There's more to women in comic books than those "Women In Comics" panels at conventions, and a new organization is looking to organize and foster that. At this weekend's Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, an organization known as Comic Book Women is presenting a series of five panels putting female names, faces, and talents in the forefront to move past the idea of of "women in comics" being a novel concept in 2016.
Founded in 2015, Comic Book Women aims to both advocate for greater representation of women in the comic book community, as well as develop a stronger bond between women inside and outside of conventions. Newsarama talked with one of the organization's leading voices, former Transformers writer Mairghread Scott, to learn more about the organization's plans, goals, and perspective.
Newsarama: Mairghread, what is the big overarching goal of Comic Book Women?
Mairghread Scott: I think we have two main goals: the first being connecting women with one another to forming an internal community and the second being advocating for women's representation in the larger comics community.
Since our industry is mainly freelance, it can be very isolating; you may only meet other creators a few times a year at conventions. Comic Book Women connects comics professionals of all types (writers, artists, editors, etc.) to each other. We offer support, advice, and a place to network. But more than anything we want our members to have a place where they realize they're not alone in this. Other women are out there, working in comics every day (not just in Women’s History Month).
The second goal is helping give those women a voice by advocating for more women to be included in the broader comics community. We work to help our members get in touch with interested conventions to help the industry itself realize that, yes, women are here. We want to be involved, we want to speak on panels, we want to be guests at your show. We want to be viewed as the experts in our field that we are.
Nrama: Your first big outing is at this weekend’s Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, with five organized panels with female panelists. How'd you nail down the five you wanted to do?
Scott: We wanted to focus on 'nuts and bolts' panels. Our members have real, useable information and experience we want to share regarding how to make comics and make it in the comics industry. So often when you go to a convention, you mostly see female creators on a panel that focuses on their gender. Those panels can be great, but that trend starts to suggest that women in comics only talk about being women. That's just not true.
While all our panelists are female and our series at ECCC is labeled "Comic Book Women Present" our panels are useful for everyone. Everyone can learn more about lettering or how to work with a licensed brand vs. on a creator-owned series. We want people to see that our members are skilled and talented creators who happen to be women. We hope it will encourage others to see them that way.
Nrama: For this you're working hand-in-hand with ReedPOP and ECCC to do these panels. How was this partnership broached?
Scott: I first contacted Marykate Goodwin to see if ReedPOP would even be interested. After all, we were hoping to put up an entire block of panels, not just one. She was a big help in spearheading this effort. We still submitted our panels through the normal process every ECCC panel goes through, but beforehand we worked to make sure our panels hit on topics ECCC was interested in, that weren't already filled, and that worked together. Not every panel made it through, but I'm proud to say most did and we've very excited to do ReedPOP and ECCC proud this year.
Nrama: And do you have plans to do this at other conventions, ReedPOP and otherwise?
Scott: Of course, CBW has been connecting female creators to conventions for a while now. Convention organizers looking for more female panelists and guests simply email ThereAreMany@ComicBookWomen.com and we discuss their needs and offer the chance to our members to connect with them. But this is really a trial balloon for us in actively coordinating events at a convention.
If the crowds like what we have to offer and the ladies like participating, I don't see any reason not to continue. I would be very proud if, someday, conventions all over knew they could partner with Comic Book Women and get informational (and entertaining) panels on a variety of comic book topics.
Nrama: And the comic book community is more than just conventions - what efforts do you have outside of conventions?
Scott: We hold networking breakfasts, keep a directory of our members who are interested in work and offer online advice and support. We also recently held our first weekend retreat for group administrators and it was a big success. About a dozen women were able to make it to California and get together to discuss the state of the industry, network with each other and generally have a good time. We're looking to host more of these events for our wider members in the future. Who knows, perhaps we'll have our own convention one day.
Nrama: You have over 300 women involved in your group - what kind of mix is it? Creators, retailers, comics company staffers, how does it range?
Scott: Comic Book Women is made up of writers, artists, editors, marketing professionals, comics journalists, and comics retailers. We generally accept anyone who is working in the comics field professionally and identifies as a woman. I would say the majority of the group are comic creators but we also love having the perspective of retailers like the Valkyries and some of comics’ best journalists and critics. We are lucky to have seasoned veterans and creators who are just starting out. There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience within the group that we can draw on and the woman do a lot to support one another and offer advice.
Nrama: Last question - how can other people who want to support your efforts get involved?
Scott: Well, if you are a convention organizer and want to get more women involved with being guests or panelists at your show, email us at ThereAreMany@ComicBookWomen.com. Comics professionals who want to join the group can also email us there. If you are a fan you can follow us on Twitter and Tumblr. You can suggest to your local comic book shop or local conventions to reach out to the group when they are planning future events. Finally, support local and up-and-coming lady comic creators. Vote with your dollars for the kinds of books from the types of creators you want to see more of in the future.