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The Progressive Steps for Diversity in Comics

Ron Lyons Jr

As Halloween approaches, many children are picking out the superhero costumes they plan to wear for trick-or-treating. Boys have a lots of choices, but what about girls? The superhero comics industry is diversifying.

Our story begins at ComiqueCon, an event showcasing women in the comics industry. Founder Chelsea Liddy says women writers are just as essential as their male counterparts.

The comics world has been a boys’ club for a long time, and I think that by spotlighting women creators, we’re really just opening the doors to appreciate comic creators of all backgrounds. And making sure that when readers select comics, they’re something they can relate to and enjoy.”

- Chelsea Liddy

Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist, says comics can play an instrumental role in how we see ourselves and how the world sees us.

 

The term(s) “the geek,” “the nerd,” “the dork” has been reserved for a kid who is seen as an outsider. And in more recent years, those terms have been glorified and more widely accepted, and have become a positive aspect with people’s identities. Many would be quite proud to call themselves a geek or a nerd because they have positive association with those terms.  

- Andrea Letamendi

 

Letamendi says more diversity is showing up in the media for youth, but she says there’s still work to be done.

 

When you look at the media, the way in which these genres are presented to us, you’ll see that ethnic minorities, mental health minorities, LGBTQ minorities are underrepresented. And I don’t think that’s a comic book or superhero-specific phenomenon. That is a wider media problem.   

 

 Dan Merritt owns Green Brain Comics store in Dearborn. He says characters like Batman and Spider-Man are big sellers in comics, but readers are shopping for more diverse material. 

 

Were seeing a lot of women come in with the same passion for comics as the traditional male market.  I think moreso, a great indication is all the great female creators that are coming up through the industry. I think we’re going to see a lot of great work from them in the future.”

- Dan Meritt

Merritt says more people of color and women are writing for new generations of comics and national publishers are taking notice. DC Comics publisher, Jim Lee, says the company is hiring more diverse writers to create more diverse characters.

                                                                                  

There’s also under representation in the talent community, and so this is our way of tackling both problems at once. Because when  you bring in new voices, that’s when your start getting new characters, new stories, and more diversity in the content you’re creating. 

- Jim Lee

 

So whether your daughter wants to be a princess or Wonder Woman for Halloween, she’ll have more choices than ever before.

Image credit: Ron Lyons

Aired on: Weekend Edition
About the Author

Ron Lyons Jr.

Senior Associate Producer

Student interested in all things new media learning from everything around him. Currently making a home at WDET Detroit’s Public Radio Station.

rlyons@rc.edu  

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