julieandrews: (Default)
So, Realms of Fantasy's August cover is.. The Last Airbender. The movie. Did they not hear the fail of that movie?



The original series got mentioned at Wiscon at the disabled characters panel I was on. I really do need to watch it. I hear nothing but good things. ABOUT THE SERIES.
julieandrews: (Default)
So Realms of Fantasy is doing an all woman issue for August 2011. It's not really a feminist or even gender theme, as they've said such things are welcome, sort of a bonus. The main point is just that it'll be all women contributors (though not all women editors/other staff, I'm assuming).

Girls, ladies: Perhaps I didn't read the original announcement, though I thought I'd seen it pretty quickly. And the use of those words, if they were there, didn't bother me. The tone didn't strike me as wrong. But I don't have a problem with 'girls'. I use girl. I think of myself as a girl. I'm always thrown to be called a 'woman'. Would I be more careful in a professional context such as a request for submissions announcement? Maybe. Or maybe I'd call you all chicks. 'Lady' is an iffy thing. Depends on usage.

August: Really? August? Why August? I think this would have gotten a better reception had they planned it for Women's History Month. Or otherwise came up with a reason they picked August, other than that was the next issue they were slated to think about, which it seems more like it was. I can retroactively think of a reason why August is awesome. But hey, I shouldn't have to do their work for them.

All-Women Contributors versus Women-Themed Issue: I think the latter would have gotten a better reception, if been a little trickier to pull off well. Don't you think a fantasy story about Madam Curie written by a man would be potentially feminist and well within theme? And perhaps better to feature a story like that than a story written by a woman where a boy comes of age by joining the Dragon Corps? (Not that I wouldn't want to read both.)

What's a woman? Female sex? Female gender? Or not-male sex? Or not-male gender? Are you self-identifying as a woman by the act of submitting a story for this issue? And then what's to stop a man from .. well, I hesitate to say 'sneak', because it wouldn't be that hard or even for very devious reasons, necessarily.. but what's to stop someone of the male sex and gender from submitting and getting published in this issue?

I think the flak that Realms is getting for this is mostly coming from the argument/discussion that surrounds the question: Are more women not being published because there's bias against them as women? Or are more women not being published because the themes, tone, and style of writing that women (generally speaking) write is under-valued by the establishment?

The former problem can be helped by all-women issues and anthologies. The latter is not helped nearly as much, if at all. Because an all-woman issue is directly addressing the first problem. It's indirectly, or not at all, addressing the second.

Since I fall in the camp that says both of these things are problems, while leaning more towards the second, I believe that an issue focussed on women in fantasy WITHOUT being exclusionary in regard to the gender of the contributors would be of greater benefit. Provided that there IS a balance of at least 75%-ish female-identified contributors. And that each contribution is chosen carefully with a look at it individually and as part of the whole.

But I do thank Realms of Fantasy for thinking about things like this and getting engaged in the discussion. Far better to try and then face the objections than to just keep the status quo going.
julieandrews: (Default)
I'm going to just focus on the covers and very little of the rest of the discussion going on in multiple venues. And while it may seem I'm picking on Realms... as last year it seemed people were picking on Eclipse... they're basically just good, recent examples to get the discussion going. They're hardly the sole source of the problem.

Looking at the Realms of Fantasy covers here (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] oldcharliebrown for the link) and here (Google images), I took a look at what I liked and didn't like about them.

The absolutely worst one is Xena, followed close by Harry Potter. They're not advertising what the magazine is about. They're saying 'Like Starlog? Buy me too!' They're giving the impression that it's an sf/f entertainment magazine. And it only very slightly is. It's an original fiction magazine, and those covers don't say that at all. At best they could indicate Xena fanfiction is inside.. except fan magazines would have more interesting Xena-inspired artwork on their covers.

My favorite one (not having seen a full range of all covers, granted) is this one. There's a story there! There's a promise of motherhood, which you don't see all that often in sf/f. I'm not into motherhood as a theme personally, but it's different. And the characters aren't white! And one has wings! I may not like the story that artwork is based on, but at least I know it's going to give me a point of view I don't commonly get. There's even the possibility I read the gender wrong and that's fatherhood on the cover, which would actually be slightly more cool.

I'm also drawn to the covers with dragons on them. Even though the dragons are run-of-the-mill and not quite the style I like, they're still dragons. Love me some dragons. Now, this one doesn't fair well in the smaller size (aka, from further away), but closer up, it's way cool. That's an atypical dragon, hoarding a typical stash of gold, but drinking tea. That dragon says "I look Chinese, but I'm British through and through."

Horses? Eh. Unicorns? Slightly better. People with swords? Been there, done that.

The later covers are prettier (but is that a picture from Watchmen? What the heck?), but not necessarily more appealling to me. Showing me a character without showing me why I should be interested in that character is not going to attract me. Show me some hint of conflict, or plot, or emotion at least.

And there's only one thing this one from October 2001 is saying.

So my, admittedly layperson's view is:

1. Don't use movies/TV shows to try to sell magazines. It's lame.
2. When commissioning the artwork, tell the artist to look at the whole story, not just an interesting character in it. Pull out a theme, or a scene. Give us more than a character.
3. Don't be so afraid to have men on the cover.
4. Don't be afraid to toss in some boys and girls as well.
5. When you do have a woman, she doesn't need to be an idealized beauty. Wrinkles are a bonus.
6. Leave out human-esque figures entirely sometimes. We can handle viewing dragons or squid as main characters. And landscape can be cool too.
7. Don't forget the cats.

Oh, hey, this one is pretty cool. Is the secret to have Terri Windling in the issue? She seems to have all the best covers.
julieandrews: (Default)
I have thoughts about the Realms covers and the (legitimate) brouhaha. But first, can someone point me to a site with the covers? I can search Google Images, but then the chronology of the covers isn't readily obvious.
julieandrews: (Default)
Two topics that are completely unrelated. Only related in the fact that I decided to post about them at the exact same time.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jonquil, I now have a Dreamwidth account. For now, I'm just going to use it for posting comments. I may think of a brilliant use for it at some future date. Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] jonquil!

[livejournal.com profile] ktempest has a highly interesting post up about Realms of Fantasy and boobs. It ends with a call to action. So, act!

(Also, will post about this month's issue of Realms when I get a chance to look at it. Been very busy.)


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