On Comics and Gender

It seems like we can’t get through the month without an argument over women and comics breaking out on the internet (seriously, I’ve been timing it and it’s like every two weeks). Of course, it’s comics and the internet – we can’t go 24 hours without there being an argument over something. But still. Debates over gender and comics are becoming more and more frequent.

This week’s uproar is around Marvel Comics’ cancellation of X-23 by Majorie Liu. Not counting team books, mini-series, or literary adaptations, the Big Two publishers now have only 9 female characters with on-going solo titles. Marvel only has 2 of those titles: Anita Blake and Mystic. I’d really like to say they’ve got three, but we’ve not seen hide nor hair of Brian Michael Bendis’ and Alex Maleev’s Scarlett in months (man, I forgot how much I missed that book).

The book’s cancellation also brings up the issue of the ratio of female to male comic creators. With Liu out of the rotation (for now anyway), all of the Marvel on-going titles (again, not counting mini-series and literary adaptations) are being written by men. I’m not about to scream “New 52!” in a She-Hulk-like rage just yet. Sara Pichelli, Emma Rios and Emanuela Luppachino are artists with on-going titles. Jen Van Meter and Kelly Sue DeConnick are writing/have written some great mini-series that will, hopefully, turn into gigs writing an on-going. But The Architects? All white dudes.

I’m not saying a book needs a woman’s name on the cover, either in the title or the credits, for me to to pick it up. But it’s downright disheartening to see my gender so under-represented in a medium I truly love (at least by the leaders in the industry). And I think a lot of women who are into comics feel the same way.

That’s why the “Geek Girl” community is so loud. That’s why projects like Womanthology are so important. When you do the math, it looks like woman are a very slim minority. When you add on the persistent over-sexualization of and violence towards female characters in comics, not to mention the serious lack of marketing to anyone outside the current and lapsed reader audiences, it’s no wonder more woman aren’t reading comics.

But these are old arguments. We’ve had them many, many times before. And quite frankly I’m really tired of it. It’s like this blogger says, “I blog about sexism in geek culture not because it’s my passion, but because it gets in the way of my passions.”

So I’ve said my piece. When this argument comes up again in two weeks I can point you all back here. But the important thing–the thing I want everyone to know–is this:

As a woman who reads and loves comics, all I really want is to enjoy my comics and for everyone else to enjoy them too.

Men, women, children, my cat. Everyone. Are they all going to enjoy comics as much as I do? Probably not. But there are so many wonderful comics out there, that I know there’s something for everyone.

2 Responses to “On Comics and Gender”

  1. Travis says:

    Yet another reason why Marvel should have never cancelled Spider-Girl. (The TRUE Spider-Girl)

  2. Ryorin says:

    Sadly, Mystic was a limited series that ended last month. Also, Anita Blake may count as a literary adaption, as the character is originally from a book series, though the comics might have original stories. CLEARLY the only POSSIBLE solution for Marvel is to bring back the Spider-girl books. Both of them.

    And I absolutely agree with your article, Ali. Marvel and DC have tons of amazing female superheroes in their respective character rosters that aren’t in any books at the moment and who could easily be used to create some really enjoyable stories. It would be awesome if they made those stories happen.

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