Saturday, May 1, 2010

Women in comics in refrigerators

Two significant things happen during the month of May:

My birthday -- May 18 -- and the return of the Motor City Comic Con -- May 14-16 at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Mich.

Comic Con(vention) is an event that self-proclaimed "comic book geeks" live for. It features vendors, contests, artists, and special appearances by stars of classic cult films and television programs.

Among the guests this year are Linda Blair, star of "The Exorcist," and Mark Goddard from TV's " Lost in Space."

My husband, Chris, has been an avid comic collector for much of his life. Although I maintain only a casual interest, I'd never thought about looking at the world of comic books through a feminist lens -- until recently.

In the past, comics have never been considered a "girl thang." Now, according to PREVIEWS -- a comic shop catalog -- "more and more women are venturing into comic shops and being met by strong female characters that transcend stereotypes and gender cages."

PREVIEWS even championed "Women in Comics Week" back in March. In conjunction with the event, PREVIEWS featured an interview with Gail Simone, a comic commentator, writer, and artist who has worked on such titles as "The Simpsons," "Deadpool," "The Atom," "Birds of Prey," and -- since 2007 -- the "Wonder Woman" series.

Simone also has a website -- "Women in Refrigerators" -- that lists the violent demise of female characters in comics. It seems that throughout the medium's history, this has been the norm.

The site's name was taken from a "Green Lantern" comic in which the superhero returns home to find his girlfriend has been killed by one of his archenemies, and her body stuffed into the fridge.

Simone told PREVIEWS, "(the) site was all about examination, not condemnation. It was never meant to insult or accuse the industry, it was simply meant to hold up a mirror."

Of her own work, she says " ... the hope is that the female characters feel, not superior to the male ones, but, equally as compelling, equally as human, that's all."

While doing some research, I found someone who has done some brilliant work on comics and feminism.

Enter David Hopkins, a telecommunications major at Ball State University. As it turns out, he took a women's studies class during the fall 2009 semester and created the blog as his "engagement project." This required him to "actively engage with the Ball State and/or Muncie (Indiana) community through an educational awareness project."

David's blog is a well-researched, clever, and insightful project infused with some interesting comic art.

He named it, "The Amazing Adventures of David & Feminism: A look into how comic books inscribe gender." Take a look.

David -- if you're out there, your blog's the bomb. Make contact, man. I'd love to talk to you.

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