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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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 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.