October 18, 2011

NYCC: Womanthology Panel

I went to New York for the first time last weekend, and of course, it was for a comic convention. Seriously. I may need an intervention. I did the normal convention stuff - like wandering the exhibit hall photographing toys and costumes - in addition to eating greasy New York pizza in a fancy dress and going to the top of the Empire State Building (not necessarily in that order). The lines and amount of Things To Do were such that I didn't get to as many panels as I'd like, but I did make it a point to go to the Womanthology panel.

If you're into comics, you may have heard of the Womanthology anthology. It's the little Kickstarter project that could. Artist Renae de Liz put a tweet out in the universe last May. She asked who would be interested in creating an all female comic anthology just to see what the response would be like. And it was overwhelming. One hundred women replied with a resounding yes on Twitter. The industry is obviously ready to see a showcase of women creators. She gathered 155 women and started a Kickstarter page for the project. They asked for $25,000 to print the book (no contributors to the book are getting paid - it's a charity project). They raised over $100,000.
Yeah.

Some of the editors of the book were present at NYCC to talk about the experience: Laura Morley, Bonnie Burton, Mariah Huehner, Nicole Falk, Suzannah Rowntree, and Renae de Liz. The group is diverse. These women are writers, editors, artists, and a few of them have never edited or written comic scripts before. They discussed the history of the project, how it was rewarding, and the future of women and comics - both the creators and the presence of female characters.

Womanthology welcomed experienced professionals and newcomers to its contributor ranks. de Liz allowed creators to choose partners, and then she intentionally paired the more seasoned writers and artists with folks with less experience so everyone could learn. The panelists learned from editing large groups, and they loved seeing the women inspire each other. Burton stated, "This project proved that women can work on project together and not kill each other." They've pulled it together fast. For a project that just started in May and involves over 100 contributors, it's nothing short of astounding that all of the artwork is already in. Huehner said, "The breadth and creativity involved has been wonderful to see as the project's progressed."

One key part of Womanthology is diversity. Most panelists felt that detail is one that is overlooked in the discussion of women in comics. We're diverse, but it's not always represented in the industry. To that point, no two stories in the collection are the same. The pages are filled with different characters, different genres, and different styles of storytelling and art. As Huehner stated, "Women like stuff." It's that simple.

The message Womanthology sends is a positive one, and it's not focused on gender. The take away from this project is: if you don't see the stories you want to read, if you don't see female (or male) characters that you think are just right, get out there and write your own. Tell your story in whatever way you can - a blog, a web comic, pen and paper. Just tell it. I walked away with a renewed desire to create. I have a feeling the book will make many people feel the same.

Keep up with the latest news on the Womanthology project here.

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