Gendercrunching June 2012 – And A Little Ethnocrunching Too

Tim Hanley writes;

Marvel was back on top in June as both companies had notable swings overall, Marvel for better and DC for worse. We also mix it up, and potentially court controversy, by looking at stats by nationality and ethnicity.

DC COMICS

I don’t know if Alan Moore has cursed DC because Before Watchmen premiered in June or what, but after a solid May they dropped a fair amount this month. In June 2012, DC Comics published 80 books with 673 credited creators, 605 men and 68 women. Here are their stats:

 

DC was down 1.4% overall, which is a fair amount given the low numbers we’re dealing with and their usual consistency. Almost everything was down in June, with only pencillers remaining the same and assistant editors gaining 1.8%. Colorists fell almost 5% and editors were down a whopping 7.5%, and the other four categories were each down in the range of a percentage point or so. It was a pretty bad month for DC.

Compared To A Year Ago: DC was at 10.8% in June 2011, so they’re down 0.7%.

MARVEL COMICS

Marvel pulled out of their skid with a solid month that propelled them back to the top of the charts. In June 2012, Marvel put out 72 new comics featuring 645 credited creators, 570 men and 75 women. Let’s look at their stats:

 

Marvel went up 0.9% overall, which is a pretty decent gain. Things were generally up across the board, with colorists more than DOUBLING their May totals, while artists bounced back from a terrible May with gains of 2.5% for pencillers and 4.5% for inkers. Editors and writers had modest gains, and cover artists fell 3% along with assistant editors who were down just 1%. All told, June was a solid month for Marvel. Now they just need to hire some letterers.

Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel is up 1.6% from a year ago, when they posted 10% in June 2011.

JUNE SOLICITS BY NATIONALITY AND ETHNICITY

Yes, yes, I can hear you all. It’s not enough that I wage a battle of the sexes each month, now I’ve got to start a race war too? Shame on me.

Actually, these numbers are really interesting, especially compared to the gender stats. People have been asking about ethnicity in the comments for a while now, and the results were surprising in terms of the white majority vs. the male majority. Now, of course we’re not pitting one against the other or trying to say one minority group has it worse than another. Instead, this is about how WOW the majorities are HUGE at the Big Two and that maybe this sheer dominance by white dudes is a little bit much.

But before we get to the stats, let me point out a couple things. First, tabulating people by ethnicity is a tricky situation. Race is so much about self-identification; some people identify strongly with a certain group, or groups if they are of mixed race, while others try to eschew these classifications altogether. By categorizing people this way, largely just by looking at them, I’ve basically removed this self-identification and that’s a bummer. However, that’s the only practical way to do this sort of count. I can’t talk to nearly 400 people and find out how they self-identify. I’d be doing this forever.

Second, we’ve got some pretty broad categories that lump together groups that are sometimes disparate and that may use terms that some people don’t use for themselves. Again, sorry, but it’s just for practicality. Creators that were Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Korean, or Malaysian have been lumped together as Asian. This is a big generalization, I know, but separately they’d all be about 0.25% each. Maybe I should have called it Pacific/Asian though. Terminology is tricky. Case in point: Black people are categorized as “Black”, since “African American” doesn’t really fit non-Americans, and I went with “Hispanic” over “Latino” to represent both groups together even though they are slightly different groups that overlap.

Point being, ethnicity is a difficult scene and if anyone is offended for any reason, my apologies and I assure you that the offense was unintentional.

Okay, onto methodology. I listed all the names in DC and Marvel’s June 2012 solicits, then after much googling I tabulated them all by nationality, ethnicity, and gender. I just went with the solicits because it was hard enough finding pictures of some of the more famous creators… tracking down colorists and letterers would have been just out of hand. I’ve combined the stats for both companies into one set of data because they were reasonably close and there’s no point in going through it all twice. Finally, these numbers are for DIFFERENT creators, not CREDITED creators, a distinction I’m sure you’re familiar with if you’re a regular reader. So here we go.

I was going to start this bit with a chart showing ethnicity in the United States, since I figured that Americans would make up the bulk of the creators and it would be a decent comparison. However, while Americans are the majority, it’s not a big majority at all:

 

In fact, it’s barely a majority. Nobody else even comes close to the Americans, but they’re still just over half. England was second at 9.1%, which was more than I anticipated, and I was very surprised to see Spain in third. I figured Brazilians would have been higher, given that there’s been a big influx of Brazilian artists over the past few years, but they’re tied for fourth with Canada and Italy.

There were several countries below 1% who didn’t make the chart: Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Guyana, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela. That’s 28 countries overall!! Oh, I suppose I could have combined England and Scotland into the United Kingdom. Just pretend James I never happened.

We’ve got a veritable United Nations here, with the Americans with a slight majority, but now let’s look at how things go by race, with gender stuck in the chart as well for comparison:

 

That is a lot of white people. And, given the huge stats for men, a lot of white dudes. Almost 80% is a HUGE majority, and Hispanics are way behind at 10.9%. The various groups we’ve combined into “Asian” are third with 6.8%, and black creators accounted for a surprisingly low 2.4% of all creators. Apart from these four groups, the rest was just 2 Turks who made up 0.6%. There were a lot of ethnic groups with no representation at all, including Arabs, Indians, Persians, and several smaller groups.

What’s clear is that white dudes run the show at the Big Two, and by far. No one else is even close. We’ve had many conversations about the problems inherent in a lack of diversity, and the lack of diversity at the Big Two is astounding.

Especially in terms of writers. Artists are vitally important, of course, but writers really dictate what’s going on in the books. The writers at the Big Two are 94.8% white, which is a LOT of white. They’re also 92.7% men. As a rough comparison, white males make up only 32% of the USA’s population, and DC’s Nielsen survey results puts their white audience at 59-75% (dock a few percentage points off of each for female readers to get a general idea of the white male audience). This is some disproportionate representation.

So the news that white men are a huge majority at the Big Two might not be terribly shocking to you, but it’s handy to be able to go from a vague awareness of white male hegemony to specific numbers that show you just how dominant white males are. This lets us check back in from time to time, which we’ll do down the road, and see how things are going. I’m sure the diversity will improve dramatically now that we’ve shone a light on the lack thereof, much like the gender stats have led to so many more female creators.

That’s sarcasm, of course. The Big Two don’t particularly care what I say in these posts.

But we can care, and be disappointed by this lack of diversity, and maybe the more we talk about it the more other people will notice and be displeased too, and eventually someone up the food chain will listen and try to do something about it. We’ve already got Paul Cornell. Or maybe the Big Two will just keep hiring homogeneous creators to make homogeneous comics for a homogeneous audience and the superhero industry will slowly die. Either or.

NOTES:

To learn more about this statistics project and its methodology click here, and to see the previous stats click here. You can visit Tim at Straitened Circumstances and follow him on Twitter @timhanley01.