If you hadn’t heard of him before this week, you probably know who Tony Harris is now. He’s the comic book artist who ripped into female cosplayers on his Facebook page this week. While Harris did say that he was targeting only specific female cosplayers that he thought knew nothing about the characters they represented at cons, he did touch on a subject that has been making more noise than usual in our ‘geek’ section of the internet – respect for female comic book fans.
The first thing that shocked me about Harris’ post was the fact that his first insult on these female cosplayers was to do with their looks.
Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”.
Apparently the only good thing about these women is the fact that they may be attractive but he goes on to stress that they still fall short of his standards of attractiveness that seem to only include physicality. I cannot count the amount of times I saw a Batman or a Superman or many others at New York Comic Con that did not have the abs of steel advertised in the comic books. But that is not the point of cosplaying. You do not have to be the most attractive or the most accurate you just need, as the owner of Gotham Comics in Auckland, New Zealand – Jeremy Bishop said, “the insane urge to BECOME that character”. It isn’t about anyone else, it’s the excitement of dressing up as this badass superhero or an awesome manga character that you’ve been reading about and hell if that makes them feel good about themselves at the same time, good on them! It is also in no way a cosplayers fault if their character’s costume shows an unrealistic amount of skin, that blame you can place back at the feet of the original artists. I personally love cosplayers because to me it’s just another form of art to appreciate. It is very rare you see a cosplayer who has thrown his or her costume together at the last minute; they have gone to a lot of work for this, which should be applauded not mocked.
This year was my first New York Comic Con, and though I was sad to see that the comic book artists and writers were pushed to side in favour of things not comic book related, I fail to see how people coming dressed as characters you’ve created is bad for business. Sure at times it was hard to get through certain sections but that was as much to do with lines as people admiring costumes as many of Harris’ supporters suggested in his comments. NYCC was heaven for me for many reasons including the cosplayers though I was unfortunately not one of them. It was a chance to truly be in my element and be around people who I thought were safely expressing their love for something geeky. It is sad to look back and think that some of those people may have been objectified and insulted by the very people they were there to honour.Yes, honour, even if you don’t believe they know anything about comics I highly doubt any have been personally disrespectful to a comic book artist especially not to the extreme that Tony Harris has been to them. In the end, though he may have backtracked later to include men:
“SOME of you MEN, are as bad as SOME of the Women Cosplayers”
His original post was still entirely about women leaving no possibility for men as it focused on female sexuality rather than what was meant to be his issue – “fake geeks”.
It’s not just the cosplayers being ripped apart at the moment though. On blogs all over the internet females are expressing their exhaustion at being quizzed over comics when they wear anything with a superhero symbol on it something you never hear male fans complain about. Apparently, women are a new thing in comics. Whether you are young or old, have been into comics for a week or forty years, the opinion of a lot of men at the moment is that we have to earn our place in the fandom. Luckily for me I have encountered very little of this attitude in personally; my comic book store back home in New Zealand – Gotham Comics is run by one of the nicest people I know and was always a comfortable environment to go in and chat about comics. He encouraged me to learn more about to learn more but never looked down on me when I didn’t know something. However when I have expressed a lack of knowledge in certain areas at many comic book stores in New York City I have been given a look of amusement and very vague help while I watch men stand in groups discussing comics and getting help. This is nothing compared to those who have said they have been stopped when wearing green lantern t shirts and quizzed about different green lanterns to see if they are ‘true fans’.
One of my favourite things about NYCC was the fact that I could legitimately talk to anyone was in line with me or was wearing a costume that was awesome or basically showed any sign of having something in common with me. Everyone was friendly and well-versed in whatever they were there to support. My first feeling when I saw all those people, big, small, young, old, male, female, costumed or incognito? Awesome, more friends. These people aren’t out to ruin the things you love, whether they’ve read Crisis on Infinite Earths or not they are fans and with more fans we get more cons and comics and merchandise in more places. I’ll end with a quote from Jeremy Bishop again because I think he summed it up quite nicely – “I think cosplay adds to and builds a wider interest in the realm of comic themed world. Also helps show a new level of fandom. Whether die-hard fanboy or fangirl or passing interest and trying to be cool, it’s all helping keeping comics in the wider world’s sights.”