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15Feb/120

Women in Comics: Kapow! The Women Are Here

As a follow up to yesterdays article, it has now been made widely known that the Kapow! Comic Convention does indeed have some women guests. In Monday's press release on CBR, "the creators of Bayou Arcana" are stated as guests, but this news somewhat slipped under the radar.

Bayou Arcana is a well publicised upcoming anthology title in the UK which is made up of 11 stories, each created by a male writer and women artist. The Kapow! website was updated today with details of 5 women from the project who are attending - Dani Abram, Jenny Clements, Lynsey Hutchinson, Patricia Echavarri Riego, and Alex Thompson - along with organiser and writer Jimmy Pearson, and writers Steve Tanner and Darren Ellis. The Kapow! organisers tell me that the group will be hosting a panel to talk about their work and women in comics.

This is fantastic news as five women guests are certainly better than zero, and it's interesting that this is very much an independent book which may indicate that the con is starting to soften its rule of superhero books only.

I'll be talking to the ladies involved very soon... (hit the jump for more!)

Bayou Arcana

Some fans may be disappointed that there are no big women names, but Kapow! does specifically target the superhero comics for the most part and the organisers are happy to work with any women from the big publisher comics that happen to be in the country at the time.

Questions remain on how we define a "mainstream" comic book in this instance, and on women's representation at comic conventions, but this is an excellent start. Paul Cornell (Knight and Squire, Stormwatch, Demon Knights [too many parentheses I know, but I LOVE Demon Knights!]) has announced that he will only be appearing on comic panels from now on that have 50/50 male/female representation, and that for those who don't he will swap places with a woman from the audience. Stating that he will ask the room whether any women creators are present, he goes on to reveal that if not hopefully a fan will volunteer - not only highlighting that there are women in the industry, but women in the fanbase too!

His solution may sound extreme, but what is perhaps more shocking is just how ridiculous it is that a 50/50 split should be seen as something outrageous. Whatever your thoughts on Paul's methods, there is no doubt that this is a brilliant example of someone in the industry making the issue more visible. Women writers will know from experience the frustration that men will almost always be listened to while women saying the same thing are ignored, but to use his voice in such a way is really admirable.

Worrying also is that women who raised the issue of the low numbers of women at comic conventions were accused of "whinging", being sexist (because we've never heard that one before!) or being "mental" for saying that it would be good to see more women at cons. Not, like Paul is suggesting, that women should make up the same numbers or else (insert angry feminist fist shake here) but that it would be good. That even a con that usually focuses on superheroes might consider getting in a couple of women from indie labels or literary graphic novel publishers. For the fans. And it seems, that is what Kapow! is actually doing.

Women aren't on the attack here. Just asking, as fans, for what we'd like to see and to make sure that we're not overlooked.  It isn't tokenism when it's what fans are asking for. I'm really glad that the women organising Kapow! are stretching that mainstream definition, and I hope that more fans and creators can realise that women who speak out are pro-comics!

If people really want to get more women (and men) reading comics, creating comics, and energising comics, this is an issue that needs to keep being discussed, worked on and supported.

And remember, every time a woman goes to a comic convention - even those without many or any women - she makes the statement that women ARE in comics. We always have been.

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