While perusing blog@Newsarama the other day, I happened upon a post entitled “Just Past the Horizon” in which Lisa Fortuner talks about the Misty Lee episode. It was thought provoking and on target, provoking several responses. Without going into great detail, let me just say that I read something in the one of comments that left me cold. Whether this person was being a smart ass or being serious, the following remarks were made:
“Reading this makes me long for the days when chicks didn’t read comics. Chalk me up as one who thinks this is fan entitlement gone crazy. At least I can tune y’all out by avoiding the internet. But lord, am I glad I don’t have to read the mail Marvel receives everyday. It must be whine after whine after whine, with an unhealthy dose of cheese-louise.
Also, I’ve been reading Spider-Man for twenty years (and now because he has brown hair like me…seriously, what a weird and superficial thing to identify with), and I’m a bit hard-pressed to recall when Mary Jane wasn’t being objectified. And freaking out about objectification that didn’t even occur in a comic book?
Maybe these ladies shouldn’t be reading comics. Maybe they’re taking them too seriously. If someone is going into a rage, or feels their self-identity is crumbling/under assault, because of a statue, or a cover illustration, then maybe it’s not comics they need, but therapy.”
Now, for all I know, this Ken person was just joking. My point is not to take him and single him out, but to use his comment to reflect a bit.
Here is my thought: if when I started reading comics in 1974 the internet would have been around wht would I have done? Would I have been turned off to comic books or would I have followed the same path I did back then that continues to this day? I guess I didn’t understand that comics were just for boys. I started with Wonder Woman, Batman, World’s Finest, and Brave and the Bold. I followed it up with Justice League of America, Flash, and Shazam!, without blinking an eye. There was nothing on the label saying it was gender specific, and no one around me gave me any crap about it.
But what if the internet had existed? What if I would have gotten online after reading comics for awhile and read through the posts around the news sites and blogs? Would I have run screaming for the hills? Maybe I would have taken up something more girly? God forbid. My older self wonders how my younger self would have been influenced by it all. How would my life be different today?
Reading comic books really helped expand my vocabulary. It also helped make me a spelling bee champion. I was always at the top of my class in English and creative writing. To this day I give comic books a great deal of credit for that. They made me want to read, and it helped me stair step into reading novels and historical periodicals. When I read Wonder Woman and “Mars” was the villain, I wanted to know about where he came from so I researched it. I am hard pressed to think of a negative influence comic books had on me then.
To this day I love to read comic books. They help me escape the stress of my daily life. Sometimes I can’t solve a problem by punching it, but watching Black Canary do it makes me feel a bit better. I can’t bench press 1000 pounds, but I admire the fact that She-Hulk does so with ease.
I can’t get that nagging thought out of the back of my head. Would the internet have turned me off comics back in the day? What does the internet mean to beginning readers who come into our world? What do they think of our opinions and arguments? Are we just background fodder to their true passion, or do we have more of an influence then we think?
I don’t claim to have all the answers to this, but my younger self is glad she was left alone and allowed to read the comic books she wanted to. That is why I am happy to see Lisa start P.O.W.E.R. in Comics and try and find ways to promote the industry. I am not saying we should lie down and play dead, but maybe we should spend more time considering what we can do to draw in new readers rather then spend so much time dissecting what is wrong with the industry.
Oh, and Ken, if you are out there, I don’t scare that easy. I have loved reading comics for 33 years and am not stopping anytime soon.