‘Diversity’ in Comics Has Led Us to This

Man Pleading for Permission

This is a sad day for comics and those who hope to one day create them. The mantra of forced diversity has led one would-be comic creator to ask permission on whether or not he should write his story. You read that correctly. People are now asking permission on whether or not they should write a story. This is heartbreaking.

Over on David Brothers’ Tumblr, Anonymous asked:

As a white cisgendered male who wants to create comics, i’m keenly aware of the fact there’s overabundance of other cisgendered white bros doing the same thing – but I think my story has a chance to resonate with people and be powerful. how do i tell my story, but also try to be in a place where i’m not part of the larger diversity problem? do i combat that by trying to include different kinds of people in my story? or am doing a disservice by (potentially) not doing right by those people?

First, you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to write a story. Go out and do it and to Brothers’ credit he gives the same advice, “If you’ve got a story, tell it.”

Secondly, diversity is not exclusive to race or gender. As individuals, everyone is unique; science proves this. We all have different DNA, but aside from our genetic uniqueness, everyone has varied experiences. A perfect example for comparison is N.W.A. and the Beastie Boys.

As depicted in Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A. was a group of black men from Compton. Notably, Eazy-E was a high school dropout who supported himself by selling drugs before founding Ruthless Records and becoming a rapper. In contrast, Mike D of the Beastie Boys was born into a wealthy Jewish household and was afforded the opportunity to attend Vassar College. Despite these drastically different backgrounds and experiences, both of them found themselves attracted to hip-hop music and became legends in the genre. They used their experiences to affect their music. They told different stories.

Another example would be a comparison of two white bands: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Both of the bands had white heterosexual members in addition to both being British. Anonymous’ conditioning would assume there is no possibility for these two bands to be able to exist at the same time because they are somehow contributing to the diversity problem. However, they did and still do. Why? Because they tell their story from their own perspective with their own voice. They contribute to diversity by offering a different perspective or an alternative style.

Think about it in a different way. The Beatles hit song “Eleanor Rigby” is the most covered song of all time. Because it has been covered over 130 times, does this mean it won’t get covered again because of an already “overabundance” of covers? Absolutely not. This song will continue to get covered because different people will want to put their own style to it. Each cover is unique in its own way and provides its own value.

Let’s look at one more comparison, bringing it back to comics. Alan Moore and Frank Miller are titans of the industry. Both of them are white heterosexual males. They did not contribute to a diversity problem. Instead, they both created more diversity whether it is through the stories they wrote, the characters they created, or the art they drew.

Hopefully I have explained that diversity is not just based on gender, race or, sexuality. It is your experiences, it’s what makes you unique and expressing it. Having many different people doing this is diversity. However, Anonymous’ reference to a “larger diversity problem” is a perversion of diversity. It is favoring certain individuals based on their gender, race, sexuality, and politics alone. It does not take into account the quality of their stories or their experience writing which is ultimately measured through sales. I suspect as with affirmative action programs in education there will be a number of unintended consequences if policies like this are enacted.

Here is my advice to Anonymous. Write your comic and tell the story the way you want to tell it. You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission on whether or not you should write your story. Just do it.

And in case you still think you might be contributing to a “diversity” problem, you aren’t. On the contrary, you will be adding diversity to one of the most diverse art forms there is. Who knows, you may write the next Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns.

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