I often get asked when I wear my Guardians of the Galaxy shirt if I’m just wearing it because I saw the movie or if I’ve “actually read the comic?” While I will admit that I haven’t read every one of their comics, I have read a great deal of them. The sad thing is that the majority of these questions are asked by males. Comic books have been thought of as being a “boy’s only” zone for a long period of time, though as more and more attention is being put on comic books and comic book movies, its clear to see that this isn’t the case.
Marvel is trying to make an effort to attract a large female audience by introducing more female super heroes, even going as far as to announce that the new Thor comics will feature Thor as a lovely lady instead of a burly man.
With comic conventions, blogging, and the internet in general, it seems like the sexist attitude towards the comic book crowd should have died down with more and more female fans making themselves visible within the fandom. When comics first became popular in the 1940’s, super heroes weren’t the main focus of the majority of comic books being released. Other genres of comics, like romance and mystery were popular and held their own against the heroes. Comics were viewed as a ‘mass entertainment option, not a niche one.” Comics today, while still enjoyed, are seen much more as a “niche” instead of something that once took the place of TV and Internet. The data from a survey done in the 1944’s shows that comic consumption was almost even among males and females from the ages of 6 to 17. Though these may not have all been super hero comics, it shows that comic books were once treated as something that could be enjoyed by both genders. There were also female super heroes
So, what happened? Why has something that was once considered ok to be popular with both genders now suddenly a boy’s only market? The true cause may never be exactly know for sure, but attempts are being made to change this. One of the issues that it may appear that more men read comics that women is due to how the surveys and data collected on comic popularity. A lot of the data seemed pretty highly skewed towards showing men as the dominate force when it comes to purchasing or reading comics. One assumption as to why the number of women seems so low in these surveys might be that women just choose not to answer them.
As mentioned before, Marvel has made it rather public that they are taking steps to try and release titles that should appeal to women and even out their demographic. Until female presences within the fandom appears to be more ‘in your face’, we still might be asked if we really “read the comic or not?”