Gendercrunching – DC & Marvel, April 2011 by Tim Hanley

After leading Marvel for three months, DC Comics took a tumble and the Big Two ended up tied for April. Marvel saw a modest bump, which is lovely, but both publishers are in the single digits for the first time this year.

DC COMICS

DC had a rollercoaster of a month, reaching impressive highs and hitting startling new lows. Ultimately, the lows won out. In April, DC Comics released 72 new comic books with 669 credited creators, 603 male and 66 female. Here are the percentages:

It’s very weird to see DC in single digits. Putting up a 9.9% is a big drop from their March total of 11.4%, and is just odd for a publisher that’s been so consistent. Hopefully this month was an aberration and they bounce back strong in May. The stats by category were, not surprisingly, pretty badl:

Category Male Female
# % # %
Cover 135 94.4 8 5.6
Writer 98 98 2 2
Penciller 106 97.2 3 2.8
Inker 120 98.4 2 1.6
Colors 81 84.4 15 15.6
Letterer 83 98.8 1 1.2
Editor 59 73.7 21 26.3
Asst. Editor 47 70.1 20 29.9

What Went Up: Well, colorists saw a decent gain of 2%, and editors were up by 2.9%. That’s about it.

What Went Down: Everything else. For cover artists, writers, pencillers, and inkers the drops appeared slight, ranging from 0.5 to 0.7%. But when you start with such tiny numbers, seemingly small decreases can be calamitous. For example, inkers went down 0.7%, which doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that’s actually a 30% drop from last month’s total. Letterers fell 2.1% AND there was only one female letterer at DC this month. Assistant editors dropped 7.7%, which is a shock because it’s usually a very solid category for DC.

Overall, this was a bad month. Colorists, editors, and assistant editors always carry the bulk of the load for DC’s total percentage, but even with 2/3 of these best categories posting better numbers, their total still fell. That well illustrates how bad all of the other categories were this month. I know many readers feel that these stats just represent the available talent pool for the Big Two, but when writers, pencillers, and inkers are all below 3%, something’s not right.

MARVEL COMICS

Although DC and Marvel posted the exact same totals, there’s a lot more to be pleased about with the Marvel stats. Marvel’s 87 new books in April featured 759 credited creators, 684 male and 75 female. Here is a very familiar looking pie chart:

Marvel started out the year as the disappointing publisher, down in the eights while DC soared in the elevens, but every month Marvel has gotten a little bit better. Marvel rose 0.3% from last month with their 9.9% and, should the trend continue, they are poised to break into double digits in May. Plus, in terms of categories, they like to spread things around:

Category Male Female
# % # %
Cover 166 91.2 16 8.8
Writer 95 90.5 10 9.5
Penciller 110 94.8 6 5.2
Inker 116 93.5 8 6.5
Colors 98 88.3 13 11.7
Letterer 88 100 0 0
Editor 84 87.5 12 12.5
Asst. Editor 45 68.2 21 31.8

What Went Up: A lot! Cover artists jumped 0.8%, writers rose an impressive 1.6%, pencillers were up 0.7%, inkers climbed a fantastic 2.4%, and colorists ticked up 1%. Apart from letterers, every creative category went up at Marvel, and decently so. For all of the categories that get your name on the cover, Marvel is dwarfing DC in female representation. This total lack of female letterers is still weird, though.

What Went Down: It wasn’t a great month for Marvel’s editorial stats. Editors were down 1%, and 12.5% is a pretty small slice of the editorial pie. Assistant editors fell 6.6%, which is a bad blow to Marvel’s biggest category. So it’s a bummer all around, editorially.

What’s nice about Marvel is that nearly every category is posting strong numbers (relatively speaking, of course). It doesn’t add up to anything huge, but it’s good to see women get work consistently across the board. However, improvement and distribution aside, 9.9% is not a very good number. I’m glad that Marvel gets a little better every month, but there’s still a long way to go.

DO FEMALE EDITORS RESULT IN MORE FEMALE CREATORS?

You can find out lots of interesting things with stats, and this month we’ll look at whether an editor’s gender makes a difference in terms of who they hire. I’ve seen a wide range of opinions on the topic, from “women are more inclined to hire other women” to “women want to fit in with their male co-workers so they hire more men”, but now we can add some numbers into the mix.

I’ll post the methodology for getting these numbers in the forum for those who are interested (methodology is not a very exciting read), but here are the results:

For April, 7.1% of the creators working for female editors at DC were women, while this total was 4.5% for male editors. Thus, female editors resulted in 58% more female creators than male editors. At Marvel, female editors had 9.8% female creators and male editors had 6.3%, a total of 56% more for female editors. This is only one month of comics, but it appears very clear that female editors do result in more female creators at the Big Two, by a surprisingly similar and substantial margin.

In terms of male editors with female assistants, the amount of female creators was slightly higher than the overall male editors’ total at DC, about 18% more, and notably lower at Marvel, about 41% less. So if you’re a female creator, talk to the assistant editors at DC, not Marvel!

Why these numbers are this way is all sorts of debatable… I can only tell you what the numbers say. Maybe female editors like to help out female creators and hire more women. Maybe male editors don’t care for female creators and hire less. Maybe both. If one wanted to be super cynical, one could look at that 3.7% and think that maybe male editors at Marvel feel like they’ve reached their lady quota by hiring a female assistant editor and don’t feel any need to hire any more gals… but that’s just being inflammatory. We can certainly look into the reasons why, and I might try to contact a few editors to get their thoughts, but ultimately this is not a why situation, just a what. And what we have learned is that yes, female editors seem to result in more female creators.

NOTES

  • The busiest book at DC this month was the JLA 80-Page Giant 2011 with a whopping 40 creators, 4 of them women. At Marvel, it was X-Men #10, with a far less whopping 16 creators, 1 of them a woman.
  • The book with the most female creators by percentage was Birds of Prey #11 at DC (3 of 7) and Emma #2 at Marvel (3 of 4). These are the exact same series as last month, so let’s throw in the second place books: Batman #709 was 2 of 6, and Osborn #5 was 3 of 7.
  • Speaking of Osborn, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick is trying to do something about a far more appalling gender-related statistic. While gender inequality in comic books is important and all, 1,100 women get raped in the Congo every single day. DeConnick is running a 5k to support Women for Women International, a group that helps women in the Congo. You can read her thoughts about it at her blog, and I heartily recommend supporting her on her donation page.
  • 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.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.