She Makes Comics – A Documentary on Women in Comics

She Makes Comics cover

I got a chance to watch the Sequart documentary She Makes Comics, which covers “the history of women in comics as creators, fans, and everything in between.” The movie is available from that link as a DVD or digital download.

From the start, it’s a jolt, a shot in the arm full of passion and enthusiasm as women talk about why they love and make comics. Simply seeing so many women puts the lie to comics being a male-oriented medium, but the content goes on to point out key names and accomplishments in history, accompanied by archival footage and images.

As directed by Marisa Stotter, the film kept my attention with well-paced editing, well-identified commentators, and well-chosen visuals. Key contributors include all the expected names:

She Makes Comics cover

  • Trina Robbins
  • Ramona Fradon
  • Wendy Pini
  • Colleen Doran
  • Jackie Estrada
  • Jenette Kahn
  • Michelle Nolan
  • Karen Green
  • Ann Nocenti
  • Louise Simonson
  • Jill Thompson
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick
  • Gail Simone
  • G. Willow Wilson
  • Heidi MacDonald
  • Janelle Asselin
  • Karen Berger
  • Shelly Bond
  • Raina Telgemeier

and many others, including many young creators, as well as a few men, including Paul Levitz and Chris Claremont. Key moments explored are the original diversity of comic genres, the rise of underground comics, convention cosplay, the founding of Friends of Lulu, internet fan culture, the importance of key titles like Elfquest, X-Men, Sandman, and Captain Marvel, and the rise of indy and webcomics supporting diversity. Levitz makes the essential point that simply having Kahn in a leadership position brought in more women, since they saw that there was a space for them. That’s an idea DeConnick returns to, the importance of providing visibility of achievement to the next generation.

I would have liked to have seen more explicit exploration of the conflict between saying that women like more than just superheroes and yet that women aren’t considered successes until they work at DC or Marvel and that much female comic culture revolves around superhero cosplay and fandom. Other than that, She Makes Comics, at an hour and ten minutes, was everything I hoped for and more. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)



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