Damn it, I took a vacation from Tumblr and comics and the world exploded.
Well, not really but still! First, Ben Affleck was cast as Batman and apparently this is the absolutely worst thing that ever happened in the history of the world according to some fanboys (girls).
Or just the worst casting for comic book movies since Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker.
I like Affleck and not just because he’s from Boston. He’s dark and handsome and he’s actually a good actor. I’m sure will be fine as an older Batman. There have been four different dudes who have played Batman one of whom was George Clooney wearing plastic nips. How can it be worse?
Besides, I’m saving my rage for the casting of Wonder Woman which, of course, means I’ll be saving THAT for a long time.
Now on to the other explosion. FanExpo, a Canadian Con, was held this week and DC announced that the Justice League of America will now be the Justice League of Canada. Watch out Rob Ford.
But that wasn’t the really interesting thing - it was about, well, this.
I mentioned maybe, can we create a book that targets a little bit more of the female readership that’s been growing. And maybe a book that has a little bit of romance in it, a little big of sex appeal, you know, something that would, for lack of a better example, that hits on theTwilight audience. You know, millions of people went to see those in the theaters because it has those kind of, you know, subject matter. The drama, the characterization with love triangles and forbidden love and things like that.
There are a few things here that are problematic. A woman at the show asked some kick ass follow-up questions where she was asked if she wanted more “butt shots” of Superman.
But let’s walk through these problematic things here, shall we?
First, I hate to be the person to tell DC Comics and or Tony Daniel but there has been a pretty popular romance in comics for several decades. It has supported multiple movies and two TV shows. That romance was between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman. (And for years before that Wonder Woman had her own romance with Steve Trevor - one in which she was top billed).
So if at anytime in say the past DC want to go get that female readership with a romance, that would be the one to go for. You know the old sayings, “bird in the hand” “don’t reinvent the wheel”, etc.
Nope. Nope. Nope. They went with Superman and Wonder Woman a coupling of which I and many others have written much about. Bottom line - don’t like it, it’s problematic, and the problem isn’t “ship wars”, it’s a fundamental mishandling of comics’ top female character.
But as if it couldn’t get sillier, it did.
Let me clear, a romance book ala Twilight with Wonder Woman was the way to get female readers is all the problems DC Comics has in one bad, shitty idea suggesting strongly -
They don’t understand marketing which requires talking to your potential audience.
They don’t understand female readers because they have done nothing to understand them.
They don’t understand their characters because the Superman and Wonder Woman as couple works against the basic tenents of why and how Wonder Woman was created and what she stands for.
I’m not saying that romance in comics is bad. It’s not. I loved Superman and Lois Lane. I loved Bat/Cat. I loved Wally and Linda. Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman were fun in the Silver Age. Romance and superhero comics = good! (Feel free to cut and paste that into any responses that try and imply anything else).
The problem is when the equation for female readers = romance. And further, when romance = Twilight. Twilight is a well loved series by many women. But it is also problematic for others. It should not be used as a touch point.
Here’s a tip to folks trying to write for women. Women like ass kicking. Women like intrigue. Women like villains who threaten to take over the world. Women like power fantasies. Women like friendships. With women. And with men. Women like horror. Women like mysteries. And women like romance.
Variety - it’s a female thing too!
When Gail Simone wrote Birds of Prey she kept the romance out of the book for a very long time and focused on the friendships of the women. The books was very successful doing that and the feeder comic for many, many women into comics.
Pay attention, my friends.
If you want to reach to the female readers, here’s another tip - ask the women that are already reading you. Don’t make assumptions like “females like Twilight so this will work.”
If DC is truly serious about going after female readers, a topic which is open to debate, I say “FANTASTIC”. I haven’t been publishing this blog for three and half years just so I could rake in money or pursue less stressful hobbies. That’s been one of the main things I’ve worked for. How nice that it could actually happen at this point in time.
But if they are going to go after female readers, I wish they would do more than what was said at FanExpo.
Because there is much more than that needed. There’s plenty out there written on the things comics can do, and more importantly, stop doing.
So DC why not talk to some of the female readers you have and ask them what they like? Why not have a roundtable at a show? Why not have an event at a show that will attract your female readership like Marvel does with their “Women in Comics” panels?
Because I’m pretty sure you’ll get more (and better) ideas by listening to women than to one of your (male) creators.