CBLDF Presents: She Changed Comics by Betsy Gomez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter on this book
I’d like to start off with my one big criticism of this book – not enough images! I understand why they had to do it. When you’re printing a book, each page is expensive, especially when you’re printing in color. But when you’re covering an industry based on images and we only have 1-2 images per creator, it’s hard to get a good feel for the creator’s body of work. I think it would have been nice to have a supplementary PDF with a few more examples per artist. (Yeah, I know I could Google them, but for a curated product, it’d be nice to do a little less work)
So, this book is a survey of the history of women in the comics industry starting out with newspaper comics at the turn of the century. Additionally, as the subtitle says, it focuses on women who made an impact somehow. I learned a lot, especially on the earlier creators about whom I was completely ignorant. It was interesting to see the early fights woman focused on – like women’s suffrage or even just the right to be taken seriously as a cartoonist. It was also interesting to see how women’s place in the industry evolved. At first there were only a few. Then women formed collectives. But then someone women bristled at having to segregate themselves that way and broke out on their own or eventually joined the major publishers. Given the large influence of manga in the US, it was also nice to see women in Japan starting around the time of the post-war period (more or less the birth of modern manga) covered.
Probably the best thing about the way the book is organized is the “further reading” section after each woman’s article. It helps you find more work by that person as well as helping support them by buying more of their stuff. Perhaps the most annoying thing about the way the book is organized is that it is organized is that it’s alphabetical by time period. So, for example, within the Golden Age all the entries are alphabetical. I would have preferred a more Chronological arrangement to help me better understand the flow of progress.
I was happily surprised that at one point the book shifts to cover publishers and editors. In this day when we are finally paying attention to all the artists on a book, it’s easy to forget the impact publishers and editors have. It was also fun that the book ended on an interview section in which we were able to go a bit deeper with some of the creators.
Overall, a great intro to women creators and a good jumping off point if you’re looking to find some new comics created by women.