It is Wednesday and I finally wanted to post about the outside poll I took about women reading comics. What I did was interview 27 women about comics and their general views. I was extremely frustrated on Sunday about the lack of women I talked to who had ever read comics. I couldn't find any. I am very lucky that you folks chimed in with great answers and a whole lot of support. Thank you!
The questions I asked are as follows.
1. Have you ever read a comic book? Have any of them been super hero related? For How long?
2. What was your first awareness of super heroes?
3. What was your mother and/or father's views of comic books?
4. If you have children, what do you tell them about comic books?
5. What is your general opinion on reading comic books and the stories contained inside?
I was honored that two ladies came forward and answered the questions for me on my post. It was nice to have women who read comics answer, as they helped pull me out of a funk. It also helped because then I had two respondents who read comics. Unfortunately, the other 25 did not read comics, other then admitting to paging through their brother's books.
What was interesting is how uniform the non-readers were in their responses. I love the fact that Sheryl's mom was the comic book reader in the family. That is fantastic! The other women had mothers much like Sea_of_green. The mother in the household told their daughters from an early age that comics "were for boys". One respondent specifically remembered asking her mom about her brother's Batman collection only to be told that comics were only made for boys. She was told to find a different habit and actually began sewing her own clothes. Said female loved to draw and she ended up making intricate designs of the outfits she made. She did say that today she occasionally will doodle a Spider-Man or Wolverine picture for her son.
Back to the first question, 12 of the females questioned said that they read Archie comics, and a few specifically referred to the Josie and the Pussycats or Sabrina comics. Another reader said she read Barbie comics. Three remembered seeing Wonder Woman and other females on covers of books at the convenience store, but not much more then that. An astounding 17 women said that they read and enjoyed Nancy Drew mysteries. Nineteen women said they enjoyed books from L. Frank Baum, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Judy Blume. The majority were readers at a young age, and 15 of them read regularly today. The Harry Potter books were pretty universally popular among mothers who said they read them with their children.
To give some detail to the ladies I interviewed, the youngest was 16 and the oldest was 75. I don't know the ages of the two ladies who responded on the comments, so I will not hazard a guess. 18 of the women I interviewed were mothers. Seven of those women were grandmothers as well.
When I asked for a first awareness of super heroes, my oldest respondent said she listened to a Superman show on the radio. Six of the women watched the 1960's Batman series. Eight of the women had a friend or relative who read comic books. Five women watched the Wonder Woman television series. The other seven had answers that ranged from seeing a daily strip in the newspaper to going to a comic book movie.
Though many women said that their mothers were unsupportive or critical of their comic reading habit, 12 women said that their father was more supportive. Four women said that their brothers read comics.
Of the eighteen women I interviewed that were mothers, only Sea_of_green seems to encourage comics. Fourteen of the women felt it was a waste of money. A staggering eight of those women felt comic shops were awful and were intimidated by the stereotypical comic book reader. One woman particularly mentioned that she felt that comics were something kids read to "goof off". Of the eighteen women, all of them allowed their children some sort of gaming system and felt that was alright. Two women bragged about monitoring the games their children played while one other woman felt it helped her son's eye-hand coordination for baseball. All eighteen women felt it was okay to go to comic book movies.
For my ladies that read comics, the response to their general opinion on reading comics were as follows:
"I love reading comic books as much as reading text-only stories and I am glad to see that comics are gaining acceptance in the mainstream."
"I love 'em, and I think they're good exercise for the imagination. The larger-than-life characters represent mankind's potential, and help give us ideas to shape our futures -- just like any good science fiction or mythological tale."
One woman said "it won't get you into law school". Another said "god bless the folks that read comics. It just isn't my thing." My favorite response was this "tell the perverts that live in their mommy's basement that it is time to grow up".
The majority of respondents didn't have anything else to say. They just wished me luck with my poll and said it was "fun". I didn"t tell them why I was taking the poll until I was done as to not skew the answers. Several thought I was pulling their leg when I told them I was doing it for my blog. The inevitable question was "do you have kids" to me. When I said "no", they nodded knowingly. One lady even showed an expression of what appeared to be pity before she left.
My question after taking this poll is this:
How can we change the opinion of female non-comic readers? Is there anything particular to help? Our comic book market is shrinking, and I worry that twenty years from now the only readers will be aged 40 and up.
What do you think?