Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Women and Comics

(Today's post is guest written by my good friend, C. M. Miller. He and I have been chatting quite a bit about girls in geekdom and he was inspired to write up some of his thoughts for my blog. Enjoy!)

I will wholeheartedly admit to the fact that I am a huge nerd. The biggest source of my nerd-dom comes from my love of comic books, and it’s because of this love that I find myself drawn to situations such as roleplaying via social networking sites. I myself am a fan of it because it draws both players and followers alike in and gives them a sense of connection and familiarity to their favorite heroes. And it’s within this world of fantastical realism that I’ve made quite an eye-opening discovery.
            It’s sort of a given that comic fans are generally going to be male. This has kind of been the given since the invention of the superhero. But you can probably imagine my surprise when I found that Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and many other pillars of machismo from the comic book world were being played by girls. This trend is due mainly in part to the rise of the comic book movie. Because of the success of films like Thor, Captain America, and X-Men: First Class, females are finding themselves drawn into the world of superheroes that, for the longest time, was quite a sausage fest. I personally believe that this trend will move beyond just online roleplaying and into mainstream mediums such as actual comics and films.
            The idea of a strong female comic character that could carry her own series has long been considered a misguided idea perpetrated by supporters of women’s rights. But this rise in female readership will, in my mind, undoubtedly cause an up-swell in demand for more strong female characters. Personally, I hope this does become a reality, as I am quite a fan of these kinds of characters. However, I sadly cannot predict the future and can only sit back and see what lies in store for the female comic audience.

(What do you think? Are we girls making our voices loud enough for the big companies to hear us? Join the discussion in the comments below!)


Morgan said...

I've been a fan of comic books since I first saw X-men 2 in theaters (when I was in about 8th grade). I showed it to most of my friends, and they loved it to.

Then I started reading comics (not just x-men, but marvel in general, and a few DC) and I discovered that, while I liked some of the same characters my male friends were fans of, the stories I liked were those that were more character centric. Most of my female friends agreed. I've met numerous girls who've read the "Ultimate" series (Ultimate Spiderman, Ultimate X-men, etc), which focus more on character development than plot and fighting villains. I think the new trend of focusing more on the internal/emotional states of super heroes (rather than pure action) is what's attracting females. That being said, I'm all for more strong female characters- I just don't think they alone will draw in female readers.

Hydra said...

Interesting points, but I doubt the increase in female readership will lead to the production of superheroine comics. Or, at least, to a successful series. For girls (i.e., myself and the girls I know), there pretty much has to be some sort of romantic entanglement - otherwise the hero/heroine doesn't have enough on the line. But who wants to read about a boyfriend who has to be rescued by his superheroine girlfriend? No, part of the appeal of comic books and movies (in my experience) is the strong, heroic men. Without a "super" hero, the female readership would lose interest. (Again, at least the girls I know.)

A really cool idea would be a husband/wife duo or a family of superheroes like in The Incredibles. But I suppose that's too much to ask from our messed-up culture.

Elenatintil said...

I think both of you raise excellent points and I'd agree with both of them. Making comics appeal to women is more than just including strong female characters, although I believe that is a necessary starting point. After all you could have an all guy team that had tons of character development and relationship stuff, but it still wouldn't be quite as appealing as a mixed gender team! Plus I think it bugs a lot of girls when the females are all the 'damsels in distress' rather than being supers along with the guys.

Duos and teams work pretty well though. For instance, couples like Scott and Emma, Rogue and Gambit and Kitty and Peter are constantly working together to save the world or each other (which they do about equally. And that's just using the X-Men as an example.