3 Chicks Review Comics – Episode 004

It’s Episode 004!  

Click to listen!

Inside this episode! An advance review of 12 Gauge Comics’ Magus #1 featuring art from phenomenal artist Rebekah Isaacs, who last was seen penciling Brian Wood’s DV8 Gods & Monsters Mini-Series.  A review of Batgirl #16 – is Batgirl’s burgeoning (but so far pretty lame) Rogue’s Gallery hurting her book…or is Steph being her own worst enemy enough?  For our hot topic this week, a discussion of the much tweeted and blogged about comment by Paul Levitz regarding women and superheroes in his three-part interview with Nathan Wilson for The Comics Journal.  And a discussion of what you can do as a fan (for starters – read Ragnell’s letter to current DC EIC Bob Harras - and write your own)!  Do it via regular mail, not email, as regular mail in a pile on one’s desk seems to be harder to ignore than email.  Plus everyone’s picks of the week!

Bob Harras
c/o DC Comics
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
Forwarding Service Requested

3 Chicks Review Comics is a podcast featuring me (naturally!) with fellow female comics lovers and bloggers Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass, and Maddy from When Fangirls Attack!. Tune in weekly to CSBG Tuesdays at 2pm as we review comics, and discuss hot topics of the week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our cast via iTunes, so you never miss an episode (the subscribe button is on them main page, on the bottom right).  In addition to the blogs above, you can also follow us all on twitter as well: Kelly, Maddy, and Sue. Special thanks to Nik Furious for our awesome 3 Chicks theme song.

*As always beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the books in question!


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7 comments

  1. John Vargas’s avatar

    Enjoyed the discussion. More for the rather astonishing irony than for actual content (although I always enjoy comic talk). With regards to the Levitz thing; yes, there are women actually interested in superhero comics. But if Levitz is looking at it in terms of “sales”, then yes…it is a fact that women “buy” less comics then men. Saying “but we’re 50% of the population!” and thinking that translates into some mass consumer force is a ridiculous statement. That’s like saying all the men in the world buy comics. A lot of guys buy comics, not ALL of them do.

    Saying that women who read fiction are the same audience for monthly comics is also ridiculous. That’s like saying that all women who walk into a Barnes & Noble are comic book readers. The readers of monthly comics (male AND female) are a niche group. I read a lot of comics, that doesn’t mean I’m automatically a possible audience for John Grisham novels. Get it? It’s NOT THE SAME THING!

    The notion posed here, that there were never comics for women and that’s why women don’t buy comics…or the “chicken and the egg” theory posed in the discussion is a FALSE ONE. In the 70s, it was tried at Marvel when Stan and Roy had female writers create three different series…Night Nurse, Claws of the Cat and Shanna the She-Devil. Sales were abominable and they were canceled. Lets not pretend that there isn’t SOME precedence for the thinking that women don’t buy comics like men do. The arguments made here have no HISTORICAL REFERENCE to back them up.

    Neither is there any “consumer” evidence that women are some mass audience just chomping at the bit to purchase comics…whether they’re female friendly or not. For a prime example of women as lesser power in the comic book marketplace, look no further than your own words in this broadcast. I was literally floored listening to Batgirl being damned by faint praise. Two out of three women felt this was a “trade later”. Well, guess what? If women don’t commit to BUYING this comic on a monthly basis (like this knuckle dragging MAN does), there won’t be ANY TRADES LATER! The sales for Batgirl AND Birds of Prey are already dismal. Complaining about a title that’s as female friendly as it gets, intimating that it’s not something you will be supporting on a monthly basis just goes to show the complete lack of support of women for not just a “female friendly” comic, but for a damn good comic period.

    This shows that women are NOT a consumer “force” in the comic book market place and with this attitude…never will be. You can’t sit and wait on the sidelines with your money, hoping that “the men folk will come around”. They came around, and you weren’t there. Now they’re coming around again, and you’re vacillating? Incredible! The day that fan girls finally comprehend the concept that you have to prove your worth as an economic force in the comic book marketplace by buying the stuff thats available to you now BEFORE any change that you want can happen…then and only then will you start to witness any sort of change. The day that Batgirl and Birds of Prey get cancelled, you’ll have no one but yourselves to blame.

    But hey…it was an entertaining show.

  2. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    @John: Enjoyed your comment, more for the rather astonishing lack of listening comprehension than actual content but whatever.

    For starters, nobody in the cast suggested that just because women are 50% of the population, that they will be 50% of comics readers, just that it is foolish to IGNORE 50% of the population in the creation of material and in marketing efforts. It’s particularly silly to ignore 50% of the population when in other not entirely unrelated mediums – such as fiction prose – that population makes up 80% of the buying base.

    To say that women have no buying power in comics is to ignore the massive sales of various Manga titles, adaptations like Twilight and the high percentage of female readers on other books like Fables. I personally believe that some of those sales can translate to superhero books if the books are slightly more female friendly, marketed differently, and more available.

    Sue has a better handle on the figures for women as comics readers in comics earlier years than I do, but I’ve heard it repeatedly (and not just from Sue) that the percentages of male and female readers were much closer when you go back in comics history.

    You’re making a classic mistake when you talk about Claws, Night Nurse, Shanna, etc. from the 70′s…and the same mistake DC made with Minx in 2007…which is that if something doesn’t hit immediately on the first try (and with an attempt at something that may not be quite right in the first place – sometimes it takes a few tries and lots of time – like most business models) to then assume that an audience doesn’t exist and isn’t interested. Three books getting tested in the market place in the 70′s and failing doesn’t mean an audience doesn’t exist…it could mean all sorts of things. And for what it’s worth – Night Nurse lasted a measly four issues, Claws of the Cat lasted four, and Shanna managed to make it to five. Now, I wasn’t alive then, but I’d love to know how they marketed it to women…if at all, and how they expected them to go from somewhat limited female readers to overnight success in four months. Not a great test case.

    Also, while we’re talking about specifically those three books (and admittedly not having read the original works) only one of the three would have interested me as a reader if shown them today. They could have been great books but on the surface I would have had no interest in a “night nurse” (no superhero elements) or a woman that ran around the jungle in a leopard print swimsuit. So again, LOTS of reasons those books could have failed in their tiny limited run…it’s impossible to draw the conclusion that “based on these three books, there is no audience” there are far too many X factors.

    Our point here, and I believe Sue made it best, is that Levitz cannot make these statements based on his observance of sales and history because it’s based on stacked data. It’s unfair to say that in your experience women aren’t as interested in superhero comics, when arguably, most of what you produced was not female friendly and certainly not marketed toward women or put in locations where they had easy access. If we were a bit unclear in that statement, you’ll have to forgive us…it’s not a scripted show the way an essay, article, or blog post is…it’s three people talking…unscripted and (mostly) unedited.

    But your comment strikes me as one that is LOOKING for something to be pissy about…all caps, rudeness, and sarcasm are quite obvious indicators on the internet…as I’m sure you’re well aware.

    As for Batgirl. First off, in case you missed it, which judging from your comment, you did, all of us BUY the issues and will continue to buy it, as we made pretty clear. I have bought every single issue, even when I was unimpressed or frustrated. And I do that because I DO believe in voting with my dollars and as I said repeatedly in the cast I think it’s a valuable and important book and that it NEEDS to be out there. I also said that it’s a buy (and something I myself would buy) for a younger woman, but that for me as an adult, it’s not quite working. Maddy felt similarly, Sue disagreed and fought for what was good about the book – and she made good points. But you seem to be missing the nuance that the three of us, despite being ladies, also are just readers of comics that have different tastes. It’s great you like it, it’s great you read it…it doesn’t quite work for me as it does for you… and that’s just comics. It’s unfair for you to say just because it’s a book women should like that all chicks must think it’s the second fucking coming of comics. As Maddy said, women are not a freaking hive vagina. Just because you put a girl on the cover and do a passable job does not mean ALL WOMEN WILL LOVE IT. We’re all unique fucking snowflakes, just like you blokes. Sometimes we respond to something, sometimes we don’t. But surprisingly, it’s not up to you to let us know when we’re wrong or right about our own personal opinions.

    But hey…your comment was entertaining to read.

  3. John Vargas’s avatar

    “To say that women have no buying power in comics is to ignore the massive sales of various Manga titles, adaptations like Twilight..”

    I’m not ignoring, I’m simply rejecting it as a valid argument. Manga and Superhero monthlies are completely different animals with different core audiences. Again…this notion of a rollover of readers from one format to another is something that I hear often but never…never see any evidence of. Yet many people say it’s happening, or will happen…hopefully…someday…maybe. There is absolutely no evidence of it. Like stories about Bigfoot or “anecdotal“ examples…it‘s pretty much bullshit. Like the imminent death of monthly comics that I’ve been hearing about for the last 2 decades that‘s getting chatted up more because of a shitty economy. We were talking about Levitz comment about women not being interested in “superhero comics”….not Manga and Twilight. I’m sure Levitz would agree with you if that were the case. The failure to acknowledge that they are different things is the source of this fallacy that they are the same audience. If this were true, we would have seen it by now in terms of sales and we haven’t. It would have happened by now…it hasn’t. Marginal spillage from one to the other…maybe. A possible mass crossover…no signs of it yet.

    “You’re making a classic mistake when you talk about Claws, Night Nurse, Shanna, etc. from the 70′s…and the same mistake DC made with Minx in 2007…which is that if something doesn’t hit immediately on the first try (and with an attempt at something that may not be quite right in the first place – sometimes it takes a few tries and lots of time – like most business models) to then assume that an audience doesn’t exist and isn’t interested.”

    Actually, you’re making the classic mistake of ignoring it because I can assure you that Marvel and DC aren’t. Yes…even sales of comics from the mid 70s are remembered in offices when taking these things into account. The point isn’t that the stories themselves weren’t to the fan girls liking, so Marvel should have tried again. The point is that they were ignored wholesale by women. I have all of those issues and have read the letter section in all of them. Not one letter by a female fan saying it was a “great idea” or even “a great idea…but”. No feedback. And that’s far more damaging to a books future than shitty sales for the first issue alone.

    “And for what it’s worth – Night Nurse lasted a measly four issues, Claws of the Cat lasted four, and Shanna managed to make it to five. Now, I wasn’t alive then, but I’d love to know how they marketed it to women…if at all, and how they expected them to go from somewhat limited female readers to overnight success in four months. Not a great test case.”

    And why didn’t they last? No feedback AND crappy sales. A one-two punch for any comic whether its marketed to guys OR girls. That‘s the way the industry did it and does it. As far as being a good test case…it did prove that if women liked it or not…we never found out because we never heard from them. It proved that whether or not there were a lot of women readers or simply a few..we wouldn’t have known it because there was no feedback one way or another. And one thing Marvel didn’t do half assed was promotion. Those books were promoted like all new books were promoted…in the news column of all the other comic books. If there were women readers reading comics, they surely would have known about it. Without feedback on whether the book sucks or doesn’t suck, then, along with bad sales, there’s no motivation to invest in a titles longevity. I’m not saying “hey, buy this shitty comic because it’s for girls and you’re a girl”, I’m saying that when these “girl” comics DO come out, there needs to be feedback in the letters section if it has one, or feedback online or whatever. I hear a lot of “curse you Marvel/DC for ignoring us!” and “stop drawing girls with big boobs, dammit” and “don’t piss us off or you’re doomed!” and the like, but that’s hardly constructive feedback and does nothing to change any minds. The day that a comic women claim to like gets the same kind of passionate feedback that Stephenie not getter a trophy case did, then you’ll see some movement.

    “Levitz cannot make these statements based on his observance of sales and history because it’s based on stacked data.”

    Um, actually, that’s ALL he has to go by. That’s all ANY company has to go by. Sales, History and the data drawn from both. Just because you (or anyone for that matter) can’t come up with any valid numbers with regards to what women read, how many women read it, why didn’t women buy it, etc, doesn’t make history wrong, no matter how much it irritates you. The facts are the facts, it’s not “stacked” at all, it just “is”. If women aren’t buying it, then women aren’t buying it. There’s really no other way to spin it. The onus is on you to tell them “why”.

    “ It’s unfair to say that in your experience women aren’t as interested in superhero comics, when arguably, most of what you produced was not female friendly and certainly not marketed toward women or put in locations where they had easy access.”

    Okay…I’m sorry but this is something else I hear that irritates the living shit out of me and it’s a case of women making women out to be complete idiots. I can assure you that Louise Simonson knew of the existence of comic book shops and amazingly enough, frequented them on occasion. I can assure you that Marie Severin knew of the existence of spinner racks at the local drug stores. They didn’t wait for the comics to appear in the check out lane or the cosmetic department at Sears. Women know where the comics are at. To sit and pout about comics not being sold where you want them to be sold, or that it’s a mitigating factor in their decision to purchase them or not makes me think that those women aren’t entirely serious about buying them in the first place. Fans go where shit they’re fans of is sold. If that’s honestly holding a woman up in their decision to purchase a comic or not, then frankly, they’re not someone that the marketing department is going to take seriously, nor should they. That’s like me complaining about not being able to find Men’s Health or Sports Illustrated at the local Waffle House because I “might” like those magazines and that‘s where I hang out. If I want either of those, I know where to find them, because…you know…I’m not a stupid person.

    “As for Batgirl. First off, in case you missed it, which judging from your comment, you did, all of us BUY the issues and will continue to buy it, as we made pretty clear. I have bought every single issue, even when I was unimpressed or frustrated.”

    Actually, what I heard was a rather offhanded dismissal of it being a “trade later”. That implies “don’t buy it now, wait for the trade”. Since all I have to go by are the words spoken on the show, I have to comment accordingly.

    “I also said that it’s a buy (and something I myself would buy) for a younger woman, but that for me as an adult, it’s not quite working. Maddy felt similarly,”

    Fair enough, but that implies that it might not work for someone older, male or female and a comment like that runs the risk of possibly alienating someone who might have otherwise read it but listened to your comments and possibly dismissed it. A small thing to be sure, but something that doesn’t help a struggling comic trying to secure a reader base of all ages and all genders. For what it’s worth, I agreed with much of the criticisms leveled at the comic. But a blogger with a following has a certain amount of influence (I assume) so words matter. You being a comic book fan, a female fan who wants more female friendly comics, for you to dismiss a comic as being basically for “kids” seems rather ironic since that’s a stigma that the comic fan community has been trying to dispel for decades.

    “But surprisingly, it’s not up to you to let us know when we’re wrong or right about our own personal opinions.”

    No, but it’s fair game to let you know that you have an obligation in this to not only whine about the companies not delivering the shit to your front door but to give the companies constructive feedback and to support something you like or if you don’t like it personally but think it has some appeal, to encourage support by other women who might, hopefully in less ambiguous terms.

    For what it’s worth, I was rude and sarcastic long before the internet came along. But I respect your opinion as difficult as that might be to believe and appreciate you taking my comments head on and will be tuning in and commenting on future pod casts. Lucky you.

  4. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    @John: I stand by all my statements the same way that you stand by yours. I fundamentally disagree with all the shit you’re espousing as facts…the same way you’re disagreeing with me. So let’s call it a day shall we? I don’t want or need your “support” and am not going to waste my time, which is quite precious (as I’m sure yours is as well), arguing with someone that is NEVER going to agree with me – and you shouldn’t either. Take that to mean that I will not be responding to future comments…not because you disagree with me, which is always acceptable, but because it’s a waste of time and because everything you say comes dripping in condescension, disrespect, entitlement and more than a little misogyny. Additionally if you continue to comment and bring the same barrage of disrespect and sexism to your comments, you’ll be banned. See the comments policy if you have questions.

    Also, you’re a known troll – hassling women comics bloggers on the regular. So that’s not helping you here.

    http://www.comixology.com/comments/df41414779e6e7aa4431c2b4727449cc

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/2010/12/13/kalinara-and-ragnell-return/#comment-62022

  5. John’s avatar

    “because everything you say comes dripping in condescension, disrespect, entitlement and more than a little misogyny.”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

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