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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dead Minx

posted by on September 25 at 11:00 AM

waterbabypanels.jpg

Galleycat informs us that Minx, DC Comics’ imprint intended for young female readers, will be shuttered in January. The line put out 12 titles in two years.

Perhaps part of the failure of Minx is that it was intended for girls and all of the protagonists were girls, but only one-third of the books had female writers or artists involved. The others, like Ross Campbell’s Water Baby, pictured above, featured breasty, sexy protagonists who didn’t act like real girls. here is a typical complaint about the book:

Campbellís art style has one or two drawbacks, though—the main one being the amped-up sexiness of the characters. Brody seems particularly busty for a thin girl (and the fat she sometimes complains about is not visible on her at all), and she and Louisa usually wear overly skimpy clothing. Sure, itís supposed to be summer, and girls do often dress provocatively in real life, but the art often seems to linger on their nubile bodies, which probably sends the wrong sort of message to the intended audience of young teenage girls.

Also, shouldnít Brody, who brags about her slovenly lifestyle and reticence toward bathing, have some hair on her legs or armpits? In fact, her severed leg ends in a smooth, rounded stump; donít amputees usually have some ugly scarring?

The only three Minx comics worth reading were by the two books by Andi Watson, who is a fairly prolific comics creator in her his (in my defense, dude writes almost exclusively about women) own right, and Good as Lily, by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm, which is a story of a teenager who is visited by past and future versions of herself. The rest of it was unexceptional when it wasn’t creepy, and the line won’t really be missed

RSS icon Comments

1

Andi Watson is male, FYI.

Posted by Dave | September 25, 2008 11:10 AM
2

Wiki says Andi Watson only collaborated on one instalment (Clubbing).

I had a pretty decent time with P.L.A.I.N. Janes, which was by Cecil Castelluci and Jim Rugg.

Posted by Gloria | September 25, 2008 11:29 AM
3

Well, come on. "Minx"? What were they thinking?

Posted by breklor | September 25, 2008 11:47 AM
4

As a librarian who works with teens, I was thrilled when Minx first appeared, but I can't say I'll be really mourning its loss in light of its overall record.

Minx had a few good titles, most notably The P.L.A.I.N. Janes (mentioned above) which is about a bunch of teen girls all named Jane who shake things up in their small town by starting a guerilla art club. Good As Lily, which Paul mentioned, is also quite good, and Re-Gifters, about a young Korean-American girl living in LA who is great at hapkido (a Korean martial art) but not so much at dating boys -- those are probably the only titles worth reading. The rest were disappointments -- some completely unreadable disappointments. It's unfortunate, because there still aren't a lot of great (non-manga) comix out there that speak to the interests, desires, and lives of teenage girls in this country.

Even though it's 10 years old, I still think Dan Clowes' Ghost World is one of the most brilliant and devastating portraits of teen girl friendship ever written. And it's written by a man!

Posted by Abby | September 25, 2008 12:02 PM
5

Dunno if you read Kimmie66, done by the guy behind Serenity Rose, but I was pretty impressed with it as far as a male author tackling this stuff (which he already did well with Serenity Rose, the reason I even bothered with this book). Aaron Alexovich is pretty good at empathizing with young girls' identity issues in this one--and doesn't draw them like ridiculous tarts, either. More in line with the stuff he did while contributing to Invader Zim. I guess I'd call the book "unexceptional," but my stepsister loved it, and I think that was more of the point.

But I dunno that the series tanked cuz it was "male-dominated"--Minx was a failure in marketing. It would've done way better if it was dumped into teen-friendly stores like Urban Outfitters or, eh, Hot Topic... hell, my normal comic book haunts never had the Minx books set aside particularly or put anywhere near the similar manga section. I know the manga crowd was targeted in the initial PR blasts sent out, but I never saw the execution.

Posted by Sam M. | September 25, 2008 12:03 PM
6

i really don't understand why DC would attempt to launch a line of comics aimed at young women without employing female writers & artists exclusively or nearly-so, the way they employ male writers & artists exclusively to pen their adolescent male power fantasies. do you think they even tried asking any females who are into comics what they would want to see? so doubtful. apparently they had a problem advertising it too. (more here: http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/cbr_dc_comics_ends_minx_imprint/)

and ross campbell is such a hack, i don't know what they were thinking giving him a title in that line.

Posted by lindsay | September 25, 2008 12:13 PM
7

@6: of course not. And now they can point to this failure as proof that girls don't want to read comics.

(Someone above me is using my name. I always knew I should have come up with some kind of actual handle.)

Posted by Abby | September 25, 2008 12:15 PM
8

The fact that DC couldn't get the line into mainstream book stores is likely more of a problem than the sex of the creators. Not many teen and tween girls at the local comic book shop last time I checked.

Posted by Kyle | September 25, 2008 12:58 PM
9

hey hey hey!
Water Babies's intended audience is NOT young teenage girls. It is an erotic, nuanced, psychological comic going into a girl's internal trauma of having her friggin leg bit off.
I don't think anything by Ross Campbell is intended for young girls. It's intended for young adults and mature persons.

And saying that the characters don't act like real girls? SLKDJGLKSFGWTF! I love Campbell's stuff, like Wet Moon, because the characters are so subtly and quietly real. Reading his comics are like watching somebody from across a room for a few hours- you get to know them the same way, in a really delicate and precious manner.

And what's this crap that comics for females have to be written by females?
LOVE AND ROCKETS, anyone? STRANGERS IN PARADISE? Jamie and Gilbert fucking knock it on the head when it comes to female psychology and interaction! I've never seen a more profound exemplification of the complexities of a female/female relationship
(and male/female to boot!) than I have in Terry Moore's series.

Christ! What a crappy and misplaced review.
Did the person who wrote this have ANY experience in the comic world besides looking for ones fit for her preteen daughter?

What crap.

Posted by morgi | September 25, 2008 1:01 PM
10

I think all my favorite Minx comics were already mentioned- P.L.A.I.N Janes and Good as Lily. I liked Kimmi 66 and Clubbing, but they left something to be desired.
I think it's sad they didn't develop any of these into series. When kids come back to the comic store looking for the newest installment they look around. I have hope for the Courtney Crumrin series by Ted Naifeh will have that kind of effect on young girl comic fans.

Posted by Enigma | September 25, 2008 1:02 PM
11

Perhaps the failure of the imprint has less to do with discriminatory hiring practices and more to do with the fact that females make up a very small part of the comic-reading demographic.

Shocking presumption, I know...

Posted by kitschnsync | September 25, 2008 1:41 PM
12

Wait. "Young teenage girls" are not "young adults"? What am I missing here? I'm pretty sure that the widely accepted definition of YA is ages 13-17, ish. It's a nice marketing term intended to make teenagers feel better.

(If you're not writing for young teenage girls, why publish in a series that was specifically created for that demographic?)

And rereading Paul's post, nowhere does he say only women can write well for girls. He's just disappointed that the ratio of female to male authors wasn't better. But, that said, one-third is pretty damn good, especially if you consider that women almost certainly don't make up that proportion of comic writers in general. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong; I don't know for sure.

Posted by Gloria | September 25, 2008 1:50 PM
13

Although, yeah, I guess he does say "the others", i.e. those written by men as opposed to those written by women, tend to feature unrealistic girls. Sloppy there, Paul. "Some others", perhaps?

Posted by Gloria | September 25, 2008 1:51 PM
14

Gloria @ 12: The only person who would imagine that a 15-year-old qualifies as a "young adult" is... a 15-year-old.

In mainstream media reporting, "adult" in any form definitely means over 18, and "young adult" probably means college-age.

Posted by David Wright | September 25, 2008 2:09 PM
15

@9: no one here ever said that men SHOULDN'T write comics for women and girls, or starring women and girls - or that men always do a shitty job of representing women and girls. strangers in paradise is pretty good, so is what i've seen of love&rockets. the first 20 issues of the maxx by sam kieth was good. sandman by neil gaiman was another good series. some x-men books have some good moments with female characters.

having said that, the vast majority of superhero comics always have been horribly sexist and i can't think of ANY women working as writers or artists in mainstream comics - can you? i followed mainstream books pretty closely for a few years in the late 90s-early 00s until i got sick of the sexism. i don't remember once picking up something from marvel or DC that had a woman in a writing or illustrative role. although obviously simply being a woman doesn't make one a champion for feminist causes (hey palin), sexist stereotypes are far more likely to occur amongst an entirely male creative staff, rather than one more evenly mixed. this is OBVIOUSLY a huge problem when directing a line of comics at young women.

@8 & 11: a LOT of women read comics, buy comics, write comics and draw comics. have you ever been to the stumptown comics fest in portland? if women and girls weren't at least half the attendees and creators there last year, the ratio was damn close. the key there is that stumptown is a small press exposition.

you don't see as many women at comicons like san diego's and in local comic book stores because mainstream nerd culture tends to be rather hostile to women who prefer to be treated as more than sex objects. think booth babes, giant posters of lady death & vamprella blocking out any natural light in comics stores, etc etc blah blah blah.

Posted by lindsay | September 25, 2008 2:14 PM
16

@15 - Gail Simone (writer; Wonder Woman), Nicola Scott (artist; Secret Six), G. Willow Wilson (writer; Vixen: Return of the Lion, Ivory Madison (writer; Huntress: Year One), Amanda Connor (artist; Terra)...

There's more, but that's a good sample pool.
And that's not even counting editorial, which is seeing more and more women in editorial positions, overseeing books and creative directions.

Yeah, it's still a boys club in many respects, and there's still a lot of sexist bullshit floating in the pool, but it's slowly changing.

Posted by Dave | September 25, 2008 2:38 PM
17

David Wright @ 14: Dude, how could you overlook the other major group of people who refers to teens as young adults -- librarians. Your very own kind! :)

Posted by Abby | September 25, 2008 2:39 PM
18

What's interesting about this is that part of the effort DC made was to partner with the book packager Alloy Entertainment, which is responsible for book series like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Gossip Girl, etc. I would love to find out more about exactly what that partnership entailed and how that went down.

One sign of the failure of this enterprise was when I went into the Seattle Public Library and saw the Minx books on the shelves (anybody who gets their comics from SPL knows that all the popular stuff (mostly manga) can have as many as 100 holds in queue, and so won't be hitting the shelf for a long, long time).

In all honesty, I thought it was really weird that DC didn't just piggyback on properties owned by its parent company, Warner Bros., and make Gilmore Girl comics or some such thing. Hindsight 20/20 and all that, it might have been savvier to break into the market with licensed properties, and then supplement that with original, quality books. It's something that Dark Horse does quite successfully.

Posted by Kristy Valenti | September 25, 2008 5:49 PM
19

The problem isn't the unavailability of the market, but who's pushing the imprint. DC (and Time Warner) are a largely male-dominated bureaucratic mess. The MINX line was a much better concept than Marvel's disastrously clueless attempt at targeting the lady audience, but it belies a fundamental unwillingness to invest in a property that isn't their bread and butter. MINX was a clumsy, clueless, bone-headed and horribly cynical attempt to crack a market they didn't understand and never cared to. There are lots of great lady comic artists that they could find the same way they find their colorists, by trolling internet message boards (Hope Larson comes to mind instantly). That ridiculous "if we print it, they will come" attitudeworks for the dwindling superhero-fan demographic, but it's an ineffective, long-outdated trope that the big two still rely on.

And Ross Campbell always had a creepy streak.

Posted by Parsnip | September 26, 2008 11:36 AM
20

@14, David Wright: FYI, in publishing, "young adult" means the age group 12 and up. Not every book in your library or bookstore's "young adult" section is appropriate for 12 year olds, but the definition of a YA book is a book aimed at readers 12 or over.

Posted by anna | September 27, 2008 2:31 PM

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