women in the comic industry

thisisntacomic  asked:

What are some of the most effective ways for people to support women in the comics industry?

The Best way to support women in comics is to Buy their books!  Share their projects. Tell them what you think of their work. Every little bit helps. I spend a lot of time sitting at home because of the nature of my work. It’s only at conventions that I realize people are moved by it. That’s important to me. It lets me know what I’m doing is really making a difference.

First of all, thank you for asking this question. It is a beautiful question and makes me very happy!  

The comic book industry functions in many ways like most other industries adapting itself to meet the demands of its customers.  The more people buy work from female creators, the more leverage and inherent value they will have in dealing with publishers.  Real empowerment in the comic industry comes from having real fans and being able to guarantee certain sales numbers when a product is distributed in the marketplace.  This is why social media has become so important over the last decade – it is how creators communicate directly with their readers, often urging them to buy the books they are creating.  You should know that anytime you buy something that is made by a female creator, or that features a positive female character, you are voting with your dollars – and telling the publisher that they should keep hiring that creator and making that product.  These same principles apply to supporting female run Kickstarters, buying from female creators at conventions, and showing up at special signings and events that honor those women.  If you can’t afford to buy all the things you love and support, I would suggest following those creators on social media and retweeting and reposting their announcements to help increase the likelihood of other people supporting them.  Thank you for supporting female creators!

10

Hi everyone! At this point, I’m approximately half-way done with my paper (it’s over 12 pages at this point, woah), and since I plan to get it published in a scholarly journal, I won’t be posting it on here. But I did give a presentation based on my research at Simmons College’s undergraduate symposium this past Wednesday.

Subjects of my research

Agent Carter

The ABC series Marvel’s Agent Carter, which is a spin-off of the Captain America film series focusing on Agent Peggy Carter, a skilled agent for the Strategic Scientific Reserve and the right-hand-woman/love interest of Captain America, as she struggles to prove herself in the sexist society of post-World War II America.

Sailor Moon

A Japanese magical girl anime and manga series that follows 14 year-old Usagi Tsukino, a.k.a. Sailor Moon, and her friends who upon awakening with the power to transform into a team of superheroines, known as the Sailor Guardians, fight for love and justice in order to protect the Solar System.

What is weaponized femininity?

A trope commonly found in female action heroines wherein their femininity is retained alongside masculine demonstrations of physical or mental strength, or functions as something to be manipulated as a tool of empowerment.

Its juxtaposition of masculine power with traditional femininity presents the feminine and the feminine-subject as active agents capable of undermining patriarchal power as well as cultural assumptions of girls and young women.

Offers resistance to what feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey called the “active-male/passive-female dichotomy” of gendered power on film, wherein men are depicted in active roles that bestow them with agency within a narrative, whereas  women in film serve as objectified, sexually titillating spectacles for “the male gaze” of the male audience.

Although hyperfeminine action heroines and female characters who manipulate the terms of their femininity have been the subject of feminist media scholars for years, there is currently no academic scholarship on the trope of weaponized femininity itself. This is because the term “weaponized femininity” is a neologism that began circulating around the feminist blogosphere around 2013. Thus, I was tasked with giving this concept validity as a trope in and of itself.

Component #1 - Masquerade

Female characters use or manipulate the terms of their femininity in order to gain power, navigate through oppressive power structures, or subvert patriarchal authority.

Draws from theorist Joan Riviere’s idea of femininity as strategic masquerade, wherein “womanliness…[can] be assumed and worn as a mask” to hide a woman’s possession of masculine strength.

Often enacted by superheroines, female secret agents, and female assassins, who perform a carefully constructed feminine identity in order to infiltrate the unsuspecting male sphere.

Component #2 - Destability of Gender Assumptions

Wherein hyperfeminine female characters demonstrate physical and/or mental strength on par with men.

The physical power and mental strength of these feminine subjects stands in opposition to cultural assumptions of female passivity,  refuting assumptions of appropriate gender roles by unifying feminine appearance and masculine toughness.

This iteration of weaponized femininity is frequently found in the young girl action heroine, who offers transgressive potential through her unique combination of physical power with stereotypical youth and femininity.

While the young girl action heroine has been featured throughout Western media ― The Powerpuff Girls (1998 - 2005), Hanna (2011),  and The Professional (1994) ― she has proven to be a cultural phenomenon throughout Japanese anime and manga in the form of “the beautiful fighting girl” (sentō bishōjo), young heroines whose “pure and lovable girlishness remain intact” while they do battle and fight to save the world.

Component #3 - Empowered Femininity

The powers of these heroines are characterized as feminine or depicted as stemming from femininity.

Constitutes a reclamation of femininity as a site of empowerment, reinscribing traditionally feminine characteristics with the active power commonly attributed to masculinity.

“The heroines themselves are empowered by their femininity, their weapons and superpowers as pink and girly as Barbie’s accessories, but as lethal as Rambo with heavy artillery strapped to his bulging chest. ”

Divisiveness of Criticism

However, feminist criticism towards these feminine action heroine attests to the weaponized femininity trope having a “double stake” in simultaneously resisting and reinforcing Mulvey’s active-male/passive-female dichotomy

The degree in which these hyperfeminine heroines are coded as sexually desirable objects sees the trope working in favor of the male gaze, presenting their resistance to female passivity as “erotic spectacle” and turning them into “sexist window-dressing” for male audiences.

The empowerment strategy contained in weaponized femininity also bears likeness to the neoliberal “tropes of freedom and choice” contained in postfeminist ideology. Thus, the trope often takes the form of the depoliticized, market-oriented Girl Power narrative that presents surface-level feminist rhetoric in commercial, apolitical ways.

Zack Snyder’s (Dir. Batman vs. Superman) 2011 film Sucker Punch was subject to criticism for the highly sexualized ways in which its heroines were depicted. Variety’s Peter Debruge called the film “misleadingly positioned as female empowerment despite clearly having been hatched as fantasy fodder for 13-year-old guys.”  

My Argument

As valid as these criticisms are, most of them fail to take into account the influence that female-authorship and female-readership/audience have on the trope’s images. Male agency over these narratives is assumed, and thus depictions of female sexuality constructed by female creators can be conflated with sexual objectification.

Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze specifically notes that these sexist images of women are the products of male production and the privileging of male audiences.

Furthermore, for feminist scholarship on Japanese anime (particularly Sailor Moon), theorists tend to apply strictly Western concepts of gender and feminist theory (such as Girl Power) onto these culturally Eastern narratives. This also ignores the fact that there is a rich history of female authorship to be found in Japanese manga.

I my paper I examine how female authorship and an explicit focus towards female audiences influence depictions of weaponized femininity, which I propose give female characters greater agency, subverts sexual objectification, and reinserts feminist gender politics back into the trope itself.

Weaponized Femininity in Agent Carter 

A significantly female production that centralizes female creative power, giving female-agency over a female-led narrative. Not only was Hayley Atwell integral to to show’s development but she’s an outspoken feminist herself who’s emphasized the political nature of her character.

Additionally, two of the three showrunners are women - Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas.

Agent Carter is also the first series within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to focus on a female heroine, and was also developed out of response to feminist criticism that the Marvel series was sidelining female characters. To this date, this series and Netflix’s Jessica Jones are the only two female-led series to exist.

While Peggy Carter’s role as Captain America first love-interest in the comics was minor, she was expanded on into a supporting role in the film. In the series, her male-authored history is challenged under female-authorship, which gives her the leading role. In this way, you can say that women really reclaimed Peggy as their own!

The show’s 1946 setting sees the trope politicized against post-war sexism and misogyny, at a time when women were being forced back into the home and gender roles were being re-established.

Despite her credentials, Peggy is dismissed by her male peers at the S.S.R., who demote her to secretarial duties and exclude her from field work.

In order to clear the name of her War-friend Howard Stark, Peggy is forced to use her femininity as masquerade in order to navigate institutional sexism and conduct her own investigations.

The show’s emphasis on post-war sexism simultaneously serves to provide a metacommentary on the erasure of women from the comic book industry, which began after men returned from the War and pushed women out of the workforce. This resulted in the cancellation of many superheroine comics and superheroine characters being demoted to either love-interests or minor, unsuper roles.

Similarly, Peggy is dismissed by her male colleagues as nothing but Captain America’s “gal”, and the erasure of women from comics is paralleled via the character Betty Carver, Peggy’s fictionalized counterpart on the radio show “The Captain America Adventure Program,” which demotes her role in Captain America’s story the core and powerful ally he revered to a gushing, damsel-in-distress.

Weaponized Femininity in Sailor Moon 

Created by Naoko Takeuchi, a female manga artist, who created the series specifically for young girls, because she saw a lack of female characters in the male-dominated super sentai (Japanese superhero team) genre.

Is a genre-hybrid of shōjo (manga aimed towards young women), mahō shōjo (magical girl), and super sentai. But falls in the realm of what Japanese psychologist and media scholar Saitō Tamaki calls the “beautiful fighting girl” character.

Takeuchi consistently places the experiences of Japanese girls and young women at the story’s forefront, reflecting shōjo’s history of politicizing girl’s experiences (sexuality, gender, etc.).  

A history of female-authorship exists in manga. Specifically, the “beautiful fighting girl” figure that Sailor Moon represents originates from shōjo.

Around the late 70s and early 80s, a new audience demographic for these stories and the beautiful fighting girl arose ― male otakus, or adult male hyper-fans of anime and manga, who came to sexualize these young female characters.

This resulted in many beautiful fighting girl characters and series to become sexualized in order to appease this audience and their consumer interests (such as anime merchandise).

Japanese Gender Politics

Once a patriarchal structured society, Japan in the early 70s saw a change of gender roles as women were given greater social freedoms, such as the ability to make their own marriage decisions.

However, this resulted in a sense of male anxiety and emasculation, and men began to feel socially disempowered relative to women’s increasing social status.

As Saitō Tamaki notes, this change in gender roles informed a sense of sexual entitlement and fetishization of young girls, who are still relatively bound within Japan’s age-based social system (one which expects conformity from children and prioritizes seniority.  

Thus, the beautiful fighting girl character was “hijacked” from female authors and female audiences because her youthful femininity and fictional nature allowed her to be easily fetishized.

The agency over the narrative allotted by female authorship sees the trope used to subvert the Madonna/whore dichotomy, as Sailor Moon’s power is sourced in her “pureness of heart” and yet, while being a clutzy, crybaby of a teenage girl, she’s allowed to be a sexual being and have ownership over her own desires.  

The very concept of weaponized femininity is also queered through the number of characters who express/engage in non-heterosexual love (the lesbian relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune) or are depicted as having a fluid gender-identity (Sailor Uranus and the gender-bending Sailor Starlights).

When asked why she included such a non-fetishized depiction of lesbians in the series, Naoko Takeuchi stated, “There’s not only heterosexual love, but there also can be a homosexual love, in this case between two girls.“

So, not only does this queerness work to destabilize the notion of female essentialism in weaponized femininity, but this form of queer representation remains radical even in 2016 Japan, which is still very behind in terms of extending anti-discrimination and marital rights to LGBTQ citizens.

NYCC: The Kick Ass Panels You Need to Go To!


I am glad to see things have changed from the last time I went to the con two years ago where the lack of women on some panels was an issue.

For those of you who are going here are some key panels that are relevant to this blog’s interest including the panel I was supposed to be on. (But am not.)

If you do attend any of these panels and want to do a quick write up or send pictures let me know!

Thursday

Super Girls: Using Comics to Engage Female Students in the High School Classroom
Thu. October 9| 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM | 1B03

Secondary and post-secondary Educators, as well as industry Professionals, gather to discuss using comics in the classroom to engage female students. The Panel will include many comics/graphic novel titles for teachers to use, teaching strategies and overall engagement techniques to ensure that use of comics in your classroom is not seen as just “for the boys.”

(I think libraries and schools are one of the most important conduits for getting comics into the hands of new, i.e. female, readers. So glad to see this at NYCC)

#WeNeedDiverse (Comic) Books – Diversity in Comics

Thu. October 9| 5:15 PM – 6:00 PM | 1A01
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign reflects the need for representation of diversity in children and teen literature – kids need to see themselves in what they read and they also need to be exposed to realities different to their own. What is the current state of diversity in comics and how far has it come? How can the medium of comics further lend to diverse narratives and empathic readers? From Superman vs. the KKK to the arrival of Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, find out more.

(If you read this blog you know this issue is incredibly important to me - again really glad to see this at NYCC)

New York TimesOUT and GeeksOUT Presents LGBT in Comics
Thu. October 9| 7:00 PM – 7:45 PM | 1A10
Join the discussion of LGBT Characters and Creators in comics with some of the industry’s best. Join Moderator Jude Biersdorfer (NYTimes Book Review – Staff Editor) and Panelists Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman), Kieron Gillen (Young Avengers), Jamie McKevlie (Young Avengers), Luciano Vecchio (Marvel Infinite Comics Ultimate Spider-Man) and Annie Mok (Screentests) as they dive into the subject of LGBT diversity. Bring your best questions for this amazing Panel and they will answer them live.

(This panel gets bigger and better every year. When I went two years ago the line was so long I’m not sure everyone got in. Make sure to get there early)

Friday

“Marry, Do or Kill?” What Will it Take to Shatter Female Stereotypes in Comics?
Fri. October 10| 11:15 AM - 12:00 PM | 1A05

Female characters have historically been limited to sexy good girls or sexy bad girls, with little between. Readers are ready for change. A panel of Writers, Artists and Editors weigh in on “strong female characters,” “fridged women,” the Bechdel test and troubleshooting storytelling stereotypes. With Marvel Editor Ellie Pyle, Dennis Calero (X-Men Noir), Erica Schultz (Revenge), Andy Schmidt (Comics Experience), Claire Connelly (Oculus) and Jenny Wood (Flutter). Moderated by Enrica Jang, Editor at Red Stylo Media.

(Yes, Yes, and yes. Great panelists, too.)

Marvel 75th Anniversary: World Outside Your Window – Diversity in Marvel Comics
Fri. October 10| 1:00 PM - 1:45 PM | 1A18

Take a look inside Marvel’s ground-breaking history, as we shine the spotlight on the Creators who challenged, re-defined and shaped Marvel’s perception as an innovative publisher of comics. Join Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and a mighty gathering of Marvel Creators as they discuss the importance of diversity in comics and how Marvel upholds the tradition of presenting the world outside your window. Panelists will include Kurt Busiek (Marvels), Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel), Kieron Gillen (Young Avengers), Ann Nocenti (Daredevil) and other Mighty Marvel Guests!

(Glad to see Marvel taking diversity in their comics. Hope their panel gets a little bit more diverse.)

Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender and the Comic Book Medium
Fri. October 10| 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM | 1A24
Diversity. Women in Comics. Both subjects are hot button topics in the comic book industry. However, it isn’t often that both issues collide. This Panel includes Creators and Artists that are not only women, but women of color working in Multimedia industries. Host Regine L. Sawyer, (Owner of Lockett Down Productions), will lead a discussion touching on issues like gender/ethnic representation in comics, the ‘CON-sent’ movement and how they are currently influencing the industry as a whole.

(Again very happy to see this panel at NYCC.)

Prism Comics Presents: Women in Queer Comics Fri. October 10| 2:15 PM - 3:00 PM | 1A14

Be it in print or on the web, lesbian, transgender and bisexual women are using comics to tell their stories more and more. Join Moderator Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads, Gooch) and Panelists Joan Hilty (Bitter Girl), Jennifer Camper (Women’s Review of Books, Bitch Magazine), Kristin Enos (Web of Lives, Deseo), Ariel Schrag (Likewise, Adam) and Elizabeth Fernandez (The Code Crimson) for a discussion of queer women’s improved profile in the industry and their approach to storytelling.

(Prism always has good panels - I imagine this one will be no exception)

Vulture Presents Carol Corps and Beyond: The Future of Female Fandom

Fri. October 10| 4:00 PM - 4:45 PM | 1A10

Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and Batgirl have sparked an explosion of enthusiasm and visibility for women in comics. Female leads have been present since the dawn of comics, so why is their popularity only seeing a rise now? Some say the internet is responsible – but if that’s true, why didn’t this happen 15 years ago? And what role, if any, do leading ladies’ portrayals onscreen play? Most importantly, we must keep this momentum going and not let this be just a flash in the pan! With Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Sana Amanat.

(This the panel I was invited to be on. And agreed to be on. But am not on. Grrr.) 

Saturday

The Mary Sue Presents – Strong Female Characters: The Women Shining in Geek Media
Sat. October 11| 1:15 PM - 2:00 PM | 1A01

We often ask to see “strong female characters” in our geek media and are critical when Creators fall short but this Panel will focus on the positive representations of women, both as they exist now and as they’ve evolved over time and those creating them. We’ll also be discussing the impact positive representations had on the lives of the Panelists and their hopes for characters we’ll see in the future. With Jill Pantozzi.

(Jill is always good on these panels - good to see The Mary Sue flying that feminist flag.)

DC Entertainment – Batman 75th Anniversary
Sat. October 11| 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM | Empire Stage 1-E

Throughout his 75 year history, the Dark Knight has become one of the most popular and widely recognized super heroes in the world. From comics to TV to movies to video games, the World’s Greatest Detective has permeated all entertainment mediums and beyond. Come by for a look at Batman’s rich history and what the future holds for this pop culture icon with industry titans and other surprise Guests!

(Hoping some of those surprise guests are women because right now this panel all dudes.)

DC Comics – Champions of Justice
Sat. October 11| 4:15 PM - 5:00 PM | 1A06

The heroes of DC Comics – The New 52 return to New York for a star-studded, action packed Panel! Join the Creators of DC Comics’ most powerful and influential heroes and heroines for a sneak peek of what is to come for these champions of justice!

(Ditto to the above comment)

Women of DC Entertainment
Sat. October 11| 6:15 PM -7:00 PM | 1A06

With Marguerite Bennett, Becky Cloonan, Amanda Conner, Meredith Finch, Caitlin Kittredge, Gail Simone, Babs Tarr
This amazing cast of editors, artists and writers – discuss their unique creative processes on some of your favorite titles. Not to be missed!

(I’m really happy DC Comics FINALLY did a panel like this. Really)

Sunday

Secret Identities – Transgender Themes in Comic Books
Sun. October 12| 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM | 1A01

From The Avengers to Batgirl, gender change has become more and more common in comic books, but comics have addressed transgender themes since the Golden Age. Indie and mainstream comics have been written and illustrated by transgender talent too. Join a Panel of Writers and Artists who will discuss the impact of transgender characters, and how Transgender Comic Book Creators have influenced the industry over the years. With Gail Simone, Rachel Pollack, Charles Battersby.

(Guys, it’s FREAKING Rachel Pollack who wrote Doom Patrol for Vertigo. I would not miss this panel.)

Women of MARVEL Panel
Sun. October 12| 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM | 1A06
From Ms. Marvel to Black Widow, from Twitter to tumblr, women in comics has been one of the most talked-about topics in the industry recently. Join the conversation as women from every discipline in the creative process at Marvel discuss what it’s like working as a woman in comics today and what it means for the future of the industry! Plus, plenty of special announcements! Panelists will include Editor Sana Amanat, Talent Scout Jeanine Schaefer, Associate Producer Judy Stephens, writers Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel) and Erica Henderson, and other Mighty Marvel Guests!

(Marvel once again has their Sunday Women of Marvel panel which is always filled to the brim with a loud and enthusiastic crowd (which must be a joy for all the late night Con partiers.) Marvel has some EXCELLENT news coming out of the con so there may be some other folks showing up. Have fun!)

Again if you attend any of these panels or any other you feel have relevant information drop me a note. 

Here are some of my general thoughts about Gamergate, etc.–

1. There was heavy misogyny in the comics community and industry WAY before Gamergate and related controversies. There was open misogyny on the message-boards of supposedly “high-class” online comic communities like The Comics Journal. There has been resentment against women being in the industry and taking part in the fandom pretty much since they dared do it at all. The difference between then and now is that now, it’s out in the open…whereas before it was institutionalized and accepted as more or less a normal thing you didn’t talk about.

2. I have a concern for the young people (teens into early twenties) who identify with Gamergate because they are the most impressionable and I feel they are being manipulated by older people (MRAs, hard-line conservatives) with their own agendas and political goals. I have a concern with dismissing all these younger people and making fun of them continually for their connection to GG—because I feel they are at a crucial crossroads in their lives & to mock them as clueless virgins and losers instead of trying to understand where they are coming from is going to drive them even more to the hard-line right.

3. Additionally, these young people are being indoctrinated into ways of publicly dealing with life which, ultimately, will not serve them well as they get older, and will most likely further alienate them from both females and society. This then becomes no longer an issue for the gamer, comics & fan community but rather a political and sociological issue.

4. At the same time, the psychological toll that online harassment has taken on young women over the last ten years is going to also be a huge issue that will also probably travel far beyond those of gamer/comics community. 

5. And the fact of the matter is that all of this already has sort of moved beyond fan culture and into the realm of politics and sociology. But many of the seeds were planted in our fan communities and in our industries. 

6. We—those who work/have worked in media such as comics, games, etc.—are partially responsible for creating this Frankenstein’s monster. We were responsible because of the misogynistic content we pushed out (or, at least, tolerated). We were responsible as journalists and bloggers for the environment we produced and at times manipulated for our own advantage. And we were responsible for then turning around and making fun of & turning our noses up at several generations of socially-awkward fans—the “nerds” who kept our businesses running. The “nerds” who depended on our media and content to provide them with male role-models that parents and society often failed to provide. 

7. So, anyway…that’s how I see this whole thing. I mean…Gamergate, in some ways, is really out of my age group at this point. It’s no fun sending a “gotcha” tweet or message to a woman old enough to be your mom. But I am still concerned about a number of issues. I just feel that this has jumped from games/comics to politics and general ideology. How will all this impact, in the long-term, the young people of all genders who are in the middle of it now? Will they “grow out if it” as they get older? Or is what we are seeing now the start of a profound societal splitting-off of a segment or segments of our population? And have we done everything to prevent or mitigate it? Or is this the crash-and-burn from the elaborate world of games and comic stories and fantasy-culture that my peers have built up for the last 20, 30 years?

time.com
Behind Marvel’s Decision to Create Controversial Female Superheroes
How the brand diversified its superhero lineup with a female Thor and Ms. Marvel

“In the last two years, Marvel Comics, led by editor in chief Axel Alonso, has been earning new fans—and boosting its bottom line—by diversifying its comic books. Marvel went from publishing zero female-led comics in 2012 to 16 this year. The changes have been controversial among some comics fans, a notoriously obsessive group, especially the decision to hand Thor’s hammer to a woman and the creation of the Muslim teenage superhero named Ms. Marvel.

But tampering with Thor–whose portrayal by actor Chris Hemsworth has helped fuel Marvel Studios’ cinematic success–was risky. Aaron took his idea to one of Marvel Comics’ semiannual retreats where dozens of writers and editors gather to chart the year ahead. His pitch was simple. Thor’s hammer had been handed briefly in the past to an extraterrestrial and even an amphibian. So shouldn’t fans be able to get behind another unfamiliar species–woman–lifting the weapon?

“I think if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before,” he says. Alonso approved, and work began on what would become Thor: The Goddess of Thunder #1.

The push for diverse characters expanded well beyond Thor. In the past two years, Alonso and his team have launched 16 new titles starring women. One of the most significant moves was transferring the mantle of Captain Marvel, a hero who first appeared in 1967 to the Carol Danvers character, who had been toiling in the understudy role of Ms. Marvel.

That created a job opening in the superhero universe–and two of the top creative women in the comics industry proposed a fresh character to fill it. Marvel director of content and character development Sana Amanat–whom Alonso calls the driving force behind the publisher’s female-friendly initiatives–reached out to G. Willow Wilson, a highly regarded writer who also happens to be one of the few Muslim women in the business. In February 2014, they introduced a new Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim girl struggling to fit in who uses her shape-shifting powers to protect her hometown of Jersey City, N.J.”  

Read the full piece here

I am Jamie S. Rich. I have been an editor and am currently a freelance writer. May 2014 marks twenty years of earning a living as a comic book professional.

The first official review of my work was given to me by Jo Duffy when she worked at Marvel Comics. I was 14.

My first paying job in the industry came years later when Diana Schutz hired me to be her assistant at Dark Horse. I was 21.

Joëlle Jones drew the first original graphic novel I ever wrote. I was 34.

The best-selling comic book of my career so far was drawn by Megan Levens, who was also the one who initiated the idea. I am 41.

In short, my entire professional career in the comic book industry is because of women.

Hell, Gina Gagliano at First:Second gave me this T-shirt.

I am she as you are he as you are me and we are all comics together. (Goo goo g’joob)


Hashtag your post “#i am comics,” or Submit your photo here!

graphicpolicy.com
Interview: Women of BOOM! – Polly Guo

GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?

PG: Do something other than comics for your money, and then do comics because you love it. I’ve had to turn down multiple graphic novels because I simply could not financially sustain myself on what they were paying me. The story of the self-made comic artist is a myth. Many of the famous comic artists you know are only able to do what they do because they have a breadwinning spouse with a stable job or they were able to work out of their parents’ house for YEARS without paying rent, with few exceptions.

My friend was just saying to me yesterday: it’s like if someone got to the top of Mt. Everest via helicopter and started telling everyone at the bottom that, hey, if they got there with their bare hands and then everyone else could, too.

GP: Do you think women have a more difficult time breaking in and making it in the comic industry, if so why? And if yes, how do you think that can be overcome?

PG: Style has a lot to do with it. A lot of women just don’t draw in what people would deem ‘house style.’ There are obviously exceptions, but for the most part women have a pretty different and varied set of influences that might not fall into a ‘house style’, and that shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it prevents a lotta people from giving women artists the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve heard editors say they don’t hire women because women can’t draw backgrounds and perspective. Even if that were true (it isn’t), if this was any other industry, that’s something you could teach someone to do passably well through a little bit of mentorship or training. Most learning is done on the job in ANY industry. And when introducing diversity into a workforce you always have to reach across the aisle and do a fair share of giving people the benefit of the doubt, which, admittedly, when there’s money to be made and bellies to be filled, is hard to do.

On top of that, it’s simply difficult to get women to reach for these opportunities because everything about the comics industry tells them they aren’t wanted in it (sexist imagery, fake geek girl-ism, white male dominated work environments, seasoned professionals declaring that comics are not for women, etc.).

I once spoke to a major tv network executive (white male) who said that since his youth he understood the failings of the lack of diversity in tv, and he’d go out of his way to connect with women and people of color in the company and request that they submit tv pitches. Only a small handful of the employees he reached out to actually came to pitch. He told me he realized then that offering the opportunity to people is only half the battle.

The people he reached out to had spent their entire lives subtly being told their work was not wanted, in a way he had never personally experienced. And if you tell a certain group of people again and again that they won’t succeed, eventually they’ll stop trying.

Writing the Other

Hey, fellow white people who write stories! Pull up a chair. I’d like to have a talk about allyship and writing the other. (Everyone else, go make popcorn. We’ll wait.)

This past weekend, comic books had one of its regularly-scheduled dumpster fire moments. There’s this glorified-D&D-campaign comic book which has received a lot of ally cookies for starring mostly female characters. The white male author took the popular female artist off his book to replace her with his original collaborator, an unrepentant male domestic abuser. Word got out, and then things got really fun on twitter dot com. Best was when the author’s wife popped up to do drive-by mudslinging at other women. Comics!

I think a lot of women involved in the comic book industry weren’t too surprised how this went down. Many of us are suspicious of so-called allies, because this is a story that repeats itself over and over again. An ally writes a fictional female character well, but treats real-life women terribly. Or an ally stumbles and mishandles, say, a trans character, and then they have a little meltdown about how everyone is so cruel to them on the interwebs. Cry it out, white boy.

My concern, however, is that the actions of a few shitlords out there make some other white writers genuinely afraid of centering characters of different races / sexualities / genders in their stories. This happens. But you know what? Writing is always hard, if you’re doing it correctly. Put on your big girl pants and write brown people as the wealthy scientist or the epic fantasy heroine, and/or LGBTQ people as the badass mercenary loner. Or strong female characters™ who never throw a punch or fire a gun. It’s called writing. If you’re not interested in writing the other, that’s fine too. But if you are, please get over your fears and just try.

In order to write, you have to listen. You probably wouldn’t write a book about the CIA in the 1950s, or about American soldiers in Afghanistan, without doing your research, yes? So if you’re thinking about writing a character different from yourself, you’d do your research too, yes? And as any good historian knows, primary sources are the best. Those sources can be anything: blogs, overheard conversations on the subways or in coffee shops, autobio, twitter exchanges, whatever. There is an uncomfortable element to this, that there is in all writing: a great writer is a liar, a thief, and a vivisectionist, and that’s the nature of our disreputable occupation. All I can say is try not to be an asshole about it. Steal does not mean wholesale; steal means mosaic theory of information to create something completely new and unique. Listen does not mean interrogate. Don’t treat PoC and/or LGBTQIA people on social media as your google. If you want people to read over a draft and act as a sounding board, for the love of God, pay them. Even if they’re friends. Even if you’re broke and it has to be just a token: $50. Dinner. You’re profiting off their lived experience; they should, too. Remember that the people you are writing about owe you nothing. Not even the time of day.

(Here is an example why research is great. Author Hillary Monahan discusses the use of sexual assault in fiction from a survivor’s point of view, and why you may want to reconsider using it as a shortcut to show that your villain is nasty or why your strong female character™ is so badass. Research makes stories grow, and I don’t know how to emphasise that enough.)

In order to write, you have to get things wrong. Most professional writers have long since made their peace with the fact that their stories won’t appeal to everyone (if they did, it’s not writing; it’s pandering). And every so often you’re really going to come a buster and land on your face in front of the whole damn stadium. So what then? You get up, dust yourself off, bow gracefully to the people laughing at you and try harder / fail better next time. Again, most professional writers of long standing realise that writing is an incredibly psychoanalytical exercise. You learn way too much about your own subconscious, your own prejudices, your own shortcomings. Sometimes you learn these things as you write. Sometimes you learn them only as the work is being received. But here’s the thing: we all should be continuing to grow as human beings. If you fail, listen. It is not the aggrieved minority’s job to make you a better white person, but it is your job as a writer to listen and learn. And apologise. None of this “I’m sorry if my story was misinterpreted” fauxpology bullshit. There is no such thing as misinterpretation. Just, “I’m sorry. I’ll do better.”

I’ve messed up in the past. (Like, I have said shit like “I don’t see colour” in a forum post. Trust me, if I could go back a decade and smack myself? I would.) I am going to mess up again. Keep watching; I’ll not let you down in screwing up. So maybe you try, too?

And please, please, don’t think of yourself as an ally. We shouldn’t need a special term for “white person who acts like a decent human being”. If you seek attention for yourself as an ally, rather than letting your work speak, you will simply engender suspicion with the very people you are seeking to get pats on the head from. Social justice is actually a pretty crap motivation for choosing ethnicities and orientations of characters. The other really does not need you, white person, stepping in as their great literary saviour. Especially if you are not making conscious choices to work with the very people you write about, eg asking for them as artists, choosing them as co-writers, etc. Ultimately, you can tell the truth of an “ally” by following the dollar. If it all goes to them and people who look like them? Yeah, time to spit in the batter of their next batch of ally cookies.

I know this is touchy ground for a lot of people. I’m interested in your thoughts on this, from writers and readers of any background. I don’t have answers; I just have opinions.

6

After livetweeting racebending’s great panel on women in the comic book industry this afternoon (to be posted for your reading pleasure on the site this week!) I headed back down to the floor to take some more shots of cosplayers of colour. We also did some interviews with kiddie cosplayers for BleedingCool.com, and I was happy to be able to include so many great POC kids throughout the weekend.

This group of cosplayers includes Buzz Lightyear, Princess Leia, Captain America, Winter Soldier (who made his own costume entirely), Bert from Mary Poppins, and myself as Margaery Tyrell – KJ

variety.com
'WONDER WOMAN is first female-directed film that carries a $100 million budget #WomenInMotion’
By Variety Staff

While pointing to the gender imbalance that remains in Hollywood, they also pointed to slight improvements — including the upcoming “Wonder Woman” movie, directed by Patty Jenkins.

“It’s the first movie that a woman has directed — a live-action movie — with a $100 million budget,” Silverstein pointed out, drawing applause from the audience. “First.”

2

Happy International Women’s Day!

While it saddens me greatly that even in the year 2014, women are still not treated as a valued group in society, I am nevertheless grateful for every woman that’s been a part of my life in some meaningful way, either directly or indirectly. I am grateful to all that have been a positive influence in my life even if we haven’t actually met or are no longer living.

Throughout my life I have found many successful women inspirational. Some of those included women of colour from various parts of the world, disabled women, transwomen, queer women, elderly women, female writers, artists, politicians, and even scientists. Some of the women who have even made me feel empowered included real and fictional women.

One of the things that has always been great about comic books is that we have seen all of the above women represented, I just wish they were more prominent. I give props to all of the independent publishers recognising women of all walks of life as valuable customers and for looking to appeal to us. I give props to DC and Marvel for having such a wide variety of amazing female superheroes for us to invest in, I just wish they were equally valued and treated with more respect.

So far it looks like Marvel is off to a great start on that front for their comic books, and I hope they continue in the direction they’re going with many positive results. I also hope Scarlett Witch gets treated with better respect in the future, and gets set on a better path than she has been over the past decade. On that note, I hope Marvel looks toward diversifying their Cinematic Universe as well, not just with more women, but more women of colour, women of different genders, sexuality, body type etc. Good-looking white dudes aren’t the only interesting characters you have Marvel!

DC similarly has their heart in the right place in desiring to diversify their line, but they need to do a better job at execution. They especially need to do a better job at listening to their female fans and people who work for them. Furthermore, they need to acknowledge that ALL of their women are valuable and that our access to these characters should never be a case of ‘you can only have one or the other’ within any given continuity, especially when the same never applies to men.

In just two years alone, the New 52 has seen three Batmen (four if you count Damian’s 'what-if future’), four male Robins, three male Flashes, three Supermen and even two Superboys, multiple male Green Lanterns, and so forth. DC has managed to find a place for all of them in their new multiverse, yet their new multiverse is not big enough to contain three Batgirls, three female Robins, or even two Huntresses. 

On a similar note, I also wish that the rebooting of my favourite DC women didn’t call for the complete rewriting of their origins, removing all that’s unique and interesting about them and reattributing those same traits onto other female characters to compensate, and making them more 'sexy’ and accessible to white cismen. I also wish my love of these characters didn’t mean having to deal with divisive fanbases that contribute to the problem by pitting these women against each other themselves, and making fandom an uncomfortable place to be a woman.

Lastly, I wish there were more opportunities for diverse women in the mainstream comics industry to both write these characters and tell their own stories. 

While we are here celebrating women and their accomplishments, think about all of the women (real and/or fictional) who have been the most inspiring to you, and never be afraid to speak up about the things that matter to you most. As hard as it may be, never allow someone with more power than you to silence you and make you feel like you have no worth as a human being. You DO have worth and it is very important that you make that clear to those who wish to take comfort in your oppression.

Just as equally important is remembering that in addition to all of the women who have inspired you and made you feel empowered throughout your lifetime, that someone, somewhere out there, feels the same way about you. Whether you realise it or not, you are important to someone in the world and there is someone out there who feels empowered by you. 

Hello everyone! But mainly the ladies, I’m looking at you.

A couple of months ago, I had a really great idea. I’ve put in on a shelf, but I think its time I started trying to get it in motion. So I’m putting it out into the universe, and we’ll see where it goes.

I want to start a monthly comic subscription box for women (with varying reading levels for all ages)

Each month would feature a couple issues (or a trade) of a comic that highlighted the awesome presence of women in the comic industry! This can mean that it was written by, drawn by, lettered by (you get the idea) women. Or just features strong, empowering (and awesome) female characters.

Ideally I’d like to have interviews, or articles each month contributed by women in comics, but I don’t have everything all sorted out yet.

BASICALLY I want to create an avenue for girls to get into comics (which can be hard, and sometimes intimidating). Or just a great monthly box to inspire women from around the world.

I’m just a little college student from Maine, so I don’t have the resources to kick this thing off the ground floor. So this is where you come in!

If this sounds like something you would be into, please reblog!

If you would like to help me make this a reality (or know someone who would) please reblog!

Or if you just think this sounds like a great idea, and you’re behind it, help me spread the word.

Magical girls unite.

Good morning.

As some of you may be aware, there have been some rumors circulating about my personal conduct with women in the comics industry. The accusation is that I’ve sent unsolicited intimate photos of myself to fans, colleagues, or possibly both.

Sexual harassment is incredibly serious business, and I believe anyone who has followed me for any period of time knows that I often speak against it. No one should be subject to such behavior. It’s invasive, disrespectful, and occasionally dangerous.

Have I sent intimate photos of myself to women before? Yes. I’ll absolutely admit to that. As a 26 year-old bachelor with a relatively healthy sex life in the internet age, these things happen. However, every photo sent was in direct response to either a photo received or a specific request.

Or so I thought.

Two years ago, I was engaged in two separate relationships with women whom I was sexually active with. Given the nature of these relationships, my experiences in past relationships, and various dialogues with these women, I thought it had been established within each relationship that intimate or explicit photos were acceptable, possibly even desired.

I GROSSLY misread the situation.

It has been brought to my attention that both of these women were uncomfortable with my behavior, and needless to say, I’m absolutely disgusted with myself. How I could so horribly misinterpret the situation confounds me, but that confusion pales in comparison to the shame of knowing that I did the very thing to these two women that I openly chastise people for on a regular basis. Also, beyond that, that these women felt this way for TWO YEARS without me knowing and attempting to make amends, which is wholly unacceptable in its own right.

I have reached out to both of these women and have made private apologies, but I felt it was my responsibility to make a public one as well. As stated earlier, I believe sexual harassment to be an incredibly serious issue, and while the harassment in question was a terrible and ignorant mistake, it does not change the fact that that’s what this was, and I accept full responsibility.

I strive to treat everyone with respect, as I feel those who know me personally or follow my comics work would attest, and as such I hope that helps frame how sorry I truly am that all of this happened. The best I can do is own up to it, acknowledge that I made an incredible error in judgement, and finally, make sure that I learn from this mistake and never repeat it moving forward.

In addition, if there’s anyone else out there who feels like I’ve made them uncomfortable, on any level, please let me know. Clearly I’ve misread situations before, and I don’t want to go years again thinking nothing’s wrong only to learn I’ve hurt someone.

Finally, I’ll be making a donation of $1000 to RAINN, as they’re an organization at the forefront of both preventing and aiding victims of sexual harassment and assault. Hopefully my small donation will in some way help them in educating even just one person, preventing another situation such as this.

My deepest, sincerest apologies to all.

-Yale

anonymous asked:

Since you were talking about avengers-inspired/ based videos with different actors: have you seen the pegasus-airlines safety video with the little kid you thinks he is surrounded by avengers? (sorry, can't put the youtube-link in an ask)

AHAHAHAHA sorry it took so long to reply to this, Anon, I had to go out and find the video, but oh my lord

a) this is a super cute video however

b) it’s really an example of how the comic book/comic film industry still treats women that we have the SUPER CREEPY moment where a seven-year-old boy dreamily pictures a woman in a flight attendant’s uniform wearing a skintight leather cat suit 

c) TONY NO, JUST TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE, DON’T TURN OFF YOUR ARC REACTOR

d) Cap’s oxygen mask, oh my god

A++, would pretend to fly again. 

The thing these mra dinguses screeching at Gail Simone don’t get, is that people TALKING about women in the comic industry is not the same as women being accepted.

“Weh weh weh why do wimmins get special attention just for being girls CREATIVE MERIT IS GENDERBLIND WAAAA”

Uh, the answer is that they’re not.
Women are still outnumbered and frequently denied the chance to even show what they can do, or met with hostility. If you saw a three-headed dragon get a job at DC, you’d notice. Maybe you’d get excited at such a rare sight. Women getting a foothold in the industry at this point are only somewhat more common. And that’s after years of struggle for recognition. Seeing women succeed in comics is exciting for others with dreams of entering the field. Each bit of recognition means the odds are slightly less stacked against us. Maybe one day it will actually become an even playing field!

You can tell me “gender doesn’t matter” when it is no longer used to barricade non-male creators out. But it is.

I know we all like comics, but spend a couple minutes in the real world now and then.

anonymous asked:

A lot of what John Campbell wrote about was being a female cartoonist in a predominately male industry and I don't see how that's being too negative.

His opinions on women in the comics industry, while acerbic and jaded, were not what was so offensive. It was that he chose to hijack my post (in which I was trying to encourage a young aspiring comic artist), make fun of what I wrote and how I wrote it, make fun of my work (specific references to content that was appearing in my comic that week) and belittle me (insinuating that my upper middle class [which I most certainly AM NOT] white privilege invalidated my honest advice) and my positive attitude to make his point.

Instead of just expressing his opinions about women in comics (which no one had asked him for), he decided to try and invalidate my experience, my honesty, my positivity, and my work with hateful parody. If you aren’t familiar with me or my work, this might have been easy to overlook. 

Whether this was his intention or not, his words were discouraging this young women from pursuing comics as a career. “Look out for all the evil men in this industry!” is not a welcoming invitation to an aspiring artist.

The other problem with what he wrote is it’s all complete fucking bullshit. The young girl in question wasn’t considering working for Marvel or DC. She was starting her own webcomic. There is no webcomics “industry.” There are no evil male gatekeepers in webcomics. There is no salary gap in webcomics because there are no salaries. The artist makes their art, finds an audience and deals directly with that audience in order to make their living. If he’s seen unfair treatment of webcomic creating women in at comicon panels (something he was railing about on twitter apparently that same week), then the injustice can be tracked down to the individual(s) that perpetrated it. Not the “industry.” Of the full time working webcomic artists I know, at least half of them are women and many of them are far more successful than their male peers. Not because they are women, but because they just so happen to make great comics that people really enjoy reading and supporting. 

Cautious advice is one thing, but doom and gloom is not the way to encourage women to enter a “predominately male industry.” If anything he seemed to be trying to scare them away. Honestly, what was even his point other than to serve his own need to redirect the attention on himself create animosity where their was none? Maybe it was a meta-lesson on how NOT to be supportive of your fellow artists. 

My awesome nerd buddy Mallory Yu takes a look at the difficulties faced by women in comics – yes, the new Thor may be a woman (and women in general have made great strides) but we still face a lot of discrimination and harassment, just for making, loving and critiquing comics.

Marvel’s Jeanine Schaefer believes this behavior is partly driven by extreme fear on the part of some comics fans.

“There’s this perception that, ‘Well, if we let women in, then everything is going to change. They’re going to take away everything that I like about comics,’” Schaefer says.

And Schaefer hopes that bringing more women and diverse voices into the creative process will prove to those fans that their favorite stories will only be enhanced by the different perspectives.

[Janelle] Asselin says the level of vitriol some fans aim at women working in or commenting on the comics industry is “not an OK way to treat people,” no matter the reason, but she thinks it can and will get better. These fans just need to accept that women aren’t going to leave the comics world.

After all, a genre where the unlikeliest of misfits can be heroes should have the best variety of voices to tell those stories.

Read the rest here!

– Petra