But an unlikely Scottish champion is setting out to woo the female audience back to a world of comic books now populated by testosterone-fuelled superheroes indulging in increasingly gory battles against the forces of evil.
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Coatbridge-born Mark Millar, 40, the comic book writer who helped re-energise the Marvel empire and the man behind some of Hollywood’s biggest hits, is to launch a new publication aimed at, written and staffed entirely by women.
Millar has already helped break the mould of female superheroes with the comic (later a movie) Kick-Ass and its character Hit-Girl, a teenage girl turned assassin who has provoked praise and controversy in equal measure.
But then he has never been afraid of provoking the odd row. He portrayed Superman as a Communist and the first gay superhero in the comic book, The Authority.
Last week Millar launched his ultra-macho boys’ magazine, CLiNT, aimed at cornering a market last entertained by The Eagle or 2000AD.
Although his women-only publication is still in its early stage, Millar has chosen the editor, a friend who currently heads a women’s magazine.
Millar told the Sunday Herald: “There is a definite gap in the market for a woman’s comic. Little girls used to read Twinkle before moving up to Mandy, Judy or Bunty, but this is no longer the case. That interest has fallen away.
“There’s nothing out there like CLiNT for women and this is a great time to be meeting that demand. If all goes to plan, I hope to have the magazine ready to launch in a year.”
CLiNT, stocked on shelves next to FHM, is squarely aimed at the male market, with explosive sex, drugs, extreme violence and coarse language.
Millar persuaded celebrity friends to contribute: Jonathan Ross writes a story about vampires while Frankie Boyle invents a cocaine-fuelled security guard.
“It worked out great,” Millar added. “It’s a generation since there was a comic for young men that was read and passed around, that was a real talking point.
CLiNT’s features include a blonde in a parka coat and jeans under the heading: Deeply Moral Babes: Overdressed Porn for the Religious Right. The magazine also has articles on the Manson killings, Hot TV mums, the secret diary of a pothead and a quiz asking “money or bitches?”.
When asked how he plans to entice young women to the world of comics, Millar said: “It will have a definite Twilight-style supernatural theme. That’s the difference between male and female tastes: men are interested in superheroes while women look to the supernatural.
“Every man remembers a Superman costume from his childhood that didn’t fit, while girls like horoscopes – though, obviously, that’s a sweeping generalisation.”
Millar now divides his time between New York and Glasgow. As well as being one of the world’s leading comic-book writers, he is also one of the busiest. He is currently working on monthly stories for Marvel, runs his own company, Millar World, is making more movies (War Heroes with Sony and Nemesis with Tony Scott), and has just begun shooting a new film in Glasgow.