DCC’15 Regarding the “Women in Comics” panel

Dear DCC’15 Attendee,

Saturday afternoon’s “Women in Comics” panel was presented by respected comics historian and college instructor, Kevin Robinette.  It was a last-minute addition (not even in our printed schedule) because Kevin offered to present an abridged version of his college course on the History of female comics characters and creators, and we wanted to add another panel with an educational focus on the history of comics.  The college course, which he asserted he has taught hundreds of times and presented in its summary form at dozens of comic conventions, is called “Women in Comics – Creators and Characters” and therefore so was the panel.

The session was never intended to be a staging of current female comics creators, and the panel description clearly indicated that it was a scholarly presentation, in the same vein as our “Page 23” Literary Conference, or our “Education” tracks being held in neighboring rooms:  “With the female interest in comics increasing lately, this panel discusses many of the popular female characters from the beginning of the superhero mid 1930s comics. Also a focus on some of the women that were able to break in the mostly all male club of creating comics during that time. Includes an introduction to many of the female illustrators/creators attending the convention.”  We at DCC realize that a quick read of the title could be misinterpreted to indicate that it might have women creators on the panel, but the description or sitting in the panel room for five minutes would clearly indicate that Mr. Robinette’s intention was not to presume to speak for the perspective of current women creators, but to present an historical retrospective.  It is also not the policy of DCC to either re-write the content of the scholars’ content, nor refuse a male presenter’s presentation on female comic characters and creators; any more than we would presume to stifle a woman historian’s perspectives on male creators, censor a white creator’s opinions on African-American’s characters, or a LGBT creator’s thoughts on particular straight creator.

It is important to stress that Denver Comic Con is the only comic convention with a Diversity Mission for Programming, which we implemented now three convention cycles previously.  (http://denverconvention.com/about-us/media-center/press-releases/denver-comic-con-announces-diversity-intention-guests) Since it’s inception, DCC has pro-actively striven to bring out to Denver and feature prominently guests of color, women and those from the LGBT Community.  This is not lip-service, but a concerted effort to create a community that is inclusive of all comic fans regardless of gender, race or orientation.  To assert that we are not sensitive to the views and contributions of women in pop culture does a disservice not only to DCC’s programming efforts, but minimizes the contribution of the dozens of women, LGBT and minority creators whom we have hosted and hundreds of hours of diversity-focused programming we have created.

To specifically address the female creators we did host at DCC 2015 and the dozens of hours of programming aimed specifically at current women creators and characters, here is a small sample of some of the content we specifically created to this end.  (This does not include the highest-quality programming submitted and presented by our active fan community.)  We brought out respected comics creator Trina Robbins and comics industry editor and historian Jackie Estrada, specifically to speak to the perspective of women historically and currently; they both appeared in the documentary film She Makes Comics, which DCC obtained the rights to screen this weekend, followed by Q&A with the two women.  We highly recommend that fans of all genders watch this film and we hope to soon post the commentary from the two comics’ professionals on the website of our non-profit literacy foundation Pop Culture Classroom (www.popcultureclassroom.org).

Among many other female pop culture professionals, DCC also hosted playwright Crystal Skillman (King Kirby)Crystal appeared on Monday afternoon’s panel, “Is There Discrimination in Pop Culture?” with an African-American rapper and teacher, a Latino TV Director, the aforementioned veteran comics’ creator Trina Robbins, and moderated by a transgender animator and teacher.  Upon hearing of the controversy generated by one woman’s complaint that no women were on a comics’ panel about women, Ms. Skillman herself pulled together a flash-mob-style panel of just some of the many female comics creators that Denver Comic Con brought out for the 2015 event.  The panel – entitled “Women in Comics – NOW!” did discuss some of the issues facing female creators today, but was more a lively celebration of the creators on the panel as well as an analysis of the progress that has been made due to activists like Trina Robbins and enjoyed by fellow comics professionals on the panel.  The extra-long panel was well attended by men and women alike, and featured Robbins, Amanda Connor, Marguerite Bennett, Joelle Jones, Meghan Hetrick and Hannah Means-Shannon.

Denver Comic Con invites and hosts dozens of female comics’ creators and pop culture professionals every year, and we strive to place them on as many panels as they will consent to attend.  We hope that the support that we received from Crystal Skillman and the panelists she brought together on the last day of DCC 2015, will serve as inspiration for more women creative professionals to come to Denver in 2016 and beyond, and speak on panels about the issues that interest them and their fans.

Many thanks for your continued support.

Denver Comic Con 2015