Friday, September 26, 2008

The Mincing MINX

If you've read my Twitter then you saw me laughing at the collapse of MINX. I also admitted that my laughing might mean I'm headed for hell in a svelte sports car hand-basket with velvet cushions and nubile massage servants. Truthfully I think at some point you seriously just have to laugh or you end up paying a lot of money to repair all the walls in your home that are covered in head dents.

I didn't like MINX. And it's not just PLAIN JANES I didn't like, I didn't like the line up. It didn't interest me. It didn't interest me on my own or as something to give to the young girls in my life; quite a few who are young girls of colour who've enjoyed every manga or anime suggestion I've ever given to them.

Ragnell at Just Past The Horizon (Newsarama Blog) mentions the same concept in her Friday coloumn. MINX was doomed to fail despite all the talk it got because it was set up TO fail. Forget a bookstore, it's like DC didn't take the time to walk into a local library and study where the girls went. And they certainly weren't bright enough to ask a librarian.

I've watched for the past three or so years (and a bit over) young girls pouring over the manga sections of my local libraries. Magical Girl stories are new to them; new and exciting and wonderful. It took me a long time to realize the very obvious fact that they and I are a generation apart and thus they've never heard of some of the books I read or shows I watched around their age. Manga is there and in their faces with adventure stories.

The librarians can hardly keep up. And yet... MINX is dead.

Chicks in Chainmail, Xena, Buffy, the concept of frigging Nancy Drew - Poof - over the heads of DC and a lot of other players who like to give lip service to the concept of equality and diversity but who really are old and set in their ways; rusty gates closed shut on the concept that Trix are for kids, silly rabbit comics and adventure is for whiteboys.

I can remember there were a series of adventure anthologies when I was growing up that were all about GIRLS OWN ADVENTURES in order to match and meet the concept of the genre of BOYS OWN ADVENTURES. At the time I thought the title and promotion was silly but I ate up stories of girls caught up in accidental tourist spy games and living as part of a WW2 French Resistance; girls who were detectives and hunted down wrong doers...

I must have been 10-11. AND GIRLS WHO DID THINGS was like candy.

Mercedes Lackey's Valdamar Series? They had strong female characters doing things; Elspeth and Talia. They had a Queen who chose her country over her private life and who battled to balance being a mother alongside being a ruler. Susan Cooper had girls caught up in fantastic universes who became part of the everlasting struggle between the powers of dark and the powers of light.

And the thing is, there's a very strong and popular trend in books right now that shows what happened to those girls who read those things when they grew up. It's called URBAN FANTASY / PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

This is not the place to debate the seeming interchangeability of those two genre titles. We can bitch about that later. But the point is, Girls/Women caught up in fantastic adventures, trying to balance life against the supernatural, or magic; caught up in spy plots and underground societies and fighting for the cause of good against evil - IT'S BEEN ONE OF THE STRONGEST GROWING MARKETS IN A DECADE!

So really DC, where did you think those women came from? Did you think they just sprung up whole out of the ground like Dragon Teeth Warriors and only in their twenties did they suddenly decide they wanted a bit of magic and adventure and excitement in their reading?

And for those who are still having the hangup with PARANORMAL ROMANCE and would like to use it to say those aren't adventure stories - Have you read any of them? Because I'm telling you plainly the reason UF has become interchangeable with PR as a term is because of the same stereotypes that lead to MINX's failure. The publishing industry saw women eating up these stories and concluded they were buying them for the 'romance' because women buy romance books therefore if a woman is buying a book, it MUST have to do with romance.

For the record? There's romance in comics. Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Would the bloody Phoenix Saga mean as much without the romance between the two? What would happen to all the plots that have to do with Wolverine's part as the odd man out and potential interloper? Nate Grey and Madelyene Pryor? Susan Storm and Reed Richards? Susan Storm and Namor? Misty Knight and her Kungfu Boy Danny? Ring any bells? The whole BND sucks scandal in Spiderman revolves around what? Mary Jane Watson and her romance and marriage to one Peter Parker.

Ollie "can't keep it in his pants" Queen and Dinah Lance, The Black Canary.

I just had to throw that one last one out there by itself but the list goes on. Barbara Gordon and Dick Greyson. Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen. Does the boys club of comics actually think they don't have romance in their works? And if women buy romance and thus any books women buy MUST be romance - then why aren't women buying their comics...

Unless of course the answer is that women are and if women are buying and women obviously aren't always women but grow up to be women from being girls and little girls then....

Why aren't you following the logic, DC? It's a trail of solid breadcrumbs. Wait, don't tell me you never heard of Hansel and Gretel? It had a kickass girl in it too.


  1. I actually enjoy romantic subplots in my Urban Fantasy. What I don't like is when it takes over the book. It should add depth to the characters, not take over everything about them.

    Case in point, early LKH vs later LKH. Although one wonders if 'porn' should be substituted for romance in her case.

  2. Onion:

    Re LKH, I'm in total agreement. And I happen to think the current books are very badly written porn.

    That aside, romantic subplots are a part of comics in general - the stuff that supposedly only boys like. And yet supposedly, only women read romance / women ONLY read romance and thus only buy romance. Therefore women don't buy comics.


    As for MINX, I have a hard dislike for the titles. They didn't appeal at all. In fact I was surprised to learn that WATERBABY was a MINX book. When I saw someone recc it and checked out the scans, I thought it was some indie thing and have it on my list of 'comics to check out' under 'Indie Titles'.

  3. "In fact I was surprised to learn that WATERBABY was a MINX book. When I saw someone recc it and checked out the scans, I thought it was some indie thing and have it on my list of 'comics to check out' under 'Indie Titles'."

    Because Waterbaby author is an indie writer and artist. Wetmoon is being published by Oni Press, he has gotten a few things published in mainstream editorials but your "indie senses" tingling weren't cheating you :)