Battle Marketing: Round One… FIGHT!

Cover detail from Hallboy Comics' Oya #1... Illustration by Mshindo Kuumba
Cover detail from Hallboy Comics’ Oya #1… Illustration by Mshindo Kuumba

“You want DC and Marvel to give you a look.”
– Lee Jackson

“No I don’t.”
– Hannibal Tabu

The sad part that it’s harder for me to get a Black comic book reader interested in reading The Horsemen than a white, Latino or Asian comic book fan. I don’t have to convince them to buy the book. They check out the art, flip through the story and say “That’s dope! How much?”

So, my question is, in terms of mass appeal, I can sell a book. But, when it comes to the Black comic book reader, there’s an extra level of programming that I, and others, have to cut through. Why is that?

3.1% of the people producing books at the Corporate Two (i.e. penciling, inking, writing, lettering, etc.) are African American. 3.1%. Do you honestly believe that only 3.1% of the ENTIRE Diaspora is talented enough to work for DC or Marvel?

Here’s the problem of the first quote… Not all of us want to work for DC or Marvel. If you think about it, the artists of color working for the Corporate Two don’t have a financial/ownership stake in the characters they work on. It’s a job, plain and simple.

Peep game, as a comic book fan, I checked out who did the art, wrote the story, etc. so that I knew who created work that I like vs. the cats I didn’t dig since I was… Oh… 7 years old. Maybe because I wanted to be an artist from that age or whatever, I made sure to know who gave me what I needed and who to walk away from.

And yeah, it made it extra special to find out cats that looked like me actually made those books as well (special shout-out to Chuck Patton).

Page from Oya #1 written by LaMorris Richmond with interior art by Juan Arevalo and Pascal Saint-Clair
Page from Oya #1 written by LaMorris Richmond with interior art by Juan Arevalo and Pascal Saint-Clair

Here’s a question: besides the Milestone universe, how many of your favorite sepia-toned heroes from the Corporate Two were created by creators of color?

Here’s another question… Besides Dwayne McDuffie (who everybody knows of like they know Stan Lee), could those who fervently defend the Corporate Two name, let’s say, three other Black creators (writers, artists, etc.) who work and/or have worked for the Corporate Two in the past ten years?

When you can name those creators, then the argument may hold more water.

I ask these questions to prove a point that when you understand the ins-and-outs and the outs-and-ins of a thing, then we can have a more useful and productive discussion about this problem, not in the industry, but within this community.

“But, if the art is good, then it should stand on its own…”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the old “If the art is good argument…”

Again, as an informed consumer, I found out who did the hot business. And yeah, when it’s a brother or sister bringing the fire, I’m gonna support them extra hard… No excuses, no matter if it’s for the Corporate Two or Indie.

Why? Because the first comic book artist that I ever met was a brother. And because of seeing that, I knew I had a place in the world of comics. Real talk.

Oya is on sale in October... Stay tuned for more to cop this "Blaxis-Blessed" title!
Oya is on sale in October… Stay tuned for more to cop this “Blaxis-Blessed” title!

When you support, say, Mighty Avengers, you’re not supporting Black creators or the cause… You’re giving “The Man” more money to treat you, as the consumer, in a cursory, dismissive fashion.

When you support independent books of quality created by the creator of color, then you’re actually doing something for the cause. I’m not telling you how to spend your money nor to buy a book just because a brotha or sister made it. Just trying to create a more informed consumer.

The thing is this:

We are here and we are bringing the fire. We are what Hip-Hop used to be. And, honestly, some of us in the Indies are creating work 10 times better than you will find at the Corporate Two for the next 10 years. We’re that next shit… Better be up on it…

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4 thoughts on “Battle Marketing: Round One… FIGHT!”

  1. I ask this question as a supporter of the notion that more people of color should be at the helms of spotlit creative endeavors, be it high-profile comics, movies, TV, or what have you.

    How do you feel about the growing number of ‘creators’ in the Big 2 being non-white, without them being black specifically. Joe Quesada, the biggest cheese in the comic rat-race, is Hispanic. There are a large number of Asian artists coming up. How does this new balance affect your opinions stated here?

    1. That’s a great question. You’re right in that three of the most powerful people at the Corporate Two are Asian (Jim Lee, DC), Arabic (Geoff Johns, DC) and Latino (Joe Quesada, Marvel) respectively. However, that top-level diversity doesn’t translate to their hiring practices.

      That aside, this article was speaking more to the comic book fan… Specifically the average African-American comic book fan who doesn’t look beyond DC and Marvel for positive images of themselves to read, yet constantly complain about the choices offered, or the handling of said characters, while ignoring their fellow “people” who are addressing that lack of presence.

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