The headline of this story on the OC Weekly blog gets it all wrong: Women comics creators aren’t breaking into the boys’ club, they are making a club of their own. Several, actually.
Props to Joe Vince for taking the time to highlight six female comics creators (with another batch coming next week). And all are standouts: Julia Wertz, Kate Beaton, Amy Reeder Hadley, Julia Gfrörer, Jöelle Jones, and G. Willow Wilson. But only two of them are in the boys’ club (by which I assume Vince means traditional superhero comics). Wertz, Beaton, Gfrörer, and Jones, are making different kinds of comics, comics that didn’t exist back in the Silver Age and aren’t dragging a load of sexist baggage with them. The space in which Wertz is working is hardly a boys’ club, and I’d say Kate Beaton has the historical-satire niche pretty much to herself.
This is not to say that there aren’t areas of comics that are actively hostile to women. There’s always room for improvement. But it seems like a lot of women have simply ignored the traditional definitions and categories and found ways to make their own comics.
Here’s something interesting I noticed recently: A lot of the women who are making good comics lately (and some of the men as well) are alumni of the Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga competitions. A lot of those creators went on to have their own series and further hone their skills working on licensed properties for Tokyopop and other publishers. It’s not exactly an apprentice system, but there’s a lot of value to working on a comic from start to finish, under an editor, and seeing it published. Furthermore, editors move from company to company and they take their Rolodexes (or the modern equivalent) with them. I’m guessing that’s why so many former Tokyopop artists work for BOOM! Studios and why I saw a cluster of them in the credits for Archaia’s Fraggle Rock anthology. There are a lot of really good artists who are just hitting their stride, and many of them, like Amy Mebberson and Joanna Estep, started out with Tokyopop but are obviously headed on to greater things.
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