Here it is, the next in our 10 Reasons to Support Bitch Media Series:
#3. You deserve comics that highlight women who have made critical contributions to society.
We all deserve history that comes alive. To me, the best stories are the ones with weird and sometimes awkward details that we can relate to. Whether it's Betsy Ross allegedly sewing stars on a flag, George Washington allegedly chopping down a cherry tree (I know…ugh!) or Flannery O'Connor becoming obsessed with peacocks (YES), semi-historical stories can flesh out characters in a way that makes them relatable and inspiring (come on, I know you all wish you had an army of peacocks).
And illustration can provide imaginative, real or even fantasized, over-the-top details that tell a second story. Illustration also makes complex issues and stories easier to digest and relate to.
The great folks at Ladydrawers (who we've written about and published before) have done some excellent work fleshing out the demographics of women in comics, and as Kelsey wrote last fall, it's depressing news, but the comic makes it a little easier to swallow.
Not only are publishers of note skewing characters heavily towards stereotypes and hetero-male-fantasy characters, but the demographics of the staff doing the editing and publishing are also skewed. As the Ladydrawers team has pointed out, one might imagine that if there were more diversity in the industry, there might be more diversity in the images we see in these stories…better superheroes, potentially wearing more functional superhero costumery and kicking ass in ways we're excited about. And this could spark the imaginations of a new generation of draw-ers, to create a wider range of representations of stories of all kinds.
It's hard to be interested in stories when you don't see yourself in them (this is why I gravitate towards the offbeat and the strange). These stories are more memorable because they're more real. It's also hard to imagine yourself working in a creative industry that doesn't have room for you. So, we're trying to create a little bit of room.
History is rich with stories that can be fleshed out and reimagined, and we try to do that in our Adventures in Feministory series, but also by supporting comics and illustration as much as we can. This past year, I've worked with 25+ illustrators and comics artists directly in the printed magazine, and we've published more stories and comics features online. We're showcasing some of our favorite illustrators (like Elisha Lim, Jennifer Cruté, Leslie A. Wood, Jing Wei, and Yoswadi Krutklom) and a new series of merch featuring feminist groundbreakers in our shop, and we're supporting projects like the anthology The Big Feminist BUT and attending our local and regional comics and zine festivals to be sure our voice is part of the conversation. We're working with our art idols (like Mimi Pond) and folks like Sarah Mirk (of Oregon History Comics) to tell both fun and complex stories. You deserve all of this, and more.
I believe strongly that this is work worth making. These stories are fun to make, and fun to read. These amazing artists have worked with us (as we do) on non-profit budgets, because they love us and believe our magazine and blog is a great place to be seen and heard. But comics ARE work, and telling good graphic stories takes lifelong practice and education and re-education, and art supplies, and research and so much time. These artists work with us because they love what they do and they love what we do, yes. And a dentist may love working on teeth, but you don't ask your dentist to work on yours for free “because it's fun.”
So, put your dollar where your heart is, and help us publish more of this work. You deserve it, the artists deserve it, and I would like to be able to say without a doubt that comics with “feminist” in the title WILL sell. I know they will, because I'm honestly just not THAT unique, and I'm buying.