One of the reasons why Japanese comics is so successful is in their research and thorough targeting of specific demographics. American comics – not so much. The interesting thing about American comics is that many of them could really appeal to both sides of the gender divide. There’s nothing more romantic than an anguished, emotionally damaged man (Wolverine) who is in constant struggle with his past demons (Bruce Wayne/Batman) or going through the daily motions of a carefully choreographed dance that bridges two worlds (Peter Parker/Spiderman). That’s stuff we can all relate to – especially today’s woman who is torn in two by career demands, family aspirations, and the eternal dreams of somehow managing both.
Add to that the amount of comics out there that work outside of the superhero realm, and there is a whole medium for avid television watchers or instigators of social drama to feed off of.
But sometimes even the best laid plans come up short – not on the creator side, but on the reader’s end.
I’m speaking abstractly. Let me instead put it into concrete terms. I finally got around to reading Girls by the Luna Bros. Much darker and edgier than their premier comic, Ultra, the twin brother comics duo drop the Sex in the City posturing for something deeper and more mature. I loved Ultra, but something about Girls got me – and got to me – in that twisted, morbid, soft spot I’ve got for only the most depraved and fantastic of storylines.
Girls is about a town that is taken over by alien girls who lure all the men into having sex with them while killing and feeding on the women. There is a distinct battle-of-the-genders that breaks out, as well as a girls-against-women war that is all out grotesque. The perversion lies with the the alien girls whose motivation to fulfill all sorts of sexual fantasies is derived from their sole effort to produce more girls – that go on to killing the mothers, wives, and daughters in the town. Essentially, if a man has sex with the girls (they always seem to gang up on individual men in groups of three or four – or more) he’s producing more girls to kill his family.
Am I doing this series justice?
Throughout the story, the Lunas give their characters well thought out dialogue and twist the survival situation to bring out the worst possible scenarios – painting both men and women at their most fallen, with no character innocent or victim, perpetrator or abuser.
It’s well done.
So what am I getting at with all this?
Girls is so well done, that I tried recommending it to a friend of mine who also reads comics. Unfortunately, the problem with Girls is that it may be done too well. See that paragraph above where I describe what Girls is about? That’s pretty much all he heard.
HIM: So these alien girls come to earth, offer me all the sex that I want, and as an extra bonus, kill my bitchy girlfriend, too?
ME: Yea, it’s about that, but there’s also this element of danger because then who is going to raise your children?
HIM: I don’t have kids. What’s this comic called again?
ME: It’s not just about some porno fantasy! It’s about sex with repercussions! The more you fuck these girls, the more girls they make that will kill off the entire female population!
HIM: Do you have your period? Are you PMS-ing?
ME: Okay, just listen for a sec. These guys are good. There is whole stretches of dialogue where the men invert the situation and are like, “What if it were a bunch of Michael Phelps looking aliens that were screwing all the women and killing us off? And the women couldn’t resist?” There’s real thought put into this series. It’s not just about being chased by naked Victoria Secret model clones that happily service your every desire.
HIM: Victoria Secret model clones….
ME: Look, are you really going to read it or are you just going to “read” all the dirty pictures.
HIM: Victoria Secret model clones…..
ME: Forget it. You know what? Just forget I said anything.
HIM: Oh, come on. I’m listening. I just, I mean….I miss my girlfriend. I guess I just miss her, that’s all.
ME: (pause) Sorry. I didn’t mean to get so frustrated. It’s just…It takes a really good look at the fundamental rift between men and women – which is totally the stuff that women get into. And you just reminded me of all the reasons why guys would get into it.
HIM: Hey, guys aren’t just pigs. They do have that sensitive side.
ME: You’re right. Sorry for phreaking like that.
HIM: That’s alright. (pause) So what was the name of the comic?