FOR TOMMY - HEIDI MACDONALD
By Richard Johnston
Vertigo can be seen as boundary breaking or incredibly sensitive
about content - Hellblazer's Shoot, Rick Veitch's Swamp Thing,
the college-based-series-whose-name-I-forget, were public
examples of the latter. How widespread was this?
I don't think that's too hard to understand. Anytime you try
to push the boundaries, you can push too hard. There were
a few things I edited - especially in Swamp Thing - that I
said no to, and sometime Brian Vaughan and I got into terrible
fights about it. Anything that's just done for sensationalism
is problematic. I wasn't there for any of those incidents
so I can't comment on them. Obviously what gets creators up
in arms is when people change their minds on things at the
last minute, which is what I believe happened with all three
of those incidents. That's part of the corporate world, however.
Co-founder of Friends Of Lulu - has it achieved what you set
out to achieve?
Well that's a complicated question. The short answer is "Absolutely."
When we started Lulu 10 years ago (gasp!) getting anyone at
any of the companies to even pay lip service to the idea of
women reading comics was very difficult. And you have to remember
that the industry was flying as high as its ever been at the
time, so they didn't really think they needed a "women's auxiliary"
in here that maybe I was prejudiced from working in kids comics
at Disney, but from the early '90s on, it was very clear to
me that the industry was just letting the kids drift away.
It was like the Shakers - you couldn't breed any replacements
so you had to make converts one by one, or else you just dwindled
away into oblivion. Now you see lots of great chairs, but
not that many Shakers. It's a wonder there is a comics industry
anymore at that rate.
everyone then had all these excuses for why kids didn't read
comics, and women didn't read comics. And they ranged from
everything from biology - they just can't read panels! - to
sociology. Kids were just given up on. "They like video games
better! Why fight it?" Everyone ignored the fact that kids
learn to read from looking at picture books with words in
them, and segue right into comics. They just gave up completely.
everyone at least pays lip service to women and children,
and there are more women doing comics - and better comics
- than ever before. Of course, the same people are in charge
now as 10 years ago, for the most part, so I don't know if
anyone's mind has really changed.
back to Lulu, I think it has been a very successful advocacy
organization for 10 years in at least raising the issues.
And the Lulu Awards and the retailer outreach have also been
very positive achievements. Has FoL had missteps along the
way? Sure. But overall, it has done what it set out to do,
and I don't regret the 5 or 6 years that it was such a huge
part of my life. I did have to kind of walk away from it after
a while - you get "cause burnout" and I realized that if it
wasn't a good enough idea to get other people to carry it
on without me, it wasn't a good enough idea period. But it's
still here, and the current President Katie Merritt is very
smart and focused and has a lot of great ideas.
this is my big interview shot I might as well reveal one or
two Lulu secrets. When we were doing most of our early materials,
I had one of my co-workers who was a designer do most of the
design work in his spare time as a favor to me, plus he believed
in the cause. I told everyone that he had designed the logo,
but he actually used the mock-up that I did with my weak Quark
skillz. It looks kind of retro-'80s, but that logo will probably
be my lasting contribution to comics!
1 | 2
| 3 | 4
| 5 | 6