By Tim Hanley
The New Year brought significant changes to both DC and Marvel as the Big Two swapped positions. After a run of relatively strong female creator representation, Marvel’s numbers have taken a tumble while DC’s appear to be on the rise.
DC’s female creator stats are hardly soaring, but there’s been a noticeable step up since the fall. From January through March, DC put out 259 new comic books featuring 2271 credited creators, 1882 men, 388 women, and as best I can tell, 1 non-binary creator. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
First, a quick note on the non-binary designation. Vita Ayala co-wrote Supergirl #19, and they are non-binary. The chart above lists only men and women, in part because non-binary creators are still rare at the Big Two and the numbers are tiny, but I wanted to be sure they are included in the article. In the winter of 2018, non-binary creators accounted for 0.3% of the writers at DC, and 0.04% of the publisher’s credited creators overall.
All together, DC’s female creator representation rose 1.5%, a solid gain after a steady if middling autumn. By category, female cover artists, pencillers, inkers, letterers, and assistant editors all jumped up slightly, countered by small losses for female writers and colorists. Editors were the big difference this month, with a 4 point gain that helped DC’s overall female creator total tick upward.
The monthly numbers show a fairly even run at DC:
While February was a slightly higher month for women at DC than January or March, the overall totals were close together, and all of them stayed noticeably above the publisher’s autumn numbers. Things were a bit more mixed on the creative side of the chart. Many of the categories mirrored the slight overall up and down, but colorist representation was a bit tumultuous and female penciller and inker representation dropped off considerably in March. Time will tell if this was an oddity or the start of an unfortunate new trend at DC. Editorial was a bit up and down as well, though the main editorial numbers do seem to be trending up.
The Past Year at DC: The winter numbers fared very well compared to 2017, with each month of 2018 thus far besting all of last year’s totals but one:
This winter marks DC’s most consistently high run for female creators in some time. The totals remain well below the publisher’s past highs, but after a lengthy string of poor showings last year, the numbers are starting to move in a positive direction again. And it’s doing so without a massive change to the line. While there were a few new titles, and certainly the return of the “Young Animal” books boosted the numbers, there was also steady representation across the board.
Marvel, meanwhile, is entering an entirely new era with the appointment of C.B. Cebulski as the new Editor-in-Chief, and his first few months on the job do not bode well for female creators at Marvel. In the winter of 2018, Marvel released 234 new comics with 2062 credited creators, 1757 men and 305 women. Here are their stats:
Marvel’s 14.8% female creators overall is a whopping 3.2% drop from their autumn total of 18%. Through various cancellations and creative changes, the publisher has lost a sizeable portion of its female workforce. Every category was down except for two: Female colorists were up just 0.3%, and female editors rose the same. Elsewhere, female cover artists were down nearly 4 points, writers fell a couple, pencillers and inkers dropped almost 4 points, and Marvel’s bastion of female representation, assistant editors, ticked down nearly 6 points. And the next round of relaunches hasn’t even hit yet! This is Marvel putting out a lot of the same books they did in the fall, but with enough creative shake ups and cancellations to sway the numbers considerably.
The monthly numbers tell a very clear story:
Overall, the publisher is trending down, from 15.8% female creators overall in January to 13.6% in March. Many of the categories are following suit, with noticeable drops for female cover artists and colorists, and an abysmal drop off for female pencillers and inkers in March. Their 2.5% is embarrassingly low. Editorial is heading downward as well, through assistant editors are on the rise, despite their overall drop relative to the autumn numbers. Marvel’s going to need a lot of help across the board if they want to return to the solid totals they saw at the end of last year. With a new Editor-in-Chief and a relaunch on the way, however, the big question is: Do they actually want to? The ranks in the announcements for Marvel’s new wave of titles have been dude-heavy thus far, both real and fictional, and we may be seeing the start of a culture shift at Marvel. Time will tell.
The Past Year at Marvel: The winter months show that Marvel is in the midst of a very steady decline right now:
Since their strong November, Marvel is heading downward in terms of female creator representation, and their March total marked their lowest overall monthly percentage in a long, long time. None of this is an encouraging sign for representation at Marvel, and several recent editorial departures may only further exacerbate the situation, especially since the publisher is so reliant on its assistant editor numbers. It should be fascinating to see what the future holds for Marvel. Everything is trending down, but a lot can happen in three months. Perhaps the spring will bring a rebirth of sorts for women at Marvel.
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.