Girls DO Read Comic Books
Comic books belong in a realm dominated by little boys and grown men.
That’s what I believed when I was growing up. Just as I believed that girls weren’t meant to be any good at video games or shooting a bow or fighting.
I still suck at shooting my bow, but I can hold my own in most video games, and I have a black belt in Aikido.
I have two brothers, so I grew up surrounded by things that little girls “ought not to do.” I played with G.I. Joes and Ninja Turtles as often as I played with my Barbie Dolls.
I played on our Atari, our ColecoVision, the Nintendo, the SNES, the Dreamcast, the N64, the Game Cube, PS1, PS2, Xbox….and I had my own Gameboy. But even still, look at that – GameBOY.
Girls have often been relegated to a certain field of “approved” interests; very feminine things, such as dolls and horsies.
I think it’s unfair to place that kind of restriction on young girls. I’ve met just as many female gamers these days as I have male gamers, and sometimes, the females are much better. Nintendo’s Gameboy has evolved into the Nintendo DS – and it comes in pink.
So gaming has opened its boy-doors to girls and women, but have comic book stores done the same?
My brother had an extensive collection of comic books, most of which he kept stored in boxes EXACTLY like those in the picture included in this post. I remember how anal he was about them. Each comic book had a plastic sleeve and you had to be super careful if you removed it from said sleeve. If damage came to his comics, he would get highly irritated.
But I spent a decent enough amount of time flipping through his comic books. I had graduated from drawing pictures out of his Nintendo Power magazines, to attempting to draw pictures from his comic books – requiring a level of skill I didn’t quite have yet.
Soon after, he took me and my younger brother to the comic book store with him. I remember they were having an enormous sale – anything you could cram into one of the boxes they offered, you could take home with you. You only paid for the box, which came in three different sizes – more pricey the larger the box.
They gave you access to their back storage room as as well as certain areas of the sales floor – but mostly the dated, back stock. I crammed my box until it was overflowing, and then I wiggled more comics between those so they wouldn’t fall out, getting away with twice as much as the box should’ve been able to handle.
It was a thrilling experience. I took home X-Men, Superman, Gen 13, Robin, even a Sailor Moon comic (and so many more…)
The next year, we came back for the same sale, and possibly the year after that. Unfortunately, I lost my collection to a tornado some time later, but my brother managed to salvage a large portion of his – still in their boxes, in their protective sleeves.
Ever since then when I go to a comic book store on my own, without my brother or boyfriend – or a male of any association, I get looks. I think the men running the shop are surprised to see a girl shopping for comics for herself. (At least in my area…)
I’ve even seen them nod at me and whisper to their co-workers in surprise. Isn’t that a bit extreme? Granted, I may be the only girl among ten or twelve men that are shopping, but really – don’t other women buy comics? I know they certainly create and sell them.
My love for web-comics may stem from the discomfort I felt as a girl in a comic shop. I read them from home and no one teases me for being a girl who really digs comics. I do love the fact that they’re free, but that’s not what sells me on them. I still buy comics; my last purchase was a set of the comics for The Dreamer, so I could add them to my (now very small) collection.
I haven’t been to a comic book store in a few years. How much of this has changed over the last few years? Graphic novels have exploded with popularity and web-comics are thriving – all with plenty of women working behind the scenes, both as artists and writers.
So now, I just wonder… if I return to my local comic book store will I still get the looks of confusion and surprise? Will they still be wondering, What’s she doing here?