women in comics at Thought Bubble

At Thought Bubble in Leeds last weekend there was a Women in Comics panel, which has been a regular feature of the event since the festival started five years ago.

It was one of the panels I was very much looking forward to seeing, and guessing it would be a popular event I decided to get on line early. By the time the doors opened there was a huge queue making its way back almost to the door of the hall itself. While I didn’t attend every panel at Thought Bubble it was the longest line for a panel I saw that weekend.

Women in Comics at Thought Bubble

The line-up, from left to right is, Dr. Mel Gibson, Suzy Varty, Gail Simone, Dr. Mary Talbot, Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown and Robin Furth.

Every panel at Thought Bubble was scheduled for 45 minutes, and since the introductions on this panel lasted 30 minutes the remaining 15 minutes did not allow for any in-depth discussion of the issues facing women in the industry. All of the women commented on the difference in the past 10 years in the representation of women at comic book festivals and conventions: both the huge increase in numbers of creators and fans attending the events.

The panellists all agreed that they had not felt any bar to their entry to the industry based on their gender, with a recognition that it’s a tough business to get into – irrespective of gender – and requires a lot of dedication and hard work.

The panel encouraged the women – and men – in the audience that if they felt their stories were not being respresented that they should make them and put them out into the world.

Overall it was an upbeat and positive panel. Still, I was reminded throughout the weekend of the controversy from earlier in the year when the Kapow! comic book convention invited 40 male guests to its convention, and its excuse for the absence of women was that there were no professional women in the British industry.

In response to that I assembled a list of women in the UK and Ireland who have worked in comic books. After Thought Bubble I updated the list, because I want to keep it current. Please let me know if I’m missing any significant names.

It’s a long list. It’s impossible to make the claim any more that women are not interested in comics either as readers or creators. All you have to do is attend an event like Thought Bubble, and see the diversity of talent sitting at the tables selling their comics, and the large numbers of women fans who are attending and/or cosplaying.

And you just have to read an anthology like Nelson, which I reviewed yesterday, which proves women are an active and vibrant part of the UK comic book scene.

I would also encourage women comic book creators to fill in an entry about their work on the Women in Comics Wiki. One of the lessons I’ve learned from analysing these kinds of issues is that women need to raise their profiles online, both individually and collectively.

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