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Comics created by women see resurgence at San Diego Comic-Con

Female authors, characters take center stage at pop-culture event
Posted at 6:17 AM, Jul 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-20 12:05:22-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As a Hollywood writers and actors strike forces Comic Con to return to it's roots, female comic authors say this will let them showcase women in the industry.

"This isn't new, but it's a resurgence," says SDSU Women's Studies Lecturer Mary Ellen Stout.

She says she's seeing a rise in graphic novels either written by or about women. That's helping the industry return to a period before World War II when it had an abundance of female creators.

"Women have been involved in the comics industry from as early as the 1890s. If not, before that," she says. "They were writing for newspaper comic strips. They were putting issues like suffrage out into the papers. They were writing about flappers. They wrote about women's lives...

"So women are not new to the comic industry. The use of comics to push feminist ideas are not new. But now there's just more of it. And it is exciting."

That's how some authors feel as well. Kayden Phoenix will debut her series "The Majestics" at Comic Con this year. It's about Disney-style princesses, with a twist.

"They don't need a prince to save the princesses. They saved themselves." she says.

Phoenix says it's important for her to use art to give girls and other women representation in what they read.

"You need to see your skin color," she says. "You need to believe that you are a princess, and get treated like a princess, and that you should walk and talk like a princess as well."

And if being a princess isn't what some female readers want, Author Ghezal Omar offers her own take on the graphic novel heroine.

Her books, "357 Magnum Opus" and "Pimp Killer" feature action-style female heroes. They're the kind Omar says she grew up watching on TV, but never saw in books.

"It was Angelina Jolie, whether she was playing Fox on Wanted or Tomb Raider, Sigourney Weaver, Gina Davis, even Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Terminator," she says. "I wanted to create a woman who doesn't care if she's going to fight she's going to get her hands dirty. She's going to do all the things that these male powerful male superheroes do."

Stout says the presence of female authors and characters has been growing since the 1960s, when women started to push their way back into the industry. They had been forced out after World War II by soldiers returning from the war and looking for more traditional hero stories.

Female writers began publishing underground work. Now, the increase in self-publishing and a new market for more diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry has given more women a chance.

"Kids, teenagers, even adults want to see themselves represented in books, in comics, and in popular culture. They want to see a story that they can connect with," Stout says. "Having a story about women, or teenagers, or girls, that is written and drawn by a woman gives them that that feeling that I can see myself in this book."