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    Q and A with Ronée Garcia Bourgeois

    Q and A with Ronée Garcia Bourgeois
    By Patrick Rollens

    The Friends of Lulu is a nationwide nonprofit organization designed “to promote and encourage female readership and participation in the comic book industry.” The organization boasts a local chapter in New York City that produced an anthology of comic strips by women titled “Broad Appeal.” Ronée Garcia Bourgeois is the vice president for public relations with the Friends of Lulu; she also writes the column “What a Girl Wants,” found on the Web at comiXtreme.com (a fantastic Web forum for comic creators and fans alike).

    What’s the industry standard – even stereotype – regarding women in the hobby?
    Just like it is unfair to lump all women in this industry together, I would hesitate to do the same to men. There will always be those of the boys’ club frame of mind, but I find that the men I have come across in this field are very enthusiastic about sharing the love of comics.

    The average comic reader is male, white, age 18-35 and single. How can women integrate themselves into the hobby – and for that matter, why would they want to?
    It’s funny to me to hear that the average comics reader is “male, white, age 18-35.”

    In the early days, girls read just as much as the boys. It was not until Dr. Frederic Wertham (whose scare tactics led to the formation of the Comics Code Authority) started his crusade against comics that the number of female readers dwindled due to enormous outside pressures. Of course, the bad-girl phase in the early ’90s did not help either.

    In Japan the number of female fans are staggering, and, thanks to the manga explosion here, our female readership is gaining in numbers and voice. A lot of us have been here the whole time, though. The key is getting all of these women to stand up and be counted.

    Most comics from major publishers seem to be written by men, for men. Are there any major titles that have critical appeal to a broad base of female readers?
    Well, of course, there is Wonder Woman; Greg Rucka did some awesome things with the Amazon Princess – one of the most iconic superheroes of any sex. Gail Simone’s “Birds Of Prey” (DC Comics) has a strong female fan base.

    There are so many great titles that I know I will undoubtedly leave someone out if I attempted to list them. Depends on what you are into. The point is, there is no hard and fast rule or formula to acquire a female audience. We are diverse. We are not of one mind. Once the industry realizes that, things will just fall into place.

    Comic writing has matured in the past 10 years, and we’ve come a long way from the damsel in distress. But mass-market superhero comics based on female characters have a lower readership. Conversely, books like Alias do quite well with a female lead.
    I don’t agree that powerful female superhero comics have lower female readership. And if they do, then it is lower for any and all fans, and not just for the women. This can be due to a bad writer, or any of those reasons that may turn you off of it. Not to mention that as great as they all are, it is still all about superheroes and not everyone is into that.

    I feel that independent publishers do tend to draw in more due in large part to the wide variety of stories out there. You can find anything for anybody in the indie books.

    What’s the surest way to turn off a female reader to a series?
    Be condescending or trying to “cater to girls.” Then there is the current trend by certain writers to include rape into story lines in mainstream comics. That’s a big turnoff.

    How about the physical portrayal of females in superhero comic books?
    Keep in mind that for every spandex-clad mega-babe in comics, there are three or four overmuscled male heroes that don’t seem to emasculate male readers.

    For the most part I am OK with it. Like you said, men are also drawn with ideal proportions. You never see a male hero with love handles or a big gut. I do take offense when it is gratuitous and used as the main draw to get an audience. I have a beef with Avatar Press for doing this.

    How are men working to make the hobby friendlier toward women?
    I applaud any efforts made to include everyone in this hobby, though misguided efforts are out there. You take the good with the bad.

    What could better engage women in comics, both as readers and creators?
    The key is more about getting the existing female fans out there to speak up. I have learned that there are tons of us out there, but a lot of women feel intimidated and alone. Many just need the backing of a group like Friends of Lulu to help them find their voice.

    Posted by Tim Leong on April 30th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |

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