August 3, 2011

Dear DC

After you wrote a letter saying that you heard the criticisms about the makeup of your creative teams, I felt I should tell you how I feel.

I’m glad that you’re committed to change if it’s what your audience wants. I am thrilled that Apollo and Midnighter still have a home after the reboot and that you didn’t reboot their sexuality. I’m also thrilled that you’re really giving digital comics a push.

But there are still a few things that I’d like to see as a reader. Not as a woman, but as a reader.

1. Fewer pinup covers. I know, sex sells. But half the time, the cheesecake has nothing to do with the actual story of the book… which to me just proves it’s a desperate attempt to get the horndogs to buy the book. (I’m not anti-cheesecake. I own all the issues of Danger Girl, but those covers all played right into each issue!) I’d just rather see a cover that actually tells me a little bit about what’s inside.
2. Or…. make the pinup covers the variants.
3. Introduce all ages books. It honestly isn’t going to detract from your current storylines if you have a couple of out of continuity books that can never be retconned. Example? Give me an all ages Superboy. Or an all ages Superman & Batman. Something that I can hand my kids and have them fall in love the way that I did.
4. Platform wide events are cool, but usually only when they happen every so often. Year long events every year makes them less of “events”, and make it really hard for new readers to get into storylines. I do speak from experience- I had to cut back on my comic funds when I had my first kid, and when I was trying to get back into it… I had no idea where to start because DC was in the middle of another giant event.
5. If you’re trying to make a character bad-ass, dressing like a stripper isn’t the answer. I love the knife belt on Harley Quinn’s new costume, the new hair and the giant hammer. But there’s no real link to the Harleen Quinzell most of us fell in love with. And what’s with Zantanna in Flashpoint? She’s one of the classiest ladies in the DCU- even if you change the timeline, one would think that she’d find a way to retain that. Redesign all you like, but don’t strip away what makes the character who they are. Nobody would dare put Batman in a dayglo uniform, or have him suddenly dress like a Chippendale’s dancer- but somehow it makes sense to tart Harley up? (And please don’t cite the success of Arkham Asylum.)
6. Flexibility. Don’t be afraid to try new things. No, rebooting your characters or putting them in alternate timelines isn’t what I mean. One of the things I like about Marvel is that they’re willing to try all ages books, manga versions of their properties… it doesn’t always work, but they try.

Not included in my list, but you might want to work on how you handle criticism. Frankly, I was more disappointed at how rude Dan Didio was to the woman who asked about the creative team than I was that there were fewer women in the initial relaunch. All he had to do was say that they were aware of the concern and that it wasn’t intentional, point out that there are announcements with female creators coming down the line and remind fans that the surefire way to have more female creators is for more women to send submissions. Considering that Gail Simone herself had raised the same concern (about the lack of female creators) weeks earlier, this is a question DC should have seen as being a possibility. (And by the way, you didn’t need to put a quantity on the female creators out there in your letter. Just saying you know there are many more out there would have been enough.)

The more and more I write about this and talk about it with others, I really don’t want this to be a gender thing. I long for the day when people don’t care who writes comics, but just care that they’re written well. Frankly, I’d like to see fresh talent. Redesigns that don’t feel dated before they even hit the page (sorry Jim Lee, but your work hasn’t aged since the 90s. Chokers are out, and Superman doesn’t need armor). Go to Project Rooftop, and be blown away by their artwork. These are artists who know the characters and aren’t afraid to try something new. I’d like to see some risks. Because right now, DC looks like it’s too afraid to try anything new. (Well, anything new that doesn’t involve taking clothes off of female characters)


For those who’ve seen the 12% to 1% female creators issue cited, Newsarama takes a look at those figures. Turns out it’s a bit of apples to oranges thing. But honestly, I’m glad that there have been more open discussions about the way women are portrayed in comics, as well as honestly talking about the directions that fans want to see comics taken in.

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