Yup, gonna be there! I’ll be set up with the rest of the Periscope Studio crew at table 1214.
I was recently interviewed for an article in Paste Magazine, along with Paul and several other creators, on the topic of sexism in the comics industry. The article didn’t have room for everything I had to say, so here are my answers to writer Frannie Jackson’s questions, in full:
Q: How would you describe the current status of gender equality in the industry?
It kind of depends on how you define “the industry”. If you look beyond the rather narrow genre of superhero adventures, the ratio of men-to-women having success making comics becomes more even every year. That’s been due in large part to web comics, where anyone and everyone can publish to the whole world, practically for free. And now crowd funding is allowing people to finance quality print comics, if they take the time to put together an attractive campaign.
Meanwhile women do continue to do work for hire at the large publishing houses. There are not as many women in those roles as men, but most professionals today got into comics as fans, and most fans who become professionals gravitate toward the genres they grew up reading. I grew up reading every comic I could get my hand on; superhero, humor, underground, or fantasy. I’ve wound up dabbling in all those genres. Most of the young women I know grew up reading manga, horror-fantasy, and web comics, so they tend not to have as much interest in working in superhero comics as their male contemporaries. Publishers who put out comics in more of a variety of genres tend to have more women freelancers working with them for that reason.
Q: Have you or your colleagues experienced/witnessed sexism in the industry?
Not on any professional level. I mean, I’ve never known of any assignment not going to me or to another woman because of gender. I know there are some editors who actively look for available women artists and writers when they are assigning projects. I’m sure that things sometimes go the other way, but it hasn’t been my experience.
Q: How often does your gender get brought up in interviews?
Honestly, it only comes up when the topic of the interview is the role of women in comics. When the topic is my work, or comics in general, I can’t remember it ever being remarked on. Sometimes reviewers will make note of the fact that the women I draw are “cute” rather than “sexy”. I’m occasionally invited to participate in panel discussions about “women in comics”. I’m usually emotionally torn by those invitations, because, yeah, I want women in comics to thrive and be seen as thriving, but I’d much rather be part of a discussion about “awesome creators in comics” that’s stacked with awesome women and men.
Q: What are your thoughts on how men and women are portrayed in comic books?
That’s an impossible question to answer. It’s like asking how men and women are portrayed in novels, or how they’re portrayed in theatre. Women are very well portrayed in autobiographical comics by women, for example. I mean, duh.
But usually when people talk about comics in America, they’re talking about superheroes, specifically those produced by Marvel and DC. And in those comics, just like any others, some portrayals are gonna be great, some poor, some are just gonna be mediocre. I like it when characters are written to be smart and complex. I don’t enjoy a villain being given a long résumé of sexual violence, just to show what a bad guy he is. I don’t like it when women characters are introduced merely to fall victims of some atrocity so the hero can avenge them. But I don’t like that on TV, either. I don’t like it in movies; I don’t like it in romance novels.
I know that the writers and artists and editors at both of the big superhero companies work very hard to do the best comics stories they possibly can. I know that sometimes their efforts are hampered by the marketing needs of their massive corporate media owners, who put primary value that core audience of young male readers. Yes, superhero comics can and do appeal to some women, but their target is men.
That’s why it’s so important for the medium of comics to have a healthy population of independent publishers, to show that comics other than superheroes– adventure, fantasy, romance, mystery, horror, even non-fiction– can be successful and profitable. Creator-owned books like Saga, our own Bandette, and Walking Dead, show that you can have adventure comics for adults that are successful across gender lines. Even licensed media properties can break the mold; the success of books like My Little Pony and Adventure Time show that to be true. These are seriously good books, whose relatively small publishers have made a real effort to bring in quality writers and artists of all genders, and they appeal to girls and boys.
Look! It’s Wednesday, which means new comics! And this Wednesday, it means two new comics in particular!
BANDETTE ISSUE SIX!!!
Yes, fresh off the digital press via ComiXology, it’s the first issue of the second story arc of Bandette! Of course, if you have a subscription to Bandette, you already know this, because you got an email about it a few days ago. If you don’t, go over there and spend 99¢! Go on!
They asked me and Paul Tobin to co-write an Adventure Time mini-series!
“Wow, great idea!” they said, and so it was done.
Bandette issue 6 is on its way to the digitalizers at ComiXology! Keep an eye out for scheduling information, or subscribe now!
- The five existing episodes of Bandette
- The backup Urchin Stories, with art by Steve Lieber, Tina Kim, Jonathan Case, Jennifer Meyer, Alberto Alburquerque, Rich Ellis, Mitch Gerads, and Erika Moen
- A NEW prose Urchin Story starring Daniel, by Paul Tobin, with illustrations by Colleen Coover (that’s me)
- And more!
All this for $14.99! In stores EVERYWHERE! RIGHT NOW!!!
Some people are able to buy the new Bandette hardcover collection TODAY! Some people are NOT. It was originally scheduled for November 6, but as far as I can tell, most stores in the USA won’t get deliveries until the 13th. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?!?
However! A new Urchin Story is now available FREE! Go read it!
“The Distress Call” stars Freckles and Dalton! Written by Paul, with art by the brilliant cartoonist Jonathan Hill!
As always, you can read ALL the Urchin Stories HERE.
So this past Friday night, Paul and I went to the Eisner Award ceremony. And when the award for Best Digital Comic was announced, it went to Bandette! They gave us these awesome trophies, and while we were up there accepting them, I was so breathless I could barely speak. So I’m going to take the opportunity now to thank some people I didn’t have the capacity to mention then!
Chris Roberson and Allison Baker, publishers of Monkeybrain Comics. It is no exaggeration to say that Bandette would not exist without Monkeybrain.
Comixology. The free app that makes it all happen! Comixology has not only provided a format that makes Bandette look beautiful, whether you read it on you smart phone, on your tablet, or in your browser; they’ve also given Bandette a great deal of marketing support over the last year, including promotional giveaways that helped spread the word about our baby!
All the artists of the Urchin Stories. We have awesome friends who do awesome things, and we’ve managed to get some of them to draw short pieces which are posted on the Monkeybrain site for free between issues of Bandette, and we cannot thank them enough! The artists so far are:
Future Urchin Stories are in the works by a number of other great, talented people! Go HERE to see all the Urchin Stories available to date!
Dark Horse Comics. In large part due to editor Brendan Wright’s enthusiasm, Dark Horse is going to be making the first story arc of Bandette available as a beautiful hardcover book you will be able to hold in your hands!
Everyone who voted for us. You know who you are.
Our fellow nominees. The categories in the Eisner Awards this year were incredibly deep in nominations, and Best Digital was no exception. We are profoundly grateful to have been singled out among these excellent works, and I encourage everyone to go, read, and enjoy them:
- Ant Comic by Michael DeForge
- It Will All Hurt, by Farel Dalrymple
- Our Bloodstained Roof, by Ryan Andrews
- Oyster War, by Ben Towle
Paul Tobin. Because everything.
Receiving this award was truly one of the most thrilling moments of my life. I am so honored by it, and by the other three nominations for Bandette. Thank you, everyone.
Available from Comixology TODAY! (And every day for the rest of time!) It’s Bandette number FIVE!!! Check out a preview of this and fellow Monkeybrain Comics title Skybreaker (third issue also available today) HERE.
Buy Bandette HERE!
Did you know that Comixology now has SUBSCRIPTIONS? I know, right? I’ve subscribed to several comics, including Batman 66 by my homies Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case! Why don’t you go ahead and subscribe to Bandette?
MEANWHILE, there is yet another Urchin Story up on the Monkeybrain Comics site! Matadori stars in “The Bite Of The Blade” by Paul Tobin and Mitch Gerads!!
If you’ve missed any of them, be sure to see all the previous Urchin Stories HERE.
FINALLY, I’ll be going down to San Diego for the old comic book get-together next week, and yes, I am nervous about the Eisner Awards! But I’m super-pumped, too! In addition to the award ceremony Friday evening, I’ll be appearing at the following events:
Thursday, July 18 • 8pm – 9pm: Monkeybrain Comics Anniversary Celebration. Room 28DE.
Friday, July 19 • 1pm – 2pm: Bandette signing at Dark Horse Comics. 2615 in the Exhibiter’s Hall.