By now, many of you have read the accounts of a vicious troll who had targeted female comics creators and fans for over two years being shut down, at least temporarily. I won’t mention his handle here for two reasons: 1) Those handles have been deleted, and 2) He doesn’t deserve the attention. But, it does bring us back to some very important questions that we cannot continue to ignore.
First, let me get this out of the way…in case you haven’t been following my page. I’m a 54 years old (soon to be 55) comics collector, male, married with two kids, who started buying comics in the 1960’s when comics were only 12 cents…and who still buys comics today. I’ve never had these kind of vicious attacks targeted to me. I’ve never been told by other comics fans that I didn’t belong. I’ve never had a troll send tweets that basically threatened rape simply because I dared to express an opinion. In those respects I’m not qualified to speak fully on this subject. But, I do think it is important for male comics fans to speak up, to say that not all of us feel this way, and that we take a stand that no one (make that NO ONE) should be treated this way…ever.
When it comes to comics fans, we are many…but not so many that we can afford to alienate anyone. I never gave a thought to pushing away other fans from comics - and it saddens and disgusts me that others would think this is a good thing to do. I’ve read stories over the last couple of years that have simply left me speechless.
- Kyrax2 (aka The Batgirl of San Diego) simply asked why there weren’t more women in comics and was treated with open hostility. She handled herself with class and dignity, even in the face of her treatment…and she has made a difference. But, she continues to be a controversial figure, for reasons that baffle me as she is (to me) a great comics fan.
- In the aftermath of the stories about this most recent troll I’m reading comments from people like Gail Simone and learning more about the deplorable treatment she and so many others have received…and from far more than just one troll. How anyone could treat such a gifted writer with disrepect and hostility is beyond me.
Why is there a fear of having MORE comics fans? Why should we not want to share this wonderful medium with everyone? I frankly don’t care if you are male, female, gay, straight, any race, any faith (or none at all), young as I was or old as I am. If you enjoy comics, then you should be welcome wherever those who love comics gather - whether in real life or online. You deserve to be able to share your love of comics without fear of being treated with anything less than the respect that comics fans should have for each other.
I want to take just a moment to digress here…but I hope you will understand why. When I was just a kid in the 1960s, I wrote a letter to the Superboy comics letters column. It wasn’t published (just as well), but DC Comics wrote back offering a free 1 year subscription to any comic they published. Great deal, huh? So, I chose…
Yep, Lois Lane. Part of it was the fact that there were NO local comic shops back then, and I couldn’t count on this particular comic showing up regularly at the drug store where I bought my comics. But, part of it was that I recognized, even as a kid, just how important a character Lois was (and is) in the DC Universe. Sure, some of those Silver Age stories were very silly, and some of them even perpetuated really poor stereotypes…but it at least was a comic that featured a strong female lead. And, more often than not it was a good read for it’s day and time (at least it seemed that way to the little kid I was back then). I read Wonder Woman and followed it just as much as I did The Flash or any of the other comics I bought back then…and that’s true even today.
Now, I’m reading and truly enjoying Gail Simone’s Batgirl, which is at the very top of my list along with The Flash (hey, my handle is Barry Allen, give me a break ok?).Gail Simone is one of the very best writers I’ve read in the 40+ years I’ve been collecting comics. I love the voice she gives her characters, whether it’s Babs or Black Canary or so many others she has brought to life (I’m going to have to go back now and read her run on Secret Six, can’t believe I missed that). But, she’s not alone - and she shouldn’t be.
See, I am coming back to my main point. There IS a place in comics for well-written female characters, and there IS a place in comics for excellent female writers and artists, and there IS most definitely a place in comics for female fans who appreciate great characters and great stories. That’s how it is, and how it should be.
So, from now on, when I see someone acting like a jerk toward female fans and creators I’m going to speak up. I promise that I won’t stand by silently - and the best part is that now I know I won’t be alone.