Denver Comic Con Holds “Women in Comics” Panel… Sans Any Women

Normally when one sees a panel called “Women in Comics” at a convention (whose description includes saying it will be an introduction to women comic creators at the con) you assume there will be at least one actual person identifying as a woman on the panel.

Well, at Denver Comic Con this last weekend, not so much.

You see, Denver Comic Con decided it was best to run a “Women in Comics” panel with just three male panelists. One attendee says that when she asked why there weren’t any women on the panel, she was told by the panelists it was because “they didn’t know any.”

Given that comics historian Trina Robbins was a guest at the event, it’s kind of hard to understand why she wasn’t at least asked to join. Or why the panelists were unaware that she existed.

Comics Alliance contacted Denver Comic Con and got this response from Jason Jansky of DStreet PR:

In regards to the Women in Comics panel, I think it’s important to point out that it was a panel that took an historical view of women characters in comic books rather than the current role of women creators in the industry or diversity in comics – of which DCC has many with appropriately diverse panels. The Women in Comics panel was a submitted panel that featured respected academics on the subject.

A reading of the panel description indicates that the panel was not about current women creators or anything to do with industry bias. “With the female interest in comics increasing lately, this panel discusses many of the popular female characters from the beginning of the superhero mid 1930s comics. Also a focus on some of the women that were able to break in the mostly all male club of creating comics during that time. Includes an introduction to many of the female illustrators/creators attending the convention. Kevin Robinette – Instructor Academy Art University of San Francisco, History of American Comics, Craig Glassen – Art Instructor, Denver area schools, Jason H. Tucker – The Way Interactive graphic novel app.”

Couple of things here – beyond neglecting that one of the eminent women comics historians was already in the building, it clearly says “Includes an introduction to many of the female illustrators/creators attending the convention.” One would assume that any of those women creators might have been a good choice to be on the bloody panel.

Also, I don’t know Jason H. Tucker, but I kind of doubt the purely academic credentials of someone whose only credits listed are development of a piece of software.

I’m just saying.

Honestly, the whole things is ridiculous. I’ve been working conventions from both sides for a couple of decades now, and even if panels are submitted by outsiders, there’s a responsibility on the side of convention organizers to make sure that panelists are actually suited to the topic. If this was submitted by outsiders, at the very minimum the convention should have reached out to the submitters and asked them to include at least one qualified woman to talk.

Or at least told them to pick a different name for the panel.


Update: Apparently women guests at the con, angered by this, went and organized their own Women in Comics panel afterwards.

Via Comics Alliance

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

One thought on “Denver Comic Con Holds “Women in Comics” Panel… Sans Any Women

  • May 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I just read the article over on Comics Alliance, and the end of the article brings up a good point; if you’re not a member of a group, should you be disallowed to have a panel regarding the history of that group?

    The answer, for me, is no, and why this was STILL wrong is in the convention’s responses. One of @GeekChristy’s tweets mentions that she asked why there weren’t women, and it was basically that it was a last-minute addition (in addition to the “we don’t know any”) response.

    Now, assuming the panelists have the qualifications to speak on the subject, having a panel of all men would be fine, EXCEPT for Trina Robbins being at the convention. It is beyond me to believe that the panelists (since the convention is pushing it off on them) were unaware of who the guests of the convention were, and that the convention wouldn’t help facilitate putting them in contact with her, when the subject of the panel is EXPLICITLY what her expertise is in.

    Now, perhaps her schedule didn’t accommodate the panel, or perhaps there wasn’t enough time before the panel for her and the panelists to meet to work out what each person would cover in the panel. But if that was the situation, wouldn’t the response have been “the panel was last-minute, and there wasn’t time to arrange for female panelists to join us,” not “the panel was last-minute, and we don’t know any women in comics”?


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