No Sexism At DC

A Letter To Time Warner

Here’s a letter written to Time Warner about the behavior of DC’s executives at Comic Con and gender inequity in the DCnU. Since this is a letter intended for actual mailing, you’ll note a lack of links, although sources are still cited. In 10 point Arial with 1” margins, it totals two pages so a single first-class stamp should cover mailing costs.

Please feel free to use this letter as a template, or for ideas about content or structure. People in other countries will need to add different postal codes or additional information as part of the address, but the basic block format should still apply. You will also need to insert your own information about the financial impact of changes you’ve made to your pull list to business partners and Time Warner.

And especially remember the Rules Of Engagement. You are writing to someone who likely had nothing to do with these changes and may not even be aware of them, but is in a position to bring these concerns under greater scrutiny. Don’t be angry, be reasonable. Be logical. Focus on the inappropriate and unacceptable behavior. Focus on how the behavior and the changes at DC conflict with Time Warner’s corporate diversity policy. Focus on the economic impacts to DC and DC’s business partners.

As one final note, remember that you’re communicating with someone who may not be a comics fan, so avoid jargon and comic terms. As one important example, don’t talk about the DCnU, talk about the DC Comics relaunch. It’s San Diego Comic Con or the convention, not Comic Con or the Con or other shorthand.

With that, I’m off to the post office. My letter is signed, sealed, stamped and ready for delivery.

———————-

[Your Street Address]
[City, State Zip]

July 29, 2011

Susan Fleishman
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Executive Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
Time Warner Inc.
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019-8016

Dear Ms. Fleishman:

I am a fan of DC comic books and the parent of a little girl who turns 10 in September and is also a fan of DC comic books. I am writing to express my objection to the recent behavior of DC Comics Co-President Dan DiDio at San Diego Comic Con.

A number of reports from well-respected comic news Web sites such as Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, Comics Alliance and others indicate that attendees at the convention questioned Mr. DiDio about the decrease in female artists and writers working at DC Comics. Specifically, before the DC relaunch, women writing and drawing DC comics represented approximately 12% of creators. After the DC Comics relaunch, that percentage decreases to less than 2%. In fact, only three women will be writing or drawing DC titles beginning in September.

Furthermore, reports from these same sites also indicate that attendees questioned Mr. DiDio and DC Comics Co-President Jim Lee about what appeared to be a reduction in female characters in DC comic books. Tim Hanley performed a statistical analysis after San Diego Comic Con, and found that the number of titles starring or prominently featuring women as part of a team actually had declined; comics starring women such as “Wonder Woman” and “Power Girl” declined from 19.4% of DC’s on-going monthly titles to 13.5%. On-going monthly comics prominently featuring women experienced less of a decline (34.7% to 34.1%), but a decline was still present.

These statistics would be troubling enough by themselves, but when combined with Mr. DiDio’s responses - which are available as downloadable audio files on the Internet, and I would be more than happy to email you a link (my contact information is included below) - they seem to point to a larger problem. Mr. DiDio asked convention attendees who he should have hired and also asked people what the reduction in female creators means to them. In listening to the audio file of his actual comments, his tone of voice sounds aggressive. Even more telling, DC Comics writers Gail Simone and Paul Cornell sought out the people who asked Mr. DiDio those questions and tried to reassure them that they were committed to representing diversity in the books they had any control over.

I applaud Time Warner’s corporate diversity policy, especially the recognition that audiences today are broader and more diverse than ever before, and that Time Warner’s employees and publications - including comic books - need to reflect that diversity to meet consumers’ needs. However, the current staff of DC Comics does not seem to reflect that diversity, nor does the content of DC comic books seem to reflect that diversity. As a key example, Barbara Gordon was one of the most prominent and visible disabled people in comics, and after September, she will no longer be disabled. Although I try not to bring it up in letters like this, I am disabled and I can’t ignore that change when my little girl doesn’t see anyone in DC comics who looks like her family.

It is also worth noting that Newsarama quoted Mr. DiDio as saying “We want the best creators on our books, who should we have hired?” As a brief answer, Pia Guerra won an Eisner Award and was part of the team that won a Harvey Award for “Y: The Last Man,” a DC publication. Jill Thompson and Becky Cloonan are both Eisner Award-winning artists who have worked for DC. There are more Eisner Award-winning female creators who have never worked for DC, and yet the DC Comics creative staff after September is overwhelmingly male, featuring many creators who haven’t even been nominated for any awards, much less won awards as prestigious as the Eisners and Harveys.

In the wake of these comments and the ratio of women to men in both staff and content, the appearance of gender bias at DC Comics is hard to overlook.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a DC comics fan and the parent of a little girl who turns 10 in September and is also a DC comics fan. As of Monday, July 25, I was a subscriber to 26 separate DC Comics titles with a total cover price of $74.75 per month. Although some of the titles I currently subscribe to are being canceled as part of the DC relaunch, I would still have had $50.83 worth of DC Comics before adding titles which I planned to subscribe to.

In the wake of Mr. DiDio’s comments, I canceled 16 of those titles on Tuesday, July 26. Of the remaining 10, DC is discontinuing three at the end of August, and I will cancel my subscriptions to two more titles at that time. As a direct result of what appears to be gender bias at DC in staffing and content, as well as Mr. DiDio’s aggressive and hostile treatment of DC fans and customers, I will have canceled 21 separate titles, representing a total decrease in my spending on DC comic books of $56.81 per month. I have already contacted the retailer who provides my comics and explained why they are losing this revenue.

It is unacceptable for representatives of an organization as prestigious and respected as Time Warner to treat consumers so disrespectfully, particularly when those consumers are asking why the creative teams working on magazines and the content of the magazines they read reflect so little of the diversity present in our world, as well as the diversity in staffing and content that Time Warner’s corporate diversity policy seems to require.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. If you would like to discuss these issues and concerns further, I can be reached via email at [Edited] or via telephone at [Edited].

Sincerely,

[Edited]

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