Pichelli’s name almost disappears from USM book

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Double standards are not a big surprise in the comics industry.

Less than 15% of the workers in the Big Two are female[1], but things get worse: when they do get a job, women earn less than men for doing the same job[2] and have to deal with harassment.

And writers get more recognition than artists. They come first in the credits and half a century later it is their names people are going to refer to. A writer tends to earn more money than a penciller, an inker, or a colourist, for the same amount of work. Marvel calls their team of top authors “The Architects,” the ones “telling the most exciting and impactful stories […] in the Marvel universe.” They are all writers.

Now, join those two facts together and that is what you get:

(photo: Lee Grice, @LovelyLee_G)

It looks like a joke, but those little letters that say “Pichelli” are the artist’s name. Meanwhile, the writer, Brian Michael Bendis, has his name written in beautiful big letters and the “by” makes sure you understand HE is the author of the book.

Sara Pichelli is actually a very successful artist. She has done more than 90 comic issues, including various successful titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers vs. X-Men, and Ultimate Spider-Man, the one in question. Of the five issues contained in the trade book, she did full art on #1-4 and only pencils on #5, which was inked by David Messina. She has been working with Marvel since 2008. That wasn’t long enough, apparently.

As artist Dennis Culver said on Twitter, writers are often the only ones credited for the storytelling, as if the artists were mere illustrators. There is hope–he mentioned two great titles that are doing their best to leave this situation behind: Daredevil by Waid and Samnee and Hawkeye by Fraction and Aja, which credit both authors as “storytellers.” The line between who writes and who draws is thin, and ideally should not exist at all.

Although Marvel has made some progress with those two titles, Pichelli’s case is emblematic of all the belittling of artists that has happened before.

It is disrespectful for Sara and for everyone who struggles to make a name in the industry. I strongly hope they change the bylines in the next printing.

[1] Straitened Circumstances blog, “Women in Comics Statistics”: http://thanley.wordpress.com/tag/women-in-comics-statistics/
[2]Chenault, Wesley, “Working the Margins: Women in the Comic Book Industry” (2007): http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=wsi_theses ; page 93
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Staff writer and mythology nerd. @visaenya

3 Comments

  1. I’ve noticed a habit in myself to sometimes ignore artists, and have been making an effort to change that. It helps that there are so many amazing writer/artist teamups these days–Rios and Deconnick are at the top for me.
    Bendis can be a pretty good ally. I wonder what he thinks of this?

    • I feel this way too — mainly when I write a review and end up writing more words about the writer, so I have to go back and try to balance things. It does not help at all that normally (in the Big Two) one or two writers get to do a whole arc or even series, but the artists change every issue.
      I remember Bendis talked about this issue in his Tumblr a while ago, but I can’t find it, sorry. Not specifically about this book spine, but about the situation as a whole, and he basically said he feels sorry and guilty when it happens.