By Tim Hanley
DC was down and Marvel was up in May, but it wasn't quite enough to stop DC from posting the higher overall percentage of female creators for the sixth straight month. It was a real barnburner, though, insomuch as statistical analysis can be a barnburner. We also take a look at four smaller publishers: Archie, Avatar, Zenescope, and Valiant.
DC fell slightly from their April total, and was all over the place by category when compared to last month's stats. In May 2014, DC released 75 comic books featuring 684 credited creators, 603 men and 81 women. Here are their stats:
DC was down 0.3% overall, which isn't too bad, but there was some major categorical shifting. Cover artists were up nearly 9% and editors rose about 5%, while writers fell nearly 5% and assistant editors dropped just over 10%. The penciller and inker totals slid a few percentage points each, and colorists and letterers stayed about the same. At the end of all of this tumult, DC slipped down overall, and may be poised for a bigger drop in June if they can't shore up some of their bigger categories, most notably assistant editors.
Compared To A Year Ago: DC was at 11.8% female creators in May 2013, so they haven't changed a bit since then.
Marvel rose nicely in May due to growth across the board, but it wasn't enough to take the top spot from DC. In May 2014, Marvel put out 70 comics with 598 credited creators, 528 men and 70 women. Let's look at the numbers:
After a rough April, growth of 1.2% overall is good to see. It's not monumental, but it's a positive step. Most every category was up, including gains of 3-4% for writers, colorists, and assistant editors, and smaller gains for cover artists and editors. Pencillers and inkers fell slightly, though the numbers were low to begin with, and letterers remained at 0%. All together, consistent improvement across the board led to decent overall growth, and Marvel just missed nabbing the top spot from DC.
Compared To A Year Ago: Last May, Marvel was at 13.2% female creators, so they've dropped 1.5% since then. Neither company is at all good at lasting change, frankly.
OTHER PUBLISHERS, PART TWO
Last month, we popped by Dark Horse, Dynamite, IDW, and Boom, and ended the column feeling very positive about the state of female creators outside of the Big Two. This month, we go further down the sales charts to the next four publishers, Archie, Avatar, Zenescope, and Valiant, where unfortunately female representation is rather paltry.
Archie is doing a lot of great things with their characters, but it's still very much a boy's club when it comes to creators. In May 2014, Archie released 8 comics featuring 69 credited creators, 65 men and 4 women. Here are their Archie Andrews inspired charts:
An overall total of 5.8% female characters is pretty weak, and their representation is hardly impressive either. They've got two female cover artists and two female pencillers, and that's it. Though to be fair, Marvel only had three female pencillers and they put out nearly ten times as many comics. But Marvel also had women in other categories, which Archie did not.
On the plus side, when we last visited Archie Comics a year ago, they didn't have any female creators at all, so things have improved since then. They're not even near the ballpark of decent representation, but they've moved up from no representation at all. Given how the rest of this article is going to go, it's wise to appreciate the little things.
Last year's visit to Avatar was very disappointing; Avatar and Archie were the only two publishers to post a goose egg for female creators. Archie improved slightly a year later, but unfortunately Avatar did not. In May 2014, Avatar Press put out 8 new comics with 44 credited creators, all of them men. Here are their charts, inspired by nothing but a dull grey sadness:
I could just copy and paste what I wrote last year, but that would be lazy. This is simultaneously terrible and improbable. In this day and age, with so many fantastic female creators working at every level of production, it's almost unfathomable that a comic book publisher doesn't have at least one. But here we are.
Zenescope's books are generally god awful when it comes to their presentation of female characters, but they're surprisingly decent at hiring female creators. Their numbers are concentrated, but high. In May 2014, Zenescope released 13 comics with 160 credited creators, 137 men and 23 women. Here are their Robyn Hood inspired charts:
This is a very good overall total, topping both DC and Marvel, but the representation is poor. Zenescope is spectacular with female colorists; more than a quarter of the colorists in their books are women, and nearly all of the female cover artist credits are colorists as well. Editorial is strong too, even though it's the same woman over and over. But women in writing, art, and lettering are nearly non-existent.
Moreover, Zenescope is down considerably from when we last visited them in April 2013. They've fallen nearly 8% overall, and their three big categories are considerably lower from their past totals. Their overall percentage still stands up well relative to several other publishers, but Zenescope has very limited and diminishing representation for female creators.
It's tough to find a silver lining when looking at Valiant's stats, but there are the faintest glimmers of positivity amidst this barren wasteland of female representation. In May 2014, Valiant Entertainment put out 7 comics featuring 60 credited creators, 58 men and 2 women. Here are their X-O Manowar inspired charts:
So, 3.3% female creators is pretty terrible. There's only one female cover artist and one female inker across their whole line. But let's be upbeat. Here are three good things we can focus on so that the end of this column isn't such a downer:
a) At least it's not a zero. Avatar put out more comics than Valiant and still didn't hire a woman.
b) They hired a female inker. Archie didn't. Zenescope didn't. There are months that DC and/or Marvel can't even rustle up a female inker.
c) Last year, Valiant was at 1.7% female creators overall, so they've nearly doubled their total over the past year. Progress!
This month's visits were less uplifting than last month's stellar numbers, but compared to our last tour of the industry, things are looking up for female creators overall. The four publishers listed above aren't a big part of that, though there are some improvements, but companies like Boom and IDW are really helping to change the landscape of the comic book market. Things are getting better, slowly but surely, and I remain optimistic that the publishers who are lagging behind will soon catch up. Maybe next year Avatar will even hire a woman!
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.His book Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine is available now.