It’s not manga, but it could be serious competition: Everyone was abuzz this weekend with the news that DC is starting a line of graphic novels aimed at girls. Even the New York Times picked up on it (link may expire soon). Johanna articulates the two biggest criticisms of this line: All but one of the creators are men (although the two editors are women) and DC may not be the best company to do this, given their track record and the misogyny of some of their other products:
It’s very odd to see a company whose core line of comics is so unfriendly and hateful towards women launch this effort. Something of a mixed message there, or is this intended to assuage critics? “Oh, don’t worry about the rape and murder in our superhero books — the comics for you girls are over there.”
Christopher Butcher points out that the whole thing is a bit redundant because the girls already have manga. I’m not sure that’s a legitimate criticism, as there is always a group who will turn up their nose at manga, and I can understand DC wanting to broaden their market. However, I think Chris is right that DC didn’t do a good job of initially marketing CMX.
[The NY Times article] mentions that the new Minx line will be launched with actual money and a Marketting firm, unlike CMX, where “The marketing then was similar to that used for DC’s other titles.” Heh. More and more, CMX just feels like it was sabotaged on purpose, doesn’t it?
Also, he highlights one fact that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention: DC is turning over marketing to Alloy Marketing + Media. The NY Times notes that another Alloy division, Alloy Entertainment, was the book packager responsible for the “Opal Mehta” plagiarism case. To give them their due, they are also responsible for two highly successful franchises, the Gossip Girls and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and it looks like DC is using them strictly for marketing, not as a packager. Still, it seems like a departure for any comics company to do mass marketing.
On her LJ, creator Rachel Nabors picks up on the point about the creators being men:
Scholastic’s Graphix line featured tried and true female creators who already had proven their abilities to write to girls. So why did DC choose male talent when there are still so many talented women in the industry ready to work? Why all the boys?
In the comments, Warren Ellis snarkily responds
Oh, they did that specifically to annoy you, and in revenge for Joanne Rowling writing the most successful boy’s-adventure YA novels of the last 50 years.
Actually, at this thread on The Engine, Shaenon Garrity says
And I know that [Minx editor] Shelly Bond went out of her way to try to recruit more female creators, because I was one of them (my pitch sucked, sadly; I’m not very good at writing for teens).
Andi Watson, the author of one of the Minx titles, agrees:
That’s what I understand. Some creators weren’t interested and then I guess other pitches were rejected (a bunch of mine went in the bin too).
And Johann Chua says don’t discount the editors:
For some strange reason most shoujo manga editors are still men. The Magnificent Forty-Niners who established manga for girls being created by women had them. Hell, all the ground-breaking shounen-ai titles of the seventies had them as well.
In fact, many commenters at The Engine and Comics Worth Reading thought the two women editors were the high point of the Minx line.
I am fortunate to have a member of Minx’s core demographic living with me: My 13-year-old daughter, who is a voracious reader of both manga and YA novels. I asked her if she reads any books by men. “The one I’m reading right now is by a guy,” she said. That would be Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I would have guessed otherwise, because in the past she has read a lot of girl-oriented fiction such as The Clique novels by Lisi Harrison and the novels of Louise Rennison, which seem to be entirely concerned with embarrasing dating mishaps, but now she’s dismissing these as “immature.” Still, somehow I doubt that a guy could write as convincingly as Rennison about a cat eating your false eyelashes or about doing the “lets go down to the disco” dance with your girlfriends. Just sayin’.