Saturday, New York Comic-Con presented The New Comics Creator: How Diversity Is Leading to More Opportunities for All, a panel that explored how the comic book industry is growing and providing more opportunities for diverse creators, readers, and more. Moderated by Founder of Comics Experience Andy Schmidt, panelists included Bon Alimango, Jamal Igle, Melissa Capriglione, and Soo Lee.
The discussion revolved around how the face of comics is changing. The white Judeo-Christian man is no longer responsible for what is printed and sold to readers. Schmidt pointed out that while there are many Guardians who work from a negative place in their exclusivity, some are simply working from an “implicit bias,” meaning they are making comics for their own. group without necessarily being racist, misogynist, homophobic or transphobic. The problem is how limiting it becomes to creativity and readership.
There has certainly been a change lately, and as Igle pointed out, digital comics and platforms like Comixology are giving more diverse creators a chance to do their own thing “and prove they can run. with the big boys “. The position of the gatekeeper becomes obsolete when there are ways to produce online content and crowdfunding. You go around obstacles.
Capriglione added that with greater accessibility to things like free comics on places like Webtoons, audiences and creators are saving money. It also helps to include more voices, especially when social and economic barriers prevent access and production of content.
Igle made another point. When you have more options for making your content visible, your career is longer. Completed creator-owned books give you more than a license to create. You can grow your audience and keep creating new things without the pressures and limitations of the biggest publishers. And in places like Marvel and DC, you’re just adding to their brand. Schmidt was inspired by his own experience at Marvel: you “play in the sandbox” and leave it to someone else. “Don’t break the toys” for the next few people.
The new trend of Substack has also emerged, which allows creators to publish through a newsletter-like process. There are no restrictions on planning, content, marketing, etc. Again, the gatekeeper position is eliminated and audiences get what they want from the creators who produce the content they are looking for.
Ultimately, diversity leads to a more viable medium. There are more fans, more options, and more availability for people of all ages, backgrounds, perspectives, and more. As Lee pointed out, “There is only money to be made if you open it up,” which stabilizes the industry as a whole.
Missed one of our other NYCC ’21 covers? Click here to check it!