Martha Thomases: Katie, Emily & Sana


When the phone rings on a Sunday and it’s not even 9 AM, I leap up and brace for news that someone has died.

Luckily, when the phone rang this past Sunday that wasn’t the case. “Turn on the Today show right now!!” said my friend, Pennie.

Right there on a network news show (one that was on at the crack of dawn on a weekend) was a long segment about women and comics.

It was great, but I have issues.

Really, go watch the clip, and then we’ll talk.

First of all, huge props to the Marvel/Disney PR department for not only getting the story placed, but for making it all about Marvel. In my experience, many general-interest journalists conflate Marvel and all super-hero comics, and it seems that Marvel is just fine with that.

Erica Hill, the reporter, claims that one third of the Marvel editorial department is female, and that may be true but I’d like to see a breakdown. I loved seeing Sana Amanat, Katie Kubert and Emily Shaw talking about their jobs. Those are three smart women who know a lot about the business, and it was fun to see their chops and enthusiasm.

However, Sana is the only one who is an executive, and Emily is an assistant editor. How do women in Marvel editorial rank in comparison to the men, especially among staff with the same amount of tenure?

I really don’t know the answer to that. I hope it’s one I like.

The story also says that between 30-50% of the comic book market is female. How do they define this market? Does it include manga? Does it include graphic novel sales in bookstores? Do they mean Marvel sales (as they seem to conflate Marvel with all comics)? If a third of Marvel’s sales are to women, why haven’t I seen that news before? Am I just oblivious?

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m aware that a morning-news piece isn’t going to go digging too far because their audience is just getting coffee, getting over a hangover or getting ready for church. Still, I wanted to know more.

Is it too meta for a column about comics on a comic-book site to critique a television news piece about comics? Maybe. As a publicist I would have been thrilled to get the placement, but I would have buried the producers with information, not just about my company but about the entire field. I would have especially directed them to Image Comics, where women don’t just work on different titles but get to own the rights to their work. I would have urged them to interview female writers and artists and retailers, to get their perspectives on the changes in the market.

Most of all, damn it, I would have urged them to highlight Dakota North. We have to find a way to get her on Netflix.