Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week Bennett shows us the path on which he sees women marching, in comics, and in comic stores.

A couple of weeks ago when I wrote about weekly comics (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Weekly Comics In Review"), I focused on non-American anthology titles such as 2000AD, Shonen Jump, and The Phoenix.  I did acknowledge that there were also American weekly comics, though.  This week I’ll admit I’ve even read and enjoyed a number of them, like Batman '66, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman '77.  But unlikely as it is may seem, my favorite weekly comic so far has been Bombshells, primarily due to the playful way it handles its revisionist take on the 1940s.

I say "unlikely" because I'll confess my expectations for it were fairly low originally.  Because, as Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett (no relation) herself said in a piece on the Vox website titled "Diversity is making DC Comics great again," the comic is "based on a line of collectibles" and has serious "pin-up" appeal.  And yet also according to the piece, the first issue, published in August, sold 60,000 copies.  A pretty impressive circulation figure for any mainstream comic these days, especially a digital-first one.

The piece also makes the case for something I hadn't considered: it's also a "sweepingly subversive" comic because this time it's female creators, Bennett and artist Sauvage, who are in control of the pin-up-style imagery for a change.  It's a decidedly feminist comic, because along with being aesthetically arresting, the women in it have their own agency. Or as Bennett herself says:

"In a lot of cases, women are not in control of their own image. You are raised to serve a certain male gaze and standards of beauty that were not your own invention.  I think a lot of the backlash as far as like, 'Oh, girls and selfies, they're so vain,' is the fact that you're taking control of your own image."

Bombshells might very well be a winner, but it's no secret that sales of other recent DC Comics have been soft. There have been a lot of rumors going around that because of its financial losses DC would have to have an austerity program imposed on it.  Meaning not just would there undoubtedly be across the board cancellations of titles, but they might be forced to abandon the DCYOU campaign.  But here Co-Publisher of DC Entertainment Jim Lee is quoted as saying:

"I think it's important for us to listen and to learn and basically to adjust and pivot," Lee said, explaining that while those sales figures tell one story, the reader response at conventions has been overwhelming, "There is this emerging audience.  Comics are charging.  At the end of the day, if you're going to remain competitive and grow and flourish, you have to be able to adapt and change and evolve."

In one of those weird coincidences, one of my Facebook friends is Maria Laura Sanapo, and early Tuesday morning there she announced she would be doing artwork on future issues of Bombshells.  If her name doesn't ring any immediate bells it's fairly certain you've seen her highly detailed, sensual female figures on many a comic book cover.  She's certainly done a lot of them for Zenescope Comics, a publisher who has sold a lot of comics over the years chiefly on the strength of cover artists like Sanapo.  I've been a fan of her work for years and am delighted to see her get a chance to do interiors for DC; I'm sure this is only the beginning for her.

While we're still on the subject of diversity, one of the publisher's comics got a nice write-up on the A.V. Club website in a piece called "Exclusive DC preview: Diversity on and off the page elevates Doctor Fate."  In the past I've praised Paul Levitz's writing on the title, but it bears repeating that not only has he figured out a way to make the character work in modern times (something no one else has been able to do), he did so by 86-ing the antiquated orientalism at the heart of the concept.  But as the piece points out, I should have mentioned the work of Malaysian artist Sonny Liew; it's his work that really makes this comic unlike anything else currently being published.

Oddly enough, the topic of getting more female readers into comic shops was the "B" storyline on this week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Perspiration Implementation."  In it, Stuart Bloom, owner of The Comic Center of Pasadena*, invites Penny, Amy and Bernadette to advise him on how to do this.  Amy says, "For starters you might want to rethink some of this artwork, this woman is actually on a leash like a dog…"  Yesterday various websites confirmed this was an original piece done for the show by artist Amanda Conner.  For the record the girls came to the conclusion it wasn't anything about the store that was driving women away, rather it was the owner's own aggressive creepiness.

And while we're still on the subject of comic book shops I probably should mention I finally made it to Up, Up & Away's new location yesterday.  Up, Up & Away is one of my favorite local comic book shops but the original store is more than a little out of my way while the new one is right off of a main highway.  It's been open for a couple of weeks now but I only got around to checking it out and all I can say is, wow.  It claims to be "The World's Greatest Comic Book Shop!" (exclamation mark included). I can't confirm that, for one thing I like to think Super-Fly Comics & Games is a pretty great shop.

But I can say without reservation that along with being incredibly spacious and well laid out, it may very well be the largest shop I've ever been in.  It's no exaggeration to say you could fit a small comic book convention inside it.  I bought a couple of comics and while chatting with the woman behind the counter she put them in a lovely color plastic carrier bag promoting the CBS show Supergirl.  And of course on the other side of it was… the cast of The Big Bang Theory.

* Until I checked The Big Bang Theory Wiki page I had zero idea Stuart even had a last name, let alone a middle one (it's David).  The same way I had no idea the gang's comic shop had an official name--the CBS website just calls it The Comic Book Shop.  Which while being a little too on the nose certainly isn't the worst name for a comic book shop I've ever heard.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of