Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reader Question - Creators: Male or Female?


I think this is a situation that has happened to every one of us at some point or the other: one of your friends is talking about someone named Ashley, or Lindsey, or Kelly only to find that they are not exactly the gender you were expecting. This kind of mix up becomes more noticeable when you just read about a name, never actually meeting the person in question. Add in the fact that the world becomes smaller and people deal with different cultures on a daily base, and certain names are foreign to our previous experience. The comic industry is no exception, and I have in several occasions only read briefly about an specific creator, or only know them by their name and work, and thought they were of a different gender. Hit the jump to see which ones specifically.


For example, once upon a time I thought that Pia Guerra, the artist of one of my favorite comics, Y - The Last Man, was a man. Perhaps because she was involved in a title with the word "man", or perhaps because "Pia" is a rather unique name that I did not associate with any particular gender. It wasn't until some online discussion where someone pointed out to me that I was referring to Guerra as a "he" that I realized that I had been wrong all along. To show that this situation can swing both ways, even though I have read plenty of books where Val Staples has contributed, it wasn't until I read an interview with him that I realized that "Val" wasn't a female name. I always just assumed this was short for "Valerie" or "Valeria", and I have a feeling I probably wasn't the only one to make this mistake.

The worst one though, belongs to Devin Grayson, as I assumed for the longest time that Devin was a male name. I had heard of Grayson, I knew she was involved in the Bat books for some time, and I would often see her runs in Nightwing and Gotham Knights praised by people. It wasn't until her name was attached with Girl Comics that I realized my mistake (you can even go back and look at the original announcement and see a comment I left about it). What does make me feel better about my incorrect assumption, is that I heard from several other people that were in the same situation as me. In some ways, my assumption is part of a bigger symptom of the comic industry: most of the creators are guys, so my mind just probably assumed by default that Grayson was a man.


The Question

Well, those are some of my confusions and screw ups, but I can't be the only one that has been in a situation like this with a comic book creator. Have you ever made a mistake or a false assumption regarding a comic book creator? How did you found out about it? Let us know in the comments section!


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20 comments:

Ryan Schrodt said...

I messed up Val Staples on a review a few years ago (before I was writing for Weekly Crisis) and he emailed me to give me hell about it. Everyone once in a while he'll still shoot me a message about a review I've done and rib me about it.

Bill English said...

I was half way through reading Strangers in Paradise before I realized that Terry Moore is actually a man, not a woman. I saw the name Terry and wasn't sure, but after reading several trades, I just assumed the author was a woman. After all, how could a man have such insight and understanding of the female mind? Saw an interview with him online and found out otherwise. I was blown away. He's a brilliant writer and a wonderful artist. One of my all-time favorites now. Finally got to meet him at Emerald City ComiCon this past month :) I didn't tell him I thought he was a girl for months though. lol

KentL said...

Bobbie Chase, former Marvel Editor. I originally thought Bobbie was male. She's not.

Anonymous said...

G. Willow Wilson of Cairo and Air. Just figured she was a guy for a while. What are you supposed to get from "G"? Also thought Jaime Delano, original Hellblazer writer, was female.

TheGoose said...

Nope, I can't say I've been in any situation like this.

Lucho said...

Pia is a very common female name in Spanish language. Her last family name is Guerra (
"War" in Spanish) so that could give hints about her family.
Still, not being latin/spanish with this name sure confused you.

Other confusions?
Kelley Jones.
Kelley Pucket.
Dwayne McDuffie (lol).

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I was stuck on Val Staples for ages before hearing Brubaker speak about 'him' in an interview and that set me straight. I still have to do a double mental take to get the pronoun right in my head though.

Radlum said...

Being a latin american, I never had any confusion regarding Pia Guerra; Pia is a female name (or nickname in certain cases). I had problems identifying Leinil Yu since I know nothing about filipino names, also, I bought the Runaways run by Kathryn Immonen thinking "It's nice to see Stuart Immonen writing comics now"
I made the same mistake about Terry Moore

Val said...

I've been used to people assuming I'm a female all my life. It doesn't bother me. :-)
Heck, sometimes it's funny to see their disappointment in person at cons when they discover I'm not a sexy female and instead this ugly-@ss guy. :-D
I joke with people when they get it wrong, like I did Ryan, but it's nothing I take serious as it's an honest mistake. Most people named Val in the US are female.
Because I know what it's like myself, I try to say things in first-time dialogue over e-mail to indicate I'm a guy. If I don't, sometimes guy will flirt with me at some point in the conversation. :-D
I also try to address creator's genderlessly until I get some verification either online or in person of their sex. :D

Aaron Kimel said...

Andrea Di Vito of Annihilation and Nova fame. I just saw the first name and assumed female, though I had some hesitation, knowing that there are so many non-American creators in comics. Thankfully, that hesitation eventually led me to investigate. The internet revealed my mistake.

Ivan said...

Luckily, the Portuguese language has very few double gender names.

KentL said...

"I try to say things in first-time dialogue over e-mail to indicate I'm a guy."

Heh. Just pictured Val trying to slip ball jokes and beer references into his introductory emails whenever possible.

Flip The Page said...

simone bianchi and ariel olivetti have suffered the worst of my gender confusion, in that i thought both were female creators by their names.

I think there have been more but i can't think of them

Matt Ampersand said...

Hey Val, thanks for dropping by, and sorry for all of us confusing you for a woman!

Regarding Pia, I'm Hispanic myself and I had never heard of that name. Odd.

Jule said...

In spanish, Pia its the female variant of the Pio name (i think that name could come from italian because the even have many popes named Pio). Also we have may names that can be uses for both genders but the common practice to diferenciate the female names its an "a" at the end of the name, and an "o" or the consonant for the male variant: Alejandra, Alejandro, Simona, Simon, Juan, Juana, for example.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

Kelly Yates. I was praising her work in Doctor Who: The Forgotten, and then someone commented that Kelly was a guy. That's the only one I've been caught on thus far. :)

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