Martha Thomases: Are Pro Women Con Women?
In last week’s column, I raised the issue of how many women are invited guests at comic book conventions. As you can see, of the four shows I selected rather randomly (the criteria was that I wanted to go to them because I had heard good things), not a single show had a guest list that was more than ten percent female.
Was I being unfair? Should I be more systematic?
The short answer is, “Yes.” There are lots and lots of shows, and somewhere, there must be a few organized by people who want to celebrate the work of women as much as the work of men. More commercially, there must be some shows that want to attract convention-goers interested in comics that represent multiple points of view, because there is money to be made.
This week, I’m going to look at a few big shows. Again, I’m using the information from the show’s website as the basis for my comments. In many cases, the lists advertised are not final, but it is the most up-to-date information we have. I’m also limiting myself to guests who work in comics. I’m not including actors from television or movies, or prose novelists, even though I enjoy seeing all of those people at shows.
Since it was the treatment of women at New York Comic-Con that first appalled me (in fairness, because the issue was out in the open and dealt with), I decided to check out the next big show from Reed Pop. C2E2 is a big event in Chicago at the end of April. They have announced both Spotlight Guests (who number 11, including one woman) and 59 Featured Guests, including 9 women. So, out of a total of 70 guests, ten are women. It’s better than ten percent, but not much.
Reed Pop is a for-profit company, so we can argue whether or not they are in business to further graphic story-telling and its influence on the broader culture. What about a non-profit organization, dedicated to furthering the art?
Comic-Con International hosts several shows every year, including the behemoth that is San Diego. First up, however, is WonderCon, a show I always wanted to go to when it was in San Francisco because I love San Francisco. Now that it’s at least temporarily in Anaheim, I find it much less interesting. They have announced 25 guests, and six are women.
San Diego so far has 40 announced guests, including 12 women.
If my arithmetic is correct, Comic-Con’s guest lists, so far, are around 25 percent female. That’s much better than the Reed shows, and certainly much better than any of the cons mentioned last week.
Would shows devoted to alternative comics do better? After all, these are designed to attract fans of independent publishers, including self-publishers. From this, I infer that they are especially open to points of view not usually found in corporate comics. Alas, there is nothing yet listed on the APE site (run by the fine folks at Comic-Con International).
I checked out the Small Press Expo (commonly known as SPX) and they do about as well as Comic-Con, with 23 announced guests, of whom six are women. This really made me sad.
New York City to the rescue! My favorite show, MoCCA, now sponsored by the Society of Illustrators, has, so far, only announced seven guests. Three are women. That’s almost half!
MoCCA proves it can be done. I call upon all of us to support shows that support all of us, and to ask why others don’t.