Sunday, July 09, 2006

Benefit of the Doubt

I received a link to this in the email (along with this livejournal post), and realized that a terrible error may have occurred. See, I've seen posts like that, and there is usually a very important element that separates the good ones from the bad ones. This article was missing that element. So I emailed the article's authors to inform them of it.
Ms. Hilary Goldstein & Mr. Richard George,

I read your "Ten Books for Your Girlfriend" article, and I regret to inform you of a terrible error that was missed.

The end of the article was cut. I read through the whole thing and didn't see the punchline where you let everyone know you were kidding, that they're supposed to talk to their significant other and find out what kinds of stories they like before making recommendations. It's an awful thing to omit, because without it, people might think that you're serious.

It seems obvious to me, but apparently no one else has brought it up because here we are nearly a month later and the last paragraph is still not there. You may want to discuss this with your editor.

Thank you,
-- Lisa Fortuner
I'll be sure to inform you of any reply.


  1. For what little it's worth:

    "Ms. Hilary" is actually a "Mr. Hilary" - he's a sometime videogame reviewer at IGN.

  2. And as Lea notes, "Y: The Last Man" is the new "Strangers in Paradise".

    Gad. It's like assuming an African American friend must be introduced to comics via Black Panther or Cage... even if/when they're good, aren't you kinda doing that whole ass out of you and me bit?
    prophet king

  3. Yeah. I got my girlfriend into comics through a combination of Red Sonja (she liked the movie as a kid) and Fables (she likes Fairy Tales) and I never once thought about exposing her to either Y (which I do like) or Strangers (which I never got the appeal of).

    What the heck stereotype does she fit that her favorite characters are an ass-kicking, near-naked amazon AND Snow White? :)

  4. Ragnell: Once more, you rock my world.

  5. Mark -- Oops. See, when I saw the names I'd assumed that it was one of those well-meaning but annoying couples who figured what worked for them would certainly work for anyone else. Oh well.

    DES -- *Nod*

    Starman -- No clue. Maybe the same one as me as my favorites are pangalatic space-cops and a princess who hails from an island populated entirely by women. (I was thinking of your article when I wrote that email.)

    Elayne -- :)

    Walaka -- I'm blushing with modesty on the inside.

  6. You're awesome as always, Lisa.

    That is a stupid article, but it's IGN so I don't expect much. :)

    My girlfriend, doesn't hate comics, but she does think the over 15,000 of them I have in one of the rooms in my house is a bit much to take. She's got her things and I have mine. We can be happy even though we like different things, thats part of a relationship. I don't want to date "me".

  7. Wow. I saw that nearly a month ago and just dismissed it as stupid. I didn't even think that there might be something I could do about the stupid!

    You're my hero.


  8. To be fair, these IGN folks have picked a bunch of good books with a lot of crossover appeal. Several of my favorite titles (Sandman, Y, Blankets, Runaways) make the list, and for good reason. Getting my own girlfriend to read "Superman: For All Seasons" was like pulling teeth (though she liked the character, liked Smallville, and ultimately enjoyed the book), but she breezed through Blankets two or three times in the span of the week she had it, and has contemplated buying it every time we've gone to a bookstore since. She's a fan of Gaiman's other work, but hasn't gotten around to borrowing my Sandman books yet.

    The point being that these IGN folks have picked comics with good, accessible stories (Blankets), and intellectual value (Sandman), with some crossover appeal (Runaways and manga, f'r instance) in a collection of books to suggest to non-comics readers. I'd damn them more than a little for making the "girls just want to read about girly stuff" fallacy, but I know from my own experience that capes and tights and epic fights can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Combine that with the fanboy stereotype--which at least partially denotes superhero comics as a "boy thing," particularly a "loser boy who'll never grow up/get laid" thing--and I can't help but feel a little sympathetic for these two columnists.

    So, I agree. The best way to recommend comics to your girlfriend is to find out what she likes, and start from there. And with that in mind, this list does become useful, since it describes books from several genres with varying styles and levels of accessibility, which are good recommendations for anyone who hasn't read comics before. After all, just because someone likes sci-fi space opera doesn't mean they want to jump headfirst into Galactic Storm or Rann-Thanagar War.

    Wow, that was more like $.04, I think.

  9. Tom -- Okay, they created a list of comics with cross-over appeal. So why not title the column Ten Books to Get Someone into Reading Comics? Why does it have to be Ten Books for Your Girlfriend?

    About the column itself:
    The second and third paragraphs read like a Maxim "Sure-fire Way to Get Girls to Sleep with You!" article.

  10. you can try and get your girlfriend into comics.

    ...which will then get you into her pants! Ahahaha--get it? We rock.

    Perhaps if these guys had actually met a real woman instead of getting their info about the opposite sex from "The OC"or Maxim (good call lostinube), they could come up with a less insulting list.

    Wonder what they think of guys who aren't into comics dating girls who are? What kind of a list would they recommend? The Damned List?

  11. Everyone knows that you should recommend things like Goodbye, Chunky Rice & Power Pack to your girlfriends because those comic books are dainty and cute just like the summer dresses they wear.


  12. That list amuses me. As a matter of fact I've been trying to get a guy I know into American comics (as he only reads manga) and the only successful comics so far have been Bone, Mouse Guard and Leave It to Chance. Maybe I should try some of the other "girlfriend" books! *sigh*

    That list would have worked better as a list of books for getting anyone into comics - not just girls. As in suggestions of books that may be more accesible to the non-comic reader.

    I was really annoyed at all the specific avoidence of action/capes. I love superhero comics and I've handed plenty of women action packed superhero comics to read and they've enjoyed them too.

    ugh. It's like Ray Bradbury believing that girls don't need A Princess of Mars - I hate when people think that way.

  13. Tom -- Okay, they created a list of comics with cross-over appeal. So why not title the column Ten Books to Get Someone into Reading Comics? Why does it have to be Ten Books for Your Girlfriend?
    And that's where the sexism comes in, and I recognize that. They've left cape-and-costume superheroics off the list (with the exception of Ultra) because "girls don't like spandex adolescent boy-fantasy," and the only standard-fare superhero book on the list is one with a female protagonist, because obviously girls could only identify with a girl. The underlying assumptions here are pretty clear, and pretty wrongheaded.

    For instance, just take a look at the writers. Unless I misremember Terry Moore's gender, it's all men. Where's Gail Simone on the list? Where are Devin Grayson and Jill Thompson and Louise Simonson and Colleen Doran and the other prominent women in comics? Why is a superhero book about women written by a man (Ultra) more accessible to "your girlfriend" than a superhero book about women written by a woman (Birds of Prey, f'r instance)?

    That all being said, there is a common mindset that superhero comics (and to some degree, all comics) are all big boobs/big violence/vapid adolescent boy power fantasy, which places the whole medium in the realm of "boy stuff," an obstacle which, in my experience, makes the average non-comic-reading girl a little less apt to take a dip in the comics poll than the average non-comic-reading boy.

    It's similar to the mindset that manga is a girlie and/or kiddie thing, which leaves boys at Borders desperately trying to make clear that they're looking at Initial D and not Fruits Basket.

    So, while I recognize the sexism inherent in the authors' choices (and especially in those introductory paragraphs...eeeew), I also recognize that there's not exactly an even attitude when it comes to capes and tights. And capes-and-tights stories tend to be a little insular and topped with machismo themselves. There's a grain of truth in the assumption that "girls don't like superhero comics."

    That doesn't mean these folks aren't wrong, or at least going about the article in the wrong way. Continuity and capes can scare anyone away, not just folks with a pair of X-chromosomes. This should just be "Comics to recommend to your non-comic-reading friends," but those articles are a dime a dozen-squared, and "Comics for your Girlfriend" has a more unique twist to it, and so they took the cheap route to readership.

    So, yeah, "Ten Books for your Girlfriend" should start at home with "what does your girlfriend like?" and "what fits into those parameters without being intimidating to the uninitiated," not, as these folks suggest, "what's smart and deep and poetic, therefore girlie?" I never said I agreed with these writers, just that I understand where they're trying to come from, where they're trying to go, and how horribly they got lost along the way. Their list is decent in spite of themselves, and I just didn't want ten decent books dismissed based on the foot-in-mouth disease of two IGN columnists.

    Spencer: No, you should recommend Power Pack because it's unbridled awesome.

  14. Tom: Fair enough. As you point out, it's not a bad list but the whole idea is unfortunately very misguided. I don't think the reaction is towards the books themselves but towards the tone of the article (It's sensitive! It's about relationships! It's perfect for a girl!). Perhaps if we cut out the introduction and strike any mention of the world girlfriend and we might have an article worth discussing more in depth. As it stands it just leaves a bad taste in a lot of mouths.

  15. When listing women creators, why
    or why does everyone leave Donna
    Barr off of the list? Granted,
    she hasn't done a lot lately, but
    have you ever read Stinz or Desert
    Peach? She's the writer and the
    artist and has a truely wicked
    sense of humor.

    Oh, and if I were a guy trying to
    get my girlfriend to read comics,
    give her something like Green Lantern. Kyle has such a great