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Rants in E Minor


Alysha McKinney

No Girls Allowed

Comic book fans are afraid of breasts.

Now, I don’t mean Psylocke, Fairchild, Wonder Woman, Witchblade, or even Dawn.  I don’t mean their own; the result of too many pork rinds.  I mean honest-to-goodness live female breasts...and their owners.

Especially when the owner walks into a comic shop.

As a female comic fan, I’m more stereotyped than an Eskimo carrying a harpoon.  But, luckily for that Eskimo, he gets to live in relative peace.  Female fans, however, face the slings and arrows every time a funny book is mentioned.

For example, I’ve heard the phrase “comics for girls” used a lot lately.  Pardon me?  This is precisely why gender stereotypes still exist, especially in the comic world.  “Let’s give her something to identify with!”  A girl doesn’t usually identify with a character because of its sex; she identifies by situation and emotion – unlike the bulk of men who tend to identify with needs and desires.  This is exactly why Lady Death sells well.

Basing what a person should read – and would enjoy – solely on their gender is like saying that Rob Liefeld would be able to draw without tracing paper; it’s a risky assumption.  A girl won’t necessarily identify with Barbie because she’s a rock star/Olympian/veterinarian – she might be more likely to find herself in a young Peter Parker and his school woes.  Barbie is an unrealistic and unhealthy goal to try and live up to anyway…a literally impossible figure with wildly varying careers (oh yeah, Barbie for president; I’d rather vote H.R. Pufnstuf, and he scared me as a child) and got nothing but space between your ears, giggling that “math is hard!” A romantic relationship with a guy who’s eyeing GI Joe with the kung fu grip?  But then, what consumer wants reality? We’re programmed from birth to either ignore or suppress it.

Of course, I’m at the height of hypocrisy here.  I role-play,  and both read and write fantasy.  And super heroes? They’re a reality escape as well.  But if a book is well written, it can be a positive escape.  It can have a moral or lesson that can be used later in the real world.

Let’s use that Peter Parker example again.  In Ultimate Spiderman #2 (drawn by the wonderful Mark Bagley, written by the lovely and talented Brian Bendis, both of whom I can’t get enough of), Peter refuses to fight bully Flash Thompson.  Aunt May and Uncle Ben have taught him better than that.  Is this such a bad lesson for kids, let alone adults?  Basic tales of human nature like this transcend gender and age.

So what exactly should a girl read?  Whatever she likes.  Anything well written and drawn is worthy of reading.  Female comic fans should be much more vocal in support of what they like.  We’re no different than males; we just have more pleasing anatomy.

New bonus section!  My recommendations on the subject OR The more we know, the more we grow

One female creator (::gasp:: A female creator!  Egad!  RUN!) that I openly support is the fabulous Lea Hernandez.  If you have a penchant for great storytelling, terrific pacing and suspense, and beautiful artwork with a manga influence, try picking up an issue of Dive Lea’s Rumble Girls: Silky Warrior Tansie.  After getting this book upon recommendation of Lea herself, I can’t rave enough about it.  It’s got it all – a believable, likable heroine, a beautiful boy or two, and mecha, mecha, MECHA!

And if that’s not enough for you, the ever-irascible Mr. Warren Ellis is going to be writing a backup story in Ruble Girls entitled Poppy.  If that doesn’t do it for you, nothing will.  Go back to your issue of Warlands.

I’m off to place my order for Lea’s Cathedral Child now.  After reading her moving Clockwork Angels, she’s earned a place in my heart and in my long box.  Go check her out at now and thank me later.

Copyright©2000 Alysha McKinney