By Tim Hanley
Welcome to the new “Gendercrunching” format! We’ll be looking at DC and Marvel in detail, examining three months of stats per installment. We’re starting with the summer, and we’ll examine the numbers for July, August, and September all together before digging a bit deeper to see the changes month to month. Both publishers ticked up slightly from their June 2017 totals, and the monthly shifts offer some insights as to why.
The summer was up and down for DC, and the numbers combined for very little change overall. Over the course of the summer, DC released 222 comics books with 1990 credited creators, 1684 men and 306 women. Let’s look at their stats:
DC’s 15.4% female creators overall is only 0.1% higher than their June total, a gain so small that it’s almost insignificant. By category, the creative side of the chart stayed about the same, with only minor changes; the biggest movers were female writers and inkers gaining 1.5 points and letterers falling 2 points. The more notable shifts were in editorial, with female editors dropping 8 points while assistant editors rose 7 points. The ups and downs largely evened out, leaving DC’s overall total about where it was when we last saw them.
Looking at the numbers by month makes a few trends clear:
The publisher’s overall total was inconsistent, with some fairly sizeable swings given the small numbers we’re working with here. But by category, we’ve got some obvious shifts. Female cover artists, writers, pencillers, inkers, and colorists are all trending down after some relatively strong numbers in July, which is not a great sign for representation at DC. Female letterers were the only ones trending upward in the creative categories, and only slightly at that. There are some gains in editorial, though. Despite dropping considerably from their June total overall, the numbers for female editors are growing at DC. Assistant editors are on the rise even more so, with some new hires and reshuffling of assignments leading to considerable increases there. Creative and editorial are moving in opposite directions right now, and it will be interesting to see if this continues through the fall.
The Past Year at DC: Relative to the year that preceded it, the summer months were not particularly strong for female creator representation at DC:
August’s overall total was DC’s lowest in the past 15 months, and July and September weren’t exactly burning up the charts either. July’s 16.2% was the publisher’s highest showing since February, but last summer’s numbers topped this summer handily, and the fall numbers even more so. DC remains well below the level of representation they’ve shown themselves to be capable of.
July, August, and September marked a period of growth for female representation at Marvel, even though the numbers don’t add up to much more than their June totals. Over the course of the summer, Marvel put out 260 new comic books with 2400 credited creators, 2015 men and 385 women. Here are their charts:
Marvel’s 16% female creators overall marks a 0.3% jump from their June total, a fairy minor gain. By category, the creative numbers had a couple of big shifts with female writers up 6 points and female colorists down 4; everything else was within a point or so of their June numbers. Editorial was largely the same as well, with female editors up and assistant editors down, both by just a point. Editorial evened out and the writer gain outweighed the colorist loss, leaving Marvel slightly higher over the summer months.
The monthly breakdown tells an intriguing story, however:
Overall, Marvel’s female creator ranks moved steadily up over the course of the summer, and these gains came largely from the creative side of things. While both editorial categories ticked up, the numbers for female cover artists, writers, pencillers, and inkers all rose significantly. This cover artist gain was especially steady, as well as impactful. Marvel puts out so many variant covers that the category carries a disproportionate amount of sway. The writer, penciller, and inker increases are sizeable, but they came all at once in September, somewhat out of the blue. Time will tell if this is a new level for Marvel or a one-off increase that quickly falters, and we should also bear in mind that the July numbers for all four categories were rather paltry to begin with. Nonetheless, over the course of the summer, female representation grew across the bulk of the publisher’s categories, and we’ll see if that trend continues next time.
The Past Year at Marvel: As I mentioned above, it’s easy to grow when you start low, and Marvel did just that relative to the year before:
Marvel’s July total was its lowest in 15 months, and August was near the bottom as well. None of this changes the fact that the September total was one of the publisher’s higher outings of the year, of course, and the monthly trends are encouraging for the fall. While Marvel remains somewhat below their past highs, they closed off the summer with a relatively strong showing.
To learn more about the Gendercrunching 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 books Wonder Woman Unbound and Investigating Lois Lane are available now, and his new book, The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale, came out in July.