Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Open Letter in Response to DC Nation #45

Dear Eddie Berganza:

Where do I even start?

No. I will not give Supergirl a shot. I already gave her a shot, and I am still trying to get over the nausea.

You want to make her a "normal teenager"? Then cover her the fuck up. Go check out a comic called Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Those are teenagers. Supergirl looks like an anorexic blow-up doll with a torso that's longer than her legs (which are also very long) and eyes that are bigger than her waist.

Y'know, you could almost convince me to give her a shot with the promise that you are re-inventing her, except for the part where you said "the incomparable Michael Turner." Incomparable? Incomparably shitty, maybe. After all, didn't his art inspire my favourite action figure?

The amazing Elongated Super-Girl! Now with bed-head and stripper eyes! Crotch that's lower than her skirt? You bet! (Jesus...just how long is her torso anyway? Seriously!)

Also, wow. You invited one real live woman to your conference call to discuss the future of the character. And she "was pivitol in giving us a woman's point of view on the character." Her suggestion: Kara needs to gain some weight. Well, agreed, but she needs a lot more than that. Let's have a look:

Well, let's just consider ourselves lucky that she has no real crotch area and that her legs go right into her stomach (or lack of). Because otherwise Nightwing would be unable to concentrate. (Alternate joke: It's so rare that you get to see Dick and snatch on the same cover).
The cape is nice. The sleeves are nice. I like the pointy cuffs. But that shirt has to come down a few inches. Or all the way to the waist. Or the skirt needs to be more than a curtain tie. The porn face is also a problem.

But enough about my problems with Supergirl, Eddie. Let's talk about my problems with you.

Shut up, Eddie. I'm not reading Supergirl for the same reason I don't read the new Flash comics, Batman Confidential, or the Martian Manhunter series: they suck ass. I don't care that this comic is MADE for ladies so therefore I SHOULD like it. I don't. It doesn't interest me and I am busy spending money on and reading the comics that you actually bother to put good writers and artists on. Because, and maybe I shouldn't speak for all women here because I don't know, I think that we appreciate...quality. You know, good stories, good art, good characters, and costumes that don't make you throw up in your mouth.

You know what I would like? I would like you to invite the "ladies" to come out and give The Brave and the Bold a shot. Because that's what I'm really looking forward to. Or The Spirit. Or Jonah Hex. Or The Justice Society. You know. Good comics.

Maybe you could just slap some pink covers on them so girls can understand them. Or make them out of chocolate. It doesn't really matter because we just use them to blow our noses on when watching The Notebook anyway.

You horrible douchebag.



ZC said...

To be perfectly honest, I liked Supergirl better during that one, random, Greg Rucka issue.

I mean, not by much... but it was better than this weird stuff Kelly is doing.

Though I have to admit that, for some reason, Teenage Heartthrob Captain Boomerang has grown on me.

Jeff said...

I was always under the impression that Supergirl was for very young boys, what with her wild bad girl ways and her totally impossible proportions. That said, I have kind of enjoyed Kelly's issues, though I'm a bit embarrassed to be seen reading them becauase of, well, Michael Turner.

I swear, the constant praise that's manufactured for Turner by the Big Two make me think that I can get people to believe anything by saying it often enough.

I'm going to try this tonight by refusing to say anything except "We're having pizza for dinner!" when I get home.

Anonymous said...

Marry me.

Keith said...

as a supergirl-the-character fan who detests the current comic, I wholeheartedly agree with you. make supergirl a good character in a good comic and people will beg for more, instead of the comic begging for more people to read it.

paperghost said...

The current supergirl is just an abomination - from the stories that don't make sense, to the constant beating up of power girl to make supergirl seem "tougher", right through to completely misleading titles and now....oh god....the "himbo"....everything about it makes me want to punch something. Preferably Supergirl.

aplayfulsoul said...

I think her outfit is horrible also. I designed one. What do you think?:

rachelle said...

Pants! I love it! I can totally live with the belly-shirt if there are pants on the bottom half. Or I can live with a short skirt if the shirt is long. But I can't deal with both being tiny!

Yes. Supergirl should wear pants. And maybe that headband that she wore in the 80s. I kind of loved that.

paperghost said...

"Yes. Supergirl should wear pants. And maybe that headband that she wore in the 80s. I kind of loved that."

No! ONLY if power girl gets HER headband back! and the cat! and that completely AWESOME white, red and blue costume with the small cape she had in JLE.

Mark Sable said...


My name is Mark Sable. Starting with issue 16 of Supergirl, I'm going to be co-writing that book with Joe Kelly, which was mentioned in Eddie Beganza's DC Nation column you just savaged. (If you're not familiar with my work, I wrote a book called GROUNDED for Image, the first issue of which you can read for free here: For the record, any opinion I present is solely my own, not Eddie, Joe's DC's etc.
Wow, where do I start? On the one hand, I think you raise some interesting points about Supergirl and the portrayal of women in comics in general which I'd love to discuss with you. On the other hand, the fact that you called my editor a "horrible douchebag" undercuts just about everything intelligent you have to say. I'd like to think that we can both express our opinions without personal attacks (and "douchebag"...that's not exactly an insult without negative connotations about women).
Nevertheless, as someone who's said their fair share of insulting things on the net in the past, I'm going to look past that and try to convince you to give Supergirl a shot despite your reservations.
Let me address your points one by one:
1) Whether or not Supergirl/Kara's a normal teenager because of her weight/proportions/how she dresses. Well, it depends how you define normal. If by normal you mean average, then no, Supergirl is most definitely not. Teenagers (and adults) come in all shapes and sizes. Some are indeed thin, and not all thin teen girls are anorexic (to be fair, I live in LA and probably see more thin teen girls - or at least thin girls who PLAY teens - than most).
Now, just because teens come in all shapes and sizes doesn't mean that all (or nearly all) superheroines need to be that way. Although, sometimes it's a no-win situation - for instance, how often are women's breast sizes criticized for being too large? Many have argued that Power Girl is too...voluptuous.
Supergirl on the other hand is thin with relatively proportional breasts. I bring that up not because I'm breast obsessed but because it seems that sometimes I wonder whether there are proportions that can possibly please everybody.
Then there's a separate issue of how her proportions are depicted. Without commenting on specific artists, not everyone has the same grasp of anatomy (some artists can't draw, say...feet). And comics is often cartooning more than it is illustration - meaning certain features are exaggerated for effect, not realism. I agree that this exaggeration is used far too often for titilation, and as a result drives female readers away.
As far as what Supergirl wears, personally I don't know that I'd choose that outfit. But, in real life, if I told a girl she looked like a stripper because she chose to expose her midriff I'd get slapped and rightly so.
As far my own issues go, they are being drawn by Ale Garza, who drew Supergirl in the DCU Infinite Crisis Holiday special as well as a cover to issue 16 who's image is floating out there in cyberspace. Based on what I've seen of his Supergirl so far I think they are a step in the right direction so far.
2) Michael Turner. Never met the man, although I've heard nice things from my friends who work on the HEROES webcomic. But give Eddie a break here. He'd be a shitty, unprofessional editor if he did not say something complimentary about an artist he employs. Things like DC nation or Marvel's bullpen page are by tradition filled with hyperbole, and Turner is a popular artist regardless of what you or I might think of the relative quality of his work. Regardless, it's unfair to judge Ale or other future Supergirl artists based on Turner's past depictions of the character.
3) "Bringing in a Real Live Woman...her suggestion: Kara needs to gain some weight". First, you are implying that's her ONLY suggestion. I think you are also implying that Jeanine Schaeffer (the real live woman in question) was only brought into the conversations about Supergirl BECAUSE she is a woman. As far as I know, Jeanine was brought in because she’s one of the best people DC has on the editorial side, regardless of her gender (the fact she just got a big promotion speaks volume about her talent). Your implications frustrate me because there is valid criticism that there aren't enough women in comics. That criticism is undercut when, as soon as a woman with some power is brought into the conversation, it's implied that she's only there as some sort of token.
4) I'm sorry that you took Eddie's column to mean that you should like Supergirl because it's MADE for women and not because we plan to tell quality stories. As far as I know, that's why I was brought in to write with Joe Kelly, and that's what you'll find if you give my issues a chance. When I sit down to write I sit down to write good stories, PERIOD - although I'd like to think that my sensitivies to the plight of women in comics are a part of my voice (I think my work on GROUNDED, as well as my work on HAZED, my next comic from Image about sororities and eating disorders speak for themselves in that regard).

To sum up, your needlessly personal attack to the side, I think Eddie deserves the benefit of the doubt that he genuinely wants women to read Supergirl. As to why he named that book and not the ones you mentioned - he EDITS supergirl. And I don't think it's an unreasonable assumption to think that a comic with a female protagonist would be of interest to women readers.
For a long time many comic fans have rightly complained that comics needs more female readers and creators, editors etc. I know personally I want my female friends and family to be able to enjoy my work as much as my male friends (not to mention to feel just as comfortable walking into a comic shop to pick said work up).
I think DC is putting their money where their mouth is in this regard- starting Minx, the new line aimed at women, bringing in a respected female author on Wonder Woman etc. Now that Eddie is sincerely reaching out...I think the very least we can do is take him at his word and give him a chance.
I hope despite your pledge to the contrary, you will give Supergirl a shot with my issue (16). Regardless, I hope you'll refrain from being insulting to others so that impact of your often valid critiques are not lost because of the tone you choose to express them.

Respectfully yours,

Mark Sable

rachelle said...

Dear Mark:

First of all, you're right. "Horrible douchebag" was over-the-top and uncalled for as I don't know Eddie Berganza at all. I tend to call everyone a douchebag, (I believe I've called Superman a douchebag several times in this blog alone) so it's lost a lot of its harshness to me. But I don't want my immature remark to invalidate the rest of my arguments.

In response to your points:

1. I know that comic book chracters, male or female, don't have normal proportions. But there's something depressing about this new Supergirl and I know exactly what it is: she is an embodiment of everything that makes me sad and afraid for the next generation of females. It's true that teenagers are dressing like that (well not like that, but pretty damn close) and wearing too much make-up and generally growing up too fast. It just would have been really refreshing to have a teenage female character who didn't look like jailbait. I'm fine with her being sassy and rebellious. That's realistic. But she's just such a male fantasy that it's...icky. And frankly, most women can't really relate to that character. We want to read about women we would want to be friends with. If I saw Supergirl in real life, I'd probably hate her. (Again, I don't speak for all women).

2. I know that he has to praise Turner. Obviously. And he probably authentically likes Turner's work. I just get my Turner digs in where I can.

3. You're right. I only had the information given in the column to go on here. I'm sure Jeanine Schaeffer had more ideas, and probably better ones, but it would have been nice to have more of those ideas presented in the column, instead of just the funny one. And the tone of the column kind of made it sound like she was only there as a token. And that she only said one token woman thing. The fact that it was mentioned that a woman was at a meeting makes her sound like a token. If he had said "and we brought in so-and-so, a black guy..." it also would have sounded that way. I'm glad that they are having meetings to discuss a character who clearly isn't working with fans, but the way that meeting was written about in the column was...weird.

4. I think the opening two lines of the column set the tone, and basically made me angry right away. It all sounded like a desperate plea to get women to read a comic that most male comic readers aren't even interested in. I am interested to see what you do with the character because it sounds like you are aware of the problems and you are sensitive to feminist issues and you genuinely want the character to be respected by women. So I will give issue 16 a chance (and I wouldn't have if you hadn't posted this comment, so well done).

The attack was really against Eddie Berganza's column than on him. I just like good comic books, the same as any male reader. I don't like "Ladies! Have we got a comic book for you!" I could probably have written a blog post every month about the latest Supergirl comic and listed all the different things I didn't like about it, but instead I just choose not to read comics that I don't like (except All-Star Batman and Robin...because that's like a drug. A very slowly-administered drug). I really am not interested in tearing writers or artists apart, but sometimes something just makes me see red. And this column was one of those things. And I know that Mr Berganza had good intentions, but I fear that he may have done more damage than good here. I know I'm not the only female comic fan who was at least annoyed by the column, if not offended.

Congratulations on Supergirl, and on Grounded, which I did read the first issue of. It's a fun comic and it looks really nice. And thanks for your comment, which was the longest thing I've read in a long time without pictures.

- R

paperghost said...

"On the other hand, the fact that you called my editor a "horrible douchebag" undercuts just about everything intelligent you have to say."

...uh, no it doesn't. If she found the content of that (frankly laughable) DC Nation so objectionable to her sensibilities that she felt compelled to actually CALL someone a douchebag, then it should remain as valid as the non-insult slinging portions of the post.

If that's how she FELT about him at that moment in time, then I'd rather actually see it expressed, than see something thats effectively been whitewashed. Because her emotive reaction to the content, the individual and anything else are JUST as valid as the "look ma, I'm scoring points with logical reasoning on the internet!" portions.

Its incredibly spurious to suggest that any and all intelligent points made are somehow negated by one random insult, unless of course you're suggesting that people are too stupid to be able to distinguish between the two aspects of the blog posting in question. Happily, I can do this quite easily and still appreciate the numerous valid points she made, so a winner is me.

Johnathan said...

After reading that post, I actually resolved to end *more* letters with 'you horrible douchebag,' It has just the right... je ne sais quois.

Also, women come in all shapes and sizes, but only the anorexic or busty and anorexic need apply for superhero status. Oh, and the occasional extraordinarily fat chick.

Also, DC is starting a line of comics aimed at women and calling it Minx? That seems... willfully ignorant. It's at least starting off on the wrong foot as far as first impressions go, like if they called in Vixen or Trollope... maybe not Trollope.

rachelle said...

Yeah, I can't decide what I think of Minx. Especially since, y'know, it doesn't exist yet. In general inclusion through segregation bothers me (Look girls! Comics that you can enjoy!), but I do like the idea of teen girls reading comics. And if there are good role model characters happening in these books, great.

I've always been a big tomboy, so at no point in my life would Minx have interested me, but I know it will interest some girls who may otherwise never pick up a comic book, so that's good.

I guess it would be hypocritical of me to hate the name Minx (although I do hate things spelled with the letter x in the place of s. Man I hate it when people spell my band's name that way).

Mark Sable said...


Thanks for the nice words and for taking a chance on Supergirl #16. I don't think my contribution to the issue (I'm only the co-writer along with Joe Kelly) is going to magically cure all the ills of the title or the portrayal of women in comics, but I'd like to think I'm taking a step in the right direction.
Sorry if this response isn't as long as the last one, but for one I mostly agree with your responses.'s exhausting and I need to stop procrastinating and write actual comics:)
As far as the poster who thought my objection to the whole "douchebag" thing was spurious, what I meant by it "invalidating" the rest of what she said was not that it make her points wrong, but that the people she is addressing and hoping to influence (DC, Eddie, comics creators in general) are more likely to respond to well reasoned argument and even emotion if it's not in the form of a personal attack. Congratulations to you for being able to separate those words from the rest of the piece, but you weren't the preson being insulted (directly or otherwise) or appealed to.
I certainly don't want people whitewashing their opinions. I think a debate that's impassioned as well as reasoned is good for this industry. But - and I'm not the only creator to point this out - I don't think a little civility hurts.
Yeah...Minx struck me the same way. I do have to say I'm looking forward to whichever book Jim Rugg's drawing. If any of you haven't read his indy book "Street Angel", it's not only a book with a strong female lead, it's one of the most original and accomplished works in comics in years.


tekanji said...

that the people she is addressing and hoping to influence (DC, Eddie, comics creators in general) are more likely to respond to well reasoned argument and even emotion if it's not in the form of a personal attack.

And yet they expected women to respond to a non-well reasoned argument that, while not a personal attack, was certainly an attack on women seeing as it was condescending from start to finish.

Personally, I think given the history of DC's treatment of women in comics, women fans, and especially the context of this column, "douchebag" wasn't a personal attack; it was an accurate description of the way that he acted.

Maybe instead of whining about how words like "douchebags" hurt your collective fee-fees you should actually start listening to the well deserved anger of the audience you're team is supposedly trying to target.

WriteOneOH said...


First, I just discovered your blog. I love, love, LOVE it.

Secondly, your criticisms of the current Supergirl comic are spot on. I think DC knows it sucks, or they wouldn't be begging for new readers in a DC Nation column. Hell, just look at the drop off in sales figures from issue to issue over the last year.

DC needs to get a better creative team on this book, and give Kara a better costume when they do.

Caleb said...


I agree.


Okay, you're right "horrible douchebag" might have been out of line on Rachelle's part, but Eddie Berganza did start his column with the words "Women. Who needs 'em?" right? Obviously, he was kidding. And, just as obviously, so was Rachelle.

Anyway, good luck trying to right right the ship that is SUPERGIRL. I like Joe Kelly; I think he' sa great righter, but I gave up on Supergirl a long time ago. The art is bad, the first 12 issues of SUpergirl stories I read (all by Loeb) were terrible, and I just can't get around that costume and the Turner design of the character.

Personally, I think the character's become radioactive and needs a cooling off period (like Hawkman got shortly after his Zero Hour relaunch). Supergirl is obviously a character concept with potential, but this version as conceived and designed doesn't exactly capitalize on it very well.

Caleb said...

Okay, I totally spelled "writer" wrong in my post above. Feel free to disregard everything I said; even on the Internet, you just can't trust I guy who can't write the word "writer" right.

rachelle said...

Is there some sort of award that I can get for most appearances of the word 'douchebag' in one comment thread? Because I'm pretty proud of this.

Johnathan said...

Sure. You are hereby awarded the Golden Douchebag. for services rendered toward the advancement of one of the world's greatest insults.

15 times, including the post and this comment.


Tom said...

Repeating something that I said on Evan Dorkin's LJ: my reaction to the new, skanky Supergirl is about the same reaction that I have to almost all porn being produced today--not only do I not like it, I don't want to know the sort of person who does like it.

Ben said...

Sorry to respond to such an out-dated post, just wanted to point out that "minx" and "minks" are two different words, not kooky alternate spellings. A minx is like a mischievous saucy girl. Or some shit. What am I, a dictionary?

Jonathon Nolan said...

I am so relieved at reading negativity towards this awful comicbook. My only real exposure to it was when it first started and it can take 50% of the credit for stopping me from buying any more DC books. Superman Returns of course was the other half of the catalyst. Comics are wonderful in only one way now, and that is the syndrome where the same 250,000 odd people left who buy or read them more than once a biannual period are turning on the overweight coterie who write and publish them. It has the majesty of a Twilight Zone ending or one of those really shitty 1950s Egypt epics. Bee-yoo-tifull.

Michael Turner just can't draw. Get over it. Compare his work to Frank Cho and Rob(b) "Levi Advert" Leifeld. He tends away from Cho and towards Leifeld. Game over.

As for the Minx line- totally fucking insulting to have it at all, let alone name it that. 45-55 year old men shouldn't really be in charge of anything, especially comicbooks.

Maybe as more Iraq veterans come home and get into comicbook art professionally we can finally see the end of the undead versions of DC and Marvel and just close the book on American comics 1990-2010.

Grant said...

Where I live (New South Wales, Australia) they don't sell Supergirl and many other comics but thanks to the internet I've been trying to stay in touch with it all. I'm a 24 year old male and I'd be lying if I said I don't find this new Supergirl attractive (Though it is disturbing to think she's like 16 or something), I respect the opposite sex, I don't think of females as objects, but I have to admit that sex appeal does influence my interest in comics etc. However the more I discovered about this new Supergirl the less attracted to her I've become, I thought Supergirl would be... nicer? In the comic pages I've read on various sites she comes across as an intimidating "badgirl" with a dirty mind and it just doesn't quite work somehow. Alot of people want this new Supergirl to die and never return but I don't believe that's neccesary, comic characters go through all kinds of spirtual developments, there's no reason Kara can't become more wholesome, likeable, heroic, a role model like she should be. Also I've read alot of criticism about her costume being too revealing, although I'm not offended by this I do feel that it isn't very logical for someone who flies around to wear a short skirt so people below get a free peepshow. People are used to Supergirl showing off her legs so putting pants on her wouldn't look right, my suggestion would be to give her shorts instead. I know that wouldn't make her outfit much less revealing but its alot more practical. Oh and as far as the headband suggestion made earlier... NO! LOL

Grant said...

P.S: Sorry for the amount of times I said "This new Supergirl" I didn't mean to be repetitive :P

rachelle said...

Thanks for the comment, Grant (Morrison, I assume).

I can totally respect and understand finding a comic book character attractive, and even enjoying a comic simply because a character is attractive (like, why else do people read Nightwing?). I even think that comics should continue their long proud history of giving us unrealistically sexy people to gawk at. But, and maybe this is because I'm a girl, I think there's a difference between sexy and trashy. I think Supergirl looks trashy. I think Barbara Gordon Batgirl looks sexy. I think Catwoman looks sexy. I think Silver Age Supergirl looks cute. I got no problem with sexy. I just hate how damn gross Supergirl looks. But, with better artists, she actually can look kinda ok in that silly costume. But I still wouldn't mind a re-vamp.

Grant said...

Ah yes I see your point there Rachelle. Heh no I'm not Grant Morrison :P, although I do hope to someday land a career in comics, I've been drawing since childhood & have also been working on my own story for a while. The main character is female, most of that decision was because I felt there should be more female heroes these days & alot of them aren't exactly role model material.

It's enlightening to read about comics from a woman's perspective, sometimes I don't notice how sexist & mysgonynistic things can be, its good to have this stuff pointed out for budding a writer/artist like myself to learn from from.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I was annoyed by Supergirl's "Thinking was never my strong point" comment, what the hell is that!? Plus her anorexic appearance is disturbing, I don't even know why so many people think scrawny is sexy, like sure comics don't need to look 100% realistic but its still doesn't send out a good message.

Grant said...

Well I should mention that when I say Kara looks "anorexic" I was mainly reffering to earlier versions like Michael Turner's art, but she seems to be looking better lately. Though I'd like to see Supergirl have a more athletic, amazonian figure, her body should create an impression of strength. Marvel's Psylocke is a good example of what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Lengthen Supergirl's skirt and next you'll have to take away Power Girl's boob-window, and make Hawkman put on a shirt. Is that what you want? Why are you trying to ruin comics?