Tag Archives: gender

Demo-Graphics: Thor

This week sees a changing of the guard as Marvel‘s Thor sees a new wielder of the mythical hammer Mjolnir. It just so happens that new wielder is a woman. With the discussion of gender in comics, both the characters and who reads comics, I thought it’d be interesting to release the first benchmark to see where Thor is now when it comes to gender demographics, and then check again in a few months to see what has changed, if anything. To get this data I looked into Facebook’s data with each line representing a specific term.

I previously looked at Thor’s demographics back in November 2013 when Thor 2 opened in theaters. Using similar terms, back then women accounted for 36.5% of the population. In the almost year since, the female population has increased, now accounting for 37.31% for all the Thor related terms.

Here are the latest stats:

thor facebook dataThat 37.31% is below the 45% women that make up the general comic fandom. It is better than Marvel’s general 36.84%, but just barely. We’ll track this though and see over the next year how this might shift with a woman wielding the hammer.

Thor_1_Cover

Fear of a Black Kid Flash. Not so Much a Female One.

wally westAn interesting thing happened last week when in the Teen Titans version of Futures End that a new Kid Flash was introduced in the wake of the company-wide crossover.  Or more accurately another new Kid Flash was introduced. Earlier this year some fans were upset at the long-awaited return of Wally West to the DC universe, the problem that they were upset that the character was black. While this was not too much different from some other reactions – such as the reveal that the Earth 2 Alan Scott is gay – it is interesting especially after this new female Kid Flash was released to little fanfare or reaction. No one at all seemed to complain about this new character, seemingly also taking over the role of Wally West, though the incursion was potentially just as comprehensive. After all the character is never named and could have just as likely been named Walda or Wallis as any other name (thus allowing a nickname of Wally.)

Although they are based off of general consensus and are generally pretty silly, the so-called rules of the internet cover this topic to a degree, specifically rule 63 which states that for every male character that a female version of this character also exists.  While not absolutely true, it is often the case at least with the most popular characters. Some are direct rip-offs, though very rarely does a character assume the actual identity of the character, though the new female Thor is potentially going to change this. The female characters generally are presented in one of two ways. Either they are a female character that is modified into the costume of a male hero, as in the case of Stephanie Brown in the costume of Robin or May Parker in Spider-Man’s costume, or with separate characters in obviously feminine costumes as in the case with Supergirl and Batgirl.  In these cases though the character is separate and not taking over for the main role. While this in itself could be interpreted as a statement of gender, it is still worth noting that each character has their own self and their own past.

kflashThis being the case it would seem that the problem with the case of Wally West is not that directly of skin colour but that of identity. Wally West was an established character for many, and to change something as deep as skin color for many readers meant a fundamental change for the readers. Is this fair though?  If indeed the female character had been named either Wallis or Walda (I know these are more obscure names) would that have been so easily forgiven?

Before answering that it is maybe relevant to have a look at some of the major black characters from the history of comics. A lot of the major black characters came from a time when being black was a big part of their identity, especially with the introduction of these characters in the silver age.  In the case of Black Panther or Black Lightning, there was no question about their skin color as it was right in their names. While this did not hold true in every character (such as with Falcon or War Machine) it was still a notable part of their identity. In the comic book setting where the suffix “–man” is the expected commonality, it was necessary for a time to distinguish between skin color and gender. Black Lightning is perhaps one of the worst cases of this, as for a time his true identity as a black man is hidden behind his hero facade of being a jive-talking street character. He was not allowed to be educated as a hero, instead he was forced into racial stereotypes. Still those stereotypes existed, and they were even there with other characters. If Black Panther were called White Panther instead, the main association with the color to the character would not be skin color.  Instead, someone would expect that the character has some kind of powers related to the word “white.”

There exists a lot of other names in comics to distinguish one version from another. One major example is the previously mentioned example of –girl which is used almost exclusively for female versions of male characters (with the exception of the Legion of Super Heroes characters as well as Wonder Girl), but in terms of the Flash there was already a descriptor for this difference – “Kid”.

As the character gained more depth though, he was no longer associated with his own name and instead that of another, Wally. He became a real hero in the way that real heroes do, that by association by their non-hero names is almost as evident as with their superhero names. In this way it is not possible to have a character named Batman that is not Bruce or a Superman that is not Clark. The question is though, is whether skin color and gender are so tied to those identities. It would seem as though the answer in both cases is yes, except the more so for skin color. Not all fans, but some fans are willing to make fewer exceptions for a black version of a character than for a female version, and perhaps some of this is tied to identity but some is not.

A distinguishing factor here is the previously mentioned aspect of power. Even Supergirl, who is as much Kryptonian as Superman, is never said to be able to match him in power, despite their powers having nothing to do with their specific gender physiology. Equally Stephanie Brown, for the short time that she took over as Robin was never seen as his equal, even being regarded by Batman as an unnecessary risk to be allowed to act in the role. It is thus the case that female characters rarely break the gender role/stereotype of the female gender, but it is not the case with a black character. Black versions of the white characters are usually just as strong and able at superheroics, and this is likely also part of the outrage over the characters. That in some ways the girls will never compete truly for the title, but that the black men can, and this is the true danger with a black version of a favorite character. A black character makes the original white character replaceable, while a female character only makes a lesser powerful version of that main character. In the first case fans will often reject the change, but in the second case it is more acceptable.

In light of all the commentary about the medium in recent months, be it over the black Wally West or over the comments about the new direction for Wonder Woman, it is important to note that certain aspects of the medium and their fans are still stuck with some outdated thinking.

Kevin Keller, Sensational Wonder Man

spider-woman-1-milo-manaraIt hasn’t yet been even a month since the release to the public of variant covers by Milo Manara for the upcoming Spider-Woman series by Marvel.  In the wake of the release, many criticized the medium for once again making a mockery of female characters. Others fought back and defended the move, but once again it threw gender into the spotlight for the mainstream side of the medium of comics. Some focused on it from afar as editorials from Time and Elle criticized the pose of the character in such a way. Others simply highlighted what were other fan reactions to the same topic through such artistic and critical ventures as the Hawkeye Initiative.

The Hawkeye Initiative is an interesting one. Although often looking very amateurish, its premise is simple. It takes male characters and puts them into female poses, and even sometimes into female costumes. The outcome is ridiculous as expected, but in a different sense, it also highlights the focus of the medium to the big two publishers. While the big two of Marvel and DC sometimes blunder their way through their own popularity, other publishers are taking some more progressive approaches to their own titles.

Surprisingly for me, one of these came this week from an unlikely source, Archie Comics. I am not much of an Archie fan, not generally speaking anyway, but my wife buys Betty and Veronica Double Digest every month, and I usually get around to reading some of it (if not all of it.) The stories are goofy and old fashioned as expected, but while there are some anachronistic throwbacks to other times, it is surprisingly progressive at times, addressing among other topics human rights, bullying and the environment. One of the more interesting developments of characters in recent years is Kevin Keller, the gang’s openly gay friend from high school, who has been given his own monthly series. I hadn’t been keeping up with the stories at all, but on a whim I decided to check out this issue as it involved Kevin becoming a superhero in Riverdale, an unusual enough development in Archie Comics.

wwcover01The story was kind of goofy, though I guess it was fun enough, but it was not the story which was of note. I might argue that the characterization of the character himself was a little off, as his reactions to his crush is a lot more along the lines of how females are presented in this series (hearts in place of eyes) which could be borderline offensive to the representation of homosexual people. The more interesting part than the story or the character was the cover, particularly in this case the variant cover, which as far as I knew had drawn very little interest, although by rights it maybe should have. I am far from an expert on the subject, but comics are known for creating homage covers, often for previous covers in the medium. Such iconic covers as Amazing Fantasy #15, Detective Comics #27, Action Comics #1 or even Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. One of the these covers which is most often copied is actually also copied here, that being the second variant cover for Kevin Keller which is a variant of Uncanny X-Men #141.  Although the homage here is a lot more humorous, it is really the first that is more noteworthy. Sensation Comics #1 which introduced Wonder Woman is a fairly iconic cover, but it is one which is rarely paid homage to. In fact, this might be the very first instance of an homage to this cover, and if it is not first then it is among a small handful. There was an homage in the first volume of Wonder Woman (issue #288) but this was a case of the same character and so this may in fact be the first time that another character shared this pose.

wwcover03What is most interesting about this is that it is a male character taking the place of a female character, something which happens so very rarely in comics that it can be considered to be almost unique. Female versions of male characters occur all the time, with the likes of Supergirl, Batgirl or even a female Robin, but a male version of most female characters would end up in a ridiculous visual much like the efforts of those behind the Hawkeye Initiative. In this case though it occurs, even when the male hero of Kevin Keller looks nothing like Wonder Woman. As one of the counter criticism of the medium goes, if one wants to find better representations of minorities, or women or non-straight people, they only need to look to the independents. For the comic fan though, it is important to remember when saying this that Archie Comics is often pretty close to being an independent as well, if not necessarily in terms of content then at least in terms of context.

Baltimore Comic Con 2014: Comics by the Numbers Panel

Over this past year, the comic landscape has changed as diversity has spread across the comic pages, as well as behind the scenes with the creators making them. Though a stereotype persists of the “comic reader,” the characters are reflecting the real diverse audience. At this past weekend’s Baltimore Comic Con 2014, The Beat‘s Heidi MacDonald and I discussed the comic audience, where we presented hard data (and the comics history of it) showing that comic readership is more diverse than ever and there’s more going on than grabbing headlines when decisions are made.

Thank you all who came out to watch and asked some great questions.

Below you can see the slide shows that were presented, so you can follow along!

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

It’s the first of the month 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.

Facebook Population: Over 24,000,000 in the United States

The total population has remained the same from last month. The Spanish-speaking population last month was 13.33%, and this month is 14.17%.

Gender and Age

Last month women accounted for 45% and men were 57.50%. Women remained the same as last month, but men increased to 58.33%. The results add up to over 100% due to the fact Facebook with large numbers doesn’t give an exact amount to the single digit.

facebook gender 9.1.14We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age.

facebook gender age 9.1.14Compared to last month, those under the age of 25 have shrunk percentage wise. The gain was in those age 26 to 33. Here’s all of the raw data.

facebook gender age raw 9.1.14Relationship Status

Compared to last month, the numbers have remained pretty steady. The amount of individuals married dipped a bit as well as those in complicated relationships and those divorced. Those separated increased from last month.

facebook relationship 9.1.14And for those that like pie charts.

facebook relationship pie chart 9.1.14Education

Compared to last month, the results for education is pretty much the same.

facebook education 9.1.14Gender Interest

Compared to last month those marking their interest as unspecified has increased.

facebook relationship interest 9.1.14

And that wraps up this month’s report.

Demo-Graphics: Doctor Who

It’s Monday and we’re looking at the latest Facebook Fandom breakdown. It’s been about a year since I did a report about Doctor Who, and with the latest season premiering this past weekend, it seemed like a perfect time to follow-up on last year’s report.

This data is gained through mining Facebook and includes about 50 terms related to Doctor Who, its characters, etc.

Since last year’s report some of the terms used have changed as well as general improvements to Facebook’s algorithm and system have occurred. So, changes in results may be due to that.

Facebook Population: Over 4,600,000 in the United States

That’s a decent increase of about 600,000 individuals since last year.

Spanish speakers account for now 520,000 fans, 11.3% in the United States.

Gender and Age

Previously, women made up of 50% of the population. Now, men now account for 52.17%, and women 47.83%. Both have made gains since last year, it’s just men have done so more.

doctor who genderWe’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age. It’s interesting that women that are 17 and under are a majority in their age group.

doctor who gender ageHere’s the above data in its raw form.

doctor who gender age

Relationship Status

This statistic has changed a lot since last year with many more options available to choose from. The percentages have shifted to the new categories, but it’s not easy to compare the two. What has stood out to me in the new stats is the amount of women married or widowed.

doctor who relationshipAnd for those that like pie charts.

doctor who relationship pie chart

Education

Like relationships, the education choices have expanded, so it’s difficult to compare it to last year. But, what’s amazing is women outnumbering men in almost every category other than “doctorate degree,” “college grad, and “high school grads.”

doctor who education

Gender Interest

This category too has expanded with more choices than ever before. But, compared to last year, it looks like there’s been a slight decrease in those interested in the same sex.

doctor who gender interest

Demo-Graphics: The State of “Gamers” 2014

It’s Monday and we’re looking at the latest Facebook Fandom breakdown. It’s been a year since I did a report about “gamers” in the lead up to Gen Con. So, welcome to the “first” annual State of Gamers.

This data is gained through mining Facebook and includes over 160 different terms from a variety of games, publishers, and more. The terms I used are varied, and many, from the name of games to the name of publishers and terms like collectible card game. For this I did my best to stay away from generic terms for genres (like Fantasy) and terms that specifically mentioned video games. I also avoided games like Monopoly or Scategories, I wanted to focus on the games you’d find at Gen Con.

We’ll compare this report to last year’s, but much has changed since then. The terms used have changed as well as improvements to Facebook’s algorithm and system. So, changes may be due to that, and not due to general gains in the industry.

Facebook Population: Over 24,000,000 in the United States

The fandom for board games it would seem is about the same as the general comic fan population, whose size we got the same way. Since last year the population has increased by about 14 million, though that’s mostly the changes in Facebook algorithm.

Spanish speakers account for now 2.6 million fans, 10.83% in the United States.

Gender and Age

In 2013 Men dominated as the majority with 61.54%. Things have changed since then as men now account for 55% of the population and women make up 44.17%.

games gender 8.11.14

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

games age gender 8.11.14Compared to last year, the percentages of the population has shifted much older, especially women. Here’s the above data in its raw form.

games age gender raw 8.11.14

Relationship Status

This statistic has changed a lot since last year with many more options available to choose from. The percentages have shifted to the new categories, but it’s not easy to compare the two. What has stood out to me in the new stats is the amount of women divorced or separated, but there’s an even greater number married compared to the men.

games relationship 8.11.14

And for those that like pie charts.

games relationship pie chart 8.11.14

Education

Like relationships, the education choices have expanded, so it’s difficult to compare it to last year.

games education 8.11.14

Gender Interest

This category too has expanded with more choices than ever before. But, compared to last year, it looks like there’s been a slight decrease in those interested in the same sex.

games gender interest 8.11.14

 

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

It’s the first of the month 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.

Since it hasn’t been too long, this data is a repost of what ran previously during San Diego Comic-Con. In it I looked at comic fandom, as well as Marvel, DC, and Indie/Small Press comics and compared it all to the 2013 results. You can read 2013’s report here. You can also read reports for Marvel, DC, and Indie/Small Press.

Since last year, our technique as well as Facebook’s system, have gotten better, returning more data to look at. 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.

In 2013 40 terms were used to compile the report. In 2014, that has expanded to over 100.

Facebook Population: Over 24,000,000 in the United States

Comic fandom on Facebook is 13.4 million more individuals since last year. Much of this has to do with the increased amount of terms, as well as Facebook’s improvement in getting the data. We do report weekly on a fraction of the terms we use, and that grows about 200,000 people a week, not discounting duplicate individuals (folks can be counted twice in that report, unlike this report). Comparatively, Facebook itself grew by 8 million individuals over the same time period. Comic fandom is now about 13% of the social network, compared to 6% n 2013.

In 2013, Spanish speakers made up 5.47% of the population. Today, they account for 13.33%.

Gender and Age

Since 2013, women lost ground in the population of folks from the United States on Facebook. They dropped 0.15 percentage points. However when it comes to comic fans, that’s not the case. Women gained 5.38 points, and now account for about 45% of comic related likes, up from 39.62% in 2013. Men account for 57.50%, compared to 60.38% in 2013. The results add up to over 100% due to the fact Facebook with large numbers doesn’t give an exact amount to the single digit.

Here’s the changes for comic fandom as well as Facebook since last year.

comics change

Here’s how gender breaks down for comics in 2014.

comics gender 7.24.14We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age.

comics gender age 7.24.14Just like Marvel and DC, those 17 and under dipped from last year as far as percentage of the total population. Here’s all of the raw data.

comics gender age raw 7.24.14Relationship Status

The amount of choices as far as relationship status has changed since last year, increasing by a lot. Here’s where that data is currently for comic fans.

comics relation status 7.24.14

And for those that like pie charts.

comics relationship status pie chart 7.24.14Education

Like relationship status, education now has more choices too. Instead of trying to compare the two, here’s the data.

comics education 7.24.14Gender Interest

Gender interest has changed as well, however we can compare that a bit. Men interested in the same sex dipped slightly last year, while women interested in women was almost half as much as far as percentage.

comics gender interest 7.24.14And that wraps up this month’s report.

SDCC 2014: Demo-Graphics: The State of Comic Fandom

It’s San Diego Comic-Con, and our second annual demographic “State of Comic Fandom.” This data is compiled using demographic data from Facebook, and is limited to the United States. You can read 2013’s report here. You can also read reports for Marvel, DC, and Indie/Small Press.

Since last year, our technique as well as Facebook’s system, have gotten better, returning more data to look at. 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.

In 2013 40 terms were used to compile the report. In 2014, that has expanded to over 100.

Facebook Population: Over 24,000,000 in the United States

Comic fandom on Facebook is 13.4 million more individuals since last year. Much of this has to do with the increased amount of terms, as well as Facebook’s improvement in getting the data. We do report weekly on a fraction of the terms we use, and that grows about 200,000 people a week, not discounting duplicate individuals (folks can be counted twice in that report, unlike this report). Comparatively, Facebook itself grew by 8 million individuals over the same time period. Comic fandom is now about 13% of the social network, compared to 6% n 2013.

In 2013, Spanish speakers made up 5.47% of the population. Today, they account for 13.33%.

Gender and Age

Since 2013, women lost ground in the population of folks from the United States on Facebook. They dropped 0.15 percentage points. However when it comes to comic fans, that’s not the case. Women gained 5.38 points, and now account for about 45% of comic related likes, up from 39.62% in 2013. Men account for 57.50%, compared to 60.38% in 2013. The results add up to over 100% due to the fact Facebook with large numbers doesn’t give an exact amount to the single digit.

Here’s the changes for comic fandom as well as Facebook since last year.

comics change

Here’s how gender breaks down for comics in 2014.

comics gender 7.24.14We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age.

comics gender age 7.24.14Just like Marvel and DC, those 17 and under dipped from last year as far as percentage of the total population. Here’s all of the raw data.

comics gender age raw 7.24.14Relationship Status

The amount of choices as far as relationship status has changed since last year, increasing by a lot. Here’s where that data is currently for comic fans.

comics relation status 7.24.14

And for those that like pie charts.

comics relationship status pie chart 7.24.14Education

Like relationship status, education now has more choices too. Instead of trying to compare the two, here’s the data.

comics education 7.24.14Gender Interest

Gender interest has changed as well, however we can compare that a bit. Men interested in the same sex dipped slightly last year, while women interested in women was almost half as much as far as percentage.

comics gender interest 7.24.14And that wraps up the 2014 state of comic fandom!

Demo-Graphics: The State of Indie/Small Press Comics

Earlier today we brought you demographic reports based off of Facebook data for Marvel, and DC. Up next is independent/small press comics! Basically, everyone not the “big two.”

For this report I looked at comic book publisher likes that are not the big two or part of the big two. For this report, Vertigo, Zuda, Icon, are not included though they share similar comics as to other in this report. For this report, terms like IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, Fantagraphics were included. Manga was left out of this as well.

In 2013 62 terms were used to generate these stats. In 2014 that number has shrunk to 49. However Facebook updated their system in late 2013, returning more data than ever before. Both reports just focused on individuals in the United States.

Facebook Population: Over 3,200,000 in the United States

The indie/small press population has grown since last year by about 1.2 million individuals.

In 2013 Spanish speakers accounted for 13.00%. In 2014, that percentage dipped a bit, and is now 12.5%.

Gender and Age

In 2013 men accounted for 54% of the population and women 46%. A year later, that has shifted a bit with men now accounting for 57.50% and women 40.63%. In the growth since last year, it was almost 2:1 men.

Here’s the changes of the stats since last year.

indie changeHere’s the stats for gender.

indie gender 7.24.14This is how gender changes as far as percent over age.

indie gender age 7.24.14And the raw data.

indie gender age raw 7.24.14Relationship Status

Since 2013, Facebook updated this statistic so there’s more choices than ever, so it’s a bit difficult to compare this year to last year. Here’s the statistics as they stand for 2014.

indie relationship status 7.24.14And for those that like pie charts.

indie relationship status pie chart 7.24.14Education

This statistic too has changed since 2013. Here’s the expanded data as it stands this year.

indie education 7.24.14Gender Interest

This statistic too has changed since last year, with more options. Compared to 2013 though, men interested in men is roughly the same when you include the “men and women” option. Women interested in women though has dipped.

indie gender interest 7.24.14Join us at 6pm when we look at comic-dom as a whole!

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