The Comments Thread: Busiek Tells It Like It Is

Kurt Busiek took to the comments thread of an article on The Beat yesterday to settle the score on the sexualization of women in the comics industry.

So this morning I was checking out an article on The Beat, and as usual proceeded into the belly of the beast, a.k.a. the comments section, to see what great things people men had to say on the subject of the sexualization of men vs. women in comics. The post had used a few pictures to highlight what it looks like when men are sexualized.

It started out as expected, with commenters wondering just what sort of problem women could possibly have with this unequal and oftentimes inappropriate representation. It must have something to do with our self-esteem! Continue reading “The Comments Thread: Busiek Tells It Like It Is”

WTF? Wednesday: Girl Gone Wild

Kissing is the path to ruin.

As every smart parent knows, the best way to keep kids from becoming sexually active is to treat their feelings as something dirty, destructive and unmentionable. This is particularly true when you are raising daughters, because society does not go far enough in enforcing a double standard for males and females. Girls, nothing is more important than maintaining a good reputation! Take it from “First Kiss,” the cautionary tale from Falling In Love #118:

Your first boyfriend … Your first date … And your first kiss! And suddenly that one kiss leads to another and another and another … until you finally have to ask yourself: “Am I still worthy of love?” Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Girl Gone Wild”

WTF? Wednesday: ‘Full Hands, Empty Heart’

Happy endings? Sorry. Those are only for same-race couples.

Young Romance #194 (DC Comics, 1973) totally ruined my usual ritual of finding a histrionic romance comic story and mocking it from start to finish. Not that “Full Hands, Empty Heart,” the story about the thwarted love of an African-American nurse and a white doctor, doesn’t have its ridiculous parts. However, I found myself having sincere feelings after reading it. That’s not how WTF? Wednesday is supposed to work! Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: ‘Full Hands, Empty Heart’”

WTF? Wednesday: Miss Peeping Tom

Insults. Shaming. Physical intimidation. Ah, love.

Confused about whether someone’s really into you? Look for these three signs: Verbal bullying, shaming and physical intimidation. As the Young Romance #193 (1973) gem “Miss Peeping Tom!” teaches us, cruelty is simply misguided passion. All it takes is a little nudge to get that man on the right track!

Tina, a lonely teen shutterbug, is bold enough to take photos of unsuspecting couples in broad daylight while they’re making out, but too timid to talk to boys. Her best friend, Wendy, tries to school her with sage observations about the opposite sex: “Any girl can cut (guys) down to half their size by making them bend over to kiss her! And the only way to do that is to get real close to them!” Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Miss Peeping Tom”

WTF? Wednesday: ‘That Strange Girl’

Climb into that heteronormative box, kids.

When you’re a gay teen in a heteronormative society, there’s nothing more reassuring than tragic portrayals of homosexual people and being told, “You can be fixed!” In 1974, Young Romance #197 flirted with this subject with all the finesse you’d expect from a story titled “That Strange Girl.” They really called it that. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: ‘That Strange Girl’”

WTF? Wednesday: Cruel to Be Kind

All the sexist body-shaming one comic can possibly deliver.

When it comes to receiving soul-crushing messages about weight, most women are pretty well covered, thanks. But in 1979, Charlton Comics decided that some of us weren’t paying attention. Described as the low-rent district of comics publishing, Charlton packed so much sexist, body-shaming hostility into a single story in Secret Romance #44 that it made even the most regressive women’s magazine look like Ms.

The story’s title is simply: “Fat!” Yes, with an exclamation point. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Cruel to Be Kind”

WTF? Hall of Fame: Archie and Betty’s Motel Scandal

Remember that time Archie and Betty checked into a motel cabin far from Riverdale, shed their clothes and spent a memorable night together in front of a crackling fire? And then Betty’s dad showed up in a rage just as Archie was putting his clothes back on, subjecting them to a lengthy diatribe about values and his daughter’s compromised honor? No? Then you’ve clearly missed the best story ever printed in an Archie comic. Continue reading “WTF? Hall of Fame: Archie and Betty’s Motel Scandal”

BatWondy Nation Weeps

Erika’s BatWondy dreams are smashed to blue and red bits.

BatWondy fans everywhere — OK, maybe just me — were brokenhearted today when DC announced that Superman and Wonder Woman are officially an item. Justice League writer Geoff Johns described it as “the new status quo,” and Jim Lee’s cover for issue #12 suggests that Wondy keeps a toothbrush at the Fortress of Solitude.

I hate everything about this idea. Aside from being predictable and bland, it dashes any hope, at least for now, that Batman and Wonder Woman will rekindle the romance that stirred so many hearts just a few short years ago. Continue reading “BatWondy Nation Weeps”

WTF? Wednesday: Snow’s Ugly Lecture

Fables character Mrs. Spratt (as in wife of Jack) is easy to hate. She’s spiteful and seems to delight in saying awful things to vulnerable people, which sucks considering that she’s a nurse. Those deplorable characteristics were evident in issue #100 during the birth of Beauty and Sheriff Beast’s child. She coldly dismissed Beast’s concerns after Beauty went into a difficult labor, and she then pelted him with insults when he suggested that the Fabletown physician, Dr. Swineheart, was not on point. Since Beast goes into furry and fanged mode when he’s mad, old girl is very lucky that she wasn’t mauled. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Snow’s Ugly Lecture”

WTF? Wednesday: Punishing Diana

In the world of many superheroes, killing a villain is verboten. Theoretically, doing so would undermine their moral authority and blur the line between angels and demons — even if the target is a cold-blooded murderer with no remorse and a high recidivism rate. Better to break a few of the bad guy’s bones and ship him or her off to the nearest prison or high-security facility for sociopaths. Right? Not always. Sometimes a character does something so heinous and/or is such a threat to society that a hero is justified in choosing the nuclear option. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Punishing Diana”

WTF? Wednesday: Justice Served Cold – Or Toasted!

Borrowed from the Aquaman Shrine

For many a geek, food ads featuring superheroes were integral to the childhood comic-reading experience. In between scenes of Wonder Woman whupping Nazis, you’d see spots for Hostess fruit pies — usually illustrated as nicely as the main story itself — starring Justice League members. Those ads are considered retro comedy gold now, but my 8-year-old self rather enjoyed them. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Justice Served Cold – Or Toasted!”

WTF? Wednesday: Longsuffering Sue

Saying that Sue Storm has come a long way since the pre-feminist era is like saying Joan Rivers has had a little work done. While the portrayal of female characters was sketchy across the board in decades past, Sue was practically her own category. We know her today as an incredibly powerful heroine, a leader, and the most impressive working mom in comics, but the road to respect was paved with a whole lot of insults and condescension. The source was usually her husband, Reed Richards. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Longsuffering Sue”

WTF? Wednesday: Lois Goes Black, Manages to Go Back

Before I start making fun of Lois Lane’s attempts to understand the plight of my people in the early 1970s, I’ll say this much: A silly as Lois Lane #106 looks now, it was probably quite a powerful comic book when it first published, and I say it’s better to address racism awkwardly than not at all. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Lois Goes Black, Manages to Go Back”

Fast Times at Riverdale High

I hadn’t intended to write about anything Archie-related again so soon, but when my friend Craig sent me this link, well, it had to happen. Canadian sketch comedy group The Cross Eyed Bear, with the help of donors from the Vancouver film industry, put together a brilliant, live-action movie trailer that imagines the Archie gang as live fast, die young types. Imagine Less than Zero plus Skins plus Archie’s Digest, and you’ve got the R-rated parody gem simply titled Riverdale. Reggie does coke, Jughead reveals his crush on Archie with disastrous results, and Moose is in a murderous rage over a Midge-Chuck hookup. It’s as genius as it is disturbing. You’ll never look at Dilton quite the same way again. I would totally pay money to see this fully-realized movie.

WTF? Wednesday: Three’s Company

If a picture says a thousand words, the World’s Finest covers of yore are entire novels. Faulkner novels. As in, engrossing and deeply troubling.  While this storied title was innocent, action-packed fun for generations of comic book-loving kids, things look very different when viewed from an adult perspective. It’s like when you look at H.R. Pufnstuf clips on YouTube and realize that it’s one big LSD endorsement. Continue reading “WTF? Wednesday: Three’s Company”