1. If you’re going to write a smug thunk-piece about the “failure” of “diversity” in comics, maybe don’t use the cover image of a book that’s had 4 collections on the NYT graphic books bestseller list, won a Hugo and cleaned up at Angouleme. Just because you HOPE it’s on the chopping block, oh Riders of the Brohirrim, doesn’t mean it is.
2. I will tell you exactly why Ms Marvel works: it didn’t set out to be Ms Marvel. We were originally going to pitch it as a 10 issue limited series. I had a 3 issue exit strategy because I assumed we were going to get canned. There was no “diversity initiative” anywhere–getting that thing made at all was a struggle. It was a given that any character without AT LEAST a 20-year history would tank. Everybody, myself included, assumed this series was going to work out the same way.
3. That freed us–by “us” I mean the whole creative team–to tell exactly the story we wanted to tell. We had nothing to lose, nothing to overcome but low expectations. That gave us room to break a lot of rules.
STUFF THAT IS DIFFICULT TO REPLICATE AND IMPOSSIBLE TO PLAN:
1. Unexpected audiences. We are at a point in history when the role of religion is at a tremendous inflection point. What I didn’t realize was that the anxieties felt by young Muslims are also felt by young Mormons, evangelicals, orthodox Jews, and others. A h-u-g-e reason Ms Marvel has struck the chord it has is because it deals with the role of traditionalist faith in the context of social justice, and there was–apparently–an untapped audience of people from a wide variety of faith backgrounds who were eager for a story like this. Nobody could have predicted or planned for that. That’s being in the right place at the right time with the right story burning a hole in your pocket. Plenty of other stuff I’ve written and liked has fallen with a huge thud. That’s the norm. Exceptions are great when they happen, but hard to plan.
2. The paradox of low expectations. The bar was set pretty low for Ms Marvel, but because of Ms Marvel’s success, that bar got set much higher for similar books that came later.
STUFF THAT IS ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE:
1. This is a personal opinion, but IMO launching a legacy character by killing off or humiliating the original character sets the legacy character up for failure. Who wants a legacy if the legacy is shitty?
2. Diversity as a form of performative guilt doesn’t work. Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*
3. Never try to be the next whoever. Be the first and only you. People smell BS a mile away.
4. The direct market and the book market have diverged. Never the twain shall meet. We need to accept this and move on, and market accordingly.
5. Not for nothing, but there is a direct correlation between the quote unquote “diverse” Big 2 properties that have done well (Luke Cage, Black Panther, Ms Marvel, Batgirl) and properties that have A STRONG SENSE OF PLACE. It’s not “diversity” that draws those elusive untapped audiences, it’s *particularity.* This is a vital distinction nobody seems to make. This goes back to authenticity and realism.
On a practical level, this is not really a story about “diversity” at all. It’s a story about the rise of YA comics. If you look at it that way, the things that sell and don’t sell (AND THE MARKETS THEY SELL IN VS THE MARKETS THEY DON’T SELL IN) start to make a different kind of sense.
Image: Cover of
America #2, starring America Chavez, Marvel’s lesbian Latina superhero. (Marvel
NPR’s Glen Weldon is used to comics shop chatter that revolves around things
like which new books are worth checking out, what storylines have gone way too
long and which hero could kick which other hero’s butt. Generally speaking, the
word “demographics” doesn’t crop up a lot; but it did last week, after a Marvel
executive’s comments about diversity in comics unleashed an online firestorm.
Do you know when "canon," like as a concept, became like a standard nerd thing?
The amazing thing about
the term “canon” is that it didn’t bubble up from the undifferentiated mass of
fandom (who actually knows who came
up with memes?). We know exactly and specifically where the word comes from when used in this context: an
essay written by a Sherlock Holmes fan in 1911, who compared the wild and
crazy veneration that fanatical Holmes fans have for the original stories, to holy writ.
Another name for the books assembled in the Bible was the canon, as opposed to other books that, for various reasons, were
left out of the Bible and “didn’t count.” In other words, the term was
originally used ironically and in a self-deprecating way to talk about the almost religious intensity of Holmes fans.
Part of the reason the
term canon caught on was because, even in the 1910s, the public was so mad for
Sherlock Holmes that there were all kinds of illegal imitators and non-Conan
Doyle authors and knockoffs, and yes, there were even amateur works that were distributed by mail (what today we’d call “fanfiction,” some of which even survives today), so a crucial distinction began to arise between the stuff
that was “official” and the stuff that wasn’t. So, here we have the three
things that we need to even have the concept of canon as we define it: 1) a group
dedicated enough to actually care, who can communicate, 2) a necessary
distinction between “official” and not, particularly due to the presence of amateur works (what today we’d call fanfiction), 3) a long term property that could
sustain that devotion.
Now, of the three, which
do you think was the one that was absent from a lot of science fiction fandom’s first few decades? It’s
actually 3. Canon only matters if it’s something other than just a single
story, which the business model of the pulps discouraged. Like TV in the 1960s, every story had to be compartmentalized and serial storytelling was mostly discouraged.
One fandom, big from the 1930s to the 1960s was E.E. Smith’s space opera Lensman series. The Lensman stories were so popular
that it received 5 sequels, all of which were planned from the outset. Some Lensman
fanfiction from the 1940s is actually still available for reading. Part of the reason the Lensman stories were so popular is that it described a consistent world with consistent attributes: Inertialess Drives, aliens like Chickladorians, Vegians, Rigellians, pressor beams, space axes, Valerian Space Marines, superdreadnoughts, “the Hell Hole in Space,” the works. It was way easier to get sucked into this than it was with the usual “one and done.”
Take for example, this amateur guide to the Lensman series, with art by Betty Jo Trimble.
Canon “policy” as we know it today, as a part of a corporate strategy, started with Star Trek: the Next Generation. Before that, there was no “multimedia property” big enough to necessitate it; Star Wars just didn’t care, which is why pre-Zahn “expanded universe” stories like the Marvel comics were so bonkers. There was no reason to believe that the Trek novels, including good ones by John M. Ford and Diane Duane, were anything else than totally official. Roddenberry, though, was deeply angry about losing control of the film series, and due to his illness (hidden from the public at the time), his canon policy was enforced by his overly zealous attorney. In Star Trek canon, for a long time, the only thing that counted was what was on screen. And not even that…the Star Trek animated series, for several decades, was decanonized. (It wasn’t until Deep Space 9 that animated references crept back in, and today, it’s as canon as everything else).
I don’t want to scare anyone, and this is hearsay, but I’ve heard from three people who were there that Next Generation writers, at least as long as Roddenberry and his attorney were around, were encouraged to not think of the original series as canon at all. References to Spock and even an episode that had an appearance by the Gorn were rewritten.
The Star Trek canon policy was so harsh and unexpected that rules were invented deliberately to kick out popular reference sources, like the rule that starships could only have even numbered nacelles, which meant much of the Franz Joseph guides, published in the millions and praised by Roddenberry and others as official, were vindictively decanonized.
Star Wars canon is interesting because it was entirely created by the West End Roleplaying Game. It was the only major Star Wars product printed in the Star Wars Dark Age, the 5-6 years between 1986-1991 when all toy lines and comics were canceled and the fandom was effectively in a coma or dead. The Roleplaying Game was the first place that information was collected from diverse sources like the comics and novels. Every single Star Wars novelist read the West End game because it was the only time all this information was in one place.
Marvel Comics canon is a very interesting example because it was a harbinger of things to come: superhero comics were one of the earliest places in geek culture where the “inmates started to run the asylum”…that is to say, fans produced the comics, guys like Roy Thomas (creator of the Vision and Ultron) who started off as a fanzine writer. Because of the back and forth in letters pages, there was an emphasis on everyone keeping it all together that didn’t exist at DC, which at last count, had 5 (!) totally contradictory versions of Atlantis.
“Being PC has ruined comics” LMAO nah buddy treating diversity as a market trend instead of as an opportunity to tell good stories is what ruins comics
Treating POCs and LGBTs as moneymaking cash cows instead of as beloved characters with well developed back stories that people are given time to care about is what ruins comics
This is the exact same thing that happened during the “gritty grimdark realist” comic days. A couple of great titles from Moore and Miller and the like and suddenly everybody wanted to be edgy without ever actually writing or drawing anything good. Y'all treat a storytelling style like a trend to be forced on people for the profit, and not respect artists and writers by scrapping their titles and forcing events nobody cares about, this is what happens. It fails. It crashes and burns.
Being PC isn’t ruining comics. It’s the exact same thing that continues to ruin comics, it’s capitalism.
i literally just found out abt ur oc mona and that shes a muslim nd honestly im yellin bc as a muslim i feel so represented?? the diversity in ur characters im hollering i cant wait for ur webcomic to come out so i can read more abt ur ocs
ah im glad you like her,,here is a sneak peek sketch/color test panel of her from the page im working on rn that i normally would not share but im planning to adjust the scene so this will likely not make it to finalization U__U
No one is “making” Black Panther a “race thing”. It ALWAYS WAS.
Black Panther was created by two Jewish artists as a response to criticisms of a lack of diversity in comics. Even before, Marvel was well known for doing the one of the unthinkable, most revolutionary thing in the world of comics at the time: putting PoC in the background of shots.
And they specifically *gasp* weren’t caricatures (tbf, though, a lot of the dialogue was….yeah. But hey, baby steps)
But you know what? A few Black people used as scenery wasn’t enough for Stan and Jack. They realised early on that Black kids read comics and should have a hero for themselves. They should have someone they could look up to and emulate, someone that stood up for issues they cared about.
So they created Black Panther and wrote him as a fantasy for what Africa could have been if colonialism didn’t happen.
Since then, other authors have used Black Panther to address other social issues from a Black perspective. In fact, the most acclaimed Black Panther series are those with Black creators, lauded for their authenticity. This has led, of course, to the Black Panther movie. If you look up the people cast in this movie, the director, the costume designers, etc. you’ll find that each one is likely linked to a political movie about Black issues in some way.
And y'all say we’re MAKING it a race thing? nah, we’re just making it impossible for you to ignore that it IS a race thing and always WILL BE a race thing.
Seriously, if Static Shock came our right now, y'all would complain about us making it into a “race thing”. I bet I’ll see y'all complaining that we make the Green Lantern movie into a “race thing”. And I DISTINCTLY remember y'all saying we were turning Luke Cage into a “race thing”.
If y'all don’t want to see “race things”, then I suggest y'all don’t watch this or any sci-fi movie featuring a Black person as the central character. Cuz every one of them will BE a “race thing”. Because apparently, pointing out that we live kinda shitty lives and talking about the issues WE face is too much for you to handle. Apparently, you prefer movies like X-Men or Hunger Games when the metaphor is is super vague and behind a white face. But when it’s explicit, you can’t handle it and get triggered (for lack of a better term). That’s fine, I don’t want your ass in the theater with me. Don’t watch it.
But don’t get it in your head that because you antis don’t see it, it’ll flop. Majority of Black people on this website (frak, probably just majority of Black people in general) are going to see it. White “sjws” are going to see it. Non-black PoC allies are going to see it. We’ll be fine. When JUST Black people see a movie we turn it into a huge success. So nah, we don’t need you. Don’t watch it. Cuz I can garuntee that you probably won’t like it if you understand it.
Then again, the fact that this character has existed for such a long time and you STILL don’t see how it’s a “race thing” shows how well you are at understanding complex issues…so maybe you will enjoy it, idk.
“A devil kills a tribal shaman for his shadow but before the shaman dies he leaves his mark on the littlest brave. In burying the shaman the little brave learns the devil’s medicine, she also becomes a shadow. As the shaman’s shadow, she captures the devil. The devil begs for mercy but she doesn’t hear him, because she is just an Echo.”
Now that we’re three issues into Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess you’ve finally met all of our core cast and at least gotten a glimpse of everybody in the crew. so we wanted to share with you the designs for all of the characters in the crew.
Up top we have a lineup of the core cast for book 1. From left to right:
Raven Xingtao (casual)
Raven Xingtao (captain)
Sunshine Alexander (rogue)
Sunshine Alexander (dancer)
Ximena Santos (don’t worry, she’ll have more outfits later!)
Katie Kling (she pretty much always dresses like this)
Jayla Cook (she thinks clothes are stupid)
Cookie Cook (Jayla’s Dad, not going sailing)
The bottom row is the full crew, whom, assuming the book continues long enough (read: you keep buying it) will all have a chance to shine eventually. Rather than me telling you everything all bout all of them, which could take up many such posts, why don’t we do this a different way. If you have questions about any of the characters, ask me! As long as the answer isn’t a plot spoiler, I’ll tell you. What do you want to know?
“The Grim Reaper of the DC Universe. When it is your time to pass, the implacable Black Racer will be there in the end to guide your soul.
The Black Racer’s corporeal form is that of the otherwise bedridden Sgt. Willie Walker, who was paralyzed during the Vietnam War. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role.
The Racer makes use of skis as his means of transport. New Gods are collected by the Racer at the moment of their deaths, and taken to Hadis (the Fourth World version of Hades).
The Black Racer represents ‘death as inevitability’, whereas Death of The Endless represents 'death as compassionate release’.”
This is the DC’s first African-American superhero, was created by writer-artist Jack Kirby.