Comics Features Interviews

Diversifying The Comic Scene With “Creating Women”: In Conversation With Amy Galloway

Creating Women / Amy Galloway

Creating Women is a new YouTube web series produced by Amy Galloway and Rachel A. Davis. Dedicated to the careers of nine women in the comic book industry; the series gives insight into the experiences of these individuals, and a deeper dive into the comic scene. I recently interviewed one of the creators, Galloway. We talk about how they developed Creating Women and where they hope to take the series in the future.

A Place to Hang Your Cape: What inspired you to start Creating Women in the first place?

Amy Galloway: Despite myself and the Creating Women team coming from diverse backgrounds, surrounded by equally diverse people, it was obvious to us that the majority of comics spaces in the UK are still dominated by the CIS white male perspective. This isn’t representative of what comics currently are; Creating Women was definitely a reaction to that. So many brilliant scholars, writers and artists of marginalised identities exist in the British comics sphere. What we as a team wanted was to amplify their voices and engage in discussions about their involvement with comics.

AP2HYC: What were the initial social media conversations between creators like? Did any of you know each other previously?

Galloway: Only a handful of the Creating Women team knew each other before we launched this project. Such as myself and my co-producer, Rachel Davis. Rachel has been instrumental in the organisation and structure of this project, as well as interviewing, and general behind the scenes wizardry. There was an event on Twitter which led to everyone properly coming together to propose our own comics panel or video. This collective of people was very supportive and keen to help organise something which would properly highlight diverse comic voices. I collated the emails of those interested in it going ahead.

From there, it truly felt like a whirlwind of networking, planning and delegating tasks. Each person involved in this project definitely wears at least two hats. The fact that they have all done it in their spare time on a voluntary basis is truly incredible. Creating Women could not have come this far without them!

AP2HYC: What made you choose a YouTube web series for Creating Women? Rather than, let’s say—another platform, such as a podcast or web article? 

Galloway: Given the circumstances of COVID-19, we knew it would have to be a digital medium of some form. On top of this, we definitely wanted visuals to accompany and spotlight the interviewees in question. Our first thought was a single one-night event, but there were a lot of downsides to this. Such as, lack of time to prepare for our speakers, as well as lack of time to cover an extensive range of topics. [There’s also] hoping that an audience would be able to attend. So, a lot of factors ruled this out. I also don’t have any real experience with podcasts as much as I do with video software. So, it made sense for us to stick to what we knew.

YouTube allows us to put up what my amazing co-producer tells me is “evergreen” content. That is, it will always be relevant and always draw in new viewership; [viewership] who want to learn about comics and representation within comics. It also offers great accessibility features in terms of subtitling. And it being a free platform means there are no paywalls stopping people from watching. While a web article or series of articles could offer the visual elements, we really wanted to showcase the people behind the product and shine a light on their achievements in real time. 

AP2HYC: What are the benefits of having such a large, varied cast for these discussions?  

Galloway: Just as the world of comics encompasses a whole range of diverse talent, our video series wanted to reflect that. We were lucky enough to be able to share a range of stories and experiences from each of our speakers and those behind the scenes. We wanted to express that there is no singular “correct” comics opinion, or way of looking at or creating comics. That begins by opening the floor to a variety of perspectives. I think the consensus within comics is that we all want to push the limits of what it can be. Which is difficult; especially if you’re stuck telling the same story with the same characters over and over again, when new and exciting ones can be introduced.

There will never be a lack of superhero comics, for example. But we can try and subvert the genre, or examine the elements which it has mastered over the years. Similarly, there is more to comics than just “the big two”, as it were. There is a wealth of representation, creativity and innovation that can be overshadowed or underappreciated. The cast of Creating Women bring to the table diverse opinions and create diverse works. This allow for nuanced and personal discussions.  

AP2HYC: Why do you consider it important to discuss the central themes of Creating Women?  

Galloway: Each theme we have chosen to cover in this initial series of videos offers a distinct look at how the British comics industry is perceived today by a variety of comics professionals. We specifically wanted to look at both specific and abstract concepts of what that would be like. Hence why we have episodes as focused as: “what is your favourite comic book cover, page or panel”. To as wide as: “do you consider gender an important lens through which to consider art”. Questions of representation and industry towards marginalised identities yield much different answers than those who already benefit from our current social systems. We felt it important to explore with and educate our allies on the issues [faced by] the industry today; how our different fields can be more inclusive and proactive in resolving these. 

AP2HYC: Did anything surprise or particularly resonate with you during the production/recording of the series? 

Galloway: Each of our speakers had such a range in opinions and ideas that made looking back on each interview such a delight. There are so many valuable insights within this series that I really hope the viewers will enjoy! Most notably for me were some of the parallels drawn between the superhero genre of comics and graphic medicine, and the freedom which can be found in comics with faithful representation. We were also extremely receptive to all feedback throughout the making of this series. And where we faltered, we made sure to regroup, fix and learn from our mistakes. This is also true of how we wish to proceed with Creating Women in the future. Our aim is to cover a wider scope of comic-related fields and individuals who make them up in order to further our message of diversity and inclusivity.

AP2HYC: What do you hope that viewers will learn or take away from watching Creating Women

Galloway: It’s important to us that this series appeals to those within the current British comic industry as well as being accessible enough for the comic-curious. The Creating Women team wants viewers to acknowledge the sheer vastness of the comics medium; to recognise that diverse creators and stories make up such a large portion of that. Comics have always been diverse and we wish to amplify that. This video series will have educational elements as well as engaging and inviting discussion. And ultimately, Creating Women hopes to be a safe space where such talk can happen.  

AP2HYC: What can we expect in future episodes of the first season? 

Galloway: We asked our speakers to talk to us as much as they liked about their experience in the current British comics industry—in whatever form that takes! I think it’s interesting to note that each person has a different approach to how they engage with comics. The beauty of the era we live in with small press and self-publishing opens up the world to producing a variety of cool and unique works. We were also very keen to have the speakers discuss their own work in whatever form that takes; Creating Women wants to celebrate the achievements of those we are affiliated with and this series as a whole has been such a positive experience!

Our aim isn’t to dwell on the negatives. But to highlight the innumerable talents which exist in the comics scene today. And hopefully through our videos, our channel and our projects yet to come, we make this possible.

We thank Amy Galloway for letting us interview them and look forward to the rest of the series! If you want to watch Creating Women for yourself, head to their YouTube channel and catch a new episode every Friday at 2pm BST. Have you started watching Creating Women yet? Let us know what you think and send us your thoughts on Twitter!

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Ryan Cutler

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