What Do The Women in Comics Want?
Art by Adam Hughes
Happy Women in Comics Week! I hope you have been keeping up on all the amazing material Talking Comics has been providing you this week in celebration of the female minds and hands behind the comics world. You know I can not let this special week go by without putting in my own two (or four) cents and as usual, I’m gonna give it to you my way.
If you read any comics news at all, you are aware that the ladies have been speaking up recently about the shortcomings of the business in respect to how our gender is treated in writing of characters, communications in social media, ideas being enforced by men in power and so forth. There are “powerful” women written in to every comic book you pick up today, but at what cost is that power given? The super heroines and villains alike are denied proper clothes in which to kick ass, given flimsy personalities desperately lacking in basic decision making skills or adult conversation abilities. Women in comics are maimed, raped, insulted and kidnapped all in the name of plot device to motivate their male counterparts in to action. Wait, didn’t I say these women are powerful? Where is the power in this equation? They have weapons and super powers, but that’s about it.
I went to my social media outlets and asked all the ladies (and there are many!) about how they feel about the comics they are reading. This is my celebration of Women in Comics Week, a neatly packaged little gift box of what female comic book readers really want. Writers, artists, men of the comic book biz, I’m making this easy for you, so pay attention!
Who is doing it right?
According to my research, these are some of the writers and artists that are already ‘getting it’ and making their female fans happy:
Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman, Catwoman) Yes, we do appreciate sexy art!
Tom & Mary Bierbaum (Legion of Super-Heroes)
Charles Vess (Sandman#19 “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”)
Neil Gaiman (You should know who he is!)
Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble)
Brian Wood (DMZ, Channel Zero)
Phil Noto (Jonah Hex, Ghost)
Amy Reeder (Batwoman)
Terry Moore (Rachel Rising)
Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle)
Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Animal Man)
Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing, Frankenstein Alive, Alive!)
Ales Kot (Wild Children)
Becky Cloonan (American Virgin, Batman)
Rachel Deering (Anathema)
What are female readers buying right now and loving?
There were definitely a few titles that popped up over and over. Here are a few of them:
X-Men (Oliver Coipel, Brian Wood)
Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja)
Locke & Key (of course!!)
I Kill Giants
What do women want to see more or less of in comic books?
This question was met with all sorts of enthusiast responses. It should be no surprise to anyone that most of the answers I received were in relation to the poor writing of female characters.
More woman characters. (Easy enough, right?)
More real women characters. Ok, here’s where it gets tricky. This means women who can make adult decisions, save worlds, have complex stories of their own, show flaws and behave like grown women.
Lee Blauersouth, artist and comic reader says “I mean women who are capable of impulse control most of the time and when they fail at impulse control, understand that there will be consequences of that, also who can manage basic communication. By characters who read like actual women, I mean acting like an adult + being female WITHOUT being “the girl”, the one who is there to fill the one and only role of talking about feelings, or being there primarily as a love/lust interest.”
More characters of color, Asians, LGBT. Basically, more ‘real’ characters with identities.
Better horror stories.
Rachel Deering, writer and letterer says “What I feel is missing from modern comics is good horror. We have stuff that borders on horror, such as the series I mentioned, but nothing that is true horror in the classic Warren/Skywald style.”
Consensual hentai. (I think that means when they both want it.)
Original stories and better story lines.
Talking Comics Associate Editor & Podcaster Stephanie Cooke says “too many series that are far too similar and I’d love to see some new books showcasing new or underused characters that last for more than just a couple of issues. ”
So, that wraps up my Women in Comics Week report. I hope you learned a few things, I know I did. As much as some male creators would have you believe, decoding what women want (and don’t want) is not all that difficult. The best thing you can do is shut up for a minute and listen to what the ladies reading the books have to say, they’ll be more than happy to share their ideas and feelings.
As always, I love comments, so please feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree, just be nice about it. Thanks, everyone!