From the earliest days of the comic book medium to the present time, women have had a very important and often overlooked hand in the creation of comics. During that time, alternative and underground comics, as well as graphic novels, and webcomics have been particularly fruitful areas for female creators. These days, more women than ever before are involved in the creation and production of iconic mainstream comic franchises.
Unfortunately, while women have made significant strides in the medium over the past several decades, it’s still not easy to be a woman in comics. Female readers fight to be recognized as legitimate fans in an insular and sometimes sexist community. In mainstream comics, there remains an unequal balance of women in creative and business roles, and some publishers have been criticized for misogynistic portrayals of women in their titles. The pessimistic question is often asked: is there a place for women in comics?
Well, in spite of these issues, a documentary film about the untold history of women in comicbooks, celebrating female creators and fans alike is in the process of being made. It is the intended goal of She Makes Comics project to emphasize the valuable contributions women have made to the medium since the days of the Golden Age of comics. These women may not be as recognizable as Will Eisner or Stan Lee, but the producers of this documentary hope to turn some of comics’ most prolific women into household names by showcasing their talents and contributions.
Truthfully, the current age is an exciting time to be in comic books for women, either as a reader or as a creator, as the market is flooded with diverse voices, artwork, and stories, with creators having more power and prestige than ever before. New readers are rolling into comic shops every day thanks to TV and movie adaptations, comic tie-ins, and good old word of mouth. Thus, in celebration of this modern era of comics, Respect! Films and Sequart Research (Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods, Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, The Image Revolution) are proud to announce their next documentary film: She Makes Comics, a celebration of women in comics as creators, fans, and everything in between.
Still, as notworthy as this project is, it can only do it with the help of fans. The film’s producers are currently in the production phase of the documentary, having begun shooting late last year. Their current tasks include hours of research as well as shooting interviews with women and men who have made comicbook history. The documentary will mostly be an oral history told by several key figures. The film will feature interviews with significant female creators and executives from the major eras of comics’ history. These women who changed comics will be telling their stories in their own words. We will also feature insightful commentary from observers both inside and outside of the comics industry: experts, scholars, writers, artists, actors, filmmakers.
According to the producers, the beauty of documentary filmmaking is that while making a documentary, a story quite different from original expectations can unfold during the process. Although they have a clear idea of how they want to structure and cover the film’s discussions of history, they’re excited to see what has already been revealed during their journey. Still, they can’t complete this film without the help of the comicbook community. As can be expected, films are very expensive to make, especially when they’re as comprehensive as this documentary. They are attempting to keep their crew small, but making this movie still requires a great deal of resources. In order to complete the film, they still need to:
- Travel to 10 different cities
- Interview 35 more people
- Spend more than 800 hours editing
While they don’t have actors to pay or build sets, they still have film equipment and personnel costs. They also need to travel to subjects’ locations and to cons around the country. There are post-production costs that need to be covered in order to assemble the film and polish it off so it can be packaged and distributed. They simply can’t do this alone. This is truly a story that deserves the scope and power that it merits. The production crew includes the following, very talented people:
Marisa Stotter (Director/Producer) is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. A recent graduate of Wesleyan University, she has worked on several short films and is now producing her first full-length feature. She Makes Comics is a passion project borne out of her love of comics and a desire to see greater representation of women in the medium.
Patrick Meaney (Producer) is a filmmaker and co-founder of Respect! Films, a production company that has produced several documentaries about the world of comics in partnership with Sequart Research & Literacy Organization. His films have played at film festivals and comic conventions around the world, including the Napa Valley Film Festival, Helsinki International Film Festival, Revelation Perth International Film Festival, Leeds International Film Festival, Belfast Film Festival, as well as San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con.
Jordan Rennert (Director of Photography/Producer) is co-founder of Respect! Films with Patrick Meaney and serves as director of photography on the company’s projects.
Julian Darius (Executive Producer) is the founder of Sequart, and has overseen the editing of a dozen books and executive produced four feature films through Sequart.
Mike Phillips (Executive Producer) is the Editor-in-Chief of Sequart and has overseen the editing of a dozen books and executive produced four feature films through Sequart.
Karen Green (Co-Producer/Creative Consultant) is the Ancient and Medieval History and Religion Librarian at Columbia University. She also oversees the growing comics archive at Columbia.
This project will only be funded if at least $41,500 is pledged by Fri, March 7, 2014.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.