By Tim Hanley
Both DC and Marvel increased their overall percentage of female creators in October, with Marvel hitting the higher number yet again, but their totals remain poor in comparison to their past highs. We also pop by Image, IDW, and Dark Horse to see how they stack up against the Big Two.
I had very high hopes for October based on DC's solicits, but they didn't pan out overall despite decent numbers by category. In October 2014, DC Comics released 93 comics featuring 930 credited creators, 849 men and 81 women. Here are their stats:
Their overall total of 8.7% is a gain of 0.3% from September, and almost everything on the creator side of the charts is up. The percentage of writers, pencillers, and inkers have all about doubled, and cover artists got a big jump of nearly 4% as well. Female letterers took a fall of nearly 6%, though, and both editorial categories were down a few percentage points. It's frustrating to see DC doing so well in traditionally poor areas and so poor in traditionally strong areas. I keep track of their solicits on my blog, and their October solicits boasted the highest number of female creators they've had since I started keeping track three years ago. We can see that progress in the decent numbers early in the chart above. But the back end remains low and dropping, and is dragging them down overall. This could have been a massive month for DC, but instead they remain stagnant overall and far below their past average, despite really strong growth in certain areas.
Compared To A Year Ago: DC was at 14.1% last October, and they're fallen 5.4% since then.
Marvel is in a similar predicament as DC, just not quite as badly. In October 2014, Marvel put out 83 new comics with 750 credited creators, 669 men and 81 women. Let's look at the numbers:
A gain of 0.8% overall from last month is pretty solid, however their total is still weak when compared to their own past performances. The creative categories did well, with gains of a few percentage points across the board except for female letterers, who remain at 0% yet again. In editorial, both categories fell a couple of percentage points, and the numbers there are still far, far below their old highs. This editorial collapse at both publishers continues to strongly affect their overall totals. The creative side of the chart was comparatively very strong for Marvel, and among the most consistently solid numbers they've posted, but it's just not bringing them up to their past highs with editorial so low.
Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 13.2% female creators overall last October, so they're down 2.4% since then.
While we usually check in on Image and other smaller, non-Big Two publishers annually, moving forward we're going to pop by on a bi-annual basis. The non-Big Two publishers are booming, both in terms of sales and in terms of new, exciting creators, so it will be useful to see how the whole of the direct market is looking. The plan is to keep track of the top selling publishers, so we'll have Image, IDW, and Dark Horse this month, then Boom!, Dynamite, Avatar, and Archie with the November numbers, and then continue checking in every six months. Should other publishers rise in prominence over time, the publishers we cover will shift accordingly.
So first up is Image! They've grown to be a massive publisher, and are putting out almost as many books as the Big Two. In October 2014, Image released 70 comics featuring 411 creators, 340 men and 71 women. Here are their numbers:
We should keep in mind that smaller publishers tend to not have as much of an editorial presence as the Big Two. ALL DC and Marvel books have editors, while only about half of Image's books have a clearly identified editor. And that 100% female assistant editors? It's only 3 women.
Despite this lack of editorial assistance, Image has put up a much higher percentage of female creators than we're used to seeing at the Big Two. The first five creative categories are at least in the mid-teens, which is a pleasant change of pace, and even their female letterers are more than DC or Marvel put up in October. When we last popped by Image in November 2013, they were only at 10.7% overall, so the leap to 17.3% is substantial. It should be pointed out that this 17.3% is bolstered by two special oneshots, the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2014 and Thought Bubble Anthology 2014, that aren't part of their regular monthly comics. Both books posted a high number of female creators, and with them removed from the equation Image falls to 12.9%. Nonetheless, Image published the books and they'll of course be counted. I just wouldn't expect such a high total from Image when we return in six months.
IDW was a pleasant surprise when we checked in with them last April, posting an impressive 15.2% female creators overall, but their total is more pedestrian this time around. In October 2014, IDW put out 43 comic books with 236 credited creators, 210 men and 26 women. Let's look at their stats:
After more than three years of compiling stats, 11% has emerged as a sort of average total for the Big Two. DC hovered around there for years, while Marvel orbited at a more erratic pace. So IDW posting 11% female creators isn't terrible, but it's certainly disappointing considering that it's a 4.2% drop from our last visit. The numbers are a bit all over the map by category. Female colourists are remarkably strong, while editorial is fairly weak and none of the other creative categories are particularly inspiring. Most of them are also lower than their April totals, though writers rose a bit.
Continuing the disappointment train, Dark Horse is down from their April numbers as well. In October 2014, Dark Horse released 35 comics featuring 279 credited creators, 242 men and 37 women. Here are the numbers:
Dark Horse is down 0.7% overall since their last visit, which isn't terrible but also marks the second time in a row that we've looked at Dark Horse and their numbers have dropped. While 13.3% is higher than most of the publishers this month, we've seen better from them. Their chart looks like DC and Marvel's used to, with a strong editorial presence, some female colourists, and double digits for only female writers in the early categories. It's an okay showing, but there's definitely a lot of room for improvement across the board.
So overall, Image is doing fairly well and the rest of the Top Five best selling direct market publishers are doing middling to poor. It's a bit of a downer of a report, but don't get too sad. Boom! is next month, and they're always through the roof. They could lose half of their female creators from our last visit and still top all of the publishers we looked at today.
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.