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      CommentAuthorMG
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010
     (8208.61)
    Bit of a theory dump herein. Was talking about this topic with friends over dinner and this notion formed.

    Superman/Batman were mid-twentieth century archetypes. The immigrant coming struggle and do go, the fallen monied scion. Old money could empathize with Bruce Wayne, his family destroyed, using his fortune to better the world (through gadgets and punching). New immigrants could see Superman as an idol. He stood for the very best in his new nation, or at least the best platitudes.

    Marvel Comics in the 60's adds more archetypes. The noble scientist whose experiment goes out of control. The scarred "freak hero". The mutant, analogue for a whole host of oppressed classes (at the time African-American, but by turns women, Latinos and now GLBTQ people).

    The 70's and 80's saw some, largely failed, attempts to create spaces for women and "minorities". You end up with the problematic legacy properties of today.

    I'm talking in broadstrokes here obviously, these archetypes and ideas run back to the cave in some way or another, but in comics, in mainstream super-heroing comics which used to reach an audience of millions, and now as IP reaches an audience of billions, these were big ideas about how Americans defined themselves. Pulp identities, a reflection and in some ways, a definition of the era.

    So what does it say when you here the thin, high piercing shriek of the fanboy when THE NEW gets in the comics. The homogenous, white, WASP America of 1939 gave you a choice between two white boys. The 60's have you a host of identities, but still mainly white. 70's and 80's you have "Black" and "She" in front of the character's name and call it a day.

    So when you hear about a "return to classic characters" or the latest reboot/recycle/rehash. It seems like more often than not you're getting a nice white-washing. A reset to a time that, to the very diverse world of today feels more and more dates. Clean-cut white lantern-jaw dudes being all awesome in a white man's world when the President and First Lady are athletic, brillliant African-Americans just feels...off.

    Total anecdotal case in point: I work with African-American kids in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. They ALL saw Iron Man last week. You know who they loved in that movie?

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      CommentAuthorWinterman
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.62)
    I thought about not participating in this because I respect Mr. Ellis's work and find him to be one of the "good guys" in comics when it comes to gender and "race." I've decided to take the chance that this won't be considered "race fail," whatever that is.

    For the vast majority of their history American superhero comics, what most people mean when they say comic books, have been written by straight white males for an audience they deemed to be exclusively composed of straight white males. During that same time lots of folks like me, that is to say people who are not straight white males, have had to eat a lot of negative depictions of us or absorb our absence from the so-called mainstream of super-heroics. A small thing, to be sure, in the big scheme. Almost microscopic. Unless you're twelve.

    Some may find the discussion of this silly but, as wavefronts of popular culture (and thus popular opinion) the dearth of anything other than straight white males as the presumed arbiters of Good and Cool is being and, I think, should be construed as both negative and, on some level, corruptive by more people than one might think.

    While their counterparts in the film, television and prose publishing worlds have moved forward on the inclusion front with everything from simple increased diversity in their product to the development of entire niche-oriented versions of that product, American superhero comics have lagged well behind. This isn't a matter of opinion but of observable, demonstrable fact. This fact has produced various backlashes, from individual indie books like MENTHU all the way up to entire companies devoted to the attempt to fill that niche, like MILESTONE.

    The indie comics world (a sort of misnomer as it seems to sometimes include companies like DARK HORSE and IMAGE) seems to have joined the rest of the entertainment world in terms of presenting a more diverse product while the so-called Big Two, the core of the American comic book industry, have lagged and lagged and lagged. It's difficult to see that as anything other than willful at this point.

    Granted MARVEL is well out in front of DC in terms of diverse characters created but that's not hard when DC has, repeatedly, over decades, taken ninety steps back for every attempt at a step forward. For me, at least, this current obsession with the so-called Silver Age of DC comics and the rebooting of the cardboard cutout "characters" of that bygone time is one regression too many.

    I've had enough of even talking about this crap, year after year, character after character, "crisis" after crisis.

    I see that DC, at least, simply does not give a damn about the rest of us. Whether this is due to some form of institutional or active racism or simply an incredibly advanced case of tin ear is, at this juncture, immaterial. The effect is the same and it has been the same for decades.

    People talk about laying blame, pointing fingers at the fans for their supposed secret racism or at the companies for, at the very least, catering to that racism but, again, I'm past caring anymore.

    Unlike a lot of those folks, I'm done. Had it. Out.

    I'm done hoping that these people who, like me, seem to delight in telling simple stories about a world where Good triumphs over easily-defined Evil will also believe that part of that triumph must be to defeat even the unintentional impression that they are promoting a Whites First, Straights First agenda. Because, from where I and a lot of folks sit, they are.

    It doesn't amount to much, my putting down DC comics for good. It doesn't really amount to anything, really, except to me.

    But there's a 12 year old inside me that I have always thought sustained me a little when things were not good in the real world and he did that, in part, because of the values that were reinforced by those simple tales of Good vs Evil. He's diminished a bit now, just a little blurrier around the edges than I find comfortable. I don't like it.

    But there's nothing much to be done except to walk away.

    Have fun with the Brightest Day.
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      CommentAuthorMG
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.63)
    @Winterman:

    I posted a link upthread a bit about the sort of regressive racial backtracking that all these "reboots" seem to engender, similar to what you're getting at really.

    It's all weird to me because I came into comics reading Sandman (the first comic I ever purchased was Sandman #50, which called "Ramadan" and tells the dream story of the war-torn city of Baghdad) and Hellblazer and Preacher. I only started picking up any super-hero stuff because writers like Warren and Grant Morrison were going there in the late 90's/00's.

    Coming to superhero comics as an adult it's hard not to see how painfully white, straight and conservative it all seems. SERIOUS SUPERHEROS have plotlines about rape and child abuse that make the average episode of Law and Order: Special Rapists Unit look like The Wire.

    But great writers tell great stories. Matt Fraction has written a character named Pepper Potts (PEPPER...POTTS) as a believable female character in Iron Man.
  1.  (8208.64)
    Some may find the discussion of this silly but, as wavefronts of popular culture (and thus popular opinion) the dearth of anything other than straight white males as the presumed arbiters of Good and Cool is being and, I think, should be construed as both negative and, on some level, corruptive by more people than one might think.

    Not much in this to disagree with, is there?
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.65)
    @Coop-

    Calling out the Big Two for their lack of sensitivity by calling them "retarded" was... well, I suppose just typing that out here kind of highlights it, huh?


    This board is the last place I expected PC hyper-sensitivity - guess I'll have to rethink that in future.

    In fact, I wasn't calling them out for their lack of sensitivity, I was calling them out for making crap, lots and lots of crap. My point was that filling minority superhero quotas doesn't make the stories better or the art less headache-inducing. It's more like changing radio stations as your car drives off a cliff.

    Suggestion - next time, READ what I wrote, instead of quickly scanning for words and phrases you can become self-righteously indignant about.

    Or you could go one of the other threads and complain about Mr. Ellis' offensive use of the derogatory term "moon people"...
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      CommentAuthorJJH
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.66)
    You honestly think thats similiar?
  2.  (8208.67)
    COOP: I already deleted that idiot comment, guess you saw it before I took it out.

    Also, fuck those moon people.
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010 edited
     (8208.68)
    No problem.

    Some of my best friends are moon people.
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010 edited
     (8208.69)
    JJH - I called an industry retarded, not a person. If the comics industry is now huddled in a corner sobbing, I promise to apologize to them.
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.70)
    OTOH, if you are claiming that there are mentally-handicapped people working in the comics industry who are offended by my statement, well, Rob Leifeld, I apologize.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.71)
    @COOP

    I think your complaint about the quality of the scripts, while not unfair, is missing the point of the post, honestly.

    While adding more characters of minority status or different sexuality may not improve the quality that you're talking about, it may at least make such people more visible to people reading comics and make people who identify with such characters feel more included in the industry and feel more represented it.

    The complaints, I think, are apples and oranges.
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010 edited
     (8208.72)
    I just feel that mainstream comics are broken in a major way far beyond the limits of this discussion, and that this particular issue is in fact another symptom of that larger problem.

    it may at least make such people more visible to people reading comics and make people who identify with such characters feel more included in the industry and feel more represented it.


    See, I would be more concerned that there are so few people of different races and ethnic/cultural/sexual backgrounds actually WORKING in comics, drawing and writing the fucking things. Fixing that would go a lot further towards allowing different points of view than making this or that superhero this or that minority.
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.73)
    And furthermore, if you are really upset that there isn't a comic that represents your particular interest, why not go make one yourself?

    The age of passive consumption of media is long gone. Get to drawing!
  3.  (8208.74)
    And furthermore, if you are really upset that there isn't a comic that represents your particular interest, why not go make one yourself?


    i like this, and not in some confrontational way. i think its very valid.
  4.  (8208.75)
    Yes.

    However, let's turn the temperature down a bit now, people.
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      CommentAuthorCOOP
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010 edited
     (8208.76)
    Agreed.

    I would like to add that I have absolutely zero problem with shaking up the white guy status quo of comics at all, please go for it - just do it in a way that is fun and entertaining, with no pandering, and hopefully drawn by someone who can actually knows how to draw a bit.
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      CommentAuthorWinterman
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010 edited
     (8208.77)
    @coop - And furthermore, if you are really upset that there isn't a comic that represents your particular interest, why not go make one yourself?

    The age of passive consumption of media is long gone.


    Quiet as it's kept, quite a few of us do just that.

    Here are some names to look up:

    Mike Sales
    Robert Roach
    Dale Wilson
    Brandon Easton
    Korby Marks
    Andre Owens
    Mshindo
    Blake Chen
    Eliseu Gouveia

    http://www.myspace.com/jaycenwise
    Genre 19.com
    Shadowlawonline.com


    These are just the ones I thought of first. We're out here. Lots and lots of us. And some of us kick ass.
    • CommentAuthorIsaacSher
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.78)
    "I take issue with the term 'Moon People', and would like to hereafter be referred to as a 'Lunar-American'."

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Here's something I'm wondering. The MILESTONE books were originally started as a direct response to the white-male-dominated comic industry, an organized "well, let's make our own then" effort. It was successful for a little while, and even led to the rather well done "Static Shock" tv show, but then it stalled. It got a small kick recently with the Milestone cast showing up in JLA, but I haven't heard of any of those characters getting used since, much less any books starring them coming out. Maybe Static's showing up in Teen Titans? I could be wrong.

    I wonder if it's time for someone to take another crack at it? Start from scratch, create a set of new creator-owned characters with a heavy emphasis on ethnic/social/sexual diversity. Maybe if it's handled well, it could work. Perhaps lessons could be learned from Milestone's past. Maybe someone would want to try it in a manga-esque format, straddling the line between bookstore manga shoppers and comic-store shoppers, or do some other new thing with it to reflect current marketing trends.

    If DC and Marvel are regressing, maybe if people had a chance to vote with their feet by buying a specific alternative, they would? "Ah, but who will bell the cat?" Not a perfect or easy idea, I grant.
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      CommentAuthorjoe.distort
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010 edited
     (8208.79)
    there was a line like that within the past 2-3 years...it was also christian and poorly drawn. hence it died. good comics need to be, first and foremost, GOOD.
    • CommentAuthorIsaacSher
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
     (8208.80)
    Very true. That was one thing I liked about the Milestone comics -- for the most part, I thought they were good stories, rather than screechy pulpits who didn't have anything to say other than "LOOK WE HAZ MINORITIES!"

    If I wanted a horrific soapbox of a comic, I'd go read "Zwanna, Son of Zulu", which I still own a copy of as a gleeful reminder of just how weird and bad things can get.