Watch: ‘Colorful Characters’ Documentary Series Investigates Diversity in Comics

ColorfulCharacters

Back in January of 2012 Mr. Terrific, Static and The Black Panther comic books were all canceled. Although the cancellation was far from racism, it made me wonder if the Black Superhero in comics is a relatable concept. So I started tweeting.

As I did two of my friends Julian Lytle and Shawn Pryor responded and my twitter rant went on over the course of the next few days.

One of the characters in question had a highly successful TV series, and one had a feature film that was a summer blockbuster. The numbers on the book sales didn’t reflect the popularity of the characters within pop culture as a whole.

There had to be an explanation.

In my research I found that when a title circulates under 20,000 copies, it’s pretty much destined for cancellation. This is a decision where race isn’t a factor, but for some reason, these characters were not resonating with the consumers. I decided it was time to stop waiting for answers and go out and get some.

And the below 4-episode documentary series, “Colorful Characters” was born.

EPISODE 1: In this first episode we ask the if the lack of diversity is a deliberate act within the comics industry. At first glance there may not seem to be an issue with diversity but when you look at the staff and characters of the large comics companies it tells a different story.



EPISODE: 2 Are a superheroes of color a relatable concept? In this episode we dig deeper into the issue of what kinds of characters the readers relate to. Many comics fans have to make a leap in order to lose themselves in the world of the creators have made. What would happen if the audience was given characters who looked like them? The goal of any storyteller should be to make a closer connection with the audience.

EPISODE 3: Are women portrayed soley as sexual objects in comics? We talk about the ide of the “Male gaze” and how it affects the content.

EPISODE 4: In a capitalist system the major factor for any product is “is there a market?” Are Consumers interested in stories starring women and people of color?

5 Comments

  1. THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS! I watched the entire 4-part documentarty. As a Black comic book fan, so much of what was said iritated me about the comic book industry. A very well done documentary piece. Appreciate it much!!!

  2. I haven’t listened to the podcasts yet(but I will!)
    But I have to say that I think the comic industry deserves some credit as being one of the few industries that works towards inclusion without being forced or called out constantly. Sure they can improve but I think they also deserve to be supported. As a black female comic fan, comics were the only medium I saw growing up where I saw a character like Storm who was black but not stereotypical. She was a leader, she was desired and she rocked a mowhawk before they were cool in the black community. Marvel atleast, did commentary pieces such as making their second XMen team purposely diverse and explaining Professor X and Magneto as an allusion to MLK and Malcolm X. MCU is probably the first mainstream action movie where I’ve seen 4 black men together in one movie(now if we could get more black women-glad Tessa thompson and Zoe Saldana get to represent). Both marvel and DC have made efforts to give their black female characters stand alone series(Storm and Vixen, Photon, and Misty Knight, etc.) they’ve brought in minority writers to tell their stories and elevated minority characters. I honestly think they deserve credit for that. But of course they have room to get better. This is my personal experience with comics and I haven’t checked out other companies so much. But yeah, I’m actually surprised with a lot of what I’ve seen from a medium that’s dominated by white guys.

    • I absolutely agree with you Melody Harmony. Comic books are pretty progressive in their thinking and representation of other races. They usually don’t have to be forced or “boycotted” against to do it.
      For example in the 1950s EC comics had a science fiction line of comics and they had one comic in particular where at the end the astronaut took of his helmet and revealed himself to be black (throughout the story he was saying how the aliens shouldn’t treat each other badly just because of how they look). Reportedly the CEO or something didnt want to send the issue out but William M Gaines decided it was important and good enough to send so they did. This was the 1950s they did this in!!

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