MALE TO FEMALE RATIOS OF NYCC GUESTS
AMBER LOVE 30-SEP-2014 Based on some preliminary number crunching, it appears that ReedPop has taken steps in including more female creators as guests for New York Comic Con 2014. I specifically looked at the tab for Comics Guests which is not exclusive to comics creators or publishers but open to other people connected to the comics business. I’ve inquired with NYCC to define the differences between these categories: Spotlight, Featured, and Special Guests. If I get a reply, I’ll update this post. The statistics discussed here are based on the binary gender acceptance and not inclusive of the non-binary community. More on that below.
It’s been pointed out on the DC Women Kicking Ass blog, that for the first time, DC Comics will have a discussion panel featuring female creators and not all of them are listed as NYCC Guests:
“JOKER’S DAUGHTER writer Marguerite Bennett, new series GOTHAM ACADEMY writer Becky Cloonan, HARLEY QUINN writer/artist Amanda Conner, WONDER WOMAN writer Meredith Finch, COFFIN HILL writer Caitlin Kittredge, SECRET SIX writer Gail Simone, and new BATGIRL artist Babs Tarr.”
Since it was only yesterday that DC Comics pissed off women in the industry and female fans again with that Superman/Wonder Woman “SCORE” shirt hitting the market, is there any chance that the Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio with Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns give a shit about the women in this business? The President of the company is a woman, Diane Nelson; she also serves as the President and Chief Content Officer of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Yet, they fail spectacularly with inclusion concerns of women and ethnic minorities.
In comparison to Marvel, DC has cut back on convention presence. Since they are the biggest two of the comic publishers, the inequality seen in their ranks is reflective of who will be considered for any of the guest statuses especially the top two tiers, Spotlight and Featured. One thing that is not as apparent is that often women are behind-the-scenes in editorial, production and administrative roles. Comic con attendees generally want to see the artists and for some, the writers if they have a particularly popular or award-winning book. People aren’t lining up to meet editors, letterers, or publishers unless they are at DC and Marvel.
In 2013, there was only one female guest listed in what appears to be the most exclusive of the three categories. That pioneer was Kate Beaton. In 2012, there were zero women in this category. For 2014, NYCC has stepped up their game a little and there are now three female creators in the top tier: AMY REEDER, GAIL SIMONE, KELLY SUE DECONNICK.
Increasing the count to three women for the Spotlight tier brings up the participation to about 9 percent for female guests.
The tally for women in the Featured Guest category has actually gone down from 2013 to 2014. They’ve added nearly 60 new entries but have not maintained nor grown the female participation in this bulky category. In 2013, the number was 9 out of 126 or 7 percent. This year, it’s 12 out of 195 or 6 percent.
2014 Featured Women:
- Agnes Garbowska
- Allison Sohn
- Amanda Conner
- Cat Staggs
- Chrissie Zullo
- Corinna Bechko
- Katie Cook
- Janet Lee
- Louise Simonson
- Renee Witterstaetter
- Sara Pichelli
- Stephanie Hans
On one hand it’s wonderful to see more comic book industry guests added because something that is a common complaint about these big shows is that the comics people feel more and more unwelcome compared to the highlighted actors of current Hollywood and even old Hollywood. It’s normal to see creators post about feeling inferior to has-been Power Rangers or horror movie extras from the 1980s or especially “famous” cosplayers. Even as a fan I’ve felt that way. I’ll see people at tables and have no interest in seeing them because they may have had one line in a movie that came out when I was 5. At least things like THE WALKING DEAD have a bonafide connection to comics.
ReedPop counteracted those claims in the spring by launching a wonderful comics-only convention called the Special Edition NYCC. It was only the Artists Alley portion and held in the North Pavilion of the Javits Center where AA is during the regular massive October NYCC. I gave the Special Edition a glowing review because it deserved it. There was little I would have wanted different such as having the panel rooms closer to the actual convention instead of on the opposite side of the Javits. However, since there was no traffic from the main show floor of the Javits and only one other small event taking place, it was an easy albeit long walk to the lower level panels. This is usually a nightmare during the big NYCC and I don’t have high hopes for this year being any different. So if you are bitter about the big show being “not about comics” you may want to keep your eyes peeled to see if they host this Special Edition con again next spring. And maybe we can see more minorities in comics represented there as well.
This category called Special Guests is the most confusing of the three that are about comics people. From a glance, it appears to contain comic industry creators and publishers as well as a few animators; but then there’s this lone blogger (@ilikecomicstoo, Marlene Bonnelly) thrown into the batch. Not saying she doesn’t deserve to be there but as a non-creator she stands out in this lineup. We already know that the major blogging/media outlets have some privileges the little indie bloggers like myself don’t. Unless things are different for 2014, major outlets are given plush press boxes that overlook the show floor which provides private space for them to podcast away from the noise. Since I’m not seeing any of those columnists or hosts in the Special Guest category, I’m simply unsure about why this one person is there. I don’t know if Special Guests are given table space or anything of privilege other than having a picture on the website rather than just a listing in the AA page.
Considering this undefined category has the largest percentage of female participants (about 19 percent), I think it’d behoove ReedPop to actually explain what the category means to those participants and to the fans. Why should fans put these people on their radar? What’s the goal of it?
This oddball category is defined as bringing together “art, design, and collectible toys, pop-tech, and fashion.” It appears to be an attempt to identify people that are on the pulse of entertainment and want to drive trends about kitschy elements of pop culture. I never heard any of the comics media discuss The Block last year so I have no idea if it’s successful in whatever its mission actually is. If this is in fact supposed to about trendsetters and people involved with what’s currently buzzing, I feel like any guest blogger and cosplayer would belong in this category not with the creators (unless you also create comics).
I didn’t take the time to count the ratio for the male to female guests in the Literary category but at a quick glance it is apparent there are more women there proportionally than in the comics categories.
The fact that NYCC does have a few LGBTQ events is some kind of progress. Two of the six I found on the schedule are dating events. *eyeroll*
I perused the speakers for the other four panels and I think only one of them has any guest status in the rankings, Kieron Gillen; I don’t even know if he’s gay or if he’s included because his books have diverse characters.
As an event organizer myself, I can speak to the issue of booking guests on a very small scale. I split the duties of booking comic guests, entertainers and cosplayers with the staff of Comic Fusion for the in-store events like our annual two-day SUPERHERO WEEKEND and FREE COMIC BOOK DAY as well as book promotions when people launching a new series want to spend the time to come in. For the 2014 SHW, I personally contacted eight local female creators to be guests. Only 2 of them were able to fit it into their schedules and a third was booked by Stacy directly at the shop. The three include a color artist, an artist, and a musician. We’ll have 5 male guests by comparison.
To conclude, I’m terrible at math so if my basic division is off, let me know. 🙂