Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Minx, Comics, and YA

An interesting look at the Minx line of graphic novels for girls over at Chasing Ray. (Found via Fuse.)

For me, it's a look at things from the other side of the comics world, the comic-book side. Basically, comic book retailers/producers/fans are under the impression that DC's Minx line is supposed to be some sort of gateway drug into the rest of the comic-book world in general.

As someone who reads a lot of YA and a lot of comics, I think the problem here might be that Minx titles are for YA readers - not comics readers, nor people who frequent comic shops. These books read like YA novels with illustrations, if that makes any sense, and I don't see that they will necessarily lead teenage girls to comics - or that they have anything in common with manga or manga readers. I think the pervasive idea of comics as capes and nothing else will make Minx readers think that this line is something different and not a gateway to see what else DC has to offer. I don't think this is a bad thing mind you, I just think that if anyone is trying to see Minx as a big comics seller then they are looking in the wrong place (and I count the marketing folks at DC in that equation). I would compare it to YA sales - that's its true competition.

They should shelve these books in the YA section of every bookstore and library - they shouldn't worry about being within miles of manga or comics or even other graphic novels. The Minx titles are YA, plain and simple, and YA readers are going to eat them up with a spoon - as soon as they know they are out there.

(As soon as they know they are out there? A quarter-million-dollar marketing budget wasn't enough?) Personally, being in the book world and not the comic book biz, I just looked at it the other way--that DC saw a chance to bite into the YA market (that was only being served by Japanese Manga) and jumped at it. Here's a bit from the old NYTimes article on the Minx launch:

“It’s time we got teenage girls reading comics,” said Karen Berger, a senior vice president at DC Comics. And DC, the comics powerhouse best known as home to Superman and Batman, has a program to make that happen.

In May, DC plans to introduce Minx, a line of graphic novels aimed at young adult female readers, starting with six titles in 2007, each retailing for less than $10. The stories will be far removed from the superheroes who more typically appeal to young males. They include “Clubbing,” about a London party girl who solves a mystery; “Re-Gifters,” about a Korean-American teenager in California who enjoys martial arts; and “Good as Lily,” about a young woman who meets three versions of herself at different ages.

Teenage girls, Ms. Berger said, are smart and sophisticated and “about more than going out with the cute guy. This line of books gives them something to read that honors that intelligence and assertiveness and that individuality.”

As a whole, the line is positioned as an alternative for teenage girls who have, especially in bookstores, become increasing smitten with the Japanese comics known as manga. In 2004, DC started CMX, a manga imprint, to capture part of that audience. The marketing then was similar to that used for DC’s other titles.

“It’s time we got teenage girls reading comics.” Aww. Isn't that cute? (I think she meant, "It's time we got teenage girls reading OUR comics instead of all that Manga.")

I guess it looks like DC tried to do both--get girls into traditional comic-book stores and get a piece of the YA bookstore market--and fumbled.

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