Pretty Persuasion

Going for the Girl Market

Robbins herself is far from certain that Go Girl! will survive, because she's been down this road before with other teen-girl series. In 1986 she created six issues of a comic book called Meet Misty (Marvel) and the following year did eight issues of the realistic California Girls (Eclipse). Despite positive mail from readers, national retailers weren't ordering the books in sufficient quantities to make them as cost effective as the then increasingly violent and fetishistic superhero books.

In 1993 during the San Diego comic book convention, a group of women comics professionals decided some serious networking was in order. They formed the nonprofit advocacy group "Friends of Lulu," in the spirit of Little Lulu, the vintage-comic heroine who never gave up trying to crash the boys' club. Over the past seven years Lulu has set up info booths at regional comics conventions, worked to pair aspiring writers and artists who want to collaborate on projects, and established hyperlinked Web sites like to publicize and promote the work of women in comics. In 1997 the group held the first annual Lulu conference in California, and challenged the male-dominated Eisner Awards by hosting the first annual Lulu Awards that same year.

Go Girl!'s daughter to the rescue
illustration: from Go Girl!
Go Girl!'s daughter to the rescue

It's an uphill battle. In the current environment, even subsistence jobs at comics companies are hard to get, and the resultant pressure to shut up and conform keeps most female editors, inkers, colorists, and pencilers quietly cranking out whatever content their male bosses think will sell. But that evasive girl market with its many diverse desires is still out there, waiting to be tapped. Trina Robbins, a current editor of Lulu's newsletter, remains a believer. If Go Girl! doesn't make it, she'll still be there to cheer or enable the next creative team going over the wall of industry indifference to bring girl-friendly material to the masses. And thereby hangs a truly heroic tale.

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