Doc Lehman wrote to share a gallery of photos from the 1930’s and 1940’s of people reading comics and newsstands. You should go check out all of them, but several are quite interesting — to us anyway!
Given the era indicated by the clothing in these photos, it’s quite unlikely that they are some kind of propaganda created by feminist fangirls to prove that girls once read comics. In fact, as we all know from contemporary research back in the 405 and 50s, back then, comics were read equally by boys and girls. There was no gender segregation for the medium.
Tom Brevoort has his own trip in the wayback machine with this house ad from the Marvel/Timely comics of 1947 (click for larger version.)
As this ad reveals, Marvel had three lines of comics — the superheroes, the funnies, and what looks to be the girls line — Tessie the Typist — with Gay Willie Joker coming up in the rear. (They were actually three different titles.) Two things strike us looking at that image. #1, given Marvel/Atlas/Timely’s publishing line, and Stan Lee’s age, it’s easy to see why the early Marvel female characters had such wimpy powers. #2, with the passing of time, Marvel Golden Age characters would come to mean only the superhero characters. (Given how vivid and unique they were, it is not that hard to see why.)
The why and the how of it all — how a little girl enjoying the funnies became increasingly unlikely and then impossible according to even smart people — has been oft discussed and debated. Thankfully, the girl nerd is now back in force and updated for a grim and gritty world.