I read. I write. I spend all together too much time on the internet. I talk incessantly about books, TV and movies. I write for Hello Giggles, and tweet frequently as Bookoisseur.
~ Thursday, April 17 ~

Sorry To Burst Your Masturbatory Comic Bubble (No, I’m Not)


I have a theory on why a small segment of men who read comics send rape threats to women who write about comics. To put it simply, they think we’re destroying their masturbatory fantasies (literal or otherwise).

You may laugh but it’s quite possibly the source of all the hatemongering. They’re under the impression comics are for men. Men only. And the characters therein, specifically the female characters, are there for them to ogle. The mere thought of that being taken away from them is frightening (even though, you know, porn and porn comics!). So frightening they will do anything to stop it. And they think silencing women with threats is the answer.

Can’t blame them for that thinking completely. After all, comics have been marketed at men 18-34 for a long time. But, and this is always what gets me, if you want your precious comic books to exist in 20 years, you need other demographics to read them.

The first time I was called a “cunt” online (Oh, boy! I must have missed the day in my college journalism courses where they went over that part of the job!), was when I wrote an op/ed titled, “Aquaman Needs a New Costume" for Newsarama back in 2010 (at least this is the first time I remember). I had written for Comic Book Resources previously but before then, had only written convention coverage or interviews. Here I was, writing my previously Heartless Doll-hosted comic book column "Hey, That’s My Cape!, a woman, giving an opinion on a comic book character’s costume (a male character at that), and I was harassed for it.

It was incomprehensible to me at the time, having only really been on the receiving end of the warm and fuzzy part of the comics community before then, that someone would have such vitriol over a comic book. Of course, it wouldn’t be the last time I gave my opinion online and therefore, was just the first in a long line of misogynist hate directed toward me (I have a “shithead” folder in my email as well as one on my desktop filled with screenshots of the offenders).

We could call them assholes. They are. But so is the driver who decides they need to get in front of me in rush hour traffic. These people are worse and they shouldn’t be excused with a wave of the hand.

When these issues are brought up, there are always responses to the effect of, “I haven’t seen it so it doesn’t exist.” My guess is, they have seen it. They either ignore it, or it’s such a part of the way they were brought up it doesn’t even register. But for a larger portion of people seeing others bring up issues of misogyny in the comics community, it’s a no-brainer. “This is bad.” “This needs to stop.” 

Janelle Asselin, a good friend and colleague of mine, spurred this recent round of discussion thanks to a critique she wrote on CBR of a new Teen Titans comic book cover. Because one of her critiques happened to include the size and shape of a teenage character’s breasts, she received all manner of harassment, including rape threats sent via a survey she was conducting on…wait for it…sexual harassment in the comic community.

What Janelle experienced (some more details in her own words here), was not new. Let me repeat. Was. Not. New. It’s happened for years, to countless individuals. Not just in comics, obviously, but every industry. 

I’m happy to see folks like Dan Slott, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, and more - probably big names to the disgusting offenders - publicly decrying the behavior as abhorrent and unacceptable. Fellow journalist (and dude) Andy Khouri just added to the growing pile with a piece on Comics Alliance, “Fake Geek Guys: A Message About Sexual Harassment.”

But a part of me is also sad. Why? One, because this has been going on for far too long (This is just the latest outcry. Remember when Mark Millar got involved after hearing about a notoriously vile troll who went after myself, dcwomenkickingass and others? That’s just one of many.) and because these men’s voices seem to carry louder in the community than the women who’ve been experiencing it first hand and speaking out about it for years. And two, because I’m not sure it will have any effect whatsoever on the offenders. That minuscule segment of the community is set in its ways. Comics are for them. Don’t let anyone else in. This set of Double D’s are for me. Period.

It’s also important to remember there are numerous women without someone famous speaking on their behalf. I know women who have quit doing what they love because of the threats they’ve received and how scared they’d been made to live as a result. It’s unacceptable. So what do we do? 

Rachel Edidin had some good thoughts in her recent Tumblr post but bottom line? Shun them. Seriously. Shun them. Do not accept them in our community. You may say, “I’ve never seen someone make a rape threat online,” but can you say the same about a rape joke, or a man telling a women she’s being “too emotional” or “she needs to get laid?” My guess is no. And guess what? That’s where it starts. Making someones’ gender an attack point.

You see it. You know you do. Next time, say something.

Tags: sexism in comics sexism in media misogyny women in comics comic books feminism
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~ Wednesday, April 16 ~
Permalink Tags: Matt Fraction kelly sue deconnick Greg Rucka Cullen Bunn comics ECCC nerdist writers panel comic books comic writers economics american economics american economy ben blacker
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~ Wednesday, March 26 ~
But I think the thing about X-Men that I loved other than I was finally seeing myself in a comic book was I think every nerdy loner kid wants to be a super hero. I mean that’s kind of a fantasy for all kids but I think if you’re an outsider, there’s a part of you that wants to like beat up the bad kids and save the kids that are being bullied and save yourself from being bullied and you kind of see the injustice in the world because some of it’s being inflicted on you. So I always had a super hero fantasy when I was a kid and I think also because X-Men had this whole kind of outsider-ship. There was this whole kind of mythology—these kids were the rejects, you know? And I’ve been six-feet-tall since I was like eight and I was the only black kid in my school. I was super, super nerdy, super bookish, my parents were vegetarians, I was just in every way, like every possible way that I could be a pariah, I was. There was not one factor that I didn’t hit. I ate weird, I was poor, I was the only black kid, I was a giant pest, I loved comic books, I loved [Ray] Bradbury. There was just no way I wasn’t hitting the nerd button. And so for me, X-Men, this is a collection of misfits and they’re gonna save the world and I loved that mythology and I still love it to this day.
— Aisha Tyler (
Tags: x-men aisha tyler lady nerds marvel comic books
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~ Wednesday, February 12 ~
Permalink Tags: online comics web comics comic writers comic books buzzfeed i really like this list okay and you can go find 42 NEW comics to read RIGHT NOW that are fabulous
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~ Thursday, January 9 ~



A study in panel borders:
Inspired by this awesome post about making comics quickly, I took a look at some comics I own to get some sense of different kinds of panel design choices.

I came away feeling like I’d learned a little less than I’d hoped, but here are some takeaways:

* You can get away with smaller panels than you think
* Extremely weird comic panels CAN work, but when it fails it looks painful and forced.
* Simple is not bad.
* There are actually a LOT of possible combinations.

Specific notes:

Scott McCloud uses a 4x3 sliceup of the page, and it’s four VERTICAL slices and three HORIZONTAL ones, which is weird because it makes the panels, on average, LESS square. This works with the particular comic really WELL though, because he draws himself in closeup, talking, a LOT.

DAR and Narbonic both are webcomics mashed into book format, but both worked surprisingly well as page layout in the end.

Blacksad is REALLY variable and the page layouts are hand-crafted on a per-page basis. No speed gains here, but perhaps a message that full custom has its place.

The Resonator is fairly formal but never *too* rigid with panel choices. Lots of narrow or tall panels, which works as a way to alternate between big establishing shots and dense dialog. Very tall panels for single speaker, long ones for two-person dialog or to combine a lot of text and visuals. In general, Resonator is print-native and has TINY text…

Ultimate X-Men is a fun read but the panel design is a disaster. Almost none of the choices of graphic design work at all. Occasionally an establishing shot hits home, but in general the layout is trying WAY too hard.

Watchmen. Formalism raised to the ultimate. It’s precise, it’s a 3x3 grid, it’s piss-on-a-plate-with-no-spills precise and that’s fine, for two reasons: one, everything is about time, and two, it gets the panels the hell out of the way of the story.

Augustus is an example of what Ultimate X-Men was trying to do, except it succeeds. Lots of variation, but on average very orderly. Kind of strikes me as the sort of thing you “have to be GOOD” to pull off well.

Panel design is one of the most fun parts of making comics for me.  Creating the structure and rhythm and timing of the page… based on the flow of the story and characters, is where the real magic happens for me.  

It is that wonderful in between place where the script first takes shape into the visual.  And the arrangement seems to spring from the flow of the script (often with dozens of layouts for possible solutions for each page) and the infinite possibilities always surprise me.  Sometimes it is a matter of simplicity, and sometimes it is a matter of contrast.  And it always seems like problem solving.  It’s a puzzle where ideas first get their visual blueprint onto paper in terms of making that new dimension of “time” in making image have sequence and suggesting the pace of that sequence… encrypting it into the design so it will only live, only be unlocked, inside the readers mind.  I don’t consider the page the actual art.  I consider the real art, the real “happening” of this art form, as taking place inside the readers mind when what is encoded on the page is turned into movement and reality in the stage of the readers mind.  And each person decodes that a little bit differently, and the same person experiences the same comic differently when read at different stages in their life, based on the life experience that they bring to the reading.  The comic page is a navigational tool, a road map, an atlas, but it is very different from the actual geography that the atlas is meant to point to.  That magic that happens in between the panels, is what happens in the readers mind, and it is such a joy to craft a page and panel layout that you hope makes the most of that catalytic effect. You are using imagination in the layout to trigger the readers imagination which will be activated by the panel layout. and in turn make the panels move and sing. 

(Source: captainmwai)

Tags: comics writing comics comic books comic writers
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~ Friday, January 3 ~


I just showed Rachael this old joke “townie ad” my dear friends at Comicopia and I made years ago and she’s disturbed because she didn’t get we were both joking and completely serious at the same time.

In case anyone ever doubted that I live with a comic book nerd. YOU’RE WELCOME!

Tags: comic books boston comics girls love comics ladies in comics comicopia megsokay
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~ Friday, December 6 ~


the heartbreak in his face tho :(

(Source: rimtiggins)

Tags: comic books
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~ Thursday, November 14 ~
Permalink Tags: sexism in comics women in comics sexism harassment comic books
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~ Wednesday, November 13 ~

Comics Guys, Harassment, and Missing Stairs


I originally wrote this as part of a response to Tess Fowler’s brave-as-hell decision to name Brian Wood as the dude who’d harassed her at a convention. Posting it again, on its own, because there are some things I want to expand on…

Every time I have a conversation with another woman about which conventions or pros to be careful of; every time we discreetly pass around names and tips for staying safe (safer) (safeish), I get angrier and angrier that dudes are not, as far as I know, having parallel conversations about NOT DOING THAT SHIT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Certainly not with the frequency and volume and routine that we recommend wearing heavy shoes and not letting yourself end up alone in a corner with that one guy. Certainly not enough to make a goddamn dent.

I’m putting this firmly on the men in comics, because, you know what? Men are the overwhelming majority of the people in the industry with institutional and hiring power. Even most of the most senior women in editorial departments answer to one or more male boss, usually a dude who has been in the industry long enough and played its games effectively enough to be pretty solidly entrenched in the existing power structure; and, even if he is basically a decent human being, to have capitulated to and internalized and regurgitated and privileged appeals to tradition and status quo over things like personal dignity and safety and minimal motherfucking professionalism.

Men in comics, especially men in positions of institutional power and popular visibility, you need to step the fuck up. It has been going on for so, so, so goddamn long. And the women who speak up get written off as squeaky wheels and malcontents and difficult, and patronized and blacklisted and quietly driven off, and everyone is fucking terrified to go public because the worst perpetrators are the most entrenched and protected.

So: If you’re in a position to speak up, and you’re not doing it; if you’re a boss who looks the other way while your male employees edge out and harass and sometimes even flat-out assault female colleagues and fans; if you’re a professional with enough of a name to command attention; and you see this and don’t speak up long and loud, fuck you. Fuck you so much, for standing by while shitheads poison the well because you were too afraid or apathetic to rock the boat when you were the only one with an oar. Fuck you for throwing your colleagues and people who could and should have been your colleagues under the bus, or standing by quietly while someone else did; for sitting on evidence and documentation; for not speaking up when you have the credibility and platform to make an actual goddamn difference.

When you see harassment and abuse, and you are in a position to call it out and effect actual consequences, and you don’t, you don’t get to be a good guy anymore. You have become part of the problem. You are why this shit persists—every fucking bit as much as the people perpetrating it.

I mean: When I said that one guy in the first paragraph, you knew who I was talking about, didn’t you? Doesn’t matter if we were thinking of the same names (and oh, you adorable, naive children who assumed that there could only have been one). What matters is that you knew and you didn’t do a fucking thing.

Tags: ladies in comics women in comics harassment sexism comics comic books
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Sexism, abuse and harassment live and thrive in environments rife with silence and fear. Be strong. Be loud. Let your voice be heard.

Tags: sexism abuse harassment women in comics ladies in comics comic books DC Comics Marvel Comics comic writers comic artists graphic novels
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~ Monday, August 12 ~


Tags: ladies in comics lady superheroes comic books stan lee
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~ Tuesday, June 11 ~

More great graphic novels for seniors


A few weeks ago I suggested five great graphic novels for seniors and asked for more suggestions, which I got, and thank you! Here are some that look particularly great (for seniors, but also for me—I haven’t read about half of these but I am adding all of them to the list). Keep suggesting, please:

I trust her recs. Yup.

Tags: graphic novels comics comic books reading lit
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~ Monday, May 27 ~

Drinks with Rachael episode 4 is up! I talk about Saga and drink mimosas. Because it is Memorial Day, and on Memorial Day we thank soldiers and day drink. YES WE DO.

Tags: Drinks with Rachael Saga brian k. vaughan fiona staples comic books vlog reading drinks
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~ Monday, November 26 ~
Permalink Tags: HelloGiggles Bergen Street Comics Brian K. Vaughn brooklyn comic books Comics excitement grap
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~ Wednesday, October 3 ~
Permalink Tags: HelloGiggles batgirl Batman comic books comic-con DC Comics Fables marvel National Comic Boo
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