Anonymous said: What are your thoughts on "gamergate"? As a female gamer, has your experience been mostly uneventful or have you run into challenges? How would you compare the gamer culture to comics culture? Or do your interests allow you to avoid negative interactions?
Needless to say, as somebody who played games, and was vocal and enthusiastic about games from a really early age (the first game I played was “Parsec” on a borrowed Commodore 64), I’ve run into plenty of challenges. And “challenges” is a nice, vague word, so I’ll be specific and say that growing up as a girl meant encountering misogyny and gender role assumptions as part and parcel of the experience. Since I was a girl who wanted to assimilate into boy’s culture - or failing that share some portion of what boys enjoyed - there was heavy gating, implicit and explicit, on my degree of participation.
One thing that strikes me, looking back, is that I was excluded no matter what. Whether I stayed quiet and lurked in the background, or stepped up and tried to out-boast or out-play everyone else, my options were either to adopt a proper, passive role, or to have no place whatsoever. No amount of expertise would win me access. My achievements were either a lie, or something I’d cheated to obtain. And while most boys didn’t act like this towards me one-on-one, as soon as they joined the pack it was an immediate dissolve into girls vs. them.
Of course, nobody can be blamed at that age. Kids are just doing what they’re taught, and mimicking what’s around them. I had many (many) moments of idiocy and jerkiness, myself. It’s water under the bridge, at this point. But adults are a different matter. Adults can be expected to acknowledge and consider perspectives beyond their own. Adults can be expected to not shut down an argument as soon as it no longer favours or pleases them. Adults can be expected to act graciously - or at least not with harassment and aggression - when disagreement persists. And when all else fails, adults can be expected to not invent a cast of fictional enemies when they feel threatened by something they aren’t even willing to examine closely.
And those are some of my thoughts about “gamergate”.
As far as comics culture goes, I think there are some similarities and some differences. Certainly there’s a similar pressure to maintain the status quo, and not go around tipping over rocks to see what’s underneath.
Marian is the smart one.
The Direct Market system, I think, works pretty damn well when all participants respect what the other legs of the table need — but it’s pretty easy to stress and overtax it, and even to absolutely break it.
Historically, I’d argue that we were always able to regroup because the stewards at the largest publishers were mostly loyal to comics, so when crashes came, the publishers dialed back; I don’t know that I believe that is true, exactly, any longer. Oh, people at Marvel and DC are still (largely) comics-loyalists, but they don’t make the final decisions any longer — it is very easy to envision a situation where some bean counter at the parent companies say “What? You only made fifty million dollars profit this year? Why do we bother with this division at all?”"
It’s an interesting article, and certainly worth reading. My problem with it, though, is that it conflates “the comics industry” with “the direct market” and that presupposes a by-conditional relationship between Marvel and DC and the “comics industry” and Marvel/DC.
The basic gist of Bryan’s article is that we should be careful because Marvel and DC could crash the comics industry again. But the comics industry doesn’t function as simply as “Two big birds rule the roost.” Right? Don’t get me wrong, I understand how most comic shops function/order and the types of books they primarily, or in some cases exclusively, order, and so yeah, Marvel and DC could by coincidence or enemy action crash the direct market. But the idea the entirety of the comics industry is composed solely of the direct market is naive.
If the direct market crashed, publishers like (just off the top of my head) Nobrow, Uncivilized Books, Koyama Press, Pantheon, First Second, Picador, and every manga publisher wouldn’t feel much of a impact at all. Humanoids would probably hurt a little, but not as much as one might think. Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly might hurt a little, but probably not as much as you’d think. The bookstore market—venues like Barnes & Noble and Amazon—have completely changed the comics industry, and the fact that manga makes up a larger financial contingent than American comics, and that fact that the majority of manga is sold through a bookseller—not to mention digital comics, which have a completely different cost structure (or they should? They exist in a post-scarcity sub-economy and have a completely different cost-of-production breakdown); and these are just the things I can think of without doing too much work. What I’m getting at is this: the comics industry has expanded so much (it’s got a long way to go, believe me) that it does enough business outside of Marvel and DC and outside the DM that it would survive (again, it would be hurt but not killed by) a crash of the DM.
Even Image! Image still deals primarily in pamphlet comics. But I’d be willing to wager that their bookshelf comic sales are going up and up each year, and that those sales are coming from outside the DM. So Image, which again deals primarily through the DM, would survive a crash of the direct market.
My point is this: fuck Marvel and DC. They aren’t all that comics are or could be. Hell, they’re not even all the comics industry is or could be. So yeah, Marvel or DC could drive a crash of the direct market, and that crash could prove fatal for the DM and/or those two publishers. But I think it prove fatal for those two publishers. And a crash of the DM would be bad for comics, but it wouldn’t destroy the industry like it might’ve even five years ago—and in five years, it would probably do even less damage—and it sure as shit wouldn’t disrupt the medium.
One last note of equal import: Hibbs appears to put the onus of not crashing the DM on Marvel and DC, but…they’re not gonna change their behavior. They’re going to keep pushing their dumb fucking lenticular covers, which…that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. But they’re going to keep doing it. They’re going to keep triple-shipping a book or redoing 30-year old cross-overs, or shipping an event book 9 times in 3 months at $5 a piece, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Hibbs seems to think that this behavior will inevitably lead to a crash, and he’s probably right (I can personally verify all the speculation he talks about in that article, because I was working in a shop when those events were taking place, among others). But a crash of Marvel or DC doesn’t have to lead to a DM crash. All retailers have to do is try and diversify and broaden their customer base. They have to make themselves less reliant on two publishers who are headed towards a fiery explosion and a watery grave. Push more Fanta, D&Q, Koyama, Nobrow, manga from the dozens of publishers, Humanoids, Titan, NBM, First Second, et al. Get more, and more different, readers through those doors—basically, function more like bookstore! and less like a uber-niche place that only offers a narrow bandwith of bullshit to a narrow range of person.
P.s. Oh, oh, and the direct market system doesn’t work at-fucking-all. Diamond is a literal monopoly and dictates terms as such. Not to mention all their bureaucratic fuck ups, payment fuck-ups, software fuck-ups, shipping and packing fuck-ups… FOC’s are stupid, and the idea that comic retailers have to assume risk for product in ways that book distributors would never expect booksellers to is absurd.(via sheahisself)