The Need For Women in Comics
Published on September 5, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over the weekend I attended a wedding, for friends who met while working at DC Comics. The man who officiated the ceremony hired the bride, and during his brief remarks he made a comment about the need for women in the comics industry.

Over at ComicsAlliance, Rachel Edidin, an editor at Dark Horse Comics, writes about this issue, and proposes some solutions. Here's an excerpt:

"At the same time, we need to stop grouping women in gender-based creative and marketing ghettoes. Womanthology is a valuable project because it's a vivid and inarguable demonstration of both the volume of female comics professionals and the demand for comics of, by, and for women. But it's not a panacea, nor a substitute for not only hiring but seeking women across the board. Likewise, Marvel's Girl Comics did a great job of spotlighting a great many women who do want to work in superhero comics, and the wonderful range of perspectives and styles they'd bring to that table, but because it was a self-contained project, none of that made its way into the main Marvel universe.

And to make a place for those women, we need to radically redefine not only how we discuss the question of women in comics, but how we discuss and define comics, and in particular, superhero comics. This change must take place at a systemic level, and it must be spearheaded by publishers, because they're the only ones with the money and market power to affect a paradigm shift on that scale.

If, as Dan DiDio implied, superhero comics are hiring only a few women because only a few both want to work in superhero comics and possess aesthetic and narrative sensibilities to match superhero comics' current climate, then perhaps we should be asking different questions. Instead of, 'How can we make more women qualified to make these comics,' perhaps we should be asking, 'How can we define a line of comics that welcomes and uses the skills and sensibilities of these women?'

It's going to take more than an imprint, or a few titles, or a few big names. It's going to take rebuilding not only the borders, but the center of comics -- industry, medium, and market. For as long as we keep those alternative voices and narratives on the margins, they'll fail, not because of what they are, but because they have been made marginal. We need to set about deliberately creating a new status quo, one in which those narratives and the voices behind them are popularly recognized and valued -- critically and financially -- as a significant and definitive portion of the comics canon: not fringe, not alternative, but a vital, central component of a diverse whole." 

The essay reminded me last week's hilarious post on The Awl, about the "Try to Sit Like Impossible Mary Jane" Spider Man contest.


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