Can Male Comics Fans Stop Threatening Women With Rape?

DC Comics are printing yet another Teen Titans comic for what seems the 200th attempt, and here’s the cover for it.

teentitans1

It’s a pretty awful cover, but look at it remembering that these re supposed to be teenagers, so why has Wonder Girl (the blonde character in the centre of the page) got tits that look like a  Page 3 model?

It’s because DC are pandering to a core readership while doing it’s best to alienate potential readers, or ‘women and girls’ as they’re better known as. There’s nothing too different to what’s cropped up in a number of superhero comics, but the problem with this is that it’s, well, creepy but I’ve touched upon this sort of thing in the past. So when Janelle Asselin wrote a critique of the cover for Comic Book Resources title Anatomy of a Bad Cover, the reaction is insane, not because Asselin’s piece is rubbish. It’s not. the reaction to it is because she dared actually say what a number of male fans didn’t want to hear.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Wonder Girl’s rack. Perhaps I’m alone in having an issue with an underaged teen girl being drawn with breasts the size of her head (seriously, line that stuff up, each breast is the same size as her face) popping out of her top. Anatomy-wise, there are other issues — her thigh is bigger around than her waist, for one — but let’s be real. The worst part of this image, by far, are her breasts. The problem is not that she’s a teen girl with large breasts, because those certainly exist. The main problem is that this is not the natural chest of a large-breasted woman. Those are implants. On a teenaged superheroine. Natural breasts don’t have that round shape (sorry, boys). If you don’t believe me, check out this excellent tutorial from artist Meghan Hetrick.

A secondary problem is that no girl with breasts that large is going to wear a strapless top for anything, much less a career that involves a lot of physical activity. In previous New 52 “Teen Titans” covers and issues, we’ve seen this same costume, but more often than not, WG’s breasts are drawn smaller, or the top is pulled up higher. The way Rocafort has drawn her here, we’re one bounce away from a nipslip. On a teenager. In case you forgot that entirely relevant point.

And this line is worth repeating:

Lest you think I’m singling Rocafort out for doing what, let’s be honest, way too many comics artists do (drawing unrealistic, circle-shaped monster boobs on teen girls)

These are only two comments in a lengthy critique of the cover but this was enough to provoke a response against her which wasn’t just from fans stabbing their replies into Twitter, but a professional by the name of Brett Booth.You can read his reaction in this article from the Outhousers, and it’s utterly reprehensible along with the people falling in line cowardly behind him and in one case because the person doesn’t want to annoy DC and lose all that exclusive content for their blog. Well fuck exclusive content. Don’t call yourself a journalist or an aspiring writer if all you do is repeat corporate news, as that just makes you part of their marketing team.

The reaction however became much, much worse as Asselin makes clear in her blog here. 

You see, I’m also doing a survey about sexual harassment in comics. (If you’d like to take this survey, you can find it here.) And so as soon as the angry fanboys started looking me up after the CBR article, they discovered this survey and started answering my questions and using the open box at the end to write in all sorts of awfulness. I’ve gotten all manner of bullshit within the survey now, but at least the ones with the rape threats or other asshole comments tell me which responses to disregard.  If you really want to “get me” and prove that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in comics, I don’t know, maybe it’s better for you to answer honestly about how you haven’t been sexually harassed. Because certainly sending me rape threats proves my point, not yours.

This has been followed up by an article by Heidi McDonald at The Beat which needs to be read by anyone with even a remote interest in comics, especially superhero comics. In it she calls out for men to step up and speak out about this sort of shite, so here;s me speaking out about this shite.

There is not one fucking serious reason why any woman needs to be threatened with rape, or diminished as ‘not a real fan’, or whatever bollocks these wankers come up with to make her opinion worthless. Make a criticism of her piece rather than wade in like some massive arsehole throwing around rape threats because a woman has dared to suggest that your wank fantasy superhero comics are a wee bit weird.

Comics should be for everyone, and superheroes more so than any other genre so having a load of ‘fans’ try to close the genre off to anyone who isn’t ‘one of them’. It’s depressing and people like Brett Booth should really know better because if DC Comics keep cutting out women and kids from their titles and aim their books solely at 20-40 something blokes then it doesn’t take a genius to work out that they’re going to hit a point when publishing comics ins’t sustainable, at least on the scale they are at the minute. There won’t be enough new readers buying smaller selling books like Teen Titans to make it viable and people like Booth will have helped cut off a way of making himself (and others) a living.

It’s not hard. Be nice when you can be, Call people wankers who deserve it. Don’t threaten to rape women from the anonymity of your keyboard. Start acting like human beings, not spoiled fanboys with no real morals or concern for other people.

Really, it’s not difficult.

8 thoughts on “Can Male Comics Fans Stop Threatening Women With Rape?

  1. Well said. Good rant. It saddens me, as a T.T. fan from a time when the title actually meant something, was entertaining, had classy art (Nick Cardy and a couple of issues with Neal Adams) and tried, however hackneyed it must appear nowadays, to be current and “hip”, to view this poor attempt at a cover
    – yes, I know some critics suggest Cardy’s loose inks over Adams pencils dilute the strength of Adams art but that seems to me to be getting it the wrong way round. Good as it is, the real power comes from Cardy who was the real T.T. artist, capturing the spirit of the team, imo –
    As for WG and her bazoombas, I find it disturbing that DC would be happy with this depiction of a young teenager, apart from the practical reasons as already spelt out above.
    Important to bear in mind that a number of female superheroes have been depicted with large bosoms in tight and/or revealing costumes. And this started back in the 1940’s, heavily influenced by garish pulp covers. The difference being those were characters called Phantom Lady, Miss America, Black Angel, some jungle heroines etc. All grown up women. This still plays to idealism about the female form and that is a concern and a slightly different argument, but the depiction of young females in this way has to be worrying.
    Remember, there was a time when a female entering a comic shop shut all the fan boys up. It didn’t only happen in Big Bang Theory.

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  2. I don’t remember any women buying comics regularly in AKA unless you remember otherwise Steve?

    And you’re right, back in the day a woman coming into a comic shop was amazingly rare, and I’m going to tell the story of what happened one year I took an ex-gf to the Bristol con.

    You’re also right about the old cheesecake and I’ve touched on it on the past as it’s a fine line between good cheesecake and just plain crap porn and here’s the problem with a lot of superhero art now; it’s just pornofied to a ridiculous degree so that a teenaged girl like WG just looks like something off a pron website.

    How are girls supposed to get into superhero comics if the picture being painted of women for them by bloke like Brett Booth is of doe-eyed porn stars?

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  3. Oh, there were a few, very few. I think we were the first to have female counter staff but I could be seriously wrong as there are many comic shops I didn’t get to.
    Going back to my examples, I should probably have said Miss Victory rather than Miss America. And perhaps have added Miss fury and Black Cat – the Linda turner original, not one of those Judy come lately’s.
    There is a bit of discussion on the cheesecake subject on
    http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/forum/index.php/topic,5404.15.html
    about 2/3 of the way down the page.
    And I agree about that fine line. That’s the difference between Black Cat way back and the more recent (but still ages ago) version put out by the later version of Harvey, in which the heroine and villainess suffered from the ridiculously large bosoms and revealing costumes given them by the artist/writer/editor.
    Also, you don’t have to look further than AC Comics for examples of preposterous superstructures.
    Again of course, these examples are adults.
    However, it seems odd that manga with a huge female readership, features many young, well endowed women. Orihime in Bleach being a prime example. Japan is definitely a different culture but that comics culture is now all over Europe and selling very well.
    Curious to read other thoughts from other readers of your blog.

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  4. Oh lordy, AC Comics. I was talking to Andy Hope about them a while back and saying someone somewhere needs to do a proper retrospective of them. Just for a laugh like!

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