"Women only make up 1% of DC’s new lineup and that’s horrible!"
"DC should hire creators because they’re the best, not just because they’re women!"
So, I’ve been thinking on this topic, especially since the SDCC panels hit the news. I listened to the panels in question, I read articles on both sides, and I tried to figure out exactly what I thought about the whole thing. The end result: They’re both right.
First, the 1% problem. I hear that women make up 1% of the relaunch creators and it SOUNDS wrong to me, it FEELS wrong to me, but I can’t really narrow down WHY. I mean sure, women should be more present but why?
Second, don’t just hire women. Don’t we want the best stories with the best art possible in this hobby of ours? Should we really care whether they’re male or female? No, of course not! Except that maybe we should.
I read a report from the DC roadshows that DC was still going after men ages 18-35 as their target demographic. On one hand, that makes a lot of sense, since that’s been their core market for so long, they should be good at drawing that demographic. On the other hand, I’ve read a lot more about DC wanting to expand the pie, attract new readers, broaden the fan-base. They need to go after women for that. And kids, but maybe I’ll write about that later.
So, how does DC attract more female readers? I’d think they could start by dropping some of the things that tend to drive women away: constant overt sexualization of female characters, marginal female characters, poorly-written characters, especially women. This sounds simple enough to me, but I’ll guess that most of the men working in comics today grew up reading comics that had all of these negative things and don’t see it happening, it’s just how comics are. So they keep doing the same things for the same people. I’ll go out on a limb and say that women will tend to be more sensitive to these issues and could at least spot them happening or avoid them in the first place. So, having more women involved in the creative process could at LEAST lower the barrier to entry for more female readers. Don’t we all want that?
You say that’s fine and good, but the BEST writers and artists can handle that, not just female creators? That’s probably true but I would hope that if we put together a list of the top 100 comic writers and artists working today (note the objective ranking of a subjective judgement), there would be more than one woman on it. The fact that so few women are involved makes me think that a lot of great female creators are being overlooked, for whatever reason. Later news from DC bears this out, with projects featuring Nicola Scott and Amanda Conner forthcoming.
So, you want more women involved in comics? You want the best creative teams possible? Why, exactly, should these two desires conflict at all?