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She Has No Head! – An Interview With Jeanine Schaefer And Lauren Sankovitch About All Things Girl Comics

When Girl Comics was announced on December 15th of last year I was skeptical…it’s well documented, here and elsewhere.  In fact, my column the Monday following the announcement was an interview with IDW Editor Mariah Huehner about Girl Comics.  I knew Huehner felt more optimistic about the project than I did and I wanted her to talk me off the ledge.

For the most part she did.

I emerged much more confident and optimistic, though still a bit wary (and nothing’s going to convince me to love the title).  It wasn’t until I had the chance to read Girl Comics #1 for myself that I got fully on board.  I didn’t love every story – I never do in an anthology, no matter how many geniuses are contributing –  but I found a lot to love in the book, and I came to embrace the opportunity to introduce (or in many cases re-introduce) myself to some great creators, and read some delightful stories.

So it’s with great pleasure that I share with you an interview with Marvel and Girl Comics Editor Jeanine Schaefer and Marvel and Girl Comics Associate Editor Lauren Sankovitch all about the Girl Comics experience.

Girl Comics Trifecta

Kelly: So issue #3, the final issue of Girl Comics released this past week – how do you ladies feel about the project now that it’s over?

Jeanine Schaefer:  I am so proud of it.  Everyone at Marvel was so supportive, and it was that support that really made me feel like we were hitting the right groove on this project – because it really is all about pulling back the curtain on the people who are already here.

Lauren Sankovitch:  Very proud and honored to have gotten the chance to work with some of the most wonderful talent in the industry, and you can quote me on that (in fact, you probably will!)!  This was one of those projects where we really got to open up our brains and not only have the entire Marvel U at our disposal but collaborate with a broad range of creators from a myriad of different backgrounds, lovely ladies all.  I feel that we really got to showcase an enormous range.

Kelly:  Which was your favorite piece and why?  I know it’s like picking a favorite child – but we ask the tough questions here on She Has No Head! – so give it up!

Colleen Coover Introduction

A page from Colleen Coover's Introduction in issue #2 of Girl Comics

Lauren Sankovitch:  Of course there are bits I love about all of the pieces, from Colleen Coover’s clever intro pages to Kathryn Immonen’s hilarious Shamrock interlude and Emma Vieceli’s eye-popping Thing centerfold, there truly was something unique on every page.  I have to say one of the most interesting challenges I had was putting together the clockwork Fantastic Four storybook tale with Robin Furth & Agnes Garbowska.  We wanted to push the boundaries of a traditional panel-by-panel comic story structure and blend it with the classic children’s tales of our youth.  Did we succeed?  You tell us.  We sure had a blast doing it though.

Jeanine Schaefer:  Ha! I can, without lying, say that I like every single piece in these issues.  Even when I try to single out one that resonates more with me, another will remind me of something that strikes a different yet equally as powerful chord.  And that’s what’s truly amazing about this collection, that it’s a broad range of types of stories, characters, and tones.

Kelly: What would you say is the biggest success of the project?

Lauren Sankovitch:  Exposing not just our audience but ourselves to a whole slew of talent

Furth & Gabrowska Clockwork Nightmare

Robin Furth & Agnes Gabrowska's Clockwork Nightmare from Girl Comics #2

Jeanine Schaefer:  Love it, hate it, think it was useless, it made people talk about women in comics, and engaged the community in a really important conversation.  Sometimes I think that we get so used to that debate existing that we forget to talk about it, or we hope that it’s all just been solved.  So anything that gets us all recognizing the amazing women in the industry is a win in my book.

Kelly:  What would you consider the biggest failure, and if given the opportunity what would you do differently if you could do it all again?

Lauren Sankovitch:  The biggest failure in my mind is that we haven’t done more!! Yet!!  If we could do anything differently…maybe ask for a higher page count?!

Jeanine Schaefer:  There’s nothing about this that I would consider a failure. Except maybe, as Lauren points out, that I didn’t ask for more pages – there were so many more women I would have loved to include!  I think I would have made sure to include more of a peek into the women currently working at Marvel – especially those who worked on this book – and also made clear in the book itself what our message was.  There seems to have been a perception, at least on the Internet, that this was a book conceived and executed by the men at Marvel.  And while the entire company was amazingly supportive and involved, there are many talented women on our staff and it was a group effort to get this book made.

Kelly:  Can we expect to see more Girl Comics (Girl Comics Volume 2?) or other similar projects in the future?

Lauren Sankovitch:  If we’ve got anything to say about it, I sure hope so.

Jeanine Schaefer:  I would love to do something like this again!  We had so much fun getting to all work together.

Stephanie Hans Enchantress Pin-Up from Girl Comics #3

Stephanie Hans Enchantress Pin-Up from Girl Comics #3

Kelly:  So far for me, Marvel’s “Year of Women” has presented some let downs but also some real surprises (as you know Heralds was an exceptional treat for me, and Black Widow is turning into a great series).  What do you see on the horizon for women creators at Marvel…and in a broader sense, mainstream comics in general?

Jeanine Schaefer:  Thanks for the kind words on Heralds!  That book was an absolute joy to work on – I absolutely loved working with Kathryn, Tonci, James, Nathan and the whole team.  And Marjorie and Daniel are kicking ass on Black Widow!  I think the more women are working in the industry and the more exposure they get, the more women will find comics, and the more we’ll get a fresh influx of women to contribute.  There are women working in literally all disciplines and genres of the industry, and that will only grow.

Lauren Sankovitch:  Honestly, I see opportunities for talented female creators, at Marvel or otherwise, continuing to grow and expand.  We are always going to need new talent and want to continue to develop those we are already working with as well.  While there may be a feeling by some that comics is an overly male-dominated industry, the truth is, when you really look around, there are a lot of ladies out there, too, and the number is only going to continue to grow.

Kelly:  My biggest concern through all of this ‘Year Of Marvel Women’ was that we’d get some great little stories (including one-shots, minis, and anthologies) and good exposure for both female characters and creators but at the end of the experiment all those creators (and characters) would pack up and go home and things would kind o go back to business as usual.  Is that a concern of yours?  If so, how do we avoid it?

Lucy-Knisley-620x976

A page from Lucy Knisley's Doc Ock story in Girl Comics #1

Jeanine Schaefer:  It’s not something I’d call a concern, because there are currently so many women working regularly at Marvel, turning out amazing comics every month – most of the women on Girl Comics have worked or are currently working at Marvel, and everyone involved is a prominent name in the industry – and we hope to keep it that way.  Not only that, we’re really dedicated to making sure the discussion doesn’t get pushed to the back burner.  It’s probably easier to be positive about it when I’m on this side, but I hope that the people in the community who are also working for women in comics will see this as a positive step for all of us.

Lauren Sankovitch:  Not a concern, not at all.  Of the ladies we worked with on Girl Comics, many of them, if they weren’t already, have done or are in the midst of other gigs around the Marvel offices and continue to be a strong presence.  And many of those female characters will continue to have prominent roles throughout the Marvel U, many of whom have their own series or minis or are key members of super teams such as New/Secret/adjectiveless Avengers, Young Allies or the X-Men.

Kelly:  Lastly, is there anything fans can do (other than voting with their dollars, obviously), to help you know how you’re doing – let you know what’s going wrong and what’s going right?

Jeanine Schaefer:  We love to hear feedback, both at the comic shop, on our site and at conventions.  Talk to us, we’re listening!

Lauren Sankovitch:  Yes, keep reading is definitely one of the best ways.  You can also post to Marvel’s message boards or ask questions at our many Q&A sessions during Con season.  And if you can find me, I’m always up for a good chat…so long as there’s pizza! Or cupcakes. Mmmm.

Kelly:  Thanks again for stopping by ladies.  I have thoroughly enjoyed Girl Comics, despite being a bit skeptical initially, so I thank you for bringing me so many great creators, and some great little stories. I hope you’ll do it again sometime and come back to She Has No Head! to talk about it.

Lauren Sankovitch:  And thank you for having us, Kelly! Our pleasure.

Jeanine Schaefer:  Yes, thanks so much, Kelly. It was great for us to get to analyze a little too, and it was awesome to talk to you!

Girl Comics #3 is available in comic book stores now.

20 Comments

[…] comics, comics news, comics should be good, girl comics, marvel comics, she has no head! New SHE HAS NO HEAD! is up, an interview with Editor Jeanine Schaefer and Associate Editor Lauren Sankovitch about all […]

Its always tough to be the editor and not a critic. You don’t want to alienate someone you want to keep a solid working relationship with.

What were the numbers on these anyway?

The books overall did hit more than missed…and I hope they do expose the medium to folks who otherwise wouldn’t have picked up comics…..

The series was good… but not every story was good. (issue #3 had a couple of stories that just didn’t make a whole lot of sense).

The goods were very good though.

I can’t say I share their opinion on “Heralds”…. a series that I would nominate as one of the worst of the year. It was so poorly written that if things weren’t explained in the intro on the splash page, you had no idea what happened the previous issue. I didn’t buy for a minute the author’s excuse for throwing together a random group of female heroes, most of which never met Frankie Raye/Nova, and dubbing them her closest friends.

Hi Kelly,

Why isn’t your column listed with the other CBR columns? I stumbled across your Batwoman review a few months ago and it took many weeks to find you again (I was beginning to think you weren’t on CBR after all). I have you bookmarked now, but really, Brian or whoever should add you to the Columns list. :)

(Need I add that I really liked your column and that’s why I kept looking for you – found you again just in time for your birthday post.)

Just one question regarding GIRL COMICS #3……How was the POWER PACK Story by the original creators…?!?

None of us are listed under the Columns list, Keith, because we’re a separate blog. The Columns list is just for those folks who only write for CBR’s front page.

I liked the Power Pack story. It FELT like one of the old ones. It hit me in my nostalgic funny-bone.

@PaxHouse: I’m not sure I understand your question? The Power Pack story is indeed written by Louise Simonson and drawn by June Brigman, who were the original creators back in 1984.

@Keith: I’m glad you looked for, and found me! Columns go up every Monday at noon (ish)…same bat time, same bat channel if you will. :)

@ Kelly Thompson…..That’s exactly what I meant……especially since the GIRL COMICS Miniseries wasn’t offerred @ the places where I usually get my comics.

PATRICK RAWLEY

July 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Got to agree with @Legi0n up above – this column/blog/whatever wasn’t really insightful at all. “This was great! Everyone was very supportive!” “What was your favorite?” “Oh, I liked them all!” “Anything negative?” “Nope!” Now, I hardly think that they’re going to slag off anyone in Editorial, especially if they want to repeat the experiment of “Girl Comics” (maybe with a new/different title?) but this just seemed like pure boosterism and bumpf. I bought the first issue and wasn’t impressed so I didn’t bother to read the subsequent issues. Was I wrong? I’ll never know because this little chat did nothing to persuade me to “vote with my dollars” and pick up the other two issues. In fact, at the risk of being excoriated as a Capital-S Sexist, it sounded like you were all braiding each others hair and chatting about comics.

@PaxHouse. AH! I understand what you mean – sorry for the confusion. You want to know how it actually was, since you couldn’t get the issue. Gotcha.

Personally I didn’t think it was very strong. I like Simonson very much – and in fairness I didn’t read the original Power Pack stuff so it may in fact “feel right” as Rusty mentioned, but my only exposure to them beyond this one story is the recent Thor & The Mighty Four miniseries (which I liked very much). But this story felt a little flat to me in concept and execution. I agreed with some of Greg Burgas comments on it in his What I Bought post last week, so you may want to check that out.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/07/16/what-i-bought-14-july-2010/

I feel that it was a good series with interesting stories, but at times I also thought “Wow, a lot of these stories are like 2 or 3 page funny comics.” Which is fine and all, but I just think a lot of that “feel” took up the pages as opposed to semi-serious stories. I mean… Wolverine & Magneto packing a car for example, while funny it’s also one of those things where you just kind of go “Meh.” Or at least I did. There was definitely a nice mix of stuff, but every now and then I felt things got a little TOO “girly” for me with the comic style.

Overall, it was definitely an expensive book, and also an expensive investment/risk. I would have liked a more definitive answer to your question about “I was afraid this would happen, what are your thoughts…” and they mostly just referred to the people themselves as opposed to the one-shots or limiteds. There was no mention like “Yeah, we’re going to give Firestar her own limited.” instead it was “Firestar is on the Young Allies, and all the other females are on team books, so they we don’t have plans to give these characters their own series.” Guess somebody should tell that to STEVE ROGERS or DEADPOOL or WOLVERINE. I mean, seriously now. :[

@Patrick:

We WERE braiding each others hair! HOW DID YOU GUESS?!?!

@Brian:

You know, I realized that after I posted (and just came back to comment on same), but you got to me first. My bad, thanks! (Though while I’m thinking about it, is there a list somewhere of all the subgroup columns? I’ve been getting my weekly fix of CBLR and now SHNH, but I know there’s more I’d get into on at least on an occasional basis…)

@Kelly

Now I’m actually going back and read all your earlier columns – and the lengthy (so far) responses. (What can I say? When I get hooked on something good, I’m *really* hooked…)

As far as I’m concerned, it was all worth it just to get a brand new Power Pack story by Louise Simonson & June Brigman! For a minute there, I felt like I was ten years old again.

who in Teh Hell is Kelly Thompson?

She’s the scourge of the seven seas! Well, that’s what I hear at least.

Loved the little story of Scott and Jean in Girls comics 1… it was greeeeat!!!

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