I came to American comics reading rather late; I mostly stuck to reading Japanese manga. But I started frequenting my local comic book store back in California when I started reading more graphic novels and began looking for all-ages comics for my school library (maybe around 2008?).
Luckily, that comic book store -- and the one I go to now -- are pretty female-friendly and stock a decent number of all-ages books. But there have been stores I was hesitant or wary to enter because the vibe just wasn't welcoming.
This article addresses some issues I have with comic books, comic book stores, and comic culture in general. I imagine things are getting better all the time with increased female comics readership and authorship, but things aren't perfect by any means. Female imagery in comics -- and male, for that matter -- can be confusing and demeaning, especially to young eyes. I hope that the comics world is moving towards something different in terms of body image issues. (And, don't forget, illustrators/publishers/store owners: women often control the purse strings in their households, so it's not a bad idea to listen when we have opinions.)
As my kids start reading more comics and graphic novels, I want to make sure that they understand their place -- and power -- in the comics world. As readers, they can have a say in how the comics world changes and progresses. I don't want my daughter to feel bad about what she sees in comics, and I don't want my son to think that what he reads in comics is how women are in the real world.