Internet: Dan DiDio has been playing you

greatten Internet: Dan DiDio has been playing you
As regular readers of this site and other comics sites know, the DCU has been taking a lot of lumps for perceived insensitivity in handling the death of various minority characters, and they haven’t had too many opportunities to set the record straight. However, a big interview with co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee conducted by Fearless Kiel Phegley has been quoted widely:

There’s been a lot of discussion – and a lot of angry discussion, I’d say – coming out of some of the recent DCU storylines, specifically the death of Ryan Choi in the “Titans” Brightest Day launch…

Didio: And if I could jump in here for a second, I’d ask “What past that?” There seems to be a concern about us pulling back in diversity, and we identify Ryan Choi, but we don’t identify what more than that. If you’re talking about a single character, we can’t run backwards from the way we act and behave with our characters because we’re afraid of addressing characters of different race or putting them in stories that are bigger or more exciting, I’m sorry to say. This is an interesting thing to me, because since I’ve been here, we’ve been extraordinarily aggressive in trying to bring racial diversity and diversifying our cast of characters as much as possible. That’s been part of our agenda for the last five to eight years since I’ve been here. We’re talking about a single character with Ryan Choi, but I’d love to know about examples past that, because at the same time that we’ve got Ryan Choi, we’ve got a Great Ten series running. If you look at every team book and everything we’re doing, we go to extraordinary lengths to diversify the casts and show our audience in our books.

Well, I think for some that the focus gets put on characters that fail one way or another. At the same time as this has been going on, there’s been a lot of positive talk of Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle getting a push for live action. How do you view your role in terms of making sure that successes are carried through in a long term way?

Didio: We’re always going to be exploring different ways to go. One of the things I think Grant Morrison did extraordinarily well with “52” and “Final Crisis” was to really show that it’s not just that the heroes are U.S.-centric. The introduction of the Great Ten and the introduction of the Super Young Team are things that Grant brought that we constantly build out from. When Dwayne McDuffie was writing “Justice League of America,” we had an incredibly diverse cast of characters as we worked the Milestone characters into the DC Universe. So again, we’re taking great steps to show that we as a company reflect the audience that’s out there for our books. When we go to conventions, we look at the audience, and we see that it’s an incredible blend in terms of race and gender. Men and women read our books. We have a wide breadth of books and things going on, and to focus on one thing is inappropriate, in my opinion. It’s a mistake, because if you look at one book, you have to realize that DC Comics puts out nearly a hundred books each month, and to focus on one book, one issue, is doing a true disservice to the company, the comics and to the industry.


This answer should convince you beyond the shadow of a doubt that Didio has been playing all the internets all these years, and the whole “blue pink green” thing is part of an elaborate work, all built up to drum up publicity.

The evidence? Look at the examples of things DC has done right he mentions! It’s a bingo card of internet outrage. Like, The Great Ten — which would be the 10-issue mini series that got cancelled after 9 issues, becoming synonymous with poor planning. And Dwayne McDuffie’s JLA run? That would be the run the writer was fired from, after complaining about being hamstrung by editorial edicts. For bonus points, that’s the same McDuffie who wrote of DC’s plan to bring back the African-American Milestone comics characters:

Plans for a Static monthly were scrapped by DC last spring. Based on their actions, they never really wanted to publish the Milestone stuff, they wasted my time. We could have done a little deal for them to use Static without me having to spend so much money on lawyers.


Now granted, the Super Young Team — a Japanese super-team introduced by Grant Morrison and the center of the Aftermath: Dance mini-series by Joe Casey — has not been, to our knowledge, the center of an internet kerfuffle, but Didio mentioning these other two controversies in order to avert further controversy? Come on, now. People, you are being played. Turn your attention to other things. Like the next post.

Comments

  1. I’m happy to be played. Fiddle dee dee!

  2. You would almost think that DiDio doesn’t follow the comment threads on every comic blog.

  3. Brett says:

    Didio ‘playing’ the readers is what many people have been screaming about on message boards for years.

    Still, life must be difficult for Dan, hoping around on one foot all the time, seeing as every time he speaks, the other ends up in his mouth.

  4. Jai Nitz says:

    Just an FYI, Dan also championed EL DIABLO, a Hispanic-centric reboot, written by a Hispanic writer (me). We were given six issues, we did six issues. The creative team was intact throughout the book. El Diablo didn’t set the world on fire with sales, nor has he been a fixture in the DCU, but Dan was the driving force on getting that book made.

  5. Link to the original article?

  6. Christian says:

    So Dan DiDio is trolling the trolls?

    I like this. My respect for the man would go up ten-fold if this were true.

  7. Christian says:

    @Jai Nitz

    Your reasonable and fact based argument has no place in my conspiracy theory and therefore will be disregarded completely.

    I think it’s fairly clear to everyone here that DC Comics is being over taken by a clandestine pact of Aryan Lizard People who will stop at nothing to purge their ranks of fictional characters who are not of the Master Race.

    OMG! WHY IS NOBODY COVERING THIS?!?!!

  8. Robert Morales says:

    How many Black editors currently work at DC or Marvel? As opposed to White, Asian or Hispanic editors?

    The baseline reality is few significant changes will be made re: minority representation in the iconic rosters of the Big Two UNTIL a greater representation manifests in their hiring practices. That means more than one qualified African-American editor at a time, so people at either company can remain mindful of their huge minority fanbase. Or it that too much to expect out of companies based in New York City?

  9. Thanks, Heidi :-)

  10. Ben it was purely an oversight of course.

  11. @Robert Morales- That’s an old argument, for a reason. Because it is complete truth.

  12. “This answer should convince you beyond the shadow of a doubt that Didio has been playing all the internets all these years, and the whole “blue pink green” thing is part of an elaborate work, all built up to drum up publicity.”

    Thanks for stating the obvious. There was already some Web controversy regarding a certain notorious message board poster who continues to criticize Dan’s performance. DiDio’s ‘solution’ was to mock him with a caricature of the guy in a recent issue of The Outsiders.

    However, continually annoying his company’s readership by stalking the Internet for reactionary comments seems rather childish and unlikely to bring him any new readers.

  13. Yeah, the weird stance DC has taken against “the internet” (TM) is a little outrageous, but beyond that, your answer to people getting pissed off about a product you offer can’t be to feign outrage. You can’t say “that’s inappropriate” when someone calls you out on a shady practice, because it isn’t inappropriate. Inappropriate is putting fans of your product in a position where they feel alienated or offended.

  14. Matt D says:

    I was going to mention that the El Diablo mini was probably close to the lowest selling in continuity DCU mini in the last 15 years or something (not necessarily through any fault of the creative team, mind you), but I’m not ENTIRELY sure what it means for the conversation.

    You could bring up how poorly Great Ten is selling, even though the comics are good, but Bedard’s not a draw despite the fact he’s good at what he does (but then what writer IS a draw?) and the book came out two-three years later than it ought to have, and it’s not like Checkmate sold either and that was great. So maybe it’s more political minded books that don’t sell. And Shield and Web are edging towards El Diablo numbers, so maybe it’s just that C-List characters don’t sell. Too many variables all around to tell if it’s the fanbase or the company or just that they’re overedited and clueless or that what.

    As for the topic of this post, I generally assume Didio believes what he says most of the time. That’s how he comes off when you actually talk to the guy though I suppose he could be a good bullshitter in person. He comes off like a hurt and confused kicked dog in some of these exchanges. I’m more apt to believe that he doesn’t get it than that he just want to screw everyone.

  15. Stephen says:

    >The baseline reality is few significant >changes will be made re: minority >representation in the iconic rosters of the >Big Two UNTIL a greater representation >manifests in their hiring practices. That >means more than one qualified African->American editor at a time, so people at >either company can remain mindful of their >huge minority fanbase. Or it that too much >to expect out of companies based in New >York City?

    If this were true, then the vast majority of DC’s and Marvel’s superheroes would identify as Jewish since the superhero comic book industry has been overwhelmingly Jewish (with a little bit of Italian) since its inception in the 1930s.

  16. Christian says:

    I wouldn’t call what’s going on at DC a ‘shady practice.’

    You make them sound like some sort of weird conspirators. But hey, if you honestly believe that I don’t know what to tell you.

    It’s a confluence of completely unrelated events that just happen to reflect extremely poor on the company. But as I’ve made clear before to think this is some kind of overt (or covert) practice is beyond absurd and makes you sound like a tin-foil hate conspiracy theorist. Especially considering your bitching yields absolutely no demands or exit strategy beyond what? Never killing another ethnic character in the DCU? Yeah, that’s pretty progressive.

    Because it is so outlandish and so obviously grounded in supposition I think that to a certain extent it *is* ‘inappropriate.’ Do we honestly need our EIC’s resorting to “But all my friends are black” arguments? I’d be the first to point out the lack of actual “journalism” in this industry but in this case of not-even rumormongering but rather bizarre conspiracy-spouting I side by CBR in their choice not to pursue further questioning.

  17. Robert Morales says:

    Stephen, the marketplace was different in the ’30s – race was consigned to bit characters and rarely celebrated until Marvel made a conscious effort in the early ’60s and DC followed suit a few years later. Why? Because a growing social awareness let them to think they’d get a favorable response from the marketplace. So the books became more topical and race aware; more “relevant” they called them then.

    What strikes me as so weird about the mainstream comics business today is the occasional open contempt toward the investment readers have in their favorite characters. And if readers have an ethnic investment in Ryan Choi, isn’t good business to be aware of that? And isn’t a problem if the reason they might NOT see it is because of a dearth of minority representation in their ranks?

    I honestly don’t care what Dan DiDio does online – that’s his marketing strategy. But I care about comics, and comics are made by people, and those people leave themselves open to charges of sexism and racial insensitivity when their decisions are no longer informed with an awareness of who reads their books – in large part, because the lack of female or minority representation among their upper management keep them ignorant to a degree that would invite state labor board investigations and discrimination lawsuits in most other industries. But the easier way to handle their ignorance is to seek out qualified minority staff and listen to their TOTAL audience.

  18. Xenos says:

    I can’t tell if Didio is a horribly inept editor / pubisher…. or a Grade A internet troll. Either way that’s no way to run a company like DC.

    Yeah, pointing to other failed books and total f— ups with minority characters isn’t the best way to hand wave away the Ryan Choi mess.

    Never mind that Blue Beetle’s own book got canceled despite attempts now to get him into live action TV. Is he still in Titans? I avoid that like the plauge. I know he’s in the new issue of the JLI book.

  19. >> If this were true, then the vast majority of DC’s and Marvel’s superheroes would identify as Jewish since the superhero comic book industry has been overwhelmingly Jewish (with a little bit of Italian) since its inception in the 1930s.>>

    I don’t think that follows at all, really. For one thing, the industry hasn’t been overwhelmingly Jewish for all that time. It was overwhelmingly Jewish from its inception until sometime in the 1970s, I think, when fans-turned-pro became more and more the norm.

    But during the time it was overwhelmingly Jewish, it was also overwhelmingly white, straight and male, as it still is, and it certainly seems that the characters largely identified as white, straight, male and not terribly expressive of religious preference. By the time characters began to be shown as having more than vague religious beliefs, comics weren’t overwhelmingly Jewish any more.

    In any case, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to quibble with Robert’s statement — it’s self-evidently true. In music, in movie, in TV, in theatre…minorities and women get better representation, and material that better reflects their experiences, when the art is made by people with those experiences. There’s no reason it would miraculously not be true of comics. The comics industry stuck to the safest confines during a time when most entertainment did, and as other fields have branched out, comics have largely stayed white, straight and male.

    We need voices of all kinds, encouraged to do all sorts of things. An editorial corps that is largely straight, white and male could mean as well as it’s possible to mean, and they’d still be better off with more women and minorities among them. More voices, more visions, is worth stumping for, not dismissing as a faulty claim.

    kdb

  20. Christian says:

    I won’t sleep until there is a gay black transgendered amputee on the DC Editorial board.

    Maybe then the hatred will stop.

  21. Synsidar says:

    Whether DiDio revealed himself to be clueless or wanted to be controversial doesn’t matter much, as long as his interviews only happen on comics Web sites. The pieces that appear on the sites are much like news items and articles in an issue of Soap Opera Digest. They’re only read by people who have existing interests in the material. Even when comments reflect poorly on someone, unless he’s directly responsible for the content in a soap opera or comic book, the damage won’t be great, in part because the people who could pursue the wounded man — the publishers of interviews — won’t do it. Controversy might very well increase sales of the issues being talked about.

    Recall what happened with Quesada re “One More Day.” He set himself up to be destroyed in a hostile interview. Someone could have contrasted his position on writing fantasy fiction with Straczynski’s, and his insistence that Spider-Man stories had to be written for kids, and put Quesada in the position of admitting that he didn’t know how to write fantasy fiction, and/or that adults shouldn’t be reading the Spider-Man series Marvel published, or had him reverse his position on “One More Day.” But time passed, there were no attempts that I’m aware of at hostile interviews, and here he is with another Spider-Man story. The readers’ abiding love for the characters seems to far outweigh the sins of their storytellers.

    It wouldn’t be impossible to have a debate on Marvel’s and DC’s editorial policies — whether they’re limiting growth or readership and’or preventing good stories from being written. A debate could be in the form of essay vs. essay, as is occasionally the case on political Web sites. Someone would have to be found to take the publishers’ side, though.

    SRS

  22. otistfirefly says:

    >>>The baseline reality is few significant changes will be made re: minority representation in the iconic rosters of the Big Two UNTIL a greater representation manifests in their hiring practices. That means more than one qualified African-American editor at a time, so people at either company can remain mindful of their huge minority fanbase. Or it that too much to expect out of companies based in New York City?>>>

    INteresting you use the NYC card. Remember all the guff “Friends” caught because all the leads were white in a racially diverse city? Well, my friends, the comic industry is basically using the ‘Friends’ model (so to speak – of course, the industry was the way it is LONG before that show existed): “Friends” was in the top 5 shows for YEARS, and NBC basically didn’t give a crap one about diversity there. That show brought in hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, very few shows that are predominantly minority-based attract more than a few million viewers. (And I don’t want to hear they never even try – that’s complete bs.) So NBC has a choice – use it’s precious prime-time hours on ‘white’ shows or ‘minority’ shows… and since the ‘white’ shows generally draw millions more viewers, guess which way they’re gonna go? Wherever the GREEEEEEEN is, trust me. Same with comics. They pay service to “diversity” but are going to focus on what sells the best. You think having black editors at DC and Marvel are going to make them suddenly go the Milestone route? Oh, they might try but chances are about 99% that those books will sell about as well as they ever have… you think DC is going to publish a comic that sells 5,000 copies a month forever in the name of diversity? Think again.

    >>>The comics industry stuck to the safest confines during a time when most entertainment did, and as other fields have branched out, comics have largely stayed white, straight and male.<<

    The comic industry has stuck largely to what sells. If you want to get into a chicken/egg argument about whether, say, waaaaaay more boys read comics that girls because there are no comics for girls or there are no comics for girls because girls don't read them, well… go ahead but you'll get nowhere quick.

    And, I know i'll get fried and battered for this, but i really would like to know: baseball gets heat because the number of black players is dropping, but where is the heat for the NBA because there are very few whites playing? Why are there no programs to get white kids more into playing basketball? And why is no one screaming about the lack of white male representation on the Billboard Hot 100? And please don't give me 'because white men ruled for years!'… hey, we can play at "diversity" that includes EVERYONE, or we shouldn't play at all, no?

  23. RS David says:

    To answer the sports question, baseball, unlike basketball, has financial barriers that may keep inner city youth from playing. Bats, gloves, proper parks and upkeep of the parks may not be availabe.

    THe concern is that the dirge of black athletes in baseball may be due to lack of oppurtunities than interest or talent.

    MLB opened itself to criticism on this issue since it invests a lot of money in Latin America on the youth level to maintain a stream of talent to the big leagues, but has not invested the same resources in the inner city until recently.

    Basketball is sport that does not require a lot of money to play. You just need a ball and a court (bb court’s easier to build and maintain). The basic skills can be developed in less than ideal situations. Hence the growth of basketball in Eastern Europe.

    Thus the “playing field” is fairly even for white and black kids to learn basketball.

    Football may be more expensive than both sports to produce, but generally it also generates a larger amount of revenue. Since it makes money, schools can afford to pay for the extra cost of the sport.

  24. >> If you want to get into a chicken/egg argument about whether, say, waaaaaay more boys read comics that girls because there are no comics for girls or there are no comics for girls because girls don’t read them, well… go ahead but you’ll get nowhere quick.>>

    Actually, you don’t get nowhere, but you do get to a conclusion quick. When there were lots of comics aimed at girls, girls made up around 50% of comics readers. When manga comes in and does comics that appeal to girls, lots of girls read them. More women buy comic strip collections than men. So unless by “comics” you mean “superhero comics,” the chicken and egg have been pretty clear in that question for a long, long time.

    >> And why is no one screaming about the lack of white male representation on the Billboard Hot 100? >>

    Because there isn’t a lack of white male representation on the Billboard Hot 100?

    Admittedly, I quit checking around 53 (Jerrod Niemann, “Lover, Lover”), but by then I’d seen a fair number of white male faces. If there were as many black headliners in comics are there are white male entries on the Billboard Hot 100, I don’t think there’d be as many people complaining.

    White males don’t _dominate_ the Billboard Hot 100, but I don’t think anyone’s asking for that.

    Similarly, around 21% of NBA players are white. That you see that as too few might provide some perspective on why people see the even-lower representation of blacks in comics (particularly as creators and editors) as a problem.

    >> hey, we can play at “diversity” that includes EVERYONE, or we shouldn’t play at all, no? >>

    Are those the only choices? Include everyone, or don’t bother trying? “All or nothing” isn’t a recipe for progress. “Get better and better” is a superior model.

    So no, trying to scrap any attempt at diversity by declaring that if you can’t do it all at once it isn’t worth doing doesn’t really fly. It is worth doing, even if it’s a long and ever-shifting process full of pendulum swings

    kdb

  25. Christian says:

    But to reign this mighty beast back in and get back on topic I honestly do think that DiDio has made a conscious effort to “Get better and better”

    The series of unfortunate events which lead to less of an emphasis on minority characters following an event in which heroes used “White Power” to destroy an evil black entity is clearly completely and utterly coincidental. You’d have to be a raving lunatic to think otherwise. Or just really paranoid.

    So to that effect, giving this crackpot theory any kind of credence, especially given DiDio’s track record for putting minorities into roles of prominence since he took the reigns is ridiculous and yes, ‘inappropriate.’

  26. Responding to a few posts back – I loved that El Diablo series by writer Jai Nitz. What a great series that was.

  27. otistfirefly says:

    Thank you for the explanation on MLB. Makes a certain amount of sense, but I don’t think you have to have “expensive” equipment to learn the fundamentals of baseball. It’s certainly easier to have a ball and a goal practically anywhere, but it’s not like you have to have a regulation little-league field to play baseball. We did it all the time. And after all, the black kids that grew up to play MLB in decades past didn’t all live in the ‘burbs etc. (I’m sure dropout rates increasing and the lack of paternal presence has not helped, I’ll grant you.)

    Just as much to blame, I would think, lies in

    >>>What I always hear from kids in the inner cities is that baseball is too slow, too boring,” Lopes said. “We have to show them it’s an exciting game, that speed and daring are important elements — just like the home run.” >>>

    according to Davey Lopes. I do hope MLB does more to interest urban kids in baseball, but I fear kids all over will increasingly lose interest in baseball, as what has always been a “slow” pastoral game must be REALLY boring to generations coming up raised on video games and MTV (well, ok not MTV anymore, but you know what i mean!)

    >>>>When there were lots of comics aimed at girls, girls made up around 50% of comics readers. When manga comes in and does comics that appeal to girls, lots of girls read them. More women buy comic strip collections than men. So unless by “comics” you mean “superhero comics,” the chicken and egg have been pretty clear in that question for a long, long time.>>

    Yes I guess I was referring to “superhero” comics, as I would think there have been more of those sold by the major publishers in the last 7 decades than any other. I’d certainly defer to you on percentages, but really, 50% of comics readers were girls pre-direct market? I wouldn’t doubt that number at all in the last decade or so. (There certainly weren’t too many girls reading around our gang growing up! BEing a geek girl wasn’t cool like it is today!)

    >>>Similarly, around 21% of NBA players are white. That you see that as too few might provide some perspective on why people see the even-lower representation of blacks in comics (particularly as creators and editors) as a problem.>>>

    *I* don’t see it as too few. 100% can be black as far as I’m concerned. Or Asian. Whatever. And if a company wants to start up and make ALL of their characters black, great! I hope they do well. (seeing, of course, that the big 2 are not going to replace Superman, BAtman etc etc with minority versions of the characters.) I’m not arguing against diversity anywhere, certainly in comics. I’m just pointing out that comics are a business (especially if your owned by WArner or Disney) and they are out for maximum GREEN so that’s where their main interests lie.

    >>>Are those the only choices? Include everyone, or don’t bother trying? “All or nothing” isn’t a recipe for progress. “Get better and better” is a superior model. So no, trying to scrap any attempt at diversity by declaring that if you can’t do it all at once it isn’t worth doing doesn’t really fly. It is worth doing, even if it’s a long and ever-shifting process full of pendulum swings>>>

    And again, as far as I’m concerned, YES “diversity” should apply to all colors and genders. I just don’t think it fair to preach inclusion and opportunity for “everyone” when usually that reads “opportunity” and fairness…. unless you’re white and male. (yes yes yes I understand white men held all the cards for hundreds of years… got it, but having personally been “ineligible” for internships and certain jobs, don’t think it’s fair just because the majority of ceo’s are white men, and the majority of the wealthy etc etc. that *I* be LEGALLY discriminated against. Them boys being rich ain’t doin’ sheeitte for me and most people I know. ) NO, I’m not saying scrap everything. I’m saying, IDEALLY, “diversity” include EVERYONE even if your white and/or male.

  28. >> I’d certainly defer to you on percentages, but really, 50% of comics readers were girls pre-direct market? >>

    Considerably pre-Direct market. Pre-Code, in fact. The numbers on female readers were huge, and the numbers on overall readers were huge, too.

    >> And again, as far as I’m concerned, YES “diversity” should apply to all colors and genders.>>

    Sure. But you said (or suggested) that if you’re not including everyone, you shouldn’t try at all. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Work _toward_ better representation, rather than saying it’s gotta be all or nothing, right out of the gate.

    >> I just don’t think it fair to preach inclusion and opportunity for “everyone” when usually that reads “opportunity” and fairness…. unless you’re white and male.>>

    This seem like an odd argument to make, considering that white males aren’t in any danger of being squeezed out of comics.

    >> don’t think it’s fair just because the majority of ceo’s are white men, and the majority of the wealthy etc etc. that *I* be LEGALLY discriminated against.>>

    Ah. Well, more minority representation in comics isn’t likely to discriminate against you, so that doesn’t seem to be a reason to oppose it.

    >> I’m saying, IDEALLY, “diversity” include EVERYONE even if your white and/or male.>>

    Comics don’t have an inclusion problem with white males. Just with everyone else.

    kdb

  29. Stephen says:

    >When there were lots of comics aimed at >girls, girls made up around 50% of comics >readers.

    Really? Can you please cite me the source for this statistic and what methodology was used to determine the gender breakdown of comics readers?

  30. Stephen says:

    >In any case, there doesn’t seem to be much >reason to quibble with Robert’s statement — >it’s self-evidently true. In music, in >movie, in TV, in theatre…minorities and >women get better representation, and >material that better reflects their >experiences, when the art is made by people >with those experiences. There’s no reason >it would miraculously not be true of >comics. The comics industry stuck to the >safest confines during a time when most >entertainment did, and as other fields have >branched out, comics have largely stayed ?white, straight and male.

    I think part of the reason why it is not necessarily “self-evidently true” is because, unlike the culture industries you cite (television, movies, theatre) which are driven by finding the next hot new celebrity or hot new concept or Broadway smash – the mainstream comic book industry has become inherently conservative over the past couple decades, and largely built on solidifying the legacy of long-existing comic book characters and tried-and-true established concepts like the X-Men.

    Superman and Batman are celebrating their 700th issues this month. Will be ever see a Jaime Reyes Blue Bettle #700? Maybe. Doubtful.

    Huge corporations like Marvel and DC are mostly interested in making money and their bread-and-butter comics are and always will be the “straight, white, male” characters that are their legacy characters. Just the fact of being a Black person or a woman in a position of editorial responsibility isn’t going to change that.

    DC’s main fault here is in slapping “legacy” titles of white characters like The Atom and Firestorm on racial minorities, because they think (correctly) that “the name” is going to help sell the character. “Oh, people who liked Firestorm when he was Ronnie Raymond are going to like Firestorm when he is Jason Rusch.”

    They could try creating new characters with new names and new superpowers, who also happen to be racial minorities, but the history of the increasingly conservative industry suggests those characters will not sell as well, because they lack the “brand name” recognition.

    Sure, you might get some more racial and gender diversity around the edges in terms of large-cast books like the Justice League or the Teen Titans. But the bread and butter of the industry is always going to be heavily weighted towards the white male characters. And this is why my original Jewish creators analogy is apt – the Jewish creators realized the money to be made was by creating characters, like Superman, who looked and acted like WASPs. That’s where the audience was and where the money is, and that’s still by and large where the money is today.

    If there were really a clamor in the marketplace for minority characters, then Storm or Bishop would be the X-Man with dozens of solo titles and co-starring in the Avengers, not Wolverine.

  31. >>>Really? Can you please cite me the source for this statistic and what methodology was used to determine the gender breakdown of comics readers?

    This was from general magazine surveys of the 50s, without agenda. Trina Robbins unearthed these stats, and I remember reading them online. I couldn’t easily find the statistics now — perhaps Kurt can — but in the 50s it was standard, normal demographics that children of BOTH SEXES read comics.

    For instance, this Wertham-era warning against comics makes it clear that EVERYONE read comics:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=WkAEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA26&lpg=PA26&dq=life+magazine+children+reading+comics&source=bl&ots=LV3n5dYE1J&sig=fyNoAcCnB61L-KAoq86KlXLBzoU&hl=en&ei=u4YhTL2uI8T7lweB0KCJAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CEUQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    I’m particularly fond of browsing old photos which make it clear that girls reading comics was normal and not any kind or warning sign:

    http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=30b96d2a79570faa&q=comic%20book%20children%20source:life&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcomic%2Bbook%2Bchildren%2Bsource:life%26hl%3Den%26newwindow%3D1%26safe%3Doff%26tbs%3Disch:1

  32. Stephen – Heidi answered you question about the stats; I can’t point you to a source, but there was no reason, at the time it was done, for anyone to be lying about it or phonying up data.

    Your other post seems to be the same kind of approach that’s gotten the industry where we are — you think “comics for a minority audience” and don’t imagine anything beyond minority versions of the same stuff the white guys came up with. Like all those people who approached “How do we sell comics to women” as “How do we sell Spider-Man to women,” and concluded that women don’t read comics, only to be knocked on their pins by manga, which didn’t simply try to sell old wine in old bottles but a redesigned label. They packaged comics that appealed to women in a package women would pick up and put it where those women shop, and dang, it worked.

    The argument that there’s no point to having black editors and black creators because the audience only wants WASPy characters strikes me as bananas. We need wider thinking than, “There’s no demand out there so it’s not worth bothering. Storm doesn’t have her own book already, so let’s just stick with the WASPy guys.”

    Could be I’m wrong, and comics is incapable of what the audiences for other media are, but I don’t think so. If the readers we’ve got don’t want anything but WASPy guys, then let’s sell them WASPy guys and reach out to other audiences at the same time. And let’s get lots of different voices and approaches doing it, rather than assuming no one wants anything they didn’t want in the 1930s. Comics aren’t limited to the DC Universe, after all. Even DC isn’t limited to the DCU.

    kdb

  33. Phil Hester says:

    I nominate Kurt for President of the Internet.

  34. Why do you hate me and want me to suffer, Phil?

    kdb

  35. This is entirely a note on my own ignorance, but I had no idea Kurt Busiek was so cool. I love how awesome some of the creators in this industry are :)

    I have a pin somewhere that reads “Put a disabled transgender lesbian of color on the supreme court”, misquoting a panel from a Rachel Pollack comic. Apropos of absolutely nothing :)

  36. Oh yes gods, those smileys look horrendous. Apols all.

  37. Stephen says:

    >The argument that there’s no point to >having black editors and black creators >because the audience only wants WASPy >characters strikes me as bananas.

    Just to be clear: I wasn’t arguing that “there’s no point to having black editors and black creators.” I’m all for having a diverse, qualified range of editors and creators.

    What I argued was that hiring non-white male creators or editors is going to automatically translate into more non-white male characters that will sell well in the general marketplace. The structure and inherent conservatism of the industry just doesn’t support it.

    It’s kind of like when police forces hire more Black candidates for training and promotion – Yet Black people are still stopped for questioning and arrest at higher rates than white people – even by Black police officers!

  38. Heidi said:

    “This was from general magazine surveys of the 50s, without agenda. Trina Robbins unearthed these stats, and I remember reading them online. I couldn’t easily find the statistics now — perhaps Kurt can — but in the 50s it was standard, normal demographics that children of BOTH SEXES read comics.”

    And yet, the early post-Code era may have been the one that started the chain of events leading to less female readership, even though the mainstream genres dominantly favored by female readers were all still being published– romances, “horror” (kind of a defanged horror like BORIS KARLOFF’S TALES OF MYSTERY, admittedly), and humor. (In my purely personal experience, every baby-boomer female ever born seems to remember reading ARCHIE and nothing else.)

    Long ago Richard Howell and the late Carol Kalish wrote a JOURNAL review arguing that the romance genre’s appeal for teen girls had been well and truly scuppered by the Code, and most of the horror books were pretty boring from the visceral POV. (Gold Key’s KARLOFF was at least a tad scarier than DC’s bloodless HOUSE OF MYSTERY.) Apparently ARCHIE and his clones were about all that still had strong appeal for most American female readers once the big superhero boom hit, excepting always the teensy number of superhero fangirls of the day like Trina, Wendy P and BNF Irene Vartanoff.

  39. Synsidar says:

    A monograph, Baby-Boom Children and Harvey Comics After the Code: A Neighborhood of Little Girls and Boys, published as part of the University of Florida’s ImageTexT program, has some material on girls as readers of comics after the Comics Code came into existence:

    In addition to targeting the youngest readers, Harvey proved to be an anomaly in another way: in a male-dominated industry, it established various series of comics starring girls for an audience of girls. Sherrie Inness, who has written extensively on girls’ culture, observes that “in many ways, girls are inconsequential. Due to their youth and gender, girls are granted less social stature than men or boys. They are relegated to an inferior society because of the cultural stereotype that girls and their culture are insipid and insignificant, unworthy of close attention” (Inness, Delinquents 1). However, Harvey took baby-boom girls seriously, providing titles for their enjoyment and edification and, in so doing, sent messages regarding the acceptability of certain values, actions, and attributes. [. . .]

    Other readers, especially girls, transitioned from Harvey Comics to Archie, both of them based on humor, engaging characters, and the interaction among those in a peer group (Norton 140). According to Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff in The Comic-Book Book, in 1973, “well over 90 percent of American children still read comic books, and – perhaps more surprisingly – approximately 50 percent of American adults do the same” (10). Nearly two decades later, Dan Fost reported in American Demographic that “many of the members of the baby-boom generation who read comic books during the 1950s are still reading them in the 1990s, and comic book publishers are actively focusing marketing efforts on these grown-up fans.

    The aging of the baby boomers is cited as the reason for the drop in circulation of Harvey’s titles in the ’70s; the shift of comics distribution to the direct market in the ’70s killed Harvey.

    SRS

  40. For me, the whole Ryan Choi kerfluffle comes down to this:

    1) DC asked me to buy into this new Atom.
    2) I bought into this new Atom.
    3) I liked this new Atom.
    4) Ryan Choi Atom shows up on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Not just once, but multiple times. Nice! This shows support for the new Atom. Maybe he’s here to stay…
    5) Ray Palmer comes back from self-imposed exile and becomes the Atom again.
    6) Ryan Choi is killed.
    7) What the…?!?

    I know I’m probably late to this Ryan Choi thread, but what the heck…

    Carry on.

    I sure hope some of that White Lantern stuff rubs off on Ryan Choi and he comes back. Then he can jump inside Deathstroke’s ear and play soccer against his ear drum for a while. There’s room in the DCU for more than one Atom…

  41. Kevin Hynes says:

    Go Kurt Busiek! GO!

  42. Dave Ziegler says:

    This is bordering on off-topic, but since it’s been mentioned,
    @ RS David: >>To answer the sports question, baseball, unlike basketball, has financial barriers that may keep inner city youth from playing. Bats, gloves, proper parks and upkeep of the parks may not be availabe.

    THe concern is that the dirge of black athletes in baseball may be due to lack of oppurtunities than interest or talent.

    MLB opened itself to criticism on this issue since it invests a lot of money in Latin America on the youth level to maintain a stream of talent to the big leagues, but has not invested the same resources in the inner city until recently.<<

    Actually, Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post has discussed this particular issue off and on over the last several months. His main observation is that, culturally, African-Americans have embraced basketball as their sport of choice rather than baseball. He points out that it's true in his case (Wilbon's African-American); he got into sports and sports writing via his interest in baseball, and now he's much more interested in basketball, and his work reflects that shift.

    Just a little grist for the mill, I guess…

  43. Stephen says:

    Some scattered comments:

    *I also gave the Ryan Choi ATOM solo book a try and bought the first few issues off the stands. Didn’t like it, I just found Gail’s writing style on this particular title kind of quirky. I’ve liked some of her other stuff though.

    *Still, I thought it was unnecessary to kill off Ryan Choi. Someone someday might have thought of something interesting to do with him.

    *I have no problem with Black or other minority superheroes. But if you’re going to call a superhero of any race “Firestorm” and that “Firestorm” is going to not be Ronnie Raymond, then I have to see there is some kind of organic, in-continuity reason why someone new is taking up the name “Firestorm.” I’d rather see fresh new characters – of any racial background – rather than shoehorning in some new guy into a legacy character’s role.

    *I find there’s an inherent contradiction in the discussion surrounding “comics for girls” – as if “girls” make up some kind of huge, monolithic entity that is completely homogeneous in taste or that “boys” all have the same tastes. I’m a guy and I read mostly superhero comics – But what got me hooked into superhero comics (and not, say, Archie or Richie Rich) was the ongoing soap-operatic element of the stories (like Fantastic Four or Spider-Man) and the realization that these adventures were taking place in a larger historical background and continuity. The punchy-kicky stuff, while a necessary part of the action in superhero comics, is actually secondary (or even tertiary) to why I read superhero comics. And yet the soap opera/serialization aspect of entertainment is something that is typically associated with women’s tastes.

    So I find it weirdly sexist to use phrases such as “boys comics” and “girls comics” when boys and girls read comics for many different reasons, not all of which are necessarily correlated with gender sterotypes of “what boys like” and “what girls like.”

  44. Robert Morales says:

    Otis: “Friends” huh? I guess that explains NBC’s previous failure with “The Cosby Show”!

    The NYC “card,” as you call it, is this: New York’s a city where you can’t go anywhere without meeting other kinds of people; it’s a mass transit work environment – unlike, say, geographically segregated Los Angeles (where, incidentally, the _imaginary_ NYC of “Friends” was cast, produced and shot). You’d have to be particularly antisocial in NYC not to have some sort of neighborly relationship with an ethnically diverse assortment of fellow New Yorkers – but granted, for a generation comics has not been the best “people skills” business. You might have hit on an easy solution for DC and Marvel to maintain their status quo, though: They can move to LA.

  45. Robert Morales says:

    Btw: I’d vote for Kurt Busiek for President of the Internet – but only if it was a lifetime appointment!

  46. >> What I argued was that hiring non-white male creators or editors is going to automatically translate into more non-white male characters that will sell well in the general marketplace. The structure and inherent conservatism of the industry just doesn’t support it.>>

    The structure and conservatism of the industry may not encourage it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Over the course of comics history, there have been many things pronounced impossible that were subsequently done.

    DC sells a lot of comics to women, but a whole mess of them aren’t part of the DCU — they didn’t limit the question of how to sell more comics to women by asking how they could sell more superhero books to women. They did other things, too, and changed the structure of the industry by doing things outside their wheelhouse. Reaching out to wider audiences need not be done merely by trying to put that audience’s faces on the usual stock-in-trade.

    >> It’s kind of like when police forces hire more Black candidates for training and promotion – Yet Black people are still stopped for questioning and arrest at higher rates than white people – even by Black police officers! >>

    Really? I don’t see much parallel there — presumably, those black cops are being hired to increase diversity in the police force, not to increase diversity in arrests. I’m not sure why we need to stretch so far to say that more black creators in comics couldn’t possibly be like Spike Lee in the movies or Motown or other entertainment-industry examples, it must be a closer parallel to law enforcement, which isn’t about attracting audiences.

    I think a wider variety of voices, a wider variety of decision-makers, will increase a publisher’s ability to reach out to wider audiences. You seem to be saying that it can’t possibly work and that you’re all for it anyway, so I suppose our disagreement is that I think it can work — but not merely by putting a new coat of paint on what’s already there — so lets’ go ahead and do it anyway and hope I’m right.

    Or perhaps you’re saying that it’s not a inevitable result of diversity in hiring, that you can’t just hire a couple of brown faces and everything suddenly changes. But no one was arguing that it would work that way. I think Robert’s point was that it won’t happen until there are more voices in the business, not that it would magically happen as soon as there were.

    >> I find there’s an inherent contradiction in the discussion surrounding “comics for girls” – as if “girls” make up some kind of huge, monolithic entity that is completely homogeneous in taste or that “boys” all have the same tastes. >>

    Presumably, that’s because most people understand that the terms are being used generally rather than universally, and it’s not necessary to qualify it every time.

    People recognize marketing/demographic categories, and they also recognize that those categories are not hard-edged. By “women’s fiction” or “guy stuff” or “chick flicks” or “boys’ comics,” they don’t mean that these things universally appeal or repulse along gender lines, but that they generally fall into those patterns. SEX AND THE CITY appeals to women much more strongly than men — this doesn’t mean it appeals to all women or to no men, but it’s just not necessary to point that out every time you mention something that appeals strongly to any particular category.

    There are women who read PLAYBOY and men who read VOGUE, but it’s not sexist to say that they’re aimed at, and best at attracting, a different audience. The claim is shorthand, not universal.

    kdb

  47. Wow. Now both Phil _and_ Robert want to punish me.

    Aiee.

    kdb

  48. Stephen says:

    >There are women who read PLAYBOY and men >who read VOGUE, but it’s not sexist to say >that they’re aimed at, and best at >attracting, a different audience. The claim >is shorthand, not universal.

    Ok, Well I guess that helps me understand the casual misandry exhibited on this and other websites when male superhero comic book fans are generically disparaged as oversexed lunkheads who can’t appreciate the oh-so-philosophical and artsy musings of Asterios Polyp because it doesn’t have any titties or punchy-kickies.

  49. Ah. So it’s sexist to observe any gender-oriented demographics in comics at all, because someone somewhere made silly comments about ASTERIOS POLYP.

    I suppose we could make sure all human interaction is acceptable or not based on some extreme comments on the Internet somewhere, but in the end, I don’t think that’ll be a useful approach.

    I think it’s still useful to note that BETTY & VERONICA is aimed at girls, and THE PUNISHER is aimed at boys, without it being assumed at any point that this means that only girls read B&V or all boys everywhere like THE PUNISHER. Silly comments about ASTERIOS POLYP notwithstanding.

  50. It’s not sexist to say that Genre A or Work B is more directed at one gender than the other, but it can easily be sexist to imply some deficiency of character inherent to gender-dominant tastes.

  51. Synsidar says:

    On the subject of bad practices: I took a brief look at ZATANNA #2 this afternoon at the shop. Zatanna’s breasts are huge. Given the costume, the artist, Stephane Roux, didn’t seem to be going for sexiness. Is that just the way he draws women?

    SRS

  52. Stephen says:

    >It’s not sexist to say that Genre A or Work >B is more directed at one gender than the >other, but it can easily be sexist to imply >some deficiency of character inherent to >gender-dominant tastes.

    Thank you, that’s the point. Somehow the tastes of female fans of Twilight and manga are valorized and celebrated but the tastes of male fans of Green Lantern and the Avengers are disparaged and mocked.

    By all means, there’s room enough for everyone to enjoy whatever superhero/sci-fi/fantasy/genre fiction that they like. Let’s make more of it, and more diverse expressions of it, and discuss whether it’s good or not, without worrying about whether or not we’re filling some kind of gender quota and constantly knocking DC or Marvel because fewer girls than boys happen to read their product. I don’t sit around feeling angry because, as a man, Twilight isn’t primarily aimed at my gender.

  53. Stephen, you know…you’re kinda a jerk what with your straw man arguments and ability to parse every mention of gender related issues as hostile to men. I’ve got to ask you, would The Man With No Name be threatened by mention of “boys comics”? Would Chuck Norris?

  54. Herb Finn says:

    Why is it people cry when an ethnic character is killed off or their book is cancled and they don’t show up regularly in a DCU team or guest shot?

    The same things happen to white characters.

  55. >> It’s not sexist to say that Genre A or Work B is more directed at one gender than the other, but it can easily be sexist to imply some deficiency of character inherent to gender-dominant tastes.>>

    Prior to Stephen complaining that someone was doing that elsewhere, had that been an issue in this thread?

    kdb

  56. otistfirefly says:

    >>>Sure. But you said (or suggested) that if you’re not including everyone, you shouldn’t try at all. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Work _toward_ better representation, rather than saying it’s gotta be all or nothing, right out of the gate.

    Then I did a poor job of writing that sentence. I mean that as an ideal, that THAT is what we should be working towards. I didn’t mean to scrap every diversity program as is, just to work towards including everyone.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    >>> I just don’t think it fair to preach inclusion and opportunity for “everyone” when usually that reads “opportunity” and fairness…. unless you’re white and male.>>

    This seem like an odd argument to make, considering that white males aren’t in any danger of being squeezed out of comics.>>>
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Why is that an odd argument to make? Seriously? How did you get that I meant that to be solely directed at comics? I mean that should apply everywhere. Sure, it already does most places, but, as I said, I’ve been squeezed out of opportunities based on my color — isn’t being denied things because of the color of your skin terribly wrong? No matter what color you may be? Yes, I understand the ‘trying to make up for the past and level the playing field’ etc, but I am just saying I hope the day comes when it truly doesn’t matter what your color or sex is. And I do think it’s coming – obviously younger generations have far less trouble seeing people for what they are instead of what color they are. Not all of them, of course, but WAY more than when I was growing up, and even more before that.

    >>>Ah. Well, more minority representation in comics isn’t likely to discriminate against you, so that doesn’t seem to be a reason to oppose it.>>>

    Well, I sense a little testiness maybe…? I know the ‘poor poor white male’ thing brings that out more often than not. But please, tell me exactly WHERE I said in ANY WAY I am opposed to more minority representation in comics. Where did I say more minority representation will be discrimination against ME? Making the argument of sales/$$$$$$/corporations etc does not mean I am opposed to diversity. How can read that into what I wrote?

    >>>Comics don’t have an inclusion problem with white males. Just with everyone else.

    I don’t think they have a “problem” in the sense they are OPPOSED to it. Again, I’m sure Dan D is between a rock and a hard place being pushed to be more inclusive yet also deliver the $$$$$$ for the shareholders.

    And nowhere did I say that the industry should NOT hire black editors. All I said was I don’t think that just because, for instance, the editor of STATIC might be black that they would keep publishing it if it were selling 6,000 copies a month.

  57. >> Why is that an odd argument to make? Seriously? How did you get that I meant that to be solely directed at comics? >>

    Well, we’re talking about comics. I didn’t think you were directing it solely at comics, but it was the subject at hand.

    >> Well, I sense a little testiness maybe…? >>

    No, just trying to keep the focus on the subject at hand.

    You seem really invested in complaining about the lot of white men, and I wouldn’t dream of stopping you, but I don’t think that’s an issue when it comes to the question of diversity in comics. So I’m sticking to the main subject rather than following you to what you’d rather talk about.

    >> But please, tell me exactly WHERE I said in ANY WAY I am opposed to more minority representation in comics.>>

    It was the “or we shouldn’t play at all, no?” comment, which seemed to imply that unless every issue of representation can be solved at once, it’s not worth doing at all. You’ve since said that was badly written.

    kdb

  58. Joe S. Walker says:

    Next time we get one of those “all fanboys are limpdicked rapists” type of posts, this thread will provide some nice bits to quote back.

  59. Heidi said:

    “Stephen, you know…you’re kinda a jerk what with your straw man arguments and ability to parse every mention of gender related issues as hostile to men. I’ve got to ask you, would The Man With No Name be threatened by mention of “boys comics”? Would Chuck Norris?”

    Said Marvel’s Scarecrow to DC’s Scarecrow:

    “Dude, you’re lookin’ really, uh, *wispy* these days.”

  60. Seth Hollander says:

    1) Mr. Busiek: can you provide this info?
    # of characters introduced in the Astro City universe so far (you can define parameters for inclusion on these lists, but it is vital that you openly state these parameters and stick to them); # of female characters; # of Black characters; # Latino; # Asian; etc.
    Can you also define parameters for being a main heroic character and give gender/ethnic breakdowns there. And how about gender/ethnic breakdowns by fate?
    I suppose that you may have a different ethnic breakdown for the Astro City population. I’m assuming that AC takes place in a population that’s about 15% Black, 15% Asian, 20% Latino. If not, please state the correct breakdown.
    I have not read the series (shame on me for having to say that to you), so I’m asking you to research whether your published work reflects the opinions you are stating here with such fervor. I myself love to argue against ethnicism in the abstract, but constantly participate in it in actual life.
    2) So far,in my opinion, the most persuasive statement in this thread is the one about the marketplace succcess of Wolverine far exceeding that of Storm or Bishop. I believe Marvel threw a lot of marketing power behind Storm in the late 80s/early 90s before they decided to concentrate on Wolverine.
    Tyrese (????) Gibson had the right idea about how to get ethnic characters into the marketplace. When he masterminded that comic of his last year, he made calling on his community to support the book a priority. Non-white characters will flourish when enough people support them in sales terms. Publishers don’t achieve their goals by doing the morally correct thing, they achieve the goals by turning a profit.

  61. KDB asked me with respect to the “gender politics” issue:

    “Prior to Stephen complaining that someone was doing that elsewhere, had that been an issue in this thread?”

    Well, though the Ryan Choi ethnicity issue is this thread’s flashpoint, Didio brackets ethnicity and gender in the quote cited above. The next person to explicitly address gender is Robert Morales, and after that I believe it’s you KDB, in a reply to Stephen. So the issue of what is and isn’t gender injustice seems to be thoroughly imbricated with the issue of ethnic representation.

    I interpreted what Stephen wrote as an example of certain unnamed persons who were willing to perpetrate gender injustice on one group in supposed defense of another group. My (apparently ignored) post about 50’s comics addressed the possibility that gender tastes may have become skewed by historical developments outside the boundaries of the comics industry. That strikes me as a more fruitful avenue of exploration than complaining that white male editors just don’t get it, but you pays your money and you makes your choice.

    I’ve bloggified some of my problems with the Ryan Choi complaints here:

    http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2010/06/reform-harlequin-said-elitistsnobman.html

    …though it’s only part one; part two comin’ up later today.

  62. Actually, Gene, I wasn’t asking if anyone had brought up gender politics, but if anyone had been doing what Stephen says he was really complaining about — denigrating male readers and their tastes. I hadn’t seen that here — people asking for more variety, but not people saying stupid boys don’t like good things.

    >> My (apparently ignored) post about 50’s comics addressed the possibility that gender tastes may have become skewed by historical developments outside the boundaries of the comics industry.>>

    I didn’t ignore it, I found it very interesting — I hadn’t encountered the idea that the Code killed girls’ comics in the time I’ve been thinking about it, but I knew something had, and it’s a compelling hypothesis. I just didn’t have anything to add.

    kdb

  63. Synsidar says:

    If anyone can cite examples of good superhero message stories on the subjects of sexism or racism, please do so.

    SRS

  64. >> 1) Mr. Busiek: can you provide this info? >>

    No, but if anyone’s interested in doing the research, there aren’t all that many comics to go through.

    >> Can you also define parameters for being a main heroic character and give gender/ethnic breakdowns there. And how about gender/ethnic breakdowns by fate? >>

    No, sorry. I have deadlines, and if this is information you’re interested in, shouldn’t it be your research project rather than mine?

    >> I have not read the series (shame on me for having to say that to you), so I’m asking you to research whether your published work reflects the opinions you are stating here with such fervor.>>

    I understand. You’re asking me to back up the idea I’ve been arguing — that we need lots of different voices in the industry — by doing detailed analysis of the output of one white male writer in one series.

    I think you’re assigning opinions to me and then asking me to defend them for you, because what you seem to imagine I’ve said is that there should be some strict ratio of ethnicities in the work of all writers, and thus that ratio either will be visible in any one series of my creation, or I’m a hypocrite. However, since I’ve never said any such thing, in this thread or anywhere else, I don’t think you can require that I defend it.

    I’m reasonably proud of the ethnic/cultural mix in ASTRO CITY (and in other series, like POWER COMPANY), but even if those books presented the ideal diversity-of-cast-member that you imagine I’ve been arguing for, it’d still have little or nothing to do with the opinions I’ve stated “with such fervor,” because the opinions I’ve stated have been focused on the idea that we need a greater variety of _voices_ in comics — more editors, writers, artists and other decision-makers who are minorities or female. I haven’t argued that diversity in content can or should be perfectly achieved entirely by one pasty white straight guy doing it all by making the ethnic mix in a superhero universe into what you imagine I think it should be.

    I want more people who’ll bring visions to the industry that I can’t think of, ideas and approaches and projects that come from different experiences and cultural backgrounds and viewpoints. I don’t want everyone in comics matching their work up to some pre-set ethnic and cultural ratio, any more than I want Tyler Perry and Woody Allen to be constrained to have ethnically-identical casts. Greater variety comes from a variety of voices, not from making everyone fit the same cookie-cutter regardless of individual vision.

    I don’t equate “comics” to “the DC Universe.” Even DC doesn’t. So the ethnic balance in my own superhero universe, ASTRO CITY, while it’s a part of the creative process I care about, has no relation to my argument that we need a wider variety of voices in the industry. However good or bad ASTRO CITY may be, it’s my vision. I want to see lots more and different visions _alongside_ the visions we’ve got, rather than trying to force all visions into my own mold.

    However, if you’re ashamed that you haven’t read ASTRO CITY, there’s a great solution — the first issue was just reprinted yesterday with a one-dollar cover price, to make it easy and inexpensive for people to try it out.

    kdb

  65. Seth Hollander says:

    Yes, I was dumping a huge amount of work on you. Your response is quite reasonable, both vis a vis the workload and perceiving and evaluating my goals.
    I do think creators should choose to represent diversity in the casts. I think all ethnicities, genders, body shapes, etc., etc. should be present in work about human populations. Since Astro City is in an urban setting, it follows that the series should incorporate just such diversity.
    As to products specifically catering to a particular subset of the population… Well, doing good and making money are different things. Publishers need to see the money. Have any of the mistreated or cancelled characters at issue here been moneymakers for their publishers? Noooooo.
    If Blue Beetle (a book I started buying as a Keith Giffen fanboy and kept buying as a Jaime Beetle fan) was making money for DC and they cancelled it I would think that might have been a rascist decision. Canceling low-selling books or ditching low-interest characters isn’t attacking diversity, it’s doing profitable business.
    As to having more non-whites or non-males involved with creating industry product: yes! I personally wish that our government’s “affirmative action” programs had been stepped up instead of shut down. Quota systems can cause great problems, but for the noble goal of “inclusion” and establishing “level playing fields”. And “social justice” is the duty of government, not of private profit-seeking industry (my opinion again).
    Thank you for responding reasonably rather than being dismissive or name calling. Your patience far exceeds that of our host here.

  66. KDB said:

    “Actually, Gene, I wasn’t asking if anyone had brought up gender politics, but if anyone had been doing what Stephen says he was really complaining about — denigrating male readers and their tastes. I hadn’t seen that here — people asking for more variety, but not people saying stupid boys don’t like good things.”

    But some posters had addressed the topic, “Is Asian Atom’s death racial marginalization or not?” With that ball in court, as well as the one about white male editors, it seems fair to me to address the question as to what if anything might constitute a fallacious gender/racial accusation.

    Of course this thread will probably peter out soon, now that it’s no longer on the front page, so…

  67. “If anyone can cite examples of good superhero message stories on the subjects of sexism or racism, please do so.

    SRS”

    Huh?????

    Like I said in my previous post, the thread’s left the front page, so that means Elvis has almost left the building. Thus I suspect any such list would peter out soon too, though it might be a good topic for a comics forum.

    Actually I thought of responding to an earlier post that racial equality comics-stories got off to a perhaps shuddering start in the postwar 1940s, though I agreed with the poster that the 1960s was the period when “relevant” stories became more visible and henceforth more desireable even from a marketing standpoint.

    There’s a goodly number of the 1940s “race-positive” stories outlined in Bradford Wright’s book COMIC BOOK NATION, for anyone interested.

  68. Should said in the previous post:

    “…responding to an earlier post *to the effect* that…”

  69. Synsidar says:

    Huh?????

    That was a rhetorical request. I was thinking that stories written specifically to convey messages often fail to entertain and don’t even succeed as messages. Readers who are receptive to a message might not care whether the story works, though. A case in point is Heinberg’s YOUNG AVENGERS. He had some good characters, and wrote good dialogue, but the stories’ plots were uniformly terrible. He has fans, though, because they responded enthusiastically to the characters and the series’ accompanying message.

    SRS

  70. That makes more sense.

    Still might make a good forum topic anyway.

  71. otistfirefly says:

    >>>No, just trying to keep the focus on the subject at hand.

    You seem really invested in complaining about the lot of white men, and I wouldn’t dream of stopping you, but I don’t think that’s an issue when it comes to the question of diversity in comics. So I’m sticking to the main subject rather than following you to what you’d rather talk about.>>>

    Well, I hate to be the one to point out that since the topic and argument here was basically about the lack of ‘diversity’ (as the USA generally defines the term, which is, white men have had it all and now it’s time to focus on letting everyone have a piece of the pie {and no, that is not a complaint}), then the ‘white male’ is central to the conversation in that we are talking about the fact they are over-represented in COMICS and in the COMICS INDUSTRY. When you dare talk about the “lot of white men” – to have the gall to point out that we deserve to be equally treated and not discriminated against based on our sex and color, and to point out we are the only group LEGALLY discriminated against – then you generally get that backhanded condescension that you are “COMPLAINING”, rather than just making points about fairness and opportunity, which is what everyone else does. Of course, now I’m just sticking to “the subject I want to talk about” rather than just making points that PERTAIN TO THE SUBJECT (wait… no I’m not -see above). No, I’ve got better things to do than crusade for the poor poor white man on message boards (we poor poor graphic artists have deadlines too)…. but I just wanted to point out the ironic treatment. Of course, if there was no condescension in those words, then i read them wrong and I apologize. Cheers.

  72. A Boy Named Art says:

    So let me get this straight: the co-publisher of one of the industry’s leading companies makes statements that could be considered inflammatory and it’s the fans’ fault that they take offense? Did the BP approach become the new meme?

  73. Your original take on this topic has me thinking about many of the points you shared in this article. This is great content with substance.

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