Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 3, 2014

Go, Read: Laurenn McCubbin On Wonder Woman And Feminism

imageI'm grateful that Laurenn McCubbin wrote this piece for The Guardian on this week's on-line controversy about Wonder Woman, instigated mostly but not solely by the artist David Finch's reluctance to use the word feminist as a description of the character in a promotional interview. For one thing, McCubbin suggests that Meredith Finch and David Finch not be outright demonized for their clumsy rhetoric surrounding a new gig, an approach I appreciate -- finding gotcha! moments on the Internet seems a tedious activity to me.

I also have this significant hitch in my geek DNA where I have a hard time understanding the fealty to characters, particularly corporate-owned ones. This makes me something of a soul-dead clod, but there's still a part of me that looks at adults caring about Wonder Woman or Wolverine as these distinct entities in and of themselves as the equivalent of worrying after the direction they're taking Mayor McCheese. So I'm glad to have this unpacked for me a bit -- it might not occur to me otherwise. Again, my problem.

The most interesting thing to me about McCubbin's straight-forward dismantling of economic worries when it comes to using certain words or embracing certain audiences is that I think it hits on a certain wider truth of the tight focus on perceptions and blame and quarter-to-quarter profitability that dominates a lot of comics industry thinking. This conception of how things work can be incredibly restrictive, because you're almost always pursuing the most dependable audience in the short term, or cycling back to that audience as a default mode. I'd like to see them get out of this line of thinking entirely, not just shift it onto firmer ground. It's pretty scary that comics' biggest, wealthiest actors can be the ones most averse to certain kinds of investment and risk and perseverance of the kind that seems necessary for long-term audience building. That hitch in their step seems to me a big reason why of all the comics sectors, it's superheroes that seems to underperform against our perception of what that kind of comic book might conceivably sell. Everyone loves ice cream, but in this case it's three flavors faking it as 31.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

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