By Tim Hanley
The concluding month of "Convergence" meant more big numbers for DC, and they bested Marvel yet again for the highest overall percentage of female creators. We also continue our bi-annual tour through the rest of the comic book industry with stops at Boom!, Dynamite, Valiant, and Archie.
Bolstered by a massive female editorial presence and strong numbers across the board, April was big for women at DC. May was even bigger overall. In May 2015, DC Comics released 70 new books featuring 659 credited creators, 492 men and 167 women. Here are their numbers:
DC's 25.3% female creators overall was an almost 4% jump from last month's already impressive total, and marks DC's highest total since this project began. However, most of this growth was editorially based. Female writers, pencillers, inkers, and colorists all fell several percentage points, while cover artists and letterers rose only slightly. Meanwhile, editors jumped 10% and assistant editors leapt up 14%. While none of the dropped categories are particularly low, they're noticeably below last month's totals. Representation across the board is always preferable to a couple of isolated strong showings. Thus ends the unusual "Convergence" numbers, and next month DC is back to a regular lineup. SPOILER ALERT: Their overall percentage is going to be considerably lower.
Compared To A Year Ago: Last May, DC was at 11.8% female creators overall, so they're up 13.5% since then, albeit only in momentary fashion.
Marvel's April numbers had some of their best female representation in some time, but May is a bit of a step backwards for the publisher. In May 2015, Marvel put out 68 comics with 584 credited creators, 513 men and 71 women. Let's get into the stats:
Marvel's 12.2% is a 1.7% drop from last month, not a huge tumble but certainly not a small one given the low percentages to begin with. Female writers, pencillers, and inkers all actually rose a couple of percentage points, but cover artists fell more than 3% and colorists were down 6%. Editors slipped down slightly, while assistant editors rose a couple of points. Letterers remained steady at 0%, as they have for the last four years running. Sometimes the ups outnumber the downs, but that was not the case for Marvel in May. All of the Secret Wars tie-ins seem to have brought down the overall female creator percentage somewhat, and it will be interested to see what the expansion of these titles in June does for Marvel's numbers.
Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 11.7% female creators overall last May, so they've risen 0.5% since then.
We continue our bi-annual round-up of smaller publishers with four more this month, starting out with Boom! Boom! has been a bastion of female representation for some time, but things have slipped down slightly since we last visited them six months ago. In May 2015, Boom! released 28 new comics featuring 243 credited creators, 170 men and 73 women. Here are their stats:
While Boom!'s 30% female creators overall is a huge number, and far and away the best we'll see from any other publisher here, it's a sizeable 6% drop from their November total. The numbers were down almost across the board, including drops of 10% or more for every category but colorists, who shot up more than 5%, and assistant editors, who rose 15%. With the numbers down so low by category, Boom! was lucky that these isolated areas of growth kept them to just at 6% slide overall. Boom!'s been branching out lately into more adult-oriented fare, and while there's generally some female representation in most of those titles, it seems to be less so than in their kids line. It's not a catastrophic fall by any means, but it's disappointing to see the direct market's most representative publisher fall.
Dynamite was a pleasant surprise with a strong showing last November, and the numbers have only grown from there. In May 2015, Dynamite put out 25 new comics with 199 credited creators, 158 men and 41 women. Let's look at their numbers:
Dynamite's 20.6% female creators overall is a big jump of 6.3% from last month, spurred largely by the "Swords of Sorrow" crossover. Spearheaded by Gail Simone with a variety of other female creators on board, the event brings together a variety of Dynamite's licensed female characters across one main series and several tie-ins. Dynamite's female cover artists and writers are up considerably, and they've got female letterers after having none in November. However, female interior artists and colorists are down slightly, though not nearly as much as the other categories gained. Editorial is about the same, though editorial is odd for Dynamite (they list specific editors in only a handful of their credits, and those are the ones I count). All together, the gains trumped the losses considerably and Dynamite continues to surge.
We haven't been by Valiant since last May; in October and November we looked at the next seven biggest publishers after DC and Marvel, and Valiant just missed the cut. This time, Valiant's sales jumped up and bumped Avatar off the list. Things weren't great for women at Valiant last May, and they're not better now. In May 2015, Valiant released 8 new titles with 90 credited creators, 88 men and 2 women. Here are their numbers:
Valiant's 2.2% female creators overall is down 1.1% from last year, though it was 2 credits both years. Valiant just hired 30 more guys this year, and no more women. Also, this year both of the women are limited to covers, while last May they had a female inker to mix things up a bit. Valiant's not a huge publisher, and a lot of the same guys work on all of their titles, but only 2 of your 90 credits going to women is a really poor showing. Surely they can do better than that.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post had incomplete numbers for Archie. I missed the Dark Circle books, a Dark Horse crossover, and the fact that their digests have new stories. My apologies to Archie Comics for the error, and the chart and text have been updated to encompass their full line of titles. In May 2015, Archie put out 12 new comics with 103 credited creators, 93 men and 10 women. Let's go to the stats:
Archie's 9.7% female creators overall isn't a big total relative to most of the other publishers we've seen in the past two months, but it's definitely the best showing we've seen from Archie in all of our visits thus far. There's some decent representation across the board here, with comparatively good percentages for female writers, pencillers, colorists, letterers, and assistant editors. There are also some zeroes and a lot of space to grow all around, though since May they've had Fiona Staples drawing the new Archie and Erica Henderson is set for Jughead in the fall. The numbers are poised to be even better when we visit them in six months time.
Overall, we've got a mixed bag this month. DC's killing it, but only momentarily so, while Marvel's down but better than they've been recently. Boom! is down but still tops, Dynamite is growing overall but up and down across the board, and Valiant isn't doing much of anything with female creators, and Archie is improved but still behind. Adding in last month's publishers, I'd say the industry is doing better for female representation than they were when we visited everyone last fall, but only incrementally so. There remains a vast amount of room for improvement.
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. His book Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine is available now.