision and calls for continued support of the publisher.
He also sounded a warning that nicely encapsulates some recent disturbing trends, decrying:
the rise of websites and bloggers from both sides of an issue whose sole raison d’etre appear to be inciting acrimony between different sectors of fandom and the belittlement of opposing dissidents, and the willingness of many to lend credence to them. That general attitude is troubling, as it portends a shift in strategy by such grass-roots causes from advocacy, to the smear-and-ridicule tactics more befitting of political or religious extremists. Rather than taking a step up, the call has increasingly become for everyone else to take a step down.
That is not empowerment. These spontaneous umbrella causes do not truly concern themselves with promoting the interests of individual people whom they count amongst their members and place on their banners, but the advancement of singular ideology and the desire for everyone to march in lock-step with it.