Feminist Dollars

by Sigrid

This week, at the comic store, I bought Black Cat #2. I also bought Madame Xanadu #25. And Zatanna #3.

I could have bought more X-Men related titles. God knows there are enough of them. But I stuck with my usual, and bought these instead.

I don’t normally get Madame Xanadu. This is the first issue I’ve bought. And I don’t read the Spider-Man titles, so I don’t know a ton about Black Cat. And the only DC titles I’m getting these days are Birds of Prey and Batgirl. And, of course, Zatanna.

Why get these titles? Why spend the $12.00 on titles I wouldn’t normally get?

Because they all have female leads. Because some have women on the creative teams. Because the Big Two keep insisting that female characters don’t sell books, they don’t sell solo books. Because these are good stories, with great art, and if I want more comics by women, featuring women, then I need to put my money down and buy them — even if the title is a little bit out of my usual range. The success of the Black Cat mini-series might lead to a Black Cat series. The purchase of Zatanna and Batgirl might keep those titles going for more than a handful of issues. The spike in sales of the Madame Xanadu issue #25 with Laurenn McCubbin’s art might lead to her getting more work. Issue #25 was a great jumping-in point, a single-issue story set in the advertising world of 1963. The story was creepy and foreboding, and McCubbin’s art was perfect.

I’m going to keep buying Madame Xanadu.

Because when I buy my comics — when you buy your comics — we are voting who gets kicked off the island. We are voting, with single issue sales, which titles stay and which disappear. It’s my money, my feminist dollars — and my feminist dollars see that female creators get paid, feminist creators get jobs, and female characters get time to shine.

Email: sigrid @ fantasticfangirls.org
Twitter: sigridellis

  • Caroline

    I’m fascinated with the “Black Cat” series although there are some narrative things in it that aren’t quite clicking. It really does make me wish she had an ongoing series so all these things the story implies about her life (her parents, that wacky team of sidekicks she has) so we could learn more. Or maybe I just want the Brubaker/Cooke/Stewart ‘Catwoman’ back.

    I’m not sure I have exactly the same perspective on ‘voting with dollars’ that you express here, though I can’t articulate why at the moment. I certainly agree that supporting the books and creators who make the kind of books we SAY we want to read is the sensible thing to do.

    What did you think about super-action trouser-wearing Wonder Woman?

  • sigrid

    @Caroline Well, I don’t support books I don’t like, that I don’t think are good, or which simply aren’t appealing to *me*, regardless of the creative team. I, for instance, REALLY support what Liu did in Dark Wolverine, but I’m just not interested in that book. But when given a chance to support female creators and characters in books I like, I try to do so.

    It’s, hmm — It’s similar to my decision to try to, whenever able, hire women to do the art on the comics I write. The art has to be GOOD, though, and the artist has to be willing to work for what I can pay. This doesn’t always end up with female artists, but it does a lot of the time.

    As for Wonder Woman, I liked the story well enough? I’m not always a JMS fan, I think his plots go off the rails sometimes and he forgets what he meant to do. But I will buy at least a few more issues, just to mention to DC that I LIKE Diana in PANTS.

    Which, speaking of DC, are we going to talk about the Sattler ad in the back?

  • I absolutely agree, Sigrid. Voting with my wallet is the reason I’m buying Batgirl, instead of trade-waiting; it’s also the reason I’m buying Prince of Power instead of trade-waiting, because I want to support a book with an Asian-American protagonist (and a Korean-American protagonist in particular, since almost every other Asian character in mainstream superhero comics is Japanese, and diversity is nice). We may not be able to single-handedly keep a book around, but if we DON’T buy these things, we’re definitely not helping them.

    That’s not to say that we have to buy everything we theoretically support — there are definitely female characters and writers who don’t quite click for me, and I’m not going to spend my limited funds to buy books I’m not interested in. But I’m much more willing to give books that I support for political reasons a chance, at least, than the average book on the stands.

    Also, on the flip side, I’m trying to be better about NOT supporting books by creators I find reprehensible. I never plan to read anything by Dave Sim, for instance, and I dropped the Fables titles, despite adoring them, after Willingham expressed a desire to gun down some of my best friends.

  • sigrid

    @Jennifer Willingham did WHAT? I take it I should drop Fables?

  • At HeroesCon, at a panel, he said he wanted to “gun down” the girls who kept asking for a memorial case for Steph in the batcave. I already knew I didn’t agree with his ultra-conservative political leanings, but that alone isn’t going to make me drop a book — I don’t have to agree with everything a creator believes or says, particularly if it has nothing to do with their work. Threatening violence against activists, however, is where I draw a line.

  • Caroline

    “Why is this woman crying?” They make it way too easy.

    And I would have liked Diana-in-trousers more if there hadn’t been such a preponderance of ass shots but overall I can groove with this story’s direction. My main hesitation about investing in this series is that I have no confidence it’s going to be FINISHED on the schedule it’s supposed to be. Or at all. And, yeah, I kind of gave Whedon’s X-Men a pass for that but not everybody gets that. Plus I don’t think there was ever concern that Joss would just never finish, which with JMS seems all too possible.

    I think the ‘vote with dollars’ formulation makes me a little uncomfortable because it makes it all too easy to turn around and say, ‘That book didn’t sell well so it proves that people don’t want. . .’ etc. Or that supporting the “right” books is some kind of chore/duty, and conversely that this is the only reason to do it. None of which, I realize, is what you are saying, I was just musing on the *possible* implications of framing the dialogue that way. I think people should ultimately “vote for” the things that are worthwhile for them to read, but definitely it is always good to examine the definition and range of what that includes.

  • Anika

    I’m really bad at this. There are lots of creators and titles I would support if I had more dollars to put into this habit. But I don’t and I end up making my choices based on what I want, period. And while I DO want more female leads and female creators working, those are abstracts. The concrete is “this title features Carol Danvers” and 9 times out of 10 that’s what I choose.

  • sigrid

    I think that the vote with your dollars thing all-too-easily turns into “it’s YOUR fault, little lady, that the book got cancelled, better luck next time!” But I also think that many people — myself sometimes included — bemoan the fate of a book we never bought or a show we never watched, a movie we never paid to see. There’s a balance in there, somewhere …

    And, as Anika says, we all want to buy what we LIKE. Which I can’t fault in the slightest.

  • Caroline

    Agreed, and it’s good to emphasize doing something about it (and talking about it) while the option is there.

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