At the recently concluded Small Press Expo in Bethesda a very cool thing happened. A bunch of awards were presented to several talented, unique cartoonists who are turning out though provoking, beautifully crafted work, influential work. The winners were all popular and well deserved. And they all happened to be women. It was a thing, for sure, and much talked about. What struck me, first off, was just how strong the work was–Sophie Goldstein’s multi leveled future history of a world where having a baby became a rebellious act, Emily Carroll’s mastery of horror and structure, Eleanor Davis’s powerful examination of self-sabotaging quests for self-esteem in many settings.
The other thing that struck me was the contrast with the other conversations I was having at the show. Talking with people I used to work with in the “mainstream” comics industry about the long lists of men who would never have given Goldstein, Carroll or Davis a shot at telling their stories. Because they are women, and those people didn’t think women could make good comics.