ByTerreece Clarke, writer at
I've got two movie loves in life - comics and British period pieces. Bring on the Comics & Corsets!

"Imma let you finish, but indie comics have been diverse for a long time."

Every week, it seems there's another big announcement - followed by hundreds of articles and blog posts with millions of hits - made about the topic of diversity in comics. In these announcements, each of the big comics publishers tout their strides toward making the comics world reflect the cultural realities of its 2015 audience.

"DC You," , etc., are just two of the more recent cultural diversity pushes designed to bring comics into the 21st century. They are exciting, welcome and long overdue concepts... but for people who have been creating diverse comics since before diversity was cool, it's kinda like people suddenly discovering your favorite bar that's been in business since Prohibition. You're always welcome, Bob can use the business, just make sure you tip the waitress and don't sit in my seat.

"It’s great to see major companies like DC and Marvel following what independents have been doing for years," Eric Dean Seaton, owner of "And... Action! Entertainment" and creator of Legend of the Mantamaji said. "It shows progress and finally, an understanding that all minorities and all different voices matter."

As renegades working outside the system, indie comic creators have long used their skills with vibrant storytelling, ink and color to create worlds and characters that are every bit as daring and dynamic as any of the ones found on book bags, t-shirts and lunch boxes today.

"A small contingent of black and brown comics creators have been dealing with diversity, social justice, and equity in representation for over twenty years and they do this for the love of the medium and for the sake of true diversity - while toiling away in relative obscurity," John Jennings, an Associate Professor of Art and Visual Studies at the University at Buffalo-State University of New York said.

And it's not just racial minorities who are using their voices. Women continue to make huge strides in the industry, bringing their work to the party and in many cases, setting up their own publishing houses like Emet Comics, created by Maytal Gilboa. GLTBQ, indigenous creators and an ever growing host of creators from a multitude of religions, backgrounds and realities are all making their mark and finding their fans from within and outside of their communities.

"The diversity push among big publishers also shows that they recognize small companies have been making inroads by being inclusive and current with what the world is actually like. The only draw back is, because it was so needed, they have to say what they are doing instead of just showing it - but that’s big business I guess." Seaton said.

Seaton is correct in his assessment. In recent years, the amount of press, recognition and fans indie comics have garnered continues to swell exponentially as readers and comic creators find each other online, engaging in ways that weren't available to creators before the rise of social media. Indie comic creators are also using more creative ways to reach their fans. Kickstarter campaigns, book trailers, partnerships, giveaways and fan groups are just a few ways creators are making their voices heard amid the deluge of breaking comics news.

Seaton is one of those creators who has worked to connect with fans on a grassroots level and by doing something a little different. As a love letter to fans, Seaton took his three book graphic novel series, "Legend of the Mantamaji" and created a live action short and Behind the Scenes web series based on a scene from Book One.


"Diversity is introduced to comics when it becomes popular in the mainstream," Jennings said. "You have to remember, comics have always been reactionary and prone to jump onto trends. Look at the number of adaptations they do with films and tv shows. It's part of the comics culture. So, when the first black superheroes started popping up in the late sixties and seventies, it was in direct correlation with blaxploitation and other exploitation movies that took Hollywood by storm then. Luke Cage is pretty much Shaft with powers and steel head band."

"Some creators like Denny O'Neil, Tony Isabella, Don McGregor, etc., were very serious about making comics for everyone, but for the most part, comics was a very racist and sexist space."

No one denies the importance of big comics publishers' entry into diverse spaces, especially if those spaces include long term representation behind the panels and in the decision rooms. All indie creators want is for fans and publishers to remember and continue to support those who lead the charge before there were marketing focus groups reminding businesses that minority groups existed and had billions to spend.

"Imma let you finish, but indie comics have been diverse for a long time."


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