My last post to THE BEAT hasn't saved yet, so I'm putting it here. Possibly I'll build something on the gender issues implied at a later date. In response to Kurt Busiek:
'I've never seen anyone claim that the form of comics overall is alien to the Y-chromosome-challenged. All I've ever seen, ad nauseam, is the complaint that girls shouldn't be expected to like superheroes and that the comic-BOOK industry cuts itself off from female buyers by focusing on superheroes.
Perhaps you have a source of such comments in mind?
Since comic strips have not focused on male-oriented genres-- indeed, the genres associated with adventure have almost vanished from newspaper strips-- the standard complaint about "too many superheroes" wouldn't apply to comic strips. Given that most newspaper strips are humorous in nature, there's no reason to think that they don't appeal equally to men and women. There still may be gender breakdowns; male readers probably like LIBERTY MEADOWS in greater quantity than female ones. But there's still plenty of strips which are targeted to female readers.
My point in bringing up the presence of humor in anthologies is that it may account for the breadth of appeal across the genders during the Golden Age. Since comic books in those days were so cheap, it was easy for them to load an anthology-book with a tough soldier of fortune, a girl-humor strip, a teen humor strip, a detective, and a western. The strategy was the same as in vaudeville: give everyone in the audience a little bit of something and they'll pay the price for the whole performance. I'd be interested to see if anyone could "bring back vaudeville" for a modern audience-- although it would have to compensate for the current pricey-ness of the medium.'