thecrowtheyfear asked: Hi there Gail! I'm still a fairly new follower of yours here, so you've likely already answered this particular question but I'll ask it all the same. How hard was it for you to get into the business? Did you meet a lot of opposition?
First, welcome, and thanks.
As to your question, it’s completely weird. I mean, it makes no sense at all, how I got in.
I had been writing some parody pieces on a website, and several pros took note of them, and several offered to help me break into comics. People like Mark Waid, Mark Millar, Ed Brubaker, and a few others. Big names. They were all sure I could write real comics well before I was.
But I strongly felt that breaking in that way was wrong, it seemed like jumping the line. If I was ever going to write comics, I wanted to do it because I had earned it, not because someone opened a secret door for me.
I also had a slightly goofy idea in my head that it was cheating…I was a hairdresser with no writing experience. I hadn’t gone to cons for years, pestering editors. I felt that if I got a writing gig, it would be taking that job from the hands of a ‘REAL writer.’
That was my thinking, I didn’t know any better. Later, I talked to my reluctance to Adam Hughes, and he said, “Gail, EVERYONE worth a damn in this industry was recruited.”
Anyway, I turned down several opportunities…part of it was fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it. It seemed impossible.
Then what happened is Scott Shaw, four time Emmy winning comic and animation artist, read my parody pieces and loved them. He was working at Bongo Comics, who do the Simpsons books, and were having a hard time getting funny writers who could write the books in character.
He said, you should pitch to them. I said, no, it would never work.
He said, “I’ve already given them your contact information. They’re calling in the morning.”
So, someone had to literally push me off a cliff to get me to take the chance. I couldn’t say NO to a call, right?
Later, those same pieces are what inspired Joe Quesada to ask me to pitch for Deadpool and for Lea Hernandez to ask me to write Killer Princesses.
So, the point of all of this is…I still find this very odd.
Before I became a comics writer, I was known for precisely two things in the industry. One, a brutal parody column where I made fun of every publisher, the readers, the creators, and the distributors BY NAME.
And two, probably the most telling indictment of gender issues in comics that comics had ever experienced at the time, Women In Refrigerators.
So this is what I don’t get, it still amazes me. Why did they pursue me?
Seriously, it just doesn’t make much sense in some ways. I was doing a brutal parody column, some of the people I had been rough on were the very people who wanted to hire me. I had created the Women in Refrigerators page, which many felt gave the industry a black eye they are still dealing with, and which made the national press multiple times.
It wasn’t meant to tear down comics, to me, I was just a reader with some questions and a desire to make fun of some of the goofier things at the time. I think it was pretty clear that I criticized BECAUSE I loved comics. But there’s no question that I was a vocal critic.
So, the answer is no, I didn’t meet a lot of opposition. I was literally pushed into the industry despite my own fear and reluctance. And I have to say, the industry almost entirely was incredibly welcoming and supportive.
For years, every interviewer I talked to tried to get me to reveal all the juicy sexism stories they were sure I MUST have experienced. And I didn’t HAVE any to tell. I had heard other women had experienced all kinds of different levels of bullshit, but for the vast majority of my time in comics, I have been treated with respect by publishers, creators and readers.
Anyway, I went long, but I am posting it to encourage others. There are definitely downsides and things the industry needs to do better. But in my experience, I was welcomed with open arms. I’ve never been without work, I’ve never had a serious gender-related complaint with any company I’ve worked for.
People always want the inside scoop, the ugly truth. But that was my experience breaking in, as surprising as that sounds.