Irish Comic Book Month

We’re mid-way through March, and I figured I should mention that this month has been designated Irish Comic Book Month.

You can keep up with what’s going on at Irish Comic News, which is the best web site for news/information/sneak peeks of the work of Irish comic book artists & writers.

Last night, to celebrate Irish Comic Book Month, Lightning Strike organised a talk discussing Irish Comic Book production. The guests included Declan Shalvey, Stephen Mooney, Robert Curley, Darrin O’Toole, Robert Carey, and Ciarán Marcantonio. The Lecture was held in Trinity College, Dublin, and from what I understand there was a great turn-out for it. (The audio from the event is available on The Pubcast web site.)

I’m delighted that there is interest and support for the burgeoning comic book community in Ireland. I’m disheartened and disappointed that last night’s panel did not feature any women.

As an Irish woman who writes comics and reads them, this hits me hard. It offers no representation for women producing work in the field. I would not expect this invisibling of women in my country in 2013.

Here’s just a small sample of women who could have appeared:

  • Maeve Clancey – best known for her web comic Flatmates, which she started in 2008, Maeve is also an illustrator, and recently has been been doing large pop-up art installations.
  • Leeann Hamiliton – has self-published four issues of her hilarious Finn & Fish comic – a manga-style story of Finn McChumaill’s relationship to his Fishy guide and their mad adventures. Issue 1 is available to read online until St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Anthea West – self-published her graphic novel The Earthbound God late last year. Anthea is currently running an Indigogo campaign for a modest sum to get more copies printed, as she’s sold out! The comic is also being put up online for free for Irish Comic Book month.
  • Naomi Bolger – draws her self-published comic The Helix Comic (written by Ryan O’Connor), which is about the fun adventures of a group of mutant superheroes. Naomi also won Best Indy Irish Artist at the Irish Comic News Awards last year.

I maintain a page on my web site listing women working in comics in the UK and Ireland, and have done so since March 2011, when I first got sick of hearing ‘where are the women in comics?’

Since then Laura Sneddon and I set up a Facebook group for Women in Comics, Europe, and there are well over 200 women subscribers.

I want the day to come when women-centred networks will seem archaic and unnecessary, but we are a long way from achieving parity in how our work is promoted, or even getting a look-in at a panel at an industry event.

Recently VIDA (women in literary arts) conducted its third audit of how much coverage is devoted to women authors in literary magazines, and how many women reviewers are working in these publications. The numbers are awful – we’ve seen no real increase since VIDA started pointing out how skewed it is against women.

This is an old problem, which persists despite women repeatedly highlighting the issue, and asking for better representation.

I want a day when I do not have to ask for equal representation.