Women in Comics Proposal


Women and comics, June 2, Amiens, France

Women in comics, authorships and representations

In the USA, facebook users who read comics are 53% female, a figure that has risen by 40% in three years’ time. Yet fewer than 30% of comics authors and characters are female, even if this figure is also on the rise (http://www.ozy.com/acumen/the-rise-of-the-woman-comic-buyer/63314). The female readership of comics is an expanding market which should ideally be balanced more evenly between genders – a fact of which American publishing companies are acutely aware.

Who are these female authors and what do they offer? Has their production evolved in time and how can these be compared with their masculine counterparts? How are women represented by male and female authors? Prospective participants are invited to try and answer these questions with several themes that we suggest.

– Super heroines (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, The Invisible Woman, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, Raven, Natasha Irons, Elektra, Hawkeye, Miss America, Catwoman, Storm, Spiderwoman, Black Widow, She-Hulk, etc). Born after WW2, how do these heroines interact with their male predecessors? Are they the voice of emancipation or further means of objectifying women through the « male gaze » (Laura Mulvey’s thesis in her 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”)?

– Graphic novel, women and minorities. Graphic novels tend to express interiority, trauma and unconscious, repressed thoughts. Thus it could be a relevant medium to make racial, cultural, social and sexual minorities visible, whether through the subject of these novels or their authorship. Can graphic novels allow more freedom to women, as opposed to mainstream, male-dominated comics? Such is Hillary L. Chute’s hypothesis in Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (2010).

– Women as authors, the avant-garde movement and feminism. The avant-garde can be defined as a form of cultural minority, both aesthetically and politically. In the 1970s, very few female comics authors published mainstream productions, as Trina Robbins demonstrated. They were however to be found in the underground movement. The first number of It Ain’t me Babe: Women’s Liberation, edited by Trina Robbins in July 1970, was entirely created by women. Tits’n’Clits in 1972, co-edited by Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevely, was devoted to female sexuality. Wimmen’s Comix, published three weeks later, became a reference and was produced for two decades by a group of ten women, in turn influencing later periodicals, among which Twisted Sisters in 1976, which came as a reaction against what Aline Kominsky-Crumb perceived as an idealisation of women in Wimmen’s Comix. The first lesbian comic book, Come Out Comics, by Mary Wings, was published in 1973 and encouraged Howard Cruse to found his Gay Comics in 1980; both being explicit sources of inspiration for Alison Bechdel and her 1983 Dykes to Watch Out For.

– More generally, a diversity of subjects can be broached within this workshop: an open list of topics could include the evolving representations of the female body under male authors’ pens and conversely, of male and female bodies under female authors’ pens; the interactions between the history of female comics authors and the history of the USA; the female forerunners of our contemporary female authors; the evolution of the medium of comics according to its authorship; the evolution of readership(s); the appropriations and subversions of masculine canons. If the American area is of particular interest to this workshop, foreign or international comparisons may apply.

Please send your proposals (300 words) in French or English to Céline Mansanti and Amélie Junqua before the 31rst of March, 2016.
cmansanti@gmail.com / celine.mansanti@u-picardie.fr
ajunqua@gmail.com / amelie.junqua@u-picardie.fr

A possibly useful bibliography may be found in Hillary L. Chute’s Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, 2010, and is reproduced below with some additional references:

Primary sources
Jessica Abel (Mirror, Window; La Perdida)
Marisa Acocella Marchetto (Cancer Vixen)
Linda Barry (What It Is, Erny Pook’s Comeeks, etc)
Alison Bechdel (Dykes to Watch Out For, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Are You My Mother?)
Gabrielle Bell (Lucky, Cecil and Jordan in New York, The Voyeurs)
Lili Carré (The Lagoon)
Sue Coe (How to Commit Suicide in South Africa, Dead Meat)
Sophie Crumb (Belly Button Comix)
Vanessa Davis (Spaniel Rage)
Diane DiMassa (Hothead Paisan)
Julie Doucet (My New York Diary, 365 Days)
Debbie Dreschler (Daddy’s Girl, The Summer of Love)
Mary Fleener (Life of the Party: The Complete Autobiographical Collection)
Ellen Forney (I was Seven in 75, I Love Led Zeppelin)
Phoebe Gloeckner (A Child’s Life and Other Stories, Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures)
Roberta Gregory (Bitchy Bitch, Bitchy Butch)
Miriam Katin (We Are on Our Own)
Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother)
Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Wimmen’s Comix, Dirty Laundry Comics, Weirdo, The Bunch’s Power Pak Comics)
Hope Larson (Salamander Dream, Gray Horses)
Miss Lasko-Gross (Escape from “Special”, A Mess of Everything)
Erika Lopez (Lap Dancing for Mommy)
Dale Messick (Brenda Starr)
Rutu Modan (Exit Wounds, Jamilti)
Jackie Ormes (Torchy Brown, Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger)
Lily Renee (The Werewolf Hunter, Senorita Rio)
Trina Robbins (It Ain’t me Babe: Women’s Liberation, Wimmen’s Comix)
Ariel Schrag (Awkward, Definition, Potential, Likewise)
Dori Seda (Dori Stories)
Posy Simmonds (Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe)
June Tarpé Mills (Miss Fury)
C. Tyler (Late Bloomer, You’ll Never Know: A Graphic Memoir)
Lauren Weinstein (Girl Stories, The Goddess of War)

Secondary sources
David Barnett, “Kapow! The Unstoppable Rise of Female Comic Readers”, The Guardian, 18 septembre 2015,http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/18/female-comic-book-readers-w…
Linda Brewster, Rose O’Neill, The Girl Who Loved to Draw, Boxing Day Books, 2009.
Hillary L. Chute, Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, New York (NY): Columbia University Press, 2010.
Jose Fermoso, “The Rise of the Woman Comic Buyer”, Ozy, 11 septembre 2015, http://www.ozy.com/acumen/the-rise-of-the-woman-comic-buyer/63314
Nancy Goldstein, Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist, University of Michigan Press, 2008.
Tim Hanley, Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine, Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2014.
Jehanzeb, “The Objectification of Women in Comic Books”, Fantasy, Queers Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue, n°59, December 2015,http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/non-fiction/articles/the-objectification…
Susan E. Kirtley, Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
Mike Madrid, The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, Ashland (Or.): Exterminating Angel press, 2009.
Mike Madrid, Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics, Ashland (Or.): Exterminating Angel Press, 2013.
Lillian S. Robinson, Wonder Women: Feminisms and Superheroes, New York and London: Routledge, 2004.
Trina Robbins, The Great Women Superheroes, Northampton, Mass.: Kitchen Sink Press, 1996.
Trina Robbins, From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines [de 1941 à 1999], San Francisco (85 Second Street): Chronicle Books, 1999.
Trina Robbins, “Gender Difference in Comics”, Image & Narrative, Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative, n°4, September 2002,http://www.imageandnarrative.be/inarchive/gender/trinarobbins.htm
Trina Robbins, Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists, 1896-2013, Seattle (Wash.): Fantagraphics Books, 2013.
Brett Schenker, “Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female”, The Beat, The Newsblog of Comics Culture, 2 mai 2014,http://www.comicsbeat.com/market-research-says-46-female-comic-fans/
Lynne M. Thomas and Ellis, Sigrid, ed., Chicks Dig Comics; A Celebration of Comics by the Women Who Love Them, Mad Norwegian Press, 2012.

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