Gendercrunching March 2014 – DC Publish Their First All Female Comic And Small Gains Overall
By Tim Hanley
DC's overall percentage of female characters fell while Marvel's rose, but the difference wasn't enough to make up the gap between the companies and DC maintained the higher overall percentage for the fourth straight month. We also look at DC's "Futures End" solicits, and stack them up against their past September events.
DC took a notable slide overall, but kept the top spot. In March 2014, DC Comics released 74 new comics featuring 600 credited creators, 525 men and 75 women. Here are their stats:
DC fell a noticeable 1.3% overall, with losses in 5 of the 8 categories. Cover artists and colorists were down roughly 2% while writers, pencillers, and inkers fell in the 3% range. Letterers were up slightly, though, and both editorial categories gained a point or two. While the losses outweighed the gains this month, here's a fun fact to end on: DC put out the first comic I've seen since this stats project began that featured only female creators. The Vampire Diaries #3 was written, drawn, colored, lettered, and edited by women.
Compared To A Year Ago: DC was at 12% last March, so they're up 0.5% since then.
Marvel continues to slowly climb out of the hole they've dug for themselves after posting record numbers throughout 2013, but this month the progress was minimal. In March 2014, Marvel put out 71 new comic books with 629 credited creators, 553 men and 76 women. Let's look at their stats:
Marvel rose 0.1% overall, which is a gain, at least, but also the very least they could gain. It was a good month on the creative side of the chart; cover artists and writers rose a percentage point, pencillers and inkers were up two, and colorists jumped 9%. Editorial, however, fell just under 5% in each category. Letterers remained steady at 0% for the 38th straight month. All told, the gains won out, but just barely.
Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 13.1% last March, so they've fallen 1% since then.
"FUTURES END" SOLICITS
Every September since the New 52 began, DC has done a special promotion for their main superhero line. In 2011, we had the relaunch itself. In 2012, there was #0 month. In 2013, it was Villains Month. Now in 2014 we're going to have "Futures End," a tie-in to the New 52: Futures End weekly series that's set five years in the future. The books are going to have those weird looking 3D covers like last year, too, so look forward to that.
Traditionally, these spotlight months haven't been great for female creators at DC and, perhaps unsurprisingly, "Futures End" isn't too fantastic either. But, on the plus side, the numbers are better. Not good, but better. Let's take a look at DC's past four Septembers, focusing just on the mainline, New 52 titles, and counting only the names in the solicits, so cover artists, writers, pencillers, and inkers. Here are the numbers:
On the one hand, 3.5% is miniscule. There are 144 credited creators on the "Futures End" books and only 5 of them are women. That is a paltry amount. What's worse is that there is a sizeable number of new creators in the solicits, faces we don't usually see at DC who are stepping onto a book while some or all of the usual team takes a month off. It was an opportunity for DC to bring in some different people, dig into their rolodex a bit or even look elsewhere for some new talent. So they hired a bunch of fill-in creators and ALL of them are men. Every single one. All of the female creators in the solicits were there the month before, on the same books. None of them are new.
On the other hand, DC is usually awful at female representation in the September events, and this year they're only very, very bad. The overall percentage is up; in fact, it's as much as the New 52 launch and #0 month combined. Plus, we've got female cover artists for a change. It's only two women, but for the past two years it's been zero. Writers are actually down slightly, by percentage and number (female writers fell from 4 in 2013 to 3 in 2014, but there are fewer books so the percentage ends up fairly close), but we have a female interior artist on a September event book for the first time in four years. Congrats to Emanuela Lupacchino for being the first.
So the numbers are low, but at least there are numbers. It's hardly call for celebration, and the numbers don't look so great when compared to the month that preceded it. Here are the "Futures End" solicits for women compared to the August numbers. I've done two counts for the August numbers, because I don't know if the weeklies will be out in September. If they do the weeklies, go with the first count, if not, go with the second. The weeklies add eight issues of all male writers and artists to the totals, bringing down the overall percentage of female creators, though not enough to change the fact that almost everything is better in August no matter how you count it:
A normal, run of the mill month has more female creators than a month when DC knows it's going to get more publicity than usual and sell more books. That's rather disappointing, though it's also something we've come to expect after four years of this. If we go monthly to monthly, leaving out the weeklies, there will be far more female creators in August across the board. Still not a lot, but certainly more. Adding in the weeklies, everything is better than "Futures End" except for one category, but if we go with the weekly count than ideally we'd add the September weeklies to the "Futures End" total which would drag it down considerably; those books are written by committee, and all men. It's a huge anchor on the numbers. Point being: August is much better than September.
In fact, some women from the August solicits were gone in the September. Ann Nocenti is set to write Catwoman in August, but someone else is penning the title for "Futures End." The same thing is going with Nicola Scott and Earth 2. Obviously, there are male creators in August who don't show up in September too, but they've all been replaced by other men. DC's cut back the female creators, without adding any more into the mix.
Ultimately, "Futures End" looks to be rather disappointing in terms of female creators, but it comes with the very slight silver lining of being somewhat less disappointing than the past three September events. We're not even in the ballpark of good, but things are slightly less bad. Hurrah.
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.
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