Okay, like my wife says, maybe I take my comics a little seriously, but…

Posted by on Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 at 02:41:42 PM

Pedro, you don’t really care about story integrity or my integrity or about defending Black Lightning or Geoff Johns.
You just want to feel like
“somebody” for instigating and winning a “debate” on teh internets.
Sir, it is a dick move.

Go on the Newsarama boards and pick a fight with some comic writer. I grow weary of you. Good day.

In light of something David Brothers said this week, I’m going to take some negative energy directed in my fashion and speak on something that’s been on my mind.

I wake up some days and all I want to do is talk about comics. I love them. I love the writers, the characters, the capes, the noir, cowboys, baseball books. All Sequential Art, from the inkers, to the colorists and pencillers. If there is anything that I can say that I do a little strongly, is I take comics seriously.

Maybe a little too seriously. I can admit that I got heated there. It involved two subjects that have annoyed me to no end lately. The first is this trend of people calling an individual comic bad for failing to satisfy their expectations, instead of evaluating the comic based on the story that the writer intended to tell. We discussed this at length on the podcast, but I really hate this idea that every comic that exists should serve every single reader. There is a pile of shojo and yaoi manga that I know is not meant for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not brilliantly executed. I can name several perfectly fine books put out by DC and Marvel that tell a specific type of story that I am not interested in, but the writer does a great job of remaining true to the aims of that story. People say “Bendis hates Tigra” when they really mean that “Bendis doesn’t write a book that I like”. I wish more people were truthful about that rather than secretly grinding an axe against the writer.

The second one is being told by non-blacks that most “black” characters are bland and uninteresting. That the current crop of characters out there is only good when being written by black writers, even though sometimes even then it’s not good enough for others. My frustrations is that it places these characters inside a ghetto. Don’t touch these characters unless you are black enough. You have to be this black to use them or they might as well be palette-swapped versions of existing white characters. The current crop of existing black characters are just quota fillers and you have to pass the paper bag test to be able to interject some energy into them.

This one angers me so much. It insults the many good writers like Morrison, Bendis, and Ostrander who write fantastic black characters. Hell, one of the most realistic portrayals of a hispanic character is written by a white male. It also makes them sound more difficult to use than other characters, even though any character can be bland if the creators don’t understand them. Sure it’s easier to use these types of characters as window dressing than their white counterpart, but the truth is every character is susceptible to squandering character potential. Calling them “uninspired” and bland is to say that these characters are inferior to their white counterparts, which makes it even more discouraging for creators to use them.

Why choose to use any of the characters David rattles off when asked about where is the black X, if they are no better than their Caucasian equivalent? This line of thinking just makes people apprehensive to pull the character out of the toy box and reach for another one. Sure, a black writer will come along and be more inclined to pull them out of the box, but if there are no black characters out there being used in rotation by other writers, what will attract the black writers to comics? It’s a little bit of a chicken and the egg, but I feel anytime you can mention or point the use of Falcon in Brubaker’s run, it acknowledges that Blacks do play a role in comics. It makes comics a more welcoming environment for non-white creators.

I remember once getting into an argument with someone awhile ago about whether it was possible to re-appropriate a character who at one time had been a stereotype or uninteresting. They felt that once a character had been used in that manner, they had been lost forever. For me, I never think any person is beyond rehabilitation. If given the right resources, even those who have been misused can still be made right. It’s already near impossible to elevate a new character, so we just can’t write off the ones that we already have. We just have to work harder and stronger with the ones we got.

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