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February 26, 2013

I am Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of Ghost, Captain Marvel & Avengers Assemble. Ask me anything.

Dville1 Why do you think it's been so difficult for Marvel to establish a female hero who isn't 1.) based of a male counterpart, 2.) made to give gender balance to a team or 3.) made to be the love interest of a more popular male hero?

kellysue Think about the manga boom for a minute. The American notion had always been that women would not buy comics in significant numbers. There was even a commonly bandied about notion that "women are not visual." Who bought manga in the US? Largely women and girls. At ten bucks a pop, no less. Women spent literally millions of dollars on what? On comics.

Now, some people will argue that that had as much to do with the diversity of genre in manga as anything else--and that is a fair point. But I would argue that there is nothing inherently masculine about the science fiction aesthetic, nothing inherently masculine about power fantasies or aspirations to heroism.

So what else was it about manga that got women to buy in in huge numbers?

Well, for one thing, they didn't have to venture into comic book stores to get it. No risks of unfriendly clerks or clientele, authenticity tests or the porn basement atmosphere that even if it's not the reality of most stores, is certainly the broad perception. They could buy manga at the mall. What's more, they didn't need a guide. All they had to do was find the manga section, flip the books over and read the description (just like they'd done with any book they'd ever bought in their lives) and then, once they found one that interested them, find the volume with the giant number 1 on it and head to the check out.

Contrast that with an American comic books store experience for a new reader. First challenge--find the store. Now say you just saw the Avengers movie and you think you might want to find something about Black Widow. Where do you even start? If you don't have a friendly clerk, you're going to get overwhelmed and leave. If there's no BLACK WIDOW #1 on the shelf, you literally do not know what to do. New comics readers have to have a guide. Compared to getting into traditional American comics, it's easier for a new reader to learn to read backwards! Think about that.

Anyway. That's it. The summary is "change is hard." Our industry is built to sell Batman (literally--all of our sales figures are relative to the sales of Batman) to the same guys who have always bought Batman and change is hard.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 26, 2013 09:27 AM