"Girls are clamoring for anything that comes out." —Richard Spychalski, Spy Comics and Cards
Tween girls may not buy toys, but they do buy comics — especially shojo manga-influenced floppies and graphic novels. Hot on the trend, Archie Comics revamped its “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” books last year by hiring manga artist Tania Del Rio (read: "Passing the Pencil") from TokyoPop to illustrate and author the series, which is a hit with girls 7 to 14. Early this year, VizMedia started up a new Shojo Beat brand that offers titles from Japanese publishing giants Shogakukan Inc., Shueisha Inc. and Hakusensha.
“The Japanese realized a long time ago that [girls are] a big market,” Richard Spychalski, owner of Spy Comics and Cards in Seattle, told TDmonthly Magazine. “Girls are clamoring for anything that comes out.”
Shojo manga books are directed toward a female audience and are available in mainstream bookstores as well as comic shops. Archie books are found in big-box stores, comics stores and specialty retailers. These alternatives to the male-dominated comics store have helped increase the comfort level of girls craving the titles, said retailers.
Nevertheless, Spychalski’s West Coast comics shop has a solid tween and teen girl base. Jill Thompson’s “Scary Godmother” (Sirius Entertainment) and the new “Bumperboy Loses His Marbles” (Adhouse Books) by Debbie Huey are titles that appeal to girls, he said. Younger ones go for “Power Puff Girls,” (DC Comics) “Wonder Woman,” (DC Comics) “Fantastic Four” (Marvel Comics) and anything by Archie Comics, according to shop owners across the nation.
“We get 18 million hits a month on our Web site,” Mike Silberkleit, president of Archie Comics, told TDmonthly. “About 60% of our readership is female.”
Like boys, girls love super powers. In addition to “Sabrina,” “Cardcaptor Sakura,” by the Japanese female collective known as Clamp (TokyoPop), “Mink” by Megumi Tachikawa (TokyoPop) and “Arana” by Fiona Avery (Marvel Comics) feature little girls or women who can overcome obstacles using magical powers.
Once girls hit 11 or 12, they start to emulate their big sisters, preferring titles that emphasize romance or have a gothic flair, retailers agreed. “They want to be ‘different’… just like their friends,” Chad Lundgren, manager of Lost Wonders in Milwaukee, Wis., told TDmonthly.
“Full Moon” by Arina Tenemura appeals to girls as young as eleven, said Evelyn Dubocq, director of public relations for Viz Media. Another fav is “Hopeless Savages” (Oni Press) by Jen Van Meter, Chynna Clugston-Major and Christine Norrie, said Lundgren. The gothic “Lenore” (Slave Labor Graphics) by Roman Dirge is hot with girls at Saint Mark’s Comics in New York City, noted manager Mitch Cutler, as is “Emily the Strange” (Dark Horse Comics) by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker.
Most comics exist in other media. “Sonic X,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Mew Mew Power” and “Power Puff Girls” either are or have been live-action or cartoon TV shows, to name a few. The upcoming “Kingdom of Hearts” from TokyoPop is based on the Disney videogame. Anime shows run on the Cartoon Network, Tech TV, Kids’WB!, Fox Box, and JETIX.
Silberkleit said that live-action “Betty and Veronica” and “Sabrina” movies are in the works, though he won’t yet name the studios. “Emily the Strange” creators finalized a movie deal with 20th Century Fox Animation this July. Product tie-ins abound, such as the new Mattel “Betty” and “Veronica” fashion dolls and “Emily the Strange” clothing.
“When I go to the anime conventions, it´s interesting,” said DuBoqc. “Sixty percent or more [of attendees] are female.” It’s a whole new audience for comics.
Here are a few books that will captivate tween and teen readers. Most of the titles have movie, TV, toy or other product tie-ins. Many of them are also available in graphic novel form:
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #62 by ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS INC.
Written and illustrated by Tania Del Rio, this tale revolves around Sabrina, who is a bubbly Sophomore who attends two schools — Greendale High in the Mortal realm, and Charm School in the Magic realm. In this issue, she decides to invite the new girl at Greendale, Gwen, to her slumber party, but Llandra isn´t sure Gwen can be trusted with all of their magic secrets. "Sabrina" is a favorite with girls at Pegasus Hobbies in Watertown, N.Y., said owner John Phinney.
Betty and Veronica Spectacular #72 by ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS INC.
When Betty sends out a Christmas card featuring a cute photo of herself, it´s a smash hit. So much so, that Veronica vows to outdo Betty — by creating a whole Christmas card calendar filled with Veronica photos. Though it may be hard to believe, these two young ladies have been fighting over Archie since 1941. "Archie has lasted all this time because it´s humorous and contemporary," said Mike Silberkleit, president of Archie Comics. "We have parent, grandparent and child appeal." Archie comics were the #1 top pick for girls in every comics shop surveyed. Written by Dan Parent, this comic has 32 pages.
Distributed by Diamond Comics, written and illustrated by Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges, this tale revolves around 9-year-old Amanda whose mother means well, but doesn´t have a lot of time for her. After plenty of begging from Amanda, her mom agrees to let her have a pet. Amanda chooses a ferret (and names her Peach) because ferrets aren´t ordinary and, darn it, neither is she! But when Peach starts biting her, she has to hide her new pet´s penchant from her Mom. Peach Fuzz Vol. 2 comes out in 2006. Volume #1 features a scratch-and-sniff peach-scented cover.
Card Captor Sakura is about a 10-year-old girl, Kinomoto Sakura, who has to use magic to collect cards that have escaped from a magical book. Unless Sakura can gather all of these cards, there will be a catastrophe in this world. Now fans can collect all of the full-color artwork from CLAMP featuring their favorite characters. The Art of Cardcaptor Sakura, Volume 3 contains over 128 pages featuring 100 full-color pictures from the series, most of which have never before been seen in America. Though “Card Captor Sakura” is big with young girls, it also “skews upwards,” said Lillian Diaz-Przybyl of Tokyopop. "Even young-rated titles in manga have brains to them,” she said. It is distributed by Diamond Comics and written and illustrated by Clamp.
The Micros, a mysterious miniature versions of the Girls have come to Townsville. Will they be the Powerpuffs´ new best friends, or do they have something more sinister in mind? This full-color book is 32 pages long. It’s written by Amy Keating-Rogers, Sean Carolan and Jen Moore with art by Chris Cook and Mike DeCarlo, and cover art by Phil Moy.
Akiko: The Training Master by SIRIUS ENTERTAINMENT
Written and illustrated by Mark Crilley, Akiko chronicles the 4th grader´s adventures on the planet Smoo. Along with her out-of-this-world friends (the space cowboy Spuckler, the bookish Mr. Beeba, the robot Gax and the enigmatic Poog), Akiko goes shopping for a new moon in the Farflux Dimension, saves the Prince of Smoo from the wrath of his evil kidnapper, Loza Throck, and gets stranded in modern-day Japan. Akiko is a great book for little girls because "there´s not any of the teen angst about what should I wear, or what will my friends think about me," said Sharon Olson, owner of Diversions in Biloxi, Miss.
In the wake of last month´s "Sacrifice" crossover, Wonder Woman must face the consequences of her history-making encounter with the Man of Steel. But when Checkmate gets involved, will it be to hurt Diana or help her? "Wonder Woman" is one of the favorite titles with girls at Comics and Stuff in Tupelo, Miss., said owner Vince Hester. It’s written by Greg Rucka with art by Rags Morales and Mark Propst and cover art by J.G. Jones.
Distributed by Simon & Schuster, written and illustrated by Wataru Yoshizumi, this tale revolves around cool beauty Ayu Tateishi, who has just made a new friend at school. Nina Sakura may look like a normal middle school girl, but she’s got a big secret — she’s a witch. Or, rather, she’s studying to be a witch. And, apparently, she’s not doing her homework. Her spells are devastating in their ineffectiveness and they often result in the most embarrassing situations for poor Ayu. All she needs is a simple love potion. What she gets, however, is a new best friend who almost flunked out of witch school! "Ultra Maniac" was originally serialized in Japan’s Ribon monthly manga anthology and also spawned an animated television series and anime DVD.
Tsukushi and her friend Yuki head to Canada for a snowboarding vacation for her first time abroad, but how much fun can she have with Tsukasa around and those nasty Eitoku girls in tow? Tsukushi is sent out on a wild goose chase to find Yuki in the below freezing temperatures. Who will come to her rescue? Like many Japanese manga titles, this 176 page book reads right to left, Japanese style. "Boys Over Flowers" is a popular title for tween and teen girls at the Comic Book Shop in Sprague, Wash., said owner Craig Barnett. Number 13 is the last Boys Over Flowers in this popular manga series. It’s distributed by Simon & Schuster and written and illustrated by Yoko Kamio.
Twelve-year-old Mitsuki Koyama loves singing and dreams of becoming a pop star. Unfortunately, a malignant tumor in her throat prevents her from pursuing her passion. However, her life turns around when two surprisingly fun-loving harbingers of death appear to grant Mitsuki a temporary reprieve from her illness and give her singing career a magical push. Viz Media was cited by shop owners around the country as being one of the two top-selling manga publishers. It’s distributed by Simon & Schuster and written and illustrated by Arina Tenemura.
Kidnapped by Kagura upon Naraku´s orders, Rin is tracked down by none other than his half-brother Sesshomaru. Can the two powerful brothers put aside their differences and work together long enough to defeat a common enemy? InuYasha is "extremely popular" with girls 12 and up at Lost World of Wonders in Milwaukee, Wisc., said manager Chad Lundgren, though it´s rated for older teens. "It´s huge," agreed Craig Barnett, owner of the Comic Book Shop in Sprague, Wash. It’s distributed by Simon & Schuster and written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi.
The youngest Hopeless-Savage, Zero, has developed her first crush-on the sweet, smart boy in science class. Unfortunately, the fates seem to be conspiring to keep them apart, as a series of mishaps gets her confined to her home. How can she spark a romance when someone´s taken away the matches? Richard Spychalski told TDmonthly that this title does well with girls 12 to 15 in his store, Spy Comics & Cards in Federal Way, Wash. This 136-page comic was written by Jen Van Meter and illustrated by Bryan O´Malley with cover art by Terry Dodson.
Written and illustrated by Fiona Avery, this tale is about Arana, who goes to a very dark place as the appearance of her mother´s killer awakens a thirst for vengeance. Miguel stages a magical intervention — but does Arana need protection from the killer … or from herself? This 32-page book is part three of six.
Written and illustrated by Roman Dirge, this gruesome, violent little girl with skull-shaped barrettes is nevertheless adorable. Ten of 12 reviewers gave her 5 stars on amazon.com. Girls who like Lenore end up picking up all the titles by her creator, Roman Dirge, said Peter Petruski, comics manager of the Dragon´s Den in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Written by Rob Reger and illustrated by Buzz Parker, Emily Strange is 13 years old and one bad kitty. Anti-cool, a subculture of one, and a follower of no one but herself, she is the anti-hero for the Do-It-Yourself movement. Her favorite phrase is "Get Lost!," which is both an invitation to travel to unknown places and an instruction to “take a hike!” Emily has been around for more than 10 years in book form, but Dark Horse is just now publishing these deluxe 48-page single-issues with all-new stories and art. Black, white and red, with occasional "full-color freakouts!"
Sonic #153: Songoose Part 1 by ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS INC.
Written by Karl Bollers and Illustrated by Ron Lim; Ink by Jim Amash; Cover by Sanford Green
SONIC fan favorites Karl Bollers and Ron Lim team up for another “Marvelous” adventure! Things go from bad to worse for Sonic, when Dr. Robotnik hires one of the deadliest assassins on the planet: Nack the Weasel. Sonic must race to save his old girlfriend, Mina the Mongoose. But will her new boyfriend’s jealousy put Mina and Sonic in greater danger?! Not even the combined might of the entire Freedom Fighters can stop the Nack attack! A Sonic back-up feature is included.
Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author