Great rant from Leah Moore, co-author of comics such as Raise The Dead Hardcover and The Thrill Electric (and, yes, Alan Moore’s daughter):
Everyone knows fangirls rule the world, they pay for most of it. Drifts of Twilight cushions and Harry Potter scarves, Legolas action figures, obscure game character cosplay outfits, nyancat lunchboxes and kitten mittens. The world is literally awash with Things Girls Like. We are surely never further than 2m from a Hello Kitty.
So what is it about comics that’s different? What makes comics suddenly this great thrusting phallus of masculinity? [...]
If comics is to survive the financial turmoil we are all suffering under, it doesn’t matter if it’s paper comics or digital, trade paperbacks or floppies, it’s about “ARE THE COMICS ANY FUCKING GOOD?” and “ARE WE SELLING THEM TO AS BROAD A MARKET AS POSSIBLE OR ONLY 50% OF IT?” If we continue to try and sell crappy comics to half the population based purely on what they keep in their underpants and nothing else then we are totally doomed.
What is required is an all hands to the pumps mentality. Action stations! Let’s find some new blood, let’s find some new ideas, new characters, and most importantly new readers kind of plan.
I honestly think that anyone who doesn’t see women as a rich untapped potential source of ideas, or labour, or cold hard revenue must be delusional. Why should comics sit in a sweaty locker room of ignominy when novels and films and games skip about hand in hand with wealthy teenage girls? Doesn’t that make comics feel a bit sad?
As I’ve mentioned before I don’t even think the current comics model is addressing 50% of the addressable market for comics. There are a lot of men who don’t give a flip about objectification of women in media, but still find the idea of being caught with a pile of garish floppy books full of bizarre female anatomy quite embarrassing. And more importantly, how many parents want their kids buying that stuff, or even going into comic stores? The youth market, both male and female, is getting pushed out as well.
I have no problems with sex or nudity in comics, or even flat out pornographic comics. The trouble, as many have pointed out, is a lack of variety, or at least a scenario where much of the variety gets swept under the rug while publishers and retailed double down on a dwindling demographic. Comic stores have been man caves for far too long, and even the men are getting embarrassed about it.
Maybe it’s all for the best and the collapse of the big two and the current retail model has to happen (the big two are supposedly quite toxic environments for women. That sort of crash would put a lot of people out on the streets though.
Anyway, like Moore says trying to run a comic company that’s run comics “for girls” is probably not a viable option at this point, but comics that appeal to a broader audience, I think, is.