A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Gender and Comics Distribution

Welcome back to Don’t Be a Dick, The Ladydrawers Comics Collective’s in-depth look at comics and gender diversity, presented in partnership with Bitch Media.

This is the fifth in a series of six original Don’t Be a Dick comics about the comics industry, all written by Janelle Asselin, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore, and drawn by six great artists. Artist Melissa Mendes drew this month’s strip, which is a look behind the scenes at how comic books actually get into stores. 


a comic on distribution within the comics industry

About the creators: 

Melissa Mendes is an artist based in Massachusetts who makes comics and does illustration, among other things. 

From little houses on the prairies of Nebraska and Iowa to the posh Chicago suburbs to the mean (gentrified) streets of Brooklyn to sunny Glendale, California, Janelle Asselin has carried her nerdity everywhere with her. Janelle has been a video gamer for at least 26 years, a comics fan for 20 years, and an editor of comic-type things for seven years. She’s worked at comic shops, comics news sites, and comics publishers like Fangoria Comics, DC Comics, and Disney. She’s written a book about selling comics to women and has a weekly column at ComicsAlliance.com featuring female creators on the rise. 

Born in Winner, South Dakota, cultural critic Anne Elizabeth Moore founded the Best American Comics series for Houghton Mifflin and edited The Comics Journal before fostering the insanity that is The Ladydrawers. She’s also a prolific writer of word-books including Unmarketable (The New Press), Cambodian Grrrl, and New Girl Law (Cantankerous Titles). Her work has appeared in The BafflerJacobinAl Jazeera, and Salon, and she is the comics editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

The Ladydrawers Comics Collective (AKA “The Ladydrawers”) is an unofficially affiliated group of women, men, transgender, and non-binary gender folk who research, perform, and publish comics and texts about how economics, race, sexuality, and gender impact the comics industry, other media, and our culture at large. We’re doing another series at Truthout called “Our Fashion Year,” finishing up our documentary Comics Undressed, and travelling the world talking about gender and race diversity in comics. You can send us samples of your work or look over the Don’t Be a Dick artist’s roster here

Read more installments of Don’t Be a Dick comics here

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

mmmm... I have been reading

mmmm... I have been reading comics for 25 years. I never felt unwelcome into any comic book shop because I happened to be a woman. Sometimes the first visit can be awkward but everybody recover rapidly once they realize that I really enjoy this art form and I am not there to find a boyfriend. And I actually like comic book shops as they are. Some of the best discoveries came out of convos stricken with guys at the store about what rocked their boat or what rocked mine. I like the nitpicking and the passionate debates about the merits of one work over another. There is at time a form of snobbism, but its not gender related. People hanging in comic book stores are often like the character of Jack Black in High Fidelity. Comic book stores are not like your typical, sanitized retail store. Most people working there, most employees and clients are fans and regulars, and take pride in being knowledgeable. That is how independent music and book stores used to be: a place where you could actually learn, exchange, debate, ask for recommendations. One of the last time I went into a book store and asked for the latest Tom Robbins, the clerk looked at me with glazed eyes: disappointing. In my experience, most men respect women when they know what they talk about and share a genuine passion. They are idiots everywhere, but I don't see how this should stop anybody to do what they want, including buying and reading comic books. While this series is very good to introduce newbies to comic books, I think the feminist slant mostly discuss a non-issue, at least for readers. I am not sure where the gender barrier comes from, but as in music and literature, there are less creative works by female artists standing on their own merits. I don't want to read a book written by a woman, I want to read a good book, period. Hopefully, over time, the barriers stunting the development of women as artists will completely disappear and we will see many more reaching their full potential.

I agree with this

I agree with this comment.

The article starts informative and then starts to Sterotype comic shops and their workers, implying we Sterotype women readers!

The fact is in my experience most comic shops have at least one female staff member or in many cases owner.

It is much more likley that if a staff member has been rude to you he has been rude to EVERYONE, not just because you are a woman.

"In my experience, most men

"In my experience, most men respect women when they know what they talk about and share a genuine passion."

But see, here's where I have the issue. You should respect a person EVEN IF you don't share a genuine passion and/or don't know all the in's and out's and "trivia" and AU storylines of a particular title. Same goes for music or whatever or any creative Thing. When someone doesn't know jack shit about your interests, it's the perfect time to SHARE knowledge about said interest, not hold it above the other's head with a derisive look on your face...

I think its hard to have

I think its hard to have respect for anybody who wants to participate in any culture because its the cool thing to do, because you can make money if you jump on the trend at the right time, because its an easy way to meet the opposite sex, etc...in fact, for all the wrong reasons.

That being said, in the past few days, I did some readings about the comic culture from the female artists point of view, and I was surprised on how horrendous it seems to be. No wonder there are so few women in the industry. Its something I did not experienced as a reader, and frankly, its pretty shameful if its rampant. In any case, I will make more efforts to find titles involving with women artists.

customers in a comic shop

customers in a comic shop aren't there to make money., and really, what is the problem with someone investigating a trend and seeing if they're into it? I wasn't born into DIY punk rock, I wasn't born into comics, I wasn't born into liking time travel narratives or horror movies.

it's actually really easy to respect people who are interested in comics for whatever reason they're interested. you don't gain anything by judging them so why bother?

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