For this blog post, I read the incredibly awesome Women in Comics: Young Adult & New Adult Novels on the YALSA Hub. Oh my goodness, I cannot stress enough how great this article was. Every time I pick up a book, I am practically begging for more representation of women, and especially strong, independent women who may have men in their lives but do not need them to live a healthy and fulfilling life. I am so here for lady superheroes, characters, villains, whatever you want to give to me, I need all of it.
This kind of representation is absolutely crucial for young girls, teens, and adults to have knowledge of and access to. These women provide models of proud femininity and power to many demographics. For example, you have Barbara Gordon, who many might know as Batgirl, but what you may not know is that after the Joker paralyzes her she still maintains her badassery. She becomes Oracle, a genius computer hacker and intelligence specialist who is an expert in the weapons-based martial art known as eskrima. Sadly, a 2011 DC Comics relaunch inexplicably made it so that Barbara Gordon was no longer paralyzed and thusly no longer a representative for the disabled community.
Another example is Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, who is a Pakistani American girl from New Jersey with shapeshifting capabilities. The creation and launch of this character would be the first time that a Muslim hero headlined a comic from Marvel. This character is also specifically drawn so that she is decidedly feminine without being used as a tool to draw the male gaze (i.e. wearing ridiculously illogical costumes that defy the laws of physics).
Such characters, and more, are being added to the roster of novel protagonists to appeal to people who may not like to read comic books or do not know where to start. This effort serves a multi-faceted purpose. In one aspect, it introduces people to characters and universes that they would have never otherwise encountered. In another, it adds more positive and, hopefully, authentic representation of women to the world of book publishing. Number three, it may lead to cross-pollination of the readerships of both novels and comic books/graphic novels thus causing an upsurge in popularity and attention for both types of media.
All in all, I am very excited to see what comes of this and whether this leads to new superheroes and more authentic representation of the different demographics of women in the world.