Bleeding Awful

At the Baltimore Comic-Con Mark Waid commented on the publication of Boom’s 2008 comic series High Rollers.

Waid was asked what has been the biggest or happiest BOOM! Studios surprise. Waid wanted to start with the most colossal failure first: High Rollers, written by acclaimed crime novelist, Gary Phillips. The concept was an urban take on organized crime.To Waid’s shock and awe, an astonishing amount of retailers claimed they had no audience due to the color of the characters.

Several comic book retailers were surveyed and had some failtastic comments. Of course this one probably takes the cake:

Rick Shea of Famous Faces & Funnies in West Melbourne, Florida had the following to say:

About a decade ago, Christopher Priest’s Black Panther and Quantum and Woody were outselling X-Men and Spider-Man in my store, among my bestsellers right up there with Ennis & Dillon’s Punisher during the first Marvel Event books. I think the recent Black Panther stuff hasn’t caught on because it doesn’t have the same heart that Priest’s run brought us. Y: The Last Man is my best-selling comic of all time by far, and that’s got a hell of an eclectic cast. Alex was my favorite character in Runaways and hands down the one I was sure wasn’t the mole (and then he was). Half of my customers will tell you their favorite characters in Walking Dead are Michonne or Tyrese, so it’s more about how well a character is written rather than what they look like.

Comic fans may be a lot of things, but racist is one thing they’re generally not.

O’RLY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Evidence to the contrary would suggest otherwise.

And speaking of evidence, allow me to present:

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit CExhibit DExhibit EExhibit FExhibit GExhibit HExhibit IExhibit JExhibit K….at this rate I’m gonna run out of alphabets so let’s stop right here.

Or if you still don’t believe me go visit Scans Daily and see how many times they break out the white sheets and swastikas in regards to POC (and for that matter other marginalized) members.

For those of you who have never worked in a comic book store, the way it works is that the retailer will decide what titles they want in the store and how many and they order them each week. While many retailers will base their orders on sales and popularity, many do not and will order based on their personal preference.

Years back one comic book store owner I knew didn’t order any of Batman’s Hush because it just didn’t appeal to him personally, even though it was the number one best selling series at the time. And despite Buffy Season 8 consistently being the best-selling non DC/Marvel title, I know comic book stores that still only order 3 at the most.

Most of the POC comic book titles I own, I had to order online or learned about them via word of mouth because most retailers are white and couldn’t care less about those icky colored comics. You think all of the racefail going on in the industry is happening in a vacuum? Sadly it is a reflection of the people running the industry and the fandom itself. So no, it’s not about sales, it’s about biases and prejudices and it ultimately boils back down to racism.

So no, Mr. Waid is not making this up. I’ve seen it too many times from firsthand experience.

And while this may be shock and awe to Mr. Waid, sadly for  countless POC comic book fans, this is simply business as usual.

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4 thoughts on “Bleeding Awful

  1. Comic fans may be a lot of things, but racist is one thing they’re generally not.

    LOL! How about when mofos act like you’re in the store to rob they ass because obviously a good-fer-nuthin Niggro like you gots no reason to be in that store!

  2. That article on Bleeding Cool doesn’t make any mention of how retailers stock comic books. From just reading that I would have been convinced by the retailers that maybe High Rollers just wasn’t promoted well enough or wasn’t good enough for people to buy. (I wouldn’t agree with the literal words, such as “Comic fans may be a lot of things, but racist is one thing they’re generally not.” and “My customers are a pretty colorblind lot…”) I didn’t realize many retailers choose what to stock based on personal preference.

  3. The one thing that really struck me is it reminded me that I really hate picking up comic books where the POC superheros aren’t fully developed as their own protagonist of the story and don’t read like stereotypes.

    I would like a Chinese heroine who is just one of the girls on the team but makes sure to visit home for Chinese New Year to celebrate with her family. I wouldn’t mind hearing the elders throw the standard rants at her that I have heard my friends get from their Chinese American parents, aunts, and grandparents. Even if the writer doesn’t have a Chinese American background, how hard would it be to consult with Chinese Americans about their lives, dreams, and hopes with the understanding that some of it might wind up in a Superheroine?

    Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that from every character. I like seeing the culture that characters were brought up in discussed to enrich the character.

    Tamora Pierce’s run on White Tiger had some interesting family scenes.

  4. The one thing that really struck me is it reminded me that I really hate picking up comic books where the POC superheros aren’t fully developed as their own protagonist of the story and don’t read like stereotypes.

    How much of that do you think has to do with the Ethnic Sidekick cliche? Like, if they’re “ethnic,” the most they can hope for is being a sidekick.

    I think the rationale they’ll trot out is that straight White dudes are only interested in stories about straight White dudes. But if “The Karate Kid” and “Machete” are anything to go by, that’s not the case at all.

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