With Women’s Month still upon us, I think it’s only fitting to talk about the influential women that have changed history, specifically comic book history. From creating, producing, and working on sales, there’s usually a female figure in the team. So, who are some of these women that have made comics what it is today?
15. Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry has been a vital figure in the world of comics when we talk about women empowerment. She’s well known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek and her illustrated novel called The Good Times are Killing Me. In addition, she won an Eisner Award in 2009 for the Best Reality-Based Work comic for her graphic novel What It Is.
Lynda was recognized as one of the 12 female cartoonists who have significantly contributed to the comic art form. Lynda has always made it a point to have her readers open the door to their own creativity with her works.
14. Kate Beaton
Kate is a comic artist well known for creating a comic strip titled Hark! A Vagrant. During her last two years of college, Kate began drawing for her school newspaper, The Argosy but didn’t know she would become a comic artist till much later. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology and published several of her history-inspired comics on the web while paying off her student loans.
Her self-published strips started to garner popularity in December of 2007 but eventually moved her works to a website she named Hark! A Vagrant by May of 2008. Her series began from 2007 to 2018 and were all done through MS Paint on her break times at work. Her comic won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic in 2011. Eventually, she ended the comic in 2018, feeling that the project had run long enough.
13. Alison Bechdel
Alison has a long-running comic strip called Dykes to Watch Out For, but she was praised for her graphic memoir titled Fun Home, which was adapted to the Tony Awarded musical using the same title.
Originally she couldn’t get a job as a cartoonist in any publication house. So, she settled into an office job in the publishing industry while making Dykes to Watch Out For on the side. An officemate saw her working on an illustration and persuaded her to send her art to WomaNews, a newspaper catered towards feminism. The newspaper soon started to publish her work, and her single-panel illustrations soon became multi-panel strips.
Her graphic novel has received critical acclaim. Time magazine even named the book on the 10 Best Books of the Year. While Fun Home focused on her story with her father, her next graphic novel, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama told the story of her relationship with her mother.
12. Karen Berger
It’s not only creators who take the credit for making comic history. The editors also carry a massive role in making a certain comic successful. Karen Berger is a comic book editor who has helped create DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint back in 1993. She is also known line’s Executive Editor up until 2013. Currently, she is overseeing Berger Books which Dark Horse Comics is publishing.
Right after graduating in 1979, Berger entered the comic book industry, first becoming the assistant editor of Pal Levits back in DC. Eventually, she became his editor when he was working on Legion of Super-Heroes. Then, feeling more adventurous, she wanted to try her hand in editing more horror-themed comics and became the editor of House of Mystery.
She became a key person in creating Alan Moore’s book the Swamp Thing. In addition, she also played a huge role in convincing Neil Gaiman to write The Sandman. The editor has won several awards for helping artists and writers alike create their stories. She has won an Inkpot Award, three Eisner Awards, and the Comic Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Editor from 1997 to 2005.
11. Colleen Coover
She is a comic book artist best known for creating lesbian-themed comics. In addition to those works, she has also lent her skills in illustrating a number of short stories in X-Men: First Class for Marvel Comics. Colleen has always had comics in her life but only started drawing for the art style after meeting her husband, Paul Tobin, who shares the same love for comics as her.
Her first major comic was Small Favors, a sex-positive, woman-friendly adult comic book project that was published. She then illustrated several works written by her husband and even won the award for one of their collaborations, Bandette. She illustrated for popular titles like Spider-Girl, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and X-Men.
10. Kelly Sue Deconnick
Kelly is a comic book writer and editor for several comics. In addition to writing, she also helps create English adaptations for many manga or Japanese comics. Her career in the industry had its own odd beginnings. She first started writing copy for an adult magazine. Eventually, while posting her own stories on a message board, a comic book author Warren Ellis took notice of her and eventually invited her to work for him on his own website. This is where she started writing catalog entries for comics.
She then moved to another job when she entered Tokyopop and Vis Media. Her job was to work with a translator and make sure the English translations still followed the proper flow of the story arc. She then tried her hand at comic book writing and wrote her first published comic, CSI: Crime Scene Investigations- Dominos #5. She even got to write for DC’s Aquaman.
9. Francoise Mouly
Francoise is a New York-based designer, editor, and publisher best known for her involvement in the comics and graphics magazine Raw. her work had her have a large influence on the rise of the production value of English-language comics world in the 1980s. In addition, she has helped provide outlets to several new and foreign cartoonists. She is also known for promoting comics as an educational tool and a serious art form.
As a child, she had loved books, illustrated fairy tales, and all sorts of media. But, life wasn’t so easy for her, especially her big move to New York without a solid plan for her life. She lived in a loft and managed to get by through several odd jobs. She used comics as a way to practice her English.
While looking for comics, she ran into Art Spiegelman. The two will later develop a deep relationship after Mouly would read his work about his mother’s suicide. After the two wed, they would often take trips to Europe to discover new comics that they would bring home to share with their friends. She helped her husband prepare a lecture called “Language of Comics. Eventually, wanting to be more involved in the comic scene, she started taking classes and even scoring a job as a colorist in Marvel Studios.
She eventually founded Raw Book & Graphics, where her career as a designer, editor, and publisher really took off. Since then, Mouly has made a significant impact on publishing practices, but unfortunately, her name is hardly mentioned due to her usually working behind the scenes and the issue of sexism.
8. ND Stevenson/ Noelle Stevenson
Stevenson is more known as a cartoonist and animation producer, but Stevenson also had worked with comics in the past. During Stevenson’s junior year in college, the artist created a webcomic called Nimora and even got to sign with a literary agent who came across the comic online. The comic was signed to HarperCollins as a graphic novel and even doubled as Stevenson’s thesis. Stevenson even managed several awards for this work.
The comic also helped Stevenson intern in BOOM! Studios where the artist eventually started Stevenson’s first job as a writer and developer for Lumberjane. Stevenson also got to write Marvel Comics for Thor and Runaways. Stevenson’s stay in the comic industry wasn’t too long, for Stevenson eventually decided to move to animation, where Stevenson became part of the writing team Wander Over Yonder.
7. G. Willow Wilson
She is a comics writer, prose author, essayist, and journalist best known for her Graphic Novel Cairo and relaunching Ms. Marvel starring a 16-year-old Muslim superhero. Wilson grew fascinated by reading a pamphlet featuring X-Men when she was in fifth grade and soon started following the cartoon.
Her love for comics eventually led her to publish her own. Her first graphic novel was titled Cairo and was named one of the best Graphic Novels for 2007 and has garnered several praises by other publications. She eventually got into comics working with DC and even got to write for Marvel, where she created the character Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim hero.5. Elizabeth Holloway Martson
6. Elizabeth Holloway Marston
An attorney and psychologist. She might not be directly involved with the comic book industry, but her husband, William Moulton Marston, is. So why is she on this list? That’s because she’s part of why Wonder Woman is here today.
A 1992 issue of The New York Times reveals that Wonder Woman was patterned after William’s wife. She also helped out in the creation of the character by being his consultant whenever he would present needed ideas to the character. A biological drama called Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman portrays her, her husband, and Olive Byrne during the creation of Wonder Woman.
5. Gail Simone
Gail Simone is a writer best known for her involvement in Birds of Prey, Bat Girl, and the longest-running female writer for Wonder Woman. This particular writer has also taken part in The Simpsons comics. She has also taken part in writing for video games and even TV shows. She significantly impacted how female characters and female heroes are portrayed in comics and other media forms.
4. Rachel Pollock
Not only is this woman involved in comics, she also does a lot of science fiction and is an expert in tarot card reading. She even helped create Vertigo’s Tarot Deck alongside Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman. She’s best known for involvement with DC’s Doom Patrol.
She took complete control of the series from 1993 to 1995. She was brave enough to address rarely talked about topics in comics such as menstruation, sexual identity, and transsexuality. In addition to Doom Patrol, she worked on Brother Power the Geeks, Tomahawks, New Gods, Time Breakers, and Helix Imprint. Her expertise on Tarot also had Neil Gaiman consult her on his own stories.
Pollack herself is transexual, so she usually uses the comics she writes for as a medium to address transgender issues. For example, Coagula of Doom Patrol happens to be a transexual character.
3. Ann Nocenti
Many people assume that working for comics is counted as a low-end job, and parents back in the day discouraged going into it. However, this did not stop Ann Nocenti pursue a job in the comic industry. Nocenti is a journalist, filmmaker, teacher, writer, and editor for comic books. She’s well known for her involvement in Marvel, where she wrote for Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil. She even co-created characters like Longshot, Mojo, Spiral, Blackheart, and Typhoid Mary.
After she graduated from SUNY New Paltz, she discovered the superhero genre of comic books and wanted to try her hand at working in the comic book industry. She was given her first job at Marvel Comics, with her first published work being a six-page mythological story drawn by Greg LaRocque. After serving Marvel for several of the company’s series, she moved up the ranks as an assistant editor and editor for the studio.
2. Ramona Fradon
A number of people involved the comic book industry have had deep attachments to comics since their childhood, not Ramona Fradon. In fact, she doesn’t have a big history with comics books growing up. However, she did have a love for newspaper comic strips.
Fresh out of art school, she married her husband Dana Fradon, who was a cartoonist in the New Yorker. Seeing her talent, her husband encouraged her to try cartooning and even contacted George Ward to take a look at her illustrations. George at that time was a comic-book letterer and pitched her works for possible job openings in different publications.
Ramona had her first cartoonist b in DC Comics for Shining Knight, but she was regularly recruited for an Adventure Comics backup feature that would star Aquaman. She even co-created Aqualad alongside writer Robert Berstein.
She left DC to raise her daughter for a while but eventually returned to make Plastic Man, Freedom Fighters, and Super Friends. She was later inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame for her works in the industry.
1. Louise Simonson
Playfully referred to as “Weezie” by people close to her. She is a comic book writer and editor that has contributed to Conan the Barbarian, Power Pack, X-Factor, New Mutants, Superman, and Steel.
Usually, you would work as a writer first before becoming a writer, but Simonson began her career in the comic industry as a comic editor. She started her professional career at Warren Publishing, where she went from Assistant editor to senior editor in her run.
She left the company in 1979 to join Marvel Comics in 1980, where she worked as an editor for Uncanny X-Men and several other Marvel titles. She even has a cameo in New Mutants #21 drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.
She eventually quit her job as an editor and pursued a writing career for comics. Still, she wrote Starriors, Marvel Team-Up, Web of Spider-Man, and Red Sonja under Marvel. She also began writing for DC Comics in 1991, heavily contributing to Superman: The Man of Steel, which she wrote for eight years.