Before ECCC started in Seattle this weekend, Image Comics held another of its Image Expos, their roughly semi-annual presentation of new titles that will be debuting over the course of the coming year. There were a lot of intriguing titles in the mix, and I’m particularly looking forward to Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr, formerly of Batgirl, and Isola by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, formerly of Gotham Academy. It’s always fun to see my favourite superhero creators try something new.
The Expo also featured new books from notable creators like Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, Leila del Duca, Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opena, Sean Phillips, Jen Van Meter, and more. And, as always when given a list of names, I decided to count them up and see what the gender representation was at this Image Expo. The numbers weren’t great, comparitively. Here are all of the new books, with creator information courtesy of Image’s website:
- AFAR by Leila del Duca & Kit Seaton
- BLACK CLOUD by Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson, Aditya Bidikar
- THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS by Jonathan Hickman & Tomm Coker
- THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA by Howard Chaykin
- GLITTERBOMB by Jim Zub & Djibril Morissette-Phan & K. Michael Russell & Marshall Dillon
- HORIZON, by Brandon Thomas, Juan Gedeon & Frank Martin
- THE HUNT by Colin Lorimer, Jim Campbell, and Joana Lafuente
- ISOLA by Brenden Fletcher & Karl Kerschl
- KILL OR BE KILLED by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser
- LAKE OF FIRE by Nathan Fairbairn & Matt Smith
- MOONSHINE by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
- MOTOR CRUSH by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, & Babs Tarr
- PRIMA by Jen Van Meter, Rick Burchett
- PRINCE OF CATS by Ron Wimberly
- ROCKSTARS by Joe Harris & Megan Hutchison
- ROMULUS by Bryan Hill & Nelson Blake II
- SEVEN TO ETERNITY by Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, & Matt Hollingsworth
- SURGEON X by Sara Kenney & John Watkiss, James Devlin, & Jared K. Fletcher
- VS by Ivan Brandon, Esad Ribić, Ive Svorcina, Aditya Bidikar
- WINNEBAGO GRAVEYARD by Steve Niles, Alison Sampson, Stephane Paitreau, & Clem Robins
All together, there were 40 different men and 9 different women across these 20 new titles, so women accounted for 18.4% of the creators announced at this year’s Image Expo. That’s a noticeable drop from the past three Expos, where women posted percentages of 25.9%, 26.4%, and 23.5%. This year’s total is the lowest since the January 2014 Image Expo, which only had 10.5% female creators.
In terms of representation per book, 8 of the 20 new titles have at least one female creator, another drop from the last Image Expo in July 2015 where there was a woman on more than half of the books (12 out of 23). The Image Expo before that was slightly better than this year, too; the January 2015 Expo had 10 women on 24 books, or 41.7% of the titles, while this year’s 8 of 20 is just a step behind at 40%.
So we’ve got a drop in the overall total and a drop in representation across the board. A double slide like this is rather disheartening, especially from a publisher who prides itself on being the anti-Big Two. While these numbers are somewhat better than Marvel’s recent relaunch or DC’s upcoming “Rebirth”, Image isn’t blowing anyone out of the water here. Fewer than 20% female creators is a decidedly average showing, and far below the bar that Image has set for itself in past Expos. Holding fairly steady around 25% for three shows instead of growing was a little bit disappointing, and now they have taken a step back. If Image was really as different and cutting edge as they seem to think they are, we’d be seeing an explosion of female creators. Yet we are not. Here’s hoping for a course correction with the next Image Expo.