Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Not All Female Comic Readers Like Sandman...

As a female comic reader I probably get the same comic book recommendations as every other female reader does. As in, at least once a month, should my interest in comics come up in conversation, I tend to get the following responses:

"You should read Y, The Last Man!"


"So, do you like Sandman?" In a way that immediately presumes the answer is "yes."

I don't mind the questions really. It's nice that they're interested in what I read. But each time my answers are the same. And because I can, I'll share them with you.

I have no interest in EVER reading Y, the Last Man. No intention of doing so. I'm sure it's a good series. I'm glad you guys like it. But I don't want to read it.

The premise doesn't interest me. One viable man on a world of all women...well, honestly, it just sounds like one of a thousand Japanese harem comics to me. And I'm not a big fan of those either.

Part of it's just that I tend to like male characters better than female. This isn't anything against female characters. There are many I love, but in general, if I've got a favorite, it's a male character. It's just a weird quirk of mine. This series doesn't sound like it has the sort of male characters that would interest me.

Part of it's that the few issues I tried to skim in the store...well, I didn't find the portrayals of the women particularly interesting. Honestly, they felt flat and forced, stereotypical. Perhaps they improve. But I've no real interest in finding out. That's just the way it is for me.

As for Sandman, I love Sandman! Wesley Dodds is great!

Oh wait. You mean Gaiman's Sandman.

This might make me unpopular, but well, I've never really liked Sandman. I don't dislike it terribly, but it's not to my taste. To be honest, I've always found the Endless to be a bit without point. Even Death, though she had her own charm. I just didn't care.

Which is weird because almost every other female comic reader I know loves it. But me? Not so much.

I think some of it might be that many of the female comic readers I know are goths, or former goths, or skirt with the goth or punk movement. Which is cool. But that stuff never meant anything to me. The makeup looked itchy, shoe-polish black hair never looks good, and I might like black but the most complicated outfit I've worn is a black turtleneck and black jeans.

Jewelry disappears around me, unless I keep it in a box and never touch it. I have no interest in morbid poetry, and really no affinity for poetry in general if it's not rhyming and vaguely dirty. And I don't see the point of endless musing on death and eternity. Death's death. It's an inevitability. So why dwell on it?

Sorry to over simplify what is undoubtedly much more complicated, but well, that's ALL it'll ever be to me, I'm afraid. Just like all Sandman will be to me is a pretty comic with some characters I don't really get, and probably won't ever.

For the record, I don't think all people who like Sandman are goths or anything like that. It's just the girls I know who rave about it were.

I'm also not a big Gaiman fan. He's clearly talented and reputedly a nice guy, but the only time I really connected to his work was Good Omens. The Pratchett influence probably. It's probably a stylistic thing.

But anyway, I just don't get Sandman. I don't get a lot of stuff, I'm not worried about it.

I do find it amusing that it's so often immediately assumed that because I'm a female comic reader, I'd like Sandman. It's just not for me.


  • At March 05, 2006 3:38 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    But you do like Sandman Mystery Theater, right?

  • At March 05, 2006 3:40 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Why does everyone always assume I like Sandman Mystery Theater?!

    Oh wait. I do. :-) A lot. Never mind.

  • At March 05, 2006 3:43 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…


    Seriously, though, I suspect part of the appeal of Sandman to gothy women is the introduction of Death.

    Death in DC Comics is established as Female.

    The most powerful entity in the DC Universe is a Female Goth.

    I mean, she's taken Superman. Sure, he didn't stay dead, but it's not really her job to keep people once they're gone. It's her job to take them. And nearly every superhero has fallen to Death at least once.

    And over in Sandman, they establish that this massive unstoppable force of nature, is a perky pale girl who likes wearing black and playing with Ankhs.

    It's really very empowering.

  • At March 05, 2006 3:57 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Somehow I managed to delete my own comment. Go me! Technological Incompetence deserves its own prize. Oh well, I can reply to both of ya then.


    I guess I can understand that. Does nothing for me though. I'm fine with the concept of death without personification.

    I did enjoy Dream's cameos in JLA and JSA though.

    Franny: :-) That eye thing? That *does* look kind of pretty. I think my friend put one on my for Halloween last year. It itched. :-)

    It's cool though to hear your thoughts about Death. Even if she doesn't do much for me.

  • At March 05, 2006 4:12 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    (Franny -- No sarcasm intended)

    Never tried the eye thing. And black lipstick doens't suit me.

  • At March 05, 2006 4:45 AM, Blogger Aditya Bidikar said…

    I agree about Sandman - it's good, imaginative, but I didn't connect with it that much. I much prefer the single-issue stories to the longer arcs.

    About Y, actually, I thought the point of Y was to upturn the 'harem' thing - like, that's the sterotypical male fantasy, but here's what it might really be like. It kinda lost it after a few issues, though - now it's enjoyable, but nothing more. Yorick himself is a 'lovable loser' sort of guy, who's not as interesting as the author might think.

    I generally recommend Transmetropolitan, and now Fell - most of my female friends share my tastes in grue.

    PS: Great blog, and really great work with WFA.

  • At March 05, 2006 4:49 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    aditya: I rather imagined that would be the point of Y. But oddly, I tend to enjoy upturns/parodies/satires more if I know and enjoy the original works. I've never liked Harem Anime, so I doubt it would appeal to me. :-) Just my opinion. And honestly, if I was bored and someone just handed it to me, I'd probably try an issue or two. I'm easy like that.

    I actually haven't read either of those, I've heard really good things about them. I'll have to pick them up one of these days.

    And thanks! I'm glad you like it!

  • At March 05, 2006 10:04 AM, Blogger Scipio said…

    " One viable man on a world of all women...well, honestly, it just sounds like one of a thousand Japanese harem comics to me."

    Thanks goodness SOMEONE finally had the sense to say the Emperor has no clothes!

  • At March 05, 2006 11:15 AM, Blogger Aditya Bidikar said…

    Yeah, Transmet's pretty good, although heavy-handed at times. Fell's excellent - especially issue 3, which I've read five times by now. (That, I realise, might not sound much to hardened comics fans, but I'm not one, see.)

  • At March 05, 2006 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's exactly like BoP.

    I'm sure it's great and all but fuck, I just don't have any intrest in it.

  • At March 05, 2006 3:16 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    I always just kind of assume that most comic readers like Sandman. It's a series that has such literary weight that even people who are just casual comic readers, people who usually wouldn't buy from "the big two," or people who mainly stick to "real literature," have at least heard of it.

    So it might not be your gender that causes people to assume a love for Sandman. It might be that you're an intellectual, well-read comic fan.

    At least, that's what it would be if I asked you whether or not you liked Sandman.

  • At March 05, 2006 4:21 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    scipio: Well, to be fair, I haven't read it. Maybe it *is* really good.

    No interest in finding out though. :-)

    aditya: Hmm, definitely sounds intriguing. Especially if it can make non-hardened comic fans read/re-read. :-)

    mallet: We've all got a few series like that, I'd guess. :-)

    tom: that's a consolation. :-) I figure the series is a little *too* literary/deep for my taste. But that's a much more flattering interpretation than "You're a girl who likes comics, you *must* like Sandman!"


  • At March 05, 2006 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It always amuses me to hear people go on and on about Sandman. I remember seeing it when it first came out, and reading it in the shop.

    I thought, "Interesting" and put it back on the shelf. It was a fairly humdrum spooky tale.

    Issue 2 was where we got to know what the guest stars would be. John Constantine was going to show up.

    This was back in the days when Alan Moore was the only one who'd written Constantine. And he was funny. And sexy. And spooky.

    So I picked it up along with the still-remaining issue 1 :) in order to be able to follow the plotline. Eventually, I grew fond of the world.

    But I put more analysis into Green Lantern than I ever did Sandman. ::shrug::


  • At March 05, 2006 6:17 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Kris -- I thought it was Ho-hum until I read the issue with Death in it. That's why I'm sure it's her that made it so specal. After he created her, he kind of found his groove. It became like an anthology, which is another thing that, as a series, made it special. Sandman was DC's old House of Mystery and Witching Hour stuff when it got to take a breather. And it's storyteller also had his own plots.

    That's what I, personally, liked.

  • At March 06, 2006 1:01 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    As far as Gaiman's work is concerned, the only thing that has really grabbed ahold of me was Anansi Boys. Couldn't get into Sandman. Couldn't get into American Gods. But Anansi Boys was just plain fun.

    As far as Y goes, I'm enjoying it. Yorick feels like Robinson's Star Man might have if there were no superheroing involved. I never really thought of it as either a harem fantasy or a play on those. It always just struck me as a road trip adventure with three unlikely comrades. It's fun and vaguely literate. And I think it definitely focuses more on women living (succeeding and/or failing) without men than it does on anything related to Yorick in a world with only women. Essentially, his character remains mostly as he was before all the men moved on to greener pastures.

    I haven't yet recommended Y to my lady, but here are some that I have given her to read with her reactions (not that until Bone, vol 1, she had never read a single comic book and only has the vaguest idea who Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man are and has never heard of Wolverine or the X-Men):

    Bone vol. 1-9 (loved)
    Blankets (loved)
    Rising Stars (liked til the end)
    Embroideries (so-so)
    Same Difference (didn't like)
    Hopeless Savages vol. 1 & 2 (kinda liked)
    Slow News Day (liked)
    Hellboy vol. 1 (liked the art)
    Nausicaa (loved)
    Sparks (loved)
    Usagi Yojimbo vol. 1-6 (liked)
    Clan Apis (loved)
    Naruto vol. 1-8 (really likes)
    Ultimate Spider-Man vol 1 & 2 (liked)
    Love Hina (liked mostly - understandably got tired of people acting like morons)
    Lost at Sea (liked)
    Scott Pilgrim vol. 1 (liked)

  • At March 07, 2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    For my part, I don't presume a female comics fan likes Sandman, or Y, or Strangers in Paradise, or any of the supposed "girl-friendly" comics, any more than I presume a male comics fan likes Batman, or Spider-man, or any of the other classic superheroes.

    Largely because, well, I'm a male comics fan who doesn't much care for superheroes. I've always been drawn to the weird indie shit out there. People in spandex pummeling the crap outta each other never really did it for me. Whereas I have a female friend who totally geeked out over the X-Men jacket a customer once gave her. :-) To each their own.

    To me, comic books are a medium, not a genre: so telling me you like comics means no more to me than telling me you like movies or music or food; it doesn't tell me anything about your actual tastes. I like the potential of the medium, the diversity it offers (if not always supports): why would I presume someone else's tastes are narrower or less quirky than mine? I also like anime and manga, but I don't like them indiscriminately: there are plenty of crappy anime and manga titles out there; same with comic books.

    And just because I don't like something doesn't mean I think it's bad - it just doesn't appeal to me. I liked Sandman, but it's not for everyone; no big deal if it never floated your boat.

    Sure, girls who like superheroes are still...shall we say a statistical anomaly? :-) But they're not mythical: it's not like sighting an unicorn.

    Now, if you actually tell me what you do like to read, I'd try to recommend comics along those lines. Or I might simply push personal favorites. But I wouldn't try to second-guess anyone's tastes based on their chromosomes. :-)

  • At March 07, 2006 12:53 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    Hear, hear.

  • At March 07, 2006 12:56 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Ferrous: See, that's the mentality I like. :-) I agree with most of what you say (excepting that I love the "People in spandex pummeling the crap outta each other"'s kinky. :-P)

    That said, if you wanna know my comic tastes, they're all over this blog, man. I dig recommendations usually.

    And I push personal favorites all the time!

    My chromosomes like you, man.

    the dane: You almost make Y sound interesting to me...almost. :-P Maybe sometime when I'm really bored and someone hands me issues.

    Though I hated Love Hina. :-)

    Kris: I *also* put my analysis into Lanterns than Sandman. We are kin! :-)

    AND we both find Moore's Constantine sexy. Even better!

    ragnell: Anthologies are interesting. But only occasionally to my tastes. Hard to tell an enthralling story in 8 pages.

  • At March 07, 2006 2:12 PM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    kalinara: I'm pleased to get your chromosomes' seal of approval. :-)

    "I love the 'People in spandex pummeling the crap outta each other''s kinky."

    Man, why do girls always fixate on the sexual tension? Can't you ladies get your minds outta the gutter?! It isn't just about the homoerotic overtones!


    I don't have a beef with superheroes - some of my best friends are big superhero geeks. And when they're done well, I really enjoy `em. I saw Superman as a kid - Reeve remains The Man to me. :-) I've read at least some of the classics, like Dark Knight Returns; as well as more recent fare, such as Runaways and Common Grounds. For me, the problem with superheroes was separating the wheat from the chaff; so I tend to be selective about what I read.

    That and the fact I was flat freakin' broke as a kid and couldn't afford to buy comic books. :-/ There was also the issue of finding characters I could relate to, since - y'know - white people all look the same after a while. ;-)

    "That said, if you wanna know my comic tastes, they're all over this blog, man."

    Actually, I was kinda hopin' you'd save me the trouble of actually, y'know, reading... 8-)

    Anyway, here are a couple of the quirkier, non-superhero titles I like that I don't usually see getting a lot of love, just to get the ball rolling: Thieves & Kings, Finder, Usagi Yojimbo, Boneyard, Private Beach. Complimentary "pretentious artsy beatnik" beret if you know what all of them are!

  • At March 07, 2006 4:03 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    ferrous: We like the gutter, man. :-P But it's okay, I'll forgive you for not liking Superheroes. ;-)

    And I recognize about half of the titles, might check a few. :-) No beret for me.

    Really, it's not hard to figure out my tastes pretty quickly. Just look for the gratuitous silly comic panels. :-)

  • At March 07, 2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    Methinks you like the Lanterns? ;-P

  • At March 07, 2006 6:06 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Why does everyone always assume I like Lanterns?!

    Oh wait...heh. Right. :-P

  • At March 07, 2006 8:34 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    The funny thing is your site is an utter experience for me mostly because I'm largely not a DC reader. I follow occasional creative teams and storylines but it's too hard for me to break into what's going on. I read Catwoman up until the art changed from playful and cool back into typical comic art around issue 25. I read all of Starman because it didn't feel like I needed to keep up with outside continuity. I tend to buy and enjoy other outside continuity things like New Frontier and Secret Identity.

    Anyway, I like your writing and your take on these characters. I just have little to no idea about much of it most of the time :P

    I did have a streak of reading Green Latern Corps (I think) right after the original Crisis until I stopped finding it at my comic store. It was cool and weird and fun (for someone in Juniour High). I was totally absorbed by the idea that Arisia could mature her body sub-consciously and totally weirded out by Hal Jordan getting it on with her just 'cause her body had become older.

  • At March 07, 2006 8:38 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You think *you* were weirded out? It gave Hal his grey hair! :-)

    And thanks! That's really nice to say. :-)

  • At March 08, 2006 11:33 PM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    Occasionally, women do wander into the Wiz and ask for reccomendations, and usually I'll throw Y and Sandman on the table.

    Not because they're particularly lady-friendly, but because they're good. And moreover, they're contained, collected, easily accessible to new comics readers (despite the fact that everyone seems to forget Sandman is entreched in the DC Universe), and (due to mass market appeal) the introductory trades are at a lower price point that most (like the ridiculously cheap Teen Titans trades). And people tend to enjoy them. I sure as hell do.

    That's why I reccomend them, not just to women, but to pretty much everybody who asks: They're good comics. Same with Fables, Runaways, and anything else I can think of that people can jump on with ease.

    Because really, it's all just a plot to get them to read Walt Simonson's run on THOR, which is better than all that Vertigo crap.

  • At March 08, 2006 11:38 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    So Thor is good? I'll keep that in mind! :-) Thanks!

  • At March 10, 2006 3:09 AM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    Walt Simsonson Thor is the single greatest thing not involving Batman or OMAC that has ever graced the face of this planet. And that's a fact, True Believer.

  • At June 28, 2006 9:05 AM, Blogger J.R.D.S. said…

    Cardcaptor Sakura… The best example I have seen of the representational visual language which is possible with manga. ×××HOLiC is my personal favourite, but that's more of an acquired taste. It's certainly more obviously on the GothiLoli side of things, but to describe it simply as Gothic is an insult - it is one of the major elements in it's visual style, but it is not the only one, and that's what makes it different. And despite being a GothiLoli addict myself, what most appeals to me about the HOLiC style is how it is abstracted and stylised but not in a childish or cartoonish way, more like 1920s Vogue covers than any other manga or comics. But you probably wouldn't like all the fan-service in it… Go for Cardcaptor Sakura, especially as one would need to read that first in order to understand HOLiC.
    Nausicaä I've read the first 2 volumes and a bit of. Miyazaki is at least on a parallel with Björk as my favourite artist of any format, but manga is not is forté. understandably, his manga is more like a storyboard for an animé - it shows us wondrous things, but but the presentation of them is not imaginative, in the way that most CLAMP manga do so well. However, the simpler style may very likely appeal to people used to American comics.
    Also worth mentioning but not explaining is FLCL. I doubt even the creators knew what was going on most of the time in this, but it is unique and wonderful, with some of my favourite elements of both Eastern and Western styles. And I'm thinking that RG Veda has the female-oriented fan-service which which will appeal to kalinara the most. ;)

  • At June 28, 2006 4:35 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I used to be very much into manga, though my tastes tended toward more obscure things. Clamp tended to start good, in my opinion, but then fizzle out. They also did light-hearted (CCS, Clamp School, Campus Cop Duklyon) far better than darker, IMO.

  • At June 29, 2006 5:20 PM, Blogger J.R.D.S. said…

    Not completely relevant, but I feel obliged to say this at any opportunity: If anyone who reads this likes Nausicaä, I would be very interested to know what they think of Pastel Defender Heliotrope.

  • At October 14, 2006 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The White Tiger series by Tamora Pierce seems to be getting a little buzz. I think it starts next month.

    Joe Q put some preview pages in his Newsarama post:

  • At November 18, 2006 2:41 PM, Blogger Robbizzle said…

    Someone posted this on the neil gaiman board, so I hope you dont mind the comment.

    I don't think people assume you'd like sandman because you are a girl, but because it is one of the strongest titles out in comic books.

    But, just as there are people who LOVE it, there are people who don't relate to the charecters or dont find the story all that engaging. You're obviously one of those people, so here are some ideas:

    Let people know up front what kind of stories you do like before they can mention the sandman, tell them about stuff you have found that is interesting.

    be proud of the books you've read. Read lots of interesting stuff and know your comics well. Also know who you're talking to about comics. There is this guy at works who reads comics, so I tried to talk to him one time and he'd never heard of Alan Moore, Frank Miller or Neil Gaiman. His tastes were radically different. It was an interesting conversation.

    Don't talk about comics, just talk about books and mention the comics you like with out specifying that they are indeed comics. I recently met this girl who plays guitar/sings in a rock band and something she'd said about a book she likes reminded me something of the sandman but she didn't come right out and say "I read comics, you should tell me what comics to read!" you know? I did of course, in length. heh.

    Lastly, if you'd like I can recomend you some comics that are mostly not very popular in the comic world as far as I've seen but are definetly not for the goth/punk crowd. I'd be happy to do it if you'd like.


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