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VP Tom Brevoort Unconcerned About Lack of Headlining Female Characters At Marvel

If you’ve been following Things We Saw Today lately, you might have noticed some news tidbits on Marvel canceling two of its ongoing titles, X-23 and Ghost Rider. We were interested in the news because with the close of the two books, Marvel will no longer be running a comic that features a female character in a central starring role. The only women in Marvel’s titles are ones on teams, now. There are lots of things you can say about DC’s treatment of its female characters in the following titles, but at least you’ve got Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Voodoo, not to mention the all female team of Birds of Prey. Okay, so that’s six out of fifty-two, but that’s six more comics with women in the titles than Marvel has now.

Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s Senior VP of Publishing, runs an active Formspring account and was recently asked quite boldly what he though Marvel’s responsibility was towards its female characters:

Q: Do you feel like you have a social (beyond financial) responsibility to feature more female (or other underrepresented minority) headliners in titles? EX: DC has Batgirl & Woman, Voodoo, Wonder Woman, but Marvel has no book named after&featuring a woman. :

I feel like we’ve got a social responsibility to feature characters of all kinds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those characters can or have to be headliners. That tends to be defined by the audience and the marketplace. If all of the fans crying for more series with female leads from all of the companies had supported all the ones that were done in the past, this circumstance wouldn’t exist. That said, that doesn’t change the responsibility, but ti[sic] may impact on the manner in which that responsibility plays itself out.

Lets parse this out a bit. “I feel like we’ve got a social responsibility to feature characters of all kinds,” but no responsibility to put women or minorities in prominent character roles or places of great visibility across our line, where they might best attract the kind of viewer looking for signs of diversity in a chronically bland industry. “If all of the fans crying for more series with female leads from all of the companies had” paid us more money for them, then we might have the motivation to do more.

That’s right, ladies. All we have to do to get a retailer to see us as a part of their audience is to spend money on them. But the money comes first, and in comparable quantities to the rest of the entrenched demographic that they are already focusing on to the exclusion of others, or no dice. This is absolutely how a shrinking industry should feel about attracting a new and potentially eager audience. It is absolutely not the opposite of the way this transaction is supposed to go. Companies in the business of giving product in trade for money always play hard to get with untapped demographics. That’s how you know the demographic wants you.

Maybe one of the reasons why women are generally (and I emphasize generally, knowing The Mary Sue’s audience!) uninterested in the Big Two is because their choices are a company where no female characters are in prominent roles comparable to their male counterparts, or one where they have to navigate a minefield of overt sexualization and inconsistent characterization of the women who are in prominent roles to find the titles that don’t outright offend them?

(Brevoort’s Formspring via The Beat.)

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  • Kath

    I recently did a piece for SciFi Now about women in comics (followed it up on my blog, too), and I’ve got this to say about Marvel.

    Marvel are absolutely terrible when it comes to women. Yes, DC screwed up with the reboot quite a bit, but those were arguably missteps in a sea of great, positive characters. They have – or had – Proxy, Oracle, Batwoman, Renee Montoya and so on as minority women with prominent positions in their titles (Proxy was in Batgirl with Stephanie Brown) and they weren’t really sidelined. Marvel, on the other hand, don’t. Where are their queer characters? Where are there non-white ones? We have that girl from the Runaways (although she’s an alien, I think), there’s Storm and a couple of others kicking around, but largely their minority characters are either not part of the main continuity or are pushed to the back.

    If you look at the art by artists they have, such as Greg Land, it’s absolutely disgusting. I have the Women of Marvel collection (which collects the Women of Marvel one shots and series from last year) and the cover is… I have no words for it. It’s beyond gross. It’s vile.

    I read two issues of X-23, getting a third shortly (it’s the one out today, #18), and I absolutely adore the art in it. Phil Noto was excellent in #16, and the artist for #17 and I presume #18 was great, and I will be picking up the trades. But by killing it, Marvel killed their integrity on a level that shocks me.

    Women are misrepresented to an absolutely horrifying degree in DC and Marvel comics, but at *least* DC counter-act much of that with a stable of great characters who are frequently prominent. Marvel? What do they have to show these days? Emma Frost in a thong, Rogue running around with her tits out, more cleavage than a beach of bikini-clad busty women. It’s not good, not good at all.

    P.S. Marvel, I used to love Mercury. I still do. She’s amazing. But you never gave her the time of day, never, and there is not one shred of consistency for her visually. She is a brilliant character who could be so well used, yet you’re content to have her just appear on covers every so often and peer over someone’s shoulder in the contents. That sucks, you suck, blargh!

    P.P.S. Armor and Mercury totally kissed in Pixie Strikes Back. Make it canon.

  •!/haversam [A]

    Female ghost rider with long hair… I can’t even.. I..

  • Levi P Tompkins

    To be fair Generation Hope and Xmen Legacy are both female lead books, yes they have male cast members, but I dont think you could argue in anyway that the headliners of those books, Hope and Rogue respectively dont carry the bulk of the story.  I would also point out that Valeria Richards heavily carries Future Foundation.  Given the shear number of team books opposed to solo books Marvel does, I think this at least somewhat mitigating, but its still a huge problem overall.

  • DJ DeyvID

    Boo! at Tom Brevoort. Boo! at Marvel.

    I am a Native American male, and also a feminist. When I was able to maintain an on-going pull-list, half (if not the majority) of my pull-list was female-lead comics, and I definitely took notice that to do so I had to gravitate to publishers other than the Big Two, such as IDW, Dynamite Entertainment, Avatar Press, Broadsword Comics, and independents. I also took notice that there were/are very, very few prominent (much less lead) characters of Native descent.

    I was unhappy with decisions and directives set forth by Joe Quesada which lead to me increasingly spending my limited comics budget on titles other than Marvel’s. Now I am again unhappy with Marvel due to decisions and comments made by Tom Brevoort. Unfortunately, my finances are more limited and I have had to cancel an on-going pull-list. I’m not spending as much money on comics because I don’t have that money to spend on comics, not because I have the money but choose to spend it on non-female-lead comics. If I had the money, I’d be subscribing to all of those female-lead comics again/still.

    When my financial situation improves, I question how much of that budget will be directed at Marvel. If they have no female-lead titles, how am I supposed to buy and support female-lead comics when they don’t exist at Marvel? If purchasing constitutes “voting with my dollar”, then my vote will likely go somewhere other than Marvel.


  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Its very sad. And as usual Brevoort’s words do nothing to appease the audience. Out chances of seeing a female led solo comics I believe will be almost nil in Marvel’s new post-Disney environment where the bottom line seems to be on an ascending escalator.

    The Fearless, although a mini seems to be the last female centric book featuring Valkyrie and Red Skull Sin. I was really disappointed that Black Widow was canned before it barely got started.

    Also to be fair X-Men is now 90% female with Warpath being the sole exception.

  • Mark

    The problem I have with Marvel is that they always say that have a much more diverse cast of characters than DC. Yes, Marvel, you do have a lot of female characters, gays, and people of color, but that’s because you use them for five seconds and throw them away. Marvel just keeps using the same white men over and over again while they make more minorities that just fade into the backround. Remember Captain Marvel? Remember Sister Grimm? Remember Freedom Ring (oh wait, no, they killed him, nevermind)? For crap’s sake, the only woman Marvel has that wasn’t created to be on a team or be a female version of a male character is Jessica Jones, and she was just made because BMB couldn’t use Spider-Woman. 

  • Anonymous

    The argument is a bit flawed, I feel, in that women are supposed to buy any comics that have a female headliner, regardless of content. We could all be buying “Tarot: Witch of the YOUR VAGINA IS HAUNTED” for that matter. Honestly, me? Yes I’d like to see more female characters getting a good role. But I REALLY WANT TO SPEND MY MONEY ON GOOD COMICS. Make some good comics, and realize you can do so WITH female characters, minority character etc etc, but don’t make the gender, race, whatever their primary characteristic. 

    Gosh, I’ve gone off on a rant here. Erm, I guess I’m trying to say I want good comics. And a good comic is a comic with good characters. And good female characters would contribute to the comic being a good one. 

  • Anonymous

    Just butting in to say I love Mercury too, as a concept. Great powerset and all. But sadly, as you say, she hardly get a chance to shine. Wasted potential. 

    Kind of the problem with X-Men in general really. There’s so many great characters, but because there’s so many it’s hard to get them balanced.

  • Kath

    Yeah, we should all buy those Aspen comics! Tits In Water, Tits In Small Bikinis, Big Bums And Boobs, you know, those ones.

  • Kath

    That’s true. There’s a lot of characters that just appear, wave, flash some boobage and then bugger off again.

    Rather annoying.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, you just reminded me of something. Flippin’ Pixie, who I personally don’t like much but I guess she’s not too bad a far as female characters go, gets a bigger role AND THUS BIGGER BREASTS. Land had a lot to do with that probably but it still bothered me to no end. 

  • Kath

    Yeah, that happened to Mecury too. But Pixie was more noticeable due to being a much more used character. I’ve got a print of the Pixie Strikes Back cover on my wall (right next to my screen, actually) and she’s fairly reasonable on it, as are the other four ladies. Look at her in the slightly earlier Uncanny X-Men FCBD issue (collected in… uh… Manifest Destiny?) and she’s been utterly destroyed by Land’s vile artwork. Generic purple-lipped face, big breasts, arse-flashing poses. Stupid. Utterly stupid.

    Pixie is quite vulnerable to complete redesigns, too. I think it was New X-Men where she looks completely different. I mean *completely* different. It carried over to Wolverine & the X-Men (TV Show) too.

  • Anonymous

    PSB was great, female characters wise. Even Emma Frost and Psylocke looked normal. 

    I think Pixie’s original design looked so radically different because the first artist (can’t remember his name) had a very personal style, so the designs weren’t as easy re-use in a different style. So she (and the other New X-Men) became more “house style”. And then there’s Land and everything becomes copypasta. 

  • Anonymous

    One (small) thing in Marvel’s defense on the solo versus team thing is that I’ve generally felt like the company as a whole has traditionally been stronger on the team books than the solo books, whereas DC is more the opposite.  When you think of Marvel’s big properties, you think Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four.  Yeah, you also have Iron-Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk, but I think movie-franchises aside, most of those characters are best known as members of the Avengers, certainly in modern comics.  As for DC, you’ve got Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.  Their big team books – Justice Society, Justice League, Teen Titans (plus a lot of their solo books) are all spin-offs of those solo characters.

    That isn’t to say that the response above isn’t totally inadequate (it is), but I do think that it might have something to do with the difference in solo titles with women headliners vs. team titles with good women characters.  I can’t speak for the current state of comics as I stopped collecting maybe five years ago, but I know that as a kid, I looooooved the X-Men, New Mutants and Gen. X, all of which, at least during the 80s and 90s, had some awesome women and minority characters.

  • becka

    Excellent article and a really good, concise dissection of the problems with Brevoort’s response.  

    Quick addition though – you left Supergirl out of DC’s list of female-led titles.  Which isn’t to say that DC are a paragon of excellence in this regard – it’s just that Marvel have set an exceptionally low bar for them to beat.  

  • Jazz

    Just a quick thing: Supergirl also has her own book at DC, which puts them at 7 female led books. 

    Also, I definitely agree with what Konijnemans was saying about how you can’t expect women to buy a female led comic just because. You can’t just throw us half-assed scraps and expect us to be grateful. You need to put the time and care into making a book that is quality and doesn’t trade in the same sexist crap we’ve seen over and over again. For example, look at DC and the difference in the response to books like Wonder Woman and Batwoman and books like Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws. The first two are backed by great creative teams who have an understanding of the characters, beautiful art, and compelling storylines. And what do you know, they’re both critically acclaimed and doing well in sales. It’s not that hard to grasp.

  • Anonymous

    It’s an unfortunate situation, but for once I can kind of see Brevoort’s point. Fans have been begging for more diversity in super-hero comics for years, but when Marvel or DC deliver, those books just don’t sell up to expectations, even if they have small but vocal fanbases. Sure, they can’t expect fans to pick up any book with a female lead in it just because we call for a book with a female lead, but by the same token we can’t expect the publishers to continue to throw good money after bad to expand their audience if they don’t think they’re going to get their investment returned to them.

  • Anonymous

    there is so much wrong with our post but I feel that much of ti comes down to a passing familiarity with the marvel line. The problem everyone seems to be having is they are no female led solo books. But what the article above states that “ no responsibility to put women or minorities in prominent character roles or places of great visibility across our line, where they might best attract the kind of viewer looking for signs of diversity in a chronically bland industry.” doesn’t ring true. Female and minority characters are featured more prominently than ever in books across the line. it’s the solo outings which seem to fail. Clearly from some of these comment on here, no one was reading the two titles mentioned above. 

  • Kath

    But the thing was X-23 – as an example – was selling better than some other Marvel titles that have as yet not been dropped. Why cancel it in that case?

  • Anonymous

    The cover is misleading. Alejandra has closely cropped hair and her skull is just on fire inside the book. No hair is visible. The Cover is probably meant to highlight that fact the host of the spirit of vengeance is female now. 

  • Anonymous

    The cost associated with different books are not the same. An issue of X-23 may have been more expensive to produce than other titles. Look at the Marvel Adventures line, it sells just under 8000 copies per month. But the collections are important to Marvel’s global publishing endeavors especially in Europe. As a result it continues to exist. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see anything wrong with Breevort’s statement. Marvel’s cancellation policy has been consistent regardless of who is headlining the book. You can’t expect them to publish books and loose money.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t be able to say with certainty why X-23 might have been singled out, but I do know that with American TV shows, it doesn’t matter how popular a show is if it can’t sell advertising through commercials. Some relatively highly-rated shows have been cancelled simply because their production values were too high and they couldn’t meet their budget, while other shows (America’s Funniest Videos) regularly land at the bottom of the ratings but have been around for literally decades because they cost next to nothing to make.

    Maybe something similar happened here. Fans generally assume that the production costs for one title are going to be the same for all titles across the board. 

    Plus, there may be other factors at play. For example, Diamond’s sales charts only include who much of a particular title is ordered on the retail level, but not the sell-through or the returns, correct? (I could be wrong on this, it’s been a while since I paid attention to those charts) Maybe X-23 had far more returns than other titles lower on the charts.

    Anyway, my point is that as fans we tend to oversimplify these corporate decisions–and that applies to any editorial decision, not just diversity. Without having all the factors in the decision-making process, there’s no way we’re going to be able to really understand why they made the choices they did, and it becomes easy to vilify the publishers as sexist/racist/homophobic/too liberal/too conservative because we don’t understand their decision making process.

  • Kath

    My familiarity with Marvel is little more than passing, I’ll concede, but yes – the problem many of us have is that Marvel have no female solo books. Nada.

    Their teams change line ups all the time, whether it’s the Avengers, the X-Men or any of the other ones, and just because Rogue might have a prominent place for this arc, the next one she could be just a support character. Marvel’s only consistent solo characters are male – Cappy A, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-man etc., and even then they all end up in various other teams. That’s not a balanced line up.

    And where are their minority characters? They’re around somewhere I’ll agree, and sometimes they’ll come to the foreground, but largely they’re not as prominent as minorities are in DC. They should really be pushed forward a little more, and a few more gay superheroes would not go amiss.

    As for not reading – I wasn’t reading X-23 because I don’t buy singles, but since it got cancelled I’ve made sure to get #16, #17 and within the next week I get #18. If I can help boost sales a little, maybe they’ll reconsider, but I doubt it.

  • Kath

    Oh, I’m not disagreeing that it’s easy to over simplify, but I wouldn’t agree with someone who said they cancelled, say, X-23 because they’re sexist. I’d say the current line-ups and portrayals of women in Marvel comics are largely sexist to some degree, but the cancellation of that title might not be.

    I do wonder why they axed X-23, though. I was personally under the impression it was doing at least fairly well, but clearly I was a bit wrong on that one.

  • Anonymous

    Except Marvel cancelled several book recently, not just the female lead ones, And they do have several females in high profile roles in their other books even if they are team books.

    Look at Generation Hope or Avengers Academy. Hell, Avengers Academy ‘s students core satudents are mainly female and they have several students that aren’t white or straight. They even have several hispanic heroes(Two of whom are Puerto Rican, which are rare and as a Boricua  myself i thank Marvel for that, especially since DC has no PR heroes).Hell, Scarlet Witch and Hope Summer will be the focus of the Avengers vs X-Men event

    No offence, because i like you guys, But you are taking Breevort’s statements out of context and twisting them.

  • Anonymous

    Marvel has Several minority heroes. They also have several Puerto Rican heroes, which marvel has none off.

    And X-23 and GR haven’t ended yet.

    But then, you’ve just admitted that you only know of Marvel in “passing”, so you don’t have an informed opinion on the matter(With Respect, i mean no offence).

    for Example, look up Avengers Academy, which has mostly minority and female students. Several Latinos( several of Dominican, Puerto Rican and Mexican decent.).

    There’s also Generation Hope,  which focuses on Hope Summers.

    And Marvel frequently gives the black heroes ongoings over the year, Black Panther for example has had several.

    Not only that, But Marvel does a better job with the their ethnic female heroes, while DC just promote the white female heroes(Alot of them aryan at that). The Avengers and The X-men have had Black Female Leaders and  Misty Knight has lead two incarnations of Heroes For Hire.

    And Marvel is mostly teams book anyway, but at least several of those team books do great jobs with their female characters.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong there slick. They do keep using them and Marvel currently has several books where White Men are the minority. 

    Hell, Marvel has several Latinos heroes that aren’t just of Mexican decent. Avengers Academy for example has heroes of Mexican, Dominican and Puertro Rican decent.

    Plus, Marvel puts their minority heroes in Lead roles, hell the Avengers and the X-Men have been lead by Black Women. DC only seems to promote white Women, they even replaced Cass Cain(Who is Asian) with a white blond  blue eyed Batgirl.

  • Anonymous

    Minority characters are featured in prominent roles in most of Marvel’s tram books and the majority of Marvel’s line is team books. The solo books like Iron man 2.0 and Black panther( ended the story arc in this case) were cancelled because of sales. When you come with with stuff like this 

    “Women are misrepresented to an absolutely horrifying degree in DC and Marvel comics, but at *least* DC counter-act much of that with a stable of great characters who are frequently prominent. Marvel? What do they have to show these days? Emma Frost in a thong, Rogue running around with her tits out, more cleavage than a beach of bikini-clad busty women. It’s not good, not good at all.”

    it tells me you have no idea what you are talking about. Again, what current books are you reading where the women are mere window dressing and hanging about in thongs ? Your statement about minorities not being a focus at all in titles is false. What is true is that the latest round of cancellations is due to low numbers and unfortunately female solos and books headliinig minorities were lost. But the decisions are consistent with Marvel policy sales wise. 

    I just have a question again, what Marvel books are you currently reading ? Some of you statements make you look clueless.

  • Anonymous

     Except Marvel cancelled several books recently, not just the female lead ones.  Some of those books didn’t even get printed.

  • Anonymous

    7 female books, but mostly white female leads.

  • Anonymous

     ”Where are their queer characters? Where are there non-white ones? ”

    They are all over the place. Hell, Daken is asian and bisexual and he has his own solo book.

    Avengers Academy has several gay and Non-White heroes. So does generation Hope, X-Factor, New Avengers, Thunderbolts Ultimates, Ultimate Spider-Man,etc. 

  • Lisa Jonte

    On the internet, no one can hear your head smack the desk.

  • Mark

    The fact that the white men are the minority is irrelivant if they still run the show. The Marvel universe is SATURATED with minorities. MINORITIES FOR EVERYONE! IT’S A MINORAPALOOZA! The point is that they don’t matter in the long run. The line-up of the movie Avengers and X-Men should show you what I mean. Despite having Asians, blacks, and Latinos in the comics, look at the cast. One black member, each.

    Seriously, before Spider-Girl, Marvel had dozens of Latino/a heroes, but they sure didn’t care, because they touted her as their first. They even said she was their first.

    And don’t give me that about Stephanie Brown, she deserved that title after what they did to her when she was Robin. I know Asians are very underplayed in comics, but Marvel doesn’t do better. In the X-Men movies, every Asian that appeared was a villain, and that included Psylocke.

  • Anonymous

    Now you are just putting word in their mouth, since they didn’t say that she was the first. They never did(If they did, do you have proof?)

    And Marvel did care for there Latino/a heroes and still do, hell the new White Tiger Ava Ayala is even showing up in the upcoming Spider-Man toon in a regular role.And you clearly haven’t been reading Avengers Academy, since no the white guys aren’t the ones running the show.And the Comment on the Blond White Aryan girl replacing Cass, is a valid statement. Because it did leave a bad taste in alot of peoples mouth and it was filled with unfortunate implications. Replacing an Asian hero with an Aryan seems a tad bit racist.

    Also, You are greatly mistaken in that”Every asian in the X-Men is a villain”, which is bullshit. Just proves you haven’t read that many X-men book and you still forget about all the other asian heroes in the General MU. Like the Badass Shang-Chi or Colleen Wing, both asian heroes and they have never been villains

    And Psylock started of the Captain Britain book and she was a hero from the get go.


  • Mark

    1. I said Asians in the movies. Movies.
    2. Regarding the Spider-Girl, they said it off handedly in a digest somewhere. I lost the source.
    3. Fine, regarding Cass, who should have replaced her? Once a minority takes the place of a traditionally “white” title, can it ever go back to a white person without being racist?

  • Anonymous

    Slightly frustrating to see the commenters here trying to make this into a DC vs Marvel contest over who’s worse at depicting women and racial minorities. Can’t we just agree that they’re both pretty crappy in this regard?

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

    There is this school of thought that Marvel should just keep making something that doesn’t sell and just take the loss and file it under the auspice of “cultivating an audience”.

    They’ve been actively trying to cultivate since the bronze age. The Cat, Shanna, Ms Marvel, She Hulk, Spider Woman, Black Widow, Dazzler, Electra, Hellcat, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Firestar, Tigra. Then you have the “couples” books like Scarlet Witch/Vision and various Hawkeye/Mockingbird series and mini’s. All of which have been given more than one opportunity to carry their own title (I won’t even go into all the women on “teams”. Often women lead the teams. There have been more than 40 female members on the Avengers alone. Which is never acknowledged incidentally. How many female members have been on JLA? JSA?). And since just one or two titles that star a female lead won’t be enough to please the critics who speak for that demographic, then the question becomes how many losses should Marvel take for “the cause”. How long do they have to wait for that demographic to “cultivate”? Forever?

    Marvel makes a book with a female lead, it sells or doesn’t sell. If it doesn’t it gets cancelled. Just like books that star male leads are often cancelled. The point here is that it’s not like Marvel just gave up after their very first title starring a woman failed to sell well. They kept going and they keep going. When asked why more of these books don’t sell or why they weren’t supported, I’ve heard the excuses run the gamut from apathetic shoulder shrugs to angry comments such as “women aren’t a hive vagina”. Well, they might want to learn to be because when it comes to comics, fan boys are a definitely a hive penis. I think, when it comes to the area of superhero comics specifically, the female readers have already been cultivated. The huge female readership for Manga and certain independent, non cape titles shows that there are lots of women reading comics. When it comes to superhero comics, not so much. It’s been 40 years of this. At some point people have to accept certain financial realities.


  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

    Also infuriating is that people are taking exception withe Breevoort’s notion that headliners or solos books are decided by the audience and market response. What is so unsound about that ? Should Marvel just publish stuff for the heck of it and a small fan base who buy these books happy? What business sense does that make ?

  • becka

    Daken was recently cancelled.  So was Iron Man 2.0 and Black Panther.  Far as I’m aware Marvel’s only solo title that is not about a straight, white man is Ultimate Spider-Man.  Focus within teams does help, and yes, Marvel publish more team books, but it only goes so far.  Especially since DC also publishes team books that feature prominent not-straight-white-dude characters.  

    Again, I’m not trying to defend DC as a bastion of equality either, and I don’t want to imply that Marvel aren’t doing anything right, but it’s fair to make the point and ask the question when Marvel cancel all but one of their non-majority solo books in a very short period of time.  

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. This massive, untapped female demographic who are banging on the doors just waiting for DC/Marvel to create that perfect marketing campaign (which the proponents can’t even describe for the life of them, they just keep saying “MAC cosmetics” over and over like that is remotely related or relevant) are already in the marketplace. They’re just not reading Superhero comics.

    This flawed argument that the critics of big two comics keep pushing, that DC/Marvel isn’t doing a good enough job of marketing to women, is just bizarre. Comics are sold in book stores, online, in supermarkets at conventions and in comic book shops. Comics are promoted and reviewed on countless comic book blogs, tumblrs, websites, etc. Last I looked, women are allowed at and are aware of all of those places. To say that women need some “special” marketing plan aimed directly at them or that they need their hand held in finding where comics are sold is a premise that works off the assumption that women are complete idiots. I believe women are smart. If a woman wants a book, I believe they have the brains to go where books are sold. But in the world of female comic fandom, that seems to be a rather controversial position to take. When someone tells me “hey, you really need to try steak, steak is really good”, you know what I do? I go where steak is sold. Steak is sold at a variety of places. Restaurants, the butcher, the supermarket, etc. You know what I don’t do? I don’t say “well, stake sounds really good, and I would probably eat it, but I just wish that the people who sell steak would market steak JUST to me. I don’t know what kind of marketing that the sellers of Steak could do to market steak just to me, but they should do it if they want my business”. See, I don’t say that because that sounds idiotic.

    Another thing I keep hearing is “why doesn’t Marvel ask Disney for help in promoting female characters?” Who says they haven’t? That’s probably the most ludicrous question posed in this whole argument. Just because we aren’t privy to conversations between Marvel and Disney marketing departments doesn’t mean they haven’t. In fact, since it benefits Disney to do that very thing, it’s incredibly idiotic to make the assumption that Disney/Marvel haven’t already had that discussion. Even more idiotic is to think that somehow, things would magically change over night after they had that discussion. The female readership for superhero comics has reached its plateau. Certain demographics need to face that simple objective truth.

  • John Wao

    Wow. Brevoort sounds like he’s asking for Marvel’s female fan base to boycott Marvel. Actually he sounds like he’s daring them to.

  • Anonymous

  • Abel Undercity

    The mansplanations are heavy in this thread.

  • Anonymous

  • Adam Whitley

    They are gonna put X-23 in Avengers Acadamy which sells really bad too (just like most good comics **cough cough Northlanders cough cough**) so my best guess is they are hoping the audience doesn’t overlap and they can merge the audience.

  • Anonymous

  • Adam Whitley

    Run down for avengers academy – the faculty are 5 white guys one robot thats arguably female and tigra but the students are diverse I’ll give you that. That doesn’t make up for the fact that they don’t have a female lead or any woman featured in a leadership role or even teams without a hierarchy. Basically it seems everything is run by men and they are usually white, no stories even call attention to that or explain how it seems to continually happen in a world where women like Ms Marvel have godlike power. Also when they did show their version of the amazons in the incredible hercules they were pretty much all man killing villains.

  • Adam Whitley

    That argument would hold weight if one 1. marvel actually attempted to market female heroes to women (just look at the covers to those women of marvel books and tell me those are meant for everyone)  2. sales don’t always dictate why the books were cancelled. and 3. they rarely give the female heroes to the top self writers and when they do like they did on the spider-woman minis when they gave it to bendis, they did very well.

  • Adam Whitley

    Some of us are in the know though.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I really wish they had done the Tamora Pierce/Timothy Liebe White Tiger run for longer.  I know a lot of people didn’t like it, but I enjoyed it immensely.

  • Anonymous

    This blog is becoming like those lifehacker blogs where they post articles with provocative titles just to stir up crap in an effort to get hits.  Is it too much to ask for a more balanced and rational approach?  At least some of the comments presented facts to back up assertions.  Nice way to character assassinate Tom Brevoort.

  • Matthew Lane

    Hi Kath, i came across your message & wanted to ask, do you know what observation bias is? I ask because your statement drips with it & now you’ve put me in the impossible situation of defending Marvel, something i don’t want to do.

    Now i’ll start by saying that the idea that marvel contains very few minority characters is just straight up wrong. Marvel actually contains a lot of minority characters, heck Avengers Academy contains no hetrosexual white men on the team at all. The fact that unfortunately Marvel has no solo books about said characters is sad, but its not the same as marvel not having any minority characters. This is a flaw with the way marvel publishes ALL books & has nothing to do with the gender, ethnicity or sexual preference.

    But back to the maain point: Observation Bias is a form of cognitive bias that is indicative of the human brains pattern recognition habits. Your brain looks for patterns even where no pattern exists, this pattern recognition is doubled if you think a pattern exists, as it looks for it, while ignoring legitimate patterns. Combine that with the visibility of white male characters, observation bias is not only likely, but essentially insured. The fact remains that active viewing will actually demolish the concept of few minorities in Marvel books.

    Okay, next up. Where is Rogue running around with her tits out? Be specific… I may want to go drool over the pages a little ;)

    Thirdly, the “Women of Marvel” book has multiple covers for the collection. I’m not sure which one you are taking umbrage with, but i don’t see any problem with any of them. What specifically are you objecting to?

    Lastly, as much as you love Mercury, she was phased into the background… So what? There are many male characters who have got exactly the same treatment, in both Marvel & DC… How many times has Hellion been phased into the Background now?

  • Matthew Lane

    Lol: thats called puberty.

  • Matthew Lane

    I don’t ever want to defend marvel ever, under any circumstance… Yet i find my self doing so. Okay, i’ll start by pointing out that the recent cancellation of books about female characters is not sexism, its indicative of the much larger problem at Marvel… The house of Ideas is a title that just doesn’t ring true any more. Marvel has been sucking on there “MARVEL FORMULA” so much that over the last 18 months nothing new has come out, but a lot has been cancelled.

    None of which has anything to do with female characters. The fact that female titles got cancelled as well, is purely incidental to the fact that a lot of books got cancelled.

    An now i’m unfortunately going to have to agree with Brevoort just a litte. It is not indeed his responsibility to put out books about female characters, especially since no one reads them… An unfortunately this leads straight back into the first part of this statement. Its a nasty loop, going round & round in circles

    Step 1. Marvels solo books are crap
    Step 2. No one reads Marvels solo books
    Step 3. Marvels solo books get cancelled
    Step 4. Fans get tired of Marvels three franchises of X-men/Avengers/Spiderman & leaves marvel for DC
    Step 5. Marvel judges it not worth-while releasing solo books because obviously no one wants them, because no one was purchasing them.
    Step 6. A noisy minority states they do want solos, but Marvel doesn’t want to spend the big bucks on books that under peform, so Marvel puts D list creative team on it
    Step 7. Go back to Step 1

    Until Marvel stops putting out shit we will never break this cycle & Marvel is never going to make anything but there big three franchises a priority. That the reason why every single new book will be Avengers/X-Men/Spiderman. Its been like that for 18 months, since they finished the Cosmic stuff. Dont expect anything else till fans demand it or there is a major set of position firings.

  • Matthew Lane

    not as heavy as the observation bias.

  • Matthew Lane

    But neither are crappy in that regard… In fact DC is down right good at it. In fact at this point DC is better at it. Not trying to be a DC fanboy, its just an objective fact.

  • Matthew Lane

    Exactly… an Marvel is never going to get Solo books up and running, if they keep on writing insipid plot, by no name creative teams, based around disinteresting premises. Marvel totally has a problem with solo titles at the moment, but its got nothing to do with gender/ethnic/sexual deviersity…. Its got to do with how bad the management of IP’s in general has been over there for the last 18 months… ever since the end of the cosmic stuff.

  • Matthew Lane

    Mark, Stephanie was a great Batgirl, but she was never Robin. She once wore a Robin costume & followed Batman around; that no more makes her Robin then me wearing a lab coat & following a doctor around makes me a consulting physician.

  • Matthew Lane

    Your right, what kind of sicko wears a bikini in the ocean, its totally out of character forr any woman anywhere to do that.

    Here endeth the sarcasm

  • Matthew Lane

    Oh come of it dude, stop moving the goal posts. Batwoman is also a lesbian, Voodoo is of some indeterminate ethinicty that isn’t white & Wonder Woman is now greek (as shown by her darker complexion). So exactly half of the solo female titles are in fact in some way more diverse.

    But then on the topic of ethnicity we also have Static Shock & Batwing to fill in some more ethnic diversity & thats just on the Solo titles… You start adding characters from the team books & those numbers sky rocket.

  • Matthew Lane

    Because it lost 4,000 sales units over 11 issues, with no sign of stopping. It was going to crash & burn, it was cancelled before it lost Marvel anymore money in sales.

  • Matthew Lane

    1. The BASE idea of comics is that its a power fantasy. The idea of the powerful yet physically attractive female character is there not to entice men, but to entice women. Most female comic fans get this, but if it doesn’t appeal to you as a basic concept then super hero comics are not for you (i’m directing this at the hypothetical people who make the same claim you just did)

    2. Not always: sometimes they are cancelled for other reasons, but incredibly low sales will almost always get you cancelled.

    3. Great… Now tell me did that title specifically entice a larger female readership? A well written female character does not mean that more women are reading it, or that the female audience we already have is reading it. This is why books like Blue Beetle got cancelled. Blue Beetle was the best most ethnic diverse book, that no one was reading & as such was subsequently cancelled.

  • Matthew Lane

    /facepalm. So you aren’t purchaisng the single issues, & you suddenly think that if you personally purchase the next 3 issues, it’ll all turn around?

    Oh god, the anti-logic, it burns.

  • Matthew Lane

    Just out of curiosity David, were you purchasing female led solo comics before they were cancelled, or is you dislike of there cancelation both hypothetical & hypocritical?

    Because if you weren’t then apparently you dislike of the action was not important enough for you to purchase a sub standard book to support female characters. I easn’t purchasing those titles, nor am i saddened by there cancellation. The books in question were not good, regardless of the gender of the main characters.

  • Matthew Lane

    They did not replace asian Batgirl, they cancelled her title because they chose for the entire line to go in another direction. The fact that Stephanie later replaced her, has nothing to do with racial prejudice.

    In fact the last issue of Batgirl was April 2006. The first issue of the Stephanie version of Batgirl was not until October 2009, more then 3 years later.

    So lets not talk shit please.

  • Matthew Lane

    While Avengers Academy has low slaes, those sales are consistent/stable. x-23 lost 4,000 slaes over 11 issue.

  • Matthew Lane

    Becka, just a quick question. Were you personally purchasing any of these titles: Black Panther, Daken, Iron Man 2.0, X-23, or Ghost Rider?

  • Kath

    Huh? Yeah, puberty allows for an increase in breast size, but for Pixie the change would be somewhere along the lines of having on/off breast implants.

  • Kath

    No? I said if I purchase them it *might* contribute to them reversing their decision. Will it cause them to? There’s a tiny chance it will help, but no, I don’t believe for a second that my three purchases will make a difference.

    Either way, I’m getting three good comics.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think there’s an inherent paper-puberty that causes character’s breasts to appear bigger on the page without the artist intending it to. 

  • Kath

    I’ll go for the easy question first – The Women of Marvel cover I’m referring to is for the 2010 edition, i.e. the one containing Lady Deadpool et al. The title is something like “Mighty Marvel: Women of Marvel” (terrible, huh?) and the art is by the rather inept Greg Land. It has Black Cat and three other characters.

    As for Mercury, I haven’t said she’s the only character it’s happened to. However, she is a very interesting character, one I would be willing to put a lot of time and emotion into reading, but Marvel won’t let me as the issues with her in are either out of print, not collected (incl. Mercury Rising – What?) or her appearances just don’t merit a purchase. Heck, it says a lot when she’s been featured more prominently in a Deadpool arc than she has in some X-Men ones.

    As for Rogue with her tits out, one of the more recent occurrences was the cover for Schism, by Jason Cho (I think). For some inexplicable reason, she had her costume unzipped to bare cleavage and some of her breasts.

    And your point about Avengers Academy? I’ll give you that one. I wasn’t really aware of that title (I’d only heard of it), nor its line up.

  • Matthew Lane

    “Either way, I’m getting three good comics”

    Not if your purchasing X-23 your not. Thats why its being cancelled, because the writing was so bad, that no one wanted to read it.

  • Matthew Lane

    I’m reading through the houses issues of X-men stuff & i’m just not seeing it. I’m sitting here looking at X-men v3 issues 18 & 19, an i’m just not seeing it… Pixie seems to be perfectly in proportion. I’m thinking like many of your statements, the thing you are complaining baout is all in your head.

  • Matthew Lane

    okay, i just checked this claim about Pixie & its bull-twaddle: Complete and utter bull twaddle.

  • Anonymous

  • Jenn W

    As much as you and others like you would like to pretend that Steph was never Robin, the fact remains: Batman accepted her as the new Robin, trained her and gave her a Robin costume. Just because she was only Robin for a short time, doesn’t negate the fact that it happened.

  • Matthew Lane

    No Batman offered to train her, something that was cut short… Like i said, me following a Doctor around while wearing a lab coat & a stethescope does not make me a consulting physician.

    You may look like a thing, you may even act like a thing, but if you are not that thing, then you are not that thing. Robin is a “partner” to Batman… Steph was being trained to be that partner, she never completed her training so she was never Robin.

    She is no more robin, then amy cosplayer dressed as Robin, following around a cosplayer dressed as Batman is Robin.

    Robin is not an outfit, its a skill level.

  • Anonymous

  • Kath
  • Kath

    That’s a matter of opinion. I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve got, #16 particularly for the Noto artwork.

    But really, can you blame people for not buying it? 19-20 pages for £2.35 (that’s, what, $3?) – That’s utterly ridiculous. Half of it, if not more so, seemed to be adverts.

    There was something good there, but the amount of adverts is shocking.

  • Matthew Lane

    I’m sorry Kath, but Pixies breasts are not large in any of those pictures you provided. Not even by conservative standards would that be considered “large”. In fact they appear no larger then they were when she furst debuted. The reason you notice them is because they are well defined, due to wearing fitted shaped lycra, thats all.

    As for Rogue, thats not “tits hanging out.” I’ve seen worse while catching public transport in the middle of the day. Heck Wonder Woman has a more revealing costume then that & she’s a freaking feminist icon (apparently).

    I’m sorry but your view is mistaken.

  • Jenn W

    So Steph was a Robin Intern? I say bull! Comparing Steph to a med student is comparing apples to oranges. If she’s good enough for Bruce to give her a Robin costume, and go on patrol with him, then that’s good enough for me. Even the publisher called Steph the Girl Wonder and both of them the New Dynamic Duo.
    If Robin is a skill level, I think it’s clear that Bruce thinks she has reached an adequate skill level to be his Robin, while he continued to augment that training.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing says “I’m not the sexist one” like using a term that was specifically designed to be sexist…

  • Matthew Egan

    But they made X-23 (which I subscribe to) and Ghost Rider (what?  why?  huh?  stupid idea… glad it’s canceled) and these starred women.  But the sales were poor.

    The money has to come from somewhere, and if you want a good creative team on a book, you need actual profits to support that creative team.  This is still a business afterall.

    It’s a what came first thing… the chicken or the egg… the chick in the comic book or the money to support keeping her well written and well drawn.  Maybe it can simply be blamed on historical poor quality in women prominent books but I mean… Witchblade?  Fathom?  These books are practically softcore porn.

  • Joanna

    You’re right.  People buy Top Cow comics for the riveting story lines.  Not the boobies.


  • Joanna

    If sales are poor, ax it.  Business is business.  My main problem with this is that Marvel aren’t bothered their arse holes to feature minorities as strong, well rounded characters.  As such, they cower behind their usual titles because it’s the only thing they are good at.  Maybe it’s your creative team you need to ax, eh Marvel?

  • Matthew Lane

    Neither Fathom nor Aspen were ever produced at Top Cow Joanna: 1998 through 2002 it was produced at Image & since 2003 through Aspen MLT. Sure some of the top cow guys worked on it, but it was always published by the above listed companies. 

    Even so, if you are reading Top Cow for the boobs, i’m wondering how a book like The Twilight Guardian won the Season 1 contest; what with it have no nudity at all.

    As president of the Tautology club i’d like to tell you that hyperbolic ocmments are hyperbolic.

  • Joanna

    “Fathom is a comics book created by Michael Turner and originally published by Top Cow Productions.”

    Twilight Guardian prolly won that award for having a decent story line.  Fathom and Witchblade have poor story lines, at least in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think minorities are not written as well rounded characters at Marvel. What is unfortunate that the solo titles don’t sustain a long run. Anyway it’s highly likely that BP will be launched with a new number one. Hope they move him back to Wakanda where he belongs.

  • Anonymous

    The Marvel vs DC thing is less of an issue when you realize that comics are not a 2 party system.  Vote with your money, and back some independents. 

    Also: until things improve, boycott DC and Marvel crap.  The bottom line is the only frequency the recognize for communication.  I haven’t bought their crap in years and while the first couple of months were hard, it’s made it a lot easier to just ignore things like Kick Ass, the new Catwoman mangle and the Watchmen prequels.  They just don’t matter to me at all.  Move to the independents!

  • Anonymous

    Um, actually Wonder Woman has had the best talent in the industry and it’s always done horrible in sales.  So blaming the company for not putting name talent on the book is delusional.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

  • becka

    No, I’m not a big Marvel fan, so I wasn’t.  But corporate behaviour like this is one of the reasons I don’t want to get invested in their universe.  I’ve tried it before and been bitten and at this point I feel twice shy.  

    One could as easily ask what Marvel has done to counteract its negative reputation regarding these issues (both representational and in being trigger-happy with their cancellations, particularly of niche titles) in order to reach out to new customers.  

    But I suspect the real reason you’re asking about my purchasing habits is an attempt to turn this into a purely fiscal issue, and I don’t believe that it is.  I believe there are wider issues of social responsibility in terms of fair media representation here.  I suspect you disagree with me.  That’s fine, but you’re also not going to convince me.  And no, I don’t think they ought to bankrupt themselves either, I think there’s a middle ground they’re on the wrong side of.  

    Even looking at it on purely economic terms, I think it says something disturbing about either the readership or the marketing if Marvel is unable to sustain anything other than Ultimate Spider-Man as a title with an under-represented lead.  

    They were cancelled because they didn’t sell?  Why didn’t they sell?  And why are Marvel incapable of maintaining these books when DC can, albeit at lower levels than their top-sellers.  Like I said, I really, *really* don’t want to be holding DC up as a stellar example here.  I think they do a lot wrong too, but they are basically Marvel’s only competitor within the genre, and they do serve as an object example that Marvel appear to have more trouble in this regard.  

    If you do want to know about my general purchasing habits, with regards to DC, yeah, I buy a lot of lower selling titles that usually end up under threat of cancellation.  If I were a Marvel reader, my track record suggests I would probably have been buying a couple of those titles.  

  • Matthew Lane

    What it boils down to Becka is that Marvel can’t maintain ANY solo… Atleast any solo that ian’t Spiderman. The fact that that includes books about female characters is purely coincidental to the primary point of not beibng able to maintain ANY solos.

  • becka

    @Matthew_Lane:disqus  for some reason I can’t reply directly to your comment.  
    What you say is demonstrably untrue.  Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Dare Devil, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool and Punisher, off the top of my head, and not as a big Marvel fan, are all successful solo book franchises.  

    In addition, while I agree Marvel do not produce as many solo books, they ARE currently launching several new ones – Winter Soldier and Scarlet Spider, again off the top of my head – and none of them are about women.  

    Marvel can, and do, maintain solo books.  Invariably, it’s the books about straight, white men that are most popular and therefore have the greatest longevity.  The reasons for this are numerous and complex, but I, and many others, consider it to be a problem.  

    And there is no bias in observing that while both male- and female-led books got cancelled in this latest round, *none* of the female-led books survived it.  That’s an observation of fact, and regardless of the reasons behind it, it’s something that I, and many others, consider to be a problem.  

  • Matthew Lane

    Actually Becka Wolverine & Deadpool have both been cancelled (i’m pretty sure Punisher has as well).

    Iron Man, Thor, Hulk & Captain America are not solo titles, regardless of the title. Captain America for instance is a team book if ever i’ve seen one: Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Agent 13, Red Falcon, are all main characters, all exactly as important as Captain America.

  • becka

    @Matthew_Lane:disqus, dude that’s a ridiculous assertion. All solo books have other characters, supporting or otherwise.  Just because in your opinion a book called “Captain America” gives a lot of page time to other characters doesn’t change the fact the book is called *CAPTAIN AMERICA* and he’s the one character you’re guaranteed to get because the freaking title is named after him.  If nothing else, someone made a marketing decision to name the book after him and only him (as opposed to, say, “Captain America & Bucky,” because, like Batman, he has freaking MULTIPLE titles built around his reputation and marketability), and part of the whole problem here – even if the situation is dissected using only capitalist concerns – is Marvel’s inability to create female characters with even a *fraction* of that appeal and their subsequent need to cancel them.  
    As to Wolverine & Deadpool, I hadn’t heard that they were cancelled, but I don’t follow Marvel all that closely so it could be true.  However, a 30 second search on Marvel’s wiki shows that they appear to be going back to the original volume 1 numbering in January rather than actually cancelling his series -  Even if they are, I don’t feel it changes the fact that Wolverine’s solo series has been in continuous publication for over 20 years and that he has often had multiple titles and been the headliner for multiple teams (such as the recently launched Wolverine & the X-Men).  Similarly, Deadpool has often had ongoing and MAX titles and whether or not his title has currently been cancelled (given when I found above, can you link to evidence of this?) and I think it’s false equivalence to compare that to the cancellation of Ghost Rider or X-23 given    the longstanding way he’s been headlining comics and is likely to continue doing so.  They’re developing a freaking movie about him.  

    Punisher MAX is ending, but the Punisher’s series in regular continuity was just relaunched to much acclaim and fanfare, which I know because it’s being written by Greg Rucka, a writer whose work  I follow (although I make an exception in this case, since I dislike the character, but I’m glad for those who do that they have someone top notch on the title).  

    Bluntly, dude, you’re really, *really* reaching to the point you are arbitrarily redefining what a solo title means to suit your own purposes.  I suggest we go with the classic definition – a book where the character is eponymous.  

  • Anonymous

    Dude, seriously – are you trolling or just really determinedly Missing.The.Point. ?  I cannot tell.  Nor can I quite get a handle on what your argument here is – if its simply as it seems to be; ‘I didn’t like these comics so I don’t care that they were cancelled’ and concurrently ‘if you weren’t buying these few comics that do have female leads – which _I_ didn’t like and you shouldn’t have been anyway – you don’t have a right to be upset about this or concerned about female portrayal and the dearth of them as a main character across the board in marvel comics.’  Then I have to say – congratulations; you get full marks for derailment  and …you’re sort of on the wrong boards. 

  • Anonymous

    The Ghost Rider book was good and Alejandra was cool. Besides, it was established that there is more than one Ghost Rider/ Spirit of Vengeance and Alejandra wasn’t the first female GR either.

  • Anonymous

    But Marvel is mainly Team books.

    And Black Panther wasn’t cancelled, it’s ending, World of Difference. BP’s time as protector of Hell’s Kitchen is coming to an end since DD is back. More than likely he’ll get another book soon enough.

  • Anonymous

    I liked it , though it bugged me that they had Angela speaking in Mexican slang, since she’s of Puerto Rican decent.

    I do like the new White Tiger(Ava Ayala) too.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Avengers Academy has good stable sales, X-23 did not.

  • Anonymous

    He was talking about fans in general, not just the female fans. Every time a book gets axed, Brevoort gets a tons of comments on his forsprings account. 

  • Anonymous

    Missing. The. Point.  I’m female.  I love comics. I can find comic books, I can even look past advertising and marketing and look for ~content~ and make judgements and purchases for myself based on that (shocking, I know)  – I can’t speak for all women and i’m hardly the best person to make a great argument but i’d say however the point is not that the ‘marketing’ is all wrong and we need to be lead up to something and told ‘buy this! you’ll like it! its awesome!’, its that  – what we’re looking for? A space that is not as littered with stereotypes and judgements and being pushed back to frame some white dudes story as the world we have to negotiate every day -  Just isn’t available. And then theres the environment around trying to look for it or point out what it is that we have a problem with; as with other minorities striving to find some representation within the genre. You use the analogy of being told to try steak; ergo going where the steak is.  Forgive me this horrid analogy; i’m running on coffee fumes and frustration at the moment, but it amused me that you; having a typically ‘male’ moniker used a typically ‘masculine’ metaphor and saw it this simply.  Discussion with my flatmate – another comics gal; we decided a better analogy for being a woman wanting a comic would be to change your choice of foodstuffs to ‘quiche’; then when you do want to go try quiche because someone told you its good – you know where the shop is, but society tells you only ~those people~ [sorry, I can't even bring myself to put the homophobic idiocy that is peoples reality into this analogy, which i'm a little ashamed is reliant on the prevalence of and knowledge of predjudice and hetronormative behaviours, but - you get the gist undoubtedly] like quiche; you’re not one of ~those~ are you? you go despite society and stares and the way it makes you veiwed and you get there.. at the store, its workers and customers ignore or stare; the type of quiche you really want …well they don’t necessarily make that, but just get this and you can make do or you can pick the parts you don’t want out – stop being so picky! and when you get to the counter the staff smiles at you knowingly and  says ‘you getting this for your girlfriend?’ ..because _you_ couldn’t possibly be wanting quiche – right? and then you walk out with it in a big bag that society mocks you and judges you for carrying – and the real kicker is that when you do like it and take what you can get and go to talk about quiche with others who like it…often you get told, you couldn’t possibly really understand it or have a *real* opinion that matters – and when you complain about how difficult and frustrating it all is; those people turn around and tell you that its as simple as ‘you want a steak; so you go to a place that serves steak.’ 
    Do you see where i’m coming from?  The argument isn’t so much about poor marketing in the sence of ‘leading’ to the comics but poor marketing in actually recognising and addressing their audience.  That and – dude, its really NOT as simple as I want steak; so i’ll go to a place that serves steak.  I really wish it was.  Except not really because i’m vegetarian and thats all kinds of more problems.  Life is complicated.  It would be really nice if folks would stop telling others to calm down; its simple – because it is to them and they don’t have to worry about so don’t want to have to consider the things that others do.  Thanks.

  • Teresa Jusino

    “This flawed argument that the critics of big two comics keep pushing, that DC/Marvel isn’t doing a good enough job of marketing to women, is just bizarre. Comics are sold in book stores, online, in supermarkets at conventions and in comic book shops. Comics are promoted and reviewed on countless comic book blogs, tumblrs, websites, etc. Last I looked, women are allowed at and are aware of all of those places. To say that
    women need some “special” marketing plan aimed directly at them or that they need their hand held in finding where comics are sold is a premise that works off the assumption that women are complete idiots.”

    Let me ask you this – the book publishing industry has no problem marketing to women, why does the comics publishing industry? Comics are sold in bookstores in their own section that you’d only go to if you’re ALREADY a reader. Also, since when are comics sold in supermarkets? The only comics I’ve ever seen sold in a supermarket are Archie comics, and that company is really smart! Archie Comics were the first comics I read as a little girl, and I might have read other comics then, too, and not had to wait until I was an adult to seek them out if they were all sold that way. Thing is, they’re not. You can’t find Spider-Man at Ralph’s or Key Food.

    You’re talking about marketing on comics sites, and yes, women who are already comics readers will find out about new books there. However, boys are generally HANDED comic book marketing from the time they’re little in a way that girls just aren’t, which creates a huge disparity from the get-go about who KNOWS to look for comics in the first place. There will always be less women reading comics as long as there are less girls reading comics. Since geekery is so hot right now, now would be the perfect time to change that! What about taking out comics ads in Seventeen Magazine, or Discovery Girl? You said it yourself – you expect women to seek comics out themselves. The thing is, THAT’S the unfair part. Comics are DELIVERED into boys’ consciousness. THAT’S the problem.

    I was so disappointed when DC canceled their Minx line. Minx books, which were girl-focused, were hidden away in the backs of stores, not advertised anywhere that I saw, and certainly not marketed to girls anywhere they actually LOOK. (I have two young nieces, and they never heard of Minx) Then DC canceled the line because of poor sales. Really?

    Why should the onus be on women to “find” comics, when men have been GIVEN comics from the time they were boys?

    The thing is, I’m reading a book now called “The Ten-Cent Plague,” which is a really great book on the history of the comic book industry in the McCarthy era, and back when comics were first created, they were for boys AND girls. Somewhere along the way, someone decided they were a boy thing. l find it disappointing that the comics industry is less enlightened now than it was in the 1930s and 40s.

  • Anonymous

    …are you meaning confirmation bias?  Psychologically speaking the only observation bias I know of relates to the hawthorne effect where subjects change their behaviour due to the knowledge of being studied.  In my studies I know in social psych we talk of confirmation bias as it relates to the tendancy for individuals to favor or interpret information in a way that supports preexisting beleifs.  I guess thats what you’re meaning?Do tell me if i’ve misunderstood. ^_^

  • Adam Whitley

    Except that everytime they let good writers write for it sales jumped just like they are jumping now. Plus Wonder Woman has had its own share of unique problems.

  • Anonymous

    Actuallyl, they got a several issues bump and then the sales plummeted like a stone.  But I get what you’re saying…when you get what you want and the title fails you have an excuse, when you don’t get what you want from Marvel/DC you don’t like the excuses they give you in turn.  It’s nice to know fanboy entitlement is alive and well and isn’t likely to die any time soon, lol.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Actuallyl, they got a several issues bump and then the sales plummeted like a stone.  But I get what you’re saying…when you get what you want and the title fails you have an excuse, when you don’t get what you want from Marvel/DC you don’t like the excuses they give you in turn.  It’s nice to know fanboy entitlement is alive and well and isn’t likely to die any time soon, lol.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, where are you buying your quiche?  It sounds like you live in some strange Suess’ian land of Quiche haters who will not eat it on a plane or a train.  The problem with your analogy is that it’s tainted with your hysterical and paranoid outlook on life.  Try going to a Barnes and Noble sometime.  I promise, they actually let you buy comics without perceived degrading stares.  But you’re right, my Steak analogy is clearly (well, in your bizarro world at least) sexist and misogynistic.  Which is clearly what Steak eaters are deep down.

    How bout we change the analogy to Tampons.  All better now?

  • Anonymous

    re: “Comics are sold in bookstores in their own section that you’d only go to if you’re ALREADY a reader.”

    Wow, that was so incredibly idiotic a statement that I actually got dizzy reading it.

    So by your logic, people wouldn’t know how to find the Sci Fi section unless they were already a reader?  People wouldn’t know where to find the romance section unless they were already a reader?  People wouldn’t know where to find the biography section unless they were already readers?  I think I’ve made my point here.

    re: ” l find it disappointing that the comics industry is less enlightened now than it was in the 1930s and 40s.”

    Serioiusly?  You’re going with that fangirl talking point that even most fangirls don’t even believe anymore?  There are so many more female friendly comics out there now than at any point in the history of comics.  So you’re statement isn’t just patently false on every conceivable level, it’s just pure, uninformed drivel.

    re: “Why should the onus be on women to “find” comics, when men have been GIVEN comics from the time they were boys?”

    The “onus” isn’t any more on women than it is on men.  I had to stumble upon comics at the swap meet as a kid.  No one told me “hey Jason, you’re old enough now to have your special father son talk about the existence of comics” LOL!  That you actually believe the cliche’s that you’re spouting is part of the reason that the geek girl culture is marginalized.  I imagine that you also believe in Bigfoot.

    Also, today people have the luxury of the internet.  If you google “comic books for girls” you get ten million, two hundred thousand results.  You and your niece should be busy for the next couple of years chewing on that.  Don’t expect DC/Marvel to start promoting comics in the feminine hygiene ailes at Ralphs or putting up posters at the make up counter at Macy’s.  Just google comics for girls and all your problems are solved.  Marvel and DC has made the product, printed the product, shipped the product to stores where the product is universally known to be sold.  Just as shoes are widely known to be sold in shoe stores.  The onus, by that point, IS on you.  You don’t get your comics delivered to your front door.  Oh wait, actually you do if you buy online, lol.  See how easy it is?   

  • Anonymous

    re: “Let me ask you this – the book publishing industry has no problem marketing to women, why does the comics publishing industry?”

    I reject the notion that that there is a problem with their marketing.  Are you actually trying to tell me that every single book being sold has had the kind of marketing campaign the likes that you expect of Marvel/DC?  The truth is that very few books are marketed at all.  DC took out televsion time for it’s line of 52 comics.  Name the last 52 novels that got a televsion commercial.  Yeah.  See what I’m getting at here?  Female fans are saying “why doesn’t Marvel/DC do marketing like this or like that”.  Well, the truth is that they already are.   Fangirls are just so worked up in a lather about why a tiny demographic isn’t exclusively catered to hand and foot that they cant see it through their blinding rage.

    If you pick up Entertainment magazine or just about any entertainment themed magazine you will see some sort of reveiws or mentions of comics.  Hell, even USA today has a comic book section.  If you go to the magazine rack at B&N in the entertainment section you will see genre magazines, all of which have sections on comic books.  Also, you do realize that you are commenting on a site that is all about women and comics and all things geek girl, right?

  • Anonymous

    Oh goody!  We’re playing derailment bingo! I gotta tell you; you’re looking good on points there…sorry, thats paranoid and hysterical isn’t it.  My bad.
    Actually changing your analogy to tampons works great – you as a guy, go buy some.
     Hows that experience?

  • Matthew Lane

    I would have thought that the statement was pretty simple: There is no such thing as editorial immunity, regardless of gender. The books were cancelled because they were under performing. The people who apparently think its important that these particular books not get cancelled, didn’t seem to be purchasing them… Nor was anyone else apparently, which is why they got cancelled.

  • Matthew Lane

    No i don’t mean confirmation bias… Though confirmation bias is another form of cognitive bias. Confirmation Bias is the seeking out & interpreting of data in a way that agrees with you: Observation bias is similiar in that it is observing things in a fashion that does not match up with reality based on you own preconcieved understanding. In many ways it is very similiar to Belief Bias & is directly related to the Observer-Expectancy Effect.

    For example, staying within the field of comics, there is a website called Women in Refridgerators, where a writer for DC  (Gail Simone) wrote up a list of negative things that have effected female comic characters & said “these things don’t happen to male characters.” The fact is that they happen to male characters all the time, but because Gail had a particular view, everything she observed back up her belief, because she sub consiously only recognises the data that does back up her belief. That is observation bias, in a nut shell

  • Gyno-Star

    Nobody is saying they were cancelled due to gender. But wow, that strawman is plain ded.

  • Gyno-Star

    Well said! It reminds me of how TV execs laud themselves for a fall lineup featuring female leads, but then most of the shows suck (yeah, Whitney, I’m looking at you). So when the shows ultimately fail, the conclusion is that audiences don’t want female-centered shows.

    Uh, no. Audiences don’t want crappy shows. Or crappy comics.

    Make a great comic and people will read it, regardless of the hero’s race/sex/sexual orientation/ethnicity/whatever. So the problem here isn’t, fundamentally, the cancelling of titles featuring women.  It’s the overall lack of good titles featuring women in the first place.

  • Gyno-Star

    And how.

  • Matthew Lane

    I’m also not saying they got cancelled due to gender, so that would be a strawman, of a non existant strawman.

    In fact i specifically said that it WASN”T because of sexism.

    However people are clearly stating a preference for editorial immunity, upon the basis of gender: Heck this entire coversation is about that very topic.

  • Anonymous

    Point one.  Observation bias …do you have references? I seriously would like references because this contradicts everything i’ve been taught thus far, and if this is something I haven’t read, I would like to – as at post-graduate level of psych, i’d think this is something i’d have run across.   Particularly if it is that close to a known and widely examined psychological theory of phenomena and the label you claim actually is shared with a necessary research factor taught in first year. Because, a quick check of journal articles and the much instilled lesson that any researcher in social sciences needs to recognise observational bias as a methodological issue;  without references to support your argument i’m afraid i’m going to have to say that it appears what you think you are saying…is not the case.  I won’t claim to be an expert; but this is my area of study and from the factual – positivist, empiricist based ~science i’ve reveiwed; simply – your claims are not founded. If you can provide me proof of your argument – I would love to read it.
     What you seem to be describing; is a somewhat partial depiction of behavioural findings grouped under the label confirmation bias.  Try reading this journal article from reveiw of general psychology; its older – 1998, but it gives a good overveiw and an easy to understand review of what you seem to be thinking of.

    Point two.  ….seriously?  I.  Yeah, i’m just going to give up here.  You’re going to believe what you want to believe and I could go through and give you citations and references till i’m blue in the face  – obviously when you believe that strongly that pointing out salient problematic factors based in sociological, historical and cultural evaluations  is a case of ‘observational’ bias that you are far better versed at understanding, explaining and discounting … who am I kidding, you tuned out and started congratulating yourself on being your own definition of ‘right’ long before I said anything didn’t you.
     And you’re arguing that gender issues here are irrelevant.  Of course.
    Oy. Thank you; every so often I wonder if i’m overreacting to be frustrated and irked at the male dismissal I encounter every where I turn, to question whether these sorts of things are – like i’m told – completely unrelated to any lingering gender inequality.  Thank you for reminding me completely and utterly why I am not.

  • Nicole Kiser

    This is pretty much how I feel about comics too. I don’t need a female lead to be interested in a comic, I just need a good story with good art. I’ve collected several trade paper backs from Marvel and DC because I *liked the story*, regardless of the gender, sexuality, or ethnicity of the characters in the story. (When She-Hulk joined the Avengers I was so sad. I loved her stand-alone stories. I’m a sucker for comedy comics and her stories were some of the best at the time.)

    The real problem is neither DC or Marvel can manage consistent good-quality stories or art for a character or series. I’ve ended up collected manga because the art quality is consistent and so is the story telling. I don’t have to worry about a new author or artist taking over a beloved series and changing everything in ways that aren’t consistent with pre-established characters’ history. :-/

  • becka

    Yes, and I already said – in the very comment you are replying to – that the team issue mitigates the situation *somewhat*.  But not, to my mind, enough. Especially since adding in mini series and female-led teams and female-majority teams for Marvel means we need to do the same for DC (so, Hawk & Dove, Demon Knights, Huntress, off the top of my head?  Does Madam Xanadu lead JLD?) and the disparity is still clear.  

    As to Black Panther, the net effect is still that he is not starring in his own title.  I hope that you are correct and a new book for him is announced soon.  

  • Gyno-Star

    People are not arguing for editorial immunity based on gender. You’re boiling down the argument to an overly simplistic concept in order to dismiss it. I’m gonna guess you honestly don’t understand that, and you honestly think people are saying that titles featuring female heroes shouldn’t be cancelled simply because they have female heroes. No wonder you disagree with that thing that nobody is saying.

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    “Just out of curiosity David, were you purchasing female led solo comics
    before they were cancelled, or is you dislike of there cancelation both
    hypothetical & hypocritical?”

    Well Matthew, whether I collected it or not isn’t really the issue of this column is it? Maybe I was getting it monthly, maybe I was waiting for the trade. Maybe I`ll just let you wonder. I notice before even waiting for my answer you assume I wasn’t getting any of them.
    “Because if you weren’t then…blah, blah, blah” -paraphrased  

    In which case I’m sure you see my comment as invalid and have already dismissed me. Not that I give a rat’s ass.

  • Matthew Lane

    So i’ll take that as a no. An you not getting the titles is exactly what this article SHOULD have been about. If people don’t purchase a book, that book gets cancelled. almost all the people complaining about the lack of female titles at marvel, were not purchasing any of the female titles at marvel.

  • Matthew Lane

    No Gynostar, it was always that simplistic, its just that particular people are trying to attribute properties to the problem, that don’t exist.

    There could have been 30 female lead titles & if they were all under performing and cancelled there would now be zero. So what difference did it make that there were only 2 & they were cancelled due to under perfomring & were cancelled. If a book is under performing it, it getsw cancelled. To say that it should be otherwise based on gender of character is sexism.

    The main point is always that they were underperforming & cancelled. Now i can safely guess that you were not purchasing either of those comics, because frankly they were dreadful.

    Now Marvels actual problem is that they are dreadful at launching solo’s. They constantly launch solos that are derivative knock offs of there big three franchises & always on intellectual properties that are tremendously weak (such as X-23).

    Unfortunately those books were cancelled at the end of a launch cycle, so you are now going to have to wait until next year for new female lead properties, not that you need to conisdering how many female heavy team books there are… Heck the only book i am purchasing from marvel at the moment is Avengers Academy (a book with no hetrosexual white male characters on the team). I’m not reading anything else form them because everything else is just the big three (X-men/Avengers/Spiderman)

  • Anonymous

    “Oh goody! We’re playing derailment bingo! I gotta tell you; you’re looking good on points there…sorry, thats paranoid and hysterical isn’t it. My bad.”

    Yup, that’s the answer I’d go with as well if I didn’t have the ability to address any facts and had run out of regurgitated fangirl blogger talking points.  Don’t worry, you’ll think of something original someday.

    As far as the tampons, yeah, 17 years of marriage I’ve bought a few tampons in my time.  And, unlike the women you seem to want to champion, the ones who can’t go to comic shops cause they’re scared (which is pure unadulterated fangirl propaganda btw) I had no problem, as a man, who had never bought tampons before, actually going to the place where tampons are sold and purchasing them. 

    Know what I didn’t do?  I didn’t whine and complain that they didn’t market tampons at the hardware store to my demographic.  See how I flipped it on ya?

  • becka

    @Matthew_Lane:disqus you appear to be confusing the concept of sexism as a process enacted by individuals on the basis of holding an active prejudice against a specific gender with the concept of sexism as a societal system which enforces structures that make it vastly more difficult for women to achieve equality in many areas due to a variety of longstanding and largely subconscious assumptions and processes.  That second concept, and the role that plays in the continual underperformance of female-led titles, and what role, if any, Marvel has in working against, rather than with, this phenomenon, is what most of us here are discussing.  

    Perhaps you put profit over the well-being of others in society and believe private enterprise has no role in cultural development.  Perhaps you believe that the overwhelming tendency of titles starring anything other than a straight, white male to sell poorly and drop to cancellation levels relatively quickly, is pure coincidence, based on a strange statistical anomaly whereby they all suffer from poor writing or bad character design.  Perhaps you believe all systems of societal oppression have been defeated and we live in a glorious utopia.  

    Maybe you don’t think any of those things, but the priorities you display in your posts makes it seem likely.  I can’t think of any other reason you would so insistently refuse to even *talk* about your perspective on the issue of sexism as a systematic structure rather than an individual’s prejudice, despite the fact it’s very clearly the basis for this discussion and numerous people have raised it with you directly.  I’m left assuming you have either utterly misunderstood (perhaps deliberately), or you deny its existence as an issue (hence my belief it’s likely you ascribe to one of the perspectives I listed above).  

    Either way, it makes you look like you’re missing the point, and the distinction between systematic and individual prejudice seemed a basic enough one it merited one last attempt at clarification.

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

    I’m not going to go back and debate each argument post by post, 

  • Anonymous

    I’m not going to go back and argue post by post, there are just too many, so forgive me if some of this has been covered already, but I just had a couple of thoughts on the issue, just some musings…

    I don’t think it’s valid to say the reason there aren’t more headline minority and female characters is because they under-perform, because it’s a matter of what creators you hire for the books that determines how well they do. Look at Batwoman, a really silly character concept nevertheless done very well, and it’s a top seller. Put Neil Gaiman and Alan Davis on a Valkyrie book and it’ll sell like hotcakes!

    I loved Daughters of the Dragon, a comic featuring strong, original female characters, sharp, funny writing and unique art. It could have been a Marvel version of Birds of Prey.

    It’s sort ridiculous that there’s no Rogue solo book, considering X-Men Legacy basically is the Rogue solo book. I always thought Rogue should be the Marvel Wonder Woman. The Red She-Hulk seems like a prime candidate too, but again, it’s gotta have a good artist.

    X-23 is sort of a dumb idea anyway, it’s no surprise that after the novelty of a little girl Wolverine wore off she’d go the way of the dodo.

    Bendis and Maleev’s Spider-Woman was sort of ill-conceived and top-heavy with a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. politics nobody cares about. They would have been better off starting from scratch with White Tiger, a female/minority two-fer. 

    And I’m sympathetic to the feminist cause, but it’s hard to believe people are still complaining about sexy women in comics. Please get over it. Superheroes are idealized fantasies, the guys are buff, the women are sexy, if you can’t see past that I don’t know why you’d even bother reading superhero comics.

  • Anonymous

    True, but the thing is Marvel’s line up of Books has always  been mainly teams, even if they have the Hulk books or Spider-Man books.

    They have also had Female lead team books, so it’s not that they don’t try. Avengers Academy is mainly female currently.

    As for Miniseries, check out Legion of Monsters. It stars Else Bloodstone, it’s pretty great.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not moving the goal post Cano, it’s a valid point.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong, the Faculty is currently Hawkeye, QuickSilver,Tigra and Giant Man. Plus there are other Teachers like Valkyrie that pop up from time to time.

    And clearly, you haven’t read Generation Hope or X-Factor. 

  • Anonymous

    No, you are being clearly being  bias. Since DC is still bad at it, horrible at it in fact. Hence all the controversy over the Catwoman and Starfire stuff.

    So you do come off as a DC Fanboy. Hell, there hasn’t been any problems with Marvel this year, aside from this.

    And Dc’s stuff is still mainly “White Heroes”, so they really aren’t doing better.

  • Matthew Lane

    Actually the fact that its still mainly white heroes is actually the exact definition of equality. There is no bias against characters of any colour, or characters of any minority. Just because there are more white characters i not some sort of bias. Thats like saying that beacause the majority of your friends are not gay that you are a homophobe.

    As far as Catwoman & Starfire goes DC doesn’t have a problem… A particular subset of the comic book comunity had a problem with it. But again thats like me saying male on male gay porn is a problem, because i don’t want to see it. All media is not meant for all people.

  • Matthew Lane

    sure it is, by defenition: Moving the goalposts, also known as raising the bar, is an informal logically fallacious argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. In other words, after an attempt has been made to score a goal, the goalposts are moved to exclude the attempt. This attempts to leave the impression that an argument had a fair hearing while actually reaching a preordained conclusion

    The initial claim was diversity in a subset of books, at which point you tried to move the goal posts to only include your prefered form of diversity & then i shot down that prefered form of diversity. By definition, what you tried to do is a conversational/debate rhetoric known as “moving the goal posts.”

  • becka

    Lols…I came back here looking for a quote for something else and was kind of surprised there was a reply here.  

    Honestly dude, we’re talking at complete cross-purposes.  As far as I can tell our conversation has almost literally gone:  

    You: Marvel publish more team books.  

    Me: Yes, Marvel publish more team books which might lower the number of female solo series you’d expect, or agree to count female-led or majority-female teams into their count, but even doing this, they still do pretty badly compared to the competition.  

    You: But Marvel publish more team books.  

    Me: Yes, I know, I just said that, allow me to recap why even taking that into account, I don’t think it’s enough.  

    You: But Marvel publish more team books.  

    Me: YES I KNOW.  

    So, you know, Marvel have some awesome characters I’m sure, and thanks for the mini series recommendation, but I’m pretty sure we’re not gonna get any further with this since you don’t seem to want to actually engage with what I’m saying.