Martha Thomases: A Call to Alarms
This is the time of year when the ComicMix crew starts to firm up our attendance at various comic conventions in the year ahead. It’s a frustrating process because there are a lot of shows and we can’t go to all the ones we’d like to attend.
It also makes me really angry.
Last year was the first in a long time that I went to a bunch of cons. It was fascinating and fun most of the time, but annoying at others. Twenty years after we started Friends of Lulu, there are still remarkably few women invited to be guests at the shows.
This is odd, because there are a lot of women working in the industry, and (capitalists take note) even more buying comics and tickets to cons. Wouldn’t show organizers like to demonstrate to this market segment that they are welcome and valued?
I, for one, am sick of complaining about it. I’ve decided to do something.
I want to use my position as a busy body on this website to point out conventions that don’t have many women on their guest list. For example, Emerald City Con, which I’ve always wanted to go to and sounds amazing has, on their website, a list of 235 guests, of which 20, I think, are women (I qualify that because there are some names that could be appropriate for any gender).
Here’s another example. Heroes Con, which is one of my favorites, has 48 announced guests, and only four are women.
A press release I received today from Baltimore Comic-Con said, “This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Greg Capullo (Batman); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men: Battle of the Atom); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Tommy Lee Edwards (Suicide Risk); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); David Finch (Forever Evil); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); JG Jones (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Black and White); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Barry Kitson (Empire); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Eric Powell (The Goon); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); John K. Snyder III (Zorro Rides Again); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe: A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Matt Wagner (Grendel); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony).”
As you can see, that is two women.
There can be a lot of reasons for this. Sometimes, publishers promote their “hot” talent for guest spots. Sometimes, the people planning the show want a particular kind of fan to attend, and that kind of fan has testicles.
However, when there are no women on the guest list, not only does it send the false message that women haven’t achieved prominence in our corner of the entertainment industry, it also reduces the number of women on panels, taking part in our public conversations.
So I’d like to keep track of who is being welcoming to women, and who isn’t. I would also be delighted to report on who is being welcome to other groups who are under-represented, such as people of color and LGBTQ folks. It would be my honor to be your ally.
I’m not asking for a quota at shows. I want to see more women, but I don’t have a number in mind. I’m not making any demands. I’m simply reporting facts, gathered from promotional material (including websites) created by the shows’ promoters.
It is my opinion that if there are more women welcomed as guests at these shows, there will be fewer incidents such as this. As I said in a previous column, “It would be easier for women to be taken seriously by convention goers if they were taken seriously by convention planners. I don’t think we should sit back and wait for others to fix the problem. I think we need to fix it ourselves. Every time we see bad behavior, we should say something, loudly. Every time a convention or industry event ignores women, we should ridicule them for their lack of knowledge about our industry and its future.”
So while I’m trying to keep track of how many women are treated as professionals at shows, I’d also like to also offer my mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) as a place where women can share their unpleasant experiences with disrespectful men and boys at the same shows. With their permission, I’d like to ask show promoters to explain how such things can happen under their auspices. If my editor and I think there is a story, we’ll run it.
All e-mails sent to me will be considered to be “on the record” unless there is a compelling reason to keep it confidential. This means that if, instead of keeping to the spirit of this conversation, you hurl gratuitous insults or threat me, I’ll make it public (including taking it to the authorities if I feel threatened).
Let’s stand up for ourselves and let our voices be heard. The people, united, can never be defeated.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
A WEEK FROM THIS AFTERNOON: Oh, that would be telling…