Ladydrawers and Women’s Employment In Comics

Because I wrote about She-Hulk and Judge Dredd yesterday, both comics that portray women particularly well, I wanted to pass along some credit to a project that’s become my new obsession: the Ladydrawers column at Truthout. Run by Anne Elizabeth Moore and MariNomi, the project, which launched a year ago, examines everything from how women break into the industry to how they’re portrayed in it. It’s beautifully illustrated intellectual ammunition. In the introduction, they replicate some of the work that Vida’s done for women’s bylines in literary journals, but with comics, and discover that indie Fantagraphics actually publishes a smaller percentage of work by women than Marvel. They come up with other ways to examine inequality in the industry, too, including a count that shows women author comics pages in a lower proportion than you’d expect given their employment at different companies: men, it seems, are getting more work per creator published. They’re clear about what it takes to develop methodology for these measurements, and that they’re still trying. And most recently they did a big survey about who’s submitting work and who’s getting published, and found that while 56 percent of their male respondents had submitted work and 75 percent of those creators said they’d had work published, 55 percent of female respondents had submitted work, but of those, only 57 percent had their work published. The series is ongoing, and I’m glad to see Truthout’s publishing it. Vida’s very specific measurements of women in magazines have made it so that industry can’t claim generalizations don’t apply to them. Ladydrawers could help do the same for comics.