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Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

There is a kind of dichotomy inherent in any civil rights movement. On the one hand, it's generally felt that the minority should be given every opportunity to succeed in competition with the majority. On the other hand, it only seems fair that the minority should be given compensatory advantage to level the playing field with the majority.

Both philosophies are absolutely necessary. On the one side, our minority -- let's call them Quiznos -- must be given the chance to prove their sandwiches are just as tasty as Subway's sandwiches. They have to be allowed to advertise. They have to be allowed to enter submarine sandwich competitions and be rated by noted sub sandwich experts. Subway -- who want to retain their advantage, of course -- can't be allowed to prevent Quiznos from full access to the field. On the other side, Quiznos (being in the minority) toasts their sandwiches to give them that extra "oomph." They advertise heavily that their sandwiches are toasted, and they make the point that toasted sandwiches are better. They use toasting to set themselves apart from Subway, build their brand identity around toasting, and in general seek to use the toasted sandwich to compensate for Subway's greater brand recognition and market position.

(Please note the "creepy Quiznos talking baby who wants to eat sub sandwiches despite not having teeth and barely being able to tolerate mashed food" commercials versus the "how exactly did Jared manage to remain in the public consciousness this long -- all I did was eat some sandwiches as part of a weight loss plan that happened to work" commercials debate is beyond the scope of this essay.)

Now, in recent weeks Subway has also started offering toasted sandwiches. This proves that Quiznos was on to something. However, some feel that Subway should be keeping their nose out of the toasted sub business. They're already the vast majority -- both in terms of the public consciousness and in terms of number of stores -- and they're positioned to crush competitors simply by adopting their business methods and special hooks. Let Quiznos have their toasted subs, already.

The issue becomes contentious at this point. Subway acknowledges (at least publicly) that their competitors have every right to compete in the marketplace. However, they don't have a patent on putting food into an oven and Subway has to have the right to adapt to the times and serve their customers. Quiznos acknowledges (at least publicly) that their competitors have traditionally innovated and adapted to changing times However, toasting Subway's subs infringes on the unique trade dress that Quiznos has built and unfairly stacks competition against them.* At this stage, the debate becomes ugly, and extremists on either side start saying things that the sandwich-eating public really wishes they wouldn't.

On the other side of things, some well-minded communities begin setting things up to "prop up" Quiznos in their neighborhoods. They get zoning boards and Chambers of Commerce in small towns to approve a Quiznos franchise coming in, but block other national fast food chains. They give Quiznos a wide open field in their towns, without Subway to interfere, and therefore give them every possible chance to succeed. So, if you get a hankering for a submarine sandwich, you go to Quiznos. And hey, that's fair, right? I mean, sure, Subway isn't around, but there are still sandwiches to be eaten and Subway will hardly miss this one small town?

Of course, to people outside the sandwich business, this seems somehow... wrong. It looks less like it's giving Quiznos a chance to succeed and more like it's saying Quiznos can't succeed. Creating an island where Quiznos is allowed to flourish free of the majority is perfectly good for that one Quiznos, but perhaps not as good for Quiznos's overall business plan; it implies Subway is so dominant that they have to be intentionally blocked from competition lest they overwhelm Quiznos.

And of course, there are those customers who, when they learn that Subway was blocked, refuse to step foot in any Quiznos ever again. Some of them are pissed off in general. Some like Subway and they're mad it was blocked from coming into their town. Some figure that if Quiznos needs that kind of leg up, it's probably not all that good in the first place. And some feel guilty over Subway's dominance and avoid the whole thing.

In other words, the dichotomy becomes subverted. Rather than allowing Quiznos to succeed, the system restricts Subway instead. Subway adopts the advantages Quiznos used, and are hampered as a result. And in the end, Quiznos gets more business, but loses ground to Subway. And nothing actually changes.

Which is probably why I have some problem with Girlamatic.

Girlamatic is one of the various Joey Manley-owned and operated, subscriber based websites. You know, the ones we used to call the "Modern Tales Family of Websites" and which now I think we're supposed to... um... well, something or other to do with WebComicsNation, or... um... well, yeah. Anyway, Girlamatic has a great reputation and some of the absolute best webcartoonists on the web today writing and drawing for it.

And yet, I find myself... well... not reading those webcomics. I don't have a policy against it. I actually subscribe to Girlamatic. I have tremendous respect for Girlamatic's editor, Lea Hernandez. And some of the webcartoonists I like the most are associated with Girlamatic. Hell, Shaenon Garrity, whose strip Narbonic got my highest award for humor comics last year, writes Li'l Mell, which is about one of my favorite Narbonic characters. I should be all over this thing.

But I'm not, because... well, because I'm a man.

Before the Great Modern Tales Family Crash of 2005, Girlamatic had the following on their front page:

Girlamatic.com features webcomics (mostly) by women, (mostly) for women. It's not about busting anybody's, um, balls, though. It's about good webcomics. If you like good webcomics, you'll like girlamatic.com. And girlamatic.com will like you!

It's worth noting I take the above at its word. Girlamatic really didn't want to exclude men, either from writing or drawing comics or from coming and reading the comics on the site. They weren't zoning to keep Subway out, so much as they were celebrating what Quiznos was. And they were seeking to provide a place on the web where women might find comics that appeal to them -- and it would be cool if guys did too.

And yet, I always felt like... well... like Girlamatic's comics weren't for me. Like I'd be caught out and forced to march out of town if I read them. It's not that I've ever been told I can't... it's like I feel like I'd be intruding if I did.

It's not the fault of Hernandez or anyone at Girlamatic. It's endemic to the nature of a specific group's entertainment site. I also don't watch Black Entertainment Television or Lifetime. It's not because there's nothing on those channels I might like -- I honestly don't know if there is or not, because I never look at them in the first place. I'm a WASP male, through and through, and spending time in the places set up for minorities to express themselves for themselves and others in their minority group by their definitions seem to exclude me.

There's a little liberal guilt thrown in as well, which honestly is screwed up six ways from Sunday. Because I'm a liberal, and honestly believe in feminism, in giving women every chance to succeed, and in creating advantageous positions to level a playing field too long canted towards men, a site like Girlamatic makes me feel guilty. It's not that I wouldn't love Quiznos's delicious sandwiches -- it's that as a Subway customer I feel somehow responsible for creating the conditions that led to Quiznos needing to keep Subway out of town. Perhaps I don't deserve to eat at Quiznos. It's not for me.

Does this all sound ridiculous? Perhaps. But we're not discussing logical responses. We're discussing the emotional reactions of a guy solidly in the majority when confronted with something (mostly) by a minority (mostly) for a minority. A ton of baggage gets unearthed by the mere existence of Girlamatic, and I have subconscious reactions that gets in the way of my just enjoying Girlamatic.

So I don't. When I go looking for something new to read, I check out PVComics, or Keenspot, or Graphic Smash, or Modern Tales. It's not a conscious decision. I just never think to go to Girlamatic. And as a result, Girlamatic strips don't end up on my part of Websnark or in my Comixpedia column -- which is a disservice to Girlamatic, I know this. I acknowledge this. But it's just the way things are.

I don't offer a solution, or even a suggestion, here. The fault is in me, not in Girlamatic. And yet, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only (male) webcomics reader out there who feels this way. Ping Teo, in her recent Comixpedia Soapbox, says she thinks Women in Webcomics shouldn't be an issue in the first place. I can't speak to that. However, I think that a collective like Girlamatic makes it an issue... without necessarily doing any favors either for the people involved, or for women as a whole.

* Please note -- this is just an example. I have no clue how Quiznos has reacted to toasted Subway subs. Seriously, though. That talking baby is creepy.

Eric Alfred Burns is a staff columnist for Comixpedia. He is the creator of Websnark and the writer of Gossamer Commons.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

First things first:

And yet, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only (male) webcomics reader out there who feels this way.

Secondly, I shall now throw in a confusing food analogy I used somewhere else to make my point.

Here is the difference between labelling a line-up as "(Mostly) For Vegetarians" and "Containing No Animal Products".

"For Vegetarians" says: "Vegetarians! I am for you!".

"Containing No Animal Products" says: "I don't have anything made from animals in Me!" and leaves it at that, giving the choice of whether it's suitable for the consumer to the consumer who may be vegetarian or omnivorous.

In short, one makes a presumption about the consumer while the other sticks to just describing the product.

I am for describing the product and leaving the consumer alone. The reason: A person who eats meat would still go for the no-meat option, but in labelling something as "for vegetarians", the meat-eater automatically feels excluded psychologically. The second description is therefore every bit, (if not more) accurate as the first and less hostile and presumptious to the consumer.

Actual product is awesome. Pity about the packaging.

It's also 4 am and I need to sleep. Wheeee...

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Eric Burns's picture

Because I suck, I blew it. The link I put in to Ping's article (found here got missed, and I repeated the Penny Arcade Twisp and Catsby link instead.

I suck. Please fix?

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

kjc's picture

Fixed the link, Eric.

Btw, this bit:And yet, I always felt like... well... like Girlamatic's comics weren't for me. Like I'd be caught out and forced to march out of town if I read them. It's not that I've ever been told I can't... it's like I feel like I'd be intruding if I did.
...made me chuckle because, on some days, that's exactly what it's like to be a woman surrounded by an intensely masculine world.

Kelly J. Cooper
Comixpedia Features Editor

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

L_Jonte's picture

Thank you, Kelly J. Cooper. Thank you.

-Lisa Jonté
___________________________
Artist, Writer, Flibbertigibbet, Editor
http://www.Girlamatic.com

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

andrael's picture

However, I think that a collective like Girlamatic makes it an issue... without necessarily doing any favors either for the people involved, or for women as a whole.

I dunno. Does the existence of GraphicSmash make an issue about "action readers" versus "non-action readers"? Does it imply that "action comics" are disadvantaged or discriminated against at other sites, that they need to band together in order to survive? Does anyone think that, by declaring themselves to be a site for "action comics", they're trying to "stick it to the man"? Does it imply that all "action fans" have similar tastes, that everyone who likes swashbuckling period adventure must also like gritty superhero drama, or superhero comedy, or wombats? I don't feel that it does. All it seems to do is say, "Here are some pretty good action comics. If you like action comics, you might like these comics. If you don't like action comics, well, you might still like these comics, they're pretty good". It's possible that a fan of romantic drama or quirky slice-of-life comedy might stumble upon the site, get turned off by the "action" label, leave, and end up missing out on some comics they might otherwise have liked. Why should this be considered a disadvantage to the creators or to the site? "Action" is the market they chose, and they seem to be doing okay with just "action fans" and readers who don't have any hangups about the "action" label.

Sorry about all the quotation marks.

___

 

 

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

RemusShepherd's picture

There's a bit more going on in the Quizno's/Subway war you may not have heard about. First, note that Subway used to sell Pepsi products. Quizno's sold Coca-Cola products.

In 2003 when Subway started losing customers to Quizno's, Coca-Cola approached Subway with a deal. They offered to buy a toasting oven for every single Subway store, if Subway would switch to selling Coke. Subway agreed -- who wouldn't?

This, of course, got Quizno's angry at Coke. So Quizno's has now switched to Pepsi.

The moral? All of this -- the menu options, the advertising war, the community support shenanigans, all of it are just moves in a chess game played by extremely powerful and unbelievably greedy men and corporations. That doesn't apply directly to Girlamatic and Modern Tales, but it does illustrate that we really have no idea why the organizers of those websites set up the restrictions and climate they have.

So don't examine your motivations and feelings about these games, because if you truly understood them all your head would probably explode. Be who you are and don't be guilty about it. If that means eating at Subway or avoiding Girlamatic, so be it. If you're destined in life to be a pawn (and 99.999% of us are, let's not have any illusions) might as well be a proud and happy pawn, and patronize those things that you genuinely think you enjoy. :)

 

 ...

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Eric, have you read all the damn comics on Girlamatic? Do you have any idea what you're missing out on? You seem mighty conflicted on the whole issue, and Shaenon has pointed out that your ARE a subscriber. The whole Subway/Quiznos thing was a poor analogy that just made your argument all the more poorer, and more like some wierd kind of coverup to hide the confessional.

If a man's a real man, they won't give a crap about squirming a bit about reading a pro-girl website. You shouldn't care so much about what others think, and just DO IT. If anything, noticing those subsconcious reactions is a good thing, realizing that you have that baggage is good. It helps you get over it.

Likewise Girls--- just because something is girl-oriented in some fashion, it doesn't automatically mean that you'll be seen as weaker for reading it. The posts I read on Eric's blog kind of creeped me out, some from men and some from women- if these are the reactions a comic site with a majority of women on it gets, clearly there is something wrong.
If it was a site with majority males, would a woman be posting like this? I find it disturbing that there's a doublestandard- more gender crossover for male-oriented fandoms, while ever mildy female-oriented ones experience less gender crossover due to isses like those you expressed.

People, read the comics themselves, then critique them, and leave the whole gender baggage thing where it belongs- in the TRASH. Theres girls and boy cartoonists on the site for a reason- so it isn't some exclusionary thing. It's about INCLUDING. Why call it Girlamatic? Well, it's kind of cathcy, and again, celebration :) It's like one of our cartoonists, Matt, said recently- "No boy wants to hang out with girls, because girls have cooties. But
men know the magic secret that cooties are actually AWESOME"

Eric, read the damn comics and learn to get over this issue, then write an article that actually critique the Comics, for good or bad, rather then some wishy washy editorial. Let the comics speak for themselves. We're not making it an issue, we're celebrating it, we're celebrating being just a little bit different, and are saying yes, you could, and should, be part of the fun. I've noticed that GAM is rarely covered on Comixpedia, and if it's because of these reasons, then that's a shame.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Eric Burns's picture

"If a man's a real man, they won't give a crap about squirming a bit about reading a pro-girl website."

That's the second person to go down that path. It honestly misses the point.

Want me to be unequivocal? Fine.

Girlamatic says they're by women, for women. With, admittedly, "mostly" thrown in there. Fine. To me, that says I'm not invited, and I don't go where I'm not invited.

"Eric, read the damn comics and learn to get over this issue, then write an article that actually critique the Comics, for good or bad, rather then some wishy washy editorial."

You know what?

No.

Said editorial wasn't about the comics. It was about the presentation of them. And honestly, you've convinced me it's a bad idea to go anywhere near them now. It's no win for me now.

I'm all for celebration. What I was trying to tell you -- and clearly failing at -- was celebrating in exclusionary terms may hurt you more than it helps. I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity to read 'girl comics.' I'm not rude enough to go where I'm not wanted, though.

And I'm also comfortable enough with my masculinity to treat challenges to it -- and dares -- as sure signs I don't want to be involved.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

First Ping Teo says that women in webcomics are not an issue. Then Eric Burns says he won't read comics because they're marketed as 'for women.' So women-centric and women-friendly comics makes a prominent web reviewer incomfortable. There's inherent sexism here, and that damn straight makes 'women in webcomics' an issue.

Burns is saying two things: he's saying that a) the comics are good, and b) he won't read them because they're on a site 'for women.' So he's judging the comics not on individual merit, but on their group branding (Why? Because he thinks that all comics made to appeal to women are the same? because women creators are alien to his realm of experience?). He's admitted that this is a gut reaction. It sure is: the traditional male horror of all things feminine. So horrible, apparently, that not even journalistc integrity can cause him to surmount it.

He's writing for Comixpedia, so he has a responsibility to at least explore what's on the site and see how that matches the branding. If this article had appeared on his websnark blog, then I wouldn't have cared, personally, because a blog's a blog- a repository of personal thoughts. But this kind of personal '"ew, girls!"' atitude should have no place on a site ostensibly for news and criticism.

I have a comic on Girlamatic. It's called Sevenplains. I ask male and female readers to come over to our site, preview our comics. If you don't like them, fine. But you might. Like Ping Teo says, try to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile, you pussies.

And Quiznos is less popular than subways because it costs more. Average sandwich is $6 in my area. Same thing in Subways is $4. GAM subscriptions cost the same as Burns's favorites Moderntales and Graphicsmash. So there.

Um, it's Girlamatic, not Trix.

andrael's picture

No mean kids are going to barge into your house to snatch it away, saying "It's for girls SILLY!!!", if you try to read it.

There are plenty of reasons for not wanting to read some comics. It could be that you don't find them appealing at first glance, or that you don't have the time, or any number of other perfectly legitimate reasons. But what you seem to be implying here is that you won't read the comics of a number of creators who you'd otherwise be delighted to read because... the text on the website hurts your feelings, I guess. It just seems a little strange.

You're right that it's not "for" you. And that's okay, right? I mean, not everything has to be "for" people similar to you. Not everything has to be "for" everyone in order to be good or enjoyable. Most girls learn at a young age to accept that a lot of entertainment is created with someone other than them in mind.

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Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

I think if Graphic Smash had marketed itself as "Comics for Action Fans by Action Fans!" I would have had an issue with THAT because it was making a presumption on the part of the readers and the creators. And despite doing a Mystery/Action/Adventure comic, I don't exactly consider myself an Action fan. I'm more of a Mystery/Adventure person. *shifty eyes* (Don't fire me, T!)

But instead GS stuck to "A collection of the best action webcomics of the 21st century" or something like that (Or at least I think that was what it used to be, somebody check that for me) which isn't quite the same thing.

The difference is that it doesn't try to tell the audience whether it was for them or not. (Suitable for Action/Adventure Fans) Instead it told the audience about the comics themselves. It 'celebrates' the content that might interest the target market. (i.e. Contains Action/Adventure!)

And I think it's just that slight wording angle that makes all the difference in the world, really.

It's the kinda like difference between saying "Check this out! You will like this!" (which really annoys me if the person in question is someone who doesn't know fut about me) and "Check this out! It's [A] about [B] and I think it's pretty good!"

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

scarfman's picture

Where your analogy fails for me is that action fans have never had to move to the back of the bus, or lobby for the vote.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Er...I really think you're missing Eric's point entirely. Lay off. I don't think he's saying at all that he won't read them because OMG! They're girly! Eww! Cooties! or anything of the sort. Nowhere did he say that he doesn't like comics by women. (As a matter of fact, I know he reads mine, and last time I checked, I was female.) Eric's not telling anybody to get barefoot, pregnant, and go make him a sandwich. Let's all just caaaaalm down.

I think he's trying to make a very mature, and very well-crafted point that when you market things FOR a group, people outside that group--who want, really badly, to support that group, who feel a certain amount of inherent guilt about the way that group has been treated--don't know if they're welcome or not. And feel a little weird about getting involved.

For example, I'm a white chick. I don't attend Indian pow-wows. I think they're probably really cool, and the odds are good that I would be welcome if I was polite and respectful and all that, but...well...they're for another culture, and I don't know how they'd feel about mine showing up. Does this mean that I hate Native Americans? Am I sitting here going "Ew, indians!" Hell no! But I can't shake the feeling that the people who the pow-wows are for might not be comfortable with me there, and since I have enormous respect for said cultures, and feel a measure of guilt for the way my culture rode roughshod over theirs, the last thing I'd want to do is make people feel like bugs under glass, or have anyone think I'm trying to McDonaldize their culture, or any of the other things that I'd get worried they'd think.

Is this an ideal solution? Hell no! But it's the way it IS. At the end of the day, I'm so paralyzed with fear of giving offense to a persecuted minority that I just stay away from things that are supposed to be FOR said minority, so that there's no chance I'll give offense. And then I feel guilty about THAT because it's assuming that said minority isn't tough enough to take the stuff that everybody else can, but I'm only trying to do the right thing, and shit, it's all so confusing, I think I need some aspirin.

Do ya see the difference between "I'm human and I feel bad and I don't know if I'd do the right thing and I don't want to risk hurting anybody's feelings and I don't even know if that's the right way to feel about it at all, but maybe there isn't a right way, and I'm just muddling through as best I can" and "Custer should have wiped out the bastards when he had the chance?" Because to my mind, there's a big difference between the two, just as there's a big difference between what Eric said, and "Ew! Girls!"

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Yeah, I'm with ya on this one. It's like the difference between candy sweetened with nutrasweet, and candy "for diabetics." I'd eat the first one, but it wouldn't even occur to me to try the second, because...well...that's for somebody else! It says so on the label! I mean, they might be the exact same thing under the wrapper, but I've been told that the one is for somebody specifically other than me.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Well, even if it's not exactly the sort of coverage an editor dreams of, thanks, Eric, for writing about GirlAMatic.com. I don't agree with you, (I always thought GAM's design was pretty generic), BUT it's always helpful to have another point of view. The fact that there IS more than one POV about GAM tells me we're doing something, we're making an impact, and that's all good.

Nothing is ever going to please everyone, and GAM is no exception. I built what I wanted to read, I picked the name. FYI, the "we're not out to bust anyone's balls" line has been gone forever, and "(mostly) by women" has been gone for some time, too.
We have a brand-new slogan guaranteed to become the lynchpin of many articles to come. Or not.

I could probably spend about an hour going, "Ha! Wrong! Wrongo MacMistakey!", but to go on more violates Rule! Number! Three! of "How to be a Happy Nerd", (http://listencomics.blogspot.com/2005/04/how-to-be-happy-nerd.html), and that is my Holy Writ.

I gots an award-winning subscription webcomics site to run.
And a nap. Man, I need a NAP.

Thanks again, Eric, for provoking thought and discussion. I hope the curious will come by, see GAM for themselves, and decide how they feel about it.

P.S.: Speaking as an editor here, try making an analogy in three paragraphs or less next time. I love Quizno's (because they don't have insta-soggyTM breads), but come on, fully half your article was about sandwhiches. You made me hungry.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

*sigh* That was the point of my column, really. Learning to understand contexts and how they apply.

A) If you're talking about print comics in the real world, then if there is a bias inherent (and I have been convinced by many accounts what I have seen that it does appear exist to some level) then I can see why people would need to come together to counteract this kind of discrimination.

B) But in WEBcomics, I have yet to see a webcomics hosting site that allowed sign-ups based on gender. Keenspace does not. Drunk Duck does not. As far as I know none of them do. All creators have equal opportunity to start a webcomic as long as they have a comic to start.

C) I have also not heard of 'professional' webcomic sites where the comics were selected based on the gender of the creator or where the gender of a creator gave them a better chance to be picked over another creator of the same standard but different gender... except for maybe GAM. I don't know about Keenspot, but I'm pretty sure that my comic was extended an invitation because of the nature of its content, and NOT because I was female and T Campbell wanted to up the balance of female creators in GS. And I give you my word that IF one day I should find out that the reason my comic was chosen for the fact I have two ovaries and NOT because it was a mystery/action/adventure comic that the editor liked, then that will also be the day I hand in my resignation.

D) That's why I don't see the point to this kind of counter-action in WEBcomics. Yes, women had to fight for the vote and equal rights in real life. Yes, some editors apparently won't take work from females because they're afraid male readers won't read them because they're done by a girl. *rolls eyes*

The question to ask here is: Is this attitude widespread and prevalent in webcomics? Would T Campbell be less likely to take a comic because it's done by a female and 'action-adventure readers don't want to read comics done by a girl'? Would the Fab Four be less likely to Spot a comic because it's done by a girl? Are only male readers allowed to vote on Buzzcomix?

No. Not that I'm aware of.

That's why I don't think it should be an issue. Women's rights may be a major issue in real life. I should know. I grew up in a backwater town where my being female alone meant a free licence for any man to harass me on the street. I've had remarks like 'why should girls take technology classes? Girls shouldn't need to know about computers' and 'girls don't play computer games' and 'girls should grow up to be good housewives for a man and bear children' and "girls shouldn't work or have careers after marriage" constantly harped at me.

As you can tell, I did not agree with this. For things like this I will campaign for women's rights tooth and nail.

Does this justify that I drag this emotional gender baggage into another area in my life (webcomics) where other males already treat me as equals just because as a female, I have been treated shoddily elsewhere in real life?

NO.

Like that other guy Andre said: Leave the gender-baggage in the trash where it belongs.

That's why I don't think women in webcomics is an issue. That's why I don't see the point in affirmative action against a problem that doesn't seem to be present in webcomics.

Because for every action there is a reaction. And if there first action doesn't appear to be there, everyone will be wondering "What are you reacting against?".

It's the crying of "Wolf!" where the wolves don't run. And if the wolves don't run there, the spectator is left wondering "There are no wolves here. There's only you and me. Who are you calling wolf?!"

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

As another Girlamatic artist, I wanted to weigh in on the opposite side of the issue from most of the comments so far.

I agree with most of what Eric said.

I agree that the way we present ourselves tends to be, not necessarily exclusionary to men, but certainly off-putting, in the same way that a pinup of a big-breasted half-nude chick over the comics aisle might be off-putting to women. It is hypocritical for us to call attention to the one situation while ignoring and defending the other.

Girlamatic has a strong, solid line-up of comics and artists, including Eisner nominee Raina Telgemeir. My own series, Kismet, is a sci-fi space opera with a readership about evenly split between men and women. I think our comics speak well for themselves. BUT ... they will never be able to speak to our audience if they never make it to our audience.

And, if we are alienating half our potential audience by the way we present ourselves, I think this represents a serious PR problem on our part -- something that we should consider and address, not dismiss out of hand. Further, I don't think jumping down the throat of anyone who brings this to our attention is going to help our cause at all. So far in this thread, I have seen unprofessional behavior by other Girlamatickers that is personally embarrassing and, frankly, very frustrating to me. You can disagree with someone in a polite and professional way. You can make your point without shouting and calling names. Insulting people who represent opposing points of view makes all of us look bad.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

I have to admit that i avoided Girlamatic for a while because of that "for woman etc" tagline. A friend sent me the link to the site a while ago and recommended one of the comics. I clicked on the link took one look at that "comics by woman etc" tagline and left I am a woman and to be honest i found it offensive that the site felt it needed to brand it's self like that. honestly i don't care if the comics i read are created by men, women or hamsters as long as they're good.

I did go back weeks later, when a friend [who is male] recomended another comic on the site, and this time i actually read all the comics on the site. I liked some, hated others, and was indifferent to a few and for me that's the way it should have been the first time. I should have been allowed to judge the comics as comics but having that tagline basicly said to me i must judge these comics differently then i would other comics.

the only analogy i can think of to illustrate my point is Gay vs straight [dont everyone freak out just yet read the rest!] I have alot of gay friends and alot of straight friends. I go to both straight bars and gay bars. I don't care which, i feel comfortable in either but i have taken straight friends to bars that say above the door they are a "gay bar but straight friendly". Regardless of this statment most of my straight friends don't feel comfortable in the gay bar. They are in no way homopobic, they just feel like they are intruding in a world that is not there for them, no matter how good a night they have, they always feel like there's a wall there and they never relax fully as they are afraid of accidently saying something "wrong". The same goes for my gay friends going to straight bars, of course there is no law saying that they can't, there's no alarm going to start ringing when they walk in the door, but they too feel like they just can't relax.

Maybe this is an extreme example but that's how i see girlamatic, no, there is nothing stopping men from reading the comics, they dont ask for a DNA sample when you subscribe to check your chromosomes, but by branding the site as they did it creates the segregation. Men can feel intimidated to give an honest opinion of a comic for fear of getting the "your a man you don't understand". I'm not saying anyone on girlamatic would say this but that doesn't mean the implication of it isnt there. I can say that i don't like all the comics on the site but then i feel like i should say i like them all because its for women and i'm a woman and we need to support each other blah blah

There's a difference in being a site for a "genre" and being a site for an "minority"

i don't know if i made any sense but thats my two cents.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

But you might. Like Ping Teo says, try to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile, you pussies.

*blinks* For a moment there I though you meant my column, then I realised you were probably talking about this hotspot.

I stand by what I said. I do not think it is an issue. (repeat of other comment here. I'm lazy and short on time)

1) In WEBcomics, I have yet to see a webcomics hosting site that allowed sign-ups based on gender. Keenspace does not. Drunk Duck does not. As far as I know none of them do. All creators have equal opportunity to start a webcomic as long as they have a comic to start.

2) I have also not heard of 'professional' webcomic sites where the comics were selected based on the gender of the creator or where the gender of a creator gave them a better chance to be picked over another creator of the same standard but different gender... except for maybe GAM. I don't know about Keenspot, but I'm pretty sure that my comic was extended an invitation because of the nature of its content, and NOT because I was female and T Campbell wanted to up the balance of female creators in GS. And I give you my word that IF one day I should find out that the reason my comic was chosen for the fact I have two ovaries and NOT because it was a mystery/action/adventure comic that the editor liked, then that will also be the day I hand in my resignation.

3) That's why I don't see the point to this kind of counter-action in WEBcomics. Yes, women had to fight for the vote and equal rights in real life. Yes, some editors apparently won't take work from females because they're afraid male readers won't read them because they're done by a girl. *rolls eyes*

4) The question to ask here is: Is this attitude widespread and prevalent in webcomics? Would T Campbell be less likely to take a comic because it's done by a female and 'action-adventure readers don't want to read comics done by a girl'? Would the Fab Four be less likely to Spot a comic because it's done by a girl? Are only male readers allowed to vote on Buzzcomix?

No. Not that I'm aware of.

Eric himself clearly stated he has no problems, nor does he feel uncomfortable reading comics by girls, or comics that are female friendly. His already stated it was the way it was presented that was the problem.

Personally, I don't feel very confident in reading stuff marketed as "for females" either. Because I don't believe in a generalised female genre, and chances are, I won't see eye-to-eye (and thus identify with) with the tastes of someone who brands something like that.

If so many people have voiced discomfort (including several females, I might add) with the presentation, maybe, just maybe there really could be a problem there.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Girlamatic was started around the same time as Serializer.net and Adventurestrip.com. All three Modern Tales spin-off sites were explicitly targetted to one degree or another. Serializer was highbrow, Adventurestrips was old-fashioned adventure, and Girlamatic was LeaCentric. I'm not sure the exact sales figures, but Girlamatic was signifigantly more successful than Adventurestrips, and roughly on a par with Serializer.

Target marketing risks turning away some readers, but can also benefit by attracting new readers. Lifetime Television, for instance, is a very successful network, and there are many other examples of successful target marketing to women.;

Comics is an area where target marketing to women has great potential, because comics have traditionally been marketted predominantly to young males. I'm not sure if Girlamatic is the ideal means to open the floodgates of that market; readers seem to react better to code words than they do to explicit labeling. But I have no doubt that the basic idea of the site is very practical.

BTW, Girlamatic has been so successful artistically that it's astounding to hear that any conscientious webcomics fan would avoid the site. This is where Dicebox and The Stiff are published, after all!

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

I gotta admit, Burns makes a good point about marketing. I think that an increasing number of men enjoy work marketed to women and take it at face value- like male fans of shoujo. Male fans of Estrigious. The whole throng of male cartoonists who are redefining cute- James Kochalka, Tom Hart, Kazu and the Flight people, the entire contingent of cartoonists in the Bay Area (haha, just joking) and of course, the guys of GAM. I think there's a larger crossover audience than Burns implies, esecially in the anime and manga fandoms. These male fans, I assume, are drawn to the atitude and tone of the aforementioned works. I would not want to see these potential fans feel unwelcome simply because they're not considered a primary audience.

GAM would definitely benefit more by promoting this atitude- cuteness, fun, sass, playfulness with assertiveness, emotional youth (NOT CHILDISHNESS), emphasizing character interaction versus plot complexity, a conscious attempt at avoiding mysogyny, community- than trying to define an audence of mostly women. I think it's these characteristics, more than gender of readership or creator, that define GAM's comics.
These are the same qualities I tried to promote in the 'shoujo Manga anthology,' and which women like myself look for in comics.

And as for sandwiches... Why have neither Subway nor Quiznos offered paninis, the hottest sandwich trend since vegemite?

Re: Um, it's Girlamatic, not Trix.

Faith's picture

"the text on the website hurts your feelings, I guess. It just seems a little strange."

What's wrong with that logic? A website conveys itself in a particular way, and you find unattractive, and you'd rather not read the content. And that's wrong because...?

I use the same reasons to not read Maxim.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Faith's picture

Ultimately, the reason I avoid Girlamatic like the plauge is that I see so many of the people involved acting like you have insulted the entire female race if you dare (dare!) to even suggest you're not comfortable with the ideas behind the site. It's downright stupid sometimes, and I'd never get away with acting like that if someone said they didn't like my comic. It's sort of like the cause outweighs the comics on that site, and you're just not allowed to question, lest you be attacked by its various members. I don't bother anymore, and I expect to have tomatos thrown at me now...

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

scarfman's picture

Oh, don't get me wrong. I think you're probably right about this. There are areas where x minority has been oppressed and that can bleed into other areas, but webcomics doesn't seem to be one of them. That's a good thing and maybe looking too hard at it could screw it up. But andrael's analogy seems flawed to the point of uselessness to me so I said so.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Okay, I want to ask a question:

Has anyone else wondered about the "Under the Matress Comics" ad on the sidebar? It's sort of at odds with the subject matter, no?

Or is this what we get when the playing field is level?
I have no argument for someone who feels GAM's not for them--perhaps it's not. But is an essay discussing it that's bracketed by an ad you wouldn't want someone to see over your shoulder any better?

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Has anyone else wondered about the "Under the Matress Comics" ad on the sidebar? It's sort of at odds with the subject matter, no?

Actually I was wondering when someone was going to comment on that.

Personally I think that ad is rather in poor taste. Definitely off-putting to anyone who isn't attracted to females with improbable bustlines. A perfect example of the kind of advertising I hate (making a presumption on the viewer instead of describing the product itself.) In this case they assumed the readers HAD to be male, even though females are known to read erotica as well. *rolls eyes* Their loss. I highly doubt I'd feel compelled to click it or buy any of their stuff.

Or is this what we get when the playing field is level?

Ok, you lost me here. I'm not sure what you're trying to say... Do you mean sexually oriented ads only occur on a level playing field?

Those are ads for some sort of adult comics, not for Comixpedia itself. I don't think Comixpedia has ever made it point to market itself as a webzine for any gender. It's a level playing field, If I'm not mistaken anyone else is every bit as free to put up ads for tampon humour or slash comics or whatever else that might be off-putting to men.

I have no argument for someone who feels GAM's not for them--perhaps it's not.

I don't think the problem is that people automatically feel GAM's not for them. I think the problem is that the way it's marketed makes them feel it's not for them.

I mean, look at that "Under the Matress" ad as an example. The way it's presented automatically makes any woman (unless they're attracted to women) feel like whatever those guys are selling, it's not for them.

Which may not be necessarily be true. On closer inspection that ad seems to advertise adult/mature comics, and I'm some women read erotica too.

Same thing with the inverse. If you present something as for a specific target group, the other groups that aren't addressed automatically feel it's not for them, regardless of whether it really is.

And then with that "Under the Matress" ad as an example again. I'll wager not every guy who sees that ad is going to be impressed either. In fact I suspect a few of them are going to be insulted by the insinuation that they're sad enough to lust after some fictional female with badly porportioned boobs just because they're men.

The same for females who are presented with 'comics for girls' just because they're 'girls'

On one hand one could argue because stuff like "Under the Matress" exist, then the inverse should too. Fair enough. But if people are allowed to be put-off by ads like that without having to be labelled 'insecure, jealous, females' then surely fairness dictates everyone else should be free to be put-off by anything else without automatically be labelled as 'insecure, threatened, [insert gender here]'.

(Not saying that anyone here has actually said such things, but this is an example here)

But is an essay discussing it that's bracketed by an ad you wouldn't want someone to see over your shoulder any better?

I'd put it in the same league as the GirlAMatic forum, which if I recall correctly, is bracketed by ads that occasionally feature full-frontal nudity (and many of them of women) in them. I wouldn't blame GAM for the ads, or would I think any less of their comics/readers just because they frequent a forum where some ad next to them seems to be at odds with their policy of a 'female-friendly' environment. After all, they don't control those ads.

Similarly Eric and Comixpedia aren't the same entities. I wouldn't blame Eric of being a hypocrite for ads that he doesn't control, and which at the time of the writing of his article, he probably didn't know they were going to be bracketed next to anyway.

To do so would be to stab oneself in the foot.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Eric, I apologize the the "Man" stuff, I admit I was overly sensitive, and flew off the handle, although it was mostly because I found a lot of what you said somewhat shocking. It's an issue I've never really had myself as a male, and I have often felt welcome and comfortable in many similar situations as you found yourself in when you wrote this. I've taken several courses in women's literature and an Art History seminar oriented in feminism, and I never really felt exiled or out of place in them. Mabye it's just my upbringing, or my personality, I'm not sure. I just couldn't really concieve someone feeling this way about something as simple as a webcomics site. As an English student, I was simultaenously confused by your poor use of metaphor, which took up more then 1/2 the article [you have to admit, it went on to long, and was quite vague, somewhat hard to connect the analogy to... essays should be concise and to the point, even if they deal with personal issues ]. It was very one sided, and could of used more indepth discussion about the feelings you felt as a result of "Gam's exisitence". The lack of research was somethingelse I felt you should of looked into more- as in reading the comics, which is something that would of helped your arguement, using them to help support your concept [ie- "Some of these comics are ones men might enjoy a lot, and would benefit from a less-political/socially-fueled marketing technique" etc].

I admit I should of had more tack, and presented my response in a more clarified, less personal manner. Sorry if I caused any offense, and I hope you continue to explore this issue. I'm choosing to leave the post as is, as what's said is said and done, and will try to express things more positively in future postings related to your articles.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

It's clear that Girlamatic has raised some issues. So it pisses people off that it's marketed to women. fair enough. It even pisses people off that the site's women contributors have complained, because it makes 'women look bad'? Hello? Just because we refute an article we're suddenly Nazi Feminists? Why isn't anyone giving Sequential Tart the same shit? You see any male reviewers over there? -If you even read Sequential Tart. Oh, but it's a woman reviewers/writers-only site. Woops, I guess Eric Burns isn't welcome there either.
Don't read it. Your loss. That said, Girlamatic is not going to back down on the woman issue.
In fact, I will do everything in my (limited) power to make Girlamatic CHANGE ITS COLOR TO NEON PINK AND MAKES ROSES AS ITS LOGO and have a huge VENUS sign on the homepage, just to let people know where we stand.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

The sandwish analogy is a pretty bad parallel to the point you're trying to make. Shouldn't you be making comparisons with other minority groups that are being marketed to? This still reads more as a rant than an article.

Re: Um, it's Girlamatic, not Trix.

andrael's picture

I suppose. It just seems to me, it would be one thing if he said "I don't really know anything about these comics, but I got a look at the site and it didn't give me a good impression so I don't feel like reading them." But this seems to be more like, "These comics seem pretty good and I think I would probably enjoy them, except the text on the website says it's not for me so I won't." Text that isn't even actually on the site anymore.

Not to mention that he says he has a subscription. Why subscribe to something you don't want to or plan to read? You can't use webcomics to line your birdcage or impress guests by leaving it on your coffee table. I just find it strange. If I was already shelling out the money for them anyway, I would probably check out some of the comics while I was at it. Or else cancel my subscription.

And the only time I ever read Maxim is when I go to the hair salon.

___

 

 

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Ah I see. I thought you were talking to me, since you used 'your' and replied to my comment. My apologies.

Made me think of a lot of good points I missed though.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

andrael's picture

If Ping's thesis is correct and women in the world of webcomics really have no problems worth mentioning, then any historical context of vote-lobbying or bus-sitting doesn't have any relevance, right? It just comes down to marketing and target audiences and stuff.

But you're right, it's a pretty lame analogy. I apologize. I was still a bit confused over the whole sandwich thing.

___

 

 

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

andrael's picture

I guess the reason I just don't have a problem with the labeling might be because I'm used to reading manga. With manga, they go so far as to name their target audience in the title of the magazine -- "Boy's Jump", "Girl's Flower Comics", etc. -- and nobody seems to suggest that this is a bad marketing strategy.

___

 

 

Re: Um, it's Girlamatic, not Trix.

Faith's picture

Good question as to why he has a subscription. Maybe he enjoys being offended. I mean, I enjoy being offended by Girlamatic too, but I wouldn't fork over three hard earned dollars for the enjoyment of said offense, since I can get it for free.

Y'know what'd be nice? A discussion about women and webcomics that doesn't involve that site. It's like controversy completely outweighs content when it comes to this issue. Which, of course, is why a book as badly written as 'The DaVinci Code' has sold ten billion copies.

Re: Um, it's Girlamatic, not Trix.

A few words in defense of Mr. Burns, not that he needs them. "By women"? Love it. "Busting balls"? I'm still okay with that. "For women"? As a man, I'm going to stay the hell away. Not because I would feel uncomfortable, but because "my kind" simply wasn't wanted in that place. Why would I give my business to people who don't seem to want me there?

Now the fact that the site no longer says "For Women" is a very good thing. Wonderful. If they ever wanted men to visit, the fact that it was ever on it in the first place was so rock-stupid it defies all publicity logic. It isn't on there now, which is great, but it WAS, and that's tough to forget. It's like seeing a door marked with the word "RADIOACTIVE" for months, and then one day it says, "KITTENS". Sorry, I'm still not going in without a protective suit, if at all. They branded themselves, and now they have to live with the consequences.

As to why he has a subscription, well, the guy did say he suffers from liberal guilt. He handed money to Girlamatic because he wanted to help support women in webcomics, and you CRUSH him for it. You find it strange? You think he should cancel his subscription? Heinlein once said, "Money is the sincerest form of flattery", and Mr. Burns has paid in full without even seeing what was inside. He was flattering them in the best way one can just for attempting to make webcomics.

Not only that, but he just got me to think about (and visit) Girlamatic for the first time in forever. It doesn't have "For women" on there anymore; some of the comics look quite interesting...

I might just put on my protective suit and have a look around. Just don't blame me, or him, if we don't.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

A few words in defense of Mr. Burns, not that he needs them. "By women"? Love it. "Busting balls"? I'm still okay with that. "For women"? As a man, I'm going to stay the hell away. Not because I would feel uncomfortable in a squeamish way, but because "my kind" simply wasn't wanted in that place. Why would I give my business to people who don't seem to want me there?

Now the fact that the site no longer says "For Women" is a very good thing. Wonderful. If they ever wanted men to visit, the fact that it was ever on it in the first place was so rock-stupid it defies all publicity logic. It isn't on there now, which is great, but it WAS, and that's tough to forget. It's like seeing a door marked with the word "RADIOACTIVE" for months, and then one day it says, "KITTENS". Sorry, I'm still not going in without a protective suit, if at all. They branded themselves, and now they have to live with the consequences.

As to why he has a subscription, well, the guy did say he suffers from liberal guilt. Heinlein once said, "Money is the sincerest form of flattery", and Mr. Burns has paid in full without even seeing what was inside. He was flattering them in the best way one can just for attempting to make webcomics. He handed money to Girlamatic because he wanted to help support women in webcomics, and now he's getting flogged for it.

Not only has he supported them with money, but he also just got me to think about (and visit) Girlamatic for the first time in forever. It doesn't have "For women" on there anymore; some of the comics look quite interesting...

I might just put on my protective suit and have a look around. Just don't blame me, or him, if we don't.

This was originally posted in a sub-comment, I decided to edit and re-post in the main one. Please forgive the duplication.

Re: Um, it's Girlamatic, not Trix.

dave_roman's picture

The Maxim analogy is a good one and a fair point. I certainly have no interest in reading Maxim and I'm a guy who likes pretty girls. But if I found out that a bunch of my favorite writers were gonna start working for it and that Craig Thompson was gonna start drawing a monthly comic in Maxim I'd probably at least take a look. Maybe not in public...
But that's the beauty of the internet, no ones gonna judge you for checking out Maxim, Girlamatic or Dungeons and Dragons fansites :) You can just browse and find out if it really does fit your tastes or not. Much like reading the reviews on Amazon.com and figuring out which are fakes and which match your own sensibilities.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

In keeping with the evident trend of this thread, let me be the first to scream "YOU JUST THINK THAT KITTENS ARE RADIOACTIVE! You're afraid of the power of kittens and fear that they'll cause your genitals to shrivel up like raisins, you bastard kitten-hater!"

That out of the way, I agree. And I'm female. I despise things blatantly marketed for women instinctively--it calls up legions of crappy pink toys in my brain, and reminds me of the fact that I couldn't get He-Man action figures and couldn't get away from Strawberry Shortcake--and thus the fact that Girlamatic was marketed as "for girls" meant that I'd never check it out, period. Which is undoubtedly not their intent.

If that's changed, there'd be a far greater likelihood that I'd consider Girlamatic to be something I might potentially be interested in.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

I keep comin' back to this thread like a sore tooth, and yet, here I am again. Well. Better that than to have a column vanish into the aether unheralded by comment, I s'pose.

Once upon a time, Saturday Night Live did a faux commercial entitled "Chess For Girls." It featured a great deal of pink, easy-bake ovens, a fashion show for the queen (who had long blonde hair added) bishops that wet themselves when given water, and a lone frustrated boy saying "This is not how you play chess!"

I laughed until I about wet myself, because it was so true, it hurt.

When I was a girl, things were pretty damn enlightened, relatively speaking, because I'm not yet thirty. My mother did her best not to lay any expectations on me that I would do or not do something because I was female, and did a generally good job. But nevertheless, I got Strawberry Shortcake toys and Care Bears and whatnot, when what I really wanted was something like my cousin's He-Man action figures. Those, however, were dismissed as awful things not suitable for girls. I got girly toys. That was the way of the world.

To this day, therefore, if you want to make sure that I will sooner take my spleen out with a rusty cheesegrater than buy your product, you market it as being "for girls." This is not a rational response, this goes straight to the 'ol hindbrain. If it's for girls, I want no truck with it. Hell, if they sold Blackbeard The Pirate's Rugged Tampons "fer pluggin' th' bloody hole afor' th' sharks smell ye"* I'd buy those things by the goddamn crate before I would buy anything pink and feminine with little flowers on the box, and that's one of the few products that has a legitimate claim to being solely for my gender. I HATE stuff for girls.

As I grew, I found myself greeting anything marketed "for women" with an equally curled lip--it's "for girls" all over again, only with orgasms and weight-loss tips added in. This reflects not at all on the product. It may be a great product, it may be fabulous, it may be the best comic ever written or the most effective weightloss pill since tapeworms or lead to the best sex of my life, but nope, sorry, you invoked the remembered rage of a seven year old who got Crepe Suzette instead of Skeletor, and she has a remarkable amount of veto power over the rest of the brain. I'm not going to stick around to discover how fabulous your product is, I'm going to go down to Toys-R-Us and buy me the gnarliest, fangiest action figure I can find to soothe the beast. Something by that guy who did Spawn, maybe.

And the funny thing, of course, is that I'm sure this is totally the opposite effect of what something like Girlamatic is hoping for. I know we've had a lot of posts, here and elsewhere, lauding the fact that there's a sense of belonging, that it's a man's world, but not here, that it's nice to have some place where, as they say, everybody knows your name (or at least your X chromosome.) And that's wonderful. I'm genuinely glad it works out that way--it IS a man's world out there, god knows.

But the whole "for girls," "for women" thing, for me, just serves to remind me that it's a man's world, and they're a symptom of it. Some women find something "for women" empowering, more power to 'em. Some people think the idea of a menstrual hut is empowering, too, I think it sounds like being locked in solitary for a week, but that doesn't me anybody has to change on my account.

It does mean, however, that their stuff "for girls" is gonna go on without me.

*Seriously, there's a marketing goldmine here. I can't be the only one like this.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

No, I meant that sandwiches are radioactive. Heh.

Girlamatic has changed. It really looks good. I would recommend taking a look. I think I'll probably subscribe.

Actually, after I wrote the comment, my wife mentioned that she was worried that some might interpret it that I was comparing women with radioactivity. So as this has become an analogous minefield, I'll plunge on in and use another one to further make my point.

Secret is strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. Women buy it, men don't. It's telling us its for a woman after all. If in a few months Secret comes out with a new slogan simply saying, "Strong enough", men still are not going to buy it. They've branded themselves, and it would take a Herculean (Okay, Xenan) effort to change that brand. The people at Secret wouldn't run around blaming men for not trying it. If they wanted to sell a product to men, they'd come up with a different product, or just rename the one they had.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

I hear you, Ursula. The girl stuff, it persecutes me. It does.

At the bank where I cash some money, they have a plan "for women". Guess which color is plastered all over the brochures and advertising posters. Even the friggin' pictures have a tint.

Pink. Not only pink. THAT shade of pink. Pepto-Bismol pink.

As if they thought "naturally, a woman is going to come in here and think, oh, that's pretty! I think I'll give them all my money".

Gimme a frigging break. What are we, little girls? Do they think we all grow up to be Barbie in her pink house? With everything pink? *groan*

And those women-targeted radio and tv shows. They assume women like the most retarded things. Sure, there are some things that are interesting. Health, gardening, that stuff. And of course astrology and feng-shui and psychobabble and a whole load of other superstitious, inane crap.

This is why I avoid things that are "marketed" towards women like the plague. Because they almost never have what I want. And even if they do, they piss me off. Because to me, the concept that are women are alike, that we all like the same things, it's an *abomination*. Gimme something any man or woman can like, based on the universal traits we all share. This I can like.

That said, this rant is not about Girlamatic at all. Girlamatic is different for me, perhaps because I was around when it was formed and I know the concept behind it. But saying it's for girls, that was misleading, yeah.

Maritza
CRFH.net

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Gianna's picture

First of all a disclaimer: I have never checked out Girlamatic and I haven't checked it yet at the time of writing. I'll check it when I finish and if there's something I like there, I'll subscribe and read it.

And now my 2 cents:
I'm female and I usually avoid anything marketed as "by women for women" for these reasons:

1. What's so noteworthy about a woman who writes a webcomic? Why not say, for example, "a German who writes a webcomic", "a fitness instructor who writes a webcomic", "a thirty year old who writes a webcomic", "a stinking alcoholic who writes a webcomic" or any other label that would apply to the person? Why, OF ALL THINGS, the most suprising and worth of mention is that the author of a comic is female? It sounds suspiciously like "whoa, a horse that can do maths! Come and have a look!". So a woman can draw a webcomic? Whoopty-freakin'-do, leave us to our own resources and we may even learn how to change a flat tire next! Attagirls! I find it demeaning. I'd never advertise anything I do as "by a woman", like it was some sort of miracle that I managed to do it, being a woman and all.

2. I know that this is completely unfair, but my first thought about something marketed as "by women for women" is that it either sucks so bad that there's no other marketing angle, or that it may be well done but it deals with "women issues", i.e. that large nebula of boredom (as far as I'm concerned) addressed by Cosmopolitan, Mothercare, gender studies seminars and Well Woman Clinics leaflets.

I completely sympathise with you for being put off by the Girlamatic site intro. It puts me off too and I'm of the right gender (as far as the site is concerned). However, I'll now go and check it out, and read any comic that I may find there that appeals to me, despite the cringeworthy marketing angle.

I invite you to do the same, becuase if you think that the comics at Girlamatic are good, then read them. If we had to stop at what race/gender/nation etc. produces something, white people would never have listened to jazz and blues in the first place, what a loss that'd have been.

Gianna
http://www.thenoobcomic.com

--------
Gianna Masetti
thenoobcomic.com

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

dave_roman's picture

It's true that anytime anything tries to say it's "for you" there is a tendency to be skeptic.
I never trust those "If you like this then you'll love that" quotes.

I assumed the the current angle with Girlamatic had more to do with appealing to women as potential readers more so than the "by women" angle. Mainly since there are so many guys currently on the site (including myself). It's always been weird that a lot of guys think that the type of comics I make are "for girls"--and that's probably why I ended up doing stuff on Girlamatic. But when I draw my comics,I'm not thinking about gender goals.
I really just make my comics to entertain myself. And honestly I'm just happy to be on site with so many other talented creators.

I wonder if the the need to have a "FOR GIRLS" themed webcomics site came from the percieved image that web comics are all about videogames. Because catering to women who play videogames is a whole other interesting topic debate...

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

I think it's pretty obvious from the reactions on this thread, and on Eric's Blog that you're not hte only one, Ursula.

Now I actually follow some of the comics on GAM.

My first honest reaction? "These comics are great... Uh... why are they being marketed as 'for women'?" For example, "Spades" on GAM would have fit seamlessly right into Graphic Smash.

Granted, I haven't read ALL of the comics on GAM, but objectively, my assessment of the comics on GAM that I've read: "They're good, but I don't see anything particularly 'for girls' in it. They just don't seem to exclusively cater to men, that's all."

I do encourage the checking out of GAM's comics, though. I still think it was not very good marketing on their part, but it would be good if we didn't let that, or the behaviour of a very small minority if the artists who have left unfavourable impressions here, stop anyone from visiting now that it's piqued their interest. As far as I know, the majority of the artists on GAM are indeed absolutely awesome people, and the the majority who create for GAM haven't even gotten involved here, it's hard luck on them to be caught in the crossfire.

I mean, if some artist on Keenspot acts like an idiot, that would probably put you off them a bit, but if someone recommended another comic on it to you, I'm sure you'd still check it out.

I got into reading GirlAMatic stuff because of Jupiter and The Wisdom of Dr. Moo, but someone mentioned something about anyone with a subscription not reading Dicebox being clinically insane. I don't know about that, but I'd say one look at the comic itself should be enough to convince a person to try it out. I liked Dylan Meconis' Bite Me, too (I stumbled across in on one of the Webcomic Finds trawls (I think it might have been linked by Vera Brosgol), even if I didn't write about it.)

Whoa.... double parentheses!

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

One more thing, to address something else that's been suggested, I don't think it's the comics done by a group of girls that is the problem at all. I'm currently involved in a joint webcomic project with seven other webcomic artists called Golden (Ooooh! Shiney!)

About a week ago, someone commented that out of seven of us, six of the artists involved were girls and only one was a guy. Technically, we have a higher percentage of girls in the group (85.7%) than GAM!

Was it intentional? I don't think so. Colby selected us because she liked our comics. Does it make any difference to how we present outselves or how readers find us? Other than noting the statistical oddity, I don't think so either.

Just a thought.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

personally, I dont find the sex of an artist to matter.

Unless she's hawt.

Har har har!

Sorry, just thought I'd goof on this needlessly hawt conversation.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

The domain cfmtjam.com is still unclaimed (just in case somebody wants to launch a Comics for More than Just Adolescent Males anthology site).

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Thanks a lot for this post. I'm going to put Girlmatic on my list of things to "check out", especially if there's a sci-fi comic there (and hopefully being by a woman, it'll be better then the majority of sci-fi comics out there ;)).

To be honest, I do/did feel alienated from Girlmatic. Back when it was part of the Modern Tales family (is it still? I'm a bit confused about the article. Anyway, quite a while ago ;)) I checked it out, saw the "by women for women" and went "guess it aint for me." While it may have changed since then, I haven't found out about the change. When I think "Girlmatic" I think sit-coms, comics that concentrate on relationships, comics with a gay transexual hemaphrodite (that's like Will&Grace *shudder*). Stuff I don't like. So your post certainly helped clear up that misconception :)

Propaganda

If a man's a real man, they won't give a crap about squirming a bit about reading a pro-girl website.
Sorry, but I'm not going to read pro-girl comics. Same as I'm not going to read pro-gay comics, pro-black comics, pro-heterosexual comics, pro-white comics or pro-man comics. Pro- is one very small step away from being propaganda (if it isn't propaganda already). I know someone who hates what she calls "black movies." This is where EVERYONE is black. Now I use to have a problem with that until she explained it to me. It isn't that everyone's black that bugs her. If it stopped there, she'd probably enjoy the movie. But it's a pro-black movie. It goes on about how great black people are. It's like when Oprah gets a black guest, it's 60 minutes of her and her guest saying "aren't black people the greatest." The movies are 120 minutes of the people saying "aren't we just so cool because we're all black." If people enjoy that, then good for them. They're who the movie is for. But I'm not black, and I don't enjoy it. I wouldn't enjoy 10 minutes of "aren't white people just terrific", let alone 120 minutes.

Same goes with comics. I'll read comics written by women, drawn by women, with a woman main character. I have no problem with all that. But the second it becomes "pro-women", that's when I'm outta there (not saying girlamatic is pro-women, just wanted to respond to that quote).
Sorry if I offended anyone.

Re: Feeding Snarky by Eric Burns

Then Eric Burns says he won't read comics because they're marketed as 'for women.' So women-centric and women-friendly comics makes a prominent web reviewer incomfortable. There's inherent sexism here

I won't read comics on Graphic Smash'em, despite the fact I thoroughly enjoy Twilight Agency and Alpha Shade (which I guess COULD belong on Graphic Smash'em). I won't read Graphic Smash'em because it's marketed as comics for a certain demographic, that I don't think I belong too (despite enjoying comics that belong to that demographic). Does that make me a Smashemist?

He's writing for Comixpedia, so he has a responsibility to at least explore what's on the site and see how that matches the branding. If this article had appeared on his websnark blog, then I wouldn't have cared, personally, because a blog's a blog- a repository of personal thoughts. But this kind of personal '"ew, girls!"' atitude should have no place on a site ostensibly for news and criticism.

You'd have a point if this was called "A review on Sevenplains", but no. It's a review on the hub-site. Not the actual comics, just the hub-site. The comics themselves doesn't really matter, if he isn't reviewing the content, but the presentation, which he is in this comic. He doesn't make any bad comments on the comics themselves, just how Girlamatic represents them.

I have a comic on Girlamatic. It's called Sevenplains. I ask male and female readers to come over to our site, preview our comics. If you don't like them, fine. But you might. Like Ping Teo says, try to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile, you pussies.

Wow. Well I've already decided to check out Girlamatic after a post I read earlier (read my other comments here to find which one I mean). But I won't be giving yours a try. Why? Don't worry, it isn't because you're a girl. It's because you're so aggressive.