Back in 1983, comics genius Alan Moore wrote a series of three features on sexism in the industry.
A livejournal community set up to share scans of comics, scans_daily, has dug up the series and reposted it for us to read in 2008. Other than a couple of irritating apologies to stereotypes of “hopelessly deranged” feminists, and the assumption that all his readers are male, this is a lucid and amusing break-down of misogyny in comics. On the distinction between Wonder Woman and Superman:
There was no ‘Wonder Boy’ turning up complete with tiara, bracelets and lassoo to aid her in her fight against crime. There was no pesky male reporter throwing himself off the Empire State Building in the hope that she’d swoop down in her invisible robot plane and rescue him.
He savages the way that women are presented – from their brain-dead characterisation to the way that the mostly male writers routinely put them through torture and rape. And he is brutally honest about how deeply these problems are ingrained into the industry:
I can’t think of one male artist or writer that hasn’t done something pretty offensive at one time or another. I doubt you’d have to look very far into my own work to find some particularly lurid examples.
What is most worrying about this, however, is that while some things have improved, many of the issues raised by Moore over 20 years ago are the same issues that feminist comics blogs are dealing with today. As is demonstrated by even a cursory glance at blogs like Girls Read Comics by Karen Healey and Digital Femme by Cheryl Lynn.