Okay, so I know I’ve been putting a lot of words, time, and effort into vocalizing my thoughts and feelings re: the DC reboot and the place of women in comics in general. I’ve chewed over this angry cud pretty thoroughly, because comics are something that I’m passionate about. In a lot of ways, the stream of SDCC news has been like watching my hopes and dreams (fragile, fluffy, idealistic things with a rosy corona of unfounded hope) taken behind a 7-11 and beaten up. Call it insensitivity, call it the actions of a boys’ club point of view, call it whatever you like: whether or not the intent to demean and marginalize female talent was behind the their aggressively male-dominated new stance, it still hurts.
I love comics. I love reading comics, I love drawing comics, I love writing comics, and I love discussing comics. My gender doesn’t make me any more or less a nerd, or more or less talented. Gender shouldn’t be an issue in comics, especially given the way the female fans are booming, but it’s a huge one. I’ve looked at some of the posts that have been reblogged across my dash this week and have honestly wanted to cry. The numbers of female creators—-and the likelihood of becoming one myself—-are depressingly low.
But I’d like to take a second to talk about the people in the comic industry who aren’t jerks, and who do want us to throw in and create in their sandboxes. Last year, I told myself that I would put together a portfolio, and I would show it to Marvel at a con. I didn’t think I was anywhere near ready or polished enough to get serious interest, but I’d been raised by people who constantly told me that my art and my writing would never be good enough. It was important to me that I put together a portfolio and get someone’s honest opinion of my work. I figured if they saw any talent in me at all, I’d keep working until I was good enough to hack it. If they gave me a wan smile and some lukewarm niceties, I’d stick a pin in this dream and hang it up with five-year-old-me’s busted ballet ambitions and ten-year-old-me’s Olympic aspirations.
ECCC was in March. In January, I lost it. All the doubts and naysaying got to me, and I broke down and tossed everything I’d been working on. It wasn’t good enough, so I started over. I did this twice, then decided to throw in the pencils. I drew a picture of Spider-Girl to cheer me up (since those of you who know me well know that she is one of my very, very favorites).
Paul Tobin, the writer of Spider-Girl, tweeted my picture on Anya’s twitter. He was doing this with a lot of fanart, but the fact that mine had made the “cut” made me feel validated. HEY, some inner voice screamed, PAUL TOBIN DOESN’T THINK I’M A TERRIBLE PERSON. MAYBE I CAN DO THIS!
Pulling all-nighters, I finished my portfolio in time for the con. I hemmed and hawed for two days, but I gathered up my courage and talked to Mr. Tobin at his table. I told him that he’d tweeted one of my pictures, and how much that had meant to me—-how much hope that it’d given me. Mr. Tobin—-bless this man—-signed the first issue of Spider-Girl and gave it to me for free, because he said that I’d given him something awesome already. I doubt that he remembers this—-or even that he remembered my art when I met him—-but that positive response touched me. Did I cry? Not where he could see me.
And now, four months later, I’m back in school and determined to go somewhere with my craft and my passions. I’m finishing my degree, I’m working on my craft—-heck, I even applied for internship at Periscope Studios. This is how serious I am about doing my thing. So, DC doesn’t feel like many of the female creators they’ve let go or denied are as good as their male talent. So, women aren’t “supposed” to like comics. So, women can’t make comics that boys will like, too.
So what? C’mon, people. We know that’s bunk. If the industry is going to keep being like this, I challenge you to fight it by drawing more, writing more, loving the medium more, and making yourself visible. Signing this petition is a GREAT place to start. We’re here because we love comics. The big two aren’t the only houses out there, so let’s not let them dictate how gender plays into talent.
Go out there, create, and kick some butt. Have you got an encouraging anecdote to share? I’m sure that everyone would benefit from passing around some of the things that make them love comics as much as we do—-even when they don’t always love us back.