Comic-Books & Race ’09 Part 1: Open Thread

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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Seemingly lost amid the news of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Comics was this post by Marvel Executive Editor Tom Breevort, where a question about non-American comic-book leads yielded this rather candid response:

Because we’re an American company whose primary distribution is centered around America, the great majority of our existing audience seems to be white American males. So while within that demographic you’ll find people who are interested in a wide assortment of characters of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, whenever your leads are white American males, you’ve got a better chance of reaching more people overall.

Boom! Studios head Mark Waid commented on the issue at Comic Book Resources:

In the original post, Tom makes it abundantly clear that he’s not sure he has an answer, isn’t sure he knows THE answer, but that he’s hazarding a guess. And while Tom’s syntax following that is a little blunt…man, I wish it were wrong, but it’s not. Every comics publisher ever, including BOOM!, can tell you maddening tales of retailers who, even now, in the 21st century, are hesitant to order books with non-white, non-American leads because their community won’t support them. It’s absurd, it’s crazy-making, I don’t know what it’s going to take to change that other than time…but like it or not, it is an unfortunate truth of the time in which we live.

Needless to say, there’s a few layers to this discussion. But rather than try to wrap it all up into one post, I figured we’d start by getting your take on the matter. Is it a matter of “not supporting” POC superheroes, or the industry that creates them? Is it a case of creative and business inertia? What do you think?