Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Boys may be boys, but girls must be women

This link was posted in the comments of one of the several fine blogs I read.

Newsarama exclusive Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, preview!

I have had this comic on my pull list since I first saw it in previews. I get Tiny Titans and Billy Batson, I regularly borrow comics and 'graphic novels' geared toward teens and younger. Some of the best comics out there right now thankfully have kids as their target audience.

I have two daughters under the age of 15. I have been a Girl Scout leader for years, and have lead troops ranging from Brownies through Cadets. I have long lamented the senseless over-sexualization of female characters of all ages in comics.

Go read the preview if you haven't already, then read the comments. Half of them are to the effect of 'it's a dude in a skirt', or 'they need to fix her hair' to make her look like a girl, or 'give her eyelashes', etc.

I don't know if this series will be as good as the others I mentioned earlier. The preview looks pretty good. If I have any concerns about the comic, I promise you that none of them are due to the main character who is called Supergirl, not being feminine enough for 'my tastes'. See... Unlike apparently a good number of the sort of people who fill up the various message boards complaining about their favorite young teen characters not having enough curves, I don't have a 'taste' when it comes to girls.

I showed my nine year old daughter the pictures of Supergirl from the preview and asked her if she knew who the character was. She did. I asked her if she thought the character looked like a girl or a boy, and she said that she looked a little bit like a boy. The reason she cited was how messy her hair seems to be. She then pointed out something that should seem pretty obvious to most people, and that is that the character's name is SuperGIRL... She's a girl. I don't think her sensibilities were offended by the character design at all, and she had no difficulty identifying the character or the character's gender. She thinks the comic looks cool.

Body image in girls certainly isn't made less of an issue through the constant barrage of models and actresses and images of female characters that all meet various improbable benchmarks that are presented as standards for judging female beauty, and female worth. Comics and fanboys didn't invent this issue, but as a general rule, the comics industry hasn't seemed to do much to show that women come in all shapes and sizes.

I'm glad to see comics like this being made. Hopefully it will be well received by it's target audience and stick around for a while. Hopefully the message board neanderthals will go away.


Eden said...

I think she looks really cute. Some fans seem to take it personally when something isn't aimed directly to them. There are other people who should get to read comics, too.

I will probably be picking this up.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

Hey, thanks for the link and the comment! I picked up a copy today, and liked it a lot with regard to what I assume it's target demographic is. It balances her 'superness' with her being an outsider and a bit goofy. I think it may set her up to be an identifiable sympathetic character for the pre-young adolescent female reader. I will need to get my built-in panel of experts to read it and give me their opinion before I do a proper review.

Anonymous said...

Wow. People really can't tell she's a girl? Really? Maybe what all those parents in the old days used to say about comics 'ruining' your eyes is true after all. Admittedly I haven't read the issue myself, but I've seen the cover artwork and some of the interior pages and it all looked fine to me.

Speaking of Johnny DC titles, did you pick up The Family Dynamic? It only ran 3 issues (instead of its intended 6) but it was arguably the best series ever put out by Johnny DC that was not based on a TV property. If you can find the issues at your local comic shop, i highly recommend them.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

I have not read Family Dynamic. I think I've heard of it, but I don't think I've seen it. I will definitely look for it now.