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Writing "the girl"
July 21, 2006 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Eight rules for writing a female comics character worth reading Karen Healey lays a cursory path for avoiding the major pitfalls of women in comics. Part of the larger Girl Wonder site (previously). Also good is Designated Sidekick's takedown of IGN.
posted by klangklangston (59 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The free market would disagree...
posted by delmoi at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2006


See also: Women in Refrigerators
posted by empath at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2006


That was excellent - thanks, klangklangston.
posted by terpsichoria at 10:02 AM on July 21, 2006


The free market would disagree with what, Delmoi? That those are good rules for female characters worth reading? Looking at it from a standpoint of failure to connect with women, the free market would very much agree that comics aren't reaching women and that the traditional comics industry as a whole is generally in trouble.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 AM on July 21, 2006


and how about some real world superheroes solving everday problems like clogged drains and paying taxes? Obviously this juvenile medium's fetished fantasy isn't selling.
posted by skallas at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2006


Oh great. We're beating up on comics again.
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on July 21, 2006


Yes, the free market would disagree. That must be why shoujo manga has been kicking the shit out of superhero comics of late.

Or uh. Maybe not?
posted by selfnoise at 10:09 AM on July 21, 2006


ArtW— You keep saying that, but this is only beating up on retarded tropes of comics. Unless, you know, one-dimensional female characters are necessary for your enjoyment of the medium. In which case you might want to pursue pornography instead.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 AM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


I was wondering if Ellis hit the mark for women readers with "Transmetropolitan." A search of the discussion board shows strong love of Warren's work and I was not able (in mu cursory review) to find any detractors.

The Transmet women had many foibles including; drinking, drug use, purchasing of man-whores, illicit sex they did not pay for, public violence and accidental drunk sex with the boss.

For all that, the "Filthy Assitants" were strong, well rounded, human charicters with dignity and strong ethical stances. The were full blown people, not mattress holes.

So sex and nudity can exist in a comic written by a man that still manages to respect women. But only if the author has thumbs, and amazing headbones.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:15 AM on July 21, 2006


5) If she objects to sexism, make sure it's actually sexist.

Because real women never object to sexism unless it's actually sexist?

I understand the point she's making, but I think she goes a bit too far with that blanket statement. She covers for it a bit later with the point on misogyny.
posted by gurple at 10:18 AM on July 21, 2006


Yeah, I don't see this as beating up on comics. I think there are some fantastic (and all the more pwoerful for being simple and obvious) tips in her points about how to write better female characters. And never mind characters that are more interesting to women; characters that are more true to life.

"Does she talk to other women? ... about something other than a man?
Was she/is she going to be raped?"


The first is tough because it requires nerds to find women they can stand near so they can write female conversations rather than stealing the dialogue from left-over sex fantasies. And the second could be rephrased as "When is she going to be raped" in most comics. Suggesting that comic writers can take a year off from revealing the terrible nature of violence against women doesn't seem like a bad thing.

If an ellipsis at the end of a one-line comment is like ^, only it represents "Meaningless one-liner tossed off in the hopes of sounding smart", I'm all for its use.
posted by yerfatma at 10:20 AM on July 21, 2006


The free market would disagree...

I was just going to say the same thing: worth reading to whom?
posted by ChasFile at 10:20 AM on July 21, 2006


klangklangston writes "Unless, you know, one-dimensional female characters are necessary for your enjoyment of the medium."

As opposed to the rounded, multi-dimensional male characters of comics?
posted by clevershark at 10:23 AM on July 21, 2006


Clevershark— I find plenty of those in comics, frankly. I find far, far fewer rounded, multi-dimensional female characters.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 AM on July 21, 2006


"The free market would disagree...

I was just going to say the same thing: worth reading to whom?
posted by ChasFile at 1:20 PM EST on July 21 [+fave] [!]
"

Fair question. I think the author and Klang and others like me are looking to comics for littereary value. That is of course only one way to measure value.

Is it however very reasonable to voice an opinion bassed on a clearly stated value scale.

Value as fanBoy pr0n != Value as littereature.
posted by BeerGrin at 10:27 AM on July 21, 2006


how about some real world superheroes solving everday problems like clogged drains and paying taxes?

Something like American Splendor, or Confessions of a Cereal Eater Vol. 1? Perhaps Julie Duoucet's early work, or Stan Mack's efforts? Do the illustrated Duplex Planet stories count? How about Glenn Barr's adaptation of JM DeMatteis' Brooklyn Dreams? Or maybe everyday heroes in a "real-world" comic, like Love and Rockets, the Clyde Fans installments of Seth's Palookaville, or Will Eisner's A Contract With God?

Would the girl character in Chester Brown's "I Never Liked You" count as a supervillainess? How about Enid in Dan Clowes' "Ghost World"? or the shambling unfortunates in Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve?

I don't know what comics you've been reading...
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:37 AM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Reasonably good stuff, however, the author of the anti-IGN piece would probably have conniptions to hear that some women (my wife being one) actually really like to read Frank Miller.

That said, IGN are really full of shit a lot of the time and their piece on women comic readers is patronising and insulting.

The whole big boobs and tiny noses thing has been going on for an age and the backlash has been going on almost as long. Under these circumstances isn't it just better to say that it's OK for people to like different things? I don't want to be the arbiter of your taste just like I don't want you to be mine.
posted by bouncebounce at 10:42 AM on July 21, 2006


Oh great. We're beating up on comics again.
No, we're beating up on stupidity. And that never gets old!
posted by scrump at 10:43 AM on July 21, 2006


The author of the piece empath linked to, Gail Simone, writes great female characters - but she also writes great male characters, and well-plotted and smoothly-paced stories because she is a good writer, period.

The comics industry should be more concerned with just that, good solid writing, period, instead of trying to conform to some tokenist checklist. Look at MileStone comics, for example: Finally, poorly written and drawn stories featuring minorities!!! Hurrah! Shut down after four years!!! Not bad, for a nineties comic company!

If the mainstream industry is floundering yet the fuck again, it's because they're making too much shit that doesn't interest or appeal to potential audiences of either gender. Good writing1 means positive and realistic portrayals of all characters, not just the female ones.


1The aforementioned Gail Simone, Dan Slott, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Carla Speed Macneil, Garth Ennis, Louise Simonson, Tony Moore, and Bill Willingham, just to name a few off the top of my head.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:47 AM on July 21, 2006


I haven't read comics for years, but it sounds like things haven't changed much -- most (but not all) books had poor writing, flat characters, and relied heavily on cliches. I agree with Alvy that the portrayal of women issue is really just one symptom of the genre's more general writing problems.
posted by brain_drain at 10:54 AM on July 21, 2006


Interesting post. I don't know if I count as a "girl that reads comics" because I'm just getting into the genre (at age 30, heh) and at this point prefer the non- superhero-ey stuff (currently working on Vol. 5 of The Sandman). That said, this post and these links are super interesting to me and something I will reference as I continue to delve into the medium.

P.S. I liked the Frank Miller I read too, but I still think I need to get a little more well-versed in the comic culture/history/context to really critique anything one way or the other.
posted by misskaz at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2006


5) If she objects to sexism, make sure it's actually sexist.

Because real women never object to sexism unless it's actually sexist?

I understand the point she's making, but I think she goes a bit too far with that blanket statement. She covers for it a bit later with the point on misogyny.


gurple, this is advice regarding what women would like to read. I can understand why women would not want to read comics that feature whiny, selfish women who make false accusations of sexism as a social tactic.
posted by adzuki at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2006


well, adzuki, she contradicts herself on this point later on in her article:

In the Birds of Prey story "One Day; Well-Chosen", Oracle and Black Canary engage in some slut-shaming of Huntress. Misogyny! Then they realise they screwed up and make amends. Misogyny criticised within the text!

Here's a situation (according to her) in which whiny, selfish women make false accusations of sexism and then take them back.

I'm not saying at all that this should be done, or that it shouldn't. I'm saying that she mostly seems concerned with portraying women realistically and fairly, and her point 5 was more about idealizing women.
posted by gurple at 12:07 PM on July 21, 2006


God knows there's plenty to criticize, and she does make several good points. But I dunno, I think approaching anything-- comics, books, movies, music, whatever-- exclusively through one lens is just going to suck out your enjoyment and turn you into a humorless crusader. It reminds me of the Marxist critique of The Simpsons I once read, which declared that the show was a total failure because it didn't work hard enough to make capitalism look bad.

There are lots of bad comic with ridiculous attitudes towards women; but, then, that's usually just one problem among many.
posted by COBRA! at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2006


My reading of her point 5 is that the problem is that only accusations of sexism that get portrayed in are false ones. "The fact that real sexism exists and might be an issue for female superheroes was neatly glossed over."

If I (as a superhero comics fan) could easily point to examples in which female superhero characters legitimately complained about sexism in a context in which it existed, I'd protest her point 5, too. But I can't.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2006


Someone print out a copy of this and send it to Dave Sim. I'd love to hear his response.
posted by oraknabo at 12:30 PM on July 21, 2006


She mentions "Birds of Prey" as a good example of realistic girl-talk and not even a mention of "Y the Last Man"?

It's not ALWAYS following her advice, but it does a better job than most comics.
posted by hoborg at 12:31 PM on July 21, 2006


Hoborg, from my reading of the blog earlier, it seems like she's almost exclusively focusing on superhero/ine comics.
posted by JeremyT at 12:42 PM on July 21, 2006


selfnoise : "That must be why shoujo manga has been kicking the shit out of superhero comics of late.

Or uh. Maybe not?"


I can't even remember the last time I saw a superhero comic. The nearby bookstores are packed with shoujo manga, though.

Actually, come to think of it, there's a place that stocks superhero comics over in Shibuya. And I think there's a place in Shinjuku, too.

Or, wait, does the free market only include the English speaking world?
posted by Bugbread at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2006


The biggest market for comics in the world, in terms of dollars sold, is Korea, where the dominant (sales) genre is relationship comics aimed at girls.
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on July 21, 2006


She's a little histrionic, frankly. For example she is appalled that Frank Miller has been tapped to adapt and direct a movie version of the classic comic The Spirit. She writs, in a post entitled "WHORES WHORES WHORES" that Miller is entirely unable to write a female character who is not a whore (and links to a comic that makes a lame joke on that premise). She then notes :"as adroitly characterised by one friend, is it going to be: 'Femme fatale' = 'whores with lots of eyeliner.' 'Proto-feminist' = 'whores with less eyeliner, and maybe they don't smoke.'?"

I suppose this is a reference to Sin City and you can certainly say what you like about that series (and a lot of Miller's more recent work) though she seems to have missed the point entirely. But really, has she no sense of comic "history"? Because I missed the issues of Ronin, Daredevil/Elektra Assassin and The Dark Knight Returns where Casey McKenna (of Ronin), Elektra Natchios and Carrie Kelly (Dark Knight Robin) provided sex for money.
posted by The Bellman at 1:55 PM on July 21, 2006


Metafilter: full blown people, not mattress holes.

Bitches, man.

I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:08 PM on July 21, 2006


By choice, man!
posted by brain_drain at 2:10 PM on July 21, 2006


The Bellman : "But really, has she no sense of comic 'history'?"

No, she does mention in one of her posts that Miller used to do good stuff. I think her issue is with Miller now, which does appear to be whoreswhoreswhores.
posted by Bugbread at 3:03 PM on July 21, 2006


Hoborg, from my reading of the blog earlier, it seems like she's almost exclusively focusing on superhero/ine comics.
Gotcha, I guess I didn't go far enough back to catch the theme.
posted by hoborg at 4:58 PM on July 21, 2006


I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?

'Cause my girlfriend's busy playing World Of Warcraft.
posted by EarBucket at 6:02 PM on July 21, 2006


For example she is appalled that Frank Miller has been tapped to adapt and direct a movie version of the classic comic The Spirit.

I'm appalled too. Even at his Dark Knight prime Miller wasn't fit to smell Eisner's shit.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:42 PM on July 21, 2006


For all that, the "Filthy Assitants" were strong, well rounded, human charicters with dignity and strong ethical stances. They were full blown people, not mattress holes.

Hear, hear. Also worth noting that Filthy Assistants weren't set off by a virtuous man-tagonist, but rather Spider was a filthy drug addict, pants crusted with scrotal sweat, brain crusted with dead dogs. They were a bunch of beautiful shitheads, and what a great story it made!
posted by thedaniel at 6:55 PM on July 21, 2006


I think the premise of the article is flawed. Take point #3 (the first point #3! she has two). Yes, women IRL do talk to one another about all sorts of things. But comics aren't real life. They're an escape from real life, just like cop shows -- do you think they accurately portray a typical hour or day in a cop's life? Of course not.

Fiction necessarily compresses facts and eliminates those things that aren't relevant to the plot/sublot(s). Comics doubly so, because they are shorter than novels (for example) and a lot of page space is taken up by static artwork. If the author doesn't feel that a detail goes towards driving the story forward, it's cut.

That seems pretty obvious.
posted by clevershark at 7:04 PM on July 21, 2006


Even at his Dark Knight prime Miller wasn't fit to smell Eisner's shit.

Oh please. Is Eisner a better storyteller through art than Miller? Perhaps. Tough to say given that one is such a student of the other. But I've got a hardbound volume of The Spirit upstairs that anyone to the left of Jefferson Davis could do a decent job developing for the screen. It's a feckin' comic from the 30s, not the 6th book of the Pentateuch. The second most featured character is a racial caricature sans flipflops.
posted by yerfatma at 8:09 PM on July 21, 2006


.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:10 PM on July 21, 2006


Wait. Let me rephrase that.

*ahem*

.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:25 PM on July 21, 2006


As opposed to the rounded, multi-dimensional male characters of comics?

That's what comes to mind when I hear about the unrealistic bodies of female comic characters. Because, you know, there are a lot of guys out there with biceps the size of clydesdales.
posted by dreamsign at 9:08 PM on July 21, 2006


But few with cocks like Clydesdales.
(Quick quiz— which do only women have, boobs or biceps? Which is emphasized disproportionately in comics art?)
posted by klangklangston at 9:29 PM on July 21, 2006


"Fiction necessarily compresses facts and eliminates those things that aren't relevant to the plot/sublot(s). Comics doubly so, because they are shorter than novels (for example) and a lot of page space is taken up by static artwork. If the author doesn't feel that a detail goes towards driving the story forward, it's cut."

First off, comics get far MORE information per page than novels because of the art, not in spite of it. If your art just takes up space, it's bad art. Second, that characterization needs to be compressed sometimes doesn't explain away the tendency to do it all the time in the exact same way. That's what I object to, that the same thing just isn't interesting to read over and over again.

Comics can tell every story that any other medium can, it's just that American mainstream comics don't.

(In part, I think this is actually due to the collaborative aspect of comics. I think that the ability of book/magazine writers to be auteurs makes for greater diversity in terms of what gets to market, which is then reinforced by people reading it. There's also a bigger tradition of the novel/pulp being seen in a literary context which works for people publishing print because there's prestige associated with putting out a great book that doesn't sell in print more than in comics.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 PM on July 21, 2006


Because, you know, there are a lot of guys out there with biceps the size of clydesdales.

Yeah, but at least I can see how large biceps can contribute to crime-fighting. Large breasts, not so much.
posted by concrete at 9:59 PM on July 21, 2006


Quick quiz— which do only women have, boobs or biceps? Which is emphasized disproportionately in comics art?

To the point where they're basically inhuman?

Yeah, but at least I can see how large biceps can contribute to crime-fighting. Large breasts, not so much.

Now that's a point. Not that superheroes need large muscles. At some point, surely it is fetishizing the male body for the sand-kicked nerd fans in need of wish fulfillment.
posted by dreamsign at 11:06 PM on July 21, 2006


hoborg: Because Y, The Last Man isn't a good example?
posted by liquorice at 3:04 AM on July 22, 2006


What seems pretty obvious to me, clevershark, is that she's absolutely not calling for writers to gratuitously add conversations between women about things other than men to stories in which they the conversation has nothing to do with the story.

The test is extremely modest: is there more than woman in the story? Do they talk to each other? Is it about something other than a man?

How many movies can you name in which this is true?

Turn it around. Is there more than one man in the story? Do they talk to each other? Do they talk to each other about something other than a woman?

How many movies can you name in which that's not true?

In the former group, how many of them would be identified as "chick flicks"? Of films where men talk to each other about something other than a woman, how many of them are identified as specifically belonging to a genre for men, instead of just being, you know, a movie?

The "do they talk about something other than a man?" thing is a heuristic. If the answer is no, odds are good the story is another contribution to the status quo that only the concerns of men are valuable and a significant subject for a story. And she was answering a question about how to avoid that.

No one's calling for every story to pass this test to be certified by the party as appropriately revolutionary material. It's not that a story flunking that test is, of itself, representative of malice or wrongdoing.

It's that it being hard to find movies that pass the test, and even harder to find movies that flunk the reverse test, is indicative of a seriously skewed social norm. (I shifted to movies as the example because they have more cultural weight -- the points apply to other media.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2006


I think perhaps ultimately, each story is about what a writer wants to tell. One could pull out the Freud toolkit and dissect the tale to determine whether or not the writer was a racist or sexist or whatever, but it's just the tale he wanted to tell. If you like the ride, good. If you don't, either write something better or don't. I also think perhaps the longevity and success of stories which one can argue are sexist or racist may tell more about the audience supporting the work, than the artists creating it.

Why is reality television so popular? Cuz it's cheap, and people tune in. If either of those elements weren't there, it wouldn't be successful. Same with rock music. People thought it was gonna be a fad, but it's cost effective and vibrant to the consumer, so in one form or another, rock is here to stay.

Now back to storytelling; in any medium it has to attract and keep an audience. Outrageous anatomical artistry attracts and keeps audiences. Is that the fault of the audience or the consumer? I doubt it's really caused a great deal of harm to either.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:53 AM on July 22, 2006


Hey, misskaz! me, too -- upon moving in with my boyfriend, who I've known since I was 15, I finally got fully exposed to his (extensive, years-of-collecting-worth') comic book collection. You might like Alan Moore's "Promethea" series once you get done with Sandman -- now that was a good female character, in my opinion -- and then my other favorite, Grant Morrison's Invisibles series.

(Male comic book lovers: if you want to get the women in your life hooked, those three + Kirkman's The Walking Dead are what did it for me) :)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:38 PM on July 22, 2006


clevershark: I think the premise of the article is flawed. Take point #3 (the first point #3! she has two). Yes, women IRL do talk to one another about all sorts of things. But comics aren't real life. They're an escape from real life, just like cop shows -- do you think they accurately portray a typical hour or day in a cop's life? Of course not.

Well, actually. Cop shows do make great use of banter in order to reveal character details beyond work competence. A staple narrative device in cop shows is to start a scene talking about something trivial, and then surprise a dead body! Another narrative convention is using personal experience to explain a fact about a case: "I bought this brand of lingerie for my wife and she thought I was having an affair," "I used to go windsurfing with some guys and...," "I went to high school with (that mob-bosses) son...", "In college, I knew guys who..."

"Small talk" is used a lot in comics to establish character. In classic Superman stories, Clark Kent has a working relationship with Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. For classic Spiderman, you have Aunt Jane fussing over Peter Parker. Cyclops cheats at pool. Nightcrawler is Catholic and Storm pagan. Detective Chimp is a recovering alcoholic, but still smokes. You have these nice peaceful attempts at normalcy and then surprise! super-villain attempts to destroy the city.

In terms of comics that fail on many items in this list. I'll throw up New Avengers.

1: Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) is the only character on the team.
2: Minimal interaction between Spider-Woman and fellow residents Aunt May, Mary Jane, and Jessica Jones.
3: Character and costume design highlighting large mammaries.
4: Revealed past involving long-term and highly painful abuse.
7: A repeated plot device involves using Spider-Woman as the peacemaker for conflicts using a combination of pheromones and charm.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:16 PM on July 22, 2006


The best response to the IGN article is this essay from Comics Journal regarding why Soujo is overtaking superhero comics:
A word to the domestic American comics industry: She doesn't belong to you. Perhaps she might have, long ago, but her attentions are directed elsewhere now. She doesn't want you. Denying her existence won't help. Plying her with ludicrous stories that were clichés decades ago won't, either. Stomping your feet and reassuring yourself that she'll be back just as soon as this fickle whim vanishes from her mind is delusional thinking on your part -- and to everyone watching you, clear evidence as to why she spurned your advances. The current object of her affections treats her the way she'd like to be treated, and it's been a long time since anyone could say that about you. You don't register at all. You're not even a ghost; so far as she's concerned, you don't exist. Frankly, I'm surprised that it's taken you this long to figure it out.
Why is there this insistence by male geeks that they must find the one mainstream comic or video game that will convince a female significant other to join in with enthusiasm? Shared hobbies are nice, but I don't see this mass movement by geeks to take up scrapbooking or crochet.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:55 PM on July 22, 2006


Yeah, comic book shops are hilarious places these days. 30-year-old guys and 14-year-old girls studiously shunning each other. It's great.
posted by furiousthought at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2006


That's perfect, KirkJobSluder; I was wracking my brains trying to think of a way to articulate that point. While the classics of the genre and medium will appeal to either gender, by and large the product we are discussing is produced and purchased primarily by males and the line between the mainstream creator mentality and fanboy mentality is, in a lot of ways, nonexistent1.

They are making what both they and their audiences want to read; you can call it adolescent male fantasies, you can call it the status quo turd once again polished up and polybagged, you can call it the product of an incestuous history of giving the hoi polloi what they want, but at the end of the day, the mainstream comics industry wants to hold onto the audience that they have. If their consumer base grows, hey swell, but that's not their primary concern, corporate lip service and empowered comix grrrl movement to the contrary.

Guys who grew up reading comics are selling comics to guys who grew up reading comics - that's your creative stagnation, that's your gender inequality2, and that's the only thing keeping The Big Two and their crumbeaters afloat.


1There are exceptions, of course, YMMV, do not operate a back hoe after reading this comment, etc.

2ChickLit is a great gender-reversed counterpart to mainstream superhero comics. Made by and sold to women, how ludicrous would it be for a feller to stand up and complain about the two-dimensional portrayal of his gender in what is basically trash wrapped up in a pastel-colored cover and a cutesy title?

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:23 PM on July 22, 2006


Shared hobbies are nice, but I don't see this mass movement by geeks to take up scrapbooking or crochet.

True, though the appropriate mirror situation would be women trying to get their boyfriends into their hobbies, not men trying to take them up. And this definitely happens with some frequency. (and there's nothing wrong with it)

30-year-old guys and 14-year-old girls studiously shunning each other.

Too true.

With regard to the physique of characters, I wasn't actually thinking chest size but the complaint that superheroines are stick-thin, which struck me as an odd complaint when so many of their counterparts are inhumanly large.
posted by dreamsign at 6:44 PM on July 22, 2006


I want girls out of comics only because of a certain two I see All The Time at my local book store that just camp out and read their magna or whatever in the middle of the aisles. These aint no dainty gals neither, yo!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:00 PM on July 22, 2006


ZachsMind : "Outrageous anatomical artistry attracts and keeps audiences."

Unfortunately, it attracts and keeps very small audiences. That's the problem. The US comics scene, with its insistence on targetting only a very small market, has been doing poorly for quite some time. The suggestions in the linked article are suggestions for getting female readers, that is, suggestions for attracting larger audiences.

Alvy's counterargument makes sense: they don't want larger audiences. Or, rather, they wouldn't dislike having a larger audience, but getting a bigger audience isn't a big objective. If that's true, then the suggestions in the main link are off the mark; they're like telling someone who collects antique watches how they can increase their collection by buying new watches at Walmart.

But I think the main problem is that the comics industry is under the impression that there is a big market available for men-and-women-in-tights-who-often-die-and-come-to-life comics, and that they just need to keep working on the formula in order to reclaim the market. That is, they don't need to change their formula or try to get women readers because they can rise like Phoenix from the ashes with their current formula if they just try enough special editions, interlocking storylines, and special covers.

And I think they're wrong: there is no more market out there waiting for the product they're making. So they're going to need to either give up their goal of sticking to the formula, or the goal of gaining marketshare, because the two are not compatible.
posted by Bugbread at 9:56 PM on July 22, 2006


bugbread: Alvy's counterargument makes sense: they don't want larger audiences. Or, rather, they wouldn't dislike having a larger audience, but getting a bigger audience isn't a big objective. If that's true, then the suggestions in the main link are off the mark; they're like telling someone who collects antique watches how they can increase their collection by buying new watches at Walmart.

I didn't get that read from the first link. The title of the blog is "Girls Read Comics: And they're pissed." It's commentary and critique written by fans, for fans of comics (some of whom may be industry professionals.) The point is not larger market but higher quality.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:08 AM on July 23, 2006


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