Women of Marvel Variant Month Feels Insincere
NYCC ‘14 was full of great news about women in Marvel. We learned about a whole slew of upcoming comics starring women: Gamora, Silk, Spider-Gwen. We learned about an upcoming Black Widow novel by Margaret Stohl. We also learned that Marvel intended to dedicate a whole hoard of variant covers in March to female creators. So far 20 variants have been announced for the event, though artists haven’t been named for all of them yet.
(Pictured: Gamora #1 cover by Francesco Mattina, Spider-Gwen #1 cover by Robbi Rodriguez, Silk #1 variant cover by Stacey Lee)
I’m a big fat sucker for these kinds of events, and I’ll likely spend more money than I should collecting my favorites. This isn’t the first time that Marvel has dedicated covers to “Women of Marvel” and likely won’t be the last. Overall I am ecstatic to see so many talented female artists’ work featured. You can bet that you’ll be seeing these covers featured on this blog as they are revealed. This is all worth celebrating, people.
But the truth is, while female characters have recently been getting a huge deserved push at Marvel, female creators are still chronically under-represented. Tim Hanley, contributor at the Bleeding Cool and historian, is pretty much the leading internet expert on exactly how awesome or terrible the leading comics publishers are doing in terms of gender diversity among their creators.
(Pictured: Women of Marvel variant covers. Uncanny X-Men #33 variant by Stacey Lee, Thor #6 variant by Stephanie Hans, SHIELD #4 variant by Colleen Doran)
Tim Hanley found in March that 20 different women were credited to 26 different books as writers or artists. When expanding this to include editors, inkers, colorists and other creative credits, it climbs to 76 female credits … out of 556, meaning that 12.1% of their March solicit creative credits are women. That is pretty dismal. What’s worse is that these numbers are pretty normal in the industry: Hanley found that 12.5% of creator credits over at DC were credited to women.
And in April the veil comes down as the numbers are no longer inflated by the “Women of Marvel” variant event, all the way to a meager 11 different artists/writers across 16 books, and this is only because some of the books are double-shipping. As Hanley puts it,
You can use one hand to count the number of women writing Marvel comics right now, and then use the other hand to count the number of female interior artists, and you won’t use up all of your fingers.
(Pictured: Lumberjanes #4 cover by Noelle Stevenson)
Perhaps Marvel should look at Boom! who in April boasted that a whopping 36.4% of its creators were women, and were pretty well distributed amongst artists, writers, and editors, to boot. Out of their 25 releases in April, only two books had all-male creative teams. So “but women don’t apply for these jobs!” my ass. Female creators are out there.
So the Women of Marvel variants, while good-intentioned, don’t feel sincere to me. Marvel Comics can do better.