Yesterday, we launched a new feature here at 13th Dimension — The Making of ‘She Makes Comics’ — the cool new documentary about women in comics. We’ll be bringing you weekly or biweekly updates on the film’s progess in direct cooperation with the filmmakers, from the Kickstarter campaign to premiere. Today, director/producer Marisa Stotter writes about how she made her way to the world of comics — and ended up making this film. — DanBy MARISA STOTTER
The first time I walked into a comic shop, I didn’t buy a single comic.
I was around 9 or 10, tagging along with my brother to a Magic: The Gathering tournament. He’d introduced me to the game, and like any younger sibling, I wanted to do everything he did. So I went with him to a local comics retailer for a Saturday morning Magic tournament.
It didn’t strike me at first that I was the only girl among dozens of guys. I’d long since gotten used to being the token girl at the skate park. Some called me a tomboy because I was into extreme sports and trading-card games. I just let my interest and passion lead the way, and that often brought me to places where I was somewhat out of place. I was constantly singled out, scoffed at, or quizzed to test my dedication, but I viewed it all as what I had to deal with to enjoy the hobbies I loved.
My Magic skills left a lot to be desired at the time, so I was out of the tournament early and had some time to kill. I walked around the shop and browsed the comics, appreciating the colorful artwork but lacking any clue about what was what. I knew of Superman and Batman, of course, and I made the connection between the Wolverine on an X-Men cover and the action figure I had (he often rode on the back of my Mufasa figure). But nothing on the shelves interested me enough to part with my allowance money.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I walked into that same shop with the intention of buying comics. Remembering those days of Magic tournaments, I went in expecting to be the only girl in a sea of comics-obsessed guys, wary of my presence in their sacred territory. I was armed with a passable amount of knowledge on the titles I planned to buy. I was prepared to ignore the raised eyebrows and glances as I went about my business.
Imagine my surprise when I was greeted at the door by a female voice, belonging to one of the shop’s owners. With a smile, she directed me to the “new comics” rack, where a young woman was thumbing through a comic with painted nails. There were three of us women in the shop at the time, and that was three times as much of a female presence as I’d experienced when I first walked in years ago. It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t alone at all in my geeky pursuits. In fact, I was now among plenty of kindred spirits, not only in that shop, but also in the far reaches of the Web. I’d finally found other women with whom I could unabashedly share my passions.
Today, I’m directing and producing “She Makes Comics,” a documentary celebrating women in comics as creators, executives, editors, retailers, and fans. Women have been contributing to the medium since the Golden Age – but their achievements have been glossed over by a popular culture focused on male creators and fans. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 9-year-old self that there’s a whole community out there waiting for me. Adjusted for reality, I’m instead making a film that I hope will do the same for little girls out there today.
For me, this project is about reaching those young women who still fear setting foot in a comic shop or a convention. I want to show them that there are already so many women in comics ready to welcome newcomers with open arms. “She Makes Comics” will show a whole new generation of readers and aspiring creators that women have always been involved in comics — and there’s plenty of room for more.
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