While searching for the perfect show to stream one evening, an interesting title popped up on my Queue list. It showed a Rosie the Rivetter inspired drawing with a paint brush and the title “She Makes Comics” written below it. As an avid fan of documentaries AND comics AND a female, I decided to give it a shot because it might be pretty relatable. I never thought about the comics industry as being a “Boy's Club” but I guess comic characters like Cathy representing the modern women shows that there is room for improvement.
The narration begins with the history of print comics and how children used to read so many comics during the WWII era. At this time, there were many different genres available like romance that could have appealed to girls. In fact, 45% of comic readership were boys and 55% were girls. Then a turn to superhero comics gave rise to the Big Two (Marvel and DC) where the role of women was turned into a damsel.
But the documentary went on to include so much more–it interviewed women who worked as comic artists for the Big Two. It was incredible to discover that Aquaman was drawn by a lady! It also talked about how X-Men comic books from the 1990s focused on character backstories to give many of its females well-rounded personalities. This would explain why characters like Rogue and Psylocke are so intriguing.
In addition, Karen Berger, former editor of Vertigo (DC Comics), was also interviewed and described her role in how she was able to get non-superhero comics like Neil Gaiman's Sandman, that had strong females protagonists, into the mainstream.
Three professional cosplayers gave their insight on the double standard between women and men that are part of a fandom–men are not judged as hard as women if they do not know every little detail about their fandom. The documentary talked about Manga and how it was instrumental in including a female readership by having genres that appealed to girls and women. It even ended with a mention about webcomics and how the Internet has helped leveled the comic playing field for women.
One of the greatest takeaways was how one of the professional comic artists made a statement that people never took her seriously when she said she drew comics, instead people wrote it off as a hobby. However, groups like “Friends of LuLu” have paved the way for women interested in making comics. There has been a noticeable increase in girls applying to art schools and a more supportive atmosphere for female students interested in pursuing the arts.
Joan Hilty, former DC editor said, “You are entering a Golden Age of breaking into comics if you are female.”
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIFZ-tAkqvg
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How the "She Makes Webcomics" Documentary Connected the Dots on the Impact Comics Have Had On My Lifekawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Oct. 23, 2017
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