Tag Archives: Morning Glories

Women creators in the big time…

Wow, DC really can’t do something big without stirring up the storm can they?

Art by Amanda Conner

With the relaunch announcements grabbing more headlines than the real news (that being the day and date digital releases) DC has managed to not see one issue coming.  Or they see it, and just don’t care.  Where all da wimmin at?

Gail Simone is writing 2 of the new monthly books and Jenny Frisson is doing a cover.  Just one cover.  There is more out there in the world than Rob Liefeld.  Did we really need to bring him back?  There was not ONE other woman out there that could write Hawk & Dove?  This is a book that will more than likely, be on the short list for cancellation within 3 issues.  Maybe that is why no one would touch it.  There are, to my knowledge more female artists out there than writers, but I know there are more than just the wonderful Ms Simone!  In the artist end of things I am even a bit more surprised.  There are some real fan favorites (artists and writers) that have nothing on DC’s schedule in September.  Amanda Conner, Katie Cook, Nicola Scott, Trina Robbins, Louise Simonson and the list goes on!  True, some were probably offered something and were not interested for reasons of their own, but just Gail Simone and Jenny Frisson?

There was a point in the past I would have said that this was just the women complaining, then I grew up some and try to look at it intelligently.  Or at least as intelligently as I am able.  True, there are not all that many women in the field these days compared to the men, and a lot of that is a cultural issue.  Women have not been mainstays of the industry in any point in its history.  The days when a Dalia Messick could get work because she went by Dale are gone.  The internet makes all of that kind of insulting tomfoolery transparent.  There has always been a serious  lack of women but I believe that it can never be truly equal.  There just are not as many women as men interested.  The reason for some of that has shifted.  It used to be simple enough:  girls didn’t read comics.  That is no longer true.  Many books, and not just the ones you would assume, have larger female readership.  And it is not that women are not artists and writers.  One look at the bookstores will tell you that.  Now I wonder if it may not be the fact that there are other, more attractive mediums/markets to go into.  There is a talent drain that has happened slowly over the years from comics in the traditional mainstream sense, to other medium peripheral to the traditional comic book.  Web comics seem to have a much better ratio of men to women.  A couple of the standouts here would be Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots) and Lora Innes (The Dreamer).  In other media there is quite a draw also.  Design, book illustration art of all kinds that would draw someone, not already interested in comics further away.  In fact, I think it may be a safe bet that if someone, man or woman, is not a comic book fan to start with, they are not likely to enter the field professionally.  As the medium slowly fades away (yes, it is slowly fading away) fewer young people are influenced by it and chose it as a career path.  So there is that factor, but it does not explain this huge shift.

As I look at this more, I really do wonder if this isn’t something different.  This level of exclusion is SO out of the norm, that I wonder if it might not be deliberate.  This is not to say that I think Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Dan Didio are sitting in the dark halls of the DC compound planning ways to exclude Ms Frisson et al, but there can be an institutional mindset that can be so much a part of the industry, that even the newer blood is not immune.  It does not have to be a conscious choice to be something that is made to happen.  The “old boys” network is not just for the long serving, and it need not be worked at.  At some point, to reverse this trend, a deliberate choice to go the other way may be needed.  No, not quotas or preferential hiring.  The need for a meritocracy is still there.  Bringing in female writer “X” just because the is female does not solve the problem.  In fact, it will make it worse.  Nevermind the inevitable male backlash, the issue here is that bad books by less than stellar talent, again male or female, will drive readers and other talent away.

What is needed, I think, is a concentrated search for new talent ALL the time.  Just like any kind of marketing or recruiting, you tailor it to fit a demographic.  Just like you want to sell a car to a thirty something male with no kids and a lot of disposable income, you can target any segment of the market you want.  You can choose to bring in new talent in very much the same way.  Even the days of the old Marvel Try out book are well past, and no longer likely to be of use.  (Any one who thinks products are not marketed that specifically needs to wake the hell up!  I knew an ad guy for a car manufacturer many years ago that was quite proud of a campagne he helped design that marketed one specific model of a car to gay men over 40.  And it sold to that demo just as planned.)

I remember there was once a lot of talk about the big two recruiting in the art schools, but that never seemed to materialize.  Now you get portfolio review at cons.  The attitude that the talent will show up when needed does not bring the top talent, it brings in whatever comes through the door.  Comic as an industry has always been more than willing to cannibalize itself.  I think that comes from the trash product mentality from the earliest days of the medium, and it is unfortunately still with us.

Get it together DC.  For that matter, the entire industry.  While some publishers are better than others, and most are better than DC in this case, there is a long way to go.  The diversity created by women and men sharing the creative duties can only help comics.  This all just seems so short sighted…


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Review: Morning Glories

Morning Glories

2011 Image Comics

192 Pages

$10 at the usual online retailers

Lots of new books in the last week or so and I am a bit behind.  This was one that the wife wanted to check out so I picked it up for her.  This was not what I was expecting.  This less Steppford students and a lot more The Prisoner.  This is the first six issues of the Image series that started in 2010 by Nick Spenser & Joe Eisma, with covers by Rodin Esquejo and the first impression you get is not what you have when you are done with even the first chapter.  I was quickly struck by the art.  Noted elsewhere, the covers and the interior art are very different, but frankly those reviews are by people who have not gotten that you sell comics that way.  Making a particular point about that is like saying water is wet.  The covers are very different because the interior art is not as commercial.  That is pretty much all there is to that.  No, what stuck me is how much the art varies wildly from page to page.  It appears to be rushed at times.  My wife asked if this was deliberate, to make some particular statement with the art that relates to the characters or story in some way.  I still am not entirely sure how to answer her.  The art is clean and well rendered, the style does not make huge leaps and the layouts are clear and not ever over done.  There are just points in it when it seems that not enough time was taken with some of the panels and pages.  A gripe I have about some of the more minimal illustrators out there is that the faces are not always well-defined.  I cannot always tell the characters from one another.  Those with a sense of history will know that is one of the reasons pretty much EVERY character of note in the Golden Age was very garish and bright.  To make the books as clear and understandable as they could be for the younger audience of the day.  In the modern era, as the age of the readership increased, the need for that has started to fall off.  That ans the growth of the non Super Hero books.  But there are many of the artists out there that have yet to master storytelling.  This is an example of a book where the art is great, but not the panel to panel feel and story flow.  John Byrne (reviewed recently at Review: Star Trek Crew.) is one of the best examples there is of a great storyteller.  The art here is really nice and easy on the eyes, but it does not flow  as well as it could, sometimes the panels are cluttered and the characters are hard at times to distinguish.  Is the deliberate?  I just am not sure.  It is done so specifically at times that I can’t say that it is not something done specifically to distract the reader or send them down dead ends so that they are as off-balance as the people they are reading about.

The story follows the newest class at a posh education academy for very gifted students.  The lives of the students are controlled and the families have no contact with the children, all in their teens.  Sound familiar?  Personally I always though a certain bald wheelchair bound educator was more than a little creepy.  All that was missing was the “pedovan”.  But any other similarities with a certain school in Westchester end there.  There are gifts here to be sure, but nothing so blatant as red beams of force, wings or really big feet.  Here the gifts are only hinted at.  The students are at the school and embroiled in a conspiracy, not the least of which is why they are even there to start with.  Quickly the characters are developed and many have interesting stories hinted at.  This first trade edition is just the start of what feels like a long, possibly over drawn out storyline, but so far I am interested enough to keep reading.

For people who like their conspiracies a little more plain and clear-cut (the deep dark secret of the wolves and vampires in Twilight comes to mind) this will not work for you.  Nothing is clear-cut here.  There is little or no progress made at answering any of the questions raised by the story or those in it.  There are only more questions, and some very fun ones at that.  Much of what happens is easy to figure out, but the book is not without surprises.

I cannot say that I would recommend this unreservedly, but there is enough here to make me come back for at least one more look into this academy.

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