Author: Liz Pfeiffer

Addiction, Self-injury, and Women In Comics

Trigger Warning: This post discusses drug addiction, self-injury, and other mental health issues. In September, DC landed itself in some seriously hot water when a proposal went out for artists to draw Harley Quinn naked and attempting to electrocute herself in the bathtub. The proposal, dreamed up by series writer Jimmy Palmiotti, drew quick condemnation from fans, as well as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. While that controversial episode was a failed attempt at black humour, there have been considerably more interesting attempts to portray female characters...

Read More

The Critics’ Jane Foster

I’ve liked Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster since the first Thor. In particular, a scene that still makes me laugh is when Jane accidentally puts her dirty dishes right back in the cupboard of her cramped trailer the first time Thor comes calling. It’s a cute scene, and Portman’s muttering Jane is flummoxed. In Thor 2, Jane spends about a third of the film in a weakened state. No, she doesn’t fight like Sif or Frigga. And no, she doesn’t have snarky quips like Darcy. But the other two-thirds of the film? She’s a cute, spunky science nerd who, yes, cannot fight and doesn’t have snarky quips but still puts her life on the line for an actual God. So I never really understood the hate for the character. I also never got the sense that Portman’s Jane Foster and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor didn’t have chemistry nor that Portman had wooden acting. But maybe it’s just a personal opinion. Since the advent of the “strong, female character,” female characters who cannot fight or are perceived as being weaker have usually been derisively ignored or outright hated by fans and critics alike. Take Skyler White: for all intents and purposes, she is a complex female character, but one who has had many weak moments. And yet, despite the need for complex female characters in any medium, Skyler White was utterly loathed...

Read More

Interview with Jeremy Whitley of Princeless

When I initially describe Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless (Action Lab Comics) to people, I explain it as if we got to continue seeing the adventures of Princess Elizabeth from Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess. That story, published in 1980, was quite a feminist gold standard for the time: the young princess rescues her prince, and then when he tells her that she needs to be more feminine, she tells him he’s not that nice after all and goes off on her own. With Princeless‘s main protagonist, Princess Adrienne, we meet a young princess who has been locked away in a tower by her parents and is being guarded by a dragon. Her father wants a suitor worthy enough to slay the dragon to marry her. But Adrienne finds a sword under her bed and, with the help of her female pet dragon, Sparky, she escapes the tower and sets off to save her seven sisters, all of whom are also locked in separate towers. On her way, she meets the first-ever girl blacksmith, a half-dwarf half-human named Bedalia. We then get a scene that so simply and concisely explains the double standard of the problem of the sexy female warrior and the strong male warrior that one might wonder how this book didn’t come out before 2012. Princeless, also illustrated by M. Goodwin, was named the Best Limited Series...

Read More

Interview with Janelle Asselin

Getting There The former DC editor talks getting more women into comics: not just reading, but writing and editing them, too. Elisabeth Pfeiffer  By this point, Janelle Asselin should be a recognizeable name if you’re into comics at all. The former DC Comics editor, now a children’s magazine editor with Disney, took on the perceptions that mainstream comic publishers seem to hold as truth: that women just don’t read comics and a majority of women won’t read comics. In her thesis, she looked at the role of content, perceptions of gender, and the role of marketing in what draws and repels women to and from comics – all of which can be found at ladydrawers.wordpress.com Ms. Asselin, who started at DC Comics in 2008 and left for Disney in September 2011, offered suggestions to comic publishers to increase those sales. She told the DCWomenKickingAss blog in a January 31, 2012 post that, “The primary conclusions I made from my research are that there are four different ways the comics industry can adjust to increase sales to an often excluded demographic that just happens – oh yeah – to make up over 50% of America. Those four ways are better marketing towards women, more inclusive content, more effective distribution, and changing the cultural preconceptions of comics.” Those might seem like really simple ideas, but whether or not comic publishers have...

Read More

Carol Appreciation: Captain Marvel roundtable

This is the fifth (and final) post in our series of Carol Appreciation posts. Also check out Megan Byrd’s review of Captain Marvel #1, Valtyr’s ode to Ultimate Carol,  Garrideb’s look at Carol and female friendship, and Damalur’s Love Letter to Carol. So I was chatting about the debut issue of Captain Marvel on Twitter, and then suddenly I was setting up a roundtable discussion. It’s kind of mysterious, really. On Saturday, Skalja (FuckYeahSpiderWife), MeganB (ComicBookCandy), Liz, Valtyr, Alisdair, Cohen (Reign In Hell), and I got together and hashed out what we liked, loved and didn’t love, about Cap...

Read More