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Tomorrow is (Women) Read Comics in Public Day

As Kevin mentioned earlier this month, Tuesday is the third annual Read Comics in Public Day. The reason it’s worth mentioning again (besides just as a reminder) is that Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass has put a spin on it that’s important and cool. This is the second year that she’s advocated for the particular need for women to read comic in public. In addition to talking about it on her own blog, she’s started a separate Tumblr dedicated to photos of women reading their comics in public spaces.

While Brian Heater and Sarah Morean’s Read Comics in Public idea is devoted to raising awareness of the entire medium, Sue’s version has a more focused purpose. “I don’t care what comic you read,” she writes,  “but if you are so inclined to read a superhero comic from Marvel or DC, that would be great.” The intention, if I understand it correctly, is to fight the perception that superhero comics aren’t interesting to women. Sue and others like her fight that perception online every day, but Women Read Comics in Public is an opportunity to do that in the real world.

Of course, the argument can — and should — be made that we don’t need a special day for this. This is something that comics readers of either gender can do every day of the year. Without directly putting words into Sue’s mouth, I’m going to assume that she agrees with Brian Heater’s thoughts about the event’s falling in the middle of the week. If that’s an inconvenient time for you, “celebrate over the weekend — and during the week. Heck, read comics in public all month long, just to be sure.” It’s fun to do it on a special day, especially if there’s a meet-up, when you know lots of other people are doing it too, but the point is to do it.

(Photo from Tomboy Style)

 

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12 Comments

? I read comics in public 3-4x a week.

Reading comics in public shouldn’t be an issue (pun intended) for anyone.

I cant bring myself to read comics in public. If i read them at work i put a different book jacket on them. Emotional scarring from High school perhaps?? Comics weren’t always perceived as cool as they are now.

Why separate Women comic book readers from Men? The stigma for reading comic books is out there for both genders. The stares are embarrassing when I’m at my kids’ practices, people need to accept it and get over themselves. Everyone should be encouraged to sit and read their books outside of the comic shop and outside of their home. The more they are seen in public the better it is for the industry. There are a lot of ‘closet’ comic book readers out there and even more that want to buy comics but keep telling themselves their for nerds or losers who still live in their parent’s basement.

Stop the stereotypes and encourage EVERYONE to bring their comic books out in public to read!

Stephen,

The big difference is that women are perceived as not being interested in the medium. Consequently, that means that the publishers don’t feel the same need to market to them. Hence, you get stuff like the Star Sapphire outfit because nobody is interested in trying to sell to women.

That’s why this is important.

ChrisPV,

Valid point. So does that mean they’re pushing women to read books that aren’t marketed towards them? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Create a ‘Twilight’, ‘Vampire Diaries’ or ’50 Shades…’ comic book to introduce them to the medium and there you have it! They’ll be out reading comic books in droves!

A comic book doesn’t have to be just about Superheroes.

As I tried to explain in the post, there are a couple of efforts going on here. The first was to get EVERYONE (of both genders) to get out and read comics in public. That initiative was meant to speak to the general issues that Mike T and Stephen address above.

The second effort piggybacks on that one and is focused on women and superhero comics in particular. Though Sue makes it clear that she doesn’t want women to read comics they don’t enjoy, the effort is to get women who DO enjoy superhero comics (and she specifically mentions DC and Marvel) to let other women know it’s okay to enjoy them too. It’s not trying to push women to read something they won’t like; it’s to help draw out women who are closeted fans of characters like Batman and Spider-Man, but – like Mike T – may not feel comfortable revealing that.

Stephen,

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly that there’s more than superheroes. I love Atomic Robo and Walking Dead too much to disagree. But, as far as the world outside is concerned, they’re all about superheroes. Across the board. That mindset can make it hard for folks who don’t care for superheroes as a concept, male or female, to get on board. And like Michael said, it will be good if more women feel comfortable openly acknowledging they enjoy Batman.

Because let’s be honest, everyone should be able to enjoy Batman.

I kind of feel like you’ve diluted the concept by making it more important for women to do it – I’m not going to do it now, or tell my friends (mostly guys), because Googling “read comics in public day” just gets you a bunch of links to the women only version. Fetishising women doing cool stuff and placing it above generally raising awareness of the medium seems like a misogynistic and belittling continuation in itself, like women being into things men like is rare/a surprise/OHMYGODSOHOT.

Also, in my experience men are more likely to be “closeted” about reading cape comics than women – for them it holds this huge geek stigma that can potentially get them beaten up, while for women it’s “cute”, “quirky”, actual cool or “a bold feminist statement”.

I’m not “closeted” about being into comics.I’ve got the Batman logo tattoo on my arm.I would say I don’t go around broadcasting it tho. Mainly because of all the ridiculous questions and conversation. Ex:”Boy I tell u what! If my folks hadn’t thrown out all my comics id have a fortune!!” Well if had a dollar for every time I heard that story I’d have a fortune!! :)

Brigid Alverson

August 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I just want to point out that the girl on the left is reading The Beezer, an awesome UK comic that folded in about 1990. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid, because the characters were quirky even by UK kids’ comics standards—Baby Crockett, Colonel Blink, and my favorites, The Numskulls, little guys who lived inside a man’s brain and controlled his movements (but not very well). The front-cover comic in my day featured a redhead named Ginger (drawn by Dudley Watkins), and when my sister started dating a tall redhead, my family’s shorthand description for him was “He looks just like Ginger from The Beezer.”

The comic at her feet is The Topper, which had a similar format to The Beezer—bigger than The Beano and The Dandy, and folded like a broadsheet. I remember my dad reading these comics to me when I was about five years old. So cool to see them again! Maybe I’ll dig out an old Beezer annual for tomorrow…

“Seems like a no-brainer to me. Create a ‘Twilight’, ‘Vampire Diaries’ or ’50 Shades…’ comic book to introduce them to the medium and there you have it! They’ll be out reading comic books in droves!”

Stephen, I can’t tell if you’re kidding here or not. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are.

But for anyone who might actually believe this is a good strategy for encouraging women to read comics, I can assure you that we do not need to be pandered to with derivative versions of crappy pop culture franchises. You may get temporary interest with things like that, but it’s essentially pink-washing, a shallow attempt to engage a stereotypical woman rather than trying to understand the reasons women aren’t reading comics in the same numbers as men. When we say we want comic creators to take us into account, it means we’re looking for female characters who are rounded (and I don’t mean physically), complex, active, and central.

This is, obviously, related to the idea of reading comics in public (since reading comics in public can help start conversations and get word-of-mouth going among women (and men) about particularly good comics with minimal boob-windows), but it’s not quite the same. I see read-comics-in-public day as a much more readerreader/potential reader kind of thing than a publisherreader kind of thing. It’s not like publishers are wandering public parks doing male-to-female-ratio headcounts today and realizing “wow, maybe we should start taking women and girls seriously as a readership demographic!”.

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