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SDCC2012: Panel Report for Racebending.com: Creating Spaces for Diverse Characters and Representations

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Le asked the panel about the challenges in getting things to be more mainstream. Not a mod, but built into a game. Not an indy comic project, but picked up by the big guns like DC and Marvel.

Thomas responded by saying there’s more flexibility and possibility in indy comics. Once you have enough projects getting published through indy channels like Miranda Mercury and Shadowlaw by Brandon Easton, the mainstream publishers will see they’re leaving money on the table. He also mused on what those titles could do with the right marketing push and pointed to the current Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales. Thomas mentioned Marvel’s decision to make sure it had every chance of success in putting their strongest commercial writer, Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli. They knew the circumstances surrounding the character’s intro, even to a secondary universe, would cause backlash and that they had to counter with a very marketable writer, great art and fantastic stories. Success with something like that will embolden the big comics publishers to do more.

Grillo-Marxuach made the point of “mainstream” being a colossal ship, similar to one of the Carnival ships, where you can eat as much as you want and as long as you want, as long as you eat what they give you. He further said that it takes a long time for that ship to turn or go in a different direction.

He went on to discuss his current state of mind as a consumer and creator. When he turned 42, he came to the realization that mainstream comics didn’t care about him. He had the opportunity to work in the majors and did for awhile, then decided to do only indies. This allows him to put his money where his mouth his, call the shots and include more diverse characters. If you want the mainstream media to reflect what you want, you have to give up on it a little bit. Go over there and create something special and make them pay attention to it. He went on to say there’s a dance you have to do in order to include more diversity in media. For him, he writes for TV and that allows him to finance these other projects and try to get mainstream to pay attention. It’s about outlasting the prejudice and that can take lifetimes.

Jemison suggested that fans let mainstream media know of their disappointment with the under representation through boycotts and noted that as long as the money continues to come in, the lack of diversity will continue.  She continued by saying that everyone in the room had more power than the people on the panel, that the creators do what they can, but eventually they have to pay the bills.

Kuhn briefly touched back on children’s television and and the greater diversity seen in the protagonists. She said it gives hope to the younger audiences and doesn’t seem to bother them or affect the shows’ popularity.

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