A confluence of events:

1) The understandable to-do that's arisen over the whole Starfire and Catwoman depictions in the new DC books has put a lot of attention on superhero comics being written and drawn by men for men (or men-children, as the case may be), with little apparent regard for any feminist politics that may be put out of joint.

2) My lovely wife is mentoring a young lady who's just entering her senior year of college. This young lady, a Creative Writing major, is going to write a graphic novel for her senior project — she apparently is recently into comics, and really likes superheroes (primarily Marvel), so wants to go in that direction. Jen, being a good mentor, is picking my brain on creators, comics, and comic-related stuff (podcasts, blogs, local shops, etc.) to point her to.

My various recommendations led Jen to observe, "There really aren't a lot of superhero comics by women, for women, are there?" I'll admit I couldn't think of a lot, and that combined with item one above got me contemplating it. So while I think about the topic myself, I'm putting it out to you, my fellows: what are some comics by women, for women, that fall within the broader genre trappings of superhero-y comics?

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Some of my favorite comics feature women, but very few of those are "superheroes".

 

GoGIRL!  (Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons)

JANE'S WORLD  (Paige Braddock)

GIRL GENIUS  (Phil Foglio)

SALLY FORTH  (Wally Wood)

GHITA OF ALIZARR  (Frank Thorne)

 

The golden age Wonder Woman comics definitely were written with a female audience in mind.  I would say many DC superhero comics in the 40s and 50s were trying to reach a large audience of both boys and girls.  My mother-in-law, now 70, still has many of her Superman and Batman comics from that era.  She grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan and comics, superhero ones included, were read by everyone her age.  I think that that period of superhero books often used more comedy and certainly less teeth-gritting.

Having visited the Friends of the Library store earlier today (they have an excellent quarter bin), I realized that we are overlooking any number of manga titles.

 

As I have only the barest familiarity with manga, I can name only one that applies, Maison Ikkuku, but I'm sure there are plenty of others.

Sailor Moon, reissued this week for the first time in 10 years.

 


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! Comics and Games for Everyone!

I used to listen to WOXY.com; It was the future of rock-n-roll! RIP WOXY


There's Air, by G. Willow Wilson, 24 issues for Vertigo. Somebody already mentioned Claws of the Cat, Miss Fury (my wife is reading that now), Girl Comics. Did anyone mention Patsy Walker, Hellcat? Five-issue mini written by Kathryn Immonen in 2008. There are more scratching around the edges of my memory.

 

 

"I would say many DC superhero comics in the 40s and 50s were trying to reach a large audience of both boys and girls."

 

Yeah. The Superman Family books had a huge female readership in the Weisinger era.

I've read that many women wrote and drew comics during WWII, while most of the men were in the service. When the guys came home after the war, it was "back to the kitchen" (or the secretarial pool) for most of those women ... though some held on as romance comics writers for decades.

 

Trina Robbins' books about female cartoonists (and comics aimed at girls) would be the go-to source.

www.newsarama.com/comics/hey-thats-my-cape-catwoman-starfire-110928...

 

Well-thought out column from a female fan. First line: "This is a tough time to be a woman who likes superhero comics."

 

The problem? DC is presenting its female characters as (literally) breasts instead of people. Way to go, DC! Frankly, I've flipped through some of these "New 52" titles ,and they look like the same pandering to bored teenage boys that Image perfected almost 20 years ago. I expected something different.

 

Maybe that's why no women are posting comments about comics here anymore.

I'm going to take counter-point on this one. ;)

 

I have read all 52 of DC's new #1s, and the way women are portrayed in the line is far from universal. Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman came out the same week as Catwoman and Red Hood and were both terrific comics and respectful in their treatment of women.

 

This is a terrific time to be a woman who like super-hero comics. For every truly awful portrayal of a woman, there are a lot more positive portrayals. Misty Knight in Heroes for Hire, Rogue, Storm, Dani Moonstar, and Kitty in X-Men, Atom Eve in Invincible, Songbird in Thunderbolts, Wonder Girl in Teen Titans, Batwoman, Batgirl... even the strippers in Voodoo were not cardboard cutout sluts, they were real women with real concerns.

 

The problem is that, like in every other aspect of reality these days, the negative always gets more attention than the positive. While it's important to call out the things that enforce or create negative stereotypes wherever we find them, we also need to promote the positive.

 

That balance is what is missing.

 


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! Comics and Games for Everyone!

I used to listen to WOXY.com; It was the future of rock-n-roll! RIP WOXY


The portrayal of most women in comics looks utterly grotesque to most people who aren't regular readers. Fanboys tend to get locked into their fantasy worlds and have no idea how bizarre these things look to other people.

 

According to Grant Morrison, a lot of female comics characters are now traced on light boxes by artists who get the images from skin mags and online pornography. This has probably been going on for a while now -- maybe since the early '70s, when Lainie Kazan's Playboy pictorial inspired Jack Kirby to create Big Barda. But it's much more blatant and pervasive now.

 

As Jill, the Newsarama columnist, points out, the DC reboot is aimed squarely at the 18-34 male demographic. This is the same demographic that Hollywood prizes most dearly; that's why we've had three "Transformers" movies and two "Hangover" movies, with more sure to come. But, she writes, DC ALREADY had that demographic. Why doesn't it try to expand its audience? Has it been selling comics to young males for so long, it no longer knows how to reach anyone else?

...Hey , how about the " Boobies , yeah - but NO NIPPLES " convention ??!??!?!?!! I once had an Australian printing of the Scandanavian THE PHANTOM comic book -  A story by a name US writer , too , IIRC !!!!!!! - in which , in a story imagining a possible future where the 21st Phantom's male/femmale twins , having grown up , have both assumed the Phantom identity , working as a team , the female Phantom has , um " bulges " of a realistic nature originating from underneath her Spandex !!!!!!!!!

  Obviously , the " NN " convention simply follows what is general American commercial/" what is alright " rules as well...



George said:

The portrayal of most women in comics looks utterly grotesque to most people who aren't regular readers. Fanboys tend to get locked into their fantasy worlds and have no idea how bizarre these things look to other people.


Sorry Dag, have to agree with George here. A female friend was around the house when I was talking to another fan about Civil War, and she was intrigued at the sound of how a superhero story could tackle those big questions of security vs freedom in a corporately produced comic during the Bush era.

I gave her some of the issues, possibly the first comics she'd read in years, and one of the pages fell open to a scene of Cap and someone arguing. The artist had framed it in such a way that some superheroine's huge butt took up almost half the frame. (The 'camera' was at her hip level looking past those globes of wonder to Cap and his conversation partner)

There was absolutely no reason to have her cheeks in that frame at all, apart from adolescent titillation.

There were jokes made about how you could set picture frames on such a fine shelf-like posterior.

That's what superhero comics look like to non-fanboys.

"Misty Knight in Heroes for Hire, Rogue, Storm, Dani Moonstar, and Kitty in X-Men, Atom Eve in Invincible, Songbird in Thunderbolts, Wonder Girl in Teen Titans, Batwoman, Batgirl"


Good characters all, and admirable portrayals of women in their way. Still, I'd guess that it wouldn't be hard to find images of them, or instances from the personal histories which would make a typical non-fan woman feel a little uncomfortable. Particularly those owned by the Big Two. Even Batwoman and Batgirl have a thing for the kind of figure-hugging black leather costume that it is really hard to persuade a real-world female to wear on a Saturday night!

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