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Monday, April 06, 2015 

Comics may not be just for guys now, but are mainstream superhero comics still for women?

The Sioux City Journal interviewed a married couple running a comics store together, but what they have to tell doesn't give an entirely clear picture:
However, she said the comic book industry has changed tremendously over those two decades, especially for women.
In smaller companies, yes, I'd say it has. But in mainstream companies putting out mainly superhero fare, far from it. Once, whatever flaws they may have had, there was a time when the Big Two were comfy companies for women to work at. But today, I'd say no, and those women who do work there are either token at best, or, they were chosen selectively based on their politics. I figure the 1990s were the time when they gradually turned less welcoming for lady contributors.
Is introducing strong female characters the key to attracting more women into comic books?

"From a fan perspective, creating titles that have both strong writing and strong art attract both male and female readers. From a business perspective, hiring more female employees who know their comics has also helped."
Except at the Big Two, where, whomever and whatever their choices, it's not very altruistic or based on actual talent.
Perhaps I'm showing my ignorance by asking this, but do people still read superhero comics these days?

"They absolutely do still read 'Spider-Man' and 'Batman' comics. Also, when 'Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens' opens later this year, I'm sure they're will be plenty of comics that will tie in."
The real question is how many people still read superhero comics today? Only the most mindless still read Spidey, and Batman too, for that matter, because neither one's series has enjoyed good writing in years. I'm not surprised the store owners aren't giving clear pictures or letting anybody know why these superhero books are no longer good investments (unless the interviewer omitted anything meatier); store managers are probably the least reliable source, because they may be scared of losing customers.
And I'm guessing fans of AMC's "The Walking Dead" TV series are also becoming fans of the comic book series, right?

"Absolutely. Although I think the TV adaptation is done well, it doesn't follow everything that's done in the comic books. In fact, we don't recommend 'The Walking Dead' comic books for children because it tends to be so gory."
While it's admirable they're warning against children being given Walking Dead to read, I'm sorry they don't say the same about any superhero comics with similar elements injected. Spider-Man's no longer suitable for anybody to read, with its poor attitude to women like Mary Jane Watson, making it a bad choice for women to read now.
What keeps comic books fresh year after year?

"It's simple, really. You've got to have great art plus great writing. You can't have one without the other. At their best, great comic books can be as compelling and as engrossing as any other piece of fiction. Our customers may come as kids but we hope they'll become lifetime comic book fans."
I hope so too, but doubt they'll become lifetime superhero fans if they read the modern output, or, if sensible parents discover what they've been transformed into, we can't expect them to agree that their children read the new stories, many which don't boast great scripting or art anymore. Once famous mainstream superheroes are no longer recognizable, nor are their newest stories suitable for children. And, quite a few of them have little or no appeal for women. There was decidedly once a time when superhero comics were fine for women too, but that's not the case any longer.

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The only reason that a person might read modern-day comics is:
A: you don't know any better/know about better material being available,
B: for whatever inane reason, you honestly like it,
or C: you're looking for ideas on where the publishers went wrong and how you or your friends can improve it.

I think modern-day comics might be in a lull either way, regardless of what demographic you come from when reading them.

Plus, of the relatively few people who buy comics, not all actually read them. A lot of collectors bag the comics and store them away without ever opening them. The same goes for speculators, who only buy comics as an investment.

On top of everything else, if Disney wants to keep the comics going, they could still shut down Marvel Comics and license the publishing rights to some other company.

They did it with characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck before (Western/Gold Key in the 1960's and 1970's, Gladstone in the 1980's, and IDW now).

Maybe Quesada, Brevoort, Lowe, and Slott should update their resumes.

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