I constantly check the shelves of bookstores to see if there is any criticism or historical references available for comics. This is what initially drew me to She Changed Comics – but what most captured my attention was the she found in the typically male dominated work.
While writing my thesis, I struggled finding diversity in comics – which ultimately helped prove my point – but when I found comics that had women involved, it somehow felt special. Needless to say, I was rather excited to read about women who helped shape the medium.
The book is structured in such a way that each woman is granted a front-back page that offers a brief life synopsis that accredits her accomplishments in the field and the eventual impact. I do wish that there were more images, but I took this book as a reader’s companion. If the reader became intrigued by the brief summary provided in this book, they could begin their reading of that woman’s work using the “Further Reading” box noted at the end of each ‘chapter.’ I certainly bookmarked a few books using this.
Due to the book’s structure and the publishers purpose (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), these women were united under the fact that they had all changed free expression in comics. This resulted in women fitting under the same archetypes: (A) a woman adopting a pseudonym to have her comics appear in the papers; (B) a woman struggling with having her male colleagues view her as an equal (C) a woman using the comic medium to tackle injustices and social issues; (D) a woman producing comics that were viewed as obscene and sparking controversy. These profiles helped showcase the social and political power of comics, as well as the lack of diversity that exists on the panels and behind the scenes. Even though there is still room for growth (specifically in mainstream comics), this book demonstrates that strides have been made.
My favorite part of this book came from the quotes that the editor skillfully selected – mainly because they were always filled with a large amount of sass sprinkled over accuracy. This book serves as a reminder that society annoyingly needs: women read comics. In fact, women create comics!
“For what it’s worth, I sure would appreciate if diversity meant more than palette-swapping a character here and there, or white, straight, cis gender guys trying to write more non-white, non-straight, non-cis characters. Comics can pat itself on the back about diversity when there are more marginalized people behind the scene as well as on the page” – C. Spike Trotman, when asked about diversity in main stream comics (152-3).