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July 27, 2011
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I really did not want to comment on this whole DC v. women fracas.  To be honest, I cringe a little when I'm referred to as a "female artist", although I understand the source almost always means well, so the last thing I wanted was to get involved in a debate ABOUT that very prickly phrase.  But today, I received an email notifying me that I'd been tagged on Google+ in a list of female creators, aimed to answer Didio's question "Who should we be hiring?".  I don't know the author of the post well but he's always seemed like a very nice, thoughtful guy and I fully understand that his intentions were good.  As were the intentions of the countless others who made similar lists upon hearing about Didio's comments.  But getting the list in my inbox made something snap in me, and I finally had to say something.  It made me feel like I (and possibly other creators on the lists) are being painted as victims of a conspiracy that I personally feel very strongly does not exist.  So I made the following response:

****

I appreciate being added to the list, but I'd like to state for the record that I received several interesting offers from DC before I ultimately followed my Whedonite heart to Dark Horse. It's unfortunate that the percentage of female creators dropped so steeply, and I can't speak for everyone here obviously, but in my case it has more to do with timing and personal choice than any sort of gender discrimination. I can honestly say that I never felt anything but incredibly welcomed and valued by the editors I worked with at DC. I'll admit that I cringed at some of the answers that were given in the panel, though.

Edit: Had only read transcripts of the panel before, just listened to the actual clip. Dang, the tone WAS really aggressive and it disappoints me a lot. But I stand by my statement that there may be far more to the question itself than meets the eye.


****

The author followed up by acknowledging that he did not actually believe there was a conspiracy afoot, but had merely been surprised by the vitriol of Didio's response to a fairly simple question.  And I 100% agree that the response was inappropriately handled and could have been dealt with in so many better ways.  But the reason I felt compelled to say something is because there are HOARDS of people online reading these transcripts and posts and lists and only seeing one side of the story.  I've seen countless comments of "DC hates women!" or "DC won't hire women".  I've even seen female sequential art students lament that they'll never be able to work for DC because of what's being painted as an official embargo against female talent.  Compound that with years of hearing that the comics industry in general discriminates against women, and I gotta finally say my piece:

THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BE A WOMAN IN COMICS.

Yep, you read that right.  Companies WANT to work with women.  We offer a different perspective than the norm, a breath of fresh air, and let's face it, we stand out from the usual crowd.  We pique the interest of that elusive female demographic.  I know editors at both the Big Two who expressly seek out emerging female talent.  Which brings us back to the topic at hand: Not surprisingly, Marvel and DC aren't the only companies who want to work with these creators!  What many of the people who are up in arms over the 12-1% shift in female talent at DC aren't considering is that much of the talent they're looking for are gainfully employed elsewhere.  It could be timing, it could be personal preference on the creator's part, or it could be that the titles remaining to be filled weren't quite right for the style of any of the female creators on these lists.  I certainly wouldn't want to see any company fill a position with a token female just to fill a perceived quota if they weren't the best person for that project.  How would that make that person feel, in turn?  Pretty damned crappy, I'd suspect.  

The fact of the matter is that there just aren't that many of us yet, and the odds of a certain number of us being available to work on a certain event with a certain company at the same time are not so good.  I know the numbers will keep growing as it becomes more acceptable and celebrated for girls and women to enjoy comics.  For that next generation, here's what I've learned:

- Don't be ashamed of who you are.  Just because there are more boys than you doesn't mean you're in a boys' club.  Be yourself and people will love you for it.

- At the same time, if you want to work in mainstream comics, style matters.  I've reviewed hundreds of portfolios and I've been surprised to meet many women who draw in a very manga-influenced, storybook, or cartoon style, but have ambitions of breaking into Marvel and DC.  While occasionally opportunities arise for non-mainstream artists to do work for the Big Two, it's rare and they usually go to well-established artists.  Know your audience.  There are tons of opportunities in indie comics and webcomics for artists who want to tell their own stories in unique styles.  Marvel and DC have to run a business around a franchise of instantly-recognizable characters, so it makes sense that they mostly hire artists who draw in a "superhero" style for consistency.  It's possible to change your style -- I did quite a lot in college -- but there's nothing more heartbreaking than seeing an artist change they unique personal vision just to try to get a job.  If you find yourself having to do this to get closer to a "house style", then you might want to reconsider how passionate you'd really be about the job if you did get it.

-EVERYBODY struggles to get into or stay in the Big Two.  Even dudes!  Just because I got several offers from DC in a row doesn't mean they were always there when I was available for work.  Though the mainstream industry seems large to fans, it's actually quite small and there are WAY more creators than there are projects.  Luckily there are TONS of opportunities in comics outside that sphere.  Dark Horse, IDW, Image, 12 Gauge Comics, Oni, Top Shelf just to name a few!  And don't forget webcomics and other avenues of self-publishing!  



Welp, that's my two cents.  I'm sure it'll ruffle a few feathers, maybe I'll even be labeled a mainstream apologist.  But maybe I'm just an artist who loves her job and loves the community around it and hates to see others perceive it as a frightening, hostile place.  It's an exciting time to be working in this industry and there's a place for everyone who's willing to bust their ass at the drawing table to get their story out there.


EDIT:  Please do not call out individual artists as an example of what you think sucks, or insult an artists' work here.  That goes for both sides.  I don't want to start hiding comments because the offending comments still contain some constructive input, but from now on you've had fair warning.  Insult an individual and your comment will be hidden.
  • Mood: Big Grin
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:iconlj-phillips:
LJ-Phillips Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Professional
You raise some very valid points. Your piece definitely encourages any new creators, male or female, to keep going until they get that big break :)
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:icondeedraws:
DeeDraws Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2012
"THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BE A WOMAN IN COMICS."

I'm glad to hear it, but there has never been a WORSE time to be a woman READING comics. I'm glad your experience has been so positive, but the talent DC has come up with is sorely lacking in exactly what you said: perspective. With one or two exceptions, most of their titles aren't entertaining me; they're just hurting my feelings with their dimensionless characters - and they're responses to complaints even more so.
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:iconceeceeluvins:
CeeCeeLuvins Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011
Rebekah, I'm with you, completely. I was listed on some petition of people DC should approach and I was like, "One, I have worked for them already and two THEY HAVE APPROACHED ME FOR MORE WORK. I AM EXCLUSIVE TO MARVEL, I ACTUALLY CAN NOT WORK FOR THEM." So when my friends all started jumping on that bus I was a little close to tearing my hair out. That list included several Marvel exclusive females and several web comic people that I was just like, "have you all considered that maybe they don't WANT to work for DC?"

Also, I'd just like people to start being positive about females in comics, for once. All of these petitions just perpetuate a stereotype that the industry is nothing but penis sword fights and no girls allowed signs. Why would women want to become part of that? I like your message of "There's never been a better time to be a woman in comics" because it's true + it's positive. It's a great industry to be in, and I wish more women on the outside looking in actually knew/believed that.

So thanks for writing this. I think women in comics might have to occasionally start mentioning that we love our jobs and our industry is pretty cool or people who don't know any better may feel the need to "speak up for us."
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:iconrebekahann:
rebekahann Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for writing Christina, not only because you obviously have a lot of valuable input, but because it reminded me to go check out your gallery for new stuff (and everyone else reading this comment thread needs to, too!) Your colors over Alphona's lines are absolutely sublime.
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:iconceeceeluvins:
CeeCeeLuvins Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011
AWWW! Thank you! You going to NYCC? I'll give you a copy of the art book we're doing! :D
Reply
:icongardenerking:
gardenerking Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2011
Hey, I heard that this guy Didio helped to keep some female-created comics being published, how true is this?
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:icontiuni:
Tiuni Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thank you so much for this. Personally, I would hate being labeled as a female artist, or an Asian artist, because it would make me feel as if my appearance was the reason I got a job, not because of my hard work or current ability.
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:iconr-u-r-i:
R-u-r-i Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011
Brilliantly written!

I think there's no denying this is an issue, but it's an issue that's more complex than some people on either "side" want to admit.
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:iconmlhay:
MLHay Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011
Thanks a lot for this post. I don't want to be frothing-at-the-mouth mad at DC (which, I never was) but there's very little coming out of this squabble that doesn't argue against them.

So THANK YOU for taking the time to write this. I've got a perspective that I didn't have before, and I'm better for it.
Reply
:iconmissveryvery:
missveryvery Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I think this post is inappropriate to the discussions taking place and yes I do think you're being an apologist.

All that really needs to be said here is that if the comic book industry was a welcoming place for women, we would have a much greater population of women in mainstream comics. I'm troubled by the idea of "They draw too X style to be considered". Not only are their many female artists who do not draw this way that you disregard with that argument, but perhaps they draw in such a manner because it appeals to them, it is the style that appeals to their tastes and the tastes of their colleagues. They are the cutting edge styles that people in their demographic respond to ("young" and perhaps "female"), responding to the influence of animation, both foreign and not. These are the styles that make money, that animation styles consistently make money from.

Further, both the big two have taken steps and published in the past, art styles that are not considered conventional are more animation influenced and every time received extremely positive response, I cite Stuart Immonen and Tim Sale and Mike Mignola. All of these are artists that are well respected and heavily promoted, all three of them have unconventional styles heavily influenced by animation.

Is it a good time for women in comics? Not when a crowd can be turned against a woman asking why there are so few female creators employed. Not when the response to the question was dismissive and aggressive. Not when the response is "It's not good for the women in the mainstream comics but--" No. Stop right there. Think about what you are saying. Why can't we have representation in the big 2? Why is it acceptable to go 'Oh, well OF COURSE not the Big Two". That is exactly why it's still a bad time for women in comics. When people immediately accept a response of derision and downright impoliteness, when people respond to this issue with "they cannot expect to work for the Big Two because it is unrealistic". Excuse you, but they manage to hire new male writers every year. They reshuffled creators like crazy, they brought in Rob Leifeld and he barely works in comics anymore. They brought in a lot of talent that has been on the sidelines (Roquefort, for one). They were not just going "we have to keep all these old dudes we have laying around". They're pleased to have an influx of new creators with different points of view, but not ones with lady bits.

"It could be timing, it could be personal preference on the creator's part, or it could be that the titles remaining to be filled weren't quite right for the style of any of the female creators on these lists. " Man, what are the odds of that? All the ladies are just busy! Huh! That's weird, because shouldn't it, just statistically be that there should be as many men that are just busy? Shouldn't it still be half, in an equal world? Still looks like a not good industry for comics.

I'm not even going to dignify the argument against affirmative action with a response.

The person who started the petition is a woman (named Elliott, yes).

Finally, it's a good time for women in any other artistic industry except comics. I work at a gaming company where half the staff is female in high ranking positions. There are also queer people and people of different races. None of which is seen as particularly strange. So no, I expect much, much more from them, they have no excuse.
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