Batgirl, in person
If you haven’t heard of Kyrax2, aka San Diego’s Batgirl, here’s the deal: She’s a fan of comics. This year at San Diego Comic Con, Kyrax2 went to many of the DC panels and asked questions about the lack of women both in the comics and on the panels themselves. This got various responses although she was booed at least once. Thus, at Geek Girl Con, she hosted a panel, along with DC Comics Writer Gail Simone, to address these issues and discuss the state of women in comics.
Kyrax opened by talking a little about Comic Con and her questions to DC. She was told DC wants to hire female writers, but none are applying, and no one would say how to get into it. She asked Gail Simone how to get started in writing comics.
Simone’s answer was the standard (but true) axiom: if you want to be a writer, you need to write. Start a blog or a web comic. Give it a schedule and update it regularly. This shows you can keep a schedule. And it gives you something to point to if people ask to see your work. If you want more female characters, create them.
Kyrax expanded her thought and added, “I don’t think all female characters need to be strong.”
Simone agreed, adding that there are different types of strong. Strong doesn’t mean “bad ass.” She stated that “we don’t need all female characters to be Wonder Woman. Feminisim is about choice.” What the comic book industry needs is a variety of realistic lady characters.
Kyrax thinks that “a strong woman is a lady in control of her circumstances.” Simone added that even if she isn’t, it’s the ability or desire of a character to take control of her circumstances.
An audience member asked Simone how, with a serial story that comes out in small parts, does a writer portray someone in control when the story opens with things wildly out of it? Simone answered it’s about trusting the writer to take it somewhere good. Her objection to many females in comics is that they fall into the common trope of existing solely to be the victim, so the man can go and avenge her. As a community, especially people who want to write or draw comics, Simone said we need to create more stories with different types of strength, so the woman isn’t constantly forced into the damsel role.
Simone has always been a big fan of Lois Lane. She’s not physically strong, but she’s a kick ass no-nonsense reporter who’s great at her job. Around the office, people tell Clark Kent to “be more like Lois.”
Kyrax mentions her entry point into fandom was Sailor Moon, which features not one but ten different female sailor senshi, all of whom have different personalities and strengths and weaknesses, so everyone can find someone to relate to. And that’s what a lot of geek girls want: a variety of women characters. Simone agrees, adding that the industry still needs to learn that just because you’re female, doesn’t mean you’re part of a hive mind.
Simone’s advice to help that happen (and it is happening; she cites the existence of Geek Girl Con as a prime example) is to get your voice out there. Comment on things you like as well as things you don’t, rather than just the negative. Vote with your dollars for comics you enjoy. Start blogs, visit forums, go to conventions, and join the conversation.