Women: Superheroes Were Not Created For You
I hate to break it to you, but it’s true. Superheroes were not created for you.
What about female superheroes? Aren’t they for us?
Nope. Not even those were meant for you. As women, we secretly know this -- every time we’ve cracked open a comic book to see borderline pornographic illustrations and women with practically no character development other than to beat someone up and look pretty.
As women, we already know this entertainment game that they play with us. Every time a new Superman or Batman movie is released, we’re left scratching our heads trying to figure out where the Wonder Woman movie is... you know, the one they finally decided to make after 75 years! And if you’re a woman of color, you’re lucky if you’re even a blip on the radar.
What about Storm? She’s a black female superhero, and she’s pretty freakin’ awesome!
You’re right, she is pretty freakin’ awesome. Yet, every time you see her in a movie, she says maybe five lines of dialogue, does her Storm thing, and then stands there and looks pretty for the next hour and fifteen minutes.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Superheroes have pretty much always been created by men, for men. So, you can imagine my apprehension when I decided to create my all female league of superheroes. I had all sorts of questions running through my head: How is it going to be received by consumers? How do you compete in an industry dominated by men for so long?
After beating my head against the wall for months, that’s when I realized -- you don’t.
As an entrepreneur, the more you differentiate your product from your competitor, the less they are able to compete against you. So while the entire superhero industry is catering to the male population, my company caters to the female population that has been neglected for nearly 80 years.
That’s right. I make superheroes for women.
But how do you create a product targeting women? Major companies have tried it before, and their successes have been pretty dismal.
My answer is going to shock you. I truly had to think outside the box for this one.
Are you ready?
I asked women what they wanted. Yes, it was truly that simple. As a black woman, I thought about what I wanted and then interviewed over 75 women and girls, asking them what they wanted to see in their superheroes. From the answers that these women gave me, I learned so much about what women want and why previous efforts have failed.
So just in case you wanted to know, I decided to list a few of the results.
1. Women don’t like to be preached to about their equality.
We prefer to be shown that we are equal rather than told. For this reason, I create situations where female characters demonstrate their power and their intellect. Don’t talk about it, be about it.
2. Women like complex storytelling.
This is difficult to do in the traditional comic book format. Comic book storytelling is very simplistic. The formula goes like this: There is a hero and a villain, the hero beats up the villain and then wins the girl. There is nothing complicated about that, which is why more women read novels instead of comics.
That is why I decided to create novel comics with Aza Comics. They are traditional novels, but the action scenes are illustrated like a comic book. The superhero stories are told through layers of suspenseful plot that women can really sink their teeth into.
3. Women like to be rewarded for their hard work.
Think Fast! Name a female superhero with a boyfriend? When a male superhero defeats a villain, he gets the girl -- but what does a female superhero win? Nothing. She defeats her villain and goes home... alone. She doesn’t even have girlfriends she can call up and go out with to celebrate her victory.
If she does have a man, it’s usually a male superhero who is stronger than her. Which subconsciously tells girls that in order to win the guy, you can’t be stronger than him.
Clearly, I had my work cut out for me. When creating these stories, it was important for me to show men working alongside powerful women. Men need to see that they have a place next to a strong woman just as much as women need to see that they don’t have to diminish their greatness in order to win a man. A strong woman does not weaken a man -- she only makes him stronger.
As you can see, my goal was to approach the male-dominated comic book industry in a way that was different and innovative. As an entrepreneur, innovation is your biggest asset. The business world seems to play a game of "follow the follower" -- where no one wants to move first.
Why? Because it’s hard to be a leader. You have to create a path where there is no path. But if you move first and never give up, one day you’ll turn around and see that everyone is following you.