2 Legit

April 22nd, 2008 by | Tags: ,

One of the Women in Comics panels at NYCC seemed kind of off to a lot of people. (Shot of Jenna Jameson in that one that may or may not be sfw?)

How do the ladies creating comics do it? They’re constantly blowing us away with the most outrageous and provocative titles. Jenna Jameson (Shadow Hunter), Colleen Doran (Distant Soil, Reign of the Zodiac), Amanda Connor (Birds of Prey, Painkiller Jane, Lois Lane ), Louise Simonson (New Mutants, X-Factor, Superman) and special guests reveal why they know what Fan-Boys want.

Yeah, Jenna Jameson is the odd man out there, so to speak. She’s got one comic under her belt, which she is credited with creating, rather than writing, so I can totally understand the consternation. If anything, I’d pay cash money just to see Louise Simonson talk. I’d pay extra if we could get a “Walt’n’Weezy Hour” where they just tell stories.

But, I kind of feel like the fan-based hostility toward writers or creators from outside the medium has run its course. It’s gotten stupid in its fervor. Case in point– Steve Bunche wrote a panel report on the Women Who Kick-Ass panel, which was subsequently reposted on The Beat.
Here’s a bit of it:

Billed as a sounding board for women in the funny books biz, the panel garnered a bit of controversy for its placement of former adult film star Jenna Jameson among the likes of Colleen Doran, Louise Simonson, and Amanda Conner. Jameson, a funny and intelligent speaker, is quite lively in her own right, but her presence was guaranteed to detract from the other panelists and attract a legion of devotees of “one-handed” cinema, many of whom couldn’t have cared less about the creative process of comics and paid their admission fee in hopes of worshipping at Jameson’s tenderloin flick altar. I have absolutely no problem with Jameson’s porn past, in fact I’m a staunch advocate of such fare, but the inherent sensationalism that comes with her simply doesn’t jibe with a panel aimed at women being taken seriously in the medium. No matter how sincere her intentions may be, the vast majority will most likely not be able to embrace Jameson in any real capacity as a creator and see her as anything other than a “tainted” woman who splayed her naughty bits on camera for the, er, amusement of folks living in a hypocritically anti-sexuality culture. Just ask Traci Lords.

Here is what I learned from the panel report:
-Jenna Jameson used to do porn.
-Colleen Doran and Louise Simonson didn’t show.
-There were more moderators than there were panelists.
-Jenna ain’t that interested in comics, no way, and probably didn’t even come up with the story for her book.

I can’t find any info on the Women Who Kick Ass panel online. All I’ve got is this report to go on, and it’s got no quality information in it. It’s got a lot of unsourced and specious conjecture, to be sure. Most of the crowd were Jenna fans, rather than comics fans? Really? It cost forty-odd dollars to get in the con for a day pass. You mean to tell me that you seriously think “about twenty or so comics enthusiasts” were the only comics fans in the audience? For really real?

Jenna was there to shill the comic “she supposedly created” is a huge claim to make– particularly when you aren’t privy to the inner-workings of Virgin Comics. A lot of their comics follow the format of (Celebrity Name)’s (Two Word Title). That’s their thing and it’s a formula they’ve worked to some success. Why throw in that jab about “supposedly created?” What’s the point? What does that have to do with the panel?

Conner’s efforts were valiant, but, for all intents and purposes, for what may have been the first time in her life, Amanda was the smart, talented, and funny wallflower in the eyes of a room full of wolves sniffing around the dance’s popular “hot” girl in a futile omega mating display.

This is the bit where I realized the post wasn’t a panel report at all. It’s a hit piece. The first paragraph is about how we don’t need a Women In Comics panel ’cause gender has nothing to do with nothing, the second paragraph is dissing Jenna’s fans and saying how she’ll be distracting, third paragraph disses the fans and moderators, fourth is dissing Jameson, fifth disses Jameson again and calls her comics illiterate, sixth mocks her movie, seventh is reproduced above and is basically a White Knight in action, eighth is dissing the audience, and then the ninth is a wrap-up that says the panel sucks.

The only paragraph I remotely agree with is the ninth one. I agree that the panel line-up was a bad idea and unbalanced. I disagree that Jenna Jameson being on the panel deserves an entire hit piece devoted to how she sucks, doesn’t know crap about comics, her fans are slavering fanboys who just want to touch the goddess’s hem (or i guess thong, whatever), and Amanda Conner got done dirty.

Conner did get done dirty, but that isn’t a good reason for the rest of that. I don’t even like Jenna Jameson and her comic is not my thing– so don’t even think that I’m just sitting here defending her. I don’t like the trend of “X person is coming from outside comics” with the subtext of “stealing jobs from worthy comics creators.” It’s crass.

I do agree with Johanna in her comment here, though.

I don’t think it’s her so much as cynicism towards famous names on comics. Remember Tekno’s Neil Gaiman’s whatever and how he had nothing to do with it besides the original concept? If someone licenses a name just to get PR value off of it, then I think readers are justifiably skeptical about that.

I just feel like the reaction is out of proportion. I’m sure that there was something funny or interesting or clever or new said on the panel. Bunche makes a big deal out of Conner’s quick wit and sense of humor (which considering her art, must be pretty awesome), but never actually gives us any anecdotes. It’s like what David Uzumeri said a while back.

What’s starting to disturb me more is the reaction to this that I see on a lot of the more moderated/respectable blogs – this conscious attempt to cut ties with the tastes of the hoi polloi and instead turn the topic to how cleverly you can savage a certain creator or book. Mike Choi is right – the switch is defaulted to “snark” all across the blogging community and everyone’s tripping over themselves to be the funniest guy to say something’s going to suck.

I’m tired of empty snark. You’re clever, you’re mean, you’re smart, you’re witty, you’re awesome, I get it– now tell me what you saw.

edit: Ragnell pointed me to Girl-Wonder’s Four Color Heroines podcast, which discusses the issue at around 12:00 in or so. I may not 100% agree, but they do make good points! Which, really, makes for a great post. Also, they just posted this new post which is all about the panel. I haven’t gotten a chance to check this one out, though, but it may warrant a followup post later!

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5 comments to “2 Legit”

  1. Your post really reminds me of criticism of the mainstream media on their coverage of serious issues, where there’s a lot more opinion on events than actual research and detailing of the event. Jon Stewart’s rant in “America: The Book” comes to mind.

    If someone wants to criticize the guests or administration of a panel, let the do so, but they really should play up the facts before the review becomes an editorial.

    This is a lot of words to say I agree with you 100%.

  2. “Conner’s efforts were valiant, but, for all intents and purposes, for what may have been the first time in her life, Amanda was the smart, talented, and funny wallflower in the eyes of a room full of wolves sniffing around the dance’s popular “hot” girl in a futile omega mating display.”

    It took me a while to even figure this out. Apparently Amanda Conner is super special awesome and it sucks that that ho-bag Jenna showed her up? Also all other men present were Neanderthals who can’t appreciate her uniqueness? Speaking of high school dances and desperate nerds…

    Hey look, I was totally snarky. Where’s my prize?

    Seriously though, what I’m seeing here is a guy who would rather grab some easy cred for an ego buff than do some simple reporting or a complex, well thought-out piece. I did the Fifth World article and learned I don’t have it in me to regularly look at all the angles, but when called upon I can at least look past myself.

  3. David;

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been writing about Jameson, Shadowhunter, and more specifically the *reactions* to both in my livejournal since the project was first announced. And I’ve just been banging my head against the wall of all of the blatant, obvious, nasty misogyny that’s been slung Jameson’s way. And I’m saying that as someone who agrees that the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel was a stupid idea and that Jameson didn’t belong on a panel with three other accomplished industry veterans.

    Actually, Buche’s write-up is one of the tamer things that I’ve seen… Or maybe it’s just that he’s more subtle with his insults.

  4. I wouldn’t even say he was particularly subtle. He stayed away from the “She’s a whore” thing, but dived feet-first into the “She’s worthless and her fans suck and also she doesn’t know from REAL comics” thing.

    I’m really kind of unimpressed with the whole thing.

  5. Dear David Pot, thank you so much for pointing out how black and full of empty snark that awful Steve Kettle is.

    Steve Bunche did not say that there were only “about twenty comics fans” among a sea of Jenna Jameson fans, but that among the masses of “fans of Jameson’s video output” and “curiosity-seekers” there were merely “about twenty or so comics enthusiasts who actually showed up to hear what the panelists had to say”, which is hardly the same thing. From your comments it also appears that you think (or that you pretend Steve Bunche thinks) that comics fans cannot be fans of Jenna Jameson’s adult video work and vice versa. I really see no problem with Bunche’s description. It stands to reason that among the many comic fans who attended the NYCC there are some who like porn, some who are interested in the issues that are discussed at “women in comics” panels (there is an overlap between the two sub-groups, apparently including Steve Bunche, although he says he prefers Traci Lords and Vanessa Del Rio). According to Bunche, Jenna Jameson’s fans (plus the “curiosity-seekers”) seriously outnumbered the latter group, what’s so hard to believe about that? Especially if half the promised panelists were not even there? I also have to wonder if the NYCC would not even have provided a welcome opportunity to see J.J. in person for those of the fans of her porn work too chicken to attend and possibly be seen at e.g. an adult movie convention.

    My take on Bunche’s article:
    1st paragraph: S.B. explains why he dislikes “women in comics” panels. I happen to disagree, but appreciate his candour.
    2nd paragraph: A summary of what people had to say after the the NYCC panel and Jenna Jameson’s participation was announced, with S.B.’s personal views on anti-sexual prejudice.
    3rd paragraph: The description of the actual panel begins. Delay, two of the four panelists not showing up, the moderators, the audience. Yes, pretty harsh on the latter two.
    4th and 5th paragraph: The show is opened with something that has nothing to do with the purported subject of the panel, a clip from Jenna Jameson’s latest movie, “Zombie Strippers”. Subsequently Jameson by S.B.’s account is more concerned and cognizant about said movie than about “Shadow Hunter” and what she says about the latter makes S.B. suspect she has not been in contact at all with the writer of the series.
    6th paragraph: Amanda Conner’s contributions to the panel were not appreciated by the audience, which angers her friend S.B. (the caption to the second photograph seems to say he regards her as one of his dearest friends) and he lets the audience have it.
    7th paragraph: During the rush after the panel ends, S.B. chats with Amanda Conner and gets her to pose together with Jenna Jameson for him.
    8th paragraph: Summing up, the panel did not live up to what it was supposed to do. S.B. would have preferred if it had been an event just for Jenna Jameson.

    I’d say Bunche wrote what he saw at that panel. Obviously his account is opinionated, but that is really unavoidable unless you expected S.B. to hand out questionnaires to the audience to find out how many of the audience were there for “women in comics” and how many were there to see world-famous adult movie star Jenna Jameson (assuming that everybody would answer said questionnaire truthfully) and one to Jenna Jameson to find out how knowledgeable she is about comics in general and “Shadow Hunter” in particular.
    As far as I can see he was not being unfair to Jenna Jameson, indeed I got the impression that he wanted to like her but was disappointed by what he perceived as her ignorance of comics and in particular the comic of which she is billed as the creator.