Tag Archives: Old dying people

I Like My Coffee Like I Like My Women. Bitter. Tainted. Washed Up.

Link to today’s strip

That must be one of those ultra hipster coffee shops that adds CBD oil to the ‘special’ brew, because Mindy in panel 3 is baked out of her skull. And the sapphic undertones come back in full force as Ruby leers at Mindy and confesses she wishes that she were young again, and Mindy, grinning, labels her a ‘girl’, promising to make her fantasy reality.

And it is Batiukian in the extreme that Ruby’s protest of her ‘coffee girl’ duties was passive aggressive and petty. If he wanted Ruby to be a real crusader, she would have flat out refused to fulfill the chauvinistic expectations of the men around her. But no, she was miserable, remained miserable, and now wishes she had been born in a different decade because her own was unabated misery.

I’ve read so many compelling interviews this week, interviews with Lily Renee, Valerie (Violet) Barclay, Ramona Fradon, and Marie Severin. You know what these women wanted to talk about? What they got passionate talking about? Art. Writing. Their Work.

They didn’t want to spend hours complaining about how every man in their life was a miserable bastard. We’ve seen one picture of one character Ruby Lith drew. We know more about all the men who ruined her life than the art that was supposedly her passion.

An interesting interview with Fradon started this way.

Bradley: I suppose one of the first questions you get hit with is: Was it hard to be a woman in the comic industry? Did the guys treat you poorly, etc.? But I also know you haven’t had a negative thing to say about that aspect, and that’s awesome, so let’s skip that part, and talk about the work.

You like mysteries. So do we. Please tell us about working on House of Mystery with Joe Orlando. Is there a standout story for you from that period? Also, what other mystery-type books did you get to work with?

Ramona:

    Thanks for not asking me that.

As for the mysteries, I enjoyed working with Joe Orlando. He was a great editor. He was more interested in the art work than other editors I had and he taught me a lot, especially about inking. The mysteries were written very melodramatically and I preferred working on them more than the superheroes.

She enjoyed working with a man. A man who was a ‘great editor’ who pushed her to do even better work. Please stop asking her the same tired questions about her presumed persecution. Ask her about her ART. Ask her about her CHARACTERS. Let her know that you care about her contribution because she is a great comics artist in her own right, not because her sex makes her a curiosity.

Bradley: As cool as Metamorpho is himself, I’m a big Sapphire fan. I really think Sapphire Stagg is one of the hottest chicks in comics. Is there some Ramona in Sapphire?

Ramona: Of course Sapphire was me.

Bradley: Just fun to hear you say it.
Another goofy character you worked on was Plastic Man. Was there any key difference, enjoyment, or advantage between working on Metamorpho vs. Plastic Man?

Ramona: Plastic Man was fun in a different way. His stories were satirical and he was a total goof, while Metamorpho was sexy and involved a lot of interaction among the characters. I enjoyed them both but in different ways.

Bradley: Metamorpho sexy? You really are Sapphire!

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Bullpen Bullsh*t

Today’s strip.

Don’t know why I bothered updating this, it’s just a boring restatement of same boring theme of the entire week. I really wish I could pin Batiuk down and demand his sources for this storyline. I want the biographies, the interviews, heck the Wikipedia articles, he’s read. Because if he’s basing this on Lily Renee, fine, she was a teenage immigrant stuck in an office with strange men who made things uncomfortable for her. But telling this narrative as the prototypical experience does a disservice to the careers of Marie Severin, Toni Blum, and all the other women who managed pleasant working relationships with their editors and coworkers.

Here’s a little view into a sexist, patriarchal, art-jail of EC Comics where Marie Severin was an invisible colorist: harassed, underpaid, and unappreciated.

Was [artist] Al Williamson pretty demanding?

No. I didn’t want him to commit suicide because … You know what we did to him one time? Because I’m bad like that, I had this disappearing ink. You know in those days we did dopy things. You wore glasses with eyes. And Al Williamson would come in with his artwork like it was his child. I mean he killed himself on it. He was young and enthusiastic. It was wonderful. Great stuff. He brought it in and I was out to get him. So, Al Feldstein said something to me. We had it all planned and I threw it on his shirt and I said, “Don’t you talk to me like that!”

He said, “Are you crazy?!” Everybody wore white shirts in those days, everybody. And I walked out of the room.

And Bill is going, “Ah hahahah.” [Laughter.]

And Al is saying, “She’s crazy, she’s lost her mind.” As he’s talking it’s disappearing. And Bill is going, “Ah ha ha ha ha,” and it was still wet. When he looked down it was gone.

So when Williamson came in, they got his work and Al went, “Oops, oh my God!”

And Williamson went “Oh! Oh! [Laughter] You’ve killed my child!”

Did Al laugh when he realized that his art wasn’t hurt?

Oh yeah, but it took him 10 minutes, ’cause he was ready for an ambulance. ’Cause any of these guys, they really worked. Everybody worked hard on their stuff but Al especially. He was the baby and he brought in his stuff late. Very late. [Laughs.]

Below is a picture Marie drew and colored in 2004 of the EC Comics staff as they were in the 50’s. Look how she drew those chauvisinstic boors who either ignored her or made her life hell.

a poor invisible woman, maligned by her peers

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Your Cheatin’ Heart

Link to today’s strip

No, sorry Baby Ruthie and Tommy Batiuk. Sad, yes, but not ‘true.’ And having a character say, “Sad, but true.” to add truthiness to this dubious story of sexism in early comics is worse than disingenuous. You are willfully furthering a narrative that seems plausible without any real facts behind it because you like the message. You’re Mason Locke Weems, making up the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, and sticking it in a biography.

That last panel is really a hoot though. Batiuk’s bumbling dialogue makes it sound like Ruth’s hubby was really into polyamory, with three wives and two mistresses simultaneously. Hey, Ruthie, you know who else had two wives and two mistresses? Jacob the patriarch! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Mindy meanwhile looks like she’s about to bolt. She’s leaning waaaay away from Ruth now, like bitterness is a disease and she’s afraid to catch it.

The ‘truthiness’ of Ruth’s statement in panel two is partially contingent on when she started working. During WWII there was an uptick on women working comic books to make up for the men who were at war. So that might have been when the editor was ‘in a pinch.’

The unrealistic statement is that Ruth would be expected to stop working when she got married. All the women I looked at didn’t stop working when they got married, some started working married, but many stopped working when they had kids. Women like Dorothy Woolfolk and Ramona Fradon returned to comics once their kids were older. Other women found different careers in illustration, like children’s books, magazines. You know, Batiuk, not every comic creator is a massively passionate fan of the genre, some just did it for the money for a while and then moved on.

Ramona Fradon did love working on comics though, and went back to it when her daughter was in school. I found a great interview with her from the 2016 issue of the Comic Book Creator Magazine. This might be a long quote, but I think it speaks volumes about what it was actually like being a married mother in comics.

CBC: So “Aquaman” was just boring?
Ramona: Well, yes. I hate to say it.
CBC: Did you hate it so much that you used raising a daughter as an excuse to quit or you really had to?
Ramona: Well, she was two then, hanging on my knee, and I’d be trying to meet deadlines. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t continue to do that.
CBC: Did you have to stay up late often? What did you do?
Ramona: I would, of course, wait ’til the deadline was looming. What did
I do? I went crazy. And the poor little thing. We used to drop pencils and
crayons—Dana [her husband], too—on the floor and she’d be down there coloring, you
know? [laughs]
CBC: That’s what mommy’s doing, right?
Ramona: She has told me she liked that! But it wasn’t fair to her. I
couldn’t keep doing it. If I had been faster it would have been one thing, but
I wasn’t.
CBC: Did you really need the money?
Ramona: No, but my mother used to say, “Don’t do what I did.” She gave
up her work. She wanted to be an artist, too. So I had it stuck in my mind
that because we got left high and dry I figured somehow I had to keep
working no matter what, even though I wasn’t making any real money. But it
was something, you know.
CBC: So did your husband have a studio in the house?
Ramona: Yes.
CBC: So you were both there during weekdays? Did you interact with
each other at all?

Ramona: Oh, sure. We weren’t in the same space—I had a little studio
and he was up in the attic studio—but, yes, we were both there and we’d
eat lunch together and we’d work around the place.
CBC: Were you friends?
Ramona: Yes, we were.
CBC: It’s probably about a year, year-and-a-half that you just worked
raising Amy, right?

Ramona: No, it was seven years! I waited ’til she was in school. I hadn’t
planned to go back, but I was getting a little restless just being a housewife.
And then one day Roy Thomas called me and asked me if I wanted to do a
story.
CBC: So the Metamorpho thing was just an anomaly?
Ramona: Yes. I just did that to help George out, to get it started.
CBC: Right. So then you went back to child-rearing. Were you just planning, “That was the last thing I will do in comics”? Was that the thought?
Ramona: I didn’t have any plan. I never do.
CBC: Just day by day?
Ramona: [Laughs] So this wave came along and I got on it when Roy
called me.

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Fact Gap.

Link to today’s strip

In hours and hours and hours of searching I couldn’t find a single instance of a woman in comics being paid less simply because she was a woman. The only time I saw it addressed directly was in a question and answer session 2007 from with Ramona Fradon, who worked for DC from the 50’s to the 80’s. She neglected to answer.

Stroud: What was the page rate at the time and did they pay you the same as your male counterparts?
RF: When I quit in 1980 to draw Brenda Starr, I think I was getting $75 a page.

But earlier in the interview she had this to say about her editors.

Stroud: Which editors did you work with? Were they easy to get along with?
RF: I worked with Murray Boltinoff, George Kashdan, Joe Orlando and Nelson Bridwell. Nelson was the only one who you might say was difficult. He was very exacting and protective of his story lines. He designed a lot of the characters and didn’t want any deviation. I preferred inventing my own characters, but these were kind of mythological archetypes and I suppose they had to be what they were.

Neither Marie Severin nor Fradon ever tried to claim sexism made their editors hostile to them. Marie Severin who worked for DC said in an interview :

Everybody was very nice to me at DC. They didn’t seem to question the fact that I was a woman doing the work. I mean it may have amused them, but they didn’t discriminate against me at all. I have no complaints at all about the way I was treated.

Some second party sources blamed gender on women being passed over for promotions or gigs, but nothing like an editor coming right out docking someone’s pay on the basis of their genitalia. There were women EDITORS, like Rae Herman and Dorothy Woolfolk, the woman who invented Kryptonite!

I also cannot find any evidence of a woman being forced by an editor to obscure her gender. Here’s a quote from an interview with Trina Robbins, a female comics writer and also historian, who wrote a book “Pretty In Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013.” She actually researched the sexism that went on in comics.

For so much of the history of entertainment media, you’ve had women who wrote under pseudonyms or male names to get things published. Going back and digging through the history, how do you even start to try to unearth female creators when there was little attention paid to them or possibly hiding their identity under a different name?

The fact is that that’s not really true. Some women did change their names, but not the majority of them at all. It’s funny, it’s a myth that people think women had such a hard time they had to give themselves male names in order to sell their strips. Well, no. Some of them changed their names: June Tarpe Mills removed the June and called herself Tarpe Mills and said in an interview before she drew “Miss Fury” that she felt the boys who read it would not like it if these exciting and virile — she used the word virile! — heroes were drawn by a woman. But of course once she started doing “Miss Fury” there were newspaper articles about her, everybody knew who she was and they knew it was a woman, and they even knew she looked like the character she drew. There’s even one newspaper article from the New York Daily News titled “Meet The Real Miss Fury: It’s All Done With Mirrors!” It was no secret.

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Initial Impressions

Link to today’s strip

This is going to be an exhausting week of fact checking. But I’m under some kind of sick compulsion to turn into Batiuk’s own personal Snopes. Every single statement turns into an hours long internet deep dive. Because, despite my name, I don’t have some kind of massive encyclopedic knowledge of all this feminist comic book history. Prior to this week all I really knew was Phantom Lady, Gail Simone and Women in Refrigerators, and I knew Metamorpho had been made by a woman. So I’d like to start the week off by thanking Batiuk for sending me on a Google/Wiki Safari that taught me more about awesome ladies like Violet Barclay, Ramona Fradon, Tarpe Mills, and Toni Blum.

So today, we’re talking about pseudonyms, and women using initials to hide their gender. This is, of course, still something done today. Authors like JK Rowling, NK Jemisen, EL James, and KA Applegate used their initials to hide from young men that they were girly women who would invariably fill their stories with relationship drama and angry and aloof woobies. Others like A.C. Crispin and C.L Moore used their initials so rabid nerd fanboys would accept their entries into Star Wars, Star Trek, and Weird Tales.

Of the early female comics writers and artists, I can confirm that many went for at least part of the careers by initials or pseudonyms, such as June (Tarpe) Mills, Lily (L.) Renee, Ruth Ann (R.A) Roche, Isabelle (B.) Hall, and Margaret (M.) Brundage, whose artwork on the covers of Weird Tales in the 30’s were so salacious they actually outed her as female to calm some of the controversy. But women also went by their full names, even very early on. Lily Renee was working under her own name in the 40’s, Ramona Fradon worked under her own name as well as initials in the 50’s, and I couldn’t see that Marie Severin also working in the 50’s ever obscured her first name.

So I’m going to give today’s strip’s claims a 50/50 on accuracy. Many female comics creators did and do obscure their gender with initials, but a woman’s name on a comic wasn’t unheard of in the early days either.

Of course there is a flipside to this coin, of men who adopted female or neutral pen names to write ‘girly’ things like romance novels, or just to be ambiguous.
I found a great quote by male author Sean Thomas in this article.

As I was going to write from a female perspective, I didn’t want to put off any readers who might presume that a male writer could not carry a female voice. So I shifted sex. I became a gender neutral author.

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Sufferin’ Sappho

Link to today’s strip

As Professor Fate used his powers to presciently foretell yesterday, it does appear that we are in for another week of a nebbish old maven and a klutzy shikse kvetching about kitschy comic schlock and schmoozing all schmaltzy while having a nosh. This shtick is dreck.

Am I the only one choosing to see this strip through a weird romantic lens? I blame the use of coffee. ‘Want some coffee?’ was the ‘Netflix and chill’ of the 80’s and 90’s. And the GTA: San Andreas Hot Coffee controversy only solidified this in my mind at an impressionable age.

And if Mindy weren’t engaged, and the other person weren’t roughly Pre-Cambrian in age, there wouldn’t be any other interpretation of this strip. Look at that side-eye smile Ruby is giving Mindy in panel one. By panel three things have already gotten physical! It reads meet cute!

I mean, if Mindy wants to leave Mopey Pete for some May-December, girl and granny, colorist on penciler action, I for one would be the first cheering her on.

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In-No-Sense

< sarcasm >
Today’s strip clears up so much!
< /sarcasm >

Dashiell Hammett “felt” Brinkel was innocent of Valerie Pond’s murder? Well… how can you argue with that? Especially when Hammett himself believed that Brinkel was covering up for the REAL murderer, which is… not a crime? Is that right?

Interesting that Cliff is essentially hatching a conspiracy theory about Brinkel, given how he didn’t seem to care for Senator McCarthy’s conspiracy theories about his own actions.

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