Nielson's survey of DC New 52 buyers was recently published and the results are either surprising or predictable depending on your stance. Only 5% of readers were new to comics, 2% were under 18 years old, and 93% were male – that's right, only 7% of those surveyed were female readers.
The survey was conducted both in stores and online (as well as with digital buying customers) and yielded just over 6000 respondents. The New 52 has largely been a success with lapsed readers, and DC's preferred target audience of males between 18-50, but has seemingly failed to bring in any new readers; something that is increasingly important in a declining market with falling sales.
A day later, the cover to World's Finest #1 was released, showcasing new looks for Power Girl and Huntress that have removed the infamous skin revealing windows in their costumes. The lack of a "boob window" in Power Girl's outfit has led to outrage from fans, decrying the "prudes" that are "ruining" comics. It's perhaps obvious that this reaction is somewhat inevitable given the statistics above, but may suggest that the failure of DC to expand its readership has less to do with content and ambition, and more to do with a failure of marketing.
DC has been announcing some big changes this week, and comic fans can't get enough of it. Love or loathe DC's new plans to somewhat reboot the DC Universe later this year, there's no denying that it's garnered them a whole lot of attention and hype.
Amongst the official announcements (everyone to start over at issue 1 again) and rumoured developments (Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl?!), there is one rumour in particular that is of great interest to geek women everywhere: all DC women are to wear trousers.
Is this a victory for feminism? Or a troubling sign of our increasingly conservative times?
Elasti-Girl had kicked the door open for women heroes to be treated as equals at DC, and with second wave feminism well under way, and a decade of sexual revolution behind them, it's no surprise that the 1970s saw more female characters than ever appearing in mainstream comics. However, Woman's Lib still wasn't taken very seriously by many writers, and several feminist characters failed to find an audience amongst the established comics audience.
Those women characters that were successful had two things in common: a passionate desire to be treated as equals, and either a care-not attitude about skimpy clothing, or downright pleasure in flashing their tits and asses. At a time when feminists were seen as "bitches", and feminism itself treated as a passing fad, a good cleavage has been described as the sugar that helped the medicine of progression go down.
"Why you little chauvinistic piglet! I thought you understood... I'm my own woman!"