January’s Image Expo announced a slew of exciting new books but had a disappointing lack of female creators. Of the 41 credited creators on these new books, only 5 were women, a paltry 12.2%. The visuals weren’t great either; when all of the creators took to the stage at the end of the show, it was a sea of white dudes with only two women in the mix. For a company that promotes itself as a bastion of diversity and celebrates its non-Big Two practices, this lack of female representation was quite a letdown.
But yesterday, Image held their second Expo of the year in San Diego as a sort of preamble to Comic-Con, which officially kicks off today. They announced 12 new titles, fewer than the previous Expo, but there were definitely some exciting announcement in the mix. In particular, I’m looking forward to Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen teaming up, and a new Warren Ellis book is always cause for celebration.
The video that ran before the announcements lauded Image’s diversity, and publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address chastised other publishers for “treating gender equality and cultural issues as though they’re little more than gimmicks to increase sales,” and declared “for decades, the comics industry has been viewed as a boys club, but that’s changing.” They were bold words from a publisher who only brought up two women at the last Expo, but Stephenson backed up his statements with several new books featuring female creators.
Here is the full list of announcements:
- Tokyo Ghost by Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth
- From Under Mountains by Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong
- Valhalla Mad by Joe Casey and Paul Maybury
- Rumble by John Arcudi and James Harren
- Intersect by Ray Fawkes
- The Humans by Tom Neely and Keenan Marshall Keller
- Invisible Republic by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko
- Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, and Shari Chankhamma
- Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
- Drifter by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein
- Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire
- Injection by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire
All together, these 12 new titles feature 27 credited creators, 7 of them women. That’s 25.9% female creators, a sizeable increase from the 12.2% we got in January. Also, 5 of the 12 books feature at least one female creator, a big step up from the 4 of 18 at the last Expo.
This is definitely better, but women remain a significant minority across the board. Obviously, progress takes time, and we should celebrate the growth of female creators at Image. It’s great to see new female creators making cool comics. However, lots of room for improvement remains, and on several levels. I haven’t run the numbers, but looking down this list I’m still seeing a heck of a lot of white people. The video they ran before the announcements, featuring many of their creators, is ridiculously white, and Kelly Sue DeConnick is the only woman who talks in it:
So there’s more work to do yet.
But ultimately, the latest Image Expo is a solid step for female creators, and kudos to Image for raising the bar. I’m looking forward to the next Image Expo, where hopefully they’ll raise the bar even further and continue to add more diversity to their comic book line.