Gendercrunching April 2013 – Boom And Zenescope Buck The Trend For Employing Women In Comics

Tim Hanley writes;

Marvel is closing in on a full year of having a higher percentage of female creators than DC, making it eleven months in a row with a slight uptick in April while DC fell. We also check in on three more publishers: Boom!, Valiant, and Zenescope, to see how they're doing with female creators.


April wasn't great for DC, with a notable decline overall and some poor totals by category. In April 2013, DC released 69 new comics with 618 credited creators, 552 men and 66 women. Here are their stats:

g1They're down 1.3% overall from March, a relatively sizeable drop. Writers are continuing to do well, though they're down very slightly from last month, while those miniscule penciller and inker numbers are actually up by a tiny percentage (the raw numbers remain the same, at 1 and 2 respectively). Letterers did great, up almost 3% from March, while editors, cover artists, and colorists all fell a percentage point or two and assistant editors slipped down nearly 5%. All together, the few gains were minimal and the losses added up.

Compared To A Year Ago: DC was at 11% last April, so they're down 0.3%.


After a few months of drops, Marvel posted a small gain to retain the top spot among the Big Two. In April 2013, Marvel put out 72 new comic books featuring 630 credited creators, 546 men and 84 women. Let's look at the stats:


Marvel's 0.2% gain isn't anything substantial, but it's a positive change at least. Cover artists, writers, and pencillers were all up slightly, with writers climbing to a very solid 9.1%. Inkers fell a smidge, when colorists were down almost 3% and assistant editors slid just over 2%. Editors were up a couple of percentage points, though, and all of this slight rearranging by category ended up in a small net gain for Marvel.

Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 12.2% female creators last April, so they're up 1.1% since then.


Back in November, we went further down the market share list and looked at the numbers for Image, Dark Horse, and IDW, with mixed results. Now, and for the next few months, we're picking up where we left off. This month we'll look at Boom!, Valiant, and Zenescope.

But first, a programming note. It seems that Dynamite got lost in the shuffle somewhere because they don't get listed as a separate publisher in the market share charts. My best guess is that they get rolled in with Dynamic Forces. So they should have been included in this month, but aren't. We'll look at them next month, along with Archie, Aspen, and Avatar.

Carrying on, Boom!, Valiant, and Zenescope are interesting in that they're small publishers with a limited output, but this limited output really says a lot. Let's go through them:


Boom! has an interesting mix of comic books, and while there are certainly pockets where the numbers for female creators are especially strong, they're quite good across the board. In April 2013, Boom! released 15 new comics with 154 credited creators, 114 men and 40 women. Here are their stats:


There are far and away the highest numbers for female creators that we've ever seen. It's massive across the board, dwarfing the best that DC and Marvel had to offer this month at every turn. Their 26% overall nearly doubles Marvel's "winning" total, and their LOWEST category total is better than 11 of the 16 categories at the Big Two this month.

Some of the strongest numbers came from books that are quite different fare than what we get from DC and Marvel. The Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, and Peanuts titles all had substantial numbers for female creators, but Boom!'s more conventional books were solid as well, with 13 of the 15 books featured at least one female creator. For example, Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm was co-written by Corinna Bechko, and Steed and Mrs. Peel was drawn by Yasmin Liang, along with numerous other female cover artists, colorists, letterers, and editors across the line. Ultimately, Boom! is a fantastic example of using female creators in a range of styles and genres, and the Big Two would be wise to look there for up and coming talent.


Valiant, on the other hand, is not so good. Boom! posted the best numbers we've ever seen, and Valiant swung firmly in the other direction. In April 2013, Valiant released 6 comics featuring 58 credited creators, 57 men and 1 woman. Here are their stats:


Yeah, they didn't have a ton of books to work with, but ONE lady? That's embarrassingly low. Valiant's 1.7% overall is the smallest number we've ever seen, and by quite a margin. I think the lowest we've ever hit is in the 7% range, so Valiant's set the bar to an impressive new low.

However, as much as this is clearly terrible, Valiant had as many female pencillers in their 6 books as DC did in their 69 books. By percentage, Valiant beat both DC and Marvel handily in terms of female cover artists and pencillers just with Emanuela Lupacchino on Archer & Armstrong. Their numbers across the board may be awful, but that they're able to smoke the Big Two is a couple of categories with their ONLY female creator shows some serious faults at DC and Marvel.


I was very pleasantly surprised by Zenescope. I judged the book by its cover in the most literal way, assuming they'd not be great with female creators because of all their sexed up Grimm fairy tale books, and boy was I wrong. In April 2013, Zenescope put out 8 comics with 91 credited creators, 71 men and 20 women. Let's look at the stats:


This is the second best overall total we've ever seen, and by a big margin. Dark Horse's 15.7% in November was impressive, but Boom! and now Zenescope have completely shattered that record.

By category, we actually see the patterns we're used to at the Big Two: strong on colorists and editors, and low everywhere else (most of the female cover artists credits are actually colorists). The percentages here are much higher, though, and are bolstered by having Nei Ruffino pencil and ink Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Unleashed #0. Yet again, a small publisher has as many penciling credits as DC's massive line, and Zenescope's penciling and inking percentages slay DC and Marvel. Zenescope didn't have any female writers or letterers, but Marvel hasn't had a female letterer in over two years. Overall, female creators are doing well in terms of coloring and editorial at Zenescope, and are branching out into other areas as well.

All together, our guest publishers made DC and Marvel look pretty bad this month, with even the pitiful Valiant smacking around the Big Two a bit in terms of female pencillers. There are lots of women doing lots of work in comics out there, including the categories where DC and Marvel are chronically low. They might want to check them out.

As fun as the numbers were this month, our guest publishers are shaping up to be a real doozy for next month. I'm not done the numbers yet, but I'm fairly certain we'll have at least one publisher with no female creators at all, and quite possibly two. Who could it be? Tune in next month to find out.

To learn more about this 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.


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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