Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Paul Cornell on where the diversity is

carol corps“In the past, comics companies have tended to suggest diversity should ‘happen naturally,’ as if when you leave a comic book open overnight gay men might grow in the pages like mustard and cress, so it’s great that Marvel are now championing it, doing it deliberately. Because that’s the only way it can be done. Jeanine’s [Schaefer, his editor on Wolverine] a force for change. And there are a number of prominent female editors now who are altering the face of pro comics culture pretty swiftly.

Online comics fandom, meanwhile, if you judge solely by the comics message boards, remains conservative and behind the times. The action is to be found on Tumblr, where the Carol Corps lives.”

– writer Paul Cornell, who adheres to a strict “panel parity” rule at conventions (he won’t appear on all-male panels), talking to the New Statesman about embracing political issues in mainstream comic books

(Carol Corps ID card from PsychoAndy)

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27 Comments

Look, I am all for diversity but, outside of the tumblr fandom, I have not encountered a single person who enjoys Captain Marvel. Can we please stop holding this as diversity’s golden standard?

I’m afraid Charlie is right. I would love to promote products that embrace diversity, and I absolutely *love* Carol Danvers, but the Captain Marvel book does nothing for me.

@Charlie
I’m not a part of the tumblr fandom. I love Captain Marvel. Will that do?

I don’t think people hold it up that much as a gold standard, either. Just as… You know… A notable example of the positive outcome of trying to not walk that one rote path.

Captain Marvel is good. Not the best thing i ever read but not the worst either but it does have its fans. At Heroes Con the line for Kelly Sue was pretty impressive. And the Carol Corps even filled up a whole panel room by themselves

It’s always weird to hear comics creators courting the Tumblr fandom these days. It smacks to me of the weird teen-speak Stan Lee or Bob Haney would try to write in their comics or the really misguided efforts in the late 90′s when Iron Man was a young goatee’d guy in his 20′s for some reason?

I mean, I’m sure he has a point, but going to the extreme of “All online comic fans are conservative except for my Danvers-heads on Tumblr, massive props to the only sane people on the internet!” is kinda … weird.

No different than any band onstage saying “Everyone knows we have the best fans in the world, we love you guys! Go buy a $35 t-shirt!”

It’s funny how “diversity” now just basically means “homosexuals and women”.

@Charlie
I don’t understand, why immediately discard the fans on tumblr.

@Jerzy
Well, striving for diversity means to (positively) portray groups that have been underrepresented in the medium, so…yeah, that includes gays and women.

“Look, I am all for diversity but, outside of the tumblr fandom, I have not encountered a single person who enjoys Captain Marvel.”

Why don’t fans on tumblr count? Their money spends the same way as everyone else’s, doesn’t it? And the fact that you haven’t encountered them just means that the comics market is expanding to include people that people like you wouldn’t typically encounter.

And yes, women and gay people are “diversity” in a market that is dominated by heterosexual men. You could also call them a “market with emerging growth potential”

Martin Hajovsky

August 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

The work done by Kelly Sue DeConnick (and the entire Carol Corps team) on Captain Marvel is one of the shining lights of comics over the past couple of years. The book sets and meets high standards (with the possibly exception of the art inconsistency, which has nothing to do with the writing) that other books would do well to emulate.

Diversity is achieved in comics through intentional acts, but only when the work is good. Arthur Ashe once pointed out that he was not against being labeled a token, or being one, because he felt his presence alone in country clubs, on boards, etc. was enough to begin to change minds. He was right about that. But what made Ashe a formidable figure in the sport was that he was a champion on the court. He made it work in what passed for a meritocracy arena. Kelly Sue does this every single month in both Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble. These are no mean feats.

Add to that the inspired editing work through the industry by the likes of Sana Amanat and others and you begin to see a sea change taking place.

Sally Ride once pointed out that everyone would know when women had make it as astronauts when they would go in space and no one would notice. Do you know how long I read comics without knowing Sana Amanat was a woman? A long time. It is not there yet that comics have this level of diversity, where no one notices the rainbow except to say “What a nice rainbow.” However, these are excited steps, and unprecedented.

Captain Marvel is a pretty good book and with a few caveats about her style of plotting, I rate its writer Kelly Sue DeConnick very highly indeed. It’s not a gold standard, it’s just a book starring a woman, written by a woman and with a very female-dominated fanbase and so it stands out, especially when compared to message board fans. I’d wager that the likely truth is that both the older messageboards and the Tumblr fandom are both too self-selecting to represent most of the silent buying public.

@martin

So you’re comparing 2 middlin generic superhero titles to one of the greatest tennis players of all time?

“It’s always weird to hear comics creators courting the Tumblr fandom these days.”

Why? Most of them are on Tumblr themselves. Tumblr is also where young people and women are these days. The Big Two themselves might have terrible social media strategies, but the creators know where to find and cultivate new audiences, and right now that place is Tumblr.

Fandoms spread like wildfire on Tumblr. You follow a few people who you have a few fandoms in common with. Then you notice the other fandoms they blog about and you start to think “Hm, this looks cool, I’ll check it out.” It’s practically a pyramid scheme, only legal and awesome.

@Dan – there are plenty of other groups under-represented in the medium. When is the last time you saw a Mormon superhero? And yet, according to the last census, there are roughly as many Mormons in the US as gay males. How many Jehovah’s Witness superheroes? Heck, how many superheroes who actually attend church (other than when they’re investigating the typical evil minister)? A huge section of the public attends some kind of church regularly, but that group is not represented at all.

Furthermore, there are alot more black and Asian people in the US than homosexuals (roughly 6 to 1, based on the last census data), but I hardly ever see them mentioned on here when someone is making a point about diversity. How many of these characters have their own monthly book with a major publisher? It seems like hardly any at all.

@jerzy, because with gay characters you can still use white characters and win!

If only a major publisher were launching a major title starring a team of black and Asian superheroes….

“It’s always weird to hear comics creators courting the Tumblr fandom these days.”

Tumblr is uniquely suited to sharing both text and art. What’s strange is that so much of comic fandom is limiting itself to message boards.

@Jerzy, I’d take you more seriously if the subtext of your comment wasn’t “Since these other groups are underrepresented, diversity in general is a bullshit goal!”

Here’s a crazy thought, maybe women and LGBT characters get more attention because women and LGBT fans are well-organized and vocal. And as for women, we make up 51% of the population– we kind of have the numbers on our side.

@Alexa…where did I say anything of the sort? I think you’re projecting a subtext that isn’t there. I’m happy to see more women in comics and involved on the creative side (I have a daughter who only likes female characters right now, so the more the better, as far as I’m concerned). I have no problem with new LGBT characters either. If you want to make Spiderman gay, go for it. I never said one group should exclude the other.

But there are lots of other kinds of diversity out there. Maybe you feel that only the most “vocal” (or is it rather, the most recognized?) groups should be portrayed, but I see lots of people hardly represented at all. And yet, at least once a week, there is an article on CBR bemoaning the portrayal or representation of women or gay characters, but there is next to nothing about other, populous groups who are ignored or marginalized in mainstream comics. Diversity doesn’t always have to be about sexual orientation or gender. There are lots of other things that make people unique. Religion, ethnicity, socio-economics… roughly 10% of Americans are food insecure. But how many heroes live in poverty? According to statistics, you are more likely to live in poverty in America than to be homosexual. Yet no one seems to care about representing these people.

Truly arrogant to say outside of tumblr there are no fans of Captain Marvel. I am. Have been since issue 1. I work in a comic store and have gotten many people addicted to the comic, and they in turn aren’t on tumblr.
I recently (last month) joined tumblr, only to follow some writers and artists that post more there than Twitter. I even found out about Carol corps before tumblr. Ignorant opinion.
It’s a fanatic title and I will support it till it ends. Marvel needs more female titles.

I believe diversity is an old wodden ship.

*wooden. How does autocorrect think Wodden is what I meant? Way to ruin my outdated joke iPhone.

@Jerzy…you’re whole pretense is “equal representation!”. ie, “If not them than why those?!?” . You use “big words” and come across as being intelligent, so I have to assess that you’re being willfully obtuse. You know that Mormons are well represented in every way that matters and though they may have small numbers, they have money, they’re white and have a lot of political sway. The gays and the women are not necessarily white, male, or wealthy as a group. Mormons are minorities in the same way as CEO’s. neither group is oppressed the way gays, women and those of other color are. But, you know all this already.

If Paul Cornell thinks Tumblr is a bastion of diversity acceptance, then I’ve lost all respect for him and what little hope I had left for social liberalism and progressivism.

Tumblr is the most bigoted forum-esque environment on the Internet, worse than even 4chan, Reddit, or your average comments section of a conservative news site, all because the majority of Tumblr users are braindead teenagers who think “social justice” is a fashion movement and not a serious issue that requires open debate and real-life activism. Their approach to diversity is fetishizing every human group on the planet, to the degree of promoting gross misrepresentation of Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Homosexuals, Females, etc., because they’re too stupid to realize what “positive discrimination” is and how not every oppressed group likes to be a part of some victim culture.

As for the recent Carol Danvers reboot, while I honestly think it’s smart and cool that she just goes by “Captain Marvel” now and wears a costume that covers her buttcheeks, I have heard nothing really extraordinary about the writing that would support the artificial hype Marvel are forcing on the title in some unnecessarily pained attempt to appeal to non-male readership.

“We’re not conservative. We’re all for diversity. You know, for those homosexuals”

Here’s a free tip, guys, stop calling them “homosexuals” if you want to be taken seriously. You’re not in the 1950s anymore, at least try and act like it.

@Jerzy

Way to be super disingenuous about diversity. You’re not even arguing for diversity anymore, you’re simply arguing against diversity. It’s not the purview of every single comic to be about every single issue. In the large picture, these steps taken by the Big Two are baby steps towards more equitable and fair representation. They can’t represent everything all at once, especially since the majority of fans (judging by the fora) are totally conservative and motivated by empty nostalgia. So quit begrudging those LGBT/PoC comic fans who might want their fantasy figures to look sort of like them.

God, you’d think that when the Big Two said diversity, they actually punched the straight white guys in the mouth or something.

Surely people who use different websites and belong to different age groups will like different things, right? The fans you court on Facebook will not be the same as the fans you court on Reddit. The fans you court on comic book message boards won’t be the same ones who are on Tumblr, either.

I’m still really pissed that “The View” has a rotating cast of 4 women. Where’s the diversity!? They’re obviously failing because they don’t reach out to 50% of the daytime roundtable discussion fanbase.

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