Image Gets It: Comics need Women

Eric Stephenson, the Publisher of Image Comics, gave a great speech about what the comics industry needs to do moving forward. I wrote a rather long post about how everyday comic readers can help realize his vision, but I also wanted to take a moment to highlight something Stephenson got right:

Right now, the fastest growing demographic for Image Comics, and I’m willing to speculate, for the entire industry, is women.

For years, I’ve listened to people talk about bringing more women into the marketplace.

Over the last few years, with your help, we’ve been doing exactly that.

You’ve seen the audience that’s building up around SAGA. You’ve seen how female readers respond to books like SEX CRIMINALS, LAZARUS, VELVET, PRETTY DEADLY, ROCKET GIRL, and RAT QUEENS, and one of our best-received announcements at Image Expo was Kelly Sue DeConnick’s new series BITCH PLANET.

We’re not the first to put out material that appealed to women – there’s a whole roomful of incredible people I wouldn’t be able to look in the eye if I made that kind of ludicrous claim – but I think we are among a select group in this industry who realize that there’s more to gain from broadening our horizons than by remaining staunchly beholden to the shrinking fan base that is supposedly excited about sequels to decrepit old crossovers like SECRET WARS II.

It is comics like SAGA that get new readers in your door.

I know this, because I have met SAGA readers.

They read SAGA, they read RACHEL RISING, they read Julia Wertz, they read FABLES, they read Nicole Georges and Kate Beaton, they read Hope Larson, Jeffrey Brown, and LOVE & ROCKETS…

They read all of that and more, but even better still:

They are hungry for more.

(Read the whole thing here via Bleeding Cool

Image is the reason that I read comics. Last spring I saw this comic on a new release table and I absolutely had to know more:

Glory #33 Writer: Joe Keatinge Artist: Ross Campbell
Glory #33
Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artist: Ross Campbell

After collecting Keatinge and Campbell’s controversial run on Glory, a friend lent me these two books:

Peter Panzerfaust #1 Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe Artist: Tyler Jenkins
Peter Panzerfaust #1
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Tyler Jenkins
Saga Volume 1  Creators: Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Saga Volume 1
Creators: Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Needless to say, I was hooked – and I’m pretty sure I currently read every comic Stephenson listed. As a twenty-six year old woman, I am one of the hotly growing demographics of comics.

In October, 2013 TechHive announced that women were one of the most rapidly growing users of ComiXology – a digital comics distributor. In five years, women went from being 5% of ComiXology users to 20% – a hefty jump. The average lady user can be characterized as:

17-26 years old, college-educated, lives in the suburbs, and is new to comics. She prefers Tumblr to Reddit. She may have never even picked up a print comic.

A description that until last year, fit me perfectly. What’s great is that Publishers are currently realizing the importance of women too, and are putting out great titles that are still accessible to new readers, and skew towards lady friendly. Image is clearly leading the charge on this, and it is starting to feel as if other publishers are starting to jump on the bandwagon. Here’s hoping that 2014 can be declared the year of awesome lady comics, and that they will fuel a whole new type of readership. Who knows? Maybe even DC will get less terrible.


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