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August 2011

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Minx and Me

(The following is a poorly thought out ramble. I hope you enjoy it.)

People far more knowledgeable than I am are posting eloquently about this right now, but to recap, DC has cancelled its Minx line of graphic novels (were they for girls or not for girls?). Articles here, here and here.

Here is my experience with Minx:
In 2007 I went to my very first comic book convention, where I bumped into Shelly Bond. Or rather, Dave Roman, at a table next to mine, pointed at her, said "that's her" and over I went, literally bounding up in a fit of ... uh, god knows, shouting "HI!" She'd picked up one of the previews I had for Zombies Calling (this was all before it'd been published) and seemed interested in my work. We had a nice meeting and over the next few months, worked on a pitch together for the Minx line. I was pretty thrilled by the whole thing (y'know, my very first convention and I met an editor from The Big Two who liked my work), and was really hopeful that I'd get the job. For one thing, the money was more than enough to pay off my student loan, something I was desperate for. Also, the job seemed to come with a good amount of exposure, and I wanted to take the next step in my career, and wasn't sure how to do that. How do you work for bigger companies? How do you get your foot in that door? How do you get an agent? How do you make a living wage doing comics? It seemed like doing a Minx book would be a step in the right direction.

However, it wasn't meant to be. Eventually my communication with Shelly dried up, and I took that as a sign that my pitch had not been what they were looking for, even though I never received an official rejection. I moved on to other things. Got an awesome new project, got an agent, went to San Diego and had fantastic things happen there, and in the meantime did another SLG book. Fortunately for me, because I'd spent time working on that Minx pitch (which had evolved quite a bit since I'd sent it off to DC), I (and my agent) had something in hand to show people at San Diego, and that ended up working out really well for me. So I'm grateful for that. I probably wouldn't have had something ready to go if the Minx pitch hadn't happened. It also showed me that just because one avenue of publishing dries up, it doesn't necessarily mean that project is dead forever. It could find a new home. Maybe even a better one.

I'm disappointed the line is dead for one reason, and it's an alarmist reason, so maybe I shouldn't pay it any mind: I am worried this will contribute to that crap opinion in the comic book industry that girls don't read comics. And that comics starring girls don't sell. Which infuriates me, because I'm a female comic reader, and I feel that within the scope of traditional comic book publishers there isn't much geared towards me or my female friends, MANY of whom itch for comics to read. So instead they (and I) read manga or books published by graphic novel imprints of traditional book publishers. Granted, maybe I shouldn't give a crap about what the comic book publishers do. If they want to exclusively cater to 30 something white men, I can't stop them. And I can choose not to read their books. But I love comics and I would hate to see the comic book publishers devolve into complete self-absorption, until they collapse in on themselves, taking their readers with them.

Anyway, so that was my experience. And I enjoyed a few of their books, certainly. I liked Re-gifters, The Plain Janes, Kimmie 66 and Emiko Superstar a lot. I didn't like Burnout or The New York Four. The rest I don't remember very well. I hope the creators find new and better things. Many of them are fantastic and deserve it. Others ... are just not my cup of tea.

Comments

Agreed. I wrote about this in my blog, too, but basically, I think the problem is getting the product to the people who'd want to read it. There is a whole wealth of comics out there of every genre, so it's not like the material isn't there. But getting people to go into the graphic novels section of bookstores or to even comic book stores is a hurdle. There's just such a self-perpetuating stigma around comics that makes it difficult for something like Minx to exist.
This is interesting. I've been so out of the loop of comics for a long time, but I guess it's good to know what's going on in that neck of the woods if I'm hoping to tread there someday. Reading Hope's thoughts, it seems like I didn't miss terribly much.

I realize that books aimed at my demographic is exactly what I'd like to read, what I want to create, and you're right, there's aren't many out there. As a result of this, there will be even less. Hopefully the artists will find other avenues to tell their stories. Artists are industrious like that. "Can't stop the signal" and all that. ;)
I am glad to see things went the right way for you.
I got stupidly lucky. I was pretty heartbroken when it became obvious I wasn't going to get the Minx job (still have my student loan, yay), but that was a blessing in disguise.

I feel really bad for those creators who finished their books, or just sold their books and had them cancelled. It's really horrible when that happens.
That stinks.
I'm curious as to why you didn't like NY4. I haven't read it yet, or read any reviews to speak of, but I generally like Brian Wood's stuff.

Then again, I didn't pick up any of the Minx books. There's no comic book shop in my town, nor is there much of a bookstore, and I think the only book from the line I even saw in the flesh was Clubbing. Egh.
I can't really go into why I didn't like the book without completely spoiling the plot, so I'll just say that I found the characters lacking in logic, and I didn't like any of them. Which is a big deal when you're reading a book. Whether or not a character is good or bad, you still want to *like* them and root for them in some way.
I think it's a matter of where to look. Have you read Demo or Local (both by Brian Wood)? Both have a strong believable female presence despite being written by a male. I don't see the collapse of a girl-specific line of comics as a bad thing because while I think there should be more comics featuring female leads, I think creating a line focused on one specific demographic is the wrong way to go about it. Maybe a line focused on female leads in comics would have worked better, as there would be a wider potential for meaningful stories.
Brian Wood is a bit of an anomaly in that respect. Greg Rucka is similar. Most comic writers aren't nearly as tuned into writing Real People (regardless of the gender of the writer OR the characters).
I would think that the idea that "comics don't sell to girls" would be passe just from people looking at the number of shoujo manga at Borders. Still, it's a bit disappointing that more American-based comics with strong female leads aren't out there. I'd really prefer more "Blue Monday" than Wolverine crossovers on the shelves.

I am thinking that shoujo manga and manga in general are something of a rut these days, but I have to wonder if it's more that the manga I like (such as Cry Out in the Big City) aren't being translated. Still, maybe it's a case of "Well, girls like THIS very specific niche, so lets' just keep printing stuff that mimics it." Does that seem plausible?
Looking at the huge flood of shounen ai manga on the German market - I have seen fans of the genre comment that it's a bit much - I think your last point is dead on, at least here. ;)

Did Minx ever piblish anything action or adventure? When it started, my impression was that the people behind it thought girls were only interested in highschool stories. [insert rant here]
The only book I'd put as being action/adventure would be Kimmee 66. That one was quite good, I felt.

And Here We Go Again

I don't find your last reason alarmist at all, you have a right to demand better entertainment, that almost sounds, I don't know, arch, I suppose but I was reading an interview with Alan Moore last week and he talked about how The Big Two have had a chance to be more than they are but remain, essentially, the gangsters that built their companies, harsh yes, but I see it. Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I know plenty of female comic readers and I work really hard to find things they'd like, maybe not Minx per se, but who knows what it could have done given the time and backing it deserved. Okay, I need to shut up now, but I'm glad you're out there making books that I'd pass along to my pals. They deserve it, and so do you.
Greg

(Anonymous)

numbers and question marks

According to the CBR article, it sounds like bookstores killed MINX rather than the traditional direct market which seems pretty damn strange especially with Warner and DC fully supporting it. I don't see how someone can pin all of it on the publisher in this case unless maybe you feel MINX should have been given more time. But the issue of a certain redundance has to be brought up too since some MINX titles that were scheduled are being rolled into Vertigo.

And the CBR article refers to young adults as the target audience while some are saying this is a kick in the teeth for female readers so audience is another big question.

Also, I hate to say this but the argument, and it's a fairly common one for both men and women, that "me and my friends would buy book or product x if it was available" doesn't necessarily translate into the numbers and data that ultimately affect publishing decisions, or business decisions in general. I don't mean to sound harsh because it does suck that MINX folded just like it sucks that Virgin folded but that's just how it works sometimes.

But if bookstores did indeed kill MINX, I can't say I'm surprised in that scenario because the circulation on Batman comics is around 70,000. And Batman is about as mainstream as it gets. For an alternative line like MINX to survive, it makes sense that they'd need bookstores to help find an audience.

At any rate, the MINX collapse leaves me confused more than anything.

Tyson