People LOVE rumors.
People love rumors so much, they want to make them truths…
Like the Protocols of Zion, the Willie Lynch letter or that white supremacy is another term for mediocracy (well, that one is true).
Here’s the current rumor that’s gotten Black comic book fandom’s nature to rise:
Let’s get this out of the way:
Stan Lee did not create Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto of the X-Men brand as analogies for Martin Luther King Jr. and Malik El-Hajj Shabazz (Malcom X). Don’t believe me? Check out this article:
Yes, y’all. Though Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men concept, they were not so forward-thinking as to make the book an allegory for Civil Rights, LGBTQ Rights, hell not even the right to wear white after Labor Day.
You need proof? The first mutant, if not character of color, in the X-Men universe was introduced to The X-Men in 1975. Her name is Ororo Munroe AKA the Wind-Rider AKA the Goddess AKA Storm. Though in the 80s you would see another Black woman, retired dancer Stevie Hunter as a supporting character (the dance teacher of Kitty Pride who the internet has completely forgotten), the young Brazilian mutant Sunspot in the New Mutants and the introduction of First Nations mutant inventor Forge, the mutant representation of color was, and still is, few and far between.
It was Chris Claremont, steward of the mutants from the late 70s to the early 90s who gave The X-Men the cultural gravitas that so many are drawn to. The X/King analogy began with the release of the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, which was illustrated by Brent Anderson who would go on to be the seminal artist of the classic Astro City.
And even Chris Claremont, the man whose work created the analogy says that the analogy is incorrect. Still don’t believe me? Check out this article from 2016:
Have I sufficiently pissed some of you off, yet?
The myth that Stan Lee modelled Professor X after Dr. King and Magneto after Malcolm X is as prevalent as the myth that Sophia Stewart, a Black woman, created The Matrix. Even though these two myths have been debunked… Repeatedly… There are still way too many of us who continue to drink the Kool-Aid and will swear upon death that these stories are true.
Of course, like the Stewart story, it doesn’t help that after seeing this story gain traction that Stan Lee fed into the lie as the consummate huckster he was. Lee’s greatest contribution to Marvel was his outstandingly shameless marketing skills. Here’s an example of him taking credit for the concepts Chris Claremont brought to The X-Men from an article dating back to 2000… When the first X-Men movie was released:
Now, Stan Lee didn’t say this in 1963. He didn’t say this in 1975 after Giant-Size X-Men #1 dropped reviving the title and giving it some much needed diversity. He didn’t say this in 1982 when God Loves, Man Kills was released. He didn’t say this in 1992 when The X-Men cartoon debuted on Fox Television…
You see where I’m going with this?
He was P Diddy before Sean Combs was even born. But many people will rather eschew history and fact for the fantasy of white men thinking about them as an economic demographic well before they actually did start thinking about Black dollars…
Which they’re still figuring out how to get even now after Milestone Media and the beloved Static Shock, after Blade, after Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Black Panther, etc.
At the end of the day, It’s not about representation. It’s about race swapping to get said representation. That type of representation is lazy at best. It gives the impression that we, as a marginalized group would take any scrap of attention the “other” gives us in order to see ourselves on screen…
And, unfortunately, there are still too many of us that will accept race swapping as progress.
Yes, this is an old argument or gripe depending on who’s reading this. But, it has to be reiterated that still too many Black consumers hunger for representation from the “Corporate Two,” complain when they don’t receive it to their satisfaction, rail against the lack of new, compelling characters of color from the “Corporate Two,” ignore those new “Corporate Two” characters that were created (RIP Mosaic and I hope you get some big love, Naomi) and dismiss those independent creators producing amazing content because they did not create said content for the “Corporate Two” to reap the financial benefits from their blood, sweat and tears.
Let me put it to you this way, spending money does not necessarily buy you respect.
IMO, my desire to be pandered to by the “Corporate Two” is nil, especially when this whole thread from jump is based on whatiffery combined with the false narrative of the original creator’s intent of the character.
As a consumer, I don’t have to depend on, nor desire for, this threadbare attempt to take my dollars because they changed the skin of an established character to match mine.
As a creator, I’m lucky to be able to create content that properly fills the need for representation I desire.
As a fan of comics (not just the “Corporate Two”), I see more than enough content from other creators of color that satisfies my need for representation… Especially when said creators are having their projects optioned (i.e. Bitter Root, World of Asunda, etc.).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to rain on people’s parade (not really) nor am I here telling folks what they should buy (though there is some really great work people are missing out on because of their tunnel vision). I am here to dispel myths and half-truths. I am here to give credit where credit is due…
Because The X-Men you love was the result of the work Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, Paul Smith, Terry Austin, Glynis Oliver and Tom Orzechowski put into the title from the 80s. Let’s keep it really 100.
So, while other cats get caught up in the wish fulfillment of “The Man” giving out scraps like we finally got a seat at the table, I’ma be over here celebrating the people who are out there making the work I really want to consume and continue being someone who creates the work that these cats claim they really want.
So, you sufficiently pissed off, yet?