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December 12 2010

"BtVS Season 8: Please Mind the Gaps". In an article originally intended for the Whedonistas book, Elisi gives a summary of the Season 8 comics series with a fair analysis and even-handed recount of fan reactions up through issue #35.

"From the moment the first preview pages were released, showing Buffy jumping out of a helicopter, kevlar-clad and with what looked suspiciously like a gun in her hand, fandom knew that this was going to be something very different to what anyone was expecting. On the whole, I think the initial reaction could be boiled down to:
'...wait, what?'"

a fair analysis and even-handed recount of fan reactions up through issue #35.


Maybe it's me but there seems to be a lot of fan opinion ignored or played down. It's a nice piece but I wouldn't call it fair or even-handed.
Oh I would. But then I'm of an opinion that there's more fans then you think that share the above view and have had genuine concerns about the quality of the writing in these comics to say nothing of the new underlying themes apparently on show.

I think the title is very apt.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2010-12-12 11:56 ]
Agreed Simon. I have plenty of problems with season eight but many of the assertions made in this essay had me strongly disagreeing.
I think it's a rather polite and balanced assessment of season 8 that tries to see the good sides.

Sad that since #25 it only went farther downhill.
I think that it's a very fair and balanced analysis of S8. There are more fans unhappy with how S8 has turned out than some people realise.
I enjoyed the essay a lot. I love season 8, but , like Elisi, I have a lot of issues with the idea of space-frak and the assertion that Angel could try to keep Buffy to himself in their artificial paradise, knowing -- seeing! -- that her friends are in mortal danger and are fighting for their lives back on Earth.
But then I'm of an opinion that there's more fans then you think that share the above

There are more fans unhappy with how S8 has turned out than some people realise.

I've been seeing these type of statements recently, like as if no-one is aware that some people don't like S8. How can anyone think that when nearly every thread connected to the comics devolves into a hater's thread? So much so in fact that others have given up even reading them? I think everyone is very much cognizant of the fact that some people hate the comics.

As for the essay itself, I like it for the most part, but it's nothing new in terms of content. I'm over the space-frak. Do I think it's a good storyline? Meh, whatever. As far as the character's actions in S8 go, I haven't found them any more "disappointing" than other dubious actions they have taken in the show, especially in season 6&7.
There are more fans unhappy with how S8 has turned out than some people realise.


Fans unhappy with how a season turned out has been going on since Season 2 ended. For all the sound and fury at the time, the fan criticism is now largely forgotten. Even the furore over seasons 6 & 7 seem to have subsided somewhat and we're finally at a stage we're able to look at those episodes objectively.
I think it was more than fair and well done.
As I said, I have a lot of problems with season 8, and the author does nail a good deal of them.

Several points seemed off to me though:

1) Post Chosen, Buffy belonged to fan fic? Uh, what? Fan fic existed during the run of the show, too. I'm not denying that fans might have felt this way (I've never been involved in this aspect of fandom), but it seems like an odd thing to hold against the comic.

2) The use of secret lairs, guns, etc., was done to lure in the primarily male comic book audience. Sorry, I'm not buying it. Buffy has always taken stereotypically "male" stuff (action, kung fu, monsters), and combined it with stereotypically "female" stuff (soap opera, doomed romance, etc.). The comic is no different, it just did this on a larger scale. I don't believe at any point Scott Allie came to Joss and said "can you put in more guns and sexy babes? I know that goes against everything you stand for, but only boys buy comics you see, even comics based on pre-existing properties with massive cult followings."

3) The idea that Buffy is no longer relatable because she's no longer a "blue collar hero." Buffy is certainly no longer a blue collar hero in season eight, but she also hasn't been one since pretty much the mid-point of seasons six, where they dropped all the money-worry woes and never looked back, so it hardly seems something to hold against the comic. Secondly, it seems a bit short-sighted to say "Buffy no longer worries about money/deals with adolescence like she used to, therefore I can't relate." The character has evolved, and if we had to relate to every hero's adolescent/blue collar struggle to find them interesting, I guess we'd never be interested in millionaires like Bruce Wayne or any of the royals in Shakespeare's plays.

4) The idea that Buffy should never be manipulated by powerful men. Again, she's been manipulated by powerful men before, so this is hardly a season 8 specific criticism. I would also argue that Buffy is such a feminist hero because she's a real woman, who makes mistakes, has insecurities, and yes, sometimes does stupid things or is manipulated. When the character becomes nothing but a political representation (STRONG FEMALE ROLE MODEL) she ceases to be, you know, a character.

Most of the other points are spot on, though, and there are plenty of other valid points that aren't even brought up. I would re-iterate that I think Season Eight has been going down the tubes for the last two years, I just feel some of the reasons for its decline in this article are a bit of a stretch/misread.
Bonzob
Buffy is certainly no longer a blue collar hero in season eight, but she also hasn't been one since pretty much the mid-point of seasons six, where they dropped all the money-worry woes and never looked back, so it hardly seems something to hold against the comic.


Interesting. To me Buffy became a blue-collar hero only in seasons 6-7 when she was working, first in Doublemeat Palace, then in school.

Before that she wasn't thinking about money at all.
I'd agree with that, Moscow Watcher, she certainly wasn't a blue-collar hero before season six. I was just trying to say I think the show dropped the blue-collar angle long before the comic book began.

Post-Doublemeat Palace, we didn't really see Buffy have any money worries. Yes, she gets the job at Sunnydale high in season seven, but it's not because she's desperate for money. If I remember correctly, Wood just offers her the job.
The use of secret lairs, guns, etc., was done to lure in the primarily male comic book audience. Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Yeah I disagreed with this too. As a male, I can't say I wanted to pick up the comic anymore than I already did when I saw the first shot of Buffy holding that taser blaster. In fact, I distinctly remember discussing the first 5 preview pages on the old Buffyworld forums and I expressed concern that they were going to lose the "Buffy" of it by incorporating such ideas. Thankfully when I actually got the issue I really enjoyed it so it wasnít an issue for me, but I certainly wasnít enticed to pick up S8 because of such superficial things.

I have to say I've always found this point to be over exaggerated. Buffy is shown holding a force field blaster once but the way itís talked about youíd think it was a regular occurrence throughout the comics. Buffy used the government taser guns far more frequently in S4, not to mention that one of her most iconic moments is firing the rocket launcher in Innocence. The blaster may have been gun-shaped but from Issue #2 onwards the writing has repeatedly stated how slayers do not use guns so Whedonís position on this hasnít changed.

I don't see why they'd be trying to appeal to a "male comic book audience" either. S8 is not very friendly to anyone who isn't already familiar with the show. It assumes from the very first page that you know everything about the previous 7 seasons and even ToYL didn't spend much time reintroducing the Frayverse to fans. If anything, I'd say that the comics are targeting the (already established) hardcore fanbase and not trying to entice new readers at all.

Overall I did think this was a good essay even if I can't agree on all the points. I do think it makes a real attempt to be fair and balanced but a lot of it is probably based on the authors own personal experiences in fandom. I agree with others that some of these opinions donít necessarily reflect what I saw in fandom. For example, when they said the initial reaction to the 8.01 preview pages could be boiled down to ď...wait, what?Ē I have to disagree, as all I can remember from my corner of the fandom was a great deal of positivity and excitement. However, itís what they must have experienced and we have to remember that. I think trying to sum up fandom as a whole is just a really tricky thing to do.
For example, when they said the initial reaction to the 8.01 preview pages could be boiled down to ď...wait, what?Ē I have to disagree, as all I can remember from my corner of the fandom was a great deal of positivity and excitement. However, itís what they must have experienced and we have to remember that.

I was one of S8's staunchest defenders before it came out (there was a lot of backlash against the comic as soon as it was announced, with people arguing whether or not Joss had the 'right' to reopen the canon after all this time), and I remember when the first preview pages came out, a lot of us 'positivistas' really did go "Wait, what? Surely this must be a joke, right?" because the images of slayers with guns and bodyarmour were just so far removed from the Buffy that I had loved all these years.
I thought he was way too easy on S8. I have far more criticisms of it than are listed here.
I was definitely one of the "wait, what?" people when it first came out.
I think the level of disappointment in my case was perhaps proportional to my level of over-investment.
My expectations were so high, I'd been obsessed with Buffy forever. Just seemed like there kept being "not Buffy" moments with each arc that came out. Now, after the Twilight arc, I look back at kevlar and laugh at how upset I was. I wish Buffy kept her kevlar on in issue 34!
Does Kevlar act as a prophylactic against spawning a new Universe? Must get me some... just in case an old lover-turned-enemy turns up for a space-frak.
even-handed recount of fan reactions

It's not, really. But mainly because it isn't a recount of fan reactions, it's an account of her reactions, which she occasionally simply avers are shared by "large swathes" of other fans, for indeterminate values of "large".

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2010-12-12 18:41 ]
I don't know what to think anymore and I'm exhausted. One minute I'm okay with Season 8, yeah, it has it's OOC moments and space fraking was definitely not a highlight for me, but I really like the first half. Then I start re-watching Angel (on holiday break from grad school!) and I just can't reconcile his character in the comics with what I'm seeing the TV series. I desperately want to be okay with Season 8 because I love BtVS ssoooo much! I grew up with this show, went through high school with the scoobies and as my username says, I've got lots of love for Joss Whedon. But I just don't know how to feel anymore. I don't meant to jump on the pity-party wagon but I there's no where else for me to vent. None of my other Buffy friends read the comics so I can't analyze and deconstruct the story with them so I come here. I know some of the mods have been frustrated with fans' negative reactions to Season 8 but I have to tell to SOMEONE and my comments aren't always negative (at least I don't think so). Like I said, I don't know what to think of this Season. Part of me wants to separate the comics into their own little Buffy world that has nothing to do with the show but the other part of me, the one that loved Faith's story and Time of Your Life, really likes the idea that these stories are cannon.
Blah. I'm going to go drink some tea and watch Angel punch Jasmine in the face now.

And this was rather off-topic...sorry.

I thought the article was well written and she did voice some of my concerns but I thought a few things were stretched. Some people have already pointed out that Buffy used a bazooka in Season 2 and Initiativey guns in Season 4-tasers aren't that much of a stretch for me. The female gaze? Yay, maybe a little but Buffy started the spaghetti-strap crazy in the late nineties and the sex scenes throughout all the seasons were pushing 8 PM boundaries. So yeah, I have some issues but those weren't some of them.

[ edited by luv4whedon on 2010-12-12 20:28 ]
I thought it a well written and interesting piece. Critical without being mean-spirited and fair-minded in its celebration of some of the positives of S8.

Forgive me for saying, and this is the first time I have said it, but I've become more confused and disenchanted as the season has progressed. I think this is mainly down to some extremely rickety plotting and some, frankly, not very good comicbook writing. The writers obviously know the characters and the character bits are best served, yet they seem unsure and inexperienced with the medium they are using to tell the story, this despite Joss' astonishingly good run with X-Men. It is difficult, I would say, to be witty and subversive when basic things like your timing are so 'off'.

And - I don't want to see another large panel of a slayer army of young women with big heads getting beaten up by vampires, soldiers, demons or whatever.

I'll keep buying the comic though - and sorry for straying slightly from the topic.
I thought this made an interesting read, and I didn't think it was unfairly critical. I think the essential point is that, for many reasons, the comics are very different from the show. And that isn't a good thing or a bad thing, it's just a fact. The change in medium, use of graphics rather than actors, the greater scale, the focus and pace of the storyline, and the point at which the story resumes: everything is just so different. And I think it's inevitable that a certain percentage of people aren't going to adjust to liking the comic medium, and then there are going to be people who just don't like the other changes that have been made.

I enjoy the comics. I don't really think of them as canon, although they are supposed to be. When I watch Chosen I would think of season 8 as one possible direction the story and characters might go in the future, but I think of others as well. I do have some problems with them, certain plotlines for example (Xander and Dawn is just wrong as far as I'm concerned, and although I did enjoy the intent and humorous execution of Buffy's lesbian dalliance, I'm not convinced it was in character), and the inevitable changes of the medium can be challenging. The relatively slow pace of the story can be frustrating. Although the epic scale of the Buffyverse has increased, I feel like the scope for character development and portrayal of a world inhabited by believable characters just isn't the same - only a few of the main characters have really developed and it's hard to do justice to both the main and supporting characters.

I'm also personally reluctant about the mythology becoming too epic and dwarfing the actual characters. Whenever things become too apocalyptic and grand and take away the importance of our characters, I feel like it cheapens the story. Think of the massive retcon during season four of Angel where the writers tried to explain away all of the various disparate plots and (as I'm sure they actually admitted) their own mistakes as the characters being controlled and manipulated by unseen higher powers. And I think a lot of fans were insulted by this explanation, but for me Gunn's reaction where he refused to accept this put enough doubt on that being completely true to save the episode.

I think there were other times when these type of plot machinations, and the idea of these huge invisible forces, had an influence in both Buffy and Angel, but usually this was done well and didn't negate the story. For example, whatever force returned Angel from hell during season three, the "powers that be" that sent Doyle and Cordelia visions, and the scope and limits of The First's power. The whole overarching mythology of the Buffyverse, including these type of forces, the creation and rules of the slayer mythology, have to be carefully considered by Joss because to change them to much upsets the entire universe, and also everything that has gone before. I first became slightly concerned with some of the allusions in Frey that suggested that Buffy and the gang would be killed by averting one final, massive apocalypse that destroys monsters and magic. And although I'm some issues behind in season 8, it sounds as though similar ideas are being toyed with that have massive implications for the Buffyverse and I just think they should be cautious. I'm all for increasing the scale and considering these things, but I don't think it's necessary because the show worked for a long time without focusing on these too much.

But ultimately, I am glad that I have the option of following the comics if I wish and getting enjoyment out of them. I think some of the retconning was quite clever, for example the explanation of the decoy Buffy being in Italy with the Immortal actually helps to address some of the problems I had with that episode. "The Chain" was a stunning issue, and although some of the plots such as vampy cats and Harmony outing vampires seem unlikely, I can actually imagine the show would have tackled these plots in a similar way and with the usual dose of irony.

One thing I thought was a little unfair in the article was that the Buffy/Faith interaction in No Future For You only made sense if you ignored season seven. I didn't really agree with that, because Buffy and Faith have so much history and such a distrustful and fractured relationship. I think Buffy being rejected by the group and Faith taking over would have only helped to play on these insecurities. I think they both realised they had to work together and focus on fighting The First, but I don't think their relationship will be anything more than a civil and faintly affectionate one until a lot of time has passed, and I would imagine Buffy would be on her guard around Faith for some time. As far as I remember, Giles didn't tell Buffy what he was doing with Faith, so the fact that she wasn't informed of what was going on also meant she felt betrayed by Giles. And I think it's also possible that events could have happened between Chosen and the start of season 8 which may influence how the characters behave, which does highlight one of the weaknesses the article points out. Although, as the writer also mentions, this time gap actually helps to separate the comics from and series and exist as an entity in its own right.
Just to clarify, it's still ok to criticize the comics here. Caroline's warning the other day was about particularly repetitive negative comments that tend to bog down otherwise good discussions.
Sunfire, I guess I missed where there is anything except negative criticism of the comics here. I love the comics, don't have any problems with going where the story is going to take me and laugh at supposed plot holes.

The echo chamber here makes it seem like I am alone in my thorough enjoyment of the comics. I suspect I'm not, though. Season 9 wouldn't be happening if there weren't many more people buying the comics and I would imagine enjoying them than you would think by all the bile in every comic thread on this site. Those of us who enjoy the comics, tend to dread these threads for their incessant negativity and hate. Pick pick pick. YMMV
My experience with the comics has been rather hit or miss -- not necessarily in terms of plot, but because I've struggled to follow along (partly because my local comic book shop doesn't always have the issues in stock and I'm boycotting the place). So I've had to rely largely on the trade paperbacks, which is nice in the sense that I can read up through issue #35 in one sitting and try to piece everything together that way. I can definitely tell that there's an awkwardness about the comics, as if the universe is trying to adjust to a more static medium. The art has been hit-or-miss, though I give the artists credit for making the characters look like they're supposed to (Chen's covers = OMG!). I'll have a better sense of the plot once I read through all seven TPBs again, but so far, the best I can come up with is ... hit or miss.

My biggest concern is trying to square away Angel's involvement as Twilight from a continuity standpoint. The series never makes this known, but I assume season 8 coincides with Angel season 5, so how can Angel be Twilight and doing all of this stuff while also running Wolfram & Hart? And how is all of this going to pour into the Angel season 6 comics?

If you're going to go ahead and call these series canon, it all has to work somehow. I don't see how it can work -- unless that's to be revealed in issues 36-40 or at some point in season 9. I wanna give Joss and company the benefit of the doubt, but it's getting a little hard.

[ edited by CowboyWitch on 2010-12-13 00:10 ]
Those of us who enjoy the comics, tend to dread these threads for their incessant negativity and hate. Pick pick pick.

Responding to it in a thread where it's absent is not what I would call helping. I was clarifying for people unsure of where the line is, not inviting commentary on the problem itself.
Strike that, it was Connor who punched Jasmine in the head.

And thanks Sunfire. Like I said, I'm conflicted over how I feel about the comics and the Giles tribute thread was probably not the place to express this frustration.
What I think is interesting is the sentiment that this article gives a short shrift to opposing viewpoints. Unfortunately, I don't know how you avoid that these days. As the author points out, S8 messes with not one, but many people's babies in terms of stories. By the time you've enumerated all the opposing viewpoints, you've written an article as long as this one and said absolutely nothing.

If you're going to write an essay about a topic like fan reaction and personal reaction to S8, it's a necessity to be brief. Not because that makes the most compelling argument, but because you're not writing a thesis. I feel sometimes we, being the academics we are, tend to shout down things because not enough evidence is brought to the table. And while that's academically noble, it doesn't necessarily serve the essay in question for being what it is.

I think the essay itself was full of author opinions that I agreed with or didn't depending on the topic. I do like any time someone brings up what I think is the real source of many fan complaints with the Angel arc, the inability of many to reconcile AtS with Buffy S8.

I would love to see an extremely in depth character study of Angel from Buffy S2-AtS S5 and then compared to Buffy S8.
This is far more of the author's opinion than any sort of analysis of fan reaction. Not liking something is fine, but she really lost me when she started to talk about the comic medium as sexist, and there being 'in jokes'. Yeah, cause Whedon never has any of those. The author ought not to attribute her dislike of comics on anything other than herself.

The author (and the thread poster) ought not to try and justify their opinion by claiming that others feel the same way, with such inexact and unhelpful assertions and generalizations.
Ruuger and Xane, Iím certainly not saying that some peopleís reaction to the preview pages werenít ďwait... what?Ē and, as I said, I think the author is clearly just discussing what she experienced at the time. All Iím saying is that when she said that ďfandomís reaction could be summed upĒ as that, itís where she lost me, because my corner of the fandom didnít react like that at all. Thatís why I think itís tricky trying to ďsum upĒ fandom like that because you just canít.

It does sadden me though to hear that some fans didnít think Joss had a ďrightĒ to return to his story and were against the comics before they even came out. I had long suspected there some of the negativity was there before the first issue even came out, and Iíve seen some of it myself, but thatís disappointing. I thought the great thing about following a story was reacting to it as it unfolded, not being so invested in your take on it that you think you now have more of a right to tell it than the author :/
If you're going to write an essay about a topic like fan reaction and personal reaction to S8, it's a necessity to be brief.


But there's certain topics you can't ignore and they have to dwelt upon. Homophobia, for starters, which I was less than thrilled to see return to the fandom, the near schism in the Spike fandom and the return of the shipping wars. For me, they're quite major fan reactions. There are other biggies but I am tired and wish to drink milk.
Shipping wars sounds like a movie though I don't think the screenplay would be as frustrating as reality.
Oh I agree they're there Simon. But that's kind of my point, you've listed major issues that have come up that will have multiple sides to them. Some logical, some not so much. But if you spend your entire time enumerating every major kerfuffle amongst the fans while being fair to both sides, do you not really have a completely different article with a completely different point?

I think the major case here was that the author here sees gaps where Joss changed things or retconned things and then proceeds to go through what the author thinks worked or did not. Where I think "even-handed" comes from the poster, is that the author really didn't pick the most strident viewpoints to argue from. For the most part, I don't really see a recount of fan reactions being a major component of this article at all.

P.S. What was the homophobia streak? Did I miss that whole bit? Was that during the Satsu arc?
Yes it was. It was ugly and got swept under the carpet. I'm very bitter about it.
I find it very interesting how Season 8 has managed to rile up so many people. Even myself. I suppose it just goes to show how truly invested this 'verse and these characters we all are.

That said, I do find it hard to judge season 8 objectively. I still need to go back and reread the entire series (something I plan to do before the final issue comes out), and I kind of don't want to judge it before that. I mean, it has been over four years now since this started. I think some perspective is in order.

I think the "gaps" to which the author is referring are almost intended. Maybe not so much with Angel's character, etc. But definitely the gap between the series and the comic. Joss has always preferred starting a story later than you would think it should start and letting the audience catch up. I think he did the same thing here. He could have showed us everything that lead up to the beginning of season 8, but that probably would have been boring and not the story he wanted to tell.

Speaking of which, I'm not entirely sure what the story he is trying to tell even is. I think it might be something about the corruption of power or maybe that even good intentions can lead to horrible things. Or not. I'm really not sure what any of this is supposed to mean: either for our beloved characters or the world in general. However, a reread might help me solve this problem.

My biggest problem with S8, I think, is that I can't decide about it. It would be nice if I could just say "Hey, I like this!" or "Ugh. I hate this." Because then I could make a choice about it. But, as it is, there are moments when I'm reading the comic and I really like and enjoy it. Then there are other moments when I read it and just really dislike it. Example: The conclusion of the most recent issue (don't want to be all spoilery for people) was really affecting for me. But, at the same time, the lack of consistency with Angel's character is very frustrating to me. This kind of thing is all over in the comic, and I don't know if it is me or it.

I don't remember noticing a big homophobia streak. Was it really that prevalent? I like to think that this fanbase is a bit more tolerant than that.
Giles_314-I'm kind of with you on this. The biggest thing for me has been Angel's storyline. After I got past the shock of Buffy and Satsu I was okay with it and liked the funny sidebars that came out of it. Faux-les! Kennedy even grew on me because of the comics. But Angel, I just can't seem to get past this. Are the Buffy comic readers supposed to have read the Angel comics? Otherwise, for me, the last time I saw Angel he was going to fight a dragon and the gap between that and Twilight was never filled.

I never doubted that Joss had the "right" to tell new Buffy stories, I just questioned whether or not it was necessary. I feel like I read somewhere that Joss liked how the series ended, that Chosen was a good and empowering end.
My biggest problem with S8, I think, is that I can't decide about it. It would be nice if I could just say "Hey, I like this!" or "Ugh. I hate this." Because then I could make a choice about it. But, as it is, there are moments when I'm reading the comic and I really like and enjoy it. Then there are other moments when I read it and just really dislike it. Example: The conclusion of the most recent issue (don't want to be all spoilery for people) was really affecting for me. But, at the same time, the lack of consistency with Angel's character is very frustrating to me. This kind of thing is all over in the comic, and I don't know if it is me or it.

That's exactly what my problem with the comics is; very well-said, Giles_314.
I don't agree with a lot of the assertions in this article, but my main problem is its rambling nature. I want an essay to give me its thesis at some point, which I felt this essay did not.

One criticism to the next, with a happy bow tied on at the end.
I still read the comics even though I'm one of the negative nancies.

My main gripe as a comic fan is that they seemed to have gone for the superhero style of comic rather than the graphic novel style. Think "Y The Last Man", "DMZ", "Walking Dead" etc rather than Spiderman, Superman and X-men.

They seemed to go for the big monsters, a weekly mega battle and lots of splodes! Rather than the more slow paced character driven stories I expect from Buffy.

That said with the way the TV series ended with hundreds of slayers maybe they didn't think they had a choice but to go epic.

Theres the obvious unrecognisable character choices that have already been mentioned, Xander - Dawn just doesn't sit right with me but I did love the way he reacted to Buffy taking an interest.

I'll still read the comic because well I need a Buffy fix but I just feel it was a missed opportunity, comics can be intelligent and plot driven, they dont need to be the flash bang of the superhero comics. Maybe I should send Joss some Walking Dead and Y issues to try to influence him lol.
I agree very much with this essay, although I'm a girl (woman?) who has always read mainstream comics.

I accept season 8 as comic book canon - but a comic book is not a TV show.
I was a little surprised by the author's point that women were subject to the male gaze in the comics. I didn't pick up on that AT ALL. There was a bit in the Angel comics, but I honestly didn't notice any scantily-clad/extraordinarily busty females in Jeanty's art. Am I wrong?

As far as comics being a male medium, yeah. That's a thing. There are definitely exceptions (I know several female comic book fans), but it is still an industry that is very dominated by male readers. It's sad, because it's almost a repeating cycle. The industry sees that mostly males are reading comics, so they try to make them appeal more to males by making ridiculous women, then women see that and want to read comics less, thereby perpetuating the cycle. It's tragic, because I really feel like comic books are a valid medium that can produce some excellent work, and I hate that it often fails to be taken seriously because of things like this.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2010-12-13 04:39 ]
Giles_314, I'm a woman who has gone through a few years of all-out addiction to mainstream superhero comics of the eighties and nineties, and I can tell you that there's a world of difference between the scantily-clad busty females of those books, and the women in Jeanty's work. I'm a fan of both styles of storytelling, but when it comes to realism there's no comparison. Jeanty's respect for the true female form is evident in the proportions, the poses, the movement, and even the facial expressions. He's an extraordinary artist who stepped around decades of tradition and gave us the characters with their personalities intact and the actors' likenesses still accessible, putting a huge cast of young women into ongoing unsexy situations, and making them beautiful anyway just because that's what they are: naturally beautiful people.

That this is the criticism being leveled at him, of all possible complaints, speaks of a bias with no discernible origins.
I think the article is "fair" in the FOX News sense of "fair and balanced."

It's a negative review. Which is awesome, thanks for your opinion. But it's masquerading as some kind of an academic article, which it's not, and I think that's disingenuous.

Besides that, it's not a very good review. Check out this sentence:

"It's not so much that the characters would never behave like this, since I'm not a fan of absolutes, it's that considering their particular history on the show, they'd not behave the way they do in the comics."

The author literally says, "It's not the the characters would never behave this way, but they'd never behave this way."
"That this is the criticism being leveled at him, of all possible complaints, speaks of a bias with no discernible origins. "

Personally I don't think the problems with the apparent emphasis more towards the 'male gaze' in the comics are anything to do with the artwork, but more to do with the actual story lines involved.

As to Jeanty's artwork, well for me personally I've always found his style (making most characters look like children with oversized heads) quite off putting in the extreme.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2010-12-13 10:42 ]
I found the idea of the whole male gaze thing in comics funny. Do women not notice that next to every big boobed woman in spandex there's an equally unnaturally steroid fuelled man in spandex with muscles on his muscles? I agree comics are aimed at the male population(superhero comics anyway) but I've seen the same with computer games, people making a fuss about a semi naked women without noticing the freakishly built man in nothing but a loincloth standing next to her.
"I agree comics are aimed at the male population(superhero comics anyway) but I've seen the same with computer games, people making a fuss about a semi naked women without noticing the freakishly built man in nothing but a loincloth standing next to her."

But unless someones been living under a stone for the last century they can't help but notice women have traditionally been visually depicted this way far more/longer then any male.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2010-12-13 12:41 ]
I honestly didn't notice any scantily-clad/extraordinarily busty females in Jeanty's art. Am I wrong?

Giles_314, the first thing that comes to my mind is a scene in one of the early issues where Andrew is with a group of slayers who are in their underwear, which I remember finding a bit icky since the slayers were presumably supposed to be teenagers.

To be fair, while I disliked Jeanty's art, he did in general avoid drawing traditional comic book Double-DD women (I have to disagree with kairos, though, in that IMO the proportions in Jeanty's art tended to infantilize the women, and I personally had often difficulties in telling them apart). But Chen's art, while amazingly beautiful, did unfortunately often give the women large breasts and stick-thin waists.
This is the kind of debate that tends just to prove that the plural of datum is not anecdote but I'll believe men and women suffer equal objectification when men are routinely drawn, not only with muscles on their muscles, but while bending and jutting and generally putting their exaggeratedly muscled butts out for the ladies.

As for the original essay I think it would have benefitted from much more use of the "I" word. Maybe in the style of the article that did make its way into "Whedonistas" and was linked here a little while back. It was a fair description of one fan's personal reactions but was not balanced in terms of presenting a similar range of positive and negative opinions or in terms of giving the pros and cons of the arguments it did present.
"Do women not notice that next to every big boobed woman in spandex there's an equally unnaturally steroid fueled man in spandex with muscles on his muscles?"

Ah, but you are assuming that spandex and muscles are what appeals to a female demographic. That seems not to be the case. Because it's not that women and girls aren't reading comics, they're just not reading Western style comics. Japanese manga is what is gradually winning the hearts and money of western girls/women. The sales grow every year. And the style that seems to appeal and draw the most sales? Elegant lines, more character development, more emotional context. That steroid spandex muscle thing is still the male gaze.

One day Marvel, DC and their like will wake up and discover that they are losing out on 50% of comic book sales. The money will be going to other publishers because they have managed to appeal to the female demographic. Or maybe it will be a higher percentage. After all, romance novels are the biggest selling fiction genre, indicating that women buy a lot of books--and romance is not all they buy. I figure if someone can write/draw/publish comics that are more female friendly, we will eventually see more women buying comics than men. Because I have been to the scanlation hosting sites, the fan groups, and the forums. There is a serious supply and demand problem out there of stories aimed towards or friendly to women. And when you've got a supply and demand problem, someone is out there losing money. (hint, hint)

*Yanked off her Off Topic Soapbox by vaudeville hook. Audience applauds*
, the first thing that comes to my mind is a scene in one of the early issues where Andrew is with a group of slayers who are in their underwear


If you're interested you can read what Joss intended for that scene at Dark Horse (it's on the page 6 script).

http://www.darkhorse.com/Features/Making-of-a-Comic/613/Making-of-a-Comic-Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-Season-8-3

The sales grow every year.


Apparently not. http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/17292.html
Male gaze for Season 8 isn't so much in how Jeanty depicts women, but in how the story constantly creates situations where women are nude. The scene of the girls playing strip poker just to get a joke about Andrew being uninterested, Gigi and Faith bathing together because that's totally how girls bond, the number of women who have been naked on covers.

The only equivalent for men is Angel being naked when he's having sex with Buffy (for which she's also naked), Oz shifting from werewolf form and being naked, and Xander working out with his shirt off. The only one that serves the female gaze is Xander working out without his shirt on. All the rest are more functionally demanded by the plot.

Basically, Season 8 is eye candy for those who want to look at naked women. Just as Season 6 was eye candy for women to look at naked men (poor James Marsters) and Season 3 was eye candy for women wanting to look at naked men, too (Angel shirtless Tai Chi time).

Which gender has become the eye candy? During the show, it was typically men. In Season 8, it's women who are the eye candy.
Basically, Season 8 is eye candy for those who want to look at naked women.


Has there been a lot of interest in season 8 by those who like to look at naked women? I've seen comic book fans making praise worthy comments about DC/Marvel comics where women could be seen to be depicted as eye-candy. But is there the same focus for Season 8?
Driving by to leave my two cents.

I didn't find the nudity (female or male) in Buffy season 8 to be particularly troublesome. However, the way women were drawn in Angel: After the Fall offended me mightily.
I had a lot of trouble understanding the comicbook references (repulsors, shields and the like).

Could somebody tell me what Twilight is?
I wasn't oblivious to the attractiveness of the female actresses when the show was airing, but I find it hard to believe that anyone is reading S8 for the eye candy. A handful of examples out of 39 issues really isn't enough to condemn the whole season.
Um, I don't think someone being naked automatically turns them into an object.

Anyway, I thought the essay was ok, that she actually mentioned the good stuff. Like her I am just damn excited about being able to see these characters again further down the line.
Regarding the treatment of men vs. women in Season 8, also keep in mind that there just aren't that many male characters to play with (which is in itself stupendously rare). Aside from Xander and Giles, most of them just popped in for a single arc.
"Um, I don't think someone being naked automatically turns them into an object."

You're right of course. Nudity is not in itself a negative thing. As with all things, it can be used constructively or destructively. It all depends on intent. For example, I feel like the scene in the first arc with Dawn bathing was played not for sexuality but for humor. It was funny to see Dawn, a giant, bathing in a lake. I don't think a scene like this is objectifying at all. However, a scene like Faith and Gigi in the bath together for no other good reason becomes a bit more problematic. It's all about context.
But unless someones been living under a stone for the last century they can't help but notice women have traditionally been visually depicted this way far more/longer then any male.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2010-12-13 12:41 ]

sueworld2003

---------------------------------------------------------------

Take a look at ancient Roman and Greek statues, they all show muscular semi naked/fully naked men even when those depicted were known to actually be overweight gluttons. Pharaohs did the same thing, not to mention countless sculptures of ancient warriors most of which are of naked men. Physical beauty has always been a thing to show off for both sexes.

As for Buffy I don't really remember much maybe I've become immune to it as it is so common in comics. The whole Angel/Buffy sex scene seemed more awkward than sexy. Some things just don't work in print or can be done in more subtle ways.
a scene like Faith and Gigi in the bath together for no other good reason becomes a bit more problematic. It's all about context


I actually took this as further emphasizing their friendship though I can see how this could be exploitative. The bath scene, to me, highlighted the intimate nature of their friendship and how it would be that much harder for Faith to kill Gigi.
I would agree with that sentiment. I don't think that that scene in particular is very exploitive, just that it is closer to being so when compared to the bath scene with Dawn. I also don't remember thinking the Faith/Gigi bath scene was particularly explicit, although I might be remembering it incorrectly.

In any case, I think that Season 8 definitely has problems, but I don't think exploitation of women is one of them. At least not in a sexual sense. The undertones of Buffy (a woman) being controlled and manipulated by Angel (a man) are potentially not good, but at the same time, I think that might be looking for a problem when there is actually just a story.
Has there been a lot of interest in season 8 by those who like to look at naked women?


It's not really about the interest garnered. Simon recently noted that some Buffy collectibles were clearly being marketed to men (cleavage abounding and there's streetwalker-esque clothes for Buffy, Willow and Faith). Just because the work doesn't garner male interest doesn't mean it's not seeking to pander to a certain audience by using male gaze (it's just not being successful).

As for context, I consider putting naked women on covers to be about exploitation (covers are designed to sell the issue). The nude covers and the Faith/Gigi scenes are the most problematic and there is no male equivalent for Season 8. There is no cover with Angel baring his chest or even his ass and there most certainly could be since it's relevant to the plot and would be the same marketing tool used to show Willow, Faith and Dawn in the nude. Putting naked women on covers is about selling through sex. Why not use Angel to sell sex, too?

Why not? Because the male gaze is in play and women are sexy sellers that you put on comics covers, not men.

Are there worse examples of the exploitation of women in comics? Yes, there are. We don't even have to look that far--just go read "After the Fall". But what bothers me is that BtVS the show used to be better at this and through the change to the comics medium (and let's be honest about how sexploitation is a dominating presence in American comics), BtVS has gotten worse in this area.

That's a serious backslide for a purportedly feminist narrative (something AtS never claimed to be IIRC).

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-12-13 21:23 ]
Why not use Angel to sell sex, too? ... Because the male gaze is in play and women are sexy sellers that you put on comics covers, not men.

Now that, I agree with.

But I'm going to disagree with you about the nudity in BtVS the series. I can recall quite a bit of skin being shown during sex scenes, not to mention the skimpy dresses of the earlier seasons. And the way Faith dressed. Plus! The red halter top and oh hey, how about that Xander fantasy involving Willow & Tara?

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-12-13 21:40 ]
If I was trying to use sex to sell a comic, I'd have naked women on the cover more often than three times out of ninety-something covers.
"And the way Faith dressed. Plus! The red halter top and oh hey, how about that Xander fantasy involving Willow & Tara?"

Per Faith, I view that as more an expression of her character, particularly as a polar opposite to Buffy. Whereas Buffy would not dress in such ways, Faith would.

As for Xander's Willow and Tara fantasy ... a) I believe that was in a dream, and b) it spoke to the character's relative immaturity, in contrast to the increasingly complex and grown-up nature of his life (i.e., his relationship with Anya and his job working construction).

I think the key for these two instances, like a poster above mentioned, is context. There's context for these instances and there are character- and story-specific reasons as to why Faith dresses the way she does and why Xander fantasizes about Willow and Tara.
Simon recently noted that some Buffy collectibles were clearly being marketed to men


Yes I did and when the promo pic came out, I noticed that there was male interest over it. This supported my belief that it was being marketed to men. I would like to find out if there if there is the same male interest in Season 8.

Just because the work doesn't garner male interest


If there is no male interest then why would Dark Horse carry on their approach? It wouldn't make commercial sense. Perhaps then it's not exploitation and it's just part of the story.
I think maybe people read to much into things, covers are there to reflect the story. As a male I can say that most of the examples being used didn't even register, so if they were there to entice me into the comic they would have failed. After all this is a drawing it's not a real women it doesn't really have that much effect on most men I know.

You can't have all women dressed in a Jilbab it isn't real. Certain characters should be dressed a certain way and Faith isn't a shrinking violet. Willow in suspenders and a G-string would be wrong but a little cleavage? "Gosh look at those"

Women on mass dress in skimpy clothes men walk around shirtless, many of both sexes probably shouldn't but they do, to act like they dont isn't reality. I can't remember much that was out of character in the comic covers but a little leeway for artists new to the Buffyverse is needed.

Now see what you've done I'm defending the comic!!
Per Faith, I view that as more an expression of her character, particularly as a polar opposite to Buffy. Whereas Buffy would not dress in such ways, Faith would.


Not entirely. Faith may have worn clevtastic tops and red lipstick but some of Buffy's skirts were definitely not high school appropriate and I still think Buffy pioneered the spaghetti strap (which students are not allowed to wear in some of the schools I've worked at).
Back when BtVS was airing, I once had to go collect my daughter from school because she had on a t-shirt that exposed part of her armpit. So I'm pretty sure that a girl wearing some of the things that Buffy did would have been sent home, too.
Seriously? In the 19th century it was ankles, now armpits. What is the world coming to ;)

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