mens shirt

This one won’t be too long but I had an interesting experience at Comic Con that I thought I’d share with you. After Thursday’s Editing Comics: The BOOM! Studios way, I had the great fortune to speak with Grace Randolph for far longer than I deserved. In fact, we spoke for so long that it became rude to a fan who came up part way in to wait for her turn. As a being of immense guilt, I stepped aside and let my fellow geek talk to Grace for a while.

Though I intended to just wait it out until Grace was free again, I couldn’t help but pop in on their conversation at one point.  I’m not exactly proud of my self-control in that instance, but I’m fairly glad I did, because I caught the two of them discussing something that I found rather fascinating.

The con-goer in question was a rather talented graphic designer and she happened to be wearing a shirt of her own design which had been put into wide-scale production. The shirt in question led to an interesting issue.

You see, when she designed the shirt, there was no guarantee that she would ever be able to comfortably wear it. In fact, this didn’t even change when the shirt was approved for production. Why you ask? Because this particular comic fan was female and, as such, wears her shirts differently from her male counterparts. The character whose logo was featured is a man, and so there had to be active discussion about whether there should be women’s sizes offered.

While technically there’s nothing to prevent one gender from wearing the other’s shirts, the fit and sizes are affected by such choices. Imagine, for instance, if this rather awesome Lying Cat shirt were only available in an extra-large. Sure most of us could wear it, but it would only fit some of us well. You would wonder why the shirt is only fitted for certain customers.

Some of you might think that analogy is flawed (it probably is), but if your argument is that there’s a difference between failing to offer basic sizes and failing to offer the shirt for women, I’m not sure that that’s true. Some might point out that comic book fans are predominantly male, to which I’d respond that comic book fans are primarily large sweaty beasts who live in basements. I expect that this would draw accusations of small-minded and outdated stereotypes, but then I feel pretty comfortable that I could say the same of their point. The fact is that men are a minority. Maybe not in comic shops, but in general we are and, especially in a New York Comic Convention or LCS, you’ll find that they’re not the overwhelming majority you might expect.

Is this of undeniable importance? No. Is it even the most pressing issue that faces women comic fans today? No. Just…no… However, the next time you see that wall of shirts or that clothes rack at your LCS, remember that women readers on Comixology have grown by 15% over the last five years. That’s a fast growing demographic that probably isn’t even fully represented. They deserve better than to have their receipts tell them that what they bought isn’t for them.