by Nalini Haynes
If you have any interest in comics and you’ve been on the web today, you’ve probably heard that Gail Simone, writer of Batgirl since the DC comics New 52 relaunch, has been informed via email that her services are no longer required.
On Wednesday of last week, new Batgirl editor Brian Cunningham informed me by email that I was no longer the writer of Batgirl.
— GailSimone (@GailSimone) December 9, 2012
The moral of this story appears to be don’t make something really successful and viable because IT WILL BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU. Especially if you’re a WOMAN working for DC Comics.
In my Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures report, I recall Karen Healy bemoaning DC Comic’s recent significant reduction of the number of women working in comics. I didn’t include the actual statistics in my report because to mis-quote something like that can be internet suicide, but suffice it to say that the number of women working in the creative department at DC Comics was an appallingly low proportion that was then reduced drastically.
This was BEFORE the DC New52 relaunch.
In Dan Didio’s (DC Comics) open letter to fans (reported here) he says:
As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and there are a lot of great things that don’t need fixing. But we also saying that will not stand ideally by and let series run on inertia and let the industry fade around us. All of us here at DC love the form and the characters way too much for that. [emphasis mine]
What ever happened to ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it‘? A year on, DC Comics is removing a woman writer from a successfully relaunched comic to replace her with – whom?
This IS NOT a case of the COMIC being canned.
I was informed by an email from my new editor that I am no longer the writer of Batgirl… [emphasis mine]
And we produced a book that was a critical and commercial success. Twice in the past year we got raves from the New York Times. We had many sell-out issues. In short, I am very, very proud of what we’ve done.
Responding to a specific question in a different tumblr post, Simone says
Sadly, the new editor nixed everything we had planned. I think it’s very likely that [Barbara’s-recovery arc] will still be covered, but it will not be in the way we had been building to, which I am very sad about. And those issues are already written, but will not be published, I gather.
The fact that Simone appears to have been asked to leave the title comes is even more upsetting to fans as “Batgirl” has remained one of the more popular and commercially successful titles in DC’s New 52 universe.
This sudden turn of events also arrives on the heels of last week’s news Karen Berger will be stepping down as the Executive Editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Both of these announcements have launched a flurry of fan responses on the web, particularly from fellow creators in the case of Simone being forced off a title that she’s been invested in so heavily.
So DC are making changes in a successfully relaunched comic. WHY?
At San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, Dan Didio was confronted by fans wanting more women creators. Robot6 reported:
Co-Publisher Dan DiDio turned to the audience and asked what DC would have to do to change the minds of those skittish about the impending relaunch, one man yelled “Hire women!” The number of women creators working on the DC Universe, he added after audience applause, had dropped with the relaunch from 12% of the total to just 1% (i.e. Gail Simone, and Amy Reeder if you count the later Batwoman launch).
The sound bite of a guy trying to support the hiring of women by DC Comics is here. No written report can adequately describe how Dan Didio deflected the request for more women creators, Dan talked over the guy who called for more women creators and moved on.
DC Comics is now moving on without Gail Simone, one of their few remaining women creators who survived the 12% to 1% eviction of women creators.
In September 2012, DC Geeks reported:
Most of you are probably aware of “SDCC Batgirl,” aka Kyrax2… what she wanted to know was, where are the women? Why were there so few women involved in creating DC comics in the relaunch that, in theory, was aimed at bringing in new readers. Her question caught fire and others took up her cause.
So Kyrax2 had a goal and wasn’t afraid to step up and fight to be heard! WOOT!
Kyrax2 is interviewed here about her appearance at SDCC and her love of comics.
Jim Lee & Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publishers, responded in this letter titled WE HEAR YOU.
Over the past week we’ve heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously…
We’ll have exciting news about new projects with women creators in the coming months and will be making those announcements closer to publication. Many of the above creators will be working on new projects, as we continue to tell the ongoing adventures of our characters. We know there are dozens of other women creators and we welcome the opportunity to work with them.
Apparently the opportunity to work with women is welcomed only temporarily.
[Note my self-restraint: I’m not even mentioning other points about which I could rant for PAGES.]
DC Geeks went on to say:
And DC Comics is at the centre of the latest. Again.
UPDATE: Tony Harris is an excellent example of why we need women creators working in comics.
Cracked.com posted about the 7 most ridiculous things about calling out fake fangirls, starting with the reason for the article: Tony Harris (pictured above) posted a long Facebook rant decrying the cosplayers and the [allegedly] pathetic men upon which they [allegedly] prey, complete with a detailed number scale to rank the cosplayers’ hotness.
If that’s what gets Harris fired up to write, we DEFINITELY need more women creators.