I got the chance to speak with three women involved with WinC, a collective of women working in comics and entertainment whose mission is to highlight other women in the industry and discuss issues women face within it.
When our interview through my new favorite tool Google Hangouts began, I could see the dark grey skies of New York City behind three smiling faces. Regine Sawyer, founder of WinC and owner of LockItDown Productions, Jasmine Keitt, artist, graphic designer, Vlogger, and comic book and film producer, and finally Marlene, Vlogger, contributor for Newsarama, and Tumblr staffer. Three of the lovely ladies who had just returned from a Latina focused panel addressing Latina presence in the world of comics.
Sawyer is the brains behind everything, coordinating events, pulling together guest lists, moderating, finding and obtaining venues, and generally holding the workshops. Keitt works as the eyes and editing fingers behind each panel and podcast, filming them with a keen eye. Marlene is the lucky and grateful newbie with this being her first official WinC panel.
Tell our readers about what you do for WinC.
Regine: I coordinate the panels, create the guest lists, moderate, pick and obtain the venues, and workshops.
Jasmine: I work the panels, create podcasts, and film the panels.
Marlene: I’m new! This was my first time on a WinC panel.
What would you say is the mission of WinC?
Regine: Our mission is to encourage women in the comic industry. To prove that they and their children can make a living working in comics as women.
Jasmine: To help women in comics get as much of a name as possible, increasing diversity within the business, to create a safe showcase where women can be mainstream, where they can share experiences of working in the industry, and offer advice to other women whether they’re an artist or writer.
Marlene: I’d say it’s about promoting diversity in the media for women and women of color in a number of ways as either artist or writer.
How did you three get involved with WinC?
Regine: Ray Felix (originator of Bronx Heroes Comic Con) invited me to the Bronx Comic Con nine years ago and suggested a feminist comic panel and it just took off from there.
Jasmine: I’ve known Regine for nine years, since I was a baby in comics. Now she’s running panels to support all women of color and women nerds of color in all that they do signal boost what Regine is doing let people know women who are working in the industry women of color are doing their own thing and promoting their work.
Marlene: I just have a lot of admiration for Regine. I met Regine at NYCC (New York Comic Con). I just wanted to contribute to WinC in some small way. It’s a great cause.
What topics have you covered in previous panels?
Regine: General women in comics panels, as well as panels on the work women are currently doing in both the indie and mainstream comic industry. We’ve also done panels on ethnic diversity in comics, black women in comics; today’s panel was on Latina women in comics, and the female characters of color in comics as well.
Can you tell me about the recent Latina Women in Comics panel you did?
Marlene: It was great! Fantastic panel with a diverse group of mainstream anchors, indie comic creators, all discussing the importance of women in the industry and their experiences over time. I was really happy to be there as a consumer of comics. It really opened my eyes to the behind the scenes of comics, knowing the importance of this group. Representation is improving it’s not where we want it to be.
Jasmine: I got to meet a wonderful set of Latinas within the industry and the questions were very in-depth. Each panel gets better than the last one.
What sort of challenges do you face putting together these panels?
Regine: A lot of typing! There’s also a lot of reaching out to people saying, “Hey we need this,” and, “This is our panel, this is our press release, this is what we do.” It’s labor of love.
Jasmine: Regine runs everything; it’s amazing for one person.
What are some challenges you feel women still have to face within the industry?
Jasmine: Being taken seriously and being seen as competent. Companies believing we can draw what they want and not being judged on the basis of creators being women. Like, “Oh, she’s a woman; she might not be able to tell the high action stories we want.” Those antiqued assumptions made by the people in charge. They are the gatekeepers in a lot of ways, and you still have to deal with them if you want to move further. The indie market is a little easier, but most of the struggle is based upon antiqued beliefs and standards based upon gender.
Marlene: The unfortunate trend of objectification that happens to women creators at conventions based upon their appearance instead of their work. I’ve met people who have received lewd comments or worse, that’s why we do panels like this and why people support us. To combat that.
What are some goals for WinC?
Regine: To branch out into other countries. There’s money to be made, and we need to have a part of that pie! There is a future in our industry for women; it’s important that they excel in that art.
Jasmine: I look forward to covering more of the progress with WinC. Their progress as they branch out, and I look forward to meeting more people, reaching out to other organizations, and lifting women in the industry up. We’re out there to build solidarity, and we share the work that we do because people want to see it.
Marlene: I only see great things in the future for us. I can only see positive things. It can only go up from here!