Tuesday, May 29, 2007

An open letter to Comics

Dear Comics,

You and I go way back. In fact, I can't remember a time when you weren't part of my life. We've had our share of ups and downs, especially in the '90s, but I've never regretted our relationship. And I still don't! In fact, I doubt I ever will.

But we both know that you have some personal problems, particularly when it comes to the ladies. Things have been extra-tough in that area lately, I understand. Sometimes it seems like you can't do anything right. Once in awhile you'll stumble on something like Sandman or Y: The Last Man or Green Lantern, and you'll knock it out of the park with the women, but every time you try to recapture that or generalize it, you fall on your face. It's hard, I know. But you've got to stick with it. Eventually, you'll find your stride and hit that happy medium where no one feels marginalized and everyone can enjoy a given comic.

I'm saying this because I'm worried about you, comics. These days, it doesn't even seem like you're really trying. Sure, you'll throw a bone like Minx or Power Girl's JSA Chairmanship out to the female readers, but all the while you're drawing up Michael Turner covers and releasing raunchy statues. I think you're backsliding, Comics, and it frightens me.

You were making progress, you know. Honestly, you were. Sure, some people are going to get offended at anything, but you've got to learn to determine what's just offensive to the watchdogs, and what's genuinely offensive to everyone. You've struggled with that since they Coded you, I know, but you were really making some good headway. You were realizing that "Crime Suspenstories" was less offensive than "Superman spanking Lois Lane with a hairbrush." And we all applauded you, with the exception of the anti-Crime watchdogs and the spanking fetishists.

But lately, it doesn't seem like you're making the same effort. In fact, it seems like you're doing things just to piss people off. An ugly Michael Turner JLA cover is one thing, a sexist Mary Jane statue is another, a creepy tentacle-rape cover for Heroes for Hire is still another. As isolated incidents, maybe they wouldn't be so ridiculous. But these have all happened within what, the last month and a half? And that's not everything. It's like you've been gaining steam, decreasing the time period between each subsequent source of justified feminist outrage. I'm not sure how long people are going to put up with it, to be quite honest.

Let me help you, Comics. I know you don't want to be seen as a slavering source of juvenile male fantasy material. But unless you do something to change your image, that's all people are ever going to see in you. The road will be difficult; we can't change your image overnight, you know, but it'll be worth it. I promise.

So, let's take a deep breath, and start with something small. Something that you can definitely handle. Let's go one week without producing something that will offend every feminist in fandom. Let's go one week without inciting a blogger riot. After that, we'll try for another week. But let's start small, and work our way toward something better.

You've done it before, Comics. I know you can do it again. I believe in you.

Sincerely,
Tom Foss

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