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Elliott Serrano Presents:


Hi- Elliott Serrano here. This week I’m turning over the Comic Culture Warrior to a guest columnist: a fine Canadian comics blogger who goes by the nifty name Variant Girl! You can find her on the web right here. Take it away, Variant Girl!

Fangirls: Fact or Fiction?

Zombies, vampires, the Loch Ness monster, little goblins, werewolves, the sharp wit and intellect of former President George Bush Jr. - that’s all fiction my friend. What is fact is that there is a large population of us ladies out there that enjoy comic books, and action figures, other wise known as the elusive “fangirl.”

I know it’s hard to find us at times because we are deceivingly camouflaged by our long flowing hair that smells of a hint of strawberry shampoo, soft lips, hips that sway from side to side when we walk, and last but not least our glorious breasts! Often ignored are our eyes that love to take in the stunning visual artistic pleasures that don the pages of comic books. Often ignored is the brain in our heads that are excited, angered, and intrigued by the compelling words encapsulated in tiny bubbles that float from panel to panel.

These are the similarities we share as people and as comic book fans. Our anatomical differences should not separate and divide us; our commonality and zest for this medium should unite us. For some reason though, in the past we fangirls hide out in the shadows and dark corners of the comic book shops going virtually unnoticed, standing by ourselves flipping through comic books. All the while having to watch you fanboys gather in your little cliques around the front counter discussing the major events in the various comic universes, and giving your opinions on this and that. We as fangirls have watched with envy, the heated conversation, and wished we could get in on that debate that makes tempers flare. Share our thoughts, passion, and feelings about our favorite characters with the cantankerous fanboy.

When we read shitty dialogue do we not bitch and moan the same as you? When we see crappy art do we not cringe and complain the same as you? If a writer does not do our beloved characters justice we say “what the fuck!” just as loud as you. Yes, women not only do it, we say it too.

We as Fangirls are very important people. Just by the act of reading comics we have the power to influence change, because the more women that read comics, the more comics will be published for female readers, which then in turn will mean that more women writers and artists will get to work on the “big titles”. Let’s face it: comic fandom is dwindling right now when you compare it to the movies, television and even traditional literature fandom. The way to turn this around is to get even more fangirls on board. Women get into comics for a variety of reasons and we stay loyal to the medium for a variety of reasons, but basically we want the same things as fanboys: to be entertained and to be represented in a fair and intelligent manor, without sacrificing strength, or compromising femininity.

Women have struggled, and still do, to find a league of our own in this testosterone driven boys club we call fandom. Whether it be sports, cars, or comic books the fangirl must talk just a little louder to get noticed and taken seriously. The perception of women in comics has evolved to reflect how society views women. Even so, women are still not represented in a full and comprehensive manor that does us equal justice, yes we have come a long way, but the journey is far from over. We are still sexualized, still given the weaker supporting roles in main stream stories, and we are still portrayed as the victim in some comics, not all, but some. I know you super hardcore fanboys out there are saying “What is this chick rambling on about? There a tons of female comic book super heroines!” and I’m sure you can name them all too. However can any average little girl do the same? I am sure that same average little girl who knows hardly anything about comic books knows who Superman, Spider-man, and Batman are. The only iconic female figure that many women can relate to and seem to love is Wonder Woman and that can be attributed to Linda Carter. There are many different super heroines out there in the comic book universe that are just not marketed in the same way as the male characters And I do believe that it does come down to marketing women in a positive light. This is done amazingly well by ‘indie- type’ comics, but the mainstream big publishers still have a ways to go in that department. Take for example the soon to be released Marvel Divas. Male and female fans alike are actually pretty pissed with the cover art and press release which teases of what can be expected from this story. Here we see an example of how women are marketed, not for our strength but for our sexuality. In a recent rebuttal to the outrage surrounding this issue, Editor And Chief of Marvel Mr. Joe Quesada said:

“If you’re [a] Marvel reader and truly feel we’re sexist, then why are you reading our books? Now, perhaps you’re not a Marvel reader, then if that’s the case, I’m not quite sure what you’re criticizing if you don’t read our books?”

This was a completely unprofessional answer, in my humble opinion. His rebuttal was not sympathetic to the views expressed by some of his readership; quite frankly it seems dismissive of the suggestion or thought that women are not put on an equal playing field in the comic book industry. What’s most disappointing is the fact that Mr. Q has the power and the influence to make a change! He has the ability to put fourth a new image for women in comics, he has the ability to invite a much larger audience to participate in comic book culture and crush the old school stereotype of a “comic book nerd”. But he won’t because it’s uncomfortable.

Who is to blame? Is it the fanboy who he claims to cater for? Is it the publishers themselves for not adapting and evolving? Or is it us fangirls? Are we to blame just as much? I say YES. Why? Because we choose to take the back seat; we choose to not stand up and say that the image of women in comics must change. We don’t go out and actively become owners of comic book shops. We hesitate to put up web sites and blogs that express our feelings. Where are the fangirls on You Tube? We should be out there hosting our own shows that revolve around this industry that we crave so much to be apart of. If you are a female comic book artist get out there to the conventions and show your portfolios, damn it. If you are a women writer I encourage you to do the same, submit, hell publish your own book and market yourself. We can only remain in the shadows if we choose too. The more voices that are shouting via the web and other mediums, the more noise we make, eventually Mr. Q and others like him will have to take notice of us and do something. No doubt this is a hard community to be accepted in by some, but things are changing everyday, slowly but surely, we must just be persistent and continue to be seen and heard through various types of media. Will I be buying Marvel Divas? Maybe not. Will Marvel care about my measly $3.99? Maybe not, but what if other fanboys and girls did the same and the title bombed? Hmmm, maybe Mr. Q may then start to rethink his initial stance, especially when money is the bottom line.

Mr. Q. is entitled to his opinion; however I hope he knows that the readers of comic books are the ones who pay the bills and we are entitled to have our say and opinion taken with a little more respect, especially if it can lead to a positive change within the comic book industry.

To fangirls out there: you have a voice. Express yourself in which ever way you feel most comfortable. If that means going out and meeting up with people who share your interest in comics and all you do is sit around have a beer and chat, awesome. If you feel inspired to write a great story or draw fantastic pictures, wicked. If you want to speak up and be heard, and let the rest of the world know your opinions and thoughts on different comic book related subject matter and the web is the place for you, cool. Comic books are a culture, they are made for everyone to enjoy, not just any one gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. We women do not only have to be merely booth babes at conventions or simply ring girls at UFC fights. We are much more. We are FANGIRLS!

I don’t want to harp too much on only the negative. There are some fanboys out there that do appreciate our fandom and welcome our opinions and presence in the comic book world at large; I like to call them “new school” fanboys, and we fangirls salute you. I say that the only way for us fangirls to be a vibrant part of the comic book scene is to be a part of it, be more visual in your local comic book shops, and at conventions. Be seen on the World Wide Web; let your voice be heard and I believe that it will be.

Remember, come out of the shadows, step into the light and don’t shy away from those heated discussions. Become a part of them. More often times than not, that scary Fanboy is actually more afraid of you than you are of him. You can engage the fanboys; ask them what they are reading, suggest titles you are reading, ask them their opinions on the industry and weave your way into the conversation. Let the love you have for this medium transform yourself into simply a fan.

Fangirl, say it loud and say it proud!

Variant Girl


Elliott Serrano is a comic book writer/columnist/graphic designer. Check out his YOUTUBE CHANNEL and read his BLOG.

E.R. Serrano

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