Elephant in the room

This has been an interesting week. The 21st Prophet issue came out yesterday –first one of the new run that me and my pal Simon are doing.
 
I was part of a roundtable interview with Newsarama where I ended up shit talking the catwoman writer.
Newsarama edited it out the worst of what I’d said but left the interviewer’s snark about Liefeld’s work, which escalated into a little something-something.
 
It’s been important to me on this Prophet to never turn around and say I’ve always loved Liefeld’s work.
But this industry being what it is has me in his corner, and I will say that as the creator of the characters and universe I’m playing around with he’s been nothing but enthusiastic and supportive –
 Think about Ditko or Kirby’s feelings on what happened to their characters. “Yo Alan moore, how you like those banging new movies dawg?” So it feels clean to work with a guy who likes where his creations are going and I’m thrilled at the chance I’ve got to jump in the mainstream arena with pretty much total freedom to make something I’m proud to be part of.
 
I didn’t want to write this as a big fuck Newsarama, but  I want us to be able to actually have real conversations in comics. I think we need to be critical of each other’s work, and this industry is especially weak on issues of race and gender. I want to see how good we can all get, and I want bullshit to be called when it needs to be called.
 
So here’s a big chunk of the end of the Newsarama talk which has been taken down:
 
Brandon: Speaking of Ross Campbell(artist on Glory) and his stuff, he’s going through this period where he’s reassessing his work, really looking at how he’s approaching women.  He’s actively trying not to be sexist in his own work, and talking about that a lot.  His being given this character is almost a chance to make right how DC fucked themselves up on their relaunch and how they were really shitty to their female readers. Ross is coming in and being able to actually be thinking about them, because he comes off as one of the creators most aware of the female reader and how female characters are being depicted in comics.
 
Joe Keatinge (writer on Glory): That’s definitely a big part of it too.  I mean, character comes first before any big political statement, but I want a female lead who can break Supreme in half, because why not?  That’s definitely what we’re going for here.  
My goal is to make her and one of the characters in the book who I won’t name, but who appears in the first issue, into two of the biggest bad asses in comics.  Their gender doesn’t really come into it for me.  I don’t see why it should.  It’s just about who they are.
 
Brandon: It doesn’t hurt to point out they’re characters a teenaged girl could read about and not feel embarrassed.
 
Joe: Exactly!  I wanted this to be a book that I could show to a girlfriend or my parents, and not be ashamed.  I want a 13, 18, 20 year-old-girl to read this and not be embarrassed because Catwoman’s fucking Batman or whatever.  I want this to be something where it can be enjoyed by them just as much by a 13, 18, 20-year-old boy, whatever.
 
Nrama: Well, the Extreme books of the 1990s were known to deal in certain stereotypes regarding women’s – and let’s face it, men’s – chests.  And rear ends, and guns, and shoulder pads, and feet that were always off-panel….what are the challenges in moving beyond that stereotype.
 
Joe: I think you just have to make the kind of comic you want to read and go from there.
 
Brandon:  I think it’s important to try to address that shit too, though.  It’s like when they brought back The Spirit and brought in Ebony, and they had that smug thing in the back of the issue where they go, “Here’s how we dealt with Ebony!  We made her a hot chick!”  They just screwed the pooch so badly on that.
You have to bring this stuff up, I feel.  It has to be addressed and not ignored.  And Ross’ way of drawing Glory, I feel, kind of does address it.
 
 Joe: There’s a difference, though, between addressing it and having a political message in it that overpowers your book, and not being able to tell a story, you know what I mean?  We were methodical in making Glory look the way she looks now, as opposed to how she looked before, but at the end of the day, I just want to make some really great comics with Ross.  And that’s more important, I think, than trying to change someone else’s political viewpoint.
 
 
Brandon: It’s important, I think, how you show the story.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be a soapbox comic, but how you depict female characters shows how you’re approaching it as opposed to how they were depicted in the past.
 
Joe: True.  That’s certainly fair.  Tim, what’s your opinion on all this?
 
Tim: I have a character who’s a dominatrix who wears a leather mask and a thong, so whatever.
 
Brandon: But I kind of think that sort of stuff’s okay.  It’s all about owning your shit.  I don’t have any problem with DC’s Catwoman because of the content; it’s because the dork from fuckin’ MTV’s Real World is a shitty writer.  That’s what bothers me.
 
Joe: Whoa!
 
Brandon: It’s okay.  DC’s not calling me anyway.
 
That’s the great thing about Image, though.  I was just reading an interview with Eric Stephenson, and that dude actually talks about comic books like a reader, and he’s not just trying to sell you shit.  He was talking about the Grant Morrison X-Men stuff as a reader, and why he loved it, and what he didn’t like about it.  And I think that as a comic book community, we have address things as adults, and not just as marketing people.
 
Joe: My thing on Eric Stephenson is that he’s kind of the not-so-secret hero of comics in the 21st century.  Not to kiss the guy’s ass too much, but the fact that he is responsible for bringing me onto this Extreme stuff, that he brought Brandon on as well, that he’s giving all these chances to new talent with a really no-bullshit attitude….I think if you look at Marvel’s big lineup right now, with the exception of Brian Michael Bendis, who was brought into Image by Jim Valentino, everyone else was brought in to Image by Eric.  I know that I owe my career in a huge way to him.  Anyway, Eric Stephenson, am I right?
 
Brandon: That’s a huge reason why I’m invested in the Prophet stuff right now.  Seeing how much work he put in to get my King City stuff into print after it got into all this bullshit with the previous publisher…Image doesn’t get a big paycheck from that.  It doesn’t get anything for them.  It’s just that he liked the work and wanted to get it out there.  That makes me want to back them, and to work with them as a publisher.
———————————————
 
So000 yeah.
Anyway here’s Simon’s cover for Prophet 25 (with colors by Jason Wordie)– so cool.
and a spread from the guts of the next issue, Richard Ballermannnn’s colors on this came out so cool:
 

Aside from Prophet I just sent the King city collection off to get printed up.

Here’s a title page Image from that:

and some recent pages from my sketchboook. A couple drawings from Alien and I redrew  Yuri from an Adam Warren Dirty pair.

I drew this one watching Devil in a blue dress, I like that movie.

and some drawings of my pal Liz one of my lady Marrriiannnnn and Groucho marx who I also love.

and here’s some naked ladies just to point out that I’m still a classy dude.

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80 Responses to Elephant in the room

  1. ghettomanga says:

    You know of course that I MUST have that “Devil In A Blue Dress” comic page for the magazine, right? I write a column called “Movies That Should Be Comics” and DIABD is on the list…

  2. kelvingreen says:

    I want us to be able to actually have real conversations in comics. I think we need to be critical of each other’s work, and this industry is especially weak on issues of race and gender. I want to see how good we can all get, and I want bullshit to be called when it needs to be called.

    Well said. It’s such a cowardly, duplicitous industry — often over the tiniest, simplest things too — sometimes.

    I haven’t picked up this week’s comics yet, but I’m looking forward to Prophet. All the previews look great.

  3. Egypt Urnash says:

    My initial reaction to you getting on Prophet was “wtf is he doing jesus Liefield stuff”, but the more you show of it the more I wanna check it out. And to be honest I never read ANY of Liefield’s stuff back in the day – his work never seemed like anything I want to pick up, with its emphasis on beefcake manslabs.

    HOW ARE YOU MAKING ME WANT TO BUY A COMIC BASED ON HIS WORK WHAT IS THIS FOUL MAGIC BRANDON.

  4. Celine says:

    I love that making female characters who’s primary purpose isn’t to give male readers boners, and giving them the same dynamism that is afforded to male characters, is some BIG POLITICAL STATEMENT WHOO-BOY. It shouldn’t be. It really, really shouldn’t be, and the fact that it is, or that artists and writers think it is, kind of proves the point that comics needs to air out that locker-room smell. Same thing goes for race. I promise men can actually write good female characters. Mignola, Ridley Scott, Alan Moore, I would argue George R. Martin, Bruno Heller (HBO/BBC’s “Rome”) do a fantastic job. Maybe it takes practice, it certainly requires a lot of eating crow and having a willingness to examine one’s own privilege and assumptions. It certainly requires actually LISTENING to your female readership instead of plugging your ears with pop-evopsych (just like for white people who want to write black characters without it becoming a god damn minstrel show), but it might just allow super-hero comics to survive the 21st century.

    I’m sad Newsarama took this out, I think it kind of makes the interview : /

    ****

    Can I just say I want more Briareos in my porn? Can it be All Sexy, All Briareos, All The Time?

  5. I’m always excited for a new post! Also excited for the new Prophet–very exciting! Anywho, I find that those people who are most critical of Liefeld are people who are just embarrassed that they liked him so much when they were younger (I’ll be honest enough to include myself in that statement–but at least I’m aware of it). Most of my students are acting the same way about Megatokyo. They trash talk it now, but admit they it was a gateway comic for them.

  6. I and the world clearly owe Eric Stephenson a great deal.

    And Liefeld… he might get a lot of abuse for his art (and I have to admit, I find some of it amusing) but no matter what, he does what he loves every day of his life. Rob Liefeld wins every damn day. But it is fucked up that he takes all that heat while honest critiques anywhere else seem verboten.

    I had no idea you knew Tim Seeley though. He was actually in my town a couple weeks ago and I felt too awkward to say anything to him.

  7. MikeG says:

    Hey man, GREAT comic! I am an old school Extreme fan and love the new direction these books are taking, especially Prophet. I got it yesterday and have read through it twice already. I will admit that I had never seen either you or Simon Roy’s work before, but I am thoroughly impressed and and now trying to hunt down other stuff you guys have done. My initial reaction from looking at this blog post is that you are also a fantastic artist. Is there any reason why you will not be drawing Prophet, or do you plan to handle a storyline here or there? I would love to see it. Thanks for being a part of the Extreme Revival. For all of us old Extreme fans, this is the equivalent of Marvel having gone out of business for 15 years and then suddenly coming back. This is our universe that we grew up loving and it is great to see them back in this way.

    • Brandon says:

      Thanks Mike, I’m glad to hear that you liked the book I was unsure of how it would go over for old Extreme fans.

      The main reason I wasn’t going to draw Prophet is that I’ve got other books of my own that I’m working on,(I’m doing a thing called Multiple warheads through Oni press) I initially planned on just writing but it’s been too much fun playing around with this stuff so I’ll be doing the art and colors on issue #26

      Anyway, I hope you like the rest of the series as much as the start.

  8. Goran/ says:

    Hey Brandon,
    I’m a huge fan of your work and your attitude to comics is refreshing. I’m all for keeping it real and I think Image is all about the love of comics, while Marvel and DC is all about the shareholders. So I’m looking forward to everything Image releases this year and any other cool Indy stuff that comes out. And keep up the shout outs and links to your comic crew, and I’ll keep buying all the great stuff that’s coming out. BTW, just bought a copy of Thickness #2, can’t wait. Cheers.

  9. AJA says:

    This comics looks great. It’s probably going to be the first comic that I buy when it comes out and not just wait for the TPB. By the way, I’ve been looking through your archives and you’ve introduced me to some great artists, so thanks for that. Best wishes… And keep on truckin.

  10. Jimmy Jay says:

    Like MikeG I’m Old School Extreme Fan from back in the day, and I think there is an element that is common to both the early Image Comics boom and your work with the title- it’s “Dangerous”. Maybe a storm of bullet casings, and over the top action and violence was considered Dangerous as a teenager growing up on fairly vanilla Marvel & DC Work back in 1992, but this book seems dangerous and subversive for a 30something.

    And just like i was curious as a kid to see the new worlds created by the original Extreme universe, I’m anxious to see where this is comic is going.

    great job on the first issue

  11. Dylan says:

    Winick is a schmuck. He was one of the first creators I ever approached at a con for an autograph (don’t ask me why. Probably because he was on tv and i was an impressionable teenager at the time and thought that actually meant something) and he hardley even acknowledged my existance before charging me for some shitty Barry Ween xerox that he could sign. Which he did, but not without acting like I had just drooped my balls into his corn flakes. What a shitty job he must have. I don’t know why I felt compelled to share that story. Sorry about all the shit-talk.

    Anyway, Brandon I’m greatly looking forward to MULTIPLE WARHEADS and PROPHET (my comics are mail-order, so I won’t be recieving my copy until the end of the month unfortuantly) but I’m wondering if you are gonna have copies of the KING CITY trade for sale with you at Emerald City this year?

  12. JJ says:

    I’m sorry but, isn’t this post slightly hypocritical? You’re objecting to women being portrayed as sex objects? And this is coming from someone who drew porn for a living? Ok…

  13. Autsa says:

    Cool to see the rest of the truncated interview. Have you been edited before in this way, in terms of things you’ve said elsewhere or written? I presume that if you had, you’d have posted it up here just like you did today.

    Also KC TP finally appeared on amazon uk. Pre-ordered as I was pre-ordained to do so.

  14. Marcel says:

    I think that if most writers were more honest about their ignorance or anxieties towards race or gender, then they could use their books as an exploration of that and probably do a better service to any issue they might be highlighting. And that’s ignoring that most thoughts on race are really more to do with culture, or that you know, it’s entirely possible to speak to a woman or anyone different from yourself and all.

    A couple weeks ago I went to a comic shop for the first time in months, and was lucky enough to grab your DHP story. It was damn good! Been enjoying Prophet too- I think all of you reworkers should get a clan name or something, or at least a suffix to your name. Brandon Graham; Extreme. I’m actually seeing Justin and Joe next week, so I hope Joe has some goodies to show off. Does much time get taken out of your week to work on Prophet instead of Multiple Warheads?

  15. Pingback: Chain Reactions | Prophet #21 | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  16. Mike Mcghee says:

    first issue was great, dude, and i’m EXTREMEly glad you posted the cut excerpts from that interview;p Celine makes a great couple points above, and i’m glad that you continue to do your part to address our culture’s insane inbreeding.

    …that groucho smile, along with the o face on the girl the page below? damn. DAMN.

  17. ross says:

    awesome post! it sucks they took that chunk out of the interview, it was the best part. i wish i had the guts to be as blunt and honest as you, i’m always afraid if i criticize something that it’ll get back to the author or publisher something. i do try to critique in broader ways, though, but i could stand to get more specific.

    anyway, love what you have to say here, great interview, can’t wait for the next part. i agree with Celine saying up-thread that having female characters who aren’t wank material shouldn’t be a political statement, but i think the unfortunate reality is that that sort of thing is almost forced into being a political statement just by the fact that it sticks out like a sore thumb and goes against the grain. :(

    i also agree with you that it’s important to bring this stuff up and address it. whether you’re talking about it verbatim or showing it in the story like you’re saying, everything helps “move the needle” or whatever even if that isn’t your goal. i think everything is sociopolitical depending on how you look at it, and just because Glory isn’t a “soapbox comic” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain some sort of messages. i don’t think things can ever be messageless or “just fun comics,” because they were made by people who have been formed by our culture, even if we’re not talking explicit political statements in these comics, they didn’t spring forth fully-formed out of a vacuum.

    i actually kind of disagree with Joe on gender a little bit. for me i think saying “their gender doesn’t play a part, it’s about who they are” is an impossible sentiment, because gender IS part of who somebody is. and you can write a character ostensibly gender neutral, sure, like the characters in Alien, but once gender is applied in a visual medium like film and comics, then you can’t still say gender doesn’t matter. it matters in comics because it matters to real people and it matters in society. and it always seems to me to be female characters whose gender doesn’t matter, like if it DID matter it would be bad somehow. i don’t know.

    • Brandon says:

      thanks Ross, good points. Part of me saying this stuff is so it does get back to the author or publisher. But yeah, maybe critiquing in broader ways is smarter because it’s not like if the Catwoman writer sees what I’ve said he’ll reevaluate himself as a writer as much as just think of me as an asshole.

    • Celine says:

      Part of what astounds me is when straight white guys act like their work isn’t a political message. Isn’t that such a blatant display of privilege? It’s the ability to be deaf to the blaring message their work generates, the ability to be blind to the people whom their work erases. Isn’t that something you’re supposed to learn when you embark upon a creative career, that no image exists in a cultural void, that EVERYTHING has an impact? When I hear male creators defending their right not to make their work a “political message”, I hear: “Maintaining the current status quo in my field for the sake of (my boners, not having to confront the ways in which I contribute to the problems of sexism and racism, not having to reflect on the assumptions I have about women and people of color, reassuring myself and my friends that people like me will always be the hero-protagonist in the stories I write, making sure my male audience never ever has to feel bad for The Way Things Are etc) benefits me, and is more important than making my work less alienating to huge groups of people who typically have to hunt a long time to find stories and characters they can relate to on any level.”

      Boy, when I started reading comics, (or watching TV, listening to music, watching movies, playing videogames) I sure saw and heard plenty of “political messages” my male friends didn’t see, (and by the same token, I missed a lot of “political messages” my black and latina friends got from the same media). It’s really condescending to tell me your work doesn’t contain any political message—I’m the audience, whether I’m the intended audience or not, and I get to say how this work affects my life. Every story is a soapbox. You don’t have to hit people over the head, but you do have to acknowledge that who you are, your place in society, your time and place all have an impact on the stories you tell, and it’s your responsibility to educate yourself about the oppressive narratives you might be engaging in.

      ***
      Hi Ross! This is my way of basically agreeing with everything you said above, so I hope you don’t think that by replying to you in this way is a personal attack. I’ve always really appreciated your lucidity about the Male Gaze in your own work, and have enjoyed seeing the different ways you approach the problem while also celebrating the kinds of people you’re attracted to in your comics :) I’ve been a big fan of your work since I was about 12.

      • ross says:

        i totally agree with everything you said! really well put. you articulated it way better than i could. i agree that everything is a soapbox in some way whether it’s intentional or not, and i’m definitely soapboxing with what i’m doing on Glory. XD

        i appreciate the reply, i didn’t think you were attacking me or anything, but it would’ve been totally cool if you wanted to, haha. i really appreciate that you dig my work, thank you!! and jeez, since you were 12?!? i don’t know how old you are now but i’m guessing that’s a long time. thank you!!!

        ps: i followed you on tumblr. :D
        pps: “Maintaining the current status quo in my field for the sake of (my boners)” hahahaha

      • “Part of what astounds me is when straight white guys act like their work isn’t a political message. Isn’t that such a blatant display of privilege? It’s the ability to be deaf to the blaring message their work generates, the ability to be blind to the people whom their work erases. ”

        Pardon for jumping in here, and I want to say from the onset that this isn’t a personal attack either, just a commentary on the message I’m reading in your text.

        I thought it important to note/remember that meaning isn’t some concrete thing; like droppings we gather from the Owl of Minerva. All work “means” everything and nothing, and what something means isn’t determined via fiat. It’s generated in an organic process where validity is usually generated by group consensus. (or I think that’s the current general consensus. Recursion ahoy! )

        It’s also important to remember that most mainstream comic artists who generate this kind of content didn’t go through a program heavy on gender theory and post-colonialism where they had long discussions about hybridity, how their work impacts the subaltern, and what their responsibilities are as being in the gender group “men”. You can’t look at your own face without being given a mirror.

        Long, droning story short, the corollary to the “If you aren’t outraged you aren’t paying attention” platitude is “If you are surprised you also aren’t paying attention.”

        Reading back over this, it likely looks like I’m dancing around the edges of, or flat jumping into, “poor, poor white men” territory. Far from it. The problems should be addressed. I just think it important to remember what the background of most creators of this kind of material are like. It’s more ignorance than malice, in my experience. Expecting them to already be on board with everything you are saying is kind of like asking an average art school student to do tensor calculus. (And you may already know all of this, in which case my apologies for the waste of space/bandwidth.)

        Hopefully this made some sense and I didn’t come across as a total asshole.

        Regards,

        steven

        • Celine says:

          Sure, I get all that—and I’m not saying that white guys are alone. We ALL have to do this. Being willing to do it is the first step. And I’m willing to bet that, as Brandon has pointed out before in his other writings, for creators who attend cons and basically hear how great they are all the time, it might be really really hard for them to entertain the possibility that their work harms and alienates a huge group of people.

          But it’s still not the responsibility of the oppressed part to educate their oppressors, and even in spite of that fact, many, many attempts are still being made at reaching these guys. The response, instead of being an open channel of dialogue, is often a lot of sarcasm, butthurt, and attempts at censorship, dosed with a healthy helping of pop evolutionary psychology and mansplaining about how if women enjoyed superhero comics enough to buy them, superhero comics would be more woman-friendly, we’ll keep our boners thank you very much. Attempts to paint these issues as something that’s beyond the grasp of all but feminist crit majors is doing these otherwise fairly intelligent creators (and potential allies) a disservice when 3 year olds get it. I never said these guys were maliciously oppressing people in their work, I get that it’s ignorance and freshly-laundered privilege showing. But so what? I’m not sure why you had to take the time to remind me that these guys are so entrenched in their male-gaze white guy culture it’s practically the air they breath. Instead of being Captain Obvious and focusing on the ways in which I’m failing to make it easier for white guys to be my friend, why not do something way more powerful—if you’re a white guy who knows this shit has to change, call it out when you see it. I guarantee this, as much as it might depress me, these guys are going to listen to you because they value your money and your good graces far more than they do mine. (Although, you might get censored for doing the same thing Brandon did)

          Thanks for the reply, and just as I didn’t take it as a personal attack, I hope you don’t take my reply as one either.

          • Hm. The questions you’re asking would take me a very long time to properly answer, due to the Gordian Knot that is the Direct Market when it comes to sexism/racism. ALso the fact that the use of “butthurt” showed up in the conversation about damaging behaviors/communication is kind of hysterical. (see what I did there? :D )

            But anyway. Apologies for being Captain Obvious, Your use of the word “astounded” implied to me that that the obvious things were new or surprising to you, so I responded under that assumption. The stuff about not learning about post-colonialism, etc, was hyperbole.

            Also, I’m on the production, not consumption end, so I’d be just another ranting creator.

            Something that I should note, if it’s not already known, is that if one wants to get work with the Big Two and actually make some money with comics (making fast food worker salary gets rather old after a decade or so of it)* you have to meet certain metrics regarding how you draw women. So I was told I had to draw women more like Adam Hughes to get decently paying work. This is where I think things get complicated and important. I wasn’t told that for the publishers/editor bonerz, it was for the readers bonerz. This is a socio-economic problem, not just a social one. The DM and the publishers are in a feedback loop, so even if all creators suddenly became aware of their privilege and decided they didn’t want to draw or write women in a particular manner, the market would still be clamoring for it, and if the publishers wanted to stay afloat, they’d have to keep catering to it.

            I have no quick solution for it, no sword to cleave it in two. There’s been a lot of lecturing about it in various formats since the 80’s at least, and we can see where that has gotten us. Most readers, judging by what sells, don’t give a shit. My only hope is that digital comics will break the back of the DM, allowing marketing to a much wider demographic, and the demographic that calls for sexist material will slowly die out, assuming we educate the younger generations that will replace them.

            Of course, I’m not the Answer Bot 9000. I’m an art school dropout who read a few books and can throw words around. If you have ideas on how to break that feedback loop, I’d love to hear them.

            Regards,

            steven

            * I know it’s possible to make a decent income on the independent market, but it’s the exception vs the rule.

            • Celine says:

              this is a great response! Yeah, sorry for using “butthurt”—a bit of a kneejerk reaction when I think about the rape and death threats I and other women get for voicing their opinions online :/ It’s still not an ok word to use, my apologies.

              As I understand it, DC’s New 52 was an effort to bring in new readers as they realized their traditional audience was waning…and yet they did the exact same thing they’ve always done, and it’s (as far as I know) been a laughing stock. I don’t actually know how well it sells, but if this new audience is anything like their old audience, I have to wonder how long they can keep this up.

              I’m not sure it’s really a legit excuse anymore to say that because there’s a market we have to cater to it. It is a gordian knot, I agree, but it seems kind of lazy to say that because DC makes dumb, alienating spank-bank female characters, that’s what the market wants and will always want. Yeah it sells, but if you took that away from them, would they just stop reading? It’s really the writer’s job to start getting sensitive to this shit and figuring out ways to write good characters and stories without relying on the cliche of utterly interchangeable female characters. If the audience cares about the story arc and characters, they’ll keep reading won’t they? They won’t just throw up their hands and say “whelp! I can’t relate to cat woman if every shot of her isn’t low angle! I guess I’ll just read Witchblade from now on” will they? I mean, I’m honestly asking, you probably have more insight onto this issue than I do.

              If the writing gets better, I think you can still draw attractive female characters without alienating your female audience. And you can draw strong female characters (not the Kate Beaton kind) without alienating your male audience. It’s also kind of like porn—hard core, exploitative shit sells way more than soft core, consent-based stuff does, which is why while I have no issue with porn in principle, going to an adult DVD store is depressing as hell for me. It wasn’t always that depressing, but the porn industry realized men—already their main audience—get off on taboo shit if you indulge them, and so they went there and now “fuck pigs 5″ is arguably kind of ubiquitous. If DC realized that what men want is Cat Woman being nearly raped to death in an alley way and then being rescued by Batman whom she then fucks……would they go there? Like I’m sure SOMEONE, maybe a lot of people, would read that, but is DC so desperate for money they’d make a book like that? Where’s the line? (wait is that already something I can read?)

              For now, fine, draw like Adam Hughes, I realize not everyone is cut out for the indy market. But isn’t it a little defeatist to say that the publisher has no control over the content? And judging by the way DC has reacted to accusations of sexism in their hiring practices, it doesn’t even seem like DC WANTS to change their image—they’re happy catering to the lowest common denominator in their audience, and they are uninterested in catering to ME.

              I realize it’s risky to try substituting your old market (straight male fans who read comics as much for the bonerz as the story) for a new market (everyone else on the planet) but couldn’t mainstream comics try launching a few projects just to dip their toe in the water? And it doesn’t count if they give up after the first try fails—it will fail, they’re new at this. They could do some research, hire some diversity, and when they’ve got something they’re happy with, they can promote the shit out of it and use it to foster a dialogue with the audience they’re trying to reach. They might discover that they money they lose by not catering to their old audience exclusively is pocket change to the money they’d make on these new audiences, audiences who have been waiting for decades to be noticed and pandered to. I see that as honestly being the only way mainstream comics will change, feasibly.

              My second idea might be totally unrealistic, but I’m french and the french love porn comics, and maybe this could be a future way for mainstream comics to have its cake and eat it too: my problem with so many female characters in mainstream comics is that they’re thinly veiled porn stars, which is utterly lovely and acceptable in PORN but creepy and alienating when in otherwise non-sexual fiction. It’s a bit like being sexually harassed while grocery shopping—this should be a non-sexual experience, but because of some asshole who doesn’t understand timing and boundaries, it’s suddenly this gross porny experience. Why can’t DC just do porn? Even porn of their own characters. They’d obviously be really good at it! Will it not sell because comic book stores won’t stock it? Even if that were true, I’m sure enough fanboys would do anything possible to acquire such material, like buying online. Why can’t DC just pay it’s highly talented artists to make fan-comics of their own material? Is there some legal issue I’m not aware of?

              Whelp, I realize I’m on the outside looking in (I kind of by default am, aren’t i?) so everything above should be taken with that giant asterisk. I talk about this stuff a lot with my friends who decided the indy route would be more satisfying, but other than my internship with Carla Speed McNeil, I’ve never had the chance to really bounce ideas off an insider. Let me know if any of this seems realistic, or if I’m just talking out my ass.

              • Brandon says:

                10 years ago I was living off of drawing porn and going up to DC trying to get work,
                needless to say it didn’t work out so well. there’s defiantly a bizarre stigma against actual upfront sex in a lot of mainstream comics. I don’t think they even allow swearing or smoking in a lot of their most boner inducing books. But yeah, just doing cat woman porn would make sense in a sane world.

                As far as what Steven was saying being made to draw a certain way to get work, That’s kind of at the core of how I think we need to change looking at comics. If you really regard it as an art then you have to make sure that your income doesn’t always dictate the work you do. And I’ve done a lot of shit I wasn’t super proud of to pay rent but as artists we have to remember why we’re doing this and make sure that if you end up doing a shit job that you aren’t proud of that you just don’t keep doing shit jobs that you aren’t proud of full time.

                anyway I really appreciate you guys typing this out on here. Much to be discussed.

                • Celine says:

                  “But yeah, just doing cat woman porn would make sense in a sane world.”
                  yeah, that stigma is one that needs to change ASAP. It’s so hypocritical, and helps no one. Europe & Japan creators make BANK on porn, with both original and fan-content. Seems like if you’re (DC, Marvel, Image, etc) unwilling to tap into that market, you should quitcher bitchin’.

                  • Brandon says:

                    I think that’s the thing M and DC have shown themselves to be hypocritical companies. I don’t expect them to change. I just want there to be a lot of other options.

                    I have a lot more faith in Image, and if anything they have agreed to publish a collection of my old porn so that should be interesting.

              • ross says:

                this column formatting in the comments is ridiculous! XD

                i’m sort of replying to you and Steven here. as before, Celine, total agreement from me. :) anyway, i’m no expert and i mostly get where Steven is coming from, i’ve run into resistance before, including from women editors/bosses, that my female characters aren’t “hot” enough or hot in the “right way,” and initially i ran into resistance on Glory, so i get it, but i wonder how much of that is an actual market/economics thing and not just the personal preferences of the (often straight male) editors or editors thinking that’s what sells because of some vague “sex sells” sentiment. i wonder if they have hard evidence that the books that sell the most have the most boneriffic chicks in them or the ones that don’t sell are missing that aspect, or vice versa. we’ve sure seen plenty of sexed-up books tank and lots of non-porny books succeed financially, so i kind of doubt the whole concept that it’s economic. i guess maybe it partly could be, i don’t know. all i ever hear is hearsay that people are clamoring for porn star superhero cheesecake, but i’m not sure if it’s true in any significant capacity.

                maybe it’s just because the audience is largely straight dudes and the companies are largely run by straight dudes (no disrespect to the women at either Big Two company, though i wonder if any of the big boss women at DC are turning a blind eye?) that people assume that’s how things are and nobody in charge really questions it? i don’t know. :\

                i bet the Big Two would never put out porn versions of their characters because they have to keep the “brand integrity” or whatever, although that seems ridiculous to me when they have stuff like the Batman/Catwoman sex scene or Catwoman doing a pole dance routine in that one Batman cartoon. the line they’re tightrope-walking on has got to give sooner or later.

                • Celine says:

                  It also may be useful to keep in mind that if a group of men like the same thing, they tend to think all men like that thing. (maybe that’s true for other groups?)

                  I took a trip to LA once and mixed with a lot of would-be actors trying to make it in Hollywood. All they saw, all they knew, was what was available in LA. Somehow the subject of female pubic hair came up, and a few of these guys acted mildly disturbed at the subject. I laughed so fucking hard when one of them said nonchalantly to me: “Well, isn’t it true that most women get brazilian waxes every month?”

                  My day job while I wait for the ol’ art career to take off is as a sex worker, and I get exposed to a lot of whacky assumptions men have about Hotness—-like, that all women fall on a scale of hotness that is interchangeable from man to man, or that (and this is really sad) all guys like fake boobs, and most women either have them or want to get them. (I won’t even get into their dumbass ideas about men’s attractiveness, or what women find attractive) Ross, I know you’re fond of women who’d probably never make it to the cover of Cosmo. I know a lot of guys in indy comics who like ‘unusual’ stuff (which is such a bullshit word, considering the vastness of human experience) and I’m so glad they’re making stuff that turns them on without apologizing for it. I think comics have the power to crack through the sexual isolation many of us face by only being exposed to one kind of thing our whole lives. But if the people at the top just keep working with the same kinds of people and are only exposed to people who like the things they like (cat suits and boob windows) I wouldn’t be surprised if they think guys like Johnny Negron and R. Crumb are totally unmarketable. I won’t argue that those artists probably wouldn’t enjoy working on superhero story lines, but I’m just saying—-mainstream comics could probably survive a little diversification in their eye candy.

                  It’s a shame too. Do you know how much money I spend on comics? Do you know the percentage of that money I spend on comics I buy for lady-boners? It ain’t insignificant, let me tell you. If I was independently wealthy I’d probably spend all day in a jaccuzzi reading comics for the lady boners, that’s how much I care. Do you know how many female friends I have who are exactly like me? Do you know how many more I’d have if my friends over the age of 35 had been raised with Yaoi? But mainstream American comics aren’t going to see a DIME of that money, because it allll goes overseas to Japan, because they know how to exploit the desires of their female market, desires that DC and M probably would like to pretend don’t exist because that makes them feel kind of gay, you know, to be objectified the way they objectify ladies. DC actually DID notice that Anime was the new hit thing with youth, but instead of realizing that young americans found the writing engaging in a way they’d never experienced before, or that girls loved reading books that took female fantasy fulfillment seriously, DC just told their people in animation to draw in the anime style. Needless to say, this was not the big cash cow they hoped it would be, and young people kept finding that anime and manga inevitably had something they could relate to.

                  DC: We Like To Wave At Opportunities As They Pass Us By.

              • No worries regarding the use of “butthurt”; if everything was Serious Business for me I’d probably end up shooting myself in despair. Also, it’s nice to see another Yaoi fan.

                (Pardon the self promotion: http://www.etsy.com/listing/77615070/11×17-signed-and-numbered-yaoi-pinup)

                So I don’t begrudge you the use of it, or any negative feelings you may have as a result of the inexcusable behavior of a lot of male comics fans on the internet. I think the web and the rise of webcomics has resulted in more and more women entering the rather insular world of the Direct Market/hardcore comic fanbase, and it has revealed a rather unfortunate side to a lot of people in that fanbase. That said, I think the best way of dealing with an enemy is to make them your friend. Or at least lull them to the point where this sort of thing can be discussed without hearing their minds snap shut like steel traps. (Not that this works all the time, the woman dressed as Batgirl at SDCC being a prime example of this. She wasn’t combative at all, just asked a frank question, and was thrown to the lions.)

                But I’m side tracking- regarding DC and their big push and various other initiatives. I don’t have a lot to do with DC, but just from what I’ve been told by various people in different parts of the industry, sales numbers have gone to shit and everyone is panicking. In times like this, especially for publicly traded companies or companies that report to publicly traded companies, ethics or moral standards becomes something of a luxury that is not affordable, unless it dovetails with making money. Changes during times like this tend to be either big innovative gambles, like what Image is doing, or falling back on what is considered tried and true. (Seems like the ’90’s look is considered “tried and true” at the moment. ) AFAIK, the DC initiative has resulted in a rather large burst of sales, but not a sustainable one. The negative reception was largely from the critics, not the consumers.

                I’d love to see your idea regarding pushing for diversity/allowing time for newer types of comics to develop an audience happen. The problem with that, at least currently, is that the big two do not seem to either have the desire or ability to put out titles that do not generate money immediately, and that’s the environment that Big Two comics are now being made in. Short of becoming the CEO of Marvel and DC, I haven’t the foggiest idea how to address that problem. There’s also still the Direct Market/comic shop problem, where the audience that we’d like to pull in doesn’t find most comic shops to be inviting places. A lot of shops are outright hostile to women. This sort of thing is another reason why there isn’t a big push to try and get women on board, they aren’t a proven audience; if anything, just the fanbase alone seems to do a pretty decent job of keeping women away. It’s weird and fucked up and another reason I’m placing my chips on digital.

                To add to what Brandon said about porn, I also think that the US would lose its collective mind if they starting making, say, Wonder Woman porn. Our relationship with sex tends to be like that of a priest with a huge porn and sex toy collection under their bed. It’s a huge industry, but heaven forbid you actually point that out.

                I should also note that Brandon and I have pretty differing approaches to our work. (not good/bad, just different) Since I’m doing Work For Hire, I have to let go of my work to a large extent, or else I’d go nuts trying to maintain a coherent vision.. So I’m trying to be more process-based, and just focus on the joy/craft of drawing, not the final product. I save my “art” for my spare time. Ideally I’d like to combine personal vision (robots and explosions) and decent income, but for now that’s where I’m at. This attitude is not the norm, at least in my experience, so you should be aware that this likely colors my responses to no small degree. Most of my work has been with Marvel thus far, and it by and large seems to be ran by people who love their work, who have their hearts in the right place, and are trying to make it rain in the desert. It’s rough work, and I don’t envy them it. Like what Ross said, the request for sexing things up a bit (I wasn’t asked to do anything like push ass-shots or heaving cleavage or whatever, just meet a certain beauty standard for a main character.) could well be based in a misconception. But, at the end of the day, they are paying me to do what they ask, so I do so. If I don’t want to do it, I turn the work down.

                I also can’t deny having noticed that most of the popular artists draw cis-normative “hot” women, and wondering if catering to that would be worth the potential income increase. So I cannot deny that I have a fairly low sell-out threshold. :)

                Unrelated: Respect to Brandon for admitting on twitter that the comments regarding Winick were likely counter-productive or not effective. Not enough people own up to when they realize they may have made a mistake, and I consider that a mark of good character.

  18. DubipR says:

    Finally! Fucking honesty in a comics interview! And what look happens, shredded like Paul Levitz pulping Kyle Baker’s Suprbaby story. Why whitewash what the consensus already knows? If its shit, the people should know what’s on the other creator’s minds. As for female creators and female readers, I say to them..read an issue of Love & Rockets and see how women should be in comics. Granted its by Los Bros Hernandez, but female creators who want to write for a male audience, especially in the superhero genre, take a page from their playbook.

    Ok..now I have to go out and find a copy of Prophet.
    Best of luck on all future projects, my good man.

  19. dnwilliams says:

    Thanks to Brandon for sharing this and for Robot 6 for sending me here. I think being open about stuff like this is invaluable. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Prophet and Glory.

  20. Interesting stuff, and I can not wait to get my hands on that King City collection and a future Prophet one.

    My main comment/suggestion on the Newsarama ‘controversy’ would be to eliminate the personal attack. It’s not a valid reason to censor that discussion, but it lowers the ground you’re arguing from. Calling someone a dork, making a condescending comment about a past ‘job’ of theirs – seems to contradict your call for an adult conversation and statement that it is the content that matters, you know?

    Just my two cents, and it comes from a place of wanting to hear more about what creators that I enjoy & respect think about issues like gender & race and not wanting to give nervous website editors or the “yeah, but Namor isn’t wearing a shirt and I don’t hear you feminazis complaining about that” commenters excuses for blocking or continuing to lower the dialogue. Look at Liefield: I may not be the biggest fan of the guys work, but I respect him for keeping at it and not engaging in flamewars with every keyboard critic mad about his not drawing feet on Cable.

    • Brandon says:

      Yeah, I agree. It wasn’t the most mature thing I could have said. It was more that it was removed without asking me.

      I will stick to my guns on my comment about his past job because it bothers me that he got into comics through a reality show. I feel like this industry is so embarrassingly hungry for other media attention that it affects the quality of who is put on books. but maybe that’s an argument for another type of discussion.

      Anyway, thanks and I hope you like the KC collection.

      • James says:

        “…it bothers me that he got into comics through a reality show.” Are you sure that’s how he got the job though? I liked Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, I liked Justice League Generation Lost, I even liked Batman Under the Hood if you ignore the annual about magic Superboy punches. I liked his run on Exiles at Marvel and a lot of what he did on Green Arrow. Do you know that that’s the only reason they gave him his gigs?

        Completely agree with everything said about Catwoman and gender and sexuality in the big two though.

        • Brandon says:

          My understanding is that Winick got brought into comics through Bob Schreck who I have a fair amount of respect for but does like to work with guys who get media attention outside of comics — (Kevin Smith, Mahfood, Pope) He started publishing Winick when Schreck was running Oni press. And when Schreck moved to work at DC Winick found work there as well.

          Maybe he would have gotten in eventually but I think it’s pretty safe to say that he broke into comics when he did because of MTV.

          I agree that not everything he’s done was as bad as his Catwoman, He worked on a book called Caper with my pal Farel, that I thought was ok. I think he is perfectly capable of making some entertaining comics I just don’t think he’s actually good and when he is bad he is awful.

  21. Pingback: Brandon Graham vs. Judd Winick - Bent Corner

  22. itzaviv says:

    I’m sorry if this been asked before and/or answered already – but is there going to be a collection for these Prophet issues you wrote? I’m pretty sure it’ll be a whole lot less expensive for me to buy that instead (shipping to the middle east is obnoxious, let me tell ya). I also hate waiting so long for each issue so it suits me just fine to read everything at once.

  23. Brandon your writing on prophet reminded me of frank miller in his prime, cant wait to read #22.

  24. Mr. Privilege says:

    i realize that i’m going to get eaten alive here, and that’s ok. i just have to ask what is inherently wrong with the male gaze? as a straight, sort-of-white male, i’m constantly told that i am over privileged, that there is something wrong with me for simply liking the sorts of things that i like. that some how simply by existing and looking out into the world that my very gaze is demeaning and dehumanizing. is not my perspective on life just as valid as any other? oh, wait. i’m a straight white guy so obviously i must subscribe to some kind of white male hive mind in order to form my opinions, thoughts and behaviors.

    i’m not posting these thoughts to defend editorial practices at the big two. they are abominable, we all know this. but i would like to say that lumping straight white males into some sort of them vs. us category is pretty damn ignorant.

    i’m not into reading superhero comics for the most part. i hate the writing. i get annoyed with same shallow characterization that you all do, and the fact that every one (not just the women) must be fit and attractive. yet you’d think i was some sort of drooling rapist from some of the above comments simply because i happen to fit a physical description meant to rob me of my individuality.

    if some of you folks are truly against alienating and invalidating other human beings, not just groups you happen to self identify with, then you wouldn’t be using the double think and double standards that are on display here.

    comics are a medium. our responsibility as creators is to make the best damn work we can. to be honest to ourselves first and foremost (opinion, obviously). we can’t do this if every time we draw something with sexual content that we find interesting we are accused of intellectual and artistic domination, exploitation, etc. doesn’t matter if it’s straight/gay/black/white or fucking ewok, it’s ridiculous. it’s all lines on paper. the only person that an artist exploits is themselves. that’s our choice. let someone else exploit us (getting a job) or do it ourselves. i’m not going to accept that i have a responsibility to nurture multiculturalism or gender equality (though those things would be great) simply because i choose to put pencil to paper. it’s bullshit logic, sorry.

    i do happen to be interested in addressing race and gender when i sit down to create, but i’m not going to let that take precedent over everything else that i want to say within a given story. i mean, what should the artist do? beat themselves up constantly for creating people that look and act like themselves? or should they instead create phony situations and characters simply for the sake of appeasing the legions of commentators that will complain no matter what?

    i get that the loudest voices in american media/culture have been of one particular strain for a very long time now. i don’t enjoy this lack of alternative perspectives any more than any other person but by singling out “straight white males” as a single group worthy of derision you expose yourselves as the very same type of collectivist douchebag that you seem to protest so strongly against. saying that all white males want the same things from their comics is absolutely no different than saying that all black men love big booty or that asian people are great at math.

    “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. ” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

    • Brandon says:

      Dude,

      It’s an issue only because comics has been only about serving an incredibly narrow perspective and that limitation limits the medium. You feeling attacked on my nothing but the needs and interests of a straight white male blog is kind of ridiculous. This is posted under pictures I drew of naked teenage girls.

      No one is saying that you are over privileged just that other people are under privileged. Personally I don’t want people addressing race and gender if they don’t understand where those other races and genders are coming from I just want those other perspectives to also be shown.

      “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”
      ~Spock.

  25. Mr. Privilege says:

    i’m not feeling attacked by you, Brandon, i never have. and it’s probably unfair to choose your more than awesome blog to take a stand, but the comments up above clearly show that some people out there would rather lump all white dudes together and call them out for perceived failings than do the hard work of seeing them as individuals. i see people demonizing straight white guys all over these days, and it’s not fair to those that don’t conform to the stereotypes (like you, or ross for example.)

    if these commentators have a problem with specific creators, then that’s fine. but they shouldn’t go around forcing people into supposedly homogenous groups and then assign attributes to them.

    that’s just lazy.

    i mean, how many hispanic creators are there? what about black or jewish or italian creators? the comics industry isn’t just straight white males sitting around smoking bubble pipes and talking about how to keep the womenfolk down. comics are full of creators from all sorts of backgrounds. George Perez is one of the most highly regarded superhero guys ever. Stan and Jack are Jewish. hell, image has Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri. are they lumped into the white guy category as well? in my opinion you can’t throw race out there and expect it to go unchallenged.

    my other point is that i’m not going to sit around and get angry at the big two or the industry in general for not putting out comics/characters that i can’t relate to. it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to provide me with perfect entertainment. if there is something lacking, then i need to step up. not try to guilt trip everyone else into putting out the kind of material that i want to see.

    again, i’m not trying to shit on your blog, Brandon. i have the highest respect for you and your work. and none of this rant is directed towards you in any way. i’m just tired of dealing with people (either online or in real life) who object to the objectification and marginalization of certain groups by turning around and doing the exact same thing to others. no matter which angle you look at it from, it’s still bigotry.

    • Celine says:

      “I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action.” Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger”

      Oh look. Somebody talking about racism/sexism against white men in a conversation about white men making racism and sexism all about them.

      Literally, what you’re doing right now.

      And saying that a generalization against white men is as bad as, you know, dehumanizing systematic stereotypes against PoC and women by white men.

      ” i’m just tired of dealing with people (either online or in real life) who object to the objectification and marginalization of certain groups by turning around and doing the exact same thing to others. no matter which angle you look at it from, it’s still bigotry.”

      Calling out a dominant GROUP (not individuals) for the way they oppress, marginalize, and erase the experiences of other groups is in NO WAY bigotry, and is in no way comparable to the harm done by the dominant group to minority and second-class groups.

      You’re derailing, and engaging in apologism.

      It sounds like, actually, you haven’t “checked yo’ privelege”, or else you’d know that it is utterly offensive for anyone, but especially someone who, by way of their race, gender, or sexual orientation, is a member of the dominant group, to tell a member of a marginalized group that “it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to provide me with perfect entertainment. if there is something lacking, then i need to step up. not try to guilt trip everyone else into putting out the kind of material that i want to see.” If you can’t see how fucking offensive that is, *it is not my job to educate you on why*.

      It is YOUR job to educate yourself as to why the rest of the world might be pissed for the way your group, however you fit into it, treats (or by its very nature, DOESN’T EVEN ADDRESS) the needs of the groups it oppresses.

      I try my best to be understanding online, and give members of the dominant group who want to address their privilege the benefit of the doubt, and I think I’ve seen plenty of people like that come around and be a little more aware of their cultural context. But I can’t do anything with someone who engages in this kind of enraged, “FEMINISTS JUST HATE MY PENIS” false-equivalence ranting.

      So instead, i’m just going to leave some links. Maybe if you read them a little more thoroughly than you read my comments above, you might rethink your incredibly offensive position.

      First of all, PLEASE READ THIS. This is probably the best guide to checking your privilege I’ve ever found, and it addresses the privilege of multiple groups, so it might be soothing to read for you: “Check my what? On privilege and what we can do about it”

      Then these:

      What is “the male gaze”?

      Derailing for Dummies
      “The best part is, you don’t even have to be a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, cissexual, upper-class male to enjoy the full benefits of derailing conversation! Nope, you can utilise the lesser-recognised tactic of Horizontal Hostility to make sure that, despite being a member of a Marginalised Group™ yourself, you can exercise a privilege another Marginalised Group™ doesn’t have in order not to heed their experience!”

      Think Women Have Acheived Equality? Think Again.

      The Male Privilege Checklist
      41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

      “Westerners are fond of the saying ‘Life isn’t fair.’ Then, they end in snide triumphant: ‘So get used to it!’
      What a cruel, sadistic notion to revel in! What a terrible, patriarchal response to a child’s budding sense of ethics. Announce to an Iroquois, ‘Life isn’t fair,’ and her response will be: ‘Then make it fair!’ This is the matriarchal approach to learning.


      Barbara Alice Mann, Iroquois woman

    • Brandon says:

      Yeah, there’s minority creators but for the most part those guys are people who get along with the mentality that allows for such limited scope in what is out there as opposed to what’s possible. Obviously there are exceptions but I don’t think I’d be crazy to say that Perez, Valentino and Silvestri’s work doesn’t really come from that different of a place than whatever white superhero cartoonists. And that’s fine, but it’s not real diversity.

      It’s not as simple as just stepping up, a large part of this community sees nothing wrong with the nepotism that exists that perpetuates a limited range of stuff.
      Nothing gets changed when people don’t see that there’s a problem.

      We get away with a lot by being the class of dudes that makes the rules.
      Me and you will never have to deal with what it’s like on the other side of that.
      We’re never going to really get objectified or marginalized, not in any real way.
      The people being upset have earned that and it’s not all about you,

  26. Mr. Privilege says:

    Celine, first of all i don’t have any guilt. i haven’t done anything wrong. if you are offended then that’s all on you. i’ve never oppressed anyone, and i refuse to be grouped by my perceived race or gender into a category that you can then rail against. i am not enraged, but i do think that you hate my penis.

    you see, i’m an individual, not an idea, which is exactly what a “group” is. it’s a conceptual framework that you can shove people in so that you have an easier time processing them. in effect, so you don’t have to treat them as people with their own wants and desires and thoughts. yes, generalizing the people you hate into an easy target for your rage is no different than what you feel your enemy has done. you are in danger of becoming what you hate, a sexist, racist bigot.

    i don’t see how drawing sexy women is any different from the naked men that you draw on your blog. i would never dream of inserting myself into your sketchbook and telling you what kinds of things to draw or write, yet for some reason that’s exactly what you feel you have a right to do when it comes to other creators.

    also, Brandon, i get what you’re saying, and i agree. perez and silvestri aren’t really coming from someplace else, and that proves my point that what Celine is going bonkers about isn’t white privilege at all, it’s male hormones. i also agree that there is a large part of the industry that doesn’t see a problem with objectifying women, and that’s an issue. that’s why if we have a problem with it, as individuals, we need to show that in our work just like i feel you and ross are doing. but i’m not going to allow myself to be bullied or made to feel like i have some sort of responsibility beyond my responsibility to be honest to myself. you can’t expect ceos and editors to address your hangups when they don’t share them.

    • It may be important to make sure there isn’t a mixing/confusion of discussion of the macro and micro going on here. Trends in large groups regarding concepts such as “male gaze” , “privilege”, etc are more meant for macro scale analysis, and are not meant, although they can be used as, a more educated way to be bigoted. (It’s more complicated than this, we are all caught up in something much bigger than the “I” that we think controls our behaviors, but hopefully the general point is made.)

    • Ian MacEwan says:

      Maaaaaan

      So you agree with Brandon, who seems to be in complete agreement with Celine, yet you’re certain that Celine is a penis-hating bigot. There’s something going on here.

      You seem more hung up on the “white” part of this alleged white male persecution that is “attacking” you. I read nothing from Celine that drew special attention to that. Straight-white-males and their unquestionable dominance of voice in the majority of entertainment, is an issue. In fact, I think Celine has focused less on the white part than on the straight male part. She, and everyone else here, have been talking about the ins and outs of how things like the Male Gaze is inescapable. How, when women are CONSTANTLY depicted as mindless sex objects, that creates a pretty aggressive message that’s being given to anyone who consumes this entertainment.

      And all you seem to be mad about is, “they’re saying I can’t draw sexy ladies”.

      Um, you can very much draw sexy ladies. Plenty of them. Sexy, human, three dimensional ladies. That don’t exist JUST to fuck you. That might really enjoy fucking you, being only one facet of many that informs their overall personality.

      I think everyone here likes drawing sexy people. But first and foremost, they’re PEOPLE. It’s not what you draw as much as how you draw it. Because they’re right, that it all carries messages from the creator no matter how intentional. If someone is lazy in their considerations for people that are consuming their work, they deserve to have their shit called on it.

      As far as racial representation goes: I really have no idea what say to if you think comics aren’t dominated by white people. There’s just no hope for you there.

      So yeah, you don’t have to take other people, which includes all sorts of genders, races, sexual orientations, into account when you’re telling a story. But then people don’t have to call you anything but a tunnel-visioned asshole either.

  27. Mr. Privilege says:

    wow, i think that you’re reading way too far into this. anyway, at this point i think i’ve said my piece and taken up enough of everyone’s time. i’m not going to go point for point trying to disprove people’s opinions or respond to insults or whatever. i just wanted to speak out against the negative stereotyping of straight white males. it’s no different than any other type of bigotry when you get right down to it. peace.

    • Brandon says:

      I think what set people off here was just that no one is attacking straight white dudes.

      What I was talking about before wasn’t about bullying but yeah, I do think that if were going to be part of a scene we all do have a responsibility to make that scene something we’re proud of. It’s not bigotry to say that the vast majority of publishing and editorial decisions in American comics are done by a straight white dudes so if the scene panders too much to that sect, (as I think it does) then it’s worth bringing up. Even if you aren’t interested in changing that at least be aware that it exists and that it does have an effect on the scene..

      The way comics are now, I honestly don’t know if a lot of the creators whose talents are most needed would want to join this scene. My misses does comics ,I have a lot of female friends that do as well and sometimes I don’t know why they hang around. It’s fucking gross sometimes. It needs to be better.

      Like i’d said before, It’s not about you as an individual. I think if someone is interested in American comics at all they pretty much have to be fans of straight white dudes because that’s the majority of who publishers put out.

      • I’m being pedantic, but wanted to mention there’s a goodly sized GLBT X-Men fanbase, for whatever that’s worth.

        Also! This- “I do think that if were going to be part of a scene we all do have a responsibility to make that scene something we’re proud of.” got me thinking. If you don’t mind my self indulgence, I’d like to explain a certain degree of the fatalism I have regarding a lot of the comics industry, especially regarding the big two. (Pardon what is about to come across as pseudo-name dropping/bragging. I’m only mentioning it to lend credence/relevance)

        Big Comic Writer X lives in town, and we were discussing the state of comics; how print will change, what role digital will play, etc etc. He mentioned some things that are pretty important when you look at this from, say, a game theory perspective vs an ideal goal/”be the change you want to see happen” perspective.

        Apparently one of the big two wants/needs to always make a profit, because they want to keep the corporation higher up the chain from telling them how to run their business. A demand/need for short term profit throws a major wrench in any grassroots machinery there may be to have creators take stands on any given subject that is important to them regarding comics. If what they want to do doesn’t look like it will make money, it won’t happen, and they’ll just pull someone else in to do the work if the creator is unflinching. Short term profit run businesses are not open to taking risks.

        Long story short, even if there were a major groundswell in comics where creators want to make “good” comics according to metric A, they will find the big two to be salted earth to plant in unless their ideas dovetail with the wants of the direct market.

        If we could somehow change the demographics of the direct market, then things would be different. But until then, to the best I can figure things out, it will be a vocal minority on the internet calling for change, while the buik of people doing the buying are showing a desire for the status quo or recycled content.

        Revolutions or big changes require the right set of circumstances, or it’s like trying to empty the ocean with a sieve. (not that changes cannot happen, but they have to be directly tied to money for the company or generate bad press which could lead to loss of money)

        Big Comic Writer X and I were stymied, and only saw digital as a possible way out of this. (and legal digital right now, is just a baby. All of the digital sales from one of the big two equaled the sales of one large comic shop. So changes need to be made and this medium needs time to mature/develop)

        The situation is frustrating, and I would love for comics to be as you would like for them to be. I want to make manga and BD style books. I want sci-fi everywhere. But I’ll be damned if I can figure out how that will happen any time soon.

        If you have any ideas how to make changes happen in the face of these massive forces that resist change, I’d be very interested in hearing them.

        regards,

        steven

        NB: This is much better than discussing this on twitter. It’s like a straightjacket was removed.

        • Brandon says:

          Yes much easier to type on here than twitter.

          With stuff like the GLBT X-Men fanbase, yeah, I do think that the readership and people making comics is a lot more diverse than a lot of the people making the books.

          I do think it’s more about what creators put up with and support rather than what the corporate end of the big 2 want. I don’t expect anything from the heads of M or DC. I don’t think the guys making big decisions there want comics to be better in the way that I do. Maybe a couple great books can slip through the cracks but it’s just not even worth worrying about.

          I think it’s a lot easier than the demographic changing. It seems as simple to me as getting some really good editors and publishers to really back some of the right artists.and that happens on a small scale now, i’d just like to see it a lot more. I think the quality of creators are there and with just a little money and freedom things would skyrocket.

          In the end though comics as an art form are fine, stuff is amazing right now as far as the talent out there, I just don’t think it’s translating to what’s on comic shelves every month. It’s a loss for how I like to get comics.

          • Good points. I can get behind the good editors/publishers backing the right creators thing. What you are doing with Image and PROPHET is an excellent example. There’s a lot of great comics on the indy and web scenes, and that’s fantastic. (I think webcomics are the black and white explosion of the 2000’s) I definitely agree with the money/freedom thing. The current choices for a person making a career out of comics seems to be either doing indy work and living at near poverty levels and/or supplementing with higher paying work, or doing mainstream work that isn’t as flexible and perhaps not as enjoyable. The fact that indy comics is pretty much an industry that is made up of people who work long hours for essentially free and do so out of passion for the craft is kind of fucked up when looked at as an industry instead of a movement. Indy comics are a hair’s breadth away from being fancy zines.

            I think as an art form comics will always be around in one form or another. I focus on the big two a lot because without them the industry as we know it would collapse. Stores cant stay in business selling indy books, unfortunately. (at least the way a lot of shops are ran) I really hope that cheap, heavily advertised digital comics can get here fast, as that seems to be the only way that I can see the indy market (or the big two offering more than 99% superhero books) expanding out of the shadow of the DM/the restrictions of the costs of print.

            The lack of good advertising campaigns in comics is rather infuriating for me. The DC 52 ad push showed that it can bring people in, but the rules that are set up for this game we are playing in the comic market seems to be stacked against bottom or middle-up change, at least in print.

            NB: I can’t speak much for DC, but the Marvel eds are pretty good eggs who care a lot about the books they work on, but have to work under heavy restrictions that center around short term profit. So I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue of desire. (they do have their Icon imprint for things like CASANOVA, which I think shows that when they aren’t under these restrictions they are willing to be pretty flexible) I mean, I had a big boost in work due to drawing a book about dog fuckers. Granted, a lot of the content/writing isn’t radically different, (I think. I’m not writer) but they are open to bringing in lot of artists from the indy scene that seem to do well working within the restricted environment. Every writer that I know at Marvel with the exception of Jason Aaron started out doing indy work. (and Aaron kind of counts anyway with SCALPED being a Vertigo book)

            Best,

            steven

  28. Mr. Privilege says:

    again, a totally sane, agreeable post. i hope that i didn’t come off as someone saying that the industry doesn’t pander to straight white guys, i mean, obviously it does. and i don’t know if i made this clear enough before, but I WANT TO SEE NON MAINSTREAM COMICS AND PERSPECTIVES, YO. that’s pretty much all i buy and read these days. so we probably agree far more than we disagree. but i definitely felt like there was a lot of stereotyping and male bashing going on.

    anyway, it’s very possible that i was being unnecessarily defensive. so sorry for that.

    • Matthew says:

      So you read, like, half the things Celine says, you zoom in on the words “male privilege”, and this is the best part, *you go onto her blog* and come back to scream at her about how she’s being a hypocrite for drawing porn with men.

      Now, if you actually took the time to read everything she said, you would have seen that she spends a good deal of time talking about her favorite male artists and the kind of porn they draw. Brandon here being one of them, Ross Cambell, R. Crumb, Johnny Negron, and I’m sure there are more she didn’t name. Dude, she LIKES porn, she likes men who draw hot women, she even likes looking at hot women herself! If she didn’t, the first thing she’d say was “brandon I hate your drawings of sexy ladies in this post.”

      What she doesn’t like is when male creators and the institutions they work for treat fantasy, sci-fi, adventure and superhero comics as a constant opportunity to draw porn. She can’t stand the hypocrisy that D.C. and Marvel won’t just go ahead and make a porno of their characters because that would somehow tarnish their reputation, but they’ll continue to alienate their potential female audience by churning out super sexualized male fantasy narratives and call it mainstream comics.

      Then she talks about how sad it is that Japan gets all her money because they know how to appeal to her sexuality.

      She talks about the REASONS she thinks the american comics world is the way it is, and one of those reasons is Male Privilege. Most everyone on this thread agree with her, and there was some debate on the finer points of the mechanics of the industry, and everything was respectful as far as I can tell.

      And then YOU showed up. You did what straight guys, unfortunately, do best: you took the one female perspective in this entire discussion and made it all about YOU and YOUR hurt feelings and your concern trolling about “male bashing”. You made your fear of having to actually confront the fact that society values you and your experiences more than women MORE IMPORTANT than the experiences of oppression that an actual woman you’re talking to is expressing. And all the other straight guys in the room cringed, probably because most of us can remember a time where we might have felt the way you felt. And then, when we tried to politely tell you to shut the fuck up, this isn’t about you, and no one feels sorry for you, you actually responded with some measure of reason and you were polite about it, while still being wrong. But when Celine goes through the trouble of finding some (really, really good) reading for you to study before you further make an ass of yourself, you tear her a new asshole. You tell her that she hates men and men’s natural desire to look at beautiful women. You tell her that if she wants things to change, she should make her own comics and sell them. Dude, do you get that we, as guys, have no fucking right to tell someone that if they don’t like the way the entertainment industry caters to us they should entertain themselves? Men don’t have to be creators in order to find entertainment. Odds are, someone has anticipated a demand for what they want, and will be able to find investors willing to help them create a product to meet that demand. If a chick wants to see something that isn’t already out there, but she isn’t an artist or a writer, and lacks the connections or money to pay other artists and writers to realize her vision? Nobody gives a shit about her. And she knows that. Why is it her responsibility to make it happen, when we have no idea what that responsibility really means?

      And this is the (other) best part: somewhere in all this mess, you claim that you’ve never oppressed anyone.
      Celine, as far as I know, was the only woman on this thread. She has probably been told all her life that her opinions, especially her opinions about any industry that creates entertainment for a male audience, don’t count and aren’t wanted. As an added bonus, she’s also probably been told all throughout her life that her beauty and sex appeal are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING about her, but she’s also been told that it is her job to defer to and please men and be grateful for any positive attention that men give her, even if it’s totally inappropriate and makes her feel very, very afraid. And this is how it’s always been. There was never a time in history where this wasn’t true. This reality is re-enforced by practically every aspect of society, it’s the air we breath. Sexism isn’t just prejudice. It’s prejudice + institutional power. When feminists talk about sexism, they aren’t just talking about the shady guy groping them on a metro car FULL of other people who don’t do a fucking thing to stop it, or the boss who will never trust her expertise without checking with a male coworker to make sure she knows what she’s talking about. They’re talking about the culture in which this shit is reinforced, the ancient institutions that codify it into law, and the collective memory that can’t think of a time where it was any different, so what alternative could possibly exist?

      Women not trusting men to understand them or take them seriously? Women acknowledging the fact that us straight white guys are probably tools until we prove that we can be trusted with their experiences? That isn’t “reverse sexism”. It doesn’t exist. There simply isn’t the same kind of institutional power backing it up and reinforcing it. It’s just a bias at best, and at worst a prejudice, just like racial minorities taking a shit on other racial minorities, and guys like you and me have absolutely no right to dictate how a woman should respond to the oppression she faces. We have no concept of it. You and me? We can escape sexism. It isn’t something we have to deal with if we don’t want to. We even have the power to deny when we’re oppressing others, because we’ll never have to answer for it unless we break a law, and even then, the system is on our side. Celine can’t escape it. She lives with it every day, it is the constant background noise of her life.

      And when you showed up and played the victim, turning her into the nasty, castrating feminist oppressor, and denied her the right to her feelings because she DARED to point out that, yeah, men in comics have no reason to change the status quo because their boners are way more important than their potential female audience…..all the other women who might have participated in this discussion decided not to, because if they want to deal with shitheads like you they can just get that abuse by walking out the door. We lost the valuable voices of who knows how many women because you want to make it all about your penis.

      Wake up. You ARE oppressing people, if for nothing else than the way you’ve behaved on this thread. And you don’t get to write all this shit and then, when other guys call you on it, backpedal and hold up your hands and say “woah, you guys are taking this WAY too seriously!” You don’t get to dictate other people’s feelings. Your intentions count for nothing. You have to take responsibility for your words, and if you’re not ready to face people’s anger when you act like a sexist asshole, get the fuck off Brandon’s blog. Maybe you’ll feel better on the “Men’s Rights” reddit.

  29. J.R. says:

    Brandon, I like your blog very much and have never read a full-length book of yours yet but I preordered the King City collection because I am fed up with bad comics and don’t really want to read anything but good comics by honest people until I die. So thanks for making comics and talking straight.

  30. nice gi joe ninja reference
    http://www.yojoe.com/comics/covers/joe26.jpg
    i love that simon roy cover for number #25

  31. Pingback: Technoccult Interivew: King City Artist/Writer Brandon Graham | Technoccult

  32. buzby says:

    Okay its been a while, but hopefully you can still answer my question.

    I am very, very confused about what you think is acceptable and what is not. You draw porn and Celine draws porn. You both think its ok, and not sexist. But you both think the industry is sexist and you say it is sometimes “gross”. How do you tell whether something is acceptable or offensive? Does it come down to the skill of the artist involved? Is it that the industry as a whole is sexist because it only presents one perspective, but individual artists are not sexist themselves?

    I would really appreciate if you could clarify that for me.

    • Brandon says:

      Sure. I tend to draw the line when it’s something sold as adventure or superhero comics but only shows the lady characters in really dehumanizing ways. A lot of that’s the quality of the writing and art involved.

      I’m cool with just porn for the sake of making porn with nothing more to it than someone wanting to draw what turns them on.
      I bring it up as gross when it becomes these company run properties(that aren’t even anyone’s pet project) that take over such a large percentage of what’s in comic stores and only depict women in one way. If it was sold as porn then I’d just call it low quality softcore but it’s treated as the norm.

      I do think a lot of the individual artists work is sexist when they can only show women as creatures there to arouse them without any other attributes. I have some grey areas with my taste too,and I’m not saying that my work is the ideal, I love what Manara does, but I wish he’d branch out more, (I think his earlier work did). I think guillem march, the guy on Catwoman now, is a really good illustrator who got tied up with a sub par writer. I think the same cheesecake subject matter can be done with wit and charm, like in Adam warren’s Empowered.

      My main thing is I want everyone to feel welcome in the comics community, I want more options for diversity and different kinds of books and so I view so many of the low quality homogeneous tit comics as limiting.

      • buzby says:

        Thank you for the reply, that was quite helpful and I think I pretty much agree with you. I was going to ask you about Manara too, because I like his work. I think you are totally right that comics should have a broader perspective, but I also really enjoy books that some people might consider sexist, not superhero books which to be honest I hate, but books like Requiem: vampire knight by pat mills and olivier ledroit – I love the fantastic and imaginative world and yes the crazy sex and violence too. Thats the main reason I like comics – the imagination and the primal thrills – so for me I dont necessarily feel that the female characters or any of the characters for that matter have to be real fleshed out people in every case. And I do like your porn work too, like your drawings on this page are fantastic ;)

  33. jesus strong says:

    im haveing an issue breaking through this rut ive been going through have any suggestions most of my work makes me want to burn my sketchbook

    • Brandon says:

      What usually helps me is just digging up the old work by my favorite artists that got me excited to draw and redrawing from that to remind myself that it can be fun.

  34. Pingback: Brandon Graham vs. Judd Winick

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