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Archive for September, 2007

And on another note entirely

Steve Lieber sent out an email this evening reporting that the Mercury Studios blog had been violated by spammers.

At his request, and frankly, as a fan of the now-entitled Periscope Studios, I am spreading the information that, 1) the old address of mercurystudio.blogspot.com should be avoided, and 2) if you want the goods on Periscope, you should go here, which will see you safely into the arms of the fine artists at Periscope Studios.

Give and take

Odd.

Feels like I’ve been taking it on the chin in the last 18 hours or so, though in perspective, I suppose, it all balances out. All the more strange given that Seattle was a terrific trip. Great people, great events, lots of books signed, and even managed to drop in on Zanadu Comics in downtown, which was bonus. Was driven around town by a lovely lady named Gail who — unlike handlers in the past — could not only carry on an intelligent conversation, but was personable, funny, and eager to chase down bookstores, booksellers, and *gasp!* copies of my book. So all in all, not bad. Interesting to note that in almost every store I dropped-in on, there was at least one person on staff who was a comics fan and knew my work from that, if not from the novels.

Got home around midnight and got to catch up with Jen, who all-but blurted out that the Willamette Weekly had panned the novel, and then advised people to not attend my event at Powell’s in Beaverton on the 10th. This may be hearsay, as I haven’t read the review (and I’m not going to), but when Jen blurts, it’s because she’s been carrying something around and building up steam with it, so I’m inclined to believe what I’m told. Apparently, the review is so off base, there’s some question as to whether or not the woman who wrote it actually could be bothered to read the book in the first place.

Nice to get respect in one’s own town.

Seems there’s a tirade over my treatment of Sasha on scans_daily coming out of the “CheckOut” storyline, and including her behavior in Checkmate 16. Apparently I’ve turned into a sexist bastard and didn’t get the memo. “This would never happen to Batman.” No shit. Batman isn’t infested by nanobots and being examined by a madman vivisectionist. Doctor Mid-Nite asks if she was sexually assaulted, and that’s a problem? Why, because it acknowledges that rape is a crime that happens? Would it have been more honest to simply pretend it wasn’t a possibility, rather than treat the scene with maturity, and have Sasha answer and confirm that, no, she wasn’t? Or is the problem that I dared broach it at all, that “there’s no room in comics for that kind of thing”? Or is it because the fact that women are the victims of rape far more often than men are is something that we’d rather just all ignore? People read for what they want to read, I guess, rather than reading what was written.

The one thing I can remotely agree with is the “don’t look at me” line. It is supposed to be a “weak” line; she’s been through hell, and no one particularly likes to look weak in front of their peers, especially one you’ve been romantically involved with.

I am a feminist. Part of what that means to me is that I’m going to be as mean and brutal to my female characters as I am to my male characters. That’s parity. The women can take the hits just as hard as the men. The implication that I’m harder on Sasha because she’s female is bullshit; further, it implies that I shouldn’t be hard on her because she’s female, which, in my book, would be sexist. That’s the same as saying that I took Carrie’s fingers in Whiteout because I’m sexist, rather than, say, because she’s the hero of the story and her fingers were terminally frost-bitten.

I’ve yet to encounter anyone ever call me sexist because — Spoiler Warning for those who may not have read the following:

I tortured Atticus, or because I killed Scott Fowler, or Rubin Febres, or Crispus Allen.

The list of the vile deeds I’ve perpetrated on male characters in fiction is legion, certainly much longer than the list of like cruelty I’ve rained down upon female characters. But no one has ever told me to lay off the guys. No one, at least not to my face, as accused me of “hating the men-folk.” (Though I’m sure there’s at least a half-dozen out there.)

I am reminded of an editor at Marvel telling me that a certain well-regarded (and outspokenly conservative, and, in my opinion, reactionary and sexist) writer/artist felt I was a chauvinist who hated women because of my treatment of Elektra. It’s the same thing here again — this double-standard that says female characters should be allowed only highs, and not lows; that they should be spared harm, and treated with kid gloves. When we say that we have to treat women differently than we treat men, when we ignore the social realities of what it means to be female versus what it means to be male, that’s sexism, kids. We live in a world where women are treated worse than men — where they are abused and attacked and degraded on the basis of their gender alone. It’s wrong, and it’s vile, and it’s evil, but it’s the truth, and refusing to recognize the same in fiction leads to dishonest fiction, and that’s bad writing.

The extension of such thinking leads to stories with black characters that never acknowledge racism, to stories with Jewish characters that never acknowledge Antisemitism, to gay characters that never deal with homophobia. Think that through. These are elements that comprise character; they are not character alone. Saying Renee Montoya is gay is true, but hardly the point — it’s simply part of who she is. Saying John Henry Irons is black is true, but again, part of who he is. But for both of those characters, it influences their identity, it is part of who they are. It cannot be ignored; when it is relevant to their stories, it must be acknowledged — otherwise, the fantasy that is their fiction(s) becomes, in my eyes, hollow and irrelevant.

I’m sure I’m rising to the bait here, so to speak, and I should leave well-enough alone. Too late for that, I guess.

Now take all of that, and add to it that I just spent nearly two and a half hours on the phone with Andrew Farago doing an interview for the Comics Journal that pretty much covered everything I’ve ever done. Very fine time, and he was a great interviewer. I’m looking forward to meeting him in person when he comes up to Portland for Stumptown Comics Fest. No idea when — or even if — the interview will run, but it’ll be interesting to read it when it does come out.

Like I said, strange day thus far. We’ll see where the afternoon leads. Working on Checkmate 21 with Trautmann at the moment. Let’s see if I can’t piss somebody else off, shall we? ;)

Seattle Sprint

Quick post, as I’m about 30 minutes from leaving for the airport. I’m in Seattle today for signings, at The Seattle Mystery Bookshop at 117 Cherry St. from noon to 1pm, and then at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park from 7pm to 8pm. I’ll be doing drop-ins at various Seattle stores, as well, and maybe a couple comic book shops, too.

If you’re out there and in Seattle and want to swing by any of the signings, please do — it’s always great to meet readers in person!