“We Don’t Want You” Or; Why I Don’t Consider Myself a Comics Fan

“We Don’t Want You” Or; Why I Don’t Consider Myself a Comics Fan

Some of the teen gods from Kieron Gillen's "The Wicked + The Divine" #4. Art by Jamie McKelvie, letters by CLayton Cowles with coloring by Matthew Wilson. When my editor asked the staff if someone could write about why they stopped reading certain types of comics, my first reaction was to ask, “Well, what if

Some of the teen gods from Kieron Gillen's "The Wicked + The Divine" #4. Art by Jamie McKelvie, letters by CLayton Cowles with coloring by Matthew Wilson.

Some of the teen gods from Kieron Gillen’s “The Wicked + The Divine” #4. Art by Jamie McKelvie, letters by CLayton Cowles with coloring by Matthew Wilson.

When my editor asked the staff if someone could write about why they stopped reading certain types of comics, my first reaction was to ask, “Well, what if I feel like I never really started?” I’ve never bought floppies, never had a pull list. Although a self-professed DC fangirl, I don’t buy comics from either of the “Big Two” of comics publishing, Marvel or DC. None of this was done consciously, but somehow I’ve become a comics fan who doesn’t read comics.

Teen Titans Go! #18 written by J. Torres with Pencils by Mike Norton and inks by Larry Stucker. The Teen Titans Go! comics had many inside jokes for readers familiar with the characters in the greater D.C. comic-verse.

Teen Titans Go! #18 written by J. Torres with Pencils by Mike Norton and inks by Larry Stucker.

The simple fact is that most comics tend to disappoint: the shock-value stories, the dramatic differences in characterization from writer to writer, and the ever-prevalent sexism, racism, and homophobia. With every fridged female character, every racist depiction, comics seem to say, “We don’t want you!” Unfortunately these themes also seem to plague the industry itself. As a consumer it seemed like an unwise idea to get emotionally and financially invested in a story that could end badly within a month’s time or get too attached to a female character who would just turn out to be a stereotype as soon as the next writer or editorial mandate came along.

Frustrated, I was ready to quit comics almost as soon as I had become interested in them. Scans Daily, however, provided proof that there were comics for everybody, including me. A community of comicbook fans across the spectrum that provided a safe space to post and intelligently criticize comics excerpts, Scans Daily taught me to ask, no, demand good writing and art of comics creators and publishers that was not racist, homophobic, or bigoted in any way.

Since then I have only bought comics that fulfill these expectations and actually own only three sets of comics: a handful of volumes of “Teen Titans Go!” based on the cartoon, the graphic novel versions of the first and second books of the Artemis Fowl sci-fi/fantasy series, and The Wicked+The Divine written by Kieron Gillen. As Artemis Fowl is an adaptation of a book series and Teen Titans Go! a spin-off of an established TV show, I felt confident that the writing would not provide any unpleasant surprises. The Wicked+The Divine, which is the only ongoing title I own, was a bit more of a risk, but after seeing lauded snippets on Scans Daily I decided to take the leap and buy the first and second volumes (I am happy to say that the series has been consistently well-written and hasn’t failed me yet).

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel. Adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Dorkin. Art by Giobanni Rigano, coloring by Paolo Lamanna.

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel. Adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Dorkin. Art by Giobanni Rigano, coloring by Paolo Lamanna.

These are the comics that I trust won’t let me down and fall prey to the many tropes that fail a female audience. Even now, the comics that I feel most drawn to, such as Faith and Jem and the Holograms, are produced by smaller publishers or creators that I keep track of and trust. However, I still can’t help but retain old suspicion that the next comic I try will turn out to rely on the same old tropes that disgust me.

So no, despite the fact that I may know and rant about the latest civil war or the newest costume change, I don’t consider myself a comics fan. I may read some of them occasionally, call myself a casual reader or an unofficial critic, but until the many issues in the industry and medium are properly addressed I can’t call myself a comics fan.

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Stephanie Tran
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