Image is everything…
…and the picture that launched a thousand (give or take) words.
Sometime in the near future I might be participating on a podcast talking about the fallout from one (rather important) aspect of “today’s” Image Comics Expo (yes, I’m backdating my posts. All in an effort to catch up so I can once again get back to the whole “Daily” thang. For you lovely literal-minded hound dogs. Bastards.) That aspect being a photo that was circulated representing a group of selected (available?) Image creators on the Expo stage representing the next big push of titles coming up in the year.
With only two women and one man of ethnic diversity (that wasn’t noticeable in the picture) out of 19+ individuals, that unofficial picture started (continued) a conversation about diversity, public image, accountability, and the roles publishers play in the larger discussion. I don’t filter my thoughts on comics through that discussion at all times (one of my first reactions was “Where are the newcomers?”) but even I had to stop and look at the photo for a few minutes when I first saw it: at first blush, it was mostly male, all “white”, and incredibly mainstream. From a company that has in the past joined in on the diversity conversation and taken the Big 2 to task on their “choice” of creator hirings (which never really sticks when you do a true detailed rundown of ALL of the creators that work on a comic, not just writers and artists). And while there’s no question those upcoming comics presented for the masses at Image Expo will also employ a variety of flavors in those creators not selected (available?) to be representers, the perception, the outwardly public face of those comics screamed Vanilla. We only had comic covers, perhaps some interiors, names of creators not in attendance and nineteen-plus not-so-diverse faces presented to an incredibly diverse audience both at the Expo itself and online. And it’s in that presentation that the discussion kicked off.
Probably goes without saying that I know (or have heard) quite a number of “sides” in this debate. A common counterpoint looks backwards at already published Image comics and their diverse roster of creators, at the founders of Image themselves and at the current small crop of diverse Image employees working behind the scenes on many great titles and projects. None of those are discounted in this discussion. None of those are ignored. Mostly because that is NOT what those of us on this “side” are even addressing. Not in this instance, not with this publisher. We are addressing a very real disappointment in a publisher that HAS taken strides in the past – and when the opportunity came to present their line-up to the masses, regardless of their intended ideology or their desire to showcase the ‘big names in comics’ (their words not mine), they came up short. They repeated the same “mistakes” that Image reps have placed at the feet of DC and Marvel time and time again. It’s in that aspect, and again, in that public presentation to their audience and their readers and their customers, that an issue has been raised.
And it’s coming from many corners: websites, editors, other creators, readers, from people of all walks. When put to the Big Two, that rise up of thoughts and debate is often met with a whole bunch of accepted fingerpointing. Now it’s going in a new, somewhat unexpected direction. Goose. Gander. Money. Mouth. Dish it. Take it. If the face staring back at us, regardless of the company, is lacking – then it is lacking, no matter which publisher’s banner floats behind and above their collective heads. And when that banner screams “IMAGE” in high letters, you kinda need to live up to it.
Also, and if you’re thin skinned you may want to ignore this paragraph, to those counterpoints in the style of “I don’t care about diversity in creators, I just want to read good comics” – keep in mind that there are many many MANY other people out there who don’t have the ability to just brush aside or “not see” diversity – for a variety of reasons. Most likely the best reason they are unable to “not see” diversity is because diversity is part of their everyday life. And keep this in mind as well – that whole “not seeing” people thing? That’s exactly why people of all diversity feel the need to speak up in the first place. Because sometimes we’re tired of not being seen or heard or represented.
Such as in a photo.
I didn’t mean to even write that much about it all. I just wanted to link to others who have written about the topic – from all sides – in order to compile as many articles as possible for my own benefit for that upcoming podcast (because I’m not always the best at sharpening my thoughts to full precision while keeping my emotions in check when it comes to this topic), and for anyone else interested. But there it is. A few paragraphs to “catch everyone up”, to update the site, to purge thoughts on a topic that I find I keep coming back to and not being able to “shuddup” about no matter how much Rob Guillory wants us to, and to put my own ‘money where my mouth’ is.
By all means, if there are other articles you’ve come across – or have written – please email me (email@example.com) and I’ll include them here.
Read on. Or don’t. Your call.
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