Marvel’s Girl Comics: Gimmick or Gift?

Via Publishers’ Weekly’s The Beat:

A few months ago Marvel announced that 2010 would see a big push for some events built around women — as characters, as creators, and as readers. Here’s one of the first projects out of the box, GIRL COMICS, a three-issue anthology miniseries much in the spirit of STRANGE TALES, featuring comics created exclusively BY women. And that means writing, lettering, drawing — everything.Contributors include Kathryn Immonen, Marjorie Liu, Devin Grayson, Ann Nocenti, Trina Robbins, G. Willow Wilson, Stephanie Buscema, Amanda Conner, Jill Thompson, Louise Simonson, Valerie D’Orazio, Colleen Coover, Molly Crabapple, Nikki Cook, Ming Doyle, Abby Denson, and Carla Speed McNeil. The book is edited by Jeanine Schaefer, and we’re happy to debut the cover of the first issue, by Amanda Conner, colored by Laura Martin.

I can’t say anything about any of the contributors listed. The only names in comics I know are the blockbuster indie stars, and all male; Alan Moore, Art  Spiegelman, Bill Williangham, and of course, Joss Whedon (and the latter I don’t know by his comics work. I picked up like two copies of Buffy Season 8 before the shame of buying comic books overwhelmed me.). So I cannot speak to how or if women creators were selected on a meritocratic basis from the female-creator pool.

If the best female creators weren’t picked, is the whole undertaking a stunt condescending to women? Or do female fans and creators, underrepresented in the comics community, need the publicity boost as a means of advancement?

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3 Responses

  1. That you see the act of buying comic books as shameful is the larger issue, I think. Some comics are pretty embarrassing, yes. But there are also some extremely embarrassing books, movies, TV shows and songs. Doesn’t mean the whole medium is an embarrassment.

    There’s some excellent material being produced today. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel are just two high profile, critically acclaimed releases in recent years that are far from embarrassing. The comments thread at this Feministing.com article quickly turns into an excellent recommendation list of great material by female comic creators:
    http://www.feministing.com/archives/010692.html

    But getting back to Marvel’s Girl Comics, the presence of Trina Robbins and Jill Thompson is more than enough credibility for me, but then adding in the others… that’s a significant collection of talent.

    The title of the comic is really unfortunate (and condescending, to be honest) but the project otherwise feels well-meaning, and the creators involved will almost definitely produce good stuff. Yes, it’s gimmicky but this is Marvel Comics, who publish almost exclusively gimmicky superheroes. This should be a fun read with some diverse and interesting styles.

  2. Corey: Thanks for the insight! And I had forgotten about Satrapi; I’ve covered her work in this space before.
    For the record, my choice of the word “shame” was hyperbole. De gustibus non est disputandum; but if tastes were something people should be embarassed by, I agree that more adults ought to feel more “shame” for being seen in line for “Transformers 2″ than for buying a good comic book, but the stigma persists, even around (largely non-superhero) titles clearly written for and marketed towards adults. It’s my problem for not overcoming it.

  3. Hi Bento, thanks for the response. I’m glad to hear you’ve read Satrapi. Her other work is fantastic, too. If you can, check out Embroideries, and my favorite, Chicken with Plums, which is just heartbreaking. I hope you read more. Like you say, the stigma still persists – I was an associate producer for a documentary short called Dig Comics, where we examined America’s perception of comic books. http://www.digcomics.com – if you’re interested.

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