Comics website Bleeding Cool published an article today that says DC Entertainment, DC Comics’ immediate owners, are urging the comic publisher to put more effort into hiring women and minorities.
As such, Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston argued for affirmative action policies (or “positive discrimination,” to use their British English terminology)—which of course drew the usual racists to the comments like dogs on raw meat. However, Bleeding Cool did back up their recommendations with statistics about the companies’ diversity issues. Johnston also anticipated the usual stupid rejoinders:
1. I don’t care what gender or colour the creators of my comic are as long as they are good. It shouldn’t matter!
2. This is pure reverse-racism in action. What am I, as a struggling white male creator supposed to do now?
3. If more women and non-whites wanted to work in comics, they should apply. Hardly any of them try.
4. And the underlying “women are icky and black people scare me.”
Of course, Johnston forgot “quotas!” (um, no), “women and minorities can just create their own stuff!” (which we do, but that’s no excuse), and my favorite of late, “the companies are just hiring the best people for the job.” (“And the ‘best people’ are almost all male and disproportionately white?” “Um…”)
Of course, other comic publishers could stand to improve their women and minority hiring, as well. Bleeding Cool’s most recent survey of DC and Marvel’s staff turned up these statistics as of June 2015 for DC, Image, and Marvel’s staff. For comparison, I put the staff statistics in a table next to the most recent US census figures for the makeup of the US population. Not perfect statistics, I know, but better than anything else I’ve seen, so here we go:
The only good news is that people of Asian descent are proportionately well represented at the Big Three, and the only non-White male group as such. Otherwise, it’s what others have said: the biggest comic publishers’ staff are disproportionately White, with few Latinos, and even fewer Blacks. African-Americans are the least well-represented group at DC, Image, and Marvel.
While the companies could use more ethnic diversity, it’s the representation of women that needs even more work at the Big Three. With the growth of women readers in recent years, it’s especially important if they want to stay relevant for reasons besides their sheer size/corporate owners/de facto market dominance.
A diverse staff would not only be fairer to everyone, but it’d also be more representative of the population they’re looking to entertain with their output. Of course, in-story representation matters, as well—but having a more diverse staff might also give us a Justice League of America that actually looks like America. It also avoids, or lessens the chance of, tone-deaf actions such as portraying a now-Black Wally West spray-painting graffiti, or the 2011 reboot of Starfire.
Flickr photo by keri (CC BY / cropped from original)