Gendercrunching July 2011 – Apples With Apples

Tim Hanley writes for Bleeding Cool;

Both publishers did a little bit better in July, but they also remained far off their best totals. The slew of big summer event tie-ins resulted in more books than usual, but these books don’t seem to be doing much in terms of female creators.

DC COMICS

DC finally settled down a bit this month after having a rollercoaster of a spring on a week-to-week basis. In July 2011, DC released 86 new comics with 727 credited creators, 645 male and 82 female. These are the percentages:

This is a pretty average total for DC… 11.3% is closer to their record high than their record low, so that’s nice, plus they jumped 0.5% from June. That’s all well and good, but the breakdown by category might bum you out:

Category

Male

Female

#

%

#

%

Cover

168

92.3

14

7.7

Writer

96

97

3

3

Penciller

105

98.1

2

1.9

Inker

110

98.2

2

1.8

Colors

84

87.5

12

12.5

Letterer

88

97.8

2

2.2

Editor

73

77.7

21

22.3

Asst. Editor

47

58.7

33

41.3

What Went Up: Letterers doubled!! Not that going from 1 to 2 (or 1.1% to 2.2%) is super awesome or anything, but when a certain other publisher has a goose egg every month, this is pretty good. Cover artists rose an impressive 1.4%, and editorial had a good month too… assistant editors were up 0.5% and editors jumped a solid 3.7%

What Went Down: Nearly very gig with a direct creative influence on the inside of the comic book. Writers were down 1.3%, pencillers fell 0.5%, inkers slipped 0.6%, and colourists slid a whopping 4.6%.

An increase overall is good, but the bulk of the improvement came from the editorial side with very little help from the creative categories. Such paltry numbers in the categories that get your name on the cover kind of brings down the excitement about more women working in editorial. It’d be nice to see the numbers spread out a little bit more, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon.

MARVEL COMICS

Marvel isn’t having a very good run lately, and while this month is a minor improvement from June they are still well below their high water mark. In July 2011, Marvel put out 90 new comic books with 781 credited creators, 712 male and 69 female. Here are their percentages:

An increase of just 0.1% from last month isn’t a lot, but when you consider that Marvel had the worst week of the year thus far on July 20th (5.4%), it’s a bit surprising that they improved at all. Marvel’s been flying under the radar with all the press DC’s gotten lately for the lack of women working on their comics, but Marvel’s not exactly killing it with the ladies either. Let’s look at the numbers by category:

Category

Male

Female

#

%

#

%

Cover

188

94.5

11

5.5

Writer

108

95.6

5

4.4

Penciller

115

96.6

4

3.4

Inker

122

96.8

4

3.2

Colors

105

89

13

11

Letterer

90

100

0

0

Editor

85

86.7

13

13.3

Asst. Editor

41

63.1

24

36.9

What Went Up: Nothing in any substantial amount. Pencillers and editors both gained 0.3%, while assistant editors had a bigger jump with 0.8%.

What Went Down: The biggest drop was cover artists, which fell from 7.9% to 5.5%… Marvel had about a million variants in July, and not many of them went to women. Colorists were down 2%, writers fell 1.3%, and inkers dropped 0.3%. Letterers remained constant, as always, at zero.

This wasn’t a particularly good month… the slight increase overall is nice, but there were a few big drops that are troubling. Writers in particular are a worrying category. Marvel started out the year with an impressive number of female writers and now they are at about half that, and 4.4% is their lowest total so far this year.

COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES WITH THE DCnU

We will return to visiting smaller publishers next month, but I thought it would be interesting to follow up on a story that came out of ComicCon a few weekends ago. At one of the DC panels, an audience member asked about female creators in the DCnU and stated that the percentage has dropped from 12% to 1%. This sounds a lot like numbers from previous “Gendercrunching” articles, specifically May’s 12.5% and the DCnU solicits article’s 1.9%. The 12% to 1% drop got quoted several times after ComicCon, including a Newsarama article where Vaneta Rogers questioned if the numbers were overblown. If the questioner was referring to the “Gendercrunching” numbers, as Rogers contends, then they were clearly off the mark. One number refers to the solicits (just cover artists, writers, and interior artists) while the other includes colorists, letters, and editorial… and, as regular readers know, the bulk of female creators are colorists and editorial. To compare one to the other doesn’t paint an accurate picture at all.

So with the DCnU nearly upon us, let’s compare solicits to solicits and see how the DCnU shapes up. The closest thing we can compare to DC’s September solicits is their August solicits, and I’ve thrown in Marvel’s September solicits as well just to see how they stack up. We’ll also look at the numbers in two ways… first, in terms of EVERY issue the publisher solicited for the month, and second, in terms of the main, ongoing titles (no minis, no Vertigo, no Icon, no kid’s books) so the new 52 books can be more accurately compared. Here are the numbers:

In August, DC’s solicited 97 books with 311 credited creators, 300 men and 11 women. Of these, 38 were regular, ongoing series with 138 credited creators, 133 men and 5 women.

In September, DC solicited 69 books with 215 credited creators, 210 men and 5 women. Of these, 52 comprised the DCnU with 160 credited creators, 157 men and 3 women.

In September, Marvel solicited 96 books with 283 credited creators, 270 men and 13 women. Of these, 55 were regular, ongoing series with 158 credited creators, 150 men and 8 women.

Let’s take a look at this chart of the overall totals:

For all of the books altogether (including minis, Vertigo, Icon, and kid’s books), DC’s September solicits have fewer female creators. They are down about a third from their August total, and are exactly half of Marvel’s total. But when you look at just the regular, ongoing series, the DCnU fares even worse… the DCnU has just over half the amount of female creators it had in August, and it’s over 60% less than Marvel. It’s certainly no 12% to 1%, but this is a substantial drop.

Incidentally, both of DC’s June and July solicits for regular, ongoing series have more than twice the percentage of female creators of the DCnU. June is 6 of 118 for 5.1%, while July is 6 of 138 for 4.3%.

We’ll see how the DCnU compares in terms of full credits in two month’s time. I assume that the amount of colorists, letterers, and editors will be about the same as it is now, and unless these categories have big gains, DC’s overall total should drop a few percentage points at least.

NOTES

DC’s busiest book of the month was a tie between Looney Tunes #200 and Superman #713. Each had 15 creators, with 3 and zero female creators respectively. At Marvel it was Fear Itself: The Worthy #1 with 25 creators, 4 of them women.
Even without Gail Simone writing, Birds of Prey #14 had DC’s best percentage of female creators at 4 of 9, while Detective Comics #879 was in second at 2 of 6. Emma #5 won Marvel, as always, at 3 of 4 (though that was the last issue), and X-23 #12 was second, as always, 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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