This spring, I had the distinct privilege of taking part in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) promoted by the Generalissimo Stan Lee and led by esteemed Professor Christina Blanch via Ball State University, aptly dubbed the Super MOOC. Prof. Blanch is a doctoral candidate well-versed in women’s studies, who happens to also be a comic book expert. “It is a free multimedia learning experience. The high-tech classroom will utilize interactive video lectures, online discussion, and streaming interviews supported by social media participation, such as Google hangouts. Some of the comic industry’s biggest names, including Brian Michael Bendis, Terry Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Mark Waid, and Marvel editors Steve Wacker and Sana Amanat, are lending their time for interviews and interaction, and will even directly engage a few lucky students who are selected to stammer out a question,” I wrote for LadyClever.com.
The class was an eye-opening look at gender politics in pop culture, as well as a careful examination of our perception of self and our partners, families, role models, etc.. The final project for the course was to put together a few panels that illustrated a gender issue. While I’m not a very skilled hand at sketching anymore, I used Strip Generator (one of the comic building sites recommended for the project) to create the panels below.
I was inspired to create these panels after learning about author Kelly Sue Deconnick for class (whose Ms. Marvel/Capt. Marvel arc has been a page-turning read, impeccably illustrated by Dexter Soy) and finding that she’d once been billed for a con simply as Matt Fraction’s wife, as opposed to promoted under her own name. Though I’m sure being Matt Fraction’s wife is a wonderful part of her life, it’s obviously insulting to take away a woman’s own identity and overshadow her body of work by making her only an accessory to him.
I myself have issues with my name and branches of the family tree that I’d love to sever with a sharp axe, however my name has been mine for over thirty years now. When I call customer service numbers or pass a cashier a credit card at the store, I constantly receive compliments on my name– that it’s beautifully bold and strong. I don’t have a last name in common with my mother anymore, as she’s remarried, but I do share it with my brother and sister. I struggle to wrap my head around not being “me” anymore after I tie the knot (though it’s currently my intent to take my partner’s last name). And so, this little vignette of my thoughts was born. — Casandra Armour