Fan Expo 2013 : Women In Comics

Recently one of Comic Book Daily’s writers posted a blog about a panel that is happening this weekend at Fan Expo. Ivan Kocmarek (click here to see his post) in this post he described each of the panellists. Two of them being women. They were described as “..one of those rare female anomalies who are mired in the often chauvinistic world of comic fandom” and “…another anomalous female who understands and appreciates what comic fandom is about and is heavily into the comic scene in Toronto”.

I am sorry to say Ivan, but women who like comics are not anomalies, not anymore.

I have written an article on the site about this before titled “There are more of us then you think”. The perception that comics is an old boys club doesn’t really work anymore. At Fan Expo alone, if you look around at the crowd of fans I would say it is almost split 50/50 and I bet if you randomly grabbed one of those women fans, they would know a hell of a lot about comics. Now Ivan didn’t write the description of these women to be insulting (well at least I hope he didn’t) he wrote it because that is obviously how he sees the comic book industry.

Yesterday at the con I decided to attend a Women in Comics Panel where gender equality in comics was brought up quite a bit.

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When I arrived at the room I was surprised there was a line up, something I was not expecting. The room was fairly large and was almost completely full. The panel consisted of 7 women including the likes of Becky Cloonan (The first female artist to draw Batman), Erin Amy Chu (Founder of Alpha Girl Comics), Ellie Pyle (Assistant Editor at Marvel), Sara Richard (My Little Pony artist), Louise Simonson (known for her work on countless Marvel and DC comics). The first question that was asked of these women was, “Should we still have Women In Comics panels?” The answer was unanimous across the board, although it is nice to have a Women In Comics Panel, they thought that having women on regular panels is enough, and that just because there is a Women In Comics panel, does not mean that organizers can then use that as an excuse to have the rest of their panels all male.

An audience member then asked about demographic change in comic book audiences. Like me, the panelists agreed that there are more women than ever reading comics. Back in the day a Women In Comics panel wouldn’t have pulled in so many fans. I was personally surprised to see so many males in the room. The industry needs to stop thinking of itself as a man’s world, there is nothing inherently male about comics, so why is it so hard to believe that a large part of it’s readership is female.

I had a great time at this panel, watching smart and talented women share their experiences and opinions about the seemingly male dominated industry. One message that came across loud and strong was if you want to see a specific type of character, be that a woman, someone who is gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered or a specific race, then get some people together and create a comic with this ideal character in mind. If there is something in comics that you don’t agree with speak up about it, or change it yourself.

So, on that note this is me speaking up. There are a lot of women comic fans, we are here, there are a lot of us, and we know our comics! We are no longer anomalies.

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Leigh Hart
Leigh Woodhall - Soapbox Nerd. Aerialist. Writer. Podcaster. All around tough guy (but a lady version). Follow me on twitter @Leigh_Louise
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5 Comments

  1. Good story and art appeals to everyone. I see more female fans than ever and they like much of the same things I do. Particularly mystery, suspense and many other titles on the shelves other than just “comics for women,” if there is any such thing. Good article Leigh.

  2. Thanks for setting the record straight, Leigh and a great article. What you have here is an “old fart” who has recently retired and picked up retirement interest in a specific segment of comics (Canadian Golden Age) again after starting collecting 50 years ago. Jumping back onto a comic collecting treadmill that is now running a hundred times faster than when I was collecting is a bit tricky. The last con I really attended was the Cosmicon at York University in 1973 and going to FanExpo you yesterday was a bit of a head spinner. Things and the culture have changed immeasurably since then. I was able to see a significant number of female artists in the Artist’s Alley which I had not seen before. I was able to see a number of women “manning” the booths and probably outnumbering the males when it came to cosplay (another thing that didn’t exist in the cons I used to attend).

    My ill-chosen and probably unkowingly chauvinistic words were those of a dinosaur in today’s reality (I assure you my wife and daughter teach me so much about what it is to be a human being in our world). Thank you for not using the harsher language my silly choice of words probably deserved when you made your warranted response. I clearly and unthinkingly offended and caused unnecessary discomfort to you and probably a lot of other females who are true participants in and important assets to the world of fandom and comic collecting. I sincerely apologize to all of you and assure you that to do so was not my intention.

    Keep up the great writing. I always enjoy reading your columns.

  3. Great job Leigh, very professional. Can you keep a secret? I was kind of a nerd when I was in high school, but let’s keep that on the DL. Keep up the good work 😉

  4. Thanks for your response Ivan! I wasn’t too bothered by the reference to me and Rachel as rare female anomalies. But I chuckled because I knew as soon as you went to Fan Expo you would soon see that the convention circuit had changed mightily! We’re about as rare as cockroaches in a tenement.

  5. Ivan, I really appreciate your response and I am happy you got to experience Fan Expo this year and all the women who attended. I hope you had a good time.

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