Gendercrunching And Ethnocrunching Comics – July 2013
Tim Hanley writes;
DC maintained its overall percentage of female creators, while Marvel rose to new record highs in keeping their now habitual top spot. We also follow up on last year's nationality and ethnicity statistics to see what, if anything, has changed over the past thirteen months.
DC was up and down by category, but averaged out to match their June totals overall. In July 2013, DC put out 79 new books featuring 685 credited creators, 605 men and 80 women. Here are their stats:
An overall total of 11.7% female creators is relatively good for DC, so it's nice to see them maintain that number. It was a solid month in the categories that get your name on the cover, with writers up over 3% and gains of close to 2% for pencillers and inkers. Letterers remained the same while cover artists fell slightly. Both colorists and inkers dropped in the range of 3%, though this was offset by a nearly 5% gain for female assistant editors. All together, things evened out for DC despite some categorical shuffling.
COMPARED TO A YEAR AGO: DC was at 9.9% female creators last July, and they've gone up 1.8% since then.
Marvel broke their own record yet again, coming in with a new high for overall percentage of female creators for the Big Two. In July 2013, Marvel released 79 new books with 631 credited creators, 537 men and 94 women. Let's look at the numbers:
A gain of 0.8% overall is some solid growth, and doubly so when it sets a new overall record. There were slight losses for writers, inkers, colorists, and editors, but they were all minimal; writers fell the most at 1.4%. On the plus side, pencillers were up a percentage point, cover artists were up two, and assistant editors gained 4.5% from last months. Ultimately the paltry losses were easily surpassed by a few decent gains, and Marvel ended up with a new record high overall.
COMPARED TO A YEAR AGO: In July 2012, Marvel was at 11.2% overall, so they're up a very nice 3.7% since then.
COMIC BOOK CREATORS BY NATIONALITY AND ETHNICITY
We looked at nationality and ethnicity stats just over a year ago, with much calm and rational discourse ensuing, and now we're going to check back in and see what's changed over the past year. You can read the full methodology and terminology explanation in last year's post, and remember that this is for SOLICITED creators and not the full run of stats, so just cover artists, writers, pencillers, and inkers. I'd have liked to do the full stats, but it's hard to find information about a lot of colorists and letterers and the data would have been too incomplete. Also, these are just the creators solicited for July 2013 at the Big Two. I'm sure there are many other creators of various nationalities and ethnicities who've worked at the Big Two in other months, or at other publishers currently, but this is about the Big Two in July 2013.
So hold on to your hats for this first revelation: White men are still the predominant group of comic book creators, by far. I know. I'm shocked too. However, they are slightly less predominant than they were a year ago.
We'll get to ethnicity momentarily, but first let's look at nationality. The lighter color for each nation is last year, and the darker color is this year:
Americans retained their majority, and were actually up from last year by a few percentage points. It seems that this was at the expense of creators from the United Kingdom, who retained the second spot but dropped by more than half. Spain, Brazil, and Canada all remained roughly the same, with Italy dropping just enough that it's noticeable. The Philippines were up, Argentina was down, and Mexico remained about the same.
There were also countries with totals too small to make the chart (ie. less than 1%), including Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Turkey, and Venezuela. There's some impressive global representation at the Big Two; not by numbers, since that's heavily American, but certainly by location. I'm a little bit surprised at the American growth because there's been a fair amount of talk lately about publishers hiring artists from other countries who work for lower pay. I thought we might see a decline in the American numbers, paired with growth elsewhere across the board, but not so much. Perhaps that trend is changing at the Big Two.
In terms of ethnicity, while it is still most definitely the white man's show, there are some encouragingly, albeit slight, changes to the stats compared to a year ago:
White folks are down, while everyone else is up. Sure, it's by very small numbers, but at least it's not worse. When it comes to diversity in comics, any sort of growth, however small, has to be considered a win for the industry, and it's certainly worlds better than a decline.
White creators are down nearly 2%, which barely cuts into their massive majority but nonetheless results in more opportunities for minority creators. Diversity is an important component in any creative field, and the Big Two are slightly more diverse this year, both in terms of ethnicity and gender; the overall percentage of solicited female creators rose 1.6% as well.
Now, while it's fun to stick it to the white man (full disclosure: I am a white man) and see some growth in every other category, we should keep in mind that these numbers are still very small. For example, only 3.1% of the creators solicited by Marvel and DC are black. That is a tiny number. In raw numbers, that's 10 black people, out of 318 different creators. Ten guys! They're all guys, by the way. There were no black women in either of the Big Two's solicits.
So yes, things are better than last year, and that is nice to see. However, the ethnicity breakdown was really quite terrible last year, so while we are glad that things are now slightly less terrible, they're still not really in the ballpark of good. The Big Two are still remarkably non-diverse, with white men comprising a staggeringly massive majority of the solicited creators. Better doesn't mean good yet, but it's a positive step.