There’s trouble a-brewing in the usually carefree world of cosplay and comic book conventions after well-known comic book artist Tony Harris (Iron Man, Starman, Ex Machina) went off on, of all things, women comic book fans. Take a look for yourself:
Source: The Bird & The Bat
Given that women make up a large and rapidly growing percentage of the comic book industry audience, perhaps Tony might want to keep those flagrantly sexist thoughts to himself.
To get another perspective on the matter, I interviewed cosplay superstar Becki Watts (see pic above, and below), who is also a skilled graphic artist, too, to see what she had to say about the matter. A Seattle resident, Becki is somewhat of a west coast cosplay legend and can be seen multiple conventions a year in a variety of impeccable costumes. She sent me this email after I asked her for a quote regarding Tony Harris’s outburst:
I’ve been to my fair share of cons. I have been shown only respect for the courage I have to cosplay some of their most beloved characters. To the trolls of the world, I have to say this: We. As women. Are allowed to a) Like comics. b) Like video games. c) Like sci-fi and fantasy. d) Like anime. and e) Like whatever the FUCK we want.
Just because cosplay girls make you uncomfortable, doesn’t mean you have to ostracize them: I love my costumes. I put the highest amount of love and detail into every costume I design, because I love the character, the person, the embodiment of female power that is so prevalent in the comics we all read, yet is seriously lacking when put into practice by the people that read them. We are allowed to be confident in ourselves, to make something we are fiercely proud of. We put the sweat, blood, tears, burns, pokes, jabs, stabs, ripped seams and each emergency last minute or showroom repair into our costumes because we LOVE. THE. CHARACTER. And we love it when other people love it too. Anyone who thinks we do it to inflate our own sad, already swollen ego should just shut up and put on a costume.
You will realize that the reason why we do it is not specifically for us: Like the artists that put the love into their character on paper and program, we do that too, but in real life. So, before you decide to go off on what WE should actually like or what our place is in the community, why don’t you make an actual conversation with one of these women?
I’ve seen girls out-trivia the shit out of men more often than not. We are not stupid. We’re not whores. We DO NOT need to live up to your one sided expectations of us, and you all can royally fuck off if that’s the case- I’ll still be the fabulous one with the catsuit. ~<3
She later added:
Are cosplay girls ruining people’s lives? We never hear anything about hot girls at football games being quizzed on their knowledge of the players or various other sports related stats. No one is suprised if they know everything about a certain player and no one is suprised if she doesnt know- they respect her enough to teach her and to inform, not to scoff at or be constantly harassed.
Becki makes some fantastic points: nobody in the sports world gets upset when women include themselves in fandom; why should comic book geeks? Perhaps it simply is a matter of men being afraid of women: when someone of Tony Harris’s stature (disclosure: even I had actually heard of him, and I’m barely versed in comics as it is) makes weird, angry remarks like that, it just furthers the image of sad nerds who don’t view women as equals.
If I may add one last thing: wouldn’t you want someone as passionate and gung-ho as Becki involved in your industry? I can barely put together a t-shirt and jeans combination without looking like a background extra from Seinfeld and here’s Becki as a flawless Catwoman on a regular weekend:
Your loss, Tony. Get with the times.