By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Intended to harm: In your August 17 story on Bill Price ("Sins of a Preacher Man"), you mentioned him "outing" me on television in 1985. For the record, I'd like it to be clear that I chose to allow that show to be aired. I realized it was time for me to get past my considerable fear and take ownership of my own identity. While it was his intention to harm me, Price inadvertently gave me the freedom to be who I am and to advocate fully for my vision of women's reproductive freedom. Though it didn't seem like a gift at the time, I did later have an opportunity to thank him. Ironically, my being out gave many others the courage to define themselves honestly as well.
Beyond the "he said, they said" of Price and his board, perhaps these events will free him to fully live his vision.
Comic Tragedy: I just don't get Wilonsky: I have been tempted to write two other times in the past couple of months--both times concerning Robert Wilonsky's articles on the comic book industry. I just don't get this guy. Or rather, I don't understand why you like this guy. His reviews are always consistent and pathetic. He is simply the worst kind of journalist. He decides what he wants to write and then finds only the information needed to make his point.
In the first comic article I read, he pondered the sad state of women in comics ("Women in Refrigerators," May 18). This is not to say that there aren't issues involving the depiction of women in comics, but the information he presented was slanted with an ignorance I just don't get. He obviously likes comics, because he writes about them so often and seems to have a lot of knowledge. Why, then, would he bemoan the status of Wonder Woman in the DC Universe? Geeks will readily acknowledge that she could kick anyone's pants except Superman himself.
This was a fact that was much discussed in the Kingdom Come book he wrote his second piece about ("Revenge of the Fanboy," June 15). Women have some of the most interesting and compelling roles in many of the comics today. Promethea is an extraordinarily well-written book by Alan Moore and features an extremely powerful female lead. Gen13 is a team book whose leader is Caitlin Fairchild, again a very powerful lead character. Odd smaller titles feature characters such as Kubuki, Shi, Lady Death, and many others in very potent, if idealized, forms. Even the recently concluded DC/Vertigo title Preacher had an un-augmented female character, Tulip, holding her own against incredible odds. Indeed, at the end of the series, she was the last one standing, having killed all the bad guys her male counterparts hadn't been able to deal with. Mainstream publishers such as DC have powerful women anchoring almost every central male character or team. He talked about Batgirl's tragedy of getting shot and paralyzed. Did he mention that she went on to become Oracle, the all-knowing, all-seeing eyes and ears of the rest of the ambulatory heroes in the DC Universe? No. Did he mention that the new Batgirl can kick the pants off of Batman? No. Did he imply that the only reason women are portrayed in comics is to be victimized or sexualized? Yes.
Alex Ross, the creator of the aforementioned Kingdom Come, was portrayed as a highly negative, bitter, and cynical artist. I was surprised by the negativity. I've read many interviews with Alex Ross, and he has never come across that way before. Could it be that Wilonsky only asked the questions that would yield the answers he was looking for? Could it be that he just didn't bother to print anything but the bitches and gripes?
Now this week, geez...he goes to the San Diego Con ("Pain & Ink," August 10), and all he finds is people whining about the sad state of comics. Marvel declared bankruptcy because they were very badly managed during a period when the rest of the business world was likewise very badly managed. Marvel engaged in the same predatory practices that have totally screwed up healthcare, Wall Street, and industry. Greed is good. More for the stockholders by offering less to the consumer. It was Marvel's idiotic practices that led to the creation of Image, Homage, and all the other start-ups that triggered an insane state in which publishers would print five to seven different "collectible" issue number ones without even bothering to figure out what issues two through 10 might be. Hoards of speculators dove into the comics market looking for the Grail. This drove publishing for the reader out the window. It made sales go to totally unrealistic levels that couldn't be sustained and forced virtually every publisher to engage in stupid behaviors to drive sales up at any cost. How rare do you really think a "Death of Superman" is going to be if there are 20 million in circulation? It's like buying a rare copy of Thriller or Nevermind.
Comics are going through a hard time now if only because sanity is being restored. Collectible card games such as Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon are keeping kids and adults in the shops. These are the future consumers.
The work being created is certainly at a peak not just from the writers mentioned in the article but by Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, and many others. The creative bar is very high right now, but many people are clearing it. This is a period of stabilization after an unholy war.
Wilonsky seems dead set on just writing whatever he wants to believe.