Whitewashing Diversity in Mediums Like Film and Comics

September 22nd, 2015

whitewashing

In a perfect world we would be exposed to multicultural diversity in the arts continuously and would revel in the vast brilliance of it all. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. The sad truth, however, is that art, at least in our culture is dictated by those with the power of influence. They are the ones that decide what is culturally acceptable and what is not. They are the gatekeepers masquerading as publishers, filmmakers, editors, agents and distributors. They are the pinnacle of the “good-old-boy” network. They are the enforcers of the status quo.

We like to think that great strides have been made regarding diversity but two recent accounts show us just how wanting we are as a society when it comes to welcoming true diversity.

First was a remarkable gaffe by Matt Damon, widely recognized for his liberal positions on filmaking as he schools a black woman about how to implement diversity claiming, “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show.” This after the woman suggested a more diverse directing team so as not to be caught stereotyping a black character.

alex_decampiThe other was a tumblr post by comics writer Alex de Campi who calls out DC, Marvel and some independent publishers for being disingenuous toward women in comics because of the lack of retribution brought towards known perpetrators of sexual harassment that happen to be big names in the industry who even she is unwilling to publicly name in her post though she is already resigned to being blacklisted.

The lesson learned is that the door to diversity can be held wide open but so long as the creative people have to pass a litmus test of what is acceptable to the gatekeepers there is still a lot of cream in the coffee.

America may be the melting pot but we still hold tight to our Eurocentric perspectives, which is a fancy way of saying it is only acceptable if it appeals to white sensibilities which are too readily regarded as universal.

In the comic industry, there has been a clamor for diversity for decades. sometimes we get diverse characters that may be various races, colors and genders yet created by the same white men that have no real idea what it is like to live in the fictional skin of these characters. Other times diverse creators are brought in but their contribution is still dictated by a publisher or editor responding to the demands of the market that still remains predominantly white and male.

These are just some of the reasons that developing diversity in the arts cannot be dependent on the expectations of commercialization. Diversity can never be about hiring the right person for the job as dictated by the market no mater how intent producers are to be diverse. True diversity only happens when the job is executed unfettered by a preestablished standard.

This is not to say that true diversity is impossible. Creative people have a way of growing art in the cracks of roads well traveled. Jazz, for example would not exist if all music was left to the standards of white musicians in the late 1800’s. Jazz grew on its own in the black communities and spilled into the streets with such energy that it appealed to a multicultural ear eventually establishing itself as one of America’s original art forms. This same freedom of expression led to rhythm and blues which led to rock and roll eventually coming full circle to the introduction of rap and hip hop.

Just as music can discover its diversity on the streets and in the multicultural communities of the country, art forms like film and comics can gain their hold on the streets of the information highway. The internet and the communities formed there are the future of diversity for these mediums. They are the fast lane around the gatekeepers that manage the restraint of the art forms.

Stop requesting diversity. Stop expecting it only to be disappointed. Create diversity as only we can as individuals. Support diversity when you recognize it. Celebrate diversity when it is achieved.Try your best not to whitewash it, and maybe then we can enjoy a multicultural experience that will put the jazz in  mediums like film and comics.

Gerry Giovinco

Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

September 19th, 2015

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

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Thursday Weekly Update | Bughouse

September 17th, 2015

New page of BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler now available.

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Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

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Outsourcing Comics

September 15th, 2015

 

hands_drawing

Last week’s blog post, Power Outage at Marvel, suggested that Marvel and DC, in an effort to cut costs, might consider suspending their publishing arms and focus on licensing their characters to other comics publishers to minimize their expenses and risks.  This concept might be a little extreme considering the two industry giants have each been making comic books for over 75 years but there is no doubt that the depth of their intellectual property is now more valuable in other forms of entertainment media and as a license option.

Marvel and DC, however, could understandably balk at the idea of farming out their comic books to others but would still need to cut costs in production or do a radical shift in marketing of comic books if they intend to effect things like DC’s reported two million dollar fiscal loss or Ike Perlmutter’s legendary thriftiness at Marvel.

Given that the current climate of American industry is a willingness to outsource production and manufacturing to foreign countries, it has to be considered that this be a logical possibility for comic books. Recent polls have shown that comic book writers are more popular now with readers than comic book artists, and though the art is definitely more labor intensive, it is also seemingly more interchangeable by today’s standards. What are the chances that art production could be shipped overseas, especially to India where great strides are already being taken in comic art production?

amazing_world_of_carmine_infantinoThere is precedence for this in comics. Carmine Infantino in his insightful autbiography, Amazing World of Carmine Infantino,” describes how, in an effort to stave off a comic artist strike in 1971, He, Joe Orlando, and Tony Dezuniga, went to the Philippines where artists were used to getting $2 – $3 a page. Their plan was to have Tony and his wife run a shop with artists where DC paid $45 – $50 per page plus 20% to the Dezuniga’s for their management effort. Later, a young Filipino artist comes forward at a convention complaining about being paid only $5 per page and it became clear that those running the show in the Philippines were robbing the artists and DC blind. Carmine does a wonderful job of not making a direct accusation but gives us enough information to explain possibly why the Dezunigas do not return to New York until 1977.

The influx of Filipino artists did prevent a strike and it did give us the great talents of Rudy Nebres, Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo and Gerry Talaoc just to name a few, but we may never know how much it set back the value of American comic artists in the industry.

We are living in a global economy where we are happy to see our electronics, clothing, food and everything else farmed out to people working in other countries for slave wages by our standards. It is sad to expect that the same will happen to our comic books. Many companies already print in China and elsewhere and nobody complains. Who knows? The next issue of Superman or Spider-Man could be drawn by a kid from India working for peanuts.

Just another reason to support homegrown, independent comics.

Gerry Giovinco

Monday Weekly Update | CAPTAIN OBESE

September 14th, 2015

New page of
CAPTAIN OBESE

CAPTAIN_OBESE_update_9_14_15by Don Lomax is now available.

 

Click here to read this comic NOW!

 

Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

September 12th, 2015

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

DOG_BOY_update_9_12_15Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal

NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

 

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


Thursday Weekly Update | Bughouse

September 10th, 2015

New page of BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler now available.

BUGHOUSE_update_9_10_15Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

 

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


Power Outage at Marvel

September 8th, 2015

power_outage_at_marvel

It has been a long time coming. Ever since Disney plunked down four billion bucks to buy Marvel, the world has been waiting for Marvel to lose its autonomy. It finally happened last week when Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter was deposed as reigning king of the roost at Marvel Studios. Kevin Feige stepped over his former boss to report directly to Disney honcho, Alan Horn, to oversee that Marvel Studios joins with Pixar and Lucasfilm in its next logical step of integration with the House of the Mouse.

Perlmutter is a notoriously tight fisted skinflint that refuses interviews and lurks in the shadows, dodging photographers like a vampire reeling from the crack of dawn. (Only one image of him from decades ago exists on the internet!) Legends of his unscrupulous tactics abound from wanting to offer only potato chips at a Marvel premier to denying new pencils if two inches were left on an old one. He led Marvel with all the fear tactics and guile of Dr. Doom but his success as a dictator was unquestionable until now.

Perlmutter was deemed too much of a threat to the sanctity of Hollywood business etiquette and has now been banished to control only the television, animation and publishing end of Marvel.

Oh, the irony!

The world knows, and Kevin Fiege will attest, that the success of Marvel Studios has been predicated on the quality of the source material culled from the comic books and their persistent adherence to it. Yet, the comic book publishing end, like Ike Perlmutter, will be destined to play second fiddle to the hugely profitable films regardless of how responsible both the comics and Perlmutter are for being the  solid foundation on which the current Marvel empire has been  built.

Perlmutter in his storied career has proven to be both resourceful and vengeful so be sure he will not be buried in the comic book ghetto for long but what does this mean for the comic industry?

Don’t expect to see comic creators getting paid well anytime soon. Now that DC Comics is cutting back in wake of a reported $2 million deficit and  and Perlmutter’s predisposition to cheapness, there probably could be no better time to jump ship as a creator and go independent.

The driving force of the world’s most famous superheroes is no longer comic books, it is film. The publishing arms of Marvel and DC are both firmly planted in the back seat of their entertainment conglomerate’s priority list. DC is also racing to enforce edicts from on high to realign their comic book versions of their characters with upcoming film and television versions.  Don’t be surprised if Marvel and DC both pull the plug as comic book publishers while their valuable properties are licensed to other comic book publishers just to save a buck.

Lights Out.

Gerry Giovinco

Monday Weekly Update | CAPTAIN OBESE

September 7th, 2015

New page of
CAPTAIN OBESE
by Don Lomax is now available.

Click here to read this comic NOW!

 

Saturday Weekly Update | Dog Boy

September 5th, 2015

New page of DOG BOY by Steve Lafler now available.

DOG_BOY_update_9_5_15Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal

NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

 

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.



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