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roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
On why Minx Failing means NOTHING but that Minx Failed, on Why we should Get Back to Making Comics, What I've Done, and a Plan for a Girl's Comics Line based on Common Sense and Experience.

Minx Failed. Breathe.
Okay, people. Heads. Pick them up and put them the fuck back on. Keep repeating after me until you believe it:
"Minx closing will not kill girl's comics."
I don't mean to discount anyone's concern or disappointment. I'm telling you this because I know. I've been there. 

Minx failing is barely a scuff on the toes of girl comics' shoes. It's not a sign of an unhealthy market, that girls don't read comics, or that the market doesn't want girl's comics, or that girls don't want comics aimed at them.

I suggest you read what I wrote about girl's comics lines, especially at DC, again. Read it while you're breathing into a paper bag. Read it until the panic goes away.

Minx (and TPop, another company that went tits-up this year, as I have long predicted) failed because they failed to learn from previous mistakes, not even their own previous mistakes. They didn't learn a goddamn thing from any successes, either.
Minx and TPop didn't even invent new mistakes. Poor capitalization, marketing, content, money management, editorial issues, ignorance of and/or ignoring the market--old, old mistakes. Minx didn't even invent something I was about to give them credit for: ass-ugly, inappropriate photo packaging for comics. Marvel did that five years ago with the alleged girl's comic "Trouble." 

Comics for girls are OKAY. As in, they're not going any where. The comics for girls genie is out, way out, of the bottle.
In which way?
In a way that girls are finding, getting and reading comics? Oh hell yes. Manga in big box stores, girls making and sharing and selling comics for other girls over the Internet, big publishers with graphic novel lines that they are growing at a sustainable pace, with packaging that reflects the content.
Are girl's comics so healthy that creators are making a living from them? Not yet. But keep firmly in mind that most people making comics don't make a living just from making comics. Most prose writers, jewelers, and various craftspeople don't make a living solely from their passions, either.

What I've Done:
On the subject of a need for a dedicated girl's line: I have been trying for a dedicated girl's print line for five years. I have tried at DC, Image, DC, and Antarctic Press.
Paul Levitz was interested and passed me on to Dan DiDio. Dan DiDio was not. Paul Levitz passed me on to Shelley Bond, who didn't answer emails. Eric Larsen's answer was "make great comics." (Well, DUH. That's right, I'll make crap comics because that's good enough for girls.)
I tried, before I went to AP, to get artists with successful finished works to come along. All were supportive, for various reasons, all passed. I wasn't and won't, go to a publisher without finished works in hand. I'll keep trying.
What I've found is that publishers are reluctant to do isn't publish comics by female creators that girls/women want to read, but to have a dedicated girl's line.
I'd have to agree that  a dedicated girl's line for the direct market is a HUGE mistake. While there are good supportive DM stores for this venture, the DM as a whole is too small, too unfriendly to creators and titles of artists that don't also work for the Big Two, to support a girl's line--even a very good one.
But a girl's line under the radar? Heh heh heh. It can be Done.

A Plan for a Girl's Line:
  • The shelter of a stable existing company for infrastructure like printing, distro (in DM AND big box stores) and promotion. A line that starts with collecting completed works so start-up is fast, and there's a starting line-up that can be counted on. An Image-like deal where the company subsidizes printing costs in return for an "office fee," and the company shares in the success of the book. This sort of deal ensures that the girl's line doesn't find itself being carved up by the venture capitalists who kept it afloat or killed before it gets on its feet because it's run out of its too-small starting budget.
  • Strong works that will appeal first, always first to girls and women. There is nothing wrong with that. Wait, what? Isn't strong works that appeal first to girls and women a given? Apparentlyfuckingnot. Why will this work? Think about how many women have found themselves reading and enjoying creations made for men. Right. I did it with my graphic novels, I did it again with GirlAMatic.com.
  • Don't market it as a girl's line. Wait, what, counterintuitive much? Didn't I just say "appeal to girls and women first?  I did. But it works. I've done it. Say there are 100 female comics readers. Forty of them are looking for something made just for them. You know what the rest are doing? AVOIDING stuff made just for them. They've learned to.
(That's where Minx and DC's previous girl's lines did do harm: they turned off female readers to the idea that a girl's line could have good books in it, and, at the same time, told girls not to count on those books staying true to themselves or staying around long. That's some serious acheivement.)*

* Speaking of turn-offs, I wouldn't have chosen Minx as a Lulu Awards sponsor. I think lacking a significant number of female creators on a line has to count against as much as publishing girl's comics counts for. 

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
kadymae
Oct. 1st, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Don't market it as a girl's line.

Unfortuantely I can't find the source of the quote and it was for gaming, but they asked a female gamer about marketing for girls and she replied that if she sees "for girls" on an item she knows "it's weak and crappy."

And I can't agree to her more. Anything I've ever seen that was marketed as "for girls" (as opposed to being designed to appeal to) was sanitized and boring.

morganite
Oct. 2nd, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
I see it in electronics equipment too.

Some of the very-obviously-marketed-for-girls stuff we've got is actually built to decent standards of quality. Still overpriced, but not total junk.

More often though, I see something that's underfeatured, poorly constructed, painted pink, and put on the shelf at twice what a better device would cost. (And you could probably get the better device in pink too, if you really wanted.)

(Also, some of the dolls they've got these days look more like Nightmare Fuel to me, but maybe there's just something there I don't get.)
yaytime
Oct. 1st, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
What's up with being rational?

I think people do have a valid fear that publishers don't want to PAY to publish comics that are marketed specifically to and for girls right now. You've got to "boy them up" or "change the focus". This is the word on the streets of NY. Hopefully some hit books and great comics will overcome the challenges of current market perception.

But like you said, it's not like there's been lots of money going into comics in general. Especially not original ideas.
divalea
Oct. 1st, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Trust me, this is ALL about being rational. Rational is not worrying about Minx killing something that didn't exist.

Yes, the boying up. I know. I hate it. Which is why I say to not have a girl's line called a girl's line.
For example, Avatar COULD have been marketed for girls. Romance, cute emotionally vulnerable boys, cuddly animals, strong female characters without giant boobs, great art, great writing. Girls love it, and it didn't have to be marketed as...girly to get to them!
Another example (of a Nick show, even!) Danny Phantom. Cute vulnerable boy lead, romance, sexy bad guy with a flaw girls could believe they could cure (the Spock effect), a girl character they could relate to, a best friend who's not an asshole, and love complications!

I maintain it's possible to fly a whole girl's line right under the wire as surely as Danny Phantom floated a cunnilingus joke and wet dreams.
shininghalf
Oct. 1st, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
::blinkblinkblink:: That's brilliant! Like, I could imagine if instead of Minx, DC had done kind of a lighter, more-accessible (more manga-esque) Vertigo type of thing, it might have flown better. (Vertigo as-it-is had some titles that were more popular with women, IIRC, and everyone was like how'd that happen??)
divalea
Oct. 1st, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
An indy DC line would have been brilliant. It would like still be in business.
bookiekat
Oct. 2nd, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
When I was a girl (long time ago), I actively avoided all girls' books because - in my opinion - they were crappy (of course, not a word I used back then ^_^) and boring (I used this word a LOT back then). I read superhero comics because they were fun and full of action, and I liked action.

As a middle-aged woman, I resent those pink tools - damn it, I'll just use the regular screwdrivers and chisels and such, I don't need frelling pink tools! We don't need "women's" stuff, we just need good quality stuff! Whether in books, comics, tools, electronics, anything else.

As for a dedicated line of comics ... have you read any of the interviews with Francoise Mouly about the new kiddie line of graphic novels, Toon Books? She went to all the established publishers and NOT ONE of them was interested in publishing a dedicated line. They wanted to do just one or two. As far as I know, only Graphix (from Scholastic), Hill & Wang (imprint of Holtzbrinck), and First Second Books (imprint of Holtzbrinck) exist as dedicated graphic novel lines from established trade book publishers. Mouly had to start a whole new publishing line, good thing she and Art Spiegelman have RAW. There's definitely a lot of resistance to the idea of a dedicated gn line period. Although lots of trade publishers are now publishing gns - and lots of them are great for girls, too. Hope Larson's Chiggers is one, Shannon Hale's Rapunzel's Revenge is another. Tracking them down is a BEAR, however, and I have to do it for my job. Sheesh.
dianamcqueen
Oct. 4th, 2008 07:13 am (UTC)
Is there any soothing in the fact that I've never heard of Minx or that fact that it ended until you guy mentioned it?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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