Robot 6

Quote of the Day | The dearth of black writers at the Big Two

Reginald Hudlin's final issue of Black Panther

“This is the first week of Black History Month, a four-week celebration and remembrance of the significant events and people of the African diaspora. For many, myself included, it’s a month to reflect on where we’ve been, as a people and as a nation, and to contemplate exactly where it is we’re going. In terms of the comic book industry, an obvious interest and passion of mine, there is one glaring and sobering fact that needs our attention: There is currently not a single black writer working on a monthly series for either of the two biggest comic book publishers in the United States, and precious few working for any of the others.”

Joe Hughes of ComicsAlliance, delivering an eye-opening assessment of the lack of black writers at DC Comics and Marvel

Comic Book Resources columnist Hannibal Tabu points out that Marvel hasn’t had a black writer since Reginald Hudlin’s tenure ended on Black Panther in 2009. What’s more, “With Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse has paid more black people in comics in the last year or so than DC and Marvel have done in many, many years.”

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42 Comments

Reggie Hudlin is writing django Unchained

It starts with having black editors and a more diverse production staff.

I always thought this was a sink or swim industry, no? If you have the chops to write, you get a job based on your talent, not your skin colour. That has nothing to do with the Big Two being racist. Which is what it sounds like they’re being accused of when you read Joe Hughes words.

I’m not as much concerned with the “dearth” of black writers, or women writers, at the Big Two as I am the dearth of GOOD writers.

Even more than good writers, the Big Two needs editors and publishers who KNOW and respect their characters — and stop re-creating them and rebooting them. If a character has lasted decades (before the new editor got involved) there are reasons.

There is such a thing as positive discrimination. I mean, what’d be the solution? To start hiring writers purely because they are black?

Now, if racism is involved and there is evidence of this – then that should absolutely be tackled.

But most writers are fairly invisible individuals who submit work over the internet and do not have daily face to face time with their employers. I doubt editors really consider if a new writer is black, asian, caucasian, straight, gay, bisexual etc.

They judge new writers on their writing and their drive to succeed within the industry… and that is absolutely how it should be.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

wow, the amount of white privilege on display in these comments is not surprising, but it certainly shouldn’t be the norm.

maybe you guys should consider the main points being expressed before assuming what the problem is and how it can be solved.

but that’s what i get for looking for sensical comments at a comic blog.

Rollo Tomassi: agreed, but that’s but one issue at hand here.

I, naturally, blame Steve Wacker.

‘wow, the amount of white privilege on display in these comments is not surprising, but it certainly shouldn’t be the norm.’

Okay, so I’m white.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what it’s like to be part of a minority.

I happen to be gay and I have learning disabilities. Oh, and I do want to be a professional writer. But I want to make it in the industry because I’m good at writing, not because I’m part of a minority, and I’m sure any black writer would agree.

Writing jobs should goto whoever can write well. That doesn’t mean they always do, I’m not completely naive, but that is how it should work.

As I said, if racism is involved in the hiring practices of either Marvel or DC then that is a serious issue that should be dealt with but positive discrimination would be just as bad. But, as far as I’m aware, there really isn’t any evidence of this.

@SIM, I didn’t realize that Dustin Nguyen, Francis Manapul and Marco Rudy were white.

Snark aside, I think you’ll see far fewer black creators, editors, etc due to demographic changes. Let’s face it, the increase in the Latino and Asian populations are growing in North America and you’ll start to see the Big Two have a greater representation from these populations.

I didn’t realize I had a free ticket to ride just because I’m white. Hey big two, I expect annoucements on my new series tomorrow and covers by Brian Hitch! Wahoo! I wish I had known before that all I had to do to break into the industry was to check the caucasian box. Does that also apply to jobs at BET or Vibe Magazine? Enacting white privelege right now, everybody jump in line!!!!

As I said, if racism is involved in the hiring practices of either Marvel or DC then that is a serious issue that should be dealt with but positive discrimination would be just as bad. But, as far as I’m aware, there really isn’t any evidence of this.
—————————-

I think the evidence or at least question would be why does certain bad white writers keep getting gigs and the black one doesn’t?

I think the thing is black writers are always having to prove themselves while their white male and even female counterparts don’t.

Even Matt Wayne said it was funny McDuffie for all his success kept getting the door slammed in his face while certain white guys who kept crashing and burning didn’t .If a guy keeps failing why do you keep hiring them?

“Eye opening”. Right. Easy target is more like it. Where are the Brazilian writers? Where are the Korean writers? Where are the Indian writers? As someone said before – just be good.

And chances are some of the up and coming black creators know that it’s better to be a clothing designer, or an artist or a video game creator than a comic book anything. Who wants that cheap money?

I think ppl should read the whole article on comics alliance,comments also before responding. Because there is a whole lot of knee jerk comments being posted.

I didn’t realize I had a free ticket to ride just because I’m white.
——————————————————————————–

It’s not a free ride per say but you don’t face a barrier that a nonwhite has in most jobs. In others words you don’t expect to get a job because you are white. You expect to be considered for the job because you are qualified.

All blacks want is to at least be given the chance to try out for jobs and not be eliminated based on skin color or gender. Depending on who you talk to that is not the case at the Big 2. Some can name the editor that keeps getting in the way. Why they don’t is beyond me.

I think the question would be what are the blacks offering that the big 2 are not interested in? Are they pitching JLA or Doom Patrol? Are they saying we can do more than black stories and the big 2 aren’t ready for a black guy to write a nonwhite book?

The last black guy that wrote nonblack DC books ended badly or have we forgotten about Titans by Eric Wallace.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

“Okay, so I’m white. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what it’s like to be part of a minority.

I happen to be gay and I have learning disabilities. Oh, and I do want to be a professional writer. But I want to make it in the industry because I’m good at writing, not because I’m part of a minority, and I’m sure any black writer would agree.”

well, ANY AND EVERY writer should agree with you but that’s no the issue at hand. just because you want something to work a certain way doesn’t mean that’s how it works, as you said.

but the fact is, there isn’t a single black writer at Marvel or DC. why does there have to be an active “don’t hire the black guy” policy for you to think that racism is in practice here? it’s the culture of the business. how can you, a supposedly white gay writer trying to succeed by “being good,” not understand the issue here?

your initial point makes less sense, and i’m not quite sure what point you were attempting to convey in your reply.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Samir P. in a perfect world, that cause and effect would be evident. but it’s not quite there yet. in fact, the amount of black creators in general has decreased over the last few years, regarding Marvel and DC.

So when did Joe say anything about racism?

I understand that this can be an uncomfortable topic, but there’s no reason for some of these comments.

Here’s the reality in many professional circles: people tend to hire people they know and/or people they feel a bond with. Most circles are not ethnically diverse. Thus they tend to hire others who are like them. This happens in more than just white America.

To be honest, it’s usually not out-and-out racism. Most of it is probably even subconcious. It’s just a tendency to go with the familiar. Sadly, the results of that tend to come off as racist (and sexist too).

Are there black writers out there that are just as talented as most of the writers at the big 3? There’s no reason to think there couldn’t be. For whatever reasons, though, they’re not writing for Marvel or DC right now.

So statements like Joe’s are made so that those at the big 2 are more aware of it so they can hopefully identify the reasons why their writing staff tends to be mostly white males. If this means they decide to make a more concerted effort to hire more black and female writers and thus find good talent, just because a white male writer is out of an opportunity doesn’t mean they’re being unfair.

Again, the natural tendency is to stick with what you know, what’s most comfortable, etc. If they don’t meaningfully look for diversity, it usually doesn’t happen naturally. It’s just not human nature.

Yes, in a perfect world, the most qualified person would get the job and diversity would never even be an issue. But that’s not the world we live in, obviously. So sometimes a light has to be shined on a situation. Thus here we are.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

thanks for furthering the discussion, Darth Tigris.

i agree that awareness is key. i do not hope, however, that the response to this is just hiring a few buzz names to flash-in-the-pan books that won’t last its first year.

And what about Image, IDW, Dark Horse, etc? It doesn’t feel like they are any better but I am happy to be proven wrong.

Drewcifer L Banks

February 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Oy vey. Well – I’ll tell you what, how about everyone who complains about the lack of black writers in DC/Marvel go out and find some self-published independent comics created by African-American writers/artists?

If they sell a ton of books, DC/Marvel will start to look their way?

What’s that…? Oh – you’re not gonna do that? You’re going to keep throwing money at your Batmen,Supermen,Avenger and X-Books? Okay then.

Well if you read 1 of the comments on the Comics Alliance page. They list Jill Thompson and Kelly Sue Deconick as black female creators for Dark Horse. Soooo….yeah.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Drewcifer: A Guy Who Doesn’t Get Shit

Drewcifer L Banks

February 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Smart Internet Man: proof that names don’t mean shit.

Look, regarding DC/Marvel comics – GREEN is the only color they care about.

If a black writer sold a million copies of his own title, they’d seriously think about bringing him on so if people want something to happen – put your money where your mouth is instead of in DC/Mavel’s piggy banks.

The change won’t come from the top down, it’s gotta come from the bottom up.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

you presume to know shit about my buying preferences. i buy exclusively indies for the exact reason.

black creators sell comics. Reggie Hudlin, for one. Dwayne McDuffie, RIP, for two.

if ANY creator sold a million copies of their own title, they probably wouldn’t have to work for Marvel or DC. so what the hell are you trying to say? all creators should sell a million copies, so they can work for DC and sell 10,000? good math, dude.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

you’re making these broad, presumptuous statements without any fact to back it up. i’m glad you have all this anecdotal evidence to support your opinion, but the real world doesn’t operate to the wishes and message board whims of a jaded (and mostly white) comic audience.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Mike T, they don’t say Kelly Sue Deconnick and Jill Thompson are black; he was pointing out that DHP has been giving those women chances to get published, with quality work, in a field where they are vastly overshadowed by men. so… yeah.

Drewcifer L Banks

February 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm

“you’re making these broad, presumptuous statements without any fact to back it up. i’m glad you have all this anecdotal evidence to support your opinion, but the real world doesn’t operate to the wishes and message board whims of a jaded (and mostly white) comic audience.”

Smart Internet Man, your ‘facts’ are overwhelming me as I type.

So – I guess you DON’T believe that Marvel/DC work towards being as profitable as possible?
Or that if a comic writer were any race and would move product they wouldn’t hire them for some reason?

Whether we like it or not, the real world (for comics) does operate by the wishes and whims of the mostly white comic audience as they are the audience that Marvel/DC caters towards.

Settle down man. No need to go all ” alpha nerd”

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Yes, they’re profitable. But they’re not shelling out jobs left and right to everyone who shows talent. Not even white creators. That’s partially the issue. It’s just noted that minorities get the shaft more often, in comparison.

Chew sells close to 10,000 copies a month, not to mention how much Vol. 1 pulls in alone. Layman didn’t get a job until late last year. that’s one of few white, successful Indie creators who’ve broken in.

The Luna brothers books sell on average 8,000 an issue. Jimmie Robinson’s Bomb Queen sells about 5,000 per issue. Many prominent marvel guys like Sam Humphrey and Dennis Hopeless don’t hit those numbers on their indie books, but get multiple opportunities.

Meanwhile the Lunas do a miniseries that sells well (spider woman with bendis) and Jimmie does a one shot that sells 30k, and they don’t get asked back.

There are many successful minority creators that haven’t gotten half the chances that others have. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be as many mediocre DC writers getting shuffled around like musical chairs. remember, they tried to fire Gail Simone, WHO SELLS. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray can write mini series for every member of the freedom fighters for all 27 of their fans, but Eric Wallace can’t get a new book when his gets cancelled?

I see your logic. It’s flawed.

Smart Internet Man

February 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm

what am I saying, there have been a ton of white successful indie creators at marvel.

White.

minorities, not so much, despite fairly significant contributions.

@ Paul Penna

I think the idea being got at in the article isn’t so much about new writers. It’s that there are black writers of note, who aren’t being approached.

If the point was being made that there should be more new black writer’s hired, then sure your comments make a fair amount of sense

@Noah Miller

“I don’t see race. People say I’m white, and I believe them because when I go to a website discussion issues of race, I pretend that race doesn’t matter in any aspect of culture and racism is just something used by minorities to try to gain advantage over white people.”

Pretty much sums it up. Noah Miller, you really honestly think that the reason there are no black writers in Marvel and DC is that despite the large number of writers of various degrees of talent and success those two publishers hire, NONE of the black writers who tried at that job were good enough?

Because if you think that, you’re just a daft bastard.

Don’t give me this “racism doesn’t exist it’s just a tool of those shifty minorities trying to get one up on the honest working white man” bullturd, Noah.

With the amount of crap-ass writers working for the big two, you can’t sit there and tell me in all honesty that there wasn’t ONE goddamn black writer that could have done a better job, that the reason they didn’t pick ANY black writer, was because they honestly feared their comics would tank because those black writers were sooooooo crappy at their job.

Sit it on it and spin you jackass.

Enough said.

Simon DelMonte – that’s a key point in all of this. DC and Marvel tend to take on creators who have already received acclaim writing for other companies, or mediums. So the issue Joe is bringing up in the article is – why aren’t people doing everything they can to support and celebrate great black writers in the industry? Why aren’t we seeing groundbreaking work from black creators over at companies like Image, why aren’t comic sites pushing any great work which is coming from black creators, and why isn’t the market responding to black writers who are championed by the comics media?

Ok,here’s the thing,if writing is more difficult to get in,why not try drawing?
Drawing usually more clearer quality than writing.
Jim Lee sure is a biggest minority name in comic&he comes as an artist

Smart Internet Man

February 5, 2013 at 6:30 am

Noah Miller wasn’t having enough fun trolling CBR, so he came here to make the same idiotic talking points he has there without real knowledge of the situation

wow. these comments…

white people love their spider-man…

Eric Wallace was handed a challenging storyline in Titans, and did a good as can be job of it. Mister Teriffic was well named. Static had a real chance, but (based on the tales told) seemed to suffer from too many cooks being too worried it get done right.

Let’s spin this around.

Who’s out there that’s worth a look?

Who would you LIKE to see move up to the Big Two? And writing what, based on they’ve written?

I think that somewhere the flaw is in that the comicbook industry’s hiring practices seems to be only partially based on the skill of the individual. A writer could be brilliant and have sent in a brilliant application for a gig at a company, but the company might still be hesitant about hiring the individual before one of their employees sees the application and goes “Hey I know her. Get her, she’s brilliant!”
As an example, Bob Harras of DC has been pretty good at roping in his old colleagues like Scott Lobdell and Rob Liefeld into the DC fold. Same with Snyder, he brought in Jeff Lemire and he in turn brought in Ray Fawkes. And Christie Marx landed her gig on Sword of Sorcery through personal friendship with Didio. And so on…

So perhaps that’s what missing for the aspiring writers of color? A friend in the industry to leave the door open for them?

just one name Rob Liefeld.

‘Here’s the reality in many professional circles: people tend to hire people they know and/or people they feel a bond with. Most circles are not ethnically diverse. Thus they tend to hire others who are like them. This happens in more than just white America.’

Absolutely, I think that is likely the reason why there are more white writers getting hired. A larger percentage of my friends are white, not all, but a lot. There’s nothing inherently racist about that fact.

‘but the fact is, there isn’t a single black writer at Marvel or DC. why does there have to be an active “don’t hire the black guy” policy for you to think that racism is in practice here? it’s the culture of the business. how can you, a supposedly white gay writer trying to succeed by “being good,” not understand the issue here?’

I’d agree that it is the culture of the business that makes the Big Two hire people that they know. That isn’t necessarily a good thing, but it is a fact and one should accept that reality.

I don’t think it has anything to do with race (beyond what Darth Tigris has said, which I totally agree with) and the only action that the larger companies could do about this on a concious level would to be engage in positive discrimination ie to hire a writer because they’re black.

This isn’t racism, it is a very unfortunate trend which is not easily fixed.

Which is the only point I’m trying to make. Yes, there should be more black writers working for the Big Two. There should also be more female writers, gay writers, asian writers etc. But beyond targeting people of those specific minorities because they are part of a minority (and I hope we all agree that’d be a bad thing) there isn’t much than can actually be done.

@Paul
I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I may be partially all for bucking that “unfortunate trend” mentioned–BY FORCE.

“I don’t see race. People say I’m white, and I believe them because when I go to a website discussion issues of race, I pretend that race doesn’t matter in any aspect of culture and racism is just something used by minorities to try to gain advantage over white people.”

Of course you don’t “see race.” Only those with the privilege of race can afford to not see it.

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