Sunday, July 23, 2017

SDCC 2017: Women of Marvel Panel Discussion

By: Nicole D'Andria

Today the recurring WOMEN OF MARVEL panel discussion continued at the San Diego Comic Con. It was led by Marvel's content development director Sana Amanat and producer Judy Stephens. Alongside several panelists, they discussed working in the comic book industry as a woman and what this means for the future of the industry.

Special guests included women from different parts of the creative process at Marvel: 
  • Rainbow Rowell (writer for Runaways relaunch, Eleanor, Fangirl)
  • Christina Strain (colorist for Runaways, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane)
  • Alanna Smith (assistant editor for Uncanny Avengers, Captain America: Sam Wilson, Captain America Steve Rogers)

The panel began by mentioning Stan Lee’s former assistant, Flo Steinberg, who recently passed away. Stan Lee and Flo Steinberg were Marvel’s first two employees. She was pivotal in building Marvel from the ground up.

Amanat went on to talk about the continued progress of women in comics. Regarding the number of female led titles, she remarked, “We had zero nine years ago. Now we have 19 with a few more in development!" Hopefully that number will continue to grow since the WOMEN OF MARVEL panel at NYCC last year remarked that Marvel had 23 female led titles, meaning there has been a slight decrease. 

Generation X #1 Cover

Strain talked about Generation X #5 spotlighting Eyeboy and Nature Girl and the next few issues will feature Jubilee. Tamaki talked about She-Hulk and her role in Hulk #11, which involved the dating scene. Then Rowell mentioned her Runaways relaunch. It’s interesting that the first few series brought up were not solo female led titles but teams books or females guest-starring in their male counterpart’s books. 

A major female comic book figure mentioned was Captain Marvel. The panelists called Captain marvel the “standard bearer” for the Women of Marvel. It was mentioned, however, that it was because of Steve Roger’s fall that Carol Danvers was given a chance to become one of Marvel’s top heroes. Wasn't she one of Marvel’s top heroes before? Why did someone else need to fall for her to accomplish that?

Then the panelists mentioned Riri Williams and Ms. Marvel, who both got the audience very excited. It’s amazing to even the panelists how much interest there is in these characters; Amanat even commented that she thought Ms. Marvel would be canceled by issue nine. She also couldn’t imagine publishing Squirrel Girl before, but during SDCC this year it won an Eisner. I believe that these books doing so well for Marvel is a good sign that the future of Marvel will be filled with more diverse characters and more series that people used to think were impossible to achieve.

Marvel Legacy #1 Amy Reeder Variant

Breaking away from the world in comics to the world outside of them, the panelists were commenting about the sexism surrounding the comic book industry. According to them, the male creators at Marvel have treated them as equals. Smith mentioned she gets criticism from the outside world, but Marvel helps her deal with it by "insulating" her. She advises that, when dealing with the criticism, "You know how much work you put into it, how much love you put into it. That helps deal with those comments." Cink responds by sending troll links to the books she has written, which makes me smile. 

Some poignant final thoughts when dealing with vocal critics from Stephens were: "Don't be afraid to speak up, and don't be afraid to be yourself." Amanant ended the panel with: “When you know who the villains are, then it's time to be a hero.”

So with previously impossible titles becoming possible, it sounds like Marvel is on its way to an even more diverse and creative future.

What did you think about the panel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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