Friday, July 07, 2006

The Big Deal (Part 4) Industry Facts & Ugly Truths









“The Panel” a weekly feature on the Comic website Silver Bullet Comics Where industry professionals are asked their opinions dedicated 2 features on race I wonder how much their response reflected the Publishing industry as a whole?

Why Don't "Black Comic Books" Sell?

To read the whole discussion click here

Here are highlights


Fredrik Strömberg: As I have stated several times in my book "Black Images in the Comics", I think that sadly, most Black characters in mainstream comics are created, and treated, as representatives of all Black people. This symbolic nature, of course, makes them rather limited as characters.

The comic fans in the USA seems to be mostly white boys, a fact that works as a catch-22 to make sure that other groups like for instance female readers and creators for the most part are locked out of the action.”

Craig Lemon: "Why aren't there more black-superhero books? Because they don't sell. Why don't they sell? The same reason that female-led superhero books don't sell very well. Because the primary audience for superhero is white males. And the main way you can get female-led superhero books to sell is to plaster them with cheesecake art - step forward Greg Horn and Michael Turner. I also believe that most white males are closet racists - even if just subconsciously...oh, you could argue that someone reading a superhero book puts themselves in the place of the hero, and white males cannot identify with black heroes for some reason...I would venture that that reason is racism. Why are there few Arabic superheroes in US comics? Why are there few Hispanic blah blah blah? The answer is the same.

"Why are Black couples so rare in comics (superhero, romance, etc.) when Black romance novels, movies, and TV shows enjoy a broad appeal in the mainstream that the industry would kill for?

To read the whole discussion click here

Here are highlights

James E. Lyle (a.k.a. Doodle): I think that there is no more inherently racist industry than the various media. That about sums it up. The problem is the media want to APPEAR to be "racially equal", but they simply can't present honest interpretations of various individuals within ethnic groups and still make their slants work.

The problem is analogous to what's going on in the American news right now. "The Hispanic Vote" is being touted in all the major news media. But there is no "Hispanic Vote"; as if all Hispanic people thought or acted the same way! How insulting is that?

Bart Thompson:First compare the amount of Black characters within other mediums such as novels, movies, and television. There’s not many Black couples in comics because there aren’t that many Black characters to begin with! In the other mediums whole properties can have an all Black characters and they will reach their targeted audience (the Black community and even non-Black supporters). BET is the “official” Black Entertainment Television station, but for a while UPN seemed like a haven for all the newer Black shows (now there’s even TV One for older Black shows like the Jeffersons, Good Times, 227, Cosby Show, Sanford & Son, etc.). With movies, that Tyler Perry is raking in the cash (I personally don’t get it, but more power to him- he has his audience and he’s catering to them). We have things like the two Barbershop films, the Brothers, Love & Basketball, Soul Food (that even spun off into a series), and Beauty Shop. When it comes to comics, Black characters are a bit harder to find. For more discussion and possible solutions, check out the Herotalk boards: http://www.blacksuperhero.com/bsh/index.php

Alan Donald:This question has made me examine several things in my life. I hadn’t considered just how white comicbooks are. I didn’t have a clue which creators were black, white or whatever. Not being racist is not enough. Complacency is a terrible sin. The current situation in the comicbook industry is wrong and definitely racist. We should think about this, we should examine it and we should act. It doesn’t stop there, the industry is homophobic, very sexist and it is generally prejudicial. Think about it. Act.”

Summary: This is a very difficult one to summarise. Racism and economics seem to be the most basic factors when one boils it all down. One thing is clear and that is that the current situation is intolerable.




2 comments:

Marionette said...

Wow. Comics starring women or characters of any ethnicity other than white don't sell because the only audience is white males and they are all racist and sexist.

Way to blame the failure of the industry on its customers and insult them at the same time. Unless they are female or black, of course. But then we don't read comics, do we?

shannon said...

Racism and sexism are endemic in our society. Yea, there are blacks and women reading superhero comics and all that, but that's in spite of the lack of books featuring their perspective, and it still needs to be improved. We can't improve attitudes without any criticism.