Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do Women Have to Get Naked to Get Into Comic Books?

Most of my friends know that I am a huge geek and a feminist. When both of those collide. You get rants like this blog.

I don't consider myself really a part of the comic book industry, but kind of sort of. I have been a comic book consumer for years and have just recently gotten into the creation side recently with my boyfriend/ partner. I've attended comic book conventions, shopped at comic book stores, and co-started a webcomic. I also have a vagina and I'm startled by the lack of other vaginas in the comic book industry. And I'm not talking about the ones being drawn in comic books. There are plenty of those. I assure you. I'm talking about the lack of female comic creators and their teams. I'm talking about comic book store owners. I'm talking about comic book patrons. We need more vaginas in the industry.

There was an article from a few months ago claiming that DC's number of female staff members for the New 52 dropped from 12 to 2. Upon further research it seemed like they just shifted to different areas and are still on different teams. Or something. I really don't follow DC too much. I like Batwoman and that is about it. And maybe the reason why I'm not so fond of many of the big titles is their exclusion of strong female characters that are more than big tits and ass. Now, don't get me wrong, tits and ass are great, but I enjoy characters that are more than that.

Maybe this is art imitating life that imitates art. Or however you want to structure that phrase. In 1989 the Guerrilla Girls launched a campaign that educated the public that at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 5% of the artists were female, and over 85% of the nude artworks were of females. I'm really sure that the statistic hasn't changed much, and I'm even more sure that the same statistic is true of the comic book industry.

My experiences at comic book shops haven't been much better. I get treated like I don't know anything about good comics. Most of the male employees assume that I haven't read all of the same comics that they have read, if not more. And the same is true at comic book conventions. This almost makes me want to lose faith in the entire industry that I hope to be a bigger part of. But. . .

The comic book industry is dying. Many people may not want to admit this to you, but it's true. Well, kind of. The traditional paper comic book industry is dying. The internet is taking over. Specifically, webcomics. If you do go to a comic book convention I invite you to attend one of the many panels that they have. This last year at a convention I attended about 10 panels ranging from writing for comics, religion in literature, creating comic books, real-life superheroes. At every single panel the topic of the future of comic books came up, specifically free webcomics and how to monetize on comic books in the digital age. The feelings about this were unanimous. Webcomics are where it is at. And that is extremely exciting.

Having researched webcomics and being a general patron of a lot of them (and also being on the creative side of the internet) I see a lot of women in the webcomic industry. Not just in the actual creators, but there are a lot of dynamic, strong, female characters. What I enjoy about being an independent creator (and by that I mean that we are not supported by a huge company) is that I can do whatever the fuck I want. We can choose our creative partners, choose what content we include and exclude. I am the editor. And I retain a majority of the profits and the "rights" to my work. A lot of people recommend that we try to get on with Marvel or DC and that is truly not the avenue I ever see myself choosing. And I think that a lot of women in the webcomic industry feel this way. The big guys of the industry have excluded us and chosen our equally-talented penis-equipped brothers instead of us. And we made new opportunities for ourselves. And the big companies were very late in transitioning to the new medium of digitally based comics.

And I am perfectly okay with that. I say let the big companies die. The internet is an equal opportunity platform. We have crowdsourcing, kickstarter, self publishing, etc. We are learning to monetize on these things and make a name for ourselves. Now, this isn't necessarily exclusive to women. Men are a big part of this new industry. Many of the most popular and well known webcomics (Penny Arcade, Sheldon, etc) are as far as I know mostly male creative teams. And thats fine. Because women are slowly taking over the internet. Not just as creators, but in the form of awesome characters! I'm very excited to be a part of this new digital frontier.

And with that I want to let the traditional comic book industry know this. I'll be stopping all of my subscriptions from my local comic book shop. Except Batwoman. From now on I will be spending the money I would have spent on the male-dominated media on non corporate female supporting media. I'll be looking for fellow vaginas at all of the comic book conventions. I'm going to spend my money on them now instead. Until you can convince me that you support my sisters, I won't be supporting you.


  1. I despise the patronizing and dismissiveness of male dominated cultures. I grew up that way with sci-fi. I couldn't possibly know as much about BSG or SW (or an array of others) as they (read: men) knew. *rolling eyes* Or the comments like "You like Star Wars? Yeah, most girls think Han is cute." GAH!

    I have watched the industry switch and now women are accepted more than they were. (Maybe not fully the way I think they should be - bikini clad girls with a Stormtrooper helmet do NOT count in my opinion.) I've seen it happen before my eyes. I hope in time comics will be as welcoming as the sci-fi genre is becoming.

  2. I read an article the other day about "famous" women in the cosplaying scene, but unfortunately many of the women mentioned didn't really know much about geek culture, just that they liked to dress up. They use geek culture to further their careers as pseudo- porn stars. The fact that there are women like us talking about this says that the industries are changing :)