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Matchett’s Musings: Here Come The Girls Part 2

Here Come the Girls Part 2: Female creators

Time check everybody! Yes this is indeed 2014. We’re one year away from the day Marty McFly went to the future. Despite the absence of hover boards and flying cars there is one thing in modern times that puzzles me to no end.

There are still woman who are paid less than men for doing the same job. There is no acceptable reason for this. Gender equality is an issue that crosses over many industries and the business of creating comics is no exception. Some of you may wonder why a man wants to discuss this issue. I mean, it doesn’t affect me, right? Well that is wrong. It affects all of us because we could be robbed of awesome stories from very talented people just because of their gender and there is nothing I love more than awesome stories.

At nearly every comics company, both large and small there has been a historical dominance of men both in writing and artistic contributions. Behind the scenes, there has been a bit more of a balance with editorial staff but only in the last 10-20 years or so. Before that time, comics were created, driven and marketed by men.

Last week I talked about how female characters are portrayed and treated by the industry plus the fact that they almost always play second fiddle to their male counterparts. This also seems to be the case for the ‘story behind the stories’. In recent years we have seen an influx of female creators and once again, on the surface it might appear that things are changing. In particular, there are now a number of female artists who get relatively high profile gigs, and some are of the most talented and respected people in comics today. We have the likes of Sara Pichelli, Amanda Connor, Rebekah Isaacs, Nicola Scott and many others. All are great talents who do fantastic work on their respective properties.

Yet they remain significantly outnumbered by male artists working in the industry. You might think that the immediate and obvious problem could be a lack of female artists but I know that is simply not the case. Over the past number of years Image has put out an anthology comprised of entirely female creators and GrayHaven Comics have published three. Having seen nearly every volume of the Gathering that GrayHaven has produced in its five year history, I can say with confidence that each of the All Women’s anthologies are extremely high quality and feature amazing stories by a full cast of female creators.

In my own comics career I’ve worked frequently with female artists and am very proud to share my ‘Sparks’ property with one of the finest female artists in comics today, Kell Smith. It is clear that the talent is out there and like all of us wanting to make an impact in the industry, they are hungry to accomplish more.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much change where writers are concerned. It is true that at the recent New York Comicon, Marvel announced a number of female creators on new titles, but they were all featuring female leads. I’ve even heard from a number of sources that DC comics may have a policy that they only want female writers to pitch to books with female leads.

Why? I’m not sure. If there was a similar policy regarding male writers only writing male characters we would have been robbed of such great runs like Rucka’s Wonder Woman, Alias, the current Wonder Woman book and even the long running fan favorite Spider-Girl. There are a number of incredibly talented female writers in the industry right now and if men can write female led titles, shouldn’t they be granted a chance to write a male-led title at the top of the publishing line? More often than not, even when women write a male-led book it is not a main title or else is a title that features a group of men and women. As I try to think of a female writer that has a really high profile gig on a male-led title the only one I could recall was Gail Simone’s brief run on Action Comics back in 2005 and 2006.

Arguably, Gail Simone is the biggest female name in comics writing at the moment. She has had a long career at DC comics, redefining the Birds Of Prey, the Secret Six and many other fan favorites but she has only had one stint on a top tier male-led title which despite a lot of critical acclaim lasted only eight issues. Is there anyone out there that wouldn’t jump at the chance to read Gail’s work on a title like Amazing Spider-Man or Superman or the Avengers?

There are more female writers out there who deserve higher prominence. Some you’ve heard of, and sadly, many that you haven’t. If the companies perhaps think the market wouldn’t accept a female writer on a main title then perhaps they should look at the success of Harry Potter or the Hunger Games. Talent is talent and I think we deserve to read the stories that could be told if the current gender imbalance was even a little different.

As I said last week, things are changing – but very slowly. If there’s a talented group of comic creators being ignored then the industry is essentially trying to make quality comics with one hand behind its back.

I’m not sure about you, but I’d love to see what comics could become with both arms in full use.

Next: Gathering Stories

Many thanks to Mary Sheridan, a super talented female creator in her own right for helping me put this together!

Got any comments, suggestions or questions? Let me know! Also follow me on Twitter @glenn_matchett

 

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