Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teen Girls to Get Comics Magazine-- Based on Stereotypes.

I emerge from under a pile of textbooks, not to post a review alas, but to vent some spleen.

You may or may not have heard of Mark Millar.  He's a comic book writer whose works Wanted and Kick-Ass were the basis of the films of the same name.  He also recently launched a comics magazine--with both comics and general pop-culture articles--called CLiNT, aimed at the 16-30 male demographic.  Now he's talking about starting a similar magazine for teenage girls, featuring mostly female talent, and edited by a woman magazine editor friend of his.  So far, so good.  What sort of material will this magazine contain?
It will have a definite Twilight-style supernatural theme.
Okay, cool-- I love the supernatural trend in YA lit.  While I hope for a little more variety than just the Twilight sort of supernatural stories, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's using "Twilight" as a buzzword.  Though, I'm a little concerned that he doesn't seem to have done quite enough research into the field-- a lot of YA pundits are foretelling the decline of supernatural YA (and even I'm getting a little fatigued every time I go to Borders), and there has been a rise in other genres (hello, The Hunger Games!)  Still, nothing would prevent them from shifting genres once it gets going.  What else does he have to say about that?
That’s the difference between male and female tastes: men are interested in superheroes while women look to the supernatural.


Women don't like superheroes?   Forget how nearly every superhero movie audience is half women or how much of a sex-symbol Robert Downey Jr. has become since donning the Iron Man armor.  Never mind the outspoken female comics blogosphere, or that one of DC's top writers is Gail Simone.  Millar wants to build this magazine off of Twilight's success, but is completely oblivious to the fact that Stephenie Meyer herself is a huge comic book fan who gave all of her vampires a unique power like the X-Men have, and has never hesitated to drop a reference to Batman or Iron Man in any of her interviews.

And men don't like the supernatural?  Ironically, one of CLiNT's main features is a comic called Turf about a female reporter in 1920s New York investigating mysterious and bloody deaths that seem to follow in the wake of a strange and pale Hungarian family (spoiler: They're vampires!)  And it is written and drawn by two men!  Not to mention, one of comics' biggest success stories of the past 20 years is Neil Gaiman, who launched to superstardom writing the supernatural comic series Sandman, before going on to become a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author.

Mr. Millar, what do you have to say to that?
“– though, obviously, that’s a sweeping generalisation.”
Oh, I guess that's all right then!  Yes, sweeping generalizations are a-okay if you simply point them out afterwards.  It's much easier, I suppose, than just not making them in the first place.   I suppose that there's no better way to explain why he was going for the supernatural angle than "girls don't like superheroes."  It's not like citing one of the decade's biggest-selling series would have been enough to convince us.  And you couldn't just say "It will have a supernatural theme because that's what girls are reading today," because then everyone would wonder, "But what about the boys?"

Look, I have every hope that such a magazine will get off the ground, and that it being run by a woman will smooth out all of these stereotypes and assumptions that Millar thoughtlessly spouted.  I hope it will become a showcase for all the great female talent out there.  I also hope there will be room for all genres--including superheroes.  Because if the rise of YA lit has shown us anything, it's that teenage girls love stories, and any magazine that forgets that or tries to pigeonhole them does so at its own peril.

1 comment:

  1. Oigh! As much as I would love to see more Western comics mags aimed at girls - especially if it led to things even further on the "feminine" spectrum, like a romance comics revival - the whole "guys read this, girls read that" thing is so tired. (Especially when, as you said, guys aren't exactly repelled by supernatural as a whole.)

    On the 0.00001% chance you're reading this, Mr. Millar, "this magazine would appeal to girls who prefer Twilight-style supernatural stories over superheroes" would get your point across just as well, and send fewer heads banging against desks. ;]


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