THE #VISIBLEWOMEN INITIATIVE
What is #VisibleWomen?
#VisibleWomen is a platform-leveraging visibility initiative with a two-fold goal:
1) To raise the profiles of women* currently working or seeking employment in Comics Publishing and its related industries in the following roles: artists, colorists, letterers, inkers, editors and writers; and
2) To help hiring professionals in Comics Publishing and and its related industries to make more diverse hires.
You can't hire people you don't see.
*VW welcomes participants of any marginalized gender who are comfortable under our banner.
The first #VisibleWomen event was held on Twitter in 2016.
Frustrated at the perception that was hard to find women to draw mainstream comics, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick opted to spend a Monday leveraging her Twitter platform to spotlight women comic book artists by retweeting links to their portfolios with the hashtag #VisibleWomen, a cheeky nod to Marvel's first superheroine, the Invisible Woman.
The response was such that DeConnick and her team decided to repeat the event every six months. Subsequent events expanded to include women in other comics disciplines, not just pencillers, but writers, inkers, colorists, letterers, designers, cover artists and editors.
"But," says DeConnick, "the goal was never just visibility. The goal was to get women work, to get them PAID."
To that end, the team's next expansion was to begin producing a spreadsheet from the hashtag and distributing it free of charge to any hiring professional in the publishing industry, on request.
"The focus has always been comics," adds DeConnick, "but we get spreadsheet requests from all areas of publishing, as well as gaming and animation."
Annabelle Hayford launched the incredible #drawingwhileblack hashtag in September 2017 and soon thereafter the winter #VisibleWomen event moved from Feb (#BlackHistoryMonth) to March (#WomensHistoryMonth), where it made more sense and didn't risk pulling focus. It's been run every March and August since.
It's vital that #VisibleWomen not become VisibleWHITEWomen or an instrument of whiteness. White is not a default, it should not be suggested by the absence of a modifier.
#VisibleWomen highlights WOC in its own work and means to share the platform by spotlighting other hashtag initiatives such as the aforementioned #drawingwhileblack, #AsAmCreatorRollCall, #indigenousartists and #bipocartists.
As a culture, our understanding of gender is evolving. We used to get asked if we welcome trans women. The answer is--and has always been--emphatically yes! It's right there in the title: #VisibleWomen--tall, short, cis, trans, etc.
We welcome (and have always welcomed) all marginalized genders, but we respect that some folks are not comfortable under the banner of "women." We thereby support by calling your attention to #IAmNonbinary, #VisibleNBs and #transmascartists.
We would also like to recognize the extraordinary work of @marinaomi and encourage you to use her databases (in existence long before us). They are:
Queer Cartoonists Database
Disabled Cartoonists Database
Cartoonists of Color Database
We make progress by supporting one another. #VisibleWomen encourages you to avail yourself of ANY and ALL the resources that are appropriate to you.
To find out about more resources, consider joining us as members of Women in Comics Collective International.