Comics Alliance Presents ‘Kate Or Die’ In ‘Merch Ado’
Welcome to the latest episode of ComicsAlliance Presents “Kate or Die,” a series of exclusive comic strips created by one of our favorite webcomics cartoonists, Kate Leth! In this episode, Kate tackles the subject of the comics industry weirdly cutting itself off from the enormous amounts of money women spend on comics-related fashion and other gear from high end retailers like Black Milk and Forever 21.
I have an extraordinary amount of comic-related merchandise. I've worked in a comic shop for almost four years, travel to conventions every few months, and have a serious problem when I find websites with decent Canadian shipping. I have money to spend. I have ordered exactly one shirt from Previews Magazine.
For those not in the know, Previews is a monthly catalogue of upcoming comics, statues, toys, games, movies and apparel from which comic shops and their customers can order. Previews is the handbook for what a brick and mortar shop can get you, pretty much. You place an order, the shop adds it to their orders, Diamond Distributors delivers. It's a three-month wait. Buying your comics and merchandise this way is a great way to support small businesses as well as artists and titles you like.
Previews gets the vast majority of its apparel from Graphitti Designs, a company that specializes in pop culture T-shirts. They also have an extremely limited selection of women's designs and sizes. Since Previews can't offer the entire Graphitti collection, an even tinier percentage of shirts make it into the catalogue . Most of those aren't available outside the US.
The unisex sizes also usually only ship in sizes M-XL. Even Graphitti's Batwoman shirt only came in Gildan beefy tees. I still don't understand that.
It's a pain.
It's also dumb.
I can't tell you how many times I've had women come into my shop and ask me why we have no shirts for girls, or even small sizes of men's shirts. I wish I had a less-than-four-paragraphs explanation to hand out, but I don't. I think of it every time I hear another idiotic quote about how girls don't read superhero comics or how a woman was made to feel unwelcome in a comic shop, I think of it when I see a giant rack of basic superhero logo shirts for men but all the slim-fitting ones covered in rhinestones, embarrassing slogans, or inexplicable pink.
Women find a way. We bulk-order from the Internet. We make our own clothes. We knit Carol Corps scarves or spend months cross-stitching Green Lantern oaths onto jackets or sewing oversized Deadpool shirts into dresses. It's not a blanket statement, and I don't mean everyone, but it feels like a large portion of women who love superhero comics are constantly fighting to express their rampant enthusiasm for a culture that keeps telling them they don't really like it.
There's money on the table. Just reach out and pick it up.