Tuesday, November 3, 2009
This Industry Continues to Baffle Me
If you've read this blog before, you know that I've been in this godforsaken industry for over 18 years now. Hopefully you've also picked up on the fact that I am female. Good gosh, I'm a girl, it's true! I've been fighting stereotypes in this industry the entire time I've been working in it, and before that as a fan. At times, it has been very frustrating. Obviously, being a woman, I know nothing about back issues. Obviously, being a woman I must be married to or at least dating whatever male I am working with at the shop. Obviously, being a woman behind the Moonstone booth at various cons, I must be married to one of the men that work behind the scenes at Moonstone. Obviously, being female, I must only read "girly" comics. Obviously, being female working at a comic shop, I must want men to refer to me as "honey" "sweety" or "doll" on a regular basis. You've all heard me bitch, you've heard all the stories about the fun I've had with this sore spot over the years, you may have even witnessed some of these fun vignettes first hand at the shop! Many people that come into the shop to sell back issues, automatically start addressing whichever male employee I happen to be working with that day, and then when that employee points out "no, you need to talk to HER" said walk-in customer will stand in front of me but still LOOK at the male employee while addressing me. Anyway, most of this just makes me laugh, I mean really after this many years, there shouldn't be anything left to surprise me. Lookie here, I've been surprised yet again.
Two interesting discussion topics came up IN THE SAME EVENING. I was hanging out with some like-minded comic-book friends, discussing the Fables series of comics and graphic novels. I need to mention the fact that this was a Halloween themed get together with many attendees wearing various costumes of the Fables-related variety or other fun costumes. I was dressed as Red Riding Hood, see above picture. As should be OBVIOUS to anyone, I am indeed a female. I was standing next to one of my male comic book friends to get a picture taken of both of us in our costumes and his brother says to him "stand closer to her like you like girls" and he replies "but Lori doesn't count!" That's right, I don't "count" as a female. Ok, makes sense, I'm one of the guys in many ways. I can discuss Batman, Green Lantern, obscure Golden Age characters, indy comics, manga, pulps, you name it, with any guy on any day and odds are good that I am better informed than said individual. All I'm saying is, I do know a thing or two about the industry I work in, hard to believe, but I swear to god it's true. Many men and women that shop at our stores are well aware of this fact. So I'm not really a "girl" in their eyes because many of the women they know don't have the knowledge or interest in the sheer number of stereotypically "male" hobbies that I do: sci-fi, fantasy, role playing games, board games, card games, comics, graphic novels, toys, etc. I've always felt like "one of the guys" for most of my life. The vast majority of my friends have been male, back when I was younger, as well as today. I have never considered myself overly "girly". (Ok, I do like Hello Kitty, but that doesn't count!) So this friend's comment that "Lori doesn't count as a girl" makes sense. I'm not offended in any way, but coupled with the other comment I was on the receiving end of that night, I am perplexed!
That same evening another comic-book minded friend of mine was "surprised" when he read Fables upon my recommendation and found that he liked it, because he figured if I liked it, it must be "girly." I've know this person for many years, he's been shopping at MY store for many years, and yet still he somehow thinks I must only like "girly" comics. Whatever the hell that is. I'm not talking about Shojo manga, the type that is created FOR women. I've told this individual all about some of my all time favorite comics: geez that list is long, but I want to share with you some of the titles so everyone can bare witness on how "un" girly my tastes run. JSA, JLA, anything by Grant Morrison, anything by Alan Moore, anything by Garth Ennis including "THE BOYS" monthly, most Peter Milligan comics (and yes Hellblazer is VERY girly), Ed Brubaker (again when I think "girly" I think of books like Criminal and Captain America for god's sake!), Greg Rucka (mind you he is currently writing Batwoman in Detective Comics, but the vast majority of the Rucka fan-base is male), all the Green Lantern books, Daredevil (again he is SO feminine, I know!), Batman (better be careful if you call Batman a sissy and he hears you, you will be in for a mighty ass-kicking) and many many more. Oh and here's a partial list of some of my favorite pulp characters, yeah you know that predominately MALE fanbase includes me, I've even worked on some of these characters for Moonstone: The Spider, The Avenger, The Shadow, and Doc Savage, oh and Black Bat, and most of the others! I love Green Hornet, and Zorro too. I also have a collection of swords at home, another example of just how girly I am indeed.
I can NOT believe the strangeness of it all. It just goes to show you that no matter how hard I try I can NOT understand the world of comic books. I'm damned because I'm a woman that reads comics, edits comics, and sells comics. To summarize: I'm considered both "not a girl" and yet also "too girly" therefore my tastes do not count. I just don't' get it, and want to scream very loudly on the top of my lungs because of the absurdity of it all.
These days, many women shop at comic shops on a regular basis, including Amazing Fantasy of course, and many women work in the industry, yet we still have problems. We've come a very long way, but not far enough apparently. The road will continue to be both long and arduous. If I ever make sense of it all, I'll be sure to share. :) Sorry for the bitch fest, but sometimes....