Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Where Are All Teh Female Comics Readers?

Where are all teh female comic book readers? Which way did they go?

Have you seen them? Do they even exist?

Do they have teh money? Do they buy teh product?

Do they like teh action stories and teh fight scenes?

Where are all teh female comic fans?

"They're not real comic book fans, they just like manga.
A completely different animal.
Manga is spun from taffy and delivered on moonbeams."

However manga is made, the fact is that females do like reading fantastic illustrated stories with action in them, they are actively seeking such entertainment, and they are spending lots of money on such entertainment and their related products. And when I went to the New York Anime Festival, where these pictures were taken, I saw hundreds upon hundreds of "fangirls" for manga.

To figure out how to attract masses of female readers to your comic book company's offerings, especially the demographic from tweens-early twenties, go to anime & manga conventions. And talk to these young women and ask them what comics they would like to see. You do not necessarily have to produce manga -- but find out what essential qualities about manga drive these females to buy them.


  1. I think the question is:

    "Where are all teh ATTRACTIVE female comic fans...?"

    awww snap! hehehe. :) I keed.

  2. Just make a comic with lots and lots of characters like:

    A. inexperienced protagonist who relies totally on some kind of limitless natural ability and determination.

    B. Comic relief best buddy

    C. Mysterious and brooding type

    D. Intellectual type; not usually a good fighter but wins with plans and ideas.

    E. like-able villain

    F. A story where the character continues to grow stronger/better

    G. Villain that becomes a reluctant friend (the I saved you because only I will be the one to kill you type)

    Yeah, basically the most popular manga throw so many characters at you that there will always be one that you can relate to. Hence the cosplay. Add an interesting story like ninjas, ghosts, racing, tennis, robots and go for it.

    The manga formula isn't hard to crack.

  3. you know i've long thought that many of werthams charges are indistuinguishable form modern femminist complaints. Might be a column in it for you.

  4. I have a lot of dork-cred in a lot of areas (comics geek, movie geek, music geek, etc) but...

    I gotta admit, I don't get interactive role-playing games. Magic the Gathering, D&D, LARPing, World of Warcraft... these things are complete mysteries to me.

    I would go buy my comics on Wednesday and see a band of them in the back talking strange code and looking really really ragged and...

    I must admit. I thought "thank God I'm not THAT guy".

    Why anime is viewed as a natural rival to American comics nerdity but RPG-people are considered part of the larger family of comic book nerds...

    Man, I will never get that.

    Anime and comics are different tweaks on the same form... neither are people in basements rolling dice with plastic vampire fangs and foam swords.

    Is it just because of the gender factor, that since comics and RPG are still viewed as sausage parties whereas there's a much more vocal female minority in anime?

    Is that what so many of these inter-dork rivalries and prejudices are about?

    Certain fan-forces trying to re-find a clubhouse for socially awkward white men in their late teens and older?

    "No girls, kids, minorities or casual fans allowed"?

    Is that what the politics of it all is actually about?

    Hm. Interesting.

  5. sam: they are hanging out with the NOT DIPSHIT FUCKTARD male comic fans. no, no, I KID I KID!

    andy: the same arguments are made about comics, & genre fic, & well...about anything that people want to dump on.

    mike: isn't your comment just inter-dork rivalry between gamer geeks & comic geeks?


  6. Why is manga popular? More story variety, typically one creator/artist/writer through the stories entire run (consistency's a big issue), manga stories actually have endings, and well... hot guys. I'm embarassed for my gender, but that's largely why a lot of females are manga fans. They like hot guys who they can write yaoi fanfics about. I guess its kind of empowering in that way. It's perfectly acceptable in anime fandom for a girl to be a complete perv. And finally, manga isn't considered a boys club so its way easier to be a female anime fan than a female comics fan. You've got your own sub genre of stories and its easy to avoid the rape stuff (which ironically does come up in shojo often enough, that might make an interesting article). In comics, you could be digging a smart capable heroine, then there's a creative team shift and she's getting murdedred in a "sexy" way.

  7. Topical.


    Oh and your right the black guys always are the first to get killed. Well at least the non-caucasians.

    eg - Aztek, Thunderbird, Giant Man

    where's the Non-Caucasian's In the Fridge list.

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  9. Yus, have to support Ashez2ashes here. My anime/manga fan friends totally balked when I told them how often the creative teams change in American comics. They said they'd never be able to get into a medium like that. So, yeah, consistency and follow-up is indeed a HUGE issue to my friends at least. Then again, they also like stories with clear beginnings, middles, and ends that at least give the illusion that there had been a plan all along. It's also currently popular in manga/anime to have the characters age along with the reader on longer-term games/shows like Naruto, Hikaru no Go, and the Kingdom Hearts series. Most of this can't be duplicated in the status quo Marvel/DC universes.

    I also have to add that, yes, a good number of my manga/anime fan friends openly fawn over certain sexy guy characters, and half or more of them regularly read and participate in the world of fanfiction. It's the same objectivization as American comics, just with the tables turned on gender. I'm not necessarily sure that's a good thing. I work as an English teaching assistant in Japanese junior high schools and many guys here compete with the girls over just who has the most body image issues. When guys start using hair spray to look like comic book characters, you know something's amiss.

    I think there's another quality of manga culture that is tied into Japanese culture (or maybe youth culture?) at large that can't be easily reproduced in the States, and that's the unspoken understanding that popular art--much like American porn--doesn't and shouldn't try too hard to portray or challenge issues close to home. The closest most popular manga gets to real world politics is existential philosophy, court intrigue, and condemnation of the hegemony of the church (in a country with nary any adherents to organized religion). School life is frequently mimicked, but to familiarize the reader, not ostracize them. American comics, on the other hand, revel in meta-fiction and hinting at fan-company backstage feuds. The more you remind the reader that they're a comic book nerd living in USA 2007, the better!

    It's telling to discover which American comics have ever come closest to meeting the interests of the Japanese audience that manga are written for. Right now it's popular in the USA to despise early 90s comics (X-books in particular) with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, but that's the only era of American comics I've ever seen sold in Japan, and reprinted for a 2006 Japanese audience at that. Those '90s comics featured totally redonculous superpowers with little realistic explanation, lots of flashy lights and sexy bodies, melodramatic plotlines about an uncaring and unfair world, EXTREME machines, rejection of the previous generation's stories and superheroes unless they were cool--i.e. American Naruto with a splash of Gundam Wing, with hot bodies and hot action straight out of fighting videogames.

    Manga isn't just alien from today's American comics in looks. There would have to be a massive sea change in American pop culture for the Big Two to believe that it is okay in their primary universes to write a book that sexualizes men for the sake of young girl readers. In a culture where women have to fight for the chance to be a protagonist in theaters, I don't see that culture changing overnight.

    The best idea may indeed be what Marvel is doing with the X-Men shojo project in an Ultimate-style universe, but we'll have to see if the story matches the look, first...

    Wow...that was really long-winded. Apologies. XD

  10. Only slightly related, but still relevant...

    On Saturday night there was a Harry Potter meet up, complete with Wizard Rock band, Draco and the Malfoys.

    The crowd, while predominantly female, was very diverse ethnically.

    This isn't so much comics as nerd culture related. Although, there is a LOT of Harry Potter doujinshi. Mostly yaoi.

  11. Um, OSH? A little bit of a stalker vibe here.
    Just a bit.

  12. Manga is also incredibly easy to pick up. It's collected in clear and consistent formats.

    I wanted to find out about Naruto, so I just went and read *Naruto, Volume 1*.

    A pal wanted to try reading *X-Men* and asked me where she should start. I had absolutely no idea.