Paul Dini has always been enthusiastic about female comic book characters, and now he's voicing excitement about the "new breed" of female fans — but he's not crediting just comics for their interest.
"I think there is a new breed of female fan that has grown up with superheroines over the last 20 years and continues to embrace them," Dini said in an interview on PREVIEWSworld about his May graphic novel with artist Joe Quinones, Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell.
"I don't think they are inspired just by comics, but by the TV shows, movies, and cartoons they watched, and games they played when they were younger — so many tell me they were fans of Batman: The Animated Series, or anime, or Dr. Who or Star Wars, the list is endless," he said.
It's not surprising that Dini would recognize the importance of television and games in reaching new audiences — the writer is behind some of the most popular cartoons and video games featuring comic book characters, including the recent Batman: Arkham game series.
Over the last few years, female comic book fans have become a more vocal part of the comic book industry — particularly on the internet — and have voiced frustration about the lack of attention female characters are getting from the comic book industry.
But Dini's statement points out that it was not comic books that attracted most of today's female comic book fans — their interest often instead began among the growth of manga among teen girls in the late '90s and the influx of geek culture in other media.
Dini also voiced an observation that female fans tend to come at their comic book fandom with a more playful approach — particularly those who participate in cosplay, which he said often involves the characters featured in his new graphic novel.
"[Female fans] bring a great sense of humor and play to things like comic conventions," Dini said. "I saw an article on cosplay in Entertainment Weekly last year and almost half the cosplayers on a two page spread where dressed either like Harley Quinn or Zatanna! It seems to me if they identify with the characters that much, there's an audience there that would appreciate some comics that reflect their sensibilities. I just hope our little GN strikes the bullseye."
The Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell graphic novel has been anticipated by fans of Dini's work (as well as fans of Zatanna and Black Canary) for years. Announced all the way back in 2006 — before the New 52 reboot — the graphic novel is set outside continuity, Dini said in the interview.
Dini hopes the female characters he's featuring in Bloodspell will get more attention from creators in the future, and that his graphic novel might contribute to their "rebooted" stories.
"At the time I conceived the story, the New 52 DC Universe was years away," he said. "But the story never changed, even as the Universe did. It was always intended to be a stand-alone, a story that takes place in no particular DC continuity, but is familiar to all readers of DC comics over the years. If bits of Black Canary and Zatanna's relationship as depicted in Bloodspell later find their way into ongoing continuity, then I'll know that readers and creators have found something interesting in their relationship, and I think that's a good thing."