Comicsgirl turns 11 years old today.
Well, sort of.
It was 1998 and I was a recent high school graduate. The Internet was the future and we were just on the cusp of the dot-com bubble. I had, at some point previously, been looking up something about some comic book, came across an image of Witchblade and thought, you know, this is why women don’t read comics.
And I, being idealistic and young, thought I could do something about that. I enlisted a couple of friends, employed my awesome (for the time, OK?) web design skills and began writing reviews.
The site officially launched on July 1, 1998. I maintained it for more than three years, off and on. I closed the site on November 1, 2001. I was trying to graduate from college and I do think the events of Sept. 11, 2001 made the world a little bit more serious and maintaining a web site about comics just wasn’t as fun as it once was.
And in those three years, something had changed. Sequential Tart was around. Comics, while they still had a long way to go, felt a little bit more inclusive.
I really wasn’t quiet for too long. In the summer of 2003, I bought the comicsgirl.com domain name (you see kids, domain names used to cost a lot, which is why I didn’t have it before) and relaunched it as a blog. Admittedly, I got off to a slow start, but I soon picked up the pace.
Eleven years ago, there was no When Fangirls Attack (which, it seems, everyone reads, whether they admit it or not). There weren’t as many girls and women going to comic book cons and comic book shows. There were no publishers like First Second. There was no creators like Marjane Satrapi being interviewed on morning shows. There was translated manga out there, but it was few and far between. Comics were much more of a genre and not a medium (granted, we were just coming out of the whole glittery-cover collector’s market/rise and fall of Image era, so things were different).
And there certainly wasn’t as many girls and women writing about comics (in the early days, I tried to maintain a list of comic book websites created by women. I don’t think I caught them all, but honestly, there weren’t too many. Now, with the explosion of blogs, I don’t think I’d even know where to start on such a thing). In 1998, I was one voice among the few. Now, I’m one voice among the many. I actually like that better.
Of course, there are things that haven’t changed. Female characters and fans are still marginalized in the comic book industry — how many discussions of breast size (too big!) or skirt size (too small!) have you read in the past year? I bet you couldn’t keep track.
And I think that’s what’s been the most interesting thing to me — while comics have definitely changed for the better in so many ways, so many other things that needed to change have remained the same. It’s been 11 years and the same issues are still being discussed.
So I think it’s kind of cool — and perhaps appropriate — that Marvel Divas was released today. I think it’s ended up representing both the bad and the good of the way women are portrayed in comics, and more importantly, the way women view comics.
If you want to dig through old days of Comicsgirl, Internet Archive Wayback Machine is all too happy to provide. Unfortunately.
(It’s also the birthday of my favorite little stuffed bull. Happy birthday, Bully!)