RE: Or the oversight of the instant response?

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 11:08:08 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Or the oversight of the instant response?
    Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 11:08:08 +0100
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    Heroines in comic books have, on occasion managed to incorporate at least
    some aspects of feminism, although in US & UK mainstream comics, the stories
    are still largely being written by men. Good examples would by the
    'Ms.Tree' comics of the 1980s (yes, mystery/detective stories- v.good too),
    or the Dark Horse Comics characters 'Ghost', and, of course, 'Barb Wire'
    (immortalised in film by Pamela Anderson no less). Other popular indie
    comic books featuring a woman character are 'Shi' (a samurai/ninja type
    story), and 'Jinx' (a noirish-thriller kind of story).

    If you're looking for the anti-thesis of PC representations of women in
    comic books, then look no further than pretty much the entire range of Image
    Comics- an indication of which would be that Image produce swim-suit/beach
    editions a bit like Sports Illustrated, so lots drawings of physiologically
    impossible women in ultra skimpy bikinis. It's a real return to what was
    called Good Girl Art (when was that... back in the 1950s I think), in the
    era of Betty Page (revamped and reissued by Image incidentally), a "heroine"
    who generally ended up with next to nothing on in her "adventures".

    I've collected comics since I was a kid, but as I've got older I've become
    more and more uncomfortable with how some comics represent women. One day
    I'm going to write an article on it.


    > ----------
    > From: Ryan, Angela
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Friday, May 25, 2001 4:43 pm
    > To: ''
    > Subject: RE: Or the oversight of the instant response?
    > Dear Wade
    > Thank you for this fascinating anecdote: I am not sure which, of
    > your alternatives, this tale is, either, but they are all fairly worrying,
    > and at the same time interesting for my heroine research. Do you know if
    > there is any truth in the serendipitous-accident anecdote about why Lara
    > Croft's bosoms are that size? And could you translate Curse of the
    > Bambino,
    > please?
    > (I suspect it's a sports thing, and will follow that ear-to-ear
    > cognitive path, like the offside rule, and the Arsenal Box Formation -
    > although The Full Monty did make that one metaphorically clear; but never
    > let it be said I don't try)
    > Yours sincerely
    > Angela
    > Dr A.M.T. Ryan agrégée de l'Université,
    > Department of French,
    > National University of Ireland, Cork,
    > Ireland.
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Wade T.Smith []
    > Sent: Friday, May 25, 2001 2:22 PM
    > To: memetics list
    > Subject: Or the oversight of the instant response?
    > Here's a snip from an interview with Samuel R. Delany, a personal
    > favorite of mine. But I'm not sure what this little tale really _is_...?
    > Is it an example of PC gone batty? A morality tale for paternalists? Or
    > just one of those stories about how life really is a series of fuck
    > ups...?
    > - Wade
    > Q: In the mid-seventies, you had a brief stint as a writer for Wonder
    > Woman comic books. How did this come to pass?
    > A: One of the glories of the late sixties comic book field was what were
    > then called "relevant comics." In reaction to the freedom and daring of
    > the then-burgeoning "underground comics," commercial comic books of the
    > era began to take on far more mature themes and problems--social topics
    > that had some punch: racism, child abuse, drugs, and what-have-you. The
    > leading writer in this movement was Denny O'Neil and the leading artist,
    > Neal Adams. It was an exciting moment in comics. The New York Times
    > Magazine even devoted a Sunday cover article to them.
    > Well, five or six years before that, Wonder Woman's writers had found
    > themselves with the "Superman problem": Because she was so powerful, none
    > of the villains could really offer any resistance, and Wonder Woman--nee
    > Diana Prince--had been reduced, for several years, to Saving the Entire
    > Earth from the Blue Meanies of Mars, or other equally mindless
    > adventures. So, finally, the editors had done the only sane thing: Most
    > of her super-powers had been taken away, and she was now just you
    > ordinary black-belt karate expert and generally super-brave kick-ass
    > heroine type--a sort of female Steven Seagal. She was still pretty damned
    > heroic. Instead of the flag bra and blue bikini briefs, she wore a white
    > karate gee with a black belt. Certainly it made it easier to come up with
    > reasonable plots for her, and alone made it possible for the plots to
    > have some relevance to the real world.
    > Once the new relevant comics came along, they editors decided an area
    > they wanted to tackle was women's problems. By that time Denny was
    > editing Wonder Woman; he asked me to write a series of scripts for Wonder
    > Woman that would touch on problems of actual women. (You might have
    > thought, if they were really serious, they would have gotten a woman
    > writer. But that, I suppose, was a bit too radical.) I came up with a
    > six-issue story arc, each with a different villain: the first was a
    > corrupt department store owner; the second was the head of a supermarket
    > chain who tries to squash a women's food co-operative. Another villain
    > was a college advisor who really felt a woman's place was in the home and
    > who assumed if you were a bright woman, then something was probably wrong
    > with you psychologically, and so forth. It worked up to a gang of male
    > thugs trying to squash an abortion clinic staffed by women surgeons. And
    > Wonder Woman was going to do battle with each of these and triumph.
    > Well, we only through two issues--and the first was a matter of writing
    > Wonder Woman out of the last adventure she was in and getting back into
    > her Lower East Side Neighborhood, which is where Diana lived by then
    > anyway.
    > One day about six weeks after I had come on board, Gloria Steinem was
    > being shown through the D.C. offices. Proudly they showed her the new
    > Wonder Woman. Steinem hadn't looked at a Wonder Woman comic, however,
    > since she was twelve. Immediately she exclaimed: "What happenned to her
    > costume? How come she isn't deflecting bullets with her magic gold
    > bracelets anymore and tying people up with her magic lasso?" Steinem
    > didn't get a chance to read the story of course. But she complained
    > bitterly: "Don't you realize how important the image of Wonder Woman was
    > to young girls throughout the country?"
    > She had a point, I admit.
    > But, a day later, an edict came down from management to put Wonder Woman
    > back in her American-flag falsies and blue bikini briefs and give her
    > back all her super powers. Well, that's what happened--and she went back
    > to Saving the Entire World from the Blue Meanies of Mars . . . There was
    > no way I could work those in with the relatively realistic plot lines I
    > had devised. So my stories were abandoned, and I was dumped as a
    > writer--and Wonder Woman never did get a chance to fight for the rights
    > of a women's abortion clinic.
    > It's a case of the world being over-determined--and over-determined in
    > some destructive ways. But Steinem had no idea of the stories her chance
    > comments were used to scuttle.
    > ===============================================================
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    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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