Last weekend, I was at LI-Con helping staff the Browncoats of NYC table. It was great fun and I met a ton of browncoats and other fandoms the two days I was there. At our meetup event, I got the chance to speak briefly about the Firefly comics from Dark Horse Comics. The reaction I got from one attendee kind of surprised me.
After the meetup ended, she started quizzing me about the Firefly comics a bit. I know, that isn’t surprising considering I was just talking at length about them. The first thing that she said that got to me was (and I am paraphrasing here) “You don’t see a female talk about comics a lot.” Well, if you have read even a fraction of what I have written, you must know how that chokes me up a bit. She meant it as a good thing, which I was out there talking and hyping up comics. Still, after all the female comic lovers that have come on to the scene, it is surprising that I stood out in this woman’s mind as a rarity. It was a very good reminder that there is still a stigma to female comic readers.
After we got past that I am a girl who reads comics, she asked me for comic suggestions. Her teenage son is not a big reader at all, and while she has discouraged comic reading in the past, her hope was that reading anything might be a gateway to reading more. And that broke me right there. I have never understood the negative reaction to comics in general. People still assume that they are only simple stories with pretty pictures. Like an overdrawn version of Dick and Jane.
Like any art form, comics have evolved over the decades into an incredibly varied genre. I was able to suggest books like March Vol. 1 & 2, which is written by Congressman John Lewis about his experiences during the civil rights movement. Not a topic that is easily understood by some adults these days, much less a child. I also touted Kill Shakespeare as a great way to introduce characters that every teen (with the exception of myself and a few others) loathes to study in high school.
As the Tweeks here on ComicMix have been discussing banned books this past summer, the overarching theme to me has been ignorance. A lot of people make judgements about a book, or a topic, or even a genre without facts. So many great books have been ignored and people have lost out because of that.
I am happy that someone felt I was a good source of information and I was proud to help. I learned a little something about myself and the world in the process. Next time you want to know something, remember this. All it takes is the courage to ask questions and the willingness to answer them.