Comic books are a storytelling format with the added bonus of eye-catching, artistic creations alongside the story. Because of the broad range of topics written about, comics were once fairly even in terms of gender demographics. But, with the rise of the super-hero comic starting near the late 50s, target audiences started shifting towards male readers. And, with that, authors started shifting away from targeting female readers in their stories. Women are constantly marginalized in the entertainment and comic book industry, as are female readers. But there’s plenty of hope out there for female fans in the industry, as plenty of women are proving why we deserve a seat at the table. Here are some of those bad-ass women, as seen at SDCC 2019, showing us why some female perspective rocks!
You may recognize Hannah Beachler from the Oscars this year. Beachler is the first African-American to be nominated in the category for Best Production Design, AND the first to take home the prize! Her work on Black Panther found Hannah overseeing a $30 million dollar art budget, along with a crew of hundreds. She worked hard to create the Afrofuturism design of the film, a style blending the incorporation of black history and culture with science fiction. These films are, as discussed by Ashley Clark at The Guardian, “united by one key theme: the centering of the international black experience in alternate and imagined realities.”
Beachler spoke at SDCC’s ‘Women of the Hollywood Art Department’ panel. On top of Black Panther, she also worked on films like Creed, Moonlight, and Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade. Her inspiring acceptance speech from the Oscars was a reminder to women everywhere to keep pursuing dreams. “And when you think it’s impossible, just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: I did my best, and my best is good enough.”
Candela S. Rebot
Appearing at the ‘Build a Better World Through Gaming (A Women in Gaming panel)’ session at SDCC, Rebot spoke about her experiences as a creative lead and founder of Sparkd Studios. At Sparkd, Rebot works with the Esports industry and helps manage event and content production. Most of Rebot’s background focuses on art direction and design. She holds multiple certifications, including a diploma in Web & Mobile Design, and a Digital Art Certification. Esports is a fast-growing market, with sources estimating that revenue will triple by 2022 and hit $2.96 billion. For Rebot to utilize such an innovative space says a lot about her talent as a designer, but also as a savvy businesswoman.
Trina Robbins is an American cartoonist who became a key participant in the underground comix movement. This movement sought to push small press and self-published comics, often focusing on hot-topics of the day, including satire. Many of these comics published things that were often taboo or forbidden in mainstream comics, such as sexuality, overt violence, and explicit drug use. Robbins was one of the only women participating in the movement at the time, but she made a point in her career to focus on the promotion of fellow female comic artists. In addition to her many other achievements, in the 1980s she became the first female artist to draw for Wonder Woman.
Robbins spoke at this year’s ‘Sassy Smart Women of Pre-Super Hero Comics’ during SDCC. In addition to speaking at panels that promote feminism in the comic sphere, she also co-founded ‘Friends of Lulu’. This is a non-profit that promotes comic readership by women and girls. ‘Friends of Lulu’ also encourages women to be more active in the creation of storytelling, whether it’s in the form of comics or not.
Sana Amanat is an artist who draws from her personal experiences to create beautiful stories. Growing up with her Pakistani immigrant parents in New Jersey, she often felt out of place and alienated. She struggled with issues of self-identity and fitting in, trying to cope with the fact that she did not look the way that most girls around her did. Amanat grew up to use her unique identity and background to her advantage. In 2009, she joined Marvel Comics. She speaks about her success at Marvel to her sharing a voice with the world that is different from what most comic readers are to hearing. Amanat currently works as the VP of content and character development at Marvel. Some of her credits include Ms. Marvel, Elektra, and Daredevil, to name a few.
Amanat used her experience and position in the industry to host the ‘Women of Marvel: 10 Years and 200 Episodes’ panel at SDCC. She is proof that the comic world around us is changing. We’re consistently seeing more diversity in the industry, from Marvel films to comics.
A Comic Industry Revolution
It was found in a recent study that 37% of comics are bought by women. This same study found that most female superhero buyers tend to be much younger than men buying comic books. Perhaps incredible feminist icons such as those listed here have something to do with it. Having girls see content creators that look and think like them can mean the world to a young reader. These SDCC women are pushing boundaries and reminding us why it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and to fight to tell your own stories.
Featured image via Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank
Meghan Hale is a graduate student living right outside of Toronto, Canada. She has always been the go-to gal for talking about anything film related and has a frustratingly long list of movie trivia up her sleeve. She is currently working on her first screenplay, as well as a horror novel, with the goal of publishing it while Stephen King is still around to read it.