Friday, November 15, 2013

Women, comics, and my experiences.

Due to cartoonist Tess Fowler's accusations towards writer Brian Wood, there has been a big discussion lately about how women are treated in the comics industry. I admit, I don't feel totally qualified to chime in since A. I don't go to conventions, and don't interact with many comic folk in person, B. I'm not a women, and C. I don't really know either person (other than their work) involved here and I have no idea of what happened.

However, I wanted to share my personal experiences mainly because the issue is being painted as an industry wide problem. I'm sure the problem is big, but I think painting the entire industry with a broad brush is unfair.

Let me share some personal stats.

My very first editor ever was Dark Horses' esteemed Diana Schutz. She edited Sin City and Grendel, to name a few. Not only did she give me my first gig, but she kept the door open for me to return to Dark Horse over and over.

The very first editor to give me a shot at Vertigo was the legendary Karen Berger.  She started Vertigo at DC. Let that sink in.

 One of two editors on the most important book of my career, St. Michael's Promise (unreleased), was Sarah Litt. She became the only editor on it, after Jon Vankin had to leave Vertigo, and she quite literally got me through this book when I wanted to drop it and take up drinking.

The first editor who offered me a DC Universe gig was Joan Hilty. I had to pass on it due to scheduling reasons, but we remained in touch and she was instrumental at Vertigo's graphic novel line when I was working on St. Mike's.

There is also my first French comic series ever, Oms En Serie. It's release was a big deal in France, and my boss there is Elsa Sztulcman. She guided me everyday through my first foray into the intimidating French market and helped make it a success.

My first editor at Marvel? You guessed it, a woman! Mackenzie Cadenhead gave me my first shot at cashing those checks with the Spiderman logo on them, and I'm eternally grateful to her for it.

If you look that over you'll see that these women are the roots of my entire career in comics! It's hard to imagine my career being as awesome as it is now without the guidance of these women. They were and are my bosses, but also they often became good friends. They are all tough, smart, and at one point in my career or another, my champions.

This is no surprise to me. My mother raised me alone without even so much as one dime or a minute of help from my dead beat dad. She got me through poverty, homelessness, and taught me how to be a man.

I guess my point is that there are some real life heroes in the comic industry, who just so happen to be women. So portraying the industry as a wall of  misogynists is not entirely accurate.

Now, people have called on men in comics to stick up for women when they see nastiness happening. I agree with that, and on one occasion I have. This was years ago, when I gave cons a shot for a year, and a fan was harassing a co-worker at a booth. When I stepped in this dude went ballistic, but luckily he eventually stormed off. Afterwards my friend told me that she gets guys hitting on her often at the booth, but she handles it... without them going postal.

I felt a little silly afterwards. I was all "Macho Man" ready to protect her, and she'd already been doing that on her own all day. It makes me think of a quote from Kurt Vonnegut where he discusses something he told his wife, "I told her one time, 'I worry about women." She said, "Don't. '"

In closing, to every woman out there who ever gave me a chance at my dream job.... THANK YOU! I know you haven't needed me to get where you are, but God knows I need YOU to get to where I am!

Keep up the good work.


PS - If you want actual advice on the topic, look no further than G. Willow Wilson. She was at Vertigo with her series AIR when I was there on the The Un-men. She's much smarter than I can hope to be, so go read her post on the subject!


Samax said...

Good stuff!

Mike Hawthorne said...

Thanks,man. Just telling the truth.