Tag Archives: gender

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

It’s the first of the month, and first of the year, and that means a new look at the demographics of people who “like” comics on Facebook. This data is compiled using demographic data from Facebook, and is limited to the United States.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Facebook Population: Over 38,000,000 in the United States

That’s a massive increase of 6 million individuals over the past month. Both the “comics” general term and “Marvel” have had massive growth, which would explain the increase. The Spanish-speaking population last month was 13.75%, and this month is also 13.68%, dipping a bit compared to last month.

Gender and Age

Last month women accounted for 41.88% and men were 56.88%. Even with the population increase, the results this month as far as percent the results are close to last month. Women now account for 42.63% and men account for 57.89%. The female population increased a bit in both percentage and raw number.

There is a negative amount in “unknown” due to Facebook’s rounding of large numbers. Other stats like age and “relationship status” peg the population between 37.4 million and 37.5 million.

gender 4.1.15We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age. Compared to last month we see a sharp decline in interest, and last month we saw a steady decline.

gender age 4.1.15When it comes to percentages, those over the age of 45 grew in their percentage of the population. Men also regained a slight majority in those age 17 and under.

gender age raw 4.1.15Relationship Status

Compared to last month, the single population dipped a bit, while there were more people married and also unspecified as to their relationship status.

relationship status 4.1.15And for those that like pie charts.

relationship status pie chart 4.1.15Education

Generally, these stats are similar to last month’s. Changes are primarily due to the shift in gender.

education 4.1.15Gender Interest

Compared to last month these stats are very similar. Even with a large gain of individuals, the percentages remained steady.

gender interest 4.1.15Ethnicity

It’s the fifth month we’ve had data on ethnicity. Facebook compiles the data based on “behavior that aligns with people of that race.” It’s unknown the specifics of what that entails.

This is the third month to include Asian Americans in this stat. The population is small, but has grown a little as expected it would since the launch.

African Americans account for 3.8 million, about 10% of the comic fandom, while all Hispanics account for 8.4 million, around 22.11%. Asian Americans account for 920,000 individuals, around 5.68%. All but African Americans grew in number, but none grew enough in relation to the overall population growth, so they all slipped as far as percentage of the population.

I’ve presented the data in raw form for this first report, but will do graphs as this data progresses.

ethinicty 4.1.15Generation

We’ve been tracking what generation individuals are a part of. We present that information for the second time below. Growth occurred across the board, with the majority of growth in Millennials.

generation 4.1.15And that wraps up this month’s report! Join us this coming Monday for even more information!

Demo-Graphics: The Walking Dead

Its been about five months since we last looked at The Walking Dead‘s demographics via Facebook’s data. With the new season underway, it felt like an appropriate time to see how things have changed for the record setting show, and best selling comic book series.

For this report, we’re looking at fans within the United States that enjoy The Walking Dead in comics, television, books, games, or even the characters. We’ll also compare the latest results to those of last report.

Facebook Population: Over 22 million fans in the US

That’s an increase of about 4.2 million fans since last year. Spanish speakers account for 3 million fans, 13.64%. That’s over the double amount of individuals since October.

Gender and Age

In October we saw a surge of female fans compared to the stats from 2013. Women account for 47.19% and men were 52.81%. Five months later, and women continue to grow in fans so that men and women are split even. Due to the rounding of numbers when dealing with these large number, men account for 50.91% and women 51.82%. Looking at the relationship status which pegs the universe at 22.8 million, women account for 50.01% of fans while men are 49.27%. The gender of the fans is split evenly.

wd gender 3.30.15Below is the trend line which looks at the age and gender of the individuals together.

wd age and gender 3.30.15Below is the raw data for The Walking Dead fans. The population has shifted slightly older compared to last year.

wd age and gender raw 3.30.15

Relationship Status

The biggest shift compared to October is those married who now account for a little over 30% compared to 24% then.

wd relationship 3.30.15And for those that like pie charts.

wd relationship pie chart 3.30.15

Education

Like relationships, education has changed a lot since last year, so we can’t really compare this year’s stats to last year’s.

wd education 3.30.15Gender Interest

Gender interest too has changed since last year. The biggest change is those who are unspecified, which rose across the board.

wd gender interest 3.30.15Ethnicity

This is also the first report where ethnicity is tracked for The Walking Dead. Interestingly African American women are a majority of fans for African Americans.

wd ethnicity 3.30.15Generation

When it comes to generational labels women account for a vast majorty of those interested in The Walking Dead for Baby Boomers and Generation X. It shouldn’t be surprising considering how the genders shift as the population ages.

wd generation 3.30.15

And that wraps up the latest edition of the Facebook Fandom Spotlight.

Demo-Graphics: Women’s History Month

The first day of each month (and a lot of Mondays) I break down the demographic data of those who “like” comics on Facebook. With about 32 million people this past month, the data represents those with an interest in comics (over 100 terms made up of publishers, generic terms like “comics,” and comic specific terms like “one-shot”). These are not necessarily purchasers or subscribers, they’d be a subset of this group, these are folks who are interested in comics, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, or publishers. That 32 million is the first audience we as a community should be reaching out to to push comics forward. They are the most likely to be interested in comics, and become regular readers and customers.

But, any good marketer knows, that demographic data is just one small portion of who a “customer” is. To truly get the whole picture of who these individuals are, and get even better bang for the buck, you also need to understand their interests and habits.

With the call to “push comics forward,” I’ve dug further into the data showing what else individuals might like, allowing marketers to better target potential comic fans. Last month was the first post of this type looking at the general comic Facebook fandom. For the second one, it felt appropriate to look at just women to kick off “Women’s History Month.”

Why is this important?

Someone’s age, gender, or ethnicity is just a small part of the equation when figuring out who to market to or what to market. A person’s history of purchases in this case, or what else they’re interested in helps to not only target to the individual, but find others like them. Gender, age, and ethnicity is the broad categories and helps with messaging, but now we’re getting into the specifics!

The Specifics

Again, we’re able to dive into Facebook for this data, using the exact same terms used for the monthly reports. The only difference is this data is for those 18 and up, while our monthly demographic report is 13 and up. Facebook data is enhanced using available data warehouses giving us a better idea as to who these people are.

And now, the data!

Age and Gender

Without the men, this data isn’t quite as useful, but we can see almost half of the fans are under the age of 35.

age_and_gender_3.2.15Lifestyle

Surprisingly, women are very close to the general Facebook population. For none of the lifestyle categories do women really stand out.

Lifestyle_1_3.2.15 Lifestyle_2_3.2.15 Lifestyle_3_3.2.15 Lifestyle_4_3.2.15Relationship Status and Education Level

The general comic fan population were more likely to be single or “in a relationship” compared to the Facebook populace. Women on the other hand are less likely to be single, and more likely to be married. When it comes to education, they’re more likely to be in grad school when the general comic populace is very much less likely.

relationship_education_3.2.15Job Title

For the general comic populace, the healthcare industry was a tthe bottom. When it comes to women, those professions are at the top along with administrative positions. It’s almost the exact opposite of the general comic fandom on Facebook.

Job_Title_1_3.2.15 Job_Title_2_3.2.15 Job_Title_3_3.2.15Page Likes

When it comes to the types of pages female comic fans on Facebook like, it’s health, beauty, clothing, and accessories that are at the top spot. For the general comic fandom, Manga, and a comic blog sit at the top of the list. In this list, the most “comic” related category is in Product/Service where Hello Kitty is listed.

Page_Likes_Top_Categories_1_3.2.15 Page_Likes_Top_Categories_2_3.2.15Marvel has been heading to The View to promote comics, but they might do better to target the viewers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Also, putting comics in a big box store like Target might be worth it too. IDW has done so with their Micro-Fun Pack line, and found success.

Page_Likes_1.3.2.15 Page_Likes_2.3.2.15 Page_Likes_3.3.2.15

 Location

Comic fans are located in big cities according to this and women aren’t an exception. The top spots are flipped though.

Cities_Percent_1_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_2_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_3_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_4_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_5_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_6_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_7_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_8_3.2.15 Cities_Percent_9_3.2.15Interestingly though, comic fans also over represent in smaller cities and towns. The cities are very different though compared to the general comic population. Having worked a comic shop in Buffalo, I can vouch for that.

Cities_Over_1_3.2.15They’re also underrepresented in larger cities. But, it’s a very different set of large cities. Bellevue, Washington has the distinction for being at the bottom for women and the general comic populace.

Cities_Under_3.2.15Frequency of Activity

Female comic fans also like more pages than the general comic populace, but it’s half as many. Female comic fans are even more likely to like posts or click ads compared to the general comic fandom.

Frequency_of_Activities_3.2.15Devices

Women interestingly really stand out as iPad users, though are pretty much in-line with the general Facebook populace for the rest of the devices used.

Device_Users_3.2.15Household

Female comic fans seem to make a bit more than the general Facebook population, but are slightly more likely to rent their home.

Household_Income_Ownership Household_size_3.2.15

 Spending Methods

Female comic fans almost line up exactly the same as the general Facebook populace. Where general comic fans are more likely to primarily use cash and less likely to primarily use credit cards, you don’t see that with the women.

Spending_Methods_3.2.15Their online purchasing habits are pretty similar to Facebook users, but they’re a little bit more likely to spend money at retail, unlike the general comic Facebook fans who are slightly less likely.

Retail_Spending_Online_Purchases_3.2.15They also are slightly more likely to purchase kids products, household products, and health and beauty products. This should be no surprise based on the pages liked. What it does tell me is that I might run an ad campaign targeting this population which features a comic book where kids are the main audience.

Purchase_Behavior_3.2.15And that wraps up our second look at the affinity and actual interests of our monthly comic fandom! Expect for even more of a dive in and explanation of how one would use this data in the coming weeks and months!

Most importantly, to really build the comic market, we need to understand who the fans and purchasers are. By doing so, we make our job easier. The above is a piece of that puzzle.

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

It’s the first of the month, and first of the year, and that means a new look at the demographics of people who “like” comics on Facebook. This data is compiled using demographic data from Facebook, and is limited to the United States.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Facebook Population: Over 32,000,000 in the United States

The total population remains steady from the previous month. The Spanish-speaking population last month was 14.38%, and this month is also 13.75%, dipping a bit compared to last month.

Gender and Age

Last month women accounted for 45.64% and men were 53.13%. Even with the population increase, the results this month as far as percent the results are close to last month. Women now account for 41.88% and men account for 56.88%. The female population continues to decrease, this time not just in percent, but also the total population.

gender 3.1.15

We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age.

age and gender 3.1.15Men gained pretty consistently under the age of 49. Women under the age of 17 continued to be the majority for that age group and gained in population, while women generally decreased in all other age groups.

age and gender raw 3.1.15

Relationship Status

Compared to last month, the single population dipped a bit, while there were more people married and engaged people. Congrats!

relationship status 3.1.15And for those that like pie charts.

relationship status pie chart 3.1.15

Education

Generally, these stats are similar to last month’s. Changes are primarily due to the shift in gender.

education 3.1.15

Gender Interest

Compared to last month these stats are very similar. Changes are primarily due to the shift in gender.

gender interest 3.1.15

Ethnicity

It’s the fourth month we’ve had data on ethnicity. Facebook compiles the data based on “behavior that aligns with people of that race.” It’s unknown the specifics of what that entails.

This is the second month to include Asian Americans in this stat. The population is small, but expect it to grow as the months go forward.

African Americans account for 3.8 million, about 11.88% of the comic fandom, while all Hispanics account for 7.4 million, around 23.13%. Asian Americans account for 840,000 individuals, around 6.27%.

I’ve presented the data in raw form for this first report, but will do graphs as this data progresses.

ethnicity 3.1.15

Generation

We’ve been tracking what generation individuals are a part of. We present that information for the first time below.

generation 3.1.15

And that wraps up this month’s report! Join us Monday for even more information!

Push Comics Forward – A Move Towards Gender Parity

Among the big two publishers there is a fairly common occurrence whereby in order to revamp a team title that there is a shakeup of the characters that belong to that team.  The new characters figure out how to work together under some duress, and then they become an unstoppable team.  This is perhaps the most common with the biggest teams in the medium – the Justice League, The X-Men and the Avengers – as the smaller teams tend to stay more true to their membership.  What is notable about the dynamics of these teams is when the female membership is examined.  Although other teams arguably are better in terms of sales, the Justice League will generally serve as some of kind of touchstone for teams in the medium as it was the first and has the biggest names from a popular culture standpoint.  The League started as a collection of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, the Flash and Aquaman, and when looked upon from that standpoint, the ratio of female to male characters is six to one.

jla01Over the course of the Justice League’s publication history, and more or less for the publication history of every team, there has been a couple of general rules when it comes to its female members.  Female members, if they are written out of the team, and if they are written out of the team, they almost always have to be replaced by another female member.  Equally, when the characters are written out, there is not such a big pool to draw upon when replacing them as if a male character were written out of the story.  In 2006, the Justice League of America was rebooted once again, this time after the events of Infinite Crisis, and in order to tie into the rift between the big three heroes at the time, they decided to sit down and vote on each other’s inclusion into the League as well as all of the other heroes.  While this resulted in a new team, what it also did was to present a somewhat memorable cover (seen at the above right.)  While it is an impressive collection of heroes, the problem of gender parity is obvious here.  There is good representation of most of the popular characters here, but aside from female characters from another time, most of the female superheroes from DC are shown in one panel, whereas there are nunmerous lacking from well-known male characters, and even then the ratio of male to female characters in this picture is 30 to 12, not as bad as 6 to 1, but that still boils down to 5 to 2.

xmenDifferent teams have different compositions of characters.  Justice League International in the new 52 actually had a one to one gender parity (depending on who was counted in its members) and the X-Men have always been better at gender parity, the more so that the X-Men title is comprised of only female members.  At the same time, medium wide, there are generally fewer female characters to draw upon if there was to be a need for them.  In a real world sense, there exists equally the ability of a woman or a man to be a hero, and in terms of who could develop superpowers, seeing as the origins are so different, there is no real reason why men would be favored over women.  The favoritism only exists in character design.  It is not as though female characters should be expected to thrive in comics, at least from a sales standpoint, but creators should endeavor to at least create some interesting background or secondary female characters that would have a chance to grow into something more over time

Push Comics Forward – The Female Super-Scientist

j4p4n_Scientist_Woman_(comic_book_style)Recently the head honchos at BOOM! Studios put out the idea that comics needs to change and to not be stagnant as a medium.  Long since dominated by superhero stories, the medium has indeed made a number of changed in the past couple of decades and the change is noticeable in some regards.  Equally though, comics are somewhat of a niche when it comes to their perception in popular culture.  Although there is an increasing amount of female readers, the medium is slower to make the changes to draw in fans of all backgrounds, and especially at the big two publishers instead still focuses on mostly a collection of characters who are both white and male.  While the interest in push comics forward doesn’t necessarily lie solely with the big two publishers, change has to happen there as elsewhere in order for the medium to evolve.

Science in comics was a bit of an x-factor until the onset of the silver age.  Until that point, science was usually grossly misapplied in order to move along a plot.  Gross inaccuracies were made and aspects of scientific knowledge would be presented, leaving what was actually used of the science to be misappropriated and simplistic.  As the silver age started, the focus on science is what rescued comics from being a medium for children, and instead allowed the medium to mature.  The changes first came at DC, though with the generally more god-like powers of the characters, the science was not as pertinent.  Hawkman and Green Lantern became intergalactic police, the Atom used White Dwarf matter to give himself powers, and the Flash became a scientist that gained powers by a scientific accident.  While the science was there, it was not until Marvel arrived that it redefined science in comics.  Although still unreal, the science was still presented in a way that it could be real, at least in our imagination.  Instead of characters that were either given or born with their powers, the new wave of heroes earned it the hard way, by building it themselves.  Not every Marvel hero was a scientist, but there were a few – Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Reed Richards.  While this did push the envelope forward for comics as a medium, what was left behind were the women.  The female leads to these heroes were still sometimes heroes, but they fell back into the template of having powers given to them.  Sue Storm was a college dropout, and Janet van Dyne was just an girlfriend.  They even did better than Betty Ross, Pepper Potts and Mary Jane Watson, who were often relegated to secondary status as damsels in distress (though Sue Storm also performed this role despite being a power superhero.)

lego women scientistsWhile there are perhaps more men than women in science still as a profession, there is no real clear reason why.  Women at younger ages are as adept as their male counterparts, and the interest for science is equally there.  Some consider it to be a genderized problem, that the “old boys club” of science discourages women from entering its field in some cases, and that women are taught gender roles by society to be less focused on science as opposed to other ventures.  While there is debate on these assertions, it is true that women have no more or less natural inclination to science than men do.  So why can’t there be a female version of a super scientist?  There are of course some very intelligent women in comics.  The female version of the Hulk is an accomplished lawyer, and others have shown an ability to pursue more academic fields than what is traditionally typified by their genders, but there is still a gap in terms of the heroes, and who can do what.  Female characters can still be powerful, but it is unlikely that their minds are capable of giving them those powers.  In fact a large portion of female characters derive their powers from either magic or the supernatural.

What has been an interesting and worthwhile development in the cinematic versions of comics, is that the women characters are presented in a way which is a lot more progressive.  Jane Foster is an astrophysicist and in the previous round of Fantastic Four movies, Sue Storm was shown to a be a scientific genius in her own right.  This is because as the characters move to a more popular medium, they are forced into a more acceptable presentation of the role that women play, more so than just damsels in distress, but also as able thinkers on their own.  So why is there no female superscientific genius yet in comics?  This comes back to the inherent idea behind #pushcomicsforward, that there can and should be such female characters, because the medium simply has not caught up yet to the reality of the world.  There is even maybe not a need for as many as Marvel has, but a character that is at least adept at science, and who knows the periodic table from the kitchen table.  There is no reason not to, as such a character wouldn’t even have to carry a series, but they could still be there, guiding the scientific discussion to a place that is more realistic.

Black (Comic) History Month: Demo-Graphics, African Americans & Comic Publishers

For Black History Month we’ve been taking a look at characters, series, and creators, but I thought it also might be nice to also look at some of the demographic data that exists. The first thing I wanted to see was if African-American comic fans varied as to what publisher they liked.

For this demographic report I again dove into Facebook using the data provided as per usual. In February, African-Americans accounted for 3.4 million of the 32 million “comic fans,” making them 10.63% of the population. In general on Facebook, African-Americans make up 11.24% of the Facebook population.

I decided to look at not just publishers, but “comics” and “manga” as well to see what the percentage of African-Americans like them as well as how it breaks down as far as men and women.

In general for all of the terms below African-Americans account for 10.83% of that population. Marvel, DC Comics, Dark Horse, Dynamite, and in general comics underperform that percentage. Image, IDW, BOOM!, Oni, and Manga outperform. BOOM! and Oni especially do well having the top two percentages.

When it comes to percentage, men and women are the closest for Image, Comics and Manga. The biggest difference between men and women is Dark Horse.

AA Comic Data 2.9.15This is just the first report! I’ve got two more Mondays to dive even deeper into the information.

Demo-Graphics: Beyond Gender, Age, and Ethnicity

The first day of each month (and a lot of Mondays) I break down the demographic data of those who “like” comics on Facebook. With about 32 million people this past month, the data represents those with an interest in comics (over 100 terms made up of publishers, generic terms like “comics,” and comic specific terms like “one-shot”). These are not necessarily purchasers or subscribers, they’d be a subset of this group, these are folks who are interested in comics, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, or publishers. That 32 million is the first audience we as a community should be reaching out to to push comics forward. They are the most likely to be interested in comics, and become regular readers and customers.

But, any good marketer knows, that demographic data is just one small portion of who a “customer” is. To truly get the whole picture of who these individuals are, and get even better bang for the buck, you also need to understand their interests and habits.

With the call to “push comics forward,” I am happy to present for the first time these habits and affinity, and explain why this is important.

Why is this important?

Someone’s age, gender, or ethnicity is just a small part of the equation when figuring out who to market to or what to market. A person’s history of purchases in this case, or what else they’re interested in helps to not only target to the individual, but find others like them. Gender, age, and ethnicity is the broad categories and helps with messaging, but now we’re getting into the specifics!

The Specifics

Again, we’re able to dive into Facebook for this data, using the exact same terms used for the monthly reports. The only difference is this data is for those 18 and up, while our monthly demographic report is 13 and up. Facebook data is enhanced using available data warehouses giving us a better idea as to who these people are.

And now, the data!

Age and Gender

We can see the similar breakdown of percentages as I’ve been presenting for some time now. We get to see how that compares though to the Facebook population as a whole.

2015-02-02_1418Lifestyle

This is everyone’s interest data based on their actual purchase behavior, brand affinity, and other activities. Interestingly enough, comic fans are much greater than the general Facebook population in having children early in life. They tend to be renters, and still in school. On the flip side those in their mid-20s without children and owning their own home are also over represented by comic fans as well as similar folks with children.

Not surprisingly, the wealthy and “elite,” established, and elderly are under represented in the population.

Younger individuals with and without children are the bread and butter of the comic fandom in other words.

lifestyle_1 lifestyle_2 lifestyle_3Relationship Status and Education Level

Compared to the general Facebook populace, comic fans are much more likely to be “single,” “in a relationship,” or “engaged.” They are much less likely to be “married.” As far as education, they are slightly more likely to be college educated. Take the above and we’re looking for younger college educated individuals.

2015-02-02_1429Job Title

This is rather interesting. Based on likely industries from self-reported data, we have groups of what types of jobs comic fans have. It’s not surprising that with a younger set of individuals, the positions are less established with folks more likely temporary and seasonal, retail, food preparation, service industry positions.

They are much less likely lawyers, in the medical field, in computing or mathematics or in the science industry. Most of those involve longer career commitments, so comic fans might not be  there yet. Remember, they’re mostly young and in college.

job_title_1 job_title_2 job_title_3Page Likes

When it comes to what pages comic fans like, most shouldn’t be a surprise. We see lots fo video games, Marvel, DC Comics, comic characters, and Stan Lee. What’s also interesting is we see Loot Crate (showing a nice overlap and business decision to include comics in the service) and some fascinating bands.

2015-02-02_1434But how do those page interests compare to the rest of Facebook? We have that below! If I wanted to build a brand, I’d look at these pages first when targeting ads (along with the previous data mentioned). So far we have men, who are in college, in service jobs, and like Iron Man.

page_affinity_1 page_affinity_2Location

Comic fans are located in big cities according to this.

location_1 location_2 location_3 location_4 location_5Interestingly though, comic fans also over represent in smaller cities and towns.

location_overrepresentThey’re also underrepresented in larger cities.

location_underrepresentFrequency of Activity

Comic fans are also rather active on Facebook, liking commenting, sharing, likely, and clicking ads more than the average Facebook user.

frequency_of_activityDevices

Comic fans use a mix of mobile and desktop to access Facebook and are more prone to using Android devices… Yet we see iOs devices launched first for digital comic apps…

devicesHousehold

Comic fans tend to live alone or in larger households and rent.

home_1 home_2Spending Methods

Comic fans also primarily use cash, which makes sense since younger individuals might not have credit built up. They also spend much less on “travel & entertainment,” and “premium” things compared to the general Facebook users.

spendingIndividuals also are pretty average in their spending, while more likely to spend online or not spend online at all. They are also much less likely to be on the low end of online spending. Good news for digital comics!

spending_2What’s really interesting is the comic audience’s purchase behavior is lower for every category compared to the general Facebook population. Since they are generally even in spending compared to the audience, we can assume they’re buying something else…. comics maybe?

purchase_behaviorAnd that wraps up our first look at the affinity and actual interests of our monthly comic fandom! Expect for even more of a dive in and explanation of how one would use this data in the coming weeks and months!

Most importantly, to really build the comic market, we need to understand who the fans and purchasers are. By doing so, we make our job easier. The above is a piece of that puzzle.

Review: She Makes Comics

she-makes-comicsAs a literary critic and cultural historian with both feminist and queer-ally persuasions, I am often frustrated by the type of historical revisionism that provides the history of a marginalized group by telling their story as adjunct or incidental to “mainstream” or “normative” history. Such scholarship marginalizes the narratives of oppressed groups in the very attempt to recover their histories.

I was thankfully relieved, then, to enjoy the hour-plus-long documentary She Makes Comics, directed by Marisa Stotter and made by Sequart Organization in association with Respect! Films. This documentary does what very little of comics scholarship (and journalism) has been able to achieve: it narrates the story of women comics creators, editors, and readers through dozens of personal interviews (see a list of interviewees below), incorporating them as central to the history of the comics industry while highlighting individual creators’ push toward greater inclusion and respectability in a medium largely controlled by men.

She Makes Comics begins with an opening montage of interviews in which creators Kelly Sue DeConnick, Chondra Echert, Wendy Pini, Gail Simone, and others speak to the importance of the comics medium for female creators and readers. Particularly powerful is DeConnick’s declaration that “representation in comics is absolutely vital,” followed by the injunction that “we need to celebrate the women who work in comics and who have always worked in comics, and we need to go back and find their stories and bring them to the fore” (00:55-01:07). DeConnick bring an absolute necessity to the project of reclaiming the history of women in comics.

DeConnick’s spirited call drives Stotter’s She Makes Comics as it traverses the editorial bull-pens, creator biographies, convention floors, retail spaces, and four-color universes that make up the world(s) of comics. The documentary begins by establishing the medium’s long history of female readership in comics strips of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, pointing at the same time to the generous number of female comics strip creators, including Jackie Ormes and Nell Brinkley. Trina Robbins reminds us that “nobody at that time thought, ‘Oh how unusual! She draws comics!'” Despite the comparative preponderance of women in comics in the early 20th century, a cultural moment that abounded in strong women heroes and adventurers (and with a 55% female readership!), the “comics crusade” of the early 1950s began by Frederic Wertham resulted in the Comics Code Authority. The CCA significantly reduced the type and quality of comics produced, and the documentary makes the very brief argument that the “sanitization” of comics led to a boom in the masculinity-celebrating superhero genre and a subsequent decline in female readership.

The documentary then tracks the work of Ramona Fradon at DC and of Marie Severin at Marvel in the 1960s, transitioning rather quickly to the misogynist, cliquey underground comix scene of the 1960s and 1970s, where creators such as Trina Robbins and Joyce Farmer carved out a feminist space for comics. As Robbins recalls, “if you wanted to do underground comix [with the male creators] you had to do comics in which women were raped and tortured. You know, horrible things!” But in the pages of feminist comix and zines creators were allowed the freedom to depict women from women’s point of view—points of view that occasionally had legal repercussions.

The remainder of She Makes Comics focuses heavily on the history of women creators in comics from the mid-1970s to the present, owing both to the interviewees’ considerable experiences in the period following the late 1970s and to the growing visibility of female readers and creators. Particular highlights include the description of early comic book conventions and the fan scene, which Paul Levitz describes as 90/10 men/women. Creators and fans like Jill Thompson and Wendy Pini bring their personal fan and creator experiences to bear on this unique moment in comics fandom history. Wendy Pini’s entrance into fandom via her (in)famous Red Sonja cosplaying is historicized and linked directly to her entrance into the comics industry as writer and, later, creator of Elfquest. For those with an interest in cosplay, Pini’s Sonja is marked as the beginning of an opening up of convention competitions to women, and the documentary subsequently details the critical importance of cosplay to fandom, to female fans, and to creators.

The documentary also gives considerable attention to Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men, uniquely noting the considerable influence of Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti as Claremont’s editors on one of the most famous runs in comic book history. Interviews by female fans, creators, editors, and retailers highlight the importance that Claremont’s X-Men saga had to marginalized groups, with a number of interviewees describing the “mutant metaphor” as particularizable to women’s experiences in geek culture.

The documentary also gives attention to particular auteurs such as Kelly Sue DeConnick and Gail Simone, as well as the editor Karen Berger, who founded DC’s Vertigo imprint at a fairly young age in the early 1990s. She Makes Comics points especially to the rise of the independent comics scene in the 1990s and its boom in the contemporary moment, especially in the form of Image’s new-found success, as a meter for the rising prominence of women comics creators and a female (but also queer and non-white) comics readership. Anyone who reads Image comics regularly knows that its creators do not shy away from feminist themes even while Wonder Women is avowedly “not feminist.”

She Makes Comics ultimately signifies that a change in the comics industry has occurred, albeit slowly, in favor of greater inclusion and representation of women and other oppressed minorities. Despite this, the documentary comes dangerously close to assuming that all the good that needs doing, has been done, asserting a stance that suggests a triumphant growth of women in comics (or as readers) as a victory over patriarchy. While I do agree that strides have been made, as my articles on Wonder Woman and Neko Case show, I don’t think we can ever be complacent. She Makes Comics reifies “women” as a singular, almost non-intersectional category and in doing so creates a narrative of emerging possibilities for that monolithic category without discussing the many and complex factors that continue to challenge, harangue, and complicate both women’s participation in comics and women’s representation. There is, in fairness, a brief moment in which Marjorie Liu speaks about using her position to empower women of color, though its importance is overshadowed by its anecdotal treatment.

She Makes Comics has very few shortcomings and is ultimately a treasure trove of information that is otherwise spread across thousands of online or print media articles, books, and interviews. Marissa Stotter and her crew, in collaborations with a riot (isn’t that what mainstream media calls a gathering of political dissenters?) of talented creators and fans, have made a unique contribution to the history of women in comics. I challenge academics and journalist, myself included, to heed Kelly Sue DeConnick’s introductory injunction with a critical eye to the politics of representation. If we could get a few books about gender politics in comics that aren’t solely about masculinity, that’d be a start.

Interviewees listed in the order that I happened to write them down (after I realized it would be good to write them all down): Marjorie Liu, Nancy GoldsteinTrina Robbins, Ramona Fradon, Janelle Asselin, Heidi MacDonald, Paul Levitz, Michelle Nolan, Alan Kistler, Karen Green, Ann Nocenti, Chris Claremont, Colleen Doran, Joyce Farmer, Wendy Pini, Jackie Estrada, Jill Thompson, Lauren Bergman, Team Unicorn, Chondra Echert, Jill Pantozzi, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Colleen Coover, Holly Interlandi, Blair Butler, Louise Simonson, Jenna Busch, Amy Dallen, G. Willow Wilson, Tiffany Smith, Jenette Kahn, Shelly Bond, Karen Berger, Joan of Dark, Brea Grant, Joan Hilty, Lea Hernandez, Christina Blanch, Liz Schiller (former Friends of Lulu Board of Directors member), Andrea Tsurumi, Miss Lasko-Gross, Molly Ostertag, Hope Larson, Amy Chu, Nancy Collins, Ariel Schrag, Raina Telgemeier, Miriam Katin, Felicia Henderson, Carla Speed McNeil, Shannon Watters, Jennifer Cruté, Nicole Perlman, Kate Leth, Portlyn Polston (owner of Brave New World Comics), Autumn Glading (employee of Brave New World Comics), and Zoe Chevat.

You can purchase She Makes Comics on Sequart’s website for as low as $9.99. If you ask me, it’s a fantastic deal.

Sequart Organization provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

It’s the first of the month, and first of the year, and that means a new look at the demographics of people who “like” comics on Facebook. This data is compiled using demographic data from Facebook, and is limited to the United States.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest. This Monday we’ll have a new portion of this monthly report.

Facebook Population: Over 32,000,000 in the United States

The total population remains steady from the previous month. The Spanish-speaking population last month was 14.38%, and this month is also 14.38%, remaining unchanged..

Gender and Age

Last month women accounted for 48.13% and men were 50.63%. Even with the population increase, the results this month as far as percent the results are close to last month. Women now account for 45.63% and men account for 53.13%. The decrease in women when it comes to the percentage was gained by men.

gender 1.31.15

We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age.

gender age 1.31.15Compared to last month, the loss for women was pretty across the board. Women under the age of 17 gained a bit while those 18 and over dropped in population.

gender age raw 1.31.15

Relationship Status

Compared to last month, the single population dipped a bit, while there were more people engaged. Congrats!

relationship 1.31.15And for those that like pie charts.

relationship pie chart 1.31.15

Education

Generally, these stats are similar to last month’s. Changes are primarily due to the shift in gender.

education 1.31.15

Gender Interest

Compared to last month these stats are very similar. Changes are primarily due to the shift in gender.

gender interest 1.31.15

Ethnicity

It’s the third month we’ve had data on ethnicity. Facebook compiles the data based on “behavior that aligns with people of that race.” It’s unknown the specifics of what that entails.

New this month is the inclusion of Asian Americans in this stat. The population is small, but expect it to grow as the months go forward.

African Americans account for 3.4 million, about 10.63% of the comic fandom, while all Hispanics account for 7.4 million, around 23.13%. Asian Americans account for 820,000 individuals, around 5.62%.

I’ve presented the data in raw form for this first report, but will do graphs as this data progresses.

ethnicity 1.31.15Generation

We’ve been tracking what generation individuals are a part of. We present that information for the first time below.

generation 1.31.15And that wraps up this month’s report! Join us Monday for even more information!

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