“We’re Standing Right Here!”

Yesterday I wrote a comment about how some people perceive certain comic related projects (in that case, movies) as not “counting” unless they come from the DC/Marvel factories. It’s a generalization that is not always meant to be disparaging, but it’s not exactly a compliment, either. Look, I love my DC and Marvel mainstream comics and I’ll never stop reading them. So don’t take this as the start of a scorched earth article blasting their practices. Because that’s not what this is about. It’s about trying to shed light on the situation in hopes that we can move forward in a better direction and start paying attention to all comics and creators when larger issues emerge.

This notion came up in two articles released recently that take umbrage with a third article that more or less pushed the idea that since there are so few diverse writers working at DC and Marvel, that there is somehow a lack of diverse writers in all of comicbook making! Uhm… what?! That isn’t a direct quote, but the lack of looking beyond DC and Marvel certainly made it seem that the comicbook scene in total was lacking in diversity. The two following rebuttals speak to why such generalizations are blatantly lazy, boring, and damaging.

First up is Keith Chow who writes:
“While most of these type of opinion pieces focus on the lack of creators of color at the major corporate publishers, it doesn’t mean black comics writers don’t exist. You just have to find them in the world of indie comics. And you have to do more than find them, you need to buy (or at the very least talk about) their books too. Basically, if you want to see more African American creators in the mainstream books, you have to support their independent work”

You can read the rest here:
thenerdsofcolor.org/2014/05/22/where-the-new-black-comics-writers-are

Next, David Walker has his response, and he’s not mincing words:
“But let’s face it, you and a bunch of other well-minded critics have done a half-ass job of addressing the issue of diversity in comics. And if what I’m saying is infuriating or hurtful, put yourself in the shoes of Jimmie Robinson, Rob Guillory, Kevin Grevioux, and Brandon Thomas. Who are they? Well, they are among the black comic creators that are almost never mentioned whenever some critic decides to write about how there are no black creators in the industry. And though I’m not speaking for any of them (though I’m sure some of them would agree with me), I know how it feels to be marginalized as a black comic creator. It feels a bit like being marginalized as a black person, except every time it happens, you’re reading some article filled with righteous indignation that says you don’t exist (which is more often than not written by someone who themselves has probably been marginalized).”

You can read the rest of here:
www.badazzmofo.com/2014/05/21/does-anyone-really-care-about-diversity-in-comics-a-k-a-talkin-loud-and-sayin-nothin

When I read these kinds of articles, I can feel their frustration. I understand their position. Because it comes down to worth and value. Somehow, in some cases (NOT ALL!), if a comic or creator isn’t published through DC and Marvel it’s somehow looked on as low rent, secondary, sometimes even invisible. And that’s the kind of position people like Keith Chow and David Walker are sick of being put in – and they’re speaking out about it in a tone that is no longer worrying about being nice. Being polite. Not in this conversation. Because some people are tired of being invisible. Tired of not being represented.

Look at some of the comments on forums surrounding whenever a previously generic “white” character is given another ethnicity (or assigned a new gender). Comments such as “Why don’t they just create a new character?”, “So it’s all about token ethnic quotas now? Whoever has the most ethnic, minority, or female leading books wins?”, or “Who makes these unoriginal decisions and why does the publisher hate the character?”. These are actual quotes. What they are really saying is, they don’t want diverse characters in their comic books. They want them “over there” – in a book they won’t buy. They want to be able to ignore them. 

Invisible.

So yes, not every comicbook reader is locked into the weekly DC/Marvel grind. And I’d like to think that most are open minded and willing to give all creators a chance. And that’s great. But there’s still work to be done. So to the list of creators mentioned in those two above articles, I want to give my own list of the many diverse creators I’ve had the privilege of talking with over the years as a podcaster and as a convention attendee. This list is by no means complete, my apologies for that. I’ll be sure to add more as they came up. I just want their names in the conversation, so that they too can be represented. So that they remain visible.

Miguel Jorge, Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, Fred Chao, J. Gonzo, Julian Lytle, Shawn Pryor, Emi Lenox, Gerimi Burleigh, Martheus & Janet Wade, Dave Dwonch, Spike., GB Tran, Chris Moreno, Khary Randolph, Tito Na Rua, Jun Bob Kim, Carla Rodríguez and Rosa Colón, Adriana Ferguson and Kristen Van Dam, Afua Richardson.