This post started it’s life as a #Nerdy9th post over on G+ but it’s something that I feel like I have to reiterate over here from time to time because there are people in the world who don’t get that I don’t actually hate comics.
In spite of all the bullshit, I still love comics.
When comics are good, they’re amazing. They’re a means of escape that can take you far outside yourself. You can be a hero in your mind while you read along. They are tales of good and evil where good mostly always wins, and evil is defeated, if only to slink off into the darkness from whence it came and lick its wounds while it hatches another plot.
I don’t want gritty realism in my comics. If I want gritty realism I’ll watch the news, I’ll step outside my door, I’ll stand on any given street corner in the greater Seattle area and see the homeless and the disenfranchised while assholes like Richard Spencer call for the murder of anyone doesn’t look like him.
I have enough gritty realism in my reality, thanks.
When comics are done right, they elevate, they entertain, they can help get someone through trying times. Ms. Marvel, when Cap and Superman are written well, Captain Marvel, Squirrel Girl, these comics are so much more than the ink and paper they’re written on.
What I want from my comics is diverse representation, so that every little girl and boy and those who find themselves elsewhere on the gender spectrum, and regardless of skin color or class or background, find themselves in a story that tells them there is more, there can be more, THEY can be more.
Over on G+ my friend Rachel shared a story about her daughter Autumn’s love of comics with me that made my heart nearly explode:
I love comics. And I’ve become aware that they are the single best way to get my 11-year-old daughter to read. So we stocked up on girl-power comic books, like Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes. On her own she discovered Raina Telgemeier and now owns most of her books, including the updated Babysitter’s Club series.
The other night she came rushing out me, holding her hardcover Volume 1 Lumberjanes book. “MOM. MOM LOOK WHO WROTE THE FORWARD FOR LUMBERJANES.” (She said this in all caps.) It was none other than Raina Telgemeier. “That’s AWESOME” was my reply, and she happily told me all about the forward. “Did you know she used to be a GIRL SCOUT? Isn’t that COOL?”
This post reminded me of that moment, which stood out because it was the first time I’ve seen her get excited like that and brings me so much joy. I hope that she continues to love comics as she grows older, and that they continue to bring her that excitement, that absolute happiness. I want her to have those authors and characters that she can not only look up to but also see herself in.
That is why I love comics.
And that is why I fight and argue and criticize to get across the idea that they should be more diverse, more accepting, more interesting in general, and not always dark and gritty. I cut my teeth on Richie Rich comics when I was a kid, also collections of Peanuts, Garfield, The Wizard of Id, and BC before it got really preachy.
I don’t call out the bullshit because I hate comics. I call out the bullshit because I love comics, and I want them to be better. I know they can be better. And I got news for you, this “Comics have always been for guys!” stuff is crap.
There are literally hundreds of pictures of girls reading comics on the web. From all eras, not just the old-timey black and white photos. Although if you have children, you may want to put safe search on. As with searching anything having to do with “women” on the web, you do so at your own risk. I swear, we can’t have anything nice.
Much as with gaming, female comics fans have always been there, a lot of jerks just chose not to recognize us because, I don’t know. If we’re too cute, we’re pretending to like comics to get the attention of a bunch of assholes who don’t even like us and think we’re shallow whores. I don’t even know how they live with the cognitive dissonance that sentence creates. And if we aren’t cute enough, we aren’t actually women or something???? I have never really been clear on what exactly their malfunctions are, really.
Like I said in the last post, I’m the kind of fangirl who goes into a drugstore looking for a toothbrush and “accidentally” buys $50 worth of Captain America FunkoPop figures. I’ve got Cap’s shield tattooed on my left shoulder and Nightcrawler tattooed on my left calf. And I have put up with years and years of sexist bullshit at comics stores to pursue my love of the hobby. I have been repeatedly hit on. I have been asked if I was looking for something for my boyfriend or my husband. I have been asked if I was lost, because the nail salon was two doors down. I have had the X-men, Captain America and Gloomcookie (of all things) mansplained to me.
Yet, I am still here, and still love comics. In spite of Mark Millar, Nick Spencer, and all the other “edgy,” grim dark sexists who don’t realize that women have always been in their hobby, getting their cooties all over everything.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m moving in five days and have an awful lot of packing still to do.
Also if you like what you read here, I have a Patreon where you can throw money at me. Which I would appreciate forever and always. I am also planning to do occasional swag giveaways over there.
And HOLY SHIT, Thank you Alexandra Summers for your pledge!!!!!!! You rock the earth and sky!!!!!!