Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Stopover at Comixpedia Again: More on Women Issues

I should have pointed it out yesterday, but this week's installment of Comixpedia is up. There's an awesome 'interview' with Andreal Peterson of No Rest of the Wicked (You remember I stumbled across it some time ago?), an intriguing set of gender statistics by Erik Melander and Eric Burns' honest but possibly incendiary observation on GirlAMatic.

(Okay, you can shoot me now for lame pun on the last one)

I should mention there are some rather strong reactions in the dissertations in the comments commentary, so if you're the sensitive sort, you might want to avoid those. If you're up for it though, some of them have rather interesting 'discussions' about feminism and sexism and all that.

Feel free to comment and discuss, but if you do, please do comment wisely, don't flame and keep your head or you'll lose it. ;)


  1. Been a-lurking for a while, but Eric's essay on his feelings towards GirlAMatic kinda brought me out of my shell. I just wanted to say that I thought you handled the comments being brought up by Erik's essay rather well. I'm surprised at how brutal some women can be. I tend to agree with you on most of your ideas on women in web/comics, and even if I didn't, I still respect the way you voice yourself.


  2. I have to admit that I'm profoundly disappointed by the attacks on Girlamatic. The site is the home of many of the most outstanding comics on the web, including Dicebox, Hereville, Bite Me, and The Stiff. Of course anyone is free to disagree about how good or bad these comics are. But how sad that some people simply refuse to read them or know anything about them because of their own prejudices.

  3. Actually, Joe, I think it was quite clear most people were talking about the way GAM was being marketed (For girls), and their assessment of the quality comics had nothing to do with the argument.

    The criticism (or to use your term, 'attacks') was mainly directed toward the presentation and marketing. I certainly can't blame you for not reading through the whole article and thread carefully (because holy heck that IS a lot of reading) but I'm not one to let people walk away misinformed or misinforming.

    It's not an issue of how great/not great the comic are. It was more on how it was being labelled, but it appears that some people mistook the whole thing for an attack on the GirlAMatic comics itself, which was never the even the case.

    I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me or my opinions, but I really do think the moment you write off someone with a conflicting point of view as being 'prejudiced', they themselves become prejudiced to the argument.

    It's like that hotspot about criticism I did the other day. The moment the argument stops being about the topic and starts being about the person who makes the argument, then the whole thing has derailed.

    Shoot the message, not the messenger.

    I may voice my opinions openly. But even as I do, I'm open to the possibilty I am wrong, and if proven wrong, I'd gladly (and have gladly done so in the past) admitted it and accepted the other person's point of view.

    Unfortunately in the GAM scenario, none of those GAMmers 'refuting the arguments' have yet attempted to do anything to convince me of their viewpoints. Instead of saying something like "Yes, webcomics are free to all women to create and read, but by highlighting the success of women in webcomics, we provide an excellent example for our print counterparts", so far the responses have been: A) You're all prejudiced. B) Our comics are Sucessful therefore you must be wrong C) We refuse to back down on our position regardless of whatever you say.

    I am hopeful someone will yet be able to convince me I'm wrong, but so far I'm still waiting.

  4. Ping-- My understanding is that Eric's position was that he was not reading the comics because he doesn't feel welcome at the site. I may have misunderstood-- I didn't get the whole thing with the Quiznos. I think I made it clear in my previous comment that what I object to is the dismissing of the comics out of hand without ever reading them.

    As for the other anti-Girlamatic opinions, I'd have to recheck them, but I don't recall any evidence that the writers had read the comics on the site. I think one writer explained that he was going to look at the comics after he finished writing his comment, which indicates good intentions but seems kind of absurd.

    Maybe I haven't kept up with the current meaning of words; I thought when you judged something without knowing anything about it, that was considered a prejudice. But maybe that whole idea is considered "gay" by the younger generation.

  5. Sadly, GAM's marketing strategy was the key of my not reading the site when you first sent it to me, Ping. Labels do make a big difference. Take the new Sainsbury's pasta packaging for example :P. Their new design makes me buy their pasta less and now am buying most of my pasta from Tesco's. Is it the same for you?

  6. Mos: Heh. No I haven't been able to bring myself to buy the lasagna that has a box that looks like laundry detergent myself. I know perfectly well that It's the same old pasta in a different box, but it looks so unappetising I go to Tescos for my pasta now. If Sainsbury's can't take the trouble to present the thing in a way that appeals to me, don't be surprised if I decide the competition, who has taken more pains, is more worthy of attention.

    Joe: I could have done without the Quiznos analogy as well. Especially because we don't have Quiznos here and I have no idea what it's like. And damn it, he made me hungry too ;)

    I think what Eric was trying to say was he was not dismissing the comics, and he did not doubt that they were good stuff, but the way they were being presented rather turned him off because it didn't make him feel welcome.

    I mean as a female, if I heard that [Comic A] was a very good comic, but if the cover featured a half-naked woman with big knockers and a thong, I'm not going to read it, even if it was done by someone I really liked (say Alan Moore). Hell, I don't think I'd read it even if Herge himself came back from the dead to create it. You say it's a great comic, and sure, I believe you, but the way it's presented makes me feel I'd rather give it a miss, thanks.

    Does that mean I doubt 'Alan Moore' or 'Herge's' ability or what not, or I've judged the quality of their comic in advance? Maybe, but I don't think so. I think I've just chosen not to judge the comic at all because they didn't take the effort to present it in a way that would appeal to me, their audience.

    I remember when Lea Hernandez was collecting submissions for GAM 2.0. She insisted that proposals for new series be submitted in a certain format (publishers format or something she called it, I think) because it was functional and it was easy for the editor to get an idea what the comic was about. Does that mean she was prejudiced by refusing to consider the comics that didn't follow her instructions on the proposal formats without ever reading those comics in the first place?

    I hope not.

    As to the meaning of prejudiced, well, I think if you dismiss someone's viewpoint as automatically wrong because 'they're prejudiced' without taking the time to consider their viewpoint by its own merit, wouldn't it'd be the same as judging something beforehand without checking the actual facts?

    In this case, I could tell some of the dissenters didn't even read the article or the comments properly but skimmed through it. Then they simplified that argument into "You guys won't read comics because they're done by GIRLS" or "It pisses you people off because ther comics are marketed with women in mind", even if Eric's demostrated time and time again he reads lots of comics by women. But because his opinon was not 100% in agreement and he used the very unfortunate term "I'm a man", he's automatically classified as 'prejudiced'.

    Is it just me, or is that a little ironic?

    Hmm, they came in later, but some of the opinions that were critical of GAM were from GAM readers, as well and current GAMmers as well, so it was a pretty good mix of people, I think.

    I can understand if the majority of GAM disagrees with Eric's viewpoint. and I would really respect them for providing relevant counter-arguements in a civilised manner. But I think as professionals, a few of them could have really behaved with a little more dignity befitting of an MT artist.

  7. Hmm... I remember reading one GAM comic, The Wisdom of Moo, because I was reading Count Your Sheep.

    I would, as a man, read Girlamatic comics. Would is the key word here, because it is still not in my personal budget to spend moneys on webomics. And trying to keep up with a subscription based comic without paying is troublesome work indeed.

    I can totally understand with Eric's standpoint of not feeling welcome as a reader at GAM. I definitely don't feel the same way, because I'm willing to read any comic that simply interests me.

    I did not read the thousands of comments on the article that Eric wrote, mostly because I do not want to get involved in the drama. But the issue remains: Is it prejudice? I think it is, but a benign prejudice. The kind of benign prejudice where one is not actively against something without understanding, but instead simply chooses to not partake. Which is ok sometimes, and in the case of entertainment and consumption, fine. If you want to literally judge a book by it's cover, you're welcome to. That's what the cover is for, to grab the attention and be judged. If the cover says "Comics made by girls, for girls," Guys are that much more likely to go "Oh ok, this isn't for me." The same reason I don't watch BET, Fox News, or Country Music Television. They're not for me.

    I'm just sayin anyway.

    I'd also like to note that the vast majority of webcomic types that I know and speak to on any regular basis are women. And women creators are awesome because the way I see it as a fan, is they're much easier to approach on average, because men are more likely to develop that creator's ego. That's more or less based on my own observations and experiences so I could be wrong, but that's the way I see it.

  8. well i read GAM and i've got no problem saying it!!
    but it has always seemed an odd beast. i mean what is 'a comic for women' anyway? how does it differ from 'a comic that isn't for women'? if it was just 'Comics by women' that would be a better sell (although dave and adrian mightn't like that!). if joe or anyone can tell me what 'a comic for women' is that makes it different from other comics that might help me understand what all the fuss is about.

    to use ping's vegetarian analogy - some of the golden age romance comics were obviously considered 'comics for girls' but they were called 'romance comics'...
    so maybe if GAM was labelled along the lines of: "comics for people who like 'friendlier reading'" (and i only use 'friendlier' because i can't think of a better word to describe the type of comics generally found on GAM!

  9. There are people that care what the sex of a webcomic creator is (outside the racist ones like Bastards! and Nowhere Man)?