Monday, July 24, 2006

The Neverending Logical Fallacy

Look at this page.

Did you see it? The old classic answer of "There aren't many female characters because superhero books are aimed at men."

This is a Bad Argument

It's a bad argument because its a cyclical argument.
"Our product does not appeal to women."
"Can we make this product more appealing for women?"
"The product is not appealing to women, so women will not buy. Ego, there's no reason to trouble ourselves with making the product more appealing to women."


It's a bad argument because it makes foolish assumptions about people.
"We're assuming that only men will buy, so we'll market it for men."
"Hey, a few women like it, and women are huge consumers. Maybe if we market it towards women they'll buy it."
"They have never bought it before, any women who do are weird extremists, most women have no interest in it. This is a man's product. Any strategy marketing to women will fail."


It's a bad argument because it defends a problem by stating the real problem.
"This product is sexist."
"It's not sexist, it's just a sad fact that women are uninterested in the product."
"Well, how do you know?"
"Because women don't buy it."
"Maybe they don't buy it because it's sexist."
"No, they don't buy it because it's marketed to men."
"Well, why not make it appeal to women."
"Women are uninterested in the product."

(It goes on from there)

It's a Useful Argument, however, because it can go on for long periods of time while ignoring things like logic and common sense until the person arguing with you becomes too exhausted to continue.

You just have to remember to never change your stance. Consistancy, despite all rebuttals, is the effectiveness of this strategy. You can change up the wording, but never the actual idea. You'll wear them down eventually.

42 comments:

  1. Sounds more like a chicken and egg argument to me. In which case, NONE of you are right.

    Which comes first? The female audience or the industry marketing to the female audience?

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  2. Hardly, everyone knows women were in existence before comic books.

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  3. Yes, let's all laugh now. Because, you know, it's very funny.

    Missing the point entirely just to make a joke. Dissapointing.

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  4. Isn't that what you were doing?

    Because it's not a chicken and egg argument. What came first is completely besides the point. The audience is there. They're reading manga. The challenge is making superhero comics more viable to them.

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  5. I just got worn out trying to argue there. They're basically arguing the status quo is the status quo, that's why it's the status quo. They just don't admit that there's sexism, spinning it with vague statements about "just as" many male heroes suffering or getting killed, except they don't look at anything beyond a reductionist, simple take. I got annoyed at that guy saying how not sexist comics are, and Katma's marriage and death wasn't sexist because "she wouldn't even have been in the book as much." :P Wasn't Kyle created from scratch to take over from Hal? And yet the guy says Hal and Kyle are the franchise, and the women are supporting characters. But if there's a GL Corp comic, why couldn't a woman be made more than a supporting character?

    I fear my crazy ranting contributed a lot to the negative reaction you got, although considering they pulled the "No, it's just you!" routine too, it makes me think I'm not so crazy...

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  6. We dissolved into some joking. I think Dan has the last word on the subject

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  7. icecream always makes things better :) I just wanted to add how agravated this kinda thing makes me. I am still trying to get my thoughts together to write something succinct, but I get irritated by this whole 'comics aren't marketed to women' excuse. Like those in the comics industry are a bunch of marketing geniuses? Sorry, don't want to steal the topic. I guess I will just go get icescream. Wish they still had those real ghostbusters slimer icescream pops with the gumball eyes...

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  8. The notion that women have never made up a large section of the comics buying population is incorrect, though common.

    Plus, it's hard to start reading comics these days no matter what kinda genitalia you're rocking. I can only name half a dozen books that are jump-on-able AND recommendable.

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  9. Uh, no I wasn't.

    From what I read, you're saying that the female audience is already there, and therefore the comics industry needs to court them. He's saying that the female audience is barely there, despite attempts by said industry in courting them.

    And I'm leaning towards agreeing with him (in that instance). IMO, the existence of a female audience for manga is not synonymous with the existence of a female audience for American style comics. The medium (that is, words and pictures on the same page) not withstanding, they have different styles of storytelling, different themes, different origins, and different perceptions within society. An avid female reader of manga may or may not turn to American comics even if the American comics industry has a 50/50 representation of women NOW.

    And of course, you're probably going to say, 'that's exactly what's wrong with the industry and that's exactly what we need to change in the industry.' And you know what? You're probably right.

    BUT, and I'm speaking entirely from my interpretation of the events on that page alone so forgive me if I missed anything, your entire treatise on how what's wrong with the industry is that there isn't enough of a female presence is entirely beside the point of the discussion. I'm not saying it's wrong, and I'm not saying we shouldn't do something about it, I'm just saying it's not part of your discussion with the other guy.

    In short, you weren't exactly debating with him on his terms (or his perspective if you want). You just kept on insisting and insisting that this was the problem. Which, ironically is what you accuse him of doing.

    The problem with arguing that the entire universe is inherently sexist to begin with and including that in the discussion as an argument is that you're also basically stating that everything you do with women in said sexist universe is also sexist. Which, hopefully, isn't what you intended to say.

    What (I THINK) he's saying is, GIVEN an environment where for every 5 males there is one female, is the creation of a female character for the express intent as to kill her (in the same way that you would create a male character like Abin Sur for the epxress intent that is to kill him) sexist?

    In short, he finds the assertion that an inherently sexist universe automatically means every action on women is sexist arguable. And to be fair, he did provide some examples where you might interpret it as not being sexist. That's not exactly a bad argument IMO.

    Again, this is all from my interpretation of events. If I've gotten things wrong or if I've misunderstood your point enitrely, I welcome clarifications. After all, I'm not as enlightened about feminism as you probably are. (and just to clarify, I'm not being sarcastic with that last sentence)

    peace. :)

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  10. Good point by Dryponder. If I was to honestly recommend a comic to someone who doesn't read comics, I don't know what I would recommend. I primarily read DC, and I can't think of a single book I read that doesn't make numerous assumptions regarding the past history of characters featured in it. The nearest I have to that, I guess, is Legion of Super-Heroes, and the inker really doesn't suit Kitson's art.

    Other than that, the only really jump-on-able comics I've seen recently are things like Detective Comics, maybe Superman, and the Marvel Adventures all-ages range.

    But that's not what you're pointing out here, I guess.

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  11. To rudely jump in the middle of the debate, I'd like to think the anime-influenced Teen Titans animated series showed that it was possible to get a crossover audience. It's just I'm not so sure the DCU comic proper has managed to hold onto that audience thanks to Infinite Crisis and the general aura of misery it has.

    And the problem I had with the terms that there is a solid majority male audience, and a scant female one, is that you're assuming whatever the actual amount of women, for all intents and purposes, they're insignificant. You can't change or improve anything, because the problematic stuff is, apparently, what the presumed male audience wants. What I got from his posts is that women in leading roles (from his examples of Katma and Alex and other women being "supporting characters") or recovering from trauma/death/awful stuff doesn't sell and therefore isn't really worth doing. Since male heroes (Hal, Kyle, and Guy as his examples) sell and make tons of money, they are treated better and recover quicker, and that's the way it's always going to be, apparently. So you really can't argue with him since you lose by the assumption that "It won't sell." Except that indie and manga has shown it is possible - manga fans' and comic fans' brains aren't wired differently that it's impossible to break through.

    Not what you're arguing, it's just what I got from that thread...

    Given the fall back on "It's just comics!" and how it's all business, I wonder if comics is the only medium that has supporters debase it as a defense.

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  12. I'm not sure where the idea that there's no potential female audience comes from...

    I mean, the popularity of manga (or Sandman, for that matter) shows that there's nothing in the comic book medium itself that women have an innate aversion to.

    The popularity of movies like X-Men, the Spider-Man movies, Batman Begins, Superman Returns, as well as cartoons like JLU and Teen Titans seem to clearly indicate that women can be as interested in the superhero concept as men. Heck, even that godawful Mutant X show had a large fanbase...one that was, from what I saw, primarily female.

    So we've got a lot of women reading Japanese comics and a lot of women watching superheroes in another medium, but for whatever reason, they're not coming to DC/Marvel comics.

    Chris seems to assume that DC/Marvel has tried to court these women and failed so why bother.

    Ragnell is trying to argue that DC/Marvel hasn't tried. And as a female reader myself, I agree with that. There are a lot of series I love that I'd never have tried if not for word of mouth. It'd be very easy for the comics to use marketing to alert readers of these series and their applicability toward a female audience.

    Heck, every woman I know who reads She-Hulk loves it, but read it *in spite* of its cover. I know a lot of fans of the Witchblade TV series a whie back that were scared away by the rampant T&A in the art.

    I was a manga fan myself and I thought I hated American comics until a good friend started showing me the ones he knew would appeal to me the most. If it weren't for that friend, I would never have known. Certainly not from walking into a store or seeing the ads for them.

    So we *definitely* are out there and willing to buy. We just have to know there's something *to* buy.

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  13. For the most part, I agree with ragnell, although I think david's chicken & egg point is valid (and unworthy of the immediate mocking it received).

    Mostly, though, I wanted to point out that the following strategy is ill-advised and leads to the very thing it's meant to negate:

    "You just have to remember to never change your stance. Consistancy, despite all rebuttals, is the effectiveness of this strategy."

    Employ this strategy and the terrorists have won.

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  14. Well, here's my question. How good is the comic book industry at marketing anything to anybody except the very people who are already buying the specific thing they're trying to sell to them?

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  15. Kalinara,

    I never said that there aren't any comics out there that might be of interest to women. I'm pretty sure they're there. You give some pretty good exmaples of their existence, in fact. What I'm saying is that despite this, the female audience currently existing in comics is barely there.

    Now of course, that all depends on what you might mean by being 'barely' there. Fact of the matter is, they ARE there (as exemplified by you and Ragnell) but another fact is they don't exactly compose the majority of the comic-buying public.

    And although Jig mentions the animated Teen Titans as an example of the audience for manga/anime crossing over to American-style comics, for every Teen Titans, there's the Marvel Manga series (which arguably didn't really take off), there's the Tsunami line of comics during Jemas' era, and loads of other examples where it didn't work. The point still remains, they're not synonymous. Sometimes, like in the case of Teen Titans, they may be, but not ALL the time.

    And you might probably say, that's what's wrong, and that's what we should change about the industry. I would wholeheartedly agree with you. And with people like you being part of the loud minority of female readers, I'm hoping it does happen.

    But the question still remains, has the industry REALLY courted female readers? The problem is, whether or not you think their past and previous attempts were enough or not depends entirely on your own standards. It's entirely subjective.

    Nevertheless, you still have to admit there has been attempts. I think Spider-girl was one such attempt. the Mary Jane series was also one such attempt. Did it fail or was it successful? That depends on you and that's why it's arguable.

    Besides, Matthew also brings up a very interesting point. When was the last time that the comic book industry marketed to any demographic that isn't the mainstream comic buying public that YOU can consider succesful?

    Or, to put it another way, if you have an industry that's essentially failed in courting almost all other demographics (including the female demographic) aside from their own insular public, can you still consider that as sexism?

    Personally, I'd call that something else.

    And by the by, I don't think anyone really answered my question in my previous post. In an inherently male-dominated comic book universe, is any action done on a female inherently sexist? I would honestly like to know what you guys thought.

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  16. Comics needs some capitalists. You know, people who would actually try to study who is buying comics and who might buy comics and who would buy more comics if there was more of what they like. Because we're all just guessing based on the limited info we've got.

    But then again, beer companies have those resources yet still want to only market their product towards men. Which is why we lady beer drinkers need to speak up and tell them we're not buying beer marketed towards men and they could win by making a product for everybody, as it doesn't hurt men in the slightest to see beer appealing to women in commercials.

    This is a bigger problem than comics. But you see more cleaning products starting to be marketed towards men than you see traditionally male things marketed towards women. Maybe because they assume women are already wired to see themselves in men, but men don't see women as them.

    And manga and superhero comics ain't all that different, you know. Not to most people who don't already read them.

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  17. I think a large part of the reason that efforts at marketing superhero comics to women and minorities have failed is because the folks doing the marketing insist on seeing them as a separate consumer base from the general audience right off the bat. This is spectacularly stupid. "General audience" means anyone who might be interested. The things that are off-putting to women and minorities are not fundamental or essential to superhero comics. Indeed, 20 to 30 years ago there was a more general audience. Also, it was way bigger. A couple of minor changes that wouldn't have any effect on the nature of superhero comics in the slightest would make them more appealing to a more general audience, while at the same time retaining the current fanbase. It's not about marketing strategies, it's about content management and professionalism

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  18. Meanwhile, companies like Tokyopop bring shoujo manga by the boatload to Borders, leaving folks at the Big Three scratching their heads in befuddlement.

    "But...but girls don't like comic books."

    Idiots.

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  19. Manga is succesful because they provide a wide range of content that appeals to everyone and they advertise it properly.

    The main difference between Japanese comics and American is the fact that there is a much wider range of stories for an audience to pick from. Thus, it attracts more than just boys.

    Plus. they advertise the hell of their products. Maybe the big two should steal a copy of their marketing plan and strive to provide wider range of content and take a bigger risk than throwing random stuff to see what sticks.

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  20. West -- He got immediate joking because I'd been ranting and was too tired to engage the argument so soon.

    You can tell I was tired because at the end of the post I switched viewpoints to that of the sort of person using such an argument, which is why I advised never changing your stance. I was speaking as someone who would use the cyclical argument I was complaining about, not giving advice to counteract it.

    I could find no way to counteract it, aside from pointing out the pointlessness of the argument, which, in the thread, did not work. The only thing that could end the disagreement was the discussion of ice cream that began on Page 4.

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  21. And manga and superhero comics ain't all that different, you know. Not to most people who don't already read them.

    I beg to differ.

    People are socialized to react differently between manga and comic books.

    For a regular person off the street, you could say "comics!" and he'd immediately think of Superman.

    Take that same person off the street and say "manga!" and he'd probably think of tentacle sex.

    Of course, that's an extreme example but the point still remains.

    A person inclined to read manga might not necessarily be inclined to read comics, and vice versa.

    Different culture, different perspectives, different story telling techniques.

    Why do you think that OEL manga doesn't fare as well as the real thing? Hell, why do you think there's even a dichotomy?

    It's as if you're saying that magazines are no different from books just because they both employ the same medium, which is words on a page. An avid reader of Cosmo may or may not translate to an avid reader of John Grisham.

    It's not an automatic correlation.

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  22. But that's like saying people who love foreign movies won't ever watch anything made in America. If manga and comics are so different, you could just as easily say no one who loves Kurosawa is ever going to give, say, Scorsese a try for the same reason of different ways of storytelling and all that. Or to be less pretentious, Hong Kong kung fu movies to American cult classics. Film is film, comics is comics. If it's good, it'll cross over. OEL does badly, I think, because it comes off as bad imitations more than anything else.

    I don't think the dichotomy is due to some sort of impenetrable Sapir-Whorf-like barrier. Rather, I think it is the variety of genres and stories available in manga, particularly more character oriented stuff. I mean, some one who likes romances or character-driven stories isn't going to like Infinite Crisis - through all my criticisms about IC, I kept hearing, "What did you expect?" They add I shouldn't have expected deep character portrayals, just spectacle and cotton candy. If this sort of thing is what the mainstream keeps putting out, of course there's going to be a dichotomy reinforced. Curious crossover fans are just going to be told to go elsewhere if they don't like something. If voting with your wallet is the only way to have a voice, well, there you go.

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  23. What we need to understand is that Manga readers like stories about ridiculous-looking people with extraordinary abilities punching, kicking and zapping each other and playing weird mind games, occasionally interspersed with soap opera elements. What in God's name would they see in American suoerhero comics? What, I say?

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  24. And here is a point of view that I
    fear will have EVERYONE mad at me.
    I've been reading comics for a very long time, and as much a boy's club as it is, it used to be a whole lot worse. But have any of the women readers considered a
    much much worse form of mysogeny?
    I'm talking about "Romance" novels
    or "Bodice Rippers". Guys probably don't know much about these pieces of dreck...written for the most part BY women and FOR
    women. I don't mean the classics...Wuthering Heights,Jane
    Eyre and Gone with the Wind, or
    even Forever Amber, but the sludge
    put out by your basic Harlequin
    Romance writer. There are guidelines for the heroines, they
    MUST be young, slender and beautiful, and the whole point, is
    to get the man. In contrast, comics are looking better and better.
    Please don't hit me.

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  25. It's a bad argument if you think comic books are still a mainstream media. It's a completely logical argument if you think comics are a niche medium closer to vinyl records than anything. Try asking the same question, but instead of women and comics, ask about teenagers and vinyl records.

    I mean, even look at Comic Con. The big news coming from it this year wasn't anything comic related, it was movie (Spider-Man 3, Transformers), cartoon (Ben 10, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Legion of Super Heroes), and toy (Hyper Scan, action figures, etc.) news.

    That's my opinion anyway...

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  26. Sally -- Oh, absolutely right! I will never understand those trashy romance novels my mother is obsessed with.

    Andrew -- You're once again missing the point. Comic Books are acting like a niche medium when they have absolutely no need to be. Vinyl records have been replaced by faster, easier storage methods. A teenager looks at the low-tech and doesn't see the point -- not to mention the songs they prefer are not on the records.

    Comic books, on the other hand, are a visual medium that can coexist with television and film, just as books do. Books remaind popular to this day. Manga, which runs on the same principle as American comics (though the subject matter is different) is thriving in bookstores, not threatened by Anime. By not holing up into a specific community, they could very well have widespread appeal.

    Superhero comics may be a niche medium now, but they certainly don't have to be.

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  27. Ragnell said, "You're once again missing the point. Comic Books are acting like a niche medium when they have absolutely no need to be."

    I absoluetly agree! That's what I was trying to say. Thanks to the Diamond Distributer model and comics getting pushed back into specialty shops, they've all-but become vinyl records.

    I think your post makes sense to companies who are trying to reach a diverse audience. I just really don't think comic publishers work like mainstream media anymore.

    After watching all my favorite characters and concepts in comic books whither and die, all while similar characters and concepts thrive on both television and science fiction novels, I just can't really see comics as a mainstream media anymore.

    Your argument is sound, I just don't think it strikes down to the core disease that's hurting comics these days.

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  28. “Comic Books are acting like a niche medium when they have absolutely no need to be.”

    That is a bad argument. The medium of tv and movies and the medium of comic books appeal to separate audiences. For instance, the tv show Smallville is successful. Its audience is largely female and they have an interest in that form of storytelling. The comic book Smallville bombed. Its audience was largely male and they had zero interest in that form of storytelling. Similarly, Superman Returns attracted an audience who would otherwise never buy the comic books and still do not buy the comic books. The Justice League tv show was wildly popular, mostly among males, and yet most of those people never read the comics. The thing to keep in mind is that just because comic book fans might watch a show or movie does not mean the tv show and movie fans will read the comics.

    Comic books are a niche market because they present a certain kind of storytelling that appeal to a specific audience. Even within the industry, there are more sub-divisions and the superhero category are one of them. Would anyone suggest that high fantasy publishers “branch out” to appeal to the non-fiction market? Of course not. That is not that kind of story either audience wished to read. Likewise, the comic book industry honestly has no reason to abandon its core fan base to appeal to another audience. The different kinds of stories would turn off long-time fans.

    There is no comparison between American comics and manga outside of them both using word bubbles and panels. If Marvel or DC tried to sell shounen manga ideas like Naruto or Dragon Ball, it would bomb. American comic book fans simply are not interested in that form of storytelling. And honestly, there is nothing wrong with appealing to a specific market or audience. Shoujo appeals to the female audience. Should it be marketed and perhaps rewritten to appeal to boys and men? (By the way, USA tried that with Cardcaptor Sakura and completely ruined the show.) If it is okay to appeal to a female audience and focus on their wants, then it is okay to do the same with a male audience.

    Besides, to say females do not read comics is an inaccurate statement. The more accurate statement would be females do not read the kinds of comics that Marvel and DC publish. The Big Two have no reason to publish shoujo-esque manga unless they wish to lose their core, primarily male fan base.

    TS

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  29. Your comparison of comics publishers to "fantasy literature publishers" takes the logical fallacy that comics are a genre, not a medium.

    Comics, for all their tropes and techniques, are just another way of telling a story, like a movie camera or a novelist's pen, and while the market is dominated by a single genre, the medium of comics can contain everything from Superman to a treatise on the business management of a Japanese noodle company to historical fiction and how it relates to the popularity of an enduring folk song.

    Separating Japanese comics and American comics is essentially the same as separating American movies from Japanese movies. They often work differently and use a set of different shorthands, but they're all put on film the same way.

    And really, do you honestly think that Dragon Ball hasn't been successful in America? I mean really?

    And as far as saying "females do not read the kinds of comics that Marvel and DC publish," the irony seems to have escaped you that you're commenting on a blog written by a woman who loves and reads Green Lantern.

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  30. Chris-

    Ragnell is one woman. She does not represent the entire female population and it would be disingenuous to imply that she does.

    I specifically stated, “Even within the industry, there are more sub-divisions and the superhero category are one of them.” How did you come up with the strawman that I thought comic books were a genre? Superhero stories are a genre, and that happens to be the genre that Marvel and DC focus on. Am I wrong?

    Two things. One, most American comic book readers do not buy Dragon Ball and most of them have no interest in manga. This was best reflected in the reaction among fans when Marvel had Kia Asamiya work on Uncanny Xmen. Most fans hated his work. Two, if you compare manga to American comics, the difference is a lot more than one is made in Japan. Comparing the two is akin to comparing digital painting to oil painting. They are both painting styles and use painting tools, but the differences are starkly apparent.

    But you seem to be dancing around a very basic point. Shoujo-style books, which clearly appeal to females, do not appeal to males. So what reason do the Big Two have to publish those kinds of books, particularly when that is not the genre they work in and their audience is primarily male? Should they abandon male fans to appeal to fans of another genre? Likewise, where is the similar push for the romance industry, self-help industry, day-time television industry and fashion industry to appeal to male audiences? Or it is acceptable that those industries target only women?

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  31. TS -- And you seem to have manufactured a point. No one is saying DC should market Shoujo-style books. Why do you automatically assume that to appeal to women means to change all superhero books to Shoujo manga?

    What we are saying, and, which you point out in your first comment, is that female consumers have no aversion to superheroes.

    And Manga proves that female readers have no aversion to the sequential art form of storytelling.

    DC and Marvel publish superheroes in a sequential art form of storytelling.

    If they were to market beyond their little niche and actually go for female readers, their sales would increase.

    Instead, they stay in their niche and some people answer any complaints about disrespect towards female characters with "Well, these books are aimed for men."


    When we argue back that they could be marketed for women, those same people say "Women are not interested."

    Yet, female viewers are seeing films like X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman Returns, Sky-High, My Super-Ex-Girlfriend, Batman Beings.

    Female viewers are watching cartoons like Powerpuff Girls.

    Women, as a whole, do not appear to have an aversion to the concept of superheroes.

    Meanwhile, Manga sells to a mostly female audience. Looks like women, as a whole, don't have an aversion to sequential art.

    So, women, if there wasn't a niche market for superheroes that was unfriendly to women (and it is unfriendly to women), would very likely buy superhero comic books.

    The companies would make more money.

    The changes would only serve to improve the stories overall.

    What is the fear about marketing to women?

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  32. Ragnell, the same arguments you made can be applied to any number of industries. Yet no one is suggesting that Harlequin market towards males. Why? What is the fear about marketing to men?

    A superhero is a concept. It can appeal to anyone. However, a story is a fleshed out idea that often appeals to certain people with certain tastes. DC and Marvel comics have more in common with Fight Club than with the OC, so they draw in a male audience. It is not the concept, but the kinds of stories they tell and how they tell them that draw in that audience. The same is true for Harlequin, film, television and manga.

    Who is the main character? What is his/her goal? What is the focus of the story? Those things affect the potential audience. That is not bias or bigotry, just basic writing skills.

    The indy industry is booming, and if there is a market for female-driven superhero stories, why aren’t female creators making them? Why go to the Big Two? Books like Invincible or the Authority have been successful without doing so. Why can’t female creators do the same, especially if there is a market for it?

    TS

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  33. Toy Soldier:

    the difference between superhero comics (including DC/Marvel) and Harlequinn is that very rarely do men actually have an interest in anything resembling the product shelled out.

    However, as established by Smallville, Mutant X, Lois and Clark and all the movies, women DO have an interest in the superhero product. Women like comics. Thus it wouldn't be a big deal to market comics to be sold to women.

    The problem is DC/Marvel don't market well to our audience. Women like Ragnell and me and the many many women linked on When Fangirls Attack for the most part have gotten into comics in spite of company marketing.

    I always use She-Hulk for an example. Every woman I know who reads it loves it, but every one had to get past the misgivings of the cover. We loved everything else about it. And honestly, most male fans I've talked to about it said they wouldn't mind a less objectivizing cover either.

    The thing is, while the amount of men who actively argue for the same things we do are small, the majority of male comic fans are largely indifferent to the whole issue.

    Which means as long as you have hot men and women in spandex kicking ass, they tend to be happy.

    (And for the record having hot characters =/= objectification, we're not mad that the characters are hot or even in skimpy clothing, we're mad when the sexualization of the women starts to overcome the character of the woman.)

    Making rape less common, using a few less borderline pornographic poses, making a few more women in the vein of the Birds of Prey (which sells very well thanks, and has many strong women, written by a woman even!) or Power Girl or She-Hulk probably wouldn't really impact the male audience.

    But it'd do a lot to draw in women who are interested, but scared away...and there are a LOT.

    And for the record, Authority is produced by Wildstorm, which is a DC property. So please kindly get your facts straight before you argue further? I'd hate to see a potentially interesting argument derailed by inaccurate information.

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  34. Not only that, Invincible is published by Image Comics. I can tell you know very little about the industry, Toy Soldier, so here's a little background on Image Comics. Image is the closest in status to DC and Marvel because in the 90s it was started by a bunch of creators who already had a fan following from their work on Big Two properties.

    Image may not be Big Two, but it sure as hell isn't indy and it owes most of its success to the Big Two properties.

    And the only reason I'm not saying anything about Harlequinn romance is because I'm not the least bit interested in Harlequinn romance books. Though if I heard a guy saying he wanted to read them and thought they were offensive to men, I wouldn't argue with him. Because I know nothing about the romance book industry. You really should only argue about the subjects you're familiar with.

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  35. Kalinara said: The difference between superhero comics (including DC/Marvel) and Harlequinn is that very rarely do men actually have an interest in anything resembling the product shelled out.

    How do you know this? Men watch shows like the OC, Desperate Housewives and Girlfriends. Men watch movies like Titanic, Hitch and the Princess Bride. It wouldn't be a big deal then to market Harlequin books to men, right? You have to admit it’s rather ironic that you support ignoring the male audience because “men don’t like romantic stories.” Well, I worked at a bookstore a few years ago. About a fifth of the people buying romance novels were men. So wouldn’t do a lot to draw in men who’re interested but scared away (and there are a LOT)?

    Of course, Harlequin doesn’t market to males because they have a much larger female market, and the money they’d spend appealing to males would probably lose them more money than they’d make.

    And for the record, Wildstorm is a DC imprint. It was moved over to DC in 1999 when DC bailed Jim Lee out. It is editorially separate from DC comics, i.e. DC does not control it. Please get your facts straight.

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  36. Ragnell, I read comic books ranging from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Avatar, IDW, Oni Press, Devil’s Due and Top Cow, and I’ve been doing so since I was 9. For the past two years I worked with a local small press publisher named Quality Quill. We went to Wizard World Chicago last year and the year before and got a bit of press coverage. So please don’t ruin this discussion by attacking my knowledge of the industry because you can’t explain why female creators aren’t publishing female-driven superhero stories in indy books.

    Image publishes tons different genres. While you may not like Image, I would suggest that you go to their website and look at the titles they publish before you claim they don’t publish indy books.

    If there’s a market for female-driven superhero stories, then female creators can self-publish and build up a fan base that would entice companies like IDW, Alias, Image and Dark Horse to pick them up. Female creators could do what male creators do: form a small press company, pool together your money and help get each other’s books published. You can even publish online through companies like Comixpress at no cost. I’m not saying it’s easy to do, but it’s an option and the best one if you want ownership and control over the characters and stories.

    But apparently, instead of creating your own characters and stories, you want other creators to change their characters and stories to appeal to you. As a writer, I really can’t understand that. If other creators aren’t telling the kinds of stories you want to read, but you have the ability to do it yourself, why wouldn’t you? Does the story really have to be told with Wonder Woman or from Jade’s point of view (she won’t stay dead for long)? Women are only interested in stories with established characters as the leads? That says to me that this is more about making a political statement than telling good stories.

    That’s just sad and appalling because it ruins the industry. I don’t want anyone telling me what kinds of stories I can write or what audience I can write for, and I would suspect most female creators wouldn’t either. Various companies appeal to certain markets regardless of whether people outside those markets also enjoy the stories. You seem in favor of it when the market is largely female. That’s quite hypocritical, and honestly you lose the support of male fans by doing that. If the female market is there, create the books and sell to them. It worked with Image, with Dark Horse, with IDW, with Devil’s Due, with Viz, with Tokyopop, etc.

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  37. Toy Soldier:
    Wow. One wonders exactly why you're here if you're not going to read anyone's actual responses aside from the part that applies directly to you.

    We've explained that we don't want DC or Marvel to change their products very much. We want them to change the *packaging*.

    We've mentioned how many of our specific complaints are shared by many male readers. We've mentioned how as an audience a lot of what is good out there is overlooked by women because we don't know it's there.

    That is not the same as remarketing Harlequinn romances for men. But for the record, there are a number of crossover genres (the romance fantasy ones for example) that have been marketed with different covers under both a Romance Novel cover/category as well as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy cover/category. Which means, yes, actually, in some cases, romance novels are repackaged for both gender-consumption.

    Which is basically what we want. And as for stories from Wonder Woman's point of view? Considering she's got her own series and is one of the core three of the JLA, I'm not sure where that complaint even comes up.

    And your mention of Jade proves you've never read this blog. Ragnell hates Jade. She'd hate a story from her viewpoint and constantly advocates/advocated the creation of new female Green Lanterns to balance out this god-awful example. (I'm the one that argues she's salvageable thanks.) Try reading up on your opponents before putting words in our mouths.

    And for the record, DC Imprint means they're owned by the same company. Hence they share creators, characters (Captain Atom, for example?) and the same website. Notice all the DC stuff listed under *news*. Wow! Gee, I'm thinking there's a connection!

    Besides, both Ragnell and I have been loud advocates for new female characters and female creators on our blogs if you'd bothered to actually read around. It's just we don't see the need of wasting a pre-existing product either. Wonder Woman is one of the Trinity. That means she is theoretically of equal import to Batman and Superman. The nice thing is that DC is finally recognizing it and according to the Trinity panel in SDCC are making an effort to increase her sales again to support a second book.

    And Indy isn't a genre, Indy has to do with small producers. Image is far too mainstream to be Indy. It may or may not produce Indie-style comics, but again, there's a difference.

    And finally, no one's telling *you* how to write your stories. No one's even telling you what we might like to see your stories (there's a difference). This is because frankly, we're not interested in them. At all.

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  38. Toy Soldier said...

    "Ragnell, I read comic books ranging from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Avatar, IDW, Oni Press, Devil’s Due and Top Cow, and I’ve been doing so since I was 9."


    Oh yeah? Well I've been reading them since I was six.

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  39. Oh yeah? Well I've been reading them since I was six.

    See, Toy Soldier, posturing for geek cred...Not gonna do you much good around here.

    We're not impressed. :-)

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  40. there are a number of crossover genres (the romance fantasy ones for example) that have been marketed with different covers under both a Romance Novel cover/category as well as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy cover/category. Which means, yes, actually, in some cases, romance novels are repackaged for both gender-consumption.

    For that matter, the Hugo & Nebula award winning SF novel Doomsday Book by Connie Willis had multiple covers: one rather... florid, the other more generic.

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  41. That is not the same as remarketing Harlequinn romances for men. But for the record, there are a number of crossover genres (the romance fantasy ones for example) that have been marketed with different covers under both a Romance Novel cover/category as well as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy cover/category. Which means, yes, actually, in some cases, romance novels are repackaged for both gender-consumption.

    Thanks for making this point. I've been doing a little bit of research on Harlequin recenlty and was surprised to learn of some of their newer imprints, some of which sound like they're packaged for a male audience (despite, from what I've read, being genre-romances at the core).

    However, bringing up romance novels also brings up the societal pressure that says it's okay for women to enjoy male-oriented media but there's something funny about a guy who likes female-oriented media. (It's a challenge for Shojo Beat, too much pink and articles on make-up leaves their guy readers feeling like they shouldn't be picking up the magazine for the shoujo comics. As much as I can go with 'turnabout is fair play' Viz' main insterst is in selling magazines.)

    Anyway, I think one major factor in why attempting to put out comics that would appeal to women hasn't been sucesful in the past is that there's been a bad attitude from the accountants. "Hey, this series that aimed to draw new readers to comic shops isn't profitable after eighteen months... better cancel it and not try to reach that audience again." Marvel digests aside, most attempts to bring new readers (women and anyone else) to comics have faced the same expectations as popular franchises with built-in sales.

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  42. "DC and Marvel comics have more in common with Fight Club than with the OC"

    Right, because Chuck Palahniuk is writing Wonder Woman and Young Avengers. Totally forgot that.

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