The portrayal of women in the medium of comic books is one that has a long, unfortunate history. While there are an increasing number of woman characters and creators, a great deal still needs to be done.
To that end, Lockett Down Productions creator Regine Sawyer began the Women in Comics Convention four years ago, along with Ray Felix of Bronx Heroes. The Shadow League was in attendance for the first day of the WiC Convention at the Bronx Public Library and witnessed an excited crowd of people from all ages and demographic backgrounds.
The Women in Comics Convention is fast becoming a Mecca of woman creators and comic book characters.
“I’ve been doing Women in Comics for a couple of years now,” said Robert Garrett, owner of Xmoor Studios. “I know Regine Sawyer and many in this group of talented women. It’s just great seeing women, African-American, Latino and women as a whole. They’re trying to change the whole visualization of women in comics across the board. It’s not just a man’s world. The market needs to be built on a lot more of the female agenda. We need to focus on that also. “
Upon browsing the works of many talented woman artists, both veterans with decades of experience and talented young neophytes looking to make a name for themselves, it was the talent level, determination and vision of those gathered that was undeniably brilliant, unflinchingly diverse and unquestionably feminine.
I ran into veteran comic book creator Micheline Hess of Malice in Ovenland, who appeared on our TSL Comic Book Convo podcast back last year. She gave her thoughts on the importance of the convention and the scope of its growth of the years.
“This is my second time coming to the Women in Comics Convention at the Bronx Public Library and I’m really glad to get a chance to be a part of this because it is such an essential part of the comic-scape," said Hess. "A lot of time we see things as being very male-dominated because that’s the way it is. There are people who don’t see the need for women to be represented but we are absolutely essential. Women have their own stories to tell that are unique, empowering and are very beautiful and sad and run the whole spectrum. This type of an event really gives us the opportunity to get our work and our voices out there."
Oftentimes the necessity of creating graphic literature with positive, accurately-portrayed women characters is lambasted as being a fight not worth undertaking due to the lack of importance of the media.
“I’m a member of Women in Comics, I teach with graphic novels," said Shamika Ann Mitchell, an Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Rockland. "The importance of Women in Comics is to give a voice to the creators and authors, and also the publishers who are giving a balanced perspective on gender in the graphic novel and comic book industry. Its traditionally been very male-dominated and unfriendly toward female characters. Women in Comics is an opportunity to give a counter-narrative to gender in the comic book publishing industry.”
The changing of narratives, the promotion of women creators and the education of well-meaning but clueless male comic book lovers are just a few of the many attributes of this increasingly popular phenomenon. Check the artwork pulled from the pages of graphic novels by some of the astounding creators who were at this year’s convention.
(Yumi and Ever by Alitha Martinez)
(Malice in Ovenland by Micheline Hess)
(Virgo by Sheeba Maya)
(Ajala by Robert Garrett)