Superhero Social Justice, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 25 2014 @ 9:05am

In the wake of the announcement of a female Thor, Noah Berlatsky considers the female comic-book readership:

Lots of women do read comics in general, and superhero comics in particular.  That fact should be self evident enough by now, given the way the Internet has given voice to many female fans of the genre. And yet sexism in the comics world persists. The effort to firmly debunk gendered stereotypes about who enjoys comics and who doesn’t would seem to benefit from hard statistics about just how many women are reading. Those statistics are surprisingly difficult to come by—but the ones that are available suggest that comics, and superhero comics, historically did appeal to both genders and very well could again.

Because of low critical standing or low readership or some combination of both, good data about comics readership over the years is rare. We do know that comics were much, much more popular during the 1940s, when superheroes first burst on the scene, than they are today. Comics then were more like film or television—a mass entertainment option, rather than a niche one. A Market Research Company of America report from 1944 found that 95 percent of all boys and 91 percent of all girls between six and 11 read comics; 87 percent of boys and 81 percent of girls between 12 and 17, and 41 percent of men and 28 percent of women between 18 and 30. Comics scholar Trina Robbins told me that The Newsdealer, a magazine for newsstand owners, actually published figures suggesting that girls at the time read more comics than boys.

Previous Dish on superhero diversity here.