By Tim Hanley
It was another poor showing in terms of the overall percentage of female creators for both DC and Marvel in September, with DC dropping even further to their lowest total since this stats project began and Marvel raising only slightly after their weak August numbers. We also take a look at DC's "Futures End" books, and how they contributed to the publisher's low numbers.
DC fell even lower from their paltry August totals with fewer female creators across a majority of their categories. In September 2014, DC put out 76 comic books featuring 669 credited creators, 613 men and 56 women. Here are their stats:
DC dropped 1.1% overall, a significant decline given that their numbers were so low to begin with. The only categories with growth in female creators were letterers, up 1.2%, and assistant editors, who rose a small 0.4% and remained far, far below their usual range. Everything else was down, including drops of 2-3% each for writers, pencillers, inkers, and colorists. It was a weak showing all around from a publisher that's usually capable of much better.
Compared To A Year Ago: Last September, DC had 12% female creators overall, so they've fallen a massive 3.6% since then.
Marvel ticked up slightly from their August numbers and actually broke into double digits, but just barely. In September 2014, Marvel put out 77 comics with 609 credited creators, 548 men and 61 women. Let's look at the numbers:
Overall, Marvel rose 0.2%, which is nothing to write home about. A lot of their categories stayed about the same, with only slight shifts in percentage. The only big movers were colorists, up more than 4%, and assistant editors, down more than 6%. Writers raising 2% helped tip the scales in a positive direction, however slightly, and Marvel was able to hit 10% overall, well below the publisher's previous highs.
Compared To A Year Ago: Marvel was at 14.2% last September, and has fallen a substantial 4.2% since then.
"FUTURES END" SEPTEMBER EVENT
From the very beginning of the New 52, every year DC has done a special event with their mainline superhero books in September and every year it's been a poor showing for female creators. Last year was an exception, but only due to a massive outlier; the "Forever Evil" Dial E issue included a wide array of artists, many of them women, and that one book increased the rest of the line's paltry stats significantly. Apart from that one issue, whenever DC makes a big sales move with a line-wide event and fancy covers, female creators are few and far between.
This year's "Futures End" titles were no exception. In fact, it was the worst year yet for female representation, and by a significant margin. Let's take a look at the numbers for the past four years of September events, looking at just the titles involved:
Overall, female creators comprised only 4% of the creative teams on the "Futures End" books. This is appalling tiny; the lowest total before this year was 8%. Hitting only half of your previous low is rather terrible. However, the numbers by category tell an interesting story.
Individually, a lot of the numbers are roughly comparable to what we've seen before. Cover artists' 2.5% is miniscule, but in the normal range. Writers posting 6.1% is actually near last year's high, while the poor numbers for pencilling and inking are about what we've seen in other years, excluding 2013's outlier fueled totals. Colorists were noticeably down from the past low and editors fell slightly, but there was actually a female letterer this year.
The real culprit appears to be assistant editors. There were no female assistant editors on any of the "Futures End" books. The numbers had been in decline, falling to 22.7% last year after a couple of years at 37%, but now they're all gone. There's not a single female assistant editor working on DC Comics' superhero books right now. Not in September, and not next month in October either. They've all left.
For full editors on superhero titles, there's only one woman on the superhero books, Rachel Gluckstern on a variety of Bat-books. All of the other female editorial credits you saw in DC's full stats earlier in the article were from DC's digital first, kids, licensed, and Vertigo lines, and there aren't a lot of them. I've mentioned DC's recent drops in assistant editors before, and here we can clearly see where the numbers have disappeared from. The previously robust numbers from the superhero books are gone entirely.
Assistant editors used to be DC's best category for female representation, and by far, but now it's often third. This drop is the key factor in dragging down DC's overall numbers as of late, and doesn't bode well for DC for the near future. The solicits show DC boasting above average numbers of female writers and artists in the months to come, but the editorial drop off has DC at such a deficit that I'm not sure that potential record high numbers elsewhere will do a whole lot to boost their overall total into even their past average range of 11% or so.
Assistant editors aside, most of the "Futures End" numbers are embarrassingly low. One letterer and a few writers mark the only categories with above average representation, and the totals there are still tiny. Only one female penciller and no inkers is terrible, and the totals for female colorists are remarkably weak. As always, DC Comics has forgotten how to hire women when it comes to their big events, when their sales go up and the publicity is high, and it's very disheartening to see this trend continue.
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.