Tag Archives: Barbara Gordon

We Saw Your Boobs-And I Want Feedback

28 Feb

 

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http://youtu.be/saHG2MLDfPI?t=12s

So, this is getting a lot of attention. Above is a link to Seth McFarlane’s opening Oscar number. This thing has raised a few eyebrows, and cause some people to pull out the old soap box. My reaction: what did you expect from the creator of such potty-humor juggernauts as *Family Guy* and *Ted*? McFarlane opened the show with a song and dance routine that named various actresses and the films in which they appear nude, aptly titled: “We Saw Your Boobs.”

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Some critics are complaining that the actresses singled out in the bit bared all for art. They are bothered because the actresses efforts have been subverted for the sake of a joke.

But that’s sort of the thing about art, isn’t it? Once you put words, or images, or body parts out there; people will interpret them as they wish. I doubt Van Gogh ever foresaw *Starry Night* iPhone skins and area rugs, but those things exist. So do people who think boobs are worth giggling about, McFarlane capitalized on a point of view that already existed, he didn’t invent it.

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I am not sure that the Oscar Award Ceremony was really the time and place for such humor, but I am not sure it was really the place for McFarlane either. The Academy did, in some capacity, know what they were signing up for (the segment was not performed live after all). Its not like Hugh Jackman went rogue with a number about testicles, or James Franco suddenly burst into spoken word poetry about orgies, or Billy Crystal had a wardrobe malfunction… this was planned. McFarlane is the guy who makes us laugh whether we want to or not, despite the fact that we sometimes know we shouldn’t.

So, with all that said, this got me thinking about comic books (yes most things do) and I decided to write about it. I was thinking that, while actresses and actors get the final say on their nude scenes; comic book characters are in the hands of their creative teams. They don’t get to choose whether or not the public sees them unclothed. Yet, once it has happened, its out there. For better or worse, to be appreciated, or mocked. I can’t imagine Barbara Gordon (as Oracle or New 52 Batgirl) signing up to do Batman Confidential #18, but there she is, wearing nothing but a cowl and a grimace. That book is still attached to her name, and if you google “Batgirl nude” it will pop right up. The legacy of nudity for comic characters is very similar to that of actors.

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So in preparation for a much longer post on this subject… I am putting out an all call.

Tell me what you think about nudity in comics. Is there a scene or character that comes to mind when you consider the topic? A time when it added to a story, or detracted from one, that left an impression on you? Does it affect the books you buy, or tell people you buy? Who gets it right? Who misses the mark? Surprise me with your own insights. Tell me what you think. E-mail me at comicsonice@gmail.com

I’ll post the best response here on my blog, and make sure everyone (or no one if you prefer) knows who is responsible.

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Icebreakers: Mindy Wara Mackiolek Introduces Comic Books in the Classroom

19 Feb

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Mindy started collecting comic books with her husband as a hobby they both could share with the DC New 52 relaunch, but recently she has started getting into more indie and digital comics as well. She is 26 and grew up in Wisconsin, but currently lives in Saskatchewan. Mindy graduated with a degree in English and Theatre Education and Creative Writing. Most of the time she can be found reading, knitting, drawing, watching New Girl, listening the the Talking Comics podcasts, or spending time with her husband and two cats. Her favorite super heroine is tied between Batwoman and Barbara Gordon as Oracle and Batgirl.

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I love comic books for so many reasons. They are not only pieces of literature, but pieces of art as well. Because of my literature and education background I tend to focus on the same things I focus on when reading a full text book – women’s issues and/or how this might translate in a classroom setting. I used Maus to teach about the Holocaust during my student teaching and the kids loved it. I have also done a lot of research on character origins and general comic book history (in case I ever get the opportunity to teach a class on comic books). Comics are a less intimidating form of reading with the added challenge of interpreting pictorial representations – what more could you want in a book?

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Find out more about Mindy! 

Read her blog here: 

Or find even more information about Mindy and comics in the classroom at these URLs:
 
 
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Review Batgirl #17

16 Feb

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Something Old, Something New, Something borrowed, Something better?

So, here we are, sans Gail Simone. I expected to be outraged, disappointed, and then finish off my pout by feeling an intense sense of relief that Simone would return to the title soon.

Instead, I read the book and realized what BATGIRL has been missing. Fawkes’ third person narration stuck me as emotionally rich and thought provoking. This story, told from the perspective of James Gordon, Junior, made me do two things I haven’t done when I read the title in the past: think and feel.

It’s really not fair to compare this issue to what Gail Simone has been doing on the book. It’s such a departure, residing inside the mind of a villainous character, and only partially concerned with Barbara’s self-affirming internal pep talks. When James, Jr. tells us that Barbara is ‘fascinating,’ it’s the first time in a while that I have considered that a possibility in a long while.

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I love Barbara, but recently I feel our relationship has devolved to one of those where I take her calls because imagining what happens if I don’t makes me very anxious. I listen to her talk about the same old things over and over, trying to seem interested—even though we’ve been over this and she is clearly making no progress. She never asks me how I feel about important issues, or makes me think about things in a different way. My love for her is very one-sided; I am not getting a lot out of the time we spend together. I expect at member of the Bat-team to be a bit more complex than the Barbara we have been presented with thus far.

This issue was very successful. It had a clear rise and fall in action. The twists and turns were thoughtful and surprising; and the voice used to tell the story was genuinely inspired and original.

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Sampere’s artwork is dynamic and visually appealing. I would love to see him stay on the book, I really love the way he draws Barbara. His representation of The Firebug helped characterize the villain even though he only appears in a few panels. The medals on his chest tell us that he was not always a menace, but in a past life might have even been a hero.

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The highlight of the issue for me was the large panel featuring James, Jr. sitting on a hotel bed in the dark. He looks just like his father here. The clear nod to BATMAN: YEAR ONE reminded me of everything the Gordon family has been through, and how truly horrifying it must be for Barbara and the commissioner to see their own flesh and blood as a force of evil. This scene had real resonance.

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This issue by Fawkes and Sampere was thoroughly successful. I am interested to find out what happens next month. Perhaps in the myriad of Bat-titles, one focusing on James, Junior could support its own weight. I’ll stick by Barbara and Simone, for all they have done to promote strong women in comics and female readership; I just hope to see ‘something better’ soon. If anyone can realize the full potential of BATGIRL, I believe it is Simone. I will be waiting and reading in the highest hopes that she will do so.

Follow me on twitter @comicsonice

Greatest Hits: Sexism in Vintage Comics

11 Feb

 

 

 

I originally tracked down all these images to create the banner for my site. Every time I looked at them, I wondered if people who viewed the blog were actually able to make out what they said. I couldn’t stand the thought that people might be missing out on these spectacular instances of vintage sexism in comics. I am so glad that these are humorous now, women in comics have come such a long way.

 

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Here we see Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) using her superpowers for housework. Interestingly enough, this backup feature “The Female of the Species!” featured in X-men #57 in 1969, was written by Stan Lee’s assistant Linda Fite, in an attempt to include a feminine perspective. In this same piece Jean states that it doesn’t take telekinesis to turn heads. You’ve got to love that. Jean was the only member of the original team not given a backstory in these backups.  

 

 

 

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In this frame we see Batman telling his new wife, Kathy Kane (Batwoman), that she is not invited to join them on their adventure. This was published in Batman #122 in 1959. Prior to their marriage, Kathy had been an ultra-femme crime fighter. She carried a purse full of gadgets in lieu of a utility belt, and of course wore a dress. Batman seemed to find her more of an annoyance than an ally.  

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Sue Storm doesn’t see how she can be of help, but she is quickly reminded that she is always of help because she is beautiful! She can help keep morale up, of course, thank goodness. This panel comes from Fantastic Four #12 published in 1963. 

 

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This images are all from Detective Comics #371 published in 1968. Throughout the issue, Batgirl repeatedly jeopardizes the mission by worrying about her appearance. Silly Batgirl. 

Its nice to see that creator’s are willing to let the girls play now. Each of these characters has evolved to be an individual, with an independent motivation and personality. They are all tough in different ways, and have such a long way .

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Here’s Jean being dark and powerful.

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And Batwoman, being decidedly uninterested in Batman romantically.

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And Sue doing more than boosting morale.

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And Batgirl, not worrying about her makeup.  

As attitudes toward women continue to change, these characters will continue to evolve. Certainly now, they are great symbols for how far women have come in the last half century. 

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