DC Aims at Teenage Girls

Today’s NY Times has an article (registration required) on Minx, DC Comics’ new line of graphic novels for teenage girls.

Disclaimer: I’m quoted in it, because the author, an old Usenet friend, needed someone familiar with the subject matter at short notice who wasn’t actually working on the project. That’s not going to stop me from pointing out some of the sillier statements in the piece, though.

It starts with a quote from Karen Berger: “It’s time we got teenage girls reading comics.” But they already are! That’s likely why DC is comfortable launching this initiative; as a large company, they don’t like to break new ground. Look at how long it took them to do manga, launching CMX after other, smaller, more reactive companies had already demonstrated a market for the material.

I love the idea of more comics for girls, but I’m concerned about several things:

  1. Most of the creators involved are men. As I say in the article, I don’t think only women can write for women, but I think it helps provide an alternative perspective and a more true-to-life experience. The only female creator announced so far is a young-adult novelist, and this will be her first comic-writing experience. (Jim Rugg (Street Angel) will be drawing her story, and Andi Watson has also announced that he’s involved in another title.)
  2. DC has a mixed track record when it comes to imprints. Vertigo was a huge success, but it seems to have lost its way, and the others — Paradox, WildStorm, CMX, Helix — are either struggling for sales or defunct.
  3. It’s very odd to see a company whose core line of comics is so unfriendly and hateful towards women launch this effort. Something of a mixed message there, or is this intended to assuage critics? “Oh, don’t worry about the rape and murder in our superhero books — the comics for you girls are over there.”

The difference with Minx is that DC’s turning to outside help for marketing.

All told, DC, a unit of Time Warner, will spend $125,000 next year to push the line. “In terms of consumer marketing, it’s got to be the largest thing we’ve done in at least three decades,” said Paul Levitz, the president and publisher of DC Comics. “It’s not large by the scale of consumer marketing and advertising as it’s done in America, but it’s a large-scale commitment, I think, for a publishing company in general.”

When I talked to the author, I also brought up Scholastic’s Graphix line, which this sounds very similar to and I’ve been very pleased with. I’m not surprised that it’s not mentioned in this article, which is promotion for the line due in May. Why bring up the competition?

Update: Tim Leong provides links to DC’s earlier lawsuit and resolution over the name “Minx”, which now makes a lot more sense.

Update 2: Christopher Butcher weighs in with his customary blend of knowledge and sarcasm. First, he points out how many other publishers and imprints are already doing books for teen girls. Then he goes on to provide more details on the titles, and he sounds optimistic about them. I should say explicitly that I share his optimism when it comes to the books themselves.


50 Responses to “DC Aims at Teenage Girls”

  1. william kirby Says:

    I’m interested in this subject. As a paraprofessional I spend alot of time with mid-school kids. As an artist and writer I am interested cartoons and the stories that can come out of that mix.
    Can I send you something?

  2. Johanna Says:

    You can find out how to submit print comics for possible review by emailing me.

  3. Kevin Church Says:

    Vertigo was a huge success, but it seems to have lost its way.

    Storytelling-wise, that may be true, but I constantly meet people that identify themselves as “Vertigo readers” who don’t like those “corporate comics,” so as a brand, they appear to be doing something right. There’s also the matter of a series of well-regarded graphic novels that actually sold well and evergreen sales from collections of series like Y: The Last Man.

  4. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    Minx is undoubtedly the result of the extensive market research DC conducted last year, which, among other things, told them there were potential female comics readers that they weren’t reaching through their existing lines. Not exactly a newsflash, but for a slow-moving company like DC, every new initiative needs to be firmly backed up with a solid ROI plan before it gets the go-ahead.

  5. Rachel N. Says:

    All I can say is it’s about time they figured it out! However, their male dominated creative crew strikes me as iffy. There is the possibility that even if they can appeal to girls, female readers may resent that annoying dangling y-chromosome. With so many kick-ass female professionals ready to go out there, I have to wonder why more of them weren’t recruited to do the obvious: make comics for girls. I mean, it’s not like girls are going to go, “Ooooh, isn’t this that guy that wrote that series for such and such last May?” There’s no name recognition factor, so sticking to a mainly female team could only have added to the books’ appeal instead of possibly detracting from it.

    I think Scholastic was right on target by snapping up creators who have already proven that they can deliver to a female audience and who have plenty of female fans to excite.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Still? Hmm, I haven’t seen any of those in years. Perhaps I’m mistaken, then, and the line still develops some brand loyalty in readers.

  7. Lyle Says:

    While I think Vertigo still is a strong brand, I wonder if that’s in danger of fading. While the Vertigo name still gets me excited in a way DC product never does anymore, I’m far less inclined to check out Vertigo series anymore since publishers like Viz and Oni are filling my reading list to the point that I’m pretty close to closing my pull list.

    I’m mixed on hearing about the number of male creators (not having gone through the registration process yet to look at the article). I agree that bringing in female talent can definitely help bring a valuable perspective, but then I hear Andi Watson’s name…

    And I guess I’m not the only one who wondered if the imprint’s name came out of a desire to prove that “Minx” meant more to DC than a short-lived, unnurtured series.

  8. Lea Says:

    Heh, Alloy’s the company that “packaged” the book by the Harvard girl (it’s mentioned in the article)–the book that turned out to be plagarized.

    Niiiice! I wonder if Cecil was Karen Berger’s recruit or Alloy’s suggestion?

  9. Lisa Jonte Says:

    Rather than re-writing my opinions, I’m going to cut-n-paste part of my response to Warren E.’s (IMO somewhat paternalistic) commentes to Rachel N. on her LJ.

    I hope, yes. But I do not hold my breath.

  10. Lisa Jonte Says:

    Oops, seems I used the code wrong. The actualy quote is:

    “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.”

  11. Lea Says:

    Regarding DC’s attachment and pursuit of “Minx”: maybe they were going for a two-fer on the titles of women’s comics’ lines, they stepped on toes with the previous one, which was called “Femme Noir.” “Femme Noir” creator Christopher Mills had issues with that. (Besides it being a title for a line that was jingle-bells-capes-alltheway).

    Does anybody even remember that one?

  12. Johanna Says:

    No, but I remember Girlfrenzy, which also stepped on someone else’s title. DC has a nasty habit of doing that.

    I find Mr. Ellis’ defense of the genders of the creators interesting — he keeps pointing firmly to the two women putting the line together. Which is something of a mixed blessing. If we’re to credit their viewpoint as having such a strong effect, then that would make this line editorial- instead of creator-driven, which makes me less interested. (Although editorial-driven would match better with DC’s current strategies.)

  13. Ali Kokmen Says:

    Regaring “Femme Noir”:

    Perhaps the reason you might not remember this instance of DC’s stepping on someone else’s trademark is that it never really happened–at least, not in the same way as the “Minx” case cited.

    What happened was this: as a challenge to his readers, PAD asked his blog-readers for ideas on a marketing hook, an overarching tagline to cover three upcoming titles “emphasizing female empowerment.” (One of these DC titles was PAD’s Fallen Angel; I can’t offhand remember what the others were.)

    Readers offered many suggestions. In a later blog posting, Peter David mentioned that of the all the suggestions, he and his editors liked “Dangerous Curves” and “Femme Noir” most.

    At that point, another reader who was, well, me pointed out that “Femme Noir” was already being used for Christopher Mills’ webcomic. Alerted to its existence, PAD and DC abandoned plans to use the phrase as a tagline. If you take ‘em at their word, their consideration of the phrase as a posisble tagline ended as soon as they found out about Mills’ comic. However, near simultaneously, Mills sent lawyer letters to DC and PAD confirming that “Femme Noir” was unavailable to them.

    PAD, I think, was embarassed at the whole thing (and perhaps a bit surprised to have received a legal letter instead of being contacted directly.)

    The threads dealing with this stuff are at PAD’s blog at:

    http://peterdavid.malibulist.com/archives/001112.html
    http://peterdavid.malibulist.com/archives/001108.html
    http://peterdavid.malibulist.com/archives/001102.html

    (I think PAD might have written a CBG column about this experience as well…)

    Anyway, the whole bizarre situation with DC and “Femme Noir” can’t quite be considered the same sort of “riding roughshod” on another creator’s work since it never got off the ground.

    Obscured in all the blogospheric brou-ha-ha was what, I think, was the lesson PAD was trying to teach his fan-readers (and armchair-quarterback marketers): devising and implementing a marketing plan ain’t easy. Keeping that lesson in mind, then, I’m most impressed with this recent DC-Minx imprint announcement that DC’s partnering with Alloy to market these books to this audience. I shall be interested to see how that plays out!

    –ATK

  14. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    On editorial- vs. creator-driven, hasn’t it been said many times that Vertigo was basically Karen Berger’s outlet for comics she wanted to read? The two angles don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive like they are on the spandex side of things.

    As for novelists vs. comics writers, that’s a pretty simple economic decision, focusing on writers with an established bookstore presence to maximize both the line’s potential distribution and appeal.

  15. Johanna Says:

    Wow, history from someone involved! Thanks, Ali — I’m so glad my commenters have such valuable experience.

    Guy, that’s possible. An editor isn’t always a bad thing… and we won’t know until we see the actual books how well they meet their goal of appealing to teen girls.

  16. Lea Says:

    Thanks, Ali, for that background. I would have preferred it a bit less patronizing.

    I think it’s pretty generous to derive that Peter was teaching his readers a lesson about “marketing is hard.” I corresponded with Peter at that time (we had just finished the Mangaverse Punisher), regarding my dislike of “Femme Noir” and “Dangerous Curves” and he defended “Femme Noir” quite passionately, he really liked it.

    Anyway, I can’t help but notice that the persons most optomistic about this line are men.

    Scholastic’s graphic novels editors are also women–and they didn’t seem to have any problems recruiting female creators from within comics.

  17. Ali Kokmen Says:

    Thanks, Ali, for that background. I would have preferred it a bit less patronizing.

    Lea, my apologies if you found my earlier post patronizing; that was certainly not my intention. My intention was to describe with some degree of detail, a few odd and obscure events with which Johanna had indicated she was not familiar. If my admittedly-typical-for-me tendency toward pedantry came off as patronizing, again, I apologize.

  18. Lea Says:

    Thanks, Ali. I appreciate that.

    Peter’s situation does brilliantly illustrate why I have refused twice to hold contests to involve readers in the creative process (once to name a character, the other to DRAW a cover)–because the results are predictable and painful.
    I know this because I’ve seen the results of other people’s contests. Ouch. (When the idea of a drawing contest to win Adam Warren art from me was floated, someone who wanted a drawing contest posted a piece that had already won a “sexy art” contest sponsored by Viz. It featured Cammy from Street Fighter with some sort of disease that caused her public bone to project painfully. Un, worldofno.)

  19. NotYourBe-yotch Says:

    Sorry, but the art style shown in the article is unattractive and that story they talk about is the kind of thing a 10 year old would read. Please! Talk about making a manga reader feel like an idiot. A lot of teenagers read manga because it doesn’t underestimate them or treat them like charity projects. Poor me, DC doesn’t make comics for me, how nice of them to come down off their pedestal just to have some guys who don’t read manga draw comics that act like a bad parody of “Mean Girls”. That’s sooo fugly. I’ve got webcomics written by manga fans. I’ve got whole comic books drawn by girls who GET manga. I’ve got MANGA. What do I need this crap for??

  20. Valéria Fernandes Says:

    Well, it’s really complex for some people in the comic market to understand manga, the shoujo manga as an unique product, and that women want to read comics if they have interesting material to read. The NY Times article were translated into Portuguese, my languge, and some people around here think the same… Give the girls the msot silly materials, because they are silly, they are women and they just like sappy romance, like the worst of Harlequin books.

  21. Mickle Says:

    “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? ”

    Because they’re going for brand name recognition. DC doesn’t mean much to teen girls, but Castelluci might. She’s not as big as some, but she’s semi-recognizable. And I’ll bet their marketing will remind teens of that.

    “that story they talk about is the kind of thing a 10 year old would read.”

    Since the teen* market is mostly for 12-16 year-olds, and teen manga/graphic novels market often skews several years younger, that sounds about right.

    *the stuff that shelved in the teen vs. adult sections of bookstores, not necessarily the stuff that teens read

  22. Mickle Says:

    grr.. I meant “many teen girls”

  23. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Make mine Minx Says:

    […] It’s not manga, but it could be serious competition: Everyone was abuzz this weekend with the news that DC is starting a line of graphic novels aimed at girls. Even the New York Times picked up on it (link may expire soon). Johanna articulates the two biggest criticisms of this line: All but one of the creators are men (although the two editors are women) and DC may not be the best company to do this, given their track record and the misogyny of some of their other products: It’s very odd to see a company whose core line of comics is so unfriendly and hateful towards women launch this effort. Something of a mixed message there, or is this intended to assuage critics? “Oh, don’t worry about the rape and murder in our superhero books — the comics for you girls are over there.” […]

  24. Blog@Newsarama » DC announces Minx line; the Internet reacts Says:

    […] Blogger/reviewer Johanna Draper Carlson, who was quoted in The Times article, highlighted a few of her concerns at her blog. Among them, “Most of the creators involved are men”: As I say in the article, I don’t think only women can write for women, but I think it helps provide an alternative perspective and a more true-to-life experience. The only female creator announced so far is a young-adult novelist, and this will be her first comic-writing experience. […]

  25. Rachel N. Says:

    “Because they’re going for brand name recognition. DC doesn’t mean much to teen girls, but Castelluci might. She’s not as big as some, but she’s semi-recognizable. And I’ll bet their marketing will remind teens of that.”

    Castellucci appears to be their only name. Girls don’t know about the female editors Karen Berger and Shelly Bond because they don’t read publishing blogs. They don’t know who Jim Rugg and Andi Watson are. If DC wants to attract readers who have never read American comics, why are they using almost entirely names that only comic readers will recognize?

  26. Journalista » Blog Archive » Nov. 27, 2006: It’s time we got teenage girls reading comics Says:

    […] Details of DC Comics’ new Minx line of graphic novels for teenage girls were let loose over the weekend, thanks in large part to a New York Times article by George Gustines on the subject. In short: The line is a Vertigo offshoot and will be overseen by Karen Berger and Shelly Bond. It comes with an almost-unheard-of-for-DC advertising budget of some $125,000 to get the line launched, which will by and large be spent by Alloy Marketing+Media, the company partly responsible for the success of such book lines as Gossip Girls and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The article makes much of one of the scheduled titles from the imprint’s initial release, The P.L.A.I.N. Janes by young-adult novelist Cecil Castellucci and Street Angel artist Jim Rugg, but as Johanna Draper Carlson (who’s quoted in the NYT article) notes, Castellucci is the only known female creator associated with the line — a worrisome omen. Christopher Butcher makes sport of Karen Berger’s unfortunate opening quote so I don’t have to — thanks, Chris! Butcher also points to Shannon Garrity’s comments on Andi Watson’s Livejournal, which list the first Minx releases. David Welsh provides additional commentary. […]

  27. Nat Gertler Says:

    Johanna:
    You refer to there being a lawsuit over the Minx name, but I can’t seem to find any outside source for there being a lawsuit. There was a cease-and-desist letter, but from the linked article it sounds like the lawyers all got to talking, and ironed something out to everyone’s apparent satisfaction.

  28. Johanna Says:

    Nat: Sloppy wording on my part. Should have been “legal threat” or something of that sort instead of “lawsuit”.

    Rachel: I don’t think name recognition is a big deal for Minx. I think the quality of work will be more significant.

  29. Mickle Says:

    “Castellucci appears to be their only name.”

    My point was that the non-comic writer they brought in – and the first writer they promoted – would be semi-recognizable to teen girls while the comic book writers they brought in would not be.

    I am certainly not trying to defend their decision to have a mostly male writing team. Or trying to argue that all their decisions were smart ones.

    I’m just pointing out that there were some obvious reasons for choosing Castellucci – especially considering other choices they made (not all good ones).

  30. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Not to play the reverse sex prejudice angle here, but the most successful commercial writer today is J.K. Rowling, and she writes about a male character with Harry Potter. I find it slightly offensive that there seems to be a notion in some of the comments that — while women can create credible male characters — the same does not hold true vice versa.

    What I DO find disturbing is that DC teams up with Alloy for this. I’m not sure if people here have actually READ the utterly worthless (yet, commercially very successful, I am very much aware of that) crap that is “Gossip Girls” and the like that comes from this packaging house. I call them the “Li’l Whore Books”, for they mirror the VH1 “The Fabulous Life” crap that is forced down society’s throat, in which apparently publishers think that what all girls REALLY want is to be Paris Hilton (which may be true, and if it is, we can kiss our civilization good-bye).

    Couple that with “How Opal Got To Be A Skanky PR-Grubbing Liar and Thief Of Another Person’s Writing” and you have a huge potential disaster on your hands.

    Couple that with the Tag of Clubbing: A Party Girl who solves crime, and that potential starts looking like a certainty.

    I say: starts LOOKING like a certainty, not IS a certainty, by the by.

    (I will reserve final judgement after at least flipping through the final product, for sometimes something that looks terribly ugly in one sentence can be very good in the end results. Case in point — Daniel Craig as Bond, James Bond).

    When it comes to the name, I actually think it was a good choice, and I base my opinion on something that the publisher Axel Springer did in Germany in the 1970s when they launched a comic mag. They researched what kids wanted to say out loud and the ONE word they all seemed to agree on at the time was ZACK! (which in German means, in not so many words: Hand it over to me, NOW!)

  31. Ali T. Kokmen Says:

    With regard to Alloy as a marketing partner, I’ll just point out that Alloy is a fairly large company with many and different divisions and operations; book packaging is only one of them.

    From the description of the Minx line thus far, it sounds like DC is handling the creative end–that DC is creating the content. If that’s the case, and Alloy isn’t involved in the content of these Minx books, then (despite the much-reported problems involving Alloy’s packaging of the Opal Metha book) that may ameliorate some concerns somewhat.

    Of course, if you don’t like what you’re calling the “Li’l Whore” book phenomenon–which I’d argue extends so pervasively through the market so as not to be attributable to Alloy or indeed to any one publisher–then that’s a bit of a different matter…

  32. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] More on Minx Today’s hot story:Reaction to the news about DC’s Minx line. […]

  33. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Ali, it is still a BAD choice to align yourself in ANY way with Alloy. And it can be easily shown by the fact that a PUFF PIECE by the NYT immediately pointed out the “Opal” connection. A PUFF PIECE.

    That company is PR poison.

    You’ll never get ANY mainstream coverage that doesn’t include Alloy = oh, yes, it is that company that “helped” forge the Opal book.

  34. Johanna Says:

    Thomas: The two gender-swaps aren’t directly comparable. If you accept the assumption that this is still a man’s world, then a woman has to learn about men and their reactions and behavior in order to navigate it. The reverse isn’t necessarily true. So it might make sense that a woman could create male characters that were more realistic than the female characters created by a man. If you buy that theory, anyway.

    I love the name ZACK! by the way. It’s fun to yell.

  35. Ali T. Kokmen Says:

    You’ll never get ANY mainstream coverage that doesn’t include Alloy = oh, yes, it is that company that “helped” forge the Opal book.

    Fair enough. But I still think that the marketing services Alloy can offer would indeed be potentially useful, regardless of the fact that press coverage of those services will likely mention the Opal Mehta controversy. (Or, going back, the accusations of securities fraud that more-Wall-Street-minded persons than I reported on years ago.)

    To put it another way and drawing from some additional details reported by Publishers Weekly, there’ll be a 2-page advertorial in the Alloy-owned Delia’s mail order catalog (shipped to approx. 900,000 young women); Alloy will generate e-mail blasts to consumers via its various websites; it will distribute book covers featuring Minx titles to students and directly to schools.

    Do I know if those sorts of marketing initiatives will be successful? Honestly, I don’t know. But I’m comfortable in guessing that many of those hundreds of thousands of tweenage girls and young women who will be touched by such marketing will not decide whatever they decide about the Minx line based on Alloy’s past problems. Sure some will. But many won’t realize it’s the same company, or won’t care.

    In the interests of disclosure: I work for a book publisher’s marketing department (not any of the ones involved in DC Comics, however.) I know that many of my peers in marketing have enlisted Alloy to help market certain projects (not the kind that get written up in the New York Times, clearly…), and though I’ve not yet done so myself, I would and will do so happily when the right project and the right scope comes along. If that be poison, I guess I’m taking it…

  36. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Johanna, one could also say that us men are much simpler creatures than women. I don’t buy into either one of those theories. Writing, good writing at least, can not only come from your personal experience or your personal point of view of the world, or you will wind up being Warren Ellis or Frank Miller or James Ellroy, all of whom are simply incapable of writing an actual three-dimensional character, especially when it comes to women (Look at Jenny Sparks or, well, every woman in Frank Miller’s and James Ellroy’s works, who are either a)killers or b) femme fatales or c) whores or d) all of the above)

    Good writing is research. A lot of research. Empathy. A lot of empathy. Schizophrenia might help too.

    ZACK!, by the by, used to be a military expression from way back, when it was actually ZACK! ZACK! that your drill sarge yelled at you when you were too slow. It is not unsimilar to the infamous Hollywood use of German Nazi slang “SCHNELL! SCHNELL (DU SCHWEIN(E)HUND”

    In the 70s, however, it had become a purely civvy term in Germany, but still something that denoted you had some kind of “power” over another person, to make them DO things. Since children in general (again, we are talking 1972) didn’t have that power, but wanted to be able to say something like that in public, it was a perfect title for a youth comic mag that — content-wise — was rather similar to the French/Belgian SPIROU.

  37. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] For contrast in attitudes incomparison to DC launching graphic novels for teen girls, ICv2 today interviews Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, who when asked about the female audience for comics responds with a whole lot of double-talk: Our category’s gotten bigger, but the only genre where we have sophisticated genre development is our superhero action adventure stuff. So looking at the growth in the bookstore business, we can see between the sales of manga and what we’re doing, there’s interest. The bookstore business wants to support that, but we need to get more genres into the category to help drive that growth engine and at the same time, get new readers because of their dedication to that property already. […]

  38. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Ali, in the interest of full disclosure — I used to be the Launch Editor for numerous mass market mags for Future Publishing and Bertelsmann and — while not exactly the same market — I do know a bit about the efficiency of such things like adverts and email blasts.

    We did extensive research on both, especially email blasts. Now, let us consider we did MASS MARKET mags, not niche marketing, which changes the rules a little bit, but not by much. An email blast directed at 150,000 POTENTIALS generated an interest of approximately .02 percent. Later studies we have done had the interest rate pretty much consistently between .02 and .05 percent.

    It is neglible.

    Adverts, in general, are more difficult to gauge with regards to their efficiency, but we used statistical formulas developed with the Institute of Media Research/Journalistik at Dortmund to come up with pretty good rules of thumb. An advert targeted at potentials elevates an interest in approximately 7.2 percent of those reading it. Quantitve studies we did showed that of those 7.2 percent about 13 percent were willing to try out the new product. That means about 0,94 (exactly 0,936) percent of the original targeted sample.

    Talking of the number you gave here, I’ll use it for a sec, okay, that equals LESS than 9,000 potential book sales from that strategy, IF the advert actually displays a BOOK and is not a BRAND ad for the LINE.

    To be perfectly honest, the BEST thing DC could have done with that money is to BUY a LOT of DISPLAYS and have them up in prominent places at Borders, WaldenDaltons and such, because that’s where the choice will be made to BUY or put it back on the shelf.

    However, with such a limited initial line-up, that is not an easy option to take. Professionally speaking, they would have to come out with a LOT more books IMMEDIATELY to launch as a LINE and not go under in the masses of other books, primarily Manga.

    Sorry for this rather technical post.

  39. Ali T. Kokmen Says:

    Thomas:

    Your projections and number-crunching generally jibe with mine, so I think we’re in a general agreement with what, quantitatively, is to be expected from such marketing efforts. Of course, whether or not an individual marketer may consider such marketing efforts effective or cost-effective is a question only each individual marketer can answer.

    And, of course, saying that “such-and-such marketing is bad becasue it’s not effective, not affordable, or not feasible” is different from saying that “such-and-such marketing is bad because the supplier of those marketing services has had (justifiable) bad press for business aspects different from the services being rendered.”

    As for what possible better things DC “could have done” with that money, I fully expect that whatever marketing DC will do with Alloy will not be all the marketing they do for the Minx line. I would be surprised if pursuing POP display in key retailers isn’t figuring into their overall marketing plans. (I also recognize that, whatever tidbits they may share through the trade press, I’m not going to be privy to DC’s complete marketing plans for the Minx, nor should I be.)

  40. Lyle Says:

    one could also say that us men are much simpler creatures than women.

    Thomas, I don’t think that’s the point about women writing male characters as much as that female audiences are typically expected to find ways to relate to male characters in mainstream entertainment (part of the “women will watch with their boyfriend but men won’t watch with their girlfriend” view that many Hollywood execs dumbly hold) so writing male characters comes a little easier for women than for men writing female characters — men have been asked less often to empathise with a female character.

    Though, to go with your mention of JK Rawlings, the most progressive female characters on the younger readers’ Best Seller lists, is a man (Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket).

  41. AT Says:

    Just to put in my thoughts on the gender thing, the audience I am aware of (manga fans) doesn’t have a problem with the gender of the author. The only thing that is a problem for them is the author not getting the material or the audience. Hayao Miyazaki creates compelling female characters; in contrast, there are female writers who do not. The skills of the writer and the artist will determine the quality of the characters. Some individuals draw their skills from their gender, but others develop them in other ways.

  42. Mickle Says:

    Not to play the reverse sex prejudice angle here, but the most successful commercial writer today is J.K. Rowling, and she writes about a male character with Harry Potter.

    Considering the countless times I’ve had boys and their parents flat out tell me that certain titles won’t work because (gasp!) they can’t read a book where even half the main characters are female! I’m always skeptical of anyone using HP/JK Rowling as proof that gender doesn’t play a role in kid’s reading choices. Lots of people point out that JK Rowling likely wouldn’t have been as successful if Harry had been a girl – or even if Rowling had used her full name and not just her initials. (As it is, as kids get older, the fan base shifts from more boys to more girls.)

    From my experience, it’s worse than that. It’s important not only that Harry is a boy, but that Ron is there to balance out Hermione – as is Draco, and the majority of named characters for the first few books, despite the supposition that there is gender parity at Hogwarts. While Harry Potter would have still done well if the main characters hadn’t been mostly boys, I don’t think it would have done as well. Lyle’s got it right – girls are taught to be less picky than boys.

    However, (in my experience) there is a subset of girls who prefer “girlie books” – as the parents call them – and such girls are likely to be turned off by DC, but at the same time interested in anything put out by the company that publishes The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and yes, The Gossip Girls.

    Yeah, The Gossip Girls are really bad – but they’re insanely popular as well. And they are popular with the exact opposite crowd from the kinds of kids who usually read DC. So, while I would have picked someone else, DC’s decision makes sense – when you consider it in light of their goal: to make money off of an audience that they don’t understand the first thing about.

  43. Johanna Says:

    Mickle, you’ve reminded me of sitting in on a licensing meeting at DC where we were told that WB Animation had changed from spotlighting Batman, Robin, and Batgirl in cartoon-spinoff merchandise to spotlighting Batman, Robin, and Nightwing, because boys were turned off by having the girl so visible. That was some years ago, but I fear that the attitudes haven’t changed as much as I’d like since then.

  44. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Well, Johanna — in a quantitive study from my native country Germany it was made clear that not only is the literacy rate dropping at an alarming rate across the board, it is also skewed by gender.

    In short:

    Only 18 percent of boys the age group 10-14 polled regarded reading as an elementary skill (sic!) and only 12 percent read more than one book a year (outside school assignments)

    Over 60 (!) percent of the girls at the same age group regarded reading an elementary skill, and more than 52 percent polled read more than a book per month outside school assignments. Over 37 percent read more than THREE books outside school assignments per given month.

    Okay, let us briefly forget about the fact that this may very well mean that the majority of men in the next couple of generations will have the debating skills of a Neanderthal (which is a nice valley… about 12 km away from where I was born) and a range of usable words below 2,000…

    …from a BUSINESS perspective, and I mean LONG-TERM business perspective, people in publishing who don’t target girls now will become obsolete in 20 to 30 years time (or highly priced nice products, which is a development that can already be seen in the superhero realm, where the average reader now is what? 30?)

    I understand Mickle’s point as well, but there are other packagers out there who are not as tainted as Alloy (yes, I know, it’s first and foremost a moral thing for me… and I would also be the one who supports a TV show called “Nations”, but also, I still think there will not be one mainstream article from a newspaper or magazine NOT owned by TW that doesn’t bring that connection in the second paragraph, unless they are bought journos or bad journos — both of which there is an abundance out there right now)

  45. Johanna Says:

    Those are certainly thought-provoking numbers, Thomas. Thanks for sharing them.

  46. Mickle Says:

    Thomas – don’t get wrong, I’m not applauding their decision in any way.

    I’m just getting a little frustrated with everyone taking DC’s word that they are trying to reach out to girls at face value, and mostly critiquing their decisions in that light. As if they’re going about a good thing in simply the wrong way, rather than going about something that is more inevitable at this point that anything else, and are consequently approaching it with the attitude of “how can we catch on this bandwagon the fastest?

    In other words, I don’t think DC is thinking about long term at all. If they were, they would be trying to do what they claim to be doing: reaching out to readers new not just to them, but to the medium. Both Graphix and Tokyopop, for comparison, are already going after kids in the primary grades.

  47. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] In honor of the late Chick Checks, let’s count female creators: The complete 2007 Minx lineup was announced yesterday. Two are by male writer/artists. Two are by separate male writers and artists. One is by a male writer with two male artists. One is cowritten by a male and his daughter and illustrated by a male. One is by a female writer and male artist. (I’ve talked about the new imprint previously here and here.) […]

  48. one diverse comic book nation » THE SHORT STACK: Diversity On The ‘Net - November 29, 2006 Says:

    […] DC Aims At Teenage Girls – Johanna Draper Carlson from Comics Worth Reading announces DC’s new Minx line with a couple of updates (from Comics Worth Reading) […]

  49. Minx No More: DC Cancels Girls’ GN Line » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] then, the line was formed out of jealousy. Shelly Bond, the editor behind the imprint, said she “pitched this line as […]

  50. January 2011 Previews: Indie Month, Recommendations, and Snark » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] 1998 series of that name — but now we know it was because of the company’s short-lived girl-focused imprint. Now that that’s gone by the wayside, Grant is relaunching her title from Ardden […]




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