Speaking of the NY Times, there were several women-in-comics related posting that went around over the last week or so that we thought worthy of their very own round-up. First, Gail Simone was profile in the New York Times, a prestigious achievement for anyone. However the phrase “She is the first woman to serve as “ongoing writer” (to use the industry’s term) in the character’s 66-year history.” did seem to be fudging it a bit, as Johanna pointed out: Both Trina Robbins and Mindy Newell wrote WW in the past.

For what it’s worth, the article istelf seems to read “…the first woman to serve as ‘ongoing writer’ (to use the industry’s term) in the character’s 66-year history.)”

Since the writer is a known comics fan, I like to think he put that parenthetical in there to perhaps acknowledge that there may be some dubiousness to the claim.

That said, if the claim is that Simone is the character’s first “ongoing” writer, that would explain why Trina Robbins isn’t being counted since her Wonder Woman contributions were a mini-series and an original graphic novel, not part of the ongoing series. So excluding Robbins makes sense on a technical, semantic point-of-view.

Less clear is why Mindy Newell should be overlooked. Perhaps it’s because her contributions were collaborative (at least on the post-Crisis Perez-era Wonder Woman; I’m not sure if she was the only writer credited on the pre-and-during-Crisis issues she wrote.) Which is still a bit unfair, but there you go.

Steven Rowe in The Beat‘s own comment section, makes a case for two previous writers:

Of course both Joye Murchison (1945-1947), and Dann Thomas (1983) were ongoing Wonder Woman writers even before this. You could argue that Thomas was the less famous of a writing team, but Murchison’s stories were solo…..

None of which is a knock against Gail, who is easily one of the most successful comics writers this decade. But it does tend to point out the “There can be only one!” attitude towards female scripters in the superhero biz, as well as how easily previous milestones can be forgotten.

§ Johanna is back with a look at the first year of the Minx line .

Is the line a success? I don’t pay attention to sales figures much, so I don’t know how well the books are selling either in the direct market or in the bigger bookstore field. That they’re doing a second year says to me that they still are optimistic about the idea. I’m guessing the books are most popular among schools and libraries, since they’re classically styled stories (teenage girl learns life lesson) that are easy to justify for purchase. I have yet to hear anyone really excited about them, though, in any market.

(The comment section reveals some Minx Year Two news, as well.)
David Welsh also looks back, and examines the sales patterns between direct market and bookstore sales.

This prompts another response from Johanna:

DC, as a company, may not want Minx to be too successful, anyway, because it would put the lie to many of the pieces of received wisdom that they’ve been comforting themselves with all these years. And their strong relationship with the direct market makes it difficult to be successful in the bookstore market, because it’s seen as disloyalty to their “core customers”.

As for our own viewpoint, the Minx line would have to be called at most a modest success at this point, but one that DC clearly does have belief in for another year. We’d still like to see more actual feedback from the target audience, however.


  1. Just to nitpick, that long-winded observation about Mindy Newell and Trina Robbins over on Johanna’s site was from, well, me in her comments section and not Johanna herself. Anyway, she’s got a great site.

    As for “But it does tend to point out the ‘There can be only one!’ attitude towards female scripters in the superhero biz, as well as how easily previous milestones can be forgotten. ” I suspect that part of the problem is a trend more general than anything having to do with working women, or the comics biz. I do think that often media like to build stories around superlatives–firsts, biggests, bests–sometimes going through some all sorts of gyrations so as to be able to claim some superlative. It does seem to be a trend larger than just any one kind of topic…

  2. As for the Minx books, you obviously haven’t been reading library review journals, where we’ve been raving about some of the books. Re-Gifters got a starred review in Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association (and no, I didn’t write the review, one of my highly esteemed colleagues did). I gave Plain Janes a 5 for Quality (highest ranking) in my review column for Voice of Youth Advocates. I’ve also been praising Good as Lily as one of my personal favorite graphic novels of the year. The books are appearing on recommended lists for school and public libraries. I’m seeing more of the books in bookstores now. So maybe the line isn’t a huge hit, but it’s getting a positive buzz outside the direct market.

  3. “”so I don’t know how well the books are selling either in the direct market or in the bigger bookstore field.””

    I would think this would be the only true indicator of success. Also, I think one would not hear from the ‘target audience’ unless one was so inclined to patrol the endless teen webblogs in cyberspace. Even so…

    The thing of it is, I’ve liked some of the Minx comics and that is not a good thing. That says to me that they are good comics with a-way-out-of-bounds marketing scheme. I’ve seen jsut about every target audience reading comics on subways, buses, etc., but rarely does one catch a teen girl reading comics, and if so, it’s usually manga.

    I think the whole idea of the line is a good one, but I also think that you are deluding yourself if you think that you can get a target audience into a hobby where none existed in the first place.

  4. The target audience (teenage girls) has already been reading manga, that’s the point.

    The big open question is the same as it was for males 15 years ago when Maus won the Pulitzer. Is the same audience who read superhero comics willing to read serious graphic novels? Or just more superheroes in fancier formats? Or is it a different audience that nevertheless can be reached because it is already familiar with a version of the graphic format? As teenage girls are familiar with manga?

    DC wins either way because Minx has high-quality storytelling. If the books sell, great. If they don’t, they get the rep of having been a noble artistic experiment and DC gains artistic kudos. Deservedly, I might add.

  5. Hey, Heidi,

    Yeah, I saw that article about Gail….and I have to admit that I was a little p.o’d, and considered writing the TIMES…but didn’t, because I was afraid it would could be interpreted as sour grapes.

    This is nothing against Gail, a terrific writer, and who deserves every accolade she gets…you go, Gail!!!!

    I do think, however, that it is endemic to the PR machine of DC Comics. It makes better copy to forget that Trina and I both worked on WONDER WOMAN in the 80’s…in other words, it’s the “draw” of the article, y’know? Unfair, not true, but there it is.

    By the way, tell Joanne that I wrote the last few issues of WONDER WOMAN before the book was cancelled in preparation for George’s relaunch.

    And working with George (and Karen Berger) on the Amazon Princess was one of the BEST EXPERIENCES I EVER HAD IN THE COMICS INDUSTRY!!!!!

    Anyway, again, kudos to Gail!!!!