This morning, I realized that I been at this while. This being a reviewer and internet personality. I been reviewing comics since 2011 and its been a hell of a ride. I been reading comics for longer than that (24 years come this May). I have seen various comic artists, writers, inkers and more come and go. I have seen markets change. I have seen people, characters and creators, evolve. And I been thinking about putting down my thoughts on it for a long time. Why? Honestly, why not.
I’m a minor. Hell, as John Legizamo stated in one of his earliest comedy specials, I’m a triple threat: latino (Puerto Rican), mentally disabled (honestly that was decide by the state of New Jersey and then it was changed when I reached 22) and gay. At the end of the day, these are just parts of who I am. When I read comics, I go in looking for what is important … good story, great characters, interesting situations and good art.
Am I aware how much representation I get in mainstream comics? Yes.
Am I aware of how the comic market works in order for these books to be sold? Absolutely.
Am I aware this call for diversity that mainstream comics have been moving in the last decade, give or take? Yes.
Yet, here’s my thing that really gets to me when fans company about comics. At the end of the day, its a business. Businesses need to make money. You know why Deadpool and Spiderman and Batman have over-saturated the market… simple. They sell. They sell REALLY well. Why do they sell well?
Honestly, cause we, fans, make them sell well. The high school mental gestalt of what’s popular is decided by the popular kids, in this case Marvel, DC and some select reviewers and made it so. Does the fact that many indie creators do not have the massive cash deposits to help promote their product have something to do with it … absolutely. Yet, fact remains that, much like high school … most people go to what’s popular.
And before I continue further, this is not me saying that any of those comics are bad in any stretch of the imagination. I gladly give my money to Amazing Spiderman as long as Dan Slott writes it and I do the same to Scott Synder’s Batman. Yes. I admit. I’m part of the problem.
The call for diversity is a long time coming … but these people will only survive if they only sell well. And that’s any book, but the lack of diversity is partially in part of the big Two making ‘safe’ choices. And I can’t completely blame them without blaming us too. DC’s taken hits over the last 5 years since the relaunch of the new 52 and I feel sorry for them. Why? Cause they are plagued with some creative mis-management and because books don’t sell or ordered by this amount once they start, they were doomed to fail. Some of it is not giving time for the books to find their audience. Some of it is just numbers and not wanting lose. Comics are a business.
We throw our money at the Bat-books, the Spider-books, the Avengers, the Justice League … and we ignored all the various indie titles or the lesser known titles the majority of the time. Sure. There are breakout books. Indie Comics have really stepped up their game to the point that the market is turning to creative owned books more and more. Yet, we still can’t help the high school mentality of staying with what’s popular. Sure. Marvel has an African American Captain American and gave him 2 ongoings. And the consistent calls of Steve Rogers return was stated from the moment of Sam’s ascension to the mental … and all of the sudden, he’s coming back. They aren’t getting rid of Sam as Cap yet … and as long as sales are good and their acclaim, they won’t. Yet, and what I have to say next is extremely important:
We decide if he stays or goes based on sales and over all fan reaction.
Obviously, if it is an issue with creators, we all have no problem picking up a pen or sending an email and starting flame wars in message boards or twitter.
The reason why books like Watson & Holmes, Lazarus, Molly Danger, Jirni or Bocas doesn’t sell the numbers Marvel or DC titles do is cause of 2 things: One … they don’t have the promotional juggernauts, but there are ways around it this day and age. Two: We aren’t buying them at those numbers.
If you are REALLY title of the event books, then stop buying them and companies will stop making them nearly as often. Especially the big two. If you want Luke Cage, Jessica Jones-Cage and more to do extremely well in books that they start in, instead of picking up that Avengers tie in, maybe pick up a book with them in it. If you want to see more creators and their books break into the mainstream …BUY. AND SHARE. THEIR. WORK.
Go to a con and pick up an indie book or 7. I’m not say not to pick up titles you like. We should all read what we love. I’m not going to stop reading X-Men because I want to see it fail. (I feel like that’s already being set off by Marvel in their own passive aggressive way. But that is another tangent for another day)
Still, if you want to make something change, start with the man or woman in the mirror. Make some financial decisions. Stop being the sheep that follows the most popular guy or girl in high school and become that popular guy or girl yourself.
Want more representation of minorities in American comics? Then you better be buying anything with minorities being represented. Support their Kickstarters. Support their Indiegogo. Order those books. Just go out their and do it. And don’t expect things to change over night, but give it time to change. Cultivate it. Cultivate it to the point that the entire market is color blind.
Cause at the end of the day, we all have a right to enjoy what we like and there’s no such thing as a bad character.
Till we meet again,
-Frankie Rodriguez aka Seraph