Gendercrunching October 2015 – Dark Horse Steps Up

Gendercrunching October 2015

By Tim Hanley

DC rose and Marvel fell, leading to DC logging the higher percentage of female creators at the Big Two in October. We also make our semi-annual visit to Image, IDW, and Dark Horse and, SHOCKING SPOILER, they all topped Marvel but only one bested DC.


DC's been all over the map for the past few months, but have been consistently above their usual average even at the lows of their recent ups and downs. In October 2015, DC Comics released 75 new comic books featuring 641 credited creators, 540 men and 101 women. Here are their stats:


DC rose 2.7% overall in October, a solid gain to a decent total, relatively speaking. While 15.8% female creators is lower than DC was in August, it's still well above the vast majority of their totals over the past five years. By category, only cover artists fell with a 2% drop. Everything else was up, including six point gains for female pencillers and inkers, and a 13% jump for colorists; the rest increased slightly. Gains almost across the board is always good to see, and hopefully DC can level out into an upward trajectory moving forward.

Compared To A Year Ago: Last October, DC's overall percentage of female creators was at an embarrassing 8.7%, so they're up 7.1% since then.


After consecutive strong showings, Marvel fell back to Earth somewhat in October. In October 2015, Marvel put out 61 new comics featuring 642 credited creators, 555 men and 87 women. Let's look at their numbers:


Marvel's overall percentage of female creators slipped down 3.6% to a level that, while not terrible, is certainly below what they're capable of. Everything was down except for assistant editors, who ticked up more than 5%. Notable falls included drops in the 4% range for pencillers and inkers, an 8% decline in female writers, and a 10% tumble for colorists. All of this in the month that saw the debut of Marvel's "All New, All Different" relaunch. It's still very early days for the relaunch, but beginning with a significant drop in female creators isn't an encouraging sign. The rest of the new books will have a lot of ground to make up to reach pre-relaunch levels.

Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel had 10.8% female creators overall last October, so they're up 2.8% since then.


It's time for our bi-annual run through of publishers further down the sales charts. This month we'll look at Image, IDW, and Dark Horse, and for the November column it's looking like it will be Boom, Dynamite, Titan, and Valiant. We'll begin with Image, and an important note: Because of Image's creator-owned focus, many of their titles don't have editors or a wide array of creators, like Big Two books do, so their totals aren't quite an apples to apples comparison. Nonetheless, at the end of the day we're counting all of the creators involved and tabulating an overall percentage by gender, and that's a fairly straight forward way to compare. In October 2015, Image put out 54 new comics featuring 263 credited creators, 223 men and 40 women. Here are their numbers:


Image's overall percentage of female creators rose 0.5% since our last visit six months ago, not a big gain but a step in a positive direction at least. By category, cover artists, writers, letterers, and editors were all in about the same ballpark, up and down a percentage point or so. Pencillers and inkers rose notably, though, with jumps in the 7% range, while colorists fell 10%. Oh, and assistant editors soared, but only because there was just one of them; always take Image editorial numbers with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, Image was up slightly and managed to top Marvel's overall percentage of female creators, but DC came in higher. That's kind of a rough result for a company that promotes itself as the anti-Big Two publisher.


We've seen a lot of sizeable swings the last few times we've visited IDW, up and down. This time the swing is down, but by less of a margin at least. In October 2015, IDW released 31 comic books featuring 195 credited creators, 167 men and 28 women. Let's look at their stats:


IDW's overall percentage of female creators fell 2.2% since we last looked at their numbers, a rough drop but we've seen worse from them. They're at about mid-range now, literally so in terms of the Big Two but also more broadly; some publishers can't get out of single digits, while others are closer to the 20% range or higher. All of today's publishers fit in this mid-range, actually. By category, IDW was all over the place. Cover artists were up 13% and writers were down 10%; pencillers, inkers, and letterers rose a few points while editors plummeted and colorists dropped 12% but still remained very high. And again, don't put a lot of stock in assistant editors; there were only two of them. Overall, IDW continued its inconsistent run with female creators; I have no idea where they'll be in six months' time.


Unlike Image and IDW, Dark Horse is VERY committed to editorial. Every book has at least one editor and assistant editor, and sometimes several. And it's working for them; they had the highest overall percentage of female creators this month. In October 2015, Dark Horse put out 36 new comics with 267 credited creators, 215 men and 42 women. Here's all the stats fun:


Dark Horse slipped down very slightly, with their overall percentage of female creators falling 0.3% from six months ago. Across the board, cover artists were down 4%, writers and editors fell almost 8%, while letterers and assistant editors stayed the same. But there were gains on the art side of things, with colorists up more than 3% and pencillers and inkers gaining more than 5%. All of the ups and downs didn't change their overall total too much, but Dark Horse is left with some strong totals to build on and also some areas that could definitely use some work.

Overall, all five of this month's publishers did fine, relative to their past totals, with no one falling disastrously but no one really stepping up their female representation either. These are the five bestselling publishers in the direct market right now, and it would be nice to see bigger strides toward a more inclusive array of creators like we've seen in so many of the publishers further down the chart in recent months. Being middle of the road is nothing to write home about, and all of these publishers' past totals have proved that they're capable of higher numbers than these.

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.

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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