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The Wonder is the time it took to notice us; Gal Gadot isn't the only kick-ass woman in comics - we've been here for years.

Byline: WORDS NICOLA LOVE

I'm one of the millions of superhero fans who poured into the cinema to see Wonder Woman last month. I was really looking forward to it, though its release was not before time.

After all, I'd sat through years of Batman, Superman and snooze-worthy Spider-Man films - you can't say I hadn't been patient.

The screen was filled with men, women, boys and girls in equal measure and the excitement was palpable. When the flick smashed box office records, raking in PS80.8million in three days, I wasn't surprised - I don't think any woman was.

The secret that women and girls have been into comic books for years is, well, not a secret. Our presence has been ignored at times, but I'm testament to the fact we've always been here.

When I saw one paper debate whether Wonder Woman was a feminist icon or a "male lust magnet", my eyes rolled. A movie about an Amazonian princess could only serve those who fancied two hours of ogling Gal Gadot; it's not as if there were millions of us desperate to see a woman star kicking a**e on screen.

Big films like Wonder Woman might help draw women in comic into the public eye but we've always been there; reading books, consuming the culture and ranting on Twitter when writers and artists get women wrong.

Our presence might not be reflected on the big screen yet but the sheer number of incredible, powerful female characters is part of what attracted me to comics in the first place. Yes, Captain America is cool and tough - but Scarlet Witch is much more powerful.

Working in comics, my job is to make sure I represent the audience I know is there.

Glasgow Comic Con, the convention I organise, started out with several hundred people at the Mackintosh Church.

It now pulls in more than 2000 at the Royal Concert Hall - half of whom are women.

Fifty per cent of our special guests are talented women who've worked on best-selling books for Marvel and DC. The staff I hire to work at the convention? A good chunk of them are female.

Even when the industry as a whole ignored us, I never lost sight of how important it was to keep representing ourselves.

Of course, there's always the comic book boys' club. Luckily the number of wide-eyed, enthusiastic women reading comics far outnumber the grumpy old-school comic men pretending comic books are just for them.

Last year, I started She Reads Comics, a monthly night for women and girls in Glasgow to hang out in a comic book shop, share recommendations and meet like-minded fans.

It's a middle finger to Simpsons-style Comic Book Guys who claim the culture isn't for us. It's also a great chance to make pals. We attract about 50 women aged 11 to 50 every time.

Don't get me wrong, being a women in comics is often awesome. The industry has allowed me to do some incredible things - travelling the length of the country working at conventions, hosting interviews in packed theatres and inviting comic book creators from all over the world to Scotland for Glasgow Comic Con.

When I interviewed Mark Millar, the queue for the theatre was so long it left the building and stretched down Sauchiehall Street. No matter how frustrating the industry can be, those pinch-me moments make perseverance worth it.

Scotland, renowned for its comic book output, has become more diverse too. Some historians say the first comic book was made in Glasgow. We're home to the Beano and the Broons, great ARTISTSLIKEFRANKQUITELYANDWRITERSLIKEMARK Millar and Grant Morrison.

But there's also some incredible femaleorientated output. Out of more than 100 independent creators selling their comics at Glasgow Comic Con, more than half are women.

Claire Roe, an artist from Fife, draws Birds of Prey for DC Comics, which is sold in comic shops all over the world.

Last month, I met an 11-year-old girl who had made three of her own comic books and was selling them in Waterstones.

There are dozens of DC and Marvel books with strong, well-rounded female characters. They inspire young girls and entertain seasoned comic readers of both genders.

When I was wee and graduated from reading Twinkle to Grant Morrison's Batman, I felt like I'd discovered a whole new world. When I realised the likes of Supergirl, Kitty Pryde and Black Widow existed, it felt even better.

One of Marvel's best-selling titles, Ms Marvel, sees a Muslim girl called Kamala Khan battle bad guys. In recent comics, Batwoman's love interest is a woman and Thor is a female. That kind of representation and diversity in any industry can only be a good thing.

So yes, I'm excited about the billboards, action figures and inevitable Halloween costumes that last month's Wonder Woman release will inspire.

But a lot of women have been embroiled in comic book culture for years - it's just, last month, Warner Brothers finally caught up.

Maybe now the rest of the industry will finally realise: we've been here all along.

I'll be sitting here, impatient for the sequel.

Glasgow Comic Con returns to the Royal Concert Hall today from 10am to 5.40pm.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 1, 2017
Words:880
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