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The Rise and Fall (And Possible Rise?) Of Girls Comics, Part Three

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
Pronouns
he/him
As mentioned previously I love all the articles on this site equally and have no favourites. But these three articles would be one of the favourites I don't have.

It's just so vigorously researched and sourced, and includes interviews to find information not readily available. I feel both very proud that it's on this site and bad that it isn't on a site with a readership more interested in girl's comics than this one, where I don't think any of us ever read them.

I haven't read comics in years but when I did, the people I talked about comics with were primarily women and it is genuinely nice to see an article about comics readership from that perspective, and with genuine empathy, rather than from the male one. It's a shame I've dropped out of those circles and lost touch because these are articles I'd really like to circulate among them.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
The handy thing for me is thanks to the work of women like Dr Gibson, Julia Round, Jenni Scott etc in basically just the last six years, I can actually do research without also needing a modest budget and academic contacts - British comics in general have long been a wasteland of info beyond a few titles, and girls comics worse than that.

I stumbled into getting interviews, and they're definitely a thing that opens new doors - Watton pointed me to Anime Babes, which really helped part of my argument and is also a fascinating bit of history in its own right. Anime used to be a Not For Women thing.
 
I stumbled into getting interviews, and they're definitely a thing that opens new doors - Watton pointed me to Anime Babes, which really helped part of my argument and is also a fascinating bit of history in its own right. Anime used to be a Not For Women thing.
One of the more interesting things I learned (in relation to a forthcoming list) is that the Gundam anime series initially was mainly popular with women. Yoshiyuki Tomino himself said that it was the female fans who watched the series and went to the earliest conventions while male fans didn't get into it until the model kits started to become popular.
 

Thande

The loathsome Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
So in 1995-96, a group of teenaged and early-20s female fans created their own fanzine,Anime Babes, in an attempt to plant the flag, talk about what they wanted, create art, and “petition video companies” for different product.
That is sitcom levels of "potential for title misinterpretation", especially if it was on the mid-90s internet...

I stumbled into getting interviews, and they're definitely a thing that opens new doors - Watton pointed me to Anime Babes, which really helped part of my argument and is also a fascinating bit of history in its own right. Anime used to be a Not For Women thing.
There's probably an article or two in exploring 'media whose creators clearly never expected it to appeal to girls/women'. I always think of how the Pokémon franchise (which, remember, has a blank slate protagonist you're meant to project yourself on) never thought to add a female option until the expansion to the second generation - which is absolutely baffling considering the gender balance of its OG fans as you can see on the modern internet.
 

Artaxerxes

24 hour parliamentary people
Location
#VALUE!
The handy thing for me is thanks to the work of women like Dr Gibson, Julia Round, Jenni Scott etc in basically just the last six years, I can actually do research without also needing a modest budget and academic contacts - British comics in general have long been a wasteland of info beyond a few titles, and girls comics worse than that.

I stumbled into getting interviews, and they're definitely a thing that opens new doors - Watton pointed me to Anime Babes, which really helped part of my argument and is also a fascinating bit of history in its own right. Anime used to be a Not For Women thing.
I find it fascinating just how into anime the wife used to be growing up in 90s Wolverhampton.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
There's probably an article or two in exploring 'media whose creators clearly never expected it to appeal to girls/women'.
A lot of gold in them thar hills - also media where one gender or the other was steadily pushed out or downplayed. Science fiction in general forgetting women had been around, for example. It also came up in research and in various anecdotes for years, girls and boys were reading each other's comics but only comes up so much. (More women have admitted to this and wrote letters in back in the day than vice versa)
 
A lot of gold in them thar hills - also media where one gender or the other was steadily pushed out or downplayed. Science fiction in general forgetting women had been around, for example. It also came up in research and in various anecdotes for years, girls and boys were reading each other's comics but only comes up so much. (More women have admitted to this and wrote letters in back in the day than vice versa)
I recall a bit of chat around the time the Greta Gerwig version of Little Women came out last year about how, at the time it was released, it was just a children's book that all children would read. But then it became a "girls' book" over time.

From my own observations, the women who like "boys' stuff" are tolerated at best and pushed out at worst, but conversely, the men who like "girls' stuff" tend to try and take the entire thing over and make themselves out to be the real audience. Bronies are the most obvious example in recent years, but no doubt there are others.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
I wonder how much of it ties into perceptions of marketable toys as well?

Transformers comics come with ready made toys for boys, but, so says the marketing department, what can you sell to girls from a romance comic?
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
Pronouns
he/him
I wonder how much of it ties into perceptions of marketable toys as well?

Transformers comics come with ready made toys for boys, but, so says the marketing department, what can you sell to girls from a romance comic?
This is much more of a cartoon thing than a comics thing.

There was a time in which tv networks used to cancel cartoons that were mostly viewed by young girls regardless of how high the viewing figures were because they were deemed less likely to buy the merchandising. They decided that 4 boys would make them more money than 10 girls.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
There was a time in which tv networks used to cancel cartoons that were mostly viewed by young girls regardless of how high the viewing figures were because they were deemed less likely to buy the merchandising. They decided that 4 boys would make them more money than 10 girls.
That did in Young Justice not that many years ago, IIRC.
 
I find it fascinating just how into anime the wife used to be growing up in 90s Wolverhampton.
It is interesting that if you go on eBay and search "anime vhs" almost every single item will be a UK tape with a Manga Entertainment logo. You'd expect it would just be American releases, but no, loads of old UK anime stuff. And it tends not to be Dragon Ball Z or Tenchi Muyo! or anything else that would become super mainstream, it's all Tokyo Babylon and Urusei Yatsura and things like that.

One interesting thing I've heard of is that there was a brief attempt to do a "video comic" which would basically be a monthly tape sold in newsagents on a subscription basis with one episode of The Guyver. @Charles EP M. has any of your research ever turned anything like that up? It was talked about in a recent episode of Sonic the Comic the Podcast as something that was advertised in STC in 1994.

That did in Young Justice not that many years ago, IIRC.
What happened with the Green Lantern animated series is interesting. It actually had pretty good ratings on Cartoon Network, but it was supposed to capitalise on the movie, and because the movie failed, the toy line was cancelled and the cartoon followed it, because whoever produced it (Warner Bros, I assume) had no interest in continuing to support something connected with an embarrassing failure.

Something like that, anyway.
 

Thande

The loathsome Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
It is interesting that if you go on eBay and search "anime vhs" almost every single item will be a UK tape with a Manga Entertainment logo. You'd expect it would just be American releases, but no, loads of old UK anime stuff. And it tends not to be Dragon Ball Z or Tenchi Muyo! or anything else that would become super mainstream, it's all Tokyo Babylon and Urusei Yatsura and things like that.

One interesting thing I've heard of is that there was a brief attempt to do a "video comic" which would basically be a monthly tape sold in newsagents on a subscription basis with one episode of The Guyver. @Charles EP M. has any of your research ever turned anything like that up? It was talked about in a recent episode of Sonic the Comic the Podcast as something that was advertised in STC in 1994.
I got the impression at the time that's the direction DC Thomson were feeling their way towards with The Beano Video and its sequel. I think the problem is that VHS tapes were just too expensive at the time for this to be practical, there's a reason why James Goldsmith posting them out to everyone in the 1997 election was considered to be an example of big-money extravagance.
 
I got the impression at the time that's the direction DC Thomson were feeling their way towards with The Beano Video and its sequel. I think the problem is that VHS tapes were just too expensive at the time for this to be practical, there's a reason why James Goldsmith posting them out to everyone in the 1997 election was considered to be an example of big-money extravagance.
One of the single maddest Dark Age sales gimmicks was the Malibu Comics book Firearm #1, which came with a half-hour live-action short-film on vhs which led into the story in the comic.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
I've not heard of the video comic before but that sounds fascinating. The cost of videos seems the killer though. (Wonder if "the DVD comic" could've been tried in the mid-00s?)
 
I've not heard of the video comic before but that sounds fascinating. The cost of videos seems the killer though. (Wonder if "the DVD comic" could've been tried in the mid-00s?)
Marvel tried their hand at releasing comics on dvd in the mid-2000s with Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Avengers at least. You would get a disc (or maybe multiple discs; I never had any of them) with 500 issues of each series on it. I think that was more of a precursor to something like Marvel Unlimited or Comixology, though.

Curiously enough, the only other example of this happening that I can think of wasn't one of the Big Two, it was Fred Perry's Gold Digger from Antarctic Press. He put out a series of dvds which compiled the series at various stages of its run.
 
Here's a very brief reference I found on the Internet:

https://www.uk-anime.net/Anime/Guyver,_The_(Manga_Ent.).html

Initially, the Guyver was released by Manga Video as a monthly video comic. As marketing ideas go it's a bit of a nightmare, but actually proved stunningly effective - it was in the HMV top ten for a good while, and went a long way to giving anime some mainstream publicity.
 

Thande

The loathsome Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
It occurs to me that the sweet spot might be if the VCD caught on in the West - or maybe this could have been tried with manga in the East where the format was more popular, and then spread to the West. VCDs would be capable enough for what was needed and getting cheap enough by that point, whereas DVDs were also expensive early on. The problem is people in the West lacking an everyday means of playing them (until DVD players came, as they are usually backward-compatible) - it might have to be marketed as a computer-focused thing and come with software, depending on when it was released.
 
It occurs to me that the sweet spot might be if the VCD caught on in the West - or maybe this could have been tried with manga in the East where the format was more popular, and then spread to the West.
I feel like that might be a non-starter in Japan because most of the most popular manga are released on a weekly basis in anthology magazines while original video animation was (I'm given to understand it's not as viable as it used to be, what with the Internet being a factor now) its own thing and turned out material that could be respected in its own right (i.e. it wasn't all sequels to popular material). Tenchi Muyo! became very popular as an OVA, for instance.
 

Thande

The loathsome Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
I feel like that might be a non-starter in Japan because most of the most popular manga are released on a weekly basis in anthology magazines while original video animation was (I'm given to understand it's not as viable as it used to be, what with the Internet being a factor now) its own thing and turned out material that could be respected in its own right (i.e. it wasn't all sequels to popular material). Tenchi Muyo! became very popular as an OVA, for instance.
I see, that is true. I seem to remember Japan also had CED magazines, but these were more associated with live action film fans (with trailers and previews etc.) Given CEDs and their players were cheap to make, them catching on in North America and Europe for that kind of niche (as they couldn't compete with VHS and Laserdisc for their intended purpose) could allow this - but then we're really going back years with PODs.
 
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