I’m not sure why, but I have a passion for empowering girls in the arts. I played in a couple of bands throughout the years (Three Alarm Fire, Two Week Notice) and every incarnation of these bands had girl singers. Maybe it’s because I feel that girls brought a unique voice (literally and figuratively) to the early 00′s pop-punk that we were playing, which was a very male driven style of music at the time. We were almost a novelty.
I hope to bring that same passion to the world of comic books. The traditional comic book industry is very much a man’s world. The majority of comic books are still male escapist fantasies, but it is slowly changing. And hopefully I can be a force to help move that change forward.
Seeing as how I’m a guy, it’s a bit presumptious to think that I would know why girls do or do not read comics. So, these are just my opinions based on what I’ve observed. I welcome comments from girls to tell me I’m wrong, as I’m sure I will be on a number of points.
1) Create Books of Quality.
Girls are more selective than guys. A guy will buy a book just because it’s got Spider-man in it. However, a girl is looking for great stories she can connect with. It’s not enough to just fill a book with Hulk smashing things or huge events where multiple characters die for no reason. But guys keep buying Hulk smashing things and huge events, so the industry will keep making them.
2) Create Books with Emotion.
Girls crave an emotional center to their stories. Whether it be a love story, personal issues, or relational issues, girls enjoy the emotional ride. This is why the “CW” shows do so well. You follow characters on these big emotional journeys from week to week. Comics should do the same thing. And really, isn’t this what makes great stories anyway? It’s something all comics creators should be thinking about from the get-go.
3) Allow for an Entry point.
It comes back to the reoccuring problem that comic book publisher’s MUST overcome. Douglas Wolk states in his brilliant book, Reading Comics, “Many new issues of long-running series – and sometimes even new series’ debuts – are so inbred and rooted in continuity with other comics that it’s nearly impossible for a new reader to make sense of them… The industry has circled the wagons, dedicating itself to serving its biggest fans, at the expense of letting new readers into its fellowship.”
More and more girls are reading comics every day, but without an entry point, they are going to turn to something else.
4) More female creators.
The more female creators we have, hopefully the more female stories we’ll have and hopefully the more female readers we’ll have. The female voice is lacking in the comic book industry. Even Minx, the brilliant teen girl-targeted line from DC, has most of their books written and drawn by guys! This makes no sense to me.
I know the talent is out there. I’ve done my homework as I’ve been looking for a female artist for Strongsville. There are some major undiscovered or underutilized talents out there. I don’t think there is sexism in the industry in the way that publishers don’t believe that females are as talented. It’s just a matter of numbers. The majority of artist and writers out there are male, therefore the majority of books are going to be created by males. But I do believe that there are certain books that would benefit from a female voice, so publishers need to do their part to look for the talent that would best fit a book.
5) Less sexism in art & writing.
To read a superhero comic from the Big Two (Marvel & DC) these books are almost sure to have scantily-clad, big breasted, impossibly proportioned female characters… and not a single girl can relate to them.
Granted, the male hero’s in these books are chiseled-chested, 7 foot tall with 22-pack abs. But guys love the fantasy aspect of superheros. They like to escape into their imagination and believe that they can tear down walls with their bare hands.
Girls, on the other hand, want to escape, but they want someone they can relate to. Why can’t more books have heroine’s that look like real girls that deal with real problems?
6. Learn from Manga.
Those who say that “girls don’t read comics” are wrong. You can walk through Barnes and Noble on any given school night and see rows of girls sitting on the floor reading through digest sized comics, exported or influenced by Japan, called Manga.
I don’t read much Manga, so I’m afraid of walking into this territory, but I started to pick up some here and there recently to learn from it. What is it about these books that girls are so drawn to. And I think a lot of it is what I stated above. The stories are smaller, more personal, dealing with relationships and other things teen girls care about. However, this doesn’t mean that they are boring stories. Some of my favorite comic stories are heavily influenced by Manga.
It is my goal to create comics that bridge the gap between Manga and traditional comics. To create stories that feature escapism, but that are still grounded in an emotional reality. These are the types of movies I love, the types of TV shows I love, and the types of comics I love.