SDCC ’17: Women of Marvel Panel

Marvel was back in action on the final day of SDCC ’17 with their Women of Marvel panel. Newsarama had the primary coverage of the event. I will summarize their recap here, but just click the link for their full and impressive coverage of Women of Marvel.

The panel was moderated by Judy Stephens, who opened the panel with the introductions of Sana Amanat, Lorraine Cink, Margaret Stohl, Rainbow Rowell, Christina Strain, and Alanna Smith. Mariko Tamaki will join the panel later on.

The clear and obvious starting point for this panel was the legacy of Flo Steinberg, who passed away this morning. Amanat was very emotional speaking about Steinberg, a sentiment shared by many of her colleagues. “She was one of the original women of Marvel. We’re all hoping we can follow in her footsteps.” Amanat said, dedicating the panel to her and announcing that all Women of Marvel panels would honor Steinberg moving forward.

Amanat then pulled out a collection of covers in female-led Marvel series. She then proudly exclaimed, “We had zero nine years ago. Now we have 19 with a few more in development.”

Christina Strain then stepped up and began talking about next month’s Generation X #5 and how it spotlights Eyeboy and Nature Girl. She also hinted that Jubilee would see some development in the coming months. Strain then discussed how her time as a colorist gave her the “last line of defense against deadlines” and that’s an attitude she’s brought with her to writing.

Mariko Tamaki shows up and begins a discussion about She-Hulk. A new story in Hulk #11 has Jen Walters trying out the dating scene. I, for one, as an avid reader of the series, cannot wait to see the comedy they have planned for that scene. She-Hulk will take on one of Hulk’s famous villains, Leader, in Marvel Legacy, after the title reverts to its old name and classic numbering. Tamaki tells the audience that the Leader arc’s inspiration is Stephen King.

Rainbow Rowell then spoke about her upcoming Runaways relaunch. Rowell says the Runaways are “classic Marvel characters who deserve forever stories.” She also says that, running opposite the original series, the new series focuses on the choice by the characters to be or not to be heroes and/or a family.

“That’s what the first six issues are about. Also kissing and cats. Cats have very recently become very important to my career,” Rowell said laughingly.

Rowell says that she and artist Kris Anka care about the characters in a very deep way. “We talk a lot about anguish and hair,” Rowell jokingly said.

Margaret Stohl takes the floor to talk about Captain Marvel. The first thing she talked about was the joy and excitement of seeing Carol’s movie costume. Stohl then repeated a sentiment she’s shared before about Carol and her current place in Marvel; since Steve Rogers has fallen from the status of hero, Carol is poised to take her place as one of Marvel’s top heroes. She then said that working on Captain Marvel was “the honor and privilege of her career.”

All the panelists share a thought that Captain Marvel is the “standard bearer” of Women of Marvel.

Amanat then brings up Riri Williams/IronHeart to a big applause. A cosplayer in the back is wearing an Ironheart outfit good enough to earn her a signed Black Panther movie poster from the panel. It is announced that Riri’s Marvel Generations story will bring her and Tony Stark back together. It will be the real Tony Stark, and he will teach her something about being a hero.

The next discussion is on Ms. Marvel, a favorite among the panelist and the audience. Amanat, the co-creator of Kamala Khan, states that G. Willow Wilson couldn’t be there “because we’re making her write more comics.” Amanat said she’s in disbelief over the success of Ms. Marvel. She can’t believe the book has over 50 issues. “We thought we’d be cancelled by #9,” Amanat said.

It’s announced that the Red Dagger will arrive in Jersey City from Pakistan to be a rival hero of Ms. Marvel.

Stephens showed an episode of Marvel Becoming, her digital show focusing on cosplay. The episode shown at Women of Marvel focused on a Spider-Gwen cosplayer. The entire panel will be aired on the Women of Marvel podcast. It will be episode #149

Daisy Johnson will become a more ubiquitous character in the coming months through Marvel Legacy, it is announced.

Stohl and the other panelists then switch their focus to their treatment at Marvel, which they all agree is like no place else. They are treated as equals when it comes to the creative process and the fan process. Stohl mentions the incredible sexism she faced in the gaming industry, but stated that this isn’t her experience at Marvel.

Alanna Smith states that she experiences more sexism in the real world than at work and her work actually acts as an insulator for sexism. “You know how much work you put into it, how much love you put into it. That helps deal with those comments.””You know how much work you put into it, how much love you put into it. That helps deal with those comments,” Smith said.

Women of Marvel

Cink says she replies to commenters who criticize her knowledge by sending them a link to her books. All the women agree that the purpose of Women of Marvel movement is to provide help and support to women that experience sexism, but do not have any form of insulation.

Amanat says that the growing diversity in Marvel’s line is trending upward and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. When asked about the pay gap between male and female creators, Amanat jokes that everyone is broke regardless of their gender. Strain states that each Marvel creator is started at the same rate, which then increases with experience. She also states that she hasn’t experienced those issues at Marvel. Tamaki says it can be subtle and ingrained sexism, but it’s changing and she experienced all types of sexism working in tech.

Smith states that she tries to make sure nothing coming through her office will make a reader feel like a title isn’t for them. Stohl says she pictures her own family when she pictures comic book readers and she refuses to back down to those who would paint a different picture than what really exists.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.” Stephens said.

“When you know who the villains are, then it’s time to be a hero,” Amanat said, and that concluded the panel.