So there is a huge uproar right now over Marvel’s recent announcement of the Girl Comics mini starting in March. For the full skinny on this check out this story at The Beat. I have been following comments at Comic Book Resources blogs Robot 6 and She Has No Head.
Girl Comics will be a wholly female created book. Writers, pencilers, inkers, editors, everyone who touches this thing pre-press will be female. Reaction is mixed, to say the least. Some of the commentors are out right “no girls allowed” about the whole thing.” Some of them are more even handed, but still offer arguments against this thing even existing. I have some opinions of my own on the matter. ( Aren’t you surprised!)
First and formost, I think this is an awesome idea. There is a wonderful assemblage of talent on this project, and I think it has the potential to turn out some really great stories. This will go onto my pull list as soon as I have a previews code for it. That said, here are some of the points people are making:
The name is stupid! Ok, fair enough. The name isn’t the best. But take a peek at my top banner. I called my website “Girls Don’t Read Comics” because of the crap I get from morons who think I shouldn’t be behind the counter at the shop. More than once, I have had someone ask if we were hiring, and then when I said “no,” they’ve said something like , “But they hired you, they must need someone!” So my blog name is a mild “F U” to people like that. I feel like the name Girl Comics sort works for me in the same way. Sort of as an ironic smirk to the masses. A statement that yes, comics can be for, and in this case, by girls. So while something subtler might have made it blend on the shelf, I don’t think that was the point.
Why does this book need to exist? I just had this conversation with my husband. He argues that he has been reading comics by women for a long time. He read Y the Last Man and the Flight books. He just doesn’t see why women need to be singled out and given a separate space . Why should all these women get together for a project like this? My answer to that comes in 2 forms. First is “why not?” The second is a little more complex. I feel like the more women working in the industry, the more likely I am to continue to find books that I like. It’s not that I won’t read comics by men. Check my pull list. But there is something to be said for including different life experiences into the creative process. I feel the same way about any under-represented group. More diversity leads to more interesting stories. And as a woman, I feel like I am more likely to see work that resembles my life experience if there are women somewhere in the creative mix. Also, I know that because of the relative scarcity of women in the field, this opportunity to work together is rare. It sounds like it would be fun to do.
This book creates a ghetto for women creators! As a bookseller, I have run into the problem of genre ghettoization. Chick lit and “urban” lit, are the two that stick out in my mind right now. Books that would file under “fiction” if their author was a white man, get stuck somewhere weird in their own section. This limits exposure for a title drastically. I don’t feel that this book will suffer from that problem. I certainly won’t in my store. Editor Jeanine Shaefer tells The Beat that this series will deal with standard Marvel Universe characters, and that as a whole they will not be focusing on just female characters. This feels like just a regular mini series, with a strange collaborative team. Now if it were to start a whole trend of comics created by women with lipstick tubes and shoes on the covers, then I would worry about ghettoization. The closest thing I have to that is my Manga section, where i file the MPD Psycho on the same shelf as the Meru Puri and no one has any trouble finding anything.
Most of the comments are sort of rinse and repeat, and I’m choosing to ignore a whole lot of jerks acting like trolls. Let’s just say I know a lot of guys that behave like this, and they are all single. I’m personally pretty excited about the potential of this series. Based on the people working on it, it could be pretty stellar. With that said, I am going to approach it as a comic. Not as a feminist statement. Not as a some affirmative action move by Marvel. For me to recommend it, it will need to stand on it’s own as a work. Until then I am hopeful, and waiting for a chance to get my mitts on it.