As we continue our discussion of the Janelle Asselin controversy, we’re daunted by the sheer scope of the issues it has brought to the surface. Asselin’s article addressed issues of representation — a noble endeavor we’ve taken up more than once here — but the reaction to that article turned this story into something much more complex. Clearly, the climate in which these conversations happen isn’t entirely healthy. Looking at the solicits for May, women make up less than 10% of the talent pool at either of the Big Two publishers — something that may explain the overrepresentation of male characters, but may also belie a more deep-seeded issue in comics at large.
Interviewer: So, why do you write these strong female characters? Joss Whedon: Because you’re still asking me that question.
This exact change may be a tad apocryphal. The rhetoric is too biting, too effective, even for a wordsmith like Whedon to toss out on the fly. The quote comes from a speech Whedon gave on gender equality, and it’s the well-scripted button on the top of an extremely well-crafted, well-reasoned argument for normalizing equality. The reason his response cuts so deep is because it is an intuitive truth. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve patted artists on the back for not being lecherous fuckers, or how frequently we need to sing the praises of a writer that creates female characters with real agency. We are so used to the imbalance between quality female characters and quality male characters that simply resisting this trend is often greeted as progress. This needs to change. Continue reading →
This notion is a kind of unofficial mantra for Retcon Punch. We fully embrace that our perspectives are limited, which is why virtually everything we publish features at least two writers and an open comment section. It’s an attitude that serves us very well when discussing works of art, where interpretation is paramount, but makes us decidedly less good at journalism, which aims to transcend interpretations in pursuit of facts.
We’ve largely shied away from reporting news (honestly, there are so many sites for comic news out there already), and while we will wade in every once in a while, our cross-talk format results in longer gestation times than the twitter-assisted news cycle tends to have patience for. We’re happy to focus on discussing comics and leaving the news to other sites, but we felt like we needed to speak up about the Janelle Asselin Controversy and fallout. This story is obviously bigger than the facts in question — something that might warrant the kind of longer, slower conversations we do here — and more importantly, it addresses issues that matter to us personally. Continue reading →