By Tim Hanley.
The year closed with some low numbers at the Big Two, ending what has been an unimpressive quarter for female creator representation at both publishers. DC ticked up slightly to take the top spot, but only came out on top because Marvel had quite a slide. We also look at the year end totals for both publishers, and their trends as we enter 2015.
For the first time in a long time, DC is back in double digits, though just barely. In December 2014, DC Comics released 93 comics featuring 843 credited creators, 759 men and 84 women. Let's look at the stats:
DC's overall percentage of female creators rose by just 0.2%, but it was enough to hit 10% for the first time in a while. There were slight ups and downs across the board; cover artists, pencillers, letterers, and assistant editors fell while writers, colorists, and editors saw gains. It should be pointed out that while DC has been low overall as of late, their writer numbers are improving steadily. Their percentage of female writers hit 14.5%, which is relatively quite high.
Compared To A Year Ago: DC was at 11.4% female creators overall last December, so they're down 1.4% since then.
After a few steady albeit low months, Marvel dropped out noticeably this month. In December 2014, Marvel put out 74 comic books with 631 credited creators, 575 men and 56 women. Here are their numbers:
Marvel's overall percentage of female creators fell 1.9%, a steep drop when they were only at 10.8% to begin with. Almost every category fell in December; letterers stayed the same at 0% yet again, while editors rose 0.3%. Everything else was lower, including a substantial drop of nearly 5% for female cover artists. It was just a poor showing across the board for Marvel in December.
Compared To A Year Ago: Last December, Marvel was at 11% overall, so they've fallen 2.1% since then.
2014 In Review
Overall, 2014 hasn't been a great year for women at the Big Two. Massive declines in editorial have dragged down both publisher's overall totals, and there hasn't been enough growth elsewhere to balance things out. We'll start our look back at 2014 with DC Comics, comparing their combined totals for the year with those of 2013:
DC fell 1.3% from their 2013 overall total of female creators, but one category stands out among the rest. Assistant editors are at nearly half of the past year's total, which accounts for most of the overall decline. There was actually some small growth in each of the first four creative categories, which is great to see, and colorists stayed steady. Letterers were the only other category that dropped. So we've got two different stories here: A cumulative loss, but decent growth in specific areas. It's a mixed bag, to be sure.
Now, let's turn to the mega-chart to see how things changed over the year by category. You'll need to click on this one twice, first in normal view, and the second click will give you a larger view to make it bigger:
Cover Artists: Up and down, but ultimately level over the year. They ended the year on a strong note, thought.
Writers: Trending up, especially as 2014 drew to a close. This bodes well for 2015.
Pencillers and Inkers: Also trending up, and again a decent end to the year. The numbers remain small, but they're improving.
Colorists: Not much change, though improving slightly.
Letterers: By "letterers" I mean Saida Temofonte¸ DC's only female letterer, and she seems to be getting less work. That's a steep drop in the fall.
Editors: Going down. Things were a bit better in December, but still well below the first eight months of 2014.
Assistant Editors: Things fell off a cliff starting in April, bottomed out in June, and never got better. Some big departures were replaced with male assistant editors, especially for the superhero books. Most of the female assistant editors who remain are in digital or Vertigo.
All together, more categories are moving up than down, but the ones that are down are way down. Still, it's great to see growth in writers and artists, where DC has consistently struggled since the New 52 began.
Over at Marvel, things haven't been great for female creators after some impressive highs the year before. Let's look at their combined totals for 2014 as compared to their 2013 numbers:
Marvel's overall percentage of female creators is down 2.5%, and again editorial is the primary culprit. The losses aren't as steep as DC's, but both categories took a big hit. Furthermore, the gains on the creative side of things are fairly minimal. Cover artists, pencillers, and inkers rose just slightly, while writers fell more than those three categories rose. Colorists ticked up a bit, but not massively, and letterers remained at zero. The editorial losses were the main problem here, but the rest of the categories didn't pick up the slack in any real way. Marvel may have launched a lot of books with female lead characters in 2014, but they didn't bring many female creators into the fold over the past year.
And now, the mega-chart. Again, click to see it full size:
Cover Artists: Trending down overall, though a weak December mars what had been decent growth through the fall.
Writers: Improving from some paltry numbers to start the year, though things seem to have leveled out over the past few months.
Pencillers and Inkers: A bit all over the map, but ultimately heading downward. Female interior artists clearly weren't a priority for Marvel in 2014.
Colorists: Up and down a lot, but overall trending up slightly. No terrible lows in the bunch, either.
Letterers: Marvel hasn't had a female letterer in four years.
Editors: While a big drop in the spring improved over the summer, they've leveled out below where they began the year.
Assistant Editors: Decent growth through May, and then full on nosedive. They ended the year with seven months of consecutive losses.
All together, only one category is trending upward in an encouraging manner, female writers, and they appear to be leveling out. The rest are about even or trended down over the year, which is not a great way to begin 2015. On the plus side, it's all very easy to turn around. Marvel's just got to hire a few ladies. It's not difficult to do. And their solicits suggest that we may see some improvement as the new year goes on. That would be nice, since 2014 wasn't a banner year for either Big Two publisher.
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.