I have experienced this a lot, myself, particularly in the early days of my career, and I am distressed to find that this still is happening.
Listen, you do not have to justify, explain, conceal or apologize for being a woman in comics. You do not owe anyone, and I mean ANYONE, a moment of your valuable life trying to reconcile your art and dreams with someone’s jaded, obsolete worldview on gender.
I have been asked hundreds of times what it’s like to be a woman in comics. You know what it’s like? It’s like being a woman in comics. The answer is both too large to possibly encapsulate and completely not their business at the same time.
I have spoken with dozens of women who felt forced to behave in a manner that was completely unlike them because they felt they had to be ‘one of the guys,’ to get along. Well, there are worse things than having brodudes think you’re not ‘one of the exceptions.’
Either you have value as a creator, or you don’t. You have to decide if you want to be liked by people who do not respect who you really are, or if you want to be truthful to yourself and others.
Sadly, it is not uncommon for women to be part of this happy horseshit. I have many times seen advice given to women that essentially equals, “smile and don’t upset anyone.” This is the world’s worst advice, and the people who say that to you? Make no mistake. They are the enemy, regardless of gender. Don’t even bother to engage them, just go around them as they try to grab your legs and pull you down.
Timid people make timid comics. If you wouldn’t want to read books from someone like that, why would you settle for actually BEING someone like that?
It’s harder breaking in, being female. It’s harder keeping your spot in line, being female. And yes, people will hate you for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with you whatsoever. I am not saying any of this is easy. But people do it. If they are talented and dedicated and put their blood in the game, they do it, and you get a Kelly Sue or a Marjorie Liu or Becky Cloonan or Fiona Staples or any of the many remarkable success stories of the last few years. Can you imagine any of them apologizing for being female?
Don’t feel bad about something you have nothing to feel bad about, merely because you hear some pitiful cries from the local tar pit. These people aren’t worried about their own accomplishments, they just want to make sure YOU don’t accomplish anything.
This industry, at least in terms of female participation, is finally becoming the industry I had always dreamed of, even as a little kid. There are fabulous female editors, executives, publishers, retailers, critics, and creators all over the place. The female readership is flying. There are books you can buy that actually, heaven forbid, feel like they acknowledge women in the audience.
And yet we still routinely see people trying to pretend that there’s no steamroller coming and refuse to move out of the way.
They are not your problem or your responsibility.
When someone, anyone, regardless of gender, tries to make you feel bad, or like an outsider, for being female in comics, remember that you are actually one of many, going back a long, long time. You do not need to hide yourself. There are enough people out there who want you to be ashamed or grateful.
(top pic via HappySkrappy)
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