With the fuss over the perceived lack of women guests at the Kapow! Comic Con this May, one group of creators ended up getting a little more exposure than they were bargaining for! Bayou Arcana, an upcoming comics anthology title, had already made a surprise splash in the UK headlines when featured in The Guardian, a national newspaper.
Described there as a "female-driven anthology", the book contains 11 stories, all written by men with the art by women. Several of the creators are heading down to Kapow! to feature on a panel, and I took the opportunity to ask the creators their thoughts on the book itself, on appearing at a large comics convention, and for the women, on their experiences within the comics industry as a whole.
Bayou Arcana is released in May and will be available through all good book shops.
Bayou Arcana: Promises, art by Sara Dunkerton
In the aftermath of the discussion about women guests at Kapow! Comic Con, much has been made of the issue of "tokenism" when it comes to including women guests at these kind of events. A request for more women creators to come into the industry, for publishers to perhaps look harder for talented women, for events to have woman guests, or indeed for a comic to include a woman character, is often met with the brick wall of "well you wouldn't want tokenism would you?!" or perhaps "positive discrimination gone mad!".
Let's be clear, "tokenism" has a very specific meaning: the limited inclusion of a member of a minority that creates a false impression of inclusion. A false impression. It's a pretty easy pitfall to avoid, just make sure that the women you include are ones you truly want to be there. Like you do already with guys... it's very easy. "Tokenism" is an easy way of saying "can't be bothered looking". Because believe me, there are LOTS of women creators in the comic industry, at all levels, who are constantly trying to step forward and bumping into that brick wall. Saying their inclusion is "tokenism" is not far from saying those women don't deserve to be there, which is far from true!
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!)
In 2011 and in its debut year, Mark Millar's Kapow! Comic Con was referred to as the Sausage-Fest Con due to the entire guest line-up being male. After fans started complaining noisily online, two women guests were subsequently added to the event.
This year it seems history is doomed to repeat itself, with 40 comic industry guests now announced, and no women to be seen. Unlike the larger London MCM Expo the following week, Kapow! is focused very much on superhero comics, and the argument is that while there are women working in comics in the UK, they are working in indie and non-mainstream comics (ie not DC, Marvel or 2000 AD).
[ETA 15/2/12 - women guests (plural!) are attending both Kapow! and the London Super Comic Con - more details here!]
I chatted with Mark Millar (and Gail Simone) on twitter to see what he thought, and I would love to hear from the male guests who are attending and the female non-guests too!
The self styled UK version of the massive San Diego Comic Con, Kapow! has come under fire for one key glaring omission in its lineup: every single guest = male.
Termed a Sausage-Fest by weary female comic readers across the UK, the lineup has since been amended to include Melinda Gebbie of Lost Girls and Anarchy Comics fame. But that still leaves the Con with an eye-watering ratio of 49 men to one woman guest.
Over at The Void, I have a piece on Mark Millar and his upcoming Scottish movie Miracle Park, and his new Kapow! Comic Con:
There’s a fight going down in comic land, as London hosts the battle of the Comic Cons. But with the older, more established London MCM Expo drawing an audience of over 45,000, and Kapow! Comic Con, the new kid on the block, fitting only 3000, why are the big boys so worried?
The answer lies with who is running the young competitor: Mark Millar, creator of Kick-Ass, master of hype. By attacking the larger convention and loudly announcing that Kapow! will offer everything London MCM Expo never has (erm, not really true), he has garnered huge interest in his event and encouraged the opposition to up their game, snagging the upcoming Green Lantern movie as their official sponsor. For the comic fan, it’s a win-win situation.
Millar appeared at the Glasgow Film Festival and I attended the creative workshop that he ran, as well as seeing Dave Gibbons give a talk on his work. Sadly I missed seeing Frank Quitely due to a nasty bug, but my lovely cousin got my copy of We3 signed for me all the same!