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Why should we care about the number of female creators?

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Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby Punchy » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:30 am

This is kinda/sorta spinning off from my thread about not giving a fuck about Batgirl, as it's about women in comics. But it's different in some ways too.

Lately I've noticed that some of the bigger comics news websites have been banging the drum about women in comics and making a big noise about the number of women working as writers and artists for Marvel and DC. Comics Alliance (whose editor is a woman, so she does have some stake in it) has had several features on women in comics, and the perceived sexism of the Big Two. BleedingCool of course paid that annoying Batgirl cosplayer to go to another Con and ask questions about the number of women working at DC to Didio. There was loads of controversy about that 'Womanthology'. The big sites are treating this like it's a big deal.

But is it really? I personally don't care about the sex of a comics creator. Dan Didio got a lot of flak online when his response to the Batgirl cosplayer was 'what do these numbers mean to you?' but I think he was right to ask that, what do those numbers mean to the reader? Why does it matter what percentage of creators are women? Surely it only matters what percentage of the creators are good?

I've read work from loads of female creators, and I like some of them, and dislike others, I personally think Gail Simone is a bad writer, but it's nothing to do with her gender. I think Kelly-Sue DeConnick kicked ass on the Osborn mini-series, but it's nothing to do with her gender. Becky Cloonan is one of my favourite artists of all time, but it's nothing to do with her gender. I think that for people to demand a certain percentage of creators to be a certain demographic is just ridiculous. How many Marvel and DC writers are black? Nobody cares about that. I only found out Eric Wallace was black like last week. How many are gay? Nobody cares either.

Why is the number of women such a big deal to some people? I can understand female fans wanting more representation, but you don't have to be a woman to write good female characters. And why are male fans so angry about it too? And the fact is unavoidable that comics has generally been a majority-male pursuit, and there aren't that many female writers out there. If DC were forced to have certain percentage of writers be women, they'd have to recall hated creators like Devin Grayson and nobody wants that. Of course the idea is to get more female readers into comics, but you don't need women writers to do that, I imagine Bendis' Alias and Spider-Woman can get as many female fans on board as Marjorie Liu's X-23. And which will be better, Bryan Miller's Batgirl or Simone's?

In the end, I think this is just another extension of the fact that we as fans are too close to the industry and know too much. Nobody knows what percentage of women work on movies, nobody gave Community or Parks and Recreation extra-praise because they had more female writers than male writers because the industry was bigger and had some space from it's fan-base and so there was less entitlement.

So my question to you is, do you care about the number of women creators? Should I care? Am I sexist for not caring?

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby 3MJ » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:38 am

I'd wager the number of women writers to male writers ratio in comics is similar to the women readers to male readers ratio.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby SuperginraiX » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:49 am

I have no problem with having more women creating my comics. I just don't care. I found the... Batgirl cosplayer? Whatever she was wearing, I found her antics annoying and the fact that DC even acknowledged her is bad form. What's next? Zechs dressed as the Scarlet Spider demanding more Hobgoblin at every Marvel panel and getting a press release about it?

There have been some awesome women involved in comics in the past and present. Hopefully we'll get some more in the future. Still, we ARE dealing with a majority male readership (and I'd say that's a LARGE majority). When that happens, those male readers are going to be the ones that want to write comics. I'm actually surprised we've gotten so many women creators, considering the reading demographics.

For the most part, this is just the fans complaining to complain. Comics should be equal opportunity but there shouldn't be some sort of quota system in place. That would lead to less talented creators being dropped into titles just to appease a group that will never really be satisfied with the results anyway. I would rather the best writers and artists get the books, regardless of gender.
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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby mrorangesoda » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:13 am

There's a fear that middle-aging white guys won't present as broad of a viewpoint as folks would like and we'll continue with an industry made up of and catering almost exclusively to middle-age white guys (which long term will be getting smaller and less influential dollar wise). You bring up a good point about Bendis, but he happens to be good at his job and has more editorial/marketing support than anyone at Marvel. If you could swap out the big two's mid and low level writers in that sentence, there wouldn't be a problem. I don't think you can.

Also, there are a bunch of people who care a whole lot about the make up of the people who work in motion pictures and television. Those being mass media, they're drowned out by the millions more who don't really care. Comics being a much smaller market, there's probably less than 20,000 people paying what could be described as close attention to the industry and an even smaller number that care about representation- so yeah we seem more involved just based on % of the whole market.

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Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby BlueStreak » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:15 am

While there is a gender disparity, it's tied largely to the fact that superhero comics appeal mainly to men and comics that are geared to women don't sell as well because they're not marketed outside of the comic book stores.

Comic Alliance or one of the other blogs talked about how the impetus was on DC and Marvel to change the comic book culture to make more women want to write comics and went as far as to suggest that the companies should adopt a Rooney Rule that mandated that one women be allowed to pitch for every comic. That's a wrongheaded way of thinking. When one of my friends decided that major publishers weren't writing anything he wanted to read, he wrote and published his own. That's a far better and more organic way of changing the culture.
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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby Victorian Squid » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:16 am

Comics have always been more invested in fostering a dialogue between publishers and fans than other media, from the very first editorial or letters pages.
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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby 3MJ » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:18 am

mrorangesoda wrote:There's a fear that middle-aging white guys won't present as broad of a viewpoint as folks would like and we'll continue with an industry made up of and catering almost exclusively to middle-age white guys (which long term will be getting smaller and less influential dollar wise)..


Much too late to stop that. Look at the scorn "tv writers" used to get from people on here and the Newsarama site. Ideally I'd like the comic writers coming in not to have had much exposure to the comics when they were younger.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby Punchy » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:19 am

Mike Mercury wrote:Comics have always been more invested in fostering a dialogue between publishers and fans than other media, from the very first editorial or letters pages.


I know that, I wrote about that closeness in my dissertation, but now I think it's gone too far. We need some distance, too many fans seem to think they are part of the industry themselves because they once got retweeted by Warren Ellis or something.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby 48THRiLLS » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:21 am

I have never not bought a comic because it was written by a female. If a lass wrote an Avengers or Captain America book I would buy it and if was good I would keep buying it.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby mrorangesoda » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:21 am

BlueStreak wrote:While there is a gender disparity, it's tied largely to the fact that superhero comics appeal mainly to men and comics that are geared to women don't sell as well because they're not marketed outside of the comic book stores.

Comic Alliance or one of the other blogs talked about how the impetus was on DC and Marvel to change the comic book culture to make more women want to write comics and went as far as to suggest that the companies should adopt a Rooney Rule that mandated that one women be allowed to pitch for every comic. That's a wrongheaded way of thinking. When one of my friends decided that major publishers weren't writing anything he wanted to read, he wrote and published his own. That's a far better and more organic way of changing the culture.


It was Tom Spurgeon at the Comics Reporter. http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/if_i_were_the_emperor_of_comics_25_things_i_would_do_right_now_to_better_co/ It wasn't just women, but creators of color as well.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby 3MJ » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:24 am

Punchy wrote:
I know that, I wrote about that closeness in my dissertation, but now I think it's gone too far. We need some distance, too many fans seem to think they are part of the industry themselves because they once got retweeted by Warren Ellis or something.


It's because more and more fans are the industry! Nick Spencer posted on the Bendis Board for years about his ideas to give Supergirl a shorter skirt before he wrote comics. People like Dan Slott and Kirkman show that fanboys can get into a job at Marvel somehow. Honestly, so many people reading comics have a "Spider-man" or "X-men" story they'd like to tell, and with a bit of money behind you it'll happen.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby Spidey-Man » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:30 am

You shouldn't. All you should care about are if the books are good. That's it.

Some people want DC and Marvel to invent women interested in superhero comics. There's some. Not many. less who are good.

But they want affirmative action, good or not

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby Victorian Squid » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:32 am

Punchy wrote:
I know that, I wrote about that closeness in my dissertation, but now I think it's gone too far. We need some distance, too many fans seem to think they are part of the industry themselves because they once got retweeted by Warren Ellis or something.


The internet has been a game-changer in that respect, for years--it puts all businesses up for immediate review. Even online services like Yelp! or whatever it is--those sort of sites, they give your customer base the opportunity to give honest feedback but also open the door wide for the crazies and their crazy posts from crazytown and can have an impact, fair or unfair.
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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby superfictious » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:08 am

You shouldn't HAVE to care, but if you do, no prob. Just don't be a douche about it either way. I agree with Blue's assessment of creator-owned work being the natural way to progress the current culture.

Encourage more people from a wide background to do good independent work, and it'll eventually trickle upwards and make the industry stronger as a whole.

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Re: Why should we care about the number of female creators?

Postby dairydead » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:13 am

kathryn immonen wrote some of the best issues of Runaways in my opinion.
The Firelord to Hawk's Galactus

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