Director: Marisa Stotter
Starring: Karen Bergen, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Jenette Kahn, Becky Cloonan, Louise Simonson, Heidi MacDonald, Wendy Pini, Marjorie Liu, Kate Leth, Colleen Doran and more!
Release Date: 9th December 2014
It’s no great secret that female comic fans and creators are routinely treated rather poorly by their male counterparts, with examples of harassment, exclusion and belittlement commonplace all throughout the history of comics. That’s not to say that things aren’t getting a little better lately – in terms of representation, at least – but these instances still happen frequently enough for it to still be considered a major problem in the industry.
Thankfully however, rather than dwelling on these negatives, She Makes Comics – a documentary from Sequart and Marisa Stotter – comes across more like a celebration of the overwhelmingly positive influence that female creators and fans have had on the industry over the years. Yes, the issues mentioned above still undoubtedly need to be resolved, but there are a lot of supremely talented female creators out there who care passionately about this business, and this documentary takes great pleasure in showcasing a great number of them.
One of the minor obstacles that She Makes Comics struggles a little to overcome is the fact that there are simply so many female creators and editors who have stamped such an indelible mark on the comics we love that they don’t all necessarily get the focus they deserve. While the likes of “cosplay pioneer” and Elfquest co-creator Wendy Pini, DC Publisher Jenette Kahn, Vertigo founding Editor Karen Bergen and writers Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick are showcased impressively, others such as Louise Simonson and Colleen Doran get much less ‘face time’. Still, if the fact that it struggles to fit in all the fantastic female creators into the 70-minute running time is the worst thing that I can say about this documentary, then I guess that can only be seen as a good thing.
Ranging from the days of the underground comics scene of the 70’s through to the early genesis of the cosplay movement, Chris Claremont’s fiercely pro-female X-Men run and the formation of the Friends of Lulu, there’s a lot of ground for the filmmakers to cover, and I couldn’t help but feel that She Makes Comics could almost be expanded to several documentaries, each covering a particular era of female comicbook history. However, as an interesting, varied look at some of the overwhelmingly positive influences over the years, this is an undoubtedly impressive project.
For all the fascinating women and eye-opening moments along the way, the indelible moment that I took away from She Makes Comics has to be the passion and eloquence of Kelly Sue DeConnick as she discusses her motivations, the relationship she has with her fans, and her views on the industry in general. DeConnick has always been a fantastic spokesperson for female comic creators and fans, and while other creators in this doc do make some valid, impressive and heartfelt statements, DeConnick’s powerful and inspirational words will (hopefully) linger in the head of the viewer long after the credits have rolled.
With an overwhelmingly celebratory tone, She Makes Comics delivers a satisfying account of some of the issues currently facing female comic fans and creators, while at the same time offering an impressively positive message for the future of the industry. While it may struggle at times to give every one of these remarkable women the screen time they truly deserve, it does open the doors on a lot of forgotten legends of the industry, and portrays the female comic community – quite rightly – as passionate, enthusiastic and ultimately inspiring. Highly, highly recommended.
You can buy a copy of She Makes Comics, either on DVD or via digital download, from the Sequart Website.