Women In Comics NYC Collective International

WomenInComicsNYCCollectiveInternational

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When I am asked how Women in Comics NYC Collective International, (WinC NYC for short), was formed, I always try to keep my answer concise for the interviewer’s sake. But it is so much more than the sum of its basic parts: We are industry professionals, we love comics, and we are women. What we have grown to represent to our community, fans and members is beyond anything I ever expected when we had our first Women in Comics panel discussion almost 4 years ago.

In 2012, I knew few women working in the comic book industry personally; my networking circle was primarily male and I had yet to meet many women at events. That was until I was asked by Ray Felix, the Founder and Organizer of Bronx Heroes Comic Con, to host the convention’s first Women in Comics Panel. The panel consisted of industry professionals both Ray and I knew: Rica Takashima, Shawna Mills, Michele St. Martin, Jodi Tong, Tara Nakashima Donahue, Selena Briggs, and Alitha E. Martinez. The impact of that first panel was instant, for both the panelists and the audience. Fans familiarity with women working in the mainstream was a given; at the time the two most popular were Gail Simone and Marjorie Liu, both working at Marvel and DC Comics respectively. But to have 7 women, with over 30 years mainstream and indie industry experience collectively, that they had not heard of was more than a shock; not to mention the fact that each woman on the panel was of color. The audience was amazed to hear their stories and the panelists were touched by their responses.

The impact of that first panel was instant, for both the panelists and the audience. Fans familiarity with women working in the mainstream was a given; at the time the two most popular were Gail Simone and Marjorie Liu, both working at Marvel and DC Comics respectively. But to have 7 women, with over 30 years mainstream and indie industry experience collectively, that they had not heard of was more than a shock; not to mention the fact that each woman on the panel was of color. The audience was amazed to hear their stories and the panelists were touched by their responses.

What struck me most about that panel, was an answer one of the panelists gave to an audience member in regard to seeing more women in the industry at shows and panels, and she said that although she had been working in the mainstream as a lead artist for many years her appearances were rare and even rarer was it that she received recognition for her work. However, that wasn’t what mattered most to her. What she found interesting, however, was that when it came to panel discussions and industry talks she often was not invited and although she was on our panel, it represented the far and few in between. After she said that it was clear to me that a change needed to come, our voices needed to be heard. We represented a section of the industry that often was not seen let alone recognized and that first panel was a game changer for us all. From there our focus became about highlighting the work and experiences of local women working in the industry; becoming an official women in comics organization.

However, that wasn’t what mattered most to her. What she found interesting, however, was that when it came to panel discussions and industry talks she often was not invited and although she was on our panel, it represented the far and few in between. After she said that it was clear to me that a change needed to come, our voices needed to be heard. We represented a section of the industry that often was not seen let alone recognized and that first panel was a game changer for us all. From there our focus became about highlighting the work and experiences of local women working in the industry; becoming an official women in comics organization.

 

Soon after having that panel we were asked to host others and our focus immediately expanded. Our panel discussion series was making a true impact, not just an increase in exposure for the panelists, but on our audiences. To bring this all into perspective, we are often invited to talk at shows and events that the mainstream industry does not attend, in marginalized communities that are not financially able to go to large conventions; we bring the ‘Con’ experience to them.

These communities are full of creative children and adults that would love to learn more about working as a professional in the comic book industry but do not have access to meeting people working within it. To make it even easier for audiences to interact with us we started hosting events outside of other conventions. We created our own Art Exhibition series in 2013, started hosting Workshops for the New York Public Library System in 2014 and organized our own Women in Comics Con, (WinC Con), in 2015; with all events were free to public. It wasn’t long before large conventions and national organizations began contacting us to bring our programing to their cities- with our membership simultaneously reflecting that growth; extending nationally then internationally.

With almost 100 members worldwide, coming from all aspects of the Multi-media Industry, (Writers, Artists, Toy Makers, Web Series Creators, Publishers, Educators, Librarians, Book Store Owners, Convention Producers, Radio Hosts, Bloggers, Cosplayers, Art Gallery Directors, Photographers, App Creators and more), WinC NYC has a bright and full future ahead of us. Our mission will remain true to its core no matter how large we grow: By highlighting the Merit and Workmanship of Women working in Comics we Diversify the industry one panel at a time.

http://womenincomicsnyccint.wix.com/womenincomicsnyc

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Michelle L. Jensen
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Blogger, fangirl, cosplayer, and most importantly, a nerd. She's also the creator of Nerd Out.
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