I know I’m, as usual, about a week or so late in talking about anything, but DC’s young adult/girl-oriented imprint MINX ended almost a week ago. MINX was ideally meant to help young adult titles geared towards a teenage reading audience, specifically towards teen girls (though not exclusively) get out there. Started in 2007 and distributed through DC it included well-known and well-receieved titles like Burnout and The PLAIN Janes and The New York Four, it was DC/Vertigo’s attempt to compete with manga.
When Tessa and I went to the MoCCA convention back in June and I got to see Brian Wood he was promoting The New York Four, which he did with Ryan Kelly, the artist who he did Local with and has done a series I really want to find called Giant Robot Warriors. The imprint did have mostly female writers/artists working on it, but to me it genuinely seemed like more of an attempt to get comics at the young adult market, not just to push a “graphic novels for girls to show that not only fat lonely boys and weird 20-something young guys like comic books”. And it’s a shame it didn’t work.
There were two major points I saw around online besides “DC couldn’t get it on the YA shelves in bookstores so the titles languished strictly in graphic novel sections” that were being given as to why perhaps the imprint couldn’t take off, so to speak. And thinking back on them, they’re sadly sort of valid.
One was the simple fact that manga has a huge audience, worldwide. It’s a market that US graphic novel/comic companies have only recently been really trying to break into, and since we’re post-anime boom in the US it’s harder to get the coverage inside what’s basically a specialty market.
The second, which is in a way tied to the first, is that for the most part I’ve found and seen that teen girls who are into comics aren’t necessarily going to gravitate towards the young adult/real life-styled ones as much as they’ll like horror or romance or fantasy. Not to say that it’s a stereotype, but the power and draw of manga is that it’s fantasy with lots of almost impossibly good-looking pretty cartoon people in it. And I don’t know about you but when I first started reading comics, a huge part of it was initially the same draw that fantasy and science fiction had. It was escapism. It was a way to read about stuff that was so incredibly out-there it helped you get away from boredom or fear or anything else going on in your life. And even if there were analogues to real-life problems, the mutants and demons and wizards and spaceships made it different enough that you weren’t perpetually reminded about those issues in real-life.
If anything, I’ve seen that the YA-esque subject matter seems to resonate more with the post-teen crowd, the 20-somethings who see these sorts of books as a way to affirm that yeah, they weren’t the only ones who had to deal with shit growing up. And again, I’m not stereotyping because obviously young adult lit does resonate with the “young adult” teen reading audience…I just think that a vast majority of the audience that MINX maybe was reaching for wasn’t as interested in the titles, at least not with the coverage that they got. If there was more of it and given more time? Then yeah, I think it might. Post-“Juno” and “Superbad” and “Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist” and with a vast majority of the people who are talking about it coming from childhoods and teen years immersed in Hairstyles Of The Damned and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, I think that MINX would have definitely made an impact on the graphic novel “scene”.
It just sucks that it didnt work, and that a majority of these titles may not get another chance right now. I know the PLAIN Janes sequel Janes In Love is gonna come out, and that The New York Four is gonna try to find another home for a second volume, but as for the rest? I remember that alongside Wood, Burnout‘s Rebecca Donner, a writer, was also there talking about her title. It sounded really interesting, a love story set against the moral ambiguity of logging and radical environmentalism in the Pacific Northwest. And it made me feel excited for comics, genuinely wondering “maybe it could only go up from here”.
I hope we still can, and until then I’ll hope that the MINX concept rises again. ‘Til then…read more comics. And send me money so I can buy them.