Hey, That's My Cape! - Why No Women in COMIC BOOK MEN?

I can’t believe I’m starting my year off with this.

Kevin Smith, you should know better. Before I go on, everyone should watch this video:

That's a commercial for Smith’s new comic book show on AMC. You know, the one he had open auditions for last year. The one I auditioned for. Turns out, that was a big waste of my time. This is a show about men.

Where do I start? First, let me be clear, I don’t think having a show for and about men is a bad thing. I think they certainly have their place/market and can be enjoyed by all sexes even if they are made for one demographic. The problem I have with Comic Book Men is – it sounds really boring.

Allow me to explain. As someone interested in comic books, who reads them on a weekly basis, watching a group of grown men sit around and talk about them on television does not interest me. If I want to see that I can go to my local comic shop or call up my good friends and get in on the conversation myself. More specifically, from a network standpoint, why would watching a group of people already notoriously associated with comic books be interesting to anyone who does not read them? I know there are successful comic podcasts with all-male hosts, but is this the kind of thing the masses will latch onto? I hate to say it, but in this case, perhaps a pair of boobs would have worked to your advantage, Smith. And no, not the man-boobs kind that male geeks often like to tell me about when they read my blog title.

Yes, I’m disappointed in Smith for taking the show in this direction but I’m also disappointed in him for wasting a huge opportunity to help change the way the world views geeks. It’s not that I think Smith is some bastion for geek women but I know he’s a fairly enlightened individual (even if that doesn’t always show in his films). He named his daughter Harley Quinn after all, you can’t tell me she isn’t being brought up as a geek girl. And as far as television and movie marketing go, isn’t it sort of the norm to add a woman to a male ensemble cast? Especially to reality shows? I’m not saying Smith should have added a female to pander to the male audience, I just think it would have been nothing but a benefit to the show to have at least one knowledgeable woman there to add to the conversation and perhaps, show a differing perspective.

And you know what? They did. At least originally.

When I tried out for the project, it sounded like it could be a lot of fun. Not a lot of details were given (in fact it seemed as if they had two separate shows in mind at the time) but it was a show about comic books and they were looking for people who loved them. I know they considered at least a few women for the show because I had several friends who auditioned as well. And guess what? One of them was chosen. My friend Zoë A. Gulliksen was filmed for the pilot but just revealed she’s been cut from the show entirely. She even has audio from a podcast where Smith says she is the “perfect girl” to be on the show.

So yes, I’m even more annoyed. Of course I wanted to be on the show. It sounded like the perfect fit for me but when I found out Zoë was auditioning, I knew she’d make the cut. She knows what she’s talking about when it comes to comics and of course it doesn’t hurt that she’s adorable. But now I almost feel like we were never seriously considered to be in the running in the first place. I’ll also give them the benefit of doubt and say that maybe this wasn’t always the premise of the show. It’s certainly possible they solidified their concept as they went along but why was Comic Book Men what they settled on and why wouldn’t they still include the perfect woman for the job? And with that, why narrow an already narrow viewership?

Comic Book Men will be premiering Feb. 12 after The Walking Dead so they’ve got a great lead-in (plus Smith’s established fanbase) but a significant number of that show’s viewers are women. How do you think they will react to a new series with such a name? (It was originally promoted as "Secret Stash.") Granted, I’ve only seen this short clip but if that’s the marketing for your series, I wouldn’t expect it to last very long. [Newsarama note: Another promo clip is here.] I want this to work well for the sake of geek culture and presenting the things I think are quite awesome to the world at large but I’m worried about it reinforcing what some of the world already thinks - that men are the only ones who read comics.

I’ll give it a chance and watch to see what kind of show Comic Book Men actually is. Perhaps a woman will appear in later episodes, who knows? But as of right now it seems like something that would have benefited greatly from the voice of a woman — any woman — who reads comics. I know you know they exist, Kevin Smith, stop pretending like they don’t.

Read more of Jill’s columns at the Hey, That’s My Cape! topic page!

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