Monday, April 14, 2014

ComiXology Is Now Part of Amazon

Jeff Gomez at Business Insider has written an article about Amazon's acquisition of ComiXology. In it, he says
Women 17 – 26 have risen to comprise over 20% of ComiXology’s users, and that’s certain to rise after Amazon’s acquisition. The books will now be exposed to millions of newcomers, so it will behoove major publishers to make their stories more female-friendly, streamlined, and accessible. [Link is to a Comic Book Resources article from October, '13.]
"Make their stories more female-friendly" is going to be the contentious point, I think. Someone accused Gail Simone of turning Red Sonja into a feminazi yesterday, so making stories "female-friendly" is going to be met with significant resistance.

And then she pretty much made fun of the idea all day. :D

Don't get me wrong, I think the comics publishers should pay attention to reality and acknowledge the fact that WOMEN READ COMICS, and I stand to benefit from stories that are less about men's fetishes and more about actual plot, but I think there's going to be a lot of very ugly pushback. It's already there, as evidenced from Hungry_man above. Would he have been complaining to the writer if the writer had been male, or would he have accepted the story-so-far without accusing the character of being a feminazi?

It seems like any time people (non-cis-white-male people) suggest that comics could be more inclusive, have better representation, be less male gaze-y, those cis white guys just get pissed off and circle the wagons around their precious male fantasies of power and big boobs. Because if their comic book females don't look like porn stars, who wants 'em??

When the stories are better, everyone benefits. When women in those stories are more than seductive window dressing, take an active role in the story, it's a good thing. No, it's frickin' great thing, because it means women and girls will have the benefit of having heroes that look like them to emulate and be inspired by, just like boys have had for decades. Many of the men who read comics now, started out watching superhero cartoons and reading comic books. They love their heroes: Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the Hulk... but what do you notice about that quick list? They're all straight white guys (except when Hulk is all angry and green). Who have women had, consistently, to look up to? Wonder Woman. That's it! She's the only really significant female character who's been with us since the early superhero comics, and she's been sadly underrepresented. DC has hemmed and hawed over why we can't have a stand-alone WW film, but pretty much everyone has called bullshit on their excuses. The fact of the matter is, DC in particular simply doesn't want to acknowledge that their old-guard way of doing things isn't going to cut it anymore.

Which brings me back around to the original point: ComiXology now being part of Amazon is going to change things.

Women are already a strong demographic in comics readership. One reason for women to be a rising demographic for ComiXology is the safety of it. Comic book shops are not always welcoming to female customers. Shopping online, no one can harass you or make you feel bad about what you read or don't know. Oh they'll still get you on Twitter or in various forums if you dare to voice an opinion, but at least you can shop in peace.

With the juggernaut that is Amazon, that will only accelerate. More women will flock to digital comics, because they may not even have known about ComiXology in the first place. Now that Amazon has the property, it's going to be all over their front page, promoted and marketed. Amazon has changed book publishing. Can anyone think that they won't force comics publishers to do the same?

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