October 19, 2011

Where My Girls At? NYCC, Actually

Filed under: Comics,conventions — Poison Ivory @ 2:01 pm

This past weekend, I attended New York Comic Con. I’ve been attending NYCC since it started in 2006 – in fact, it was my first and so far only comic con – and over the years I’ve noticed some changes. Now, bear in mind this is all anecdotal – I don’t have official attendance stats or anything like that.

But the line for the ladies’ room was definitely longer this year.

Back in 2006 I was relatively new to comics. I’d certainly never been to anything like NYCC before (which, itself, was a smallish con, sharing the convention center with two other very confused conferences). I don’t remember seeing a lot of women there, but I do remember at least one: a really fantastic Phoenix cosplayer, who looked like she’d stepped out of the pages of the comics. And I remember seeing guys following her around – not with her, not talking to her, just…staring. Creepily. And thinking to myself, “I will never cosplay.”

This was my fifth NYCC (there was none in 2009), and a lot has changed. The con has expanded, taking up the whole of the Javits Center for four days (well, along with New York Anime Festival, which partners with NYCC). I buy my tickets in advance now because they usually sell out, and I go for the whole weekend instead of just one day. I say hi to creators who recognize me from previous years or from Twitter. Instead of feeling shy and alone and out of my depth, I feel like I’m with my people. (One of the highlights of the con for me was getting into an increasingly-loud conversation with a complete stranger about our mutual outrage over the fate of Wally West. Where else can you find someone to shriek, “BUT BARRY’S DEATH WAS PERFECT!” with you?)

And I see women everywhere: Behind tables in Artist’s Alley. Selling comics-themed jewelry and shirts. Waiting in line to meet the biggest and/or grittiest names in the industry. Wrangling passels of kids dressed as Spider-Man and Supergirl. And yes, cosplaying everything from Phoenix to Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl to Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl to gender-bent Dr. Who and Static Shock to Rainbow Brite. Heck, I even saw one woman dressed as the famous “Clean all the things!” panel from Hyperbole and a Half, complete with scrub brush and word balloon. And yeah, I’ve cosplayed myself the past couple of years, and it’s been much more awesome and less creepy than my initial impressions led me to believe. I’m sure there are still creepers out there, but everyone who asked me for a picture was polite and respectful. (It might have helped that I was dressed as Guy Gardner this year. You don’t want to piss off Guy Gardner.)

Look, every time someone points out sexism in a comic book or in the industry, there’s at least one naysayer arguing that women don’t read/get/love/want/deserve superhero comics, so why bother? But big public events show that things are changing. I wasn’t at the Batman panel where DC “didn’t have room” for one of their few female creators, but I was at the Womanthology panel, where the line doubled over five times and not everyone got in. I was at the Disney/Marvel Kids panel, and when I asked why Disney and Marvel hadn’t put out any books about female superheroes yet, because I was pretty sure the young girls in the room with me wanted heroes too, the rest of the audience applauded: mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. I talked to a man whose six-year-old girl loves comics so much she’s already bagging and boarding and organizing them. I rode the bus back home with six girls in matching costumes who didn’t care about the strange looks they were getting, because they were having an awesome con.

We won’t have the gender breakdown for NYCC for a few weeks, but we do know that women made up 40% of this year’s San Diego Comic Con attendance, and I’m eager to see how NYCC compares. I’ve always said that the only events I go to where the line for the ladies’ room is shorter than the line for the men’s room are baseball games and comic cons. It looks like I’m going to have to stop saying that, and frankly I couldn’t be happier. If it means women are publicly showing their love of comics – and having a damn good time doing it – I’m willing to hold it for an extra five minutes.

Just – no one talk about Aquaman until I’m done, okay?

July 29, 2011

Yes, Actually, I Do

Filed under: Comics,conventions,Gender,Women in comics — Poison Ivory @ 11:53 am

By now the company-wide relaunch of all of DC’s titles shouldn’t be news to anyone in comics fandom, nor should the fact that with the reshuffling around of talent, DC has gone from women making up 12% of their credited creators to 1%. This has, understandably, raised a lot of concerns with fans, several of whom – male and female – broached those concerns at last week’s San Diego Comic Con, where they were met with deflection, jokes from male creators, and a bewildering amount of hostility from Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, who demanded to know who they should have hired.

And here’s the thing: several popular female creators were approached to take part in the relaunch, like Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marjorie M. Liu, and Rebekah Isaacs. Probably more were approached or submitted pitches that we haven’t heard about. Maybe a lot more. So yeah, I don’t entirely blame DiDio for being frustrated, if he tried to get female talent, was unable to for various reasons, and is now being taken to task for it.

But 2 women to 105 men is a pretty hefty imbalance. And I doubt 103 women were approached and turned DC down.

I’ve been reading a lot about this and the comment I keep seeing is “What do you want, a quota?” People critiquing the hiring decisions are quick to deny that they want a quota and instead offer lists of female writers and artists they’d like to see in the relaunch: “No, I don’t want a quota, but how about Amanda Conner?”

I’ll say it: I want a quota.

This is not to say that I want DC to grab the first ten women who walk by the office and give them jobs writing and drawing comics. And I’m aware that DC doesn’t hire people who haven’t already established themselves in some way, and with good reason. Top publishers don’t take unsolicited talent. (Despite Grant Morrison’s implication that you can simply “send in your stuff” to DC and be considered.)

I’m also aware that there are far more men working in the comic book industry than women. And I would assume that there are more men trying to break into the comic book industry than women, though of course it’s nearly impossible to know the stats on that. So if there’s one writing job and 9 out of 10 of the people gunning for it are male, odds are it’s going to go to a dude.

But it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The reason there are more men trying to break into comics is because comics are still perceived as being Not For Girls. Because the industry is already male-dominated. Because the comics are mostly about (straight, white, cisgendered, able-bodied) men. Because the industry markets itself to men. So women consume manga and independent comics and webcomics, and the superhero comic book industry ignores that audience – and its potential revenue.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t women trying to break into superhero comics. It just means that there are fewer women trying to break into superhero comics, because they’ve been told so often – by the marketing tactics, by the covers, by the stories from the industry, by being mocked and dismissed at conventions – that superhero comics are Not For Girls.

But as Laura Hudson points out beautifully, a more diverse stable of creators leads to better comics. Plus, simply by appealing to women – who, you know, make up half of the world – DC has the opportunity to nearly double their revenue. Twice as much money! Who doesn’t want that?

If DC wants to rectify their skewed gender ratio even a little, they need to start by mining that small pool of aspiring women more heavily than the larger pool of male creators. Again, I’m not saying DC should hire women at random or compromise their standards. But here’s a thought: why not open up a month-long call for submissions from female writers and artists who’d like to break into the industry but haven’t quite gotten there yet? Female artists can send in portfolios; female writers, pitches and scripts. Sure, you’ll have to wade through a lot of dross, but that’s what interns are for!

I’m not suggesting putting an untried artist on Detective Comics right off the (forgive me) bat. Just let her get her foot in the door. Hire female artists as inkers as a stepping stone to them becoming pencillers. Give female writers one-shots and miniseries as trial runs, or backup strips. Give women who don’t necessarily write or draw in the house style a chance, as Marvel did with Girl Comics.

And if you do that, if you open that door for women and tell them that you want to see what they can do – and if you look at what they can do in good faith, with the intention of finding creators to hire among them – you can easily bump that 1% up to 5%. Or 10%. Would I love to see 50% of the creative credits on DC’s titles taken by women? Of course. But even 10%, aggressively sought after, would make a difference to the market, and be an enormous show of goodwill to fans everywhere who are concerned about the current gender ratio.

Dan DiDio was asked if DC was committed to hiring more women. He didn’t exactly answer the question (“I’m committed to hiring the absolute best writers and artists.”), but if the answer is yes, then they should show that commitment by actually hiring more women.

And if the answer is no, then they should say so, and we can all stop wasting our time.

May 9, 2008

Current Comics Events

Filed under: Comics,conventions — Betty @ 10:19 pm

ECBACC, the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention ’08 is May 16 and 17 in Phillidelphia.  (Nichelle Nichols is Guest of honour, you guys: I squeaked.)

Nominations are now open for the Lulu awards, which will be handed out at the MoCCA festival in New York City, on June 7.

And in a somewhat more tenuous connection, the Met exhibit, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy is showing us that superhero costumes don’t really look that dorky after you imagine Superman with a fishing-net and some coke bottles on his head.

April 23, 2008

The Open Source Boob Project

Filed under: conventions,Criticism and Commentary,Fandom,Gender — Caribou23 @ 10:18 am

The original post can be found here, although it’s a bit convoluted with all of the edits. Basically, here is the gist of it:

At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, “YES, you may” and a red button that said “NO, you may not.” And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask:

“Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?”

This comment rather sums up my feelings on this particular proposal:

“My body does not exist in the binary of SOME GUY’S ACCESS TO IT.”

Here is a brilliant satire of the initial proposal
And here is a round-up of links that have documented the responses.

October 3, 2007

Art Auction Preview: Shaenon at Stumptown

Filed under: art auction,comic strips,conventions — Rachel Edidin @ 11:01 am

This past weekend, made its convention debut at Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon. Imagine our joyful surprise when guest-of-honor Shaenon Garrity ran up to our table, introducted herself, and asked if it was to late to donate a piece to the art auction (the official answer is “yes,” but we’ll make exceptions if you’re Shaenon Garrity)!

What Shaenon gave us was the original art from a strip of her long-running web-and-print sensation, Narbonic:

The starting bid for this piece will be U.S. $25. BID HERE!

You’ll be able to bid on this and other items in the Girl-Wonder Art Et Cetera auction, from October 7-14, 2007.

September 30, 2007

Stumptown Mid-Con Update

Filed under: Comics, I love you,conventions,Creators,Girl-Wonder — Tags: — Rachel Edidin @ 2:04 pm


Today is the second day of Stumptown Comics Fest, Portland’s awesome hometown convention and the site of Girl-Wonder’s first-ever booth, and for the first time this weekend, I have the chance to post an update (Livia and Noah are still hard at work at the con).

Stumptown rocks. It’s full of independent comics and creators, and it’s small and friendly enough to avoid the impersonal chaos of bigger cons. If you don’t know everyone going in, you will by the end of the weekend. It draws not only the best and the brightest of Portland’s (numerous) local talents, as well as folks from all up and down the west coast.  With a $5/day entrance fee, it’s also accessible to fans who might not be willing or able to shell out the heftier admission prices at larger cons.

And apparently, Stumptown Comics Fest–and it’s exhibitors, volunteers, guests, and attendees–loves Girl-Wonder. We showed up and were greeted by a volunteer who first gushed about how much he dug our site, then solemnly asked if it was okay that we’d been bumped up from a half-table to a full table. We spent Saturday talking with fans and creators, and being generally overwhelmed by their tremendously positive responses. Many had heard of the site; some had sought us out to tell us how much they enjoyed the columns, or the comics, or the forums. Those who hadn’t seemed genuinely interested in checking us out. Partway through the day, we ran back to Kinkos to replenish our rapidly disappearing stickers and fliers.  Phil Foglio came to say “hi” and doodle in our sketchbook. Guest of honor Shaenon Garrity stopped by to ask if we were still taking donations for the auction (we’re not, but we made an exception, ’cause c’mon!). Amy Mebberson hung out at our table for a few hours (she’s awesome, by the way!) and drew the cutest superheroes we’d ever seen.

Stay tuned for more updates…

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