Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Review of "Womanthology: Heroic"

Womanthology: Heroic
Womanthology: Heroic by Bonnie Burton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So I want to be really clear, besides just putting stars on it, what I think about this book. I think it's important to acknowledge that on the one hand it's really groundbreaking and beautiful: when have we ever seen woman comic writers gathered together in this way? When have we seen all the advice from professionals breaking down how to do myriad things so that you can make your own? And most of the stories, in my opinion, are also just PLAIN GOOD. I tore through this 300 page treasure trove in a day.  This is the five stars.

BUT, even as all these things are really great, the diversity in the contributors/representations just isn't there on a number of measures. There are really only a handful of contributors of color, and a few more representations of women of color in the stories themselves.  There are no queer relationships at evidence in the stories.  There is only ONE representation of a woman with disabilities. It is BEAUTIFUL and one of my favorite solo pieces, but... there's only one. And it's on the last page of the last section in the five main sections. Ouch. And while there are various gender presentations (ranging across normative femininity to agender, androgynous, femme and butch) in both contributors and represented characters, I saw no evidence of trans women in either contributor (which obviously might not be apparent) or, more importantly, in story subject.

I'm sure the usual reasons will be used to explain this: only so many people got in touch! And I'm sure that's TRUE. But here's the thing... This book got launched through Twitter. So what that means is that the call for submissions was dispersed from person to person. And if this is the demographics that came out, it means this is representative of the circles those passing the tweets on are a part of. I think it would have behooved the editors to do some (more?) outreach beyond their usual circles. OR at the very least, the people who build on this project MUST MUST MUST do that.  We've got to stop making excuses and find a way to change this problem that just keeps coming up and keeps coming up. And that's why I write this. Not to shit on this project, I really loved this book, but to really encourage people to look at it's strengths and it's weaknesses and to address the latter.

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