Comics Lowdown: Analyzing gender representation of 34,476 comic characters

Plus: Calexit sells out, climate change comics, Adam West as the Dark Knight, Becky Cloonan, Gerald Way, Jay Baruchel’s thoughts on Canadian superheroes and more!

A fascinating study takes a look at the gender representation of 34,476 comic book characters. Journalist Amanda Shendruk asks, “Female characters appear in superhero comics less often than males — but when they are included, how are they depicted?”

Wonder Woman gif by Nicole Dirksen

She examined 34,476 different characters. The study results were published with a plentiful helping of graphs, graphs, and more graphs looking at everything from the types of powers a character has, to the gender make-up of their superhero team, to the naming scheme and frequency of character’s aliases. Some of the findings include:

  • The data suggest that less-physical powers — such as empathy, intellect, and telepathy — tend to be more represented among female characters. Men however, often have highly physical powers, as well as those that involve gadgets.
  • 30% of all teams have no women, and only 12% have more female team members than male. The majority of those 12%, however, are exclusively female teams.
  • A full 30% of male characters with gendered names get ‘man’ in their name. That number is only 6% for ‘woman’. However, ‘girl’ is the third-most common gendered name for a female character (13%). ‘Boy’ only shows up sixth for males (5%).

The study was then topped with very cute pixel art by Vancouver’s Nicole Derksen.

‘Arctic Circle’ by Alex Hallatt

Riding the iceberg: Environmentally themed comic strip Arctic Circle will be focusing heavily on global warming this week to commemorate the opening of Al Gore’s new film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Creator Alex Hallatt will focus the stories this week on global warming shares her enthusiasm about the new film:

I was so excited when ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was the success it was,” she said during a telephone interview. “Finally, finally climate change was now in the mainstream. In the intervening 10 to 11 years, it seems like we’re almost going backwards. It’s really, really frightening.

The fact that there has to be a sequel does bother me. We shouldn’t even be discussing this.


Nananananana Dark Knight!: Artist Gene Ha currently has a painted Adam West as Frank Miller’s Dark Knight piece up for auction on eBay. Mony raised will be donated to the Hero Initiative.

Interviews and Profiles

Wolves, the Mire, and Demeter: Becky Cloonan re-released her 2014 medieval trilogy By Chance or Providence. Now published by Image Comics, and newly colored by Lee Loughridge, the graphic novel came out this week. Coonan gave an interview to the Off Panel podcast, also reflecting on current projects, working with Steve Dillion, writing the Punisher and more.

Comics and politics: After selling out all copies within its first week of being released, the immigration dystopian comic Calexit is now in its second print run. Catching mass media attention for its depiction of a Trump-like government climate, CNN Politics interviews Calexit writer Matteo Pizzolo.
Captain Canuck #1

O Canada: Where are all the superheroes in the great white north? Best known as an actor, Captain Canuck guest writer Jay Baruchel made an appearance on CBC’s Q to talk about his recent appointment to chief creative officer at Chapterhouse Comics and to seek truth, justice, and the Canadian way!

Gerald Way (photo: Penny Howle/
A different front: Actors are not the only ones moonlighting into the comic business. My Chemical Romance frontman Gerald Way is also the creator of the critically acclaimed Umbrella Academy and now curator of DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint. The multimedia artist makes comparisons between music making and comic creating and states that writing comics is now his “main thing”.
Good drawings: Katie Skelly is known for her quirky art style and layouts, and her unique storytelling methods. The Bad Drawings by Bad Women creator shares her top five artistic influences and her favourite works from each artist.

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

Mister Miracle variant by Mitch Gerads
A very impressed Graeme McMillan reviewed the new Mister Miracle book, calling the Fourth World series “the perfect comic to honor Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday“.

Conventions and Festivals


Chris Schweizer’s SDCC con report

Con Reporter: Another great creator SDCC report: Eisner nominated Chris Schweizer shared his San Diego Comic-Con experience from the Eisners to the con floor. The blog entry is loaded with great photos and stories.

Graphic novels galore!: Here is a quick roundup of many of the new graphic novel announcements during San Diego Comic-Con can be found at Publisher Weekly.




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