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Monday, December 04, 2006

More thoughts on Minx:

The online reaction to Minx is pretty interesting, I think. Personally I think it's a good idea. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to see more superhero comics geared toward women, but to be honest, I know they've got the female superhero comic readers already, so I can see why they're branching out.

And tongue-out-of-cheek, I actually think "Minx" is a cute name.

The major complaint that I've seen a lot is about how only a few of the Minx creators are women. Which is certainly true.

But honestly? I don't really care.

I'd love to see more women in the industry, don't get me wrong. And as someone who might like to try my hand at writing comics someday, I'd particularly like to see more job opportunities for women.

But I honestly think the idea that a comic geared toward women HAS to be created by a woman is just a little stupid. I mean, sure, in general a woman has an advantage over a man in terms of market analysis. But not all women are the same any more than all men are the same. And quality work is quality work regardless of the gender of the creator.

I may be coming from a different perspective here. I'm a superhero comic reader. I'm not the target audience of Minx. But when I read the complaints, all I could think of was that if asked to recommend a superhero series to someone with an eye for strong female characters and well-crafted adventure stories, my first recommendation would be Marc Andreyko's Manhunter.

Followed by Dan Slott's She-Hulk and Gail Simone's Birds of Prey. Allan Heinberg's Wonder Woman would be close after, if it weren't the comic book equivalent of a Bigfoot sighting.

I think Minx has a decent chance of being good. I hope it's successful. And I really hope that when the line starts to sell enough to warrant expansion into more series that we do see more female creators at the helm, but I'm willing to give it a shot first.

I sincerely believe that Minx is a very good thing. We have a big two company acknowledging that there is a customer base that has largely gone neglected by mainstream American comics. It's a sign of progress long overdue!

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20 Comments:

  • At December 04, 2006 3:55 PM, Anonymous Loren said…

    Yeah, I have mixed feelings about the discussion going on out there about Minx. I know DC Comics is no stranger to sexism, BUT, I think that their intention is good here. And, while I agree that there should be more women creators, I think the ones that they did choose will provide great quality stories and art...and, ones that I think will attract young women (although, not being a woman myself, it's only speculation).

    I think it would be a great thing if more young women got into reading comics and, maybe, they'll cross into the superhero realm.

    Anyway, that's my thoughts on the matter...

    PS - Huzzah! Manhunter #26 on Wednesday and I don't know which I'm going to read first -- Manhunter or Justice Society of America!

     
  • At December 04, 2006 6:58 PM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    See, to my mind, what's good about Minx is it's one of the Big Two acknowledging, "Hey, y'know what? We CAN do more than just superheroes with comics! (Apart from all that weird shit goin' on at Vertigo.)" They're not simply going after female readers; they're also going after non-superhero fans. Anything which expands the medium by branching out into different genres is a Good Thing, IMHO...even if it's just DC taking a cue from indie comics. :-)

    As for those concerned about the gender of Minx's creative talent, I would say that as long as at least some of the people in charge are women, one shouldn't worry too much.

     
  • At December 04, 2006 8:12 PM, Anonymous Lyle said…

    I think a lot of the reactions about the lack of female creators in Minx is a "salt in the wound" kind of deal since a lot of the same people grumbled about the lack of women working overall at DC. It becomes more glaring when the target audience is female.

    Add in Karen Berger's 'It's time we got girls reading comics' statement when Scholastic did something similar using female creators and you've got a bit of a can't-stop-but-stare-and-snicker effect. Talking like you're first out of the gate when your competitors have gotten pretty established and your product doesn't really look better? Priceless.

    That said, every one of the male writers announced for Minx titles have written great female characters in the past -- if you can deal with the "maturing artist" stuff, I'd highly recommend the second volume of Andi Watson's Skeleton Key for a cute story about a witch who kidnaps the boy for a change, leaving our heroine to rescue her -- even if some of those characters were friends of the male lead.

    Plus, I get the feeling Berger's talking to the press, but Shelly Bond is really in charge of the line. She consistently puts out great comics.

    Still, if I were to put together a wish list of creators not working for Minx who I'd like to see doing that sort of work, I can think of more women than men.

    I so want to see J Torres and Jason Bone working together again. The both rock so hard separately, combined their work is nirvana.

     
  • At December 04, 2006 9:34 PM, Blogger Elayne said…

    "But I honestly think the idea that a comic geared toward women HAS to be created by a woman is just a little stupid."

    Wow, I'll bet that strawfeminist really bounced when you hit it!

    Could you cite ONE SINGLE PERSON who said "a comic geared toward women HAS to be created by a woman"? ONE.

    No, I didn't think so.

    Now, if you want to discuss why some people (like me) believe it's a sound marketing idea to have more than one or two "token" women writing and drawing for a line aimed specifically at young women, I'd be happy to.

    I'm sorry Melissa, I love you to death and all that, but I've really had it up to here at this point with the "more women should be creating for a woman-targeted line" suggestion being so wildly misinterpreted, especially by other women.

    Loren, read Manhunter #26 first, and let me know what you think of the art. Not that crappy inking by Rod, the good inking. :) :) :)

     
  • At December 04, 2006 10:23 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    Talking like you're first out of the gate when your competitors have gotten pretty established and your product doesn't really look better? Priceless.
    See also: Marvel MAX. Joey Q made all these sweeping statements like he was the first one with the idea for comics in a separate imprint that appealed to an older sort. Meanwhile, Vertigo was pumping out things that made MAX look like the small child's idea of 'maturity' that it was.

    And as far as Ms. Berger's comment, whatever Scholastic may or may not be doing, they aren't exactly a player in the comics industry. Getting girls to read Scholastic's GNs isn't necessarily going to direct those girls to read other comics, whereas I imagine one goal of Minx is to direct a new audience, eventually, to the rest of DC's offerings.

    Could you cite ONE SINGLE PERSON who said "a comic geared toward women HAS to be created by a woman"? ONE.

    No, I didn't think so.

    Now, if you want to discuss why some people (like me) believe it's a sound marketing idea to have more than one or two "token" women writing and drawing for a line aimed specifically at young women, I'd be happy to.

    I don't know, it really seems to me that the tacit assumption behind "there sure aren't many women working on this line" is "if you're going to do comics for girls, they ought to be by girls." Especially from some of the less diplomatic bloggers. When you see 'if these comics are supposed to be for girls, how come they're written by men' in various iterations in various levels of capitalization around the blogohedron, I don't think it's out of line to read it as "girls should be writing girls for girls."

    More to the point, how many of the people asking "why aren't there more than a couple of women working on this line targeting teen girls" are looking for the real answers? How many have looked over at Johanna Draper Carlson's site for many of the practical (and likely) reasons for that? That women were approached and didn't want to do it, that the pay was less, that most of the pitches were rejected, etc.

    The more I read, the more it seems that the answer to "why did DC believe it's a sound marketing idea to have more than one or two "token" women writing and drawing for a line aimed specifically at young women?" is "they didn't but they've been working on it for over two years, and this is the best they've got."

     
  • At December 04, 2006 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's not that I think more women should be writing and drawing (and inking, Elayne!) comics - although I do - it's just that I think it would have made slightly better sense from a marketing perspective for DC to put more women creators on the launch books.

    It's not like there isn't talent out there.

    And I'm not looking for real answers - because there is no real answer; maybe the concept that DC has for Minx doesn't fit with what women creators are creating right now. I don't know; I'm not in marketing.

    And I think the Minx name is kinda cute...although I'm probably one of the few who remembers Minnie the Minx round these parts!

     
  • At December 05, 2006 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The main thing about most of the female creators people keep naming to include in Minx is that they seem to be pretty busy with other projects these days already. I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that the money offered at Scholastic is way better than the money offered at DC. Just as a for instance.

    I would like to see more women doing the creative work for the Minx line, but having it be in the directing hands of two talented women and created by guys who have a proven track record appealing to women seems like a decent first step. Perhaps if the line sustains itself, there will be more room for the women come aboard once they've finished their projects elsewhere. It's pretty cool that so many seem to be very busy already in and of itself, no?

     
  • At December 05, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Ah, the heck with it. If DC can get some teenage girls to start reading comics, more power to 'em. My daughter likes Manga. I personally think it's awful, but that's just me.

     
  • At December 05, 2006 10:32 PM, Blogger musouka said…

    My daughter likes Manga. I personally think it's awful, but that's just me.

    Err, how nice you're able to generalize the quality of an entire industry that spans an incredible number of genres and age ranges. I wish I had that super power. (In other words, just because you don't like the series your daughter is reading doesn't mean "manga is awful")

     
  • At December 06, 2006 11:02 AM, Blogger Mickle said…

    That women were approached and didn't want to do it, that the pay was less, that most of the pitches were rejeced, etc.


    Isn't that kinda of like saying women get paid less than men because they choose to go into lower paying fields - completely missing the point?

    Getting girls to read Scholastic's GNs isn't necessarily going to direct those girls to read other comics, whereas I imagine one goal of Minx is to direct a new audience, eventually, to the rest of DC's offerings.

    Lyle mentioned that as well elsewhere, and I don't see how DC thinks they're going to pull that off in any measurable amount. If that really is one of their main goals, they've either got some stuff still up their sleeve, or they are more clueless than I thought.

    Re: female creators

    People bring their own assumptions into discussion lieke this, and a part feminists bloggers isn't just the "salt in the wound" that Lyle mentions (which is a big part) but that a lot of us either both remember being teen girls or (in my case) also sell/recommend books to teen girls all the time.

    The idea of selling books that are supposed to be "girlie girl" (parent's terms, not mine) books to teen girls when there are no female names on the covers is just the tiniest bit daunting.

     
  • At December 06, 2006 11:26 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Dear Musouka,

    I'm sorry that I offended you, but I just don't care for it. Which doesn't mean that you can't.

     
  • At December 06, 2006 12:09 PM, Blogger musouka said…

    I'm sorry that I offended you, but I just don't care for it. Which doesn't mean that you can't.

    I'm not really offended you think manga is awful. I'm more bewildered. To me, it's like someone saying "I think books are awful". But, to each his own. I prmose I won't force you down and make you read them. :p

     
  • At December 06, 2006 12:38 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    Wow Elayne. Way to belittle the two female creators who are working on the Minx books. "Token"? Really now.

     
  • At December 06, 2006 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    " whatever Scholastic may or may not be doing, they aren't exactly a player in the comics industry. Getting girls to read Scholastic's GNs isn't necessarily going to direct those girls to read other comics,"

    It'll probably lead them to look up the creators online, or to read the creators Bios in the back of the books- which'll lead to Raina selling more of her minicomics, getting hits on her webcomic Smile [which I think would be ideal to collect for any young adult line, and it has been nominated for a few industry awards folks--- I think it was the Ignatz, though don't quote me on that, as it might of been the Harveys....]

    Likewise, slightly older Queen Bee readers will discover Blue Monday [which swears aside, is nothing you wouldn't see in most YA lit], and Christine Norrie's readers would discover her work with Oni on Hopeless Savages.

    They'd be exposed to comics as a whole, and would probably seek out other material in bookstores of a smilar bent- like TokyoPop's domestically created titles, many of which like The Dreaming and Peach Fuzz meet the guidelines to be included in Scholastic's book fairs [as does Shonen Jump], so there's even more exposure for team comics....

    And these people publish BONE. B-O-N-E. Bone is what really got me hooked on comics after I started reading X-men, and is what got me into reading non-superhero comics, and lead me to discovering many, many other titles.

    David Saylor's recent Newsarama interview says they've sold a million copies of the four volumes they've published of Bone. A MILLION, and that's just for the Scholastic editions, overlooking the past sales of Bone, and the Bone One Volume edition.

    To say that the quality work of Scholastic won't lead to kids reading more comics is foolish, and mabye even bitter, that they're succeeding where others were too slow to reach out to.

    Andre

     
  • At December 06, 2006 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, and I could totally see BSC readers checking out Agnes Quill [which Raina collaborated on with her husband], a really nice YA book SLG put out [with 2 female creators, as Jen Wang also contributes illustrations]

    I think the main reason that the artists you keep seeing mentioned are mentioned is that they are the well known ones- there's plenty of lesser known female cartoonists out there who'd be more the appropriate for this line- just check out Heidi's listing of webcomic creators on one of her posts at The Beat.

    If DC wants some REAL crossover to their superhero line they should publish Tintin Pantoja's Wonder Woman pitch-
    http://sporadicsequential.blogspot.com/

    Andre

     
  • At December 06, 2006 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    PS--- To give you an idea of Scholastic's power-

    The standard 2nd print run of aussie Queenie Chan's The Dreaming- 7000 copies.
    The 3rd print run created just for Scholastic's Book Club, and ONLY for sales at said book club and book fairs?
    - 45000 copies. FOURTY FIVE THOUSAND 0_0 That's like 7 times the amount, and probably a great deal more then the book's initial print run.
    http://queeniechan.livejournal.com/25345.html
    And they'd upped the order from 30000.... so there was probably a good reason behind the large order.

    Andre again :)

     
  • At December 06, 2006 4:58 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    Isn't that kinda of like saying women get paid less than men because they choose to go into lower paying fields - completely missing the point?

    No, it's saying that DC isn't paying as much per page on this new, experimental, very real possibility of failure, line of graphic novels to a market that they haven't yet tapped, as they are for the monthly comics that have proved their success to one niche market for sixty years. DC has already dropped quite a bit of time, money, and effort on this new line, and they've been burnt by similar failures before (who remembers Helix?), so being cautious about what they're paying to whom can be expected.

    Lyle mentioned that as well elsewhere, and I don't see how DC thinks they're going to pull that off in any measurable amount. If that really is one of their main goals, they've either got some stuff still up their sleeve, or they are more clueless than I thought.

    I would imagine that in-book ads would direct readers to other similar offerings at DC, though most of those will probably be Vertigo-based.

    But I have a feeling that this first wave, with its intentional move away from fantasy and superheroics, is just testing the waters. Once they see how well it does, I imagine more fantastic elements will find their way in.

    The idea of selling books that are supposed to be "girlie girl" (parent's terms, not mine) books to teen girls when there are no female names on the covers is just the tiniest bit daunting.

    Maybe they'll use the trick that female authors have used for decades, and list the contributors by their first initials instead of their names.
    Or maybe young teens don't pay a whole lot of attention to the name of the authors behind their books. I guess it could be just me, but I didn't find out (nor did I really care to) what gender K.A. Applegate was until several years into the Animorphs series.

    David Saylor's recent Newsarama interview says they've sold a million copies of the four volumes they've published of Bone. A MILLION, and that's just for the Scholastic editions, overlooking the past sales of Bone, and the Bone One Volume edition.

    To say that the quality work of Scholastic won't lead to kids reading more comics is foolish, and mabye even bitter, that they're succeeding where others were too slow to reach out to.


    I had forgotten that Scholastic was publishing Bone. But I'd still like to see the figures of how many of those readers actually went on to read comics that they couldn't get through a Scholastic fair. The point still stands; Scholastic doesn't offer monthly comics, their main source of outreach isn't TPBs, and two of their major GN series are based on existing prose series with an established customer base. DC is in a very different boat, trying to break into a similar niche, and their reasons for breaking into that niche are necessarily different (aside, of course, from making more money). And to think that people are going to buy Mike Carey's Minx books, and not find ads for his Vertigo work, is as foolish as thinking that they'll buy Goosebumps Graphix and not find ads for the R.L. Stine novels. These two companies are trying to achieve very different things, and I think "more people reading comics (specifically DC Comics)" is going to be more of a focus for a comic company than a book company. If more people start reading comics from Scholastic books, then great, it neither helps nor hinders Scholastic much (except by ensuring an audience for the next GN), but if more people start reading comics from Minx books, then the entirety of the DC library is opened up to those new customers. DC stands to gain a lot more (proportionally) from more people reading comics than Scholastic does.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about Tintin Pantoja's Wonder Woman, though.

     
  • At December 06, 2006 6:03 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    gah - sorry for the unreadability of the last paragragh. That's why I shouldn't write comments while I'm getting ready for work.

     
  • At December 06, 2006 6:21 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    I guess it could be just me, but I didn't find out (nor did I really care to) what gender K.A. Applegate was until several years into the Animorphs series.


    First of all, as you point out, it was K.A.

    Secondly, Animorphs was geared towards boys and girls. It would one thing if this was a just a general line for books for kids, but it's not. It's not even really a line geared towards girls - it's a line that appears to be geared towards the same girls that read the Clique series.

    No, it's saying that DC isn't paying as much per page on this new, experimental, very real possibility of failure, line of graphic novels to a market that they haven't yet tapped, as they are for the monthly comics that have proved their success to one niche market for sixty years. DC has already dropped quite a bit of time, money, and effort on this new line, and they've been burnt by similar failures before (who remembers Helix?), so being cautious about what they're paying to whom can be expected.

    And again, how is that different?

    The fact that it's not DC's "fault" doesn't still mean that they aren't contributing to, rather than helping to fix, the problem.

    We can debate about whether or not DC should feel obligated to go to extra lenths to fix such social problems, but I have to say that it seems pretty likely that the free marketing they'd gain from having more female creators would nix out any up-front costs that doing so might incur.

    And to think that people are going to buy Mike Carey's Minx books, and not find ads for his Vertigo work, is as foolish as thinking that they'll buy Goosebumps Graphix and not find ads for the R.L. Stine novels.

    Perhaps I'm under the impression that Minx is geared towards younger girls than it really is, or that Mike Carey's other works are more adult that they really are, but wouldn't that be rather like advertising Meg Cabot's adult novel Babble Queen in the back of all the Princess Diaries books?

     
  • At December 06, 2006 6:24 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    er - that should be Queen of Babble

     

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