I am generally a proud nerd, one that is open about my sex-appealingly-questionable predilections and history (at least nowadays), but what holds me back from participating in the wider community of geeks across the globe is the loud, abusive, toxic core of radical fans who ruin it for everyone.
There just seems to be a higher frequency of truly terrible people in nerd culture. But is it higher or just louder? Or is it maybe just a higher frequency of those without the social skills to hide their bigotry and hatred, because those who are marginalized by their social ineptitude already suffer the consequences of their toxic behaviour — ie, social exclusion — and therefore have no incentive to act like better humans? (Sort of like a child who only gets negative attention from his parents and so starts acting up to get any attention at all.) But I digress.
What I mean to say is, even though there’s a terrible radical core of toxicity in the nerd/fan culture world, there’s also just plain old patriarchal scripts that exclude plenty of different folk, but (across all racial, ethnic, and political spectra) always, ALWAYS, women.
Women in Comics: Looking Forward and Back is a group exhibition at the Society of Illustrators featuring more than 50 female cartoonists, from the early 20th century trailblazers to plus-size superheroes, queer graphic novels, wartime romances and flapper-era cartoons, all of which go outside your typical superhero format.
“I think there are a great number of voices out there, and people want to hear this diverse range,” said Kim Munson, the exhibition’s co-curator. “I hope this will continue.”
The exhibition is divided into two sections: the history of women cartoonists, dating back to the early 1900s, and contemporary comics from the 1970s to present day. Though the society is closed to the public during the pandemic, the online version shows a selection of curated artworks, which will be on view until 24 October, and will soon include a video tour.
The first part of the exhibition looks at roughly 80 artworks from the historic collection of California-based cartoonist and collector Trina Robbins. Her collection includes cartoons by women in the flapper era, the second world war and 1950s romance comics, among others. Robbins has single-handedly rediscovered an entire generation of artists, some of whom are only now being recognized.