GETTING FEMALE AND MINORITY CREATORS TO CONS

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AMBER LOVE – 04-JUNE-2015 This week I’ve been checking out the demographics that make up the featured guest lists of the local comic cons I’ll be attending. I’m not about to get into all the stats this year like I did last year, but I am checking lists for who is deemed worthy of being “featured” as a creator. In the aftermath of the Denver Comic Con all male Women in Comics panel, people are sensitive – and justifiably so. There’s good news and not-so-good news.

GOOD NEWS – WOMEN GET INVITED

Female creators are being extended the invitations. There are still problems with getting them on the roster. I don’t run a convention; I do co-organize a local small charity event where we try to get 4-6 creators in the shop. So I have some experience in trying to get women interested in traveling to meet fans; it doesn’t seem to be working out and for 8 years our event benefited domestic violence survivors.

One of the medium size shows (meaning less than monstrous even like NYCC or C2E2), has managed to do better this year and has 21% female creators listed as “featured.” A couple smaller shows, however, aren’t fairing well at all in demographics. One con had only 3 female creators; another is currently around 3 or 4 but only has 1 of them on their website waiting to roll out official announcements for the others. Sure, they have more women in their Artists’ Alley. What that tells me is that the cons don’t mind taking money from creative women, but they aren’t interested in putting a spotlight on them. The one organizer that I spoke with told me about nine specific women who were invited and declined. They have made some kind of effort.

I want to hear from you if you think asking less than a dozen women is enough.

In private, I had a good email conversation with one of these organizers to ask WTF gives with having so few women in the “featured” list. He said a lot of big names in comics were asked, but declined. The reasons for declining were generally one of these:

  • the show is too new and doesn’t have a reputation yet
  • they have scheduling conflicts
  • or, they couldn’t agree on terms

What I didn’t want to hear was “well we have women in the media and cosplay guest lists.” Okay, that’s great. That is not however going to make up for the lack of women and minorities that make the source material – the comics. I’m a cosplayer and a member of the geek media. I’m not saying those roles aren’t important to shine some light on, but they are not the comic creators (or game developers) of the source material.

This is the New York/Philadelphia area. You can’t tell me that no one is willing to come here at all for an actual comic book show. I accept that it’s hard for me to get creators to come to a charity event because:

  1. We aren’t reimbursing anyone for travel.
  2. It’s about the charity not about making sales that takes money and attention away from the charity.
  3. Our little shop is wonderful but in the middle of nowhere, not near a train station so Phillians and NYers need to be able to find a bus or drive to us.

Conventions are not like asking someone to make a small town shop appearance.

WOMEN DON’T GET INVITED BECAUSE THEY ARE INDIE

Besides the most famous names you can think of (Louise Simonson, Amanda Conner, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, etc.), there are women who do not work for Marvel or DC. This is what I was told gets a creator to be considered to be a featured guest. You also should consider expanding your list to color artists, letterers and even editors without whom, the comics wouldn’t be made.

I don’t mean to tumble into a horrible rant, but you know that the Big Two are not the only players on the field, right? There are a lot more publishers out there INCLUDING plenty of respectable self-published creators or web comic creators. For example, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan’s “Oh Joy, Sex Toy” volume two just closed its Kickstarter at over $65,000. The first volume got over $69,000 from Kickstarter backers. That’s completely independent publishing – no distribution deal with a “known” (ie, Diamond) publisher. Likewise, “Girls With Slingshots” creator Danielle Corsetto was able to fund an entire 10th anniversary tour with Kickstarter funds of over $36,000.

OHST-Ks erika moen

Both of those comics, OJST and GWS, are web comics that were collected into print editions later and self published. They are HUGE success stories. In other words, comic creators like these should not be ignored in a convention organizer’s planning list to get featured creators.

Comic Book Resources recently conducted a survey and tabulated the stats for 2015 to put together a list of the Top 50 most popular women in comics broken into a list of writers and a list for artists; some women appear on both, like Colleen Doran.

If that’s not enough, find the credit list for Womanthology – a massive collection of stories made by women. Still not enough? Pop over to Comics Alliance and write down all the names of the women featured in “Hire This Woman” posts.

My point here is this: if you’re running an event where you are capable of covering the travel for male creators just because they worked for the Big Two, you need to do the same for non-white creators, LGBT creators, and female creators even if their work isn’t at DC or Marvel. That’s an egregious way to define who is worthy of being featured at a con.