With the growing popularity of super hero movies, a wider group of individuals are becoming interested in the source material — comic books.
While the demographics of comic readership covers many ranges of gender, race and sexuality, the amount of diversity among editors and writers in the comic industry has been limited.
DC comics within the last few months has been hit with backlash from female and sexually diverse readership due to DC’s editors’ off-handed firing of Gail Simone from Batgirl and the choice to bring Orson Scott Card, the emphatically anti-gay writer of Ender’s Game, on board Adventures of Superman.
Gail Simone was rehired by DC after numerous online protests from her fans.
Currently the website AllOut has a campaign to drop Card from the Superman title.
Tabitha Simmons, co-owner of Safari Pearl, has major reservations about Card being on the title.
“Superman also looks like one of us. He can pass as one of us, but he is an alien and is not one of us. That is why the gay community embraces him,” Simmons said. “I will continue to sell it subscribers but I can’t say that it is a storyline that I will hand sell”.
The main reason there have been backlash from fans and comic shops seems to be because these groups want representation through the characters’ writers, not the characters themselves.
“There was a Green Arrow storyline where a gay florist is beaten up and it was the stereotypical macho straight man who was protecting the weaker effeminate man who couldn’t protect himself and I was a little offended. There needs to be more diversity (in editors and writers) because most creators can’t get outside of themselves,” said Kathy Sprague, co-owner of Safari Pearl.
Eric Layer, who works at Safari Pearl, remains optimistic about the industry’s ability to change and adapt toward these communities’ concerns.
“Comics are weird,” Layer said. “It’s a largely liberal media but a lot of readers are strangely conservative. Sometimes it’s clumsy how these stories are handled by writers, but its positive to even approach it. As it’s attempted more it’ll improve upon that sort of positive message.”
Derek Kowatsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org