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WAITING FOR TOMMY - HEIDI MACDONALD
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: 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?

HEIDI: 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.

RICHARD: Co-founder of Friends Of Lulu - has it achieved what you set out to achieve?

HEIDI: 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" back then.


Y: THE LAST MAN: CYCLES TPB

I'll throw 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.

Anyway, 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.

So nowadays 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.

Getting 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.

Since 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!

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 Continued Here...

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