• Longform 

    How To Win At Comics in 2013, Starring Kelly Sue DeConnick and Friends

    By | June 3rd, 2013
    Posted in Longform | % Comments

    This is going to be a bit long and feature the writing of people who are not members of this site. Forgive the massive cross-posting which we’re aware can at times seem self-indulgent, but we assure you that there is a purpose to all of this. Consider it a pseudo-sequel to last year’s version of a piece with the same title (kinda sorta, but mostly not really).

    Earlier today on Tom Brevoort’s Formspring, the following appeared from an anonymous poster:

    To which Kelly Sue responded:

    I’ve got three things I’ve got to get turned in today, two kids to get fed and dressed and a bag to pack and a flight to catch, so I can’t respond to this the way I’d like, but I’m putting it here so I don’t forget.

    I also need to let my temper subside a bit.  If I were to reply right now I’d resort to name-calling and insults and we all know there’s no ground to be gained there.

    Instead, when I’m not shaking anymore, I’ll recount my career trajectoryAGAIN.  [Magazine writer/research assistant—>comic reviewer—>7 years /10K+ pages adapting manga into English—>anthology shorts—>co-writing gigs—>one-shots—>minis—->ongoings]

    Maybe I’ll get Alejandro Arbona to attest—AGAIN!—that I was blind-submitted for my first gig at Marvel.  I’ll offer that if you’re looking for Men to Credit for My Career, you should look first to Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Peter Rose, Steve Niles and Jamie Rich — all of whom were responsible for making introductions or getting me chances to submit my work well before Matt Fraction had any pull in the industry.  (I’ll also state in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t sleeping with any of those men, because I know, dear Anon, that is your next assumption.)  Or Brian Bendis, who had championed my work in a way I will never be able to adequately thank him for.  (Ditto Steve Wacker.)

    (Also not sleeping with Brian or Steve, just so we’re clear.)

    Maybe I’ll ponder why it isn’t Fraction who’s considered to have benefited from nepotism.  After all, more than 10 years ago now, Matt Fraction was my plus one to Joe Quesada’s 40th birthday party and it was me who sent copies of Last of the Independents to Joe and Axel.  I mean, clearly, it was those gestures that got Fraction his career — certainly not the merit of his work, right? I mean, come on — those Hawkeye Eisner noms are part mine, right?

    (I can’t imagine how sick Fraction must be of hearing me tell that story. But I bet it’s not half as sick of it as I am.)

    (The first person I met in the industry was Wil Rosado. Through him, the first editors I met were Andy Ball, who’s since moved on, and Joey Cavalieri. Just in case anybody wants to make a chart. This would be… maybe 4 years before I met Fraction, Gillen, Ellis, McKelvie et al on the WEF.)

    Okay, deep breath.

    Bendis is going to tell me that I shouldn’t acknowledge this, that I’m feeling trolls, but here’s the pickle: people deny that this happens.  We’re told that the insults to our dignity working women face are in our imagination, that it’s a thing of sexy Mad Men past.  It’s WOMEN who make this a thing, right?  (Hysterical, don’t you know.)  We’re to the point where I meet young women who won’t identify as feminists because the struggle is over and it’s only a thing if you make it one.

    Bullshit.

    It’s not a natural assumption to leap to the conclusion that I got my job because of my marriage.  It’s the product of deeply-ingrained sexist thinking.  I can name for you a half a dozen men who did, in fact, get their first big two gigs because of who they knew and their dignity and their qualifications havenever been called into question.  I’m lucky if I go a week.

    I was recently directed to a post on a snake pit of a message board (what was I thinking, even going to look?) by a man I’d known as long as I’d known my husband, a man I’d met at the same time—a man who had felt free to ask professional favors of me on multiple occasions—who was lamenting how “easily” I’d gotten to where I was because of Fraction. When friends of mine pointed him to my CV, he half-apologized because he had no idea.  Apparently he thought Marvel—a publicly-owned company—was in the habit of handing out gigs to freelancer’s wives just for kicks.  Then he threw up the bit about it being a natural assumption.

    I would say simply ‘fuck that guy’ and chalk it up to his not being half as smart as he thinks he is, but here’s the thing:

    That guy has daughters.

    For them, and for my daughter and for your daughter, I am going to occasionally shine a light on these things… even though it both enrages and embarrasses me.

    I don’t know if it’s the right call, but I know that ‘ignore it and it’ll go away’ isn’t working.

    I need to figure out a way to contain my outrage enough to talk about it in a way that doesn’t attack, but invites dudes like Anon to rethink their ‘natural assumptions’ without setting myself up as an uppity bitch that they’re invested in proving wrong.

    I… I clearly don’t know how to do that right now.  But I’m going to figure it out.

    Later.

    Right now, the kids need breakfast and my son has questions about the xenomorph that can’t wait another second.

    I’m out.

    Continued below

    It’s a very heartfelt response, and absolutely no less than what you’d expect from Kelly Sue. She’s a brilliant, friendly and outspoken person, and anyone familiar with her and her passion certainly can understand a) the frustration which she assuredly feels being confronted with this nonsense and b) the sheer amount of righteous ass-kicking she can assuredly deliver at the appropriate moment. She is, after all, a member of the Kickass Alliance of Positively Original Women.

    But, more than anything, she’s right: it’s just bullshit. All of it. How fans react to and treat female characters and creators? That’s bullshit. The recent treatment of Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs Women in Games series and how it got trolled by angry male fans into getting pulled off YouTube? That’s bullshit. Faith Erin Hicks’  past treatment as a female artist? That’s bullshit. The reaction Brian Wood got for “X-Men” starring all women before the book even came out? That’s bullshit. Not to be overly crass, but there is a whole lot of bullshit going on right here.

    And it’s unnecessary and disheartening, and you’d hoped we would all be better than this by now. But more on this later.

    As you can expect, this didn’t end here. Kelly Sue said her piece and said it well, but there is always more to be said. Matt Fraction chimed in with his own thoughts:

    Men In Comics: Systematically Taking Away Everything Women In Comics have Accomplished

    Actually i suppose you don’t need the “in comics” bit.

    This is completely unacceptable behavior, thinking, believing. As an industry it’s never going to get better for women until the men in it say FUCK THAT. My wife was published long before me. My wife was writing in comics before me. She was in comics even before she knew me. And on top of working her ass off, she (and surely innumerable others) have this ANONYMOUS BULLSHIT slung at them. She’s earned every one of her gigs and more on her own. And she works harder than many and hasn’t once taken to a message board anonymously to sling this kind of rancid bullshit at others.

    And this dick of a little boy thinks the reason she gets to do his dream job is me.

    With additional solidarity from the likes of Gail Simone:

    Jesus fucking Christ.

    Kelly Sue has acknowledged more than she should ever POSSIBLY need to right now.

    But it can also be summed up thusly:

    KELLY SUE DeCONNICK CAN OUTWRITE 99.9% OF THE WRITERS IN COMICS ON HER WORST DAY.

    Mess with HER, you mess with ME, and you mess with ALL of us who care about what we do.

    Also, go fuck yourself.

    And Greg Rucka:

    I can add nothing to this. Kelly Sue’s talent and work ethic is undeniable and evident to any and all who have read her work.

    However, for my money’s worth, the best response is from Neil Gaiman:

    This is the way to get work: be bright and be smart and be reliable and be nice and be competent.

    (remember this?

    That’s her.)

    If I remember correctly, Kelly Sue turned up at a signing in about 1996 and asked if I needed an assistant, and gave me her email address. I didn’t, I already had one, but she’d seemed really nice and smart, and I wrote back to her telling her I didn’t need an assistant and wishing her well. And  we stayed in touch. She wrote interesting emails, of the kind that you reply to, and sometimes she needed help or advice and I was always happy to give it. I think we got together once, socially, in late ‘98, and I was always sorry that it was just that once.

    If I did any good to her career, other than being encouraging over the years, and being really thrilled whenever anything she did was successful (including getting married and having kids while writing good comics), I don’t know what it was. I liked being her cheerleader and I’ve enjoyed being her friend. For as long as I’ve been watching, she did it all herself.

    There are married couples in comics, often brought together by a mutual interest in comics in the first place.

    And there is a crippling sort of social sexism that sees women as peculiar appendages of their men.

    It’s sad to see Kelly Sue having to defend herself. It’s reassuring to see her do it so well.

    And I’m reblogging for all the people, especially the male people, who never gave any of this stuff a moment’s thought, so that next time something like this creeps across their radar they’re a little bit wiser, a little bit more prepared.

    Continued below

    Kelly Sue has responded to Gaiman’s note, the only thing I won’t copy/paste here (though it’s very touching admittedly) if only because I think Gaiman’s remarks are the perfect place to end on — because he’s right, beyond belief and 100%: Kelly Sue should never have to defend herself and her body of work because of her gender, and that she still has to do so as if she wasn’t writing one of the best Marvel ongoings of the moment (let alone the past five years at least) is insane to me. And not only should Kelly Sue not have to defend her career but no one should, period. The work speaks for itself and this is certainly one of those instances where, if there any other name on that cover you’d hear nothing about it, which is just a continuation of the nonsense double standard that exists.

    This behavior certainly isn’t beholden only to comics as a community (as mentioned earlier with the Feminist Frequency YouTube nonsense), but it is a sad reflection of an ingrained belief system that should be outgrown by now. You never think you need to explain to someone what kind of behavior is or isn’t acceptable until its too late, but if there’s one thing that social media has essentially left upon our beliefs today its that we conceivably don’t require any kind of filter for our more idiotic thoughts thanks to the veil of anonymity. Just as a person with a semblance of rationale, it’s rather infuriating to see people treat others with such avid disdain over the most trite of reasons.

    It’s sad, and it’s stupid.

    It’s bullshit.

    Originally this was just going to be a news post with a headline something along the lines of “Anonymous Person Attempts To Smack Talk Great Author, Gets Smacked Down”, but as I began to put the piece together I realized that I obviously had more to say than just some satirical thumb-nosing title at an anonymous jerk. But ultimately, after all of this, the point of the piece was done in order to point out this type of attitude and give it a massive bop on the nose with a newspaper as something that there is no reason to accept or tolerate. I’m not attempting to proselytize over-dramatically in any fashion (no more so than what is obvious, anyway), but I feel it stands worth noting at the end of this piece that the point of copy pasting all of this for you here is simply to state: we stand with Kelly Sue. She’s not asking us to, nor does she even need to – she’s perfectly awesome on her own right without us.

    So if nothing else, we’re taking the opportunity here simply to say:

    1. Treat others with the same respect you’d like to be treated with.
    2. Don’t be an anonymous dick on the internet.

    Like I said: you don’t think you need to tell people this stuff…

    The only thing Kelly Sue’s career should be judged by is the quality of her work, and of that she’s by far above and beyond one of the most talented writers today. Here’s a list of a bunch of reviews we’ve given to Kelly Sue books as further proof of why she kicks more ass than you:

    Point proven, right?


    //TAGS | Multiversity 101 | Multiversity Rewind

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."

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