women in the comic industry

  • Gail Simone: *calls out the comic industry for killing and abusing women to further a man's storyline, invents the term "fridging", and writes some of the best comic plots for female characters*
  • Felicity Fans: Gail Simone is such a misogynist and hack of a writer.
  • Marc Guggenheim: *directs a horrible Green Lantern movie, destroys Arrow once becoming lead showrunner, kills off an iconic DC female character, and says he's imagined having an iconic Marvel love interest raped and killed off*
  • Felicity Fans: The showrunners on Arrow know what they're doing. Comic fans are just a bunch of women hating, Reddit basement dwellers.
Emotion and Pacing in comics
One of the reasons that I love comics so much is that there are many valid ways to approach the medium. When I make comics, the parts I’m most concerned with are character and story. Everything I draw...

We get a few questions about writing for comics that are best left to those who are doing it. This is an excellent, long piece about two very important topics, emotion and pacing, that even a non-comics writer can learn something from. 

[oops, I made a goof.]

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.

'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.”

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?


Here’s my SDCC schedule! I’m on some great panels this year!

Costume: Miles Morales 
Panel: Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender & the Comic Book Medium
5:00pm - 6:00pm Room 25ABC

The Women in Comics Collective, aka WinC (Pronounced ‘Wink’), is an international organization that highlights the merit and craftwork of women working the comic book and multimedia industries. Their membership is comprised of artists, writers, educators, filmmakers, show producers, art gallery directors, cosplayers, game developers, bloggers, and toy makers. They have an on going panel discussion series that has traveled all over the country. This latest installment will focus on female and racial representation in comics, the fandom as well as the industry! Featured panelists are Vanee Matsalia-Smith (English professor, sci-fi writer, Black Girl Nerds contributor), Leen Isabel (artist, Girls Drawin’ Girls, Pole Dancing Adventures, co-publisher at Dark Productions, GeekxGirls Cosplay Collective), Jay Justice(professional cosplayer and costumer), Kimberly Jesika (publicist, journalist at Huffington Post, publisher at Dollface Entertainment, animator), Ray Felix (artist, publisher, Bronx Heroes Comic Con founder), and Vita Ayala (writer, Black Mask Studios, DC Comics). The panel will be moderated by Regine L. Sawyer(coordinator and founder of The Women in Comics Collective, owner/writer at Lockett Down Productions).

Costume: Wonder Woman
Event: Saturday, July 23 at 5:00 p.m. – Wonder Woman Cosplay Celebration at Island and 6th Avenue

Costume: Commander Shepard
Panel: Cosplay as Storytelling
6:45pm - 7:45pm Room 6DE
Cosplay is more than simply dressing like a character. It’s a deep dive into narrative and performance. Slightly obsessive tendencies abound! Legendary obsessive, maker and Mythbuster Adam Savage, of Tested, will be joined by award winning costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Coming To America) and cosplayer Jay Justice to delve into the roots of costuming, looking at it from all sides: the creative, the technical, and the personal. Right smack in the midst of one of the most stunning collections of cosplay in the world: San Diego Comic-Con.