August 1, 2011

Diversity in Comics, Thy Name is Monday

Probably the most diverse
comics have been in a *long* time
Granted, controversy online about comics can often be much about a tempest in a teapot - sometimes, there is a good reason for healthy debate; sometimes, it's "just Monday."

But today, it's a little bit of both.

First, there is a question posed by one of my fellow Comic Related. writers in talking about some of the woes of the comic industry - more specifically, why there is not a greater diversity in writers/artists/creators. Brock makes a really strong point by stating towards the end ...(major companies) should consider that diversity may be just the thing comic books need to regain their glory. In short, this post is dead on and dead right.

And nothing shows the need for more inclusive, expansive thinking all around than a kerfuffle on Twitter.

A comics retailer on the East Coast posted some racially charged material about a Marvel character...and then later deleted them, claiming that they were "good natured" in tone. (I'll include a link to my retweet to provide context) This retailer decided that rather than take the high road, admit poor judgment, and move on....they deleted the offending tweets and offered this lame, er, I mean, half hearted rationalization.

Sorry, Larry, but you missed the point...and paradoxically, made a much greater one.

Part of the issue with diversity in comics is the fact that, in many ways, fandom still acts as if it's an exclusive club, and if you don't quite "get it", you're not in. When I read the statements you made, I think of my fellow comic fans of various nationalities, and honestly believe that had I made those statements, I would probably receive not a "my, what a sharp, clever fellow you are" retort....but withering derision and disregard, and a lack of respect which I would deserve.

(Conversely, I would also avoid other questionable references to sexuality and gender - an offhand remark to a group of fellow Comic Related podcasters about "baking me cookies and doing my laundry" would be just as inappropriate. No, it's not being politically correct - being good natured means that you go out of your way to avoid charged language. And sorry, but what you said was just. plain. wrong.)

But let me open up this conversation to my blog readers - am I being out of line? After checking out my links, am I being too politically correct or uptight, or are these comments really that bad?

Because I'm willing to admit when I was wrong...and Massachussets comics store owner, you weren't. You did everything to hide it, and you compounded the act.

Let's take a first step - let's embrace the difference.


Jbardyla said...

He didn't make a statement, he made jokes as many others people do, some in poor taste and some not. Fandom does not see itself as an exclusive club and certainly the retailer you speak of does more outreach and promotion than most of us could ever hope to do in a lifetime. If you're going to judge someone based on a couple of off jokes you need to think about learning about the person first before you make your final decision.

Fiendskull138 said...
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Llamachameleon said...

"Honestly, do we not live in America? Is this not a place where you can say the things you wish to say without repercussion?"

Without repercussion?  No.  There are always repercussions.  You can say what you want (within reason) without being arrested, but you can't stop people from calling you out.

Paul Cornish said...

"If you're going to judge someone based on a couple of off jokes you need to think about learning about the person first before you make your final decision."
Sorry Jbardyla, if someone says something idiotic in a public forum, why should people trawl the internet researching any good works this person may or may not have done before they decide that he's an idiot? This person may be a racist or he may not be, he may be stupid or he may not be, but it's perfectly understandable that people are going leap to both conclusions if he puts stupid and racist jokes on the internet for everyone to see. He wasn't in a pub with his mates he was on Twitter. He doesn't have to feel sorry for his comments but neither he nor yourself should be surprised or outraged when people use those comments to draw certain conclusions about the type of person he is.

Fiendskull138 said...

Some people getting all puffed up about it is hardly a repercussion.

Gordon Dymowski said...

First, thanks everyone for your replies. I won't go into a back-and-forth whether I agree or disagree; I think having different perspectives is healthy, especially in times of controversy.

I will say this - my big concern is not just with the language, but the fact that if these were "good natured"....why delete them? Why not stand your ground? I've said my share of things I later regret....and have publicly apologized. I have no problem being wrong, and promptly admitting when I am. :) I'm not saying that we should always try avoiding offending people; just that we know that some words may be off-limits for some people.

I will say this - I've been asked to judge someone by "getting to know them first." I also judge people by their actions - the fact that this person in question responded not by saying, "Let's talk via e-mail", but through name calling? That tells me *volumes* about the person in question.

Fiendskull138 said...
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Gordon Dymowski said...

Now, Bryan,

I'm not offended over the KFC comment - more that Larry used the "N" word. (And then conveniently erased it).

If someone objected to "tipping sacred cows" - and they had a legitimate reason to object (say, they were Hindi) *and* they politely asked....I would remove it. And publicly explain *why*, accepting the consequences.

And I can take a joke. Quite honestly. I just don't find the "N" word funny. Or even jokes that perpetuate negative stereotypes. And if my "tipping sacred cows" offends someone - guess what? I'll take responsibility, and I'll also accept the consequences.

Fiendskull138 said...
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Fiendskull138 said...
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