A Blog Carnival is an odd combination of e-zine and link collection. The blogosphere is large and expansive. A Carnival typically collects together links pointing to blog articles on a particular topic. Like a magazine it has submission deadlines, a publishing date and is posted in issues. And like a traveling carnival it moves and is hosted on individual journals and blogs.
The above is Willow‘s definition of a Blog Carnival. Its notable to this column because she offers it in reference to her new project, the People of Colour SF Carnival, which will (as the Feminist SF/F Carnival does) be accepting superhero comics-related submissions in the first edition. It should be posted in mid-June.
Interestingly enough the Erase Racism Carnival fell to Angry Black Woman this month, and she has chosen to request posts on race in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. That should be up on May 20th (May 18th submission deadline.)
With this in mind, I checked around the blogosphere for views on racial issues in comic books.
Rich announces at Glyphs about an art exhibit tomorrow at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art:
For those of you in the NYC area, this Saturday, comics historian Professor Bill Foster will unveil his black comics exhibit, “Looking For a Face Like Mine,” at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in Manhattan. The images will mostly be taken from the Professor’s personal collection, which covers a tremendous amount of black comics history. If you’ve ever seen him at conventions or at lectures, you know how enthusiastic he is about comics in general, and believe me, that enthusiasm can be infectuous. Don’t miss this.
I know this is nowhere close to a complete list, and there are a number of bloggers who occasionally discuss racial issues in comics but this month my regular haunts have been fairly quiet on the subject. Its actually an eerie silence compared to the wild sound of the Feminist Fan Community in full rage-mode, as it has been this month (from Power Girl to Isis to Mary Jane and its not even halfway through May!)
Its the casual blogs that interest me in this case. The vast majority of the comics blogosphere is silent on race. The dedicated blogs discuss it (and I know there’s dedicated blogs and communities that I don’t know about) but it doesn’t carry and I don’t understand why. Is it a matter of visibility? There’s usually one or two nonwhite characters on a super-team or in a supporting cast. The characters aren’t misused because often they simply aren’t used as often. Without that misuse, the insulting stereotype or the pointless death of a favorite, you wouldn’t get the spark of fan outrage that’s needed to fuel and spread rants about social injustice (which is what a lot of creators and companies may be afraid of). Still, the invisibility in itself should be enough to have people screaming their heads off.
Let’s pick on DC here because that’s the company I read more often. John Stewart, the only supporting character who wasn’t white in Green Lantern was absent for six issues after the one-year leap. Taking into account publishing delays, by the time he returned many of his fans had given up. I remember message board fights, and the occasional grumbling on blogs, but very little dedicated ranting about it.
In the last Legion of Superheroes reboot, two black characters (XS and Quantum Kid) were discarded, and Starboy, a white character, was rebooted as a black character. The official line was that Starboy was changed to reflect racial diversity. The racial diversity they had before the reboot. Now, logically, if this character was important enough to change it would be important enough to use him but in the first two years of the new series Starboy wasn’t vital to any of the plotlines. He was barely used. They could just as easily have kept the other characters, or turned one of the more prominent characters a different race (Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid) and gotten their diversification, but instead they changed the race of a minor character, and they picked the spot where a little identity ambiguity would support the plot in one of their more popular books. And then they claimed sensitivity.
I can’t be the only one irked by that.
Still, I saw more fighting when they changed the character at the reboot than I do at the lack of use.
There are some positives, of course. Mr. Terrific got promoted (to White King). Chris Allen got promoted (to Spectre). Renee Montoya got promoted (to Question). (None of them have their own books, mind you, but they have all been promoted.) The Atom and Blue Beetle are getting a good reception.
I know people are thinking about this. The last convention I was at, I attended both DC panels. At each panel a different person asked about black heroes. There’s been dedicated panels about black creators at several conventions in the past year. There was a big argument with Grant Morrison and someone asking about race that drew some attention last year.
I can only conclude that I am missing out on some excellent raving and ranting here.
So, here’s where I ask you guys for favors. If anyone reading this finds (or writes) a really interesting and recent writeup on race and comic books send it my way please, and submit it to one of the above Carnivals if it applies.
Thanks in advance.
And have fun at the Carnival!