What’s in a name? The return of Girl Comics

by  in Comic News Comment
What’s in a name? The return of <i>Girl Comics</i>

Yesterday Marvel announced a new three-issue anthology mini-series called Girl Comics, which will be edited by Jeanine Schaefer and created exclusively by women.

As you can see in the comments section for my original post, there’s been a mixed reaction to the project, particularly because of its title. You can also find even more commentary on it over in The Beat’s comment section, where they story broke.

So where exactly did that title come from? Well, as Douglas Wolk pointed out in the Beat comments section, it seems to stem from an old Atlas comic that was published from 1949-1952 (before its name was changed to the even more unfortunate Girl Confessions). Atlas, of course, is the company that eventually evolved into Marvel Comics and also published Strange Tales — which you may recognize as the name of another recent Marvel anthology. So there’s some symmetry there, and you have to wonder if they’ll be using any other old Atlas titles in the future (I vote for Bible Tales for Young Folk; you can find a complete list of titles Atlas published on Wikipedia).

Here’s a quick round up of thoughts from around the web. We’ll start with Johanna Draper Carlson, who shares her thoughts on her blog:

I dream of a day when a comic created only by women doesn’t get tagged with a stupid title like Marvel’s Girl Comics. In fact, I dream of a time when it’s not even special enough to remark upon, instead of being some kind of attention-getting stunt that ends up resembling a plea for charity. “Please pay attention to us — look! we’re letting the women do superheroes!” But we’re not there yet, still.

She also breaks down some of the responses by Schaefer and adds, “Don’t give me an event, give me real changes in your hiring and employment practices and your publishing slate.”

Johanna adds that she plans to get the book because of the creators who are involved, which seems to be a common sentiment from just about every quarter. In fact, Kirk Warren at Weekly Crisis says he loves the concept but hates the name:

However, the name is my problem. I absolutely hate defining works of any kind by the people involved, whether it be their gender, race, affiliations or what have you. Yes, promote this as an all-female creative effort, but Girl Comics? Seriously? They didn’t call Strange Tales, an indie creator filled anthology, “Indie Comics”. They wouldn’t call an all African American created comic “Black Comics”.

Rachelle Goguen at Living Between Wednesdays calls the title “unfortunate,” and talks about what she hopes from the book:

This is what I am truly hoping for with Girl Comics: I want the comics to be ridiculous enough to match the ridiculous title. I want it to be silly and fun and gratuitous and shamelessly girly. I want the male superheroes exploited. I want a shirtless Daredevil centrefold. I want a soft focus every time Winter Soldier appears. I want a round table “Who would you do?” discussion between all of the women on that cover (especially Sue Storm, because you know it would make her uncomfortable at first). I want Namor to appear in this series for whatever reason. I want a bunch of ladies to pull a prank on Tony Stark because he deserves it. I want to see dating and drinking and shopping punctuated by the occasional ass-kicking. I want Iron Man and Captain America to finally kiss.

And one of my favorite comic book-loving feminists (and former Robot 6 contributor), Ragnell, seems fairly positive about it as well:

All female creators, writing about superheroes. There’s no pushing towards female characters or girly stories, just the stories female creators wanted to make. With a stupid name, yes, but someone’s even found a historical reference there.

This… might actually be a good idea… come up with by Marvel.

When Fangirls Attack has a good roundup of other blog posts on the project.

As for me, I’m looking forward to the project like most others because I’m a big fan of many of the creators who are involved, but I also hope it leads to many of them getting even more work at the House of Ideas. Right now the list of creators includes a few women who work regularly at Marvel and a lot who don’t — and it would be nice to see that change not because they’re women, but because they’re damn fine creators who make damn fine comics.