On Sunday, there was a Women in Comics panel that wasn’t announced in the Wizard World printed program. I only found out about it because a friend of mine, Katie Cook (who’s done some recent work for Dark Horse), was on it. Because it sounded rather impromptu, I figured most of the panelists would be in the up-and-coming category, but Gail Simone and DC Coordinating Editor Jann Jones were also there. Spider-Man too, but he was in the audience.
To be candid, I was a little concerned about the direction the panel was going to go. I’d like to live in a world where a Women in Comics panel isn’t necessary because women in comics isn’t a big deal. But it still is a big deal, so I went, partly to support Katie, but mostly because I was curious about the direction of the discussion.
And as long as I’m being all open and stuff, I’ll also tell you that I got way too into the panel and didn’t take any notes. I’m kicking myself for it now, but at the time I just wanted to drink in the atmosphere, because it was awesome. There was very little us-versus-them and Simone affirmed my feelings when she said she didn’t often think about the concept of “women in comics” except for when she was asked to be on panels like this one.
There was some public wishing that women could be more realistically depicted, but there was far more praise for how far the industry has come so far. And there was also wishing that men could be portrayed more realistically along with the women.
At one point, Jones gave an emotional defense against the idea that – as one independent creator put it to her – DC is “rape central.” She was appalled and offended by that description and when she quoted it, so was the rest of the panel. As Jones tells it, there was a lot of thought and care put into Identity Crisis and Jones had nothing but praise for her experience at DC so far.
It was moments like that that defined the panel. There were no punches pulled about how far the industry needs to go, but the tone was one of celebrating accomplishments and determination to build on them. Made me proud to be in the room.