Arts Graphic novels… now for girls!
posted by November 27 at 12:02 PMon
More news on the inevitable mainstreaming of comics: this weekend brought a story in the New York Times about DC Comics partnering with patented shitty-stuff-for-teens-promoter Alloy for the development and release of a line of graphic novels for teenage girls. This is a smart move for the publisher, since American teenagers are increasingly hot for manga (Japanese serial comic books that rake in $5 billion internationally every year) and the first “graphic novels for girls” are going to be less like traditional graphic novels (a somewhat-scorned artsy term usually applied to BIG IMPORTANT works like Art Spiegelman’s Maus) and more like manga and chick lit. The author of the first book released under the new DC Comics push previously penned works called “Boy Proof” and “The Queen of Cool”. And the page of the new novel previewed in the New York Times is downright insipid.
Look at those sharp-faced Mean Girl stereotypes! This isn’t surprising, but it’s disappointing. What I like about cartooning is there’s usually not a lot of money in it for anyone — the artist or the publisher — so the work is refreshingly weird. Comics have the ability to be unique and still be marketable, they routinely push the boundaries of art and narrative. But as the contrived panels above show, “girl comics” are the new ridiculous Superhero genre. Being creative is risky and books have such razor-thin profit margins that it makes financial sense to just copy the style of selling-like-hotcakes manga and chick lit. I just hope it doesn’t do harm to real girl comics and pulls more people into comic book stores where they may, eventually, wade through the glossy shlock to something actually worth reading.