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What happens when a comic convention plans a panel devoted to women in comics, but forgets to invite any women to appear on the panel? Two things, it turns out: The Internet pours appropriate scorn on the idea, and others step in to fill the void.
The convention in question was last weekend’s Denver ComicCon, which as ComicsAlliance pointed out, held a panel called “Women in Comics — Creators and Characters” that was intended to discuss “many of the popular female characters from the beginning of the superhero mid-1930s comics [and] focus on some of the women that were able to break in [to] the mostly all-male club of creating comics during that time.” The problem? The panelists were all men.
(Well, that was one of the problems, at least; as an attendee shared, one of the panelists apparently explained the lack of female creators in superhero comics by saying that “girls get bored with comics easily.”)
While the response online has been somewhere between disappointed and dismissive, the response at the convention itself was more pro-active: Female creators and journalists at the con simply organized their own panel a couple of days later.
As BleedingCool editor-in-chief Hannah Means-Shannon — herself one of the panelists on the “flash panel” in question — explained, “We planned it to be held in an atrium of the convention center if we could not get a room assigned in time, and failing that, if security were unhappy with a large gathering in a central space, we were going to set it for just after the con in our nearby hotel. Something was going to happen no matter what. We were going to create a gathering.”
Organized by Means-Shannon, cartoonist Trina Robbins and playwright Crystal Skillman, the panel also featured DC Entertainment writer and artist Amanda Conner, DC and Marvel writer Marguerite Bennett, Buffy the Vampire Slayer artist Meghan Hetrick, Lady Killer artist Joëlle Jones and journalist Emily Singer. According to Means-Shannon, the panelists “talked, and not in anger. We laughed a lot, to the point where it occurred to me that you have to have a sense of humor as a woman to survive in comics.” (BleedingCool published audio of the panel Thursday.)
While the existence of the original male-only “Women in Comics” panel is at best an unfortunate and embarrassing oversight, Robbins, Skillman and Means-Shannon should be applauded for coming up with an alternative so quickly. Here’s hoping such speedy organization isn’t needed in future.
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