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Walking on the Edge
I don't really have a plan...
In Which We Talk Comics and Comics Merchandise
OK, before I reach the Ranty part of my post, I shall share with you the Awesomeness parts.

1. My lovely friend John K. Snyder III (he of the Sirius Black prison mug shot sketch that was donated for fundraising to Help Haiti Heal (which, btw, raised over $120,000, y'all! Three planes of medical supplies! WOO!)), has sent me his last two A-Team covers, along with a Green Lantern piece he did for a Policeman's auction in NJ (Bridgewater PBA #174 auction, running on eBay until June, with lots of contributors). I don't yet have a link to the GL eBay page, but the piece is AWESOME. *covets*

A-Team #3

A-Team #4

Green Lantern piece for charity:

2. In other comics stuff, here are some LINKS OF AWESOMENESS.

This makes me joyful:
'Deadpool' Writers On Working With Ryan Reynolds: 'If It Doesn't Feel Like Deadpool, He Catches It'

It's rare that I love a Deadpool fan thing so much that I go, "Dude, that's so fun and awesome, I wish I had done it myself." But this is one of those times:
Laundry Day for Lady Deadpool

Favorite Deadpool artist Ed McGuinness's DeviantArt page:

All the Deadpool variant covors for Feb.

Especially this one:

Deadpool takes out Edward Cullen:
And it is twistedly hilarious.

What makes Harley Quinn fall in love with you (hee!):
Oh, Mr. 'Pool!

Super 'Emo' Friends crack me up. THEY ARE SO SAAAAD. AW.:
Sad Green Lantern: "My Favorite Color is Yellow" (AW)

This...could be interesting?
A Stark Take on Noir - Writer Talks Iron Man Noir

Oh, relationships. Why you so complicated?
X-Position: Peter David

Justin Hartley Interview (squee!):
Smallville's Green Arrow Takes Aim at Dark Archer, JSA

Collection of "I'm the goddamn Batman" images, hee.
"And don't you forget it!"

This one makes me laugh way too much:
Oh, Superman.

I do love XKCD, and the original comic of this, and this song version. I LOVE IT LIEK WHOA:
The "I Love XKCD" comic video

And the "I Love XKCD" Live-action video with Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton, Cory Doctorow, the Nielsen-Haydens, and more

Yes I know this is a couple of weeks old, whatever. :)
Jackie Earle Haley's Comics-Fueled Comeback

</ awesomeness>



So. On to the thing that is annoying me a lot today: Marvel merchandise for women (or lack thereof), and the EPIC!FAIL I am seeing in their current selection. In general, after perusing their site, what I have to say is: MARVEL. GIVE WOMEN SOME COOL, NON-INSULTING MERCHANDISE, PLEASE. PLEASE?

More specifically, a couple of tips:

1) We like some of the same stuff as guys. For instance, unisex t-shirt designs modified for women (e.g. putting it on a womens' cut shirt and putting the main design for the front up top so it doesn't get distorted by falling under our chests (Yes! We know we have chests! DEAL WITH IT)) are totally cool with us. Other cool unisex stuff includes hats or the like: make more hats that could work for both men and women! Hoodies! Etc.

2) If you DO do products specifically for women (and we do welcome them, if they are done properly!) then before starting any design for any of these products, please keep something in mind: We are comic book geek women. Yes, indeed, Marvel! The whole reason we are on your site looking for comic book merchandise is because we love comics! It's not because we are suddenly craving sparkly lip gloss and think the Marvel store is the best place to get it. NO. WE HAVE SEPHORA FOR THAT, THANKS. I can't speak for the entire world, here, but not only would I, a comics lover, never buy that lip gloss (and I have seen SEVERAL enraged women hating on it elsewhere), but I am actually offended by it. When did womens' roles regress to the 50's, Marvel? Why does this lip gloss not appeal to our geek sides in a more progressive way than, "ooh, look, one of the random girlfriends of (superhero) kissing (superhero)". I mean, AT LEAST put one of your FEMALE superheroes on there kissing someone if that's what you're going to go with. Otherwise, the message you are sending is, "women should buy this if they want to kiss a superhero!" (if such things actually existed) instead of "women who buy this ARE superhero(ines)!" I mean, COME ON, MARVEL. THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE. CONSIDER THE MESSAGE BEFORE YOU MARKET.

Now, let's talk specifics. Here are some things I am particularly nonplussed or offended by, and some ideas for things I would ACTUALLY buy and/or not be offended by if they were offered by Marvel.

1. T-shirts:

What not to do:


I have no problem with this concept, but you know something, people? Those are not girls. They are WOMEN. Yes, in fact, grown women. Try to get the vocab right before you put it up for sale, k?

No. NO. Just...no.

Seriously? Do you have mens' shirts out there that say "I only date superheroines"? I didn't see any. So...why is this the message you think women want to send out? I mean, yes, the idea is cutesy, and not entirely bad - in that yes, I love Marvel superheroes, and might want a t-shirt proclaiming that fact. BUT. There's...nothing else. That's all I get, as a woman. Here's an example of an alternate shirt that I actually made myself and love: a Deadpool symbol shirt that says "DP Inc." on the front pocket area. Because I'd much rather wear a shirt indicating that I think being a member of Deadpool, Inc. would be awesome than one saying, "I like to date hunky guys, yo." Hey, maybe that's just me. But I don't think so.

What to do:

HEY MARVEL? Put this design on a women's cut t-shirt and I GUARANTEE you will have takers. Because it is awesome. And it's canon. Matt Fraction is writing Pepper Potts in an Iron (Wo)man suit RIGHT NOW. Get on this, Marvel.

Hey look: this one is completely adaptable, too. Just put it on a womens' cut shirt. WHAM. New product women might buy.

Oh hey, look at this. Any logo shirt like this would work FINE on a womens' shirt and be awesome.

2. Makeup and accessories:

Makeup - come on, guys. Don't give us this "random girl kissing a Marvel superhero" junk. Give us something quirky, or empowering. Superheroines wearing the lipstick while they kick butt (OR get the guy. But we want to be the superheroines. Got it?) Quirky names punning on stuff from the comics or on being a superheroine ("For the Fight Foundation," "Badass Blush" WHATEVER). Anything! Just...make it more awesome.

Jewelry - Hi, I would like some superhero/ine symbol earrings and jewelry, plsthx. Get on that. I will BUY IT. And don't limit it to cheap-looking trinkets that might be sported only by the 16-year-old overaccessorized crowd (not to insult them - I was once one of them). Make some nice stuff. We'll buy it. REALLY.

Bags - dude, if you guys made a Spider-man/girl mask purse? I would use it proudly. Take a hint from what people are making on their own because you aren't offering it. Please think creatively about stuff like this. Think cool, think punk, think savvy and even upscale sometimes. Even, say, a simple black messenger bag of the style used by gals, with a tastefully placed symbol (Deadpool! Captain America! X-Men! Spider-man/girl!). Hell, think freakin' designer stuff if you need to. Just get your heads away from the idea that you're limited in design and make some awesome stuff we want to use.

3. Costumes:

Captain America, Skank Edition! WHY IS THIS NECESSARY? There is no female Captain America, but there ARE several other female superheroes in the Marvel pantheon. Why, instead of giving us faithful costumes for THOSE women, did Marvel go to the trouble of designing this thing? And then putting it on a woman who's chest is at least 1 size too big for it in the photo. HI, EXCESS CLEAVAGE. I love how they call it "Sassy," too. It's the exact equivalent of the Ho Costumes you see on Halloween sites every year ("Sexy Pirate Wench!" "Sexy Indian Princess!") except here, of course, it's "Sassy." MARVEL, I AM LOLING AT YOU RIGHT NOW. AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY.

We can follow this up with: Kinky Spider-Woman!. Um. WHAT is this? It's not Spider-woman who is a) an actual Marvel superhero; b) very sexy, if that's what they're going for; and c) blessed with awesome little web wings on her arms, reminiscent of the original Spider-man costume. Instead it's some "Sassy" version of Spider-man. With a collar. Yeah.

And can we not forget the Spider-girl costume? GUYS. NOT ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS LOVE PINK. I actually pretty much prefer it least of all colors, and wear it VERY infrequently. Honestly, although I'm *not* a big costumer, if I was going to get a costume, given the choice of a pink costume, original Spider-man, and symbiote Spider-man, I'd choose symbiote. BECAUSE I LIKE WEARING BLACK. I know, I know. Hard to believe, but there it is. And hey? When I was a kid? I HATED pink. WITH A PASSION (I've mellowed with age). Just FYI.

--> How to fix this stupidity: Get some ACTUAL Marvel superheroine costumes up there. I realize this won't always necessarily mitigate the ho factor (because comics are still notoriously objectifying towards women, so some of the female costumes are just LIKE THAT), but a) at least they'll be authentic; and b) some of them are JUST REALLY COOL. Not to mention that the ho factor can be modified so it's not overwhelming even on characters who sport skin-tight costumes. Off the top of my head, I can list a number of superheroines Marvel could do costumes for.

Here are some I could see (bearing in mind that I realize a lot of these are still big on the ho factor. But at least they'd be authentic. And they could be toned down easily for real life):

- Boom Boom (love the shades and the gloves)
- Diamondback (the RIGHT way to do pink)
- Domino - She's badass and could be done tastefully.
- Elektra - Yeah, the ho factor is high with this one. But I'm not saying you can NEVER offer a sexy costume. Just go with a selection from the many options actually in existence in canon.
- Jean Grey - I freakin' love her old-school little '60s dress and yellow boots.
- Jubilee - Jubilee has that rare costume, a female ensemble that is both completely recognizable and not slutty. LOVE.
- Nico Minoru - for all the goth gals out there! She has STYLE.
- Rogue - when she's got her coat.
- Storm - the wing-cape thing is awesome. And she has a tiara! In which she stores a set of lockpicks! She's a goddess! Come on!

And here are some that could specifically be designed for girls (bearing in mind that I'm talking tastefully again. No young hos, k?).

- Spider-girl - yes, there's an ACTUAL Spider-girl. Work with us, here.
- Squirrel Girl - Come on, she's adorable. AND she's kicked Doctor Doom's scary butt. Even Deadpool's kinda intimidated by her. Go her!
- Thor Girl - yes, there actually is one. Why not go with it?
- Wasp - She has WINGS. Girls will go for wings.


OK. So I, in less than an hour, have come up with several designs that I, a woman who loves Marvel comics, would like to see, and would spend money on. I have thought up specific examples of merch I would like. And I am SURE there are a lot of women out there who would be with me on this.

So, the two questions I have for Marvel now are:

1) If I could do this in under an hour, how come your wealthy, successful company hasn't been able to do it yet? and

2) When are we women and girls going to see a change in attitude toward your female fanbase around there? Because you know? It will only profit you to make that change.

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Trixie feels: frustrated frustrated

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(Deleted comment)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC) (current file)
They are SERIOUSLY losing out on a lot of money, 'cause guess what? That silly stereotype about women loving to shop? Might be true. Why wouldn't a company want to cash in on that??

THIS IS WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND. It's a big enough market that they should really LEAP ON IT. Not to mention in areas like the t-shirts and stuff, for most of it they wouldn't even have to change things much. Sure, I want new designs, but along with that they can slap some of their old designs that work with the female frame onto womens' shirts. Voila!

I haven't posted about Her-Oes, although I've seen it discussed. I'm kind of divided - on the one hand, I got into comics originally through TV and movies (old live-action Superman, X-Men animated, TNMT, Batman Animated, etc. etc.) and then on paper was drawn in by Deadpool and Runaways and the like. So I don't really feel like it's necessary to have a group of female characters just to draw in female readers. We can be drawn in by all sorts of things. For me, one of the main things (for paper comics at least) was humor. So if a book has humor I like I'm there, whether the characters are female or male. ON THE OTHER HAND, anything they do (properly) to create or enhance strong, realistic female characters in the comics industry is ok by me. From the one article I read, it sounds like the writer has a good grasp of what she wants to do and is treating it as a "trying to be realistic about girls in HS" kind of thing. So...it could be a really good series, you know? I don't know (since I haven't read her other stuff AFAIK).

So...the way I see it, this is a big big world and there's room for anything from Sandman and Stark to high school girls learning to control their powers, so new readers could end up reading both. I feel like the comics industry is *just* starting to actually realize that and try to explore some new territory, and if the result is more awesome comics of any sort that are worthy and draw in readers, then it sounds good to me.
maisontv From: maisontv Date: February 9th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC) (current file)
I ♥ this post. I am very intrigued by Iron Man Noir. I'm a big fan of film noir so it'll be interesting to see how they adapt to fit into the genre. And Ryan Reynolds having a lot of creative control in the Deadpool movie is massively reassuring to me.

I completely agree with your rant about the lack of merch appropriately geared towards women. I would totally buy a female-cut shirt with the Stark Industries logo on it. And I would buy EVERY SINGLE MOLLY HAYES HAT if they made them.

The problem is that they're not marketing to women who love comic books. They're marketing to women with boyfriends who love comic books. They're marketing what male comic book fans think is sexy, which includes a statuette of Mary Jane doing her husband's laundry in a thong.

Sadly, the comics community is still pretty sexist. When scans_daily went down, the other defense of the comm that was coming up (other than it got people to read titles they otherwise wouldn't have) was that the women who posted there felt like they were taken seriously and respected as members of the community with valid opinions.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 05:39 am (UTC) (current file)
The problem is that they're not marketing to women who love comic books. They're marketing to women with boyfriends who love comic books. They're marketing what male comic book fans think is sexy, which includes a statuette of Mary Jane doing her husband's laundry in a thong.

YES (and I hate that statue). You have just summed up between 80 and 90% of the reason we find it necessary to rant about this. The other 10-20% being when they DO try to market to women, they somehow manage to get it wrong most of the time anyway.
maisontv From: maisontv Date: February 9th, 2010 06:06 am (UTC) (current file)
That statue is a monument to Things That Are Wrong With the Comics Industry.

The other 10-20% being when they DO try to market to women, they somehow manage to get it wrong most of the time anyway.

And the problem with their approach here is that they assume women like comic books for reasons that do not match up with what we actually like about comics. They assume they need to produce titles like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane to bring in female readers when they have plenty of female fans reading their action-oriented titles.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC) (current file)
Tell me about it. I mean, I have nothing wrong with there being a variety of titles and storylines provided for different readers; just the idea that *females* in particular will only like certain titles written about certain things (with the Spider-man symbol shaped like a heart! Because no men will touch that, but women will LOOOOVE it!) is stupid. Gah.

Give me Marvel Civil War over Spider-man loves Mary Jane ANY day. At least one of them tried to discuss serious issues (even if it didn't always follow through).
wmslawhorn From: wmslawhorn Date: February 9th, 2010 05:03 am (UTC) (current file)
I can't believe you ignored Ms. marvel...
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 05:35 am (UTC) (current file)
I didn't ignore her. :) For costumes I was trying to steer clear of the really, REALLY skintight ones that no one except supermodels would feel comfortable wearing in public. Look at Ms. Marvel's outfit: it's a tiny leotard, thigh-high boots, gloves, and a little scarf around the waist. Not something I would encourage them to market as a costume. Jean Grey's retro costume, on the other hand, is more like real clothes than a spandex suit. So it would work well and be comfortable to wear. :)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC) (current file)
P.S. I'm not saying it wouldn't be totally awesome if someone wanted to dress as Ms. Marvel - just that if we're looking at practically marketable items, they should look at stuff that is cool but also something the optimal number of women/body types would feel comfortable wearing. :)
skybreak_seeker From: skybreak_seeker Date: February 9th, 2010 05:40 am (UTC) (current file)
Speaking as a male comics nerd, I'm with you 1,000% here.

A girl in a Blue Lantern t-shirt and a Deadpool bag? Pardon me whilst I swoon.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 05:44 am (UTC) (current file)

But srsly, I really don't get why this is so hard for Marvel Marketing to grasp. Do I need to go to NYC with a printout of this post and shove it in someone's face, all, HERE LOOK HERE DO THIS DO THIS DO THIS? I mean, come on!

I'm glad both male and female folks seem to be agreeing so far. :)

P.S. I secretly covet a Molly Hayes hat, even if they are more kid-oriented. They're so CUTE!
chrryblssmninja From: chrryblssmninja Date: February 9th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC) (current file)
thank you for writing that rant. GEEKY WOMEN UNITE
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC) (current file)
chrryblssmninja From: chrryblssmninja Date: February 9th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (current file)
this is my my geek shirts tend to be big - I just get the guy sizes; the girl's stuff is usually bad or nonexistent.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: February 9th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC) (current file)
Yeah - and sometimes I end up buying the shirt because I just REALLY WANT THE DESIGN and then only sleep in it because it's too big to be flattering. *sigh*
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