*steps up to the soapbox*
Hey folks. Sorry I’ve been quiet on my end here, as I’ve been a little busy. I was going to talk about some anime this time, but the San Diego Comic Con was this past weekend and a few things popped up that kind of made me have a couple of second thoughts. There was a woman at SDCC dressed as Batgirl who asked a very important question: Why aren’t there more women doing comics for DC? I’ve had this conversation with my girlfriend many times. At first my answer was the same as many male comic readers. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, there’s tons of them.’ And when asked to name them, I start to rattle off Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, Jo Duffy, Devin Grayson, Louise Simonson, Jill Thompson, Nicola Scott, and even one of my favorite artists Amanda Conner. But I started to realize I couldn’t name any others. And a lot of them I did name, I’m not sure are even working in comics anymore. There was a few others who’s done work for Vertigo comics, like Elaine Lee or Alisa Kwitney, or even some of Marvel’s more off-the-wall comics done by Colleen Coover or Kathryn Immonen. (Seriously, I cannot recommend ‘Pasty Walker: Hellcat’ enough!) But really, I started to hit the end of my list there. And I‘m really good at minutiae, and I can name almost hundreds, if not probably thousands or male comic creators. But I couldn’t even name fifteen female ones? It bothers me. (For the sake of discussion, I’m referring to comics and webcomics as two separate entities, though I shouldn’t, it just makes discussion easier.)
Just why AREN’T there more women working in comics? (Not just DC, but Marvel too.) I mean, there’s a lot of women working in ancillary roles, like inkers and colorists. (I really don’t know if I’ve ever seen a female letterer… Then again, if a letterer does their job, you should never notice them at all.) But why not more writers and artists, the ones that get the fame and acclaim? Look, I’m a perv and we all know this. (You’ve seen what I draw!) But I’m also the furthest thing from a misogynist as well. If the talent is there (and it is) then why isn’t the industry utilizing it more? I thought about the usual excuses I’ve heard for many years:
- It’s been a man’s game for so long, and the women creators just haven’t stormed the field yet.
I’ve heard that before, and yeah, I could accept that, back in the early 90’s, when I was a young lad buying Youngblood. But it’s been almost two decades now. Try again.
- Women just aren’t as interested in superheroes like men are.
You think all those women cosplaying at conventions are just men in drag or there just to make their boyfriends happy? You think girls don’t read and like superheroes? What the hell is this, the 1950s where girls are only supposed to read bad romance comics? That’s a crock of crap if I ever heard it. Tons of girls like many of the same things as guys do.
- There just aren’t as many women comic creators out there as there are men.
So this wide plethora of female webcomic and indy comic creators only came into existence because they’ve only read manga and other webcomics in the past ten years? And many of them I know weren’t exactly influenced by reading girly manga books in high school. They read Batman and X-Men like the rest of us. (And quite a few of them make me look like a high school art student who holds his pencil wrong.)
- Well, what would you consider a good affirmative action for the industry to take?
Christ, this isn’t the Equal Rights Amendment, or some public relations diversity ratio so you can get Rachel Maddow to write the foreword to your comic. It’s simple point. There’s lots of women comic creators, and there’s less than ½% of them working on the “big boy books”. Why? That woman dressed as Batgirl had a very good point and no one can give her a good answer, and when she pressed for one, she was mocked and ridiculed. I think that’s what bugs me more than DC’s response to her, was that the surrounding fans pretty much told her to shut up and sit down. Every time I think comics are on the verge of being taken serious as a respectable creative medium, like novels, movies, and television… Crap like this happens and reminds me there’s a real reason stereotypes like the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy exists.
It’s like women creators are akin to nuclear power. They’re an awesome powerful resource that people aren’t using for reasons that are steeped in traditionalism and fear. Taking it all into consideration, the only reason I can come up with is that ‘girls have cooties’. It has to be that! Because otherwise the only other logical reason is that the industry still has some serious cases of sexism going on, and that would just be insulting, infuriating and just outright depressing. I don’t want to say that, but they’re running out of reasons. And that’s one trait I really got to love about the webcomic community. It’s truly a community where anyone can be a creator, who’s judged on talent and not their gender. (Or race or sexuality.) And as comics start to go digital, blurring the lines between them and webcomics… I hope that this is a trait that they someday will also adopt, in actual practice and not just lip-service.
*Steps off soapbox, and goes back to the art table*