It is amazing to see the number of women that attend comic conventions these days. Maybe their inclusion is more pronounced to those of us that were attending comic cons thirty years ago when seeing a woman at a comic con was akin to spotting a Yeti on the beach.
Women abound at cons these days and though those that participate in cosplay seem to get all of the media attention because of their skimpy costumes and exhibitionistm portrayals of sexy characters, it is more than comforting to see the growing numbers of women that are comic creators, readers, bloggers, and collectors.
At the Asbury Park Comic Convention, two of the many highlights for me involved the presence of women at the show.
Meeting the extraordinarily talented illustrator, Stephanie Buscema was a thrill. She carries on the tremendous legacy of her grandfather, John Buscema, and great uncle, Sal Buscema, both gentlemen legends in the comic book industry. Though she bears the mantle of comic book royalty, she does so while maintaining her own individuality with her unique and refreshing retro style.
Lining up to meet Ms. Buscema was the other surprise of the show, a parade of female fans of all ages. They were not there just for her but her beautiful art was a magnet that attracted the ladies like a moth to a flame. Those same women soaked up everything at the show with the same enthusiasm that was once only expected from the old “boys club.” Mothers with children in tow, Grandmothers wearing Batman swag, teenagers, tweens and toddlers of the female persuasion were all there genuinely showing an interest in comics and not because they were dragged there by a dad, husband or boyfriend.
I don’t know why I am always surprised to see waves of women at conventions. I guess I fall prey to the stereotyping as easily as anyone because I do remember quite vividly those early days of comic conventions that were attended so sparsely by women. I am well aware, however, that women have played a significant role in comics for decades and it is about time that they share the limelight with the men.
Our newly released second volume of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is a testimonial to the efforts of some of the women that played pioneering roles in the history of comics featuring a long list of interviews that were originally published in 1984 and 1985.
Harking back to the earliest days of the Silver Age, Marvel Comics’ very own Gal Friday, Flo Steinberg gives us an intimate look at what life was like in the fabled Bullpen and talks about her own attempt at independent publishing with the anthology Big Apple Comix.
Maggie Thompson, one of the earliest pioneers of comic fandom along with her husband Don, describes the dawn of fandom through her experience evolving fanzines into trade periodicals as she chronicles the early history of the recently retired Comics Buyers Guide.
Marvel Sales Director, Carol Kalish, discusses Marvel’s role in the structuring of the young Direct Market and revolutionary marketing programs that she was responsible for implementing that impact the industry to this day.
A young Colleen Doran talks about the development her comic creation A Distant Soil that is still in publication twenty-eight years later!
Influential editors Karen Berger, Jo Duffy and Cat Yronwode give their take on their responsibilities guiding creators at DC, Marvel and Eclipse respectively.
Round it out with creative insight from T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents writer, Mary Bierbaum and American Flagg colorist Leslie Zahler and there is clear evidence to the significant roles that women played in comics for a long time.
Of course these special women are just a percentage of more than seventy subjects who’s interviews are packed into this one volume but they stand out dramatically among the scads of men that are generally associated with comics.
So next time the question is asked, “Where have all the women in comics come from?” Remember that their numbers have risen from a strong foundation of pioneers that have been in the trenches for a long, long time.
Making Comics Because We Want to,