The Real Issues: A Response to Tony Harris

The Real Issues:

A Response to Tony Harris’ Facebook Rant

By: Terra Olsen


The Internet has been abuzz with Tony Harris’ offensive facebook post from Monday. For those of you who are not aware what I’m talking about, I have posted a screen shot of his post below.

screenshot of Tony Harris’ facebook status

For those of you who don’t want to try and read that mess of a post, here are the best parts (according to me):

“…THE RULE: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”.



The issues:

Shade #4 cover art by Tony Harris

1.) Objectifying Women

Tony really gets down to the heart of the matter: these cosplayers are only “quasi-pretty” girls dressing up as sluts and don’t even read comics. Wow Tony, wow. First, I would like to point out that cosplayers often pride themselves on their accuracy in portraying a character they love.  This means they sometimes have to dress ‘scandalous’ because that is how *ahem* comic book artists have drawn the character. Now to Tony’s credit, he hasn’t been known to dress his characters in the ever so often barely-there get up most artists draw. But to attack women cosplayers by objectifying their clothes and their bodies, Tony is perpetuating the trend that it is okay to talk about women in this manner. Furthermore, he isolates his complaint to only female cosplayers, preserving the idea that only women purposely dress in revealing costumes, aimed at getting attention. Sadly I don’t think Tony realizes that these comments are unjustified, unprofessional, and isolating to a large base of readers.

2.) The Need to Defend

There have been many responses to Tony’s facebook post—some in support and some against. Sadly, there have been many fb posts and tweets from females declaring that they are “not like that” and that they read comics! For female cosplayers and comic book fans, Tony’s facebook post has struck a cord, so they feel the need to defend themselves. But the problem is this—women should not have to defend their fandom, no matter what level it may exist on.

Some women are causal readers, some intense readers, some may just like the movies- but they are all fans. As a female in the nerd community, people are always skeptical that you really like what they like. This is annoying as hell. Seriously. No one goes up to a guy at a comic book convention who is dressed up as Batman and quizzes him on different issues. But for females, this is one of the ongoing struggles that presents itself at conventions. Of course, this problem is not isolated to comics, but in a community that is often scrutinized by others, you would think there would be a need/want to protect their own…and to be excited that women are into comics finally  (to clarify though, they have been for a looong time). So stop attacking your own!

In addition, this points to another issue, the lack of female visibility and representation in the community. Although the female image and presence in the comic book world is every growing, we still have a long way to go. There is still a lack of female comic book artists and writers. The female fans continue to grow, and it’s time the industry caught up (thank goodness for GeekGirlCon).

Cosplay at GeekGirlCon, via Snipe

3.) The Other Issue

There is one comment that Tony made I agree with. However, you have to read it out of the context that he wrote it to understand where I am going with this:

“And the real reason for the Con, and the damned costumes yer parading around in? That would be Comic Book Artists, and Comic Book Writers who make all that shit up.”

Tony attacks the female cosplayers, hinting that they are the reason he is not getting attention at his booth. Well, if you take out the female attendees bit, he has a point.

Why don’t comic book artists and writers get the attention they rightfully deserve at conventions? I mean, they are the reason we attend cons…right? Right!? Well, not really. Not anymore at least. When attending a comic book convention these days, comics are often pushed to the back. Studios and their movies, the media, and celebrities have become the *thing* at comic book conventions. Often times it feels that the artists and writers are pushed to the side.

I attended San Diego Comic-Con seven years in a row. I slowly and sadly watched as the comic vendors and artist corners were pushed to smaller and smaller areas. Only big comic book vendors like Marvel and DC had impressive booths that could compete with the Sci-Fi Channel and Warner Brothers booths. I stopped attending big cons because I’m not really into celebrities or movies. I like comics. (Not that there is anything wrong with all that jazz, it is just personally overwhelming for me.)

So again, I understand Tony’s last statement. And I think that statement alone is justified. Sadly, however, Tony attacks the female cosplay con-goers rather than realizing that the comic book convention itself has been hijacked from the writers, artists, and fans. And in doing so, he perpetuates the terrible habit of attacking women rather than addressing the real program.


Let me finish by doing exactly what female fans should not do—defend my position. For those of you who don’t know me (here is my bio), I am a comic book fan, which is why I felt the need to write this post.

Magnus, what a slutty, I mean manly costume you have…

I attended San Diego Comic-Con with my family. I spent most of my time searching for old Valiants, vintage Sci-Fi/Horror, and old What If books . Comic-Con was blissfully fun— listening to writers, meeting artists, seeing costumes, and by far my favorite part came at the end of the day with my family. We would sit around at dinner and compare our finds, complete with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs.’ Simply put, I grew up in a comic book family, where it was never considered weird that I was a girl who liked comics. In fact, it would have been weird if I didn’t like comics. They have always been supportive of me and the kind of comics I liked (they are strictly a Marvel family, which I am not). When I dressed up as Catwoman for Prom, they thought it was the coolest thing ever and praised me for putting the outfit together myself (while people at the dance scrutinized and teased me).

Boy was I in for a rude awakening when I left the safety of my home and ventured into the nerd world on my own. People can be cruel, and I have experienced being ‘tested.’

Which brings me to my personal plea: please be more like my family.  Encourage everyone, regardless of their gender, to read comic books. For me, it’s not if you’re a comic book fan, but rather if you’ve found the right comic book. I truly believe there is a comic book out there for everyone; you just need to find it.  But until the community accepts all of its members in an equal and respectful way, the community will continue to be stifled, while scaring off potential fans.

2006 Comic-Con with family