Tuesday, November 19, 2013

That uncomfortable feeling.... Sex and Comic book creators.

I've been thinking a lot about the Brian Wood allegations of late. I'm not there, I've never been there. I've dated one woman that I met working in comics. I've certainly have been attracted to many women that I consider friends and colleagues. I would hope that I never came off as untoward but I also never actively made advances towards any of the women i've worked with. I don't know Brian, we've met, but we're not friends and don't travel in the same circles, So I can't defend him, but I also won't condemn him either.

 I'm also not discounting what Tess Fowler, or some of the others have made public. However, theres a part of me that knows that outside of my work life, I had a very active dating life when I was single,and I may not have always approached it the right way. As individuals, or perception of events differ from others (The classic your version, my version and the truth somewhere in the middle comes to mind.) . the problem I have is we have reached a point in our technology, where the ability to demonize strangers, harass them, torture them has become to easy.

Is there sexism in comics? Hell yes. There's also an undercurrent of racism too. Is it good to have the conversation and try to change things, yes. however as Heidi MacDonald pointed out in her excellent article :" None of what I’ve just written about is comics behavior. It’s HUMAN behavior. There are jerks and assholes in every industry. In all the vast body of writing about the increasing tensions of men and women — many attractive, most sexually active—interacting in the comics sphere there is bad stuff that is singular to our corner of the world, but most of it is everywhere. And as women enter the field in ever greater capacities—as readers, as creators, as fans—these problems have become more common."

I don't have a catch all answer to how to change things. We live in industry that is filled with people who don't have great interpersonal skills. The concepts of personal space and inappropriate behavior tend to blur for some. Add to the mix talented, attractive, intelligent women who share the same interests that they do and some guys (And some gals too, let's be honest) Don't know what to do with themselves. (I once had a woman continuous try to paw on me at a show, grabbing my ass and aiming occasionally for the crotch.) cosplayers, who for the most part try to replicate the sexier costume designs from comics, etc. constantly have to deal with pawing hands.

There's a part of me that wants to say "It was nearly a decade ago, people change", but again, I wasn't there, i'm not a woman and I can't speak from that perspective, but as a father, I would hope that Catherine would show the same bravery as Tess Fowler and others have.
I don't think trying to ruin Brian Wood's career is the answer either.


  1. Jamal, thank you for writing about this. As "one of the others", I feel I must make clear that at no time have I or anyone else I know suggested that Mr. Wood's career should be ruined. But in this instance, whether I brought up something that happened 10 years or 10 days ago, the things I spoke of were facts. Mr. Wood acknowledged that they occurred, but avoided saying he was at fault in any way.

    If certain companies choose to take his previous behavior into account that is their right. They certainly weren't doing it 10 years ago when I reported it.

    Perhaps the answer isn't that girls and women need to be brave or that the previous behavior of men should drive them from their chosen profession.

    Maybe it's that the culture needs to stop allowing the offending behavior to go unacknowledged or acknowledged but unaddressed.

    If Tess' bravery is not rewarded through the application of justice, what message does that send to your daughter? That speaking out leads to 20 harassing emails a day while the accused is allowed to silently hide until it blows over?

    I truly hope that this next generation doesn't have to think speaking up for oneself is brave. I'd rather they think of it as a common practice that will be met with the basic courtesy one human being gives to another. The courtesy of listening.

    I'm sorry I didn't see this post and comment when it was new. My apologies.

  2. I agree with your points, Anne. I know Tess has never said that Brian shouldn't get work either, I have seen some the people who have responded to articles about this say such things. I think however that is part of the bigger problem with the reach of technology being what it is (forming cyber-lynch mobs as it were). A separate issue for a separate day. Not knowing the particulars and not wanting to jump to conclusions, spurred me to write the article. Like I said, it's not a situation I've had to deal with, other than the overly aggressive woman who assumed her advances would be welcomed. The follow up to my declining her offer were accusations about my sexuality. That was an isolated incident and I laughed it off. I'm not a woman, but I've heard stories from my wife, my sisters and friends about cat calls, being groped on the subway, etc. So I am sensitive to the types of harassment that women have had to deal with, but I can't speak to that experience.
    I do hope that this spurs a larger discussion, and the types of changes we need to make as an industry and a society.


About Me

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One of the most popular and prolific pencillers in the comic book industry, Jamal Igle is an award winning artist and writer. Best known for his run on Supergirl with writer Sterling Gates, Jamal has been a professional jack of all trades for nearly 20 years, drawing every title from Action Comics to Zatanna for DC Comics. A former comics retailer, Editor for several small press companies including TV Comics, Airwave Comics and Destination Entertainment. Former Junior Art Director and Marketing rep in the Advertising and publishing arenas. Jamal's clients include Marvel Comics, image Comics, Dark Angel productions/ Simmons and Company, Devil's Due Studios, Crusade Entertainment, Walt Disney inc., Sony Television, CBS Television and Scholastic Entertainment. Jamal has also worked as a conceptional artist for the Toy and gaming industries as well as film and television. Jamal is married to his beautiful, and much smarter wife Karine.They're also the proud parents of an extremely cute child named Catherine and a Cat named Loustique