|A Message from Chris Dee
Originally written for the 5th Anniversary of Cat-Tales
Once upon a time, everyone understood that Selina Kyle was a bright and beautiful, witty and cultured woman who was Bruce Wayneís equal, adversary but not quite enemy, and love interest.
Then "F. Miller" came along with his "unauthorized biography" (i.e. Frank Millerís Year One) and reduced her to an ignorant, uneducated, damaged, not witty, not sexy victim of not only men but his perverse view of the world, where men and women alike are equally corrupt, damaged, and damned. Not surprisingly, that version of the character never caught on. Except for one follower (M. Newell/Her Sisters Keeper) the butch, humorless, ugly in appearance and personality Catwoman never caught on, never inspired writers to use her, and was forgotten.
The solo comic wisely ignored Millerís repugnant origin, returned Selinaís looks, brains, and wit, and eventually went so far as to retcon the streetwalker origin in Zero Hour. Unfortunately, they did not do so in such a way that absolutely contradicted and invalidated the original slander. It would prove a costly mistake.
A writer operating under the penname Bronwyn Carlton* was allowed to launch a storyline tailor-made to set up Ed Brubakerís New Direction, so much so that it is widely suspected Carlton was merely his pen name, both because if the humiliation and defilement of a womanís icon in the "Carlton" arc was known to be written by a man, it would have been recognized for the sick misogyny that it was, and also because, knowing the Carlton arc would be widely deplored by readers, Brubaker could then be seen as coming in to save the day.
When previews from Brubakerís "Volume II" were leaked, it became clear he was not only failing to repair the damage of Carlton but was reinstating the Miller origin, Iíd had enough. I invented the idea of The Gotham Post, a tabloid lying about Selinaís true history and nature just as, as far as Iím concerned, DC Comics had been doing for years. I figured, if I was this fed up, how much more so would Selina herself be? Like us, I reasoned, she would have borne the first few rounds philosophically, assuming like all wrongness in comics/tabloids, it would blow over and be forgotten in a short while. But then, surely, like us, she would run out of patience at some point. It wasnít blowing over, it was escalating. Time after time, round after round, enough already. Itís time to set the record straight!
I never expected to begin a series. I expected to vent my spleen for two chapters, get my thoughts and reactions out there, and that would be that. I NEVER dreamed that simple beginning would provoke the response it did. I got e-mail - oh dear lord, did I get email. Public reviews and private diatribes: about Officer Down, about Brubaker, about Denny Oíneil marginalizing Selina to clear the way for his own invention Talia. You name it, I heard about it. I wrote another chapter, Bruceís reaction to the show, it introduced Dick. Again, I didnít envision writing more. The emails continued. I heard from people who had given up all comics except Elseworlds, it was the only place you could find Bruce/Selina. I heard from people who had given up comics altogether. They were Batman fans, or Catwoman fans, or both. But the comics no longer offered the characters they wanted. I kept writing. The mail would drop off and then surge again (my god, I thought I hated Talia until I wrote Catfight and found out what hating Talia really was.)
Around TIMES GONE BY, the first Hell Month, I saw that the FanFiction.net reviewers seemed to be having FUN not just reading but commenting on the series, and I also began wishing some of the folks emailing could know each other. I was forever repeating something Iíd just heard from one to another. I set up the message board so we could all meet "under one roof" so to speak, and the results have been tremendous.
One of those to come through the door was MyklarCure, and it was he who organized the first compilation of Cat-Tales into Books 1 and 2. He also began the first spinoff, JLAinít, which is simply the best Justice League fiction in any medium, including canon books, including the cartoon, including (yes really) Grant Morrison. THIS is the ideal Justice League that "never was an always will be" to paraphrase Michael Eisner. No other version comes close.
Rob Pierceís Twofaced Tales came next. Begun as a lark, the first chapter reflected the Gotham After Dark roleplaying game as much as Cat-Tales proper, but the character that emerged was something unlike anything Iíd ever seen. Pierceís Harvey Dent was as complex and human as Cat-Tales Selina, to be sure. He was tragic and funny and we all fell in love with him.
I made the acquaintance of Lady Dienís Jason Blood in a roleplaying game, and soon saw the same type of marathon misrepresentation had occurred with Jason as with Selina. From a storytelling perspective, here was a diamond mine where no one was digging, and on the rare occasion someone unearthed a gem by accident, they didnít recognize it for what it was and had no idea how to cut or polish it. From Jason and Etriganís introduction in Highland Games to the advent of their own series WICKED VERSE, weíve tried to repair that.
That is pretty much the story of Cat-Tales Year One to Five. These characters want to live, they want to shine forth as they are. That isnít happening at DC, and while we continue to hope that situation improves in coming months and years, we - like Selina muses in Cattitude - are not going to wait for someone else to make a gift of what Catwoman et all are supposed to be. We are taking it.
What else would you expect from the Worldís Greatest Thief?
*It is also telling that "Bronwyn Carlton" is the only Catwoman writer prior to himself Brubaker had anything good to say about coming in.