If you’re stopping by The Dreamer today because you read about me in the Sunday LA Times article on Women in Comics, welcome!
I had the pleasure of talking to Noelene Clark, the reporter who wrote the article, several weeks ago. She wanted to do an article on women in comics since, at least once a year, everyone is abuzz about the comics industry thanks to San Diego Comic Con.
Through our conversation I got the impression that after talking to a number of female comic creators she was surprised to be hearing the same thing from all of us: Women are making comics? Old news!
The issue of gender in comics draws a lot of attention because mainstream superhero comics are—there’s no reason to pretend otherwise—written and drawn for men. Sure, some girls love them (I grew up reading Marvel comics) but women comprise the minority of Marvel and DC’s readerships.
I once had a conversation with a defensive man, upset that I had brought up the touchy subject of overly exaggerated, sexualized female superheroes—even the demure, nerdy ones. He protested, “Comic men are just as idealized and unrealistic.”
Of course they are, I assured him. But they are a male ideal.
I don’t work for Marvel or DC so I don’t want to speculate on their business practices. I will say this: it’s obviously working for them.
Do I expect mainstream superheroes books to change? No.
Do I want them to? Not really.
Let superhero books be what superhero books will be. If DC and Marvel want to start hiring more women to work on their titles, I am in full support. If they continue on their current paths, I really am indifferent.
Because here is the exciting part: Women already are making comics.
And not just any comics. We’re making the comics we want to make.
We don’t need Marvel or DC. Surprise! There are more than two comic publishers out there. (The Dreamer is published by one of them.) And we’re finding there is a world of people who want to read the stories that we want to tell, whether that story is getting out by IDW, Oni Press, First Second, Scholastic, or self-published by the creator herself.
I travel the country attending Comic Conventions and Anime Shows and I can tell you this: girls love comic books. Conventions are packed with women, both as attendees and as creators. And at the Anime Shows I attend, women easily outnumber the men.
(Freebee to guys: If you are looking for a cute, geektastic girl, skip the comic cons—gals usually come with their man. Instead, consider an Anime Show. Cosplay as a beloved, glompable character, or at the very least disguise yourself as a brony, and you’ll have the pick of the litter.)
(Disclaimer to girls: If a skeezy guy tries to hit on you at an Anime Show, I did not send him.)
Through webcomics and self publishing, women have just as much chance at success as men.
Though my list of “industry print comic colleagues” is heavily male, my list of “webcomic colleagues” includes more women than men.
Why? Maybe there still aren’t as many doors open yet in the print world of comics to women as men. But I think this has less to do with women’s ability to write and draw, and more to do with the kinds of stories most comic publishers are making and the kinds of things that most women want to write and draw.
I have heard the stories of twenty and thirty years ago. The comic industry has come a long way. But luckily not only are attitudes changing, we live in a digital era where you no longer need a publisher to make and sell books.
This has given women equal footing with men when it comes to the internet. It is the great leveler.
All that matters is this: Are you telling a story that people want to read?
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When I started writing The Dreamer I never thought about making a “girls comic.” I thought only about writing a story that I would want to read. A movie I would go back to the theater to watch twice, and then still buy the DVD.
And I bet that nine out of ten female creators you ask would say the same thing.
Tell great stories and people will want to read them. Period.
Men love my comic. Women love my comic. Not every man loves it and not every woman loves it. Any story is a matter of personal taste, just like the “Big Two” superhero stories.
And I won’t tell them they need to stop, since they haven’t told me yet that I need to.