I’m always interested in new ways to get comics in the hands of readers. And when I read about DC’s defunct Minx imprint, it seemed like a great way to do it. Original Graphic novels in a manga-sized format would provide readers with comics that featured easy entry points and introduced them to new characters and new worlds.
Unfortunately, what prevented the Minx line from being a success was the inability of DC and Random House execute on the concept.
The editors at DC think that the Minx line failed due to Random House’s distribution of the titles. According to them Random House just put books in the YA section instead of the Manga section of bookstores and that’s’ why the Minx titles didn’t sell. No, what prevented them from selling was a paternalistic view towards girls and absolutely terrible writing.
I find it sad that every time a comic publisher thinks they have to appeal to girls they always think they have to dumb things down. And DC’s Minx line was no different than the asinine comics I read in my 1970s Superhero Women paperback like Claws of the Cat. There was no likeable heroine to root for in Minx books. There was no story to make us CARE in Minx books or anything FUN about them. It just looked like Minx’s editors just thought they’d create comic books around what they thought girls would like and they’d just buy it because they’re just comics for girls.
No. Just NO.
It always annoys me that whenever there are comic lines meant to target female readers that there’s no care taken as it relates to the writing. When it comes to stories featuring heroines in comics, there’s no character transformation arc for the heroines to go through, no conflicts, hardships, or struggles for them to face. Most of the stories just feature them showing up stuff happening, and…the end.
I’m sorry but that’s not a story. In a story the reader needs a reason to keep them reading. And when it came to the Minx line, I didn’t see anything to compel me to keep reading the first Minx book I bought, Clubbing. Someone should have told the people at Minx, Everyone’s comic is their first. So you need to make the best impression with the first issue. Because when it comes to comics, if the first issue is bad, the reader isn’t coming back for the second issue.
So I could see why a lot of readers dropped the Minx line after the initial launch. Because the writing was THAT BAD.
Moreover as I read the Minx mission, I could see the flaws in their business plan. While they planned to launch their line to compete with Japanese Manga it’s clear to me that DC’s editors just didn’t understand how Manga worked. Manga in Japan is made for both boys and girls and it’s made for readers of all ages. So the plan to just target girls literally cut their audience down by 2/3 before the first title was published.
Worse, seasoned Manga readers could tell when they were being pandered to. Many of the seasoned Manga readers could take one look at the titles of DC’s Minx line and felt they just didn’t meet their “smell” test. So they had no incentive to buy into the line.
Looking at the model for the Minx titles, I still think it’s a good model for publishing comics. But a smart publisher would have to understand the story model for writing a graphic novel them before they launched a single title. Readers aren’t going to buy a comic featuring reject YA stories, jumbled plots and poorly developed characters just because they’re told it’s for a specific audience. No, good Manga like One Piece and Naruto is popular with all ages and genders because there is care taken to craft well developed characters, tight plots, and compelling storylines. The big problem with the Minx line wasn’t the format of the comics or the distribution; it was the fact that editorial just didn’t have a vision for the brand or any idea how to create content that would sell with Manga fans or casual customers. Minx books were flashy on the outside, but had no substance in between their pages.
I believe Manga-sized graphic novels that told a story in one single volume could sell very well with readers. And I’ve pondered using that platform when I turn the Isis series into graphic novels. I know that there could be a big audience for Manga-sized comics in America, but all it takes for a publisher to understand how to execute stories in the format. A comic sells its next issue with the first one in a reader’s hands so the story has to leave a great impression on readers from the first issue in their hands. If the editors of the Minx line had understood that tenet, the line would probably still be publishing today.