I see complaints bemoaning the lack of diversity in the mainstream comic medium quite frequently. Blog posts and Facebook group updates pointing out the lack of racial, religious and gender diversity in comic books – written both by people who read mainstream comics, those who shun mainstream comics but read indie, and those who have only a passing knowledge of the medium at all.
While I agree that the mainstream comic industry has a long way to go with their representations of women and people of color there are comics on the shelf RIGHT NOW that break the barrier and start moving in the right direction.
It’s up to us to put our money where our mouth (or keyboard) is and show them we want more, by actually buying the issues that represent what we want to see.
Let me be completely clear about comic issues vs graphic novels. When a mainstream comic series is first released, it hits comic book store shelves in issue format – floppy comics that represent one chapter in a story arc. Those story arcs, after several issues have been released, will be collected into a graphic novel format that, while still sold in comic shops, can also be easily sold in mainstream bookstores as well.
Think of it like TV shows. There is an episode per week that is eventually collected in a boxset for sale. The initial sales and ratings of the episodes help the companies decide whether to continue the show for another season. It’s the same with comics.
With comic books, single issues are a companies bread and butter. The single issue sales give an indication as to whether there is a market for a particular title and whether or not that title will continue in the future. There have been many great series with amazing artwork and captivating stories that debuted to critical acclaim…that have stopped due to lack of sales. It’s rare that the collected graphic novel can save a series – it’s the issues that matter.
So ladies and gents….get yourself some issues.
February saw the debut of a super heroine that is everything we’ve wanted. Carol Danvers has stepped out of the Ms Marvel role and it’s about to be taken over by one of her greatest admirers.
I love what Comic Book Resources has to say on Ms. Marvel #1:
“G. Willow Wilson is writing a common teen’s tale. Kamala Khan is not understood by her family, her peers can be bullies, she finds trying to fit in awkward and frustrating. This is an experience we’ve seen or had ourselves, it just so happens to be told through the eyes of a Muslim Pakistani-American girl in New Jersey. Her ethnicity and religion aren’t used in broad brush strokes, like how ’80s-era Chris Claremont would throw in a “By the White Wolf!” or “Unglaubich!” and be done for the day. Comics don’t necessarily have the best track record for representing diversity in a way that doesn’t seem like a Captain Planet cartoon. Despite the media attention around this new series, Kamala is not defined by what makes her different. Who she is and what she wants to be is woven into the story, so while the details might be foreign to us, the weight of what’s happening is universal.”
She’s a kick ass teenage girl who lives in New Jersey, is growing up Pakistani and American and comes from a Muslim family background. AND IT’S A FANTASTIC BOOK! Judging by the reaction and the fact it sold out almost everywhere right away, I’d say Marvel is doing many, many things right.
Did you miss it? Don’t worry, a second printing is just around the corner, and issue two is due on shelves soon. Speaking as a fan, I can’t wait. The first issue was great and has left me wanting to know more about Kamala and how she deals with these new powers of hers. I haven’t looked forward to a single issue THIS MUCH in quite awhile.
But that’s not all – Marvel has several comics that I would not only recommend from a feminist standpoint, but also from a comic fan standpoint – solid titles that will capture your attention and have you anticipating the next issue.
Black Widow – If you enjoyed the character and wanted to know more about her, here is your chance. Natasha flies solo as she searches for atonement for her blood-stained past. Stunning artwork and full of mystery I hope the movie can live up to the high bar this comic has set for the story of Black Widow.
She Hulk – I came for the artwork, I stayed for the brilliant story. Jennifer Walters is She Hulk, but she’s also a struggling lawyer trying to find her place in that cut-throat world. She’s strong, capable, and fun to read about. This is a great introduction to the character, I especially enjoyed when she “hulk smashed” a boardroom table with her finger.
Captain Marvel – She’s become somewhat of a feminist icon this past while, just coming off a critically acclaimed run. This new title will take her to new heights (outer space!) and present new challenges, from saving worlds to saving personal relationships. Plus her costume is totally bad-ass.
Not feeling the Superhero love? No problem! Here are some other choices for you to hunt down:
Rat Queens – Who doesn’t love a fantasy world full of hilarious hi-jinks and bloody action? Rat Queens delivers with all the beauty and violence one would expect in a D&D campaign, perpetuated by an all female crew.
Red Sonja – Speaking of fantasy, Conan’s female counterpart recently had an overhaul. Gail Simone is penning this fabulous book (and please, do not judge the book by it’s…um…outfit). Not to mention the book featured different covers by the best FEMALE artists in the industry. Miss Xena? Give this warrior woman a read, you won’t be disappointed.
A Voice In The Dark – This is a very off-kilter coming of age story. Not for the feint of heart. Taking cues from Dexter but coming at the type of story in a whole new way. Definitely a must-read if it’s your cup of tea.
I’ve given you a good place to start, hopefully it will inspire you to seek out a local shop and see what they have to offer. (Try Hater Free Wednesdays for reviews of comic shops and a list of “safe spaces” for women and LGBTQ customers)
Do you have a title you buy the single issues for that you feel deserves more readers? Any up and coming comics you think my readers would be excited to know about? Tell us about it below!