This week Lisa has some unavoidable day-job stuff keeping her from writing her column, so she recruited Karen Healey of the blog Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed) to contribute a guest column. Enjoy! And thanks to Karen for pitch-hitting this week.
Where are the girls reading superhero comics?
Not the superhero-comics-reading women of the real world – anyone with an interest in the subject, an internet connection and a couple of sparking neurons can work out that they exist, whether the observer is happy about it or not. But where are the female comics characters who read comics?
You see, superhero comics being as fabulously meta-fictional as they often are, male superhero comics fans feature in abundant variety.
We get stereotypical fanboys, like She-Hulk‘s Stu, Chas and Lewis.
We get would-be joke heroes, like Sensational She-Hulk‘s Gopher.
We get plenty of young heroes who read comics, like Jack Power of Power Pack, Impulse (when he was, y’know, alive), and X-Men First Class‘s Beast, Iceman and Angel.
We get older heroes who read comics as a boy, like Ex Machina‘s Mitchell Hundred.
We get Superboy Prime, a villain who thinks he’s a hero, basing his “heroism” on the DC Comics he fannishly devoured.
We get people like Virgil Ovid Hawkins of Static and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, who not only read comics, but make them.
And we even get nameless bystanders, like the young boy in Watchmen, who reads pirate comics as an analog for the superhero comics of our world.
Whether for comedic effect, realism in characterization or warning about the dangers of obsession, these comics-reading characters are a fascinating insight into what the industry thinks of its audience. If you are, like me, a fan of ironic commentary and meta-fiction, people in superhero comics reading superhero comics is one of the things that makes comics awesome.
But if you are, like me, a woman reading superhero comics, then you may feel somewhat excluded from the fun.
Girls reading comics are in shamefully short supply. She-Hulk herself reads “Marvel Comics”, since they’re legal documents – but that’s usually for work, not pleasure. Jack’s sisters read a lot, but comics don’t appear to be in their piles of library acquisitions.
When I read that The Authority‘s Engineer was a DC Comics fan – a fan who wanted to be a hero, and knew she would have to make herself one – my reaction was not a mere happy recognition, but a fist-clenched “YES!” Finally, a comics fan more like me; an acknowledgement that reading comics wasn’t a wholly masculine activity!
Sadly, Angie’s the only one I’ve ever seen.
I’m happy to admit that my knowledge is far from encyclopedic. I’m sure there are other women in superhero comics who are fans of superhero comics. But I’ve never encountered them.
Help me out. Where are they?
And can we have some more?