A geeky girl living in the big city, making her way, the only way she knows how... no wait, that's The Dukes of Hazzard. Who am I again? Oh yeah, a pop culture obsessed writer, publishing person, and occasional nerd. And I'm getting married. I talk about that, too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Superhero comics for girls?

An interesting post over at Galleycat which synthesizes some of the current blogosphere debate about superhero comics appealing (or not) to women.
It all began last Wednesday, when a young woman who loves superheroes said she wants to "yell at everyone who tries to tell me that I'm not supposed to like something because I don't happen to possess a Y chromosome," and comics blogger Johanna Draper Carlson reacted by saying "'superhero comics aren't for girls' is true the same way 'romance novels aren't for boys' or 'action movies aren't for girls' are." Pegging those forms as "gender-identified genres," Draper Carlson says that "cross-gender participants" need to recognize that they aren't the target audience and that that's not likely to change.
I need to go follow all the links and read more, but it's interesting. And reminds me that I want to call my friend at Marvel for a copy of Civil War.

Edited: One of the links near the bottom of the Galleycat article goes to Journalista, who I think makes a very interesting point about the audience for comics in general
Mandating a set of rules intended to show respect for women wouldn't make superhero decadence any more palatable to new female readers than the current comics have proven capable of fostering new male readers. For non-initiates, the majority of these comics are arcane in reference, contain a bizarre and incompatable mixture of juvenilia and adult content, and just aren't very much fun to read. These days, superhero comics are written for men between 25-35 years of age who've been reading such things for a decade or more, and their creators long ago lost sight of what once made superhero comics a mass-market genre. They aren't written for women, but neither are they written for men who don't fit the demographic. They certainly don't appeal to children. Modern superhero comics aren't anti-female; they're anti-reader. Fix that problem, and the rest will fix itself.
Scan down to the bottom of the page for Comics Culture to read his whole argument.



Blogger DeAnna said...

Hee! Way to go on that last quote from Journalista.

5/14/2007 8:00 PM

Blogger ktbuffy said...

I think he's talking about the very problem I have myself with picking up a comic book nowadays. Aside from a few rare series that I can grab from the beginning (or read in trade paperback, like Planetary), with almost everything else that I'd want to read, I feel like I will never be able to catch up on all the backstory.

I think that might be why I liked Neil Gaiman's 1602 storyline. Even in terms of Joss' Astonishing X-Men, I had to ask a friend (a male reader between the ages of 25-35) about some of the references and backstory.

5/14/2007 10:57 PM

Blogger ***Dave said...

Without reading any of the backlinked detail, I submit that:

a. Yes, most mainstream comics (and a number of independents) are more focused on a male audience than female, and that the target age is probably about where the quoted folks place it.

b. Most of the creative talent fits that demographic, too.

c. There are numerous exceptions to a-b.

d. The "Golden Age" of comics is what everyone remembers reading first. But that's lightning in a bottle -- you can never go back to it, any more than the paperback market is likely (esp. in the genre areas) to return to the sensibilities and style of the 60s or 70s or 80s.

e. There are a lot of comics I have fun with. There are a lot I don't. I buy the former, not the latter, and it doesn't seem to have cut down on my purchasing all that much. I just keep trying new things (and sticking with the old until I can't stand them).

There are as many opinions as to what's "wrong" with the comics industry as there are producers and consumers in it. In most cases, the suggestions for how to help are not all that helpful.

5/15/2007 12:03 AM


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