In the past few years, young women have emerged as the fastest-growing demographic in the Western Comics scene, and the the industry has made moves to reflect the changing audience.
For instance, this summer, Marvel, one of the “big two” comics publishers—along with DC Comics—released a new series called A-Force featuring all of Marvel’s mightiest women heroes under one title. And independent—or “indie”—publishers such as Image Comics are seeing great success with feminist, creator-owned titles, including Bitch Planet and Sex Criminals; both are flying off the shelves at comics stores. Also, we now live in a world where Thor is a woman, and she’s not an afterthought called Thor Girl, or Thor Woman, or She-Thor, she’s just called Thor, and she punches bad guys in the face for “saying ‘feminist’ like it’s a four-letter word.” What’s more, the title under which the new Thor appears is outselling the old Thor. (In your face “women-heroes-don’t-sell” haters. I’m sure the new Thor would have a wonderful hammer-shaped response to anyone spreading this myth.)
However, the geek community is not always a friendly environment for women and gender-nonconforming folks: both groups regularly experience harassment online. Echoing last year’s horrific “Gamergate” scandal, in which angry men tweeted rape and death threats as well as personal information about women game developers, comics readers and even respected creators such as Erik Larson, co-owner of Image Comics, have shown contempt for the new push for more inclusive comics. Aside from online hostility, women, who make up 46 percent of self-identified comics fans, still face degrading, hyper-sexualized images such as women with boobs the size of their faces and spaghetti noodles for spines in the pages of their favorite titles. Escher Girls is one of many blogs that documents the sometimes disgusting, sometimes confusing ways that the male-gaze renders women in comics.
Well, we here at the Ms. Blog are having none of that. Sorry to burst your bubble, haters, but women have always been a part of comics history and that’s not going to change. In case you needed a refresher, it wasn’t gun-slinging, womanizing men who brought the manga boom to the West, it was an adventuring sisterhood of five cheerleader skirt-wearing teen girls with magic powers—also known as Sailor Moon—who made that happen.
Women shouldn’t feel like they are alone in their love of comics, and thankfully there are tons of interesting, complex titles out now that appeal to a diverse audience without resulting to misogynistic tropes. Check out a few feminist favorites below!