By Melanie Florencio, General Dynamics
When I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. After going through phases of wanting to be a nurse, veterinarian, and even a Catholic nun, it was decided my fate was to create comic books the rest of my life. What I didn’t know at 10 years old, however, was how much of an impact it could have on women.
I studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design for Sequential Art for 6 years. Most of my peers were male during my time there, and I learned to ‘get used to’ the male-dominated culture, as it was the norm. I created some small press publication graphic novels and was following my dream of becoming a cartoonist but still didn’t quite understand the impact of comic-style illustrations on women.
At 24, I taught animation, art history, and graphic design at two colleges in South Carolina. My students hung onto every lecture, demonstration, and critique- especially my female students because they wanted to know- how DO you make it as a woman in the comics field?
My life was forever changed when I met my friend and former business partner, who is also a woman. I was almost 25, and we had this crazy idea to create a webcomic. As a result of our comic, “Undead Norm”, we spoke at several regional comic conventions on panels- at ColaCon in Columbia, SC in 2012, we spoke to an audience about being women in the comics industry. This was a moment when I started to understand the impact of my industry calling at 10 years old.
I had to stop “Undead Norm” due to landing full time work and devoting my career to teaching from 2013-2015. However, despite the hiatus, I was teaching middle and high schoolers STEAM-related courses in Beaufort County, SC- which was a very rewarding time. Cartooning took a backseat, and I wondered if I would ever have a chance to create an impact again.The comics field is still male-dominated (check out any comic convention) but my hope is that my story will help to inspire women to make this their living. The field needs more contemporary female voices, and I’m glad to have made my mark.
The comics field is still male-dominated (check out any comic convention) but my hope is that my story will help to inspire women to make this their living. The field needs more contemporary female voices, and I’m glad to have made my mark.