comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.


Women in Comics, Europe

A new public page has launched today on Facebook, spotlighting Women in Comics in Europe - featuring and promoting various women in and around the industry, and open to all supporters of women and comics.

Women and Comics, Europe has been set up by myself and Maura McHugh. Maura is a well known writer of prose, comic books, plays, and screenplays, and a big supporter of promoting the strength and numbers of women in comics.

Women in Comics, Europe

The page will feature different women in the industry weekly, and keep you up to date with all events throughout the UK and Europe, as well as new titles coming your way, and items in the news and media.

Additionally, there is a private group set up for those who identify as women and live or work in Europe who are working in or around the comics industry. While we feel that the discussions from all supporters of comics are vital, in some cases it does happen that women in comics is somewhat buried beneath all the other comics news and events, and some women are also a little weary of having to bear the constant disclaimers and caveats that are often required to dissuade the (sometimes well meaning) derailments.

If you are a comics writer, artist, creator, editor, colourer, inker, publisher, letterer, journalist, academic, promoter, organiser, reviewer AND a woman from or working in the UK, please join the group and like the page. If you are a supporter of all of the above, please like the page!


Women in Comics: It Ain’t Over

In the last couple of weeks there has been a slew of articles about the subject of "women in comics" that range from calling out "hot" women that supposedly pretend to be into "geek culture", to telling us that the phrase "women in comics" is passée because the battle has been won, and to other articles taking the depressing line that superhero comics will never change.

The first takes a line on policing just how geeky an attractive women has to be to count as a geek, while ignoring the inherent sexism of industries that pay women to dress in provocative clothes and strut their stuff. The second, makes the mistake of thinking that the experiences of some of the women who have had success in comics are universal, and the third is a tad confusing as I know the author is not against giving up on working towards better representation and portrayals of women at DC and Marvel, yet takes the angle that we should focus on indie comics instead where women are more welcome.

"For a bulky segment of a century, I have been an avid follower of comic strips - all comic strips; this is a statement made with approximately the same amount of pride with which one would say, 'I've been shooting cocaine into my arm for the past twenty-five years.' I cannot remember how the habit started, and I am presently unable to explain why it persists. I only know that I'm hooked, by now, that's all." - Dorothy Parker, 1943

Captain Marvel and Miss Fury


Women in Comics: DC vs Marvel, The Bechdel Test

The lower percentage of women creators in superhero comics has been well documented, but what about the portrayal of women characters? Since Alison Bechdel created the Bechdel Test in her famous comic strip, Dykes To Watch Out For, which provided an easy way to determine gender bias in films, the test has also been used for other media, including comics. While the automatic assumption of many might be that superhero comics would fail this test miserably, my results may well surprise you. DC for example not only outscore Marvel, but perform better for women than they do for men.

The Bechdel Test is very simple. To pass, a title must have two women characters appear, who talk to each other, about something other than a man. Some would argue that we can expect certain titles not to pass if they are very male dominated by story limitations, and so to counter balance I have also conducted a Reverse Bechdel Test on each of my titles. To pass, a title must have two male characters appear, who talk to each other, about something other than a woman. A team book such as X-Factor could reasonably be expected to perform equally on each test. A male dominated title such as The Mighty Thor could reasonably be expected to pass the Reverse and not the standard. And so then perhaps a female dominated title such as Batgirl could be expected to pass the standard and fail the Reverse. And all those expectations would be incorrect.

DC vs Marvel, The Bechdel Test

Given that the Bechdel Test requires reading each comic thoroughly, I have had to limit this test to my own 'big publisher' reading list (along with some borrowed from generous friends) - 8 DC titles, 8 Marvel titles, alongside Walking Dead, Chew and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So please consider this a Bechdel Test on a sample that this woman in particular likes to read (the DC picks are my regulars, alogng with the Best of the Rest titles at the bottom).

I have sampled the most recent 6 issues of each title (issue numbers detailed below) that I have to hand, all of them as recent as possible. If anyone would like me to expand my sample, I'm happy for someone else to buy them!

NB - the Bechdel Test is useful for showing overall gender bias, and a low score on any one title is not necessarily indicative of a deliberate effort to remove women, nor is it a comment on the quality of the title or the individual portrayal of women characters. By conducting the Reverse Test I hope to show that we can use these Tests together to measure overall bias, and to be fair to each individual title.

Thanks as always to Red Hot Comics for keeping up the supply, and prodding me when I always forget to order.


Women in Comics History: Rose O’Neill

History has not been kind to the early US cartoonists, with only a few names regularly remembered - even then, details are patchy. Women cartoonists are mostly forgotten and what research has been done is often contradictory – from differing dates to whether certain individuals were male or female! Yet the contribution from women was immense, particularly in how often their work included gender politics, and in comparison to the contemporary gender disparity within the industry.

It is also a period of Women in Comics history that I hold close to my heart.

Rose O'Neill is regarded as the first woman cartoonist (1874-1944). Self taught, and from a poor family, her parents ensured she was never without paper to draw on, and her father in particular was keen to support her love of books and art as best he could. In 1888, at the age of 13, Rose won an art contest held in the local paper (the Omaha World Herald) and the judges were so doubtful that her entry, "Temptation Leading to an Abyss", could have been drawn by a 13 year old, that they summoned her to prove her skills in person. Proving her skills, from then on Rose was able to supplement the family income with regular work in the periodicals.

Give Mother the Vote!


Comic Heroes: Women in Comics

In the latest edition of the Comic Heroes magazine, I'm delighted to reveal that there is a six page feature on the topic of Women in Comics - written by me :)

The UK magazine is always an excellent resource for comic features, including many by Paul Gravett, and I hope my contribution does the issue justice - and of course garners lots of good feedback so that this topic re-appears in the future! Taking a broad sweep at the overall issue, I include quotes from Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, and the graphics include fab artwork of great women heroes including Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Tank Girl and Starfire, as well as cover art from Conan the Barbarian, Fish + Chocolate and Queen & Country.

As a published piece I can't reproduce the work here, but you can buy the magazine at newsagents in the UK, or a physical or digital copy via their website:


Comic Heroes: Women in Comics


Women in Comics: Interview with the Creators of Bayou Arcana

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 by Sara DunkertonBayou Arcana: Promises, art by Sara Dunkerton