Saturday

Musing about the most recent Gutters comic

For those who don't know, Gutters is a three times a week comic which parodies/mocks/whatever the comics world online at www.the-gutters.com. I'm a fan of Ryan Sohmer, who's the man behind the project and writes most of the strips with a rotating lineup of artists from all over. The strip has generated some controversy, pissed some off, and honestly, I think that's a good thing.

So, the comic from Friday May 17th (http://www.the-gutters.com/comic/419-amy-mebberson) was written by Jill Pantozzi, who writes about comics online, and Amy Mebberson, an artist that I'm a big fan of. It takes on women and comics, which means that lots of people commented.

Now I could talk about women in comics and superheroes, but I don't care. I could critique the comic, but no one cares. I would like to address a problem that I had with the comic and I can't help but wonder whether it's my own personal problem.

The comic opens with five women dressed up like superheroes, Gail, Kelly, Louise, Amanda, Jill. They are all actual women who work in comics and they are, I presume dressed up as characters they are famous for writing or drawing (at least I think that's the intention). My problem is that I don't know what anyone in comics looks like. Let me rephrase: with few exceptions, I don't know what any people I haven't met look like.

In this case of course it means that I had to scroll down and see who these five people are. It wasn't listed on the page which means I had to read the comments to find out that the five are Gail Simone, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Louise Simonson, Amanda Conner and Jill Thompson.

(This is the point where it's clear that Jill Pantozzi and Amy Mebberson hate me. I don't know them; they don't know me, but clearly I ran over the pets, crippled their aunts, set fire to their homes or stole their lunch money. Why else would they create a comic that required me to read the comments to understand it?)

I did figure out that Amanda is Amanda Conner because she drew Power girl for a while and because of the line by a crazed fan in the comic "I'll blackmail the Eisner judges for you, Amanda." (For those who don't know, Conner was not nominated for an Eisner Award this year and for some reason this stood out and some people ranted about it online). Otherwise, I had no idea who anyone was. Of course when I saw that one of them was Jill Thompson I felt like a moron because I should have known - she's one of the few people in comics that most of us who haven't met her could pick out of a lineup (the character Ragged Robin from The Invisibles was based on her). Everyone else, though, I had no idea what they looked like - and I still have no idea who they're dressed as. (Seriously, who is Jill Thompson dressed as?)

When I go to conventions, I'm one of those people who's always looking at name tag because I do 99% of my work on the phone or online so I have no idea what anyone looks like. Am I alone in this? Do I just not go to enough events or socialize enough with people while there? Is finding a list of first names and my brain doesn't automatically associate them with comics people, is this just a flaw in my mental architecture akin to my inability to do crossword puzzles? Does the average fan know what comics creators look like and for them this cartoon was stupidly easy to understand whereas I'm scratching my head?

The answer is probably yes, I'm just that dumb.

Still, I had to take a shower after reading the comments and now I'm going to curl up in a hole somewhere and hope that my soul regenerates...

2 comments:

  1. Hey there, just saw your note on tumblr, not sure when you sent it.

    Anyway, did a quick google search and found this, which is I think what you were referring to in your note. And no worries, I don't take it as any kind of attack. I can totally understand how some of the creators weren't immediately recognizable to you. I didn't put last names because I actually wasn't sure if I was allowed to, so that's where the costume "hints" came in.

    To answer your one specific question, all of the women were scripted to have costumes that hinted at their past work so Jill Thompson is dressed similar to her character "Scary Godmother," Gail is part Batgirl, part Wonder Woman, Kelly is Captain Marvel, Louise is a riff on her X-Factor run, and Amanda, Power Girl.

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    1. I'm glad you didn't take it as an attack–let's be honest, online there's little subtlety.

      I was using the comic you wrote as an example but I've seen it elsewhere, this idea of expecting the reader to recognize comics creators. In the spectrum of my response (totally confusion) to yours (knowing who they are), I don't know which is more common.

      And yes, now that you've explained it, it seems very obvious. Though I haven't read Captain Marvel, wouldn't have guessed Simone or Simonson's costumes and Scary Godmother's outfit just didn't occur to me.

      It may just be a question of which comics one reads. Regardless, thanks for the response.

      (And I don't entirely blame you for making me read the comments...)

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