Thursday, May 31, 2007

You're a wonder, Girl-Wonder.

A month or so ago a friend of mine pointed me to a fantastic site about women in comics called I have been a dedicated fan of the site ever since and a regular participant in their fantastic forums.

The site originally started as a kind of protest against the treatment of a DC Comics character named Stephanie Brown. Her hero name was originally the Spoiler but she eventually became the first female Robin in the current DC universe (excluding characters in spin-off, non-continuity titles like Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). As Robin, Stephanie Brown was kidnapped, tortured and killed in a very gruesome, very sexualized manner. Many fans - both male and female alike - were outraged at this kind of treatment and sick in general of the "Women in Refrigerators Syndrome" that befell so many female characters in the comic world. While male characters are also routinely captured and tortured, their pain almost always led to them becoming stronger and more heroic as a result and the situation was never sexualized the way it so frequently was with female characters. To add insult to injury, DC Comics made it quite clear that Stephanie Brown's Robin uniform would not receive a memorial case in the Batcave unlike the other fallen members of the Bat-family's costumes had.

From this beginning the site grew to contain the aforementioned forums as well as several well-written papers on various topics relating to women in comics and many awesome blogs like Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed) and Designated Sidekick.

The forums are probably the most fun part of the site with discussions ranging from horribly sexist comic covers, ridiculous costumes to depictions of rape in comics as well as issues dealing with race, body image, class, sexuality and more topics than can be contained in this one blog post. One of the most impressive things about the forum is they pretty much never devolve into flame wars. People actually respectfully disagree with one another and often admit to seeing things they hadn't thought of in points made by other posters. It is welcome to people of all genders as long as folks are respectful of the forum guidelines. The mods are also really great at stepping in to gently remind posters of guidelines without being censoring or shaming. It's really an intelligent, diverse and super fucking fun forum to read or be a part of.

What I love the most about the site is how it prooves that loving comic books does not go hand in hand with being stupid, childish or out of touch. The folks who contribute in the blogs, papers and forums are really smart, aware and thoughtful. A lot of the content may focus on the politics of comics and women in comics but it's clear that all involved have an awareness and intelligence that extends beyond that specific world. And frankly, it's really great to have a forum to discuss some of the things that really piss me off about a genre I have loved since I was 6. So go check it out already and stop reading this dumb blog!


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