Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Wizard is now WYSIWIG, Okay!

I haven't really posted a reaction to the whole Wizard as Men's Magazine issue yet, and I've probably been remiss in neglecting to, since I know everyone wants to know my opinion. :-)

Hey, you are here, after all. :-)

Honestly, a part of me thinks I should be bothered by this, but in all honesty, I'm really not.

I know that it should be a big deal to me that the most prominent print comics magazine is officially declaring itself to be primarily for the opposite gender, implicitly excluding me from its prospective readers.

Maybe because it's so soon after that whole Newsarama Bendis interview thing (A nice critique showcasing some of the more offensive points.), but honestly, I'm perfectly fine with it.

See, the Newsarama thing upset me a lot, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. (I am however a little too chickenshit to call them on it too overtly until two weeks after the fact, but I own my flaws.) The thing about Newsarama is that while its perceived flaws are fairly well-documented, particularly in its specific focus on the Big Two, and the lack of hard criticism of the same, I had never really counted sexism among the flaws.

I mean, sure, you're going to find morons posting on the forums, and yes I'm making a blanket judgment there. There are a lot of smart people who do the forum/message board thing, but there are also a lot of outright idiots, which is true of blogs as well I suppose, but I know where to find/avoid them. (In as much as WFA lets me, but then again, it's common knowledge that Ragnell does the real work there. :-))

I'd always thought though that the interviewing staff, while not necessarily sharing feminist concerns, were usually fairly decent at allowing the professionals to speak for themselves about any of the controversies du jour. I don't mind reading leading questions or even statements that indicate that the interviewer doesn't share that particular concern, but the over-simplification and dismissal in that particular interview really got to me.

Really, it's because Newsarama's staff have always been so nice and supportive of the Blog@Newsarama folks, at least for as long as I've been there. B@N, I don't know if you've noticed, tends to do a lot more coverage of feminist issues and usually with an overt pro-feminist bent, this does not even address how often B@N posters address the issues on their own blogs. So seeing such a blatant dismissal of any and all feminist concerns felt a little bit like a slap in the face. "Yeah, we're glad you're here, but we think you're stupid and overreactionary."

Gee. Thanks.

The realist in me knows that such a statement was probably not intended by the interviewer, but my gut reaction was shocked and offended. Irrationally so? Probably. But then gut reactions don't rely on rationality. And really, I've mostly gotten over it by this point anyway.

I bring it up though, specifically to contrast with the Wizard thing. The Newsarama incident was admittedly much smaller beans than the Wizard one. It's one interview, that's more thoughtless than malicious, I'm sure. It's certainly not like they put a huge banner at the top saying #1 Men's Comic Site.

But I didn't expect it, so it was a lot more disappointing. This Wizard thing on the other hand? Well, honestly, Wizard's been a primarily straight guys' magazine for years. Match the Rack? Heh. Now they're just being honest about it.

And I can't really knock that.

It's essentially the same reason that I'll bitch like mad about She-Hulk or Ms. Marvel cheesecake covers (or even the Heroes for Hire cover), but I've never said a word of criticism toward Witchblade, Red Sonja or Tarot. The covers for She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel do not reflect the interior contents, I believe. The tone, stories, and art are all completely different than what one would imagine from the cover. Those cheesecake images very likely scare off a significant portion of an audience who would actually like the interior issues, while the folks who buy it just for that will undoubtedly have to console themselves with just the cover.

Witchblade, though? Red Sonja? Tarot? These are all series where, well, what you see from the cover is pretty much what you're going to get. (I'm not, I want to note, equating these series in any manner except that their content is fairly clearly advertized by the covers I've seen.) Truth in advertizing and all that.

Wizard's always been a magazine that hasn't particularly appealed to me. I know some women do enjoy it, and may or may not be offended by this change. Personally though, I'm happy about it, because it means that if an interesting cover catches my eye, I can glance up to that line and consider seriously whether my curiosity is strong enough to risk severe irritation, and make my decision accordingly.

I know folks have rightly commented on some of the more negative consequences to the premiere print magazine now being explicitly male-oriented, and the difficulties inherent in fostering the contacts and resources required to make a female-oriented magazine. (Though I definitely don't think it's impossible, and it'd be damned awesome to have one!) It is annoying that the comic companies are going to keep giving exclusives and interviews to a magazine that implicitly excludes my whole gender.

But really, I'm not sure how relevant I think Wizard really is anymore. From the few issues I've flipped through, I didn't really see a whole lot of information or content that I couldn't get at Newsarama or CBR. Maybe I'd miss out on a few of the nifty previews, but generally, I didn't think the content was unique enough to keep reading. It's not like it's Comic Foundry or Sequential Tart, both of which, I think, provide content that you're rarely going to find at those places.

I don't know really. In principle, I should be angry. I certainly sympathize with all the pissed-off, insulted reactions. In practice though, I don't care that much. If Wizard wants to finally come out of the gender-neutral closet, and reveal itself as the Maxim-for-comics that it seems to want to be, I'm all for it.

It just makes me less likely to randomly pick up an issue and find myself seriously annoyed.


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