Among all of the panels that I managed to attend over Comic Con weekend, one of my favorites was undoubtedly Oxygen’s Women of Marvel panel. In case you missed it, I live-tweeted most of the panel on our twitter feed (I tried to use the #WomenofMarvel hashtag for most of it, but you can just go back a bit on our feed to find the play-by-play), but it got me thinking so much that I had to write about it as well.
I had the pleasure of talking to Christina Strain (Runaways, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane) this past weekend at SDCC, and while I was always planning on attending the panel, the genuine excitement and passion that she showed for her work and for the art pretty much solidified the fact that I’d be there. Truthfully, chatting with her was one of my favorite parts of the weekend, but I digress.
While one of the main themes discussed was the fact that the panel shouldn’t have to exist in the first place and that the industry should be more focused on stories and on writing and less on who is doing them. If the story and the writing are good, and the art is good, the readership will follow, regardless of whether or not the creators or the characters are female. The point was made by Marjorie Liu (X-23) that currently, Marvel’s only female lead comic, X-23, is not only doing well in sales, but has actually seen an increase in readership. (Actually, there’s also Spider-Girl, but Liu’s point is still valid.)
Why are there so few female-lead titles? Yes, DC has Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and a few other titles, but by comparison, female-lead titles are dwarfed by the sheer number of male-lead titles. Is it because the assumption is that the assumed predominately male readership won’t respond to those comics? Are they seen as a risk? Liu suggested that “female-lead comics are being made for all the wrong reasons”, and that the problem is the lack of a good story. The precedent of poorly written female-lead stories leads the publishers to believe that the female lead is the cause of poor readership, so fewer titles get published. It’s a great point, and it makes me wonder what exactly will have to happen for something like this to be reversed.
There were a number of other great points made by the audience and panelists, like the lack of female-fit clothes in the Marvel store (why haven’t the bigwigs put together that a- girls read comics and b- sometimes girls really like to shop?) and that the whole “Women in Refrigerators” controversy is antiquated, as there have been far more male characters killed and tortured and brought back to life than female characters on the whole. (And quite frankly, I agree.) And Janna O’Shea’s love of Medusa was so contagious that I’m probably going to find myself looking up her every appearance sometime in the near future.
All in all, this year’s Women of Marvel panel was a fantastic time and there was a decent turn-out (and some fantastic Black Widow cosplay), but in the end, I’m going to have to agree with the panelists: I really hope that sometime soon, there’s no need for the panel to exist anymore, and that we can focus more on “people” in comics.