There is a short but very worthwhile dialogue at “What Should We Do?” with New York City-based cartoonist Gabrielle Bell.
Bell talks about her affecting work a bit, but I appreciated the conversation around the term “willingness” as it refers to “embracing” women as trailblazing creators within the comics industry as well as the discussion of the subtle (and not subtle) sexism, “ghettoization” in general:
WSWD: Over the course of your career, how have you seen the landscape change for women creators in comics?
Bell: It has altered significantly. Sexism in general has become more subtle. There are a lot more women artists and writers in the field, but that’s not always reflected by representation. You’ll have “autobiographic comics” panels at conventions that will be all women, and that will be it for female creators. By not calling it “women in comics,” there’s a presumption of progress, but it’s still an industry that’s prone to ghettoization no matter what you call it.
WSWD: Are you detecting a greater willingness for women to be embraced as important figures in the field? As an example, there’s been a turn of late to view Aline Kominsky-Crumb as a canonical creator.
Bell: I think it’s great that women artists are being embraced, but “willingness”? I find the use of that word kind of ridiculous. With Kominsky-Crumb, you’re talking about a great comics artist who has dedicated her life to the work and has changed the field in fundamental ways. Why wouldn’t she be canonized or embraced? To be frank, I am just tired of having the conversation in those terms.
Bell is making comics regularly for Spiralbound at Medium and elsewhere. Her latest is “Her Life to Live.” Back in 2014, I wrote about Truth is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries, a mostly black & white collection of Bell’s travel comics, introspective strips, and more.