Howl

May 4th, 2016

I don’t get to the comic shop as often now as I used to.
I still tell myself that I love comics, and superheroes, and I do, deeply.
I just… don’t get to the comic shop as often now as I used to.

Of course, my local comic shop is a wonderful one. The staff are friendly, there are often events there for little kids. You often see a lot of young girls there.

Not like the other comic shop, the one round the corner from it.

I used to go into that shop, before I met my wife. But once we got together, I’d occasionally ask her to go into town and pick up my comics for me, and she was scared of that one. The way the people in it looked at her. I didn’t want to give custom to a place that made my then-girlfriend now-wife that uncomfortable.
But, you know, there was a shop round the corner that I could go to instead. I could buy my comics from there, and get the story about Dr Light raping Sue Dibny that was coming out at the time without worrying about a sexist atmosphere.

(I dropped that particular comic, after that issue)

I wrote about that decision a couple of years later. Anonymous men told me that women should just suck it up if they felt uncomfortable.
Others just called me a liar. No woman has ever been made uncomfortable at a comic shop.

Of course, dismissal of interiority and subjectivity often goes hand in hand with shoring up the patriarchy. I do wonder if it’s a coincidence that around the same time DC Entertainment, A Warner Communications Industry started to be run by a boorish, bro-ish man who thinks nothing of standing on a convention platform screaming a woman down when she asks why he doesn’t employ more women, they stopped using thought bubbles.

I miss thought bubbles. They were one of the few tools that only comics have.

But even though the staff at the shop I do go to are friendly, and the atmosphere’s great, I don’t go to the comic shop as often as I used to.

Recently a comic came out that I’d been looking forward to for a while. It’s a comic written by Grant Morrison, my favourite writer working in superhero comics today. Wonder Woman: Earth One. It looked fantastic, and a lot of people were enthusiastically sharing panels from it on Tumblr in the day or two after it came out.

It looked, in fact, like the kind of thing I’d like to point my wife, and several other of my women friends, to — people who don’t often buy comics… for some reason… but who are open to the medium. It revamped Etta Candy as an openly queer, kinky, fat woman for example — I know some people for whom the character would tick all their representational buttons and who would love the comic, at least from the samples I saw.

I haven’t bought the comic yet.
I did wonder, though, at the fact that a comic explicitly about feminism was written and drawn entirely by men.

Not that men can’t be feminists, of course. As Maid of Nails put it at Thought Bubble last year “the reason you Mindless Ones are OK is because you’re white men, but you know that white men are the problem.” (Or “the worst”, I don’t remember precisely. Either way.)

But still. A feminist comic written and drawn entirely by men.

And edited by Eddie Berganza. He even gets a little cameo in the comic. You can see him in the picture at the top, in the right-hand side.

That’s Eddie Berganza who, it has been very widely reported in the couple of weeks since the comic came out, has a record of serial sexual harassment going back years, to the extent that the only way to keep him employed is to forbid him from working with women. Which possibly explains the lack of them in this feminist comic he edited.

So I haven’t got round to buying it yet. I don’t get to the comic shop as much as I used to.

(In an unrelated tangent, Monkees fandom is currently tearing itself apart. Three years ago it used to be dominated by women. Now it’s dominated by men, mostly being arseholes. The Monkees have critical respect now, you see, so they’re not for women any more.)

Since the public revelations about Berganza, he’s hired Frank Cho to be the cover artist on Wonder Woman. That’s Frank Cho who famously drew pictures of Wonder Woman… presenting… herself.

Laura Sneddon has complained about this and been called a prude.

That’s the same Laura Sneddon who spent most of Monday night livetweeting her reactions to Sexbox on TV. A prude because she doesn’t like sleazy, exploitative, shit.

As she said on Twitter

The trouble with social revenge warriors is that they can’t comprehend of women who both criticise sexism and enjoy erotic art. You don’t like Cho’s outrage covers? Oh you must hate cheesecake or female sexuality!! You must hate Milo Manara!!! Errr no. Erotic art is not in itself sexist. Erotic art of women by men is not in itself sexist. Making money and fame from women’s hurt? Sexist… How funny that young girls expected to read comics for them & not be subjected to sexism and seeing their hero shot in the head. Hilarious. How funny that now they’re not sure about Wonder Women – oldest of all female superheroes here today – because she rewards hypocrisy. But it’s just variant covers, and not even cheesecake so don’t dare raise complaints. That’s expecting logic and the dreaded social justice. Instead take your new label – a prude who hates female sexuality and empowerment – and leave comics to the men children.

Am I signal-boosting women’s voices here, or just recycling other people’s social media content for cheap outrage a la Buzzfeed? Is there even a difference?

We’re white men, but we know white men are the worst.

And just saying that isn’t enough. I think of Berganza and his feminist comic. You can know all the words, but still be complicit.

Am I complicit? Are we?

The Monkees fandom didn’t fill up with men til after I joined, you know. I *think* that’s coincidence, but how can I know?

But then, knowing the words is still *something*, isn’t it?

It’s better than the people on the Reddit Gamergate forums [correction -- Gamergaters on 4Chan, like there's a fucking difference which forum the hate group are using] who are calling for Rich Johnston’s death as an “SJW scumbag” for asking Frank Cho a bunch of softball questions about “the controversy”. Just raising the matter, even in what read as a very sympathetic piece towards Cho, was enough to get them angry and want him dead.

Cho calls himself a free-speech crusader in the interview. He says that people who don’t like his work are witchhunting. He talks about “the hateful political views of Mary Sue and Comics Alliance”

Comics Alliance employ a columnist who has admitted harassing a woman until she had a mental health crisis.
I don’t think that’s what Cho is talking about though.

I don’t go to the comic shop as often as I used to.

And I think about Vox Day, who has once again gamed the Hugos, this time filling it with a bunch of libel about “SJWs”, Gamergate apologia, and attacks on specific women writers.

And I think about the comics creator who messaged me in private last year about harassment from another creator, a Gamergate supporter.

And I think about the fact that Vox Day has got, onto the Hugo Awards ballot, a comic creator who recently drew a picture of Ms Marvel, a 16-year-old character in the comics, naked from the waist down, exposing her labia. That artist’s main comic is called Gamergate Life.

And I think about Phil Sandifer pointing out that this is wrong, and several people not seeing why he had a problem with it. And about Vox Day accusing *Sandifer* of paedophilia in response.

I think about how there are meant to be good things in the world. Things that should be unalloyed pleasures, signs of all that is good and right and *just* in the world, like Superman or Wonder Woman comics and other stories about kind, decent people doing good things in a magical world full of wonder, or simple songs about fun in the summer.

And I think about Monkees fandom, and Beach Boys fandom, and Doctor Who fandom, and science fiction fandom, all overwhelmed by the sludge of toxic masculinity overwhelming everything good, so you can’t read a Superman or Wonder Woman comic without a sexual harasser having been part of its creation, and you can’t have a conversation about science fiction books without actual Nazis making it all about them.

And I think about Trump, and about Boris Johnson.

And I think about making it about them, and about the fact that this blog post has dealt almost entirely with the thoughts, opinions, and actions of white men.

And I think about how I know white men are the worst.

And I think of that Mitchell & Webb sketch — “are we the baddies?”

And I think about how I don’t go to the comic shop as much any more…

 

Our society only values one thing more than the self-centred opinions of white men, and that’s actual cash. If you want to help me convert my surplus of the former into the latter, and aren’t too disgusted by the crassness of me putting this at the end of this post, why not become one of my backers on Patreon?

39 Responses to “Howl”

  1. Andrew Hickey Says:

    (Correction — It’s been pointed out to me that Berganza will not be editing the Wonder Woman issues with Cho covers, as Greg Rucka refuses to work for him. Good for Rucka)

  2. Maid of Nails Says:

    Thank you for writing this! It’s deeply reassuring not just to know that you (and of course the other Mindless goize) have my back and those of other fully paid-up members of Women, but that you’re openly speaking out about it.

  3. James Brough Says:

    From time to time Andrew, you write something like this and I remember how glad I am that I know you.

  4. Rollo Says:

    I think the Bat office handles wonder Woman now.

  5. Richard Gadsden Says:

    Wonderful. Can’t add anything productive, so I’ll proofread it.

    one typo – “waist down”, not “waste down”.

  6. Andrew Hickey Says:

    And just discovered that Scott Bennett, a member of Brian Wilson’s backing band whose musicianship, showmanship, and lyric-writing I admired enormously, raped a woman in 2014 and was just convicted of it.
    I was Facebook friends with this person. I thought he was a good bloke. I’d chatted with him on several occasions over a fifteen-year period.

    Toxic fucking white men.

  7. Mike Hisandry Says:

    This is so real. I feel the same pain, the same confusion and frustration and sorrow.

    Thank you for saying this.

    I also don’t get to the comic shop much anymore.

  8. plok Says:

    You have to love the utter predictability of that, eh?

  9. plok Says:

    Now for God’s sake nobody feed the little bastards.

  10. Andrew Hickey Says:

    As I just said on Twitter, any pro-Gamergate comments on any blog to which I have admin rights will be marked as spam. Repeated pro-Gamergate comments from the same person will be reported to their ISP. Gamergate is a hate group, and will not be given a platform anywhere I have a say about it, and I know the other Mindless agree with me on this.

  11. plok Says:

    Wise!

  12. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Oh, and for the Gamergaters here who think that their hate group is being libelled, a simple correction — it was Gamergaters on 4Chan, not Reddit, who called for Johnston’s death. I apologise to Reddit, and Gamergaters can fuck off.
    Again, any post expressing even the slightest sympathy for that hate group her *will* be taken down.

  13. Kate Waters Says:

    Noreen Merrick has used a rather familiar template for “her” post above.

    This is exactly what GGers have been posting to decent people’s twitter accounts to try to get them kicked off twitter.

    Why? Because GGers can’t stand the fact that happy people with healthy outlooks on life support and care for one another. So they do whatever they can to try to smear anyone who isn’t willing to go along with their Harassment Club’s idicoy.

  14. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Quite. And they show such an utter lack of imagination.

  15. Adam Says:

    Great post, Hickey.

    Great. Post.

  16. Quantum Says:

    I don’t mind most marine mammals but I could do without sea lions

  17. Emily B. Says:

    I need to read your blog more, Andrew.
    It feels like a day at the spa. A refuge from the rest of the internet.

  18. RetroWarbird Says:

    I never read into Gamergate, but the headlines all looked awful. Geek misogyny is a virulent strain. But I have long since ended effectively all online gaming audio “human” interactions because I get enough casual racism, homophobia and patriarchal vomit by living in a small rural town in progressive, forward thinking Yankee New York, thanks much.

    White men are savage because white (or, well, those who qualify as white) men are (blanket statement!) weak. The best defensiveness is a good offensiveness.

    Part of the problem. Part of the broplem. Part of the part of the part of the much of the, most of the lawmakers, too. Recognize these “strengths” as weaknesses, they’re in there. Anyone else remember their 10-20 year old selves? Anyone else not want to remember being him? No of course not … they pine for those days. White male sentimentality is the godhead worship of white male EW FUCK YUCK GIRLS he-man woman-haters clubs. But mom’s been tougher than macho old dad the whole time.

    Good for Greg Rucka.

  19. debgpi » I don’t go as much, either Says:

    [...] “I don’t go to the comic show as often now as I used to.”  It’s the money, the time, and this. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) [...]

  20. Noxex Says:

    This is a legit question, coming from someone who doesnt read about these issues that much. Are you actually saying you think all white men are bad? That the inherent privilege should make them behave in a certain manner? Are ypu, as a cis white man, saying that you are letting yourself down? I find myself agreeing with your political points but find I’m losing some of nuance in your arguments re sexism, gamergate, etc. I also find the name calling on your part off putting. Thing is that because I agree with you on so many of things I probably do agree with you here, i just dont understand. My activist liberal wife has started to say things like “modern feminists have come to just flat out hate men and think theyre better. They pretend to be offended because thats the in thing.”. Not saying I agree with that, I would honestly like a better explanation from your side that doesnt include name calling or the assumption that I have any idea what Gamergate is. Sorry if that was rambling.

  21. Andrew Hickey Says:

    ” I also find the name calling on your part off putting. Thing is that because I agree with you on so many of things I probably do agree with you here, i just dont understand. My activist liberal wife has started to say things like “modern feminists have come to just flat out hate men and think theyre better. They pretend to be offended because thats the in thing.”.”

    And I’m sure you have a black friend, too, who thinks all this political correctness has gone too far and is just fine with people calling him the n- word between friends.

  22. Jason Says:

    Noxex, this is serious question: are you unaware of sea lioning? from your reasonable sounding comment, it seems as though your very long series of questions are quite reasonable. but you are, in fact, wasting everyone’s time. please desist from your juvenile tactics. perhaps go for a nice walk or read a book. many non-internet activities do not include light harassment and may even enrich your life, and soothe some of the incredible pain i’m sure you are feeling.

  23. plok Says:

    What happened to the Wise Policy, guys?

    We’re feeding them now?

  24. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Plok, that one was let through by accident, not blocked, and once it was allowed, given the particular sealioning tone, I thought it better to make clear to anyone who *didn’t* get what was going on that this was a troll comment. Future comments by “Noxex”, as by any other trolls, will just be deleted.

  25. Nate A. Says:

    Hi all… Not a sealion. I’m actually a frequent commenter on this here blog. I also totally agree with the thoughts expressed in the article above, and I am totally cool with how it was expressed.

    That said, I’m also a researcher of political rhetoric. So, while I appreciate, (and believe I understand), what Andrew means when he says white men are the worst, I worry that it could come across as a catch phrase, which could do more harm than good, and obscure a valid intellectual position. For that reason, I wouldn’t dismiss out of hand the idea of explicating it, though I’ll hasten to add that by explication I do not mean qualification or vacillation.

    I realize this will do nothing to satisfy the #notallmen crowd, but I do think it would help people not already in the conversation to understand the basic premises.

  26. plok Says:

    BAN THIS GOOD MAN!

    DESTROY HIM!!

    EXTERMINATE!!

  27. plok Says:

    Heh. Sorry. I’m glad to meet another student of rhetoric, because I found Noxex’s comment to be a nice little crystallization of how primitive rhetorical techniques can work, like Caotain America using judo on the Hulk, on even sophisticated minds.

    Uh…

    Christ, I got the metaphor backwards, there.

  28. plok Says:

    Anyway, Nate, do not be all “um, hi, not a sealion”! Good heavens!

    I nominate Bobsy to be the one who explicates it all for those not yet up to speed.

    (sorry, Nate, I am a bit dronk)

    (bobsy still a good choice though)

  29. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Nate, I think it’s very easy to explain. The explanation is that white men are the worst, and cause all the world’s problems, and should stop doing that.

    This post wasn’t really about taking a valid intellectual position, it’s a howl of utter pain, disgust, and hatred against a system and a culture which encourages the humiliation and dehumanisation of the vast majority of the world, and which has been making me physically sick.

  30. Nate A. Says:

    Hey, the internet is a nasty place. I’d rather embarrass myself with a surfeit of caution… Wave the white flag, be all “um, hi, not a sealion,” and all that. I figure Andrew has been deflecting all sorts of awful over the past few days, and I didn’t want him to think I was trying to be a dick.

    Shit, I’m not totally sure what a “sealion” is.

  31. plok Says:

    Ah!

    It’s a great little comic!

    See if I can dig up the link…

  32. plok Says:

    I’m sorry, it must be on the other computer; all I can find is “Harry Potter Becomes A Communist”.

  33. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Nate — http://wondermark.com/1k62/

  34. Nate A. Says:

    Thanks for the reply… That explanation works fine for me, and like I said earlier, I think your position is intellectually valid (not that you need my validation).

  35. Nate A. Says:

    Oh man, that cartoon is great!

  36. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Ha! Never saw that before. So good.

  37. DGoodluck Says:

    Morrison already commented on Berganza. The way he knows best.

    Compare:
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vn8oggxRII8/UStXJ8RNIPI/AAAAAAAAW9U/IzGg1u64SwM/s1600/ac+17-04.jpg

    With:
    http://fido.palermo.edu/servicios_dyc/noticiasdc/galerias/grandes/2847_174075.jpg

    Those creepy, crawling hands that defile everything they touch…

  38. bridalshowerinvitationtemplate Says:

    now if you want to feel like shit, watch 2dos or some dk64 runner do that in 3 hours

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