Friday, May 19, 2006

When you Speak Up...

So I come home from work today and immediately Chris IMs me and asks "Do you read Conan?"

I answer in the negative, so he starts in about the lettercolumn. According to Barbarian-Fan Supreme Chris Sims, the entire lettercol to Conan the Libertarian Barbarian #28 was about rape.

Specifically that used during the origin of Janissa the Widowmaker.

Now this puzzled him since that story was over a year ago. What could have brought this story to mind?

I couldn't answer him for sure. I'd only just heard of Janissa the Widowmaker a scant two months ago when I listened to Show #20 of I Read Comics, which happens to feature a hell of a rant on Janissa's origin story, about twenty minutes in.

I guess I wasn't the only one listening.

Way to go, LT!


  1. I was literally sick to my stomach after reading that Conan issue.

    Horrific doesn't roll across my lips often but the brutality depicted in that issue just made me want to vomit.

  2. I personally didn't mind her origin. What I did mind was that she was only in the story for a very short while compared to the progress made in the comic.

    My viewpoint and love of the comic is based more on how well it adepts Howards work and expands upon it. Work back then wasn't as PC as stuff now, and I personally hold the idea that we have become overly sensitive to being PC (but that's not to say being PC is a bad thing). I just think it is pointless to apply a 2000 view of content to stories written in the 1920s-30s.

    The letter column recently was all about rape, yes, but it wasn't specifically targeting the original Janissa story. After those issues came out there was one letter in particular that was published that slammed the idea and the comic for having it (and commenting on male raping male and how it is inequally applied). The recent letter column was a bunch of letters in response to that original letter for the most part. Various opinions on the subject's aftermath.

  3. Devon -- Sounds much worse than Iimaged.

    Centurion -- *Shrug* Chris only mentioned responses to a story that happened a year ago. Again, I'm not a Conan fan (and I haven't been to the LCS to look at that lettercol yet!)

    Yes, it's pointless to apply 2000 sensibilities to a 1920s work, but I'm sorry, when adapting a piece of work for a modern audience you have to adapt it accounting for modern sensibilities.

  4. I'm the (new) assistant editor of Conan; I'm also the only female member of the book's creative team. Part of my job involves editing letters columns, and in that capacity, I've been privy to much of the dialogue surrounding Janissa and the issue of rape in comics (although the issue in question came out before I started at DH). This is an issue I feel very strongly about: I've spent years working with survivors of sexual violence as a volunteer advocate and community educator.

    In this light, and in light of the overwhelming volume of response we've received (both positive and negative) regarding Janissa's rape, Scott Allie (the series editor) is letting me take over the letters colum of Conan #39 to address the issue directly (and also to give a shout-out for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, since the issue is coming out in April). We're also going to be running a letter from Tom Yeates, who was the layout artist at the time.