Say you were working on a paper and you needed to assess the relative popularity of female comic book characters. So you decided to track monthly book sales in titles where the lead character was female. Here is something you might do:
• Look at all sales figures for books in the top 150 (or maybe 200 —100 seemed like not enough datapoints since female led books are frequently not in the top 100) books sold for every given month.
• Track a book if it is a solo title featuring a female in the lead role (Ms. Marvel)
• Track a book if it is a duo title featuring two females (Harley Quinn and Power Girl)
• Track a book if it is a duo title where one of two main characters is female (Superman and Wonder Woman)
• Track a book if it is a ensemble title where ALL the lead characters are female (DC Bombshells)
• Ignore a book if it is an ensemble title where the gender makeup of the team might vary from book to book even if sometimes they are predominantly female (Avengers)
Here are the problems I’m encountering:
Should I count ensemble books that are predominantly female, that might feature a male (Runaways)? Part of me wants to just ignore team books altogether since they are problematic, especially when there are rotating casts and any issue might have more women or men and then the opposite is true of the next issue (this is frequently the case with X-men for instance). BUT, it seems wrong to ignore a book like Birds of Prey, where the entire point of the book was that it was a female team.
Should I count mixed gender duo books? It seems clear that I should count Harley Quinn and Power Girl but it seems less clear to me that Superman and Wonder Woman fits. I *think* it does because part of the point is the interplay between the two characters where gender is a big part of it. Similarly, I’m inclined to count Hawkeye, specifically because the point of the book is that it isn’t clear which of the two Hawkeyes (Clint or Kate) is truly the lead character. I think people *assume* it’s Clint just because they default to the male, but I don’t think that’s really the case.
How should I count reprint issues, special editions, and annuals and such? I hadn’t really considered this until I started tabulating. Right now I’m just making a spreadsheet of sales by month. But in the month of November, for instance, the 25th most popular comic was Spider-Gwen #2 with 62,209 copies. But the 91st most popular comic was Spider-Gwen #0 with 30,062 copies. So do I count Spider-Gwen sales as 92K for that month? Do I just have two data points for that month? It seems odd somehow to do that since it’s technically the same title, but on the other hand it doesn’t seem odd to me to count Harley Quinn as a separate series from Harley Quinn and Power Girl, so I don’t really know.
Anyway, I’m interested in thoughts from comic readers, statisticians or anyone else? Opinions?