Image Expo 2014 announced a slew of new titles today, a lot of which sound absolutely fantastic. I’m particularly excited for new Casanova, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Bitch Planet, and cool sounding books from some of my favourite teams like Gillen/McKelvie, Brubaker/Phillips, and Snyder/Jock. These should be some enjoyable books.
However, as I followed the announcements on Twitter today, the vast majority of people I saw up on the stage at the Image Expo were white men. Image has a reputation as a forward thinking, groundbreaking company, and they certainly are that in terms of content, but in terms of creators it seems to be a lot of the same old. I understand that they get most of their big creators from the Big Two, and that the Big Two is a bastion of white men, but it’s a bit disappointing to see the same lack of women we see everywhere else from a publisher that is supposed to be the different, alternative company. Let’s quickly go through the books:
- The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
- Airboy by James Robinson and Greg Hinkle.
- Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro.
- C.O.W.L. by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis.
- Casanova by Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, with backup stories by Michael Chabon.
- 8House, a series of minis spearheaded by Brandon Graham. The other collaborators are purported to be numerous, but the only names I have so far are Marian Churchland and Emma Rios.
- Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.
- Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson.
- Nameless by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham.
- Change by Nick Spencer and Morgan Jeske.
- Paradigms by Nick Spencer and Butch Guice.
- Cerulean by Nick Spencer and Frazier Irving.
- Restoration by Bill Willingham and Barry Kitson.
- Shutter by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca.
- Tech Jacket by Joe Keatinge and Khary Randolph.
- The Wicked and the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.
- Wytches by Scott Snyder and Jock.
All together, there are 38 credited creators on these books, 34 men and 4 women, meaning that the overall percentage of female creators is 10.5%.
This is a small number. It’s not a terrible number relative to what we usually see at the Big Two, but it’s not a great one. For example, DC had 10.7% female writers in October (the latest month of full stats that are up now). It’s great to see a new book from Kelly Sue DeConnick and artwork from Leila Del Duca, and I’m excited to see how Emma Rios and Marian Churchland are involved in 8House, but 4 women across 17 new titles is some disappointingly typical representation.
There’s also a lot of white folks. Of the creators I recognize (which is most of them), I think that only 2 are black, Valentine de Landro and Khary Randolph. A handful are Brazilian, so there are a few Hispanic folks there. But the vast majority are white. We’re used to seeing this at the Big Two as well; any time I do stats by ethnicity for Bleeding Cool, it’s sea of white people. I’ve done it two years running, and the totals are always just below 80% white. I get that Image is drawing from the pool of available talent, but there are places to look other than DC and Marvel. Places that hire women and people of colour. They’re out there.
So, the books look great. Really great, actually. I’m very excited for a lot of these titles, and Image appears to be continuing a fantastic track record of high quality books. I buy a lot of Image comics now, and I’m definitely going to be buying even more soon. But this continued perpetuation of the white male hegemony is getting old. We expect it from the Big Two; they’re all corporate and whatnot. But Image, free of these restraints and the old ways of doing things, can be different and they’re not. And that’s disappointing.
EDITED TO ADD: Fred Van Lente kindly informed me that another titles, Howtoons: (Re)Ignition, an educational book for kids, was also announced at the Expo. It’s written by Van Lente, with art by Tom Fowler and colours by Jordie Bellaire. It wasn’t listed on the Image website list, which was the basis of my list. That brings the numbers to 36 men and 5 women, or 12.2% female creators. That’s a better number, but still not great; 5 female creators over 18 books remains rather paltry. Also, all three creators are white.