In America, comics and comic books have often been associated with adolescent male fantasy—muscle-bound superheroes and scantily clad women. Nonetheless, comics have also been read and enjoyed by girls. While there have been many strong representations of women throughout their history, the comics of today have evolved and matured, becoming a potent medium in which to explore the female experience, particularly that of girlhood and adolescence.
In Girls and Their Comics: Finding a Female Voice in Comic Book Narrative, Jacqueline Danziger-Russell contends that comics have a unique place in the representation of female characters. She discusses the overall history of the comic book, paying special attention to girls’ comics, showing how such works relate to a female point of view. While examining the concept of visual literacy, Danziger-Russell asserts that comics are an excellent space in which the marginalized voices of girls may be expressed. This volume also includes a chapter on manga (Japanese comics), which explains the genesis of girls’ comics in Japan and their popularity with girls in the United States.
Including interviews with librarians, comic creators, and girls who read comics and manga, Girls and Their Comics is an important examination of the growing interest in comic books among young females and will appeal to a wide audience, including literary theorists, teachers, librarians, popular culture and women’s studies scholars, and comic book historians.
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Jacqueline Danziger-Russell has an MA in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University, London.Review:
While comic books have historically been associated with boys and young men, they are finding a huge fan base among girls and young women in today's popular culture. In this volume author Jacqueline Danziger-Russell explores how the latest comic books have a unique representation of female characters and have a distinctively female point of view....A lot of research has gone into the making of the volume, including interviews with librarians, comic creators, and avid fans of the literature. It will be of interest to librarians and teachers interested in literacy and the reading interests of girls, popular culture theorists, and comic book historians. (American Reference Books Annual)
This academic study resulted from the author’s research at London’s University of Roehampton and National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature. The initial chapter provides an overview of the format and then continues with a brief history of women’s literature from Victorian “Penny Dreadfuls” to early female cartoon characters such as Sheena, Wonder Woman, and Veronica. The concept of visual literacy as taught through picture books serves as a point of comparison; Danziger-Russell defines visual literacy and explains why picture books are important in developing this skill and how it relates to comic-book elements. That relationship serves as the basis for an extensive analysis of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s Skim (Groundwood, 2008), Ted Naihef’s 'Courtney Crumrin' series (Oni Press), and Trina Robbins and Anne Timmons’s 'Go Girl' series (Dark Horse). Various types of graphic-novel narratives are defined, with examples from several picture books and comics. One chapter is devoted to the appeal of manga for female readers and includes a history of manga, American interest in Japanese comics, and the influence of manga on American comics. There is also a brief discussion of Web comics and an in-depth analysis of three graphic novels: Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (Pantheon, 2003), Brian Talbot’s The Tale of One Bad Rat (Dark Horse, 1994), and Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost (First Second, 2011). With the exception of manga, the author effectively uses an ample selection of images from a variety of comics to illustrate salient points. This title may serve as a supplemental resource, particularly for those who are less familiar with the comic narrative. (School Library Journal)
In this history of comics dating back to antiquity, Danziger-Russell weaves an analysis that focuses on the period from the turn of the 20th century to the contemporary moment in the US. She analyzes production, content, interpretation, and readership to explore comics as a hybrid cultural product that combines literature and art, and she attempts to figure out their gender dimensions. The textual analyses include readings of early Little Lulu strips and recent manga and digital blogs. Readers learn that comic book stores are masculinized spaces; understandably, few females frequent comic stores, and they form only a small part of the readership. Despite the existence, in some comics, of a female-oriented if not outright feminist perspective, the author identifies a range of female themes, characters, and readers. She includes interviews with writers who, while not setting out to produce gender-inclusive comics, do create female-centered narratives that appeal to a minority female audience. She concludes that the new platforms hold great potential for attracting girls and women to this narrative form. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. (CHOICE)
In Girls and Their Comics, Jacqueline Danzigner-Russel finally gives comics-loving girls (and women) a voice as readers and writers of this genre. She writes that her intention is to 'explore and explode the myths surrounding the field of comic books, their implied readership, and the gendering of the field" (2). This may sound like a lot to tackle in one book, but Danziger-Russel does a solid job covering all of that ground. ... It is important to acknowledge the accessibility of this text; there is a very wide range of scholars, teachers, librarians, and comics enthusiasts who will find it compelling. It will be very useful to library collections and researchers focused on media studies, comics history, girlhood studies, and contemporary children's literature. . . Danziger-Russell's book is truly a vital addition to the field of comics studies, as it documents an area of the comics industry and fan base that is thriving, but what has never before been covered at length. . . . Danziger-Russell certainly has opened the dialogue with this book. (Children's Literature Association Quarterly)
This book is an academic analysis of the evolution of the comic book from a female perspective, that is, comic books written for girls and women and the depiction of women in comic books that are sometimes seen as associated with adolescent male fantasies. ... [The] comics are important inclusions[.] (The Australian Library Journal)
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