- Posted by Johanna on March 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm
- Category: Comic News
Imagine my surprise to see this press release from Marvel last week:
This July, get ready to say game, set, match for 15 Love #1 (of 3) — a never-before-seen, giant-size story from acclaimed writer Andi Watson (Skeleton Key, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and artist Tommy Ohtsuka! Mill Collins is about to learn that life is anything but a piece of cake when the length of your high school career depends on the strength of your serve! But when Mill’s slipping grades threaten to steal away her scholarship from the exclusive Wayde Tennis Academy, she’ll have to look for help from the most unlikely coach to climb her way back up the bracket and into the record books!
I remember when 15 Love was first announced, back in 2003 as part of then-Marvel president Bill Jemas’ Tsunami line, a set of books intended to attract female manga readers by putting out comics with more emphasis on character relationships than heroics.
President Bill Jemas mentioned that Marvel wants to reach 15-year-old girls with its publishing program and that the way to do this is women’s tennis. Rather than create a brand new player from the ground up, Marvel reached into its archives, Jemas explained. “We found Millie the Model, a character which probably no one here has heard of,” he said, referring to the investors and analysts who were on the line for the call.
Millie is one of Marvel’s most successful comic characters, with a comic running from the 1940s to the 1970s. Tennis is quite a departure from modeling as a career, but a more active, less appearance-focused girl character is a plus. If this is a result of Disney saying “hey, more comics for girls”, good for them. Or maybe it’s just a matter of “what do you mean, you paid for this and never published it?” Either way, I’m curious to finally see this teen tennis romance story.
The cover, shown here, is by Sho Murase, who illustrated some of the Nancy Drew graphic novel adaptations. I’m not sure how attractive that navel-bearing shot will be to the female audience, although it is an improvement over the original, termed a “jailbait photo” by some others who remember the original plans. Here are some of the interior pages, where everyone looks angry to indicate determination. (Click to enlarge.)
Ah, an upskirt shot. Was that necessary? Sports comics are quite successful around the world, except in the U.S., so this is facing an uphill battle — maybe the panty shot fanservice is a way of hedging bets and attracting male readers. Let’s hope that it doesn’t turn off more people than it attracts.
Back in the day, speculation had it that Tsunami failed because the readers they were targeting didn’t shop in comic stores, but in bookstores, so serialization was pointless, since the digest format was what they cared about. These issues will be 56 pages at $5 each — more of a substantial reading experience, but still periodical comic-based. Still, Marvel has a more established collection program now, and I’m sure the real sales will come once the book is out. Issue #1 will be on sale in either June or July. (The press release mentions both.)