That does not, I repeat, does not mean more guys drawing more superhero women with bigger chests. One of the things that has always been a side effect of comics being a largely male-dominated medium is that overt sexualization is prevalent, and so you wind up with not just entire comics series, but entire comic companies, devoted to the T&A first and the story later. In the history of comics it is no big secret that, for younger audiences in, say, the teens, sexy women were a draw because they could not buy Playboy magazine at the convenience store. We now have the Internet age where, if teens wanted to look at explicit material they could all day long and for free. Why is it that the comics medium has purportedly matured to the level of literature, and yet tight t-shirts and chain-mail bras are still in style? It has to work both ways: good art in service to good writing. Contorting the female form in unnatural ways so that men can gawk at boobs and butt at the same time is moronic. There will always be a place for the T&A set in this medium, but it doesn’t have to be a driving force, the end game. Female readership is, if not equal to male readership, certainly on the rise, as are women as comics creators. They should not be disrespected as a matter of false tradition.
So we have covered availability, issues of quality control, and doing away with some of the more stoneage aspects of the business. The last thing to cover is the toughest one the largest companies would have the hardest time attempting, if they attempted anything, and that is weaning themselves off of superheroes. Comics can be about anything. They can be Art Spiegelman telling a tale of the horrors of the Holocaust through mice, or Doug Wildey bringing back the old west, or science fiction, or detectives, or demons. That there should be three-five-or-seven books devoted solely to Wolverine or to Spider-man or to Batman speaks directly to the sense of creative bankruptcy in the profession. The will to try has been replaced by a sour cynicism that, “They’ll buy anything we stick this character on.”
In the end, that is the true problem with the industry. So much of it no longer respects the audience. They are seen as a bunch of hyperventilating day traders who buy everything, shove them into bags, and hope for a good return on investment in twenty years. If current numbers carry over, comics as an investment-grade collectable is a sucker’s bet, and you’ll be lucky to recoup cover value in twenty. So why don’t we back off on the crossovers, the variant covers, the multiple series that ring every drop of narrative blood — and then some — from a small list of characters, and the whole super thing in general…and just do good work. There is so much acceptance and goodwill for the form now; more than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Why should that all be squandered?