I attended the Women in Comics panel Monday morning at Dragon Con. Panelists included Jami Jones, director of comics programming at Atlanta’s Momocon, Megan Hutchison, artist on Rockstars, Babs Tarr, an artist currently on Motor Crush, and Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of Bitch Planet. I expected a panel celebrating the contributions of women to the comic industry. I attended a few at New York Comic-Con but never one at Dragon Con. Instead, we all saw something quite different.
We’ve seen numerous examples of Women in Comics panels with only men or a majority male panel at other conventions. Each instance is followed by an uproar on social media. The convention apologizes and another similar panel happens somewhere else. Unbeknownst to the audience and even the panelists until the day before, Kelly Sue DeConnick decided to combat this. She changed the panel into a Men in Comics panel. What followed was a satirical take on the conversations men have often had about female creators, readers, and characters.
Yes, not all men but there are enough to make the industry uncomfortable for many women. Ever been to a panel, part of a conversation or read an article that spoke about women as if they were some strange alien species descending on the comics world? Ever been condescended to by male fans who assumed you didn’t know what you were talking about or that you didn’t belong because women just don’t like this stuff? Ever feel uncomfortable in a conversation objectifying women from creators to characters? This was the panel for you.
The panelists with the audience’s help created a world in which women were the core, respected readership. From this place of privilege, they were free to condescend to help male readers. They shifted objectification to male creators and characters. They held male characters to unreasonable standards. They discussed the possibility of men getting jobs through their more successful significant others. They asked what men want to see in comics. One panelist replied that men are primarily focused on the relationships with the women in their lives. Another said women need to find new and sexy ways to make men appealing while also showing they have interior lives not only about the women around them. Through all of this, they were able to show how truly ridiculous these conversations are when men have them about women in earnest. It was the funniest panel I attended at Dragon Con.
- A side conversation about Kit Harrington’s butt and asking male stars about their diet and workout routines.
- “Brian Bendis wrote this book, Spider-Woman, Agent of SWORD. Think about it. Brian is neither a woman nor a spider. It takes a really powerful imagination in such a small bald body.”
- Batman wad described as “one of those unique men in comics that can carry a franchise and a successful one.”
- Of Dick Grayson, “he’s able to be a hero and still retain his masculinity and that appeals to me as a heterosexual woman.”
What's Your Reaction?
Writer. Podcast contributor. Costume design enthusiast. Lover of fantasy movies from the 1980s and bizarre deep sea creatures. Can be found tweeting about comics, Yuri on Ice, Doctor Who or Star Wars at @jane_anon or on the Nerds of Prey podcast.