Everyone’s excited about the new Comics Journal online, and who can blame them? The Journal‘s old site was sparsely maintained and difficult to navigate. And though I’ll probably always miss Dirk Deppey’s fantastic link blog, Journalista, change here is definitely for the better, especially when that change involves bringing on Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler, the guys responsible for Eisner-nominated website Comics Comics, widely respected in the comics blogosphere.
Now, before there’s an outcry, yes, I do see a few women listed among TCJ’s expected contributors. Hodler’s welcome message on the new site mentions future contributions from Nicole Rudick, Naomi Fry, Shaenon Garrity, and Hillary Chute. But the stuff these guys seem really excited about, all the new columns from Ken Parille, Ryan Holmberg, Sean T. Collins and the like, regular features like Frank Santoro’s “Riff Raff,” Jeet Heer’s “Comics Chronicles” and Joe McCulloch’s “This Week in Comics,” stuff that’s meant to make up the real meat of the site, are all written by men. This discrepancy is especially apparent in Nadel and Holder’s recent interview with Tom Spurgeon, where it was incredibly easy on my first read to completely miss the few tiny mentions of female writers, though they go on effusively about the many men involved in the project.
Look, I get that western comics culture is very much male-dominated, and I know that my perspective is probably skewed by the fact that I do the bulk of my comics-related online reading in the female-heavy manga blogosphere. But is it really so much to expect that a publication (online or otherwise) that considers itself to be an elite voice in the comics world might make a real effort to include female voices? And not just as occasional contributors, but as full-fledged columnists with the opportunity to develop a real audience and a distinctive voice?
I don’t mean to rain on Nadel and Hodler’s parade, I really don’t. I get that they’re pulling from a pool of writers they’ve admired for a long, long time, as well as from their already-established Comics Comics crew, which only had one woman in the bunch. This is what they’re comfortable with. These are the guys they know. I also get that they’ve been in charge of TCJ for something like a day, and jumping on them for anything at this point in time could reasonably be considered unfair.
And hey, my complaint is purely selfish. My sad little cry for more women at TCJ is a reflection of what I want to read, more than anything else. I want to read about comics from female creators. I want to read about comics about female characters. I want to know what other women think and feel about comics, because more often than not, that’s what really speaks to me as a reader. That’s what inspires me as a fan, and certainly as a blogger. There’s a reason why Manga Bookshelf is made up of a group of female bloggers and one man who reads a whole lot female-created manga. This is the discussion that most interests me. And though I certainly don’t expect TCJ to embody my personal tastes, as a pretty dedicated fan of comics, I’d like to see those tastes a bit better represented.
So in the end, I’ll wrap this up as a simple, friendly request for TCJ.com’s brand new overlords:
There are a lot of us out here. How about giving us something to read?
ETA Some related links: