Gendercrunching Quarterly, Autumn 2017: Marvel and DC Comics

Posted by January 22, 2018 Comment

By Tim Hanley

The year drew to a close with gains in female creator representation at both DC and Marvel, one slight and one with a sizeable jump. A closer look at the numbers shows some trends that could call into question the longevity of these gains, however.

DC COMICS

The fall was pretty steady overall for creator representation at DC Comics, though the distribution by category saw some noticeable shifts. Over the course of the autumn, DC released 245 new comic books featuring 2266 credited creators, 1913 men and 353 women. Let’s take a look at their combined stats:

DC’s overall percentage of female creators came in at 15.6%, a 0.2% gain from the summer. This is a fairly negligible change, but a small bit of growth at least. The rest of the chart was more up and down, and broke along job lines. The creative gigs were all down, with minor losses for female cover artists and colorists, and drops of several points for female writers, pencillers, inkers, and letterers. These declines were balanced out by gains in editorial. Female assistant editors were 5 points higher in the fall, while female editors were up a whopping 10 points. All together, the editorial gains won out slightly and DC’s female creator representation ticked up overall.

The month-to-month numbers tell a very interesting story about these changes:

These are remarkably steady totals. On the creative side, the only category with any considerable variation was colorists, who were a bit all over the map. Everything else was consistent, though the bulk of the numbers were a noticeable step down from the publisher’s summer totals, which were already in decline. The numbers here didn’t continue this gradual downward trend from the summer, but rather dropped suddenly across the board in October and stayed at that level through to December. Various small changes to DC’s comic lineup contributed to this drop, but a closer look suggests that a big part of the tumble was due to the Young Animal books going on hiatus. The line features many female creators at all levels, and without those books in the mix, DC’s female creator numbers fell.

The editorial numbers showed a bit of growth, though not quite steadily so. Both categories grew steadily in the summer, and while the numbers for female editors and assistant editors remained on the upswing in the fall, the rate of increase has lessened and could level out soon. The firing of Eddie Berganza might bring some new names and some editorial shifting, however, so it will be interesting to see what happens this winter.

The Past Year at DC: The publisher’s autumn totals were unremarkable, on the lower end of their recent female creator totals:

While all three fall totals were higher than four of the six months that preceded them, the numbers remain well below where DC was a year ago. The decline’s definitely leveled off, but not a level that matches the heights of representation the publisher has shown themselves to be capable of.

MARVEL COMICS

Marvel’s overall female creator representation took a solid jump over the fall, resulting in some of the publisher’s highest numbers in a long time. Throughout the autumn, Marvel put out 234 new comic books with 2143 credited creators, 1758 men and 385 women. Here are the combined totals:

The publisher reached 18% female creators overall, a 2% gain from their summer numbers. The creative side of the chart was mixed, with slight gains for female cover artists, pencillers, and inkers and small drops for female writers and colorists. And, astoundingly, Marvel had a female letterer, for the first time in nearly seven years! Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #26 was a special “zine” issue with an array of contributors, and Madeline McGrane lettered a couple of the stories in the book, breaking Marvel’s lengthy streak. Both editorial categories saw gains, with a nearly 4 point jump for female editors and a 3 point jump for female assistant editors.

Let’s take a look at the monthly breakdown:

There were some ups and downs across the board, largely due to Marvel’s odd publishing slate throughout the autumn. Along with their slew of “Legacy” relaunches and some creative shifting therein, there were a lot of one-shots and special issues, several of which featured female creators in key roles. The latter were particularly numerous in November, and thus the jump in the numbers for female writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, and letterer above.

Setting aside those gains as one-time outings and thus outliers, looking at just the October and December numbers suggests that female writers may be on the decline, while interior artists could be on the rise. The numbers for female cover artists saw a clear decrease, though, and given that Marvel’s numerous variant covers make the category particularly impactful on the overall numbers, that could be a bad sign for the publisher’s average if this continues moving forward.

Editorial was less clear in terms of trends, with a lot of ups and downs over the fall as Marvel settled into their new lineup. One thing remains clear, however: Assistant editors dominate Marvel’s female creator representation. While the publisher has a higher overall percentage of female creators than DC by a couple of points, if you take away the assistant editor category from both publishers DC dips down to 13% female creators overall but Marvel falls all the way to 11.7%. So long as those numbers stay high, Marvel’s average should remain solid. Nonetheless, it’s good to see the bigger picture and recognize how dependent Marvel is on one category. The creative side of the chart has some rather humdrum numbers.

The Past Year at Marvel: Marvel’s overall totals for female creators were fairly solid relative to their past performances:

The fall was easily their highest three month run over the past year, and November tied the high they posted last March. Marvel’s in an interesting spot moving forward; their strong assistant editor numbers should keep the average up, but if they actually put in some effort to bring in female creators to write and draw their books the totals could soar.

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 latest book, The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale, was released last year.

(Last Updated January 22, 2018 12:46 pm )

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