Comics are totally rad! But the world of comics can be hard to navigate, and a little off-putting for radical minded folks.
I love comics. But when I read some of them, I’m sometimes forcing myself to look past the sexist, racist, ableist, classist and heteronormative aspects of the writing and art. In comics, you don’t always see representations of people who are not white, middle class, able-bodied straight men. When you picture a super-heroine, what usually comes to mind is the sexist image of a crazily-proportioned lady, with giant breasts and an impossibly tiny waist.
Often when characters who don’t fit the norm actually show up, they’re tokenized. The queer characters usually have a brief, sexy and tragic story line, and then disappear so that the straight characters can take the spotlight again. For characters of colour, race tends to be their only defining feature, and they have no story line or personality outside of their race.
Add to all this the hostile and male-centric atmosphere of many comic shops, on-line forums and conventions, and you’ve got a medium that many women or people of colour, or queer folks, or ability activists, or allies just steer clear of.
BUT! There are so many really great comics out there! Really amazingly awesome stuff! The comics industry is getting better, and more diverse all the time. There are comics creators who represent a huge spectrum of gender, race, class, ablity and sexuality. There are comics with characters who are interesting, complex and completely stereo-type busting. There is beautiful, hilarious, perfect art that represents all sorts of people and a range of experiences.
Here’s a short and totally not comprehensive list of some great comics you might like to check out:
Jo Chen - The Other Side of the Mirror
Alison Bechdel - Fun Home
Ariel Schrag - Awkward, Potential, and Definition
Colleen Coover - Small Favours
Brian K. Vaughn - Runaways and Y the Last Man
Marjane Satrapi - Persepolis, Embroideries, and Chicken With Plums
Julie Doucet - My New York Diary, Dirty Plotte, Long Time Relationship and 365 Days
Jessica Abel - La Perdida
Gail Simone - Birds of Prey
Becky Cloonan - East Coast Rising and American Virgin
Raina Telgemeier - The Babysitters’ Club Graphic Novels
Joss Whedon - Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics and Astonishing X-Men
I’m sure lots of you have read some of these. Did you like ‘em? Dislike ‘em? Any other comics that you feel are inclusive? Any that make you feel unrepresented/uncomfortable?