A short while ago I read a graphic novel retelling the story of Peter Pan. Neverland sounded like an interesting if not entirely original premise. Maybe not so shocking to me because I love reading Peter Pan retellings (like Never After or Tiger Lily). Even though I knew it was going to be more ‘grown-up’, more gruesome, etc., I couldn’t enjoy myself because every picture of a girl was hyper sexualized for absolutely no reason.
This is something I know I’ll encounter everywhere in graphic novels but I was surprised to see one in something that was from the YA section. It worried me because I thought those were the only ones that’d definitely be safe. And even though I love the idea of these novels, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get into them if the art continues to be so explicit and exploitative of women.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to start reading comics, too, but I feel like the girls I’ll be looking for, heroes to look up to, just won’t be there. Or, if they are, then their outfits will have me cringing and I’ll never really be able to enjoy myself. After all, how many male superheroes can you name? Female ones? How about the heroes who have the movies, the merchandise, the fanbase?
I want to read comics and graphic novels but I also want the strong, kickass female characters that have dominated the YA genre. I love reading about girls who get things done, who might fall in love with a boy but who doesn’t make that a priority. Who’ll push that guy aside to save the world or maybe just go out and save him.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Captain America and Batman. But I’d like a few great females to balance it out, please. Now that it’s more accepted to be a geek (at least, seemingly, at events like Comic Con) I’d think that there’d be more girls out there searching for things like this. I feel like I can’t be the only one. Sure, if you’re going to dress up as a superhero, if you feel great showing off a revealing costume, don’t hesitate at all. I’m just looking for more options and realism, I suppose, before I can fully commit to the medium.
What do you guys think? I know I don’t often talk about these things on the site because I don’t often read them, but it was something stuck on my mind after I browsed through a few comic books. Do you read them? Does this bother you? Have any comics or graphic novels you’d like to recommend to me? Let me know!