Misogynistic Marketing Snafu Colors Capital City Comic-Con (UPDATED)

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UPDATE: (3/13/14)

An anonymous source contacted me regarding the apologies and comments that were posted on the conventions official Facebook page:

Aaron Luevano, the show’s “owner” is also the ‘advertising department’, HR, and any other title that goes along with event planning for a convention. So when he states that the person responsible for the original response is “No longer a part of the organization”? I know this to be a lie, because the organization is a 1 man operation. Aaron is advertising, ad approval, social media manager, PR and owner…I feel a responsibility not only to myself, but the community of creators, convention attendees and other women in comics to make sure the wool is not being pulled over our eyes.

I for one won’t be trusting him to run a safe and successful event if he can’t pick appropriate marketing materials, or take responsibility for his mis-steps before the convention kicks off.

In a follow up email, my source commented “I just hate that something that has rightfully upset so many people is now being set aside because of a reactionary e-mail that is a total lie…I wish the convention organizer no ill will whatsoever, [but]I have been sleepless about the disappointing way this was handled.”
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ORIGINAL STORY: 

Yesterday on Twitter, Richard Neal of Zeus Comics in Dallas, Texas posted a promotional card for the upcoming Capital City Comic Con in Austin. According to Neal, the cards were dropped off at his shop, and Neal became perturbed when he saw what the flyer looked like:

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“It doesn’t foster the community I want for Zeus for certain,” said Neal, via Twitter.

Sue, of DC Women Kicking Ass, followed the story on her blog as soon as it broke, and reached out to Aaron Luevano, the convention’s owner and promoter, via email, asking if Luevano was aware of the advertisement. Luevano’s response was that he was aware of the card and had approved it, “I asked before it was designed, many approved.” (The creators of the original art that was used also told Sue that, after seeing the way the artwork was used earlier this week, they had decided not to support the show.)

The image is from the cover of Power Girl #1, art by Amanda Conner. While the series is known for its tongue-in-cheek addressing of Power Girl’s bust, the actual comic did it with grace, humor, and love. This card has been regarded by both men and women and tasteless, unfunny, and dehumanizing. Many comic fans have gone to the official Capital City Comic Con Facebook to complain, only to find their negative comments were purportedly deleted.

However, when the comments weren’t deleted, they were responded to and pointedly dismissed, like this response to one woman:

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“I have to wonder if you’ve even been to a comic con.” This sort of archaic attitude towards fans, especially the burgeoning mass of female fans, is extremely off-putting.

The show organizers posted an apology on their Facebook page early this morning:

“In response to our prior ad campaign, the proper steps are being taken in regards to this situation. Capital City Comic Con did not mean to offend or harm anyone, in any way. Our advertising department has been contacted and changes to our marketing material and plan are being made.

We respect everyone’s opinion. We are glad this issue was brought to our attention. We want everyone to feel safe at our convention and not feel offended. As a comic book convention, it is primordial that we do not send the wrong message to fans.

We were contacted by a few female fans who wish to support the distribution of our initial flyers, to which we respectfully declined. As for our future plans, we will no longer use the image of superheroes (or any character) in such fashion. We wish to apologize to anyone we may have offended with our initial promotional campaign.

We would like to invite all of you to comment on our new campaign once released. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

From the staff and management”

In response to a comment on this post, regarding both the deletion of negative fan posts and the wording of their responses, the page replied “Ad person and person who replied no longer are part of my staff. It was my fault for letting others use my account.” This does not excuse the fact that the show owner and promoter initially approved the design of the card and sent it out en mass to stores and other conventions, nor does the apology really make up for the “oversight.”

Frankly, saying they were “contacted by a few female fans who wished to support the distribution of our initial flyers, to which we respectfully declined” is a lot like saying “one person of color didn’t think it was racist, so it must not be.” Pairing their apology with a slight like “not all women were offended” implies that the indignation many fans, female and male, feel is actually just an overblown reaction is not a good way to garner sympathy or to distance themselves from the “boys only” attitude that so many conventions can’t seem to shake.

What it really comes down to is feeling comfortable at a convention. As Neal put it on Twitter: “Who would feel comfortable or safe at a show with that kind of promotion?”

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About Author

Ellie Hillis

Ellie Hillis is a Heroine Addict...which is to say she loves super heroines. A comic historian and an aspiring author, Ellie wrote her thesis on the endurance of superheroines in comics, and has been published in Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul and the Gallery of Evil, both published by Spectrum Games. When she's not reading, writing, or drawing comics, she's probably watching television comedies, making costumes, listening to nerdcore, or analyzing popular culture.

  • amboy00

    Great summary of what happened. Thanks for covering this. One small clarification: the convention is in Austin. Zeus Comics, however, is in Dallas.

  • IRMacGuyver

    People need to get their panties out of their butt.

  • That guy

    Truly, Truly, women can whine and cry about anything.

    • What a prize you are.

    • veejean

      Truly, truly, any man can dismiss a woman’s concerns as easy as he pleases, seeing as he’ll never be faced with those concerns. “What’s the big damned deal? After all, it affects ME positively, not negatively, therefore they need to see it that way, too.” You speak from privilege and a lack of empathy, not fact or even basic understanding.

      Because you’d feel comfy-cozy if it was a huge, lycra covered phallus, making you wonder if it was a comic convention or an ad for a sleazy gay nightclub, amirite?

  • Troublegum

    Ridiculous.