DENNIS MALLONEE responds
Dennis Mallonee is the president of Heroic Publishing, home of the popular "Champions" characters and the fondly-remembered series "Eternity Smith." Although they haven't published comics since 1994, they have a strong web presence, serializing their most popular stories at http://www.heroicpub.com. They are considering returning to publishing with new projects soon. (GS)
Back when Heroic Publishing was actually publishing comic books, we stumbled into a situation in which the majority of our more popular characters were female. For a brief time, we had a line-up of titles that included Flare, Lady Arcane, Icicle, Murcielaga She-Bat, Rose, and the Tigress. We were planning, before Marvel kicked the comic book distribution system into the toilet, to add titles featuring the Black Enchantress and Dark Malice to the list.
My suspicion is that the answer to the "Women in Refrigerators" question does come down to bad writing. A writer who finds it difficult to develop a storyline will often resort to the gimmick. Too often this involves savaging a character. When this happens, it's usually done with a character the writer doesn't understand.
The savaging of a character isn't limited to death or physical mutilation. One of the more subtle recent examples of character savaging was the revelation that Namorita is a clone. That plot development came completely out of left field, had no purpose other than shock value, and was completely at odds with the reality of who Bill Everett meant Nita to be. Although John doesn't seem to understand why what he did to Namorita was a violation of a fundamental aspect of her character, the fact remains that it was only because he didn't understand who she was that he felt free to remake her into someone else.
The notion that female characters are disproportionately singled out for this kind of treatment is, however, untrue. For every woman who's treated badly, I can think of at least two corresponding men.