DENVER COMIC CON PANEL FOR WOMEN IN COMICS
HAD NO WOMEN ON THE PANEL
UPDATED 26-MAY-2015: The great thing about bad news going viral is that often it leads to action. In the case of Denver Comic Con’s atrocious “Women in Comics” panel, some actual women in comics got together to host a last-minute round table discussion on the third day of the show. Playwright Crystal Skillman reached out to me on Twitter to point me to the link giving more information on Bleeding Cool. I hope it went well. As I mentioned in my original post (all this stuff below), Amanda Conner normally declines being othered in “women’s” panels so I was surprised to see that she was on the new roster for this round table. She was joined by Trina Robbins and Hannah Means-Shannon.
AMBER LOVE 23-MAY-2015 The weekend of May 23-25 is a long holiday weekend in the US because of the Memorial Day observance. I was home observing the news on Twitter. It was another depressing day of cops killing unarmed civilians. Then my feed dramatic split into news from the conventions. This weekend also has Houston and Vancouver conventions so a great deal of the people I follow were starting to live tweet their days. But when I saw @Chrissypedia retweet @GeekChristy the appalling news that the Denver Comic Con “Women in Comics” panel had NO WOMEN on it, it was one of the times when it’s appropriate for me to speak up. I fully acknowledge that when other things are happening, I need to sit down and let those other voices be heard. Well when it comes to comics, I have one of the voices, particularly in cases where a population of the industry is erased completely.
Honestly, if you are tired of hearing women bitch about how they are treated by comics (or gaming), image how fucking tired we are of having to defend our mere existence as human beings. The storify of my tweets and the specific ones from @GeekChristy and @Chrissypedia are at the end of this post. You can see the way GeekChristy was dismissed! They consider their panel successful because she was in the audience!
We have to constantly fight this erasure. I really do know women who refuse to be on “Women in Comics” panels because they find it insulting that they are not considered for any other panels. Unless the convention program director is ready to do their job and have representation on all panels, then sadly the Women in… Transgender in… Gay in… POC in…. panels cannot go away. I think we’d all love integration and to feel like we matter and are valued parts of these communities. Unfortunately, we need to still be othered at every turn of the calendar because today is not that day. Last year, I did a fair amount of number crunching to get my own statistics on a couple of conventions and their male to female ratio of featured guests – and then I did it again later in the yearÂ in which I also addressed what I go through trying to get women to make comic shop appearances at Comic Fusion.
Can you imagine what it’s like to be a person identified by only one characteristic instead of your achievements? Wouldn’t you want to be considered a valuable asset with the rest of the group? The answer from Denver Comic Con, according to GeekChristy is that “they couldn’t find any” women despite the fact that they had Chrissy Zullo, Becky Cloonan, Marguerite Bennett, Meghan Hetrick, JoÃ«lle Jones, Jackie Estrada, Crystal Skillman and Amanda Conner on their guest lists. Conner is one woman who actually will refuse an invitation to “Women in” panels because she wants and deserves the respect to be in any other panel of creators.Â @BenComics made a great intro list to #WomeninComicsÂ which starts at 1909 but progresses to include a fraction of today’s comics talent.
1. Stop having “Women in Comics” panels and integrate all the panels with diverse creators as best as possible. If you are responsible for the programming, it is YOUR mission to find those people. If you can’t find them, then REACH OUT to the industry – ask the fans who they want to see, ask creators for recommendations of their peers, ask publishers who they can send.
2. Rename your panel. If you are the program director and have discovered that you can’t actually get the people you want for the subject matter you want, then reinvent the panel. Call it “The History of Female Characters” or “Allies of Feminism in Comics Who Can Explain How to be an Ally” or “Favorite Female Characters.” How hard is that? If the panel description reads as Denver’s does that “this panel discusses many of the popular female characters…” then your panel is NOT about WOMEN in comics; it is about FEMALE CHARACTERS in comics. WOMEN in comics are real people.
3. Cancel the panel. It’s that simple. If you can’t come up with a way to be inclusive, do not half ass your so-called Diversity Mission. Women, POC, and the Queer communities do not need your half assed dog and pony show. It is insulting. Just cancel the panel and make a polite announcement.
On the Denver Comic Con “Women in Comics” panel were two art instructors and a software developer. Three men, none of whom are even creators in comics today. The DCC staff couldn’t even be bothered to go to their own Artists’ Alley and recruit women/NB for this panel.
The DCC is not without controversy and drama. In the past, they basically fired the co-founder of the convention and had to go through legal processes to sort it all out. I know himÂ and I don’t think this kind of error would have happened on Charlie La Greca’sÂ watch.
STORIFY of tweets below. You actually have to click Next Page because this was a long discussion and it’s only partially collected here. I mainly wanted to show my own tweets but the OP tweets, in my opinion, are quite important to credit in their exact words.
3 Comments on “Mansplaining in Comics.” My thoughts on Denver Comic Con’s “Women in Comics” panel.
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Yes, one craptactular panel did get through. Here are the panels you did NOT talk about:
Let’s take a look at the panels that DIDN’T make the headlines ,shall we?
Women in comics NOW
Native American Women in comics/pop,
Overcoming Objectification in comics,
What Do Teen Girls Really Want To Read,
Women in the Geek Industry,
She Makes Comics,
Women of Whedon
Girls and Geekdom: Position Papers and Roundtable Discussion on Finding the Feminine Voice in Comic Culture
Level Up: Queer Dystopia Bi Sci Fi Compelling Homos
She Can Do It: Awesome Women in Comics
Minority and Women Authors of the Past
Changing Times: The Role of Women In the Whoniverse
Trans and Genderqueer Representation in Comics
Woman of Nerddom w/ King of the Nerds
Beyond Bechdel: Queer Femmes and Women in Comics
Objectification in Cosplay
Is there Discrimination in Pop-Culture?
Celebrating Diversity in Comics w/ Red Tempest Media
Coming Out Of The Costume: Comics and Sexual Identity
Also, the “firing” was not that simple. It was a complex issue, and while controversial is certainly not germane to this topic.
I can appreciate that you are defensive of the con’s reputation. First of all, the first panel you mention “Women in Comics NOW” wasn’t even created until women got mad at the all-male panel; Secondly, plenty of panels address a general global issue called “diversity” but of the ones you listed, not all are specifically about women in the comics. A few are.
About an hour ago, I posted a link on my Facebook page to Graphic Policy’s account of the situation which includes mentions of 8 other panels for women and the most recently found apology from the con organizer. http://graphicpolicy.com/2015/05/28/denver-comiccon-and-that-one-panel/
The original statement that was published at Comics Alliance was honestly, not that good. It wasn’t even an apology. It was defensive, just as you are being. The statement on Graphic Policy actually speaks to the audience and industry better by admitting that one particular panel should not have been approved and a promise to do better in the future. That’s all anyone wants when there’s a problem.
And the reason I brought up Charlie LaGreca is because I know him and if this had happened at an event with his involvement, he would have apologized immediately. That’s where it’s relevant. The convention ignored all the inquiries on Twitter for the entire weekend and then the first statement was not what people wanted to hear. Luckily, the second statement clears everything up and it shouldn’t be an issue any longer.
Just going to leave a couple of links here to follow up on this issue since a lot of people have spoken up about it.
This one includes the recording of the panel that was created by Crystal Skillman: