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Avril Brown Presents:






 

Ok, I’ll confess: I liked ‘Sex and the City.’

I wasn’t an obsessed fan; more like I watched the show when it was available to me, but most of the episodes I saw I enjoyed. Admittedly it’s a bit hard not to like that show if you’re a woman. ‘Sex and the City’ was specifically designed to appeal to women by presenting the dating exploits of four smart, successful, sexy Manhattan babes. You have quirky, shoe-obsessed, columnist Carrie; fierce and fiery attorney Miranda; sweet and wholesome art dealer Charlotte; and sex-in-high-heels P.R. queen Samantha. Each star is unique, making it easy for the show to get such a diverse female following. When I was walking around New York a few years ago, I saw a several mannequins on display in a clothing store modeling ‘I’m a Carrie’ or ‘I’m a Samantha’ t-shirts.

So why hasn’t an immensely popular idea like this made its way into the comic forum?

Let’s face it: comics are pretty much a boys club. When I first started collecting, I would tell my parents I was going out for a quick bike ride. I would hop on my ten speed and jaunt on over to Walgreens, pick up my books, and head on back to the house. I didn’t hide my comics; I kept them stacked on my desk in plain view. My family noticed the growing pile, put two and two together and asked why I didn’t just tell them where I was going and why. I didn’t really have a good excuse, I just had the feeling it wasn’t completely normal for a teenage girl to go out and buy comic books, so why draw attention to it? As I got older and grew more confident in my individuality, I had no problem coming out of the comic closet. In this ever-changing world in which we live, it is becoming more acceptable to be a fangirl. Hell, if you reveal yourself as a fangirl to a fanboy, he stops to check his pulse to make sure he’s still alive and not floating in the ether, living out his ultimate fantasy. The fact remains, however, there aren’t too many chicks into comic books.

But why?

I fell in love with the X-Men animated series when I was at the tender and influential age of twelve, so admittedly I struggle a bit to understand why the whole wide world isn’t as into the Marvel mutants as I. For me, it wasn’t just the fancy costumes or the kick-ass super powers the characters possessed which drew me into their world. It was the relationships formed between them. Here they are, with amazing gifts that could bring the world to its knees, and yet they still wrestled with their personal lives. Wolverine had to watch the love of his life love someone else. Rogue reluctantly kept the love of her life at arm’s length out of the fear if she didn’t, she could send him into a coma.

Love and loss, dreams and drama; that’s what hooks this female fan.

Not everyone is into superheroes, I get that. There are plenty of books out there which deal with ‘normal’ people. I couldn’t tell you any off the top of my head ‘cause hey, I don’t read those books. But that’s not why women are hesitant to pick up a comic. The problem is too often women are portrayed in comics as the way men see us, and not as we see ourselves.

A lot of people read comics to escape reality, if only for the span of twenty-two colorful pages. We want to escape into a world we enjoy. Most women don’t appreciate the way we are portrayed in many books, especially the superhero books. Women could enjoy watching the adventures of the ‘Sex and the City’ stars because they are semi-realistic ideals. Sure you still need to have the good genes, the copious amounts of cash and the motivation to spend hours at the gym, but we see proof it can be done every time they grace the television screen.

When your lead female has double D breasts, a size zero waist and pure muscle (aside from the boobs) squeezed into a skin tight Lycra suit, it’s easy to understand why comics are written off as a boys club. How is a woman supposed to care about a character when just looking at her pisses you off?

Women want to see strong (mind and body), normally-proportioned women succeed in realistic situations and relationships. Challenges and the ability to overcome those challenges is what makes a strong character, and that happens to be something most people (not just women) want to be capable of. And this is something could be easily accomplished without the aid of telepathic powers or a lasso of truth.

My sister is a police officer and has to deal with pretty damn scummy people day in and day out. How she has the patience and strength of character not to pistol whip some of these morons is beyond me (I guess that’s why she’s the one with the gun and not me). My mother taught for years at an inner city school before she married my father (her students were thrilled when she told them she was marrying James Brown), and even after having two kids still managed to keep a full time job and cook amazing meals for us nearly every single night. My grandmother left her small-town farm to get a job in Chicago during the Depression, and not only managed to find successful employment, but also met and married the love of her life. My other grandmother raised five children on an extremely modest budget while still volunteering her precious time to her church through creative projects like fashion shows.

Maybe it’s because they’re family and the four women I admire above all others, but these are inspirational stories about real women that I believe would make comic book best sellers. Get a good artist, one who draws realistic proportions, recognizable facial expressions and non-stripper clothing, and couple that with a talented, passionate author. Toss in some good networking and the possibilities could be endless.

The ideas and the talent and the vision are out there, waiting to be harnessed. Gone are the days where The Ladies Home Journal served as the primary reading source for women. With the likes of Kinsey Millhone and Stephanie Plum kicking ass in the murder mystery paperbacks, and Carrie Bradshaw telling all in a New York sex column, it won’t be long before indomitable yet flawed and believable women grace the pages of comics. The time is ripe, ladies, step on in and don’t be shy.

Just know this: intelligent and attractive women can live in other places besides Manhattan.

This column is dedicated in loving memory to

Sorrell Garfield (January 12, 1911 – March 9, 2008)

And

Rosary Brown (February 15, 1918 – November 7, 2005)

I miss you Nana and Grandma, two superheroes I had the fortune of loving.

Avril Brown





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