Gendercrunching – May 2011

Tim Hanley writes for Bleeding Cool.

Well, things are better and things are worse. Last month, DC and Marvel tied for a pretty middling overall total, but this month we have the biggest gap between the two publishers we’ve seen all year. In doing so, DC’s set a new overall record for monthly stats while Marvel’s set a new low.

DC COMICS

Not only did DC set a record for monthly stats, but they broke the weekly record in May as well. On the week of May 11, 2011, DC had 16.3% female creators, shattering the previous high. Their monthly total isn’t as good, but it’s a significant improvement from April. In May 2011, DC released 65 new comics featuring 559 credited creators, 489 men and 70 women. Here are the percentages:

They’re up 2.6% from April, which is a BIG gain. Plus, 12.5% is more than a full percentage point better than their previous best month. Nicely done, DC. Here are the numbers by category, tabled and charted:

Category

Male

Female

#

%

#

%

Cover

111

94.1

7

5.9

Writer

80

95.2

4

4.8

Penciller

86

97.7

2

2.3

Inker

96

98

2

2

Colors

72

85.7

12

14.3

Letterer

73

98.6

1

1.4

Editor

53

69.7

23

30.3

Asst. Editor

39

60.9

25

39.1

What Went Up: Everything but colorists. Cover artists, pencillers, inkers, and letterers all had modest gains of 0.2 to 0.5%. Writers, however, more than doubled, rising from 2% to 4.8%, and thanks to Strange Adventures #1 and its two female writers, only half of the female writing credits at DC this month went to Gail Simone. Editorial rose impressively as well, with editors up 4% and assistant editors rising over 9%.

What Went Down: Just the colorists, with a drop of 1.3%. This isn’t a big fall, and chances are they’ll be back up next month… DC does well in terms of female colorists.

All told, this was a really good month for DC. Gains in 7 of the 8 categories is great, and their overall total jumped impressively. Not a lot of the creative totals are, in and of themselves, what I would call good, but they are better and that’s never a bad thing.

A Word On The Relaunch: Earlier this week I looked at the solicits for DC’s relaunch, and Rich posted a fascinating conversation between B. Clay Moore and Gail Simone. Both got a lot of comments, and I’d like to point this out for those of you who think people are silly to be upset at the lack of female creators on the relaunch: For September, the cover artists, writers, pencillers, and inkers of the DC line proper (not Vertigo or the kids books) add up to two different female creators for the entire MONTH. These are not typically good categories for DC, but every WEEK of May except one featured at least two different female creators in the DC line proper for these categories (May 25 had only one). So you have in a month what you’d usually have in a week. That’s quite a step down.

MARVEL COMICS

I am genuinely bummed out about this… Marvel had gone up every month this year, but they dropped considerably here. In May 2011, Marvel released 85 new books featuring 736 creators, 674 men and 62 women. These are the percentages:

Their low had been 8.6%, all the way back in January. This is worse than that, and a big 1.5% drop from April. Hopefully these numbers are just a bump in the road for Marvel, and they’ll be back to improving for June… I’d like to see them hit double digits. Let’s table and chart up the categories:

Category

Male

Female

#

%

#

%

Cover

159

92.4

13

7.6

Writer

101

95.3

5

4.7

Penciller

103

95.4

5

4.6

Inker

115

96.6

4

3.4

Colors

90

88.2

12

11.8

Letterer

91

100

0

0

Editor

87

88.8

11

11.2

Asst. Editor

39

65

21

35

What Went Up: Colorists bumped up a tiny 0.1%, but assistant editors saw a decent gain of 3.2%. And letterers remained the same, holding a steady line at zero.

What Went Down: There were some relatively small drops for cover artists (1.2%), pencillers (0.6%), and editors (1.3%), but inkers and writers fell quite a bit. Inkers were down by nearly half, dropping from 6.5% to 3.4%. Writers were even worse, falling from a rather impressive 9.5% in April to 4.7% in May, less than half of the previous total. Writers have been Marvel’s strong point all year, so this drop is a bummer.

So it was a bad week overall at Marvel. Their total was down, as were 5 of the 8 categories, and their few gains weren’t anything to write home about. The big drop in writers is the low point of the month (DC had a higher percentage of female writers than Marvel!! That’s unheard of!!), but it’s understandable. A couple female-penned miniseries ended in April, Kathryn Immonen’s Wolverine and Jubilee and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Osborn. Book adaptations are also a good source of female writers at Marvel, and there were no Dark Tower or Anita Blake books in May. Perhaps June will see some new books to pick up the slack.

IMAGE COMICS

For the next few months, I’m going to pop in on smaller publishers to see how their numbers compare to the Big Two. This month, we’ll take a look at Image Comics. Now, smaller publishers are a bit more haphazard with their credits than DC and Marvel, and occasionally gigs like coloring, lettering, and editing weren’t listed. I tabulated all of the credits each issue listed, but I can’t count people if they don’t print their names. These totals are as complete as I could make them. In May 2011, Image put out 33 comics books featuring 175 credited creators, 166 men and 9 women. Let’s look at their totals:

So that’s a lot lower than we’re used to. I’ve never even had a week with the Big Two that got as low as 5.1%. I’m honestly quite surprised… I expected to see a lot more women at Image. I may have just picked an off month, but 33 comics is a lot of books. There’s plenty of room for women in 33 books. Turning to the categories:

Category

Male

Female

#

%

#

%

Cover

53

96.4

2

3.6

Writer

47

100

0

0

Penciller

39

100

0

0

Inker

39

100

0

0

Colors

34

89.5

4

10.5

Letterer

31

96.9

1

3.1

Editor

20

87

3

13

There were no assistant editors at Image, by the way, so I just left that category out. So let’s start with the good things: They’re better with female letterers than DC or Marvel, their female editors percentage tops Marvel, and their colorists total, while not great, is certainly reasonable compared to the Big Two. Now the bad thing: No ladies wrote or drew any Image comic books in May. Not a one. Although the credits were spotty with a few categories, they always listed writers and artists. There were two women on covers, but that’s it for the big categories. To be fair, I didn’t recognize a lot of the names on these books like I do with the Big Two… there may be a John or a Dan or a Tom who’s actually a woman, and if that is the case please let me know and I’ll adjust the numbers accordingly. DC, Marvel, and Image accounted for just over 80% of the comics sold by Diamond in May 2011, and while we’ve still got several other publishers to visit, it appears that the vast majority of the American comic book industry is not so great for ladies.

NOTES

The busiest book of the month at DC was Strange Adventures #1 with 37 creators (9 of them women), and at Marvel it was a three way tie between Fear Itself: Home Front #2, Amazing Spider-Man #660, and Amazing Spider-Man #662, all with 15 creators (2, 1, and 2 female creators respectively).

The books with the highest percentage of female creators were the same as always, with Birds of Prey #12 at 4 of 6 and Emma #3 at 3 of 4. Second place went to DC’s iZombie #13 at 2 of 6 and Marvel’s X-23 #10 at 3 of 6.

Please contact me if you’d like to see the full stats spreadsheets. You can visit me at Straitened Circumstances; to learn more about this statistics project and its methodology click here, and to see the previous stats click here.

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