What are comics for girls?

11

September 25, 2012 by shepla

I started this blog over my perception that there are way more comics for guys than there are for girls. (I’m starting out with no statistics, but I’ll try to hunt some down.) The most popular comics in America are superhero comics, and yeah, I know some girls like these, but I don’t, and I’d bet that 90% of their readers are male.

I don’t understand this. I mean, I assume men and women like and appreciate art equally. I know women like to read. The story/art combo found in comic books is an effective, time-efficient way of storytelling. So what’s the deal here?

I asked a friend of mine (hi, Cathy!) who is a non-comic-reader why she didn’t read comics, and she said it came down to wanting a deeper storyline than she found in comic books. I told her there are comics (or graphic novels, whatever) with deep storylines, but they are harder to find for people who don’t peruse store shelves for manga or indy titles.

My own experience is that I read a lot of comics growing up. I read every Peanuts, Dennis the Menace, Family Circus, and Mad Magazine  paperback that landed in our town. I also read Archie, Richie Rich, Little Dot, Spooky–pretty much any family-friendly, non-superhero comics I could find. But my ultimate favorites were Millie the Models–and I currently own a much bigger collection of these than I ever had as a kid. Additionally, I worked at VIZ Media in San Francisco for 7 years, where I exposed to some of Japan’s greatest manga in every genre from horror to teen romance.

So I’m starting this blog with zero readers, but I’d love to hear from everyone who reads comics or not what your perceptions are. Do you read comics? Why or why not? Which ones? Did you read them as a child?

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11 thoughts on “What are comics for girls?

  1. I liked and read mamy of the titles that you mentioned as a child. I never liked any with fighting ,violence super heroes. Today I prefer to use my reading time to iimmerse myself in a book and imagine the characters in my mind. I do appreciate comics such as Zits, Dilbert, Peanuts which exagerate life to show the humor in daily living.

  2. Johnnyss says:

    I read shojo! But when I was little I always read the comics in the newspaper or shonen. But that was only a few years ago.

  3. rob says:

    Mille the model? Wow you don’t look old enough to remember those. Heck I only know her cuz i’m such a Marvel fan (it’s your old Viz Comrade ROB

  4. rob says:

    oh yeah aside from superhero stuff I Read MAD by the metric ton

  5. cgcornett says:

    I read comics/graphic novels because of the story told through art. It’s a nice change of pace from reading novels.
    It’s been about a decade since I started my collection and it spans almost all genres and ages. Plus being bilingual I have quite a few series in German. I have a lot of favorites I reread and I’ll list a few: Anita Blake, Sailor Moon, Zombie Powder, Hot Gimmick, Junjou Romantica (German), Prinzessin Sakura, Brother x Brother (German), Vampire Game, Girl Got Game, which includes rereading from manga magazines: ShojoBeat, Yen+ (print), Daisuki (German manga mag), Shonen Jump, Shonen Jump Alpha.
    As a child I read Calvin & Hobbes, Archie, Peanuts, Family Circus, Garfield, and G.I. Joe. I didn’t start reading Marvel/DC comics or manga till high school.

  6. shepla says:

    Rob, I wasn’t born yet when those Millie comics were published. 😉 CGCornett: I forgot about Calvin & Hobbes. I reread all those a couple of years ago and they’re still just as good.

  7. Susan D-L says:

    Where to begin? I’m a 51-year old girl, so I have a long list. Although I didn’t read comics much until I was in my twenties, I did have some kidhood exposure thanks to my mom bringing me bagged Harvey and Disney comics when I was sick (Casper, Richie Rich, Junior Woodchucks). At twelve I developed a taste for horribly bad horror comics put out by Charlton (due in part to a fling with Lovecraft). From babyhood I loved newspaper comics and the first books I bought with chore money were Peanuts reprints. I scoured used booksales for them and even bought some new for the whopping price of 50 cents. Gordo by Gus Arrioloa was another favorite.

    From high school through college I didn’t have much to do with comics but after graduation and moving back to AZ, my best friend (female) who worked for a time in a comics shop in PHX would bring me stuff she liked and thought I’d appreciate. Love and Rockets, Moonshadow, Swamp Thing, Nexus by Rude and Baron all became favorites. Later I was introduced to Donna Barr’s Desert Peach and Stinz through Eclipse, along with Fusion by Steve Barnes and Lela Dowling, et. al. Loved em all, still do (although some are now defunct).

    During my Disney production years I dipped into Gary’s monthly draw from Westfield and fell for Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and later, B.P.R.D.

    And when I started lettering manga for Viz 10-11 years ago I was introduced to a whole new world of comics–one which I’m still getting used to in many ways, but have greatly enjoyed, especially Maison Ikkoku by Rumiko Takahashi.

    There’s tons of stuff I know I’d like if I checked it out–I keep meaning to read Alison Bechdel’s books, for one–but there’s so many books and not enough time.

    For the record, the only superhero comics I’ve ever bought were two coverless DC annuals (one Batman, one Superman) for a nickel each at a used bookstore during a family vacation at the Connecticut shore when I was six or seven. I read them to pieces, but never bought another. ; )

  8. Walden says:

    I’ve been reading super hero comics since I can remember. However, my first exposure to comics was Archie at someones house when I was a wee little lad. It wasn’t until years later when I bought my first comic, which happens to be a Super Hero comic, Iron Man. I do notice the majority of American comics are Superheroes. Every now and then, I go seek non super hero comics just to read something different. Comics such as Strangers in Paradise, Spawn, and believe it or not, Spongebob Squarepants. And of course, there are the many Viz titles. Today, I buy the majority of comics based on who’s working on the title. Who’s writing and who’s doing the art. Not so much about reading the story these days unless it’s really good or I REALLY wanna read what the story is about. I get them to see what each artist are up and in a way, because I’m a fan of their work, or to show support because they’re a friend in the industry.

  9. This turned into a loooong comment, sorry.

    I find superhero comics incredibly frustrating. They involve characters with so much potential that is, ultimately, squandered. The “big two” titles DC/Marvel) that I’ve enjoyed over the last few years have all centered on a younger cast and rarely taken themselves too seriously. I will say that my favorite character of all time, in any medium, is a DC comics character (sadly, he won’t ever get his own movie).

    There was a recent kerfuffle about the lack of female creators at DC/Marvel, too. Here’s a quick summary from The Guardian:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/01/dc-comics-women-writers-creators

    I’m woefully uninformed when it comes to the masses of good indie comics out there, but I did enjoy Strangers in Paradise. TransMet, Maus, and Love and Rockets (which Susan mentioned) are supposed to be fantastic, if a little (or a lot, with Maus) dark. There are quite a few creator-owned titles that I’d like to check out, as well…if I had time and money, right?

    My observation is that web comics have really taken off for women (both as readers and creators). I own quite a few web comic compilations, in part because I’ve already read the story at that point and know I’ll like it.

    I tried reading manga in college, but many of the storylines and art were way too gender-segmented for me. Shoujo art is just as bad as superhero art. Heh. Although the woman who drew Hana Kimi was pretty great in a stylized way. 😉 In manga, I gravitated toward the same thing I did with comics–a younger cast, with a story that focused on friendships and adventure. Occasionally I read a CLAMP volume or two. The exception were series’ by Tamura Yumi (Legend of Basara, Chicago). Finding scanlations was SO hard, but her characters and plots were comparatively great. Strong female protagonists with agency, dangit, who had bigger issues than just school drama.

    I’ve got a few good superhero compilations (short ones), if you’d like to check them out. That way I can steal some of your manga. 😉

  10. Tami says:

    I used to read a lot of comics as a kid…Calvin and Hobbes…Betty and Veronica, Archie, Katy Keane (loved her gowns!), etc…and my sister loved X-Men. She had the whole collection!

  11. Stephen C. says:

    I do read comics and I did read them as a child. The first comics I remember reading were the strips in the Sunday comics section of the New York Daily News. I used to read those sections from cover to cover (even the ones I didn’t quite understand, i.e. Doonesbury and Inside Woody Allen) and I used to save them so I could re-read them. The first actual comic books I read were a stack of about half a dozen second-hand Spider-Man comics given to me by (I think) my maternal grandparents. From there I moved on to superhero comics, following most of the characters from Marvel’s Silver Age pantheon off and on. So yeah, typical boy stuff. I was fortunate that my mom had the common baby boomer experience of discovering that her parents had thrown her comic books away, so she never threw away mine. (She happily threw away just about everything else, though.) In my twenties my tastes expanded to just about anything with art and speech balloons, though (Spidey and his cohorts aside) I’ve sort of slacked off on my comics-reading over the last five years or so. The last indy graphic novel I remember being really intrigued by was David Mazzucchelli’s City of Glass, which I read sometime after it was re-released in the mid-2000s. I find most manga to be kind of confusing, but I’ll readily admit I’ve yet to sample any of the real classics of manga. So there you have it.

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