Batgirl’s one-woman crusade yields results: Lee and DiDio acknowledge quest for diversity

kyrax2 batgirlIt seems that Kyrax2′s lonely crusade at Comic-Con — booed and laughed at and told to shut up — has yielded results, as the internet has swelled one voice to thousands. Last yesterday, DC Entertainment co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee posted a statement called, simply, We hear you:

Over the past week we’ve heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously.

We’ve been very fortunate in recent years to have fan favorite creators like Gail Simone, Amy Reeder, Felicia Henderson, Fiona Staples, Amanda Connor, G. Willow Wilson and Nicola Scott write and draw the adventures of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes.

DC Comics is the home of a pantheon of remarkable, iconic women characters like Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman and Supergirl as well as fan favorite characters like Black Canary, Katana, Mera and Starfire. We’re committed to telling diverse stories with a diverse point of view. We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership. Can we improve on that? We always can—and aim to.

We’ll have exciting news about new projects with women creators in the coming months and will be making those announcements closer to publication. Many of the above creators will be working on new projects, as we continue to tell the ongoing adventures of our characters. We know there are dozens of other women creators and we welcome the opportunity to work with them.

Our recent announcements have generated much attention and discussion and we welcome that dialogue.

Best-

Jim Lee & Dan DiDio
DC Entertainment Co-Publishers


See? As Kyrax2 suggested, the right answer all along was

Q: Are you committed to hiring more women? A: Yes. (cheers from the audience, I sit down)

Comments

  1. I am hoping this leads to great things and amazing reads. The worrier in me worries that DC will push out books that aren’t ready yet. Then those books fail and DC can say they gave women a try and it was the readers who didn’t make it a success.

  2. Synsidar says:

    I wonder how many DC people read the statement without noticing that the correct spelling of one name should be Amanda Conner?

    Hoping that this could lead to better questions at panels.

    SRS

  3. jacob goddard says:

    Great. Now all of my favorite cartoonists from outside the mainstream are going to get phone calls and emails from a giant corporation, promising huge paychecks in exchange for leaving behind those silly little personal comics that nobody reads.

  4. Chris Hero says:

    They *really* need to let Wilson do something on her own without giving her a character she’s never heard of and a stack of mandates, like with Vixen.

  5. jacob goddard says:

    Is there really this huge pool of talented female cartoonists and comic script writers out there just waiting to get a crack at DC, but for some reason haven’t bothered to make critically acclaimed tights-n-capes comics of there own?

  6. jacob goddard says:

    And why does everyone want Carla Speed McNeil working at DC comics so badly? You can’t convince me that her working under an editorial yolk as a gear in a “creative team” would result in her making better comics than she is and has been for the last 15 years.
    We should be praising her name in the streets and praying that more people buy her comics now, NOT that she sells out to one of the Big Two.

  7. blacaucasian says:

    “And why does everyone want Carla Speed McNeil working at DC comics so badly? You can’t convince me that her working under an editorial yolk as a gear in a “creative team” would result in her making better comics than she is and has been for the last 15 years.
    We should be praising her name in the streets and praying that more people buy her comics now, NOT that she sells out to one of the Big Two.”

    Apparently, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

  8. Martha Thomases says:

    Nobody ever calls me.

  9. Xenos says:

    Meh. To me it’s too little too late. If DC was really so progressive and committed to this diversity that was sentence one in their first announcement of the relaunch at USA Today, they wouldn’t have needed an embarrassing wake up call at the nation’s biggest conic con and media event for them.

    Really, what female creator wants to work in an environment where a bunch of guys had to be told by a woman in a Batgirl costume that they shouldn’t have only one woman working as a creator on their major company relaunch? Why work in such an environment? I’m not saying that it’s Sterling Cooper on Mad Men.. but it’s surely way to close to that than a modern publishing office should be.

    DC should have already had offered tons of female creators early on. There are tons of reports of them making offers, but I have to wonder if these were set up to fail. Not to get all conspiracy theory question here, but I have serious doubts they were ever sincere about considering even these female creators they reached out too very late in setting up the relaunch. No wonder so many couldn’t fit it in time. I also have my doubts about if Minx and CMX were set up for a fall. With the relaunch, it sounds more like DC just set up jobs for their go to guys instead of really taking a good look at the comics field.

    And that is one of many reasons I simply can’t be bothered with them anymore. Vertigo, sure. Gotta keep that outlet alive.

  10. Mikael says:

    Hope the Beat doesn’t pull a muscle reaching so far behind to give a back pat.

    So when all of these projects hit the stands, I fully expect every body with a horse in this race fully promote each title, turn down offers for free pdfs for reviews, actually buy it with their own money, and continue to buy those comics each and every month, wash, repeat.

    I predict right now that that won’t be the case. And I’ll come back and quote this comment to show I know better than everyone else.

  11. Charles Knight says:

    “Apparently, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.”

    But it’s a valid question – It makes as much sense to me as lobbying Lois McMaster Bujold to go write Star Trek tie-in novels or Posy Simmonds to write Brightest Night tie-ins.

    It really shows how small and myopic American comics are – that we are trying to figure out how to push more women into writing gimpsuit comics rather than working out how to promote and get the word about original fiction in which they have the main ownership of the IPR, or even work out how to get the big two to write, and get the word out, about comics that normal people would want to read.

  12. Xenos says:

    @ Chris Hero
    That’s another thing. When DC does get a best selling author… they stack upon them their stupid boys clubhouse rules. That Jodi Piccolt was given Wonder Woman yet forced to follow into one of the company’s stupid crossovers is disgusting. Never mind she was a follow up to a writer that never finished his damn arc. Hell, even Gail was tossed aside to give JMS a much hyped Wonder Woman story (another damn quasi reboot at that) which the guy dropped to write graphic novels. And don’t even get me started on Gail’s Atom. Hell, even Birds of Prey was freaking sidelined. Geez. So even when DC gets a woman on a title, they micro manage her into a failure.

    Meanwhile Johns and Morrison and Winich and other male teacher’s pets are allowed to run amok in their books. Morrison in particular has a ton of creator control and runs wild with it. (And I say that as a huge fan of Morrison’s DC work and fan of some of Johns’s work.) There’s something really fishy about that.

  13. Chris Hero says:

    @Xenos

    Yes to everything you said.

  14. Kwaku says:

    There is nothing that says a writer can’t write for DC and still do creator owned stuff. Today, it seems more unusual for a DC or Marvel writer to not have any creator owned work.

  15. jacob goddard says:

    To clarify my earlier comments, I’m afraid that its going to be like it was a decade ago, when repairing the creative wasteland that was mainstream comics in the 90′s was a hot issue, amazing cartoonists like Brian Bendis, David Lapham, and Ed Brubaker all stopped their personal (and very non-superhero) work to go write corporate comics.
    Many of my favorite cartoonists right now are women and I’d hate to see them all walk away from their work because the only way they could make a living is by keeping a dinosaur alive for a few more years. The same dinosaur that’s convinced the country that brightly colored and violent superhero stories created for teenagers and socially awkward men is all that comics are.

  16. I like that they addressed the issue. Shows they are listening.

    That said, if you have the artistic talent and your style fits the house illustration style of Marvel or D.C. you can probably get work there, male or female.

    If it doesnt, there are a decent amount of alternatives to be explored.

  17. @Chris Hero- “They *really* need to let Wilson do something on her own without giving her a character she’s never heard of and a stack of mandates, like with Vixen.”

    I agree with you, but editorial mandates are part of the current Big Two superhero world. I don’t blame talent, male or female, for not wanted to deal with it. Still it’s just part of the process, often times a big part of the process, when it comes to Big Two superhero properties. You just have to make peace with that or you can pass on the project. As someone else once said, “you take the company dime, you sing the company song”.

    Of course there is always the creator owned route. I hear Image has an open submission policy. As long as you can raise the start-up cash and can bring them what they feel is a marketable book, then they’ll agree to publish you. I realize that is probably overly simplistic compared to what really happens, but it gets the basic idea across I think.

    And to bring this back around to the superhero, Image doesn’t ban those concepts. Admittedly, they will probably be a tougher sell to the company and the audience since DC and (especially) Marvel have flooded the market with superhero product. Still, if you feel strongly enough about your superhero project and want it done your way then why not pursue this option.

  18. “amazing cartoonists like Brian Bendis, David Lapham, and Ed Brubaker all stopped their personal (and very non-superhero) work to go write corporate comics.”

    Ed Brubaker clearly doesn’t belong in that sentence, as doing corporate comics for Marvel hasn’t stopped him writing Criminal. Which is just about the best creator-owned project out there at the moment, in my opinion.

    So there’s no reason a creator can’t juggle corporate work with personal work. Much like you get people who work in film who do personal films in between the bankers they do to bring the big money in for the studios.

    As for the larger matter, I’m with the women on this. It’s disgraceful that there isn’t more done to bring them into the industry. I find it sad that many people don’t feel there’s a problem with a situation where a large part of the market find they’re hardly at all represented in what they buy, and sadder still that there there seem to be many who don’t see this as a problem.

    I can’t say for sure what the solution is. I’ve been skeptical about quotas in the past, but to look at the Community example (and examples in one country, I forget which, a Scandinavian one where they put down in law that company boards should have a quota of female directors) they can actually work. So that might be something to look at – pick a percentage (15%? 20%?) and commit to not going below that in terms of having females working on books.

    At the very least, publishers should find some way of being more pro-active in looking for female talent, I think. It’s out there, for sure, they just have to find it.

    A final note – I’m speaking as someone who comes from the Science-Fiction community, where we have EXACTLY THE SAME arguments going on as regards women in SF. That is, there aren’t enough of them, and those who are there aren’t getting shouted about enough. So really, when the same topic trundled here, I’ve been almost pre-primed to be receptive to it and supportive of it. :)

  19. jacob goddard says:

    Nick, I was speaking more about his autobiographical stuff, the comics he was drawing, and his other work around and immediately following that time. remember Brubaker’s name used to be said in the same sentence as Chester Brown and Adrian Tomine.
    That’s not to say you don’t have a valid point. The same could be said about Powers and I completely forgot about Lapham’s Silverfish and Young Liars (I suspect the bitchy fanboy in me is making me wait until he finishes Stray Bullets before I pick those up) when I made my statement above.

    My follow up statements kinda devolved into wistful memories of the good ol’ days back when I was a teenager in the 90s, and I hope people don’t hold that against my original (and on topic) points.

    Didn’t mean to derail.

  20. Chris Hero says:

    I think the goalposts are getting moved in this debate. The question is why is DC *so* underrepresented by women creators and by DiDio’s own admission, it’s because they couldn’t find talented enough women. Those of us on the pro-more women side are saying – how can this be? Throw a rock and you’ll hit 50 extremely talented women not currently working for either company.

    DiDio wanted names and I can name 10 without even thinking about it. So, if they’re looking for the best talent, they’re not looking very hard.

    BTW – At the risk of sounding like a pretentious snob, anyone who names Criminal as the best creator owned comic has some qualifiers that seem strange to me.

  21. jacob goddard says:

    Agreed, I but I know many people who swear by Criminal.

    If you want his best crime stuff, check out Scene of the Crime, The Fall (my personal favorite), and his long unfinished Detour.

    And while Lowlife wasn’t a crime comic, it did have plenty of illegal activities in it.

    Aaaaaanyway, back to the topic at hand…

  22. jacob goddard says:

    And An Accidental Death.
    Great comic.

    But Brubaker doesn’t have 2 x chromosomes, so I should probably stop talking about his work in this thread.

  23. booed and laughed at and told to shut up

    At least she wasn’t stabbed in the eye with a pen!

  24. “Many of my favorite cartoonists right now are women and I’d hate to see them all walk away from their work because the only way they could make a living is by keeping a dinosaur alive for a few more years.”

    Like I said in the other post: If someone dodges a bullet, dont rush to shove them in front of a gun again.

  25. jacob goddard says:

    I’m not sure what you mean.

  26. Didn’t Powers start selling better under the Icon label with Bendis getting more attention from doing Marvel work?

    Definitely, I think it would be more exciting if say Vertigo was hiring more women for original graphic novels. Still, I think someone like Carla Speed McNeil is incredibly talented and if doing a DC book gives her more attention then great. Also I’m not above buying any DCU book, if it’s really well done and not hooking into some crazy event series, which is hard to find these days (last time for me from DCU was All-Star Superman).

  27. Hooray! Here’s hoping they mean it.

    For my part, I plan on buying every woman and/or minority-led series in this launch, even if it means eating through my paycheck. (Doesn’t hurt that most of the series I’m interested in are minority-led anyway – be in my hands already, Static Shock comics!) I’ll drop some if they’re terrible, but given my tolerance for corny pop fun, they’ll have to be /really/ terrible.

    I’ll also encourage my handful of followers on DeviantArt and whatnot – many of them women and teen girls – to give the relaunch a try. :]

  28. Too bad DC felt the need to answer their fanbase in this matter. I expect we’ll just see more self-deluded fans demanding answers to things they have no say in.

  29. I’m sorry, Ryan. I’ll try to keep it to myself next time I feel it’s important to address extremely unbalanced creative lineups within an entertainment medium I care about. :[

  30. Bravo! I’m glad this woman stood up for what she believes in. That takes courage and balls so kudos to her. i hope this leads to some great things in the comic book industry.

    I agree with you Angelica, entertainment in general has been really an unbalanced medium across the spectrum if you’re talking about race. Comics is no different, and it doesn’t really matter what race or gender a character is as long as the story and character is cool.

    Hopefully with more diversity, there can be more stories that are opened up.

  31. I want Marvel to do a Dakota North series.

  32. Charles Knight:
    “…about comics that normal people would want to read.”

    Normal people? So, comic fans aren’t normal anymore?

  33. John … I was just thinking about Dakota North a few days ago :)

  34. jacob goddard says:

    Normal people don’t read.

  35. jacob goddard says:

    And comic readers have never ever been normal people. Even the women.

  36. David M. says:

    So I sat down with a calculator and the Bleeding Cool Gendercrunching for May 2011, the one that said that 12.5 percent of the DC Comics credits for that month were female: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/06/16/gendercrunching-may-2011/

    I’m assuming this is where Batgirl and the cast of thousands got the statistic that DC has gone from women creators making up 12 percent of the total to one percent following the not-really-a-reboot-thing.

    Since the Gendercrunching percentage included colorists, editors, cover artists, and other jobs that weren’t specified in the promotional materials for the New 52, I decided to pare that percentage down to make it a more accurate comparison.

    So, of 84 writing credits in May, 4 were for women. There were 88 penciller credits, of which 2 were female, and there were 96 inking credits, two of them belonging to women.

    The grand total of credits for women in these three areas? 2.985 percent.

    (Just for fun, the Marvel score for female writers, pencillers, and inkers was 4.2)

    A few observations:

    1. Math is fun.

    2. A drop from 12 percent to 1 percent is more dramatic than a drop from 2.985 percent to 1.8 percent (if the person who provided that statistic in the earlier set of comments was correct).

    3. This is not to say that DC (and Marvel) shouldn’t be out there trying to attract more female creators. Although the discussion that I’ve been following recommends that DC and Marvel should a) hire more women, who b) shouldn’t have to write and draw the usual DC and Marvel crap. Which seems kind of hard to implement.

    4. How do you expect comics professionals to take your suggestions seriously if you can’t tell the difference between 12.5 percent and 2.985 percent? (See observation 1)

    5. Does anybody really expect DC to purge all its female editors, colorists, letterers, and cover artists? In all probability, this is a drop from 12.5 percent to 10.85 percent. (I realize that I’m drifting into imaginary math here, which is not as fun or satisfying as actual math)

    6. I’m aware the internet is the place for operatic bloviation and a, shall we say, carelessness with facts. And while ignorance and a penchant for hysteria may get you pretty far in the House of Representatives, I remain unconvinced that it’s ultimately the best way to put forward your agenda.

    7. I’d like to see DC (and Marvel) put together a couple of new imprints, parallel with Vertigo, focused on presenting an eclectic mix of comics. One could be a YA line. I’d hire Raina Telgemeier and publish the hell out of anything she’d want to write, but that’s just me. Somebody else might want tons of sparkly vampires. The other imprint would be an adult line, where somebody like Jodi Picoult or Jess Fink or Danielle Corsetto could publish whatever the hell she wants (I’m thinking a 4 volume work on the history of Sandusky, OH). Some of it could be serialized, but none of it would need to be. It’s a pipe dream, of course: who’s going to invest money into a plan to slowly get people who don’t read comics to love comics? In a recession?

    8. You’re probably aware by now that even though I have a numbered list, I’m not really developing my thoughts sequentially.

    9. Ultimately, I agree with the people who think the New 52 isn’t new. Mostly the same characters, some of whom have a few wrinkles ironed out. (Wally will be back. Ryan Choi? Not that dead.)Not a new female creators problem, just the same old female creators problem. But I do like that the discussion (yes, even the mathematically illiterate discussion) has made Dan Didio say “Who should we be hiring?” Whether or not that was a rhetorical question, I think we should take that as an opening and answer him.

  37. Chris Hero says:

    @David M.

    Points 3 & 9) I’m saying it’s dumb for DC to say they hired the “best possible” talent if no one picked up the phone or shot an e-mail to Danielle Corsetto. Offer her the chance to write Teen Titans or whatever. She has a rather impressive body of work and it’s not like she can’t scribble out a better script in 5 minutes than Scott Lobdel can do on his best day. (And replace Corsetto’s name with a lot of other women creator’s names and you’ll have the same argument.) Just offering some women a chance at some of those checks would be a step up.

  38. I have long said there’s another important part of this puzzle: make more comics FOR YOUNG GIRLS, so more will fall in love with comics and then want to tell stories with comics when they get older. Supergirl Cosmic Advemtures in The Eigth Grade was a step in the right direction, but it was short
    Ivied. That proposed Lois Lane, Girl Reporter project would do the trick, too. Give them something to read. Help them fall in love with comics.

  39. David M. says:

    @Chris Hero:

    I respectfully disagree with regard to Danielle Corsetto on Teen Titans. I’d rather see her doing what she’s doing now. Maybe if I knew she’d spent her life dreaming of writing for the Titans I’d change my mind, but I’d rather see a company offer her the chance to do whatever she wanted, with complete creative freedom. If she’s the writer for Teen Titans, she’s not going to be able to do that.

    Also, I think when Dan Didio says he wants to hire “the best possible talent,” the context for that is something like “the best possible talent that has a track record of working on a traditional monthly super-hero pamphlet and of meeting deadlines.” Could Corsetto write Teen Titans? Probably. Does her resume indicate that she could do that? Probably not.

    Will DC regret focusing most of its attention on product that appeals to fanboys? I imagine so. Do I think corporations reward innovation at the expense of an old, somewhat reliable product that has kept the lights on for 75 years? Sadly, no.

    I’d that if a female creator really wants a job at DC or Marvel, she should do a couple of monthly limited series for Image. Based on that track record, DC will hire her to work on their titles for a year or two, and then Marvel will sign her to an exclusive contract.

  40. Synsidar says:

    If the Big Two insist that writers do specific types of stories and use existing characters instead of new ones, because of the name recognition factor, then there’s no reason to believe that a professional female writer would do any worse than men. The editorial constraints eliminate creative variations — like working on soap operas. Anybody could write Dr. Doom, the Red Skull, Loki, Lex Luthor, or practically any other super villain. They’re caricatures, not people.

    The differences between writers would only become evident when writers were creating their own characters and free to do their own plot material.

    If either publisher knowingly publishes “different” material, then they have to make an effort to publicize the material in ways that will reach potential new readers. Getting stories into newspapers doesn’t seem to be very difficult. Any method of advertising would be better than none. If they put out different material into today’s insular market and expect it to fail, it will fail, regardless of how good it is.

    SRS

  41. jacob goddard

    “Normal people don’t read. And comic readers have never ever been normal people. Even the women.”

    I don’t know about the comic people … but, you might be right about “normal” people.

  42. Chris Hero says:

    @David M.

    I’m sorta being hypothetical with Corsetto. My point is more since DiDio wanted names, well, here you go. Does she want to write Teen Titans? Doubtfully. Would she appreciate a phone call for a job where she could get $30k/year for 15 minutes a month? Probably.

    Replace Corsetto’s name with Gabrielle Bell or Hope Larson. It’s superhero comics, not electrical engineering, it’s not like it only requires this highly specialized education from a pool of candidates who are largely male.

    My problem is the excuse sucks. There’s no logical reason for not seeking more women out.

    Quite frankly, trying to marginalize the argument by focusing on a hypothetical answer and trying to make that the argument is just wasting time, especially since we’re on the same side.

  43. Did anyone else notice that they didn’t say they’re replacing anyone currently on a title with a female creator?

    While you’re all cheering and patting yourselves on the back like you accomplished something, it’s obvious to the rest of us that DC just announced plans they had already put into place probably before the first solicitation announcement for the new 52 ever saw print.

    Congratulations. You just accomplished a Dan DiDio-Jim Lee combo blog post. Let the merriment continue.

  44. I just don’t understand why people want women to do comics for DC (and Marvel).

    If I’m not mistaken there are a lot of women doing a lot of interesting comics, including webcomics and ‘manga’, some of them selling very well and attracting a readership much bigger than the average DC title do.
    It’s not a problem with women not being able to create comics, it’s seeing the whole comic world through DC/Marvel glasses, it’s narrowing everything to 2 publishers who structurally can’t produce anything original.

    It reminds me when people were clamoring for all-ages titles and western titles and romance titles and whatever else from DC/Marvel.
    You can find those comics already! They’re just not published by DC/M. Why should everything be published by them?

    Why are so many comics fans so damn narrow minded that they want the whole world to wear tights and a corporate logo on top?

  45. It’s not a problem with women not being able to create comics, it’s seeing the whole comic world through DC/Marvel glasses, it’s narrowing everything to 2 publishers who structurally can’t produce anything original.

    EXACTLY.

    Bravo for “Batgirl” on what she’s accomplished

    … but now I’m picturing DiDio dressed up as Batman showing up at future SDCC ‘Spotlight’ panels on Lynda Barry— Alison Bechdel— Marjane Satrapi— Spike— Moto Hagio— Donna Barr— Lee Marrs— Dame Darcy— etc. etc. just begging them to do a DC title for him.

    While fans of those artists snicker and boo him down as he asks them to even consider doing it.

    /think I’ll re-read WHAT IT IS again

  46. I think working on a DC comic pays a lot better than doing one’s own webcomic.

    I think it’s weird that I had to point that out!

  47. jacob goddard says:

    I like Steve bissette’s idea about people following batgirl’s idea and harassing every Marvel panel until they pay out to the Kirby estate.

  48. Synsidar says:

    Here’s a profile of Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy. The novels about a dystopian future in North America have been called a “Kama Sutra of violence,” but YAs love the books, and so do adults. The success of her series is just more evidence that women can write violence and write it well, and can even write it for YAs to read.

    SRS

  49. SvenJ says:

    “7. I’d like to see DC (and Marvel) put together a couple of new imprints, parallel with Vertigo, focused on presenting an eclectic mix of comics. One could be a YA line. I’d hire Raina Telgemeier and publish the hell out of anything she’d want to write, but that’s just me. Somebody else might want tons of sparkly vampires. The other imprint would be an adult line, where somebody like Jodi Picoult or Jess Fink or Danielle Corsetto could publish whatever the hell she wants (I’m thinking a 4 volume work on the history of Sandusky, OH). Some of it could be serialized, but none of it would need to be. It’s a pipe dream, of course: who’s going to invest money into a plan to slowly get people who don’t read comics to love comics? In a recession?”

    –i love this one. please, what other inventive ways do you have for these companies to spend their money? talk about entitlement…

  50. Darryl: if you were right all those webcomic creators would give up and try to get published at DC. What you imply is that creators’ choice is ALWAYS DC/M first, and then something else. That’s silly.
    And some people, like the creators behind Girl Genius, apparently make a lot more than they did at DC.

  51. Synsidar:
    “The success of her series is just more evidence that women can write violence and write it well, and can even write it for YAs to read.”

    Men can write violence for YAs also.

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