Hope Larson has been asking young women about the comic consumption habits, and what appeals to them in the medium. Here are the results:

What can authors, publishers, retailers do to better serve teen/tween girls?
1) More and better female characters, especially protagonists. Girls want to see strong, in-control, kick-ass women calling the shots.

2) A welcoming atmosphere in local comic stores is key. Many respondents reported feeling uncomfortable in comic stores. They were stared at, talked down to, and generally treated without respect.

3) Pink, sparkly cutesy comics about boyfriends, ponies, cupcakes and shopping are widely reviled. Condescend to female readers at your peril, writers and comic publishers.

4) The hypersexualization/objectification of female superheroines makes female readers uncomfortable, and sexual violence as a plot point has got to stop.

5) Girls need good stories in a variety of genres.

6) Most girls don’t even know comics exist, or that they would enjoy them. Publishers need to advertise in mainstream media and comic shops need to reach out to girls.

7) Make comics for boys and girls. Comics with dual male and female protagonists. Comics with large casts that offer something for everyone.

8) Use licensed properties to lure new readers into comics.

9) Availability is a problem. Get more comics into schools. Get more comics into libraries—especially school libraries. Get more comics into bookstores, especially large chains.

10) There need to be more women creating comics and working in the industry as editors and publishers.

She’s got more details on her LiveJournal, and the list has pretty much become a must read for anyone who is making comics.

I agree with all of her conclusions. No hemming or hawing, no qualifying of my statements. She’s right.

If comics makers want to appeal to a female audience, moving away from musty shops run by fat slobs and into places that sell Starbucks is the way to go. We need more books like Runaways and fewer Avengers books.

We need less things like this:

And more things like this:

….actually that’s a terrible fucking example. All comic book t-shirts are horrible. We just need less shit like that stuff above.

An odd aside – she interviewed 198 women, which is the same number of mutants left in the Marvel Universe, and X-Men was the most common comic named in her survey. Weird how things line up sometimes.