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An Open Letter to Aaron Diaz
August 25, 2014 5:43 PM   Subscribe

You’re allowed to make art with male gaze. But please call a spade a spade. "I don’t think I’ve seen a single page of Dresden Codak that doesn’t feature a woman posed in a male-gazey way, with loving focus on her ass or cleavage, or wearing a sexual costume, or in some situation that puts her in a compromising position (like the most recent page in which Kimiko’s clothing is burned off of her body, which has happened at least twice in the series’ run.) I have a very hard time believing that these details are accidental."

Webcartoonist Mary Cagle recently posted a short satire of a common kind of disingenuous male feminism and "empowered" female characters rampant in the comics community. Aaron Diaz, author of Dresden Codak and outspoken critic of sexist character designs, took this quite personally. Over the past few days, multiple women in the webcomics community have weighed in, culminating in Magnolia Pearl's open letter (linked above). (Previously)
posted by moonlight on vermont (119 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been reading Dresden Codak for forever, and that open letter strikes me as pretty spot-on.

I'm curious how Aaron will respond to it.
posted by aubilenon at 5:53 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Once the male gaze-yness of Dresden Codak was pointed out on the old Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad blog (Part 1, part 2), I couldn't not be bowled over by it. Not that Solomon isn't kind of a dick, but he's got Diaz dead to rights on the gaze.
posted by COBRA! at 5:56 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


I have no idea what's going on here or who these people are. But a review of the links suggests that Person A poked fun at Person B, prompting the later to privately complain, so Person A took the complaint public and Person C wrote and open letter to Person B stating why they agree with Person C agrees with Person A.

Is that correct?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 PM on August 25


I think you are a nice person who does good things. I think you’re a good artist and a good writer. [...] I’m not trying to attack you or slander you. I’m certainly not doing this to stir up drama. I think you are a good person. And I think that you make a good comic. It’s obvious that a lot of people really love it and support it, and will continue to love and support it no matter what. There’s a lot you are doing right. But your work is not perfect, and I want to talk about it directly, honestly, and respectfully.
*sigh* It's so depressing that she feels she has to issue this placating disclaimer to a perfectly thoughtful, persuasive argument in an effort to preclude it from being (predictably) dismissed out-of-hand as some crazy/shrill/mean/groundless personal attack.
posted by scody at 6:01 PM on August 25 [52 favorites]


Joss Whedon.
posted by Artw at 6:02 PM on August 25 [25 favorites]


I thought Mary Cagle's satire was spot on. Was it a direct call out of Dresden Codak? I seem to have missed the banner headline on that page.
posted by arcticseal at 6:04 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


In every interaction I've had with Aaron Diaz, he seems to be really a super nice guy and on the right side of a lot of stuff. I can understand why she would include a disclaimer like that especially if he's feeling personally stung about it, if they know each other socially.

Even though I tend to agree his stuff is cheesecakey, and that isn't my cup of tea, a lot of artists do cheesecakey female characters like that with a "it's so empowering" gloss. I don't find it to be empowering myself, but I am a bit of a sourpuss about these things, and there are certainly women who do at least say they find that stuff empowering, and women artists who draw this way, etc - aren't there? I have mixed feelings about coming down on Diaz specifically since he's sure not alone in this "I'm a feminist, here are some sexy dames" stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:06 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I heard Aaron's already working on his reply... should be up no later than 2015.
posted by Behemoth at 6:07 PM on August 25 [38 favorites]


*sigh* It's so depressing that she feels she has to issue this placating disclaimer to a perfectly thoughtful, persuasive argument in an effort to preclude it from being (predictably) dismissed out-of-hand as some crazy/shrill/mean/groundless personal attack.

People rarely enjoy being called out publicly, so it makes sense that she'd try to defuse things a bit, before proceeding to critique an artist and their work, seemingly unsolicited.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:08 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


I love Dresden Codak (I have a framed print of Girl Vs Bear), but the "male gaze" aspect of it has always been pretty obvious, and at times excessive.

Kimiko is such a great character, but sometimes the way she's drawn is pretty flagrantly over the top objectifying. I'm surprised he hasn't been called out on it before. Maybe he has. In any case, this is a good, accurate critique.
posted by heathkit at 6:09 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I read that comic and immediately thought "lol Dresden Codak" and I haven't read the comic in years. It keeps coming up on my dash that he's gone sort of apeshit and has been throwing tantrums, which seems to be par for the course for what happens when men who claim to be allies get called on their shit.
posted by NoraReed at 6:10 PM on August 25 [8 favorites]


It didn't refer directly to Dresden Codak but it was absolutely aimed at it - it was almost certainly triggered by
this (now deleted) post
posted by xiw at 6:10 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I could have sworn Dresden Codak was the poignant one about the dog and the little boy who have thoughtful adventures? Which one is that?
posted by bleep at 6:12 PM on August 25


Copper.
posted by Simon! at 6:16 PM on August 25 [8 favorites]


the poignant one about the dog and the little boy who have thoughtful adventures

Maybe you're thinking of Copper by Kazu Kibuishi?
posted by ddbeck at 6:17 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, it seems to me that given tumblr culture, Diaz probably wouldn't have assumed that his response to the satirical comic would be kept private unless he asked for it to be kept private.
posted by pajamazon at 6:17 PM on August 25


*sigh* It's so depressing that she feels she has to issue this placating disclaimer to a perfectly thoughtful, persuasive argument in an effort to preclude it from being (predictably) dismissed out-of-hand as some crazy/shrill/mean/groundless personal attack.

It's a pretty general human tendency to blur the boundaries between criticism of something people do (sometimes) and something people are. Both critics and those who receive criticism frequently make this mistake. Taking the time to make the distinction is a generally nice and smart gesture in any circumstance, but maybe more so in situations where it's known to be harder to keep them separate ... for example, when we're talking about people's art/creation, or when the stakes of the criticism are high.

I also understand how that can be seen as a burden on people making criticisms, but I don't see any way around it unless we're changing human nature regarding criticism first.
posted by weston at 6:18 PM on August 25 [11 favorites]


People rarely enjoy being called out publicly, so it makes sense that she'd try to defuse things a bit, before proceeding to critique an artist and their work, seemingly unsolicited.

Sure, but that's not my point. My point is that this is another example of a woman specifically having to frame her criticism of a man on the subject of feminism in the least offensive, "you're totally awesome and I am not attacking you" way in order for her criticism not to be dismissed in a specifically gendered way. It is a specific rhetorical strategy that most women are very familiar with having to deploy. If you're not familiar with having to deploy it, I submit that there is a reason for that.
posted by scody at 6:21 PM on August 25 [26 favorites]


I really totally agree with the letter. Despite the difference in tone his art is clearly on the very verge of cheesecake at times and a failure to admit that means that you probably don't have a healthy contempt for your own art. But the artist, given the comic's history, is in love with his work to the extent that it rarely comes out and often makes no sense when it does.
posted by selfnoise at 6:22 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


My point is that this is another example of a woman specifically having to frame her criticism of a man on the subject of feminism in the least offensive

I think you're supposing a lot, in this instance.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:28 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


xiw, sigh, yeah. I didn't include a link to those because they were only in the cache-- despite the clueless "disability is an opportunity for transhumanism!" blurb, those pinups are actually lovely-- and about a thousand times less objectifying than the stuff from the actual comic that Magnolia Pearl compiled, despite the nudity.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:28 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


It didn't refer directly to Dresden Codak but it was absolutely aimed at it - it was almost certainly triggered by this (now deleted) post

It's probably really hard for authors to walk this line, and I'm sympathetic to cis/het/white/able-bodied men trying to write more diverse characters, but the text there reads like some really uncomfortable 'splaining or maybe even fetishizing to me.
posted by Corinth at 6:33 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


I am a feminist. I also like comics. Sometimes I like some pretty problematic comics. Mostly, I just don't have the energy to get to upset about things because I have better things to do.

I'm sure Aaron Diaz is a decent person. I don't read his comic. It's never really appealed to me, but that's more a matter of personal taste than me finding it objectionable.

But I have absolutely noticed a lot of men trying to show how enlightened they are because they like "strong women!" or whatever when really ... it's still just a fetish.

And hey! Nothing wrong with having a fetish! At all! But stop pretending it's some kind of empowering thing when you're really just getting off on creating it.
posted by darksong at 6:35 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


I think you're supposing a lot, in this instance.

I'm supposing a fair amount of of familiarity with how women are pressured to present ourselves and our points of view in order to be taken seriously by men, particularly in male-dominated pursuits/industries/subcultures, and/or in regards to how we voice our criticisms as to the objectification of women's bodies and the ubiquity of the male gaze, yes.
posted by scody at 6:38 PM on August 25 [21 favorites]


scody: "It is a specific rhetorical strategy that most women are very familiar with having to deploy. If you're not familiar with having to deploy it, I submit that there is a reason for that."

This is one of those cases where I'd wager that most men are also familiar with having to deploy this strategy. There are a lot of cases where it's depressing that women have to use this strategy to criticize men, but this seems like one of the situations where if it were a man criticizing another man, you'd have the exact same kinda disclaimer.

But, whatever, setting aside the topic of how depressing or non-depressing disclaimers are, that (now deleted) post is all kinds of ick, and really makes the original satire piece make a lot more sense. Plus, the memory-holing of the nudie pics, as opposed to a deletion and an explanation, makes the situation even more obvious.
posted by Bugbread at 6:39 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


bleep: "I could have sworn Dresden Codak was the poignant one about the dog and the little boy who have thoughtful adventures? Which one is that?"

I believe you're referring to Adventure Time!

:3
posted by pwnguin at 6:39 PM on August 25 [10 favorites]


Regarding the back-and-forth regarding the placating opening statement: frankly if one is setting out to actually change someone's mind, that's exactly the ONLY way to begin IMHO. If you want to simply provide a counterpoint, then let fly, but if the goal is to actually help someone see things from a different perspective (perhaps the most difficult of all human endeavors- I swear) one must be gentle. That's my experience.

It's good politics. It's letting a potential opponent know that you want to discuss things, not simply that you want THEM to agree with YOU now. It's a request rather than a demand.

Caveat: I'm a white dude. I get that. I might be a feminist but I obviously have no idea how hard shit is for the womens.

But really, I love MeFi for EXACTLY these kinds of discussions. Civil and thought-provoking.
posted by asavage at 6:50 PM on August 25 [18 favorites]


It didn't refer directly to Dresden Codak but it was absolutely aimed at it - it was almost certainly triggered by
this (now deleted) post


Oh, man, after reading this I'm like, I don't even know you, Diaz. Why do I need to know that you are into amputee/prosthetic/cyborg porn?
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:53 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I've never looked at Dresden Codak before today. But I have a hard time believing that there's any question that this character is presented in a way to appeal to the male gaze. I mean, look at it. Boobs and asses and unrealistic costume choices all over the place!
posted by suelac at 6:55 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


That middle panel really needs a ripping bodice for the full effect.
posted by selfnoise at 7:01 PM on August 25


Talking more about the post xiw linked-- the text was gross and deeply uncomfortable to read, fetishizing, ignorant, paternalistic. The pictures themselves though? Basically candids of the character Kimiko doing stuff around her house with her clothes off. IDK if my creep radar is way off, but they did not feel particularly gazey or even very pornographic. Meanwhile, the (not behind a NSFW cut) comic features page after page of this character in these sneaky Elvgren upskirt shots, or multiple panels of her with grievous bodily harm and her clothes being torched off while she writhes in agony in full boobs+ass cleavage pose. The fact that this fanservice combo of sadism and titillation is deemed more suitable to a general audience than someone hanging out in their house reading a book with no bra on is pretty depressing, imo. I think it says a lot about the grasp Diaz (and creators like him) have on feminism if they feel the need to make labyrinthine and fetishizing rationalizations for pictures like the ones xiw linked to, but the constant sadistic or compromising cheesecake framing of women in the actual comic is just business as usual.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:05 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


It's interesting to see this just after the Ghost in the Shell post, since there's a lot of similarity in pose choice.

It's also interesting, to me, to see this compared to fandom reactions to the Winter Soldier's arm, which split between the explicitly sexual I-wanna-fuck-the-arm and a lot of jokes involving (insert spoiler characters here) putting magnets with shopping lists and jokes on the arm; one explicitly sexual and the other sweet and funny and human. I doubt either is particularly better re: ableism, but the Winter Soldier stuff feels less creepy and gaze-y, since it's mostly women doing it.
posted by NoraReed at 7:06 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


But I have a hard time believing that there's any question that this character is presented in a way to appeal to the male gaze.

The middle of that panel is the male gaze, standing back and just out of her peripheral vision for the perfect angle on her cleavage. The issues of Heavy Metal we used to buy when I was 10 were full of those kinds of perspectives, but at least there wasn't a pretense of any other agenda.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:07 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


moonlight on vermont: "IDK if my creep radar is way off, but they did not feel particularly gazey or even very pornographic."

I'm just having a hard time imaging the artist doing the same kinds of drawings with his male characters, lovingly depicting them with their dick hanging out or lingering on their tight buns.
posted by Bugbread at 7:10 PM on August 25 [20 favorites]


I thought the disclaimer was smart. I've found that if you're a person who creates anything at all which is publicly visible and if you have any kind of online presence and/or a following of any sort, you are going to get a fairly regular torrent of people informing you that they found some aspect of your work to be Problematic in whichever way it struck them as being Problematic, and some of them are going to make good points and some of them are going to make thoughtful points which may or may not apply to you and some of them are going to be a little off-base and some of them are going to be fucking nuts.* So I guess I read the disclaimer as "The following is coming from a person who acknowledges that you are a human being and who will proceed from that starting point of making reasoned-out criticisms which might sting a bit but are made from a place of respect, and is not coming from some rando who's about to tell you that you are Hitler because your comic doesn't have any demiromantic two-spirit people or whatever."

* If you think I'm exaggerating: I used to have a website on which I once mentioned in passing that Trinity from The Matrix is a shitty character to look up to and that I didn't like the way she was being touted as a role model for young girls (I said this because the plot never really treats her as much more than the main character's girlfriend, and all of her motivation flows from that, even going so far as to specify during the climax of the first movie that her function in the film was to fall in love with Keanu Reeves, the poor girl).

Among the fair amount of feedback I got, one person declared that this was terribly sexist of me because it somehow meant that I didn't believe women were good with computers.

posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:13 PM on August 25 [15 favorites]


Bugbread, yeah, you're completely right, but these in relation to the rest of the comic is something like Jaime Hernandez to Terry Moore. One is acceptable for reasons Alison Bechdel spent an entire preface essay trying to explain, the other just makes your skin crawl.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:16 PM on August 25


Girl Genius is one of Dresden Codak's main competitors in the Will This Webcomic Storyline Ever End. Getting from "Agatha wants to enter the Mechanicsburg Castle" to "Agatha enters the Castle" took nine months; getting her out again took just under FOUR YEARS.

The differences are that (a) the Foglios put out a hell of a lot more than 30-40 comics over that period and (b) when Phil wants to draw a sex comic he's bloody well open about it.
posted by delfin at 7:18 PM on August 25 [7 favorites]


NoraReed, I was not familiar with Ghost in the Shell and it's character design, and wow is that fucking embarrassing. Ugh. In all possible ways. Wow.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:23 PM on August 25


What I want to know is: what's up with all the jodhpurs?
posted by GuyZero at 7:38 PM on August 25


What I want to know is: what's up with all the jodhpurs?


A fetish of course. Which is pretty much the answer to any "Why did Aaron Diaz put that in the comic?" question.
posted by happyroach at 8:05 PM on August 25


I have a lot of trouble finding much sympathy for Diaz in this. He got called out on problematic behavior and is reacting with almost stereotypical defensive bluster. I'd be surprised if Cagle wasn't getting all sorts of nasty shit in her inbox from diehard Codak fans. I'm a little surprised to see people falling over themselves to say he's a totally awesome guy who just does creepy shitty things.

But more tucked down here, towards the bottom. Side note: when you're saying characters should be distinguishable without costuming, using the girl with all the obvious robot limbs is kinda cheating.
posted by kafziel at 8:29 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


addendum: I liked this little exchange too.
posted by kafziel at 8:33 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


I like this comic and I like the art. I hope it doesn't change. If that means Aaron has to stop calling himself a feminist, that is fine.

The only compelling vision I can see of the future is one in which men are as objectified and sexualized in art as women.

P.S. That is the future that is already starting to happen.
posted by poe at 8:35 PM on August 25


In order to help delineate this I raise Gunnerkrigg Court as a comic that seems perfectly positioned to have this exact problem but doesn't. Male artist, plot currently revolves around a lesbian love triangle, but doesn't seem to have that vibe, to me at least.
posted by pfh at 8:39 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


Dresden Codak is the one that gets a very successful kickstarter and patronage but still manages to only update a page every two months, when Diaz isn't doing fanart in other people's yards. I've resigned myself to the probability that Dark Science is an experiment in tortoise transhumanism, the kind of intellect that lives forever because it consumes minimal energy, and works slower than the rest of the world. I have a bit more respect for Munroe, who seems to deliver something every other day even if it doesn't quite work, while building these elaborate large-scale or interactive works.

I think Codak is more chesecake than some, but less than you'd get from Milo, who's blaming his cover design for Spiderwoman on God this month. "Better than Milo" still might be a fair bit of chessecake.

It is interesting that my favorite women in comics such as Kate Beaton and the incomparable goddess of the strip, Lynda Barry are working in a more unpolished and cartoony style. There are plenty of women doing more traditional comic art, but Beaton is my go-to for pushing the smart panel-gag, while Barry breaks what you can do in a strip in terms of emotional realism.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:44 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


But I have absolutely noticed a lot of men trying to show how enlightened they are because they like "strong women!" or whatever when really ... it's still just a fetish.

And hey! Nothing wrong with having a fetish! At all! But stop pretending it's some kind of empowering thing when you're really just getting off on creating it.


Hear hear! Around these parts there's a huge admiration for a guy who built an enormous dancing woman. Fine. Boring, but fine. But then, he issues this big statement about how it's all because he's a feminist and he wants "to give women a voice." Insert record scratch noise here.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:44 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


I guess I feel like you don't get to accuse other of passive aggressiveness when you're vague tweeting in response.

And, you know, don't take it personally. They're gently mocking your work. If you don't like how your work is reflecting on you, change the work, but it does come off as accidentally or deliberately porny. And it's not like these are bew criticisms of comics -- it's the same criticism leveled publicly, constantly, for years now, and all sorts of comics. If you've somehow missed the conversation that there may be issues with showing your female characters in scant clothing, or with their clothes falling (or burning) off, or in sexualized poses -- that's on you, and you oughtn't be surprised when people call you on it. That comic that upset you was gentle compared to the way I would have phrased it.
posted by maxsparber at 8:49 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


If you've somehow missed the conversation that there may be issues with showing your female characters in scant clothing, or with their clothes falling (or burning) off, or in sexualized poses -- that's on you, and you oughtn't be surprised when people call you on it.

Well, that's the thing - he's constantly going on about it and how he's different.

I call this "having a Brian Woody".
posted by Artw at 8:53 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


And, um, he just did a series of amputee/prosthetic pinup art, which is going to be controversial to say the least.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:06 PM on August 25


suelac: "I've never looked at Dresden Codak before today. But I have a hard time believing that there's any question that this character is presented in a way to appeal to the male gaze. I mean, look at it. Boobs and asses and unrealistic costume choices all over the place!"

And it's not like the author's completely unconscious of the state of affairs; this page contrasts costume with figure, while this page gives the character a chance to change out of that ridiculous costume.

But as others have alluded to, that was 4 pages ago, and a lot can change in a year.
posted by pwnguin at 9:56 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


I love Gunnerkrigg Court but am totally not getting a love triangle vibe out of the current arc at all. But yeah, the art is never really gaze-y, even though the characters are usually super stylish and/or dapper.
posted by NoraReed at 9:58 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


My wife and I were discussing why Diaz kind of creeps us out, and other artists with more blatantly sexualized artwork, such as Adam Warren and Fred Perry, don't. I think a big part of it is the difference between Subtext and Text. Ask Warren or Perry if their characters are sexualized, and they'll respond "Hell yeah! That's part of the point!"

Of course both Warren and Perry write women characters better than Diaz, and don't rely on techno-gibberish to carry the story. For example, Dirty Pair: Run From the Future, there's at least as many outre transhumanist concepts as Dresden Codak, but here they are simply part of the setting, to be used as tools, obstacles, or occasions for comedy in a setting dominated by the mishap prone Dirty Pair. Bottom line, I think Warren probably does transhumanism better than Diaz, because Warren takes a jaded, humorous approach to it, and doesn't let it replace the man character's over-the-top personalities.
posted by happyroach at 10:06 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


NoraReed: It's also interesting, to me, to see this compared to fandom reactions to the Winter Soldier's arm, which split between the explicitly sexual I-wanna-fuck-the-arm and a lot of jokes involving (insert spoiler characters here) putting magnets with shopping lists and jokes on the arm; one explicitly sexual and the other sweet and funny and human. I doubt either is particularly better re: ableism, but the Winter Soldier stuff feels less creepy and gaze-y, since it's mostly women doing it.

I'd also compare this to Fullmetal Alchemist. I've never seen Edward Elric's implants fetishized in the comic in this way (doujinshi are doujinshi, and FMA fandom is... varied) *and* the author Hiromu Arakawa is vocal about the fanservice she likes to draw.
posted by sukeban at 10:23 PM on August 25


And re: GITS, I guess it's partly because it was 20 years ago and cheesecake was the status quo. I doubt the original manga would get the same reception nowadays.
posted by sukeban at 10:31 PM on August 25


I've always felt about the character of Kimiko that she's "half-Asian" because Diaz fetishizes "half-Asians". To wit (though I appreciate the riff on "half-elven" in that link and that link is one of my favorite comics anywhere). Maybe I'm being unfair because of the aftertaste of the crystal-clear "hot half-Asian" exploitation in Sluggy Freelance.

In any case, although the comic is gorgeous and the humor and characters are often great (and so I read every comic he makes), I feel like male-gazeyness isn't the only way in which it's pretty dishonest. It claims to fetishize science, which would just be boring if that's what it were actually doing, but to me it just boils down to a plain-old Chosen One scenario over and over. I much prefer Girl Genius' winking "mad science" nonsense, which doesn't burden itself with pretension.
posted by gurple at 10:39 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Aaron Diaz's output, graphed by year, with a best-fit line.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:42 PM on August 25 [10 favorites]


Truly, the path of Dark Science is laden with depressing regression lines.
posted by pwnguin at 11:46 PM on August 25


Also, if you want more proof of what a hack Diaz is, check out how swole his totally-not-waifu Kimiko is in this strip compared to this strip which is only 12 strips and a couple of in-world hours ago. But 12 strips? For Aaron Diaz, that's two years' work. His tastes changed, and so Kimiko had to change with them, regardless of whether it makes any sense within the work.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:57 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I quite enjoyed his answer to people wondering about that, too. People were asking how she was suddenly so buff, and his response was along the lines of "lol exercise duh". Because that's how you huge up the biceps on your mechanical prosthetics. And it's not even necessary, either, that's what's so baffling. To quote a pal,

like, that's the first page where she appears swole
and she's activating a magic artifact and undergoes an obvious visual transformation what with the white streak in her hair
purely from visual language, this tells the reader that Kim was enswollened by the artifact
hell, her pose in one of the last panels could easily be construed as her being all "whoa! I'm buff now, what the hell!"
but no, we're doing the Ingsoc thing I guess
Kimiko Ross is swole. Kimiko Ross has always been swole.

posted by kafziel at 12:17 AM on August 26 [6 favorites]


If I'm reading that graph right, by 2019 he'll be producing 4,294,967,296 comics per year.
posted by Phssthpok at 12:19 AM on August 26 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to see this just after the Ghost in the Shell post, since there's a lot of similarity in pose choice.

It's a very common but also very infantilising view of sex and teh sexiness, where you can't have proper adults enjoying proper sex and flirting, nudity is mostly taboo especially matter of fact actual real life nudity rather than sexy sexy pinup poses, but crotch shots, upskirts and splayed backs are everywhere on the goddamn page. Show that tit and ass, but make sure to leave out the nipples.

It's depressing that even in a creator run webcomic that's the height of imagination.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:24 AM on August 26 [6 favorites]


Once the male gaze-yness of Dresden Codak was pointed out on the old Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad blog (Part 1, part 2), I couldn't not be bowled over by it. Not that Solomon isn't kind of a dick, but he's got Diaz dead to rights on the gaze.

STOP LINKING TO ME FOR CHRIST'S SAKE

posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:32 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


It is a specific rhetorical strategy that most women are very familiar with having to deploy.

It's strategy most people employ when trying to have a potentially difficult discussion.

If you're not familiar with having to deploy it, I submit that there is a reason for that.

Scody, you're great, seem like a nice person and I admire you, but I think you're reading way too much into this specific instance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:55 AM on August 26 [6 favorites]


Is this where we can post our favorite new(ish) webcomics? This dystopian future / adventure horror one updates every day (unbelievably!)
posted by anthill at 5:11 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Aaron Diaz's output, graphed by year, with a best-fit line.

Notice how much more frequent the updates got after the Kickstarter campaign? ...oh.
posted by Foosnark at 6:03 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


I'm not familiar with his entire body of work, but does he make similar attempts at "empowering" women who don'thappen to be hot young babes with va-va-voom figures? Or do they not deserve "empowerment?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:15 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]


After suffering through Hob I decided not to read Dark Science until it was done. That was four years ago (!) and I think it was a good decision. But for all the legitimate criticism Diaz gets, I don't understand why he (or George R.R. Martin, or, hell, any creator) gets so much shit for not updating more frequently.

If the slowness is that upsetting, then don't contribute to the Kickstarters, don't buy the merchandise, and go read something else. As long a creator can make a living from their minimal output, then what incentive do they have to speed up?
posted by Ndwright at 7:02 AM on August 26


There's just some kind of irony in a man drawing a woman who's taken agency in her body by posing as a pin up. Is the appreciation for the artist in the taking of agency or is it the female form in a pin up position?

As for the opposite, Girls Drawin' Girls.
posted by Atreides at 7:03 AM on August 26


Huh. I had no idea that he'd actually deleted the pinup post; that implies a level of denial about his own work that totally justifies this callout. As tempted as I am to nitpick Magnolia Pearl's post (OK, I do have to get this out: if she literally hasn't "seen a single page of Dresden Codak that doesn’t feature a woman posed in a male-gazey way", then she has a very selective memory), the main point is valid and it's pretty important. By contrast, here's a Tumblr post about Milo Manara's "face down, ass up" Spiderwoman cover by Brandon Graham, author of King City and Multiple Warheads and writer of the Prophet reboot, and owner of his own work that objectifies women. (Pull quote: "So yeah, Eminem, Bukowski, Manara— another one to the list of artists whose work I love that I have to qualify that I don’t always agree with. and I’m well aware that’s possible for me to do that because I am not the subject of their weird shit.")
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:16 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


> Scody, you're great, seem like a nice person and I admire you, but I think you're reading way too much into this specific instance.

For what it's worth, and that may be nothing, I have you firmly fixed in my head as That Guy Who's Always Telling Women in a Condescending Way That They're Reading Too Much into Things.
posted by languagehat at 7:55 AM on August 26 [17 favorites]


For what it's worth, and that may be nothing, I have you firmly fixed in my head as That Guy Who's Always Telling Women in a Condescending Way That They're Reading Too Much into Things.

If it's makes you feel better, I do think you're reading into too much there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on August 26 [8 favorites]


This is one of those cases where I'd wager that most men are also familiar with having to deploy this strategy. There are a lot of cases where it's depressing that women have to use this strategy to criticize men, but this seems like one of the situations where if it were a man criticizing another man, you'd have the exact same kinda disclaimer.

It's strategy most people employ when trying to have a potentially difficult discussion.

No.

An attempt to calm the waters with soothing words before entering a difficult conversation about anything, with anyone, does not have anything to do with the fact that it's next to impossible for women to critique men, particularly on a feminist axis, without having outrageous gendered threats heaped on us. So we're encouraged to walk back the thrust of our objections to misogyny as much as we can stomach -- already a behavior women are socialized to embrace from birth -- all for a sliver of a chance to not have our concerns dismissed on account of our being women. You can see the same strategy in play in this widely-publicized Tumblr post from Grimes and this letter from Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches, both of whom were pelted with vile misogynistic abuse and accused of being man-haters simply for daring to object to sexist bullshit even though they made sure to pave the way with pleasantries and allowances. So no, men are not familiar with this precise strategy. There's no reason for you to have to know how to use it.

When women point out that a particular situation is gendered or sexist, the most common response from men is to insist that we're reading too much into the situation, because men don't see how on earth it could be gendered or sexist at all. And why would they? Men are encouraged to embrace their position as Standard Human; a man's viewpoint is advertised and marketed to as the default, the catch-all, that from which all other viewpoints must be derived or extracted.

Men are used to being able to present their beliefs with the full heft of history behind them, to universalize their thoughts and feelings, and to automatically expect that their own response will be accepted as the most reasonable, rational, and well-considered, even if it's blatantly disrespectful or harmful to the other half of the human race. They expect an audience to accept their proclamations at face value and without question, even if said proclamations directly contradict the audience's lived experiences. In broad strokes, society allows this to happen whenever it's not too busy outright encouraging it. Without a shred of sarcasm, I'm sure it's a tough mindset to try to remove oneself from. But it can be done.

So men who adamantly refuse to believe that their own gender privilege may have resulted in a variably-applied resistance to accepting a woman's objection or approach as valid -- to believe a woman when she speaks, to allow that what she is saying is true, even if they have not experienced precisely what she has experienced -- are displaying, at best, a touch of willful ignorance. They are privileging their own feelings and desires over women's truths, lives, stories, and experiences. And the end result doesn't tend to be very flattering.

I like this comic and I like the art. I hope it doesn't change. If that means Aaron has to stop calling himself a feminist, that is fine.

See?
posted by divined by radio at 8:10 AM on August 26 [25 favorites]


One of the problems that serials face is the ability to maintain tension over time, and if you're updating at less than a page a month, you need to be superlative.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:16 AM on August 26


So no, men are not familiar with this precise strategy. There's no reason for you to have to know how to use it.

So women are using a similar general strategy, but for different reasons, is that what you're saying? Not snarking, it's an honest question as I may not know or understand something.

Because to my mind, me clarifying that I'm not snarking is an attempt to have conversation and be taken seriously by the person that I'm asking the question of (and maybe the general audience). You're saying that's drastically different for women, because they're always having to do because they're usually aren't taken seriously, just because they're women?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


By contrast, here's a Tumblr post about Milo Manara's "face down, ass up" Spiderwoman cover by Brandon Graham

Per Mary Cagle: Sometimes I think it’s okay to just admit that you like looking at certain kinds of people naked and that’s okay.

Brandon certainly does.
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


You're saying that's drastically different for women, because they're always having to do because they're usually aren't taken seriously, just because they're women?

Yes, absolutely.

Women tend to be raised to adopt a deferential, almost coddling tone whenever we critique anyone, but most especially when we critique men. We're often encouraged to internalize the idea that we simply don't have the right to speak up like that, not without walking our position back at least a little or giving some allowances first, no matter how thoroughly we've been disrespected. Many of us have been taught, directly and indirectly, that others' comfort must be privileged over our own at all costs, which gives a woman's engagement with a generalized 'soothing' strategy a nauseatingly gendered tweak.

We also need to take extra-special care whenever we critique men from a feminist perspective, especially if that man identifies as a feminist/ally -- which Aaron Diaz clearly does -- because the reaction those particular critiques inspire is much more vehement, and sometimes downright vicious.
posted by divined by radio at 8:42 AM on August 26 [18 favorites]


>check out how swole his totally-not-waifu Kimiko is in this strip compared to this strip which is only 12 strips and a couple of in-world hours ago. But 12 strips? For Aaron Diaz, that's two years' work

>People were asking how she was suddenly so buff

I'm 99% sure that the difference between the two is "The Legend of Korra"(picture), which introduced "female physical strength = hotness" to a lot of folks. Korra, by the way, features a strong, attractive, (super) able, female lead, and is drawn and written by dudes, and (as far as I've seen) has dodged a lot of the creepy male-gaze fetish problems that surround those kind of stories.
posted by DGStieber at 8:55 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Is this where we can post our favorite new(ish) webcomics? This dystopian future / adventure horror one updates every day (unbelievably!)

Everyone knows about Decrypting Rita by MeFi's own egypturnash, right?
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


You're saying that's drastically different for women, because they're always having to do because they're usually aren't taken seriously, just because they're women?

Let me be more blunt; for women, even in civilized, professional situations, there is always an intimidation factor at play. Lots of men will not hesitate to loom over, raise their voices to, even threaten women who disagree with them. Not all men, of course; but if it happens to you often enough, you learn avoidant behaviors as a default, even towards men who probably or logistically are no threat to you. Or who can "only" threaten you verbally. (we've certainly had lots of discussions lately about online acts of aggression toward women that are "only" in the form of words or pictures).

In addition, to yell, fight, or act aggressive as a girl child results in harsher punishment than for boys. There is no "oh well, they're just like that" when girls act physically aggressive or loud, the way there is for boys. So the socialization gets you coming and going.

Now, men can exhibit similar behaviors if they are conflict avoidant, or intimidated by/in a subordinate position to another person; but generally speaking, men as a whole find themselves having to do so less often than women, as a whole. And when they do speak out, they are less likely to be met with subtle or overt threats.

None of this is directed at anything Diaz has said or done; this is just a general Thing That Women Tend to Do, and the reasons why.
posted by emjaybee at 9:23 AM on August 26 [19 favorites]


Women tend to be raised to adopt a deferential, almost coddling tone whenever we critique anyone, but most especially when we critique men. We're often encouraged to internalize the idea that we simply don't have the right to speak up like that, not without walking our position back at least a little or giving some allowances first, no matter how thoroughly we've been disrespected. Many of us have been taught, directly and indirectly, that others' comfort must be privileged over our own at all costs, which gives a woman's engagement with a generalized 'soothing' strategy a nauseatingly gendered tweak.

Sure, this definitely happens and sucks, along with being unfair. But it's also a general technique used when discussing or arguing, so what's the difference between a specific man or woman doing this? Is it just assumed that women are always coming from this defensive posture when they do it, whether they are or aren't?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:41 AM on August 26


When a woman observes that another woman is enacting a behavior often enforced upon women by a sexist society, there's rarely much to be gained by saying But Men Also Do This, So Where's The Sexism ad nauseam.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:26 AM on August 26 [9 favorites]


The Five Artists (Plus One) We’d Most Like to See in Charge of Superhero Redesigns - Some good alternatives to the Aaron Diaz "[X] should wear a jacket" approach.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on August 26


So women are using a similar general strategy, but for different reasons, is that what you're saying?

For different reasons, but also far more often and at a much higher intensity.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:15 AM on August 26


I'm expecting Aaron Diaz to be hired by DC any minute now.
posted by benzenedream at 11:17 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


But it's also a general technique used when discussing or arguing, so what's the difference between a specific man or woman doing this?


I agree, it's just simple tact. I write like that all the time (guy), it's all about diplomacy.

I want to make sure the person I'm offering a critique to feels receptive and not in any way threatened by what could easily be construed as personal attacks. I want every defensive impulse he or she can experience to be countered by a reassuring acknowledgment that whatever issue I have with the work does not extend to their own self (and that's a hard task, because sometimes you can't help but take it personal). I give them outs, I leave it open for them to explain to me (maybe I am the one who is wrong). This is what you do when you genuinely want them to change, learn and improve, and maybe remain or be friends afterwards. It's one of the most tell-tale signs of real constructive criticism.
posted by infinitelives at 11:38 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Diaz got Extremely Wound Up about the gentlest, least confrontational, most general criticism possible, and Pearl's response to his getting Extremely Wound Up is gentle and not especially confrontational either, so it's funny to me that we're somehow having a tone argument.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:15 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]


Diaz got Extremely Wound Up about the gentlest, least confrontational, most general criticism possible,

I didn't realize it was directed at Diaz, but I'm not sure how she could have been more contemptuous towards a comic he's been working on for many years now.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:32 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


I'll cop to misrepresenting the satire's acidity. I think the kind of behavior Cagle made fun of really is silly and contemptible, so the comic's sharpness probably doesn't register to me.

But that's the thing: Does Cagle's comic visibly caricature anyone in Diaz's work? Does it caricature Diaz himself? If not, I don't think he had any reason to make it personal other than that he knows his work and his politics are among the cartoon's targets.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:55 PM on August 26


If it wasn't about him then he certainly made it about him.
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on August 26


(It was totally about him.)
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on August 26


I'm expecting Aaron Diaz to be hired by DC any minute now.

Girl Fight: The Marvel/DC Rivalry Finally Extends To Winning The Female Audience
posted by Artw at 1:39 PM on August 26


Dresden Codak is the only webcomic I know of that started updating less frequently after the creator quit their day job for their comic.

Of course, if it did update more often I'd probably read it less since all I do now is check back in vain every few months he's finally seen the light and decided to revert to gag comics.
posted by ckape at 2:05 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]


But that's the thing: Does Cagle's comic visibly caricature anyone in Diaz's work? Does it caricature Diaz himself? If not, I don't think he had any reason to make it personal other than that he knows his work and his politics are among the cartoon's targets.

I would imagine there'd been some previous backchannel offline stuff like a critique at a con panel or forum post or something, so that he had a basis for knowing he was being mocked.

Not to say that his comic doesn't have occasionally problematic male gaze elements. Those are partially driven by her character design with the back estuchion, cyborg leg and cyborg arm.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:47 PM on August 26


Rustic Etruscan: "When a woman observes that another woman is enacting a behavior often enforced upon women by a sexist society, there's rarely much to be gained by saying But Men Also Do This, So Where's The Sexism ad nauseam."

There's rarely much to be gained from this whole side conversation. It's depressing to use this tactic for some reasons. It's not depressing to use it for other reasons. So the amount of depression inherent in its use hinges on why its being used. Everybody, on both sides, is making a lot of assumptions about why its being used, so the argument is going in a circle. There's a lot more sexism to discuss here (hello amputee porn disguised as "celebration of female and disability empowerment") instead of becoming derailed by this sexism Heisenberg box.
posted by Bugbread at 3:50 PM on August 26


I do understand where scody is coming from in that yes, women often feel the need to temper their criticisms, especially of men, and the latter often comes from the (often justified) fear of being perceived as bitchy or humorless, etc. if they express themselves more directly. This is a Thing that happens.

But I'm also bothered by scody's initial comment here in this thread specifically. It's understandable to feel sympathetic to Magnolia Pearl's position, but scody, you are clearly pushing an agenda--how sad that poor Magnolia Pearl has to temper her tone because she is a woman!--that blithely ignores the actual facts in order to push said agenda.

Magnolia Pearl admits that her behavior has been mean-spirited prior to the "open letter" in this FPP. She is apologizing because she behaved badly. That has nothing to do with her being a woman, it has to do with her not being proud of her behavior.

Her "open letter" is, on the surface at least, an attempt to set that right and an invitation to discuss the merit of the criticisms of Diaz's comic in a civilized manner instead of piling on as part of a passive-aggressive sneak attack.
posted by misha at 3:59 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]


There's rarely much to be gained from this whole side conversation.

Actually. It's an perfect example of one of the standard derailing procedures: make the conversation about some aspect of what the women said, and then focus the conversation on an "is it or isn't it" debate. This is practically a textbook demonstration this distraction technique.

*golf clap* Deftly done indeed, gentlemen.
posted by happyroach at 4:13 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Well, as one of the men initially involved, uh...thanks? I guess?

Though in this case I think it's an example of "everybody agrees that Diaz is sexist, so there's less to discuss about that, so let's talk about a different topic, one that we don't all agree on".

But I'm guessing that's me being deft again.

So, anyway: Man, seriously, what's up with Diaz just memory-holing that pinup page?
posted by Bugbread at 4:17 PM on August 26


The "open letter", by the way, is a beautifully written post. Magnolia Pearl makes an eloquent argument and she gives specific examples to support that argument. That's what makes for a compelling FPP.

But let's be fair here, too--Magnolia Pearl has the benefit of hindsight on her side. She was also never the person targeted by this criticism. Only the "open letter" is up on Magnolia Pearl's own site; she hasn't chosen to share with us any of that correspondence with Aaron Diaz. Naturally she is going to come across favorably, given that she is in large part controlling the narrative here.

Similarly, the framing of the post is pretty clearly anti-Aaron Diaz. I'm thankful Metafilter isn't Fox News with its faux "fair and balanced" approach, but because of this bias the FPP does not go into the back-story with any depth, and I would like to at least have read more about Diaz's response, especially given comments like this:

he's gone sort of apeshit and has been throwing tantrums

Can anyone speak to that assessment? The only other commenter I saw expressing a similar view elsewhere accused Diaz of throwing "hissy fits", which I felt was singularly tone deaf, given the history of terms like that being used to dismiss women.
posted by misha at 4:24 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Man, seriously, what's up with Diaz just memory-holing that pinup page?

The charitable interpretation would be he realizes/accepts its problems, regrets posting it, and just erased it. That's not that charitable though, because he did it without saying a word about it, while at the same time he's usually quite happy to talk at length about sorta similar problems in other people's art.

The less charitable interpretation is he just wanted people to shut up about it, and maybe if it just went away so would his critics.
posted by aubilenon at 4:28 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted. Snarking at each other over meta-metaconversation is not really that productive, maybe we can just bring it back around to the critique of Diaz's work or the general issues there, rather than debating whether a derail was derailed in the way we prefer?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:52 PM on August 26


Misha, with regards to Magnoliapearl controlling this narrative, many of the tumblr posts going around about this contain screencaps of lengthy twitter threads that Diaz himself deleted, which are not flattering to him. I did not include these because doing so honestly seemed too petty and partisan to include in an FPP that I was already concerned was going to cross the line into being a hate thread. But if you want examples of the "tantrums" or other bullying behavior people here are talking about, they're fairly easy to find.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:08 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]


I was kinda thinking that a post would go up about the Marvel Spiderwoman thing, so I didn't say anything, but it looks like there's not going to be one, so, at the risk of going slightly off-topic:

What. The. Fuck. Was. Marvel. Thinking?

"Thanks to film, comics are finally becoming more popular. We're reaching new readers, many of whom are women. Also, comic books are really starting to be taken to task for all their sexism. So we're going to launch a whole new comic about a female superhero. And for the very first issue, we'll have the art done by Greg Land, who is so famous for tracing porn that even people who haven't read comics in 20 years (like this guy called Bugbread on Metafilter) are aware of it. And we'll commission a famous erotic comic artist to do a variant cover!"

Seriously...what??
posted by Bugbread at 5:14 PM on August 26 [6 favorites]


The only that makes sense is that some corporate suit is throwing a tantrum and trying to get the book killed.

Because no sensible person would pull that. Right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:23 PM on August 26


I love Gunnerkrigg Court but am totally not getting a love triangle vibe out of the current arc at all.

not a kat/paz/annie triangle, sure, but maybe this is the chapter where zimmy/gamma/annie finally ends in tears and blood
posted by kagredon at 5:38 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Hey anthill.

Over here.
posted by bunderful at 5:39 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


What. The. Fuck. Was. Marvel. Thinking?

my anaconda don't

my anaconda don't

my anaconda don't

Seriously I can only imagine that whoever was in charge of vetting that cover has, like me, been listening to Anaconda on loop since it dropped and doesn't understand what the song or video are about.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:42 PM on August 26


Misha, with regards to Magnoliapearl controlling this narrative, many of the tumblr posts going around about this contain screencaps of lengthy twitter threads that Diaz himself deleted, which are not flattering to him. I did not include these because doing so honestly seemed too petty and partisan to include in an FPP that I was already concerned was going to cross the line into being a hate thread. But if you want examples of the "tantrums" or other bullying behavior people here are talking about, they're fairly easy to find.

I understand and respect your reasoning for keeping such things out of the FPP. But we're in the comments now. Links are beloved.
posted by kafziel at 7:22 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


I keep on thinking I should read Dresden Codak. I mean Diaz is one of the most prominent people in online comics dabbling with the transhumanist themes I enjoy reading about, and working with in my own stories. Then I try to read some of it and it's just so damn long-winded and rambling, or it's really really really gorgeous and has about ten pages of the current story arc.

I am not one to throw stones here; I think my page output has been down to like one or two a month lately, what with one thing and another getting in the way. But Diaz's page output is beyond slow. I wonder what he's busy with instead. I think around the time I decided to give up following his Twitter it seemed to be Dark Souls 2.

Anyway. Mostly this, plus the post on how the lead of Ghost in the Shell is depicted, makes me feel sad about how actual cyborg ladies will probably be treated.
posted by egypturnash at 10:27 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


ha ha owned
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:51 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


What. The. Fuck. Was. Marvel. Thinking?

Modern day Spiderwoman was always a cheesecake character and they thought hey, let's have our Strong Female Character comic cake and eat our cheesecake too.

Poor old Spiderwoman, so mistreated through much of her career. Started only as a trademark protection, got old Mike "bugfuck insane" Fleischer as a writer on her first series and just as she got some good people working on her (Claremont, Leilahola, Nocenti) it got cancelled.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:21 AM on August 27


I think Land must be super dependable as he's always on something: The classic requirements for working in comics are that you be good, be fast and be pleasant to work with, and if you've nailed two of those you're likely to get work.

He did a not bad and not noticeably porny run on Mighty Avengers recently, but a lot if people I know who might have been into it flat out refused to look at it because of him.

As for the cover, I suspect variant covers are low on the priority list, it seemed like a good idea at the time and when the artwork came in they said "fuck it" and went for it... And then it turned out because if the internet variant civets can be kind of a big deal.

It's TBH not as baffling am editorial decision as whoever it is that keeps getting Mimi Yoon to do variants for kids books.
posted by Artw at 5:53 AM on August 27


Isn't the market overall stagnant or declining? A quick search showed that last year had a 3% increase in sales, largely driven by graphic novels and trade paperbacks, with monthlies dropping in volume. Even that stagnation is dead clade walking in the mass extinction of the American print periodical. Newspapers are dying after reaching peak consolidation in the 80s. Magazine print runs are on life support, and there's a modest but growing revolt in academic publishing against subscription-locking the results of public-funded research.

I suspect that Disney.Marvel and TimeWarner.DC are, or want to be, multimedia and merchandising companies, with little incentive to develop a medium and genre they expect to be dead in a generation.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:24 AM on August 27


Comics and Graphic Novel Market: $870 Million in 2013, up $65 mil

It's not movies or videogames but I don't see it evaporating all that quickly. Webcomics are their own parallel thing of course, and I can't comment on the economics of them, though culturally there seems like there is more back and forth than ever before.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on August 27


Also it looks like fears of doom for digital after the Amazon purchase of Comixology and the loss of the in app purchase button are largely unfounded - which is good, because digital is core to getting comics beyond the 40 year old dude demographic.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


The only comic I buy is Rat Queens, and I get it on my Android tablet through the Play Store. It's a pretty convenient way to purchase and the experience is very nice.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:02 PM on August 27


The figures I looked up were misleading, thank you.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:13 AM on August 28


sidenote: The only comic I buy is Rat Queens, and I get it on my Android tablet through the Play Store. It's a pretty convenient way to purchase and the experience is very nice.

I literally just read this comic two days ago, and I absolutely love it.
posted by kafziel at 3:15 PM on August 28


Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso on the Spider-Woman cover:

To get into the Marvel matters -- I definitely wanted to ask you about something that became a very big deal last week while you were away -- the negative response to Milo Manara's "Spider-Woman" #1 cover. I've got some specific questions about it, but can I first get your general reaction to the response that cover got?

Alonso: We always listen to fans' concerns so we can do better by them. We want everyone -- the widest breadth of fans -- to feel welcome to read "Spider-Woman." We apologize -- I apologize -- for the mixed messaging that this variant caused.

And that's what this cover is. It's a limited edition variant that is aimed at collectors. While we would not have published this as the main cover to the book, we were comfortable publishing this as a variant that represented one artist's vision of the character -- a world-renowned artist whose oeuvre is well-known to us, and to collectors. It is not the official cover for the issue. It is a collector's item that is set aside or special ordered by completists -- and it doesn't reflect the sensibility or tone of the series any more than the Skottie Young variant or Rocket and Groot "Spider-Woman" variants. If you open up the book, you'll see that this series has everything in common with recent launches we've done, like "Black Widow" and "Ms. Marvel" and "She-Hulk" and "Captain Marvel." It's about the adventures of two women that have complete agency over their lives, and that are defined by what they do, not how they look.

We're far from perfect, but we're trying. It's been a priority for me as EIC to make our line and our publishing team more inclusive. We're at an industry high of around 30 percent female in editorial group, about 20 percent of our line is comics starring women, and our Senior Manager of Talent, Jeanine Schaefer, actively looks to bring more female writers and artists into the fold each month. In fact, very soon we'll be announcing new series and creators that I'm very excited about.

Given that, since there has been a history the last couple years of Manara variant covers at Marvel, is that something you still see happening going forward -- or maybe giving extra consideration to in the future?

Alonso: Yes, we'll do more Manara variants. He is a world-renowned artist with a huge fan base, and his variants, like the Skottie Young variants, are aimed at people who appreciate his art and his style. But we are aware of the growing sensitivity to covers like this, and we will be extra-vigilant in policing their content and how we use them in our marketing.

There have been multiple Manara-illustrated variant covers in the past couple of years. Internally at Marvel, was there any more hesitation about this cover versus any of the other ones that he's done over the past couple of years?

Alonso: We thought it was consistent with Manara's oeuvre, but clearly, some people found it racier than the others. Art is a subjective thing. There have been critics, there have been fans who have defended Manara's art, and there have been fans who don't understand what the fuss is about. While opinions on the actual piece vary, we realize that the message this cover sent was not the one we meant to send. And we understand -- and respect -- the concerns of those who expressed a negative reaction to the cover, I want that to be clear.

posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on August 29


Hey comics fans, I remember several months ago there was talk of a Wonder Woman book called Sensations are something where it was supposed to be mostly one-off WW stories not tied to her main book. Did that ever happen? If so, is it any good?
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:54 PM on August 29


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