Girl-Wonder Elections: Technical Issues and Extension

Greetings, true believers!
Unfortunately, we’ve run into some technical issues with our membership page, and nominations have not gone through. If you’d like to sign up for a membership or nominate potential Board members, please email Membership fees will be waived during this process. If you’ve already paid your $5 membership, please let us know so that we can check to see if the payment’s gone through and refund it.
Extended nominations will be open until Friday, February 10th. Again, please email with your nominations and membership requests! We apologize for any inconvenience.

Where My Girls At? NYCC, Actually

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?

Your Weekly Link Allocation, Citizen

-How DC’s previews reveal their priorities.
-An interview with the now-infamous Batgirl of SDCC, who made it her mission to ask important and uncomfortable questions of DC Comics.
-The good and the bad from the SDCC ‘Oh, You Sexy Geek!’ panel.
-Female creators are having to go to extreme lengths to get a writing gig at DC these days…
-Answering Dan DiDio.
-Not only has DC’s relaunch taken their female-creator percentage from 12% to 1%, approaching the percentage of female Popes, there are even fewer female characters Straitened Circumstances has the stats.
-On Amy Winehouse and double standards.
-And finally, the joys of cosplay.

Standard-Issue Links with Standard-Issue Lateness

First up, an apology last week’s linkpost incorrectly attributed a blog post by S.E. Smith to their blogmate Sady Doyle. It’s been corrected, and I’m sorry for the error.
Second up, a plug Girl Wonder tumblr No More Invisible Girls is looking for self-identifying female comics fans to tell us their stories.
And finally, our links:
-Fantasy fans in particular may appreciate this tumblr of Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. They’ll be adding sci-fi ones too soon.
-Hurricane Irene failed to dissuade many women from reading comics in public.
-Some great stuff at Sequential Tart lately, in particular this piece on the opportunity represented by the DC reboot and this Barbara Gordon retrospective.
-Speaking of my personal favourite member of the Bat-Family, the New York Post has previews of BATGIRL #1!

Yes, Actually, I Do

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.

Link Sandwiches

A slow week for links here at Gworg HQ. Here’s what we’ve got:
-Racialicious asks Are DC’s POC Titles Already in Danger?
-Clearly what DC needs is Strong Female Characters. And Kate Beaton provides, like whoa. See also all the fanart.
-And some interesting thoughts on marriage in comics from Sequential Tart.

Double Decker Linkspam

Girl Wonder apologises for the lack of a link roundup last week, due to ‘human error’, which I think is the standard term for ‘I fucked up’. To make up for it, here’s a bumper crop of links:
-Friends of Lulu is officially finished as a group. Here’s an enlightening interview with interim director Kynn Bartlett about what went wrong.
-How much has changed in the past ten years?
-An oldie but a goodie: Privilege 101.
-Richard Dawkins: just not getting it.
-The problem with publishing explained via dogs and Smurfs.
-The Dwayne McDuffie tribute Comic-Con International wouldn’t print.
-got sexism?
-Shortpacked on the DC Reboot.
-From the horse’s mouth: Spoiler was set up to die from the start. (also featuring our own Karen Healey!)

One More Insult

It’s this week’s links, and the big story is DC’s explicit confirmation that the ‘target audience’ for their giant relaunch is ‘men age 18 to 34″. You’ll hear much more from Girl Wonder on this we are still co-ordinating our response, but this is exactly the sort of problem we face in mainstream comics today. A round-up of good responses:
-thegeekifiedgirl drops some stats and backs them up with a solid argument.
-It’s interesting to look at which books CBR’s readers are actually interested in buying.
-… and Johanna at Comics Worth Reading’s personal take on the new titles from earlier this month also merit a read.
-Maid of Might highlights the fact that this relaunch (like most other relaunches?) was allegedly meant to bring in new readers rather than the same-old gradually shrinking group DC had been catering to for years. She and DC Women Kicking Ass both remember getting male friends and partners into comics.
More on this issue soon. In the mean-time, keep sending in your suggestions for links!

Getcher Hot Links

Prepare yourself for this week’s links:
-A Girls Read Comics roundtable on the DC Reboot, with some great discussion of what this means for DC’s alleged commitment to diversity (spoiler: they don’t seem that committed to diversity).
-… and via that link, this great video of Dwayne McDuffie talking about audience reactions to black writers and characters in the comics.
-A particularly illuminating example of the lengths comic artists feel they need to go to in order to put both T and A on the cover.

Return of the Revenge of the Bride of Gwog

Gwog rises once more from the deep! With our new Board in place, we are returning Gwog to its old status of a weekly roundup of Links Of Interest, with ad hoc guest posts by the mysterious Directors. If you have any links you want us to publicise, or anything else you’d like to contribute to Gwog, send it to us: Our operators are waiting for your call.
This week’s links, first the comics-related:

  • Colin Smith’s detailed and engaging essay on FLASHPOINT #1.
  • More FLASHPOINT fail: DC should really consider how this shit looks.
  • Laura Hudson, Blair Butler, Heidi MacDonald and Jill Pantozzi form a roundtable on the ‘Geek Girl Phenomenon’.
    And the non-comics:
  • A pair of insightful posts by ginmar on rape culture and the myth of false rape accusations.
  • The reprehensible decision by the equally reprehensible New York Post to publicise an alleged rape victim’s alleged HIV+ status.
  • An Open Letter to Nice Guys of the World.