Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Bad practices in the past decades have paved over diversity we once took for granted. Instead of considering the comics industry this closed loop that can never change, how about we find those shoots trying to break through concrete and clear their path?
– Jeff Parker, on the importance of continuing to introduce comics starring diverse superheroes.
Almost as soon as the announcement was made that Marvel’s Hulk comic was becoming Red She Hulk, writer Jeff Parker started hearing that they were wasting their time on a comic with a female lead. He wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the new direction of the series and why it’s cool, but also talking about why it’s vital that creators and publishers keep pushing diversity. No one comic is going to make everyone stand up and say, “OH! A female-led superhero comic can be successful!” But the more comics that do that, the better the chances are that some of them are going to be great.
It reminds me of the article that David Brothers posted on Tuesday about guilt as a marketing tool. Publishers and creators can’t expect people to buy comics just because they’re diverse. This should be its own quote of the day:
… there is always an unspoken caveat after the phrase. I want more comics by and about black people… that are good comics. I want more comics by and about black people … that don’t involve them being all sad about being black or fighting racism. “I want more comics by and about women … [that fit my criteria for things I enjoy].” Captain Marvel certainly seems to be eagerly awaited, judging by the stuff I see daily on my tumblr, and that’s cool. But that doesn’t mean that it is the lynchpin on which future comics about women revolve.
And neither is Red She Hulk. Or Wonder Woman. Or Voodoo. Or Glory. Or Bandette. Or Tarot. Or or or or or.
But the more of those comics that come along, the more choices readers have and the bigger the chance that some of them are going to rise to the top as truly great comics that just so happen to be about women.
Some of them will be crap. Some of them already are, and that’s the problem. People keep pointing to the Elektra and Catwoman movies as examples of why female-led superhero movies don’t work, but they’ll quit doing that with another a few Hunger Games under our collective belt. The thing is, someone’s got to make those female-led movies that are the quality of Hunger Games. Someone’s got to create those excellent female-led comics that make readers realize that it’s the quality of the story and not the character’s gender that determines success. But that’s not going to happen if every time a new one starts, readers throw their hands up and declare it a waste of time.