It’s been a discussion for a while now, highlighted recently with the creators chosen for the DCnU, that female artists and writers in the comic book industry are underrepresented and undervalued. While Marvel’s Girl Comics was a big step toward showcasing female talent, projects created solely by women are scarce. Artist Renae De Liz (The Last Unicorn, IDW Publishing) decided that needed to change and with it Womanthology was born.
What is Womanthology? Well, it’s the biggest hit of the comic book world that has yet to be published. Buzz has been established thanks to popular names in the business involved such as Gail Simone, Lauren Montgomery, Chrissie Zullo, Devin Grayson, Barbara Kesel and Bonnie Burton. De Liz accepted and recruited creators for the anthology with the theme “Heroic” and accepted an offer from IDW to publish the book, But, since all proceeds will go to charity, the production and printing costs needed to be raised first. De Liz constructed a Kickstarter to help her collect the lofty $25,000 needed for a small print run and along with help from comic readers and other creators in the industry, blew past her goal in less than 24 hours.
Newsarama conducted an email interview with the artist to talk about her amazing accomplishment, the origin of the project and where Womanthology goes from here.
[Newsarama Note: Full disclosure, Newsarama contributors Jill Pantozzi, author of this article, and Jenna Busch are both contributors to the book. And we’re super proud of them.]Newsarama: Tell us about the inception of Womanthology. Where did the idea come from? How did it take shape?
Renae De Liz: Over time online (twitter specifically) I saw so many women artists that were so very talented but not published yet, when they should have been. Most were scattered and didn't know each other. I kept voicing that I would like to someday do something with all of those talented women, and artist (and now artist/editor on Womanthology) Jessica Hickman kept suggesting to me that I should do an all female anthology. It just seemed too big of an idea for me to handle at the time, so I kept it as a "someday" project. But after Jessica mentioned it to me several more times over a couple months, I finally asked online if any women would be interested in doing an anthology and that day there were over 100 contributors! At that point I figured I should just take the leap and run with the idea.
Nrama: What's it like having IDW involved?
De Liz: We are creating every aspect of the book, and IDW is supporting it by helping me with printing specs, and other details of things like that but otherwise they're just letting us create it, and they're supporting us where they can.
Nrama: Why did you feel it was important to put together a book like this?
De Liz: I started this project because I just wanted to gather a bunch of women and create something fun and positive together. For me it's not about the issues or what's wrong with comics concerning women and how something like this needs to be done. I'm focused on the positive aspects of doing a book like this, like showcasing how many talented women are in comics, how many would love to get in, and showcasing the love young girls and teens have for creating their own comics. I just felt like there were so many positive things that could come from it, that I should try to make it happen.
Nrama: We've seen a few, smaller all-female projects in the past but nothing on this scale. How did you go about choosing creators?
De Liz: Most of them found me! As I said the first day I had 100 women on board! And we have secondary lists of women that still want to contribute. It's just amazing and inspiring to see so much love for the comics medium from women. I also hand picked and invited some women creators who were outstanding in comics already, or were outstanding but had not really been noticed yet.
Nrama: Womanthology seems to have taken the comic community by storm. It went from this small idea to a project that raised over $25,000 in less than 24 hours. What was going through your head as it grew?
De Liz: Oh gosh, I'm still in shock over it, and I've been so busy taking care of so many details, not to mention my normal work and my family, that it hasn't entirely had a chance to sink in yet. Mostly I'm just so so very proud and happy for the women on the book. I was so worried there was a chance things wouldn't work out and there'd be no way to get them published, and all their talent & enthusiasm wouldn't see print after all. So the fact that there's NO doubt now. They WILL see print, is just wonderful to me.
But yeah watching those numbers grow like that? I thought maybe my computer was erroring out or something, it was just too amazing to be happening! Just wow and I'm so thankful to everyone who helped!
Nrama: You got some amazing support from others in the industry, Neil Gaiman himself not only promoted the project but volunteered a sketch to one of the bigger donators. What was that like to see/hear and who else jumped on board you weren't expecting or were particularly excited about?
De Liz: Amazing! I was awestruck! Obviously Neil Gaiman didn't have to do something like that, helping promote it then wanting to help further like he did. It's pretty inspiring that someone as big a creator like Neil Gaiman cares that much about an independent little project like ours. It just meant a lot.
I don't expect anyone to give their hard work and time to help us out, so each time it happens it just further amazes me. I appreciate every little thing
Nrama: Women's role in the comic industry has been a hot topic for some time, perhaps more so the past year. What do you think this project says about their selling power and/or work?
De Liz: I suppose it would be proof that there are a lot of women readership out there and talent yet to be tapped into. I was stunned from the very beginning just how many female creators there were. Before that I had known of some, but not this many, like hundreds and hundreds! It's so wonderful. I would like to see more of these women get some major attention; they very much deserve it.
Nrama: All the profits from the sale of Womanthology are going to charity. Which one and what made you decide to go that route?
De Liz: We're working with the fantastic people at GlobalGiving.org (sort of like the "Kickstarter" for small charities) to help fund as many of those charities on their sites as possible with our profits. That will be a fun event by itself, as we'll all come together to pick which ones we'll focus on funding, and work to fulfill their goal amount. It was always a profits-for-charity book from the very beginning. I can't imagine what other purpose for the money would be rather than go towards people in need. There're even comic book charities on there, encouraging kids to chase their dream and write comics! You should check them out!
Nrama: Your original goal for a small print run was met with spectacular ease and the funds raised from the Kickstarter stand at over $57,000 as of press time. What are your plans for the extra money?
De Liz: I had vague plans, and never expected to be in the position to even be able to decide! Let alone so soon! But things I have in mind [are], another book in the same vein as this one, for more creators, men and women. As with Womanthology it would promote opportunities for people, the gaining of comics experience, involve kids & teens, and presents opportunities for people to pair up with professionals. This is a big goal of mine, I want to offer to as many people as possible what Womanthology has to contribute to the people creating it.
Possible extra fun things for Womanthology: I would like to get some copies for libraries or some schools! It would also be nice to get some copies to the contributors who all donated their time for the book. Maybe create digital copies of the book, just to name a few ideas!
My biggest goal is to fully fund creator owned books for as many people as possible to get their work out there. Even if it's just a handful of them! If it's enough support I hope to start an actual organization that specializes in helping comics people bring their creations to life and get them published.
Either way, by continuing to order copies of Womanthology, they are not only getting a great book, they are further supporting women in comics by appreciating their hard work, which is exactly what every artist or writer hopes for! Your further support will also help more people in comics realize their dreams and get published, everything earned will go right back into supporting more comics creators that could really use a hand! I am really excited about the doors than can be opened for people with this!
Nrama: Can people still donate? Are there further incentives?
De Liz: Yes they can! Our campaign will run for 23 more days (I thought I would need every single day!). And yes, I have more really cool rewards in the works, more script reviews by pros, cameos, etc. So you should keep checking back!
Where to find Womanthology online: