Comics Are Progressing, and so Should You
Never thought I would have to get into this one, but I have been noticing a decline in quality of readers as of late. I do remember a time where I would have been up in arms about changes in comics, but that was so long ago before they actually started shifting those changes to create inclusion and diversity. The kind of change that we need to reflect the world around us. Which is why I can’t understand the push from readers so close-minded because of this invisible agenda that is apparently ruining their precious stories. I mean what makes someone really think that it is cool to attack changes that give us more variety in heroes that should exist outside of being white and male?
Nothing is more damaging these days to the comic community than the toxic attitude that comes with diversity. Every time there is a change, you have those who see it as being forced or shoved down their throats. Every time there is a book pushing boundaries whether in the big two or indy, the mentality is that it should be ignored because its being political. And every time a publisher tries to give a diverse character who is new or existing a push, it always has to be because they are trying to replace your favorites. Well guess what not true? There is a thing called choice. No one is saying that money or some level of attention doesn’t go into these decisions when it comes to Marvel or DC, but never assume that everyone out there isn’t trying to make sure comics cover a wider audience. We live in an age where you should be able to walk into a store or skim an online catalog to find something that appeals to you. You as a male, female, different religion, sexual orientation, skin color and whatever way you would describe yourself as an individual. Comics belong to no one group of people, and no one should dare take inclusion away from those who want these stories to strive towards reflecting the world around them.
Let me tell you something, my favorite series is the X-Men. It always has been and I do hope it will continue to be years to come. For a good long while this team was led by Professor X, and it was also led by Cyclops (My favorite superhero). However, never once did I attack Marvel when they decided Storm should lead the mutants, or even currently Kitty Pryde. They both as woman from two different cultures have had something unique to offer this franchise and were worthy of that position. It had nothing to do with their gender or skin color. They were just the best heroes for the job and I would dare anyone to argue otherwise.
There was one time I remember seeing a post about the Miles Morales Spider-Man and found myself disgusted by the comment thread that followed. People so eager to expose their ignorance saying to get that away from them, calling him the cheap Spider-Man, talking about the character like he’s a plague. I only wish I could remember half of the comments word for word to share. This wasn’t the first time I felt disgusted by another comic reader. There was one so bold enough to put the word diversity in the name of his account and channel, but spent most of his time mocking diversity in comics and most things progressive. Even went so far as to comment on a review of Hulk (Jen Walters), and mock it for “Pushing an agenda” despite no clear mention of anything aside from simply liking the issue. I recall immediately seeing this I went to look this person up and saw nothing but entitled readers who thought that way of thinking was correct. This was also someone who would go so far as to harass creators who he felt were also pushing some imaginary agenda. It hurt me since there was no engaging someone like that who clearly is looking for attention and would only gain traction from being acknowledged.
Also, as another favorite writer of mine pointed out. Recently there’s been a surge of online harassment leveled against comic professionals, many of them women, minorities, or from the LGBTQ community. These creators try to keep communication lines open for readers, aspiring creators, and friends, but that’s not an invitation to **** with them or their productivity. Its tragic on an epic level that never before have fans had more opportunity than ever to interact with creators and we’re too busy pissing in their Cheerios to enjoy it. Again I’ve seen some of that foolishness and it irks my soul because you want to engage them, but there is no win when you do so online. Also as someone else pointed out, these are the people who falsely believe that creators are supposed to be providing good customer service, which they’re not paid for or anything. Their job is simply to create the best work they can, and anything else after that is purely discretionary. You aren’t owed a reason for them believing we need more diverse characters, and certainly not to the point of harassment. These are the stories they want to tell, the characters they want to see given the light of day, and that is all whether you like it or not.
What makes a huge difference these days is as well when you can depend on people to speak up when those in the comic community are acting up. Just yesterday at NYCC there was a thing at a panel for retailers where there were some who couldn’t help but show their true colors in a public setting. Spouting all sorts of things blaming a lack of sales on “forced” diversity. Sorry, but the problem may actually be your readers, not the books. I was glad to hear that this one guy saying these things (encouraged by a couple of others) was shouted down by an entire room. That is how it should be when there is never a reason to tolerate this behavior.
Till this day it drives me crazy that we ever had that thing on Twitter where people needed to be called out for thinking they had a platform to tag creators in all sort of posts that disrespected their work. That should never happen whether it is a writer or artist. Not unless that person has really done something wrong, and even then there is a proper way to handle the situation.
I agree 100% that the best thing to do right now is that If you reject bigotry, misogyny, and racism, remind others that comics is an inclusive medium made stronger by the voices it amplifies. There’s a reason I am writing this instead of going around engaging every toxic reader who pops up. One post is better than making each and every one of them as an individual feel special for getting a response. Whether creator or reader you have to find your platform to take your stance, but do it positively. Then after that show support for the people who are also doing the same so that others can see that you stand with progression. Though above all is what I have always been saying since the beginning which is to talk about the comics you like. Even outside of comics I have tried to push this way of thinking. Nothing good comes out of bashing something you hate or that devolving into slandering the people behind it. When you talk about books you like, others will follow suit. That is how you get people to read the books you like and get the names out there that you think are worthy of the attention. I like others would rather open a feed to see people sharing things that I might want to give a shot than seeing hate towards something that others like and will argue over.
Some might say they haven’t seen this harassment or negativity, yet it is there. Its exists and always has if you open your eyes to what the rest of the community sees. This is the reality we live in and you either are part of the problem, ignoring it, or aware and trying to do right by those this affects. I would hope that more at this point in time are looking for ways to spread the message that harassment, alienation, and so forth will not be tolerated.