During Kansas City Comic Con I had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel titled “Who runs the world?” I went into it knowing it was a panel consisting of females in the comic book industry. As a female comic book reader this was a welcoming surprise to me. The industry is dominated by male creators, whether they are writers or artists. According to research done by Tim Hanley: DC, Marvel, and Image were responsible for 83% of direct comic sales in June of 2016. When it comes to the creators 24% are people of color, and 11% are women. Now, you can see why a panel consisting of published female writers is important. Our gender lacks representation on the business side of things, which leads to a lack of representation within the pages of comic books. The biggest draw for me though was their young age. It’s not often you meet a published creator that’s still a teenager.
Breaking Down the Barriers
There are a different set of challenges in the industry when you’re a female, and they’re magnified when you’re a published teen creator. Ageism is something that they experience. Often times when people are visiting their tables at conventions it is assumed that they’re not the artists. There are times when they are talked down to as if they are too naive to know how the industry works, or even have a knowledge of comics history. These are talented ladies that have jumped into a tough industry and carved their own path. They are doing something that they feel passionate about, which is more than a lot of people can say about their own careers.
Brianna Crozier, better known as Bri Pi Art, is an 18 year old just starting college. She is a double major at the Kansas City Art Institute studying Illustration and Creative Writing. Crozier’s first serial comic was a webcomic called, “The Flower Girl”. She followed this up with a single issue comic “Until Then”, written after her sister’s best friend passed away from Leukemia. If you purchase the book a portion of the proceeds are donated to charities. Currently she’s working on a comic called “Oddity” about a girl that made a deal with a demon and is trying to regain her soul.
The Cooper Sisters
Maia and Luna Cooper, 16 years old, are sisters who have a comic book entitled Champions of Erendil, published by Champion Comics. The comic sounded familiar, and when I did a quick search I realized I had read their comic. It was gifted to me by another creator. Maia and Luna started doing comics at the age of thirteen, which is impressive. I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.
One of the things they all agreed was the importance of diversity in comics. They never want to create diverse characters out of obligation. The characters need to develop organically, the interactions and dialogue needs to feel natural rather than forced. Another issue is the hyper-sexualization of characters and it is something they avoid. There are readers who still see it as a necessary aspect to female characters. Crozier has had someone tell her that a teenage character that she created wasn’t sexy enough. This is a problem that needs to be addressed on a larger level. We need to see more creators following this example.
Embracing the Future
At the end of their panel, I left feeling hopeful. The audience’s reaction to the creators was encouraging. They asked them questions without talking down to them. The same ones you would ask comic book veterans that have worked in the industry for more than a decade. I was inspired as someone that has wanted to write a comic for years. Any one of their peers or anyone younger walked away knowing that they could be part of the comic book industry.
If you are unfamiliar with Crozier or the Cooper sisters, I recommend that you check out their books. They are part of the next generation of creators and should be supported as they continue working in the comic book industry. Brianna Crozier can be found at Bri Pi Art. Maia and Luna Cooper can be found at Champion Comics. They were also good enough to provide us samples of their work, which you can check out below.