Gendercrunching September 2015 by Tim Hanley – Zenescope Beats Marvel And DC Comics By A League

By Tim Hanley

After the Big Two’s strong showings last month (relative to their past performance, of course; on its own, 16% female creators overall is still rather paltry), Marvel rose up even higher while DC took a tumble in September. We also take a look at a handful of smaller publishers that we haven’t visited in some time and see what’s happening with Avatar, Oni, Titan, and Zenescope.

DC COMICS

Unsurprisingly, DC’s strong August total proved unsustainable. In September 2015, DC released 71 new comics featuring 590 credited creators, 513 men and 77 women. Here are their stats:

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While 13.1% female creators overall is a decent total for DC historically, it’s also a drop of three percentage points from their overall total last month. That’s a big fall. By category, almost everything was down. Cover artists and letterers fell only slightly, but female pencillers were down 5%, inkers were down 3%, colorists were halved, editors fell more than 3%, and assistant editors slipped 4%. The only gain was female writers, who ticked up less than one percentage point. On the one hand, August was unusually high for DC and most of their September numbers aren’t terrible, relative to years past. On the other, DC’s proven they can be more representative with their hiring and now they aren’t doing so. A new, regular month high means a new standard, and DC’s not meeting it.

Compared To A Year Ago: In September 2014, DC was at 8.4%, so they’re up 4.7% since then.

MARVEL COMICS

Beating the odds, Marvel’s overall percentage of female creators actually went up in September after their record August. In September 2015, Marvel put out 66 new comic books with 541 credited creators, 448 men and 93 women. Let’s look at the numbers:

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Marvel’s 17.2% is a 0.4% jump from August, not a huge gain but a new high for Marvel nonetheless. Things were a bit up and down by category: colorists and editors bumped up a percentage point or so, pencillers and inkers dropped a couple of points, cover artists fell more than 3%, and writers and assistants editors leapt 5% and nearly 7% respectively. This all shook out into a slight rise overall, keeping Marvel at an impressive level. The only potential negative here is that the distribution isn’t very even; assistant editors comprise a big chunk of Marvel’s female creator pool, while female artists fell across three categories. Still, everything adds up to a strong month for Marvel.

Compared To A Year Ago: In September 2014, Marvel was at 10% overall, so they’ve risen a whopping 7.2% since then.

OTHER PUBLISHERS

We’ve moved to a bi-annual circuit of non-Big Two publishers here at “Gendercrunching” in which we visit the next seven bestselling publishers according to Diamond, #3-5 in April and October and #6-9 in May and November. With this format, we can cover huge swaths of the direct market fairly regularly. However, this means that the publishers further down the list fall through the cracks, so this month we’ll catch up with four more independent publishers and see how things looked for them in September.

Avatar Press

We’ve visited Avatar Press before, with disappointing results. Both visits resulted in a goose egg, including out most recent one from May 2014. Now, more than a year later, have things changed at Avatar? Apparently not. In September 2015, Avatar put out 11 books featuring 64 credited creators, 64 men and 0 women. Here is their frankly unnecessary chart:

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So, zeroes across the board again. And they’re even putting out more books now, which means more opportunities to hire female creators, but there are none. For the third year in a row. Having no female creators in this day and age, with so many fantastic women working in comics, means that a publisher can’t even be trying. Ladies are everywhere! Except at Avatar.

Oni Press

Oni is new to “Gendercrunching”! They’ve just missed out on past round ups before, and now here they are. In September 2015, Oni released 7 comics with 40 credited creators, 32 men and 8 women. Let’s look at the numbers:

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Having 20% female creators is a very good showing, especially with so few books. They shipped 7 comics but had 8 female creators across them; in fact, only one book didn’t have a female creator working at some level. There are some big holes here, obviously, particularly female writers and pencillers, but for just a handful of books this isn’t too bad, and overall it adds up to a decent percentage. Hopefully they’ll have even more women across the board when we visit them next.

Titan Comics

I don’t think we’ve visited Titan before either; it’s a big month for “Gendercrunching” firsts. In September 2015, Titan put out 11 new comic books featuring 80 credited creators, 62 men and 18 women. Here are their charts:

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Posting 22.5% female creators overall is rather impressive, especially when paired with a categorical breakdown that has women involved in nearly every category. There aren’t any female editors at Titan, though there aren’t any male assistant editors so I suppose that evens out. Elsewhere, all of the categories on the creative side of the chart had some female representation, including a few strong showings. It’s good to see such a small publisher having so many women in the mix.

Zenescope Entertainment

Ah, Zenescope. Their books look so skeevy, but their numbers have been pretty good every time we’ve visited them. When we last dropped by in May 2014, Zenescope was at 14.4% female creators overall. Now, in September 2015, Zenescope released 9 new comics featuring 100 credited creators, 78 men and 22 women. Let’s look at the numbers:

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These numbers are actually really good. Their 22% female creators overall is solid, and things were great by category. Only female writers were in single digits; everything else was relatively high. Zenescope gets a bad rap sometimes because their comics are often hyper-sexualized, and there are valid critiques to be made, for sure. But every time we’ve visited them they’ve had decent representation with female creators, and several of them have moved on to other publishers over the years after starting out there. The content may be questionable, but their hiring practices deserve some credit.

So three of these four publishers blasted the Big Two overall, and by category in several situations. When DC or Marvel get past the mid-teens, it’s sort of a big deal because traditionally their numbers have been much lower, but here are three publishers posting 20% and beyond with little to no fanfare. It’s good to visit other publishers and put DC and Marvel’s output into perspective; their numbers may be better than they were, but they’re still trailing far behind almost every other publisher. Except for Avatar. They really need to get it together.

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.

About Rich Johnston

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

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