…and while we’re at it, books, too.
Yesterday, the team at BOOM! Studios, one of the coolest independent comics publishers, announced a new initiative called ‘Comics Forward’
Push Comics Forward has its own site, and a hashtag for discussion on Twitter (#ComicsForward)
And fortunately, BOOM! are not the only comic publisher pushing diversity and expanding their audience. DC has added Gotham Academy and Batgirl, Marvel has Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and more. Image has a swathe of comics like this – fewer for all-ages, but many that expand the range of what’s available in comics storytelling.
Some quick historical context: when comes were at their most popular, they encompassed a wide range of genres (especially including romance, a notable missing genre among most larger comics publishers right now, crime, as well as supernatural/fantasy/supers), and the readership was both women and men. It’s only later on that the major publishers narrowed their aesthetic and marketing focus in a way that excluded women and younger audiences. So this intentional expansion of what kinds of stories are being told and what audiences are being invited in is not a question of ‘cheapening’ comics or ‘giving in to feminism’ (which is like saying ‘giving in to equality and compassion’), but more like a return to the breadth of content and readership comics had at its height.
I am excited to see what Push Comics Forward will accomplish, for BOOM! and for comics more broadly.
In both comics and in SFF literature, there’s been ongoing conversations about diversity and representation, to the point that I hope it will prove to be a sea change and not a seasonal or temporary topic. With initiatives like Push Comics Forward, the Destroy Science Fiction anthologies (Women Destroy Science Fiction, Queers Destroy Science Fiction), We Need Diverse Books, and more, I hope that a high standard of diversity and representation will become just another part of what is expected from the comics and SFF literary world. I’ve been doing my best to be part of the equation by writing as diversely as I can, and there are many other writers leading the way in the prose world – Seanan McGuire, Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley, Max Gladstone, N.K. Jemisin, Saladin Ahmed, and many many more.
Whether these efforts succeed or fail will be decided by creators and consumers both. So let’s Push Comics (and Books) Forward.