DC Responds to “Batgirl of San Diego”

The caped Comic-Con crusader for equal representation for women in DC's New 52 earns a public response from the publisher.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Batgirl

If you've got your ear to the funnybook ground, you've likely heard tell about the "Batgirl of San Diego."  A woman dressed as the Stephanie Brown Batgirl made her presence felt at many of the DC Comics panels at the San Diego Comic-Con this year for the express purpose of campaigning for more representation of women both on the creative side and on the character side of their publications.  It's a completely valid point to make, given the sheer amount of white dudes on most every panel, and more female artists and writers would be very much welcome and wonderful, as would more female lead characters that aren't knockoffs of previous male superheroes, too. 

Her choice of Brown as her costume is certainly apropos to her cause, as she's one of the more maligned and marginalized characters in the Bat-pantheon – not only had she been killed off and ignored for a long time in the Batcave's memorials to fallen Robins, and not only will she apparently be cast aside again to put Barbara Gordon back in the Batgirl suit, but at the Batman panel this year, even the editor of the Bat-titles forgot about her when asked how many Robins there have been.  Yes, Stephanie Brown was Robin for a while.  You'd think with the amount of fan rallying that was done to get her brought back to life, they'd remember her exploits.

Anyway, the response to the Batgirl of San Diego's campaign was very mixed.  The audiences at these panels varied in their reactions from some support and other questioners rallying to the cause to some mockery and some general murmuring of discontent.  The discontent likely stems from people being made uncomfortable by confrontational questions that harsh the party vibe of the Con rather than actual disagreement with her stance, as that same kind of groaning was done to a guy who just accused them of putting out "crap like Batman: Odyssey."   Or it's possible that Batgirl's presence at nearly every DC panel to make the same point that turned the worm.  Or perhaps it's the fact that, despite all of fandom's progress in mainstreaming, there are still a lot of socially maladjusted men who like comics and have no idea how to relate to or properly appreciate the perspective of women. 

The panelists' responses were mixed as well, since having to respond to the same accusations over and over again tends to elicit varying reactions.  DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio ran a lot of the panels, and when confronted with Batgirl's campaigns at different times, he would alternately agree with her assessment that more female representation is needed, try to turn it into a joke, or protest at being singled out and claiming that he'd put their pantheon of female heroes up against any other comic company's character list.  To be fair, when asked if she was doing the same thing to Marvel, Batgirl declared "I've given up on Marvel."  So apparently, DC is at least doing well enough in this regard to earn a campaign to do more.

No matter what anyone thinks of the Batgirl of San Diego's campaign, her persistence seems to have paid off.  DiDio and Jim Lee issued this response to the issues she raised.

 

Over the past week we’ve heard from fans about a need for more women writers, artists and characters. We want you to know, first and foremost, that we hear you and take your concerns very seriously.

We’ve been very fortunate in recent years to have fan favorite creators like Gail Simone, Amy Reeder, Felicia Henderson, Fiona Staples, Amanda Connor, G. Willow Wilson and Nicola Scott write and draw the adventures of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes.

DC Comics is the home of a pantheon of remarkable, iconic women characters like Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman and Supergirl as well as fan favorite characters like Black Canary, Katana, Mera and Starfire. We’re committed to telling diverse stories with a diverse point of view. We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership. Can we improve on that? We always can—and aim to.

We’ll have exciting news about new projects with women creators in the coming months and will be making those announcements closer to publication. Many of the above creators will be working on new projects, as we continue to tell the ongoing adventures of our characters. We know there are dozens of other women creators and we welcome the opportunity to work with them.

Our recent announcements have generated much attention and discussion and we welcome that dialogue.

Best-

Jim Lee & Dan DiDio
DC Entertainment Co-Publishers

 

So what do you think?  Is this damage control or a genuine pledge to do more?  Does the fact that they misspelled Amanda Conner's name mean anything?