Friday, August 11, 2006

Video Blog Backlash!

Holy Moley!

We're getting lots of feedback. A lot of it positive, a lot of it negative. The important thing is that we're at least having the discussion.

There's way too much to respond to, and I'm not going to have Internet access Friday so that makes it even more difficult, but since you've put in the time to comment it's only fair I do the same.

Jennifer de Guzman says:
What's ridiculous about this, though, is that Comic Foundry has featured two covers featuring headless women in underwear. Here's the latest, with a "yellow brick road" leading up to the headless young woman's crotch. At least Jessica Alba has an identity!

Very true. We've featured two scantily clad women on our covers — But we've featured a bare-chested fella as well. I'd also mention that the point about the Wizard covers was the (possibly coincidental) unoriginality. I stand by the CF covers in that they're editorially relevant. They weren't just for fun. The first was a story about body forms in comics and the second was about Lost Girls (hence the yellow brick road). What about Wizard? Was Angelina Jolie editorially relevant? With only one question inside about her? You decide.

As to Jennifer's note about the headless women? Well, two things. 1) It's hard enough to convince someone to pose for you WITHOUT their face showing, let alone with. 2) I prefer our "models" without heads. Unless they're somebody you're going to recognize, I think the cover loses focus because you’re stuck trying to figure out if you’re supposed to know who that person is. Also, I prefer the girls and the guy without heads because you get to decide what they look like in your head.

Ben Morse says:
As the writer of the Sin City article, I'm curious how this guy (or anybody here) would have improved on the "repeated questions."

Chris Hansbrough on the ComicBloc forum says:
what I find funny is that almost all comic journalism involves the exact same questions over and over and over. doesn't matter if it's wizard, newsarama, cbr or Comicbloc. it's essentially always going to be the same. Hell I got fired from my first media job with a website I won't name because I actually had the nerve to ask someone if they had any issues they worked on that they regretted and wish they could change and how would they re-doo it. because you know, asking a non-fanboyish question is just insulting. no I'm not going to insult someone but I am willing to ask more interesting questions than the base BS that everyone asks. and yes this goes for every single media outlet I can think of in comic journalis,m. so noone has the right to bash anyone for shoddy journalism because they all do it.

Chris, you get straight to the root of my point. There’s nothing wrong with covering fanboy stories, film or anything else, but let’s at least get creative about it. If you only have 13 questions to ask everything you want about Fantastic Four 2, I don’t think “Will we see more cool gadgets from Reed Richards?” would make my cut. When I interview someone I make it a point to print out as many of their previous interviews I can find and read them over. Then I make it a point not to ask any of the same questions the subject has been asked before. Why give the readers something they already know? Do some slip through? Sure. Pobody’s nerfect.


Sloria13 has a nice idea about making it better:
What I'd like to see, ultimately, is the "format" of this type of article changed. Maybe call it "13 questions about.... " and use the standard 13 questions that applies to these upcoming projects. No one expects the next great American novel, they'll expect what the info presented contains, and we all move on.

He makes a very good point, though I don’t think he cares for my delivery that much. I think a lot of those questions that “must” be repeated can be presented in a sidebar or some sort of “vital stats” box.

• Oh, and just to set the record straight, I am definitely not crying. I don't actually think my tear ducts still work. Just a complete loss of words, folks.

On the Beat, Rin says:
Well, at least he’s hot.

Is that you, Jackie Estrada? (kidding)


Scott Mateo, in the comments said:
BTW, you'd make a great Jack Ryder! ;)

I don’t know who that is?

I’m open to more debate and look forward to it.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Jimbo said...

Also, I prefer the girls and the guy without heads because you get to decide what they look like in your head

You are a weird, strange, sad little dude.

I'm pretty sure that exact quote was pulled from one of those little black notebooks Kevin Spacey had stacked all over his apartment in "Se7en".

Oddball.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Controversy - and the start of a new internet trend of Tim Leong stalking I think!

Dude, you've got fans. Whoever said comic geeks don't get laid.

ps - my stoned comment was more about the eyes than the vocal inflection, but i'll take your word for it.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Ben Morse said...

Hey Tim

Building off what you said here...

"When I interview someone I make it a point to print out as many of their previous interviews I can find and read them over."

What you're neglecting to mention is that both the Sin City and Fantastic Fur articles were not actually interviews, they were speculative pieces building on the information at hand. As such, the questions being asked are going to be the same as they are the ones most readers are likely interested in. Are they similar? Sure, but that doesn't invalidate that people want to know them.

You always ask "who, what, where, why, when;" it's the most basic journalistic rule, but just because you always ask doesn't imply repetition.Getting people the information they're most interested in trumps worrying about "repeating" a question. You have to be a reporter before being an artist.

Am I making sense?

-Ben

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer de Guzman said...

Please. Do you think that a bit of a man's bare chest carries the same sexual connotation as woman's crotch with the "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" caption? And the first issue showed a woman in lingerie, so it's not as if you were experimenting with something new with the current issue. At least a man's chest with a Superman logo has something to do with comic books. What did the scantily clad woman on the cover of the first issue have to do with comics other than the fact that you were catering to largely male audience? It seems you have no interest in making your publication one that those of us in the comics industry or who read comics who are women would want to pick up. I'm seeing comments from a few women now in various places that the cover completely turned them away from your magazine. What a waste of potential audience. Or perhaps you don't care if women read Comic Foundry or not.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

I don't have a problem with the Sin City 2/Fantastic Four 2 - style pieces in the themselves. Sure they're just filler with some tidbits in there.

I just don't like it when those articles become the Cover Story, just so there's an excuse to put a chick on the cover. As a reader, I feel ripped off.

But then, as a reader, I've made my choice, by not buying it anymore.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer de Guzman said...

Oh, and I know you said that the scantily-clad women on the covers were editorially relevent to the stories, but that sounds pretty disingenuous to me. Besides, if you meant the first cover's cover to represent the story, it was an editorial failure. It doesn't get across the idea of "body forms in comics" at all.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure hope you don't do a cover-featured article on dead women in comics.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Tintin said...

I'm with Jennifer de Guzman. Some guy's shirt-clad chest aint the same as a naked woman's crotch. Connotations, implications, whatever, it's not the same. The point is, CF's covers have spooked lots of women who might have bought the magazine. CF's editor may not think so, but there you have it. Why continue to defend that contentious issue, especially with the rising prominence of angry and vocal female fans and creators? Isn't it easier to say, 'sorry if you're offended, ladies, we'll try to avoid it in the future while preserving our artistic integrity?" The least CF could do is acknowledge that some people were made uncomfortable, and maybe start exmaining why.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Tintin said...

sorry, EXAMINING WHY.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Laura H. said...

It's hard to imagine two topics more appropriate for covers representing sexualized or attractive female forms than the article about Lost Girls and the article about women's bodies in comics.

I wonder if those complaining did anything but look at the pictures and overreact, since the latter article discussed unrealistic female body types in comics and how they are a product of male fantasy, and also included a Q&A with Friends of Lulu, an organization devoted to encouraging the readership and involvement of women in comics.

There was also another cover featuring a not particularly scantily-clad woman (with a head, I might add) for an article primarily dealing with representations of lesbians in comic books. Which directly addressed the issue of catering to the male audience in comics. Which was written by a woman.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

Oh, Tim, please.
Prefer them headless? A naked man's chest the same as a headless woman's crotch?

I guess it's time for CF to decide if they want Wizard's audience or EVERYONE.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Thomas L. Strickland said...

Jack Ryder.

The Creeper's alter-ego, sir.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer de Guzman said...

I wonder if those complaining did anything but look at the pictures and overreact, since the latter article discussed unrealistic female body types in comics and how they are a product of male fantasy

I don't think "complaining" is the correct term here. We are being critical, yes, but that is not the same as complaining. And besides, the point that many of us are trying to make is that we did not read a magazine with content that we might have found interesting because the cover relayed to us that it is something different from what it wants to be. All sexual issues aside, I consider that an editorial failing. It was a misguided move.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous A. Ganter said...

hmm... they look like Maxim covers. That alone, if I were browsing through a bookstore and saw the covers, would tell me the magazine "wasn't for me" and thus I probably wouldn't be picking it up. If they were advertising Lost Girls the comic, I wish it would have something more specific to the art style of the book rather than the broader subject matter, that seems to be the type of photograph that would go in the beginning of the article on the book rather than on the cover of the magazine. Then again, what do I know. I don't make magazines! But that's my reader reaction. But I guess people like probably aren't your target audience...

6:15 PM  
Blogger Tim Leong said...

Ben-
Yep, I hear ya. I know it's possibly more coincidental than anything and I know you're not the root of the issue. If one or two are the same, it's dismissable. Three or four? Maybe sleep on it. Six? Gotta say something.

Grabbingsand-
OH. I don't know what to think about that.

Matt Cruea-
True. The visuals were a bit weak. Noted. They'll definitely get more interesting.

Anon-
Do Supreme Court justices criticize the findings of Judge Judy?
That's funny.

tintin and Jennifer-
You make some very valid points. My support for them being editorially relevant might sound disingenuous to you, but I'm not sure how you want me to convince you of it, and I'm not sure I'd even be able to. I'm not sorry I created the covers but I am sorry if you're offended. It's obviously never my intention to offend and I'm not aiming to alienate any audience.

What's great about this reaction, whether positive or negative, is getting all this feedback. That first cover debuted in April and I didn't receive a single complaint about it. Not one. So, hopefully this discussion can help raise standards across the board for everyone, including CF and Wizard (wink wink).

Behold, the power of video.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

"What's great about this reaction, whether positive or negative, is getting all this feedback. That first cover debuted in April and I didn't receive a single complaint about it. Not one. So, hopefully this discussion can help raise standards across the board for everyone, including CF and Wizard (wink wink)."

Tim,

I hadn't realized that you didn't get feedback on those covers, otherwise I probably would've commented when I first saw it.

I hadn't heard about this site until last week when someone at Comics Should Be Good posted a link for CF's August issue. The first thing I noticed when I go to the site was the cover. Once I figured out what the picture was, I didn't have a good feeling about this site.

That picture immediately gave me the impression that Comic Foundry wasn't the type of comic book site I wanted anything to do with. And I honestly didn't even think to come back to the site until I heard about this video blog controversy.

I guess I should've sent you feedback from my first reaction. Now that I've looked through the site a bit, it doesn't seem that bad. If it hadn't been for that cover, I wouldn't have gotten a bad impression about CF.

It would be nice if you guys could move away from those kinds of pictures because I think it would improve the site a lot.

10:05 PM  
Blogger P-Town said...

I wonder if those complaining did anything but look at the pictures and overreact, since the latter article discussed unrealistic female body types in comics and how they are a product of male fantasy, and also included a Q&A with Friends of Lulu, an organization devoted to encouraging the readership and involvement of women in comics.

Thanks for your comments Laura. I wrote both the "Women in Comics" and "Lost Girls" articles, but I did not have any say in their representation on the CF website. That's left up to Tim, as editor, and I trusted (and continue to trust) his judgement.

Coming at this issue from a magazine journalism standpoint, it seems (in retrospect) that CF's visual display is attempting to draw on the appeal of the so-called "lad books" -- Maxim, Stuff, FHM. Obviously, CF does this to a MUCH lesser degree than the aforementioned titles with FAR fewer gratuitous male/female body images, but I think the influence is there, if very slightly.

The question is: does that appeal to comic book fans? Do comic fans want to read a product that's delivered to them, not as an self-gratifying industry fluff journal (Wizard) but as an independent editorial publication that attempts to dig a little deeper than the most recent Marvel-exclusive artist announcements. Again, not trying to pigeonhole comic book fans, I'm just drawing comparisons to the "industry standard" (Wizard). That's all we know.

Personally, after reading the comments on this posting, I'd like to see a shift in the magazine's tone towards something a bit more like The Comics Journal, which is an amazing publication and the very antithesis of Wizard (in a good way).

I'll echo what Tim said as well: thanks for the comments! Every last one has been most welcome and incredibly helpful.

11:21 AM  
Blogger J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

"I hadn't heard about this site until last week when someone at Comics Should Be Good posted a link for CF's August issue."

Same with me.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Jack Ryder = Ditko's THE CREEPER = current incarnation (by Steve Niles and Justiano) is a lefty shock jock. Like a cross between Howard Stern and John Stewart. And yes, so far it's been as silly as that sounds.

We're living through a very conservative time for comics, and WIZARD is a bastion of that conservatism. Of course they were always going to defend themselves with all guns blazing. They make a lot of money out of not trying too hard. Or thinking too hard.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Ben Morse said...

"They make a lot of money out of not trying too hard. Or thinking too hard."

As one of many Wizard employees who works a 9-7 day most days and takes my work home with me both nights and weekends, I appreciate comments like these. Thanks.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous your mom. said...

"That first cover debuted in April and I didn't receive a single complaint about it. Not one."

No one complained because no one even saw it untill you started your little video internet shit-storm.

Talk about cheap sales tactics. Sheesh.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slave Labor Graphics also uses "the objectification of women" to sell stuff.

Behold the "Beer Wench"
http://store.slavelabor.com/beeerwenchinfo.shtml

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer de Guzman said...

My response to the "beer wench" comment, from my own journal:

I like pin-ups of pretty woman. I never said I object to that. What I object to is Leong's hypocrisy. Also, there is a difference between a pin-up and the cover of a magazine that is meant to represent their coverage (ahem.) of the comic book industry. Also, I just find something disturbing about the women's lack of heads on the cover of Comic Foundry, and Leong's rationalization of it doesn't make it any better.

Sorry, man, but no zinger points for you.
--

I'll add that we are using the picture of a pretty woman holding a mug of beer to sell... a picture of a pretty woman holding a mug of beer. We are not using it as a cover to a magazine as a supposed illustration to a "Alcohol in the Comic Book Industry" story or anything like that.

If people are going to continue pressing this point (which I consider closed) about this, they should at least not bore me with lame-ass arguments.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Michileen Martin said...

I don't want to come off like the objectification of women on Wizard's covers is a non-issue, it isn't, but I guess my reaction boils down to "What do you expect?"

Which isn't to say that just because this kind of treatment of women has become so commonplace that that makes it acceptable, but I think something has to be said about the medium Wizard's covering. Obviously they cover comic books, and various comic book related stuff like movie adaptations, and for the most part they cover the top sellers like Marvel and DC. And, come on, have you SEEN a picture of Power Girl lately?

In other words, the comics Wizard cover objectify women, so in a discussion of journalistic integrity, I don't think it should be considered surprising or even irresponsible for a magazine that covers those comics to reflect that objectification. It would be like complaining about the same thing in a magazine covering professional wrestling or porn. Or like complaining that when Rolling Stone has cover stories about Christine Aguilera or Britney Spears, what do you know, they have them on the covers wearing butt-floss and making suggestive poses.

And I might add that I think this is a similar argument (if not an identical one) to your response to jennifer de guzman's comments about the Comic Foundry's cover.

I guess overall my point is that as far as this subject is concerned, you're shooting at the wrong target. If you want Wizard to stop treating women like rape-targets on their covers, you might want to write to Joe Quesada and Dan Didio first.

The point with which I wholeheartedly agree with you is the lead-in to the Mighty Avengers article. That was really inexcusable and stupid. It sounded to me like either the writer couldn't come up with a lead-in, had talked to Cho about the death of his neighbor, and figured he just didn't have anything else; or they just really wanted to figure out a way to work it into the story. Either way it was a stupid, stupid decision. And the fact that it got past an editor is amazing.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Just had to laugh. Tim, you mentioned that ye, Comic Foundry had two ladies on it's cover and then said, " But we've featured a bare-chested fella as well."

Cop out. The bare chest was the iconic image of Supermen ripping off his clothes to expose the 'S' symbol. It had nothing to do with sex.

To illustrate the difference between that cover and the lady cover I'll direct you to this blog, http://odditycollector.livejournal.com/97166.html, where the writer has done up some mock covers of what the REAL equivilent cover would be for a man.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

I also felt uncomfortable about the first cover but didn't speak up - in the future I'll be more vocal. The covers remind me of the basement amateur softcore imagery currently used by American Apparel.

I'll be honest - I've been meaning to pick up the mag, but every time I saw the covers, I thought, Great, here's guys putting my kind on display in their skivvies AGAIN, and in my head I automatically associated it with those "how to get your girlfriend to like comics" and "top ten butt-kicking babes" types of articles.

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10:22 AM  

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