women in comics

Moar Wimmin

Comics. Women. Again.

I promise this’ll be the last time I beat this drum for, ooh, at least a week. Honest. Well, honest-ish.

Anyone spot that article in the Guardian about DC and female comics-creators? What does this tell us that we don’t already know? The really fascinating part is the article tucked away on the CBR site, with the audio of the exchange between a fan attending SDCC & Dan DiDio. What I love here is the comments, where everyone is chipping in with names of women DC should hire… big lists of big names.

I’m particularly gratified, too, to see a mention for Womanthology on there (you’ll remember me mentioning that a little while back. If you want to become one of the backers, there’s still time – but not much. They’ve more than reached their target and are now hoping to get enough copies printed to get them into libraries and schools across the US. It’s money well spent).

And, seeing as we’re on the subject, now seems as good a time as any to congratulate the amazing Lauren Beukes, award-strewn author & sloth-wearer extraordinaire, who will write for the Fables spin-off, Fairest. Highly, highly awesome. If it’s anything like her prose, it may just turn out to be the fairest comic of them all.

You see what I did there? Yep. Sorry about that. Still: go Lauren, right?

“Womanthology” all-female comics anthology

I saw this mentioned on Twitter this morning: an anthology “showcasing the works of women in comics. It is created entirely by over 140 women of all experience levels, including top industry professionals.”

The Graphic Novel will majorly consist of many short stories interpreting our theme for this volume; “Heroic”. We’ll also have interviews and how-to’s with some of the industry’s top female pros, as well as talks with young girls who someday want a career in comics.

As I’ve banged on in the past about women in the comics industry, this seems like a perfect opportunity to do something about it. So I’ve backed it. And you should too.

The full list of contributors can be found here.

There’s more information on the website here, and you can get involved in funding it on the Kickstarter site. You can pledge anything from $1… so please, please do. The backing page went live yesterday, and as of this lunchtime, they’re already 65% funded.

So get involved, support the anthology and show the world just what women in comics can really do.

Comics for Girls II (or: We Are Woman. See Us Draw)

I threatened, didn’t I? And I do make good on my threats (even the ones involving sledgehammers. Especially the ones involving sledgehammers). So here’s a round-up of a few things I’ve come across re: women and comics.

Eden, who writes the Comicsgirl blog, left me this link in her comment on my earlier post: an interview with Hope Larson & Raina Telgemeier, the authors of “Mercury” and “Smile” respectively. Incidentally, I’ve seen both of these being talked about as great examples of both female-written comics (with female protagonists) and as very well-written comics, regardless of the gender involved… ticking plenty of boxes.

Hope also conducted her own survey on girls & comics (bearing in mind she’s a YA author, the results are probably slightly skewed towards the mid-teens) which bears out a lot of what we all suspected anyway: that girls care about characters (but not to the exclusion of art), that they want to see more strong, female protagonists, that they need to feel welcome in the comics community–and that the extreme attitude towards women in mainstream comics needs to change. Interestingly, the survey also picked up that a lot of teen girls don’t really have anything more than a peripheral awareness of comics. The full thing–complete with Hope’s caveats–is here.

See also the great interview with Hope on the topic here: She Has No Head!

Onwards.

Geekmom’s post on women in comics looks at the template for the comic-book princess. Her theory is that they’re hard to find unless you adjust the pattern slightly, and stop looking for stereotypical fairy-tale princess figures, and instead look for superhero princesses. In other words, take Wonder Woman as your exemplar and you’re away:

Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince is actually Princess Diana of Themyscira. But wasn’t her status as a princess that made Diana the ambassador to the outside world. It’s her physical and mental toughness in a tournament that leads to her becoming a hero for all the world.

In other words, while she’s a princess, she’s also a warrior woman.

And this seems to be the template followed by most other superhero princesses.

They come from all over the Earth, from galactic kingdoms, and from far-flung fantasy worlds but none of them seem to be waiting for Prince Charming.

Instead, they’re all fierce defenders of their friends and their countries.

What I learned about super heroine princesses is that they will kick your butt, especially if you happen to be an evil overlord.

Gin & Comics comes at it from an altogether different angle, but nonetheless raises a valid point–that of merch. And he’s right: why should I be stuck with baby-pink tees with characters I don’t care about as my only options? (I should point out that I’m not above nicking my husband’s Silver Surfer t-shirt, but wouldn’t it be nice if I could get a shirt that featured Deadpool, or Gambit, or any of the other characters that apparently Girls Don’t Like)

An interesting blog post over here, on the “5 Worst Things to Happen to Women in Comics in 2010” (as well as, to be a little less doomy, the 5 Best). It’s a little more character-focused, maybe, but there’s some valid points.

A quick shout-out to the Ladies Making Comics Tumblr site as well as to the Laydeez Do Comics graphic-novel reading group (London-based). And I can’t miss out Selina Lock’s Girly Comic while we’re here, nor can I pass on the brilliant blog & website of Susie Cagle, which has just made me smile bigly.

It’s not entirely related, but it ties in with a different post I made on here a couple of days ago about The Vampire Diaries (and specifically the contrast between the female characters in the TV show compared to the books): yesterday, Alex Bell did her own post, and it’s a very good one indeed.

Thanks to everyone who commented and left me links: if I’ve missed something relevant, nudge me and I’ll update. I should add that I found several of these articles via the Fridge Dispatch site, which has been invaluable and comes highly recommended by moi (like that counts for anything…)

And yes, I know I’ve posted the Danger Maiden “Geek & Gamer Girls” video before, (and I accept it doesn’t exactly bring any sensible discussion to the table) but I like it, and you can’t be serious all the time…

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Sister-Stories

First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone who commented on the rambling musings about women in the comics industry I posted yesterday. There were some really interesting points raised: things I hadn’t necessarily ever thought about and things I’ve thought about plenty of times and still can’t get my head around.

One idea I have been batting around is something that came out of Comicsgirl‘s comment, which I sort of got going on in my reply. It was a question of whether women are possibly more noticeable on the indie side of the comics industry because of the relative narrative (or artistic) freedom afforded by a smaller press environment, away from the juggernauts of DC or Marvel or Dark Horse. Are women drawn to different stories and different ways of telling them from those offered by the big players?

This isn’t just a comics question either: you can expand it to encompass all literature… all art. I remember discussing a couple of Kathryn Bigelow‘s films with a (female) friend a while back–probably just after The Hurt Locker won the Oscar–and her reaction surprised me. She said she didn’t understand why a woman would want to tell stories which were so fundamentally rooted in violence, because that’s not what we’re about. I’m still not quite sure what the right response to that is, but it feels somehow relevant to the discussion of women in the comics industry–particularly the mainstream.

Is it true, I wonder, or–accepting it’s a monstrous generalisation aside–is this a question we even need to think about? Ever seen that shelf in a bookshop: “Women’s Literature”? What is that, exactly? Books for, by or about women–or all three? What differentiates it from just plain old bog-standard “Literature”?

Amanda over at Floor to Ceiling Books covered the idea of sexism in publishing in a post yesterday, and brought up a recent online discussion of women in SF which opens the debate up even further: if we go back to the question of whether women want to tell different stories, is this simply a case of SF being less appealing to women–or, like Margaret Atwood, do they see their stories as being “beyond” the genre? As a card-carrying Friend of Geek, I can’t help but think this is going to twist my noodle round another half-inch–so much so that I’m probably going to take a day or two to think about it, and work out whether I should be activating the Fem-Rage.

In the meantime, I’m going to go read a comic. Well, it’s either that or a bit of Germaine Greer….

Comics for Girls?

Interesting oddment today, brought to my attention by Abaddon & Solaris Books editor Jenni Hill on Twitter.

Maura McHugh noted on her blog today that Mark Millar’s upcoming UK comicon, Kapow!, has no female guests listed–out of a roster of 40. I’m not liking those odds. Of course, who’s to say that the line-up won’t change between now and the event–but really? Forty confirmed guests and they can’t holler up one woman who works in comics?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying anything negative about the guests who are on there–there’s some excellent people listed–but it seems a shame there isn’t space for at least one woman too (yes, I know. One is merely something akin to tokenism, but you see where I’m coming from).

Comics are all too often still seen as a male province when it comes to readership (something which recently led Gail Simone to write this blog) and I can only imagine it’s worse on the inside. I looked at my own comic collection and this bore out the theory: although I’ve got some by female artists and writers, they’re vastly outnumbered by men. And this made me curious.

Enter Wikipedia, stage left: List of female comics creators. It’s mahoosive. Alright: “creators” covers many sins. So split it out into artists and writers. Even allowing for overlap between the two and the fact that (let’s face it) this is Wikipedia, that’s a big old list. Too big to register a 0% representation at what’s obviously intended as a UK version of Comicon.

After I subjugated my initial feminist rage (sorry. I was given a book on the Suffragettes at an early age. It stuck.) I thought about it. Should we be making an issue of “women in comics”? There’s an interesting article here in support of a gender-neutral approach–that in shouldn’t matter who wrote or pencilled or coloured the comic, as long as they’re good; that talent shouldn’t have a gender-bias. And to a degree, I can go with that. To a degree. Because shouldn’t girls who want to get into comics have clear and obvious female role models, too–shouldn’t they be visible at every level? Where are the Nellie Gaimans, the Michelle Careys, the Becky Templesmiths… and am I ever going to get these slightly disturbing images out of my head?

And if they genuinely aren’t out there (which I find hard to believe–honestly, I do) then why aren’t they?

I’m going to open this one up to the floor: any ideas? Will this change, maybe as comics continue their march into the mainstream? Does it matter? Should it matter–and why?