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Thursday, January 18, 2018 

They won't read comics if they're only starring whites?

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the Black Comix Arts Festival and its offerings, but not everyone in attendance sounds like they're in it for the entertainment value. And at the beginning they say:
Classic Superman comic books: not many black characters, if any. Classic Batman: Name a black figure. Spidey: You’re getting the idea.
Pardon me? I can certainly say that the aforementioned 3 may not have originally begun with noticeable black cast members, but by the late 60s-early 70s, that was starting to change: Spider-Man got a number of ongoing black co-stars, beginning with Robbie Robertson as the leading editor for the Daily Bugle under J. Jonah Jameson, and the series was starting to focus on templates for race relations. Even Superman and Batman began doing this, and the latter got black co-star Lucius Fox in the late 70s, co-created by the late Len Wein. I won't say these stories were perfect in every regard, but the writers did their best.

Now, look at what kind of attendant's been made the example of this article:
“I like comic books — especially black comics,” said Sophia, a 19-year-old studying computer science and film at Stanford who declined to give her last name.

Although Sophia has been reading comics for only a few months, she quickly turned off from Wonder Woman, Batman and the Justice League.

“I realized there’s a lot more to comics than big, powerful white men,” she said. “My favorite superhero right now is Riri Williams.”

Riri’s superpower, it turns out, is her brain.

“She’s just a genius,” Sophia said. “She’s a young black superhero from the south side of Chicago. She built an Iron Man suit from scratch.”
Well for heaven's sake, what is Tony Stark then? Didn't he build his first Iron Man suit while in captivity of commies during the 60s? Apparently, the girl quoted isn't getting into the medium for entertainment value or moral lessons, but rather, for the purpose of reading about any protagonist she considers "representative", even if the writing is poor. If I were one of the famous white creators of past eras, I'd be very, very sad to learn there's a certain segment out there who don't want to read their products, all because they don't represent their idea of what superhero comics should be.

And curious why she's oblivious to the presence of Phillipus in WW's series, who's a black Amazon, created by George Perez when he rebooted WW in 1987. Or even Cyborg in his current retconned incarnation in Justice League. Or even Vixen, one of the earliest black superheroines in the DCU itself. How come they don't count in her view?
“There’s a dearth of black representation in comics and creators in the mainstream,” said Jennings, a professor of media and cultural studies at UC Riverside who blamed much of the problem on a comic-book distribution industry that is set in its ways and has failed to reach out to independent artists and writers of color.

“They’re not diverse.”
But in what way does he want them to be "diverse"? Because I don't think it includes conservatives, who've been marginalized as much as blacks have in the business. He decidedly ignores that there have also been black cast members who aren't superheroes, like Glory Grant, the aforementioned Robbie Robertson and even his son Randy. And if costumed heroes matter, there's also Jim Rhodes from Iron Man, who'd filled in for armored duties for Tony Stark - very plausibly too - in the mid-80s and even made use of his own armor outfit, War Machine, in the 90s. Why, how about John Stewart from Green Lantern? I think the quoted professor is just part of a segment of society that'll never be satisfied, yet never actually provide any serious backing for the superhero comics they complain aren't diverse enough.

This kind of thinking has practically ruined commercial television, since years before, producers and broadcasters relied on how much audience they could draw into a show via how good the entertainment value was. Now, there's quite a few instances where it's almost all based on demographics, while entertainment value becomes more uncertain. A huge problem that's become even more apparent in comicdom. If these are the kind of consumers fandom's going to be comprised of, it's no wonder nothing sells well, if at all. Such ingratitude to people who wanted to offer entertainment and escapism is just what'll wind up undoing it.

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All the woman is saying is that she can identify more with a fictional character who she has something in common with. In the same way that New Yorkers get a special kick out of seeing Spider-Man stories set in New York swinging from the same skyscrapers they see out their windows. That adds to the entertainment value.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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