Watch Out, Boys

Watch Out, Boys

As a father, I earnestly hope she continues dressing exactly like this through college.

There’s this shirt my daughter loves to wear. I don’t know where it came from; I presume someone bought it with me in mind. For all I know, the comic book junk in my house has finally gotten so dense that it’s become sentient and started replicating itself in the drawers. Whatever its origin, this shirt is the first thing the kid asks about every morning. Luckily (?) we do more laundry than a hotel chain around here so she’s rarely without it.

On the shirt, it says “WATCH OUT, BOYS” as Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl smile out at the viewer. Their faces seem to say, “Watch out boys: my phone number is coming your way! Rawr!” but my daughter interprets it as, “WATCH OUT STUPID BOYS, BECAUSE I AM COMING FOR YOU WITH MY KUNG FU TELEKENESIS,” and at this stage of the game that is A-OK with Daddy.

Having seen her share of Super Hero Squad and Lego Batman on the Wii, the girl has seen plenty of boy superheroes and is fascinated and enthralled by these ladies on her shirt. Every time she puts it on, I have to retell her the story of who they are. She can’t hear it enough. She is especially taken with Wonder Woman, although she can never remember her name. (“It’s a miracle that anyone remembers her name at this point,” I start to tell her every morning before realizing that I don’t want to explain the concept of intellectual property mismanagement to a four year old.)

Every time I tell her about the heroes on her shirt, I want to find the people who made it and ask, “So… what’s next, here, O Merlins of Marketing?” They made and sold a Wonder Woman/Batgirl/Supergirl shirt to fit a four year old (well, a six year old; she’s something of an Amazon herself) and now that they’ve successfully got her undivided attention, I have nothing to point it at.

Just from a bloodless capitalist perspective, they’re not just trying to sell the shirt, right? They’re trying to extend the brand and get the kid to buy a second thing. What is that thing? It doesn’t seem to be a comic book of any kind.  Has the Supergirl toyline escaped my attention? Are there shoes?

What do you do with a little kid who loves super-ladies?

I’ve been enjoying the new Batgirl series more than I enjoyed the previous incarnation, although naturally it’ll be a while before my daughter gets a crack at it; it’s a bit more murder-y and “real life is full of horrific spinal injuries but they get better”-y than I think my particular four year old is ready to handle. I can’t help but laugh, though, when I think about the DC relaunch switching back to Barbara Gordon because “that’s the Batgirl everyone recognizes.” From where? My daughter’s t-shirt, that’s where. Just not anywhere else.

Oh, right right. That TV show that went off the air before your new target audience was born. When I talk to my teenaged nephews, all they ever talk about is, “Sure sure. Barbara Gordon. From those three episodes of that cartoon that was on channel 30 when I was learning to crawl.”  Then I remind them she was established on TV in a show from a decade before I was born, and then they say “who cares about things you can remember, seventies relic?” and then they laugh and poke me with their parents’ Lawn Darts while I cry.

Catwoman

NO THANK YOU

And I know you want to say Tiny Titans to me right now, but you’re barking up the wrong tree. The ladies on the shirt are most definitely not Tiny Titans. My daughter wants derring-do. Besides, every time I get it for her, she looks at the pages and says, “What is that, Daddy?” and I say, “Well, sweetie, that’s another DC continuity in-joke about a book from ten years ago,” and then she says, “Daddy, who is this supposed to be for?” and I say, “Sweetie, I have no goddamned idea.” (When I say “every time I get it for her,” I should mention that so far I have only done so in my imagination.)

It’s frustrating. This is yet another one of those times when I feel like I am taking someone by shoulders and saying, “I am trying to give you my money. Please, just take it,” and they’re going, “Sorry. We have nowhere to put it. Hey, does your daughter by any chance want to see Catwoman get boned?”

She does not, sirs. Not as such.

This little girl is on the hook, man. She’s not waiting for a romance comic or a manga or some diversification of the line. She doesn’t even need a new strong role model. She likes the ones you’ve got already. The pump is primed. She would love to read a Wonder Woman book, just not one where every woman who isn’t naked in the first issue is a whore that gets murdered.

There’s probably some storybook or pop-up book out there somewhere. If I’m lucky, Wonder Woman won’t just be one of eight characters in the book, the rest of whom are boys. If I’m really lucky, I’ll barely have to scour the internet for something that should be in a shop I visit every single week. While I’m looking, though, I leave you with this: comics are a medium like any other, one primarily read by adults. I’ve been coming here for more than half a decade now; I know how it works. I don’t think Catwoman should be made to ride a unicorn through the Gumdrop Forest of G Ratings. I’m not doing a follow-up to that Fox News DC story from last week. All I’m saying is that my daughter wants me to tell her a story about Batgirl, because that’s the only way she can get one. Leave as much money on the table as you want, but that’s what you’re doing.

 


Jim Mroczkowski realizes that his little girl is not representative of the entire population, but come on, that’s the entire population’s loss.

 

Comments

  1. flakbait flakbait says:

    My daughter is just over a year now, so I grabbed the “My First Wonder Woman” touch-and-feel board book for her. It’s all about WW’s pretty jewels and boots. Sigh.

    Seems like the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series would be perfect for a young girl.

    • Paradiddle Paradiddle says:

      Haha, I have 15-month-old twins and we have that one as well as a “My First Batman” book, as well. Unfortunately they haven’t shown that much interest yet. They sure love throwing my trades off the shelf and flipping through them, though. Needless to say, I’ve boxed up all the ones I don’t want destroyed and left a few cheap ones on the shelf for them to play with.

    • 8bitErin 8bitErin says:

      I got that book for my 11 month old niece and she loves it (and by loves it I mean loves chewing on the lasso and looking at herself in the mirror on the last page). I definitely did my fair share of eye rolling at most of the pages, but I’m hoping it serves it’s purpose as a jumping off point.

      I’m praying for some worthwhile female lead comics for her by the time she can read them.

  2. DaveCarr DaveCarr says:

    There’s Supergil: Cosmic Adaventures of 8th Grade, which will be suitable in a few years.

  3. sp1dey sp1dey says:

    Thank you for this article. I have a four month old girl and I haven’t even considered which comic book women I would feel comfortable with being her favorite. That’s if she cares. I do know I don’t want to hear “Look Daddy, I’m going as Ms. Marvel for Halloween. All I needed was a black bathing suit and thigh high boots.” Ugh I’m not ready for future.

  4. stuclach stuclach says:

    I’m a bit surprised she doesn’t enjoy Tiny Titans. My girls love it. That may be because they can both read (they are 5 and 7 years old). They don’t seem to have much trouble understanding what’s happening. Your little girl may start to enjoy it when she starts reading.

    As for girls in action, my girls still love Powerpuff Girls. They are girls who do “girly” stuff, but they also kick ass.

    They also REALLY liked the Supergirl strips from Wednesday Comics.

    You might also consider hunting down some Kitty Pryde books that are age appropriate. My 5 year old thinks she’s the coolest thing on the planet. I’ve found a few that I can show them parts of (Astonishing X-men), but I’m not aware of any that I would be willing to let her read on her own. However, I’m not even remotely an X-pert, so there may be some age appropriate books featuring Kitty that someone else could point out.

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      Your Kitty Pryde comment reminded me of Wolverine: First Class. I didn’t really read it but from what i recall it was basically an all ages Kitty Pryde book and not really centered around Wolverine. It may be a good series for young girls as well

    • stuclach stuclach says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll look for that.

  5. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    Your best bet for Wonder Woman is probably the direct to DVD animated movie that came out two years ago, or was it last year?

  6. Maty. Maty. says:

    I broke my first twin bed playing WW in 2nd or 3rd grade. My brothers and I were very heavily into ‘Super Friends’ and ‘Challenge of the Super Friends’. Couldn’t recommend those more highly for a young one such as yours.

  7. KillTheG1mp KillTheG1mp says:

    I’ve watched Hellraiser when I was four years old and it didn’t ruin my life nor turned me into a psychopath who wants to put nails in his head…

    Violence and sex are a part of life, I’m not saying every kid should watch violent movies or sexy times or whatever, just that wanting to protect our younglings from the outside world is irrelevant, sooner or later they’ll realize how it really is out there and that innocence is just bullshit.

    Now what is needed here, is parental guidance. When I watched Hellraiser, my mother explained clearly to me that it was just a movie (so it wasn’t real), it was only makeup and it was just normal people under all those special FX.

    The five year old cousin of my wife is head over heels into Star Wars which is violent and has creepy creatures and it doesn’t make him violent, it makes him a damn cool kid who can hum the Emperor’s March tune to the note on demand!!! Same goes with Spider-Man, which he also discovered recently… Those things are what little boys his age love. It’s n-o-r-m-a-l!

    I think that we, as a society, over protects our children for nothing.

    Though the final decisions are yours, it’s your kid. I know mine (if I ever get any) will be allowed to watch those movies, read my comics and if he asks why the Joker killed those innocent bystanders, I’ll explain it to him and answer all his questions.

    PS: This is MY opinion, you can disagree with me, please be respectful if you reply to my comment.

    • stuclach stuclach says:

      Jimski should simply hand his 4 year old daughter a copy of Animal Man. I’m certain she’ll love the little girl in that book.

      Problem solved!

    • KillTheG1mp KillTheG1mp says:

      LOL, it’s not what I’m saying dude. But you know, we could watch Batman: The Animated Series and might even enjoy it. I was born in 1985, so I grew up on that show and yes I watched the Power Rangers and liked Ghostbusters like a freak and I harassed my mother to go see Jurassic Park at the theater when it came out cause I was a huge freak about dinosaurs back then.

      I was a little older than four, but you get my point. It hasn’t fucked me up or traumatized me like a lot of parents are scared for for their children… Overprotection isn’t always a good thing, you know.

      It’s like restraining your five year old son to play with barbies cause you’re afraid he’ll end up gay like his uncle Tony…

      Maybe things are different in the states (and I guess creationists extremists wouldn’t help about that), but here in Canada and especially in Québec where I’m from and where I live, we’re much more relaxed about all that.

      I mean it’s okay to have a birth on TV playing at lunch time (and I’ve seen that), with a stretched out vagina, gazillion liters of blood but if a kid browse through an issue of Catwoman, people flip out and lash out at the source…

      See what I mean?

    • stuclach stuclach says:

      I understand your basic point. I do agree that it may be good to expose children to more mature material, but it is very hard to test that theory on your own children. It is certainly every parent’s right (and responsibility) to decide which of those things his/her child should be exposed to.

      However, as an creationist extremist, I’m very offended by everything you posted (and practically everything else on the internet.)

    • I think the author has two different complaints about the current market, neither of which are easily solved:

      1. There aren’t enough female led titles for younger audiences, yet there are several featuring male characters

      2. The alternatives (giving his child material intended for adults that still features women) are also limited

      This young girl wants to see her idols featured, while dad doesn’t want to sacrifice quality / a good message. You can pick up a Superman or Batman title that doesn’t begin and end with T&A…not the case if your daughter idolizes Catwoman. Wonder Woman is a well written book that has very adult themes that even if dad wanted to overlook and hand to his daughter, she would probably have little interest in the heavy mythology currently being explored. And Batgirl may be tame in comparison to the previously mentioned books, but again, it’s kind of leaps and bounds beyond the reading level / interest of a 4 year old.

      My parents had no restrictions whatsover on the content I consumed as a child. I saw Aliens 3 in theaters when I was 6 years old (even then I knew that movie was terrible). My point being that I simply had no interest in reading comics till I was 14. It was only then that I began to see characters and stories that reflected my own interests that I started picking them up. If there had been a kick ass childrens-targeted book being published before then I might have begun reading comics a lot earlier. It’s really hard to recommend titles for children these days if they want to read something besides Archie. Lets not forget, girls aren’t the only ones that would read books featuring these characters either. I know a few boys that would love to see Wonder Woman or Catwoman slug it out with the baddies.

  8. AriesDog AriesDog says:

    Watch this Wonder Woman spot on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Repeat.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyKXBxK82LE&feature=player_embedded

  9. AriesDog AriesDog says:

    Also, Warner Bros. did release the Lynda Carter series on DVD. Those still hold up as a kids show.

  10. Jeff Reid Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    Well, there’s this I Am Wonder Woman easy reader book in print and… well… that’s about it. Yikes. That is awful.

  11. ChuckNYC ChuckNYC says:

    I seem to be pushing this book wherever I go but it fits the bill. It isn’t DC superheroes but it is empowering for young girls and a hell of a lot of fun. It’s called Princeless put out by Action Labs/Firetower Studios. It’s gotten great reviews all over the web (including my site)

    If your local shop doesn’t have it I’m sure they can get it. http://pulllist.comixology.com/powerSearch/?search_query=princeless&f=all&s=titles_asc

  12. burleson33 says:

    Great timing on the artice. My 2 year old is into wonder woman too. She just started to watch the justice league series and loves the episodes “kid stuff” and “this litte piggy”. She dosen’t care for the strait episodes yet but loves the farses. Like you I’m very disaponted at what is avalible in the shop and also toy lines that are avalible for the women heros. I want to give them money but they don’t have products that would work!

  13. MrSethypants MrSethypants says:

    oh god. another one of these kinda posts. If you hadnt realise, kids are not buying comics anymore. Why bring Catwoman inside when she is obviously not the demography for kids.
    Like you said, its supergirl, batgirl and wonder woman on your kid’s t shirt. FFS.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      Dude, I think you’re kinda missing the point of the post or you are proving Jimski’s point exactly. The problem is there aren’t any comics for young girls and that is a large reason why that demographic does not exist. No, Catwoman is not for kids right now, but that isn’t the complaint. The complaint is that there is a demographic out there that the comic industry is completely ignoring and in this business that is just a missed opportunity.

  14. Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

    Interesting timing. A couple of weeks ago, I was reading my 2 and a half year old daughter a Disney Princess book her grandma got her, that has her name (and some of her friends’ names in it). You know, one of those personalized books. The whole thing is about planning weddings for each princess, basically. Sure, I read her other things, like Seuss and such, and even a couple of Superhero books, but this has her name in it and she really likes it. But it hurts me to read it to her, it’s so bad. Anyway, I actually turned to Twitter where I asked your very own Ali about recommendations for Wonder Woman books for young kids. She pointed me toward Wonder Woman: The Story of the Amazon Princess by Ralph Cosentino, which I was just getting ready to order from Amazon.

  15. Honestly, I think at least the current Supergirl book would fit pretty well for a younger reader. Maybe not FOUR years-old, but a year or two from now, sure. Batgirl would be a little older than that, with the first sequence in the first issue and the panel showing a pivotal moment from The Killing Joke. Wonder Woman…yeah, that’s more for the teens, probably.

    Also, they are going to be doing those Super Best Friends Forever thing with most of the three characters (I think they might be doing Wonder Girl instead of Wonder Woman), so I’m sure they’re going to have merchandise for that along with the shorts.

  16. ed209AF ed209AF says:

    It is sad, but it’s just not the market anymore. but there are plenty of those showcase collections and archive editions featuring the golden/silver age stuff.

    • glennsim says:

      Seconded. I have a little nephew who is really in to World War II/military stuff, so I got him a Showcase Presents Our Army At War, and he ate it up.

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      My nieces are getting to the age where they might check out comics if i gave it to them (coincidentally I’m getting to the age where my parents don’t put my name on x-mas/birthday presents for other people anymore). I think I’m going to try to get the oldest one into some Amanda Conner stuff, maybe (shes 13).

  17. flakbait flakbait says:

    I know Polly Pockets came out with Supergirl and Batgirl figures, if you can find them.

  18. Ali Colluccio Ali Colluccio (@WonderAli) says:

    What Gerry said :) Wonder Woman – The Story of the Amazon Princess is AWESOME. It’s a cute, fun book your daughter can read (on her own, if she wanted). I love it to pieces and wish there were more books like this.
    http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Story-Amazon-Princess/dp/0670062561/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1327343698&sr=8-4

    Continuity jokes aside, Tiny Titans has plenty that she’ll love; Batgirl and Supergirl make regular appearances. And Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures of the Eighth Grade was pretty great for girls. I still watch Power Puff Girls every once in a while. But to Jimski’s point, books (and cartoons) like that are few and far between.

    As a kid growing up, I watched a lot of “boy” shows and always liked the girl characters – I watched Super Friends to see Wonder Woman, He-Man for Teela (until She-Ra came out), and ThunderCats for Cheetara (G.I. Joe was always just ending when I got home from school, but I’m sure I would have LOVED Scarlet). But that’s really all I had. It’s kind of sad that there are still so few options for girls who like superheroes.

  19. Flash923 Flash923 says:

    Well truth be told my daughter who is now almost 18 has loved super heroes since she was able to sit in front of the TV and then more so when she could read comics. I bought her comics that were suited for her age and she watched the super hero cartoons that are more appropiate for her age. I had no problems with her when it came to this and now she is older and thinks back of those days and really looks at them fondly. Now she has matured like most of us and she still reads comics and does have some thoughts to what is right or wrong however; understands age groups and some comics are for some people and some are for others as well as having ones own tastes when it comes to comics. The age thing she told me straight out is up to the parents to edit as I did when she was growing up. You can still get those old wondeful kiddie cartoons pretty much anywhere. We still go back and watch a teen titans or old Super Freinds cartoon and laugh at its simplicity and how back then it was so exciting. Well DC has some of the most loved characters in all of comics and I know times are a changing and they have been way behind the rest when it came to more modern adult situations but now they are catching up and the people are mixed. I for one enjoy the NEW 52 and there are some books my daughter enjoys and there are others she thinks are to sexist and even over the top violent however there are many with some great stories and action. I think I got my point accross…….

    Maybe DC will come out with more kiddie books in the future.?

    K

  20. I don’t have kids, so the best i could do is give my niece Bone vol.1 trade for her birthday. I think I made a good choice.

    As far as what’s proper reading material for kids: Warren Ellis once wrote how he gave his daughter (11 or 12 yrs. old?) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen collection which she loved and devoured. I’m not saying Ellis is best father of the year example, yet his point in relating this personal tidbit was to emphasize the allowance for his child to read whatever she wants/ enjoys and make decisions for herself.

  21. player1 player1 says:

    Jimski,

    Well done. I was expecting tis to be more hyperbolic, but your point is well made.

    While I can’t speak directly to DC books, Marvel put out some All-Ages material recently that your daughter may enjoy. My store has an All-Ages section, and they keep stuff like the recent Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, Beta Ray Bill and Power Pack and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes available in digest-sized trades.

    Speaking of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, I think the cartoon would be appropriate. For that matter, I think that the way to go with DC is the DCAU, instead of the DCnu, for All-Ages material. I haven’t seen the Wonder Woman OVA yet, or watched too much JLU, but the early 90′s Superman and Batman series and the current Brave and the Bold series should be age-appropriate.

    Weren’t there Bruce Timm-esque books for most of the TV series? Huh.

    They’re missing an opportunity to do a Wonder Woman/Batgirl/Supergirl Warner Premiere animated feature and follow it up with TV series for young girls, that’s definite. They could even name it “Watch Out, Boys!” and market it to everyone from young girls to grown women who enjoy a less gritty cartoon to anybody who enjoys good animation.

    As for age-appropriate strong female role models, I’d look to Nancy, Little Lulu, Harvey comics, Archie comics, old Wonder Woman comics (Gail Simone’s run, maybe?), Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, uhh… hrm.

    Ladies?

  22. Dr.Casanova says:

    Hell, do what i and many other people have done. If what you need or want doesn’t exist or is unavailable, then make it yourself. But as a fan, i am disheartened that comics haven’t been available to kids. For a medium that gives a lot of people joy, it sure is exclusive, kids feel left out, girls feel left out, and at the same time people are embracing it superficially while simultaneously excluding themselves.
    Why is it that only a few people should enjoy comics and their characters?
    Your little girl should be able to read batgirl, wonder woman, and supergirl.

    Hell, i’m dreading the day my kid comes up to me asking the same thing. Yet, i probably will just write and draw material just for her (i make comics in my spare time) because it might not exist when the time comes. For everybody else, that is just not fair. It’s not like there isn’t a way to sell comics to kids. Some of my first comic purchases were reprints at a school book fair and through scholastic catalogs handed out in class. Where there is a will there is a way.

  23. PotatoPope PotatoPope says:

    I think this issue is one of the big mistakes Marvel and DC have done. They make very kid friendly TV shows while making very un-kid friendly comics, starring the same characters.

    Once they break they age of 12, give them free reign to pick and choose any teen rating books. My cousin’s kid at 12 read the HUSH trades, if they like that stuff really the only thing you might want to censor is Mature rated books.

    • jason1749 jason1749 says:

      DC has kids comics that directly tie-in to the series. My boys love the Brave and the Bold comic and it’s a shame it’s almost over but hopefully there will be a new Batman series to tie into the cartoon coming this Summer. It is too bad there hasn’t been a Marvel comic to tie into the Avengers cartoon other than a four issue mini.

  24. jason1749 jason1749 says:

    Definitely recommend you give Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade a try. It’s an excellent comic that my 8 year-old son loved and I thought was great. The Wonder Woman Showcase volumes would be good and there’s going to be a collection of the 12 Labors of Wonder Woman from the 1970′s that would probably be a hoot for kids.

  25. Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

    You might find some joy here:

    http://dckids.kidswb.com/

  26. My niece is 7 and a few years back we got her a Supergirl t-shirt at gap kids…has the logo and its pink. She loves it. Me and her Dad would run around the yard playing Supergirl and bad guys.(We’re the bad guys) and she always defeats us with her super powers. Endless fun. She even likes to be picked up and “flown around” while screaming “SUPPAAGUUUHHHLLL!!!” she’s on the hook, but there are no comics for her.

    She LOVES the Disney princess line and Kung Fu Panda and everything Pixar…i wish there was a girls superhero comic written for THAT market. Princesses is only one of Disney’s top 5 product lines….

    The current supergirl might be ok for her as a preteen, but not as a 7 yr old. She just wants good guys fights bad guys right now. I don’t know why its so difficult for publishers to do this.

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      I’ve been struggling against the Disney Princess tidal wave for my daughter’s entire 2 and a half years. It would be fine in balance, but the rest of the family insists on it. So, I do get her boys shirts and things. She has a pretty sweet Batman shirt. You’d think with all the attention given to how “girls love comics too” in the past couple of years, there would be more stuff out there for younger girls.

    • I can tell you why she loves Supergirl so much. The character has “girl” in the title….gets to jump and fly around and has whatever super power she can think of. its a perfect character for a little kid. The superpowers she comes up with are really creative. “ok now i’m going to use my super running to make you tired and fall down!” Its so high concept its amazing. =)

    • Smasher says:

      Did I hear someone say a Marvel Girl reboot?

      Seriously… the best case scenario to come out of this summer’s AvX is that Hope becomes Marvel Girl. Best Best case would be that they then turn her story into a Disney movie. Granted the story would be “Disney-ified” but it could work.

  27. Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

    The problem is, and it’s not just this it’s all over the place, the argument is flawed. I see it a lot, this notion worded as “Just from a capitalist view point, man, make and I’ll give you my money, do you not like money, man?!?!?”

    But, purely from a capitalist, excuse me, “bloodless” capitalist perspective (because everyone knows if you make a product someone can buy willingly of their own choice you are a monster with blood dripping off your well used fangs), just because you or even 100 people want something doesn’t make it a viable product. Just the other day I was thinking “I wish someone would make that thing, I’d buy that in a second!” but I realized that it was a very niche product and would make no sense for someone to invest tons of money and time so they could sell 5 of them…

    What I am saying is I don’t buy the argument that DC or Marvel are stupid for not making superhero comics geared toward little girls, because IF a large market existed that wanted to buy such a thing, then DC and Marvel would already be making them!

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      You make a valid point. Except, DC and Marvel, like any company, are wrong about a lot of things. I happen to think this is one of them. As Jim points out, it’s an investment towards new readers, which is the only thing that is going to sustain them in the future. On the hand, who’s to say they aren’t developing more material to fit this market as we speak (type/read)? It’s entirely possible. Here’s something I thought of over the weekend. The Disney Princesses (yeah, I don’t shut up about it, but whatever, they haunt me, ok?) are extremely popular. Wonder Woman is a princess. Why doesn’t DC put something out for young girls, positioning Wonder Woman as a princess that kicks ass? It just seems like a no brainer to me. Do kids know who Wonder Woman is right now? No. But they don’t know anything until you show it to them. Maybe it is a niche, but Comics are niche. Comic merchandising is probably less of a niche, however (I could be wrong about this).

    • Maty. Maty. says:

      But, will a child read a comic these days, I mean, the general 1st, 2nd or 3rd grader? Would it have to be digital in form, or are they only going to watch a cartoon on the television? I’m pretty sure I watched cartoons before reading comics- is the moving picture the bait and the published book the hook?

    • Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

      Same here. At least for me the X-men, Batman cartoons of my youth were awesome, but it didn’t translate to wanting comics at that age, what did I need those for I had the cartoons already!! However I became a new reader in my very late 20′s so… I don’t know, it’s a tough question. I also don’t buy that a girl by default needs a “girl” comic. I dunno, it’s difficult and I’m sure both marvel and DC wrestle with it. But I don’t think it’s as easy as Make a wonder woman comic for very young girls = make money.

    • Smasher says:

      But Jim think of the fond memories you make crafting and telling your daughter those Batgirl stories you create for her.
      Plus the money you save buying comics for her can go to your stack :-)

    • @matty–my 7 yr old niece MUCH prefers touchscreens and interactive things. She likes her books too, but i’ve found that her attention is kept a bit better with the screens and things that have “added fun” built in. (touchscreen behaviors, moving and sliding of screens and so on.) I mean she was navigating the netflix streaming interface and choosing movies by herself at 5 yrs old. Interacting with media through a digital interface is normal for her generation…Enders Game stuff! haha

      I’d argue the interface is the bait, the story and graphics are the hook. The printed booklet, isn’t really in that conversation.

    • Maty. Maty. says:

      @wally- It’s weird to see such a switch, the one from printed matter to ones and zeroes and pixels. I guess I just have a hard time with it, because it always begs the question- what about ‘craft’? Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and Corel and all of the digital illustration programs have really vanilla-ed up the design trades- I mean, you can tell which books have been mostly digitally generated.
      But that’s ancillary- I guess any way you can get kids to read is important- my parents have raised three absolutely voracious readers- I tuck into at least 6 or 7 comics a week, plus a trade or two, then there’s at least a paperback or tow throw into the mix. By the by, is the OSC Bean novel any good?

    • @matty–oh i hear you. I work in the design/advertising biz and i can tell you that Adobe is the greatest/worst thing to happen to commercial art.However, there is as much craft in the skills that a Jedi Level photoshop ninja has as there is in an old skool sign painter or airbrush artist. I think you are talking more about a digital aesthetic, where the hand of the digital tools takes the front stage and takes focus from the art. I see that all the time and hate it (let go of the gradients!!!) as well. Its getting out of hand in comics especially in colors and letters.

      I’m not sure how old you are, but you sound like you’re from around the same generation as me. I remember life before the internet, cell phones, twitter, HD….crap i used to mess with rabbit ears to watch my cartoons. I feel live i’ve lived in two centuries. It must have been what my dad felt like when he first saw color TV.

    • Maty. Maty. says:

      @wally_ oh yeah- not to denigrate, digital is an entirely legitimate tool- but like you said, it does become the message sometimes.
      Rabbit ears! Remember UHF television stations? V66, 56 with the Creature Double Feature? or, more on topic…..Rubylith?

  28. montereybob says:

    Speaking as a father of a daughter (now 12) I’ve immersed in comics over the years — at 4 years old Tiny Titans and Young Justice are two of your best bets. They’ll be plenty of opportunity for the more “mature” female comic icons as she gets older.

  29. Maty. Maty. says:

    Anyone remember X-Babies ?

    • When Mojo turned the X-Men into little kids in X-Men Annual 10? That’s only the best comic EVER! And I know they had some spin offs where he created new X-babies to try to recreate the magic, but they would always just run wild and be out of control. You know, like actual kids.

  30. Can we get this article into the hands of the people at DC and Marvel, like, NOW!?!?!

    Here is another problem along the same lines. My 9 year old niece decided she wanted to read some comics. she spends a lot of time with my father so naturally she said “Grandpa, I want to get some comic books.” So my father took her out to get comics……. AND THEY COULDN’T FIND ANY!

    How are kids supposed to get into comics if they never see them? When i was young, yeah I went to comic shops. But I also bought a whole bunch of comics at 7-11 or the local newsstand or supermarkets, too. Maybe part of the reason comics don’t sell that well is because nobody knows where to find them?

  31. stevetwo stevetwo says:

    Jim, I don’t know if you have these books or want to go to the trouble of acquiring them, but the ’70s stories of Supergirl and WW were pretty non-controversial. Of course, they were also mediocre, but they had the swashbuckling type of adventures without sex and gore that you’re looking for. Batgirl was dealing with political issues and labor schemes, and her art wasn’t that easy on the eyes.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      this was my response. back issue bin diving is a perfect solution. thousands of stories stamped with the comic’s code. SOME may be mediocre, but i didnt complain about that back then. I WAS 4 YEARS OLD.
      just avoid the 50′s books where characters like wonderwoman would bake cookies for the boys on the team. then we would be taking steps backward.
      most 70′s and 80′s comics are awesome for all ages. it also might be fun to revisit or discover stories from your youth to share with your children. good quality time well spent

  32. Cormac Cormac says:

    Hah, had exactly that reaction to Tiny Titans myself. My daughter was drawn to the style but (accustomed as I am to butchering the text with my dramatic readings in the interest of serving the target audience….) I just couldn’t get around all those stupid in-jokes. Robin trying to be stealthy and slipping on a banana peel is funny to a kid. Trigon coming in to teach the class is entirely dependent on your knowledge that he is Raven’s dad and thus a total non sequitur to a kid. But of course, she sees the big monster and wants to know what he is! What do you tell them? Mad god from another dimension that wants to ravage earth and eat our souls forever?

    It’s frustrating as a parent, ’cause when a kid gets it into their head that they want to know about THIS you have to tell them SOMETHING.

    The Batman/Superman Adventures have been far more successful with mine, and the animated stuff. Particularly Brave and the Bold – plenty of female characters get star turns there.

  33. EvilGuy says:

    I can’t get through all of these comments in the limited time I have before the workday begins; however, this was too relevant a post to let go without a remark or two.

    I’m the father (and evil overlord to) twins (minions), one boy and one girl. They’re five. I can tell you honestly that they both love superheroes, but my little girl loves them more. She loves any toys we manage to scrounge for her, any dress up capes or WW tiaras and bracelets, and she’s my personal cheerleader when I play DC Universe Online. She knows most of the DC characters, and a great many of the Marvels as well.

    Not only is it difficult to find a comic book to read to her that won’t get us into Very Special Talks over and over in the course of 22 pages, but there is very, very limited merchandise in general. I spent four days at NYCC this past year, and through it all I was looking for Wonder Woman items to bring home that she would love. What did I find? On the very last day, in the very last hour, I found a black t-shirt in nearly the right size with a gold WW logo on it. Oh, and numerous half naked Star Saphire Wonder Woman figures that stayed where I found them. No Batgirl (aside from the Legends figure – wrong size, per my daughter’s comments), Catwoman, Power Girl, Huntress, Black Canary, Ms. Marvel, Wasp, She-Hulk, or any other items were found either – unless they were provocatively posed or dressed.

    By Christmas we were desperate (Christmas for a 5 year old is SPECIAL, don’t you know, there’s no explaining how Santa didn’t get the letter or thought she’d prefer a tea set over an invisible jet), and turned to eBay. Sure, this is a budget blowing turn of events, but we did end up with some great stuff. I wouldn’t consider this a success on the part of DC’s Marketing, though, but rather an underscored failure that lined the pockets of some small time merchants.

    We did manage to find this, though, which I can’t recommend strongly enough: http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Story-Amazon-Princess/dp/0670062561/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327414123&sr=1-5 – it is brilliantly drawn, and well worded. Both of the kids love it.

    With the groundswell over the last year or so regarding the portrayal of women in comics, the lack of female creators, etc. I think you hit on something here that isn’t discussed enough. Little girls love superheroes too, and they could be equal partners in readership tomorrow if only the Big Two were willing to reach out to them today.

    Daddy’s little girl, after all, loves the things Daddy loves, doesn’t she?

    • Smasher says:

      What’s wrong with the Showcase Wonder Woman books? They’re cheap, big, and in black n’ white. One of those and a box of crayons – sounds like a nice surprise present for a rainy day or sick day from school.

    • EvilGuy says:

      So you’re saying there is no need to serve this audience with anything other than reprints from the 50′s and 60′s? That my kids will understand the context and sometimes sexist attitudes that pervade the story telling of that time, particularly in Wonder Woman comics? Or that I need to buy her black and white comics, and pitch that as a plus because she can color them?

      I don’t think you really considered your remarks fully.

      The kids want comics like Daddy picks up on Wednesday. Full color, 20 or so pages, just like Daddy gets. They both tell me Wonder Woman is their favorite, with Batman and Superman and Batgirl and Spider-man and Super Girl bringing up the back of the pack of favorites. They’re disapointed when I say that those comics aren’t really for them (though sometimes I can hand them Supes or Spidey, but even those I would rather read first just to be sure).

      My kids’ first experience with comics has been that they’re excluded from most of what is on the stands. In particular, the titles for girls are lacking; see the majority of these other comments as alternate testimony if my experience doesn’t stand on its own for you.

  34. I clicked on this article because Catwoman is pictured, and I’d just like to say “leave Catwoman alone!”. =P Whether its Fox news, this article on the subject of little girls, everyone everywhere is hilariously lashing out against Catwoman. It’s a relatively tame title for teens and adults. I guess because DC has had a family image back in the day, people just can’t stop applying family values and such, but it seems so weird to me.

    I mean, Catwoman, yes its a DC comic related to Batman. Okay, but to illustrate just how odd this all is, we might as well be seeing articles on if Vampirella or Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose are okay for your little kids.

    Sweet Christmas, not every character is supposed to be a role model, let art breathe.

    • Anyways, I can see where you’re coming from, and sure pointing out Batgirl and comics in general are aimed at a much older audience than your daughter is a point to talk about. Including Catwoman is just erroneous. “Catwoman had sex, no thank you”, I could probably write an essay on how strange this is to me. Well, plus you phrased it as her “getting boned”, ha I could probably right a paragraph on that but this article is for the kids sake, not about sex, but I’d just like to point out she was in the driver’s seat. The way your phrased it seemed intentionally to make it seem…. all right moving on.

      Long story short, sure it makes sense that you wish there was more comics for your kid, but using adult entertainment and a title that’s already zanily criticized for its PG-13 content only weakens your article.

  35. NawfalQ NawfalQ says:

    “For all I know, the comic book junk in my house has finally gotten so dense that it’s become sentient and started replicating itself in the drawers.”

    HOWL!!! LOLOLOL

  36. Timmy Wood Timmy Wood (@TimmyWood) says:

    Happy I am not the only one who likes current Batgirl more than it’s predecessor.

  37. kennyg kennyg says:

    Why not invest in some DVDs of the old Batman TV series from the 60′s, with special emphasis on the Batgirl episodes? The Justice League toons from Cartoon Network would be great too. On Amazon, you can buy some episodes of shows individually, so you could just get the ones you want.

  38. SmoManCometh SmoManCometh says:

    When I was a kid and loving comics in the 90s Invisible Woman had a hole cut in the four on her chest and the team had giant laser guns. I didn’t want this. I dug up back issues where characters had classic costumes and used their powers instead of acting X-Force light. My point is, I wasn’t really aware of what turned me off about modern books, but I still looked for comics I would enjoy and only read those. You don’t have to buy your daughter modern books. Buy her Batgirl: year one or books to that effect. When she’s older and wants more nuance, she’ll find it.

  39. player1 player1 says:
  40. Agent Spanky says:

    I’ve got a ten year old daughter and she’s a prolific reader of everything. She’s just finished her last Roald Dahl book and I’ve been digging out old comics to get in front of her as quick as possible, I’ve just ordered Luke Pearson’s Hildafolk books that I think she’ll love.

    I’ve basically been just throwing comics at her to see what she likes, but she’s taken a real shine to the Cassandra Cain Batgirl run, she loves the character, even more so when she’s teamed up with Spoiler every few issues. She’s very girl power orientated so anything that shows the girls kicking butt and making the boys look bad she loves. She especially enjoyed the Batman Superman Apocalypse DC movie as well.

  41. Delzoup says:

    I’m not sure about comics, but how about the webtoon Gotham Girls? They’re all easily accessed from the wiki.

    A small confession; Growing up I preferred manga, where I had no problem finding many female characters written and drawn by female authors. I traded with my gothy friend, and so came to like Sandman, Nny the homocidal maniac, Lenore, etc. and later my ex-husband liked Warren Elllis, Alan Moore and Frank Miller, so I read some of their works. And generally speaking, I did watch the Justice League and Batman movies and in general I know who people are.

    But when I read to my son, I read manga like Fairy Tail or Naruto, which is aimed at young boys. It’s the genre I know best, where I can be fairly confident I will find a story he and I can both enjoy, without too much adult content. (Although my ex started him on Tiny Titans, which I enjoy with him–as I am the parents who reads with him.) It’s not like he won’t have other exposure to DC/Marvel/Darkhorse stuff growing up. But at a young age kids like what their parents expose them to–my son also enjoys Star Wars because I played LEGO Star Wars with him–both the video game and the toys. I liked Star Wars because my parents liked Star Wars, and we’d watch the movies.

    I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this other than I think it’s sad for DC; A dad who material as is interested and knowledgeable about DC comics wants to share them with his daughter, but has found little age appropriate material to share with her. And there’s me, who is a mother who is not as interested in DC because there was either little comics that were marketed for me (either I was unware of them or even made), so while there’s probably tons of stuff made for my son to enjoy, I have little knowledge or inclination to find which titles are appropriate for him to buy. By neglecting girls there’s the chance that they will loose more than just girl readers.

    • That’s one thing I’ve found with a lot of female comics readers. They read (past and present tense) mostly manga precisely because they actually involve women! Hell, I think the richest woman in Japan is a manga publisher (I forget who).

      That proves to me that there IS a market outside of the 18-34 male demographic that the Big 2 and most DMs pander to. They’re leaving money on the table and their futures in the air!

  42. I’ve been into comics since Marc Silvestri was drawing X-Men (I’m “old” by some standards) and I still find it funny when people say things like “super heroes just aren’t for kids”…as though wearing tights and fighting crime is an adult thing.

    Give the kids back their heroes! It’s not like we’re doing anything new or interesting with the majority of them! It’s not like the Big 2 have an aversion to over-saturating the market with duplicate titles anyway. Take 3 of the 15 Batman titles and gear them towards different ages. Then ACTUALLY MARKET THE STUFF! They have cartoons. Make a pseudo-commercial before the actual commercial break. Then put the damn things in apps and online! The kids get their toys back and the comic book companies have new patrons to patronize with rehashes of rehashes of old stories!

  43. Another female centric comic that I think might be suitable for younger kids (I don’t have one so I won’t presume to know) would be a French series called “Wake” starring a girl named “Navis” living among aliens.

    There are a few “adult” things that happen but nothing terribly bad from what I’ve read. It’s a very engaging and well written series…and REALLY hard to find.

    If you can find copies of it then that might be worth checking out.

  44. Margaret says:

    I actually wrote an article (http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=2069) discussing a number of recent and current kid-friendly comics not long ago for the feminist comics and pop culture webzine *Sequential Tart* (www.sequentialtart.com). I’m afraid none of the titles I talked about really involve Wonder Woman, Supergirl, or Batgirl, although I’m pretty sure the pre-New 52 junior high school-age version of Wonder Girl does appear in some of the 1990′s “Young Justice” reprints DC released several giant-sized one-shots of in 2011. Besides “Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man” and “Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes” (which is currently a kid-friendly Avengers title, though there are some older trade paperbacks of it collecting stories focused on the Fantastic Four and the Hulk), the other main kid-friendly superhero title I’d recommend that’s still being published is Aaron Williams’ “ps238″ (Do Gooder Press). This is about a so-called school for metaprodigies (ranging from mutants and aliens to the offspring of superheroes and villains), located in a secret installation underneath a regular public school in an ordinary Midwestern town. (After a morning of magical studies with extradimensional sorceress–and guidance counselor–Vashti Imperia and gym class taught by a coach who closely resembles the Thing, the metahuman students go upstairs and mingle with the regular kids–including one conspiracy theorist who thinks he’s in an episode of “The X-Files”–at recess.) “Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors,” which I didn’t discuss in the article, is a somewhat similar kid-friendly take on metahuman elementary education, this time from the viewpoint of kids training to follow in their parents’ footsteps as (not terribly evil) super-villains.

    I’m not sure how accessible some of these titles would be to a four-year-old. “ps238″ has been running long enough to accumulate something like eight trade paperbacks’ worth of continuity so far, so some of the later volumes might be a bit complicated for younger kids to follow. But hopefully some of the commenters who’ve encountered problems similar to the author’s may find something there more tailored to their kids’ ages and interests, even if Jimski doesn’t.