Posts Tagged ‘Janelle Asselin’

Wonder Woman Wednesday Interview #3: Janelle Asselin

February 5, 2014

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It’s week three of our interview series leading up to the publication of Wonder Woman Unbound, where we talk to cool and interesting people about their favourite versions of Wonder Woman and how she relates to their particular fields and interests. This week we’ve got Janelle Asselin!

Janelle is a former editor at DC Comics and Disney, and is currently taking over the internet via a variety of fantastic websites.  She writes “Hire This Woman” and “Best Sequential Art Ever” for Comics Alliance, is the weekend editor for The Mary Sue, and has teamed up with the Ladydrawers to write “Don’t Be A Dick”, a comic strip for Bitch Media about the comics industry and gender diversity.  She’s also expanding her Master’s thesis, an analysis of the comic book industry and female consumers, into a full-length book, which I am very excited about.

Perhaps as part of her continuing quest to take over the internet, Janelle was kind enough to chat with me about Wonder Woman:

Tim Hanley: What was your very first encounter with Wonder Woman?

Janelle Asselin: You know, I’ve thought about this for quite some time, but I’ll be honest that I cannot remember when I became aware of Wonder Woman.  She was just always there, just a character that existed that I knew of and knew the general conceit of.  I knew what she looked like and could pick her out of a lineup. However, I didn’t ever really experience her in media other than that.

The first real exposure I had to Wonder Woman was in the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated shows.  Those shows were actually my first exposure to most DC characters other than Batman and Robin.  She was pretty delightful there.

TH: What is your favourite version of Wonder Woman?

JA: While I’ve read a few Wonder Woman comics now, I have to say that my first Wonder Woman is still my favorite – I just love her presence in the animated shows!  The art style is simple but she’s perfectly identifiable and as a character she seems to be pretty much exactly what I want Wonder Woman to be. She’s a little thrown off by the world outside of Themyscira but she never stops being strong, smart, and sassy.

TH: While you worked mainly on the Bat-books at DC, did you ever get to edit an issue with Wonder Woman in it?

JA: Actually, I worked on an entire graphic novel about Wonder Woman that will never come out!  It was written by a couple of talented fantasy writers and focused a lot on the mythology of Wonder Woman. It was a really special project and a great experience (it was the only true graphic novel I worked on at DC as everything else was published in single issues before being collected) but there were some truly bizarre circumstances that led to the project being killed.  It was because one of the creators, the artist Justiniano, was accused and then convicted of possessing child pornography.  Internally the decision was made to halt all production on the book and cancel our publication plans immediately, which hit right as we were on the verge of finishing work on it. Justiniano was actually finished with his pencils completely, which made it insanely expensive at that point to have it redrawn.  It’s sad because it was a gorgeous looking book, but I completely agree with the decision that was made because I cannot separate the creator and how they live their life from their work. While there were a lot of other lovely people working on the project who would’ve liked to see it published, I don’t think anyone ultimately disagreed that it should be shelved given the situation.
TH: If you were to edit a Wonder Woman story, what would you be looking for in terms of the writer’s characterization of her and the artist’s interpretation of Wonder Woman?

JA: I think the difficult thing with Wonder Woman is that she’s come to be a symbol for so many that a lot of people don’t know how to make her a relatable character.  She’s like Superman in that she’s so strong and symbolic that it can be difficult for writers and artists to accept that she can also have a personality.  So I think I’d look for a writer to make her both the strong, symbolic character AND the realistic, relatable person she is capable of being. Other writers have done it. It can be done.

As far as art goes, I think she should be drawn as muscular and a warrior.  None of this T&A bullshit. I like the costume being kept close to her original costume (it’s just too iconic to really change and have it stick at this point) but I love the idea of it being more like armor.  That just makes more sense, right? I love the way Cliff Chiang draws her, too, even if it’s not perfectly my ideal. He’s just such a skilled artist that I’d be happy to see him draw that book forever.

TH: As an expert on marketing comics to female readers, what do you think that Wonder Woman has meant for the comic book industry and female fans over the decades?

JA: Having a strong female character who can and should stand up there with Superman and Batman is pretty powerful. I think just her existence over the years has given female fans hope that as readers, creators, whatever, we could stand up as equals within comics.  But the comics have also often failed female fans as creators seem to have an easier time figuring out Superman and Batman.  I think Wonder Woman’s strength lies far from her comics, in her representation in other media. The importance of Wonder Woman to most women in the world is based on her iconic look and the way she’s been seen on TV – not based on her comics.  But thanks to that importance, the character has stuck around in the comics despite lackluster sales and a great deal of confusion as to how to approach her.  I think given a great feature film and an appropriate, interesting, and high-quality comic to go with it, interest in the comics could be kindled.

TH: Finally, if Wonder Woman were to leave Paradise Island and come to our world for the first time today, what do you think she’d find most surprising about it?

JA: That there’s any debate at all about women having equal rights with men and control over their own bodies?  That at this point in our history, when we should have evolved, people are still being killed because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their gender? That millions of people care if someone named Justin Bieber got a DUI when people are dying in Cairo?  There’s a lot of messed up crap in this world and honestly I think she’d be frustrated by a lot of it. But then, aren’t we all?

* * * * *

Big thanks to Janelle Asselin!  Janelle is @gimpnelly on Twitter, and you can learn more about her many projects at her website.

The interview series continues next week, with an interviewee yet to be decided upon; it’ll be one of two people, depending on how things work out, and either way it’s going to be a fun one.  Look for the next Wonder Woman Unbound preview panel this Monday, and the book itself is available for pre-order now, online or at your local comic shop.

What Bobbie Chase’s Promotion Means For Women In Comics Stats OR Reasons To Be Optimistic

April 10, 2012

DC’s just announced that DC editor Bobbie Chase has been promoted to Executive Editor, replacing Eddie Berganza who is moving elsewhere in the editing house apparently… DC’s being sort of vague about Berganza.  A female Executive Editor is a very exciting thing, of course, and it’s impressive that Chase has risen so fast since returning to comics at DC less than a year ago.  Lately, Chase has been an editor on seven DC titles, and interestingly two of them, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Voodoo, did not go over well AT ALL for their portrayal of female characters.  But on the other hand, Chase also edits Batgirl and Birds of Prey, so that evens things out some. 

Anyway, what does this mean for the numbers?  Well, there are a lot of different ways to look at this.  Chase’s promotion to Executive Editor means that her name probably won’t be on any books anymore.  It’s an overseer sort of position, not one that gets you credited as a regular editor on specific series.  It’s been months since I’ve seen Berganza editing a book, so it’s likely Chase will have a similar role.  That means we’ll lose her credits in our count.

Using the latest published set of monthly totals, January 2012, cutting Chase out directly means a big dip for women overall.  DC’s overall percentage of female creators was 10.4% in January, and if you take Chase’s 7 credits out of the equation that number falls to 9.4%.  So that’s a little bit ominous.

However, other editors are going to have to replace Chase, and there will likely be a lot of shuffling.  Particularly if Berganza’s been demoted and is editing books again.  Even if he’s not, people are probably going to have to move around.  Chances are, at least a few of these editors filling the holes will be women, so that’ll mitigate Chase’s losses some.

We also have a bit of a precedent for this scenario from when Janelle Asselin left DC in September.  Most of her assistant editing gigs went to Harvey Richards, or the entire editorial team was changed, but on the books where she was a FULL editor, Birds of Prey and Savage Hawkman, she was replaced by Chase and Rachel Gluckstern.  So Asselin’s two editorial spots being filled by two female editors bodes well for this transition too.

Hopefully overall the numbers will break about even after everything is sorted out.  It’ll be a few months before we know for sure, since all of the issues Chase had been working on will need to come out.  I doubt we’ll see a Chase-less month until June at the earliest.

Chase’s promotion might bode well for female creators across the board, though.  Chase is pretty good for hiring female creators, and not just in an anecdotal “ladies sticking together” sort of way.  I removed all of the editorial credits for all of DC’s books in January, leaving just the credits on the creative side, and added them all up to see who the editors hired.  Chase comes out looking well:

  • On average, DC Comics’ percentage of female creators, minus editorial, is 4.3%.
  • If you take out Chase’s 7 books, that number falls to 3.9%.
  • If you take out Vertigo, the kids books, and video game properties and just look at DC’s superhero titles, again minus Chase’s 7 books, it falls to 3.2%.
  • The overall percentage of female creators on Chase’s 7 books, minus editorial, is 8.1%.

So roughly, Chase hires more than double the amount of women that the average DC editor does.  Hopefully this continues, and promoting her to Executive Editor results in a jump for female creators across the board.  I will, of course, be all over it statswise in the months to come, so check back to see how it all plays out.

Women In Comics: The DCnU in Review, September 2011

October 2, 2011

A full stats look at DC Comics’ “The New 52″ titles is up now over at Bleeding Cool.  The overall drop is really not that bad, but there are some interesting and disheartening trends when you look at it by category.  Also, I look at the effect Janelle Asselin’s departure might have on DC’s stats, and we look at the DCnU totals from a different angle.  Pop over to Bleeding Cool and check it out!!

Women In Comics Statistics: The DCnU, September 14, 2011

September 15, 2011

It’s the second week of the full DCnU onslaught, and if any of you were hoping that more ladies would show up in the credits this week, I’m very sorry to disappoint you.  The numbers were actually remarkably similar to last week, so the DCnU seems to be consistent at least.  On September 14, 2011, DC released 13 brand new number ones featuring 109 credited creators, 101 men and 8 women.  Remember that the average for the year through August was 9.4%… here are the overall percentages:

So we’re down 0.3% from last week, which really isn’t much of a change at all.  We remain nearly a quarter below the year’s average as well.  The DCnU definitely has fewer female credits so far, but I’m cautiously optimistic about next week.  There are at least four books in the Bat-family due to come out, and the Bat-family means female editors.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we got 6 or 7 female credits just from the Bat-books alone.  Onto the categories:

And the chart:

Things are basically the same as last week.  We’ve got slight variations on the editorial totals, but nothing drastic, and the writing credit from last week has turned into a colorist credit from Tanya Horie co-colouring Superboy #1.  The raw numbers are even the same in editorial, with two full editors (Rachel Gluckstern and Bobbie Chase) and five assistants (Janelle Asselin, Katie Kubert twice, and Kate Stewart twice).  And, of course, a bunch of zeroes everywhere else.  The lack of distribution from last week remains.  Check back next week… the overall total might be better and hey, maybe we’ll get a female letterer or something.  You never know.

Notes:

  • Take a second and guess which book had the most female creators… I’ll tell you the answer in a few lines.
  • I love Geoff Johns’ comics, but so far DC’s Chief Creative Officer is a combined 0 for 22 in terms of credited female creators.  Both Justice League #1 and Green Lantern #1 had nothing going on… in two weeks, we’ll see if Aquaman #1 nets a lady creator.
  • The busiest book of the week was, in fact, Green Lantern #1 with 12 creators, none of them women.
  • Okay, it’s time for the book with the most female creators.  Did you guess Grifter #1?  Because I sure didn’t.  It was 2 of 8, with Bobbie Chase editing and Katie Kubert assistant editing.
  • To learn more about this statistics project and its methodology click here, and to see the previous stats click here.

Women In Comics Statistics: The DCnU, September 7, 2011

September 8, 2011

I’ll be doing the women in comics stats for DC and Marvel like always this month, but since the DC relaunch is sort of a big deal, we’re going to have special reports on the New 52 as they’re released… hopefully very soon after they’re released, if I can keep on top of things. 

Now, just looking at the DCnU requires a bit of an adjustment for those who follow these stats (here’s an explanation of the methodology for those of you who don’t follow the stats).  We’re used to seeing DC in the 11% percent range, but that’s for all of their books, including Vertigo and the kid’s books and such.  Stripped down to just the main DC line and the 375 comics they’ve released from January to August, the key number for comparison is 9.4%.  That’s the overall percentage of female creators for the DC proper for all of 2011 thus far.

This week, we’ve got thirteen new number ones, plus Justice League #1 from last week.  I added it in because it seemed a little silly to give it its own post last week, so I saved it.  On September 7, 2011, DC released 14 (really 13, plus 1 from the week before) brand new titles featuring 105 credited creators, 97 male and 8 female.  Here are the percentages, in new Justice League inspired colours:

So we’re nearly two percent less than the average amount.  If you want to get into a whole percentage of percentage thing, this 7.6% is almost twenty percent below the average total of female creators.  It’s not a particularly great beginning, and here’s the part where I would say something about how it looks like it might get better or worse, but I literally have NO idea how it’ll go.  It’s a whole new universe, folks!!  Let’s look at the categories:

And chart them up: 

Gail Simone had Batgirl #1 this week, so there’s your lady writer.  And then nothing until editorial.  I wasn’t expecting any pencillers or inkers, but I thought we’d maybe get a colourist or two, or maybe even just one on a cover.  But no.  Plus in editorial, only 2 of the female credits were for full editors, while the other 5 were for assistant editors.  Assistant editors are of course super important, but it’s nice to spread things around some and not have all the ladies in the category with “assistant” in the title.  Also interesting is that this week belonged to the Bat-books… Janelle Asselin and Katie Kubert assistant edited Detective Comics #1 while Gail Simone wrote, Bobbie Chase edited, and the very busy Katie Kubert again assistant edited Batgirl #1.  That’s 5 of the 8 female credits in only two books.  What we have here is an epic lack of distribution all around.  Check back next week to see what’s happening for Week Two of the DCnU!!

Notes:

  • There was a three-way tie for busiest book of the week between Action Comics #1, Men of War #1, and Justice League #1, all with 10 creators.  Only Men of War #1 had a lady on the book, with Kate Stewart assistant editing.
  • The book with the most female creators by number and percentage was Batgirl #1 at 3 of 8.
  • Thanks to the many sites where I scrounged information on the credits for these new books today, and to Todd McCallum for kindly filling in the rest.
  • To learn more about this statistics project and its methodology click here, and to see the previous stats click here.

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