Funnybook Babylon

June 24, 2015

Because I Was Kind of A Jerk to Mark Waid on Twitter

Filed under: Blurbs — Chris Eckert @ 11:41 pm

Earlier tonight I responded to the announced creative team for Marvel’s All-New, All-Different Avengers book with the following tweet:

Was this snarky? Probably. Was it justifiable? Yes and no. To clarify, here are three things that are frustrating about the all-too-neccesary efforts Marvel and DC (and really, all of American media) are making to produce entertainments that depict something other than white dudes.

1) Especially in comics, the widening of the demographic of fictional two-dimensional characters is a lot more widespread than the widening of the demographic who create and depict those characters. Not only are three veteran white dudes working on the diverse team of All-New, All-Different Avengers, but the creative teams for their solo books (with the exception of Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man artist Sarah Pichelli, and whatever issues of Nova were drawn by Paco Medina) have been very white and very male. This is particularly troubling in comics because even when white dudes dominate the upper creative echelons of Hollywood or other entertainment silos (which is bad) at least a bunch of ladies and people of color get work portraying ladies and people of color in their products (this is relatively good). Ever since Amos and Andy went off the air and they stopped making dudes play ladies in Shakespeare, comics are one of the only media that is able to tout their diversity without actually employing anyone but the same old white dudes.

2) This is a systemic flaw, not a personal one for creators. Waid (and Kubert and Ross and Bendis and Aaron and Remender and etc. etc. etc.) are all white dudes of a certain age. They can not change their whiteness or their maleness or their date of birth. None of these facts should disqualify them from getting jobs in comics, and when they get jobs in comics it definitely doesn’t mean they should just avoid writing anything but white dudes of a certain age because they shouldn’t even try to write women or teenagers or people of color. It’s easy to look at the overall demographics of a company’s creative roster and roll your eyes, but that’s not the fault of the individual creators. They’re just trying to do their jobs.

3) BUT ALSO!!! While it’s great that there are more chances for people who aren’t straight white dudes to write superhero comics, it’s frustrating to see those creators get slotted into the position of “we’d better find a [black/gay/female/Muslim] creator to work on our [black/gay/female/Muslim] character!” Growing up I got to read Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson on Daredevil and Steel despite being neither of them being male, black, or blind; Dwayne McDuffie was great on Damage Control as well as Icon, and the entire Milestone line was basically Everyone Writing and Drawing Everyone. Lately it seems that the hiring process seems to be a much more 1:1 “creator/character” demographic match, except for all of the times it just defaults to a white guy. How it is that after well over a thousand issues of Amazing/Spectacular/Web of/Ultimate/Superior Spider-Man comics, there have been a total of six issues written by a person of color and twelve issues split between three women in three decades? Batman has literally never had an issue written by a woman in nearly 800 issues, but Catwoman has had half a dozen rotate through in less than a quarter as many issues. This isn’t the fault of anyone saying “yes” to a lucrative job offer they’re probably excited to work on, but cumulatively it is dispiriting.

So yeah, I was snarking on the Marvel’s latest round of “diversity diversity diversity diversity” press releases promoting books created almost exclusively by white guys. I’m not apologizing for that. But I do feel like a jerk for making it sound like I disapproved of the three white dudes personally. I have and hope to continue to enjoy comics from all three of them, maybe even All-New, All-Different Avengers. Also in case you are reading this, Mark Waid, I am worried I was rude to you at a comic book convention in Kansas City in 1998 or so. I probably said something dismissive of Kingdom Come but then you talked about Omega the Unknown for like ten minutes and you completely won me over. I also give you permission to correct any and all grammar mistakes in this post.

3 Comments »

  1. Also in terms of “who would be a better fit for this book?” question, that’s kind of the point I was making here, that it’s not Waid or Kubert’s fault that they’re veterans who are qualified to do a headlining book, and that most of the other people who are at that level are also white dudes. It’s systemic. Twenty years ago when Waid/Ross/Kubert were getting their first high profile assignments, there were a ton of white dudes getting high profile books. Some of them moved onto other things, some of them never really hit it big, some of them turned into superstars like Waid/Ross/Kubert. That’s all well and good, and I don’t begrudge any individual their success and livelihood. But when your artist and writer pool is like 90% White Dudes in 1995 and 2000 and 2005 and 2010 and 2015 and you go “well yeah, but you need five years experience to be ready to play with the big boys, how can you blame them for putting nothing but white dudes on the big books?” do you see the problem?

    Also, it’s not like these female writers we’re talking about are some bizarre unknown quantity. Wilson’s been writing comics for almost a decade, had a couple of books at Vertigo, and had her first gigs at DC in 2008 and at Marvel in 2009.

    Jonathan Hickman (who I also like) did his first indie comics the same year as Wilson, and also started writing at Marvel in 2009. No one seemed worried about giving him Fantastic Four with barely three years in the industry.

    Comment by Chris Eckert — July 3, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  2. I think you actually hassled Mark Waid over Onslaught’s catchphrase “Behold my mighty fist” before spending an extended period of time discussing Omega the Unknown.

    Comment by Nick — August 5, 2015 @ 1:10 am

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