DC’s Track Record With Women Is Provably Getting Worse

According to this otherwise not-very-good article on why Wonder Woman doesn’t have a movie, DC’s stats on how many women buy their comics are actually WORSE than they were in the mid-90s. Then, they had 92% male readership. Now, it’s 93%.

A whopping 93 percent of people buying comics are male, according to The Nielsen Company’s market research done for DC Comics in 2012. The study also found that only 5 percent of people buying comics are doing it for the first time and 2 percent are younger than 18.

That’s probably well within margin of error or something, so I shouldn’t read too much into it, but dang. And we know why, right?

Because at a time when the cross-town competition has a number of superhero team books that are mostly or all women, the closest thing DC has is Ame-Comi Girls, a digital-first title that’s based on an exploitative line of statues (and has one of the worst titles of all time). The comic isn’t quite as bad, but you have to be able to ignore seeing a lot of really tacky skin-baring costumes, and at a certain point, reading comics to ignore the visuals is an exercise in stupidity and frustration. People who don’t see themselves represented in a genre or format aren’t going to read that genre or format.

Because DC doesn’t hire female artists any more, particularly for their big events. (Then again, I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to work there these days, when editors are rewriting everything they can get their hands on. It sounds miserable.)

Because women who try to get work in comics are viciously attacked or insulted by those who are often jealous of their work or position. As Kelly Sue DeConnick posted at that link:

It’s not a natural assumption to leap to the conclusion that I got my job because of my marriage. It’s the product of deeply-ingrained sexist thinking. I can name for you a half a dozen men who did, in fact, get their first big two gigs because of who they knew and their dignity and their qualifications have never been called into question. I’m lucky if I go a week.

When I worked at DC, the assumption was that I must have been giving someone blowjobs, because who else would hire a girl (with a perfectly-matched-to-the-job degree in online comic fandom) to run their website? I’m sorry to hear that the same kinds of trolls are still out there, those who can’t think of women in anything but sexual terms and so assume everyone else does the same.

Heidi asked recently do we write about gender issues too much? No, we don’t. Not while this crap is still going on and those expressing it aren’t embarrassed so much they shut up.

Heidi adds some great points about female comic journalists in particular that I wish I had more time to respond to here. As she says, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you wonder why women don’t cold-approach you to submit, check your masthead. Are there any other women there? If someone does, and you say you’ll get back to her, do you actually follow up? (At least one major comic site doesn’t, but then, it’s easy to fall behind and get swamped.)

It takes a lot of guts to be The Woman, the one who’s trying to blaze a trail for the others. And I can understand why some just don’t want to put up with it. Particularly when it’s easier to just make your own website or comic and even have great success with it without having to put up with the cavemen.

Similar Posts: Women Directors Have It Worse Than Ever § Superhero Comic Readers Still Mostly Male § The Comics Journal Should Hire More Women Writers. And Write About More Women. § Final Minx Creative Count § The Lack of Visible Women and the Need for Support


14 Responses to “DC’s Track Record With Women Is Provably Getting Worse”

  1. Dwight Williams Says:

    Seems so bloody important to some people to push for the clock to be rolled back, doesn’t it? Rolled back at least a millennium, to hear some of them tell it.

  2. James Schee Says:

    Yeah it is sort of an odd circle right now. I see people question why more women don’t work at DC. Yet I wonder what woman (or even most men) would want to work there at times.

    The most variety of stories and talent they have are coming from their digital offerings(which I understand are from the West coast editorial offices) these days. Both in terms of storylines and talent with Joelle Jones and Amanda Conner having done work there. Plus Cat Staggs has been the artist on Smallville for most of its run.

    I honestly wonder if she is close to a record for a female artist on one book for the big 2.(or does it not count because it is digital?)

    There are also so many great options out there these days. Not just Marvel, or Dark Horse or Image either. Yet with websites, and Kickstarter and other things. Will people eventually not care what the dinosaurs are doing anymore?

  3. Greg Says:

    I’m not getting what was so bad about the article. They hit every beat that every other blogger hits whenever anyone talks about this topic. It’s even handed and thankfully avoids the over the top histrionic rage of wonder woman fans that one usually has to venture into tumblr to find. So what’s the problem?

  4. Loren Says:

    “Because at a time when the cross-town competition has a number of superhero team books that are mostly or all women, the closest thing DC has is Ame-Comi Girls,”

    Not that this affects your larger point, but doesn’t DC still publish “Birds of Prey”?

  5. Johanna Says:

    Loren: Yes, they do. My oversight, thanks for the correction. I must have purposefully forgotten about it once they made Starling a villain. :)

    Greg: Opinions differ, I guess. I found it a bunch of speculation that I’d heard a million times before without adding anything new.

    James: That’s a great point about the digital comics coming out of a different office. Maybe that’s why I like them so much more. And yes, I suspect that the old-school DC doesn’t think that digital “counts”. A lot of fans think that way, too.

  6. Dwight Williams Says:

    It’s intended to not be the same as when the likes of me enjoyed reading it. But, I’m one of those people considered too old to be tolerated as part of the paying audience these days.

  7. Suzene Says:

    Do any of the major publishers even take cold submissions anymore? It seems like every time there’s a discussion about the lack of women working in the comics industry, there’s always the smartass going “Well, if they want to work in comics, they should submit a pitch,” but last I heard, the line from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse etc. was, “If we want to work with you, we’ll get in touch.”

  8. Johanna Says:

    That’s true, Suzene, that they only want to talk to people at cons, which becomes self-selecting for a certain type of person.

    Not to mention, of course, it’s never that simple. The kind of story a woman might suggest may be different from the same-old they’re used to publishing. My one and only time I tried to pitch writing a comic, I wanted to focus on all the reporter girlfriends — Lois, Iris, Superboy’s friends whose name I’ve forgotten, etc. plus Sue Dibney. Aside from the fact that some of those women don’t exist any more, no one was that interested in a comic that wasn’t about a male hero, just like all the others.

  9. hapax Says:

    @Johanna — you’ve mentioned the “reporter girls” pitch before, and it still makes me sad.

    I woulda read the HELL out of that!

  10. James Schee Says:

    Tana Moon!

  11. Johanna Says:

    Yes! Thank you for reminding me. And hapax, thanks. I don’t know if I know enough about storytelling to take it where it needs to go, but I just wanted to see all those cool women together doing neat things.

  12. Tara Tallan Says:

    “It takes a lot of guts to be The Woman, the one who’s trying to blaze a trail for the others. And I can understand why some just don’t want to put up with it. Particularly when it’s easier to just make your own website or comic and even have great success with it without having to put up with the cavemen.”

    I thought the women making their own comics and webcomics *were* blazing a trail. ;-) I saw Wendy Pini do it, and after that it never entered my mind that I couldn’t try to do the same thing.

  13. Craig HS Says:

    DC also have “World’s Finest” with Huntress and Power Girl. Again, not taking away from your overall point at all. I was honestly surprised at the uproar over Gail Simone’s leaving “Batgirl” actually being effective at reversing that decision.

  14. Johanna Says:

    I like World’s Finest, but I’m a long-time Huntress fan, and I don’t count two characters (which often have separate adventures) as a team, exactly. And yes, odd that DC would respond to outside reaction that way; they strike me as not that open to fan feedback.

    Tara, very true.

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