Martha Thomases: Comics Read Women?
Sunday is the longest day of the year. If the rain holds off, we will enjoy the most sunlight possible.
I was thinking about this when I read a few recent news stories about our beloved comic book industry. The most amazing was a group of articles in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday New York Times, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly. From the front-page placement in the section to the double-spread jump (including this profile of D&Q’s greatest and most promising creators, it was the most attention to the graphic story-telling medium I can remember in the so-called “newspaper of record.”
The reason the Times thought the publisher had survived and thrived? By publishing works that appeal to women readers, including books by women.
In other news …
Comixology is using San Diego Comic-Con exclusives to promote comics to women readers.
And because subscription boxes are apparently a thing (I have one for my cat) another company is using SDCC to draw in female customers.
When I started to work in comics, I would never have been able to imagine a time when women would make up so much of the comics industry, nor could I imagine we would be courted to become more. Twenty years ago, when we started Friends of Lulu, I don’t think any of us thought this day would come. Both Marvel and DC trumpet their still tentative attempts at inclusion.
At this rate, any day now we’ll see panels on conventions on the topic of “Men in Comics.” Audience members will ask panelists how they juggle work with home life, and panelists will complain that others presume their success comes from the way they strut around in revealing outfits, or because the women editors they’re sleeping with give them work..
Because I’m a Jewish New Yorker, I find myself unable to completely enjoy this moment. I worry it can’t last. I’m afraid that any dip in the market will be blamed on the new female audience. Already, among the more paranoid fanboys, there is the suggestion that women are only getting work because of some feminist mafia that controls American capitalism.
The way we’re going to get more books that appeal to women is to buy more books that appeal to women. Fortunately, that isn’t just one kind of book. Women have as many different favorite books as men do. Sometimes they are even the same.
Next week, it will start to get dark again. Be sure to start storing comics for the later. Winter is coming.
Yes, I saw that spread on DRAWN & QUARTERLY in last week’s Sunday NY TIMES, Martha. Very cool!
Not to be too cynica,I think that the success of transforming Alison Bechtel’s (gee, I hope I spelled her name right, I always seem to get it wrong) FUN HOME into a Broadway musical and its successive Tony nomination and win as Beset Musical, 2015 has had something to do with opening the eyes of the bankers behind the comics to a new source of income, don’t you?
But anyway you play it, it’s GREAT!
(Sorry – couldn’t resist.)
I don’t think it’s cynical to identify market forces in diversity trends. I cannot tell you how many times I worked “80% of consumer spending is by women” into arguments about why the comics industry should court the female audience. Plus, after all the success of the Marvel movies that unequivocally appeal to men and women, someone was bound to realize money for comics was being left on the table.
And after Julie Maroh’s Blue is the Warmest Color was adapted into a Cannes Palme d’Or laureate, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis into an Oscar-nominated animated film? Maybe women are being courted for their good taste and prestige ;)