When It Comes To Diversity In Comics, Writers Are Just As Important As Their Characters
“[The] American comic book industry has marginalized and excluded the voices of writers of color.”
Marvel's America Chavez jumped into the limelight with her own series earlier this month, but what's more unique than the queer Latinx superhero's close-up is that queer Boricua author Gabby Rivera was behind it.
According to The New York Times, comic writers are still straight, white and male by far. “[The] American comic book industry has marginalized and excluded the voices of writers of color,” Lion Forge Comics senior editor Joseph Phillip Illidge attested.
Early reviews for Rivera's work, however, points to how critical a shared bond between writer and character is to authentic representation. “One big part of this book’s personality is that it allows America to be totally, unapologetically queer. It’s the same with her brownness. She’s Latina, style-wise, speech-wise, everything, and it feels natural," Kat Overland wrote on Women Write About Comics.
Not seeing himself on the page tore away at Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez as a child. Now, the Somos Arte founder is rewriting the rules with his Puerto Rican heroine La Borinqueña . “I was frustrated with the fact that for so long, people of color, especially Latinos, were invisible,” he told The Brooklyn Reporter. “I’m tired of us as Latinos acclimating to the mainstream culture. My good friend [actor] John Leguizamo said it best, 'all we do as Latinos is constantly explain ourselves and anglicize ourselves.'"
Though Illidge, who also tackles the color barrier in comics and popular entertainment at Comic Book Resources, believes that writing about characters that reflect one's experience is an important step, he cautions that it is not the ultimate solution. “Part of the answer should be that companies that publish books that contain a significant number of characters of color should have a significant number of writers of color in their talent pool," he said. “[The] more diverse voices you have in the room, the greater the worldview you’ll get in your fiction.”