To the Dude Who Cut Me Off in the Comics Shop
I guess you didn’t see me here, just three feet away from the shelf, browsing comics with titles C-H. Sup?
I know. You didn’t realize I was browsing. Why would I be? You saw me come in with my boyfriend or maybe you didn’t. But regardless, I am an anathema here. Or at least to you. A woman doesn’t belong a comics and games shop.
Here’s some fun trivia for you. I was born into nerddom, a little baby princess ready to inherit. I was playing Magic: the Gathering before I ever considered playing Pokemon, and I knew by age ten that I loved Punk Rock!Storm way more any other version of her. I grew up in a comics shop and can slide boards into bags so fast, I’m a goddamned comics ninja.
But sure, stand in front of me so I can’t see the shelves anymore.
I get so sick of people like you.
There are so many people who don’t think I get to exist, or who cry “fake” when I talk nerdy. It will never matter how many times I’ve seen BSG or that I spent my childhood running around gaming conventions. To these, let’s face it, men, I’m an invader, taking up space and taking enjoyment from things to which I have no right.
Fuck. That. Noise.
Let’s not bother talking about the fact that just standing in front of someone or talking to the man next to them like they’re somehow not there is just plain fucking rude. Let’s just get to the root of this problem.
You don’t think women belong here. And you’re wrong. To paraphrase the great Kameron Hurley, women have always geeked. Hell, you wouldn’t have science fiction as a genre without the late, great Mary Shelley.
(This is my cat. She is named after Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary W. Shelley)
The part that’s always got to me is that you should be so damn excited I’m here. That I’m a real person. After all, relatively attractive young woman who’s into the same things you are?! That’s supposed to be what you cry on the internet about, isn’t it? That no one will love you because you like to recite L5R deep lore a little too much?
Huge eyeroll. Here’s the truth.
You don’t actually want to be around geeky women. You identify yourself with a class of “rejects” because (1) you have based your identity and self-narrative and the idea that you are a persecuted, sad lonely person, (2) you like to feel like a self-important gatekeeper in a world that doesn’t actually use you as a gatekeeper, and (3) you think women are incompetent and tasteless walking vaginas who just flat out can’t keep up with the smart man-brain powers that let you play five hour tabletop games based off of scary stories written by a dead racist.
The fact that so much of this male geek rage is based in a sense of self-righteousness and persecution is ungodly frustrating. After all, the easiest thing to be in America is a straight middle class white dude (+1 modifier for educated). And also, you’re just being fucking petty. You had a crush or an unrequited whatever and they shot you down, made you feel like you didn’t belong. So you’re taking the first chance to do that to someone else, because to you, cruelty is how you regain your wounded pride.
The worst part, though, is all the shit you ruin. Just by being a jerk. Like, ya know, video games and Comic-Con and the Hugos.
Fun fact: no one spends hundreds of hours and tons of cash to dress up as a seriously perfect replication of a character just to get on your weasley dick. But instead of recognizing that, let’s ostracise all the hot ladies.
Let’s deep dive, though.
Why having women (and diversity) in a comics shop is only ever a good thing
Culture. It’s kind of awesome. And the more people who contribute, the cooler your culture gets.
Comics and nerddom are known for being insular spaces, but what they really ought to be known for is being *STORYTELLING* spaces. The best comics and movies and games all center around storytelling and world creation. When you add women and other diverse people into your spaces you get a much wider world of stories.
You get to finally hear about the Miles Morales and Moon Girls of the world. And those stories are fucking amazing.
I love Stan Lee as much as the next nerd, but let’s be honest there are only so many man stories a person can take before it gets old.
There’s also significant evidence that shows workplaces and social areas only benefit from different perspectives and a diverse culture. You think more creatively and work harder. Diversity literally makes you a better person.
Why not every nerdy space is your sacred hidey hole from reality
You don’t own Marvel or DC or Star Wars. Even if you did, the nature of stories and creation means that YOU DON’T CONTROL who consumes a work. Once you put something out into the world, the world will spread that as it wills. You don’t get to choose who likes something and who doesn’t.
If you really want to cloister yourself off into a space where no one else can enjoy something, you should stick to your basement or a password-protected limited access blog or something.
Until then, people get to enjoy whatever it is they want. That’s part of freedom (or whatever).
And just because someone does or doesn’t like something doesn’t give you the right to try to destroy it. Chances are good you can’t. The world is resilient and people, generally speaking, don’t like bullies. *coughVoxDaycough*
It’s cool though. I can’t stop you from being a tool.
Plus, my comics collection is bigger than yours.
Mini Spotlights on Graphic Novels
The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage by Jan van Meter and Robert de la Torre is a fantastic story. Dr. Mirage is a parapsychologist. She helps people connect with the spirits of their lost loved ones and can cross over, when necessary, to the world of the dead. She’s been hiding out since her husband’s death. He’s the one spirit she cannot speak to.
Things that rock about The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage:
I want to say everything, but let’s be more specific. There’s some really fun artwork with great attention to detail. In the trade, they talk about the lettering process, the way that the lettering is presented. The very deliberate choices that are used are apparent and really help to set the tone. The coloring in dynamic and entertaining. AND Dr. Mirage is awesome. She’s complicated, constantly growing, and a fascinating character. The plot was pretty heart breaking, but man it was worth it.
Rat Queens Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth*
Oh, Rat Queens, how I love thee. Rat Queens, vol. 1 is fantastically funny, blending some of the best parts of fantasy, D&D and girl power. It’s drawn beautifully and has a fantastic sense of humor. Volume 2 is no less fantastic. It shines a light on the backstories of our heroines (I’m using the term liberally) and manages to still retain humor and a new extension of the plot. INCLUDING GIANT SQUID!
Just. Do. It. You’ll thank me.
Low Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope*
This one admittedly wasn’t my favorite. It’s a far future story. Humanity has moved under the sea and there is huge conflict. It revolves around one family that has the power to move the underwater ships humanity is living in. I’m not really sure why it didn’t click with me. It’s got some fun dialogue and great, colorful, and scenic illustrations. I’m guessing it was just a mood problem. I’m going to revisit it and will update later.
*I received marked titles from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review
Mini Spotlights on Graphic Novels
Rat Queens, vol. 1
Rat Queens is pretty epic. It follows the (mis)adventures of the Rat Queens, a questing group composed of D&D esq classes of rogues. This all girl gang gets in trouble repeatedly. A combination of risk taking, self destructive habits, and collusion means they’re destined for trouble. And now, it’s found them and won’t rest until the Rat Queens are gone.
This was described to me as Kevin Smith meets D&D meets girl power. I think it’s even better.
The art is compelling and the story rocks. There’s a fantastic sense of humor throughout the entire thing. Despite its light-hearted approach, Rat Queens also tackles some more serious interpersonal issues and builds some fairly complex characters pretty quickly. I’m glad I picked this up this month, because vol. 2 is out in trade on the 19th. I don’t think I could have waited much longer.
The Fade Out, vol. 1
And now for something totally different (though still pretty good).
The Fade Out is a classic Hollywood noir type story with a fantastic sense of chaos. It blends classic story tropes with a more realistic approach to the types of struggles people deal with. The art is dark and emphasizes the story’s plot. I loved the look at the politics of the 40s and 50s in Hollywood. It wasn’t always overly fast paced and it’s not very funny (though it has its moments), but overall I was pretty please. Three for you, Ed Brubaker, you go Ed Brubaker (though I think it actually ranks higher than a 3/5)
Let’s Talk | Comics and Graphic Novels [Video Post]
In which I talk about comics and a bit of their history and context.
Spotlight on Graphic Novels: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl is available here.
Overview: We open to Zita, a human girl of elementary school age, on trial for destroying an asteroid, stealing a spaceship, and interfering with the migration habits of an endangered species (All of these done in pursuit of good). Zita is sentenced to imprisonment and to working in the mines searching for a crystal that her warden will use to invade Earth and takeover. Zita must escape and defeat the warden before it’s too late and all of Earth is destroyed. The only way to do so will be to gather up her friends (quirky robots, some space pilots, and other animated objects) in order to save Earth.
Zita is an intrepid young girl with an immutable sense of good, easily a great role model for young children. However, she is questioned about how her good acts may impact others. When she’s brought up on charges, we see that even though she has been doing good, there have been repercussions: potentially endangering others, theft, harming a species. Though it’s clear that Zita has done good, I think it’s also a good reminder that we can’t always foresee the ramifications of what we do, but that thinking them through is still a necessity.
The humor is in the tradition of both traditional superhero stories and web comics. It’s nothing a younger child couldn’t understand, but it also appeals to a broader audience that includes adults.
Zita also has a focus on teamwork and collaboration with adults that I think is awesome. It’s not uncommon to see television shows and comics that downplay the role of adults and teamwork in a successful endeavor. Zita features a cast of characters that help her that includes two adults who, unlike many stories, are not blundering fools or overwhelmingly suffocating for the main character. Instead, the supporting characters are valuable and fun to meet and watch.
The artwork in Zita is great. It features striking contrasted colors, high color saturation, and design that draws on webcomic and more traditional comic traditions.
All photos in this post are creations of Ben Hatke.
Spotlight on Graphic Novels: Chew #1
Chew #1 is available on ComiXology electronically or in print form here*.
After a Bird Flu outbreak, the Constitution was amended. Now chicken is illegal. Tony Chu is a vice cop for the Philly police department. He’s sent in to examine D-Bear, a chicken smuggler with an underground chicken restaurant. But Tony is a cibopath and can see visions through the food he eats, and there’s more than just chicken in the soup.
- There’s a really great color palette in this series. Going back and forth between eye-catching color and muted, dark tones, the pages are stunning.
- The artwork catches exaggerated expressions and has a great sense of humor and timing.
- The sense of humor extends to the writing and storyline. It’s funny enough to think about some guy walking around and seeing into people’s lives just by eating, but the characters all have humours names and proclivities. For instance, Tony’s brother is named Chow and went on a tirade about the chicken ban on national television.
Chew is funny and has a lot of room for growth. Be warned it’s pretty graphic as far as gore goes. It’s not for the feint of heart.
*Amazon recently acquired ComiXology, but ComiXology’s current electronic viewing system is optimized for the comic. I don’t know if Amazon’s has been updated to host at the same quality.