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The Numbers Don’t Lie: Women at Comics’ “Big Two” Publishers Still Have a Long Way to Go


JLA vs Avengers

Tim Hanley over at Bleeding Cool does a great job of keeping track of the numbers in the comics industry. Today, he reported on the February stats over at DC and Marvel with regard to gender. While we’ve made some very slight progress, the view gets more disheartening when you look at the entire picture.

According to Bleeding Cool, February 2016 saw a huge dip for both DC and Marvel as far as female creators on titles. Let’s see how this shook out for each publisher, shall we?

DC Comics published 77 new comics with a total of 689 credited creators. How many of those creators were women? Ninety-eight (13.6%). Meanwhile, there were 595 male creators (86.4%) attached to books. So, how’s Marvel Comics doing by comparison? Marvel released 76 new comics with 649 credited creators. Ninety-eight (15.1%) of those creators were women, while 551 (84.9%) were men.

Sure, Marvel’s doing “better than DC,” but “better than DC” isn’t exactly difficult.

Actually, there are certain professions for which Marvel is doing much worse than DC when it comes to representation. There aren’t any female letterers at all working on current Marvel titles. They also have fewer female editors and assistant editors than DC does, as well as fewer writers. So, DC seems to be doing better as far as story and editorial, whereas Marvel does slightly better for female visual artists. Except letterers, of course.

Hanley also broke down DC’s and Marvel’s titles between April 2015 to February 2016 by protagnist. Ie: male solo titles, female solo titles, and team books. It’s here that the gender discrepancies become even more stark. If you suspect that women are primarily writing on female-led titles, you’d be absolutely right! Whereas men are spread pretty evenly across all books at both publishers, women are predominantly writing female-led books by a wide margin.

Because apparently women only know how to write women, whereas men know how to write everyone. *sigh* (And if men don’t write female characters well, no one seems to care very much.)

Things are pretty dire at Marvel in that regard. In the time frame examined, there were ZERO women writing male titles at Marvel. That will soon change with Becky Cloonan taking on the upcoming Punisher ongoing, but still. That will make it a grand total of ONE.

Examining these numbers is important, because no matter how many packed Women of Marvel panels conventions host, no matter how many female titles we get excited about, no matter how many female creators we love and can rattle off when asked, the fact is that it’s still not enough. Some people might be bored by talking about “diversity in comics,” but you know what? Women are bored by inequality. It’s out of fashion. It needs to go.

As the “Big Two” in comics, both Marvel and DC have a responsibility to set those trends for the industry. Baby steps aren’t enough anymore. We need bold strokes.

Bold artist strokes. Preferably drawn by women. Find them. They’re out there.

(featured image via Pat Loika/Flickr)

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