This week, it was formally announced that DC Comics’ “Minx” line – graphic novels (novellas?) aimed at teenage girls – would be coming to an end after roughly 18 months of existence.
Much has been said on the topic of what went wrong, from accusations that it made illogical assumptions made about the target audience to the inability for retailers to actually place and sell the books, but the fact is, Minx got one thing right – the way to get people – any people – into comics is, first and foremost, by telling great stories.
With that in mind, I’m not going to mark the passing of Minx by trying to explain where I thought the problems were – no matter what I say, the fact is that I’m simply not well-informed enough on the specifics of the market, marketing and financials to say what could’ve been done to make it last longer. Instead, I’m going to mark the passing of Minx by pointing out some of the best stories it told, and urge you all to give them a look while you still can.
The New York Four, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly.New York Four is the story of a group of girls attending university in New York. Easily the critical darling of the Minx line, it shares much in tone with Wood and Kelly’s recent series Local in its portrayal of strained familial relationships and a strong juxtaposition of the “real” New York, right down to educational notes about the city from a resident’s point of view. While the story clearly has its target audience in mind, there’s something we can all take from its portrayal of friendships under assault by technology. In recent years, Wood has proven time and again that he can do “young adult” fiction that isn’t dumbed down, and as a result will appeal to adults far beyond its intended range. Kelly, meanwhile, comes into his own as an illustrator with his most detailed and emotive work yet. Despite the collapse of Minx, a second book is planned, and if all goes well, we may yet see the planned tetralogy completed.Kimmie66, by Aaron AlexovitchArguably the most imaginative of the “first wave” of Minx titles, Alexovitch was the first creator to both write and draw a Minx book, and also the first not to confuse the target audience of the line as a mandate for the subject matter. Kimmie66 deals with the near-ish future, where technology hasn’t just eroded personal friendships (as in New York Four) but replaced them entirely. The titular Kimmie sends her close friend and the book’s heroine, Telly, a suicide note – but then later she starts showing up online, leading Telly to question whether she should track down the “real” Kimmie and see what the truth really is. It has a lot to say about the nature of identity and virtual friendships in the technological era – issues which are certainly pertinent to teenagers, but also to the rest of us.
Re-Gifters, by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc HempelWhile Carey is best known in the industry as the writer of Lucifer and X-Men – hardly usual Minx fare – he’s more than able to slip into a Minx-esque mindset to write Re-Gifters, a story about a young martial artist growing up in Los Angeles. Carey’s writing is brought to life by some nuanced artwork, and it’s Liew’s style that really raises the book to a special level. The story is another endlessly relatable one – down to earth but entertaining, unfamiliar without being fantastical – it stays interesting throughout. The trio of creators previously worked on “My Faith in Frankie,” but it’s this title which really pulls their talents together.
I’m not sure whether the books put out in the Minx line will stay in print or whether it’s nothing but sell-through left, but even if the line’s dead, there’s still more than enough time to check out these great stories before they disappear for good, and, if nothing else, comics readers owe it to the efforts of the creators and editors not to let this body of work become a footnote under “failed experiments” – everyone involved deserves better than that.
James writes Alternate Cover every Monday at Den Of Geek. His previous column can be found here.