No, we hate each other and are VICIOUSLY COMPETITIVE!
The truth is the answer is easy, “yes, we are,” but also that just doesn’t quite cover it.
When I started in comics, it was a weird-as-hell period. There had been female writers in the mainstream books, but most of them had left for other fields. There was almost NO ONE doing a superhero book at DC or Marvel who was female, and the ones who showed up seemed to quit or get forced out quickly.
It was a lonely time. I still get hate mail, but the public showing of contempt for a female writer of superheros back then was ENORMOUS. And websites allowed it, even encouraged it. Reviews could be brutally sexist, they never wanted you to forget that you were FEMALE and comics belonged to BOYS. I can barely even express…the recent stuff that happened to Janelle Asselin (which was awful) was common as dirt, it happened out in public, and there was never an outcry about it.
It could get very discouraging. I am stubborn as hell, or I would have quit. I remember some of the things that were said, and I just shake my head. And some of the pros who are out there now? They were in the cliques that went along with this stuff. I mean, the culture was just that pervasive. Stuff we make fun of now, that was common practice then. And this wasn’t thirty years ago, it was ten years ago.
For a long time, and it still happens a lot, EVERY panel I was on, I was the only female. I was offered every book with a female lead, including a thing called ‘Supermom.’ Every con wanted to do a Women in Comics panel and it was always the same questions and it got exhausting.
The saving grace was the readers. The general readership never bought into this stuff. That’s why I am so eternally grateful. Those people, mostly guys, bought my work because they liked it and they were secure enough to support it. They didn’t come from a place where they were threatened by a female writer wring Deadpool, and over and over again, they made my books into hits. It those early books had flopped, and they would have, if the readers had been the misogynists they are often accused of being, I guarantee you I would be back to doing hair for a living by now. Women don’t get as many chances to fail, in general.
Thank you again, readers. Honest to God, you have no idea how grateful I am. The simple act of buying a book really made a big change, and I believe (publishers have told me) that the success of my Deadpool and Birds of Prey and other titles opened the door a little wider for other female writers.
Sadly, there was also an extra-competitive vibe in the female comics community at the time…I thought it would all be sisterhood and go, team! But it wasn’t, a lot of women had bought into the notion that there could only be ONE woman in the room and they did not easily welcome another (not all, but many).
But it was still a number of years before we got a lot of new female writers that stuck. I tried to be encouraging, I am constantly trying to bring in new voices (and bring back great writers who have left). I do everything I can to try to help.
And then along came Kelly Sue DeConnick and Marjorie M. Liu in particular.
We are all friends, absolutely. We don’t live close by, we don’t hang out, I have only met each of them a couple times in person. We don’t email every day.
But when they came into comics, it was completely clear that they were not going to be ‘one of the guys,’ or easily intimidated. They immediately started producing exceptional, extraordinary work. They blew away expectations and just produced stunning stuff, and they weren’t going to be pushed out. They made their own terms.
I cannot explain how happy this made me and continues to make me.
I absolutely adore them both. If you say something bad about one of them to me, you are in real danger of a punch in the snoot.
I love that they are talented, informed, and opinionated. I love the passion they bring to comics. I think they did what I did, instead of trying to fit into a narrow slot in comics, they made their own space and comics can damn well work around it. No one cheers louder at their successes, because I love them both, but also because I know it will make a huge difference in how female writers and characters are perceived. The seeds they plant today are going to pay off in mighty forests in the next few years, wait and see.
Anyway, we are friends. But more than that, for me, they had my back more than once, out of simple human kindness, and I think they know I have theirs. I have said it before, I don’t actually know them tremendously well…
…but they are my sisters.
If you aren’t following gailsimone, I don’t even want to know you
And Gail is kind to people who only have short gigs in the industry and then return to their own setts!
(Kelly Sue, I tried to do your tag in caps, but silly Tumblr wouldn’t let me!)
Yes, also, this one time? When no one was looking?
I TOTALLY invented reverse sexism. HA!
There is nothing passive about my aggression.
Black Canary says go fuck yourself.
Do you think too many strong male characters are being created at the expense of characters who have beards and like power tools?
Gail Simone Brings Devin Grayson, Marjorie M. Liu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Blair Butler, Rhianna Pratchett, Leah Moore, Tamora Pierce, Nancy Collins, Meljean Brook, Nicola Scott, Mercedes Lackey And More To Red Sonja Legends - Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors
Gotta admit, it is a fair question!(via gailsimone)
Gail, you FLAWLESS individual, you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think you mean, “Gail, you HORRIBLY FLAWED individual, you!!!!!!!!”
But thanks. :)
I am a writer, even at the worst of times I am rarely at a loss for words. In this case, I am afraid words fail me entirely.
I just received a note that verified a fear that had been lingering in the back of my mind since the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado.
Not that long ago, I went to the first ever Denver Comic Con, the first large scale comics convention in the city’s history, apparently. It was a massive success, completely sold out, and I fell in love with the town and the people of Denver. They could not have been kinder, more welcoming, or more genuine. They treated me like a friend, and everyone from the organizers, to the attendees, to total strangers, showered the legendary hospitality of their city down upon myself and my husband. Immediately after leaving, we couldn’t wait to start planning for a return visit at a future date.
It was also a convention with a huge number of cosplayers, and two of my absolute favorites were two characters well known to me, Knockout and Scandal Savage, played by two delightful, funny, fierce young girls, one of the highlights of a show full of highlights.My husband and I insisted on photos with them and they were kind enough to agree.
I was also interviewed for a video interview by a very sweet and considerate young man named A.J. Focht. He was as gracious as can be even though I had to reschedule the interview several times as my table was swamped.
Since then, I had had a terrible fear that someone I met at DCC would have been in that theater. ANY loss of life or threat of danger is a tragedy, but knowing it was someone that I met and really liked was just too scary to contemplate, somehow.
I just received a note from A.J. that confirmed my fears. A.J. and a group of people from the convention were in that theater, including Caitlin, the lovely woman playing Scandal Savage.
They both survived, thank god. But one of their group, Alex Teves, did not survive. He died a hero, trying to protect his girlfriend. Another of their group was hospitalized.
I am broken-hearted again. As relieved as I am to hear that these two people I barely know, but who left an indelible impression in that brief time, are alive, my heart goes out to them for what they lived through, and for the friend they have lost, and for the other friend who has suffered.
Because Caitlin was one of the first to tweet a message after, that she was okay, to let her family know she had survived, she apparently became hounded extensively by the press, and was not allowed to mourn in peace.
A.J. has written about this at the Suicide Girls website…please read: http://suicidegirlsblog.com/blog/back-row-perspective-part-1-an-aurora-theater-survivors-message-to-the-media/
My heart and my thoughts go out to the victims of that awful night, to the survivors, who are also victimized, and to their families. We all feel so empty and helpless, but we can insist that the media treat these people with respect and kindness. They do not need to be traumatized again.
Finally, I’m going to say something that has been in my mind since the first reports started coming in. I don’t want this to appear frivolous, I hope I say this correctly.
We have been seeing stories of impossible heroism that occurred that night in that theater. Jarrell Brooks, just nineteen years old, had an exit out of the theater, and went back in to help a young mother and her two daughters get out, getting wounded in the process.
Three men gave their lives using their own bodies to shield their girlfriends; Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and the member of my friends’ party, Alex Teves. All three threw their girlfriends to the ground and put their bodies in the path of the bullets. Not one of these men was yet out of his twenties.
Stephanie Davies, when her friend was shot in the neck, dropped to the floor and held pressure on the wound while the gunman was still firing, instead of making for the exit, quite likely saving her friends’ life.
Mike White, Sr., after his son, and his son’s girlfriend were shot, removed his shirt to apply pressure to her wound to save her life, and then as the gunman approached, put his body on top of hers to take the bullets if necessary.
There’s more, but this is what I keep thinking about.
I write stories about morals all day…stories about fictional heroes and fictional villains. And I want to believe they have influenced my life, that they have taught me to stand up when called upon, to try to do the right thing even when it is a sacrifice.
Few are called upon like the heroes of Aurora that night. They remind me what heroism really means. They give me hope. In the middle of the despair and shock, these people saw what needed doing and did it, regardless of the cost to themselves.
A lot has been made of the idea that the gunman was influenced by a fictional villain.
But I think it’s very telling to note that all those heroes, all those amazing, remarkable, beautiful people, came not just to see the latest Batman movie…they went to the first possible showing, a midnight show. They wanted to see Batman. I have seen the power that character has, I have felt it myself. He doesn’t kill, he doesn’t use guns.
He’s a good guy. A hero. A protector.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that THOSE remarkable people were there to see a movie about a hero.
Bless every one of them.