Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tough to be a Fangirl: Notes from the retail front

Over at Sequentially Speaking is a great post on being a fangirl in today's comic world, and I especially like that fact that its written by a woman who owns a retail comic book outlet.

A couple of things in her list of real world examples stand out:
A young girl comes into the store with her dad and tells him how she would rather have the Teen Titans Go! comic over the Barbie comic. Now, KellyAnn doesn't say if dad encouraged the Barbie comic over Teen Titans Go!, but one could assume that he at least pointed it out to her - encouraging the young girl to go with the more traditional Barbie over a superhero comic book.
Oddly enough, I spend my entire time trying to explain the background of the JLA to my daughter, the barbie comic doesn't even apeal to her. Try explaining the current Wonder Woman comic to a 6 year old who really wants to understand it. Not easy at all.

Here is the best part:
Here's another point that I borrowed from a couple of blogs I've read recently - if a man walked into a store that had pictures of nearly naked men wrestling around with each other, toys of half naked men, and t-shirts that had pictures of half naked men in costumes on them - they probably wouldn't come back to that store.
And we certainly can thank Alex Ross and Citizen Steel for proving this point.

Lisa also relates an interesting story about two girls who had been regulars to her store but, three years later, one had found comics "not cool" and asked the other not to bring over her comics to a sleepover. Honestly, this story rather parallels the classic development of comic fans through the ages. It was no different that the 1970's when I recall going over to a kid who lived next door and asking him is he was still buying Detective Comics since this new Marshall Rogers guys was really doing interesting stuff. He gave me one of those "Oh, still playing with baby toys" kinda looks, and I realized that he simply didn't see what I saw in those books. I appreciated them on a completely different level, and so continued to find them interesting. It has always been this way, you could make the case, with genre fiction. Romance novels, detective stories and all the rest: they either engage or cease to do so when the hormones kick in.

In this respect, Manga continues to offer a great alternative to superheroes, and to give all the different aged tiers comics that they can move to. The teenage girl can move on to angsty teen stuff from a girls point of view in a manga book, but there, lets face it, little or nothing in the American comic line to move to. Certainly, one or two of the solicitations that I've seen for the Minx line look like they might make my last sentence moot, and I hope that they do, but we clearly have a long way to go.

As a retailer in a totally different business, I find myself looking to always broaden my marketability to people: to get different people to walk through my door, while not losing my regulars. Comic stores have long operated on the principle of just getting the regulars to come back... somehow. That's not good enough in this environment. Especially when you realized, and any number of studies on retail shopping will back this up, that the majority of shopping is done by women, why oh why would you not want to do something that would not appeal to them? If that mean not carrying the MJ statue, then good, don't carry it. It sucked anyway, in a way that the original Hughes drawing didn't. Don't carry Heroes for Hire #13. No tentacle rape here.

And here's hoping that 13 year old girl who still reads comics doesn't have her love of this medium shamed out of her. Stick to your guns girl!

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