Friday, 14 December 2012

Thank You Gail Simone

Or some things I'm thankful to Gail Simone for.

The strange news of the lately is that Gail Simone has, for some perplexing reason, been let go from writing Batgirl. (EDIT: Apparently Gail Simone has been replaced by Gail Simone so... yeah.) Which you know, doesn't make much sense to me given how talented a writer she is and how critically and financially successful Batgirl is. It got me thinking about Gail Simone, and basically how great she is. It got me thinking that it would be remiss of me not to write some nice things about Gail Simone and to say thank you for all the great things she has unwittingly done for me as a comics reader.

For one thing I owe Gail simone for reading comics in the first place. While there were many little events that contributed to my interest in comics, the thing that finally got me into a store was a bootleg disk of Deadpool issues (Sorry!). It was mostly the hilarious, twisted, and expertly crafted plots of Joe Kelly and Gail Simone that made me realize how mature and fun comics could be. Frankly, it was these authors that convinced me that comics could be genuinely enjoyed as an adult for their own merits. So for helping convince me to buy my first print comic as an adult, thank you Gail Simone.

(Agent X, also amazing and formative.)

I am for the most part not the biggest DC fan. While I have a nostalgic love for The Batman, I have a hard time getting invested in the company's other characters. Most of the non-Batman DC books I've ended up reading over the years were Simone penned: Birds of Prey and Secret Six mainly. Secret Six when it was coming out was far and away my favourite book: an incredible mix of the most perverse shit in comics coupled with, oddly, the most empathy and heart. It's more than a year after this book was cancelled and I still miss it every month. For writing such an amazing book, thank you Gail Simone.

I didn't end up picking up Batgirl: it started at a time when I was doing some serious belt tightening and when most of my favourite books were in the midst of years long story arches. Sadly it was one of the books that I sacrificed on the altar of financial solvency. (I was also mourning the loss of Oracle a bit, and maybe didn't give it the fairest shake.) But I heard that it was doing well and that it was a great comic. Better yet, it was a comic that was appealing to a group of readers who are not typically catered to, which is awesome because growing the audience is how comics get better. So for writing a comic that brought new readers to comics, thank you Gail Simone.

I'm a straight-white-male who is privileged in a long list of other ways. The fact that whiteness, straightness, and maleness are privileges was not immediately apparent to me growing up. It's easy to spot shitty treatment ad egregious prejudice, but the slightly less obvious ways society is biased for and against certain groups of people wasn't immediately obvious to me, since you know, it was biased in my favour. (This might indicate that I am a terrible, unempathetic person, but it's true to my experience. Also teenage me was kind of a dick). It wasn't until I spent a lot of time around my best friend, a queer feminist, and was confronted with the shitty that I really became aware of some of these issues of privilege and gender and race and orientation. (I'm still far from perfect on these issues, but I'm trying to be better.) My point is that it takes agitation to combat ignorance and complacency. Gail Simone is a champion for marginalized people in comics. She is working to make comics more inclusive by writing comics featuring all kinds of people, by loudly and publicly pointing out prejudiced nonsense in comics, and by fostering an online community where a discourse on these topics can happen. This is great because comics needs to be much better about representing and treating people who are not straight, white, and male. So for agitating for a more inclusive comics, thank you Gail Simone.

Gail Simone recently kickstarted a book with artist Jim Calafiore called Leaving Megalopolis. I contributed because im trying to support a larger proportion of creator owned comics and because GAILSIMONEANDJIMCALAFIORE!! Prior to this I found Kickstarter a fairly dubious service and hadn't considered participating in crowd sourcing. Now, I at least think about it when confronted with an interesting project and have kickstarted a couple really cool looking things including a book by Larime Taylor, a super talented artist/writer who is forced by a disability to draw with his mouth (who is exactly the kind of person Kickstarter exists to support). So for turning me onto crowdsourcing, and  because I know Leaving Megalopolis is going to rock, thank you Gail Simone.

And you know what: thank you Gail Simone for whatever comes next.

Because I know it's going to be great.

And I can't wait to see it.

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