Thursday, May 3, 2007

Girls and comics

Robin Brenner, moderator, is asking the panel to talk about how they got into comic book writing/illustrating and what inspires them.

Bettina Kurkoski, the creator/writer/artist of My Cat Loki is speaking ab out how she got into comics little by little over the years and eventually has found Manga. Her inspiration comes the real world, cats, and her wild and crazy dreams

Terry Moore is responsible for titles such as Birds of Prey for DC Comics, Wildstorm's Gen 13, Ultimate Team-Up for Marvel, Darkness-Vampirella for Top Cow, and most recently, Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror for Bongo Comics. He jumbled up all his characters adn threw them into a pot and mixed them up and got his idea for Stangers in Paradise. Also, he reports his view that men and women are 2 different species that are tyring to co-exist on the same planet. He says that in the midst of this chaos, you look for tranquility, love, partnerships. The goal of his series is to leave something of lasting worth in libraries.

Gail Simone is a former hairdresser who has in the last five years become arguably the busiest and highest profile female writer in the comic book industry. She has written comics exclusively for DC Comics, with such high-level titles as Justice League, Birds of Prey, Rose and Thorn, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, Villains United, and their flagship title, Action Comics featuring Superman, among others. In addition, she has written for animation as well, for the critically acclaimed series Justice League Unlimited. She's been an avid reader her whole life and loves comic books as much as any other book. She started with a few parody pieces related to books and comics which lead to a weekly column about comics. Her first work was with Bongo doing Simpsons comics.

Next question - We are growing aware of the role of strong female lead characters. Important to target girls reading comics. How do you reach this audience?

Terry - he was looking for book to read and so he wrote it. He can't explain his demographic - lots of differnt types of people read his work. His writing is really promoted by word of mouth. He is very popular on college campuses and word spreads even tho there was no advertising, no bookstore support. The first ones have sold over 1 million copies and translated into 10 languages all with word of mouth promotion.

Gail - when she sits down to write, she does not aim to appeal only to young women. She tries to appeal to a broad demographic. She thinks that the Internet has leveled the field for girls because comic book stores used to be kind of hard to go into for a girl; it was a male domain. It has become easier for girls to be enthusiastic for comics now - mostly because of the Internet.

Bettina also does not aim only to appeal to young women. She writes whatever she pleases! She has been surprised actually how many boys are enthusiastic readers of her stories.

People seem to think of Manga as a girls' medium although there are certainly enough boys interested.

Question: What do you think about the representation of women in comics - like the pinup kind of pictures of women.

Bettina: She kind of likes the old WW2 representations, however, she feels that today, some of the representations have become tasteless, over the top.

Terry: Earliest pinups were in the pyramids! There has been 'pinup' art over the centuries as a represdentation of popular culture. Downside of course is the putting down of certain types of people. What is the intent of the drawings - that is what is important to remember.

Gail: so much diversity. What one person thinks is pinup art someone else will think is beautiful art. She objects to pornagraphic pictures drawn in the playboy pinup style. She tries to get as much male nudity in as she can!

Question: Do you think that men and women get typecast into what kind of work they should produce? Should men write for men, etc?

Gail: Might have been true at one point in time, but it is really changing now. There's so much varietyt today that you can't fit people into slots.

Terry: The writer needs to be able to write about all the characters. If you're a good writer, you should be able to write about different types of people.

Bettina: She does whatever comes her way. She will pitch an idea to a publisher and if it's accepted, she goes ahead with it. Tries to figure out what the company is looking for and keep it within her own interested. The only thing she tries to figure out demographically is by age.

Question: What can you recommend for people who want to write comics

Bettina: Drawing, anatomy classes. Work on a web comic to experiment. Lots and lots of practice. Look into the Rising Stars of Manga competition. If you want to do it - just do it.

Terry: You do best what you do most! If you want to write, do it every day. Draw? do it every day. He didn't do anything with his writing and art til he was 36 when he decided to show it around. The librarian industry is where people look for book information. Libraries have helped him lots.

Gail says that you put so much of yourswelf into writing it's scary to put it out there. You must let everyone else read it. Then listen for their reactions. If everyone says kind of the same thing, you can probably realize that there is something that needs to be fixed. You improve constantly with practice. Really practice, really listen.

Gail asks a question of the audience. What can the major comic book companies do for you?

Answer. Lots of librarians don't have any idea of where to start with buying these because not everyone has an interest in comics or manga. It's difficult to find comics for young children also. Gail says that there is not a lot of direct distribution, esp. to young children.
Comment - ask the comic book companies to assign a library liasion to handle library sales. Also, comic book companies all go to ALA. When you're there, make sure you give them comments about how they can help you. DC seems to be the best at working with libraries.

Questions from the audience.

Terry's name is gender neutral. Do people think a woman has written his books because they're about women. People are sometimes surprised when they meet him. He kept his gender secret for a while at the beginning of his career.

Do you have a preference - should people call your work graphic novel or comic book or sequential art. Gail doesn't care what is used. Terry says whaever describes it best.

Do you think women in refrigerators is a problem?
Gail: Women in refrigertors was a web site - time in which women were raped, degraded, etc. And people were asking why aren't there more strong women in comics. She thinks that that kind of thing is passing by a little. Now there are more examles of 'men in refrigerators'.

Terry has been talking to DC comics about supergirl. She should be the no. 1 female hero/myth character in the US. If superman is no. 1, why is not supergirl no. 1

There are copies of panel's books for sale outside the room

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