Yesterday I was hanging out at the comic book store (like I do) and a couple of teenage girls came in looking for issues of Spider Island they were missing. They joined in our conversation about how digital comics aren’t a replacement for print (one of them said she had the issues on her iTouch but she still wanted to have them). I am clearly a fan of teenage girls in comic book stores, so this was all fun.
After they left, my friend said to me “Those girls give me hope, but I do worry about the boys they’re going to scare once they get to college.”
A few weeks ago, there were an episode of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory where the plot involved one of the main characters, Leonard, meeting a young woman named Alice in the comic book store (you can see her in the screenshot above).
Now, there are probably some things to complain about here — I personally found the whole meet-cute over an issue of John Byrne’s Next Men a little too insidery, but it wasn’t a big deal. And yes, to a large extent, they played up the male characters’ awkwardness at seeing a hot girl in their comic book store.
Still, even with her scant screen time (although I’ve read Alice may be back), I found Alice refreshing. I may be projecting a bit too much here, but I didn’t feel like Alice thought she was a novelty. She wasn’t going into the comic book store so nerdy guys could fawn over here. She was just going there to buy comics. (Later in the episode, we find out Alice makes her own comics, which is also a cool thing to see on a popular sitcom.)
Comic book stores can still be uncomfortable places for women sometimes and women creators are still under-represented at Marvel and DC. These are problems. But gross as that Starfire stuff was in Red Hood and the Outlaws, to me, that’s quickly going to be irrelevant.
The teenage girls in the store yesterday? They absolutely are the future of comics. As are all the young women filling up sequential arts classes to the point where they’re outnumbering the men. In that way, I think a sitcom showing a young woman choosing to go into a comic book store to buy comics for herself is a pretty big deal.