Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm glad you like your ice cream, but leave me to my damn pie!

I just have to vent for a little, so please, if you're expecting coherence or rationality or fairness, please don't continue reading.

It really really really annoys me when someone looks over at the sexism-in-comics debate and goes "Why the hell are you reading superhero comics anyway? Manga/Indy comics are so much better!"

Okay, I'm not going to waste time arguing about how I think most manga (or indy comics) are equally, if differently, as sexist as most superhero comics. Some better, some worse. That's not really the point of this post. Even assuming for one moment that manga IS the bastion of fair, balanced, and satisfying gender treatment that the argument posits it is.

Honestly, I've read manga religiously for about ten years. I've read it in English. I've read it in Japanese. (My Japanese kind of sucks for any practical usage, but I can usually get by for comics. I have a number of nice dictionaries to help me too.) I've got a fairly good idea of the variety available. But when it comes down to it. I much prefer American superhero comics. It's just what I like.

Some of it's a stylistic thing. Some of it's that I like the sense of history (few manga series extend past a few decades. Though some exist). I like continuity porn. I like the shared universe aspect. I like the prevalence of lead characters over the age of 25 or *gasp* even 30! I like a lot of the stuff that I list right here.

In the end, the part that is frustrating the most is that it kind of feels like this is happening:

"Why the heck is my apple pie so bitter? It would be better with a little more sugar!"

And being answered with:

"Why the hell are you eating apple pie?! You should be eating ice cream if you want something sweet!"

Which, okay, maybe in this case the ice cream is sweeter. Maybe it's not. But you know what? If I wanted ice cream, I'd have ordered ice cream!

I want pie. Fruit, pastry, baked, with that nice flaky crust. If the pie is not to my taste, I'm going to complain. Maybe I'll get results. Maybe I won't. But I'm definitely not going to solve my pie craving by ordering ice cream. Not unless that ice cream happens to have fruit, pastry, be baked, with a nice flaky crust, oh and also happens to not be cold, melty, creamy or largely a dairy product.

You can be as pessimistic as you like about me ultimately getting the pie that is sweet enough (but not too sweet!) for my taste. You can prefer the pie more bitter. You can be worried that my protestations will lead to a pie too sugary sweet for any of us. You can laugh that when, finally having gotten a pie sweetened enough for my taste, I start complaining about the temperature. You can hate apple pie all you want and tell me so. Fine. Whatever.

But don't tell me that I'd be much happier eating ice cream. I wouldn't. It's not apple pie. I'm glad you like your ice cream, I'm sure it's delicious. It's just not what I want to eat. You go ahead and be happy with your dessert and leave me to mine.

Same thing with superhero comics. I'm glad you're happy with manga. I'm not. That's not what I'm looking for. It's not what I want. Please respect that. Thank you.

(Edited to Add: If this post looks as though I've written it before, you're probably right. Rants are sometimes repetitive. And one can't be original all the time. :-))


  • At August 20, 2007 9:44 AM, Blogger Jaap said…

    You can be as pessimistic as you like about me ultimately getting the pie that is sweet enough (but not too sweet!)

    Not too sweet? Should I take this comment that you want women's rights and lack of sexism in your comics, but NOT TOO MANY women's rights and not TOO LITTLE of sexism in your comics?

  • At August 20, 2007 9:50 AM, Blogger iamza said…

    Thank you! This is exactly what I've wanted to say at times, and is also far more eloquent than anything I could come up with.

  • At August 20, 2007 11:05 AM, Blogger SallyP said…


    Ok, I got that out of my system. And yes, we've probably touched on this before, and will no doubt touch on it again. It's like the tired old "if you don't like whatever, then write write your own comics!"

    Well duh! I would if I could, but I can't, so that is really a stupid thing to say. And so on and so forth.

  • At August 20, 2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Have you ever considered taking your own advice? That maybe some peoples Idea of pie is cheesecake? Tha perhaps some of us are sick of hearing people trying to tak out of our pie the very ingredients we enjoy, such as bueatiful women in skimpy outfits kicking ass? That perhaps some of us like seeing strong males saving strong women?

    Im glad you like ice cream, but could you stop bitching about our pie?

  • At August 20, 2007 2:51 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Jaap: You can take it as meaning that I want female friendly pie but not necessarily female-specific pie.

    :-) Basically I want explosions with my romance.

    anon: Except cheesecake isn't apple pie. It's cheesecake. You don't see me bitching about the portrayal of women in Tarot, do you?

    And if you look at most of the gratuitous elements women tend to complain about, they're not inherent to the superhero genre.

    While no one's saying that comic-code era comics WEREN'T sexist, the levels of outright gratuitous objectification wasn't there. That's a relatively new element. I'm not saying comics were right in having the code, mind you, I'd rather err on the side against censorship.

    But it does tend to indicate that a lot of what we complain about isn't necessary to the superhero genre, and the superhero genre had survived for decades without it. So toning it down a little, from publishers who ARE courting female readers, is hardly going to ruin the dessert.

    Besides, if you actually look around this blog or others, you'd see that a great many feminists, myself included, see nothing wrong with strong men saving strong women.

    We just would perhaps like to see the strong women get to return the favor sometimes.

  • At August 20, 2007 6:31 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…


    I'm tired of hearing the "well go read something else". Esp when it comes to Superheroes, who have an iconic feel to them. I dun wanna read about the adventures of Ultimate Man or something. I wanna read about SUPERMAN!

    And if a lot of ppl complain about the service and the way a restaurant treats it's clientelle, that's.. capitalism isn't it? They dun buy stuff they dun like. We drop books we hate. :\ I dun see the problem XD

    I hate this thing of "either stay and dun complain or leave and abandon what you love".

    Isn't that the same as if a woman enters a management career and faces harrassment and then is told when they complain "oh why dun you try clothing retail! it'll be much better for you"

  • At August 20, 2007 8:28 PM, Blogger Captain Infinity said…

    I just want to get one thing straight...where exactly is the pie?

  • At August 20, 2007 10:54 PM, Blogger GiantKillerMantis said…

    When they respond that way, they aren't interested in having an honest interaction, they just want to sell you on whatever they're into.

  • At August 21, 2007 5:24 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    No pie for you! All for me! You can have ca...NO! CAKE FOR ME! ALL FOR ME! You can have flan!

  • At August 21, 2007 9:45 AM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    I think anytime we enter the "arena of ideas", it's reasonable to expect some push-back from people who either disagree or get tired of the repetition. In other words, if we post opinions on blogs, we shouldn't be too ruffled when those opinions aren't received with the reactions we'd prefer.

    I'm not saying "don't bother" or "keep your opinions to yourself", but at the same time, I find it a little puzzling that opinion makers try to put constraints on reactions to those opinions.

  • At August 21, 2007 12:36 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Oh, NOT flan! Anything but flan!

  • At August 21, 2007 4:22 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Mark, I think there's a noted difference between trying to constrain someone else's reaction and expressing one's frustration with said reaction.

    In other words, you have every right to react to my post how you like, but I have the equal right to react to your reaction. :-)

  • At August 21, 2007 5:06 PM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    This is why G-d invented Apple Pie a la Mode.

    DC is like a restaurant that will serve you apple pie, and will serve you ice cream, but will not scoop the sweet ice cream onto the pie because it is not listed on the menu.

  • At August 22, 2007 11:52 AM, Blogger The Dane said…

    What I find intriguing is the idea that Big 2, manga, and indie comics are inherently different at all? Honestly speaking, it's all pie. Whether you're reading Yotsuba&! or Bone or Age of Bronze or Fables or Akira or Winter Soldier or Green Lantern, when it comes down to it, you're just reading stories with a fistful of shared elements and themes.

    I always find the manga/indie/superhero division amusing because it's really just comics.

    You'll find sexism/racism/whatever-ism-conscious creators in every nook and cranny of comics. You'll also find ignorance in those same nooks. No source (whether manga or Big 2 or indie) is inherently better than another source. In fact, no source has an inherent flavour. I think this is a problem with your apple pie vs. ice cream analogy. Not only are all comics pies, but they're all apple pies.

    But just like apple pies, each individual pie uses a slightly different recipes and so each one will taste a little different: that's why Captain America and Batman, while both Big 2 books featuring superheros, taste entirely different.

    I think the "Why the hell are you reading superhero comics instead of manga/indie?" question is dumb too - but I don't think your solution gets at the real answer.


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