This past week, cartoonist Tess Fowler has shone a spotlight on a troubling aspect of sexism in her professional comics community: sexual harassment. Fowler tweeted about being harassed at a comics convention, at first not naming the guy who did the harassing. But after receiving notes from three other women saying they’d had an unsettling experience with the same guy, Fowler revealed the alleged harasser to be Brian Wood, who writes Marvel’s best-selling all-women X-Men series.
"NO ONE should have so much clout that they can do this countless times and get away with it. Least of all in comics. FUCK YOU, WOOD,” Fowler tweeted, summing up the thoughts of women everywhere. .
This revelation and Wood’s response prompted a big discussion in comics communities about what sexual harassment looks like. Sexism in the comics industry, like any industry, has a lot of faces. A gender imbalance in the industry and atmosphere of “casual sexism” affects what comics characters look like, what kind of stories get told, who works in comic shops, and how women are treated when they speak up with criticism.
It can feel hopeless, facing both the subtle, everyday impacts of sexism and the in-your-face issues it sounds like Fowler and others have had to deal with.
Talented artist Kate Leth has responded to the controversy in a great, proactive way: writing a comic about how to speak up about sexism when you see it. Here’s Kate Leth’s “Say Something” comic, a part of her Kate or Die series which runs biweekly on Comics Alliance.