As with most conventions of its ilk, last weekend’s Denver Comic Con was loaded with panels and discussions on a wide variety of topics. But one particular conclave has drawn extra attention over the last week, with very little of it being positive. Titled “Women In Comics—Creators And Characters,” the panel was an attempt by its planners to discuss the role of women in the early comics industry, both on the page and in the offices that produced them. And, like so many thoughtful, academic conversations about the role of women throughout history, this one was held entirely between men.
The all-male panel, whose stated goals included “an introduction to many of the female illustrators/creators attending the convention”—none of whom were in attendance—was treated to fairly wide mockery and derision over the weekend. According to a Twitter user in attendance, panelists responded to questions about why no female academics had been invited to speak by saying that they didn’t know any, despite the presence of noted writer and historian Trina Robbins at the con.
Some female comic creators and writers, though, refused to simply jeer, and instead decided to hold a panel of their own, with the goal of exploring the topic from a more informed position. As described by organizer and Bleeding Cool Comics author Hannah Means-Shannon in an essay posted this week, a group of creators, including Robbins and prolific writer and artist Amanda Conner, worked to organize a “flash-panel” where speakers could discuss their introduction to comics, difficulties they’ve faced in the work place, and the rise of female roles in TV and books.
Means-Shannon was quick to point out that the Denver Comic Con, which also operates as a charitable organization, was happy to support the push, offering the organizers a room for their discussion (audio of which can be found below.) Means-Shannon did emphasize, though, that the idea and organization for the flash-panel came from its members, not the con, and was less complimentary toward the convention’s panel-vetting process.