An annual tradition for Comic-Con International in San Diego, the “Women of Marvel” panel was designed to give a community and platform for the women working under the Marvel umbrella — from comic creators to producers, to digital content hosts. The panel included moderator Judy Stephens, who introduced Sana Amanat, Lorraine Cink, Margaret Stohl, Rainbow Rowell, Christina Strain, Mariko Tamaki and Alanna Smith to the stage.
The panel opened on a somber note, with Amanat offering up a touching and heartfelt eulogy for the recently passed Flo Steinberg, “She was a very tough, tough woman and I think we would all hope to follow in her footsteps. This Women of Marvel panel is dedicated to her.”
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The panel then gave Flo a massive round of applause, to which Amanat said would be the best way to celebrate her memory, rather than spending any time wallowing in grief or sadness.
From that point, the screens then displayed a a collage of the current Marvel books lead by female characters. The first title put in focus was Generation X with the upcoming #7. Amanat asked writer Christina Strain what the transition from colorist to writer was like, to which Strain was excited to say that having been a colorist really improved her empathy for her collaborators.
Mariko Tamaki took center stage to speak about Hulk #11. “She’s dating, she’s trying to live her life,” Tamaki explained, “This is one of my favorite issues, it’s very inspired by my love of Shonda Rhimes.” Stephens then asked Tamaki why Jen’s Hulk colors are now grey rather than green — Tamaki explained that it relates to Jen’s recovery from her coma.
The real answer, Tamaki assured fans, will be revealed eventually.
The screen then displayed a new cover for She-Hulk’s Legacy book, of which Tamaki said that the story was “inspired by Stephen King.”
Runaways was up next with writer Rainbow Rowell. “This is a ‘getting the band back together’ story,” Rowell joked, “It’s almost the plot of the Country Bears…or The Blues Brothers. Whatever. These first six issues are also about kissing and cats.”
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Stephens then teased an upcoming Marvel podcast with Rowell as a guest that will drop once the first issue of Runaways is published.
Captain Marvel #125 was up next with writer Margaret Stohl. “I’m having fun working with a Women of Marvel arc that I’m doing right now,” Stohl teased. “I’m proud to work with these kick butt women. Carol’s the original no sidekicks, just butt kicks.”
The panel then focused on Riri Williams, who is currently starring in Invincible Iron Man. Assistant Editor Alanna Smith teased some of Riri’s future: “She’s had a limited amount of time to interact with Tony Stark in the flesh, but the Generations stories are built in a way that will give her a chance to do that.”
Smith then took the time to shout-out the creativity of Riri cosplyers (There was one in the audience, she looked amazing.) before moving on to speak about the daughter of Yinsin Ho, Toni, another female Iron Man adjacent character who will be getting a spotlight soon. “There’s some fun stuff coming up for her in U.S.Avengers. She’s one of our LGBT characters as well, she has a lovely girlfriend.”
Ms. Marvel was brought into the spotlight with Amanat highlighting her importance for Marvel’s diversity. The cover of #23 was displayed, featuring the Red Dagger. “A few months ago when Kamala goes to Pakistan to visit her family, she met this other hero who just happens to be very handsome, and he comes to Jersey City for some reason…”
It looks like Kamala is about to have some serious high school crush drama coming into play very soon.
Lorraine Cink was up next to talk about her DK book, Marvel: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know and her upcoming Ultimate Marvel book. “It’s a big, beautiful coffee table book that has stories all the way back to the the Timely Comics days.”
Fans were then invited to ask questions. The topics ranged from favorite characters to ways to deal with “mansplaining” in comics circles. Interestingly, a lawyer asked about gendered pay gaps between women and men in comics to which the panel responded that they’d never experienced one. They were, however, quick to mournfully caveat that there just “isn’t a lot of money in comics, for anyone, regardless of their gender. No one is getting paid enough.”
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I paused my live note taking to ask the panel their thoughts on the strange trend for female creators to only be given work on female-centric solo titles (with the sole exception of Becky Cloonan on the current Punisher ongoing), to which the response was mixed. Amanat assured that women working exclusively on female-lead stories was not a function of creators being “allowed” to or not, but that it was important for women to write women.
Several creators added that they don’t think about writing characters for the characters themselves, but based on who they need to tell the stories they wish to tell.