Tue, 21 June 2011 DC’s Mad Hatter tea party

News and reaction to DC’s reboot of 52 titles in its catalogue this September has been rumbling on since I blogged about it last week.

First I’d like to forefront a couple of repsonses that contain useful insight for the DC executives.

Comic Book Resources put up part of a fantastic discussion with Dan Harmon, the creator of the comedy TV show Community, about creating a writing staff with an even gender split. It’s called “We have to stop thinking of it as a quota thing and think of it as a common-sense thing

Here’s an extract:

There’s the same percentage of genius happening in both genders, but there’s less women writing scripts and out there looking for the job. So you dig a little extra-hard, and you end up with a staff that took a few extra meetings and a few extra shitty scripts to read. Now you have a staff that is just as good as the staff you would have had, but happens to be half women. And it seems like the greatest thing in the world, because the world is half women. And the male writers across the board, from top to bottom, in their most private moments drinking with me, when they’re fully licensed to be as misogynist, reactive, old-boy-network as they want, all they can say is, “This turned out to be a great thing.”

…I don’t have enough control groups to compare it to, but there’s just something nice about feeling like your writers’ room represents your ensemble a little more accurately, represents the way the world turns.

Comic book writer and editor Adam P Knave wrote a blog post entitled “Why aren’t there more women in comics?

He hits at the core problem within the mainstream comic book industry:

The American Comics industry, going back to the root here, has spent how long doing comics that feature women in lesser roles, as helpless victims or as abuse recipients only? And even though that is changing now, it is still there and the current crop of people who are of an age to start working in comics were born back when it was still an even bigger problem than it is today.

Why would you think, given that, that women would want to pitch for comics? Yes, there are women in the industry. Yes there were in the 50s and 60s as well. I am not discarding them or marginalizing them. But percentage-wise? It’s sad. And it isn’t because “women don’t want to do comics” or even “women don’t want to do superhero comics.”

It’s because they’ve been chased off, told they shouldn’t want to do them and then often shown that what they would be working on is insulting to them. And yet people are confused.

Let’s be honest. The majority of American Comics (again mainstream stuff etc) is full of women being used and abused, discarded and ignored as actual characters. Imagine you love drawing comics. Now imagine you’re told to draw stuff that marginalizes and tosses under the bus the people in the stories that represent you. How long would you do it?

Now, add to these observations that Bleeding Cool has been reporting on DC’s retailer road trips during which it has been explaining its big reboot this autumn.

DC discussed its seven-figure marketing budget, and where it was spending it:

The target audience are men age 18 to 34 though they do realize that they have readers in other demographics.

It’s quite hilarious really. DC says its reboot is about getting new readers for a shrinking market, and all it does is chase after the mythical boy reader that it’s been courting to years, which research has shown is increasingly disenchanted by what DC is offering.

This is the kind of uninspired strategy that comes out of the mouths of movie executives, which should point to the fact that DC is really at the beck and call of Warner Bros, and is part of a media conglomerate which has a track record of ignoring and marginalising women and minorities.

It’s the DC Mad Hatter tea party. They call for change and everyone moves around the table but nobody new is invited.

They’re feasting off the same stale crumbs and dank tea.

I think we should leave them to their empty banquet.

Mad Hatter's Tea Party by artist John Tenniel

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: ‘No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. ‘There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

‘Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. ‘I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.

‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.

‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.

‘It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,’ said the March Hare.

‘I didn’t know it was your table,’ said Alice; ‘it’s laid for a great many more than three.’

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