San Diego Sexism?

Lea Hernandez has some of the best righteous anger in the industry. This time, she’s taking on the San Diego Con.

Got my pro reg pack for Comic Con International today. It is already binned, as I haven’t changed my plans to not go this year. But there’d be another reason; it’s repellent…. There is not ONE FEMALE SPECIAL GUEST this year. NOT ONE. Not even the token female they usually have. … One of them, Brian Fries, is a guest on the strength of his first work, Mom’s Cancer. I’m not missing the irony that a man making a comic about the near-death of inarguably the most important woman in his life is invited, and there’s not a single woman making comics who is. It’s not lost on me, either, that three of the male guests, Brian Fries, James Kolchaka, and Roger Langridge, make webcomics, which previously could not even be invited to draw a dogfight.

Lots more in the link, including a few of Lea’s suggestions as to who she’d like to see invited, avoiding a pet peeve of mine. Pointing out the lack of women on award nomination and guest lists is easy — pointing out who should have been included is harder, but needs to be done to avoid counting quotas.

19 Responses to “San Diego Sexism?”

  1. Scott Hassler Says:

    lea hernandez…….i know that name from somewhere……..isnt she the chick who quit comics over the miller/lee/vale ass shot?

  2. Johanna Says:

    Scott, watch it — you’re being too flippant for my comfort. If you’d read the post I linked to, you’d see a paragraph that covers the highlights of Lea’s contributions to the industry in her 20-year career. She deserves more respect from you.

  3. Alan David Doane Says:

    Not that this willbe any great comfort, but at least Fries and Kochalka produce work that will be of interest to women…and I can’t speak one way or the other about Fries, but I know a lot of women who read and enjoy Kochalka’s stuff.

    I guess I’m of two minds on this issue — anyone looking for progressive attitudes in comics isn’t expecting them to emerge from the San Diego Nerd Prom. That’s a corporate comics-fueled event, and corporate comics has a longstanding policy of marginalizing female creators.

    More importantly, though, when I think about my favourite people who make comics, names like Phoebe Gloeckner, Renee French, Colleen Coover, Diana Tamblyn and Carol Tyler always are near the top of the list, and their work seems pretty popular with the people I know who know what’s what in artcomix.*

    None of this is meant to diminish Lea’s point — but I’d like to see her exasperation turned in to a real movement to demand equal time for women and artcomix at the SDNP.

    *I use the term artcomix because “independent comics,” these days has come to include junk like Transformers, Ant, and anything that doesn’t have the DC or Marvel logo on it, and yet would dearly love to. I’d prefer the term “alternative comics,” but then some might think I meant Jeff Mason’s company, not that I don’t love Alternative Comics, because I do…

  4. Lea Says:

    I see San Diego like I see Wizard: a big voice that could bring change, but is content to shout in its own ear about how AWESOME it is.

    Johanna, thanks for the catch.

  5. Lyle Says:

    Does anyone know what the criteria for picking out the special guests? I am curious to how that may have played out, like if they may have considered Raina Telgemeier “inelligible” because she was a special guest at APE.

    This is sad to realize, especially since San Diego often has female special guests on their roster in the past.

  6. hcduvall Says:

    Amongst all the other reasons cited so far, that seems incredibly shortsighted on the con’s part. Small consolation, but maybe the list is completely firm yet and they can still add folks.

  7. John Says:

    I have absolutely no clue on how the financials work for the con – and how many special guests they can afford.

    I also don’t know if they invited a female guest or two who turned them down.

    I do know that I am happy they are considering webcomics. They should. Whether the artist behind the webcomic is male, female, or hermaphrodite. (Actually, I’d love to see some hermaphrodites represented!)

    I also like to see guests at cons who are new to the business. They often bring a different perspective than those who have been in the business for decades. “Breaking in” is probably different now than it was 10-20 years ago, regardless of the artistic endeavor we are talking about. So focusing on the ‘experienced’ guests is a disservice to those coming to the con to hear the guests on how to ‘break into’ the industry.

    I’m just sayinig the complaints about inviting webcomic artists and about inviting new artists rubbed me the wrong way. On the one hand, she is arguing for sexual diversity, which she should, but against other types of diversity, which she shouldn’t.

  8. ADD Says:

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that James Kochalka is not just a web comics guy — his books take up half a shelf on my artcomix bookcase…

  9. Scott Hassler Says:

    i was being sarcastic to make a point.

  10. Johanna Says:

    John, I suspect that Lea may be reacting to other factors. Often women are told that they haven’t been in the business long enough or aren’t established enough when people are attempting to justify their exclusion. Now, when there are women who meet that criteria, unfair as it may be, they’re still being omitted.

    There’s also the fact that a lot of women do and have done webcomics for years — one might wonder if San Diego only takes notice when visible men start doing them, similar to the way rap songs only hit the top of the charts when white boys started performing them.

    I dunno, I can’t speak for Lea.

  11. Kelson Says:

    While it seems entirely possible that Lea Hernandez has access to more information, the CCI website has a list of “confirmed guests” (some of whom are listed as “recent additions”) and a note that “More guests are coming! Check back often for updates!”

    So what we don’t know is:

    1. How many guests were invited altogether. (30? 40? 50?)
    2. How many women were invited. (Zero? 5? 10? 20?)
    3. If any women were invited, how many declined to attend?
    4. If any women were invited, how many simply have not yet responded?

    If #4 is not zero, or if CCI decides today, “Oh crap, we should invite some women!” how many will decide based on this controversy that Comic-Con doesn’t really want them, and decide not to go?

  12. Johanna Says:

    Kelson, I admire your optimism.

  13. Lea Says:

    “I dunno, I can’t speak for Lea. ”

    Perhaps not, but you summed up well.

    Kelson, I am ONLY talking about what I got in the mail and promptly threw away: a newsprint booklet with “Special Guests” at the front, each and every one male.

    Something I DO know is special guests know at the previous year’s con that they’re invited.

    Tha fact remains that CCI has made, this year, its most glaring diss of women creators so far.

  14. Lea Says:

    ADD: Yes, I know Kolchaka does print, but if I put one more qualification in my post, it would’ve been a home loan application.

    I can’t ritual disclaimer everything. The most important one is that I do not begrudge my male colleagues their success, but find fault with CCI’s guest list reflecting the comics business in only one way: ignoring women.

  15. James Schee Says:

    Is something wrong with livejournal or Lea’s journal specifically? I’ve tried 3 or 4 times now to follow Johanna’s link and only get a non moving amount loaded box no matter the browser.

    I do find it odd that there are no female special guests. Where are the manga creators at the very least? Not to mention Marjane Satrapi, Gail Simone and Amanda Conner even if you wanted to keep it “mainstream.”

  16. Gail Says:

    I do not disagree with Lea at all. She has a valid, righteous point, as far as I’m concerned.

    But to be completely fair, I WAS invited as a Featured Guest.



  17. Johanna Says:

    Good to know, Gail. That helps answer one of the questions.

  18. Lea Says:

    Gail, thanks for saying so.

    Alas, LJ is broken right now, so I can’t edit the entry to reflect that, or to add a good point brought up: that it IS unknown how many women were invited and said no thanks.
    Chalk a small part of my reaction to not taking the time to remember that I’ve passed on invitations to conventions.

    In poking around on old message board threads, I came across one for The Beat, where Heidi wrote the history of CCI as the book of invasions. In answer to a criticism (repeated annually) that San Diego is less and less about comics, Jackie Estrada had said that she had never seen CCI (nee’ San Diego Comic Con) as just about comics. (I am paraphrasing heavily, here.)

  19. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Regarding female guests at San Diego, Lea Hernandez has posted two followups: one from Gail Simone, in which she says she was invited to be a guest, and one from Jackie Estrada, chair of the guest committee, with more information on the selection process and information on how to make suggestions. […]




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