Tag Archive for marketing

So, yes, you’ve heard of this Girl Comics thing

The Internet was all a-buzz about it yesterday. Well, the comic book/”genre” blogs were, anyway. I read the post about it at The Beat and read a few more pieces about it, promptly got fed up and then watched another episode of Lost (granted, yes, I probably would’ve watched another episode of Lost anyway).

I am pretty pro-Girl Comics, at least at this point. The concept sounds wonderful on paper (er, screen, but you know what I mean) — there’s a great line-up of talent that covers quite a broad range, and I like the idea of having women do everything from the art to writing to lettering and more. I think that’s really cool.

But considering Marvel’s problematic attempts to appeal to women recently (the entire Marvel Divas debacle, the bad inside art of Pride & Prejudice, the whole lip gloss thing), I’m guessing this will probably be similar. Yes, giving Heidi MacDonald an exclusive interview with the editor is a good first step, but I don’t think this is going to get women who aren’t already reading comics to do so.

At the most, I think it’s just going to get indie readers to pick up this Marvel title. And I’m OK with that. I like superhero comics. In theory. I’m not speaking for all women here, but personally, the art of a lot of superhero comics turns me off. I just don’t connect with it. (I had a dream the other night that Colleen Coover was drawing Blackest Night for DC and when I woke up, I thought how awesome that would be. That would probably get me to read the book.) So I like when indie creators do superheroes. It’s fun. So I’m looking forward to that on this level.

I read a lot of disappointing-but-expected objections to this, like “why can’t we just tell stories for people” which usually means “I don’t really want to read books by women.” Because I mean, I like stories for people, regardless of who writes/draws them, and men absolutely can tell wonderful stories about women (I loved loved loved Dong Hwa Kim’s Color trilogy, which I will review eventually). But when there are pretty good lists of “entry” comics that don’t have one title by a female creator, I think there’s a problem. It’s not that women aren’t making comics — they are, and they are making good ones — I think they’re often ignored.

So I think Girl Comics is at least pointing out that hey, women are making comics.

I don’t know if there’s really an answer to “how to get women to read more comics.” I don’t know if there needs to be, personally. I think women are already reading comics, just not what Marvel and DC typically consider to be comics. But maybe this is a step in the right direction. Or a step toward something. I guess we’ll see how successful it is.

Firestar concept art for Marvel Divas

Tom Brevoort posted Tonci Zonjic’s concept sketch from Marvel Divas (called “Marvel Vixens” here — your call which is better). And I think after Joe Q.’s comments last week, this was a good move.

(And why, yes, I’d love to say I totally knew what I was doing when I picked the image for my Marvel Divas post, but I didn’t. I just got really lucky. I do, however, think that’s awesome that the very image I was attracted to was a concept for the book.)

I am kind of glad to see that this image is changing some people’s minds about the book, but I do fear it may be too little, too late. I do think Zonjic’s work will make the book something distinctive and fun, but I do think that promo cover will continue to stick in people’s minds.

I’m actually looking forward to Marvel Divas

There. I said it.

I’ve been avoiding this issue. I figured I’d wait until the comic came out to talk about it. But I do want to bring it up.

At some point recently, you’ve probably read about this. People saw the image, read the whole “Sex in the City” bit and the outcry was predictably understandable.

But I don’t think a lot of people actually read what was being said, or bothered to look a little bit deeper into who was behind it.

Yes, that cover image is ridiculously terrible. Yes, the title is incredibly stupid. And maybe the whole “superheroines do Sex in the City” idea isn’t the most thoughtful, but as a concept goes, it’s not a terrible one.

But let’s move past that for a moment.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is writing the title. I saw Rorschach Theatre‘s production of his play, Rough Magic, a couple of years ago, and it was awesome, geeky fun with smart, strong female characters and a literate sense of humor. While I am not one who believes gay men can always speak for women, I think Aguirre-Sacasa’s part about the comic being about “to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry)” is interesting. As a gay man, I think he understands that the hyper heterosexual masculinity can be alienating to anyone who’s not a straight male.

And then, there’s the art of Tonci Zonjic, which is pretty awesome and is something I’d be delighted to see in a comic about young women trying to balance romance and careers while they’re, oh yeah, superheroines. It’s definitely a far cry from that promotional art. (This title seems to have the opposite problem of Marvel’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation, which had a great cover and bad art on the inside.)

Will Marvel Divas be good? I don’t know. But the elements seem like they’re in the right place. I do hope that people who would connect with this comic — those who seem to be the most vocally against it — will give it a chance. I’m going to.

(And yes, Marvel doesn’t know how to market to women. I think we’ve figured that out. I mean, I still want my lip gloss, after all.)

Image taken from Tonci Zonjic’s Flickr gallery. I most definitely want superhero comics that look like that. Tonci Zonjic says this was actually a tryout for the title.

I always wanted Marvel-themed lip gloss

The Beat pointed to an article on Women’s Wear Daily that has the lowdown on Marvel’s new licensing deals for products for girls and women including jewelry and makeup as well as the more obvious things like T-shirts.

Paul Gitter, who is the president of consumer products, North America, for Marvel Entertainment Inc., says when doing such things, they have to be “very careful” not to “alienate our core” audience — in other words, boys don’t want a bunch of girls wearing T-shirts with Spider-man on them. Or something.

Vice president of product merchandising at Marvel, Susan Fields, also says “Hulk was a big component for us when it came to being eco-friendly, with T-shirts featuring the character and sayings like ‘go green.’ ” I wish I could make this stuff up.

But overall, I’m really pretty OK with this. I’ve often wished that comic book T-shirts came in girly styles (I am not someone who wears an XXL) and maybe in earlier days, some Marvel lip gloss would’ve been a fun purchase for me.

Still, with Marvel’s other attempts at reaching out to young women (including the recent adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) makes me believe they don’t really know what they’re doing (but since these are licensing deals, the actual product development will probably be in the hands of people who have experience making products for women).

I don’t think this will get women reading comics, though, and I don’t think that’s really the point. After all, plenty of women connect with the character of Wonder Woman but have no interest in picking up comics about her. This is just about taking the cool iconography of comics and selling it to people. But I’m also OK with that.

Image of Marvel lip glosses, taken from WWD.com

“Can You Sell Comic Books In This Economy?”

Media Bistro poses the question and gives a few answers, most of which fall into the “maybe” category.

I do know that a few of my friends, with no disrespect to their local comic book stores, have turned to mail-order subscription services for their floppies to save money. With the prices of floppies ever increasing (some of which are $3.99 per issue now), I do wonder how long the floppy issues have left. I know, I know, plenty of people have sounded the death knell of single-issue comics before, but the price may push plenty of people to stop buying. (I don’t buy single issues too often, mostly out of laziness so I’m probably not a good one to ask.)

I wonder if a sort of Japanese manga-phonebook style model may work for some comics — say for $16, you get 5 comics (like, for example, all of the X-Men titles) all bound together every month. Sure, it may not have the super-pretty Photoshop colors, but you’d still have a cost-effective way to read comics. And maybe, eventually, individual titles/storylines could be collected in pretty color for a premium price. I’d go for that, personally.

But obviously, for a lot of people who are trying to pay bills and keep their jobs, luxury entertainment items like comics will probably fall away. I think comics (and publishing) in general can weather this, but I think we all know there are rough times ahead.