This past Sunday was the Women of Marvel panel of the New York Comic Con. Word was the line for the event winded down hallways and was as well-attended as any at the convention.
The panel featured 9 of the artists, writers and editors currently in Marvel’s employ: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Sara Pichelli, Janet Lee, Stephanie Hans, Jeanine Schaeffer, Sana Amanat, Lauren Sankovitch, Emily Shaw, Ellie Pyle, and Judy Stephens.
The panel brought some news and exclusive art, including a cover for the new She-Hulk ongoing title (which looks simply awesome). The panelists discussed issues of gender, comics, and culture that are important not only to comic fans, but to our culture at large.
During the panel Q&A session, the artists fielded a series of questions that directly touched on representation of females in comics. As a new dad who worries about how to raise a son who will be kind and respectful of women–and who’ll also value comic books–I want to see comics and comic culture remain a space where creative and moving stories are told, while always increasing the scope and diversity of those stories.
There’s much richness and value in our comic and superhero stories, and the women of Marvel know how it important what they’re doing is. Important for girls to find representation in the comics, and equally important for boys to find more than a respite for male fantasy.
How women and men are represented in media like comic books–especially the violence they engage in–has a lasting impact. And that impact grows every year as the reach of comic books expands ever further into broader cultural avenues like film and television. The stories told and images of men and women portrayed in comic books matters.
The world is filled with so many stories to tell, from so many different perspectives, that to limit our intake to any one would be tragic. And so the women of Marvel work for the future women of Marvel, to continue expanding the diversity–not as a buzzword but as an actual reality–of comic books. As DeConnick told the women in the audience who hoped to enter the industry: “You will make stories that make you feel connected to others and the world and we will need that from you. Don’t be afraid. Start now.”
Read the full panel at Bleeding Cool, but a few highlights are below:
Q: My friend, who happens to be female, and I, argue that I make too much of a big deal over female representation in comics…
Kelly Sue DeConnick: She’s wrong! It is a big deal. I am willing to make people uncomfortable so that my daughter doesn’t have to! I was Smurfette on the Avengers panel yesterday and NO! That’s not good enough. I appreciate and I am proud of the progress that’s being made and I don’t want to sweep it under the table. But this job ain’t done. Nobody sit down!
Q: Talking about representation of women, women of color and everything—what’s the most important message you’d like people to get?
Amanat: We’ve all felt like outsiders in our own way, and you can use that medium to address people who are outsiders and show that everyone actually is on the same playing field. I feel very lucky as a minority in a minority (medium), I try to use the books to be inclusive. I have some unannounced books coming out in a few weeks that I hope will do that.
DeConnick: I think that the message is that no one is “other”. That white males are not the “default human being”. There is no such thing.