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Chicks Dig Comics edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Sigrid Ellis

01/05/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

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pub: Mad Norwegian Press. 206 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $14.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-93523405-0.

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As the editors Lynne M. Thomas and Sigrid Ellis point out in their introduction to ‘Chicks Dig Comics’, super-hero comics tend to be a rather male fantasy dominated scene. Although they point out that girls would be pointed towards ‘Archie Comics’, I do tend to wonder who the readership was supposed to be for the likes of ‘Millie The Model’ and…er…‘Night Nurse’ at Marvel and even the ‘Young Romance’ titles at DC Comics. Granted, there was a lot of tokenism with female characters and if anything, one tended to not to send them into danger. Having said that, there was a time when Invisible Girl acquitted herself well taking on Dr. Doom on her own on one occasion in the early issues of the ‘Fantastic Four’. Female tokenism isn’t just isolated in comicbooks but across the entire media. Even with police shows like ‘Police Woman’ and ‘Cagney And Lacey’, they were still token women although they were the stars and the men the supporting cast, they were still in a minority. It took shows like ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and even the later ‘Acapulco H.E.A.T.’ second season’ to have women in charge and outnumber the male cast, even if bikinis were often used to attract attention. I suspect it’s a tall order to get women in the lead, no matter the medium. If anything, comicbooks took a bit longer to get out from its male domination.

When it comes to woman writers, the likes of Louise Simonson, Mary Jo Duffy, Ann Nocenti and Mary Wilshire were there at Marvel in the 70s-80s and, of course, the fabulous artist Marie Severin did an incredible run on ‘Doctor Strange’ in the 60s. I didn’t feel intimidated by the fact that women could create comics, just surprised that fewer saw comicbooks as a career opportunity. Amongst the articles in this book there are several interviews. Of interest to that point, Louise Simonson and Colleen Doran pointed out the pros and cons of getting into the professional field.

There are thirty articles in this book and difficult to single out anything without forgetting anyone else. One thing that did come out of all of this was something female comic book fans share with the male of the species is that we’re a combination of oddball loners with a perchance for fantasy. If anything, the men out-number the women in this and it’s only in recent decades that there’s a little more balance, even if it’s only amongst the creators. The content of the comicbooks is still mostly male orientated but I suspect any publisher will say they have to sell to a particular market. I do hope that this book is read by the pros and realise that they still haven’t really touched a market out there as much as they should.

It was also interesting to see how many of the ladies here point out the influence of the X-Men on them, many of them seeing it as a soap opera with super-powers although none made the connection I made many years ago of the similarity between the mutants and the comic fans under my definition above. If anything, the failure of some books to attract female readers is down to the creators putting females in lesser than equal roles in their stories.

This is a very illuminating book for both sexes and would probably deserve a second book exploring other aspects in more depth and interpretation on similar subjects in comic books and at least work out why some books fail to attract a bigger female readership.

GF Willmetts

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