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Diversity in Comics


#63

I think diversity is comics is improving. Obviously it needs to keep improving too, and the ‘Mockingbird’ situation shows that the issue isn’t just with the industry, but with fandom too.

If not for the seriousness of the situation, I would’ve found some of the comments about comic books not being for women funny. I mean, women have been creating and reading comics since the forties.

Whether they be romance comics or superheroes like Miss Fury (created by Ms. Tarpe Mills).

Also, gay representation is improving too. I think one of the best comics in recent years has been ‘Midnighter’ by Steve Orlando, the success of which continues with ‘Midnighter and Apollo’.


#64

Fandom isn’t broken. Some fans are assholes. That’s not broken, that’s the way comics have always been. There’s two retreats for maladjusted men. Sports and geekery. Each has a small collective of truly terrible men who don’t have social class and have repayments about the world that run deep. That’s the way some men behave. It should always be called out, but it shouldn’t be the brush that paints everyone.

I think the author loses a bit of credibility too - she knew her cover was stirring up a hornets nest, hence why she created it. And it provoked reaction. I’m not excusing it, but j think you’re sheltered if you’re surprised by why happened.


#65

But the cover was released months ago, and nobody cared about it until last week. And obviously Cain didn’t draw the cover, Joelle Jones did.


#66

This is the most important point to bear in mind in this discussion, I think. Some fans are assholes. Some people in any given cross-section of humanity are assholes. That doesn’t mean there’s a “problem” with the cross-section you’re looking at.


#67

I joined the comic wagon late in life (I’m 28, started reading comics like a maniac just two or three years ago) but I’m used to being discriminated or shunned or whatever you’d like to call it in the video games scene for ages. A girl who plays videogames better than guys is a recipe for shaming and name calling. How dare she play and actually play well?

I think the issue with diversity is that some people just can’t accept that a character or person isn’t molded to their standards of what a girl, woman, female superhero, racial streotype etc should be. When their stereotype is broken i.e. they see something that breaks their standard, they flip out and rage and rant because they’re not used to this.
"What is this!? She’s Asian and not a genius?! She’s not wearing a crop top! What kind of sorcery is this? Oh this woman looks like she actually has a spine, where did the super long waist and bent torso go?"
I’ve developed a very thick hide against sexist, shaming remarks. Change is hard for some people, but like @Jim said, some fans and people in general are just assholes, and they won’t think differently even if you hit them on the head with a sledgehammer.


#68

We probably need the entire current generation to die off before anything changes.

And even then it might not be guaranteed :frowning:


#69

It’s scary that I think the same thing every single day. Paraguay is a horror story when it comes to diversity and mysogyny. But the bright side of this is that it pushes me even harder to write and tell stories that defy the norm.


#70

I can’t imagine how you feel but I admire your plan to deal with it :slight_smile:


#71

People tend not to change. We’d like to think most folks learn over time, but many people are who they are. So in that respect yes it’ll never end until they move on to other hobbies.

What’s more critical is to ensure future generations learn early what the new social norms are. And while I think the younger generation are better in the most part, I wonder if we’re still creating a group of alienated young men that will end up behaving in a similar manner.


#72

Historically, you take on your father’s prejudices. But in this age of miraculous communication around the world, young people should be exposed to so much diversity that those prejudices should look stupid to them. If I managed to rebel against my father’s prejudices 40 years ago without the benefit of knowing any foreign or (openly) gay or Muslim or whatever people, then it should be easy for today’s kids who probably interact with those groups as equals every day.

I stress “should”. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to work. You only need to look at Twitter to see that.


#73

I don’t know if I agree with that - it depends on your relationship with your father. And mother. I think it’s more that you take on your environments prejudices, and sometimes your father is the biggest influence on your environment. Having been removed from mine I see all sorts of prejudices in my extended family back home. Nothing sinister, just the same repeated ‘common knowledge’ talking points that don’t make any sense.

I do think some people derive prejudices independently though, typically due to their personal experiences. If you’ve never had a relationship and girls have only laughed at you for most of your life I can see you developing some resentments.


#74

That is fantastic!

Keep moving forward!


#75

Yeah the racist/misogyny in the videogame world is especially virulent. I have a friend who’s screenname was Black20Mike because he used to work for a company called Black 20 but everyone assumes it’s because he’s black He is not but gets called the n-word all the time whenever he plays online.


#76

Despite the headline (you can’t have the internet without clickbait) that’s quite clearly spelled out in the article and from Cain herself:

Cain wrote that “Comics readers are 99 percent the best people you’d ever want to meet. The other 1 percent can be really mean.”


#77

When I worked retail, 99% of the customers I had were great and 1% were complete and utter assholes. The problem was that the 1% are the ones that were there everyday, all day. I think it’s a similar problem here.


#78

Pretty relevant observation:



#79

In the same vein:


#80

There is another interesting point here as far as gender roles and heroes. In the recent documentary, the Eagle Huntress, a 13-year-old girl becomes the first master eagle hunter of her nation.

One of the points in the story is that Aisholpan, the hero of the story, doesn’t pretend in any way that she’s a boy or act like her male counterparts when it comes to mastering eagle hunting (which means training eagles to hunt - not hunting eagles). She’s not a tomboy. She’s as proficient as the men - even better than many - but she doesn’t act like a man.

In the 80’s and even 90’s, a lot of women heroes were basically judged on how “badass” they could be, and that really meant that they acted like men (with big breasts and tiny waists).

Lately, though, we are starting to get more heroines who remain feminine on their own terms. That is shifting mainstream attitudes. In the past, when we got diverse heroes like Power Man or Shang Chi, even though they were the hero, they were still presented from an outsider perspective of African or Chinese in America. Also, obviously, any number of heroines in the 90’s were really being sold to men.

Now, though, when I pick up a title like Ms Marvel or Spider Gwen, or even Gwenpool, it feels like the perspective is changing, and the women protagonists are heroes from their own perspectives. I think that was one of the appealing features of the stories in Simone’s BIRDS OF PREY, even though the art didn’t always reflect it.


#81

The Myth of “Forced” Diversity in Comics


#82

This is quite relevant, and the issue is less that all of comics fans are assholes - because we’re not, and more how we deal with the assholes. And that’s the problem, even though it is changing. To go back to the links which started this thread - a senior DC editor is apparently a serial harasser and abuser of women. And DC’s answer was not to fire him, bur rather to not place any women in his office1. Does that remind you of any particular Irish sex abuse scandal, for example?

And that decision has knock-on effects, because you wind up with an editorial office with a narrow worldview - meaning they’ll approve stories that appeal to that narrow worldview, and more importantly, new hires are more likely to be people that match the office environment, maintaining that worldview.

As a result of this, we wind up with comics that are somewhat insular, and for the most part match the religion, politics, morality, ethnicity, and sexuality of the editorial team 2. This leads into the next knock-on effect.

While we all enjoy comics to some level, there are some people who are more emotionally invested in the anodyne the insular worldview a non-diverse editorial team enables. Most of us won’t notice if a comic doesn’t have, say a gay character, though we also won’t mind if there is one either. But the point in the Venn Diagram where “invested in the status quo3” and “asshole” overlap, we get the harassers and abusers. They assume the “invested in the status quo” chunk of the Venn diagram is the largest one, and they’ve self-appointed themselves to fight against the causes they see as wrong and entering comics - causes like diversity, feminism, the boogeyman of political correctness. They see the same things “infiltrating” other hobbies like video games that are traditionally seen as nerdy male domains, so they’re feeling cornered and threatened and fighting back for what they love, and they’re assuming that we all feel the same way.

I’ve rambled a lot here, but I feel this is important for the point I want to make - it’s up to us, all of us who accept or embrace the changes to tell people that it is acceptable, and the shit that happens inside comics that enables things like sexual abuse are not accceptable any more.

When we keep quiet, we’re telling Marvel and DC, and the assholes that we stand with them, not against them.

1While I didn’t mention it in the main text, it’s worth acknowledging that said editor apparently has black mail material that allows him to keep his position. While this is a mitigating factor, it doesn’t excuse or justify him keeping his position

2Yes, this is a simplification, especially as the vast majority of comics are written and drawn by freelancers who are outside the editorial culture, so there is an influx of external cultural influence, there are two factors to consider - comics creators generally come from inside the community, so their major influences are often shaped by the environment editorial has created, and unless you’re a superstar, editorial has all the power in the publisher/freelancer relationship, so if they don’t like your story, your design or your art, it gets rejected.

3Or whichever label you prefer to cover the people who would actively resist change.