The Gender Inbalance of Comics

House of Night #1 (cover art by Jenny Frison)

House of Night #1 (cover art by Jenny Frison)

The issue of gender in comics has been getting a lot of attention over the last few months. One of the recurring criticisms is the lack of female creators. The grassroots anthology Womanthology proves that there is an abundance of very talented comic book creators ready and willing to work, and that there is a very enthusiastic audience ready and willing to pay for such material. And yet most comics publishers still have a significant minority of female creators. Or in some cases, none whatsoever.

To get a better understanding, I’ve taken a look at nearly 25 comic book publishers and the products they are planning to release this November.

The only publishers that have an even split or majority of female credits are manga publishers Viz Media, Yen Press, Go Manga/Seven Seas, and Digital Manga Publishing. Publishers with a more literary or alternative focus, such as Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, have 1/3 female creators. Of the major comic book publishers, proportionally Dark Horse probably has the best female representation, but still a minority. Despite criticism leveled against DC Comics for the lack of women creators in their New 52 marketing blitz, they are not the worst of the larger publishers. Archie Comics surprisingly has only one female writer.

Jenny Frison appears to be the busiest with 7 credits, mostly for cover art, such as the image here.

What does all of this prove? Manga captured a greater female readership for a reason. It’s a lesson that the rest of comics could stand to learn, just as it was learned by the producers of the sitcom Community. Despite all of the numbers, it’s not a quota. Hitting an exact 50% or more really isn’t the goal or the point. The idea is that if you want to speak to a demographic, you hire that demographic. And it works.

This doesn’t mean that men can’t produce work that appeals to women or that they shouldn’t be hired. There are plenty of examples and reasons why that doesn’t hold water. There are enough comics (and jobs) for everyone, especially if more people are reading comics because of the increased diversity.

And of course the other lesson is that real diversity and experimentation often happens first outside of structured publishers. That’s why there are so many fantastic female creators making web-comics with varying levels of financial success. The establishment will eventually catch up.

For a great look at how the industry got to this disparity, see this excellent Comics Alliance article. And for some great solutions, read Shaenon K. Garrity’s column at Comixology.

Click through if you want all of the nitty-gritty numbers. Corrections welcome.

It’s important to note that the information provided by publishers when they announce new comics and graphic novels three moths in advance can change, and it doesn’t mention everyone working on a particular comic or graphic novel. For example, there could be female colorists, inkers, letterers, editors and other personnel involved but they aren’t always mentioned in these announcements for various reasons (mainly, comics marketing consensus believes that not too many people are going to order something based on who lettered or edited it).

Each item listed (comic, graphic novel, whatever) usually has three credits: writer, artist, cover artist, and sometimes an inker and/or colorist. So if the same person is going to write and draw something, that’s two credits (or jobs). So you’ll see some names repeated. I’ve specified each job.

I’ve sorted the publishers based on how many products or items they have scheduled to be released this November, so the big publishers Marvel and DC are first. From there it’s sorted by the number of credits with female creators.

Marvel ComicsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 144 items:

  1. Stephanie Hans (cover artist, Journey Into Mystery #631)
  2. Nancy Butler (writer, Northanger Abby #1)
  3. Janet Lee (artist, Northanger Abby #1)
  4. Sara Pichelli (artist, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4)
  5. Stephanie Hans (artist, Avengers Origins: Ant-Man & The Wasp #1)
  6. Kathryn Immonen (writer, Avengers Origins: Thor #1)
  7. Jen Van Meter (co-writer, Avengers: Solo #2)
  8. Colleen Coover (artist, Shame Itself #1)
  9. Becky Cloonan (artist, Victor Von Doom #1)
  10. G. Willow Wilson (writer, Mystic #4)
  11. Amanda Connor (cover artist, Mystic #4)
  12. Marjorie Liu (writer, X-23 #16 & #17)
  13. Sana Takeda (artist, X-23 #17)
  14. Jessica Ruffner (writer, Anita Blake: Circus of the Damned – The Scoundrel #4)
  15. Sara Pichelli (artist, Astonishing X-Men: Monstrous)
  16. Sara Pichelli (artist, Ultimate Comics Death of Spider-Man: Fallout)
  17. Jan Van Lente (co-writer, Spider-Man: Matters of Life and Death)
  18. Marie Severin (artist, Spider-Man: Origin of the Hobgoblin)

DC ComicsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 121 items:

  1. Gail Simone (co-writer, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #3)
  2. Gail Simone (writer, Batgirl)
  3. Jenny Frison (cover artist, I, Vampire #3)
  4. Amy Wolfram (co-writer, Cartoon Network 2-in-1: Ben 10 Ultimate Alien / Generator Rex)
  5. Carli Idhe (inker, Hellblazer #285)
  6. Jill Thompson (artist, Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives new edition)
  7. Yuko Shimizu (cover artist, The Unwritten #31)
  8. Yuko Shimizu (cover artist, The Unwritten #31.5)

Image ComicsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 72 items:

  1. Blair Butler (writer, Heart #1)
  2. Nei Ruffino (cover colorist, Giant-Size Elephantmen #1)
  3. Becky Cloonan (cover artist, Thought Bubble Anthology #1)
  4. Arianna Florean (colorist, The Mission)
  5. Misty Coats (colorist, Skullkickers Vol. 2: Five Funerals and a Bucket of Blood)
  6. Becky Cloonan (cover artist, Hack/Slash #10)
  7. Jessica Kholinne (colorist, Marksmen #5)
  8. Amanda Connor (cover artist, Pigs #3)
  9. Jo Chen (cover artist, Samurai’s Blood #6)

IDW PublishingNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 57 items

  1. Mariah Huehner (c0-writer, True Blood: The French Quarter #4)
  2. Claudia Balboni (co-artist, True Blood: The French Quarter #4)
  3. Ann Rice (co-writer, Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones #4)
  4. Mariah McCourt (co-writer, Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones #4)
  5. Renae DeLiz (artist, Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones #4)
  6. Federica Manfredi (artist, Star Trek 100-Page Spectacular)
  7. Mariah Huehner (writer, Angel: The End)
  8. Elena Casagrande (artist, Angel: The End)
  9. Jenny Frison (cover artist, Angel: The End)
  10. Jenny Frison (artist, Angel Portraits 100-Page Spectacular)
  11. Elena Casagrande (artist, Angel Portraits 100-Page Spectacular)
  12. Jenny Frison (cover artist, Angel Portraits 100-Page Spectacular)
  13. Lora Innes (writer, The Dreamer Vol. 2)
  14. Lora Innes (artist, The Dreamer Vol. 2)

Dynamite EntertainmentNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 34 items:

  1. Patricia Briggs (writer, Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf #4)
  2. Jenny Frison (cover artist, Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf #4)

Boom! StudiosNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 33 items (note: 11 items have creative teams TBA):

  1. Chondra Echert (co-writer, Key of Z #2)
  2. Corinna Sara Bechko (co-writer, Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #1)

Dark Horse ComicsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 31 items:

  1. Rebekah Isaacs (artist, Angel & Faith #4)
  2. Mi-Kyung Yun (writer, Bride of the Water God Vol. 10)
  3. Mi-Kyung Yun (artist, Bride of the Water God Vol. 10)
  4. Michelle Madsen (colorist, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #3)
  5. Michelle Madsen (colorist, Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2)
  6. Fiona Staples (cover artist, Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 2)
  7. Carla Speed McNeil (writer, Dark Horse Presents #6)
  8. Carla Speed McNeil (artist, Dark Horse Presents #6)
  9. Jill Thompson (artist, Dark Horse Presents #6)
  10. Maurissa Tancharoen (writer, Dollhouse: Epitaphs #5)
  11. Michelle Madsen (colorist, Dollhouse: Epitaphs #5)
  12. P.C. Cast (co-writer, House of Night #1)
  13. Kristin Cast (co-writer, House of Night #1)
  14. Joelle Jones (artist, House of Night #1)
  15. Jenny Frison (cover artist, House of Night #1)
  16. Jo Chen (cover artist, Kull: The Cat and the Skull #2)
  17. Jenny Frison (cover artist, The Occultist #1)
  18. Laura Martin (colorist, Serenity: Those Left Behind 2nd edition)
  19. Jan Duursema (artist, Star Wars: Legacy – War)

Viz MediaNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 24 items:

  1. Mayu Shinjo (writer, Ai Ore! Vol. 3)
  2. Mayu Shinjo (artist, Ai Ore! Vol. 3)
  3. Kanoko Sakurakoji (writer, Black Bird Vol. 11)
  4. Kanoko Sakurakoji (artist, Black Bird Vol. 11)
  5. Katsura Hoshino (writer, D Gray Man Vol. 21)
  6. Katsura Hoshino (artist, D Gray Man Vol. 21)
  7. Kyousuke Motomi (writer, Dengeki Daisy Vol. 7)
  8. Kyousuke Motomi (artist, Dengeki Daisy Vol. 7)
  9. Hiromu Arakawa (writer, Fullmetal Alchemist Box Set)
  10. Hiromu Arakawa (artist, Fullmetal Alchemist Box Set)
  11. Tohko Mizuno (writer, Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time Vol. 14)
  12. Tohko Mizuno (artist, Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time Vol. 14)
  13. Karuho Shiina (writer, Kimi Ni Todoke Vol. 11: From Me to You)
  14. Karuho Shiina (artist, Kimi Ni Tokoke Vol. 11: From Me to You)
  15. Izumi Tsubaki (writer, Oresama Teacher Vol. 5)
  16. Izumi Tsubaki (artist, Oresama Teacher Vol. 5)
  17. Sai Yukino (writer, The Story of Saiunkoku Vol. 5)
  18. Kairi Yura (artist, The Story of Saiunkoku Vol. 5)
  19. Rumiko Takahashi (writer, Inu Yasha Vol. 9)
  20. Rumiko Takahashi (artist, Inu Yasha Vol. 9)
  21. Rumiko Takahashi (writer, Rin-ne Vol. 7)
  22. Rumiko Takahashi (artist, Rin-ne Vol. 7)
  23. Natsume Ono (writer, Tesoro)
  24. Natsume Ono (artist, Tesoro)
  25. Miyuki Miyabe (writer, Book of Heroes)
  26. Miyuki Miyabe (artist, Book of Heroes)

Archie ComicsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 16 items:

  1. Kathleen Webb (writer, B&V Friends Double Digest #219)

Ape EntertainmentNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 11 items:

  1. Sabrina Alberghetti (artist, Casper’s Scare School #2)
  2. Amy Mebberson (artist, Casper’s Scare School #2)
  3. Georgia Ball (writer, Strawberry Shortcake: Pineapple Predicament & Other Stories)
  4. Tanya Roberts (artist, Strawberry Shortcake: Pineapple Predicament & Other Stories)
  5. Amy Mebberson (artist, Strawberry Shortcake: Pineapple Predicament & Other Stories)

Zenescope EntertainmentNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 11 items:

  1. Fan Yang (cover artist, Salem’s Daughter: The Haunting #5)
  2. Nei Ruffino (cover artist, The Theater #3)

Yen PressNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 10 items:

  1. HyeKyung Baek (writer, Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only Vol. 3)
  2. HyeKyung Baek (artist, Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only Vol. 3)
  3. Cecily von Ziegesar (writer, Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only Vol. 3)
  4. Noizi Ito (character designer, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol. 10)
  5. Puyo (artist, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan Vol. 4)
  6. Noizi Ito (character designer, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan Vol. 4)
  7. Yuhki Kamatani (writer, Nabari No Ou Vol. 8)
  8. Yuhki Kamatani (artist, Nabari No Ou Vol. 8)

Antarctic PressNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 7 items:

0

Avatar PressNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 5 items:

0

Aspen ComicsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 4 items:

  1. Beth Sotelo (colorist, Fathom #4)

Moonstone BooksNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 4 items:

  1. Nancy Holder (co-writer, Domino Lady’s Threesome)

Oni Press – November 2011 solicits – credits out of 3 items:

  1. Rashida Jones (co-writer, Frenemy of the State #5)
  2. Christina Weir (co-writer, Frenemy of the State #5)

Fantagraphics – November 2011 solicits – credits out of 3 items:

  1. Diane Noomin (writer, Glitz-2-Go)
  2. Diane Noomin (artist, Glitz-2-Go)

Drawn and Quarterly – November 2011 solicits – credits out of 3 items:

  1. Lynda Barry (writer, Everything Vol. 1)
  2. Lynda Barry (artist, Everything Vol. 1)

Bluewater ProductionsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 3 items:

  1. Kimberly Sherman (writer, Fame: Taylor Lautner – The Graphic Novel)

Red 5 ComicsNovember 11 solicits – credits out of 3 items:

0

Go Manga/Seven Seas – November 2011 solicits – credits out of 2 items:

  1. Yuyuko Takemiya (writer, Toradora! Vol. 3)
  2. Zekkyo (artist, Toradora! Vol. 3)

Digital Manga PublishingNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 2 items:

  1. Kaoru Tada (writer, Itazura na Kiss Vol. 7)
  2. Kaoru Tada (artist, Itazura na Kiss Vol. 7

Archaia Entertainment – November 2011 solicits – credits out of 2 items:

0

Top Shelf ProductionsNovember 2011 solicits – credits out of 1 item:

  1. Sue Simensky (creator, World War 3 Illustrated #42)
  2. Sabrina Jones (creator, World War 3 Illustrated #42)
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