Marvel’s on quite a run with female creators. While their November solicits are a slight step down from the record highs of the three months previous, there are still a lot of women in the mix; the publisher hasn’t had fewer than 30 female creators since July. There are, however, some slightly disconcerting trends therein. We’ll chat about it all, but first let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel in November 2016:
- Afua Richardson: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (interior art, cover)
- Alitha E. Martinez: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (interior art, variant cover)
- Alti Firmansyah: X-Men ’92 #9 (interior art)
- Amy Reeder: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #13 (co-writer, cover)
- Annapaola Martello: Scarlet Witch #12 (interior art)
- Becky Cloonan: The Punisher #7 (writer)
- Brittney L. Williams: Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! #12 (interior art, cover)
- Elsa Charretier: Star Wars Annual #2 (variant cover)
- Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #14 (interior art, cover)
- G. Willow Wilson: Ms. Marvel #13 (writer)
- Gurihiru: Gwenpool #8 (interior art)
- Helen Chen: Silk #14 (variant cover)
- Irene Strychalski: Silk #14 (interior art)
- Jody Houser: Max Ride: Final Flight #3 (writer)
- Joelle Jones: Ms. Marvel #13 (cover)
- Kamome Shirahama: The Punisher #7 (variant cover)
- Kate Leth: Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! #12 (writer)
- Kelly Thompson: Star Wars Annual #2 (writer)
- Natacha Bustos: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (variant cover), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #13 (interior art, variant cover)
- Nik Virella: All-New Wolverine #14 (interior art)
- Risa Hulett: Ultimates 2 #1 (variant cover)
- Robin Furth: Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Sailor #2 (co-writer)
- Roxane Gay: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (co-writer)
- Sara Pichelli: Spider-Man #10 (cover)
- Siya Oum: Jessica Jones #2 (variant cover)
- Stacey Lee: Gwenpool #8 (cover)
- Stephanie Hans: Captain America: Steve Rogers #7 (cover)
- Veronica Fish: Spider-Woman #13 (interior art)
- Yasmine Putri: Silk #14 (cover)
- Yona Harvey: Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (co-writer)
All together, there are 31 different female creators scheduled to work on 19 different comic books at Marvel in November, 2 fewer women than in October and 5 fewer books. The drop in the overall number isn’t a particularly big deal; these things fluctuate, and Marvel’s been solidly in the low-30s for four straight months. The drop in the number of books, however, is a bit troubling.
Back in August, Marvel had women working on 28 different books, and that number has dwindled since then down to 19 in November, a drop of a third. Meanwhile, the number of women at Marvel has stayed roughly the same. Instead of having female creators spread throughout the line, they’re grouped together, typically on a book with a female lead, limiting their broader impact on Marvel’s output. It’s an odd sort of pigeonholing; Marvel’s employing more women than they ever have, but they’re keeping them all together in a small little corner of their line.
Now, there are books where this makes sense. The new Black Panther: World of Wakanda focuses on Wakandan women, and it’s got several women of colour writing and drawing the stories therein. It’s a smart idea to bring their perspective to this title. But broadly speaking, female creators are capable of writing and drawing more than just women, and lumping them all together in a limited number of titles is a poor way to go about improving representation at the publisher. Moving women from a tiny minority to a small minority is a step in the right direction, yes, but Marvel needs to a) keep hiring MORE women, and b) start employing them throughout their line.
It should also be pointed out that this problem is not unique to Marvel; DC does this a lot as well. But it’s been more pronounced at Marvel as of late, and the consistent drop in titles while the number of women has remained about the same is a bizarre trend that demanded comment.
In terms of female characters, Marvel’s got a whole pile of new books set to premiere in November as their new Marvel NOW! line continues to roll out, most of which have male leads. Black Panther: World of Wakanda is an exception, as is the new Invincible Iron Man with Riri Williams in a lead role. Most of the rest have men at the forefront, with a few women here and there on new team books; Ultimates 2 looks to have several women in the mix, at least.
Overall, Marvel’s been doing a lot of good things as of late. Consistent numbers for female creators that are very high relative to their past performances is a great thing. But there’s still a long way to go. There’s lots of room for these numbers to grow, and female creators don’t just have to work on books with a female lead. Progress on all of these fronts is slow, of course. We’ve been monitoring these numbers for years and are just starting to see hints of almost decent representation now, so this will take some time. Hopefully Marvel can continue with the progress they’ve made and push things even further in the months ahead.