Gendercrunching November 2012 – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image And IDW

Tim Hanley writes;

Both publishers were up slightly in November, with Marvel retaining the top spot while DC had one of their best weeks in some time. We also pop by the next three top publishers, by sales, and see how things are going at Dark Horse, Image, and IDW.


DC is back in the 11% range for the first time in ages. In November 2012, DC Comics put out 78 new comics featuring 639 credited creators, 566 men and 73 women. Here are their stats:

Gendercrunching November 2012 – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image And IDW

Overall, DC's percentage of female creators was up 0.5% from last month, which isn't massive but is nice nonetheless. Cover artists, pencillers, and inkers fell a percentage point or two, but writers, colorists, and letterers were all up by the same margin. Editors were down very slightly, while assistant editors had minor gains. All together, the gains slightly outweighed the losses and DC improved overall.

Compared To A Year Ago: In November 2011, DC had 11.2% female creators, so they're up a smidge in 2012.


Marvel's just trucking along, consistently putting up solid numbers. In November 2012, Marvel released 68 new comic books with 626 credited creators, 545 men and 81 women. Let's look at the stats:

Gendercrunching November 2012 – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image And IDW

Marvel was also up 0.5% overall, keeping a pretty decent lead on DC. Cover artists, writers, and inkers all rose by a percentage point or two, and pencillers and editors were down the same amount. Colorists fell over 2%, while assistant editors rose a solid 4%. As always, there were no female letterers. More went up than went down, and while the first four categories remained low here, and at DC, things were higher overall.

Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 11.5% in November 2011, so they're up a solid 1.4% this year.


We spend a lot of time at the Big Two, and it's been a while since we checked in with the smaller publishers, so instead of the usual two publishers this month you get FIVE. With fun color choices too. First up is Dark Horse, which released 27 comics in November 2012 with 229 credited creators, 193 men and 36 women. Here are their numbers, in Hellboy inspired colors:

Gendercrunching November 2012 – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image And IDW

Our record high from the Big Two after two years of stats is 14.1% female creators from Marvel a couple of months ago, and Dark Horse blew past that with a completely random month. That's pretty impressive. Also impressive is double digit totals for cover artists and writers, and strong numbers for artists, colorists, and letterers (all of which top the Big Two except for DC's letterer total). Their percentage of female editors and assistant editors is lower than DC and Marvel, but fairly comparable.

The work seems very spread out at Dark Horse compared to what we usually see from the Big Two. Editorial and colorists are still the biggest categories, but there are strong showings elsewhere and none of the categories are negligible. Dark Horse's low percentage of 5.3% is better than 7 of the 16 category totals at DC and Marvel. It seems that Dark Horse is the place to go if you're looking for women in comics.


Image, on the other hand, has a few women in a few spots, but also some glaring holes. In November 2012, Image put out 42 new comics with 213 credited creators, 195 men and 18 women. Let's look at their Invincible inspired stats:

Gendercrunching November 2012 – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image And IDW

First, there's one very important distinction to make here: Image doesn't really have assistant editors. For the three companies above, assistant editors were HUGE in terms of contributing to the overall percentage of female creators, and Image just doesn't have that. That partly explains their low overall total.

However, there are other issues. Cover artists, pencillers, and inkers all best the Big Two's totals, not that it's a high bar, and colorists and editors are comparable to DC and Marvel. There are no female letterers, but we see that from Marvel every single month. The real shock is that there were NO Image comics written by a woman. Over the past couple of years, the Big Two have posted some astonishingly low totals for female writers, but there was never a zero. Most of the other categories were average or better, but the goose egg at writers is a real downer. There were 54 writing credits at Image in November, and not a single woman. Dark Horse had 6, and with considerably fewer books!! Not cool.


I didn't do IDW initially, and then I was looking at the sales data from November and saw that they're the fourth biggest company in every category!! They've really come up in the world over the past couple of years. IDW released 34 comic books in November 2012, with 227 credited creators, 209 men and 18 women. Here are their numbers, inspired by their book with the highest percentage of female creators, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:

Gendercrunching November 2012 – Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image And IDW

Like with Image, IDW doesn't really have assistant editors. There was a book or two that mentioned "editorial assistance" but not enough to include them on the chart. However, given their lack of female editors generally, I doubt their assistant editor ranks, if they had them, would be overflowing with ladies. Only 4.4% female editors is far and away the lowest total we've ever seen in that category.

The rest, however, is decent. Cover artists, writers, and colorists all top the Big Two's November totals and are well ahead of what we're used to seeing there. Pencillers, inkers, and letterers aren't huge, but we see similar numbers from Marvel and DC all the time. These latter categories aren't good numbers by any means, but at least there are no zeroes (looking at you, Image). There's some strong and weak numbers at IDW, and then the near complete lack of female editors drags down the overall total. There appears to be a definite lack of ladies behind the scenes.

Overall, Dark Horse blew everyone away. Their numbers were strong across the board, especially on the creative side, and even in editorial they weren't too far behind. Image and IDW had significant strengths and weaknesses. Image did well with female artists but were a no show for female writers. IDW had female writers, load of colourists, and female representation in the other creative categories, but next to no female editors. As for DC and Marvel, comparatively the only place they really shone was in editorial. They were bested by at least two, and sometimes three, of the smaller publishers in every creative category except for DC in lettering. Clearly there's a lot of work yet to be done to increase female representation in the industry, but at the same time there are strong numbers here and there across these five publishers. While things right now might not be great overall, there's definitely a solid female creator base to build on.

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.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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