Female Creator Representation Remains About The Same At The Latest Image Expo

July 2, 2015

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Today was the latest Image Expo, a semi-annual event where Image Comics brings out their many creators to announce exciting new books and projects that will debut in the year to come. It’s always cool to see what new books are going to be coming out, and this year was no exception. Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are launching a new series, and that’s an absolutely amazing duo no matter what the book is about (it’s a magical police thriller). Gail Simone and Cat Staggs have a new comic that’s Freaky Friday except with a hitman, so that sounds interesting. And Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera are going back to the Bible for a dark, grisly take on the days before the great flood, and I’m very excited to check that out. Plus so many more!

The past couple of Image Expos have had decent female creator representation, so let’s go through the list to see how this Expo compares. Here are all of the new titles and teams, minus reissues of previously printed work, as per Image’s own page:

  • Invincible: Reboot by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
  • Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death by Antony Johnston, Shari Chankhamma, and Simon Bowland
  • Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Adam Katzenstein
  • Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us by Chynna Clugston Flores
  • Scooter Girl by Chynna Clugston Flores
  • Throwaways by Caitlin Kittredge and Steve Sanders
  • Sunset Park by Ron Wimberley
  • Slave Punk: White Coal by Ron Wimberley
  • Cry Havoc by Simon Spurrier, Ryan Kelly, Lee Loughridge, Matt Wilson, and Simon Bowland
  • Black Magick by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott
  • Crosswind by Gail Simone and Cat Staggs
  • The Goddamned by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guerra, and Giulia Brusco
  • Heartless by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay
  • Huck by Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque
  • Private Eye: The Deluxe Hardcover by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente
  • Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn, and Mare Odomo
  • Virgil by Steve Orlando and JD Faith
  • Hadrian’s Wall by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis
  • Axcend by Shane Davis, Michelle Delecki, and Morry Horrowell
  • Faster Than Light by Brian Haberlin
  • Expired by Jimmie Robinson and Richard Pace
  • The One% by Kaare Kyle Andrews
  • Ringside by Joe Keatinge, Nick Barber, Simon Gough, and Ariana Maher

All together there are 12 different female creators named in this list of 51 different creators total, so women account for 23.5% of the creators announced at this year’s Image Expo. That’s down slightly from the last two Image Expos, which had 25.9% and 26.4% female creators. It’s not a huge drop, but it’s always more pleasant to see these numbers trending upward. This Expo was a small step back.

However, things are better in terms of representation per book. Of the 23 new titles announced, 12 feature at least one female creator. That’s more than the last Image Expo’s 10 of 24. So while there are fewer female creators overall, there are more women across the board.

Ultimately, female creator representation remains about the same. A little less in one area and a little more in another evens out to no real significant change. It’d be nice to have had Image wow us with a slew of female creators and blow us away with huge numbers, but at the same time it’s great to see a lot of new names in the mix here. Creators like Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, Cat Staggs, Caitlin Kittredge, and a few others have all been Big Two mainstays for a while, and good on Image for bringing them in to do their own, creator owned books. I’m still holding out hope for a huge number of female creators at the next Image Expo, though. Image likes to talk the talk when it comes to diversity, and I’d like to see a bit more of a commitment to walking the walk. Doing well with female representation doesn’t change the fact that there’s lots of room to do better.

First Image Of Gal Gadot As Diana Prince In Batman v Superman, Plus A Wonder Woman Barbie

July 2, 2015

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The image above is the cover to the new Entertainment Weekly, their special Comic-Con 2015 preview issue. It’s a good look at the Wonder Woman costume in colour instead of muted browns like the shot we got a year ago, and also Gal Gadot in it. We’ve seen some shots of the costume on a mannequin recently, but not on Gadot. The costume continues to grow on me, especially the more I see it in colour. It’s got the red, blue, and gold like a classic Wonder Woman outfit, plus the lasso and the bracelet. I don’t like that she’s carrying a sword in every picture we’ve seen of her, including promotional artwork, and that tiara is still the worst. Seriously, imagine that costume with the classic red starred tiara. It would look fantastic! This tiara is holding back the whole outfit for me.

But we’ve also got a new image of her without the tiara! It’s Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, hanging out at a fancy party with some guy named Bruce Wayne:

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Entertainment Weekly‘s description of the image reads:

Batman and Wonder Woman have a meeting of alter-egos as Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince parry and flirt at a high-society function. “I love the fact that there was this Thomas Crowne Affair, Bond-y sexy scene that they wrote about two people who are pretending to be two different people who each know the secrets of the other person,” says Ben Affleck.

It’s cool that Diana and Bruce know each other’s secrets; I’m intrigued about their past, and whether they’ve worked together before. The flirting will be fun for Diana and Bruce shippers, of which there are a great many, thanks to the Justice League cartoon. I’d rather have a movie where the only female superhero wasn’t getting up to romantic hijinks with one of the dudes, but the superhero film industry doesn’t seem to have figured out how to do that yet. Anyway, Diana looks lovely here, and the dress looks pretty classy. They’re clearly going with a secret identity instead of some sort of Diana as a Themysciran ambassador situation, but I doubt she’s going to be a military secretary. Her presence at this fancy soiree, and a few on-set shots we’ve seen, suggest a more well-to-do lifestyle for Diana.

There are some other Batman v Superman images at Entertainment Weekly, but this is the only one that matters.

Along with these pictures, we got a first look at a new Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman Barbie, and it’s pretty cool:

 bvs3

I absolutely want one. It’ll be my first Barbie! Though I do have a big Captain Picard doll that’s about Barbie-sized. The costume looks great here, I love the bright colours, and I really like that she’s smiling. Again, I could do without the sword and the ugly tiara, but that hair is super fierce. I hope all of the Barbies’ hair comes pre-styled all rad like that because there’s no way I’ll ever be able to make mine look like that.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is out next March, and it’s probably going to be not great because Zack Snyder, but fingers crossed that Wonder Woman is cool at least. There will be some Wonder Woman Barbies available next weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, but they won’t be in stores until early next year as the movie merchandise starts to roll out. I hope they make a Lois Lane too. I like my toys to have a friend. Well, she can hang out with Captain Picard at least.

Wonder Woman Retro Action Figures Coming In 2016 From Figures Toy Company

July 1, 2015

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Figures Toy Company has announced that they’re working on a new line of Wonder Woman retro action figures, set to debut in 2016. The line includes Wonder Woman, Diana Prince, Steve Trevor, and Silver Swan, and the heads have been sculpted by Danny “The Farrow” Anniello. I have no idea who that is, but the announcement makes it sound like that’s a big get, so presumably he’s a pretty rad sculptor. The inclusion of Silver Swan makes me think that they’ll be going for a 1970s era Wonder Woman, and I’m guessing the costumes and outfits will fit that period of the comics.

The retro action figures made by Figures Toy Company are like the classic Mego figures. They’re generally about eight inches tall, have plastic bodies, real clothes, and the female characters usually have actual fake hair instead of a plastic hair sculpt. Here’s a look at a Figures Toy Company Wonder Woman figure from an earlier line:

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The new Wonder Woman figure will have a new face sculpt, and presumably a new outfit as well. This is an older figure, and looking at Figures Toy Company’s latest lines, they’ve really upped their game. I’m not usually into this type of action figure, but their Batman Classic TV Series figure line is really quite impressive. There’s a lot of great detail, and the quality of the clothing, sculpts, and accessories is high. If they can bring this same level of detail to their Wonder Woman line, it should be a great set.

The announcement doesn’t say anything about Lynda Carter or the Wonder Woman TV show, so I think it’s a fair assumption that this set won’t be based on that, unlike their current Batman line which is very much based on the 1960s Batman TV show. So I wouldn’t expect the Wonder Woman or Diana Prince figures to look like Carter, or Steve Trevor to look like Lyle Waggoner. The comics will be the likely source of inspiration here.

None of the figures have been revealed yet, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled and hopefully we’ll get a good look at them soon.

Women In Comics Statistics: Marvel’s 45 Leaked “All-New, All-Different” October Books Have 8 Different Female Creators

June 30, 2015

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News started leaking yesterday about Marvel’s upcoming “All-New, All-Different” line-up that’s set to debut this October in the wake of Secret Wars. Marvel’s officially released information on several new titles and creative teams, but their preview book got out early and then was posted in full online. So now we’ve got a peek at the 45 new #1 issues that Marvel’s releasing this October, and I’ve run the numbers to see how feel female creators are represented. Here’s what I found:

  • In terms of all of the credited creators, ie. each individual book’s credits added all together, there are 100 men and 9 women across these 45 books. That’s 8.3% female creators overall.
  • For credited writers, there are 42 men and 5 women, or 10.6% female writers.
  • Those writers are G. Willow Wilson (twice), Marguerite Bennett, Michele Fazekas, and Tara Butters.
  • For credited artists, there are 44 men and 3 women, or 6.4% female artists.
  • Those artists are Stephanie Hans, Stacey Lee, and Sara Pichelli.
  • Covers are a little trickier because the preview book didn’t specify cover artists on several of the books, so when they went uncredited I assumed the interior artist did the cover. There were 43 men and 2 women, or 4.4% female cover artists.
  • Those cover artists are Helen Chen and Sara Pichelli.
  • Looking instead at different creators, ie. not just adding everything together but counting each creator listed only once, there are 81 different men and 8 different women working on these books. That’s 9% female writers.
  • Only 6 of the 45 new titles feature a female creator in some capacity. That’s 13.3%.
  • For characters, my count shows that there are 10 female-led titles, 19 male-led titles, and 16 mixed. The mixed titles appear to skew towards more men than women, as most team books tend to do.

These aren’t huge numbers. Having 8.3% female creators overall means that the men outnumber the women 10 to 1. That’s a MASSIVE margin. Furthermore, the female writers and artists percentage are about right where they’ve been for the past while in Marvel’s regular full stats (the overall percentage in my “Gendercrunching” columns is higher than what we’re seeing here, but that’s because that count includes colorists and editorial, which this count does not). So basically, “All-New, All-Different” looks to be more of the same from Marvel.

At the same time, this is a lot better than Marvel NOW! was. The initial wave of new Marvel NOW! books a few years back didn’t have any female creators in the #1s. A couple of books already written by women got rebranded but not relaunched. Later waves brought a relaunch of Captain Marvel with Kelly Sue DeConnick and a new Ms. Marvel with G. Willow Wilson, and the smaller Avengers NOW! line had three women in the mix, but that’s about it. While 8 different women across 45 new titles is rather paltry, it’s more than the handful of gals Marvel’s included in the past.

Also, I doubt this is the full list. Marvel’s been mentioning 60 new titles, and this is only 45. Plus we know that some other titles have been in the works, like a Gamora book by Guardians of the Galaxy screenwriter Nicole Perlman. My guess is that there’ll be 45 new books in October, and then probably a bunch more in November or soon after.

Ultimately, these numbers are underwhelming. Given the plethora of amazing women making comics today, having only 8 different women in the mix is pretty weak, and 8.3% female creators overall is not a lot. Fingers crossed that we’ll get some more books with more women soon, because this first big wave isn’t great.

Women In Comics Statistics: DC and Marvel, April 2015 In Review

June 26, 2015

bleedingcool

My latest “Gendercrunching” column is up over at Bleeding Cool, and it’s a stats extravaganza with the usual DC and Marvel fun plus visits to Image, IDW, and Dark Horse.

Bolstered by the female editors behind their “Convergence” titles, DC’s overall percentage of female creators soared to 21.4%, a massive total that’s roughly double what we’re used to seeing from them. It will be fleeting, though; May will be similar, but it will most likely be back to the same old in June. Marvel rose as well, coming in at 13.9%, one of their better totals in some time, bolstered by growing female assistant editors ranks.

For our bi-annual check of non-Big Two publishers, Image was down slightly from six months ago but still posted a solid 14.7% female creators overall. IDW shot up to 16.6%, while Dark Horse did the same, also posting 16.6%. All together, it was a strong month for women making comics, though there remains lots of room to grow further.

Head on over to Bleeding Cool for all of the stats fun!

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #40 Review: “Our Little Dance, Part 1″ by Adam Beechen, José Luis Garcia-López, and Kevin Nowlan

June 25, 2015

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This week’s issue of Sensation Comics is a throwback to the late Bronze Age, a period for Wonder Woman that’s not as well known to many as the rest of her incarnations. The book has José Luis Garcia-López on art, an artist famed for iconic take on DC superheroes from this period. If you have any products with DC characters that are labelled “retro” in some way, Garcia-López probably drew them. He was DC’s main design guy during the Bronze Age. Also, the villain of the story is the Cheetah, but not the Cheetah that most Wonder Woman fans would expect. Most folks probably know Barbara Minerva, who’s been the Cheetah since the Wonder Woman relaunch in the late 1980s. Some might be familiar with Priscilla Rich, the Cheetah of the Golden and Silver Ages. But the Cheetah in this week’s Sensation Comics is Debbi Domaine, who took on the mantle in a handful of issues in the early 1980s. The story doesn’t really hinge on which Cheetah is in the villainous role; it could have been any of them and this issue would be largely the same. But I like that Beechen and Garcia-López went for something a bit more obscure.

The story reads like a sort of superhero Law & Order, beginning with Wonder Woman on the stand in a courtroom testifying about her recent battle with the Cheetah. The district attorney argues that the Cheetah should be placed in a high security prison, while the defense attorney argues that she needs to be cared for at a psychiatric facility. The defense attorney wins, and part one of “Our Little Dance” ends with a very expected twist while the Cheetah is being transferred.

I like the idea of the story a lot; seeing the more mundane side of superheroics and meeting the people who had to deal with what comes next can make for great comics. Plus we see this a lot with characters like Batman, Daredevil, and Spider-Man, but rarely for Wonder Woman, so it was interesting to get to see her in this environment. However, I found the execution good but a little bit dull at times. The comic was overly verbose, and I don’t think the book quite hit the tone that the creators were aiming for.

This was partly due to the art. Garcia-López is an absolute legend, and his art is strong here, but his iconic superhero style doesn’t quite mesh with the real world angle of the story. Part of it might be that I’m used to books like Gotham Central, where the street level stories are accompanied by grittier, more realistic art. But I think that’s a smart pairing that grounds that kind of book well. When I read a comic drawn by Garcia-López, I’m expecting a big superhero fight and cool action every time I turn the page, not deep backstory on the tragic past that motivated a man to become a lawyer. There was some action early in the issue, and it looks like that big superhero fight is probably coming next week, which should be a lot of fun. But with this first issue, while the art isn’t bad in the slightest, for me it’s so strongly reminiscent of a different kind of comic that it took me out of the story a bit.

Ultimately, this is a solid first issue with some interesting new characters and an angle on Wonder Woman we don’t get to see a lot. While I don’t think the art quite fit most of the issue, I anticipate that next week we’ll see something in a more classic superhero style that is well-suited to José Luis Garcia-López’s talents. Yet again, I have no idea when this story will be published in print. It’s not in any of the upcoming Sensation Comics solicits, so it’ll be October at the earliest. The digital books are currently pretty far ahead of what’s been printed, so not knowing the print date right away might be common from now on.

Women At Marvel Comics Watch – September 2015 Solicits: 13 Different Female Creators On 11 Different Comics

June 23, 2015

womenatmarvelSEPT

I’m not entirely sure why, but a lot of books are missing in Marvel’s September solicits. I’m guessing it’s partly due to Secret Wars running a little bit late and pushing tie-ins back, and partly due to regular series wrapping up in advance of Marvel’s big upcoming revamp. Whatever the case, the lack of several series has resulted in one of Marvel’s poorest months of the year for female representation, with women appearing in the lowest number of books since January. Let’s see who’s doing what in September:

  • Chelsea Cain: Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 (writer)
  • G. Willow Wilson: A-Force #5 (co-writer)
  • Jen Soska: Secret Wars Journal #5 (co-writer)
  • Jody Houser: The Cavalry: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 (writer)
  • Joelle Jones: Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 (interior art)
  • Kathryn Immonen: Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 (writer)
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick: Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps #4 (writer)
  • Marguerite Bennett: A-Force #5 (co-writer), Years of Future Past #5 (writer)
  • Noelle Stevenson: Runaways #4 (writer)
  • Robin Furth: Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Lady of Shadows #1 (co-writer)
  • Stacey Lee: Ghost Racers #4 (variant cover), Secret Wars #7 (variant cover)
  • Sylvia Soska: Secret Wars Journal #5 (co-writer)
  • Vanesa Del Rey: Secret Wars Journal #5 (cover)

All together there are 13 different female creators set to work on 11 different books in September, a big drop from August’s 18 and 15, respectively. It’s a very poor showing, even with a few series not coming out. These days, with so many talented female creators doing great work, huge publishers like Marvel and DC should be able to have at least 20 different women writing and drawing their comics with ease, but that’s not the case for either publisher in September.

Moreover, the numbers are bolstered by a series of S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th anniversary one-shots. They sound great, focusing on characters like Agent Carter, Melinda May, Mockingbird, and Quake, and it’s nice to see female characters getting the spotlight. Plus there are four different women working on these books, which is cool. But at the same time, these special one-shots added FOUR new female creators to Marvel’s ranks and their number of female creators still fell substantially. That’s not great.

It is nice to see some new names, though. I think this is Chelsea Cain’s first time working at Marvel, and it may be the first time for the Soska sisters as well. It’s also good to see people returning, like Jody Houser, Kathryn Immonen, and one of my favourite artists in the world, Joelle Jones.

On another positive note, September’s “True Believers” comics, a line that reprints key issues for $1 to bring in new fans, is dedicated to female characters. Thor, Spider-Gwen, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Silk, Princess Leia, Spider-Woman, and Squirrel Girl are all having the first issue of their latest runs reprinted as part of this line, which is very cool. It’s well timed, too; you might want to stock up this September and pass them out to trick or treaters on Halloween.

SIDENOTE: I don’t count reprints when I do up these numbers each month, so that’s why the “True Believers” books aren’t listed above. Also, if I did count them, Marvel would still be down from last month. Oh, Marvel.

Overall, September is a pretty good month for female characters. While a lot of books are benched, the women of S.H.I.E.L.D. are getting a fun showcase, and you can catch up on all of your favourite female characters for a buck each. It’s a bad scene for female creators, though, with a big drop from last month in terms of the number of different female creators working on Marvel’s comics, as well as there being only a handful of Marvel’s books in which female creators appear. Marvel’s been very up and down with female creators this year, and it’s frustrating to watch them continually drop the ball like this. Hiring more women can’t be that hard.


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