This is long, so bear with me.
So, I’ve been more or less offline for a week now and am just catching up on the latest drama involving DC Comics and their handling of female characters as well as a distinct lack of female writers and artists with their latest reboot/reshuffle. If you’re not up on it, check out the following articles over at “DC Women Kicking Ass”: “A Letter to Diane Nelson”, “DC Comics SDCC panels: uncomfortable questions about female creators/characters”, and “An Interview with the Batgirl of the SDCC Panels.” There’s been other problems, too, with DC - blindly hoping slapping pants on Wonder Woman counts as empowerment, redesigning Harley Quinn too look like a low grade stripper, and let’s be honest - comics in general have a long history of using women less as cast members and more as plot points to be put in distress (or refrigerators) so the male characters can show off or grow.
I should point out that I’ve said before that in storytelling or humor I feel nothing is off limits. I stand by that claim. Murder, rape, molestation, genocide, racism, or baby eating sloths are all on the table. However, how these things are used makes the difference. If it’s just, “Oooh, I’m gonna have a woman raped and murdered and that’ll make an impact because WOW rape is painful and now this male character has to deal with someone he loved being raped” (see also; Identity Crisis from DC Comics) you fucked up. It has to be more than that. If you’re doing it for laughs, the laughs have to be strong and more than a rehashing of weak jokes that have been played out for decades - and you have to be willing to stand by what you’ve done and take every bit of criticism you get for it.
In their creative force, DC Comics is basically dropping all female writers and artists except a handful for the reboot. Dan DiDio’s typically charming response was to demand to know who he was supposed to hire. The thing is, there are female comic creators in the industry (and no, not just in yaoi, to answer the go-to retort for a lot of people). I don’t know the process of how DC decided who took what books - if it was all submissions or if they approached creators or what. I’m not going to say they ignored female creators because I know nothing of their process. I will say their handling of a valid question at the panels, which boiled down to laughing it off and trying to rally the die hard fans to scream DC can do no wrong, is pathetic. A fan had an earnest question and they had the chance to openly address it and show they actually DO take the matter seriously instead of just saying they do. So, yeah. Way to blow it.
Anyway, there’s little I can say about what has happened that hasn’t been said. What I can offer an idea of what to do. If you’re earnestly displeased with how DC is handling women and their apparently only interest to “Change Things” by keeping them the same, do this.
Stop buying anything from DC.
Now, I’m not saying this to be snide, as in, “Well if you’re so unhappy go somewhere else, asshole.” I’m serious. Deprive them of your money.
The fact of the matter is comic books aren’t selling millions and millions of copies per issue each week. Some titles from the big companies are merely selling tens of thousands each month - and that’s with fan loyalty. Now, imagine 20,000 or so people saying, “I’m not giving DC Comics my money until this is fixed.” And I don’t mean, “I won’t buy Vertigo titles but I’ll still pick up an action figure or Batman trade.” No, deprive them off ALL your dollars. Cancel all DC titles from your pull list. Don’t watch shows based on their properties. Don’t buy DC anything. If all their titles start having a drop in readership, that makes a difference companies care about - the kind with a dollar sign.
They’re a company. They need revenue. Unless you’re one of the people who only downloads comics from scan sites, you provide it. It’s that goddamn simple. (By the way, if you ARE downloading things without paying into the people who make it, you can’t expect them to give a fuck about your opinion when you’re just leeching things they make for sale and not giving back).
For this to work, it has to be a stop on buying ANYTHING DC related. Don’t give me that, “But they’re my heroes” crap. No, they’re not. They’re property of DC. I don’t care how much you enjoy the characters or the history, in the end they’re IP that belongs to DC Comics and no “but I read them and love them so they belong to me, too” would ever hold up in court. DC has shown they’re only interest in increasing readership involves staying the same course that hasn’t worked beyond brief sparks of interest that fades quickly (play to white males, company wide crises, reboot, repeat). People have vocalized their disdain and DC has responded with, “We take diversity seriously now shut up and buy our comics about and by mostly white men.” To them, it’s just a few loud fans who are unhappy about change that’s not change - and in fairness, with the internet, that’s not an unfair assumption. So show them you mean it - don’t give them your money.
Now, before someone screams about this being unfair to the comic shops, don’t worry. That money you’re not spending on DC? Buy comics from other companies. Marvel if you want, sure, but try out titles from IDW or Boom or anyone. Play the field. Maybe you’ll find something better. Maybe you’ll find a company that actually means it when it says it wants you as part of its audience.
I think this is a great idea - and I can’t wait to see it fail. And it will. Why? Because geeks won’t do it for the same reason they stuck it out through seasons of shitty “Star Trek” franchises they didn’t like or “Star Wars” sequels that enraged them: what their being handed is shit pie and they’ll complain that they’re expected to eat it and then swallow every forkful. Why? The most common answer I’ve gotten is, “Well, we’ve gotta support the stuff we’re into, even the bad stuff, or we might not get any of it.” BULLSHIT. No we don’t. We don’t have to support bad scifi, bad movies, or bad comics in hope of getting good stuff later. All that says is, “We’re so fucking stupid that when we know we’re getting awful shit crammed down our throats, we’ll whine about it AND STILL BUY IT.” That’s the only thing that comes of it.
But please prove me wrong. If you are earnestly unhappy about DC and this whole mess, the answer is simple. Vote with your dollar.
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