You are viewing crowhen

Rachel Nabors

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
02:03 pm: It's about freaking time.
Johanna at Comics Worth Reading beat me to the punch about the New York Times article about DC's new chicks graphic novel line, Minx. She mentions some reservations she has. One thing she brought up which strikes me upside the head is that the creative powers behind the books are predominantly male. Scholastic's Graphix line featured tried and true female creators who already had proven their abilities to write to girls. So why did DC choose male talent when there are still so many talented women in the industry ready to work? Why all the boys? I mean, maybe they can appeal to girls, but male names on the cover of a girls' book would make me a bit skeptical. I worry that upon encountering such a graphic novel directly aimed at young women, I would flip through it with thoughts like "Is he drawing her realistically? Or is this more guys-telling-me-what-I-should-look-like crap?" and "If I were in that situation, I wouldn't do what she did. Is that because that character has a different personality from my own or is that because she was written by a guy?" would be dribbling through my head the entire evaluation period.

I also worry that male creators will have to work harder to win over hesitant female readers (like yours truly) who get a bad taste in their mouth whenever they see male names on female products. At least it is a step in the right direction, and I can no longer say that all of the Big Three have their heads up their bums about girls and comics.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:warren_ellis
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You know the Minx line is run by two women, right? This is all Karen Berger and Shelly Bond.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yeppers. I heard they were working on launching a female-oriented line of comics. But still, why all the boys?
[User Picture]
From:warren_ellis
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, they did that specifically to annoy you, and in revenge for Joanne Rowling writing the most successful boy's-adventure YA novels of the last 50 years.

I mean, I understand your point. But does anyone red-flag, say, M E Kerr writing her YA novels in the voice of the male protagonist?

And, you know, the first Minx book IS written by a woman.

Also, "male names on female products" just makes me imagine a brand of tampons called FRED.

[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I speak from the standpoint of a potential reader from the audience DC seeks to reach. There are many talented women creators in comics, so why did Scholastic draft a bunch of them and DC didn't? I'm not saying that males cannot write or draw for females, but it seems dangerous to launch a chicks' comics imprint with only a handful of, well, chicks.

Yes the first one is written by a woman, and I hope it won't be the last.
[User Picture]
From:warren_ellis
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, you'd have to ask the two women running the show about that.

I'm just glad I don't work in that field. Sounds to me like it's mined with no-win situations.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 25th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's still a step in the right direction, and I hope it takes with readers.
[User Picture]
From:arcana_j
Date:November 25th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"I'm just glad I don't work in that field. Sounds to me like it's mined with no-win situations."

It's true. Go along with the The Powers that Be and you're helping to maintain a fucked-up system. Dare to speak your concerns and you're a harpy, shrill, humorless or crazy. Continue to speak and you're just jealous, a hater determined to take your "team-player" sisters down.

A minefield indeed.

Personally though, I'm not concerned about men being on the team, but I am a little chapped that another novelist is being called upon to write a comics title. It's not as if there isn't an abundance of talented, writing women all across the comics spectrum already. Why not tap a resource that's already intimately familiar with the medium?

Or could that be the problem? Do we know the industry and it's faults too well? If familiarity breeds contempt, are we, the women creators of comics, too familiar with this industry's dirty underpinnings and therefore held in contempt by some of those who would not have that laundry aired? I wonder.

Whatever the case, I hope this GN line succeeds. I hope it succeeds as it was created and that it doesn't succumb to the prettifying that so many feel is necessary for selling to girls. I hope.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 25th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I hadn't thought of that before. It really does sadden me that DC hasn't recruited from the many female comickers in the business. I hope they will once they get up and running.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 07:12 am (UTC)
(Link)
I can empathize with being annoyed that someone who isn't familiar with the medium is being brought in instead of someone who is.

However, I also think it's important to remember that there's a lot of similarities between kid's books and graphic novels. There are differences, surely, but it's not quite the same as bringing in Jodi Picolt.

And while I realize that YA novels are more like adult novels than picture books, I also know the Castellucci has aspirations, and indeed has been working on, illustrated books for kids as well. She's not experienced, mind you, so your point is still valid, but she's not completely ignorant of the process either, if that helps.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)

OOPS!

(Link)
that was me

Mickle
[User Picture]
From:arcana_j
Date:November 27th, 2006 08:11 am (UTC)
(Link)
"She's not experienced, mind you, so your point is still valid, but she's not completely ignorant of the process either, if that helps."

Sadly, it doesn't. I know too many very talented and ready to work women in this industry to think well of a company that:

a. Begins a project supposedly aimed at young women,
b. But then hires only ONE woman to help create it,
c. And recruits that one woman from another field.

Please understand, my issue isn't with Ms. Castellucci. Nor is it with any novelist who wants to try their hand at writing comics. My issue is with DC and the actiions that seem to belie their words.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
On that, we are very much in agreement.

Mickle
[User Picture]
From:vonandmoggy
Date:November 25th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I hear you, but I'm willing to wait and see what the books are like. They may blow it, they may not. There are so many fantastic YA books out there written by both genders for both genders that I'd hate to point fingers too early.

I'm also (don't hate me) of the opinion that talent is the key thing. If the writing is good (however one measures that, of course) then it doesn't matter what the gender of the writer is. Does that make me naive? Mayhaps. Having run a bookstore and sold many a book to people of all genders and age groups, however, I'd like to think I'm fairly sensitive on this front. I believe in good writing.

I suppose I'm a bit selfish on this front, too - I mean, my bookie has only female protagonists and antagonists in it (for the most part) and I'd hate that someone wouldn't give it a shot simply because of my gender. That will happen to some extent, of course, in much the same fashion that I know that the book won't work for all readers, but hell...I'd at least want people to hate it after they read the damn thing. Not before.

Von
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 25th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm also looking forward to checking out the new Minx books. Does this mean I can watch for pink (or some other "girly" color) nuzzling its way past the black, white and red spines of the American sliver of the graphic novel section at Barnes and Noble?

From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
(Link)
Doubt it - at least anytime soon. Sounds to me like this like is specifically created to nest quite comfortably between DN Angel and Kingdom Hearts in the teen manga section.

Mickle
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But the art style won't be manga-esque. How will DC get away with that?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
A) I don't know that they've really considered that

B) Lucky for them, I'm not sure it matters that much - as long as the art (and story) is good.

In my experience working at the kid's section of a bookstore for several years, kid's (and parents) can be overly gender conscious. Usually boys more so than girls, but graphic novels are the one place where girls are more likely to stay away from stuff that's traditionally seen as "boy" (such as DC's usual stuff). Simply shelving their Minx line with Kingdom Hearts in the Teen Manga section at every B&N (which, btw, is where Runaways and other Marvel teen series go) will go a long way towards grabbing new female readers.

It's weird, but very true, that shelf placement matters. Graphix retelling of The Babysitter's Club>/i> series is stuffed in with kid's novels at my store, but I strongly suspect we would have sold more copies if it had been shelved in the Teen Manga section, even though it doesn't really belong there for obvious reasons.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Um, I just realized you may have been asking how they are going to get B&N to do that - in which case the answer is: in major chain bookstores, shelf placement is often a marketing decision.

If DC thinks more potential readers will find their product in Teen Manga (which isn't really just manga) and they are able to convince Big Box Bookstores of that - that's where it will go.

That's really what I mean by saying it's designed to be shelved there. The descriptions of the books and the sample artwork I've seen make the series seem almost specifically designed to convince B&N to shelve the series in Teen Manga.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Then the section should be renamed Teen Graphic Novels!! Damn semantics!!!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 28th, 2006 08:51 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, of course but do you really expect companies like that to be logical.

(sigh) If only they were and I could put Babysitter's Club and Bone in the newly renamed Juvenile Favorite Series/Graphic Novels shelf.

Mickle
[User Picture]
From:vonandmoggy
Date:November 25th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Interesting.

I'm a huge reader and I rarely, if ever, pay attention to what gender a writer is compared to the gender of his/her main characters. Not in comics and not in prose.

I'd certainly love to see women with a bigger role in mainstream comics...but I would never put a book down simply because it was a man writing female characters (or a woman writing male characters).

My two cents! :)
[User Picture]
From:divalea
Date:November 26th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
I expect they will go on as they have begun. I talked to Paul Levitz back in July last year and February this about my optimism for the potential for selling comics TO WOMEN, which means MAKING COMICS WOMEN WANT TO READ.

Something DC blew about four years ago with their PREVIOUS "women's line," which had women working on it, and more men than women working on it, and was what--SUPERHEROES for DUDES. Lisa, who is blessed with an excellent memory, doesn't even recall it.

I was referred by Paul to Shelley Bond regarding the girl's line I proposed. I contacted Shelley twice and gave up after never hearing anything from her.
I also tossed out the idea of a Batgirl manga, about which Paul Levitz referred me to Dan DiDio. DiDio wanted that to be something to lead female readers back to what--the same GODDAMN FEMALE-UNFRIENDLY SUPERHEROES they were already publishing.
I tossed out an Amethyst manga idea, and was told Karen Berger felt very proprietary about Amethyst, and that was that--except right after that a new Amethyst series is announced, and it's by, again, a couple guys.

This just reminds me of why I hate the comics business so much. Women in charge of a comics line doesn't guarantee girl-friendliness--there have been women in charge in editorial positions at Marvel and DC for years, and they look the other way when it comes to matters of girl-friendliness, because they MUST, to keep their jobs, and this silence is taken as assent, as a sign that everything is okie-dokie, no women were harmed in the making of our comics.

I refer you to the uplifting, enfuriating, deplorable and true story of Valerie D'Orazio. That is a story that will and SHOULD kill any optimism about DC Comics being girl-friendly just because women work there.

Um, not that you don't know that, but maybe you haven't read it yet, and I suspect there are others following this thread that could benefit from the enlightenment.

But maybe I'm just crazy.
Or shrill.
Or a harpy.
Or a hater.
Or, most likely--considering I have worked in comics twenty years, and have the sad benefit of a female's experience, rather than a man's relatively advantaged P.O.V. (and usually shorter career to go with it)--
Correct.
[User Picture]
From:divalea
Date:November 26th, 2006 04:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
DC's aligned with Alloy on this, according to that article. Oh, that's just perfect.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 26th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I actually think that may be a good thing. They need to market the comics the way YA novels are marketed. I know very little of Alloy, but I do know that I was a teen their name was on a few of the newer books in the YA section.
[User Picture]
From:divalea
Date:November 27th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
(Link)
Alloy's kind of on the scuzzy side of publishing, is all.

http://www.observer.com/20060508/20060508_Sheelah_Kolhatkar_pageone_newsstory3.asp

Reminds me a lot of TP, in fact.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ooooooohhhhhh.... that is interesting...
[User Picture]
From:divalea
Date:November 27th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
I should add I don't disagree DC need someone who knows marketing to girls, since they've proven that they don't know shit about selling to girls, and only sell to girls in spite of themselves, just that Alloy's not the company I'd have picked.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 04:38 am (UTC)
(Link)
Do you have any other suggestions, in case there are some would-be girls' comics publishers in the audience? Not a challenge, I just don't know much about the YA publishing world. Who would you have picked, or would the topic require more research?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 27th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
Scholastic. Their teen imprint is called Speak - I'm assuming taken from Laurie Halse Anderson's book. But they already have their own graphic novel imprint (Graphix) for YA and younger.

I wouldn't be surprised if DC quickly discovered that any extremely reliable YA publisher either has, or is thinking about, their own imprint for graphic novels.

Mickle
[User Picture]
From:arcana_j
Date:November 27th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC)
(Link)
And Scholastic, bless 'em, actually hires female comics creators to work on their comics aimed at girls. So far, it seems to be working very well for them.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
And for that reason I am known to shout, "I love Scholastic!" more and more frequently.
[User Picture]
From:mercurystudio
Date:November 28th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hey there. Speak is a division of Penguin, not Scholastic. It's the imprint that handles the paperback edition of my wife's first novel.


Steve Lieber
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 28th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oooh, I heard Penguin is doing some pioneering work with books in Second Life (the game).
[User Picture]
From:divalea
Date:November 27th, 2006 11:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You know, that's a fair question, and I can't answer except to say NOT ALLOY.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well darn it!
[User Picture]
From:divalea
Date:November 27th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I was going to say, "A reputable marketing company" but I don't know that there is such a thing. Marketing is a lot like sausage-making: you do not want to know what goes into them sheep intestines.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 27th, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's always best to buy your own marketing company, I think. But I hear they don't pay for themselves.
[User Picture]
From:sonnyliew
Date:November 27th, 2006 03:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The male/female thing is somewhat tricky - for my part, i know that those of us signing on knew that we were doing books meant for a manga-ish market; but I can't remember if a teenage female audience was specifically mentioned.

Drawing the book itself the only real concern was to make the storytelling work, gender never really came into it.

Still I suppose when the line is being marketed so specifically, you can't really escape gender issues - though,again, at the time of writing/drawing Re-gifters I don't think many of us were aware of what direction the marketing would take.

[User Picture]
From:arcana_j
Date:November 29th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't think any of us is blames you, the creators. I know Jesse Hamm, he's a great guy and very talented and I would never begrudge him (or for that matter, anyone) a chance to work. The issue really just comes down to how DC has handled this thing so far.

I find it weird that they wouldn't be specific with their creators about the line.

Anyway, as I've said elsewhere, the gender thing wouldn't be such an issue now if there was some balance in the creator roster. But again, that's DC's doing, not yours.
[User Picture]
From:crowhen
Date:November 29th, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
I agree with what arcana_j said. We don't blame you.

For some reason I find it sad that you as creators were not sure what direction the marketing was going in, and I don't mean that in a pitying way. I'm not sure why it makes me sad, but it does. I'll probably wake up tomorrow morning and know why it makes me sad.

I hope it works out for you guys even though I continue to be puzzled by DC. I'm sure you've all done fine work.
[User Picture]
From:sonnyliew
Date:November 29th, 2006 06:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
oh i don't mean to say we were misled by DC in anyway; they might well have told us it was meant for a teenage female market - its just something i don't recall personally, perhaps cos it wasn't a big concern whilst drawing the book; telling the story well was :p

What we didn't know was how big a push this would be marketing-wise, and i think that it was the approach of the NYT piece that's troubled some readers - ie: it highlights the one book with a female creator.

But that's probably down to the reporter's own take on the story, rather than any desire on DC's part to mislead anyone.

also the marketing approach i think was also something that came together over time - again it wasn't a case of creators being kept in the dark for some surreptitious reason :p

my point is that the marketing (and the NYT article) means that gender issues can't be avoided. But its a complicated issue and I don't think there's any easy resolution to the questions raised.

Maybe the best thing to note is that this is just the initial list of books announced for the line - i'm pretty sure there are others in the pipeline featuring more female creators - so it could just be a question of timing! :p

From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 24th, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)

Search tablets

(Link)
Hi
Please prompt where it is possible to buy online viagra
Powered by LiveJournal.com