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SDCC ’11 | Listen to Dan DiDio respond to the fan who told DC to “hire women”

MP3: Dan DiDio at the Thursday “DC: The New 52″ Panel, San Diego Comic-Con 2011

It was the shout heard ’round the world. In the opening minutes of DC’s very first daily “New 52″ panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last Thursday, when Co-Publisher Dan DiDio turned to the audience and asked what DC would have to do to change the minds of those skittish about the impending relaunch, one man yelled “Hire women!” The number of women creators working on the DC Universe, he added after audience applause, had dropped with the relaunch from 12% of the total to just 1% (i.e. Gail Simone, and Amy Reeder if you count the later Batwoman launch). DiDio’s response was to turn the question back on the questioner and ask him whom he thinks DC should hire. The move raised some eyebrows, to be sure, given that an audience member isn’t in the kind of position to assess all the professional comics talent available to be hired that the brass at a major publisher would be in. Still — and I’ll just quote myself here from another time this topic came up — “I think it behooves those of us who argue for the inclusion of non-white non-straight non-male people in a creative team or superhero team or panel or article or exhibit to have candidates ready to hand,” so turnabout is fair play, I suppose.

But when you actually hear the exchange, which you can do by clicking on this mp3 (right-click to save), things sure sound more heated than just a matter of tossing the question back to the audience. DiDio repeatedly asks the audience member what the statistics he cited mean to him, and his call for names of female creators DC should have hired sounds less like a request and more like a challenge, as he says “tell me right now” over the audience member’s seemingly struggling attempts to respond.

Now, DiDio is an ebullient panel presence who simply has a booming voice — witness his enthusiasm when another audience member suggests artist Nicola Scott as a potential woman creator: “You’re damn right we’d hire Nicola Scott!” — so some of this is just how he always sounds when commanding a room at a show. But it’s hard not to hear an edge to the way he says “Thank you, sir” to the questioner, and first-hand reports from the audience say the exchange was an awkward one. The audio adds a context to it that panel reports can’t convey.

I first heard the clip (after many, many reblogs) at Do You Fondue?, but its origin appears to be this lengthy DC Women Kicking Ass interview with Batgirl cosplayer Kyrax2 — an omnipresent figure at DC’s panels this year whose indefatigable focus on the number of women characters and creators at DC led to several uncomfortable moments with the panelists and audience members. “Batgirl” ended up interacting, on panels or in person, with a wide range of DC staff and talent, including DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Paul Cornell, and Gail Simone. Take her assessment of those interactions with the grains of salt necessary to season the recollections of a person with agenda when you read it, of course, but do read it. And for even fuller context, listen to the panels in their entirety at DC’s SDCC podcast site.

And while you’re at it, why not take a stab at answering DiDio’s question in the comments below. When it comes to women creators, who should DC be hiring?

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Comments

60 Comments

David Gallaher

July 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

Danielle Corsetto
Fiona Avery
Ivory Madison
Rosario Dawson
Shaenon K. Garrity
Meredith Gran
Valerie D’orazio
Barbara Kesel
Ann Nocenti
Alex de Campi

That’s for starters.

yeah, I was just thinking that Rosario Dawson should write Flashpoint: Kamandi. Get real. She did one vanity project where she had a co-writer. She’s not talent for hire.

It’s never going to happen under this regime, but Valerie (D’Orazio) Gallaher should be mentioned in the same sentences as Gail. She’s talented, smart, and really good. But I’m sure she, and DC, have no intentions of working together at the moment.

Fiona Staples
Renee De Liz just mobilized an entire industry with the Womanthogy…she should be there too.

In fact, I’m sure once that anthology comes out, you’ll see a bunch of hires.

“an audience member isn’t in the kind of position to assess all the professional comics talent available to be hired that the brass at a major publisher would be in. ”

I don’t see why not. Granted, an audience member might not know about contracts and availability, but surely they could produce a list of their favourite female creators. And if you’re going to panels with the explicit purpose of challenging DC on their lack of female creators, wouldn’t you go equipped with a list of awesome female artists & writers who you think are being excluded?

Unless – and I think this is a big part of the problem – you don’t know any female creators because you only read Marvel & DC, who don’t generally hire a lot of female creators. Many people seem to want women working on DC/Marvel books (which is reasonable), but won’t investigate or support them when they’re working on other books (which sucks).

To answer DiDio’s question: At this point, I’d prefer most of my favourite creators stay away from Marvel & DC, but I’d certainly look at anything Becky Cloonan draws.

Shouldn’t there be someone at DC actively looking at work by other writers and artists? I am not fully aware of their entire hiring process, but some of it has to be “I read X comic and Y writer or artist was great in it I’d like to see them come to us and do Z”. Right?

Don’t ask us, we’re fans who buy your stuff and probably don’t buy a ton of indy stuff but hey, giant publishing company, you can! don’t make us do your job.

And as a couple of the female talent pointed out, I know Kelly Sue Deconnick did anyways, that she did pitch, but turned it down as she wouldnt have had enough time due to her other current projects. Nicola will probably show up in the next round of stuff, And i know We’ve had a lot of up and coming female talent the last few years, but i think to be honest, the lady was blowing a lot of smoke. I listened to nearly all the panels this week and she was even complaining about the lack of female characters on the covers….

Im gonna play devils advocate and say DiDio was right. If your gonna argue for female creators then you should have the facts to back it up.

I think I remember hearing she’d be involed in something later, but I find it stunning that DC didn’t work the schedule to include anything from Amanda Conner, a/k/a probably the best superhero artist working today. Also, G. Willow Wilson has written plenty for DC and Vertigo…I’m really surprised she wasn’t tapped either.

As for fleshing out a list, how about somebody buys Dan Didio a copy of Girl Comics?

I called on people to do this a few days ago on Twitter. Here are their responses: https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23whoyoushouldhavehired

Ugh, the link got messed up. The hashtag is #whoyoushouldhavehired.

Kid Golden ARm

July 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

Dylan Meconis
Hope Larson
Amber Benson
Felicia Day
Colleen Coover
Becky Cloonan
Jen Wang
Vera Bergasol
Erika Moen

How’s that so far? Want more?

Carlton Donaghe

July 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

Colleen Doran
Amanda Conner
Linda Medley
Jill Thompson
June Brigman
Sandra Hope
Laura Martin

The problem with this question is that it assumes that any known female creator wants to work for DC Comics. I’m a huge fan of Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Meredith Gran, Kate Beaton (who recently contributed to an anthology for Marvel), and a lot of other women who are comics professionals, but they’re successful in the medium on their terms (web, YA market, major publishers, self-publishing), and I doubt (though I don’t claim to speak for them) that they’d drop everything for DC work. The implication is that work at the Big Two is somehow superior to other stuff or the “goal”.

And a lot of it is a moot point anyway. DC doesn’t accept unsolicited work, and it’s gonna take upper level changes to alter their mindset re: hiring.

I agree with the general sentiment that the Big Two should hire more women and minorities and make an honest attempt at diversifying, but not only do I agree that it’s fair play for Didio to snap back, “Tell me who I should hire then!” but I think he didn’t go far enough! I would have said, “Who would you also FIRE to make room for these theoretical women writers?” At a certain point (and one that would be reached quickly) it would all just crumble to matters of taste. What if the audience member had immediately given a lengthy list of viable female alternatives and the creators whose slots they should fill? Didio could have just said, “I don’t like any of them.” What could the fan say then? Say he’s dumb? He’s wrong? The idea of more women is great in the abstract but once you have to argue particulars with people who are steadfastly opposed to the idea it gets real complicated real fast.

The Truth Speaker

July 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

Who cares? This reboot thing is gonna bomb anyway. It doesn’t matter what Dan Dildo says, ’cause he’s just as incompetent as all the other people running DC and Marvel. The comics industry as we know it is gonna be gone in a couple more years anyway, so it really doesn’t matter what anybody advises them to do. They’ve never listened to good advice and they’re obviously not about to start now. The only thing they TRULY need to do is practise asking the following question in preparation for their future careers: “Would you like fries with that?”

I’m with Didio on this one, sounds to me like she wanted to start a storm and it worked. He could have handled it differently but if I was in his shoes, being pestered by the same person at several different panels about the same thing, I might’ve lost my cool as well.

Why would any talented cartoonist–female, male, shemale, etc–want to work for boring ass DC comics?

I didn’t know talent was defined by gender. I don’t care if there are more men than women (or vice-versa) in the business. I’d rather have a bunch of talented creators whether they are all men, all women or all sentient jelly fish from the Bermuda Triangle. DC could hire my mom to write comics for them. I’m sure she would fill the quota, I just don’t think she would produce anything I’d like to read.
W

Simon DelMonte

July 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

Devin Grayson
Barbara Kesel

A lot of the names listed above are not likely to want to write superheroes. Maybe they would write for Vertigo, but that isn’t the same thing.

But Ms. Kesel and Ms. Grayson are established writers who have done good work for DC in the past, and should do more. And neither seems to get any work writing for anyone now.

Some of the names mentioned have other projects in the works. Some from DC(Colleen Dorans doing Vertigo stuff which is still DC, she mentioned it on Twitter yesterday. Bleeding Cool claims Amanda Conner has a project at DC in the future) and some from other companies which means that could have been unavailable for projects. That said, I’ve seen some sketches by June Brigman online and I’d like to see her on something.

Sean T. Collins

July 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

A few notes:

Let’s do without namecalling, first of all. Puns on Dan DiDio’s last name cease to be the height of hilarity once you’ve graduated from seventh grade. He didn’t call anyone names, and no one called him names either, so that’s the least we can expect out of a discussion about the exchange. Consider this the final warning on that score.

With regards to women creators who are successful outside of superhero and related genre comics, I’d point out that DC has certainly hired such creators to work on superhero books in the past: Jeff “Essex County” Lemire on Superboy, Jon “True Swamp” Lewis on Robin, Gilbert “Love and Rockets” Hernandez on Birds of Prey, etc. So I’d say they’re fair game for people to suggest.

And a quick point for Bryan H.: This question didn’t come from the Batgirl cosplayer, but from another audience member, and it was at the second DC panel of the show, so the build-up you cite wasn’t in play.

Ricardo — are you honestly telling us you think the writers that are currently working for DC comics are the best in the biz? Do you honestly believe this industry runs on a meritocracy? A meritocracy that includes JT Krul alongside Morrison and Simone? Really?

Why not add these names to the list here?

To be fair, there SHOULDN’T be more than 1% women creators on the DC reboot. We’ve all seen the designs, and it’s clear that DC is doing everything in its power to take their comics back to 1993. There were precious few female creators working on mainstream books in ’93, ergo…

As a person of Central Asian/Muslim background, I’m all for hiring people of other backgrounds and women but Didio’s right. Maybe I’m just out of the loop but besides Gail Simone, I can’t think of any women that DC or Marvel need to hire. I highly doubt DC is going to let Nicola Scott go, so she’ll probably have a new project of some sort soon. Amanda Conner will probably also be on something new from DC but I believe she left Power Girl because she couldn’t keep up with the schedule. So, I imagine she’ll be doing a new miniseries or larger project, like Wednesday Comics, soon enough. I’m not saying that women aren’t capable of creating good comics but there just aren’t any out there that jump out to me. So, besides Felicia Day, who’s only written Guild stuff and maybe something related to Whedon’s characters and probably isn’t interested in writing Marvel or DC characters, I’m lost as to who has to be hired by either of these publishers. Like someone else said, this is probably for a number of reasons, likely to be that not every talented female creator in this medium or others is really interested OR has the time available to work on a project at DC or Marvel before other commitments.

I think it’s a valid question to ask if you can turn around and convince me that DC is not hiring women and not doing so because they are women.

Though listening, it’s sounds more like the person yelling out “hire women” was there more to start shit than to have a discussion on the topic. It’s fair for Didio to respond to that and put it back on the person to have an open, live discussion about it and it sounded like he had nothing after “hire women.”

Sean T. Collins: Sorry I was mistaken about that, my fault, I had just assumed it was the same woman as before.

@Dan, who you would have fired doesn’t work for this though. A lot of the titles are new or have new creative teams on it. Those teams were chosen because DC liked their pitches over other pitches (see Firestorm and the confusion with who was on the creative team). So the question would be, who do you think could have had a better pitch. And I do think there are female writers and artists that could have come up with great pitches (although whether or not DC would pick them over what was chosen I don’t know because it’s all internal issues that we don’t hear about).

* Adriana Ferguson (S.T.O.P. and Minor Acts of Heroism)
* Adriana Melo (Star Wars)
* Alex Singer (Sfeer Theory)
* Aliena Shoemaker (Honeydew Syndrome and Two Keys)
* Alisa Kwitney (Dreaming, Sandman: King of Dreams, Destiny: The Chronicle Foretold, and Vertigo Visions: Phantom Stranger)
* Alice Hunt (Goodbye Chains)
* Amanda Conner (Power Girl)
* Amanda Lafrenais (Love Me Nice)
* Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Four Letter Worlds)
* Amy Wolfram (Teen Titans: Year One)
* An Nguyen (Open Spaces and Closed Places, Womanthology)
* Ann Nocenti (Longshot and Daredevil)
* Ashley Cope (Unsounded)
* Becky Cloonan (American Virgin)
* Becky Dreistadt (Tiny Kitten Teeth)
* Bettie Breitweiser (Captian America)
* Camille d’Errico (Make 5 Wishes and Nightmares & Fairy Tales)
* Cari Corene (Toilet Genie)
* Carla Speed MacNeil (Finder)
* Cassandra James (The Gathering)
* Cat Staggs (Star Wars)
* Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes)
* Chandra Free (The God Machine)
* Chrissie Zullo (Fables)
* Christine Norrie (Queen and Country, Hopeless Savages, Cheat and Secret Identities)
* Christina Strain (Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane)
* Christina Weir (New Mutants/Academy X, Amazing Agent Luna, Batman Confidential and The Tomb)
* Christy Lijewski (Next Exit and RE:Play)
* Chloe Chan (Honeydew Syndrome and Two Keys)
* Colleen Coover (X-Men: First Class)
* Crystal Yates (Earthsong Saga)
* Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots)
* Deanna Echanique (La Macchina Bellica)
* Der-shing Helmer (The Meek)
* Devin Grayson (Nightwing and Batman)
* Dylan Meconis (Family Man)
* E.K. Weaver (The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal)
* Emily Carroll (His Face is All Red, The Death of Jose Arcadio, and Out the Door)
* Emma Rios (Osborn: Evil Incarcerated and Strange)
* Erica Moen (DAR and Bucko)
* Faith Erin Hicks (Marvel’s Girl Comics, Brain Camp, the Adventures of Superhero Girl)
* Fiona Avery (Araña: Heart of the Spider and Thundercats)
* Fiona Staples (The Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor, North 40 and Mystery Society)
* Foo Swee Chin (Chimney 25 and Nightmares & Fairytales)
* Gigi Digi (Cucumber Quest)
* G. Willow Wilson (Cairo, Air and Vixen)
* Heather Nuhfer (Fraggle Rock and Strawberry Shortcake)
* Holly Black (The Good Neighbors)
* Hope Larson (Salamander Dream, Chiggers, and Gray Horses)
* Jan Duursema (Star Wars)
* Jayd Ait-Kaci (Sfeer Theory and Fox Sister)
* Jelena Djurdjevic (Vampirella, Spider-Girl and Web of Spider-Man)
* Jemma Salume (Butterfly)
* Jen Van Meter (Liberty Belle & Hourman and Hopeless Savages)
* Jen Wang (Koko Be Good)
* Jenn Doyle (Knights Errant)
* Jenn Jordan (Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell)
* Jessica Abel (La Perdida, Artbabe, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Radio: An Illustrated Guide)
* Jessica Fink (Mindless Self Indulgence and Chester XYV)
* Jillian Tamaki (Skim)
* Jill Thompson (Sandman, Scary Godmother, The Invisibles, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman)
* Jo Chen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Runaways)
* Jodi Picoult (Wonder Woman)
* Joëlle Jones (Fables, 12 Reasons Why I Love Her and Dr. Horrible)
* Johane Matte (Avatar: The Last Air Bender)
* Juli Mayers (Wicked Unscripted)
* June Brigman (New Mutants, Power Pack, Brenda Starr and Supergirl)
* Kaja Foglio (Girl Genius)
* Kasey Van Hise (Winters in Lavelle)
* Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant)
* Kathryn Immonen (Hellcat)
* Katie Cook (Star Wars)
* Katie Shanahan (Shrub Monkeys)
* Kat Rocha (Titanium Rain)
* Kelly Turnbull (Manly Guys Doing Manly Things)
* Kim Krizan (Before Sunrise)
* Kristen Van Dam (S.T.O.P. and Minor Acts of Heroism)
* Laura Allred (Red Rocket 7)
* Laura Martin (Planetary and Astonishing X-Men)
* Lea Hernandez (Killer Princesses and Rumble Girls)
* Leah Moore (Witchblade and Doctor Who)
* Linda Medely (Castle Waiting)
* Liz Baillie (My Brain Hurts and Freewheel)
* Louise Simonson (Power Pack, X-Factor, New Mutants, Superman: The Man of Steel, Steel, and World of Warcraft)
* Lucy Knisley (Marvel’s Girl Comics)
* M. Palumbo (Starfighter)
* Mandy McMurray (Batman/Superman and Hawkman)
* Mariko Tamaki (Skim)
* Marjorie Liu (X-23)
* Marley Zarcone (Forgetless and Blue)
* Mary Jo Duffy (Catwoman and Star Wars)
* Mellanie Nicklo (Eternal Quest and Drop the Bomb)
* Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie)
* Ming Doyle (Jennifer’s Body and Marvel’s Girl Comics)
* Nancy A. Collins (Swamp Thing)
* Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey and Secret Six)
* Pia Guerra (Y: The Last Man)
* Polly Guo (Houdini & Holmes)
* Rachel Dodson (Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Harley Quinn)
* Rachel Keslensky (Last Res0rt)
* Rebekah Isaacs (DV8, Iron Age: Alpha and Hack/Slash)
* SJ Matthews (Womanthology)
* Sana Takeda (Ms. Marvel and X-23)
* Sandra Mellott (Womanthology)
* Sara Pichelli (Ultimate Spider-Man, X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back and Runaways)
* Sara Richard (Star Wars)
* Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less)
* Serena Valentino (Gloomcookie and Nightmares & Fairytales)
* Shannon Ho (Will Work For Blood)
* Sophie Goldstein (Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell)
* Spike Trotman (Templar, Arizona)
* Stephanie Buscema (Marvel’s Girl Comics)
* Raina Telgmeier (Smile)
* Renae De Liz (The Last Unicorn)
* Tamora Pierce (White Tiger)
* Teri S. Wood (Wandering Star)
* Tessa Stone (Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name)
* Tracy Butler (Lackadaisy)
* Tracy Williams (Goodbye Chains)
* Valerie D’Orazio (Hawkman and The New Frontier)
* Vera Brosgol (Anya’s Ghost)
* Yasmin Liang (Saint’s Way)
* Yuko Ota (Johnny Wander)

@Dan It also doesn’t matter if DiDio doesn’t like any of those artists/writers; I’m certain DC has published comics that DiDio may not have loved but approved anyway because they would sell and other people would like them.

Dan – In response to who Didio can fire to make room for women, my first suggestion would be Jim Lee, at least in an artistic capacity. He’s behind some of the WORST character redesigns in recent history of late. Some fresh talent could make the reboot look like less of a return to ’94.

Realitätsprüfung

July 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

DC is a business, and should hire the best people they see fit for the job. If that’s mostly women, great. If that’s mostly men, great.

We are the readers – the audience. NOT their corporate HR department.

So they should absolutely ignore the heck out of 5-10 outraged nerds upset over quotas and percentages.

Cole Moore Odell

July 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Real, your argument assumes that DC is in fact hiring the best people for the job, regardless of other considerations–which evidently means that they believe *there are no female writers better than JT Krul.*

This should tell us all something.

Cole Moore Odell

July 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

What it tells me is this:

Aside from a desire to de-age their main characters out of their creeping middle age, DC didn’t think it had a creative problem as much as a marketing and distribution problem; that so many of the nuCDU creators are the same as the old DCU creators indicates a leading consideration for management is writers’ and artists’ ability to deliver product smoothly within the editorial structure and in the existing, Geoff Johns-driven house style. They obviously don’t think there’s anything amiss with the general tone and content of their storytelling, or the majority of their existing storytellers.

That we have seen in recent years so many charming rejected pitches for things like Lois Lane, Girl Reporter and teen Wonder Woman on Paradise Island that share in common A) a conscious attempt to target female readers and B) a departure from the mainline continuity (whatever that is on a given month) and generically “realistic” art style, indicates that DC prefers to expand its audience by fishing for more of the same–young-to-not-so-young male readers who have either lapsed or skipped comics entirely in favor of anything else. Seriously targeting different demographics doesn’t seem to be something they want to do.

It doesn’t surprise me that most of the people DC has lined up to tell the kinds of stories DC wants told are guys, given the overwhelmingly adolescent male body horror/girl panic thematic tenor of the DC universe as a whole. Gail Simone is kind of a singular talent. (And frankly, as Secret Six demonstrated, she beats 99% of them at that game.) Most of the female creators people have listed above tend to do work that’s way more personal, less grand guignol, and less gratuitous. I mean, Carl Speed MacNeil is brilliant, but would *anyone* be happy with her on a Batman book? On either side of the equation, people would think she was an indie stunt mismatch or wasting her talents.

Given that DC’s core creative strategy is at best passively exclusionary, it really doesn’t surprise me that when questioned on this point, Dan would be aggressively defensive.

I’m seconding Ming Doyle. She’s a classy stylist, way better than most of the army of mediocrities DC have hired for this.

Cole Moore Odell

July 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

See, I love Ming Doyle’s work, too, but listing her–and the whole exercise of this thread–is a demonstration of the subject having been changed. “Oh yeah, well where’s *your* list?” isn’t an answer, it’s a debate tactic. It’s not like Dan DiDio couldn’t make his own list, or that he would have hired more female creators if only some helpful fans had be able to assist him with compiling a roster of the best people with both split nib drawing pens *and* vaginas.

Dan’s non-sequitur of a rejoinder is “Who would *you* hire?” The question posed to him remains, “Why didn’t you?”

“The number of women creators working on the DC Universe… had dropped with the relaunch from 12% of the total to just 1%”

That’s sort of an intellectually dishonest comparison, isn’t it? As far as I can tell you only get “12%” if you count editors (including assistant editors) and colourists in the total, which are jobs that aren’t included in that tally that the “1%” number comes from. Not to say that either number isn’t ridiculously low, but they’re clearly measures of different things.

If ppl feel this strong about not having enough female creators on books then they should stop buying books without women creators.

Sean T. Collins

July 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Okay, I just deleted an otherwise reasonable post because the commenter resorted to namecalling. That is not allowed here.

Mama-mia, I hate this debate. It causes fatigue, laryngitis, migraines, and discomfort. This little moment proved two things:
1. The fans need to be a little more careful in how they state their grievances or ask their questions.
2. DiDio lives up to the tagline of Dave the Barbarian–huge, but a wimp.

“If ppl feel this strong about not having enough female creators on books then they should stop buying books without women creators.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
Marvel and DC listen to sales above all else. Prove that a woman or women creators can sell their Superhero brands and they’ll gobble them up faster than you can say, “Whatever happened to that great, break-out Indie book again?”
Also, I find it odd that DC always comes up concerning this topic, but Marvel hardly ever gets discussed. Could it be because the usual suspects behind this conversations are just grinding their own personal axes against the company’s choices? If so, I need to learn how to cloak my own fan entitlement behind gender or diversity issues.

Cole Moore Odell

July 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

The problem, A, is that the gender imbalance in comics (on both sides–fans and creators) is self perpetuating and self fulfilling. The companies’ choices and economic circumstances throughout the direct market years have led to a narrowed industry and market that are far less welcoming to non-male readers than they were decades ago. And the industry led by Marvel and DC today is built on a history of more or less shutting female creators out entirely until the 1980s. (You can count the exceptions on just a few fingers–Marie Severin, Ramon Fradon, Tarpe Mills…) So to pretend that the playing field is level, and that current circumstances are based entirely on sales to the exclusion of any other consideration, seems like a gross misreading of how we got here.

Further, your suggestion forces female creators to jump a higher hurdle than many male creators, any number of whom keep getting chances at assignments while never cracking more than 20,000 or 30,000 copies an issue, without having to “prove” they can do it even though they’re *male*.

Love Louise Simonson. Outside of Morrison, the last time I actively followed Superman was when Louise was writing it. Well before it went to hell with the death of Superman.

I found Colleen Doran’s Wonder Woman designs charming. Waaay better than the Jersey Shore outfit she’s currently wearing.

“Ricardo — are you honestly telling us you think the writers that are currently working for DC comics are the best in the biz? Do you honestly believe this industry runs on a meritocracy? A meritocracy that includes JT Krul alongside Morrison and Simone? Really?”

jtwonderdog, did I say that? Not at all. I didn’t address the issue of how DC does business. But what if DC DID hire more women and they turned out to be as bad as JT Krul? What good would that do to anyone (besides those interested in quotas)? See my point?

To me, at this point in the panel (which was VERY early on), the issue wasn’t that DC had less female creators working on this reboot as it was DiDio’s tone towards the audience. He could have easily said, “we reached out to a number of female creators, unfortunately most of them were busy with other projects or the timing didn’t match up, but we are extremely open to working with a range of creators,” which is as far as I know, exactly what happened. One instance is that I believe Kelly Sue DeConnick was contacted but turned them down due to timing. I was really put off by DiDio’s aggressive stance at the panel so much that I actually left close to the end because it just became horribly awkward.

In my experience, Shags, that’s typical of DiDio. I’ve seen him react just like this to far less confrontational inquiries about the lack of diversity behind their books. If he didn’t get so defensive about it, it would be easier to believe maintaining the status quo is an unfortunate coincidence and not actually a priority for him.

But it’s really, really important that everyone uses only *nice* words to describe the guy.

Cole Moore Odell

July 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

Ricardo, to my knowledge the *only* people who bring up the boogeyman of quotas are those who are against them. No one is arguing that DC should have a fixed target number of female artists and writers to hit. Only that it probably shouldn’t be *one out of a hundred*.

And if DC hired a woman who turned out to be as bad as JT Krul? Unfortunately, the same people who proclaim that they don’t care who writes the comics as long as they’re awesome would use it as evidence that women in general shouldn’t be writing comics. But of course JT himself gets to continue being bad without it reflecting on his entire gender. It’s the Jackie Robinson syndrome. If you’re not twice as good as the default class, and three times as graceful in the face of adversity, your entire race/gender/etc has failed.

When we were all 12 year old kids, ignorance of the means of production was excusable. As adults, willful indifference to the means of production doesn’t let us recapture our innocence. We can all still decide to buy those sneakers made by paupers making pennies, that tomato picked by an 8-year-old, or comics published by companies that shaft creators like Kirby and even in 2011 can’t see their way to hire more than 1% females for their creative staff. But if you pretend it doesn’t matter, or that it doesn’t say anything about you, that’s what you’re doing. Pretending.

Cole Moore Odell

July 29, 2011 at 7:28 am

@ Jon–I agree that DiDio’s behavior is mystifying. Doesn’t Warner Bros. have a crack PR training team? Wouldn’t it be easy for them to offer a response designed to defuse ill will rather than inflame it? One is left thinking that the operation is either a hopelessly juvenile, boy’s club amateur hour, or alternately, that for whatever reason this outcome is what DC actually *wants.* I mean, how hard would it be for DiDio to say something like:

“Hire women? You know, I see exactly what you’re saying. And believe me, I say it all the time, we’re always trying to sign the best creative people of both genders, all races, you name it. For our relaunch we reached out to a number of great female creators whose schedules just didn’t fit right now. Of course, there’s a few ways to look at the lineup we’ve got. I see a collection of great artists and writers who are going to hit it out of the park, book after book. But if you look at it another way, of course there’s an imbalance. It’s something the whole industry needs to work on. And that definitely includes us. We recognize that we’re coming from a long history of being predominantly male on our side of the table. With some awesome exceptions, from Ramona to Gail. Now that wasn’t always the case with the readers, but over the past few decades, for a lot of reasons, we’ve lost a lot of female readers we had back in the 50s, 60s, 70s. We know lots of women read comics today, especially with the manga explosion last decade, but not as many read ours as we’d like. Understand that’s an explanation, not an excuse.”

“We’re trying to reach as many people as possible with our books, and part of that is including as many talented voices as we can. We need to get our material into as many hands as possible, and that’s what the relaunch is about, from the new #1s to our digital push. But we also need to make sure we’re creating books all kinds of people want to read. I’m sure you’ve got a list in your own head of the creators you’d like to see working for us. I can only say that I’ve got one too, and we’re working on it. We’re not where we need to be on this issue, but we know where we need to get to. I hope that answers your question.”

If we had gotten something even close to that, I don’t think this thread, or Laura Hudson’s over at Comics Alliance would exist right now. Even if it was just talk.

wow. I have never seen so many soapboxes and high horses in one place (besides, of course, every “controversial” opinion piece comments section of Comics Alliance.)

DC’s (and Marvel’s) problem: no “New Talent Showcase” or “Marvel Comics Presents” to try out new creators with minimal risk. Can they meet a deadline? Are they professional? How easy are they to work with?

Of course, anthology titles do not sell well, and even “done-in-one” stories aren’t as appreciated as story arcs. (Exhibit A: “I Am An Avenger”, which nobody read, wins an Eisner for Greg Rucka. How many of you knew Greg Rucka wrote a story for Marvel?)

On the other hand, how many bold name comic book creators got their start writing for 2000 AD and other British anthologies? Take those names away, and how successful would Vertigo have been in the first five years?

So the talent migrates to other publishers? Fine. Reprint their early work, just like Rebellion is doing.

Jon, I’ve gone to just about every DC “Nation” panel every year at multiple conventions across the country to know how DiDio can get, but this side of him was beyond confrontational at times. And I don’t even mean just about the female creator discussion happening here… it was pretty much the whole tone of the panel up until I left.

@Cole Moore Odell

I use “quota” not in the sense of fixed targets but in a more general sense that somehow having “diversity” is something good in itself. “One out of a hundred” is meaningless to me. For all I care that could be the proportion of men working for DC Comics.

“the same people who proclaim that they don’t care who writes the comics as long as they’re awesome would use it as evidence that women in general shouldn’t be writing comics.”
Now this is just slander. Another way of thinking is that people who proclaim they don’t care who writes comics really don’t care who writes comics.

Cole Moore Odell

July 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm

And DiDio and Lee have now released a statement that’s more or less what I suggested above:

http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2011/07/29/we-hear-you/

Good for them, and let’s hope they move on it.

Cole Moore Odell

July 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Ricardo, I’m not sure why you’re putting diversity in quotes. as far as I know it’s not a term with a disputed definition, and you don’t seem to be quoting anyone. I do think having more of it would indeed be good in itself. Good for company culture, good for content, good for readers. Lee and DiDio just agreed.

Sean, sorry thanks for saving me from myself.

Here is what I said, minus my unreasonable outburst.

DC and Marvel should take a look at the Womenthology, TCJ #237 and cartooning/Sequential Art grads of SCAD, CCS, Kubert and SVA and you have over 300 women cartoonist. Many even great at writing and drawing superhero comics. What is the problem?

I would add, that braking into comics is 100% in favor of the person you are connecting with. If you submit through the mail, an intern tosses it. If you meet at a con, it’s you and hundreds of other faces. If you are at a school…the chances are better, but not great. If you are women and you read comics, it’s no stretch to think you are attempting an impossible leap into a hostile work environment. There for I would suggest, DC and Marvel actively seek women cartoonist. They need to in order to survive.

PS: I expand on this in response to Lee and Dido’s letter at Robot 6

I’m very new to the comic world so I don’t have any names to suggest, but I will say it’s a major turnoff and very rude to speak that way to a fan . We don’t know if this guy was ill prepared with an answer or not because Dan Didio would hardly let him speak and then he hurried to say “next question”. I’ve been in situations where I have plenty to say but someone will talk to me in that tone and cut me off just the way he did and it makes me feel flustered and everything I have to say is lost. It’s already intimidating enough to talk to someone of Dan Didio’s position. Or at least it is for shy little me, so I can totally see why the fan had trouble answering the question (or demand). Why couldn’t Didio just politely respond?

@Ricardo

But what if DC DID hire more women and they turned out to be as bad as JT Krul? What good would that do to anyone (besides those interested in quotas)? See my point?

Wow. Your point is even flimsier than I thought. It’s not about quality, it never was, and I think you’re aware of that, because I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not dim. Your point previously was “DC just wants to hire the best people for the job, they just all happen to be women!” When, case in point, re: JT Krul, this is patently false.

Welcome to the entertainment industry, dude, it’s who you know, not talent. And who women know is significantly reduced because of both the lack of women in positions of hiring power, and the difficulties of networking as a women in a male dominated field. Do you need me to explain why it’s more difficult for women to network in this industry?

Hmm . . . maybe it’s a FREE COUNTRY and DC should hire whoever they want to hire–even if that means NO women. Freaking political correctness always telling people how to run their lives and their businesses.

I would love to be hired by DC to write some comic books! Perhaps DC should look to hiring fresh talent along with well-known writers; there’s a lot of writers–men and women alike–who are clamoring for their chance to write even just one comic book. That way, there could be fresh perspectives on all characters as well as provide some new outlooks on female characters such as Wonder Woman. There could even some new female characters proposed.
http://jonnjonzzjohnjones.tumblr.com/

Hire based on skill, drive, and talent, not gender!

Here’s some badass new upcomers!

Michael Stewart

Mike Debalfo

Tyler Kirkham(Is he still at Marvel?)

Some of the guys who left comics but should come back…

Keu Cha

Stephan Platt

Clarence Lansang

Steve Firchow

…Marc Silvestri (please draw a whole book, not just pinups!)

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