By Arturo R. García
If you’ll allow for a moment of first-person writing today, I’m happy and proud to announce that, in addition to being part of the team here at The R, I was asked to be part of We Are Comics, a new campaign created by longtime comics pro editor Rachel Edidin over the weekend to spotlight the fact that comics fandom extends far, far beyond the cis-het white male realm often attached to it.
In her words:
We are comics: creators, publishers, retailers, readers; professionals and fans. And we are a lot more diverse than you might think.
We Are Comics is a campaign to show—and celebrate—the faces of our community, our industry, and our culture; to promote the visibility of marginalized members of our population; and to stand in solidarity against harassment and abuse.
Industry and popular neglect of diverse fandoms has, of course, been a long-running conversation on Racialicious and several other sites. But this particular campaign was spurred on by two recent incidents:
- Journalist and former DC Comics editor Jannelle Asselin’s critique of the cover to the upcoming first issue of Teen Titans — specifically, its depiction of Wonder Girl — was both disparaged by DC artist Brett Booth and met online by threats of rape, death, and even attempts to tamper with her personal bank accounts.
- The people at Tankhead Custom Tees felt confident enough in their misogyny to publicly market a shirt at last week’s WonderCon event in Anaheim saying, “I like fangirls how I like my coffee … I hate coffee.” In response to the uproar over the shirt, Tankhead released a statement saying, “The ones who bought the shirt design, the fangirl one in particular, half were girls who bought it” and claiming that it was actually targeting “those creepy fedora wearing neckbearded bronies, or hetalia fanfiction shippers, who make us all collectively cringe in pain at what they do to the things we love.”
While these incidents do not involve race or racism, I feel it’s important for fans of color to respond to them, because they’re part of the toxic mess of privilege that has infected how comics as a medium are perceived, and the virulent ways many cis-het white male fans have adopted in their “defense” of the industry.
It would be good, of course, for executives at DC and Marvel to condemn such behavior. But while continuing to advocate for that, we should show them they have more to lose than “bad optics.” We need to remind the Big Two and other companies that our money, that our participation is worth more than the racists and misogynists that claim they’re the true faces of fandom.
To add your voice to the campaign, simply take a picture of yourself with the words I Am Comics and a short statement about your fandom, either tagged as #I am comics on tumblr or sent directly to the WAC tumblr page.
Besides my own cis-het privilege, I realize that I lucked out in coming of age without the notion that comics or sci-fi were “for boys only.” It was my mother, an Anne McCaffrey fan, who supported my young fandom for Godzilla, for the X-Men, for Buck Rogers, et al, growing up in Mexico. And both of my Racialicious colleagues are just as geeky as they are professional — and they’re pretty damn professional, in case you were wondering.
So when Rachel asked for my support with this project, it was more than natural for me to say yes — it’s an extension of the work I do here. Seems to me that this is the right moment to remind the comics industry that this particular intersection of fandom is a lot bigger than it would perhaps like to believe. Hope you can join in.