Comic Book Readers without the Y Chromosome

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Comic Book Readers without the Y Chromosome

Post by Saint Kurt » Tue Aug 16, 2005 4:04 am

I caught an interesting bit of conversation going on in the introduction thread and since this site has so many female members I thought I'd make a thread about it.
quoted from Lysistrata
Lately, I'm tempted to get a T-Shirt reading "ovaries don't bite." There's a fantstic comic store about 40 minutes drive from my place, or a testosterone ridden one a mere 10 minutes away. I swear, it's like walking into a porn shop full of truckers. Every man in the room stops what he's doing, looks guiltily at the floor, and shuffles at least six feet away if I come near. It makes browsing this week's new issues (where they collect like flies) a comical affair. I've seen men collide with one another in an attempt to get away before I move from Y: The Last Man to X-Men.

And they wonder why more women don't read comics?
quoted from shadow-dancer
Ah, but judging by the male/female ratio at this forum, we do, don't we?

Welcome Lysistrata, fellow fic writer and Excalibur enthusiast, from one who raises more eyebrows because of her age than her sex (or though I've always suspected.) Perhaps I should reconsider, seeing as some of the men in the comic store have years on me. Then there's always ebay.
quoted from LysistrataGood point! A woman is scary enough, but a woman over 30 (gasp! Are they allowed off the reservations?) probably makes them all think Mom is coming to check up on them...even the guys who are pushing 50.

One of the things I love about LJ and the online forums is the proportion of men to women. My boyfriend didn't understand why I was so excited to find an online community of women who love comics, but then, he lives with me and probably thinks all women love comics.
quoted from Bamfetteooohhh... I know that feeling... when i was going to college in Ontario, there were 2 comic shops i could go to. one in the town where the college was, but it was a hole, or i could take the Go Train to Toronto and go to the Silver Snail.... bright, open, female friendly (2/3rds of the staff were girls) I opted for the Silver Snail... even though it cost $10 to take the train there, and 45 minutes each way. I just made sure i did other things while in Toronto, like go see a movie, shopping, whatever to make the trip more worth it... but i felt like some kind of alien invader in that other store.
As I read through this I thought the weirdest thing about it was that I couldn't really relate. I've been reading comic books since I was in my teens and I'm 33 now. In all that time I've never really experienced any sort of gender based discrimination.

If anything I was a little bit special. I was often introduced as "THE girl who reads comics" when I was in highschool (it seemed to be more unusual then) and now whenever I go into my local comic shop I always have a nice discussion with either the employees, fellow customers, or both. We trade recommendations, reviews, and argue the plot points of various new books we're reading.

No one has ever done anything obvious to try to avoid my presence and I've always been treated with respect. The worst thing that ever happened was a comic book store employee tried to flirt with me while holding a large drink and spilled it all over the shop's stereo. I thought it was funny.

Anyway - I thought it was an interesting topic. What are your experiences?

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Post by kladyelf » Tue Aug 16, 2005 9:54 am

Hmm...

I have heard of this phenomena, but never really experienced it, comics shops in Adelaide when i lived there were always friendly, courteous and... well... eager for me to come in and spend money :smirk

the closest i ever got to any comment was when i first started buying comics from a comic shop, and the owner would comment "a little light reading?" - though i heard him say this to other buyers in later years so i guess it doesn't count :toothy
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Post by NachtcGleiskette » Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:25 pm

I can say that i have been cornered by a few of the "rogue"'s at my comic store (a rag tag list of customers who seem to fit into one comic book reader stereotype or another, with fun names given to them by the employees). They are interesting experiences. I get the most pleasure out of the encounters with the really die hard geek fans.....who like to try to stump me or talk down to me based on what I'm buying...I like surprising them :D

But honestly, I mostly only interact with the employees. Not many other customers are very social, and tend to stay a little ways away from me.......One of the employees described it as the "omg boobs" effect.

But the guys who work there are awesome. Couldn't be nicer, and often I go there just to say hi and talk for a while (though I do end up buying something......I have no will power :(). The discount doesn't hinder my visiting much either ;)...neither does the fact that they're pretty good looking :naughty
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Post by Lysistrata » Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:39 pm

Reception varies a LOT from store to store. As I said in my first post, there's a great store about 40 minutes from my house. The people who own it are polite and enthusiastic. The atmospere is always welcoming. I've never felt the slightest bit out of place there, or even noticed if I was the only woman in the shop. It's the biggest comic store in town and has a large, loyal following.

And then there's the one close to my house. It's...well...it's close by. When buying once a month, I'd make the long drive to the good shop, but now that I've been picking them up bi-weekly to cover House of M, I can't justify the frequent long drives. (40 min in good traffic conditions. If I go after work, I can bump that up to a 2 hour round trip, plus time to browse the shop.)

At the local shop, the employees aren't the problem. They're salesmen and want to trade my money for their goods. It's the other customers who make me feel like I've got some kind of horrible disease. My only theory as to why this particular shop collects such a different crowd of customer is that in addition to comics, they sell a lot of Animae and imported Japanese toys and Poky candy. Perhaps the tentacle porn afficianados can't handle being in the presence of a live woman. :crazed

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Post by NachtcGleiskette » Tue Aug 16, 2005 2:31 pm

Originally posted by Lysistrata
My only theory as to why this particular shop collects such a different crowd of customer is that in addition to comics, they sell a lot of Animae and imported Japanese toys and Poky candy. Perhaps the tentacle porn afficianados can't handle being in the presence of a live woman. :crazed
they sell a ton of pocky at my comic store too.....I buy it whenever I feel like spending $4 on a box of cookies that will last me the ride home. Pocky G is my personal favorite...
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Post by CurlyyHairGirl » Tue Aug 16, 2005 5:48 pm

Hmmm....I don't really have a problem at the local shop. I go in about once a month, and there's usually never anybody in there but the owner (who is female). The last time I went in, the owner hadn't come in yet, so some other guy was taking her place...he was cute...but when I walked in, he looked kinda surprised. I picked up my issue of Nightcrawler and asked him to hold it while I looked for something else to blow money on and he asked if I needed help finding anything. I pretty much know my way around, so that's what I told him, after that he just started reading a magazine.

I know a lot of people who go there, just not when I do, and they're mainly guys. The place doesn't sell Manga, Anime or Poky candy, you'd have to go to the mall for that, and seeing as all my female friends tend to like the Anime style more, they ususaly go there.

I have about five guy friends that I see inbetween classes at school, and all we usually do is argue about which comic book, or character is better, most of my girl friends talk Anime and Manga and I get lost in 2 seconds. We stand on even ground.
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Post by Lysistrata » Tue Aug 16, 2005 6:47 pm

I'll have to let these guys know the rest of the world has moved on. Being scared of women is SOOOO 1989! :eeevil

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Post by Maelstrom » Wed Aug 17, 2005 3:36 pm

There's not much of a choice here anymore. At one time we had six comic stores in the Hayward/San Leandro area. But over the last few years, with the collapse of the comics industry, and then the collapse of the CCG industry, they've been slipping away, one by one. Just like the old-fashioned gaming stores (as opposed to those who do video and PC games). With the cost of renting space, and the dwindling of their audience, they just can't afford to stay in business around here. :cry

Our 2003 phone book listed four stores: after X2 came out, and I wanted to get into comics again, there were only two left. And now there's just one closeby: Crush Comics. It's a little hole-in-the-wall in Castro Valley, with extremely effective use of space. But I must say that I've never been treated as anything special or revolting there. The guys behind the counter have been universally upbeat, professional, and happy to see me. Sometimes there are a few guys in the shop, but, similar to Nacht's experience, they rather stay to themselves. I don't think this is the "boobs" effect, but rather there's not much room in the store for hanging out and socializing, so people treat it as a "quick stop" for comics. Get 'em and go home to read. Also, mostly these guys are college-age and up.

They've learned to recognize me when I come in, as often I'm coming home straight from work, and I don't bother to remove my motorcycle helmet when I come into the store.... :tophat
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Post by Lysistrata » Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:25 pm

I think you're onto something with the community aspect.

The "bad" shop in my town has a tiny, cramped area for comics, a HUGE cramped area for Japanese (non-Manga) imports, and a porn-shop style red curtain seperating the main area from...well, it turned out to be a subscription only LAN gaming competition area. Comics are only a small subset of what gets people in the door, though interestingly, Comics are the only thing I've heard people talk about before they shut up and stare at the floor lest I overhear they think Wolverine is in too many titles.

I asked one of the employees what games are usually played in the LAN sessions. The otherwise polite and courteous man looked at me like I'd grown another head. In a genuine "looking out for the customer" way, he actually said, "I don't think those are the kinds of games you'd like."

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Post by taekwondodo » Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:09 am

I don't have a clue what LAN games are even as a general concept, though I wouldn't be surprised if our shop has them. We go to Space Cat in San Jose - it's the original location for a small chain of the same name, apparently, and though it's a twenty minute drive it has a better selection and much better service and atmosphere than our local (2 minutes away) shop, which is more devoted to sports cards and other collectibles of that nature than comics. It's pretty spacious and well over 2/3 of the store is dedicated to gaming and things other than 'traditional' comics.

I don't get the 'oh noes, boobies!!O.o' effect so much as I get the 'kids???O.o' one, as I almost always bring all three of my girls - ages 6, 8 and 11 - with me. Eldest is a comic geek in her own right and usually has her nose in the latest TT, Ultimate X-Men, or Exiles while I browse and the other two climb on each other to reach the controls of the video games or spend their pocket money on tootsie rolls, so we tend to get some odd looks and serious avoidance from the crowd of socially inept and pimply faced teen boys who mostly populate the place.

The manager knows us, though, and is always pleasant, helpful and professional. I talk with him about the books on my pull list and he makes the occasional recommendation and over all it's generally a pleasant experience...I'm not really looking forward to finding a new shop after we move to Sacramento next month.

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Post by bluefooted » Thu Aug 18, 2005 2:40 pm

I've encountered something similar at my local shop. It's a small store and usually has a few intellectual, sensitive college-boy type customers hanging around the counter. I feel like a bit of an alien in there, but they've always been friendly and polite. I did have one funny experience in there, recently.

I was looking for the latest Runaways, but couldn't find it, so in desperation, I asked at the counter if they had it. Apparently they'd already sold out. They guy at the counter was really interested in how I'd heard about Runaways - I guess it had been selling out regularly, recently. He mentioned that they'd been getting a lot of 'mainstream women' asking about that title and he wanted to know why.
I just thought it was kind of funny and, on a sad note, I guess I'm 'mainstream' now :urg

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Post by Shadow_Dancer » Thu Aug 18, 2005 3:40 pm

We no longer have a comic book shop anywhere near me. Walden and Books-a-million have a limited supply of comics. I get funny looks when I buy comics at either store, but considering the cashiers are usually women, I think it’s more because of my age then my gender. There is a newsstand type store that carries comics, but they are usually so far behind in the issues I don’t bother to go there anymore.

When I visit my brother I go with him to his favorite store, although I don’t feel very comfortable because of the stares I get. That place is a bastion of testosterone. Every time I’ve gone, I’m the only female in the store.

So my only other real choice is mail order comic stores or ebay. I haven’t been buying each Nightcrawler as it comes out because the S&H is greater than the price of the book.
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Post by Winnowill » Fri Aug 19, 2005 5:16 am

I also ran into the problem enough that I just stopped buying comics for years. The nightcrawler series finally gave me enough of a reason to go back into the one store that we have. I noticed I got a lot more stares when I went directly from work with a dress and high heels on than I did in a t-shirt and jeans. It wasn't the teens giving me looks, but the older guys perusing the anime babe mangas. Lol, they always gave a blush and a guilty look. I don't think I've ever seen a comic shop owned by a woman.
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Post by Lysistrata » Fri Aug 19, 2005 2:25 pm

I've noticed stock is markedly different between the female friendly and unfriendly stores as well. The "good" store has copies of Persepolis, Strangers in Paradise, and Girl Genius as well as all the mainstream titles you could ever dream of. As a matter of fact, they have the new comics on three walls, none too high for those of us under 6 feet to read, and the best selling series get islands in the middle of the room. If you miss one issue of an X book, you know where to pick it up without digging through the stacks. Very, very well done as well as very, very thorough and, as I said before, very, very friendly to all customers.

At the bad store, I made the mistake of once asking if they had a copy of Persepolis. I wanted to pick one up as a gift. The clerk very politely told me no one reads books like that.

Hmm... could that be because you don't stock them? I was recommended Persepolis at the good store because I bought Y: The Last Man. They also recommended Exiles since I was buying other X-Titles. There was no judgement in any of it, just if you like X, you might enjoy Y.

If it weren't for the awful drive, the good store would get all my comic dollars. Every last penny. I love having a store I can walk into fresh from work without anyone batting an eye. I just can't handle a 2 hour (including browse time) round trip once a week. :X

Incidentally, while I appriciate a place to vent - I also want to say how happy I am to hear that while a few of us older women still get stares, it's nice to know you ladies in your 20's and under don't seem to faze people where you shop.

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Post by Bamfette » Sat Aug 20, 2005 7:10 am

Isn't it amazing how some store owners jsut know what people read without bothering to stock the books to see for themselves? this isn't jsut a female thing, but indy friendly vs. mainstream only stores. though indy stuff does tend to attract female readers...

I know a store that refuses to stock anything that is not mainstream Marvel or DC with a few of the larger Image and Dark Horse titles thrown in for good measure, they wont even stock Vertigo. but as far as i can tell, they've never even tried stocking them, because when asked they tellyou something like 'why would you want that?' or 'we don't order those books'. you know, books like that may attract a larger audience if more stores would give them half a chance and actually push them on people...

oh and that store that won't stock anything but Marvel and DC is really floundering because they refuse to stock Manga... all the stores that i know that are continuing to do well are making a point to have a decent manga selection.... i mean, it's what sells right now...

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Post by Saint Kurt » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:11 pm

Even my local Borders stocks a whole aisle of Manga. (I wish I could get into Manga - but only a few titles have ever appealed to me and even that was for a very short period of time. There's something about it that doesn't speak to me. But I digress...)

I was thinking about this thread the other day and went looking for it. It was a cool discussion. The problem in my town where I'm going to vet school is not gender bias but general idiocy vs. non idiocy. There are two comic book shops. At one comic book shop there is a big giant idiot owner who makes shopping there unpleasant for everyone. At the other comic shop are several nice helpful employees (and I think the owner too).

Where would you go? :)

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Post by Angelique » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:54 am

My experiences have generally been very, very good in my area. The one I go to that is farthest from where I live is actually owned by some old friends of my in-laws. (And they had a big old dog named Chewbacca that my kids totally loved.) Another one a bit closer, where I have a club membership, is again family-owned. And the one just a few blocks away always recruits our buddies in the 501st to troop at Free Comic Book Day, so we're all good friends. What makes it even better is that they're all rather kid-friendly establishments, so I can go, pick up the new Nightcrawler, and maybe get a FF or Teen Titans for the kids, and we all have fun.
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Post by Lysistrata » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:25 pm

A friend of mine offered me a subscription to Uncanny for the holidays. She didn't understand when I thanked her profusely but said no, no, I NEED to go to the comic shops! If you just stick with the main titles, you'll miss all the mini-series and indy titles and wacky things (like the new Tick series I discovered last month!)

She said, "you mean the stuff you're always complaining about because it costs so much money?" ;)

I love browsing the shelves. I usually just pick up the same old thing, but sometimes a cover catches my eye, or I overhear a conversation that makes me want to try a new title, or, at the Good Comic Store, I just follow the small children and see what makes them laugh so hard.

I'm not sure if reading comics is more like having a drug addiction or being in a cult.

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Post by Lysistrata » Mon Sep 19, 2005 1:38 pm

Kid Friendly Comic Moment:

I was in the Good Comic Shop, the one that all comic store owners should intern in for a season to learn How To Do It Right. A young couple came in with their absolutely adorable toddler daughter. Mom looked for the DC titles, Dad looked for the Marvel titles, and the three other kids in the store (ranged from about 6 to 9) kept trying to lure the toddler over to look at their favourite books.

We gently stepped around the kids while browsing until Adorable Toddler squealed. Everyone turned, wondering if she was hurt, only to see the most beatific smile on her little face. She had a Nightmare Before Christmas book clutched in her little arms, hugging it and murmuring incomprehensible happiness. Mom rolled her eyes and said, "Yes, honey, it's just like your dolly at home." (Several adults could be seen thinking, "I wish you were my mommy...")

Adorable Toddler wouldn't let go of the book. It was her new best friend. Mom tried reminding her they had a copy at home, but the girl wouldn't let it out of her clutches. The 9 year old grabbed his mom's hand and, in an echoing stage whisper, said, "She HAS to have it, Mom! She HAS to!" and volunteered to put one of his books back so the toddler could have her comic.

At that point, everyone in the room fished in wallets for an extra $3. If those two teamed up to use their powers for evil, they could've had every book in the store. The only thing more adorable than a toddler madly hugging a book is a boy sacrificing his allowance to keep the girl happy.

Mom and Dad bought the extra copy along with the rest of her comics. On the way out, 9 year old loudly bragged that "that girl's gonna grow up a reader!"

Really? Think so? :nodyes

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Post by Angelique » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:39 pm

Aaaaaawww! I have to go to that store, if only on the off chance of seeing something like that.
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Post by Bamfette » Mon Sep 19, 2005 9:13 pm

awww... cute story :)



and yeah, i do a lot of shelf browsing too.... that's how i discovered Y. I got it the week issue one came out, beithout hearing any of the buzz about it, it just looked... interesting. and it was ;)

... There's a new Tick series?

*runs to comic shop*

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Post by Nandireya » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:16 am

Well...I only found my local comic shop about a year ago...they'd been there a couple of months when I found them...before that I'd been getting my stuff mail (order and rarely stepped into their shop) since my previous local supplier closed down in the late 90s…but I’ve always felt welcome. Yes, I mostly see guys in there when I do see other people in there…usually I just see the owner, who tells me he actually has many female customers…and we usually get into in-depth conversations about the state of the comic world (many have become disillusioned with Marvel BTW)…but we’re all equals…
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Post by Art_Mage » Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:23 pm

Wonderful tale, Lysistrata . Wished it happened more 'round these areas. You WON'T find ANY english comic books in local stores where I'm from. Only horribly translated copies and shelves upon shelves of Hong Kong imports and Malaysian comics for which I haven't had the heart to pick up in the past nine years. The only places to get Marvel comics here are in major departmental stores (Locals have the occasional rare DC copies). Me and my little sister (She's seven) get a lot of stares (Our unbridled enthusiasm could be at fault) but none of the six-foot boundary treatment. I am not known as le 'girl who reads comics' in my campus since girls DO read comics (Japanese sugar-coated love tales and Bishoujos) but as an X-Kid since NO girls I know has ever, ever picked up a copy of X-Men.....which strikes to me as odd. :o

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