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Hey, Kids! Comic Books Have #MeToo Issues Too!

September 7, 2018

If you mess with these ladies, a hashtag will be the least of your problems! (image from book The Super-Hero Women)

Sexual harassment is easy to deal with in a comic book.  If a guy harasses a woman in a comic book, the woman can just punch the guy through three walls.  Or she can hit him with a lightning bolt.  Or throw him out of orbit.  Or send him into another dimension.  In a comic book, dealing with sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior would be easy.  And maybe even kind of fun.

But real life is different.  Now the #MeToo stuff has rocked the comic book world, and it’s not fun for anybody.   I mean, it hasn’t exactly rocked the comic book world.  This incident doesn’t involve Marvel or DC, so it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.  It involves a bunch of people I’d never heard of, and I probably won’t even mention their names.  The only reason I know about it is because a publishing website linked a  Comics Journal article about it.  Comic book controversies that aren’t Marvel or DC related don’t make it to the mainstream.

The short version is that a small press comic book publisher has been accused of something really bad by one person, and then several other people piled on with accusations of their own, and now the accused is suing the accusers for defamation of character because the accusations have crushed his business.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but a couple things caught my attention.

First of all, one accuser claims that the offender would use comic shows/conventions as “hunting grounds.”   I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust a quote when there are only two words in it.  That’s from the article in my link, and that article has no link to this quote, so I have no idea what the person quoted actually said.  If I were a reporter, I’d at least use the full sentence, unless it was some run-on, in which case I’d use the subject and verb with a nice ellipsis if necessary.  To me, a two word quote is always suspicious.

Secondly, I don’t know any guy who uses comic shows/conventions to meet women.  Guys go to comic shows because they have a tough time with women (which would also explain a comic book guy’s alleged inappropriate behavior).  Even if a comic book publisher is looking for female talent, there are much better places than the comic book show to meet women.  To be fair, I’ve seen guys hit on the models dressed up as Wonder Woman or Black Widow or Storm at comic conventions, but these women were quick to reject the comic guys, even if the guys had some money.

Maybe things have changed.  Maybe cosplay has changed the comic book hunting grounds, but I don’t think so.  Maybe cosplay was invented to bring women to comic shows so that the shows could then become “hunting grounds.”  Comic creators can think of some diabolical stuff.  That’s why it’s better if comic creators put their efforts into comic books, rather than try to implement their crazy ideas in the real world.

I used to go to comic book shows, and the looking-at-women part of my brain always shut down when I got there.  Almost every show had a Wonder Woman, and guys like me didn’t even notice.  If Wonder Woman had been standing in the parking lot, maybe I would have glanced at her (in a completely appropriate way), but once I was locked in on the comic books, no woman was going to get in my way.  It’s probably a reason why I got a late start on my dating (which I’ve explained a little bit in my blog serial University Library).

Even though I’m surprised a comic book guy would use conventions as “hunting grounds,” I’m not shocked that a comic book guy would get accused of inappropriate (at the least) behavior around women.  Comic book guys have a reputation for not being the smoothest of gentlemen.  When women friends of mine would read comic books (decades ago), their first comment was usually, “Whoever drew this needs a girlfriend.”  A few comic book artists reputedly hung out with a certain kind of dancer, just to get the female proportions in their drawings right, of course.  So I’m not shocked that a comic guy would do something creepy, if he’s actually guilty.

Remember, I’m not suggesting that the guy accused in this story is guilty.  I’m not taking sides.  After all, I don’t want to get sued for defamation of character.

*****

40 years ago, comic books were primarily for kids, and some adults discouraged us from reading them.  I think some adults believed comic books weren’t challenging enough.  True, they weren’t that challenging, but they were fun, and that was great for kids who hated reading because reading was a challenge to them.  Comic books were a gateway to reading for me and some of my friends.  I went from comic books to short fantasy novels to actual novels.  I went from classic comic books to the actual classics.  The Iliad was a tough read, but I did it in 6th grade because the classic comic was so awesome.

Comic books helped me to understand plot structure.  Comics got me interested in the classics.  Comics gave me common ground with other kids that I didn’t have much in common with (later on, football became my common ground).  I learned a lot from comic books.  Thankfully, though, I didn’t learn about sexual harassment.

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