"Girls don't read comics, there's something in how their brains are wired that just doesn't respond to the way comics work.”
Dirk Deppey of The Comics Journal reportedly heard that quote from a comics retailer at Comic-Con in 2006. As a description of the current state of brain science, it's obviously flawed. But it works well as a shorthand for some peoples’ view of comics. Comics, conventional wisdom often suggests, are for boys. This is especially the case because superhero comics are for boys, and the superhero genre is so overwhelmingly associated with the comics medium that the two are often treated as one and the same. From this perspective, recent efforts by Marvel to reach out to women readers—through titles like the new Ms. Marvel or the recent announcement that Thor will be a woman—are doomed. Superhero comics are for guys; girl brains reject them.
Of course, that’s wrong. Lots of women do read comics in general, and superhero comics in particular. That fact should be self evident enough by now, given the way the Internet has given voice to many female fans of the genre. And yet sexism in the comics world persists. The effort to firmly debunk gendered stereotypes about who enjoys comics and who doesn’t would seem to benefit from hard statistics about just how many women are reading. Those statistics are surprisingly difficult to come by—but the ones that are available suggest that comics, and superhero comics, historically did appeal to both genders and very well could again.