I was excited to see the proposal for Femme Magnifique, a comic anthology with “inspirational” stories about “powerful” mostly-American women. The name was frankly a turn-off for me. I guess it’s supposed to be French but I don’t think of my self as “femme” in the typical American use of the term, and it seems kind of insensitive or clueless about trans identity (although there is at least one trans woman included).
I guess they were trying to make it appealing to a less-politicized audience, but I’m concerned that it’s pretty heavy on white women and entertainment figures (Beth Ditto?) and light on civil rights and feminist leaders. Where are Angela Davis, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Grace Lee Boggs, Ava Duvernay, Carrie May Weems, bell hooks? Not even Ruth Motherfucking Bader Ginsburg?
Nevertheless it does sound like a good project with some really great artists, and I donated last week. Yesterday their Kickstarter hit 100%, so it’s going to happen! They have more rewards that will be released if they make their extra “stretch goals.”
Jill Pantozzi reminds us that “Marvel Has Been Ignoring Fans Telling Them to Stop Being So Progressive Since Forever.” Fan letters are a big part of comics culture since they get printed in the next issue, and in 1969 Stan Lee got a letter (from a Burlington, NC reader) that sounds like it could have been written yesterday. “… I’m not a racist, just a concerned Marvelite who doesn’t want his favorite comic company to be ruined by something that really doesn’t concern you as comic publishers.” (Not just racist, but classic concern troll!)
Marvel’s response is lovely:
But, such matters as racism and equality do concern us, Tim – not just as comic-mag artists and writers and publishers, but as human beings.
Certainly it’s never our intention to portray all, or even most, white Americans as hard-core bigots or screaming racists. Maybe it’s just that we think that many people in this land of the free have too long turned their backs or averted their eyes to the more unpleasant things that are going on every day. Maybe we felt we could do something – even within the relatively humble format of what used to be called a “comic-book” – to change things just a bit for the better.
If we fail, let’s just say that we’d at least like to have it said of us that – we tried.
Learn more of the story and get more context about politics in comics at Jill’s blog: Marvel Has Been Ignoring Fans Telling Them to Stop Being So Progressive Since Forever [The Nerdy Bird].
All of the comics in The Village Voice‘s “The 10 Most Subversive Comics at New York Comic Con” look great, but I most appreciated the shout out to John Lewis’ new book March (which I just read) as well as the Fellowship of Reconciliation‘s 1957 comic explaining nonviolent direct action.
I originally discovered The Montgomery Story when I worked at FOR. I’m so glad they are reprinting it!
“The most subversive comic available at New York Comic Con is at the Top Shelf booth, a reprint of The Montgomery Story, a comic first published in 1957 and approved by Martin Luther King Jr., who saw the pre-published pages and made editorial changes. Most important is a section in the back called “How the Montgomery Method Works,” a blueprint for passive resistance. This comic has been translated into countless languages (a Top Shelf rep showed me Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi). It’s an instruction book for changing the world, and it continues to do so.”