My thoughts on being a part of the Hire this Woman series of articles at CA are complex. I have said in the past that while I dig the actual content and design of the article(it is completely focused on letting an artist talk about what they do), the title of the article is a really complex issue to unpact, because on the one hand I think it is politically expedient and commanding in the sense that it is an order to no longer continue to ignore a segment of talent that comics at the mainstream level often says doesn’t exist. It directly engages the sentiment that there are no women out there to hire, and what’s more it is confrontational in it’s objection.
On the other hand, it also frontloads that the person being interviewed is a woman first, artist or writer or letterer or whatever, second. The title doesn’t even say what the woman does in comics, just that they should be hired.
But then the actual content of the article is all artistic merit. There isn’t a single “what is it like being a woman in comics” question, none of the questions even refer to gender, they are all about what it is you do.
Add to that, I wonder how many clicks an article that just said “Look at this artist: some name” would actually get. There is actually a segment of comicdom that does feel undeserved in terms of women’s role in the industry—and for that audience, this is an easy way to find the people and issues you are trying to advocate for. The title is in that way a political beacon for people to rally behind.
And maybe at the end of the day, what you’re looking at with “Hire This Woman” is something that is more important than simply highlighting an artist every week. I think it is about the cumulative effect of these as they add up, and the way that changes perceptions over time. Hire this woman as a weekly/bi-weekly feature becomes less specific and more of a mantra to rally behind. And in that way, I think that it is perhaps bigger than whatever small objections or concerns one might have as an artist over being shunted into a particular lane.
The other weird side of it, is just that I don’t see what I do within a “someone needs to hire me” rubric, I see everything I do within a “I’m going to make what I feel is dope with or without the consent of anyone, and when I’m done you’re going to want to be on my side of it”. I don’t need the validation of a job offer to accomplish my goals within comics. There is literally no way short of severe physical impairment that I can be stopped.
But I would like more people to know my work even in this early form exists, and I think Janelle Asselin is pretty cool, and I like to talk about myself. So I did it. And it’s worked out. I picked up a shit ton of new followers on twitter and tumblr, have sold some more copies of my comics, and got some interesting offers past that. The more money I can blow on comics at ECCC the better. So in real people terms I got everything I wanted to get out of the interview. And it doesn’t change what I am working on and feel passionately about in the slightest degree.