I saw a fascinating article up on the Washington Post yesterday, discussing the gender gap regarding publishing — which I would imagine could be extrapolated to all its forms, including comics.
The title? Appropriately enough: “The key to literary success? Be a man — or write like one.” Now, there’s been maxims tossed around about romance-starved women buying Nora Roberts books and chewing up advertising space with soap opera consumption, but Julianna Baggott has a different theory:
In my grad school thesis, written at 23, you’ll find young men coming of age, old men haunted by war, Oedipus complexes galore. If I’d learned nothing else, it was this: If you want to be a great writer, be a man. If you can’t be a man, write like one…
When I invented the pen name N.E. Bode for “The Anybodies,” a trilogy for younger readers, I had to choose to be a man or a woman. The old indoctrination kicked in. I picked man. The trilogy did well, shortlisted in a People magazine summer pick, alongside Bill Clinton and David Sedaris. I was finally one of the boys.
The whole article is well worth a read. There’s another thought in here that really is good food for thought that can be extrapolated to comics nowadays — we have Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, J. Michael Straczynski, Ed Brubaker, Jason Aaron representing the Y chromosome. But on the other side, with Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, Marjorie Liu and Nicola Scott, as Baggott says, women being listed as concessions?
Something interesting based on the Girl Comics announcement from awhile back is that many of the women writing aren’t really being seen in a regular monthly comic nowadays — you have diehards like Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti and the return of talent like Kathryn Immonen and Devin Grayson, but you aren’t regularly seeing them in the spotlight the same way you are a Bendis or a Johns.
And another tangent that springs to mind: could you spring the argument in the other direction, and argue that male writers with a penchant for strong female characters — let’s use Greg Rucka, as my arbitrary definition as the leader of the pack in this regard — is it them “writing like a woman”? How would this explain things like, say, Wonder Woman sales, or sales on the buzzworthy Detective Comics? I’m curious as to the discussion that could come from this — what say you, Rama readers?
[Hat tip to Johanna]