Mainstream superhero comics are aimed at guys. That’s why Starfire, a character best known for her stint as an empowering icon for girls on Saturday morning cartoons, gets turned into a voracious, literally brain-damaged, libido-driven pin-up girl when she’s translated to comics. It’s why Wonder Woman, best known as an empowering icon for girls, gets turned into an excuse for buckets of bloodshed and gun play in her most recent comics incarnation. Data is hard to come by, but best guesses seem to estimate that the readership of superhero comics is between 90 and 95 percent male.
Last week, ThinkProgress's Alyssa Rosenberg confronted a bunch of mainstream comics creators about the lopsided nature of their industry. The result was predictable, if depressing. Speaking from the stage of the Television Critics Association Press Tour in support of the superhero comics documentary Superheroes: The Never-Ending Battle, some of the most celebrated and influential creators in comics dutifully ran through a list of the shoddiest and silliest excuses for their genre’s consistent misogyny and myopia. Executive producer Michael Cantor, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, The Punisher creator Gerry Conway, and Wolverine creator Len Wein replayed the greatest hits from irate comments sections the web over. “As much as we stereotype the women, we do it with the guys” (McFarlane). “There’s nothing stopping the people that want to do [comics about girls] from doing it,” (McFarlane). “It’s like saying, ‘Why are there no medieval stories about female knights?’ Because there was only one, you know, Joan of Arc. It’s not it’s an inherent limitation of that particular genre, superheroes” (Conway). Et cetera, et cetera.
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