Indie documentary She Makes Comics shatters the preconceived notion that comic books revolve around two things: superheroes and men. Through a chronological view of the history of comic book creation, readership, and acceptance in the mainstream (and underground) world, She Makes Comics proves that not only have women been involved in all creative aspects of comics since their inception, but that women readers are as as equally significant to the comic book industry as men.
Learning that in the 1930s and 1940s when comic books began (as a print in newspapers), the readership was spread equally among girls and boys and that female creators were as viable as men is a bit shocking considering today’s current frustration with female representation in comics, particularly in the realm of DC Comics and Marvel Comics where female super heroes appear to be lacking or unsatisfying. It’s almost a slap in the face to know that at one time, female readership and creativity was booming before comic books began to phase out non-superhero genres. This shift in comic themes coupled with the perceptions of a 1950s woman meant that female readers dwindled quickly. The “boys club” of comic thus began its reign which despite much progress, continues today for many women and would-be female comic book fans.
Through industry and reader experiences from some of the comic book industry’s most influential contributors including: Ramona Fradon, Marie Severin, Jenette Kahn, Kelly Sue DeConnick Wendy Pini, and others, we learn how women have forged alliances, found unity, and taken the burden of proper female representation into their own hands to slowly create a world where girls and women alike can find their place within the panels of a comic book story.
Through the advancement of indie comics and the hiring of strong females within powerful positions at both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, the advent of San Diego Comic Con, cosplay, and the uniting force of the internet, She Makes Comics shows the broad (and constantly evolving) scope with which the world is growing to know and love comic book stories. While there is still progress to be made, the idea of comic books being exclusive to a juvenile male audience is fading. Comic books have substance, are masterfully created, and are impactful for their readers.
Comic book newbies and veterans alike can appreciate the dedication, passion, and honesty She Makes Comics brings to the table concerning female readership, representation, and contributions in the world of comic books. Most importantly, while She Makes Comics focuses on the female perspective of comic books, the core message of this documentary is to not only tell girls and women that they have a place within the world of comics, but that properly representing women in comics (through appealing to all readers and having a variety of contributors) will not only benefit women, but men as well. She Makes Comics reminds us that comic books are a unique medium for which any story can be told and all societal expectations can be forgotten.
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