Women in independent comics?
Here’s a wild thought about today’s post on CNN’s Geek Out discussing the dearth of women in comics: Just because you don’t see them, it doesn’t mean they’re not there... maybe you’re not looking in the right places.
The piece uses the following logic. Fewer than 1% of creators at Marvel and DC are females because there are fewer females working in independent comics — which is where the Big Two fish for talent. From the piece:
There are less women self-publishing or working on independent comics, which makes it harder for DC or Marvel to find female creators that can deliver quality work in a decent time frame. Asselin said having those creators reach out to editors is rare.
“In my time as an editor, I’ve been contacted by exactly one woman looking for work. I hired her, because she was good and I happened to have a spot to see what she could do. But if I hadn’t known of her, would I have gone looking for a woman, or hired one of the men I know that can do her job?” Asselin said.
First off, asserting that there are fewer women in self-publishing — to me — seems misguided. Self-publishing certainly includes webcomics — in fact, you could say that webcomics dominates self-publishing. Underestimating the contribution of women in webcomics is to disregard an entire breadth of strong, vibrant work.
Asselin tries to prove his point by saying that he’s been approached by only one female creator during his time as editor. I would respectfully submit that the reason for this might not be that they’re not there. On the contrary, it just might mean that they feel — for one reason or another — that they’re either better off as independents.
Perhaps it’s a question of creator’s rights — wanting to maintain control of their intellectual property, for example. Or perhaps its something as simple as an indie female creator looking at the offerings of the Big Two and getting the perception that they don’t seem to be interested in the kind of work that she does. Or maybe they just prefer being independent artists.
Female creators are a powerful, driving force in independent comics (including webcomics). Claiming that they don’t exist because they’re not knocking on the doors of editors of large comics publishers seems to miss a much larger point.