Today, I asked some questions on the internets about the upcoming Womanthology book. It has raised over $100k, and gotten some comics press. I, along with some other people, have asked where that money is going. In return, I have gotten emails, tweets & texts saying among other things that I was “starting a fire where there was no wood” and “contributing to girl-on-girl violence”. My goodness.
I have been following the whole Womanthology story since the get go because hey, I like comics. I have drawn comics and published comics & been in comics anthologies. I no longer work in comics (that much - I dabble), and I know that being a lady in the field of comics is a tough row to hoe in an industry that is already a hard place to make a career. I get it.
I am not a huge fan of anthologies. Anthologies should be carefully curated, budgeted & planned. They are an IMMENSE amount of work. The amount of emailing alone - ye gods, I would not wish that on my worst enemy.
An anthology of only one kind of minority artist? Ugh. It smacks of ghettoization. No one is going to say “this is actually kind of sucky” because who wants to be that person? But the truth is, some of these kind of anthologies are kind of sucky!
An anthology for charity has it’s own issues. If you raise money for charitable reasons, you need to be clear about what the charity is, where the money is going, and what everyone can expect. You need to be above board about every single penny. Having been involved in the last few years with a charity that had issues with people raising money on it’s behalf, I can tell you first hand - if you don’t get that shit straight from jump, you will end up in a morass of recrimination and lawsuits.
So here’s my issues with Womanthology:
- The money is “for charity”. But also, it’s for “Women in Comics”. But the charity that was belatedly chosen, Global Giving, has nothing to do with furthering the cause of women making comics.
- The budget that has (again, belatedly) been put forward is not well constructed. At my reckoning, there is about $30-50K that is… fuzzy. I know how much printing costs. I know how Kickstarter works. I know how much you have to pay in taxes as a publisher. These numbers don’t add up.
- What EXACTLY is IDW doing as the distributor, aside from getting good press?
- Why are the contributors not getting paid? Why were they only recently told they would even be getting a copy of the book?
- I have been told “oh, they didn’t expect to make so much money!” Yay for them for exceeding funding expectations, but… didn’t they add big name backers as rewards AFTER the goal had been met? So, it’s not as if it took them unawares, right? Why wasn’t there a plan put in place BEFORE they asked more people to donate rewards?
- It has been suggested that an imprint will come out of this. Um… isn’t that a for profit enterprise? Doesn’t that mean that these charitable donations will be funding what amounts to a start up? Isn’t that EXPRESSLY against Kickstarter rules?
- Seriously, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST PAY THE CONTRIBUTORS?!?! Don’t you think that showing that women can make money being in comics is a better show of strength than just being yet another charity because we can’t do it on our own?
Asking these questions doesn’t make me an enemy of the cause. It doesn’t mean I do not support my fellow ladies. It means that I think if you want to do a thing & be a voice for ladies, you best have your ducks in a row. Stop being fuzzy and wishy washy and moving the goal posts. If the goal is making a book, and you get more money than you expect? MAKE A BETTER BOOK. If the goal changes because more money has been raised? BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR NEW GOALS ARE. Are you a publisher? BE A PUBLISHER. Are you a charity? BE A CHARITY THAT HAS CLEAR INTENTIONS. Stop releasing vague statements about what you maybe can do now, and oh wouldn’t this be cool? DON’T BE FLAKY. TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.
Because if you don’t take it seriously, if you don’t listen to your critics and the questions, if you just respond with hurt feelings and “why are you picking on me-ism”, it will fall apart and there will be recrimination and blame and anger. THAT hurts the cause. THAT is girl-on-girl violence. Look, I know it sucks but - if you want to do this thing, YOU HAVE TO BE BETTER THAN THE BOYS WHO DID IT FIRST. That is the curse of being the model minority - you work twice as hard and get half the credit. Right now, as far as I am concerned, Womanthology isn’t doing the work. And it doesn’t make me a bad comics feminist to say so.