Finnish comics data crunching

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We were invited to the Sarjakuvakeskus / Comics Center in Helsinki, Finland, to talk about gender and comics AND to do a workshop on same with some amazing comics creators in and around the greater Helsinki area.

What we discovered was pretty interesting: that there are some real areas where folks are very clearly concerned about gender parity. Ten years of a certain comics magazine, for example, resulted in total gender parity in cover artists, exactly 50-50—when one year it would go out of whack, within two years it would be corrected. An anthology, however, that over five years of existence had an 50-50 equal split between male and female creators—(Finnish language and culture doesn’t allow for a lot of non-binary individuals and no non-binary names, as they’re all listed on some national register of names by gender)—offered male creators an average of 15 pages per story, but female creators an average of 9.4 pages per story. Perhaps most frustrating, a look at a random sample the holdings of the public library resulted in only 17.5% female creators’ works being represented, despite that public funds are used for those purchases. An overview of 40 years of two top comics prizes had awards going to fewer than 15% female creators over the entire history of the awards.

These were just our quick findings—more math is being done as I type, and math-comics. Above are some pix from our second meeting, more or less after we shared our first findings and were trying to determine where to go with it all next.

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