Allow me to play Devils Advocate. I’m a black comic reader and I see the same things you do, but when DC makes a book with a black character that doesn’t even crack the top 200 on the sales chart…is it really DC’s fault for not selling? Why should they keep a book going that nobody’s buying?
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand what you’re saying, but DC is like everyother company, they’re going to sell what people buy.
While I won’t disagree about more the need for more non-straight, white males. I’m not so ready to dismiss the Hispanic & Latino issue. Black characters have exponentially more exposure than Hispanic and Latino characters. And, yet, nary a word about that by anybody until I brought it up. That is made all the more disturbing by the fact, as I already stated, that Hispanics and Latinos make up a larger percentage of the US population. And I won’t even get started on the lack of Native Americans in comics. I can only hope that when Hispanic Heritage Month comes around that @DCDaily and the News articles provide at least half as much coverage as they did for Black History Month.
However, let us not forget that Marvel has had the financial backIng of the media juggernaut that is Disney for over a decade. Not to mention that the profits Disney was making from the MCU easily made up for Marvel’s comic division. They could easily run the comics at a zero profit or even a loss as mkt research for the MCU. Disney is the 800lb gorilla in the room and with more economic resources than anybody else. Sure DC Comics needs to up their game, but let us also not lose sight of the financial realities either. Because any solution is going to have to at least break even. Maybe DC could mange to do an anthology comic, digital only for $1 that showcased minority characters for even a 1 or 2 issue arc. It’s not a current ongoing series. But, it might be a place to start to addressing the issue and provide a platform to not only showcase And give exposure to these minority characters but also see which ones have fan response and “legs” and are worth taking a risk on a maxi series and/or a monthly series.
The bottom line is that yes, steps need to be taken. But, it is also the responsibility of fans to understand and support these endeavors and realize that a complete 180 isn’t going to happen overnight. Look at how much and how little progress we have made on these systemic issues since the 1960’s.
The closest I can think of (and I might be wrong and thinking there might be at least one in all of DCcin the vain hope that there might actually be at least 1) is a character in Young Justice S3 that was a reimagining of the old “Apache Chief” character,
Some thoughts I had on selling minority lead comics.
Word of mouth. Far Sector and Terrifics have sold great in part because every who has read the series has told others to read it.
Include more LGBTQ characters. While not abotu ethnicity, LGBTQ is certainly a minority that should recieve more inclusion and at DC only has batwoman. I have a gay friend who has said that she likes comics as a medium, but has never felt like superheroes have been like her. She really loves lesbian indie comics, but has never really found a lesbian DC or Marvel story. When I mentioned Batwoman, she said she was looking for something that leaned harder into being gay and also something cheerier.
Make more targeted marketing efforts and non-traditional selling. This is even more compounded as many minorities are even less tuned into the comics industry because they don’t feel represented. Think for a second about how organizations like the black freedom caucus (apologies if I got the name wrong) made the Black Panther Movie the official movie of Black History Month. Here’s the problem, comics are marketed to a limited audience of current comic readers. If you want to expand that list, have writers do more press on talk shows like Seth Meyers, The View, and participate in podcast with higher black viewership.
Make black characters more story significant. For current comic readers, most people read the most significant titles and storylines. How many of you drop a comic or don’t pick it up because it won’t be important down the road. I certainly have less interest in Martian Manhunter by Steve Orlando because it doesn’t connect clearly to the world. Make a Cyborg comic and then make very clear and significant connections to the world at large that are headline-grabbing. This is one of the areas where Luke Fox as Batman would succeed. Readers want to be rewarded for their time.
Market trades more. While getting new readers to buy a single issue is rare, the trades often do better in more casual audiences. A lot of African American readers would be in the more casual audience. If they see marketing that says “Hey Cyborg: A New Beginning is now available for 19.99” with positive reviews on the cover, I could see that getting a more casual audience hooked. Then at the end of the book say “Buy the next part in your local comic store or buy Cyborg Book 2 out of ________” that way you give a casual audience a better chance of buying a book
Now some of these could apply to all sorts of books that aren’t even about minorities, but I think it would help.
But I would be curious to hear what you guys had to say on your thoughts on how to boost sales for minority comics.
I am going to say that the race change here was bad. I think a character shouldn’t have their race changed. Not saying that there shouldn’t be black characters, but I think character shouldn’t have such an obvious change. (they seem like forced inclusion, which is still bad. Plus, in this case, it killed they 2 Wally storyline.)
On a different note, I think the problem isn’t the characters, it is the writers and the consumers.
It is hard for a white man to write well the story of a black man.
I also think it is hard for a white man to relate to the struggles of a black man.
The end result is that those stories lose traction. And like any business, DC can’t afford to waste money . on products no one buys.
They aren’t wrong for that. At the end of the day, DC Comics is still a business.
I think what needs to happen is better marketing for minority heroes, as well as a willingness to branch out as readers.
This is my opinion on the issue. If you disagree, I can’t change you and you can’t change me. let’s avoid confrontation
I get what you are saying, but I have really appreciated how Iris and Joe being black has brought really cool small moments. I debated whether to include her in my first post because my first encounter with Iris was Candice Patton. I have appreciated moments like Barry viewing Black Lightning in a different light because Barry was raised by a black family. I appreciate that Iris wears her hair naturally for vacations. Little details like that have always been really special. I don’t want to get into the whole race bending issue because that would be like throwing a torch into an oil rig (or some similar example).
Look, I totally think more Latino, Asian, and Native American characters (and writers, editors, artists, etc) should be included in DC Comics. I think trying to market to a broader more casual market would help. Let’s face it, the comics market is disproportionally white male, so one solution is figuring out how to target new customers who may be interested in reading a comic and that isn’t an easy feat. We shall see!
By having their best authors write the books where the main character is minority, and have a cameo by one of the major DC characters as a draw for those on the fence of reading the book.
I think people want to be entertained and inspired when they read comics - we want a good story! There are a limited amount of stories that feature minorities, so they need to be fantastic, fun, memorable, and noteworthy stories so that people can say “ooooouuuu, did you read [book], it was sooo good!” Then - by the good reviews - the sales go up.
Recently, I think it’s getting better (for example, Naomi is fantastic and I still want a volume 2 of Vixen - that booked rocked!). I think they are making progress.
But did Vixex sell? Yes it was an awesome book but how many people even know it exists? I’ve heard the “black characters needed better creators” arguement, which is just a slap in the face of the creators that came before.
Here is the debate with that approach. Would it be better to have newer writers who represent those minority groups write the stories or would you rather have Snyder and Kelly Sue Deconnick’s write those kinds of stories? Let’s be honest. Bendis writing Naomi certainly helped with its publicity, but Naomi’s not exactly written with her skin color in mind. I would rather have a writer like John Ridley IV write a comic with a solo black character than Snyder. Ta-Nehisi Coates is the perfect writer for Black Panther for example and while its not the best selling book out there. His skill and understanding of the postcolonial lens really make Black Panther special.
As for who writes it, I just want a good story. And now that I think about it more, there’s no way to satisfy everyone because everyone has different likes and dislikes in storytelling. So perhaps a combination of all writers is a viable approach.
It’s interesting to see that the CW seems to have done a better job featuring minority groups using DC characters than the comics have.
Regarding Hispanic and native Americans, there have been X-Men with Native American heritage. I’m not sure about Hispanic. For DC, El Diablo (both Rafael Sandoval from the '90’s and the current version from Suicide Squad) come to mind…but that’s it.