Tim Hanley writes for Bleeding Cool;
After three months in a row at the same percentage of female creators, DC Comics was up in May, which helped them regain the top spot from a sliding Marvel. We also take a look at the solicitations for DC's #0 issues, and find that things haven't changed much at all since the DCnU was first announced.
The Second Wave shook up DC's numbers some, giving them a nice gain. In May 2012, DC released 77 comics featuring 676 credited creators, 598 men and 78 women. Here are their numbers:
DC rose 0.5% from last month, which isn't huge but it's a decent gain nonetheless. There were slight losses for pencillers and inkers, and a nearly 2% drop for cover artists, but writers were up 1.4%, letterers gained 0.7%, and colorists jumped an impressive 5%. Editorial had about a 4% gain for editors and a 6% loss for assistant editors. Overall, the pluses outweighed the minuses and DC went up for the first time in a long time.
Compared To A Year Ago: In May 2011, DC was at 12.5% female creators, so they're down 1%.
After posting the best monthly total we've seen yet in March, Marvel's been on a bit of a decline. In May 2012, Marvel put out 87 new books with 726 credited creators, 648 men and 78 women. Let's look at their stats:
Marvel fell 1.5% in May, which is a bit of a tumble. They had losses across the board, including writers dropping 1.9%, colorists falling 6.1%, assistant editors down 3.5%, and most embarrassingly of all: NO pencillers. Only editors went up, with a 2.6% gain. All together, it was a bad month for Marvel's creative side, apart from cover artists continuing to hit decent numbers.
Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 8.4% female creators in May 2011, so they're up a nice 2.3% annually.
THE DCnU vs. #0 ISSUES
Step into the wayback machine with me as we journey to the summer of 2011. DC announced that they were relaunching their entire superhero line, and when they released full solicits for their New 52 titles there were only 2 female creators with 3 gigs. There was a bit of an outcry, to say the least. It all came to a head at Comic-Con, when Batgirl (Kyrax2) and others repeatedly asked about female creators at DC's panels and got rather snarky answers in reply. Facing a lot of bad press, DC soon issued a statement that read:
Over the past week we've heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously.
They also said that:
We'll have exciting news about new projects with women creators in the coming months and will be making those announcements closer to publication. Many of the above creators will be working on new projects, as we continue to tell the ongoing adventures of our characters. We know there are dozens of other women creators and we welcome the opportunity to work with them.
The general outrage calmed down a bit, and we all sat back and waited for DC to follow through. Which they did, somewhat, with Amy Reeder on Batwoman (however briefly), Ann Nocenti on Green Arrow, and Nicola Scott on Earth 2, along with sporadic fill-in female creators and some gigs outside of their main 52 titles. DC wasn't exactly killing it, but really there was nowhere to go but up.
So now the one year anniversary of the relaunch is fast approaching, and DC is set to release 55 #0 issues in September to mark the occasion. I thought it would be fun to take a look at the solicits for these 55 #0 issues and compare them to the solicits for the 52 #1 issues, and see how DC's promises of more female creators have worked out one year later. I've tallied the overall totals, as well as categorical totals for cover artists, writers, and interior artists. Let's take a look at the chart:
Man, those female creator numbers are pretty much too tiny to read. Let's ditch the fellows, and zoom in on female creators in a much more readable chart:
That's much better. Way less eye strain.
Also, oh yeah, there are FEWER female creators now, percentagewise.
Jenny Frison's been off the cover of I Vampire for a while now, and there are no ladies solicited on covers for the 55 #0 issues. There were no female artists for the New 52, and there continue to be no artists a year later. Only writers have gone up, from 2 in 2011 to 3 in 2012. Fun sidenote: In the original solicits, writers actually went DOWN. DC later announced that Ann Nocenti would be writing Catwoman #0 so I went with that instead of the original solicited information.
A whole year later, after promises of more female creators, when DC turns the spotlight on themselves with another big gimmick month there are exactly the same number of female gigs as a year before, and the overall percentage of female creators has actually gone down. It seems that when DC knows they're going to be getting a lot of attention, they go with as few female creators as they can.
Now, things aren't all bad at DC. Outside of the 55 #0 issues in September, Amanda Conner is writing and drawing Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #3 (which is a whole different pot of outrage) and Cat Staggs is on interiors for Phantom Lady #2. DC's October 2012 solicits are actually pretty great, with 9 different women on DC books and another 5 at Vertigo. This is fantastic to see, and DC definitely deserves credit for hiring all of these talented female creators.
But the fact remains that when DC is in the spotlight, there are never many female creators there. September was a HUGE month for them last year, with tons of press and announcements and commercials and such, and I'm sure they're hoping for a similar level of attention this September. 55 #0 issues is a massive gimmick, meant to get everyone to look at DC and buy their books. Yeah, there are tons of female creators in October, but October is just another month. September is big and important for DC and they're throwing an anniversary celebration to mark it, but they've not invited very many girls to the party.
The 3 women with their 3 gigs in the 55 #0 issues become 5 women with 6 gigs the very next month in the very same books. And that's not even counting another gig for Gail Simone in the Batgirl annual and Becky Cloonan drawing the Swamp Thing annual!! Why not have all the ladies there when the spotlight is on you, DC? People are going to start to think you're going out of your way to not have girls around when it really counts.
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.